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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), November 1, 2005 at 10:35am] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case -- Individualistic Benefits to Children:

Children raised by married couples do better in school, are less apt to commit crime, less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than children raised by single people or by unmarried couples. Right now children being raised by gay parents have no access to these advantages. Part of the case for gay marriage rests on protecting these children's families in marriage, thereby benefitting the children themselves.

1. Gay parenting: data and existing policy

As I have noted, there are probably between 1 and 2 million kids being raised in households headed by a gay person, single or coupled. Of these 1-2 million, the Census tells us that children are being raised in at least 162,000 households headed by same-sex unmarried partners. If we assume, conservatively, that these households average 1.5 children each, that's about 250,000 kids being raised by unmarried gay partners. As I've said, even this is almost certainly an undercount of the children being raised by gay couples in the U.S.

Most often gay parents are raising their own biological children produced during a prior failed heterosexual marriage. Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz, "(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?", 66 Amer. Sociological Rev. 159, 165 (2001). Other gay parents get kids through adoption, the process by which gay parents rescue children from the public child welfare system after heterosexual sex has produced children that their biological parents can't, won't, or shouldn't raise. More rarely still, gay parents get these kids through the use of reproductive technologies or surrogacy.

How are these kids doing, even without marriage protecting their families? The available studies on the effects of gay parenting, while not methodologically ideal, seriously undermine any argument that gays are not at least competent to raise children (the "competence argument"). While the studies may not yet prove that gay couples are just as good as heterosexual couples at raising children (the "optimality argument"), they point strongly to the conclusion that gays are at least fit parents.

William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch, who support same-sex marriage, recently reviewed most of the literature on same-sex parenting, including more than 50 studies, many literature reviews, and dissertations and conference papers dating back to the 1970s. William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch, "Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America's Children," 15 The Future of Children 97, 100 (2005) (available at http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=290831). There are methodological problems with many of the gay-parenting studies, as Meezan and Rauch acknowledge. These problems have to do with things like small sample sizes, non-representative samples, and the like. But Meezan and Rauch looked, in particular, at four recent studies with sound methodologies, including large and representative samples, and one which looked at long-term effects. The recent studies reached the same conclusions as the previous studies on the issue.

Three conclusions from their review of the data and studies are most relevant to this debate: (1) lesbian and gay parents are very similar to heterosexual parents; (2) children of gay parents are no more likely to be confused about their gender identity or to be homosexual; and (3) children of gay parents "show no differences in cognitive abilities, behavior, general emotional development, or such specific areas of emotional development as self-esteem, depression, or anxiety." Meezan and Rauch, at 103. In fact, as Meezan and Rauch note, in some ways children raised by gay parents do better than the children raised by heterosexual couples. This is probably partly a consequence of the fact that for many gay couples having and raising children is a careful and deliberate choice for which they have prepared themselves financially and otherwise over a long time period; "oops" babies are not a phenomenon common to gay life.

While more work must be done to shore up these conclusions, a strong provisional judgment can be made that gay people are at least competent -- not unfit -- to raise children.

But don't take my word for it or the word of these researchers: It is the policy judgment of all 50 states that gays are competent to raise children. In no state are gays categorically prohibited from raising kids. In 49 states gays may adopt children. (In only one state, Florida, are gays prohibited by statute from adopting children and even there gays are allowed to serve as long-term foster parents.) In many jurisdictions, the unmarried partner of a child's parent may become the legal "second-parent" of the child. In child-custody disputes between divorcing biological parents, one parent's homosexuality is never a categorical bar to custody and is increasingly not even viewed as relevant per se to the custody decision. Gays may also use reproductive technology to procreate kids and may enter surrogacy arrangements, just as straight couples may.

The national public-policy verdict is in and it is decisively in favor of gay parenting. The argument that gays are not competent to raise children has no factual basis, no support in the research, and no support in public policy anywhere in the country.

Then there's the optimality argument. We don't know how married same-sex couples would compare to married opposite-sex couples in raising children because we haven't had gay marriage anywhere until very recently. Comparisons between straight married couples and unmarried gay couples to prove the optimality argument are off the mark, and premature. Many people have a powerful intuition that, all else being equal, an opposite-sex couple would be better at child-raising than a same-sex couple. It's a reasonable proposition, and it may be correct, but there's no direct evidence for it. The studies on the effects of fatherlessness are not evidence for the optimality argument, since these studies largely compare married couples to single parents and reach the rather obvious conclusion that two married parents do better on average than one single mother. And of course none of this fatherlessness literature compares gay couples to straight couples. Maybe opposite-sex couples are generally better than same-sex couples at raising kids, maybe they aren't. We don't know. But as I will now argue, it doesn't really matter to the debate on gay marriage.

2. Children and the gay-marriage debate

Even if we conceded what most people assume -- that opposite-sex married households are the best environment for raising children, and in particular would be better than married same-sex households — that's no argument against gay marriage. Gay marriage won't take children away from mothers and fathers who want to raise their children together.

No responsible opponent of gay marriage advocates removing all children from the care of gay parents. I suppose that could be proposed and we could debate it, but such an unimaginably cruel and destabilizing policy is not even on the table. So whether or not gay marriage is allowed, children will continue to be raised by gay parents in very large absolute numbers.

The only real question is, will these 1-2 million children be raised in homes that are eligible for the protections and benefits of marriage or will they not be? If it's better for children to be raised by married opposite-sex couples than by unmarried opposite-sex couples (as the evidence shows it is), it would surely be better for children to be raised by married same-sex couples than by unmarried same-sex couples. The marriage of their parents will have some effect and it won't be to make them worse off. For purposes of the gay-marriage debate, that's the relevant comparison, not the comparison between existing married opposite-sex couples and hypothetical married same-sex couples.

I suppose the optimality argument would be relevant if gay marriage would encourage gays to procreate children, through reproductive technologies and surrogacy, that they would not procreate in the absence of marriage. Given the expense and uncertainty involved, the numbers of people who use these methods are so small that any such effect would be trivial. Any disadvantage from the optimality perspective would, in any event, likely be overwhelmed by the advantages given (1) to the much larger number of children already living in gay families and (2) to the children such families will continue to raise in the future through the more common routes I've listed.

Gay marriage might also increase the number of children gay families adopt. But given that there's no shortage of children who need adoptive parents, and given that child-welfare experts agree that adoption is far preferable to foster care, any increase in adoptions should be seen as a benefit -- not a harm -- of gay marriage.

Further, while everyone assumes that gay marriage will mean more gay parenting, the opposite might well occur. Many gay parents are raising children from heterosexual marriages they entered in the hope of escaping their own shame or the consequences of anti-gay stigma. To the extent gay marriage reduces that shame and stigma over time, we should expect to see fewer gays entering such marriages and producing children through them, children that will have to undergo the pain and dislocation of divorce. Stacey and Biblarz, at 165.

Traditionalists are rightly concerned about the stability of home life for children. Gay marriage, in many conceivable ways, should lead to greater stability in hundreds of thousands of homes raising children in this country. The result should be that, to some extent, these children will do better in school, be less likely to commit crime, be less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than they would be if we continue to keep their parents from marrying. If it's really a concern for children that's motivating opponents of gay marriage, they should be pounding the table for gay marriage as a way to protect millions of children.

Niels Jackson (mail):
Children raised by married couples do better in school, are less apt to commit crime, less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than children raised by single people or by unmarried couples. Right now children being raised by gay parents have no access to these advantages.



You're presuming that children of "married couples" do better because the rest of society labels that arrangement "marriage." The government gives the couple a certificate. Etc.

But that can't be right. Children raised by married couples -- i.e., their own real parents -- do tend to do better in life. But two gay "parents" can't both be the real parents -- one or both of them are a step-parent. What reason is there to think that if society labels a gay parent and a gay step-parent "married," the children will experience all of the benefits that flow from having their own REAL parents stick together?
11.1.2005 11:44am
Cold Warrior:
Very nice post. Unlike Maggie Gallagher, Carpenter actually provides some empirical evidence in support of his argument.

Reading through the arguments, I get the sense that my personal viewpoint is sadly unrepresented in the dabate. "Sadly," because I believe it is the majority viewpoint, is absolutely not homophobic or any such thing, and is absolutely incapable of being legislated into existence in modern American politics:

-- that all things being equal, a child raised by two parents of the opposite sex has the best of all possible worlds

-- that in the real world, "all things" are never equal, and that 2 loving same sex parents are far better than most single-parent or abusive opposite-sex parent environments

-- that therefore sound public policy would favor, in a very limited sense, adoption by parents of the opposite sex (when speaking of the scarce resource of adoptable children; I am not talking about conception of children by gay couples, etc., which I think should neither be encouraged nor discouraged by the state). In other words, assume 2 absolutely equivalent potential parents: one a gay couple, one an opposite-sex couple. If truly "absolutely equivalent" in all respects (a situation we'll never see in the real world), I would tend to favor the opposite sex couple.

-- that therefore sound public policy would never preclude gay couples from adopting, particularly since most adoptable babies are coming from less than optimal environments and a gay couple raising the child is certainly far better than the alternative in almost all cases. A loving, committed gay couple may certainly provide a superb environment for a child; babies are given up for adoption because, by definition, their birth mothers believe that they could not provide as good an environment.

-- In a perfect world, I would like to see federal legislation that provides full faith and credit to all state-sanctioned domestic partnerships that provide (on the state level) the same obligations and responsibilities of marriage. In other words, I'd like the federal government to encourage domestic partnerships and to treat them the same as marriage. In a perfect world, I'd like to reserve the term "marriage" for opposite sex couples, purely for historical-religious reasons. But I have no objection to gay couples referring to themselves as "married," and I would like them to have the same rights/responsibilities under law as heterosexual married couples.
11.1.2005 11:53am
Tom (www):
Niels Jackson is right: waving a wand over a homosexual couple and calling them "married" will not convert their lifestyle choice into the equivalent of a mother, father, child family.

I'm glad the author concedes that no study shows homosexual couplings to be adequate ("optimal") substitutes for biological, opposite sex parents. But even assuming some marginal social utility could be gained by waving the wand and calling these couplings "marriage," he has still not shown that this marginal utility in any way outweighs the harm that would occur to the institution of marriage itself by essentially eliminating it: that is, if you redefine it so as to strip it of its normative meaning (one man united to one woman exclusively) you have effectively destroyed it and created some new,hitherto-unknown of social status.

For what purpose? Some utterly theoretical marginal utility to some small sliver of a minority group?

You'll have to do better than that.
11.1.2005 12:01pm
Medis:
Niels,

One thing we could look at would be whether it makes any difference if otherwise identical straight couples are married or not. So, for example, does it make any difference if a single parent (through, say, divorce or death) marries his or her cohabitating sexual partner? In other words, if a child is going to have something like a "step-parent", is it better for his or her natural parent to marry that step-parent? Similarly, does it matter whether children are adopted by married straight couples, as opposed to unmarried straight couples?

But there is always going to be a problem with studies based on outcomes in straight marriages: one can always hypothesize that whatever effects we see apply only to straight couples, and not to gay couples. I don't find that hypothesis particularly plausible, but the only real way to refute it is to build up a record of outcomes involving actual gay marriages.
11.1.2005 12:02pm
Cold Warrior:
Tom said:

I'm glad the author concedes that no study shows homosexual couplings to be adequate ("optimal") substitutes for biological, opposite sex parents.

Since when do you get to re-define "optimal" as "adequate?"

This is the kind of intellectual sloppiness -- or downright dishonesty -- that cheapens the debate. I stand by my statement that all things being equal, a mother and a father are provide the "optimal" environment. AND I stand by my statement that in many (most?) cases, 2 same-sex parents certainly provide an "adequate" (or far better; just not "optimal") environment.

Why confuse the two terms? Unless, of course, you are trying to confuse them...
11.1.2005 12:05pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Cold Warrior:

-- that in the real world, "all things" are never equal, and that 2 loving same sex parents are far better than most single-parent or abusive opposite-sex parent environments


Apples/oranges. You're not making a fair comparison. The only fair, apples/apples comparison is non-abusive same-sex couple to non-abusive straight couple, or abusive couple to abusive couple.
11.1.2005 12:06pm
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Carpenter,

How do you incorporate studies conducted that indicate a higher prevalence of short-term or non-monogamous relationships between same-sex couples.

A argument based on the value of traditional marriage for children would have to address the concern that higher divorce rates, non-committed relationships or open relationships are certainly not an optimal environment.

Have you had a chance to review these studies? Do they have merit?
http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02
11.1.2005 12:07pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Mr. Carpenter is presuming that the only way humans can learn anything is by academic studies, which is ridiculous. The overwhelming norm of man-woman marriage all over the world, across cultures and civilizations, did not develop by accident.
11.1.2005 12:08pm
Justin (mail):
Neil,

Your argument makes SEVERAL presumptions that I find likely not to be true, the most being that there's some inherent value not in "two parents", but in "two parents whose DNA make up my own." There seems to be no particular reason why this would matter in the least, and yet it is the central theory upon which your argument is based.
11.1.2005 12:09pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Mr. Carpenter asserts:

Gay marriage won't take children away from mothers and fathers who want to raise their children together.

But that's not quite right. Surely if society recognizes same-sex "marriages", it will make it impossible for our laws to favor opposite-sex couples in adoption. So some number of children who would otherwise have been given a mother and a father will be denied that.
11.1.2005 12:11pm
Medis:
The Editors,

We have argued about this before, and I still do not understand your position. The "fair comparison" is not dictated in the abstract: it is dictated by what actual situations the children in question face. Since children already being raised by gay couples do not face the possibility of being raised by a straight couple, that is not the right comparison for those children. Similarly, children in state care who would not otherwise be adopted by straight couples are also not facing the possibility of being raised by a straight couple. Hence, for the relevant categories of children, Cold Warrior has the right comparison, and you have the wrong one.
11.1.2005 12:11pm
Medis:
The Editors,

Actually, allowing gay couples to marry would not wipe out any further adoption preferences between married gay and married straight couples--if we deemed them still relevant--just as allowing straight couples to marry does not disallow further preferences over straight married couples.
11.1.2005 12:14pm
Law Student (mail):
Carpenter: "The result [of gay marriage] should be that, to some extent, these children will do better in school, be less likely to commit crime, be less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than they would be if we continue to keep their parents from marrying."

At the outset I will note that this is a consequentialist or instrumental argument, i.e., gay marriage is good in principle because of its good consequences. Such logic embraces the assertion that the ends justify the means. If we embrace such logic for gay marriage, where does it end? Is compelled euthanasia perfectly acceptable in the individual case if it leads to an overall societal benefit, e.g., greater freedom for women, who are usually the caretakers of their terminally ill spouses and relatives?

Second, Carpenter conflates two senses of the word "marriage". Marriage can mean public recognition by the state, i.e., getting a license and tax benefits. Or marriage can mean having a ceremony in a church and living with another person in a monogamous relationship. The benefits that redound to society from marriage in the second sense would theoretically redound to society whether or not marriage is publicly recognized. There is no deductive argument from the second sense to the first.

Carpenter: "To the extent gay marriage reduces that shame and stigma over time, we should expect to see fewer gays entering such marriages and producing children through them, children that will have to undergo the pain and dislocation of divorce."

This implicitly dismisses the possibility of the validity of the belief that stigamtizing gay behavior is good. Someone who believes that non-procreative sex is wrong would not believe that gay sex should be de-stigmatized. Gay sex is non-procreative. Anyone who believes that non-procreative sex is wrong would believe that gay sex is wrong. Carpenter ignores this belief, ignores that this belief is widely held, and ignores whether it is a legitimate belief upon which to base legislation. One could easily draft legislation that served the end of stigmatizing non-procreative sex that fit within the doctrine of public reasons. Carpenter does not even try to deal with this hypothetical.

Carpenter: "any increase in adoptions should be seen as a benefit -- not a harm -- of gay marriage."

This ignores that there are so many needy children who are not adopted because transracial adoption is strongly disfavored in this country. Point blank, if more straight white couples adopted black children, or were permitted to by adoption agencies, there wouldn't be such a problem that the case could be made for gay couples to pick up the slack. Why it is perfectly sensible to prohibit transracial adoption, on the theory that blacks deserve to be raised by blacks (who tend to be anti-gay), and also permit gays to adopt black children, who will raise them not to be anti-gay (which, to some extent, is not culturally "black") is inconsistent to the point it is utterly incomprehensible. If it is harmful to raise blacks as not-black it makes no sense to let gay couples adopt them.

Carpenter: "I suppose the optimality argument would be relevant if gay marriage would encourage gays to procreate children, through reproductive technologies and surrogacy, that they would not procreate in the absence of marriage. Given the expense and uncertainty involved, the numbers of people who use these methods are so small that any such effect would be trivial."

Notice that Carpenter here is making rational judgments about whether the optimality argument holds. He supposes and decides that some factors are more trivial than others. This is exactly what legislatures do. There is no reason why legislatures should not decide the issue, and reason through it much as Carpenter has. After all, if his logic is infalliable, then all legislatures should agree after a period of time for rational deliberation…right?

Carpenter: "No responsible opponent of gay marriage advocates removing all children from the care of gay parents."

Yes, but no responsible opponent of abortion advocates jailing any woman who seeks an abortion. That doesn't mean she doesn't advocate imposing so many restrictions on it that it never happens again in the future.

Carpenter: "a strong provisional judgment can be made that gay people are at least competent -- not unfit -- to raise children"

This is an equivocation. Fitness and competence are two different things. Whether someone is fit is a question of whether she meets basic eligibility requirements. Whether someone is competent is a question of whether he would be good at doing it once deemed eligible. The debate against fitness thus has nothing to do with competence. It is simply about whether gay people are eligible to raise kids. If you think that, generally, raising kids should follow from having procreated them, then gays, generally, are ineligible.

Carpenter: "(1) lesbian and gay parents are very similar to heterosexual parents; (2) children of gay parents are no more likely to be confused about their gender identity or to be homosexual; and (3) children of gay parents "show no differences in cognitive abilities, behavior, general emotional development, or such specific areas of emotional development as self-esteem, depression, or anxiety."

Yes, but what if they are more likely to be anarchists? Leftists? Radicals? Communists? Democrats? Atheists? Postmodernists? Don't the children have some say as to what kind of influences shape who they become? Shouldn't society have some say over that? Or over influencing it at the margin?

Carpenter: "Most often gay parents are raising their own biological children produced during a prior failed heterosexual marriage."

One, this stretches the notion of what "gay" means to many people. I know many people who would call such persons "bisexual". Or, "postmodernist". Or "left-libertarian". Ignoring that, this raises the question of whether divorce should be no-fault. This is a social/societal issue, not of discriminating against persons with a certain innate make-up, as Carpenter readily seems to admit. Since this isn't an issue of discrimination, but a matter of what social options people have available to them, why shouldn't we limit the social options people have available to them? Why can't Alabama decide it doesn't want lots of left-libertarians in its state? Political philosophy or personal preferences are not suspect-classifications.

Carpenter: "Children raised by married couples do better in school, are less apt to commit crime, less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than children raised by single people or by unmarried couples."

1. Then why don't we mandate that all children be raised by gays? If not, then what is the point of this assertion? 2. Perhaps this correlates to income, not to the sexual orientation of the parents. If so, why even mention it in such a distorting fashion, other than for cheap rhetorical purposes?
11.1.2005 12:15pm
Ben-David (mail):
Cold Warrior writes:
Very nice post. Unlike Maggie Gallagher, Carpenter actually provides some empirical evidence in support of his argument.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
... but this veneer of pseudo-fact is hardly "empirical" and is typical of the sand thrown in the eyes of anyone challenging pro-gay orthodoxy.

Let's look at that whopper estimate of 1-2 million children being raised by a same-sex parent.

Homosexuals make up 2-3 percent of the United States population. We know from several large-scale studies (some of them conducted by impeccably pro-gay organizations like GMHC) that less than 10 percent of gays are in committed relationships ("committed" meaning only that the relationship has lasted beyond the 2-year mark - in the slippery, PC world of social sciences, the expectation of fidelity between gay "partners" long ago went out the window).

The vast majority of these homes are childless, or share custody with a heterosexual ex-spouse, who is usually the primary caregiver.

Rounding up the US population gives us 300 million - and generously estimating the GLBT population at 3 percent gives us 1 million homosexuals. Only 10 percent of those people are in committed relationships. So that's 100,000 people = just 50,000 households. Only a fraction of these houses host children - even part-time.

This shell game bedevils all debates about homosexuality. The "empirical evidence" cited is a self-referential maze of sociological/psychological soft-science and pseudo-science - all of dubious scientific worth.

It's not so much what "everybody knows" - but that they know so much that just ain't so.
11.1.2005 12:16pm
Public_Defender:
if you redefine it so as to strip it of its normative meaning (one man united to one woman exclusively) you have effectively destroyed it and created some new,hitherto-unknown of social status.

The same old canard. The reader casts his or her own belief about the "normative meaning" of marriage as if were the traditional defintion.

The traditional definition (and I know I repeat myself from other posts) is that marriage is a forced union (decided by parents) between a man and a woman (often a man and a girl) in which the woman (girl) is legally subordinate to her husband to the point where he can rape her without legal consequence, and limited to people of the same race, ethnicity, religion, social class and economic class.

Marriage as a voluntary, equal, and loving union between a man and an adult woman is a modern invention.

It's telling that the "traditionalists" have to invent a "tradition" in order to try to defend their point.
11.1.2005 12:18pm
Taimyoboi:
"that therefore sound public policy would favor, in a very limited sense, adoption by parents of the opposite sex (when speaking of the scarce resource of adoptable children..."

Cold Warrior,

I've always been under the impression (perhaps ill-informed) that the number of couples seeking to adopt outstrip the number of children available for adoption.

If a shortage is the case, then I expect that this would be a situation that would in fact occur. How then, do you implement the limited favored status of heterosexual couples?
11.1.2005 12:19pm
xray (mail):
Ben-David. Your math is a little queer. 3% of 300 million is 1 million?
11.1.2005 12:20pm
Medis:
Law Student,

You might want to attend carefully to the fact that Dale has specifically cast this as a policy and moral argument, not a legal argument. As such, I think his intended audience is political actors (such as voters and legislators), not judges, and it is therefore beside the point to argue that it is political actors who should be making these decisions.
11.1.2005 12:24pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):
The Editors, American Federalist Journal


Apples/oranges. You're not making a fair comparison. The only fair, apples/apples comparison is non-abusive same-sex couple to non-abusive straight couple, or abusive couple to abusive couple.


Not true

I think that the substance of Cold Warriors point was that in order of preference having 2 loving same sex parents would rank above having 2 opposite sex and abusive parents. He does acknowledge that the ideal would be 2 opposite sex loving parents but also adds, surely reasonably, that in this world it is rare for things to be perfect.
11.1.2005 12:27pm
Medis:
Taimyoboi,

I think the ratio of prospective parents to children available for adoption depends on the sort of children you are talking about. For example, I believe there is indeed an abundance of demand for healthy babies. But if you are talking about older children, or children with various health problems, I think there is often insufficient demand.
11.1.2005 12:27pm
Law Student (mail):
Medis: As such, I think his intended audience is political actors (such as voters and legislators), not judges, and it is therefore beside the point to argue that it is political actors who should be making these decisions.

Yes, and voters vote for representatives. Representatives debate issues on behalf of voters and then vote to MAKE LAW. Any policy argument direct at voters is indirectly aimed at legislators who are participating in the making of law. There is no reason to exclude legal considerations, unless one believes legislators should ignore legal considerations when considering policy in the making of law and when should simply have mob rule instead of representative democracy. None of my critiques are irrelevant. Note that I specifically refer to "drafting legislation," which is law. But, nice try.
11.1.2005 12:31pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:

The "fair comparison" is not dictated in the abstract...


No, this entire discussion is taking place in the abstract.
11.1.2005 12:31pm
xray (mail):
Ben-David: Using your formula, 3% of US pop is gay, 10% in committed relationships = 900,000 people = 450,000 households. Now that you see the "whopper" isn't quite as huge as you believed, are you ready to change your position?
11.1.2005 12:33pm
Law Student (mail):
Case in point: One could easily draft legislation that served the end of stigmatizing non-procreative sex that fit within the doctrine of public reasons. Carpenter does not even try to deal with this hypothetical.

Read more carefully, Medis. I mention the doctrine of public reasons for a reason!
11.1.2005 12:33pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:

Actually, allowing gay couples to marry would not wipe out any further adoption preferences between married gay and married straight couples...
You have no basis for saying that would be the outcome. Of course it would be harder to discriminate in favor of opposite-sex couples if both types of relationship (same-sex and opposite-sex) were both under the same leagal framework of "marriage."
11.1.2005 12:34pm
Commenterlein (mail):
The Editors,

Your argument is logically false because the relevant margin is not children being adopted by heterosexual couples vs. children being adopted by homosexual couples, but is instead children staying in foster care or group homes vs. children being adopted by homosexual couples. This follows from the simple fact that there are more children waiting to be adopted than heterosexual couples looking for children to adopt, and most clearly so for older children.

It follows that slightly expanding the set of couples allowed to adopt (or removing discrimination against certain types of couples) will not result in fewer heterosexual couples finding a child to adopt, but in fewer children staying non-adopted.
11.1.2005 12:40pm
unonymoas:
Didn't MG argue that there was a big difference b/w children raised by 2 married parents vs other marriages? The key event is the divorce of parents, not the status of subsequent care-givers. Allowing the subsequent care-givers to marry might not matter much. In particular, on the margin allowing gay marriage may lead to more divorces where one parent is gay. Surely gay marriage would be better for the gay parent in that case, but it might be worse for the child by providing that extra push to break up its parents who might otherwise have stayed together.

FWIW, I support gay marriage. I'm just interested in refining the arguments.
11.1.2005 12:45pm
John H (mail) (www):
But two gay "parents" can't both be the real parents -- one or both of them are a step-parent.

Not true, Niels! Same-sex reproduction using stem cells or some other technology could be as little as three to five years away. Certainly soon enough for a couple to begin planning for the possibiliity of having children together by getting married. Most opposite sex couples get married three years or so before they have their first kid.
11.1.2005 12:50pm
shell (mail) (www):
Niels Jackson says:
But that can't be right. Children raised by married couples -- i.e., their own real parents -- do tend to do better in life. But two gay "parents" can't both be the real parents -- one or both of them are a step-parent. What reason is there to think that if society labels a gay parent and a gay step-parent "married," the children will experience all of the benefits that flow from having their own REAL parents stick together?


Because when the same thing occurs in heterosexuals it is a benefit to the child. I was raised by my biological mother and my non-biological-but-real-in-every-way-that-counts father. My life was immensely better for having grown up in a loving and happy marriage, even if I don't share any DNA with my dad. Since heterosexual step-parenting seems to be preferable to single parenting, why wouldn't the same be true of gay parents? (And yes, I'm aware that this is not "evidence" in any scientific sense, but I just wanted to respond to the statement that there is "no reason" to think children of gay parents will benefit from marriage. You may disagree with those reasons, but please don't deny that they exist.)

Ben-David said:

... but this veneer of pseudo-fact is hardly "empirical" and is typical of the sand thrown in the eyes of anyone challenging pro-gay orthodoxy.

Let's look at that whopper estimate of 1-2 million children being raised by a same-sex parent.


Mr. Carpenter provided the data for the number of gay households raising children here. If you wish to convince us that it is wrong, you should start from his sources in your counter-argument.
11.1.2005 12:53pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Commenterlein: To the contrary, there are waiting lists of couples waiting to adopt children. Recognizing gay marriage would make it more difficult to legally favor opposite-sex couples on those lists.
11.1.2005 12:54pm
Medis:
Law Student,

I may have misunderstood you, in which case I apologize. But you wrote: "Notice that Carpenter here is making rational judgments about whether the optimality argument holds. He supposes and decides that some factors are more trivial than others. This is exactly what legislatures do. There is no reason why legislatures should not decide the issue, and reason through it much as Carpenter has. After all, if his logic is infalliable, then all legislatures should agree after a period of time for rational deliberation…right?" My point was just that I think Dale is in fact consciously directing his arguments to political actors.

The Editors,

Right, neither you nor I can say whether or not adoption agencies would in fact have a preference for straight married couples over gay married couples. Which is, of course, my point (that this outcome is not determined one way or another by allowing gay people to marry).
11.1.2005 12:57pm
Medis:
The Editors,

But are there waiting listings for ALL children, or just a certain subset of children?
11.1.2005 12:59pm
Shawn (mail):
In the supply and demand equation of adoption, the only class of children that have a greater demand than supply are "healthy white infants." (And in there I include "white hispanic") In some states, you may only adopt a child of the same race or partially the same race as the adopting parents. However, in every state of the union, there are always more adoptable children than adopting parents.

This does not support the contention that including gay couples in marriage would thus prevent children from being adopted into "optimal" opposite-gender households.

The alternative to "adopted by a gay married couple" isn't "adopted by a married straight couple", it is "life in a state or state-sponsored home." (Again, for all classes of children except healthy, white infants.)
11.1.2005 1:00pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis, I didn't say the outcome was determined, you're the one who stated what "would" happen. In our "all discrimination is bad" legal culture, it almost certainly would be much more difficult to favor opposite-sex married couples.
11.1.2005 1:06pm
APL (mail):
The narrow points of Dr. Carpenter in this post:

1. Children are being raised by gay couples.
2. Initial studies, while limited, suggest that gay couples are fit parents and that their children do as well as those of married opposite-sex couples.
3. Marriage provides benefits and protections which inure to the benefit of the married couple's children.
4. Studies of children of opposite sex couples, married and unmarried, and single parents strongly indicate that children of married couples do better.
5. Allowing gay couples to get married will benefit the children of those couples for reasons 3 and 4, above.

Of the dissenters, Niels challenges point 3 and 4 based on his assumption that the reason the children of married couples do better is because they are being raised by both of their natural parents. I expect the studies would need to be reviewed to address this assumption, although it seems to me that the study may well have included married couples who were not both of the children's natural parents, as well as unmarried couples who were. If his argument in rebuttal is indeed that the legal-sociological institution of marriage confers no benefits on children, I expect he would find few supporters in either side of the present issue.

Taimyoboi suggests that position 5 above may not logically follow from 3 and 4 because gay couples' marriages will not conform to societal norms of monogamy and longterm commitment held for straight marriages.

Forgive me if I have done a disservice to other posters, but I find no other explicit attacks on these five points. There has been a rousing discussion on adoption preferences, but that is a side point that Professor Carpenter has raised.

I appreciate a wild and unrestrained dialogue as a necessary function of the medium here, but naturally feel that a focus on the Professor's specific points is more likely to frame the issues for a valuable discussion and debate.
11.1.2005 1:06pm
Taimyoboi:
"I believe there is indeed an abundance of demand for healthy babies. But if you are talking about older children, or children with various health problems, I think there is often insufficient demand."

Medis,

I've heard as much as well. But in addressing Cold Warrior's proposal, the difference in demand across age or race would only mediate the issue if same-sex couples had different adoption preferences than opposite-sex couples.

Do we know that to be true? If not, then the problem of same-sex and opposite-sex couples vying for the same adoption pool would still be an issue, as well as "limited favored status" of opposite-sex couples that Cold Warrior proposes.
11.1.2005 1:18pm
Medis:
The Editors,

I think you are wrong about what I originally wrote (I wrote that gay marriage would not wipe out such preferences if we deemed them still relevant--which is not the same thing as in fact predicting that we would still have such preferences). Regardless, I apologize for any misunderstanding.

I also think that we basically agree on the outcome: if you would want such preferences in state-run adoptions, you would have to show that they were rational and non-discriminatory. Personally, I don't have a problem with that being your burden. I also don't really see how gay marriage changes your burden, although I guess insofar as any one policy disfavoring gay people is eliminated, any other such policy my get a fresh look. Again, I don't see a problem with that.
11.1.2005 1:19pm
Law Student (mail):
Medis: Law Student, I may have misunderstood you, in which case I apologize. But you wrote: ... "There is no reason why legislatures should not decide the issue, and reason through it much as Carpenter has. After all, if his logic is infalliable, then all legislatures should agree after a period of time for rational deliberation…right?" My point was just that I think Dale is in fact consciously directing his arguments to political actors.

Yes, you misread the rest of my comment. But you also misread the sentence that you just quoted. I did say "There is no reason why legislatures should not decide the issue,..." But that is an unnatural reading. I also said, right after that: "and reason through it much as Carpenter has." Meaning there is no supervening reason that cuts off legislative debate -- whether imposed by a court or not. In other words, Carpenter's argument is not necessarily true, and one cannot say any legislature anywhere would be wrong to reject it, unless one takes the absurd position that, as I said, "his logic is infalliable, [and so] all legislatures should agree after a period of time for rational deliberation…right?" A contrary position could be taken, and has been taken, that any legislature that is thinking rationally must necessarily decide things the way that Dale Carpenter has, ot else is being irrational and is motivated by nothing but animus. Whether that evaluation is made by judges, other legislators, or voters, my point is that such an evaluation is incorrect. Why you read that as an argument about adjudication is beyond me. It is true that Anothony Kennedy made such an argument in Romer v. Evans, and I think he was wrong. But I think anyone parroting that argument anywhere in the public sphere -- not just courts -- would be wrong also. Reasonable people can differ and Professor Carpenter's argument is entirely contingent, instrumental, and premised on the necessary inclusion of controversial value-judgments and, in some cases, untested practices and the necessary exclusion of commonly-held and reasonably-based value-judgments and practices. If every legislature rejected his argument, there would be nothing irrational about it. Should judges take that into consideration? Sure. But that wasn't, specifically, the point I was making in what you read and responded to.
11.1.2005 1:21pm
Medis:
Taimyoboi,

Actually, you don't need a different distribution of preferences. If you increase demand overall while keeping the distribution of demand the same, you will get more demand at any point on the distribution. Accordingly, you will get more demand where demand is currently insufficient even if the overall distribution is the same.
11.1.2005 1:23pm
Medis:
Law Student,

Again, I'll just suggest that I don't think Dale is claiming that his conclusion is logically necessary, nor that anyone who disagrees with him is irrational. Rather, I take him to be arguing that his conclusion is the better view, and to be providing supportive arguments to that effect.
11.1.2005 1:27pm
Law Student (mail):
Medis: Rather, I take him to be arguing that his conclusion is the better view, and to be providing supportive arguments to that effect.

And in the rest of my post, I examine whether it is really better. If you had not mis-read my post as aimed toward adjudication, you would have understood that.
11.1.2005 1:29pm
Medis:
Law Student,

Again, I apologize if I misunderstood you (although I still fail to see what was relevant about that particular passage given Dale's actual argument). I also note that I did not claim to address your entire post.
11.1.2005 1:34pm
Penta:
Dale says:

Further, while everyone assumes that gay marriage will mean more gay parenting, the opposite might well occur. Many gay parents are raising children from heterosexual marriages they entered in the hope of escaping their own shame or the consequences of anti-gay stigma. To the extent gay marriage reduces that shame and stigma over time, we should expect to see fewer gays entering such marriages and producing children through them, children that will have to undergo the pain and dislocation of divorce. Stacey and Biblarz, at 165.

Um, problem. One assumes that gay marriage will reduce the stigma.

That's a pretty massive assumption to make.

Meanwhile, the children in those families-including-gay-marriage will be going to school like all the other kids. I am figuring home-schooling will not dramatically increase, for one thing.

And has everybody here forgotten the rule of the schoolyard?

The kid that sticks out will get picked on. That kid, having gay parents, will stick out. They will be the object of bullies, of the schoolyard rumor mill, and of every possible way kids can come up with to make other kids' lives hell.

OK, so, in theory, the kid we speak of may do better in all those accounts...As stigma is reduced.

But until stigma is reduced?

What if it is not, in fact, reduced?

What then, folks?
11.1.2005 1:35pm
Law Student (mail):
Medis: I did not claim to address your entire post.

Yet strangely, your original comment makes no exception or qualifier. It reads:


Law Student,

You might want to attend carefully to the fact that Dale has specifically cast this as a policy and moral argument, not a legal argument.


In other words, the entire post addresses legal arguments. My post, in fact, does not. (Well, you didn't explicitly say you were addressing my whole post! Yes, but I am assuming you are not an idiot and can specifically point out what you find fault with. You do so in the posts that follow your original one, which means you had the intellectual capacity to do so in the first place. That you did not is telling. Sometimes the coover-up is worse than the crime.

Medis: I still fail to see what was relevant about that particular passage given Dale's actual argument.

Given that I have said "there is no supervening view that cuts off legislative debate," it bemuses me that you cannot see how this is diametrically opposed to the contention that "I take him to be arguing that his conclusion is the better view." The "better view" is the one that rational persons can see is best given the available options, i.e., the one that cuts off legislative debate, i.e., the one that, if not adopted by a legislature, reveals that legislature is acting irrationally, or, on the basis of animus. You are parroting Anthony Kennedy's argument from Romer v. Evans. Ass I just wrote:


Whether that evaluation is made by judges, other legislators, or voters, my point is that such an evaluation is incorrect. Why you read that as an argument about adjudication is beyond me. It is true that Anothony Kennedy made such an argument in Romer v. Evans, and I think he was wrong. But I think anyone parroting that argument anywhere in the public sphere -- not just courts -- would be wrong also.
11.1.2005 1:43pm
Designbot:
But until stigma is reduced? What if it is not, in fact, reduced? What then, folks?

In the unlikely event that allowing gays full participation in the rights &rituals of mainstream society has no effect on the stigmatizion of homosexual couples, then clearly, the situation will be the same as it is today. I fail to see what is so ominous about that.
11.1.2005 1:46pm
Medis:
Law Student,

I know of no presumption that says a comment addressed to another commentator applies to everything that commentator has argued unless specifically stated otherwise. But again, I apologize for the misunderstanding.

I would disagree with you about what it means to claim that some conclusion is the better view. I don't think that typically means that debate should be terminated, or that rational people could not disagree. Indeed, I would note that people frequently say things like, "I believe that X is the better view, but I realize that rational people could disagree."

But feel free to propose a different terminology for when a person believes that the best case can be made for a certain position, but that rational people could disagree, and thus that the issue is worthy of debate. Whatever you want to call such a position, I think it is clear that Dale believes his arguments are supportive of such a position.
11.1.2005 1:54pm
Law Student (mail):
Medis: I did not claim to address your entire post.

Medis: Whatever you want to call such a position, I think it is clear that Dale believes his arguments are supportive of such a position.

I don't see where Dale even comes close to claiming that.
11.1.2005 1:56pm
Justin (mail):
Two comments:

1) Your ends/mean presumption that the rest of your arguments latch on to is inherently flawed. The "means" of gay marriage is, coincidentally, gay marriage. Unless there is something immoral or incorrect in the actual process (perhaps as a waste of government ink? A throwaway to the wedding planning lobby?) the only way the means IN THIS CASE gets defined is BY THE CONSEQUENCES. So it isn't about the means JUSTIFYING the ends, but about how the means ARE DEFINED by the ends. The hypos you use to defend your point are all non sequitor.
11.1.2005 2:02pm
Tom Wood (mail) (www):
There's a stigma attached to being gay? What kind of backwards place still thinks it's strange to be gay?! I say this as a straight person who hasn't seen any weird anti-gayness in years.
11.1.2005 2:03pm
Justin (mail):
Oh, and I almost forgot:

2) Please do not take this as a personal insult, but I notice that you are a student of law. One of the things you may want to work on in the future is learning how to communicate, while rigorously, in a manner which avoids redundancies, use of irregular (even if correct) vocabulary, and length. Judges, clerks, and partners will have to read your writings, and they're going to want something simple and easy to understand. If you think your argument becomes somehow "stronger" by making it more complicated, you're going to find more often than not your argument ends up ignored anyway.
11.1.2005 2:04pm
Law Student (mail):
So it isn't about the means JUSTIFYING the ends, but about how the means ARE DEFINED by the ends.

Only if you think that gay marriage is inherently good. Um, that begs the question....should legislators be begging the question, or deliberating over controversial and consequential issues of social policy with legal import?
11.1.2005 2:04pm
Law Student (mail):
One of the things you may want to work on in the future is learning how to communicate, while rigorously,

You might try avoiding the use of fallacies. Succinct enough for you?
11.1.2005 2:05pm
Taimyoboi:
"Accordingly, you will get more demand where demand is currently insufficient even if the overall distribution is the same."

Medis,

This is getting off topic, but the concern was not how to increase demand for adoption overall, but whether same-sex couples and opposite-couples would compete for the same kinds of adoptions.

The increased competitiveness would increase the likelihood that a same-sex couple would supplant an opposite-sex couple. This results in a scenario that Cold Warrior originally thought would be unlikely to happen.

A different distribution of preferences would mean that same-sex couples would not be seeking to adopt the same children as opposite-sex couples, and therefore would make it unlikely that a couple from either group would be given the boot because of demand by the other.
11.1.2005 2:06pm
Jack John (mail):
Justin: The "means" of gay marriage is, coincidentally, gay marriage.

Wouldn't the means of gay marriage be passing a law?
11.1.2005 2:09pm
Justin (mail):
Nevermind, law student. Clearly your a priori arguments are right and everyone else's arguments are wrong. Pat yourself on the back, if that ultimately is your goal in life.
11.1.2005 2:09pm
Law Student (mail):
Justin: Nevermind, law student. Clearly your a priori arguments are right and everyone else's arguments are wrong.

No, the point of mine that most frustrates you is that a priori arguments (e.g., conceptions of the good) should be debated in the legislature, and none of them get to cut off debate or assume away the objections of others without rational consideration. I suppose that presumption, which is a bedrock of representative democracy, is not shared by you. I am sorry I accidentally posted in the pro-totalitarian forum.

You're right, Justin, DOWN WITH THE FIRST AMENDMENT!
11.1.2005 2:13pm
Crane (mail):

The kid that sticks out will get picked on. That kid, having gay parents, will stick out. They will be the object of bullies, of the schoolyard rumor mill, and of every possible way kids can come up with to make other kids' lives hell.


Penta, that kid already exists. As Dale said in his post, there are a great many children currently being raised by gay parents. It's possible that letting the gay parents get married will fail to reduce the stigma, but I'm not seeing how it will make the children of gay parents worse off.
11.1.2005 2:15pm
Justin (mail):
Okay Jack John, do you want to have a moral debate on whether passing laws is an acceptable form of social actions? I'm not sure you're saying anything differently than I am, just phrasing it differently.

Law student, if that's your best argument, please realize you are now contributing nothing to the thread. Nobody thinks this is about the proper method of bringing about gay marriage, and nobody thinks that you should be prohibited from speaking, only that your arguments are defective, which, btw (that law school degree must be worth something), the ability to point out the weaknesses of other people's arguments are the quid pro quo of the very nature of the IDEA of the first amendment.

But, yes, clearly, my post cannot be read other than as calling for the repeal of the first amendment.
11.1.2005 2:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
True, gay sex is non-procreative. True, some people view all non-procreiatve sex as bad. But I take issue that that view is "widely held." Ask any hormally normal teenager, and they will disagree with you. Furthermore, we already have the Supreme Court stating that non-procreative sex isn't something the state should regulate, and so the legislative argument about that doesn't exist. So what if gay sex is non-procreative? Most acts of heterosexual encounters are non-procreative as well. That's why they invented birth control! Heteros are now probably have more non-procreative sex than ever before in history. So what's the point here?

Transracial adoptions are discouraged? I didn't know that. I have a white friend, married to an Asian man, and they adopted a black boy from AFrica. Two sets of cousins on both sides of me adopted girls from Asia. My own sister found out it would have been easier to adopt an asian or black child than a white child. If anything, adoption agencies encourage transracial adoptions because the need is much greater.

Some seem to argue that unless gay people can show that they would be perfect parents in all cases, then they shouldn't be able to adopt. If they can't adopt, then there is no reason to get married. Strange argument, this.

Society should have no say in how whether children are raised to be leftists, anarchists or communists, any more than it should havea say in whether children are raised to be theocrats, rightists or capitalists. And why anyone would assume that the children of gay parents would necessary be that is quite bizarre. Fully one-quarter of the gay vote in the 2004 election went to George Bush.

There is no shortage of children waiting to be adopted. Virtually every adoption agency in the various states have said that gay couples are fit to be loving parents, and that the need for adoption is so great that we should be encouraging gay adoptions, along with all others. Even Dr. Laura, no fan of gay people, has stated that gay couples should be allowed to adopt the children that others pass up.

There is no evidence that gays are inherently unfit to raise children. Therefore, the burden is upon you to say that they are not.

But so far, no a single person has come up with an anwser to Mr. Carpenter's original point, which he alludes to here -- Gay people are, whether you like it or not, raising children as a family. You may not like it, you may call it something else -- whatever. But none of you have articulated a REASON to have society or our laws treat the children of that arrangement differently from children raised in a traditional family. Say what you will about the gay parents, but what do you do with the kids? There are all sorts of inheritance rights, tax laws and such that treat these two families differently. Why? To what purpose? If your purpose is to discourage gay people from adopting children, it has failed miserably, since more and more gay people are in fact adopting. Instead of fighting this trend, perhaps we could do more to make the best of the situation, regardless of what you think of gay people.
11.1.2005 2:19pm
Jack John (mail):
Justin: Law student, if that's your best argument, please realize you are now contributing nothing to the thread.

Justin: Okay Jack John, do you want to have a moral debate on whether passing laws is an acceptable form of social actions? I'm not sure you're saying anything differently than I am, just phrasing it differently.


Given that I am also posting as "Law Student," it appears that according to you I have both just made your argument in different words AND have just contributed nothing to the thread. Since I was making the same argument with both monikers,...Thanks for refuting your own argument, Justin! I guess that law degree is worth somthing!
11.1.2005 2:21pm
Cold Warrior:
Taimyoboi said:

How then, do you implement the limited favored status of heterosexual couples?

Well, obviously that's the problem in going from my hypothetical (a very small world in which there are just 2 sets of prospective adoptive parents, one straight and one gay). So in practice it may be impossible to implement without a compromise that I wouldn't like -- something like a stated preference for qualified/competent straight couples, such that gay couples go to the end of the list. That kind of blunt instument is not what I have in mind, but state agencies may not be able to function with any other kind of instrument.

But here's the larger point: the intense legalization of issues such as child custody (seemingly resolved in the law, albeit with murky standards) and gay marriage (now being implemented primarily by court dictat) only makes it harder to move forward. That's why I understand when the anti-gay marriage forces say that it would be impossible to make such policy decisions ("an opposite sex couple is the optimal childrearing environment, all things being equal") in our rights-based, court-centric culture.

Which is why a lot of people oppose gay marriage when they'd otherwise be for it -- they correctly see the slippery slope ahead, with the courts absolutely refusing to allow such a careful approach.

Just another example of the dangers of setting social policy by litigation.
11.1.2005 2:29pm
Jack John (mail):
But none of you have articulated a REASON to have society or our laws treat the children of that arrangement differently from children raised in a traditional family.

No, Carpenter accepts that the burden is on him. Read his first post. All we have to do is show there is no reason that he is necessarily right and legislatures must accept his argument.
11.1.2005 2:29pm
Medis:
Law Student (Jack John?):

I would direct you to Dale's original post in which he previews his argument. Personally, I think it is clear that he is not claiming that rational people could not possibly disagree with his arguments, or that he believes his arguments should terminate all further debate.

Taimyoboi:

Given what people seem to be agreeing is the situation with adoption demand, both claims seem true: gay couples are both competing with straight couples (where demand is relatively high), and also not competing with straight couples (where demand is relatively low). I'd only suggest that both issues merit consideration, and of course they are also separable (eg, we could have a preference for straight couples when there is competition, but also encourage gay couples to adopt in order to increase demand where there is no competition).
11.1.2005 2:39pm
blerfyeled:
APL seemed to feel that little has been directed towards Carpenter's actual argument. That is a valid point, but I would like to take things back a step towards first principles:

Is it valid to pass laws based on sociological trends or expected outcomes? Is that how discussions of basic rights ought to proceed?

Consider for a moment if the discussion were about free speech rather than the right to marry. Following the logic of this thread we would all be asking: Are gays more likely to use freedom of speech in ways (competent or optimal ways) that will make people happy? That will be considered beneficial by the larger community?

No, we would not approach the issue this way; we would say that if free speech is a basic right then the content of the speech (with certain rare exceptions) is irrelevant. Why should marriage be treated differently? If gays as citizens have an inalienable right to marriage, then the "optimality" of their unions is beside the point. One might as well say mixed race marriages are suboptimal (due, perhaps, to cross-cultural stresses) and should be banned.
11.1.2005 2:41pm
Medis:
Jack John,

Dale accepts that he has some burden of proof, but you seem to be interpreting that burden of proof as amounting to the "no rational person could disagree" standard. But what if it is just something like a "preponderance of the evidence" standard?
11.1.2005 2:42pm
Medis:
blerfyeled,

Obviously, those are two different kinds of arguments (one sort based in rights, and one sort based in policy concerns, with the caveat that one can make broad policy arguments in favor of rights). I think Dale is limiting himself to policy arguments, but that does not mean the rights arguments are invalid--they just aren't part of his limited agenda.
11.1.2005 2:45pm
Justin (mail):
Jack, if your defense of my response to your nonsensical "means not ends" approach could be restated as a reason why its rediculous in the first place, I'm not sure that somehow helps your argument. Once again, the "means" of gay marriage is, gay marriage (or legalizing gay marriage, or the voting of gay marriage by a legislature, or however you do it). For Mr. Carpenter, at a minimum, the means is THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. Yet you seem to be basing YOUR ENTIRE OPPOSITION to gay marriage on a "means-based" argument, without explanation, and then attacking all the crazy nuts who disagree with you for debating outcomes and consequences.

So, are you an anarchist?
11.1.2005 2:45pm
Taimyoboi:
"Just another example of the dangers of setting social policy by litigation."

Cold Warrior,

No argument from me there. A federalist approach to social policies seems to be the best approach.

"...we could have a preference for straight couples when there is competition, but also encourage gay couples to adopt in order to increase demand where there is no competition..."

Medis,

Sounds reasonable to me.
11.1.2005 2:48pm
blerfyeled:
Medis,

The distinction between a policy-based argument and a rights-based argument is a good one. My contention is that the policy-based argument is rendered moot (i.e., invalid) if this is a question of rights. Nevertheless, I can see how Carpenter would resort to a policy approach given that the rights argument may not be accepted by society at large.
11.1.2005 2:54pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: Personally, I think it is clear that he is not claiming that rational people could not possibly disagree with his arguments, or that he believes his arguments should terminate all further debate.
This is plainly a flip-flop on your standard. Before your standard was "One has explicitly to claim a proposition for it to be attributed to him," thus your earlier defense of one of my critiques:


Medis: I did not claim to address your entire post. [Hence, you cannot attribute such a proposition to me.]


In other words, Medis, if you are right now and I am wrong now, then you were wrong before and I was right before. So: if you are right now, then I am right now, and that is absurd, because our positions are contradictory, not contrary. But, see, unlike you, I have been consistent: either I was right before and am right now or was wrong both times (and I can't have been wrong both times, because you admitted that you misread my posts, meaning I was right in the first place!).

Medis: But what if it is just something like a "preponderance of the evidence" standard?

This is, frankly, inapposite to the claim I made. I did not say that Carpenter's view fails in any and all possible worlds; I made the claim that if it does not succeed in our world that is not proof that rational discourse did not take place. He has to prove that legislatures must adopt it, regardless of whether he needs some evidence (51%) or a LOT of evidence (95%) to prove that they must. Regardless of how much evidence he must amass, the fact that he can make a persuasive case does not rule out that others can also make persuasive cases with as much, less, or more evidence at their disposal. The persuasiveness of other arguments is not dependent on the persusaiveness of his argument, i.e., if we say he his argument scores a 67% it does not mean that all other arguments score a 33% and thus fail to meet their burden. And if he does not make the case that legislatures must, then he is just providing a suggestion for how they might, in which case his argument can justifiably be ignored.

The question is what we should accept as evidence. I don't think we ought necessarily accept instrumental or consequentialist points of view as evidence -- and many legislators would agree. I don't think we ought necessarily assume that gay marriage is inherently good -- conceptions of the good ought to be up for debate -- and many legislators agree. (Hey, John Rawls would agree with that -- and he's a liberal hero!) I don't think equivocations count in rational discourse. After all, it's rational. Equivocations are fallacies. Whether what Carpenter puts forth is counted as evidence goes directly to whether he meets his burden, regardless of whether that burden is 51% or 95%. 47% is lower than either.
11.1.2005 3:02pm
Law Student (mail):
I meant to post:

Jack John: In other words, Medis, if you are right now and I am wrong now, then you were wrong before and I was right before. But, see, unlike you, I have been consistent: either I was right before and am right now or was wrong both times (and I can't have been wrong both times, because you admitted that you misread my posts, meaning I was right in the first place!). So: if you are right now, then I am right now, and that is absurd, because our positions are contradictory, not contrary.
11.1.2005 3:06pm
Medis:
Taimyoboi,

To be clear, I'm not sure that preference is necessary or justified ... but I do think adoption preferences are much easier to justify than something like a presumption of parental unfitness (consider, for example, how we might think of parental wealth).

blerfyeled,

Just as a practical matter, I think the "problem" with rights arguments is that people tend to apply a high burden of proof to such arguments--quite reasonably, of course, because a rights argument by nature implies that the consequences are irrelevant (or at least of greatly diminished weight) in the face of a valid exercise of the right. In contrast, since policy arguments invite consideration of all the relevant consequences, good or bad, people sensibly tend to apply a lower burden of proof.
11.1.2005 3:07pm
Jack John (mail):
I'm not making a rights argument: to me, how high the burden is is irrelevant to my argument. Case in point:


Whether what Carpenter puts forth is counted as evidence goes directly to whether he meets his burden, regardless of whether that burden is 51% or 95%. 47% is lower than either.
11.1.2005 3:09pm
Randy R. (mail):
I was wathinc HBO last night, and they were showing Bill Maher in concert. The show was entitled "I'm Swiss." It was very funny. One of the topics he talked about was gay marriage.

He said that some people say, well why can't you gays just have a civil union? Why does it have to be marriage? Then he said, when it comes to drinking alcohol versus smoking pot, friends will tell him, well so what? You just have to be a little more careful smoking pot so that the police don't catch you, blah blah blahs.

To which Maher yelled out: "Bull Shit! Bull Shit!" (Memo to the prof -- I am merely quoted an actual comedy routine. I am not using it to disparage any other poster, nor is that my intent. I am using this quote merely as illustration to capture the flavor of the moment. I apologize in advance to any person who is offended by such frank dialogue.)

To which the Portland OR audience responded rather enthusiastically. His point? Who are you tell me or anyone else that some people have to accept less rights than you, just because it's not to your taste? That's the problem with America, he said. There are a lot of things not to his taste, but the difference between him and the far right crowd nowadays is that he doesn't want his own taste made into law.
11.1.2005 3:10pm
Justin (mail):
And me, I thought Through the Looking Glass was fiction :).
11.1.2005 3:11pm
Law Student (mail):
There are a lot of things not to his taste, but the difference between him and the far right crowd nowadays is that he doesn't want his own taste made into law.

Yeah, and the idea that gay marriage is inherently good, or that communities shouldn't seek to put community preferences into law, is a "taste." It just pretends to be neutral.
11.1.2005 3:12pm
Designbot:
Is it valid to pass laws based on sociological trends or expected outcomes? Is that how discussions of basic rights ought to proceed?

I would think that most laws are, in fact, passed based on expected outcomes. There is obviously no broad consensus on whether same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Given that, what is the harm of making an argument on less-contentious grounds?
11.1.2005 3:12pm
Jack John (mail):
And me, I thought Through the Looking Glass was fiction :).

It isn't. But, I'm Alice.
11.1.2005 3:13pm
Jack John (mail):
Given that, what is the harm of making an argument on less-contentious grounds?

What is the harm in rejecting it?
11.1.2005 3:13pm
jimbob (mail):
Children raised by married couples do better in school, are less apt to commit crime, less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than children raised by single people or by unmarried couples. Right now children being raised by gay parents have no access to these advantages.



None of the things you listed are advantages. They are statistical correlations. Please begin your next post more coherently and I might read it. Thank you.
11.1.2005 3:14pm
Designbot:
I meant to post:

Jack John: In other words, Medis, if you are right now and I am wrong now, then you were wrong before and I was right before. But, see, unlike you, I have been consistent: either I was right before and am right now or was wrong both times (and I can't have been wrong both times, because you admitted that you misread my posts, meaning I was right in the first place!). So: if you are right now, then I am right now, and that is absurd, because our positions are contradictory, not contrary.


Whew, I'm glad that's cleared up!
11.1.2005 3:17pm
blerfyeled:
Randy,

Yet I daresay that if free speech rights were to become seriously abridged in this country Bill Maher would very soon wish to have his own taste made into law. It's a matter of whose ideological ox is getting gored.
11.1.2005 3:19pm
Jack John (mail):
Whew, I'm glad that's cleared up!

Medis both has flip-flopped: tracing it seems absurd, but it logically works out if you read the whole thread. I could have just called him a hypocrite.
11.1.2005 3:20pm
Medis:
Jack John/Law Student,

I really don't understand the alleged inconsistency. One of my propositions is that I didn't claim to be addressing your entire post, and so I don't think you could fairly read me as applying my comment to every aspect of your post. Another of my propositions is that if you look at Dale's overview of his argument, he is clearly not claiming that rational people could not disagree with him, nor claiming that his arguments should end the debate. What exactly is the inconsistency?

On the burden of proof: you say that Dale "has to prove that legislatures must adopt" his position. But where are you getting that word "must" from? Why isn't it enough for him to show that legislatures "should" adopt his position? Similarly, you seem to think he has to show that legislatures "necessarily" must accept his evidence. Again, why the heightened standard of "necessity", as opposed to just something like "should"?

What is odd about this to me is that you seem to agree that this is a "contingent" matter, meaning that logical necessity is simply not applicable. So his burden cannot be logical necessity. Rather, it might just be something like the preponderance of the evidence.

Incidentally, of course that doesn't mean we only "score" his evidence, and ignore contrary evidence. Instead, we have to weight all evidence in our considerations, both for and against. Again, it seems to me that Dale is fully prepared to do that. But you seem to think that he has to do something more, like prove that no rational person could disagree with him ... and I don't understand your basis for not only giving him the burden of proof, but also for giving him this heightened burden of proof.
11.1.2005 3:23pm
Jack John (mail):
Justin: The "means" of gay marriage is, coincidentally, gay marriage.

Justin: [A]t a minimum, the means is THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

See, what I mean, Designbot? Why even respond to people who contradict themselves once you critique their position, without acknowledging they have made a shift? I respect modifying one's argument in dialectic. I don't respect lying or hypocrites.
11.1.2005 3:24pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

I don't respect lying or hypocrites.

Careful, the site language mullahs might wack your knuckles with a ruler... :)

(Are mildly sarcastic jokes allowed on this site?)
11.1.2005 3:32pm
APL (mail):
On the side issue:

Enacting an adoption preference that, all other things being equal, favors opposite sex couples seem impractical to me for the reason cold warrior initially suggested: that all other things are never equal.

As an attorney who discharges his pro bono obligation spending a substantial amount of time advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children, I see a lot of bad parents and frequently have to offer my opinion as guardian ad litem to the court on what to do with their children. I can say unequivocally that the parenting ability of a person is much more important to any particular child's welfare than the parent's sex. Theroetical discussions of the value of gender diverity in parent pairs is interesting sociologically. In the real world, what children need most are two good parents, in a committed relationship.
11.1.2005 3:34pm
Medis:
Jack John,

Justin isn't contradicting himself. Rather, "gay marriage" in this context means the creation of a certain legal category, and he is just noting that one way such a thing could happen is through legislation.
11.1.2005 3:36pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- The overwhelming norm of man-woman marriage all over the world, across cultures and civilizations, did not develop by accident. --

It developed because 96%+ of any given society has a full or predominant heterosexual orientation. So how do you expect most people to behave? And it also developed by in large with a tendency toward one man - multi-women polygamous relations, with the "lesser" males getting nothing.

In light of this, I don't see how cross-culture analysis proves anything in your favor.
11.1.2005 3:42pm
blerfyeled:
designbot,


blerfyeled: Is it valid to pass laws based on sociological trends or expected outcomes? Is that how discussions of basic rights ought to proceed?

designbot: I would think that most laws are, in fact, passed based on expected outcomes. There is obviously no broad consensus on whether same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Given that, what is the harm of making an argument on less-contentious grounds?


If you are talking about extending new privileges to certain parties (say free lunches to poor school children, which was new at one point), then an argument based on expected outcomes is fine. No one, I suppose, would say that it is one of the basic rights of man to get a free lunch at school. But there is a basic expectation that all citizens be treated equally. Thus to extend free lunches to white kids, but not to black kids would be morally wrong. Similarly, to withhold a basic right such as marriage on pragmatic grounds seems, to me, neither fair nor less contentious. And I don't (not in Medis's direction) see this as a matter of higher burden of proof -- as in the Constitution, basic rights are assumed to be inalienable, not something that one needs to (or even can) justify.
11.1.2005 3:44pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: I really don't understand the alleged inconsistency. One of my propositions is that I didn't claim to be addressing your entire post, and so I don't think you could fairly read me as applying my comment to every aspect of your post. Another of my propositions is that if you look at Dale's overview of his argument, he is clearly not claiming that rational people could not disagree with him, nor claiming that his arguments should end the debate. What exactly is the inconsistency?

No, you said I cannot attribute to you X without you claiming it. Then you attruibute Y to Dale without him claiming it. That is inconsistent.

Medis: What is odd about this to me is that you seem to agree that this is a "contingent" matter, meaning that logical necessity is simply not applicable. So his burden cannot be logical necessity. Rather, it might just be something like the preponderance of the evidence.

No, I noted that his argument rests on contigency, and that he must prove it is necessary. In other words, he isn't meeting his burden, which is independent of all other arguments. He falls or succeeds on his own merits. And despite what you say, the "must" test is not a higher burden. As I said: "He has to prove that legislatures must adopt it, regardless of whether he needs some evidence (51%) or a LOT of evidence (95%) to prove that they must." I concede that the evidentiary burden can be 51%. As I noted, 47% is less than both 51% and 95%.

Medis: Instead, we have to weight all evidence in our considerations, both for and against.

This is exactly what I argued was wrong: "The persuasiveness of other arguments is not dependent on the persuasiveness of his argument, i.e., if we say his argument scores a 67% it does not mean that all other arguments score a 33% and thus fail to meet their burden." In other words, I am anti-scoring: you're the one who wants to "score." (Well, I want to score too, but not with gay marriage.) Each argument should be considered on its own merits.

Medis: But you seem to think that he has to do something more, like prove that no rational person could disagree with him ...

No, I don't. I think he must show that it is necessarily true that his presumptions must be accepted by those to whom he is making his argument. If not, they can reject them, which means the amount of evidence he is putting forward shrinks. If it shrinks below 51% (to use your standard), then he has not met his burden.
11.1.2005 3:47pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: Justin isn't contradicting himself. Rather, "gay marriage" in this context means the creation of a certain legal category,

Wrong. Go back to my post and read it again. You just used it in the first sense. He means it in both senses, as he has bought into Carpenter's equivocation. And you just contradicted yourself, when you said that legal considerations were irrelevant to Carpenter's arguments: now you are making legal considerations. Wait, but isn't this a pure policy issue? Oh, wait, it's both.
11.1.2005 3:50pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

Similarly, to withhold a basic right such as marriage...

No one is being denied the right of marriage. Each individual has the exact same right to marry, subject to the same exact limitations - adult, non-relative, single, opposite-sex.

The issue remains whether our society should treat two different relationships as if they were the same.
11.1.2005 3:52pm
Designbot:
Jack John, I don't understand what either of you are disagreeing about with regard to the "means" issue. You originally stated:

At the outset I will note that this is a consequentialist or instrumental argument, i.e., gay marriage is good in principle because of its good consequences. Such logic embraces the assertion that the ends justify the means. If we embrace such logic for gay marriage, where does it end? Is compelled euthanasia perfectly acceptable in the individual case if it leads to an overall societal benefit, e.g., greater freedom for women, who are usually the caretakers of their terminally ill spouses and relatives?

Clearly, the "means" you refer to is gay marriage, and by implication, the legalization thereof. (As an aside, the line between killing people against their will and allowing people to marry as they wish is not a difficult one to distinguish.)

Justin replied: Your ends/mean presumption that the rest of your arguments latch on to is inherently flawed. The "means" of gay marriage is, coincidentally, gay marriage. Unless there is something immoral or incorrect in the actual process (perhaps as a waste of government ink? A throwaway to the wedding planning lobby?) the only way the means IN THIS CASE gets defined is BY THE CONSEQUENCES. So it isn't about the means JUSTIFYING the ends, but about how the means ARE DEFINED by the ends.

You both essentially agree what the "means" are. I have to admit, I don't quite follow the rest of his objection.

Then you respond with: Wouldn't the means of gay marriage be passing a law?

You seem to arguing about a trivial distinction; between legal gay marriage, and the process of legalizing gay marriage (a distinction you didn't make when you established the "ends" vs. "means" framework).

Justin clarifies: Once again, the "means" of gay marriage is, gay marriage (or legalizing gay marriage, or the voting of gay marriage by a legislature, or however you do it). For Mr. Carpenter, at a minimum, the means is THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

And now you trot out these two non-contradictory, irrelevant statements (regarding the details of your particular "ends" vs. "means" scenario), one of which actually refers to Dale Carpenter's view, and claim that they provide evidence that Justin is a lying hypocrite?

Grasp at straws much?
11.1.2005 3:52pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
...and remember, no one is talking about prohibiting committed gay relationships. The issue is only whether the government should license them.

There are a number of ways to protect children in gay-headed households without redefining marriage.
11.1.2005 3:55pm
blerfyeled:
The Editors,

Doesn't that beg the question to define marriage in a heterosexual manner? One might as well say "Of course women can have the right to vote -- if they're men."
11.1.2005 3:59pm
Jack John (mail):
Designbot: You seem to arguing about a trivial distinction; between legal gay marriage, and the process of legalizing gay marriage (a distinction you didn't make when you established the "ends" vs. "means" framework). Clearly, the "means" you refer to is gay marriage, and by implication, the legalization thereof.

Actually, if you read my original post, I distinguish between publicly recognized "marriage" -- the legal thing -- and the other sense. To get from one to the other, you have to legalize. So, it actually is addressed in my original post. And I write another post where I explicitly talk about representatives "MAKING LAW" and the process of MAKING LAW, so I do explicitly make the arguments you accuse me of not making. In addition, I didn't make a means and ends distinction -- Justin did. I noted that one can reject instrumentalist thinking altogether because one has a different conception of the good; legislators can feel free to do so and still engage in rational discourse. If they do, then all of Carpenter's presumptions, including casting his argument in instrumentalist terms, is not evidence. Let me quote what you just ignored in mischaracterizing my argument:


Medis: As such, I think his intended audience is political actors (such as voters and legislators), not judges, and it is therefore beside the point to argue that it is political actors who should be making these decisions.

Yes, and voters vote for representatives. Representatives debate issues on behalf of voters and then vote to MAKE LAW. Any policy argument direct at voters is indirectly aimed at legislators who are participating in the making of law. There is no reason to exclude legal considerations, unless one believes legislators should ignore legal considerations when considering policy in the making of law and when should simply have mob rule instead of representative democracy. None of my critiques are irrelevant. Note that I specifically refer to "drafting legislation," which is law. But, nice try.


And you ignored the paragraph responsive to exactly what is relevant to your newest attack -- you cannot have missed it without deliberately distorting the meaning of my words:


Carpenter: "The result [of gay marriage] should be that, to some extent, these children will do better in school, be less likely to commit crime, be less likely to use and abuse drugs, and so on, than they would be if we continue to keep their parents from marrying."

At the outset I will note that this is a consequentialist or instrumental argument, i.e., gay marriage is good in principle because of its good consequences. Such logic embraces the assertion that the ends justify the means. If we embrace such logic for gay marriage, where does it end? Is compelled euthanasia perfectly acceptable in the individual case if it leads to an overall societal benefit, e.g., greater freedom for women, who are usually the caretakers of their terminally ill spouses and relatives?

Second, Carpenter conflates two senses of the word "marriage". Marriage can mean public recognition by the state, i.e., getting a license and tax benefits. Or marriage can mean having a ceremony in a church and living with another person in a monogamous relationship. The benefits that redound to society from marriage in the second sense would theoretically redound to society whether or not marriage is publicly recognized. There is no deductive argument from the second sense to the first.


There isn't a deductive argument from the second to the first. There is a legal process. And the question is why we should activate the legal process without a reason or an argument that meets its burden.

Misquoting me won't help Carpenter make his claim so long as it includes controversial presumptions and modes of argument that legislators can rationally reject (and are likely to reject).
11.1.2005 4:04pm
APL (mail):
Jack John/Law Student and Medis,

Interesting colloquy.

On second thought, no it isn't.
11.1.2005 4:04pm
Medis:
Jack John,

What is "Y" in your argument? Although I think your formalism is deceptive in general, wouldn't it be more proper to say I was refusing to attribute Y to Dale, where Y is "No rational person could disagree with me and therefore my argument should end the debate"? In that sense my arguments are basically the same: one should neither attribute to me nor Dale claims that we did not make.

On the burden: you repeat that "he must prove it is necessary". Regardless of what you want to call this burden, where is it coming from? Why can't he just be trying to show that political actors "should" agree with his conclusions, even if it is not "necessary" that they do so?

On evidence: if I understand correctly, you are arguing that if there is any evidence, taken alone, that would support a contrary position, then Dale has failed to meet his burden, because people might reject all the other evidence. Again, from where are you getting the notion that Dale has to show that all rational people must agree with him?

Finally, on the factual premises of his arguments: again, you inject the word "necessarily" ... where is that coming from? Obviously, if he premises an argument on a fact, people will have to accept that this fact is more likely to be true than false in order to find the rest of that argument persuasive. But why do people have to believe that the underlying fact is "necessarily" true? Again, why not just "more likely to be true than false"?

Seriously, I just don't get what you are trying to claim. You just seem to be assuming that Dale's burden is to eliminate any possibility of rational disagreement, and I don't understand why you think he has that burden.
11.1.2005 4:06pm
Jack John (mail):
I agree APL. If Medis simply admitted that he misread my post (and thus has contradicted himself), we wouldn't have had it.

Oh, wait, he did admit he misread my post.
11.1.2005 4:06pm
Jack John (mail):
You just seem to be assuming that Dale's burden is to eliminate any possibility of rational disagreement

I don't. Re-read. After all, you have mis-read before.
11.1.2005 4:08pm
Designbot:
No one is being denied the right of marriage. Each individual has the exact same right to marry, subject to the same exact limitations - adult, non-relative, single, opposite-sex.

The issue remains whether our society should treat two different relationships as if they were the same.


No one is being denied the right of marriage. Each individual has the exact same right to marry, subject to the same exact limitations - adult, non-relative, single, opposite-sex, same-race.

This would be an equally effective argument against interracial marriage, wouldn't it? Let's go further:

No one is being denied the right of marriage. Each individual has the exact same right to marry, subject to the same exact limitations - adult, non-relative, single, opposite-sex, white, non-Jew, property-owning, Republican, between the ages of 35-40.

By your standards, this discriminates against noone, because the same limitations apply across the board.
11.1.2005 4:10pm
Medis:
APL,

Fair enough. I apologize for getting drawn into what is pretty much an irrelevant and boring discussion.

That said, I do think it is desirable to have some sort of clarity on Dale's burden of proof.
11.1.2005 4:11pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: Indeed, I would note that people frequently say things like, "I believe that X is the better view, but I realize that rational people could disagree." I think it is clear that Dale believes his arguments are supportive of such a position.

Dale never claims this.
11.1.2005 4:12pm
alexandra (mail):
There are methodological problems with many of the gay-parenting studies, as Meezan and Rauch acknowledge. These problems have to do with things like small sample sizes, non-representative samples, and the like.

As you acknowledge, all of these studies have serious scientific limitations .
The most through review of all the studies was prepared by Steven Nock, a sociologist, at the U. of Virginia.
He was asked to review several hundred studies.
His results:
All studies have one fatal flaw or execution: Not a single one of these studies was conducted according to "Generally Accepted Standards of Scientific Research:
For example:
1. No Nat'l representative sample - no studies of child development based on random representative samples.
2. Limited Outcome Measures-Outcomes measured are related to standard measures of child well-being used by family sociologists- these were developmental rather than the emotional state of children.The parents were asked these questions rather than any objective study of the children.
4. No long term studies: The studies conducted focus on static or short term measures of child development. Few or none followed children of same-sex parents to adulthood.

He adds: The most serious methodological critique .The vast majority of these studies compare single lesbian mothers to single heterosexual mothers. Anotherwords, little measurement in terms of same-sex couples to heterosexual couples.


so, perhaps you could share the last studies you site that have no "scientific" problems. ??? I'd like to check that out.

Until then, I think this is all junk science and again simply another emotional argument.
11.1.2005 4:17pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Designbot,

There's no analogy whatsoever between race and sexual behavior.

Race has no relevance to the marriage relationship. Gender is central to the marriage relationship. Do you care what race your spouse/significant other is? Is it critical? Do you care what gender your spouse/significant other is? Is it critical?
11.1.2005 4:19pm
Jack John (mail):
if I understand correctly, you are arguing that if there is any evidence, taken alone, that would support a contrary position, then Dale has failed to meet his burden, because people might reject all the other evidence.

I never even said anything LIKE this.

I said that Carpenter's argument stands or falls on its own. Let's say his argument is B, X, Y, and Z. If each of those bits of evidence is 25% of the proof he needs to meet 100% his burden, say 51%, great. If X and Y are presumptions, like a conception of the good, and legislators reject them, then he's only got 50% of what he needs to meet his burden. He would be "scoring" a 25.5%. (50% of 51%). 25.5% is less than 51%, so his argument fails. This is before contrary stuff is considered.
11.1.2005 4:19pm
Designbot:
Medis: Indeed, I would note that people frequently say things like, "I believe that X is the better view, but I realize that rational people could disagree." I think it is clear that Dale believes his arguments are supportive of such a position.

Jack John: Dale never claims this.

From Dale's first post: Finally, I won't be accusing the opposition of bigotry. Many Americans oppose gay marriage out of a fear of possible unintended and unforeseeable consequences. These opponents of gay marriage are not bigots; they are prudent. Their prudential concerns must be treated seriously, not dismissed as blind prejudice. Such concerns can and should be accommodated in the time-frame and process by which we get to gay marriage.
11.1.2005 4:21pm
Jack John (mail):
Designbot,

Where does he say that his view is the better view? All he says is that arguments on both sides can be prudent. I accept that. Your quotation proves nothing, and is irrelevant to my critique of Medis.
11.1.2005 4:23pm
Herbert Sampson (mail):
LS/JJ and Medis,

It seems to clear to me that Dale is explicitly saying his view ISN'T better; that there are views that are just as worthy of considerationon the other side.
11.1.2005 4:30pm
Designbot:
Where does he say that his view is the better view?

Good lord! Now you're saying that you don't think it's fair to infer that Dale Carpenter is arguing in favor of his own views?

For the record, here's your quote:

My hope is that one day the vast majority who share her views can be persuaded that gay families, united in marriage, are no threat to marriage and are even a small part of its revival.

He hopes that those with opposing views will be persuaded. There. I'm going to lunch.
11.1.2005 4:34pm
Jack John (mail):
It is one thing to prefer one argument among many for subjective reasons; it is something else to assert that one view is objectively better as a matter of fact. That doesn't mean it is superior view; just that he prefers it, for reasons that have nothing to do with whether the view is objectively good or better than other views. He is explicitly saying that his view is just as good as other views, but he hopes people come around to his. Hope is a feeling, not an assertion. He hopes others come around not because his view is objectively better, and they must; but because it means all sorts of good consequences (as he defines good consequences). No one MUST NECESSARILY accept the consequences he thinks are good as good, nor need they have his feelings about gay marriage.

Thinking gay marriage is bad doesn't mean you're a bigot, as Carpenter says, but for every person who thinks it is bad because of their conception of the good, his argument is not persuasive. Got it now?
11.1.2005 4:47pm
Tom (www):
Let me suggest something truly radical. Homosexual marriage would be wrong as a policy because homosexuality is wrong morally. I understand that labelling conduct wrong is the new crime that "dare not speak its name," but since we're talking about policy and about the purposes and ends of marriage, might I suggest that Judeo-Christian society has developed marriage to reflect not only the religious view of the proper use of sexuality (that is, monogamous and heterosexual) but the natural uses, ends, and purposes of the sexual function.

Thus, society has viewed homosexuality with extreme disfavor, sometimes even criminalizing such conduct (in some states it still is a crime, pace Lawrence v. Texas. Why? Because not only is such behavior viewed as an abomination in religious sources, it is viewed as unnatural and harmful to society. In addition to pleasure, the purpose of sexuality is procreation. The acts that male homosexuals engage in are not procreative, indeed, they are most definitely contrary to procreation. Since procreation is a social good (as we are witnessing here and in Europe as we struggle with below replacement birth rates) it is encouraged and channeled into an appropriate, socially strong and sanctioned venue, that is, marriage. Actions which run contrary to this important social good, and which might actually undermine it by seducing people away from it (such as homosexuality, adultery, bestiality, and incest)are therefore discouraged socially and legally.

Neither Dale nor the commentators above explains what compelling need requires the abandonment of this natural/religious social ordering. Is it discriminatory to exclude homosexuals from marriage? Of course, but we discriminate against adulterers and the incestuous, because they, like homosexuals, threaten the social good of marriage. Will it deprive some (unknown)population of children from having "married" parents? Of course, because we would no more let the incestuous marry each other or the practioner of bestiality marry his goat--even if they adopt children-- because these things undermine the social goods marriage exists to protect. It hardly makes sense to argue that something society historically rejects should be henceforth sanctioned and marriage be redefined simply because the practioners have adopted children.

Advocates of homosexual marriage, therefore, can only offer to destroy this social good known as marriage by expanding it to include a sexually deviant group which marriage exists precisely to exclude as part of its purpose.

So allow homosexual marriage if you will, but it will no longer be marriage in any previously understood sense of the word. You will get it only to find it no longer exists.
11.1.2005 5:04pm
blerfyeled:
Tom,

Even if it is morally wrong, do you want to make it illegal? Doesn't the Apostle Paul say something to the effect that Christians are not to judge those outside the Church, that God will do that?
11.1.2005 5:21pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Because not only is such behavior viewed as an abomination in religious sources, it is viewed as unnatural and harmful to society. In addition to pleasure, the purpose of sexuality is procreation. The acts that male homosexuals engage in are not procreative, indeed, they are most definitely contrary to procreation. Since procreation is a social good (as we are witnessing here and in Europe as we struggle with below replacement birth rates) it is encouraged and channeled into an appropriate, socially strong and sanctioned venue, that is, marriage.


The problem is, as a society, even though we don't embrace homosexuality, completely reject your "teleology of sex is procreation" premise. Griswold turned contraception -- something as contrary as can be to procreation -- into a constitutional right.

Non-procreative sex among heterosexuals, is quite frankly, the norm. If homosexuality is "unnatural" it is no more so than a good married Christian couple having contracepted sex.
11.1.2005 5:30pm
Justin (mail):
Tom, I fully believe that most people here will concede that if we accept as true that locking up homosexuals is an appropriate way to deal with their rights under the law, the question of whether they should have the right to marry becomes somewhat moot.
11.1.2005 5:34pm
Jack John (mail):
Justin: If we accept as true that locking up homosexuals is an appropriate way to deal with their rights under the law, the question of whether they should have the right to marry becomes somewhat moot.

Yeah, but don't most state legislators, SCOTUS nothwithstanding, accept that as true? Isn't that the point?
11.1.2005 5:48pm
Randy R. (mail):
Gee Tom, You propose something radical? Excuse me, but your type of argument, based upon pure hatred of gays, has been around for a long long time. It's hardly radical.

And gay marriage already exists in Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Massachusetts. Marriage no longer exists there? I think the facts condradict your conclusion.

I am a gay man. I guess my existence is somehow "immoral." Right? So just by sitting here in my kitchen, typing away, I am just immoral all over. Nothing I do with my life can possibly be moral, right?

Isn't it funny. The men who painted the Sistine Chapel and the Last Supper were most likely gay, and those are the very icons of your morality.

Unnatural? Excuse me again. But homosexual behavior has been studied and documented in most mammals species, specifically most species of monkeys. Most famously, we have the gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo, and the lesbian penguins at the Berlin Zoo. Did you know that dolphins are almost exclusively homosexual? Natural, it certainly is. Maybe not for YOU, but for me.

Lawrence v. Texas invalidated all sodomy laws, including the sodomy laws for heteros such as yourself. The laws may be on the books, but they are now unenforceable. So guess what, I can now have sex with my boyfriend, and not go to jail. Just all the rest of the civilized world. it's about time.
11.1.2005 6:46pm
blerfyeled:
Randy,

It seems a valid argument for you to say, "Your religious beliefs should not be a determining factor in my civil liberties." But doesn't it seem a bit heavy-handed to condemn someone for what they think is moral or immoral? Are we dealing with the thought police here?
11.1.2005 7:02pm
Tom (www):
John Rowe: While conceding that the link between sex and procreation has been attenuated by contraception, I can't see that this effects the nature of marriage. Marriage is defined by social custom and law. As such, it exists to give favored social status and protection to the so-called nuclear family. That some couples limit their families through contraception does not change this purpose. That some marry with no thought whatever of procreation does not change this purpose. Marriage is broadly available for people to enter for a variety of subjective reasons; their subjective reasons do not transform the meaning society gives to marriage.

Randy R: I do not know you and do not judge you. I only point out that homosexuality is literally abnormal, that is, it is a departure from the normative sexual activities of mankind. Isn't that just stating the obvious? Without wanting to be graphic, what homosexual males do is profoundly contrary to the naturally intended use of the body parts involved. If you want a more detailed explanation, it will have to be in a different forum. It follows, however, on a purely natural level, that since society wants to favor procreation and the intact nuclear family, it must to that extent also disfavor to some degree contrary sexual deviancies, to prevent them from interfering with the social good of marriage. One way it does so is by not allowing homosexuals to marry. I merely mentioned the fact that sodomy laws were a reflection of this social favoring of normative sexuality, as are laws forbidding adultery, incest, and bestiality. That my religion might also tell me that homosexuality is unclean and sinful is no reason to dismiss my non-religious observations about the reasons society might rationally choose to disfavor homosexuality in law and in social custom.
11.1.2005 11:50pm
Randy R. (mail):
First, I was called "immoral," and "unnatural." not abnormal. There is a big difference. I have no objections to being called abnormal -- I realize that gays, being around 10% or less of the population, makes us abnormal. So I readily concede that point.

What I won't concede is that I am immoral or unnatural. I spelled out the reasons why gays are actually normal throughout all of human history and in many parts of the animal kingdom, of which we are a part. As for the immoral, well, that's a personal issue. But I was always taught that a person is immoral if they lie, cheat, steal, and so on. Adultery is immoral, because the person is lying to his or her spouse. If the adultery is made with the full knowledge and consent of the spouse, however, it becomes less immoral. It may, under some cirscumstances, be moral. Some people think that any sex outside of marriage is immoral, like premarital sex, but many others disagree. Premarital sex is one thing when the people are 18, and quite another if the people are 30. Most people in our society do not view premarital sex at age 30 to be immoral. In fact, a 30 year old virgin is considered a little odd. Abnormal, if you will.

Morals mean to me that one is true to one's self and to one's principles. So if I have consensual sex with a person, how is that immoral? What if the guy is a longterm boyfriend of mine. Still immoral?

If you say yes, you are likely basing it on religious beliefs. I have no problem with that. What I DO have a problem with "cafeteria Christians." If gay sex is always immoral, then it is based on certain passsages in places such as Leviticus. But Leviticus has lots of things considered an abomination and immoral. Like wearing clothes made of differing fibers. Sitting on a chair that a menstruating woman sat on. Eating pork or shellfish. These things are all then also immoral. Yet I don't see anyone trying to legislate against this sort of "immorality." By all means, consider homosexuality immoral, but at least have the truth of your convictions, and read the entire list of immoralities, and see if you aren't immoral yourself in some fashion.

As for gay sex, I don't need pointers from you! Thanks anyway. But I remind you that everything a two gay men can do, so can an opposite sex couple do. A man and woman can engage in both oral and anal intercourse. That's the very definition of sodomy. So when a couple does that, are they not also immoral, under your standards? If so, then a majority of couples today are immoral! And being immoral, then shouldn't we be trying to prevent them from getting married. AFterall, this is all non-procreative sex, which is also immoral in the views of many.

As for the unnatural use of the body parts, well I disagree. Does anyone argue that the tongue is designed solely for tasting food and has no place in sex? I dare say even the most religious observant would agree that a tongue can be used for stimulation in an ear or other places. Why then would the penis be the only place off limits to a tongue? Makes no sense, either from a moral or 'natural' standpoint.

And let's talk about anal sex. What few straight men realize is that the prostrate gland is located in a very special place. When stimulated either with a finger, an object, or a penis (ie, anal intercourse), it produces an amazing orgasm, far stronger than regular sex. Now why would we be designed in such a way that anal intercourse provides such a mind-blowing orgasm? Call it immoral, if you must, but is it natural? You betcha. Chalk one up for "intelligent design" on that one! (A growing number of straight men are learning to enjoy anal sex using sex toys, or strap-ons on their girlfriends).

But, really, all I want is to stop the double standard. If we look to the Bible for morality, than you buy all of it or none of it. You can't choose just to make life difficult for a small population you dislike. If sodomy is immoral, it's just as immoral for straight couples, and they should be punished to the same degree you want to punish gay people. Wouldn't that be the fair thing to do? Afterall, I always hear how fair and just God is. If this isn't fair, then it seems to me that God is not a fair god. And no, I didn't choose to be gay -- I just am. Where it came from, I don't know. So since we ascribe to God everything about ourselves, I can only conclude that God made me this way. For God to make me gay, then hate me for it is not fair or just.
11.2.2005 1:09am
Randy R. (mail):
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I'm sure I'll be attacked, but I will make the argument anyway. And I agree it's a weak argument, okay?

My experience, as a 44 year old gay man, is that there a lot of people out there who have wonderful fulfilling sex lives. Maybe they are married, maybe single -- whatever. They have a sex partner at least who satisfies them, and vice versa. Almost invariably, these people really don't care one way or another about gay people, but in a good way. In other words, they just don't think gays. Rather, they just want everyone else to have the same sexual satisfactions that they themselves have. They support gay rights only because they have no reason to oppose it.

On the other hand, I know people who have rarely have sex with their wives or girlfriends. Or if they do, it's not very satisfying. Sexual dysfunction is a common problem in our society. And I find that these people are often the ones who are the most riled up about gays. I mean, really, with all the problems people have in their lives, they make gay people the big thing?

Now, of course, these are generalizations. And it's based only on my experience, and some friends. And I'm not saying that everyone who opposes gays is sexually dysfunctional. I know many people do so because of sincerely held beliefs. And not everyone who has a good sex life supports gays.

But, still I wonder....What is it about us gays that make some people just lose all sense of proportion? Who complain that we are destroying marriage and civilization? Isn't this all hyperbole? So I will make this statement -- it more than likely that the person who isn't getting any is more likely to be upset about sexual issues in general.

Discuss amongst yourselves -- I'm going to bed.
11.2.2005 1:18am
Tom (www):
Maybe what has the normative community "riled up" is the fact that many homosexuals are not letting us take a "live and let live" approach. Many are agitating, like you and Dale, to transform a bedrock institution like marriage to suit your personal whims. I would prefer the way things were-- most people had no problem with private conduct which was kept private. And homosexuals used to respect the idea that as a small minority, they should not try to refashion society to suit them. But since the homosexual community has decided to go confrontational, what was once something no one had need to talk about has now become front and center in the Culture wars. Again, for all I know you could be my neighbor, but once you cross from private activity to social agitation, you open your "lifestyle" to the criticisms you complain of.
11.2.2005 10:40am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Tom: Maybe what has the normative community "riled up" is the fact that many homosexuals are not letting us take a "live and let live" approach.

Nonsense. What is being advocated is a "live and let live" approach: same-sex couples get to be married, and mixed-sex couples get to be married, and if you can't stand the idea of same-sex couples being married, well, live and let live, right?

No one is advocating the "transformation" of marriage: Dale certainly has made it clear he is not. Marriage is not transformed into something else because same-sex couples can now get married.
11.3.2005 7:16am