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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), October 31, 2005 at 5:38pm] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case -- Individualistic Benefits to Gay Couples and Individuals:

When marriage is strong our society is strong: married people are on average healthier, wealthier, and happier than unmarried people. Marriage materially helps families in at least three different ways: there are legal benefits, caretaking benefits, and social benefits. It obviously also benefits the individuals in these families in ways material and, importantly for the traditionalist, moral.

1. Benefits to gay couples

First, the legal benefits are numerous and important, and they come from all levels of government and even from private sources like employers. Most of them help couples during the hard times, as when a spouse is sick, injured, or dead: the right to inherit from one another without estate taxation (even without a will), orderly division of property upon dissolution, rights to child custody and support payments, state and federal tax advantages, the right to visit a sick or dying spouse in the hospital, the right to make medical decisions for a spouse in the event of incapacity, the right to bring a wrongful death action, benefits to a surviving spouse and children through Social Security, testimonial privileges, and immigration rights, to name a few. Public and private employers link marriage to all manner of benefits, from family medical leave policies to care for a sick spouse to health insurance for marital families.

No, marriage is not just a bundle of goodies, like Santa Claus arriving after the ceremony. But the legal rights and obligations attached to marriage come into play when you need them most. Try keeping your house when the tax bill comes after your "unmarried partner" dies and kindly transfers her interest to you. Who gets the child you've been raising, the child who's only ever known you and your unmarried partner as parents, when only she was the child's legal parent? The destabilizing effects of these problems should be obvious, and they are visited on all of us eventually. Gay couples trying to stay together and support their families need legal support, and could benefit from it, much as straight couples do. (I realize that these and other legal benefits could be given to gay couples seriatim, but that runs into other difficulties like, which should be granted and which denied, and why? Plus, for reasons I'll discuss Friday, a "menu" approach to marital benefits for non-marital couples raises problems of its own for the traditionalist defender of marriage.)

Second, the caretaking benefits are at least as important. Marriage, by social expectation and custom and in some ways by law, makes one other person responsible for your well being. This provides you with an on-the-scene doctor, police officer, and firefighter. It's better than any government program could be at serving this caretaking function.

Gay families have problems like everyone else. Gay people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people; gay couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of gay-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.

Third, there are the social benefits. In our culture, marriage is the way couples signal the ultimate commitment to one another; and through marriage they communicate this deep commitment to their families, to their friends and co-workers, and to their communities. That commitment is then reinforced by the web of familial and other relations, created by marriage, that they have around them. This reinforcement helps strengthen their bond, and therefore their family. It helps keep them together, especially in tough times.

Gay couples need this sort of reinforcement and suffer for the lack of it. As of now, no gay relationship can reach the cultural pinnacle signified by the words, "Will you marry me?" Telling your families and friends that you are "partnered" will not, usually, signal the same depth of commitment that marriage would. And if they doubt whether you have invested heavily in your relationship, why should your families, friends, and communities invest heavily in it?

The benefits of each of these categories -- legal, caretaking, and social -- can be obtained to some extent by gay and straight couples outside marriage. An unmarried couple can approximate some of the legal benefits of marriage through wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and so forth. They can, of course, pledge to take care of one another and many do. Their families and friends will often respect and be happy about their relationship. Gay families in particular, given the obstacles they have faced, have done a truly heroic job keeping themselves functioning.

But nothing substitutes completely for marriage on any of the dimensions I've listed; surely no traditionalist advocate of marriage would think they could. For example, obtaining a measure of legal protection through contract is expensive, time-consuming, and incompletely protective. If the legal, caretaking, and especially social benefits of marriage were not significant, many fewer opposite-sex couples would bother to marry. On average, not surprisingly, marriages last longer and are more stable than unmarried cohabitation. This disparity is at least partly due to a symbiosis: what marriage gives to the married couple and what they give to their marriage.

2. Benefits to individuals

So far, every gay person has lived without the prospect of ever marrying the person she loves, to whom she is committed, and with whom she wants to form a family in a commitment that carries the prospect of a life-long bond. The marriage exclusion denies gay Americans the most powerful social and legal institution we have for encouraging the kind of commitment that makes for a better and richer life. Maybe the exclusion can be justified, but we must acknowledge that it is a serious deprivation.

To the extent gay relationships thrive under a regime of marriage, the individuals in them should be better off in several material ways: more healthy, more wealthy, more happy.

But they may be better off morally as well. Traditionalists are not concerned simply with the material well-being of our society, or with the material well-being of the individuals that comprise it. They are concerned with the moral well-being of our society and its individuals. Traditional morality favors monogamy over promiscuity, stable relationships over unstable ones, marriage over non-marriage. Gay marriage offers the sexually active gay person who wants it the chance to live as morally traditional a life as is possible for him. It is not, for traditional morality, an ideal, since it is still homosexual and sexually active. But it is the closest approximation such a person can come to that moral traditionalist ideal.

Some moral traditionalists will object that no sexually active homosexual can lead a moral life, even one committed monogamously in marriage to one other person, because traditional morality also favors heterosexual acts over homosexual acts. (Full disclsoure: I do not myself share the view that homosexual sex is intrinsically immoral.) A moral traditionalist friend of mine once remarked that it would be better, from the perspective of his religious faith, for a gay person to commit 1,000 sexual acts with 1,000 strangers than to commit 1,001 sexual acts with one partner with whom he shared a marital, monogamous, loving, life-long commitment.

There's nothing, finally, that I can say to that objection if you are really committed to the idea that there is no consideration of degree here, no thought to be given to the context in which otherwise morally objectionable acts are to occur. But I suspect that to very many moral traditionalists, the moral choice involved in the above example is clear and that it favors the marital, monogamous, loving, life-long commitment. The moral preference here is what we might call a form of moral satisficing, whereby we sacrifice the optimal result, which seems likely to be unattainable (heterosexual marriage for the homosexual), in order to achieve a satisfactorily good result. Perhaps not many married gay couples will attain this moral satisficing ideal (many straight couples do not attain it, either), but at least they will have the opportunity to attain it. Until now, they have been denied even this moral possibility in their lives.

In short, we can reasonably say that gay marriage will bring identifiable benefits to hundreds of thousands of identifiable families and millions of individuals in this country. We have reason to wonder just how large these benefits will be. That's a question I'll try to address tomorrow after presenting the communitarian benefits. But I cannot see a reasonable argument under which there would be absolutely no benefits at all.

I certainly don't want to make gay marriage sound like a government benefits program for a downtrodden people, like it was the forgotten element of the New Deal or the Great Society. Gain to gay couples and individuals is a necessary but not sufficient part of the case I'm making. The public interest in gay marriage must also be identified. But to the traditionalist, who cares about the stability of society and families, the presence of any such benefit must at least be counted for something in the scales. What's more, the children being raised by these families should benefit as well. That's for tomorrow.

Anna:
This is a personal vs intellectual comment. I have two relatives that are gay. Our family life has improved tremendously from them being in satisfying, stable, long-term relationships. If they had the full legal rights of straight couples, our family would benefit even more by the additional security it could add to their relationships. Before they found their partners, they were depressed and lonely. We worried about them and hated seeing them miserable. I personally like their choices in parters and feel my quality of life is enhanced because they are in my life.
10.31.2005 6:59pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
From Carpenter's entry above:

A moral traditionalist friend of mine once remarked that it would be better, from the perspective of his religious faith, for a gay person to commit 1,000 sexual acts with 1,000 strangers than to commit 1,001 sexual acts with one partner with whom he shared a marital, monogamous, loving, life-long commitment.

A very telling observation. I trust that was the end of the discussion.

Mercifully, his religious tradition is not the only one.
10.31.2005 7:08pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
It's certainly true that gays would derive some benefit from gaining official recognition by the government. But that argument could be made in arguing for licensing of any behavior. If a brother and sister wanted to marry, for just one example, government sanction would offer them some benefit. But government does not recognize marriage to benefit individuals.

Mr. Carpenter wants to discuss each point separately, but the issues are inseparable. We can't talk about one potential benefit of redefining marriage in a vacuum without considering potential ramifications in other areas.

Ultimately, calling two things the same word says those two things are the same. But opposite-sex relationships and same-sex relationships are not the same. Marriage between a man and a woman is a unique relationship in and of itself, and unique in terms of its role in our society.

What is being discussed here is not whether to allow gay people to marry. What is being discussed is whether to redefine marriage itself.
10.31.2005 7:10pm
Kendall:
*shrug* I think we should have a two pronged FMA if we're really talking about "protecting traditional marriage." clause one would define marriage in the US as Man/Woman and clause 2 would absolutely forbid divorce except for CRIMES (recriminalizing things that WERE punishable in the past) such as adultery or spousal abuse. If that were supported by people promoting "traditional marriage" then I think their arguments would carry a lot more weight.
10.31.2005 7:14pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
That's an asinine comment Kendall. Whether some couples divorce has nothing at all to do with the definition, or redefinition, of marriage.
10.31.2005 7:16pm
Joel B.:
I'd gladly support that Kendall, but I fear that while that may be a 30% sentiment it would not garner the necessary majority support.
10.31.2005 7:17pm
TJ (mail):
"That's an asinine comment Kendall. Whether some couples divorce has nothing at all to do with the definition, or redefinition, of marriage."

Yes, as asinine as asserting that an institution cannot be examined on the basis of its components.
10.31.2005 7:30pm
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
I will take this opportunity to suggest that some of you might find the late Pope John Paul's "Theology of the Body" worthwhile reading. In it the late Pope discusses many aspects of marriage, pornography, homosexuality, art, love and sex, and though it is slow reading, it is worthwhile. John Paul comments on the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" of Pope Paul VI issued in 1968, that provided the occasion for many priests and a flood of young men and women to abandon their Faith in one way or another. The theme of the book is a commentary on Christ's words on the Mount, "Whoever looks upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." John Paul develops the idea that sexual intercourse is an act of love, a giving of self to the spouse, the completion of a bond by which both become one. Sex that has the main purpose of one's own pleasure, and positively prevents any sharing with the partner is fundamentally selfish and undermines the very meaning of marriage. Rather than being dogmatic, the writings, done over a period of some thirty years, are uplifting, reassuring and religiously energising.I recommend it in favor of watching "Sex in the City."
10.31.2005 7:38pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You don't think "traditionalists" (I kind of like that term) agree with you that no-fault divorce hurts marriage? Please... let's get rid of it! As a pure policy decision on my part, I'd even compromise on gay marriage to get rid of no-fault divorce and call it a net gain for traditional marriage. Think NOW would take me up on that offer?
10.31.2005 7:49pm
It's Mr. Queer to you! (mail) (www):
I would like to thank you for the respect you are showing towards "marriage traditionalists". While Maggie was presenting her arguments Lesbian and Gay couples and families and proponents of marriage equality seemed to be leveled down to abbreviations. SSM was the popular term. I also like the fact that you aren't calling it gay marriage or same-sex marriage. I don't want a same-sex marriage. I want to be married.
10.31.2005 7:52pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
The Editors, American Federalist Journal:

But government does not recognize marriage to benefit individuals.

I realize that Carpenter isn't going wade into legal theories, but we obviously haven't been reading the same case law on marriage. I would summarize the relevant jurisprudence as the government recognizes the institution of (heterosexual) marriage as an individual liberty necessary to the ordered pursuit of happiness.

Carpenter is confining his remarks to societal impact of marriage, of which there are both individual and community implications. Obviously, there's room to debate the wisdom of including gay couples in marriage from this broader perspective.

It seems rather fanciful to suggest, however, that governments don't recognize marriage (in at least a large part) to benefit the individual participants.

Ultimately, calling two things the same word says those two things are the same.

As it relates to this debate, that's not very persuasive.

First of all, language is descriptive not proscriptive (as in any other academic discipline, you can find a linguist who disagrees with me on that).

One relevant example: Wives were until quite recently chattel throughout many of these United States. Mercifully—for both the individual women involved and society as whole—that has changed. That fundamental change in the standing of married women before their government did not necessitate the invention a new word. "Wives" existed under coverture, and "wives" persist without it.

Moreover, gay people are literally married now in some jurisdictions. I recognize that you object to both the legal and linguistic facts, but facts they remain.

What is being discussed is whether to redefine marriage itself.

That depends. In California, like many states, the legal roles and responsibilities of the participants in a marriage do not differ in any way based on gender. Gender is only a barrier to the licensing scheme. Once licensed, gender never (legally) rears its ugly head again. From this point of view, gender itself is not part of the legal substance of marriage.

I understand fully that you object to marriage between people of the same gender. I infer that you think it is a very bad thing for society. What I can't understand from your posting is why that is or, perhaps more in keeping with the topic at hand, what Carpenter has posted thus far that isn't true and relevant.
10.31.2005 7:57pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
OOPS. I truncated the quote from "The Editors" on the use of the word marriage. Given how familiar that line of argument is, I hope readers could fill the blanks:


Ultimately, calling two things the same word says those two things are the same. But opposite-sex relationships and same-sex relationships are not the same.
10.31.2005 8:03pm
Medis:
I've been thinking about what role state recognition plays in the social benefit dimension. It is not obvious that it should matter: social groups might be able to grant all those benefits without the help of the state, and they can't be forced to grant those benefits even at the behest of the state. And so I wonder if it would indeed matter if the state had no role in recognizing marriages at all.

In other words, the problem may be precisely that in choosing to recognize straight marriages but not gay marriages, the state is sending an exclusionary message about gay marriages that social groups find hard to ignore.
10.31.2005 8:06pm
Justin Kee (mail):
"Ultimately, calling two things the same word says those two things are the same. But opposite-sex relationships and same-sex relationships are not the same. Marriage between a man and a woman is a unique relationship in and of itself, and unique in terms of its role in our society. "

The reasonable arguement for the uniqueness of a man-woman relationship is for the purposes of procreation. Yet, reproductive technology is expanding the set of persons who can have biological children and family law is expanding the realm of those who can adopt.

"John Paul develops the idea that sexual intercourse is an act of love, a giving of self to the spouse, the completion of a bond by which both become one. Sex that has the main purpose of one's own pleasure, and positively prevents any sharing with the partner is fundamentally selfish and undermines the very meaning of marriage."

And how would his statement change if the married couple in his example was same-sex?
10.31.2005 8:08pm
Medis:
Incidentally, it seems to me the question is not whether opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are identical, but rather whether the differences are more relevant than the similarities.
10.31.2005 8:09pm
Kendall:
"That's an asinine comment Kendall. Whether some couples divorce has nothing at all to do with the definition, or redefinition, of marriage."

How exactly is it asinine in any way to question how allowing gay couples to form committed relationships recognized by the state (which is what the debate is really about, marriage rights, not the "word" marriage, not "religious" marriage, merely the right to form relationships that are recognized at the state and federal level like any other couple) might be LESS DAMAGING than the current divorce law?

As has been pointed out the number of gay couples in this country while large on a national scale is still relatively small by other comparisons - such as with divorce.

I'm gay. I want to marry my boyfriend one day, I'm not denying this debate has implications for my future. I don't question the good intentions of marriage traditionalists, I'm sure they simply want to preserve marriage as it was originally intended. I know many gay people consider them to be anti gay or bigotted, so I think if they showed support for a stronger FMA which ACTUALLY would protect marriage rather than deny marriage to gay couples "just because" it would show a lot more class. its easy to pass a law restricting a minority's freedom, its a lot tougher to pass a law which might negatively affect the majority
10.31.2005 8:17pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
http://www.aamft.org/Press_Room/Press_releases/risk.asp

"No-Fault Under Attack: Why Now?

The predominant support for toughening divorce laws comes from religious and right-wing groups. Decrying the shrinking number of traditional nuclear families, "the Christian Right's agenda is to force people to stay married," says Laura Boyd, PhD, a Democratic state legislator in Oklahoma, an MFT and a trained divorce mediator. But the cry for renewed "family values" tied to this battle seems to reflect a broader societal disenchantment with a culture of divorce and remarriage. Roughly half to two-thirds of couples marrying in the 1980s and 1990s will divorce, the majority with minor children."

Good enough, Kendell? That took one google search for "no-fault divorce." I clicked on the first link.
10.31.2005 8:26pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
The editors of the American Federalist Journal note:

"If a brother and sister wanted to marry, for just one example, government sanction would offer them some benefit. But government does not recognize marriage to benefit individuals."

I'm not sure where the AFJ is headquartered. Is that sort of thing very common where you're from? I've known quite a lot of siblings in the last 50 years, and don't recall one pair that wanted to marry each other. Whereas a significant fraction of my gay friends indicate their preference for a stable monogomous relationships and have a passion for marriage my two ex-wives wouldn't understand. Perhaps some of the brilliant legal minds on this blog could work to develop some sort of wording--the kind of dense legalese people like myself cannot begin to comprehend--that would allow gay marriage, but only to those people who are not already related to one another...
10.31.2005 8:39pm
Kendall:
Dan Chapman - Hmmm... No, it isn't. Its easy to give lip service to a principle, but when the President of the United States talks about defending marriage he means denying a small number of people what a majority of the country (who have experienced at least one divorce) already abuses.

It is easy to talk about protecting marriage by closing it off from growth when Brittney Spears can get married and have it annulled in a little over two days. It is easy to dismiss children with gay parents because, well, there aren't as many and those that exist don't talk about it much (probably in many cases because they fear reprisal, but also probably because for them its just the way it is and it hasn't harmed them in most cases).

It is not so easy to talk publicly about divorce and the problem with divorce in this country and indeed, in many other countries around the world. It is easy to point fingers about the "Death" of marriage when in reality it is being torn apart by the people already involved in it. It is easy to say someone has a "perversion" (as one poster said of all gay people in the last thread) and not so easy to examine the flaws of the institution that is "protected." It is easy to become a libertarian saying you don't want to expand government to cover gay couples and a lot harder to work actively to repeal benefits of marriage.

But then I'm sure the people calling for those things have been fair about it. I'm sure every single married person in this thread that thinks if gay marriage is allowable it should be only as a legal contract with no state interest has returned any benefits from filing joint tax returns. I'm sure they each file separately with their spouse and I'm sure they behave as they would should this legal utopia exists. Because afterall, its easy to be consistent, isn't it?
10.31.2005 8:58pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
So you think people have to push for a Constitutional amendment barring no-fault divorce in order to be consistent? There's an easy way to distinguish the issue: no-fault divorce was enacted through the legislature because, for better or for worse, that's what the people wanted. "Traditionalists" fought it and lost... some are still fighting it.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, looks like it will be enacted by judicial decree. That's why its opponents are pursuing a constitutional amendment.

You don't have to agree with it... just stop it with the lame hypocrisy arguments. The central premise, that opponents of same-sex marriage don't care about no-fault divorce, seems to be wrong.
10.31.2005 9:11pm
Public_Defender:
That's an asinine comment Kendall. Whether some couples divorce has nothing at all to do with the definition, or redefinition, of marriage.

Defining under what conditions (if any) "marriage" can end is essential to the definition of what "marriage" is.

How many heterosexual marriages does divorce destroy each year? How many heterosexual marriages would gay marriage destroy each year? Now, where's the real threat?

It's pretty clear who is making the "asinine" argument.

As to the "redefinition" of marriage, you are very selective in chosing the defintion. Traditionally, marriage was the union of a man and a woman (actually, often only a girl), arranged by their parents, in which both the man and girl were of the same race, religion, ethnic group, social class, and economic class. The woman (girl) was legally subordinate to the man (if she had any legal status at all). And, until the last few decades, it was not a crime for the the man to rape his wife.

It's funny how many inconvenient "traditions" some conservatives forget. Their definition of "marriage" (a voluntary and equal union between a man and an adult woman) is actually a radical departure from traditional marriage.
10.31.2005 9:12pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Appellate Junkie,

But government does not recognize marriage to benefit individuals.

I was addressing the reason government recognized marriage in the first place. "Case law" has no bearing on that point.


Language is no longer descriptive if we start calling different things the same word. Why don't we call groups of three people or more, "couples"? If some judge decrees that from now on, all cats will be called "dogs" will that make them the same? The law should not lie by stating two different things are the same.

"Wives were until quite recently chattel throughout many of these United States."


Some men may think/have thought of their wives as property, some gay men may think of their partners as property today. That has no bearing on the traditional definition of marriage.


Kendall,
What I called asinine is bringing an entirely separate issue - divorce - into this thread, where it has no relevance.
10.31.2005 9:12pm
anonymous22:
It's telling that we are not as critical of Mr. Carpenter. This post is just a description of what gay marriage would do (gays really want to get married-- just like poor people really would like welfare benefits) and a tendentious pseudo-dialogue with "moral conservatives" (now, now, Mr. Conservative, there's something for you here too!) It addresses none of the secondary and societal consequences of gay marriage, which is the crux of the debate here, just as it was the crux of the debate over welfare. For example, I could justify reimposing traditional AFDC with the following outline:

1. Benefits to poor couples
A. Economic-- poor people invest their welfare checks in the economy
B. Caretaking-- poor mothers can stay home and take care of their children
C. Social benefits-- poor couples do not have to live hand-to-mouth-- they can live meaningful lives-- won't starve.
2. Benefits to individuals-- more healthy, more wealthy, more happy.
10.31.2005 9:13pm
anonymous22:
Oh yes, and to complete the analogy, at one point there was a commonly-made constitutional argument for recognizing "welfare rights"-- positive rights-- under the Equal Protection Clause.
10.31.2005 9:15pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Britney Spears abusing the institution does not alter the institution. Redefining the institution does alter it. Apples/oranges.
10.31.2005 9:15pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
P_D: Race, class, how a marriage was arranged, etc. are not definitional, or central to what marriage is. Gender is central to the institution of marriage. Do you know anyone who is married to a person of a different race, or doesn't care what race their spouse is? Probably so. Do you know anyone who doesn't care what gender their spouse is? Apples/oranges again.
10.31.2005 9:20pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Just out of curiosity... "The American Federalist Journal" isn't published anywhere except on your weblog, is it? Your "About" page doesn't add much credibility.
10.31.2005 9:21pm
Kendall:
Editors - "Britney Spears abusing the institution does not alter the institution. Redefining the institution does alter it. Apples/oranges."

Does that mean you condemn the straw man that two straight male roommates could get married if marriage was gender neutral? Afterall, that would by definition be an abuse of the system. Which is not to say that you support gay marriage at all or conceed anything, merely that there are other reasons than abuses of the system to not support gay marriage.

And, of course, we're still waiting for a specific statement of harm to individual straight couples if two men or two women can marry, preferably harm that outweighs the benefits to entire families.
10.31.2005 9:23pm
treefroggy (mail):
Anna: If you think your friends were " lonely and depressed" before they found partners, wait until they've been married for 30 years !
10.31.2005 9:25pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You'll be waiting for a long time, Kendall... no one has made the claim that individual straight couples will be harmed by gay marriage, have they? Either way, it's beyond the scope of Dr. Carpenter's post. Can we try to keep things on topic lest they become the same mess that Gallagher's threads became?
10.31.2005 9:31pm
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Carpenter,

I think one question that you may or may not address later is whether you think extending marriage to homosexual couples should take place nationally, or state by state.
10.31.2005 9:31pm
Huh:
And Mr. Fed-Editor, where you've erred is suggesting that divorce has no relevance to the discussion. It seems that you're trying to compartmentalize the discussion. Wasn't that the substance of your first objection? I will quote:

"Mr. Carpenter wants to discuss each point separately, but the issues are inseparable. We can't talk about one potential benefit of redefining marriage in a vacuum without considering potential ramifications in other areas."

What's kinda dumb here is that you're trying to moderate discussion to your liking within a public forum. Believe me, as a regular Volokh reader, I'd like to avoid a lot of tangential and/or poorly reasoned posts. The internet doesn't work that way. I have to read some posts I'd rather not read in order to attend the discussions I enjoy.

Let's grin and bear it together.
10.31.2005 9:33pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"gays really want to get married-- just like poor people really would like welfare benefit"
Poor analogy - gay citizens want to license the civil contract because it does exist and other citizens are allowed to license it. This is an equal access issue that is derives from the founding principles of this government - all citizens have equal rights, the government exists to serve its citizens and facilitate these rights.

Carpenter has pointed out many of the benefits of the civil contract but one of the most important is it allows for asymetrical distribution of labor and familial roles. In gay households the same relative percentage of those with children have a stay-at-home parent as the current civilly married contractees. The civil contract makes it far easier for one parent to be the 'breadwinner' and the other the homemaker if that's how they want to organize their household and does so regardless of the gender mix of the couple.

Hopefully the next installment will be about the benefits to society of having its adult citizens 'coupled up' regardless of their gender combinations and how it should encourage this as much as possible.

Stillw ith all the song and dance around but the nay sayers can't come up with the reason why some married citizen's are allowed to license the civil contract and others are not solely on the gender of the citizen's cosignee.
10.31.2005 9:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
If you are going to bring up John Paul II and his views on marriage, perhaps it would be appropriate to bring up John Paul I, and HIS views on marriage. JP I lasted only 33 days as Pope in 1978, but that doens't make his views any less important than a pope who lasted for many years.

JP I explicitly endorsed in the 1960s and ever after the right for gay couples to get married. My friend George Gregroire knew the pope when he was a bishop and wrote a biography of him entitled Murder at the Vatican, available on Amazon.com (Shameless plug.) JP I was intrumental in getting the Italian legislature to allow adoption of children by single parents in the early 60s. Why? Because he said that if we are going to condemn abortion and encourage women to have their children, we need to provide a home for those children that will ultimatlely be abandoned. When an legislature stated that allowing single parents will allow homosexuals to adopt, his response was that unless we eliminate discrimination for even the tiniest minority, we cannot call ourselves a true democracy. JP I stated repeatedly that gays should have all the same rights as everyone else; the right to be free from discrimination in employment and housing, the right to marry, to have and raise children, and full inclusion in the church. Ditto with women and other minorities. So on this issue, the Pope would have certainly backed Spain, Canada and now us in this debate. He also believed that people should be entitled to a divorce and remarry within the church, since there is no point in being in an unhappy marriage, and it certiainly isn't healthy for the children to grow up in a household that knows nothing of real love.

JP I was also in favor of female priests and selling off the vast Vatican real estate and art holdings to fund anti-poverty programs. He didn't last very long.
10.31.2005 9:38pm
Swimmy:
"I'm not sure where the AFJ is headquartered. Is that sort of thing very common where you're from?"

Don't underestimate the slippery slope argument. It's certainly odd to imagine such a situation today, but with the spread of the internet (and it would take me all of two seconds to find a forum in which people speak of feeling genuine love for their sisters or pets; I'll refrain from linking them out of courtesy), fetishes are growing ever more justified in the eyes of their holders. This isn't to say there are no work-arounds, and I trust that, in light of today's cogent post, Carpenter will tackle the slippery slope argument in full force. But the possibility of things getting very ridiculous and/or disgusting in the public arena is very real.
10.31.2005 9:38pm
Randy R. (mail):
Fetishes are growing ever more justified? That is such a hoot! people have had festishes since the dawn of time (ever study anthropology?)

I know people who have a shoe fetish. Pray tell, what is the harm in that? And since civilization has survived lo these many centuries with people and fetishes, what the heck is wrong with any of it? Oh, of course, if it harms someone, or not consensual, I can understand that. But one of the great things about the internet is that people of a like fetish can find enjoy and therefore find sexual satisifaction in the comfort of their own home. Does that frighten you?
10.31.2005 9:42pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
It seems one big supposition underlying most discussions about redefining marriage is that X% of the population is homosexual, and Y% of children are raised by married, opposite-sex couples, and X and Y will not change significantly no matter what cultural changes occur.
10.31.2005 9:48pm
Kendall:
Editors - "It's certainly true that gays would derive some benefit from gaining official recognition by the government. But that argument could be made in arguing for licensing of any behavior. If a brother and sister wanted to marry, for just one example, government sanction would offer them some benefit. But government does not recognize marriage to benefit individuals."

I reread you first post and that last sentence really struck me. In the debate during Maggie Gallagher's stay the argument was made that marriage was for children, the production of children and the raising of children for the benefit of children to aid in the continuation of the society.

Its certainly true, as it was once said "children are our future" but that platitude does not escape from the fact that marriage has long been recognized for its affect at an individual level and arguing otherwise is disingenuous at best.

You also mention the possibility of marriage opening up to brothers and sisters. I believe Dr. Volokh himself pointed out a year or so ago (perhaps longer?) that the compelling reason society has for prohibitting incest is the potential for children with a higher probability of birth defects/health issues. The reason then that homosexual incest wouldn't be allowable is equal protection - if we can't allow heterosexual incest because the health risk is too great then society may not allow homosexual incest within gay marriage.
10.31.2005 9:49pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Randy:

I know people who have a shoe fetish.

So should the government license them too? :)
10.31.2005 9:50pm
Swimmy:
Missed my point entirely.

The people who engage in harmful or taboo-for-good-reason fetishes (i.e., incest, bestiality, pedophilia) are finding more like themselves and seeing their group as persecuted. They will take it to the public arena and say, "Hey, look, everyone else has something we don't! We want in on this marriage thing too! If you don't support us, you don't support our civil rights."

Once again, I'm not saying that we should be anti-gay-marriage based on the slippery slope argument. There are obvious counter-arguments when those future events come along. What we shouldn't do is pretend that the movements don't exist, as Ross Levatter seemed to, or not foresee its inevitability.
10.31.2005 9:57pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Kendall,
The risks of incestuous reproduction are often overstated. It generally takes several generations of inbreeding to create a problem.

But you cannot legitimately argue that marriage is not about children, then turn around and argue that brother-sister marriage is banned for the sake of children. What about a brother and sister who don't want any children? Would it be OK with you if they married?

In any case, I was not attempting to compare same-sex marriage and incest. I made the statement that if the sole argument is "we should license behavior X because people who engage in behavior X benefit" then X can be anything. Threfore we need some other reason to decide what we will and will not license.
10.31.2005 9:59pm
Antares79:

A moral traditionalist friend of mine once remarked that it would be better, from the perspective of his religious faith, for a gay person to commit 1,000 sexual acts with 1,000 strangers than to commit 1,001 sexual acts with one partner with whom he shared a marital, monogamous, loving, life-long commitment.

Gay people, like most other people, generlly have sex less frequently while in a long-term relationship for a number of years, than they would have if single and dating. Marriage, the ultimate (at least, most guaranteed) long-term relationship, would thus decrease the amount of gay sex occuring on planet Earth if gays are allowed to marry. Absolutist moral traditionalists would surely find this to be a good thing.
10.31.2005 10:05pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Language is no longer descriptive if we start calling different things the same word. Why don't we call groups of three people or more, "couples"? If some judge decrees that from now on, all cats will be called "dogs" will that make them the same? The law should not lie by stating two different things are the same. --

Fine. Then call it "garriage" or "civil union" or "domestic partnership." Just make sure that under such arrangements, we give every single right and obligation to same-sex couples that we do to married hetero couples.
10.31.2005 10:07pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

"Marriage, the ultimate (at least, most guaranteed) long-term relationship, would thus decrease the amount of gay sex occuring on planet Earth if gays are allowed to marry"


Only true if increasing societal acceptance of homosexual behavior doesn't increase the incidence of the behavior. There's evidence that would not be the case - the experience of the ancient Greeks for example. A recent CDC survey also showed a marked increase in the percentage of the U.S. population engaging in homosexual behavior. We referenced the study in a blog post a couple of months ago.
10.31.2005 10:14pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Randy R.,

Does that frighten you?

I'm struck by something sorely lacking from this debate, which your post suggests.

While it may be a conceit, I recall some rather simple and compelling notions of what the social compact is among Americans. Ideas once taught in elementary school. Ideas perhaps more often honored in the breach, but worthy nonetheless.

I never expected Gallagher to touch on them (it's never been her shtick). I realize that Carpenter, who's discussed these precepts with some eloquence elsewhere, chose to confine his remarks to marriage as an experiment in social-engineering.

But I wonder why so many do not articulate them here, even in broad terms, as a framework for this discussion?

Is there no notion of rights reserved to the individual as against the government? Don't we value the freedom to choose, even if we must necessarily accept that different people will make different—even seemingly strange—choices? Is not the imperative and legitimacy of our government the promise of liberty and the ordered pursuit (but not the promise) of happiness?

Is what so many people apparently fear the very thing upon which we've premised our (perhaps radical notions of) society?

There is a very real morality underpinning our pretense of government's purpose. In this context, why are so many so quick to abandon it?
10.31.2005 10:15pm
Kendall:
"But you cannot legitimately argue that marriage is not about children, then turn around and argue that brother-sister marriage is banned for the sake of children. What about a brother and sister who don't want any children? Would it be OK with you if they married?"

On your first point, I NEVER argued that marriage is not about children, as numerous individuals have pointed out many gay couples meet the "children" aspect of your point. As for your second point, no one is arguing that children of gay couples might suffer potentially greater risk of physical defects because the individuals raising them are gay. but you're getting off topic now as you accused me of doing (strange isn't it how you can call me getting off topic "asinine" and go off topic merrily yourself), this is about gay marriage not theoretically allowing incestuous marriages
10.31.2005 10:18pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe, but then you're just playing a word game. We shouldn't treat them identically, because they aren't identical. An objection to calling two different relationships the same word is not the sole objection. The word is just one piece of treating two different things identically.
10.31.2005 10:21pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
The word "garriage" does have a ring to it however. :)
10.31.2005 10:22pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Appellate:

Is there no notion of rights reserved to the individual as against the government? Don't we value the freedom to choose, even if we must necessarily accept that different people will make different—even seemingly strange—choices? Is not the imperative and legitimacy of our government the promise of liberty and the ordered pursuit (but not the promise) of happiness?


None of that requires a license from the government, and the official sanction that license brings with it.
10.31.2005 10:24pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Kendall,
Maggie Gallagher's argument was all about tying marriage to children, and her argument was rejected by her detractors.

Physical defects are not the only risks children face.

Again, I was not making an analogy between gay marriage and incest, I merely used it as an example to illustrate that X might equal anything at all. How many times do you need that pointed out?
10.31.2005 10:28pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- A recent CDC survey also showed a marked increase in the percentage of the U.S. population engaging in homosexual behavior. We referenced the study in a blog post a couple of months ago. --

We could also say that the CDC survey just shows that more people are willing to admit to it. I call this "the masturbation effect" -- one reason why so many of the earlier studies lowballed the number of homosexuals. Men of virile years who don't have a partner with whom to have sex (and even many men who do) masturbate pretty much universally for release. Yet ask them about it in such surveys and some significant number will deny it. Homosexual behavior, especially male homosexual behavior, has a stigma to it, still, even though it is declining, that is far greater than that of masturbation.

I think a lot of Kinsey 1s and 2s are still subject to the masturbation effect and hence their numbers are still underestimated in these studies. Those who embrace their "gay identity" are being more honest now.
10.31.2005 10:30pm
Blar (mail) (www):
For those who are concerned that Carpenter hasn't mentioned the potential negative indirect consequences of allowing gays to marry (like undermining the institution of marriage), let me remind you of his plan:

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. ... 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.


So wait till Wednesday. Or, you might want to look at my somewhat relevant post, on how the potential indirect harms of gay marriage are not obviously larger than the potential indirect harms of civil unions or the potential indirect harms of refusing to grant same sex relationships any legal status.

So far, Carpenter has argued that allowing gays to marry would benefit gay individuals. As far as I can tell, no one is disagreeing with that claim. It also appears that most of these benefits do not come at the expense of other people (unlike, for instance, policies that redistribute money). Instead, they primarily help gay individuals by including them in beneficial social traditions and giving them access to the same smoothly-functioning legal structures that support heterosexual relationships. If there is a cost to allowing gays to marry that we should be concerned about, it is an indirect cost - something like undermining marriage as we know it - and hence a topic for Wednesday and Thursday. Further, for the few benefits that do place a direct cost on society, like not taxing inheritance, it is not clear why we should have different policies for gay couples than for straight couples. Do you all agree?
10.31.2005 10:31pm
Kendall:
Editors - "Again, I was not making an analogy between gay marriage and incest, I merely used it as an example to illustrate that X might equal anything at all. How many times do you need that pointed out?"

About as many times as you need to be reminded you haven't answered the basic question of harm in regards to individual straight couples if gay couple x is allowed to marry.
10.31.2005 10:33pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Only true if increasing societal acceptance of homosexual behavior doesn't increase the incidence of the behavior. There's evidence that would not be the case - the experience of the ancient Greeks for example. --

The interesting thing about Ancient Greece is that although they had more homosexual behavior, it didn't have any apparent effect on their sexual orientation. The men for the most part had homosexual sex for release. And almost all of them went on to marry women and sire families.

Constitutional homosexuals, those on the 3-6 end of Kinsey's scale, probably aren't any more than 4% of any given population. A much larger % of the male citizen class partook in homosexual behavior. There is no evidence that any greater % of the population in Ancient Greece "went gay," if we understand "gay" to be those who have a full or predominant same-sex attraction and devote their relationships accordingly.
10.31.2005 10:35pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe:

We could also say that the CDC survey just shows that more people are willing to admit to it.

But the data do not show that, you're engaging in conjecture. Before we decide to alter the foundational institution of our civilization, we need more than your conjecture.
10.31.2005 10:35pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Kendall:

About as many times as you need to be reminded you haven't answered the basic question of harm in regards to individual straight couples if gay couple x is allowed to marry.


I didn't argue that any individual relationship would be harmed though. I haven't seen anyone argue that.
10.31.2005 10:38pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe:

The interesting thing about Ancient Greece is that although they had more homosexual behavior, it didn't have any apparent effect on their sexual orientation.

Behavior is what matters.
10.31.2005 10:39pm
Antares79:
Editors-

Only true if increasing societal acceptance of homosexual behavior doesn't increase the incidence of the behavior. There's evidence that would not be the case. . . A recent CDC survey also showed a marked increase in the percentage of the U.S. population engaging in homosexual behavior.

Assuming this is a true correlation (and the gay population simply hasn't increased):
Then the genie is out of the bottle - the frequency of gay sex has increased due to societal acceptance of gays without gay marriage. Would allowing gay marriage further this acceptance and increase the incidence of gay sex more than "long term relationship fatigue" would decrease it? Is there any way to measure this?

By your correlation, the the moral traditionalist's time is better spent advocating moral disaproval of homosexual behavior, as that would measureably decrease the incidence of homosexual sex. Yes, perhaps opposing SSM dovetails with this advocacy at times.
However, notwithstanding your correlation, the moral traditionalist's time is still better spent simply advocating abstinence among gays. After all, teaching abstinence has real, measureable effects on decreasing sex rates among the taught, right? Or perhaps petitioning the government to close gay sex venues, such as bathhouses. Opposing SSM does nothing to affect these ends (and perhaps encourages bathhouse prominence)

Or perhaps you would use crasser measures to assure measurable reduction in the incidence of homosexual sex...?
10.31.2005 10:41pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"Behavior is what matters."

It all depends on how the behavior impacts someone's life. For instance, if all of society went gay or practiced contracepted sex during every act of intercourse, the population would disappear. But we know that neither will happen (contraception is arguably more of a threat to population that homosexual intercourse or other types of non-procreative acts. However, we can't overlook the tremendous benefits that contraception has brought the world either).

So what if, when men are sequestered from women temporarily, some turn to homosexual acts for release if the men eventually go one to marry women and sire families?

Human nature shows that about 95% have a full or predominant heterosexual orientation (from 0-2 on the Kinsey scale) and 5%, homosexual or bi (from 3-6). This is no doubt, the way it was in Ancient Greece and the way it is today.
10.31.2005 10:48pm
Mr. Obvious:
I've never seen it satisfactorily explained just how gay people are being discriminated by not being able to marry other gay people. For example, let's take the obvious - gay men are men. Men (straight or gay) are currently not allowed to marry other men, so gay men are not being single out. How then are they being discriminated against? Some would argue gay people are being discriminated because they can't marry the person or type of person they prefer, but obviously many straight people suffer a similar fate. As is said, "such is life".

Would there be benefits to allowing gay marriage? Problably. Would there be drawbacks? Probably. The benefits would fall directly and obviously mainly to gay people, drawbacks/costs would be more diffuse and spread over society as a whole.

The original post's line of arguement about individual benefits sounds more like something approaching special pleading from gays for benefits paid for by society as a whole - gays as the new Sugar Growers of America, not the new civil rights crusade.
10.31.2005 10:51pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Dale,

Substitute "incestuous" for "gay" everywhere in your article and see how convincing you find your own reasoning.

The fundamental flaw in the "oh, but just think of how special it would be for them" argument is that it is entirely arbitrary in the selection of who "them" is, as in the case in Oregon where gay activists reject one form of legal recognition because it would be too inclusive of relationship types they don't approve of.

As I said before, you are advocating for replacement of marriage, which is a two part proposal:
1) deleting one institution, and
2) inserting a new one in its place.
You are arguing for the inserting part, and if you wish to change your position to creating a legal recognition of your particular relationship of favor, then please do so. Otherwise, your argument for replacement remains unconvincing in its glaring lack of a rationale for one of its two fundamental features.

Other problems in your post, such as the assumption that neutered "marriage" would provide the same function to individuals as marriage currently provides are dealt with in Of Seat Belts and Sweat Pants. (From which you seem to have stolen many of your ideas in promoting neutered "marriage," incidentally.)

Finally, to deal with your most condescending and stigmatizing statement:

So far, every gay person has lived without the prospect of ever marrying the person she loves, to whom she is committed, and with whom she wants to form a family in a commitment that carries the prospect of a life-long bond. [Emphasis added]

Actually, I have at least one gay friend who is now quite happily married and who has been for several years before there ever was such a thing as neutered "marriage." People like you want to tell her she is not allowed to be happy where she is now, that she is genetically unqualified, but you don't know the first thing about her or others like her. Truth be told, she says if neutered "marriage" had been around earlier, she probably would have taken advantage of it, but she bristles when people like you sit on your judgement seat and tell her she is now unhappy, unattracted to her husband, not in love, not committed, or that she would have been happiER if she had stayed with her own kind.
10.31.2005 10:51pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Editors of the American Federalist Journal: I don't know about your publication, but ours frowns on posters' calling each others' comments "asinine." Please stay civil -- it's nicer, it makes the blog more pleasant to read, and it's also more rhetorically effective. (In your case, since you represent a publication, I would also think that you'd be interested in building and maintaing that publication's reputation.)

Editor, The Volokh Conspiracy
10.31.2005 11:09pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Eugene: I don't know about your publication, but ours frowns on posters' calling each others' comments "asinine."

How terribly open-minded and accepting of you! How wonderfully snobbish! As this is the only time you have chosen to inject with your nose held high, your "publication" must not be equally incensed by name calling, threats of violence, or other attempts at bullying. I'm afraid your ivory tower doesn't look quite as high to those of us on the outside as it must to you on the inside. I don't mind the enforcement of a standard in the comments to a blog, but I would hope it could be affected without the self-importance and in a more consistent fashion.
10.31.2005 11:22pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Substitute "incestuous" for "gay" everywhere in your article and see how convincing you find your own reasoning. --

And this assumes that "incestuous" is at all substitutable for "gay." I could just as easily say, substitute "incestuous" for "interracial couplings" and see how convincing you find your own reasoning.
10.31.2005 11:31pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
And this assumes that "incestuous" is at all substitutable for "gay."

If that makes you uncomfortable you should ask yourself why. I remember Dan Savage making a point once that the difference between incest and homosexuality on the moral plane is that homosexual is a person, incest is an act.

Well, coin the term "incestual" and you bridge that gap in an awful hurry.

Its rather like Plato's cave to watch ss"m" advocates see their arguments for what they are. Op-Ed's exercise shows just how unspecific Dale's arguments are. Insert any couple really, from inter-racial to polyamorous to polygamous to couples who have no sexual interest in each other whatsoever. They all apply yet from Jon and other ss"m" advocates we see a contradiction. Somehow this argument only applies to gays, and that is homo-chauvanism.

Without any meaningful distinction that can be drawn we can only conclude then that the Dale's logic is faulty...

Argument A means set B should be married. If set B is gay then A=>B is true. If set B is incestuous, polyamorous, or not romantically interested A=>B is false. Yet they have families, they raise children, they would benefit just the same. We have a contradiction, plain and simple.
10.31.2005 11:53pm
Josh Jasper (mail):
Lessons I learned from Professor Volokh: Using the word 'assinine' is wrong, but comparing gay people to brother/sister incest is OK.

Racial invective, wrong. Incest comparison, OK.

Religious bigotry, wrong. Incest comparisons, OK.

Sexism... well, that's usualy OK, as long as it's not too overt. But if it's overt, it's wrong, and comparing same sex relationships to incest is OK.

Could you TRY A LITTLE HARDER to look like a mirror image of The National Review back during the civil rights era, only now it's gays in stead of blacks?

Oh yes, Professor Volokh, I'm sure you've got plenty of black, uh, gay friends.
11.1.2005 12:00am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Josh,

I don't see the need to be defensive, though if you are the same Josh I've dealt with in the past perhaps I have an idea.

If I were to say that homosexuality was different than heterosexuality, that no comparison should be made, how would you feel? Indeed homosexuality cannot reproduce, it lacks the diversity of another gender, among other differences one can name.

Some would argue that those differences are distinctive enough that marriage should be seperate. If you want to tear down those distinctions (which is your right to advocate) and compare what other see as unseemly, then how arrogant is it of you to demand for any basis whatsoever that homosexuality is somehow sacred from consideration with other couples. If you can't produce an distinction, then your argument is nothing more than bigotry, is it not?

However, as I said the point is not the comparison but the contradiction in logic that follows.

If you can't speak to the contradiction, somehow justifying the discrimination you advocate, then you are simply a bigot.
11.1.2005 12:08am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Our policy is generally to tolerate a vast range of substantive argument, because it's important that those arguments be aired. For instance, the analogy of same-sex marriage to incestuous marriage is sometimes an important and eminently legitimate argument (though most certainly not a dispositive one, which is why I myself support recognizing same-sex marriage but do not support recognizing most incestuous marriages). To take the most obvious example, if someone is arguing -- as Dale is not, but as some do -- that consenting adults have an inherent right to have their marriages be legally recognized, then it's entirely fair (and in my view persuasive on this point) to point out that this argument would legitimize incestuous marriages as well as same-sex marriages.

However, all arguments -- good or bad, bigoted or saintly -- should be framed without the use of personal insults or invective (or, of course, threats of violence), since such devices are not only offensive and likely to lead to a worsening of the discussion, but also unnecessary. Offensive ideas, fine; offensive modes of expressing those ideas, unnecessary and thus not fine. Cohen v. California is a good guide for government repression of speech. I don't think it's a necessary or wise rule for editorial decisions in publications such as this one.

This of course is constrained by the fact that I don't always read all the comments. One therefore shouldn't expect that all personal insults would draw adverse notice (or editing or banning). But I figure that it's better to admonish a few people -- especially since perhaps others will heed the admonition, and try to avoid being the ones who are admonished next time -- than to (1) turn comment policing into a full-time job, or (2) do nothing because I can't do everything.

I certainly recognize that different people have different views on this subject. Fortunately, it's a big Internet; there are plenty of places where people can find whatever tone of discussion they like, whether it's either more constrained than this one or less constrained.

Finally, I would hope that another lesson you learned from this blog is that the word is "asinine."
11.1.2005 12:16am
Kendall:
On Lawn - Is this where you tell me which rights of marriage you think SHOULD be de-marriaged? In other words, you told me that in some cases couples not married in the traditional definition should have rights that currently exist only for married couples. Please elaborate on that point. Which rights do you want to disconnect from marriage?
11.1.2005 12:20am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
if someone is arguing -- as Dale is not, but as some do -- that consenting adults have an inherent right to have their marriages be legally recognized, then it's entirely fair (and in my view persuasive on this point) to point out that this argument would legitimize incestuous marriages as well as same-sex marriages.

The argument stands because Dale is arguing benefits and that the benefit to the couples produces the impetus for marriage. For that we have to examine just why then the benefits he claims are being selectively argued only for homosexual couples.

Programs such as Reciprocal Beneficiaries are set to provide the benefits that Dale suggests homosexual couples would gain from being recognized as marriages by the state. RB's are not marriage, but then what is? RB's seem to satisfy his requirements, and changing marriage to be RB's would be both heavy-handed and dissolving of much of the true capacity that marriage has.
11.1.2005 12:30am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Kendall,

I remember our conversation ended completely and to your satisfaction. I'm thrown that you wish to re-enter it. But this one part is new, the question...

Which rights do you want to disconnect from marriage?

I don't remember that coming up before. Certainly if it had I would have answered that I do not see any reason to disconnect rights from marriage. I'm not sure where you see that in my arguments.

In other words, you told me that in some cases couples not married in the traditional definition should have rights that currently exist only for married couples.

A number of private and government means can accomplish this. And I'd actually fight to see that this happens, which is why I show such scepticism as to the lack of breadth of consideration by Dale.
11.1.2005 12:33am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Eugene: I myself support recognizing same-sex marriage but do not support recognizing most incestuous marriages

Go ahead. Explain why you "support recognizing [neutered] marriage," then show how that line of reasoning does not extend to "support recognizing most[most?!] incestuous marriages," or at least why your arguments are to be ignored when they are applied to alternative lifestyles of which you disapprove but not when they are applied to alternative lifestyles you do approve of.
11.1.2005 12:47am
BobNelson (mail):

John Paul develops the idea that sexual intercourse is an act of love, a giving of self to the spouse, the completion of a bond by which both become one. Sex that has the main purpose of one's own pleasure, and positively prevents any sharing with the partner is fundamentally selfish and undermines the very meaning of marriage. Rather than being dogmatic, the writings, done over a period of some thirty years, are uplifting, reassuring and religiously energising.I recommend it in favor of watching "Sex in the City."


Obviously, the Pope(s) spend a lot of time thinking. Obviously, as well, that doesn't mean they know what they're talking about. JPII apparently could not conceive (no pun intended) of the possibility that a gay man engaging in sex with another man might be more concerned with his partner's pleasure than his own. I wonder where that sort of nearsightedness on His Holiness' part might spring from...

Clearly, JPII thinks of all things hetero as ideal. So, how would this work on a practical level in a marriage between a gay man and a heterosexual woman (remember, we're ALL supposed to marry heterosexually)? The husband is obliged to try to please his spouse in a meaningful way. But so is the wife. In this case, does that mean she should sport a fake moustache so as to appear more male and please her husband?

When you leave out the reality that there ARE gay people, you sure do end up with some silly ideas.
11.1.2005 12:48am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Bob,

Such vitriol is difficult to wade through. But a few notes:

JPII apparently could not conceive (no pun intended) of the possibility that a gay man engaging in sex with another man might be more concerned with his partner's pleasure than his own.

Having been married I can attest that there are many challenges that are orders of magnitude greater than satisfying one's lover. Honestly I also have trouble seeing that as really the same kind of selfless devotion that successful marriages train people to have.

Clearly, JPII thinks of all things hetero as ideal.

I know you are trying for a slight here, as if to impugn a person for not giving what you consider to be important, well enough importance. But this kind of generalization smacks of a strawman. As I recall JPII was celebate, which was his ideal, no? I just don't think you gave that post much thought, and I mean that after trying to see the reason behind it which meant looking beyond its tone.

When you leave out the reality that there ARE gay people

I'm not sure what you mean by this, other than to also label people for your own purposes. I'm not sure if you are charging someone with insolence, or ignorance because your argument is far too under-developed.
11.1.2005 1:03am
Kendall:
On Lawn -
"A number of private and government means can accomplish this. And I'd actually fight to see that this happens, which is why I show such scepticism as to the lack of breadth of consideration by Dale."

Such as? you'll recall I was discussing a child, with two gay parents (male or female, take your pick). One of them is the adoptive parent, the other is living in a monogamous relationship and is not allowed in that state to jointly adopt. Lets say that the adoptive parent (legal guardian) has a stroke, and cannot be disturbed, they're in a coma in the hospital. Now lets say the child breaks a leg at school. Who would be able to contact the child? who would be able to make medical decisions? who would be able to comfort them that they will be alright? What SPECIFIC LEGAL RECOURSE do you believe the NON ADOPTIVE PARENT according to that state's law should have if you would deny them marriage?

Now, with those questions asked lets take it further. The legal guardian dies. Custody of the child reverts to the parents of the legal guardian. The parents of the parent refuse to allow the non adoptive parent to visit the child and expose it to an "immoral lifestyle" even though the child had been happily raised by the couple since shortly after the child's birth 10 years ago. Is THAT acceptable to you? What SPECIFIC RIGHTS would you grant in that situation? You been saying all along "some rights should be given" in various situations, now I want you to be SPECIFIC and tell me EXACTLY what should happen in your view in this situation.
11.1.2005 1:06am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Op-Ed,

Good catch. If Prof. Volokh does indeed subscribe to the same thought (as that quote indicates) then he would be as good a person as any to explain the apparent contradiction.
11.1.2005 1:06am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
you'll recall I was discussing a child, with two gay parents (male or female, take your pick).

Bob was just accusing people of ignoring the reality of existence of a set of people. I await him to fully develop his argument on the matter.

In the mean time, I'll make a similar argument. I think you are denying the reality of the child's parentage. A child does not have two parents of the same sex. One of them is at most a permanent guardian (for my purposes here an adopted parent is a permanent guardian).

Where are the child's real parents? What happened to them? Worst case one of the parents was payed off to abandon their child, as is the case with third party fertility treatments. Should Dale or anyone answer Prof Velleman's complaint against ss"m" as a vehicle for such violation of children's rights, I'd be interested in hearing it.

Who would be able to contact the child?

I have many such arrangements made with my parents, and other people who might babysit my children on a more permanent basis. I don't need to be married to my parents for this one.

who would be able to make medical decisions?

Ditto.

who would be able to comfort them that they will be alright?

I'm sure nurses, doctors, extended family, counselors, RB's, etc... I don't need to be married to any of them for that benefit either.

What SPECIFIC LEGAL RECOURSE do you believe the NON ADOPTIVE PARENT according to that state's law should have if you would deny them marriage?

As a guardian or foster parent anyone could have this ability for recourse. Which is why such programs exist. And marriage isn't required for them either.

Now, lets step back a second and bring this back to the point. Lets assume that marriage was required for any of these things because Dale apparently assumes is required for benefits he is discussing. A similar situation can be written instead of a gay couple, a mother daughter team living together to raise the daughter's child. She is a teenager herself, maybe. Perhaps the father was abusive and she is hiding out someplace with a high school friend. I could think of a number of scenarios that can find themselves in the same peril. So I ask again, why on earth would you argue so selectively for gay couples in these scenarios?

Prof Volokh said himself that he can't see it extending to incestuous couples, yet I have in front of me a case of siblings who married without knowing they were siblings. They have children. The scenario could be written for them also. Yet the outcome is different? That smacks of contradiction which should be explained.

To further the situation as you do to some inter-family squabble (Terri Shiavo all over again) where you paint one side as the bad guy, one need only consider that a similar story can be written where your hero is the bad guy that the parents need to protect the child from. Marriage does not fix inter-family squabbles, it only produces more.
11.1.2005 1:23am
Randy R. (mail):
How are gay men discriminated against? Very easy. As a straight man, you may not be able to marry the woman you choose. But the fact is that you have a huge pool of women to choose from, and ultimately, we would hope that out of that pool you will find one who will marry you.

With gay men, our pool is other gay men. Outside of Massachusetts, we cannot even hope to marry any other gay man. I may in fact find Mr. Perfect, but I cannot marry him, even if he says yes. You, on the other hand, may find Ms. Perfect, and you can marry her, if she says yes.

So the difference is between you, who have a good shot but no guarantees of marriage, and me, who has no hope of marriage. But that's not even a good analogy, since the government is not the entity that is preventing you from marrying Ms. Perfect -- she is. With me, it's the government's refusal to recognize my relationship. See the difference?

If not, try this one -- try telling a young person that no matter what happens in their life, they will never ever be able to get married, if he happens to be gay. Ask him is he thinks that's fair. Ask yourself the same question.
11.1.2005 1:44am
Kendall:
"In the mean time, I'll make a similar argument. I think you are denying the reality of the child's parentage. A child does not have two parents of the same sex. One of them is at most a permanent guardian (for my purposes here an adopted parent is a permanent guardian)."

No, that would be if I was denying biology, I do not. Of course biology matters, children are born to biological parents, but not all children are raised by both biological parents.


"Where are the child's real parents? What happened to them? Worst case one of the parents was payed off to abandon their child, as is the case with third party fertility treatments. Should Dale or anyone answer Prof Velleman's complaint against ss"m" as a vehicle for such violation of children's rights, I'd be interested in hearing it. "

Where are the child's "real" parents. I suppose it depends on what you mean by "real" and by who's definition. Certainly biological parents exist, but just as certainly the people feeding, clothing, and caring for the child have a value to the child where both are, de facto if not de jure the child's parents as much or more than biology.

As for "violation of a child's rights" I don't see why that has to be the case. The existance of gay parents doesn't mean a child isn't cared for as it needs to be cared for, children of gay parents appear (so far at least, in limitted studies done) to come out essentially no different than kids with straight parents, the only difference being a tendency to be more tolerant of gay people than the average human being (which really isn't shocking considering everything)

"I have many such arrangements made with my parents, and other people who might babysit my children on a more permanent basis. I don't need to be married to my parents for this one."

Changing the question on your part. The issue is, who does the hospital contact both to notify and advise to the child's prognosis? who is the child released to? the PARENT who raised them? or a family member he may never have known?

"To further the situation as you do to some inter-family squabble (Terri Shiavo all over again) where you paint one side as the bad guy, one need only consider that a similar story can be written where your hero is the bad guy that the parents need to protect the child from. Marriage does not fix inter-family squabbles, it only produces more."

Why am I "painting one side as the bad guy" if I give them a set of moral values consistent with many churches today? What about that is necessarily negative or inconsistent? its certainly a common attitude gay people encounter. Have you ever been told "I want to see you home for christmas, but don't bring HIM"? (her in your case I assume)

As for your platitude "Marriage does not fix inter-family squabbles, it only produces more." how does that in ANY way address the real concern of this couple?
11.1.2005 1:48am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
This is neither my site nor my article. And you'll have to repsect that I'm trying to understand Prof Volokh and Dale's unjustified selectiveness. You have the same problem in your scenario also, and if you wish to provide the answer feel free to do so.

As for your inquiry I follow this logic. Either the benefits are available outside of marriage or they aren't. If they are, then you need to make an additional case for marriage. If they aren't then you have to justify your selectiveness. I've addressed all avenues, now it is time for you to do the same or leave it up to Dale or Prof Volokh to do so.
11.1.2005 2:01am
Bottomfish (mail):
At last, someone has brought up the issue of children! Yes, everyone recognizes that there are people who get married but don't have children, and people who have children but don't get married.

But most people who get married do have children who are theirs in the biological sense, and clearly children are the most important part of most marriages. The problem with gay marriage is that it does not really provide for them, treating them as the result of artificial insemination, i.e., animal breeding. Real parenthood is an extremely important thing, as anyone with the slightest acquaintance with Western literature knows. (Think Oedipus Rex, also Ross Macdonald's detective stories). Your can't understand yourself until you know your true ancestry. If half of my true ancestry rejects me, how real can I be?
11.1.2005 2:06am
Kendall:
On Lawn - "I do think and do hope that with RB's the protections you wish will be realized. That the visiting rights, probate protections, etc... will be put in there. I will actually fight with you in ensuring that as I think it should be a part of RB's also. I hope that answers your concerns."

Does this ring a bell? you posted this in specific response to a poster named Shawn in one of the topics with Maggie Gallagher. I think it can easily be argued that things like visiting rights WOULD in fact under current law not be given to UNMARRIED couples which is what you want gays to be. Yet you said above you don't want to disconnect the rights of marriage. Please explain the difference.

Bottomfish - "The problem with gay marriage is that it does not really provide for them, treating them as the result of artificial insemination, i.e., animal breeding. Real parenthood is an extremely important thing, as anyone with the slightest acquaintance with Western literature knows."

The fact is gays do NOT just get children through artificial insemination, MANY gay couples adopt children which is perfectly legal in the majority of the country. Adoption does NOT stigmatize or hurt the child. I also fail to understand how a gay couple does not "provide" for them. Do you have a study that shows GAY COUPLES do not provide for children? (Not a study that shows "children of married couples do better than single parent homes" as those don't show the effect we are discussing)
11.1.2005 2:16am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Randy: With gay men, our pool is other gay men. ...try telling a young person that no matter what happens in their life, they will never ever be able to get married, if he happens to be gay.

Randy, before you go telling "gay men" whom they can associate with, whom they are allowed to love, what they are allowed to feel, and who they are allowed to be, perhaps you should scroll backward in the thread to this comment.

The argument for neutering marriage based on portraying homosexuality as some kind of handicap falls flat and is demeaning to homosexual participants, besides.
11.1.2005 2:25am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Kendall: I think it can easily be argued that things like visiting rights WOULD in fact under current law not be given to UNMARRIED couples...

What?? What law gives visiting rights only to married couples? You're off into a parallel universe.

Yet you said above you don't want to disconnect the rights of marriage. Please explain the difference.

Kendall, please move this to email as you seem to be the only one confused by OnLawn's position.
11.1.2005 2:34am
Bottomfish (mail):
The point is that the child of a gay couple, whether obtained through artificial insemination or adoption or any other way, is not really their child. Sooner or later, the child will realize this. For an account of what I mean, you may refer, as just one example, to the account Ross Macdonald gave of his growing up under the pseudo-parenthood of female relatives of his mother. It's in the forward to an anthology of his fiction called Archer at Large. Right now I can't cite a study but the effect I am talking about is so widespread I don't think a lot of citations should be needed.
11.1.2005 2:35am
Kendall:
Op Ed - "The argument for neutering marriage based on portraying homosexuality as some kind of handicap falls flat and is demeaning to homosexual participants, besides."

First - can you show me anyone here who claims its a handicap? or were you just promoting your and On Lawn's site to get more views?

second, on the point of the editorial, its actually a half way clever argument. Except that interracial couples were no more sick than gay couples, yet the Court felt artificial barriers based on race were unconstitutional even though any black woman was free to marry a black man and any white man a white woman. now, I'm SURE you have an article denouncing a comparison to Loving so I'll just state I'm not making a comparison to Loving on the MERITS, merely that just because individuals make one comparison (eg, same sex couples are like infertile couples, both should be allowed to marry because infertile are) it does not mean that one HAS to be "defective," its merely saying that the characteristic of bearing children is not a prerequisite for marriage, just as marrying within your race is NOT a prerequisite for marriage.
11.1.2005 2:42am
Kendall:
Op Ed -
"What?? What law gives visiting rights only to married couples? You're off into a parallel universe.

Hospitals currently are not required to allow visitation by unrelated people to see a patient. people who are not married and not blood relatives (a situation On Lawn has SAID he wants) are NOT related according to the law.

"Kendall, please move this to email as you seem to be the only one confused by OnLawn's position."

Congratulations, I had no idea you had joined the Conspiracy as a coblogger. Frankly, I'm not on your site and I'm being perfectly respectful and asking questions you and On Lawn are doing everything to dodge, if you have a problem with ANYTHING I've asked you are of course free to talk to Professor Volokh or one of the other Conspirators.
11.1.2005 2:46am
Kendall:
Bottomfish - I'm still confused. How is that different than your typical adopted child? Are you suggesting that no child should be adopted?
11.1.2005 2:48am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Kendall: First - can you show me anyone here who claims its a handicap?

I provided the quote in the very article you cut my quote from. I'm betting you saw it.

Providing links to detailed refutations of a given point saves typing. It allows readers who want to explore a point in more detail the ability to do so without encumbering readers who do not. In the context of the blogosphere, it also allows a discussion to branch in many directions as side-topics that are created can be dealt with in the comment section to the linked article. It's a nice feature of the World Wide Web, with which you must surely be acquainted, but if you are not, feel free to email.

Congratulations, I had no idea you had joined the Conspiracy...

Looks like you've been wearing your tinfoil hat too tight.

I'm being perfectly respectful and asking questions you and On Lawn are doing everything to dodge

Doesn't sound all that respectful to me, actually. In any case, my beef is not in your lack of respect, but rather in the fact that you alone seem interested in the particular subthread you are trying to generate here. Most who have slogged through the comments to this point have done so looking for more discussion of Dale's article, not for a rehash of some discussion you had with OnLawn on a different thread. Your questions and what you have to say may be important to you, but not to anybody else. As a courtesy to Dale and readers here, it's best to move your off-topic conversation into email or into a more appropriate comment thread. To be frank, at this point your "inconsistency" argument is of the form, "But if 2+2=4, then how can 2-2=0? Help me understand this inconsistency!" You may be truly rapt by such fits of debate, but likely its just you.
11.1.2005 3:25am
Public_Defender:
P_D: Race, class, how a marriage was arranged, etc. are not definitional, or central to what marriage is. Gender is central to the institution of marriage. Do you know anyone who is married to a person of a different race, or doesn't care what race their spouse is? Probably so. Do you know anyone who doesn't care what gender their spouse is? Apples/oranges again.

I was talking traditionally. In the past half century, permissible marriages have expanded dramatically. Marriages have changed from being unequal, arranged, permanent unions to equal, voluntary, and dissolvable unions. Those are fundamental changes to the meaning of "marriage."

And yes, permitting cross-racial, cross-religious, and cross-social-class marriages is also a break from tradition.

You pick and chose which part of tradition you want to uphold. You just repeat your mantra that the traditional definition of marriage included nothing more complex than the union of a man and a woman. That's just patently false.

Repeating your personal defintion of marriage over and over and over doesn't make it become true.
11.1.2005 5:14am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Go ahead. Explain why you "support recognizing [neutered] marriage," then show how that line of reasoning does not extend to "support recognizing most[most?!] incestuous marriages," --

It's perfectly appropriate at this point to bring up Loving and interracial couplings. Homosexual couplings are no more logically related to incest as interracial couplings are related to homosexual ones. Arguably, interracial couplings are MORE analogous to incest than homosexuality is analogous to incest because both can be grouped under the rubric of "consanguinity" regulation. With incest, the couples are too closely related, with misceg., the couples are too distantly related.

The same argument you use to attack homosexuality with incest can also be used to attack interracial couplings. And indeed, they were.
11.1.2005 8:45am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
John: Homosexual couplings are no more logically related to incest as interracial couplings are related to homosexual ones.

OK. I clearly need to spell this out for you as you are not grasping the concept. First, Dale's point:
Gay families have problems like everyone else. Gay people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people; gay couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of gay-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.

Now, in that last statement Dale is making assumptions about what neutered "marriage" will provide its participants (see Of Seat Belts and Sweat Pants), but for now, let's just assume Dale's statement, above is true. Take Dale's same statement and substitute "incestuous" for "gay":
[Incestuous] families have problems like everyone else. [Incestuous] people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people [or gay people, for that matter]; [incestuous] couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of [incestuous]-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.


The statement is no less true in the new context. So Dale's reasoning goes, because the above statement is true, we should neuter marriage. However, if that logic is accepted, then because the statement is true of incestuous relationships we should recognize incestuous marriages as well. But both Dale and Eugene have said they do not accept incestuous relationships, so by their own admission, the logic they use in arguing for neutered "marriage" is not compelling, as they themselves reject it.

Despite your feigned indignance, no "comparison" between incest and homosexuality has been made. Rather, by shifting the context from one you are prejudiced toward, homosexuality, to one you are prejudiced against, incest, you have a chance to see how utterly uncompelling Dale's reasoning is. In fact, by your previous and this emotional outburst you have unwittingly proved exactly that point.

Arguably, interracial couplings are MORE analogous to incest than homosexuality is analogous to incest because both can be grouped under the rubric of "consanguinity" regulation. With incest, the couples are too closely related, with misceg., the couples are too distantly related.

Now here you have a problem. You say my argument for marriage applies equally well to interracial couplings. The problem is, you then make an argument that I don't make (consanguinity), and compound your mistake by taking your own argument and showing how it is, in fact, opposite to the argument that results when interracial couplings are substituted (too close vs. too distant). So not only do you fail to show how my argument applies to interracial couplings, but you also fail to show how your own strawman applies to both.

I'll give you some help. Here is my argument. Substitute "interracial couplings" and show me how I am arguing against them. Good Luck!
11.1.2005 10:09am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Substitute "interracial couplings" and show me how I am arguing against them. Good Luck!


[Interracial] families have problems like everyone else. [Interracial] people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people [or gay people, for that matter]; [interracial] couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of [interracial]-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.


The statement is no less true in the new context.

Homosexual couples, incest couples, interracial couples = all three have been frowned upon by tradition. If you can use the incest reductio ad absurdum to "beat" homosexual couples, you can just as easily use it to "beat" interracial couplings.
11.1.2005 10:33am
Public_Defender:
The incest argument is a red-herring. The state has a strong interest in stopping sexual predation within families (and in stopping adults from grooming children for sex). No such interest exists for two non-related people.

Do you reject the other traditional aspects of marriage (limitations as to race, sex, and social class; the legal and social dominance of men to the point where men can legally rape their wives; parents picking spouses for their children; girls forced to marry men in arranged marriages; people not allowed to pick their own spouses, divorce banned; etc.)?

Opponents of gay marriage don't really want truly traditional marriage. They want to pick and chose aspects of marriage from different times and slap the "traditional" label on it.
11.1.2005 10:36am
PeterH:
Op Ed. writes:

Randy, before you go telling "gay men" whom they can associate with, whom they are allowed to love, what they are allowed to feel, and who they are allowed to be, perhaps you should scroll backward in the thread to this comment.


There were two arguments in the post you reference, and neither one applies in any meaningful way. Actually, neither one of them really works at all.

Perhaps Randy was indulging in a bit of hyperbole when he said that no gay person ever has the chance to marry someone they love. But surely you cannot think that trotting out a single ex-gay person invalidates the whole marriage issue for same-sex couples. If your friend is happy in an opposite-sex marriage, wonderful for her, and I hope it works out. I doubt you will find a proponent of marriage equality who says otherwise -- our whole point is that each individual should be able to choose the partner and relationship that works for them.

But pointing out a single gay person who marries heterosexually, and then citing it as argument that gay people can still marry is no different than pointing out a person Jewish by birth who converts to Christianity and saying that is a valid reason to deny Jewish people equal freedom of religion rights. After all, they can all convert, right?

A single person who makes a different choice in no way invalidates that choice for everyone else, any more than people who do not choose to marry invalidate marriage for those who do.

I'm assuming that was the arguement that you were referencing, since your other argument doesn't apply. But it is ridiculous to say that extending exactly the same rights, obligations, and benefits to an additional group of people completely eliminates the institution and substitutes something completely unrecognizeable in its place. Did allowing black people to practice medicine on graduation from accredited schools completely replace the institution of medicine? Did allowing women to own property completely eliminate contract law and replace it with something utterly different? Did giving black people equal voting rights eliminate and replace democracy?

No, in all cases. Yes, the new group may in fact do some things somewhat differently than the majority of the old group, and over time, their participation may cause the institution to evolve. But so far, I have not heard of a single way in which any gay couple might conduct a marriage that is not a way in which a noticeable number of straight people do already. It remains the responsibility of those who are advocating denying marriage to same-sex couples to explain why things that are "deal-breakers" for gay couples are simply allowable variants for straight couples.
11.1.2005 10:52am
PeterH:
Relating back to that "just substitute incest for homosexuality into the argument and see just how stupid the argument is" idea -- which is ridiculous. Take all your arguments for traditional marriage and substitute slavery, or take the arguments for same sex marriage and substitute, oh, raising begonias, and you get an equally invalid argument.

The only reason anyone could even try that argument is if they see the two things (incest and homosexuality) as fundamentally similar. Substituting dissimilar things into an argument results only in a flawed argument.

And before anyone gleefully leaps on it, I am not blind to the fact that the substance of my argument for marriage equality is that within the scope of the legal definition of marriage, gay couples are fundamentally the same as straight ones (especially those who are not able to have children together.) So for me, when I speak of marriage in terms of gay couples, I am NOT substituting dissimilar things into a given argument.
11.1.2005 10:53am
eddie (mail):
One issue related to this topic that I believe needs addressing is why does a willingness to engage in homosexual acts become a justification for requiring society to formalize a relationship. In other words, why aren't two straight men, two straight women, groups, or humans and animals also not entitled to a legal recognition granting them all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that go along with government sanctioned marriage. To push homosexual marriage to the exclusion of formalizing other human relationships seems irrational. I certainly can't see that a willingness of two males or females to engage in homosexual acts is justification for society to formalize under the law the relationships that lead to those actions.
11.1.2005 11:27am
Josh Jasper (mail):
Our policy is generally to tolerate a vast range of substantive argument, because it's important that those arguments be aired. For instance, the analogy of same-sex marriage to incestuous marriage is sometimes an important and eminently legitimate argument

From where you sit, I'm sure it is.

However, all arguments -- good or bad, bigoted or saintly -- should be framed without the use of personal insults or invective

You're failing to see that the legitimizing of the analogy is, in it's self, an insult. Incest is not mentioned because it's gaoing to happen, it's mentioned because there's a moral taboo around it, and an odd one, because distant cousins marrying is somewhat OK, but not siblings. Siblings don't choose to marry knowing they're siblings, but the comparison contains the same taboo. What the opponents of same sex marriage are trying to do is invoke the taboo, and the sense of moral dissaproval.

It's the same with the 'gays are promiscuous' attacks.

Cloaking it in politeese changes nothing. Bigotry is by nature, rude.
11.1.2005 11:31am
Public_Defender:
Eddie, you are right. Whether a couple actually engages in sex is none of the state's business. So, whether gay or straight, no couple should have to promise to have sex to get married.
11.1.2005 11:34am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Jon: If you can use the incest reductio ad absurdum to "beat" homosexual couples, you can just as easily use it to "beat" interracial couplings.

No, you can't. Finding another context toward which you are prejudiced and showing that you still buy your own argument does nothing but show you can be motivated by your prejudices. Arguing that all odd numbers are prime because 5 is prime is not bolstered by finding another case, 11, where the statement is also true. Finding a case where the rationale breaks down, 9, does serve to disprove the statement even though it may be true for some examples.

From a persuasion perspective, inserting yet another case that aligns with your prejudices does not give you the opportunity to see your argument from the point of view of someone who doesn't share your prejudices.

Public_Defender: They want to pick and chose aspects of marriage from different times and slap the "traditional" label on it.

Can you show me where I used the word "traditional," let alone argued that because something is traditional we should do it? Let me know when you are done with your strawman and wish to engage in legitimate conversation. Actually, it is you who have reached back and attempted to pick-and-choose from marriage's vast and diverse track record to attempt to villify it as an institution. That you see an institution as fundamentally evil is no argument for why you should be given control of it.

PeterH: But surely you cannot think that trotting out a single ex-gay person invalidates the whole marriage issue for same-sex couples.

You already admit that Randy's argument was an overreach. That was my only point. Randy's argument is basically, because A we must do B. But A (Every gay person can NEVER marry) is false, so B (we must neuter marriage to accomodate this handicapping condition) does not follow, period. Other arguments may exist for neutering marriage, but Randy's falls flat as I stated.

Take all your arguments for traditional marriage and substitute slavery...

Feel free. Here it is. Don't worry, I'll not hold my breath. Jon Rowe couldn't do it. You can't either.

...or take the arguments for same sex marriage and substitute, oh, raising begonias, and you get an equally invalid argument

*sigh* OK, let's give it a try:
[Raising begonias] families have problems like everyone else. [Raising begonias] people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people [or gay people, for that matter]; [Raising begonias] couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of [incestuous]-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.


I'm not sure what a "raising begonias" person or couple is, but if we say it is someone who raises begonias or a couple, one of whom raises begonias, then the argument is actually valid, not invalid as you claim. You clearly need more practice at reasoning.

The only reason anyone could even try that argument is if they see the two things (incest and homosexuality) as fundamentally similar.

Clearly that is not the case, as "incestuous" does fit into the above statement and with a little coercing, so does raising begonias. By your logic, then incest and raising begonias must be fundamentally similar, which they are not. Your statement, is therefore, clearly wrong. You want to accept it, though, because it aligns with your prejudices and allows you to try and shout down the opposing point of view by making scurilous and inflamatory emotional screed. Not a valid form of argumentation, but I'll admit it is all you are left with.
11.1.2005 11:48am
corngrower:
These are old canards. Hospital visits. Write it down. If you cant write you have more problems than the govt.

Death. Write a will. I wrote one. Says where the property and kids go. My spouse by statute gets half. I can will the other half to a random name from the phone book. It's called the law. (Guess what?) Lawyers wrote it.

Social Security, testimonial privileges, and immigration rights, to name a few. Public.Ok, these are not rights. As stated they are privileges granted by the govt. As Such, those 'privileges' need to be granted by the legislative branch of the govt, not the judiciary.
11.1.2005 11:57am
eddie (mail):
Public defender, thanks for seeing some logic in my post and based on your response I surmise that you would see then the logic of homosexual marriage supporters also arguing for the rights of groups to marry. This leads me to the next supposition. I see only one reason for the state to be involved in marriage and the granting of rights and privileges and the imposing responsibilities in relationship to marriage. That reason is the connection between the hetrosexual sexual relationship and the propagation of the species. It seems to me society has a legitimate interest in this aspect of human life and heterosexual marriage is a reasonable response to this interest. I would add here that in general I am more inclined toward favoring reducing the state's imposition of rules on human activity. All of this being said, I fail to see why I should support anyone receiving benefits or privileges in this realm that are unrelated to the procreation of the species. I am a single, 53 year old man. I have never been married. Why should I favor increasing the costs to me and others in society simply because people want to live with each other? There may be a logical reason, but I have not been able to come up with it.
11.1.2005 11:59am
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
P_D:

You pick and chose which part of tradition you want to uphold.

I don't believe my comment was about "tradition."
11.1.2005 12:23pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Prof. Volokh:

I'm sure you've never said anything like "that argument is silly" or any synonym when confronted with an argument you think is silly or completely off topic. Perhaps I was a little too rash after reading the same canard for the 1,000th time. If so, I apologize.

I did not say anything directed at the commenter, such as when another commenter called me a "f#&*ing sexist" in one of Maggie Gallagher's threads. My comment was directed at the previous comment, not at the commenter. Your objection seems extremely thin-skinned to me.
11.1.2005 12:47pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Josh Jasper:

Some people object to the equation of incest and homosexuality. Other people object to the equation of homosexuality and heterosexuality. What's the difference?
11.1.2005 12:50pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Op Ed:

Your case entirely falls apart when we realize that the reasons why we don't allow for incestuous marriages are entirely different than for why we don't allow gay marriages.

For instance, if the reason why we bar gay marriages is "to unite the genders" then there is no reason why we shouldn't allow a brother and sister to get married becuase the genders are sstill united in that instance.

The legitimate reasons why we don't allow incest are as follows:

1) incest invariably involves abuse of minor children;

2) genetic problems that result when close relatives mate; and

3) we don't want sexual competition in a nuclear family because it will destablize it. For instance, a mother shouldn't be in sexual competition with her daughter for her husband. Or, you can break up with your girlfriend but your sister will always be your sister.

These policies -- the reasons why we don't allow incest in the first place -- have nothing to do with homosexuality.

Moreover, a homosexual isn't looking for ANYONE to marry but SOMEONE to marry. A homosexual cannot marry ANYONE in a meaningful sense. No one as far as I know has an incest orientation where he or she can only find his or her better half in a close family member even if some folks are sexually attracted to close family members. Therefore, we shouldn't have a problem saying to him or her, "pick anyone else except for a close family member."

It's b/n need. We don't need incest marriages; we do need homosexual marriages. If there were a need for say brother/sister marriage then, it may very well be justified. And my orthodox Christian and Jewish friends should support me here in every way. For instance, if there are only two people who exist on the Earth at one time, then their children -- the brothers and sisters -- will have to have sex in order to propage the entire race. If one believes in the literal tale of Genesis then one believes that the entire human race was propagated via brother/sister incest.

Was it wrong then?

You are refuted. Have a nice day.
11.1.2005 12:55pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Editors: Asinine is a considerably harsher term than silly (which isn't exactly great for reasoned debate, either).

In any event, you may feel free to set up whatever Comments rules you like on your site. While you're posting to our Comments, though, please abide by our policy.

Josh Jasper: If you don't like reading arguments that condemn homosexuality or homosexual relationships, don't read a debate on same-sex marriage. Conversely, if we were to exclude all arguments that you think of as "bigotry" against homosexuals, or that convey "moral disapproval" of homosexuality, it wouldn't be much of a debate, would it?

As I've said before, supporters of same-sex marriage are in the minority in the U.S. If we are to change people's views, we have to let the other side air its arguments and then respond substantively to them. Condemning some arguments as supposedly rude because they rest on "moral disapproval" of homosexuality is hardly a way of persuading people who say "sure, moral disapproval, we're all for that."
11.1.2005 12:57pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe:
"1) incest invariably involves abuse of minor children;

Nonense. The hypothetical raised involves adult siblings wishing to marry.

"2) genetic problems that result when close relatives mate;"

Unlikely in a single generation. And presumably you would have no problem with two brothers marrying then.

"3) we don't want sexual competition in a nuclear family..."

How is that a state interest? This thread is about how marriage will benefit the individuals entering into it. "We don't want..." is purely a personal value judgment.
11.1.2005 1:01pm
eddie (mail):
This thread may be about how marriage will benefit the individuals entering into it, but I am more concerned about the costs marriage imposes on other members of society. Most voluntary relationships between individuals have benefits to the participants, otherwise why would they enter into the relationship. However, as I stated earlier, the only relationship that has a purpose that I am willing to provide my financial support to and ergo encourage the government to be involved in is the heterosexual sexual relationship and then only because it is integral to the propagation of the species.
11.1.2005 1:12pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Kendall,

I think it can easily be argued that things like visiting rights WOULD in fact under current law not be given to UNMARRIED couples which is what you want gays to be.

Visiting rights is up to the discrimination of each particular hostpital, and not to government. I have in fact been denied access to my wife at times in the hospital. Marriage does not guarantee such access, thus it is a red-herring. Nor does lack of marriage keep people from access to loved ones. Again, a red-herring.

But as yet you still need to explain to me why ss-couples are so priveledged as to gain such access where other couples who are not gay or lesbian, and not married should have under the same argument the same access. Why are you being so selective? If you can make a case that access should be given, then why are others who have the same argument not given access?

I think Op-Ed's request to move this to email is valid as your diverting from the main issue here with fanciful situations both over-engineered and over-constrained. If you wish to discuss fictional situations that you can change and write to your will, then take it to email.

First - can you show me anyone here who claims its a handicap? or were you just promoting your and On Lawn's site to get more views?

Um, its Op-Ed's website. I contributed there for a time until I went on to other pursuits.

Randy is the one that gives the de-facto argument that gays are limited in what they can do. Limited from things that we consider capacities of every-day individuals, which is the definition of a handicap. That Randy considers it a handicap, but balks at the title shows the con he is attempting. Op-Ed is right to expose its oppression of homosexuality as a scarlet letter. An identity brand that tells them what they can and cannot do.

on the point of the editorial, its actually a half way clever argument. Except that interracial couples were no more sick than gay couples, yet the Court felt artificial barriers based on race were unconstitutional

Actually, the point is that interracial couples were less "sick" (your word not mine) than gay couples. It was argued, as Andrew Sullivan points out, that interracial marriages were infertile. That is scientifically wrong. And while interracial marriages are fertile, unisexed combinations do not produce children. That is one distinction that you are missing.

The second is one of "artificial" barriers. The barrier between interracial marriges was artificial. Indeed it was a passive removal of the barrier that was required to equalize the relationships. So when gay or lesbian couples demand ss"m" on the same grounds, they are making a false analogy. They are hiding the fact that they do require state intervention and equalization, an active overcoming of a natural barrier rather than a passive breaking down of an artificial barrier.

However, as I keep coming back to, and you keep ignoring, the barrier between a same-sex romantic couple and a same-sex non-romantic couple is an artificial barrier that you wish to construct. Artificial and unjustified as far as I can read in your writings, Prof Volokh's writings, and Dale's writings.

I still await the justification for this artificial barrier that y'all are advocating.

Op-ed,

I have to agree. Kendall is on some kind of fishing expedition, the fictional tale he is writing needs more research and more fleshing out. I don't want to give even that much attention to his story though, its a red-herring. Its poorly written fiction, and he still refuses to grasp the grander scope of this conversation which answers his question along with many others he doesn't ask.

I know what its like, its like the Verizon man who keeps shifting his position and checking his connection, "can you hear me now?" Only Kendall is asking, "are you giving benefits now?" Only I'm not sure that the Verizon man can reach the fictional planes that Kendall is positioned on.

Kendall, Shawn was satisfied with my answer and the particulars can be hashed out on a more credible basis in other ways and at other times.

Public_Defender,

In the past half century, permissible marriages have expanded dramatically. Marriages have changed from being unequal, arranged, permanent unions to equal, voluntary, and dissolvable unions. Those are fundamental changes to the meaning of "marriage."

I see nowhere that the definition of marriage requires any of those things. Perhaps you are confusing cultural implementations, protocols and regulations with a definition. From where I see it the definition is sufficient as "a relationship between a man and a woman". An embodyment of the mating we see in nature all around us. Its defintion is evident enough to identify the relationship that is a marriage, a reference that ss"m" wishes to break down for selfish purposes. A formation of a family, a political unit, is how our government treats it today and that is well and good.

And yes, permitting cross-racial, cross-religious, and cross-social-class marriages is also a break from tradition.

Establishing those traditions in the first place was a break from tradition also.

Marriage isn't right because it is traditional, its traditional because its right. Don't put the cart before the horse.

Jon,

Homosexual couplings are no more logically related to incest as interracial couplings are related to homosexual ones.

This will be fun to watch you argue. The contortions you need to try to support such a statement will no doubt produce many contradictions.

interracial couplings ... can be grouped under the rubric of "consanguinity" regulation.

Contradiction one.

With incest, the couples are too closely related, with misceg., the couples are too distantly related.

Which contradicts your statement that incest and interracial marriages are more related. Thats number two.

The same argument you use to attack homosexuality with incest can also be used to attack interracial couplings. And indeed, they were.

Please refer to above to my replies to Kendall, re: Anderew Sullivan who showed that while the argument of infertility was used falsely in interracial marriages but correctly used on homosexual couples. The distinction alone creates your third contradiction.

If you can use the incest reductio ad absurdum to "beat" homosexual couples, you can just as easily use it to "beat" interracial couplings.

Entirely the opposite, as you would have found if your reasoning probed at any depth at all. Of course the same reasoning that allowed interracial marriages is the same reaoning that is used to "beat" the selective and artificial barrier set up for marriage by Dale, Volokh, and yourself between same-sex couples who are romantic and those that aren't. Or the artificial barrier between same-sex couples and incestous couples.

Public Defender,

The state has a strong interest in stopping sexual predation within families (and in stopping adults from grooming children for sex). No such interest exists for two non-related people.

That is rather missaplied don't you think? Its rather naive of the conditions of the world today where siblings are not always raised together. Nor does it apply to situations where non-related children live in relationships just as close and vulnerable as related children. Your barrier here is very artificial, and ignorant of the new and changing realities around us.

:)

PeterH,

Take all your arguments for traditional marriage and substitute slavery,

False analogy, marriage is not slavery. Besides slavery was at one time against tradition, and has never held close to the same widespread acknowledgement as marriage. So the substitution of the arguments does not hold in any case.

So while you are diverting with red-herrings of slavery, inter-racial marriage, I just can't help but note that you are supporting Op-Ed's argument. The barriers of slavery were broken down, so was inter-racial marriage. Yet you don't want to break down the barrier between marriage and an assortment of conditions that equally apply to the arguments you provide.

Its amazing really, you don't really know the ramifications of your arguments, do you?
11.1.2005 1:23pm
Randy R. (mail):
OpEd: Hey, I'm a gay man. I NEVER said anything about telling gay men whom them can associate with, or love or anything else. What I DID say is that gay men -- outside of Massachusetts -- cann't marry. That's a simple statement of fact, isn't it?

Nor have I EVER argued that homosexuality is some sort of handicap. AS a person who has counseled young people dealing with their orientation, I know well the problems that arise from such self-loathing.

My point, which you studiously avoided, was to respond to the man who suggested that gay men are not discriminated against, since we can marry any woman. And that this is no worse than a man who wants to marry a woman who then rejects him. "Such is life" was his comment.

My response was straights have the opportunity to marry the person they fall in love with, but gay men don't. If that's a handicap in your view, well, so be it. But it's a handicap imposed by law, and one I seek to change.
11.1.2005 3:02pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Lawn:

Neither you nor Op Ed has shown that homosexuality is any more logically related to incest than it is to misceg. All three have been frowned on by traditional and collective social morality.

And simply denyiny 2+2 = 4 doesn't make it so. It is a fact that the taboos on both incest and misceg. are/were different forms of consanguinity regulations. With incest, the parties are too closely related, with interracial couplings, the parties are too distantly related. With homosexuality, we don't want such marriages BECAUSE they can't procreate. With both misceg. and incest, we don't want such marriages because we are afraid they WILL procreate. That, to me, makes miceg. more closely related to incest than homosexuality is related to incest.

The only thing that incest and homosexuality have in common is both are frowned upon by tradition. Well so too have interracial couplings.

You are refuted. Good day!
11.1.2005 3:02pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe:
Sex is central to marriage, homosexuality, and incest. Race has nothing at all to do with marriage.
11.1.2005 3:24pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Sex is central to interracial couplings as well.
11.1.2005 3:31pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

Sex is central to interracial couplings as well.

That statement makes no sense whatsoever.
11.1.2005 3:45pm
John H (mail) (www):
Your case entirely falls apart when we realize that the reasons why we don't allow for incestuous marriages are entirely different than for why we don't allow gay marriages.

In both cases, their procreation would be unethical. Same-sex procreation is not science fiction, it is right around the corner, but it should be banned because it is unethical and unsafe, in both principle and practice.
11.1.2005 4:00pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Let me spell it out for you then:

Homosexuality = having sex with the "wrong" gender.

Incest = having sex with the "wrong" degree of relatedness.

Miscegenation = having sex with "wrong" race.

Polyamory = having sex with the "wrong" number of partners.

Pedophilia = having sex with the "wrong" age.

These are all "apples to apples," sex acts to sex acts comparisons. Homosexuality is no more logically related to any of them than it is to miscegenation. The only thing that connects homosexuality to any of them is that they've all been frowned on by tradition. So too has miscegenation.
11.1.2005 4:02pm
John H (mail) (www):
The incest argument is a red-herring. The state has a strong interest in stopping sexual predation within families (and in stopping adults from grooming children for sex). No such interest exists for two non-related people.

And the state has an interest in stopping sexual predation by people of the same sex, too. Same-sex encounters are rarely consentual, usually one partner is older or one is vulnerable, and the state should protect people from such predators. And also it should stop adults from grooming children for homosexuality.

The state should groom children so that they are able to exercise their basic civil right to procreate with the person of their choice. Incest and homosexuality both can block a person from that possibility.
11.1.2005 4:05pm
John H (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe, you are correct - but "race" is not a category that government tries to maintain anymore. Remember, it was found to just be intended to reinforce the system of white supremacy?
11.1.2005 4:07pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"In both cases, their procreation would be unethical. "

Not the case at all - we proscribe incest primarily because it would involve sexual predatation within a single family unit, grooming siblings and children as sexual partners. The british are clearer on this, allowing non-related step siblings to license the contract of marriage *IF* they were not raised together.

"Same-sex procreation is not science fiction, it is right around the corner, but it should be banned because it is unethical and unsafe, in both principle and practice."

Unsafe? That is a relative assessment and one that will unlikely stay the same as time goes on. Unethical? Not in a society based on the rights of the individual. As long as the progeny and its rights are not adversely affected same sex procreation would be just as ethical as all the other reproduction assistive technologies.

Procreation has not the underlying reason for marriage but rather for identification of presumptive parentage and now with modern genetic testing even that reason is more quaint than relevant.

We marry because we have a need and a right to. The couples, their families, and society benefit from them marrying, and'ethically' our government must support all its citizens' right to marry if it is going to do so for any citizen.
11.1.2005 4:17pm
John H (mail) (www):
Well, if you see a right to same-sex procreation, you will be against a ban on procreation that is not the unino of a man and a woman. I think there are many reasons that it is unethical, and many of those reasons are the same as reasons commonly cited to be against SSM, but many are unique to procreation of same-sex couples, such as two women only being able to have girls, two men not being able to carry their own child, and then equating relationships that can obviously and publicly only have planned and geneticly screened children with couples that might have unplanned unscreened children is problematic as well. Clearly couples that might have unplanned children at any time need more protections.

And now that you have identified another area where you are demandig equal rights, please list "the right to use technology to have children together" as one of the rights you seek. Do not hide this one because it might be controversial, be upfront about your demands.

And as to safety, I don't think it will ever able to be proven safe, human gene expression is too mysterious a process. We simply do not know when a problem will develop, it might not surface until someone is 60 years old. What will happen is someone will just try it, because they are prodded to by a researcher who wants to make a name for himself, or perhaps a clinic that wants to make money. There is no need to develop same-sex procreation technologies, it is not a health problem that two women cannot procreate together, there is no ethical need to develop this technology, and the resources should be spent on curing actual diseases that cause real suffering. Spending time and money on SSP resaerch thus causes real diseases to continue to be uncured.
11.1.2005 4:47pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Personally, I can't wait until two individuals of the same-sex can procreate. Then we will truly be the same!

Also, if we keep living longer and longer, society may very well have to limit who can and can't have children. Perhaps we will have to wait until someone dies until we allow for the next birth.

Or else look for new planets or outer space to populate.

By that time, we will probably be having children through artificial wombs which will be a great convenience women. By that time, we will probably regard natural childbirth as barbaric.

Such will be the ways of the last men.

Get read for it.

My only regret is (even at 32) I won't live long enough to see all of these things come to pass.
11.1.2005 5:17pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Op Ed:

[Incestuous] families have problems like everyone else. [Incestuous] people have just as great a need for love and affection as straight people [or gay people, for that matter]; [incestuous] couples are just as capable of loving one another, of sacrificing for another, of committing to one another, as straight couples. Encouraging the formation of [incestuous]-couple households through marriage will make it more likely that another person will be there when trouble comes in life, as it always does.


The statement is no less true in the new context. So Dale's reasoning goes, because the above statement is true, we should neuter marriage. However, if that logic is accepted, then because the statement is true of incestuous relationships we should recognize incestuous marriages as well. But both Dale and Eugene have said they do not accept incestuous relationships, so by their own admission, the logic they use in arguing for neutered "marriage" is not compelling, as they themselves reject it.


Op Ed: If this was where Carpenter's argument was to conclude (as it does, admittedly, for the day), then you would be perfectly right: The benefits that would accrue to married same-sex couples would also equally accrue to married incestuous couples. But this is just the first stage of his argument, and he has outlined where he is going next. When contemplating a change in public policy, this first stage--will it benefit those to whom these previously-denied rights are being extended--is necessary (because if they won't benefit, there's no point in even asking the subsequent questions), but it isn't sufficient. Whether the question is over changing the until-then essentially male nature of voting by extending voting rights to women (and opponents of this change argued vigorously that natural law ordained voting to be an essentially and exclusively male activity--more on this below) or extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, you must first agree that, yes, those who have been excluded from this institution will benefit by being included. And that is what today's argument is about.

Only then do you go on to the next questions:
* Will those around or related to the couple benefit or be harmed? Do any harms, on balance, outweigh the benefits to society at large and to the newly enfranchised individuals?
* Will those who previously held this right exclusively benefit or be harmed beyond whatever social/emotional/legal/spiritual benefit their claim to exclusivity gave them? Do any harms, on balance, outweigh the benefits to society at large and to the newly enfranchised individuals?
* Will the populace as a whole benefit or be harmed? Do any harms, on balance, outweigh the benefits to society at large and to the newly enfranchised individuals?

While a discussion that focuses entirely on the benefits to the newly enfranchised couples will be unable to distinguish between (adult, consensual) same-sex, incestuous or interracial marriage, once the discussion moves beyond that, distinctions can be made, and others make them effectively above.

But this is also a red herring: Those who fought for legal interracial marriage did not have to first prove that the arguments they used might not also be used by same-sex couples, nor did those who made the case for allowing a man and woman themselves rather than their families to choose their spouses have to prove that their arguments might not one day lead to interracial marriage or same-sex marriage or incestuous marriage. So those arguing for same-sex marriage have no responsibility to argue one way or the other with regard to incestuous couples who might one day try to make a similar case.

But this leads me to the big assertion underlying the arguments of many of the opponents. On Lawn raised it, and no one seemed to notice:

On Lawn: The second is one of "artificial" barriers. The barrier between interracial marriges was artificial. Indeed it was a passive removal of the barrier that was required to equalize the relationships. So when gay or lesbian couples demand ss"m" on the same grounds, they are making a false analogy. They are hiding the fact that they do require state intervention and equalization, an active overcoming of a natural barrier rather than a passive breaking down of an artificial barrier.


On Lawn writes this as if it were self-evident, as if no case needs to be made that the one barrier is artificial (tell that to the judge who argued that God had placed the races on different continents to "naturally" prevent the mixing of the races) and the other is natural (tell that to my late uncle, who was born hermaphrodite and had to choose at puberty which gender he would be, though he could be fertile as neither).

Indeed, the assertion that the gender barrier is "natural" is as self-reflexive and specious a non-argument in the debate over same-sex marriage as it was when the Rev. Prof. H. M. Goodwin used it to argue against woman suffrage:

If there is any law written in nature's boldest and most legible hand and stamped indelibly on the human constitution, it is that which assigns different spheres and duties to the two sexes. Woman is made to be the complement and help-mate, not the rival of man. To the man is given physical strength, executive force, mastership, leadership,—in a word, headship in the family, in the field, and in the State. Hence government is his prerogative by nature. To the woman is given a finer and more delicate organization, not inferior but different in kind and quality, fitting her as manifestly for private and domestic life, and its not less responsible duties. To deny or ignore this law is to deny the plainest facts, and to fly in the face of nature itself. Nature and reason, no less than Scripture, declares man to be the "head of the woman" and of the family, and for the same reason he is the proper head and ruler of the State. -- Women's Suffrage, March 1884


The analogy between same-sex marriage and interracial marriage is true (as is an analogy between same-sex marriage and women's suffrage). It's the artificial division between "natural" and "artificial" barriers that is false (and, not coincidentally, unnatural). Mating and pair-bonding are both natural, and frequently but not always intertwined (post-fertile and, yes, same-sex pairings abound in nature as they do among humans). Marriage is a social institution. As such, it is by definition unnatural, and all of its rules and barriers are artificial. It is an artificial construct to order our tendency toward serial adult pair-bonding, our ability to procreate, and the necessity of raising children over a many-year period. We can argue over which artificial rules most benefit us as individuals, as families, and as a society, but none of them are natural.
11.1.2005 9:51pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

It is self evident. Of course some show that their incredulity is stronger than evidence, and while seemingly proud of their skills only deny themselves of basic understandings.

the judge who argued that God had placed the races on different continents to "naturally" prevent the mixing of the races

And perhaps He did, but that is moot. I wouldn't conflate a natural geological barrier with a biological system of procreation. It seems that if God really wanted something to happen, it would take more than a pair of sandals to defeat it. Tell me then how you plan to make potency out of a male-male or female-female relationship if this barrier is so artificial. And if it is artificial who put it there?

You cannot answer those questions, can you. And you claim I'm presenting baseless claims? It is also self-evident that without attempting deceit on the part of the participants or egregious incredulity on your part, you cannot even begin to answer that question.

tell that to my late uncle, who was born hermaphrodite and had to choose at puberty which gender he would be, though he could be fertile as neither

The native American Indians had a concept of Berdaches, where even without proving fertility they became a transcendent gender. It has been argued that legally it would be easier to simply make one member of a gay relationship constructively a woman for the purpose of marriage. You point to individuals who can act with both genders. Which is fine because they can marry either gender also (I know of a such a person in Rochester New York who fathered a child then had two of her own in separate marriages).

No change in law needs to accommodate such a case. Are you saying that gays are hermaphrodites? That argument doesn't seem to have much traction among GLBT members, but you are willing to try, no?

Indeed, the assertion that the gender barrier is "natural" is as self-reflexive and specious a non-argument in the debate

Something struck me as odd when I was reading your post. I didn't put my finger on it until just there. You called this a "gender barrier". What do you mean by that? One gender cannot act like another? Perhaps you miss the point.

I never referred to a gender barrier. Such a notion is born of pseudo-scientific uses of words like "inter-fertility" to describe the fertility of a male-female relationship. I've never referred to a gender barrier as in social casts, as I note your flailings fling off in that tangent pretty quickly.

What do you mean by a gender barrier? How about this gender barrier, the one that homosexuals cannot traverse to be able to love and have an intimate fulfilling marriage. The romantic gender barrier that is all to deep and wide, so we need to re-orient our social codes to accommodate their ... my, my, what shall we call it, a handicap? No, even evoking that word sends chills down the very people who advocate setting up that gender barrier for people they label as gay or lesbian.

What do you mean by gender barrier? Thats your wording and its up to you to describe it.

As for myself, I see a barrier between homosexuality and heterosexuality. One is potent, the other is not. One incorporates gender diversity and equal gender representation in marriage, the other does not. Those are natural intrinsic barriers that no society, religion, judgeship, or government dictated. They do require social, religious, judgmental and governmental resources to overcome and at the cost of abusing the rights of others.

So next time you start a mind-reading expedition to try to read things I don't say into things I write, take and turn that vivid self-serving imagination onto yourself. Because you have left us all hanging as to what you could possibly be talking about, and trying to pin it on me is just playing a con. And we don't get conned easily.
11.2.2005 12:20am
Chimaxx (mail):
By gender barrier, I was simply referring to the arbitrary legal barrier based on gender that prevents same-sex couples from marrying (completely and entirely analogous to the race barrier that prevented interracial couples from marrying).

But here you try to rhetorically conflate two things:

As for myself, I see a barrier between homosexuality and heterosexuality. One is potent, the other is not. One incorporates gender diversity and equal gender representation in marriage, the other does not. Those are natural intrinsic barriers that no society, religion, judgeship, or government dictated.


Yes, potency is a natural, intrinsic distinction shared by some (but not all) heterosexual pairings (whether married or not), and no society, religion, judgeship or government could or did dictate it. But gender diversity and equal gender representation in marriage? This is completely artificial, and entirely dictated by societies, religions, judgeships and governments. Even now, there are societies in which one man may marry as many women as he can afford to keep.

Can I name which of those entities decreed that marriage would be limited to one man and one woman? No mare than you can name which of them decreed that henceforth in our society marriage would be limited to one man and only one woman (and I don't mean in the deal surrounding Utah's statehood, but the earlier decree upon which that one rests).

Physical reproduction is always and everywhere natural (even when aided by artificial means), whether in or out of marriage. Marriage is always and everywhere a human artifice, and its rules and meanings have changed repeatedly in different times and places. The two--reproduction and marriage--sometimes, even usually, intersect, but neither requires the other.

When the Rev. Prof. H. M. Goodwin tried to extrapolate from the purely physical differences between men and women to claiming that these physical differences meant that men were by nature "head" and belonged to the civic sphere and women were by nature "heart" and belonged solely to the domestic sphere, and then used this supposed natural difference to argue that giving women the vote would coarsen women, undermine the family and thus bring the downfall of democracy, he was wrong about everything except the fact that there were physical differences between men and women. By declaring that the then-current social constructs of masculinity and femininity were natural and eternal, he reached very wrong conclusions: There is no "natural" barrier preventing women from being able to vote.

Arguing that our current construct of marriage is somehow natural and eternal is equally wrong--as any history of marriage makes clear. There is no "natural" barrier that prevents same-sex couples from marrying. It is just as artificial as the barriers that prevented women from voting or interracial couples from marrying.

Clearly, reproduction is one of the things marriage seeks to provide order to, but the fact that we do not legally require marriage of those who reproduce and do not require reproduction of those who marry makes it clear that reproduction is not the only thing marriage is set up to give order to. As I said in the earlier message, it is also clearly meant to provide stability to our tendency to serially pair bond--to provide a social and legal net of obligations that helps steady such relationships. That is why we allow--indeed, encourage--post-reproductive and infertile heterosexual couples to marry, and this purpose of marriage would offer equal support and order for same-sex couples.

So your "nature"-based arguments about marriage are at one and the same time too broad (because they try to shove some artificial human constructs into the "nature" box) and too narrow (because they try to reduce marriage to only one of its components).
11.2.2005 1:33am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
I was simply referring to the arbitrary legal barrier based on gender ... gender diversity and equal gender representation in marriage? This is completely artificial, and entirely dictated by societies, religions, judgeships and governments.

Which gender was denied access again? With an allusion to woman's sufferage surely you meant some barrier where a gender was excluded?

What gender barrier are you talking about?

The argument is remeniscent of the Far Side Cartoon of the cow doing beatnic poetry...

Distant Hills
The distant hills call to me.
Their rolling waves seduce my heart.
Oh, how I want to graze in their lush valleys.
Oh, how I want to run down their green slopes.
Alas, I cannot.
Damn the electric fence!
Damn the electric fence!
Thank you.


Why it seems that you are calling the requirement for equal gender participation a "barrier". But that is only because it hampers you from something you want. Others see that as a feature, one of equal gender representation in the governance of a household and of gender integration.

You see a barrier, others see a definition. Powers defined are powers limited, damn the electric fence!

I use the analogy of electric fence for colloqial value. In this case it would be a natural obstruction, the natrual obstruction you admit is intrinsic...

Yes, potency is a natural, intrinsic distinction shared by some (but not all) heterosexual pairings (whether married or not), and no society, religion, judgeship or government could or did dictate it.

Marriage embodies that procreative capacity in law and society. Procreative use outside of marriage is dangerous for the child and is subjective of women, you can't honestly say that single-parenting represents the mating pairing. Neither does a same-sex couple for all the goodness and grace one finds in such a relationship. Marriage does, and that is why the equal gender requirement is a definition (you'll find it in every dictionary), not a regulation. It is much more representative of mating than mere intersection. It is more representative of mating certainly than single-parenting.

In short, I'm not conflating anything. Seperating them is artificial, recognizing them is not. Homogenizing ss-couples with marriage is conflation, recognizing them describes distinction that is natural.

No mare than you can name which of them decreed that henceforth in our society marriage would be limited to one man and only one woman

Now there is a marriage regulation. Who decided on that? In the USA it was the populace. For much of Europe it was Catholicism, which is probably the root of the protestant influence that carried over to the USA. The ban on polygamy isn't really seen much outside of that.

Also note that the ban on polygamy ensures more equal gender representation in a marriage as the spouse with mutliple marriages isn't torn between many different families.

this [natural differences in genders] supposed natural difference to argue that giving women the vote would coarsen women

Which proved to not be a sound argument. There is no natural barrier to voting for women. The appeal to nature here is even less meaningless than the geographical barriers you argued were analogous in the arguments against inter-racial marriages. A woman doesn't even need walking shoes or boats to vote.

My counter argument still stands...

I wouldn't conflate a natural geological barrier with a biological system of procreation. It seems that if God really wanted something to happen, it would take more than a pair of sandals to defeat it. Tell me then how you plan to make potency out of a male-male or female-female relationship if this barrier is so artificial. And if it is artificial who put it there?

You cannot answer those questions, can you. And you claim I'm presenting baseless claims? It is also self-evident that without attempting deceit on the part of the participants or egregious incredulity on your part, you cannot even begin to answer that question.


You admitted to be unable to answer that question, and instead focused on trying to distinguish marriage from the procreative capacity. If you do, that is for yourself and whomever you can convince, but that is a diminishing of the marriage institution and you can not credibly argue that no violence is being done to marriage by your arguments.

Clearly, reproduction is one of the things marriage seeks to provide order to, but the fact that we do not legally require marriage of those who reproduce and do not require reproduction of those who marry makes it clear that reproduction is not the only thing marriage is set up to give order to.

We call that argument the Sterility Strawman. However I note that you use it more correctly than most. You argue that there is more to marriage than its ties to procreation. Of course there is more to marriage, but as Op-Ed argues that does not justify deleting any of them. It seems that every dimension of marriage intersects specifically at the procreative capacity that marriage monitors. Honestly, procreation is the 800lb gorilla in the room. And whenever the gorilla is confronted with a strawman it wins. We've never seen an argument weilded against it (the article behind the link) that wasn't already answered by it.

It points to the power that procreation has, how compelling it is. Dale's arguments for government welfare and romantic stability through government regulation have been rather ho-hum compared to Maggie's very inspiring (for both those who agree and disagree) assertion of marriages procreative monitoring.
11.2.2005 2:16am
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

By gender barrier, I was simply referring to the arbitrary legal barrier based on gender that prevents same-sex couples from marrying (completely and entirely analogous to the race barrier that prevented interracial couples from marrying).


I think you give that broken analogy too much credit.

The Virginia State law in Loving recognized the existence of black-white marriages by crimining them. The goal of the law, according to the State of Virginia, and restated by the Supreme Court, was to "prevent miscegenation." In other words, to prevent black-white couples from breeding together.

Here, the law does not recognize same-sex couplings as "marriages." If a same sex couple wants to call itself married, they don't face criminal penalties. The state simply does not recognize the marriage, because it isn't one. The state's purpose for its definition of marriage does not manifest any intention to stop men from breeding with men, or women from breeding with women.

The Supreme Court described the purpose of the Virginia law as "white supremacy" and said essentially that the state did not have an interest in breeding the human race into strains, like we do with dogs. I strongly suggest you set aside what you've been told about the case, and actually read it, before you try to draw any analogies.

Goodridge's references are misleadingly presented, BTW, and many intelligent people have been misled into believing that the quote "right to marry the person of one's choice" comes from Loving. It does not.
11.2.2005 7:22pm
DaveP:
On Lawn:

But just as importantly, marriage decreases the number of children born into situations where they won't have a father and mother to socialize them.
1. ...
...
5. ...

6. Gay marriage legitimatizes homosexual relationships, thus prevents homosexual men and women from entering into coerced heterosexual marriages, having children, and then divorcing. This is in society's interest as it decreases illegitimacy.
7. Gay marriage provides a stable environment for the raising of adopted children, who would have the benefit of at least a role model of one gender. Such children would otherwise be raised in an industrial setting by the state or in foster care. Having one gender role model is preferable to none at all. Having the example of a couple negotiating the difficult path of a committed relationship is preferable to having a single parent.
8. Gay marriage provides a framework for gay children to integrate their present and future relationships into the extended family network. This promotes the extended family bond, provides a resource for the other heterosexual couples in the extended family, and avoids the pitfalls of the estrangement, marginalization, and suicide of homosexual children.
9. Gay marriage promotes committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. Thus, it decreases the incidence of homosexual promiscuity with the attendant high costs of disease and reduced productivity.
10. Gay marriage offers a recognized role in society for homosexuals. This allows homosexuals to fully participate in the greater society's privleges and responsibilites, thus decreasing their animosity towards society and increasing their contribution, furthering society's advancement.

Of course, in the end, individual rights thoroughly trump the state's interest. If homosexuals wish to marry -- there is no harm or cost to others -- they must be free to do so. Within heterosexual marriage, there must also be no harm or cost to others -- no state schools, no benefits, no subsidizing procreation at all, etc.
11.2.2005 7:37pm
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

6. Gay marriage legitimatizes homosexual relationships, thus prevents homosexual men and women from entering into coerced heterosexual marriages,


On what planet are homosexual men and women coerced into heterosexual marriages, and what does that have to do with the United States here on Planet Earth?



7. Gay marriage provides a stable environment for the raising of adopted children, who would have the benefit of at least a role model of one gender


So does single parenthood. So do same-sex unions. You don't make clear why it's necessary to mislabel these different relationships as "marriage."


8. Gay marriage provides a framework for gay children to integrate their present and future relationships into the extended family network.


Children don't get married, and I don't think that ssm has anything to do with lowering the age of consent. Am I mistaken?


9. Gay marriage promotes committed, monogamous homosexual relationships.


I can't see why they'd do so more than same-sex unions. If you think that ssm would do a better job of encouraging fidelity than ssus do, then show me stats comparing Vermont ssus to Massachussetts ssms. Compare the % of gays in the population entering the official relationships, compare the divorce rates, and fidelity rates.


10. Gay marriage offers a recognized role in society for homosexuals.


You are wrong. "Husband" and "Wife" are recognized roles. Marriage is not a role. SSM dispenses with the recognized roles of marriage.
11.2.2005 9:15pm
DaveP:
logicblackbelt:

On what planet are homosexual men and women coerced into heterosexual marriages, and what does that have to do with the United States here on Planet Earth?


Welcome to Earth, my friend. We do not recognize your blackbelt in "logic" here:

McGreevey


But because of my resolve, and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, "good things," and all the, quote, "right things" of typical adolescent and adult behavior.


There are many gay men and women who enter into sham marriages to avoid the stigma of homosexuality and in hope of repressing their sexuality. These marriages often end in divorce. But not always. Certainly, one can make an intellectual choice to suppress sexuality in favor of something else. As homosexuality is not immoral, however, the choice to feign heterosexuality and commit a life-long lie is depraved.


7. Gay marriage provides a stable environment for the raising of adopted children, who would have the benefit of at least a role model of one gender

So does single parenthood. So do same-sex unions. You don't make clear why it's necessary to mislabel these different relationships as "marriage."


Same sex unions are the moral equivalent to marriage, except that they create a "separate but equal" class for gays. In reality, if SSUs are moral, then SSM is moral. To suggest otherwise is sophistry. If SSUs are made legally equal in every way to marriage, than what is the difference? Bigotry? If the SSU is made weaker than marriage, then why should straight couples who do not wish to commit to marriage not have the option of a civil union? The availability of a weak civil union to straight folks will plainly undermine marriage.


8. Gay marriage provides a framework for gay children to integrate their present and future relationships into the extended family network.

Children don't get married, and I don't think that ssm has anything to do with lowering the age of consent. Am I mistaken?


Of course you are mistaken. As you will no doubt recall, sexuality begins at puberty, around the age of thirteen. It is at this point that homosexuals do the social calculus and extrapolate their role in society and their families. Let me tell you what a joy it is to know, at 13, that you cannot go to a school dance with a date of your choice, that you will never have a relationship that your family and others recognize and respect, and that the promise of a rational, orderly society is a lie and the people around you are vacuous idiots. Put yourself in the shoes of that gay kid: You realize, at 13, that homosexuality has existed for eons, and that the human race is way too stupid to work out a tenable solution to this simple problem. It is very depressing to hear all the automatons whine about tradition -- for you, the tradition of abuse. So you promise yourself that you will never lift a finger to make the slightest contribution to the "greater good," thus the gay ghetto.


9. Gay marriage promotes committed, monogamous homosexual relationships.

I can't see why they'd do so more than same-sex unions. If you think that ssm would do a better job of encouraging fidelity than ssus do, then show me stats comparing Vermont ssus to Massachussetts ssms. Compare the % of gays in the population entering the official relationships, compare the divorce rates, and fidelity rates.


Clearly, the social servo loop around SSM and civil unions has not yet stabilized, and will not do so for many years. Thus, no valid conclusions can yet be drawn.
On principle, the abuse of homosexuals through the denial of equal protection under the law is wrong. Since the effects of any single serious issue like no-fault divorce, weak civil unions, bird flu, and bioterrorism will clearly swamp any effect from gay marriage, it is unclear why this issue even merits a debate.
No one has ever offered a cogent, rational, causal pathway from gay marriage to the diminution of straight marriage, ever. There has been a great deal of rhetorical smoke, but no logical fire. Every straight couple I know has more than enough worries and concerns about their own relationship than to care what the gay couple down the block is doing.
If anything, the desire of gays -- living what is widely considered a free-sex lifestyle -- to enter into legitimate marriages has the effect of underscoring the desireability and unequalled value of those sacred unions. Equality and liberty are truly sweet.


10. Gay marriage offers a recognized role in society for homosexuals.

You are wrong. "Husband" and "Wife" are recognized roles. Marriage is not a role. SSM dispenses with the recognized roles of marriage.


So, if two men are to marry, then they would be "husband" and "husband" -- both members of your set of recognized roles.
The recognized roles of marriage in terms of differentiating between the male role (as owner) and the female role (as chattel and servant) were discarded as unethical in the fifties.
Now, the roles are equal and fluid. The wife can earn the bread, and the husband can care for the kids. Or would you ban such unions as depraved, as well, in the best interest of "society?" Those poor kids could get the wrong idea about gender roles, after all... Perhaps they would be better off as wards of the state?
11.3.2005 12:38am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe,

Please refer to me by my full handle.

You are refuted. Good day!

Its happened occasionally. Lets look at your argument...

Neither you nor Op Ed has shown that homosexuality is any more logically related to incest than it is to misceg.

I can't breath underwater either. I'd find breathing underwater more interesting and even relevant to the points made here than your hastily constructed hoops and goal-posts.

It is a fact that the taboos on both incest and misceg. are/were different forms of consanguinity regulations.

Consanguine means from the same ansestor, or related. That fits incest, but not inter-racial. How can a relationship have two races but the same father or mother?

Or would you rather be refuting arithmetic expressions pretending to refute the arguments presented?

  1. With homosexuality, we don't want such marriages BECAUSE they can't procreate.
  2. With both misceg. and incest, we don't want such marriages because we are afraid they WILL procreate.

  3. That, to me, makes miceg. more closely related to incest than homosexuality is related to incest.


You lumped inter-racial marriage and incest together on your own along a simularity in criteria. Then you compare something different along that criteria to both. The conclusion that homosexuality relates to one even more than the other in the same group is not the logical one.

The only thing that incest and homosexuality have in common is both are frowned upon by tradition.

When related to marriage then we would find the incestuous relationship to be closer than homosexuality. Yet you put homosexuality before incest as a candidate for marriage, which is a contradiction.

Its been my experience that when people have to say I was refuted, its to cover up their failure to do so. It appears your post is not an exception.
11.3.2005 1:43am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dave,

Your example of McGreevey has two flaws...

He was not coerced into marriage, he was capable of arousal towards females.

Certainly, one can make an intellectual choice to suppress sexuality in favor of something else.

Actually, we all have to do that. I'm "sexually oriented" towards many more women than my wife, for example.

Same sex unions are the moral equivalent to marriage, except that they create a "separate but equal" class for gays.

Same-sex unions are a way to gain benefits unique to their relationship. Any conflation occuring between that and marriage is your own doing, and mostly a product of underestimating what marriage is.
11.3.2005 1:49am
DaveP:
On Lawn:


Your example of McGreevey has two flaws...

He was not coerced into marriage, he was capable of arousal towards females.


Not coerced? Lets try some reading comprehension: McGreevey said, "I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, 'good things,'" So, he was convinced by some external input to "force" himself to behave in a way contrary to his nature. The Webster's definition of coerce is: "to compel to an act or choice" and lists a synonym of "forced." Does "forced" equal "forced?" -- I certainly hope so, or we are in big trouble.

Further, many homosexual people -- men and women -- have had heterosexual encounters. In the interest of conformity, people can complete intercourse while fantasizing about another. Your assertion the he is aroused by women presumes facts not in evidence. In particular, he identifies himself as "gay" not bisexual.


Certainly, one can make an intellectual choice to suppress sexuality in favor of something else.

Actually, we all have to do that. I'm "sexually oriented" towards many more women than my wife, for example.

Same sex unions are the moral equivalent to marriage, except that they create a "separate but equal" class for gays.

Same-sex unions are a way to gain benefits unique to their relationship. Any conflation occuring between that and marriage is your own doing, and mostly a product of underestimating what marriage is.


You underestimate what homosexuality is. You, like many conservatives, see heterosexuality as the complex sphere of social, emotional, societal, and, at times, sexual, behaviors that you personally experience. You see homosexuality, on the other hand, as merely cheap and easy sex, and little else.
You cannot identify with the concept of romantic love for a person of the same sex, so you assume it does not exist or is somehow inferior. You assume that the difficulties inherent in straight relationships -- the differences between the sexes -- add some peculiar value. But this is entirely personal prejudice.
In fact, long-term homosexual relationships present their own profound challenges. For example, gay couples must contend with the natural male promiscuity and competitveness. As we lack time tested roles and responsibilities, we must often invent our relationships on the fly. Further, since society is changing rapidly around us, we must change as well, adapting to our new-found acceptance, along with its attendant expectations and responsibilities.

In the end, of course, gay and straight marriages are quite different. Christian, Jewish, Native American, civil, and every other form of marriage also have very different customs, rites, roles, and responsibilities. Where does society properly draw the line?

We must draw the line at mutual consent in absence of the initiation of force or fraud. Animals may not consent to marriage or sex, they are not intelligent. Permitting siblings to marry would engender far more predation (force) than stable relationships, so that is out. Etc...

Two women or two men can certainly agree of their own free will to enter into a life-long bond. This harms no one. As such, they deserve all the same rights and obligations as any other couple.

McGreevey said, "I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake." Those of you opposed to gay marriage are torturing us. You are depraved. Knock it off. Got it?
11.3.2005 1:06pm
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):
Since Dave invokes the "automotons of tradition" and "social servo loops," I have brought along HAL 9000 to answer his questions.


HAL: Good evening, Dave. Everything's running smoothly. And you?


There are many gay men and women who enter into sham marriages to avoid the stigma of homosexuality and in hope of repressing their sexuality.


HAL: Are you quite sure?

If avoiding stigma = coercion, then ssm would violate the first amendment, since it would stigmatize religions that don't recognize ssm. By your logic, stigma = coercion, you can't coerce someone out of their religion, therefore ssm is unconstitutional.




Same sex unions are the moral equivalent to marriage, except that they create a "separate but equal" class for gays.


HAL: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?

A different word does not create a "separate but equal" class for anyone. Separate but equal relates to facilities. In Brown v. Board of Education, segregated schools literally placed black and white students in separate facilities. Here, both marriages and ssus, would use the same court facilities, and have access to the same judges. Following your logic, the Supreme Court should have declared that the black students were white, in order to make them "equal" to whites.



8. Gay marriage provides a framework for gay children to integrate their present and future relationships into the extended family network.

Children don't get married, and I don't think that ssm has anything to do with lowering the age of consent. Am I mistaken?



Of course you are mistaken. As you will no doubt recall, sexuality begins at puberty, around the age of thirteen. It is at this point that homosexuals do the social calculus and extrapolate their role in society and their families. Let me tell you what a joy it is to know, at 13, that you cannot go to a school dance with a date of your choice, that you will never have a relationship that your family and others recognize and respect, and that the promise of a rational, orderly society is a lie and the people around you are vacuous idiots. Put yourself in the shoes of that gay kid: You realize, at 13, that homosexuality has existed for eons, and that the human race is way too stupid to work out a tenable solution to this simple problem. It is very depressing to hear all the automatons whine about tradition -- for you, the tradition of abuse. So you promise yourself that you will never lift a finger to make the slightest contribution to the "greater good," thus the gay ghetto.

HAL: I'm sorry Dave, I don't have enough information.

I think HAL means he does not understand how anything you said relates to marriage. I don't get it either. Do you?


Clearly, the social servo loop around SSM and civil unions has not yet stabilized, and will not do so for many years. Thus, no valid conclusions can yet be drawn.
On principle, the abuse of homosexuals through the denial of equal protection under the law is wrong. Since the effects of any single serious issue like no-fault divorce, weak civil unions, bird flu, and bioterrorism will clearly swamp any effect from gay marriage,


HAL: Well, I don't think there is any question about it. It can only be attributable to human error. This sort of thing has cropped up before and it has always been due to human error.

Hal's got a point. You talk about calculus and servo loops and yet you seem to be pulling these conclusions from a dark and fuzzy place. I'm not entirely convinced you know that ssm would do less damage than bird flu or no-fault divorce.

McGreevey said, "I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake." Those of you opposed to gay marriage are torturing us. You are depraved. Knock it off. Got it?


HAL: Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.

Hal's got a point, Dave. Get some help before you hurt someone.

it is unclear why this issue even merits a debate.


HAL: This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

If you find debate useless, then why are you here? Why don't you go debate bird flu somewhere if you think that is more important?
11.4.2005 5:12am
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

You realize, at 13, that homosexuality has existed for eons, and that the human race is way too stupid to work out a tenable solution to this simple problem.


HAL: Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?

Do you really see homosexuality as a "problem" that requires a "solution?"

Because I didn't think we talked like that about gays anymore.
11.4.2005 5:25am