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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), October 31, 2005 at 11:03pm] Trackbacks
Response to Commentators -- Day 1:

Today's posts have obviously spawned a lot of commentary, though I think Maggie wins in sheer volume. Many of the commentators are responding effectively to each other, and some of the questions raised (especially related to various slippery slopes, and possible harms to marriage) will be addressed in coming days, so I won't add much now.

First, as one commentator reminded me, and as I wrote in an essay on National Review Online last week (available at http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/carpenter200510250830.asp), I think gay-marriage advocates have the burden of proof in this debate. But I think the burden can be met.

Second, I have been struck by how quickly the debate among commentators has centered on gay male promiscuity. I'll address the promiscuity question tomorrow, as I think it goes mostly to the magnitude of the benefits I'm outlining, and again when I get to the prominent arguments against gay marriage. But for now, I'll just note that it shows the debate about gay marriage is often conducted as if it's only really a debate about guy marriage.

Third, one commentator asked why anything at all must be done about gay families. Why not just do nothing? That has been the default position of most traditionalist conservatives for some time now, while familial tectonic plates are shifting under their feet. It's what I'd call malign neglect. If there's one thing the past 40 years or so should have shown us, it's that we ignore the health of families and family structure at our peril. I hope I've shown so far that doing nothing, pretending that the welfare of millions of people in gay families is of no concern to public policy, is not an attractive option for a traditionalist who cares about families and marriage.

Finally, I want to thank Anna for noting one benefit to gay marriage that I hadn't thought about directly: when couples get married it improves the lives of the people who love them by reassuring them that their loved one is being cared for, and are less likely to live, as Anna put it, "lonely and depressed" lives.

My mother, who is 61, recently married a man who is 77 and with whom she'd lived for 18 years. Their sex will not make babies, yet everyone in both families was thick with happiness for them. Why did she marry? Did it change anything in a relationship that was already a marriage in just about every way except the name and the license? When I asked her this, she responded, "Now we're more one." I don't fully understand the magic of that moment, but I didn't have to understand it in order to know that I was more at peace about her future.

Challenge:
I haven't seen you address the point made by myself and several others about those other relationships which are neither straight nor gay but are still involved in the raising of children. Should any two people engaged in the rearing of children be entitled to the support marriage creates? Why does a sexual or romantic relationship have to exist at all? Why aren't two sisters raising their deceased brother's children similarly entitled to the benefits of marriage?

In your attempt to make the case for gay marriage, you have essentially robbed marriage of its meaning. Is marriage just a relationship between two (or more) people? Is that really what we want to make it?
11.1.2005 12:37am
Gabriel Malor:
Thanks for taking the time to respond to comments. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates it.
11.1.2005 1:07am
Randy R. (mail):
Marriage means different things to different people. Some people get married only for money. But I think most people think that marriage is about two people who love each other and want to care for each other for the rest of their lives. That's quite a bit different from "just a relationship between two or more people."

Recognizing love between two people hardly robs marriage of any meaning. Gay people are NOT saying that any two people can get married -- but that' what the state currently says.

Yes, it does. The only requirement any state makes beyond the age requirement is that two people enter into an consensual agreement to marry. So even today, two people who are in "just a relationship" may get married. So if you are afraid that gay marriage will somehow transform marriage to mean just any two people can get married, well, you are a little too late. They already can. But I don't see anyone recommending that we change our laws to tighten up the restrictions on getting married. Do you want to?
11.1.2005 1:31am
Zargon (mail):
Is marriage just a relationship between two (or more) people? Is that really what we want to make it?

Challenge: you're very close to not only defeating your own argument, but driving the wedge between what you want and what you might get wider.
11.1.2005 1:37am
JDS:
Now they'll have to deplete all of their assets before either of them qualifies for Medicare long-term care assistance.

Recognizing the often-severe financial disadvantages of marriage - especially late in life - California reserves its advantageous domestic partnership status only for gay couples of any age and straight couples with one over 62 years old.
11.1.2005 1:51am
ModernWorld:
Here's a test for anyone who claims to be either for or against gay marriage based upon whether it's beneficial for children:

If empirical evidence showed that children raised in certain types of polyamorous households fared better than children in married households (in literacy, education, citizenship/non-criminality, IQ, etc.), would you support poly marriage? Or at least government sanctioned poly unions, with financial benefits?

Because if you're not willing to make that concession, if given the data, I have no clue how you intellectually justify your position that, somehow, gay marriage can't happen, because children will be negatively affected (or that gay marriage must happen "for the children").

Incidentally, I know of no such studies, pro or con, but I strongly suspect that my hypothesis would be borne out, if we defined a certain class of committed polyamorous relationships. Polyamorous relationships allow for greater parenting flexibility (ex: 1 of 4 parents stay home with children, instead of 1 of 2; more career freedom for parents) and the advantage of pooled economic reasources (one house for more people; less need for mommy to work 2 jobs; more time to spend with child).

The reason *I'm* for gay marriage is that it's a major step in recognizing other valid, interpersonal arrangements that, for some people, yield happier, healthier results then marriage. I'm for state neutrality in determining how people organize their intimate social arrangements, but I guess that view is too taboo to actually be voiced. I'll go back in the corner and stop shining a flashlight inside our trojan horse.
11.1.2005 2:26am
Challenge:
Zargon, explain how I am defeating my own argument.

I realize that Mr. Carpenter plans on addressing more of the facets of the debate in future posts, and I look forward to that.

Also, I don't wish to belittle the troubles of gay families. Like any other non-traditional family they face many problems and probably could benefit from some state support of the kind marriage provides. But I do think if we make this about the benefits, and about helping families whatever their structure and form, then we will end up destroying what "marriage" has meant.
11.1.2005 2:28am
Challenge:
"California reserves its advantageous domestic partnership status only for gay couples of any age and straight couples with one over 62 years old."

Discrimination!!!! :)
11.1.2005 2:28am
Challenge:
"I'm for state neutrality in determining how people organize their intimate social arrangements, but I guess that view is too taboo to actually be voiced."

You're for state neutrality but you want to see MORE governmental influence/meddling in social arrangements?
11.1.2005 2:29am
anonymous22:
Of course gay male promiscuity is central to the debate. It is inappropriate to discuss such matters in today's politically correct climate, but for me it is one of the central difficulties with gay male marriage. The fact that gay males are inherently, by nature, more promiscuous than straights I think provides a solid basis for limiting marriage to straight couples only. The usual response to this, which I think we'll get from Carpenter, is that, "Wouldn't gay marriage be a wonderful way to limit gay promiscuity?" This misses the point. Marriage is designed to enforce a desirable social good, monogamy. Gay marriage simply cannot perform the "monogamy-encouragement" function as effectively as traditional marriage. Gay men are more promiscuous than straights because: men are more promiscuous than women, by nature, and because sex between gay couples gets boring much more quickly; "opposites attract," and it is boring to have partners who are like yourself. This is not to say that no gay couples are monogamous, but it is to say that they are promiscuous when compared to straights. And the evidence bears this out: there is nothing at all like the bathhouse culture among lesbians. Why does the state have to be neutral between heterosexuality and male homosexuality when they are so fundamentally different at a biological level?

The second argument against gay marriage is that kids need mothers and male gays cannot provide motherhood. To the extent that gay marriage will encourage male gay couples to adopt children and raise them from a young age, and teaches that this type of arrangement is indifferent from traditional child-rearing; to that extent it is bad. The marriage-procreation link is now vigorously denied as a myth, an illusion by the gay marriage crowd. Obviously, this complete denial is an overstatement.

This is all very un-PC and I hope the thought police won't arrest me.
11.1.2005 4:16am
bago (mail):
So you're saying effeminate sexual people can't be mothering. Obviously you've never met a pregnant woman, nor an aging queen.
11.1.2005 4:25am
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):

This is all very un-PC and I hope the thought police won't arrest me.


For a thought crime to occur, evidence of thought must be demonstrated.
11.1.2005 6:34am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
For a thought crime to occur, evidence of thought must be demonstrated.

I was going to respond to Anonymous22, but I think you've just saved me the time.
11.1.2005 7:20am
Medis:
I actually think the answer to Challenge's question is that some form of special legal status for any committed child-raising pair (or maybe group) may well be justifiable. Off the top of my head, we might call these pairs/groups "co-parents", and I can imagine a legal regime where all sorts of pairs (and maybe groups) could register as co-parents and become entitled to various legal benefits and presumptions.

If we did adopt something like that scheme, then civil marriage might do something like create automatic co-parent status when the married couple was raising a child. And thus the argument would be that gay couples, like straight couples, should be allowed to marry because automatic co-parent status would be good for the children being raised by gay couples.

None of that sounds absurd to me, nor does it undermine any traditional conception of marriage--meaning that something like automatic co-parent status has always been an aspect of marriage.
11.1.2005 7:37am
TomFromMD (mail):
"Gay marriage simply cannot perform the "monogamy-encouragement" function as effectively as traditional marriage."

Proof? I would have thought the opposite is true. From what you say, male female-couples are more likely to monogomous, so they wouldn't need the "encouragement" of marriage. How do lesbian couples fit into this argument? But by your logic, if women are more likely to be monogomous, does that support their right to marry?

"sex between gay couples gets boring much more quickly"

Proof? Do you have any experience here? I don't, but I don't see what the difference would be.

"To the extent that gay marriage . . . teaches that this type of arrangement is indifferent from traditional child-rearing . . . it is bad"

How so? Why is it bad? What if one of the partners is a real flamer, and the other is super butch? Compare that to a couple where both the mother and father have very high testosterone levels, go to WWF fights, and throw back Budweisers at NASCAR?

It seems that all your arguments that rely on unsupported statements.
11.1.2005 8:13am
Speedwell:
None of that sounds absurd to me, nor does it undermine any traditional conception of marriage...

Oh, it does to me... and yes, it does. How? By separating the proposed legal status of state-recognized parenthood from the legal status of state-recognized marriage. It's already an abomination that the state owns our children and can do with them what it pleases. Don't encourage them to define a separate parenthood status that they can grant to or take away from a given married couple as an indifferent matter of red tape.
11.1.2005 8:31am
Oh my word:
Gay marriage is mostly about lesbian marriage, not male homosexual marriage. 75% of the Mass. licenses are lesbian arrangements. Big surprise, given that women are biologically more inclined to want marriage than men.

Thus, a significant part of this debate is whether we want to encourage lesbianism and institutionalize it--and put the state's imprimatur on it as an equal way to raise children to traditional marriage. Lesbians can obviously have their own kids, whereas gay men cannot on their own.

Personally, I think that fathers are an essential part of raising both boys and girls. Males and females are quite different. Both boys and girls can be overmothered. I had a boy in my cabin while a camp counselor once who was the son of a lesbian couple, and the kid was so p-whipped and shy that it was just a mess, and certainly no fun for me to have to deal with. You could see why when his mothers came, as they just pampered and mothered him the whole time.

Girls can also be overmothered, because girls without father figures often grow up a little afraid of other males, given that they have not looked up to and loved their own father. It creates problems with dating as well as general relationships with boys/men.

My other criticism of gay marriage is that it sends a powerful signal to adolescents who may be confused by their sexuality that homosexuality is just as good and normal as heterosexuality. Whether homosexuality is as normal and healthy as heterosexuality is probably beyond the scope of this debate, but while I don't think it's a sin or anything, I do think that it creates a whole lot of problems all over the spectrum, demographically speaking. Given that there is usually a major environmental and/or choice factor involved in homosexual/bisexual practices, as born out by every study I've ever seen, this is a major part of the opposition to gay marriage.
11.1.2005 8:50am
Josh Jasper (mail):
Second, I have been struck by how quickly the debate among commentators has centered on gay male promiscuity.

I'm not. They compare us to incestuous brother sister pairings, people who have sex with animals, pedophiles, and tell us we're ravening sex feinds who're bent on destroying marriage.

All this goes on, but the important thing is that this is a civil debate, and they're not bigots.

Plus unfounded 'common knowledge' assumptions about how we raise children. Never mind the large body of studies that show that there's no real negative impact.
11.1.2005 9:11am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
*sigh*

If anything, we're distinguishing "you" from people who have sex with animals. Twenty years ago, the two categories would have both been dismissed out of hand. A slippery slope argument implies that future consequences will be WORSE if we accept gay marriage now. If people really equated homosexuality with beastiality, we wouldn't be having a discussion in the first place.

You drag the entire post down when you try to make every argument personal and then attack your opponents as bigots.

Same to you, Anon22: That post almost looked calculated to re-ignite the bigotry charges. Gay sex "Gets boring?" I almost wish I knew how you came up with that one out of sheer amusement...
11.1.2005 9:33am
Medis:
Speedwell,

Parenthood is already a separate legal status from marriage, and that actually protects parenthood from interference by the state (because you do not lose your parental rights simply because you are not married). And the presumption of parenthood that arises in marriage also strengthens parental rights precisely because it then triggers the constitutional protection of parental rights laid out in a series of Supreme Court cases.

In that sense, it is wrong to conclude that such a presumption would make it easier for the state to take away parental rights. And that is precisely because parental rights, once established, are provided with constitutional protection.
11.1.2005 9:34am
Oh my word:
Boys do better when there are fathers around. There are mountains of studies demonstrating that. I'm sure the same exists for girls. This is not armchair philosophy.

In addition, there is great wisdom that usually comes from common knowledge. It's not infallible, but it's also correct more often than not.
11.1.2005 9:43am
Medis:
As always, it seems worth noting that the question for straight couples has never been whether they would be perfectly ideal parents. Rather, the question has been whether they are within the broad range of parents who would not fall within the very limited range of "unfit" parents.

So, it seems to me that asking whether gay couples would be ideal parents from a gender diversity perspective is the wrong question. The right question is whether gay couples would be presumptively unfit parents. In other words, even if their lack of gender diversity is not ideal, that does not mean they are not part of the broad range of parents who fall between ideal and unfit.
11.1.2005 9:54am
Rottin' in Denmark (www):
Boys do better when there are fathers around. There are mountains of studies demonstrating that. I'm sure the same exists for girls. This is not armchair philosophy.

Of COURSE children do better with a mother and a father around. But if that's a case against gay marriage, then it's a case against single parenthood too, not to mention all kinds of other arrangements where a mother and a father aren't present.

Two guys or two gals raising children probably isn't the 'ideal.' But in a country where only 25% of kids are raised in 'traditional' households anymore, we passed using that logic decades ago.
11.1.2005 10:18am
Josh Jasper (mail):
I'm not the one bringing up incest as 'the next step'. The language now is just as bigoted as Bill Buckley was writing about racial issues during the civil rights era.
11.1.2005 10:26am
Oh my word:
Rottin', I agree that we should not be supporting single parenthood, either. That is just as problematic and should be neither subsidized nor encouraged.
11.1.2005 10:44am
Taimyoboi:
"...just note that it shows the debate about gay marriage is often conducted as if it's only really a debate about guy marriage."

I think the comments were in part driven by the content of your first two posts, which solely discussed the potential benefits to same-sex couples.

Most would agree, I included, that those same-sex couples already seeking a faithful and committed relationship would benefit from and respect the institution of marriage.

One question left unanswered is whether that subset of homosexuals is representative of the entire population, or whether they are on the margin. Lots of people tossed anecdotal information around saying things like "all of their gay friends do this or that." Heartfelt, but hardly an sturdy enough limb for many opponents of extending marriage to same-sex couples to walk out on.

While the question of promiscuity was a poorly worded one, I think the intention was designed to address that question of the costs to society versus the benefits to the minority group. Something mentioned in your earlier post as being important in any such discussion.
11.1.2005 10:59am
Justin (mail):
The problem with Challenge's argument is that it is irrelevant, at least vis a vis Mr. Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter isn't arguing for marriage solely as a means of child rearing, he's doing it across a range of moral purposes for marriage, many of them sexual.

He's assuming (and I think this is a correct assumption) that gay sex by itself is not immoral, or at minimim not "so" immoral compared to other sins based on family arrangements (fornication, out of wedlock childbirth, etc.)

So if you can't "buy" that assumption, you and Mr. Carpenter are likely to talk past each other. If you CAN buy the assumption, you're not on the right "slippery slope". A man and a woman who have no sexual interest in each other can ALSO marry for the benefits (this was the straw argument I had to defeat to convince my stepfather in the wisdom of same sex marriage). If you, as a conservative, can't see that, think Bill and Hillary. So it isn't "gay marriage" that opens up your Pandora's Box, it's marriage without the government having a videocamera in your bedroom. The box is open, and nothing seems to have come out, Challenge. Let it go.
11.1.2005 11:03am
Justin (mail):
Oh my word, unless you can show that parents of children will get divorced because of gay marriage (not because they are gay, but because of gay marriage), OR unless you can submit that the current foster care situation for adopted children is better for people than living in a stable-if-gay-parents-family situation, OR unless you can tell me that a child who is created for the purpose of allowing a gay family to have a child is NOT better off than had that child NOT BEEN CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE, I fail to see how your argument is relevant in the least.
11.1.2005 11:05am
Justin (mail):
Taimyoboi,

That can't be the "only" question. You also have to answer the question that I'm sure Mr. Carpenter will discuss today, which is WHAT EFFECT WILL GAY MARRIAGE HAVE ON GAY SEX?

I think there are strong arguments that have to be considered, one's that seem quite correct, that the inability to enter into stable, legally committed relationships has signficantly encouraged gay promiscuity in MANY ways,* and that gay marriage is an important step in combatting gay marriage.

*I'll let Mr. Carpenter make his arguments, but off the top of my head, it ranges from putting external values into monogamy, legitimizing gay romantic love, and bringing gay sexuality into the mainstream where it's approval, now existing, is dependant on moral limits.
11.1.2005 11:09am
Randy R. (mail):
Studies show that gay behavior is learned? Excuse me, but it's just the opposite! EVery credible study has shown that sexual orientation is set by at least the age of 7, and doesn't change. It may bve set before the age of 7, but it is quite difficult to determine sexual orientation before then. (Other studies have concluded that it is set at age 3). Although no one knows exactly why one person is gay, another straight, most studies conclude it is either entirely genetic, or genetic with an influence from environmental factors. But those environmental factors are not watching Will and Grace on tv. No, when they say environmental, they are talking about the hormonal stew that the birth mother sends to the fetus while still in the womb. So either way, the conclusion is that sexual orientation is set at birth or shortly thereafter. (Not to mention that many people are bi-sexual, or something other that 100% heterosexual).

HOw is this relevant? Because if you are gay, you are gay, and nothing is going to change that. Proof? Check the websites to the American Psychiatric Association, the AMerican Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, in addition to the various associaions for theraphy and counseling. Opposite proof? Those people who say orientation can be changed cite research that is deeply flawed and never been peer reviewed. in addition, those organizations who promote change refuse to give any information on the success of their activities, and even they concede that change is unlikely for most people.

So what has this to do with gay marriage? Simple. We are gay, and we are unlikely to change that, no matter how hard we pray or whatever. So allow us ot get married.

Your concern was that this will "normalize" homosexual behavior. Yes and no. It will normalize it for those who are gay, but not for those who are not gay. Just ask any person -- including yourself -- what would it take for you to have sex with another man (assuming you are a man). How many gay marriages would it take? How many tv shows? If I put you in a locked room and forced you to listen to showtunes, how many hours before you cave and beg to have sex with a man?

Right. I don't think it will happen. Because the desire is not there. So bottom line: You have nothing to worry about.
11.1.2005 11:12am
Oh my word:
Randy, it is incorrect that sexuality is always set by the age of seven. On the contrary, lesbianism is generally thought to be a very fluid practice. "LUG" (lesbian until graduation) is a common colloquialism among college ages these days. I saw it when I was in college, and I bet you did as well. It also does not explain how soooo many people in jail turn to homosexuality for the obvious reason that they have no heterosexual opportunity. Likewise with men in Roman and Greek armies, where homosexuality was encouraged and quite common. And so on and so forth. There is a big cultural and environmental component to all of this.

Justin,

The point is that homosexual marriage will encourage more gay activity and relationships, which also will foster an environment where lesbian women find it appropriate to have more kids in a gay context. Not extending gay marriage does not end lesbians having kids, but it prevents that from becoming common. It has been repeatedly demonstrated, for ex., that things like welfare benefits for kids out of wedlock, general nanny state programs, and the like foster and encourage out of wedlock births. The same incentives and cultural acceptance issues predominate here, as well.
11.1.2005 11:20am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
We're not going to resolve the "behavior" vs. "identity" debate today, and it's off-topic. Maybe if Carpenter brings it up you two can hash it out. Otherwise you'll just derail his thread.
11.1.2005 11:33am
Randy R. (mail):
Lesbianism isn't a different animal, I will concede, and not one I know much about. I do know that it is more fluid, as you suggest, at least for some people. For many others, though, and all of my female friends, they have been lesbian their entire lives.

But you raise a good point. There were many women who were lesbian in college (the Sister Colleges especially!). And guess what, they were doing that well before gay marriage ever came to the table! And yet, somehow, civilization survived. So again, what is the worry?

As for prison, sure, gay sex thrives there because there is no alternative. Guess what? Men are pigs! But they aren't pigs because they are gay, they are pigs because they are men. (Sorry for the analogy -- but people here seem to like talking about animals).

Your point on Roman and Greek armies is a good one, but doesn't go far enough. It wasn't just the armies. At least in the ancient Greek society, it was far more common to have gay sex, and even have gay male relationships. Even today, in many middle eastern countries, from Greece to Egypt to Pakistan, you will find it common for an older and younger man to be in a relationship that is sexual, emotional, physical and intellectual. (I won't even mention the pre-Meiji Japanese Shoguns, who were almost all gay, and Tokyo at one point had the largest gay population in the world)

My point? First, with all this gay sex going on, civilization STILL survived! In fact, it often thrived.

I wasn't going to go into this topic, since it's sorta off topic from marriage, but what people in both the gay and striaght communities often forget is that sexuality is indeed fluid. Few people are 100% gay or straight -- most fall somewhere in between. And that "in between" point may wander from one side to another as one ages. Suppressing this sexuality is the source of a great deal of pain in our society, and it needs more study. We really know very little about human sexuality.

But we do know that some people are indeed gay, and that's not going to change. How we as a society deal with us in an issue that simply won't go away, and we will demand our rights until we get them.
11.1.2005 11:37am
Randy R. (mail):
You know, in reading over these posts and the ones from the previous week, I am struck by a certain issues. I don't know the age of the people posting, but I would guess the majority are middle aged or thereabouts.

What I sense from the people who oppose marriage, from Maggie Gallagher on down, is a real fear that changing the definition of marriage will really be a problem. The reasons they cite often come down to a worry about more gays, worries about gay promiscuity, worries about what will happen to procreation, worries about the children who don't have both a mother and father, and so on.

But whenever I talk to young people -- people in their 20s and younger, I don't see any of these worries. I can go up to a totally straight male in his 20s and say I'm gay, and more often than not, his attitude is neutral. I can talk about gay issues with him, and he is totally comfortable about it, and maybe even informed on the various issues. I think the difference arises because young people grow up with gay people in their midst. Schools are filled with gay teenagers, and they are often accepted.

Just last week in Baltimore, there was an anti-gay incident at a local school. The next week, there was a large protest against this anti-gay incident, and the majority of people there were striaghts! Mostly women, but some men too.

So the younger generation simply doesn't have the fear of gays that middle aged and older people have. They don't worry about a slippery slope, or thinking taht they will somehow "turn gay." By accepting gay people, they are implicitly coming to terms with their own masculinity or femininity. Hence, they don't need to beat up gays to prove how manly their are. (When I was growing up, that was the attitude, believe me).

Normalizing gay relationships? hey, the kids say go for it! Whatever floats your boat -- doesn't matter to me. Traditionalists, right-wingers and such will freak out that this is the growing attitude, but I rejoice in it.
11.1.2005 11:47am
Joshua (mail):
To expand upon Oh my word's argument, also consider the case of Sheryl Swoopes, the star WNBA player who recently came out as lesbian. Not only does she have a naturally-conceived 8-year-old son from a previous traditional marriage, but by her own account she never considered herself the slightest bit lesbian until the last few years or so. That suggests to me that sexual orientation, at least for some people, is still quite malleable well into adulthood.
11.1.2005 11:51am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
25 here, and while I don't fear "gays," I think their relationships should be normalized. If you think opposition to gay marriage is based on fear, you're mistaken... probably willfully.
11.1.2005 11:52am
Justin (mail):
Justin,

The point is that homosexual marriage will encourage more gay activity and relationships, which also will foster an environment where lesbian women find it appropriate to (1) have more kids in a gay context. Not extending gay marriage does not end lesbians having kids, but it (2) prevents that from becoming common. It has been repeatedly demonstrated, for ex., that things like (3) welfare benefits for kids out of wedlock, (4) general nanny state programs, and the like (5) foster and encourage out of wedlock births. The (6) same incentives and cultural acceptance issues predominate here, as well.

Okay, a couple of things here. I've numbered the appropriate points.

(1) This requires you to accept my third possible premise, that these children would be better off not being born at all. If that's your opinion, then that's okay, but I'm going to respectfully disagree and insist that we leave it at that before going too off topic.

(2) Id.

(3)(4)(5) All of these things will encourage out of wedlock childrearing, sure. But that gay MARRIAGE will encourage OUT OF WEDLOCK childrearing does not follow from your argument. Everything else goes back to (1).

(6) Your prejudices aside, that's a pretty wild accusation. Different incentives may create for different results, but surely in aggregate gays, who are better off, aren't avoiding having children simply because of FINANCIAL incentives. Nor does any theory of gay marriage apply to out of wedlock births.

Look, these children you seem to be so worried about WILL NOT EXIST outside of gay marraige. You are *not* substituting straight-raised kids for gay-raised kids. You are simply substituting gay-couple-raised kids for gay-single-parent raised kids. And even if we can disagree about the morality of homosexuality, I can't believe that's something you'd oppose.
11.1.2005 11:53am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
... *don't* think their relationships should be normalized... rephrased a sentence and accidentially deleted a key word. Sorry.
11.1.2005 11:54am
Justin (mail):
Joshua, if you can't say something useful, refrain from speaking. The idea that gay sex is learned is not disproven in the least by the idea that people come out well into their adulthood, an idea that everyone discussing this topic was fully aware.

"25 here, and while I don't fear "gays," I think their relationships should be normalized. If you think opposition to gay marriage is based on fear, you're mistaken... probably willfully."

Dan, uhhh, why isn't this an argument IN FAVOR of gay marriage? The "probably willfully" addition shows a soft bigotry of your own, btw. Actually, forget soft. It's bigotry.
11.1.2005 11:55am
Justin (mail):
Dan, ignore everything but the last point of my rebuttal. I don't think you're being a bigot in the 1850's meaning of the term, btw, but I do think you're being a bigot. Your bigotry lies in a couple of ways:

1) "morally" disproving an identity question and then circually defending that identity points by refusing to test your presumptions, in order to put a negative moral value on having a particular identity, which is, by definition, bigotry.

2) devalue-ing certain quantities of benefit for gays that you wouldn't disvalue in others in order to determine tradeoffs. That is, you wouldn't disvalue certain heterosexual benefits because of real or supposed adverse effects on the institute of marriage that they are causing, but are clearly willing to do more harm to homosexual values where such harm is less damaging to the institute. (this is actually where maggie galleger is not particularly bigoted).

3) Making certain presumptions about gay society that require one to believe there is something innately different about gays where such inferences are not the only reasonable explanation for certain phenomena, or in many cases, not even reasonable explanations for certain phenomena.

Over the course of the two weeks, you've done each of these three forms of bigotry, and you've decided that to be called on it is something only bigots would do...but since being "bigoted" against opposing political viewpoints has NOTHING to do with bigotry, what you are really doing is a fourth form of bigotry, which is making certain presumptions about the other side, in terms of morality, that allow you to avoid rigorously challenging your own moral disapproval of an identity group.
11.1.2005 12:03pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It's not an argument in favor of gay marriage... just a refutation to Randy's claim that everyone who disagrees with him is old and irrelevant.

So I'm bigoted for thinking that same sex marriage advocates have an interest in assuming that all of their opponents are making arguments based solely on fear? That's bigotry against whom exactly? Same-sex marriage advocates? Spare me.
11.1.2005 12:04pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I started reading your post, and then stopped. I'm sorry, but I just don't feel like I have to read anything that follows "you're being a bigot." Hope you feel productive.
11.1.2005 12:06pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Taimyoboi observed:

Lots of people tossed anecdotal information around saying things like "all of their gay friends do this or that." Heartfelt, but hardly an sturdy enough limb for many opponents of extending marriage to same-sex couples to walk out on.

I certainly indulged in a few anecdotes, but I clearly pointed out that my personal experiences cannot possibly reflect the diversity of millions of other gay or lesbian folks. (Yes, I have a hang up about using statistics truthfully; I was probably potty trained too early or something ;-).)

I did have a point, even if it was too elliptical for most readers to appreciate. Just one example was in repeatedly pointing to my (middle) age. Were I to characterize my friends' willingness to "settle down" 20+ years ago, I would have described it quite differently. In my salad days, getting married and making home wasn't near the top of the list for most of my friends. It mattered little whether they were gay or straight, male or female, etc.

The same could be said of my vague references to the "circles in which I travel," meaning a sort of socio-economic-cultural what-have-you. People with different cultural experiences/identities tend to regard marriage (and related social constructs) in different ways. It's not a necessarily (or even predominantly) gay-vs.-straight thing.

All of which leads me to wonder why so many people are eager to begin an inquiry into the Great Marriage Debate assuming that gay folks are so fundamentally different from our parents, our communities, and our society? Are there important differences among the gay/straight/whatever experience? Of course. But, are they so pronounced as to completely upend everything else we know (or assume) about human beings?

So, I'll just throw in one more anecdote before throwing in the towel. I have far more in common with the straight people I grew up among than with gay people who grew up in very different American communities.

I'll never forget the first time I met a dyed-in-the-wool gay racist. It made no sense to me. How can you be gay and racist? Haven't you learned anything? Of course she had. She learned it from her environs.

Is anyone here foolish enough to hazard a guess as to what my life (or "lifestyle") is like based solely on the fact that I'm gay man? Would you succeed any better than I would in describing what a straight woman's life is like based the fact that she's romantically attracted to men too?

"Normal" or otherwise, I can't conceive of myself or anyone else as that unidimensional--to say nothing of throwing X million people into that narrow bucket.

(P.S. If you try to shoehorn into my words that I'm calling you a bigot, then you've flunked the rhetorical quiz.)
11.1.2005 12:39pm
Zephyr:
Interesting....the "moral" dilemna over a human condition as old as sex itself. We are in the 21st Century? Marriage in the simplest definition is designed for the persons involved to exist as a economic, social, and reproductive unit. Either of the three is an "acceptable" definition of marriage. So, a homosexual/lesbian union cannot, by exclusive sexual contact, reproduce. What does that have to do with the remaining social/economic benefits of committment? Absolutely nothing!

A percentage of the human population will always be homosexual. Sexual orientation in and of itself is only one part of an individual's make up. Turning a "blind eye" to the issue does not make it go away. We should acknowledge homosexuality/lesbianism as one aspect of the human sexual condition and get over it.
11.1.2005 12:46pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Daniel Chapman:

It's not an argument in favor of gay marriage... just a refutation to Randy's claim that everyone who disagrees with him is old and irrelevant.

Actually, the underlying thrust of what Randy described has some merit, at least if you have any faith in common polling practices.

Generally, younger Americans are supportive or at most ambivalent about same-sex couples getting married. The converse is true of older Americans. You may not be in the majority for your age group, but you're hardly alone.

What remains to be seen is what happens as your generation ages.
11.1.2005 12:50pm
Penta:
Junkie: The problem I have (I'm 21) is that I just figure, well...

It ain't broke. Why fix it?

Yet, for that, I'm deemed a bigot.

What gives???

As far as aging: The truism is that as you get older, you get more conservative.

As it stands, if that holds true, we might only be arguing this for a couple of years; Either it'll happen soon, or it won't happen, as the current youth generation (I forget what they call us...) ages.
11.1.2005 1:15pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"Of course gay male promiscuity is central to the debate. "

According to the GSS data collected over a 20 year period the median number of lifetime sexual partners for purely heterosexual men is 5 and for homosexual men is.... 6.

Yes when you look at the stats you see that at about the 75% mark the number of lifetime sexual partners for both gay and straight men starts rising rapidly. So what does that mean - 25% of men are randy bastards regardless of their sexual orientation.

Yes horribly horny gay men will be more successful at finding partners but who really thinks that marriage is a primary concern for men of either sexual orientation in that 25%?

When I was in the army my sister asked me if I had a boyfriend, and I said 'no' and she asked why. I said "What's safer: me being in a long term relationship that will be impossible to hide and get me kicked out of the military or a one night stand with someone who thinks my name is John?"

Persecution and marginalization encourages the separation of sex from affection, it fosters promiscuity. Here in Seattle most of the gay people are marrying because no one here cares if they do get married! We live in any neighborhood, hold any job, and low and behold the majority seem to also want to marry someone and share their lives with the person, hopefully for the rest of their lives.

Always makes me shake my head when the people who engage in the persecution that encourages promiscuity then point at it to justify their stereotyping and continued persecution - how more vicious of a cycle could there be?
11.1.2005 1:45pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"Boys do better when there are fathers around. There are mountains of studies demonstrating that. I'm sure the same exists for girls. This is not armchair philosophy."

Actually there is mountains of studies that show that boys are better off with with single fathers or heterogendered parents as opposed to single mothers! There is a actually a dreth of information that compares boys raised by 2 female parents with those raised by heterogendered parents. The studes that even tangentially touch on this show that the most important thing for good childhood development is two living parents providing a stable environment not the genders of those parents.
11.1.2005 1:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The reason the debate about gay marriage devolves into a debate about guy marriage is because of something you declared out of bounds at the beginning of your series of posts-- the bigotry of many opponents of gay marriage.

The fact is, many people are disgusted by the thought of sex acts between men. Many of these same people are turned on, or at least not disgusted by, the thought of sex acts between women.

Given that, it isn't a surprise that opponents of gay marriage focus on gay males having sex with each other.

The fact is, I don't think we can have this debate without discussing the motives of opponents of gay marriage. The truth is, the arguments against gay marriage are basically make-weights, and what lies behind them are powerful religious and psychological forces that oppose male homosexuality (and, really, ONLY male homosexuality). Get rid of those prejudices, and nobody would accept the make-weight arguments.
11.1.2005 2:07pm
Justin (mail):
needlessly to say, for the reasons outlined in the post that Mr. Chapman refuses to read, I concur with Dilan.
11.1.2005 2:12pm
John H (mail) (www):
All previous questions of marriage rights throughout history have been about nothing other than the right to procreate together. Anti-miscegenation laws were intended to prevent procreation (anti-mixing-the-genes). Laws against cousin marriage are designed to prevent procreation. When they adjust the age of consent to marriage, they are adjusting when people are allowed to procreate.

And today we face this question again, with the aid of technology: should same-sex couples be allowed to procreate together or not? You can't deny that we face this question right now. We will have to answer it one way or the other (and choosing not to answer it answers it in favor of allowing it, since it is not currently banned). What is so different about gay marriage that we approach the question in some other way besides procreation rights? It is ludicrous. It is the same questin it always has been - should we allow someone to procreate with someone of their same sex???

Should we?
11.1.2005 2:25pm
Pushpak (mail):
What I feel is wrong with this debate is.....the debate. The debate is mired in these inconsequential arguments about how many times people have sex, gender roles, monogamy, etc. When a couple (male/female) fills out a form (I haven't seen every marriage license from every state so I suspect they vary) none of these subjects are broached because THE STATE does not care. Fill out the form - pay the fee. I, as a 47 year old woman, can have sex with a 100 people, be an acholoic, drug user, child molester, murderer, abuser, a convicted criminal, serial killer, etc. and if there is someone who would have me, with any or all the aforementioned, I can walk into a city or county court fill out a marriage license and marry any MAN I choose and in some states as young as 16 or 17 with parents persmission. THIS IS THE PROBLEM! THIS IS THE ISSUE!

I am a tax paying citizen of the US. I deserve the due process required in the 14th Amendment to the constitution.

....nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

As an adult citizen of this country, why am I being denied due process. Why does the state treat me as a 2nd class citizen? Being gay, which I am by the way, is not a crime in any of the 50 states. This is the central question those of us who support the right for gay people to marry should be discussing. Not how many fucks a gay male has. This is fruitless (no pun intented) argument. It's past time to move on.

At every opportunity, I try to move this issue
11.1.2005 2:43pm
John H (mail) (www):
Pushpak, I agree! Whether or not we allow two people to marry has NOTHING to do with all that stuff about their fitness as parents or how much they love each other. It is entirely if their procreation would be ethical or not. There are "supportable basis" to deny a marraige license to a couple, according to loving. These presumably were seen as incestuous relationships, underage relationships, perhaps incarcerated relationships, and adulterous relationships. In all of these cases, it was the procreation that was being denied, no one said that a man can't love his sister and be committed to her or visit her in the hospital. He just cant procreate with her.

And it would be very supportable to say that you cannot procreate with someone of your same sex.
11.1.2005 6:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
I never said that old people are irrelevant. There are other things I would prefer in my mouth, but not YOUR words.

The fact remains that according to every poll I've seen, the younger the generation, the more inclined they are to gay marriage. For the people in their 20s and younger, the figure is about 80% in favor. Each ten-year stratum declines along a pretty much straight line until you get to the 70+ people, who are around 10% in favor.

What that means is that it's only a matter of time before this issues becomes moot. A majority of people will support gay marriage within another generation -- that's about 25 years. Once people see that in Canada and Massachusetts marriage is still thriving even with gay marriage, it may happen sooner.

This is why the conservatives are pushing for an amendment to the constitution. They are hard to pass, and ever harder to revoke, so they are hoping to arrest it now before people get comfortable with it.

Funny, isn't it? In all those states that passed state constitutions to ban gay marriage -- their divorce hasn't dipped at all. Bankruptsies are actually increasing. Gas prices have risen. The war in Iraq is going worse. In other words, people's lives as just as badly off, or worse, than they were. They may be out of job because it was shipped to China, but by golly they at least can get the comfort of knowing they stopped those homos from getting married.

Hallalujah.
11.1.2005 10:20pm
Randy R. (mail):
One more point. Just after the Supreme Court struck down all the bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia (was it 1967 or 68?), polls showed that 80% of the american public was against interracial marriage.

Today, no one polls that because it is such a non-issue, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wants to ban interracial marriage. The numbers would likely be in the single digits.

When did this great change occur? Certainly by 1990, we can assume no one opposed interracial marriage. So that took, what a little over 20 years for americans fo fully accept interracial marriage.

Today, the polls are all over the place on gay marriage, but overall they tend to be somewhere between 30-40% in favor, and those numbers are quite a bit higher than they were ten years ago. So already we are starting off better than than 1968. I predict within 10 years, we will have a solid majority in favor of gay marriage, something over 50%. Of course, it will depend on region and age of respondent. Old people in red states will likely be against it, while young people in blue states will likely be in favor. But still, that's not too bad. And no doubt more states will have allowed gay marriage (Connecticut is the most likely candidate) And when that happens, the debate will really fall upon those who oppose it to show the harm.
11.1.2005 10:28pm