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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), November 1, 2005 at 2:36pm] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case -- Communitarian Benefits:

Marriage has many possible private and public purposes. The private purposes can include expressing love and commitment to another, fulfilling a religious obligation, and acquiring the benefits associated with the legal status. These private purposes are what actually motivate many people to marry. But it is the public purposes of marriage that justify its existence and support in civil law.

Marriage does not have to have one single public purpose. One obvious public purpose of marriage is that it encourages procreation and child-rearing within the marital bond. Sex often makes babies, society needs babies, and all of us benefit when those babies are raised within marriage. Let's call this the "procreative purpose." Gay couples cannot procreate as a couple and so might be thought incapable of fulfilling this basic public purpose. The story is more complicated than that, but that's a subject for tomorrow, when I begin to address the arguments against gay marriage.

If gays can't procreate as a couple, is there any public purpose in recognizing their unions in marriage? Many people seem to think that the only interest in recognizing gay marriages would be the purely private one of helping satisfy their needs for adult intimacy or the non-marital one of advancing the cause of gay rights as a general matter. There is little public purpose in using marriage to achieve these ends.

But there are identifiable public interests, public purposes, in uniting gay families in marriage. With one exception (the last one I list below), these public purposes parallel exactly the kinds of public purposes that justify the recognition of sterile opposite-sex unions through marriage. Neither sterile gay marriages nor sterile opposite-sex marriages can fulfill the procreative public purpose in marriage, but they can satisfy many others, and so we have a public interest in them. I will call these the communitarian benefits of gay marriage, and list them in order of their persuasiveness and likelihood.

1. Communitarian benefits flowing from individualistic benefits.

I have already laid out the ways in which uniting gay families in marriage will produce some measure of individualistic benefits to individuals, couples, and children. Individuals in gay marriages should be healthier, wealthier, and happier, on average, than if they were single or simply cohabiting. They may also lead more traditionally moral lives. Their children should do better in school, commit fewer crimes, and be less likely to use and abuse drugs, among many other advantages, than if their gay parents live alone or cohabit.

The whole community benefits to the extent that each of these individualistic benefits obtain. The community is better off when the individuals that comprise it are better off. More couples united in marriage should mean more stability, less promiscuity, more people connected by a web of familial relationships, more parents invested in the health of schools, and so on. More children raised in marriage should mean less crime. Healthier, wealthier, and happier people are better citizens, more involved generally in maintaining the life of the community, less atomistic. Less "bowling alone."

2. Communitarian benefits from limited government.

Since married people are better off than single people or unmarried couples, married people make relatively fewer demands on state welfare services, on emergency services, and on the health-care system. Once they're allowed to marry, gay couples can be expected to make correspondingly fewer demands on the state for all the kinds of support they need when there's no personal caretaker there for them. This serves the goal of limited government, which is something conservatives support.

You could, of course, see marriage in general as involving massive government involvement in citizens' lives. I doubt this is the whole story, since in the absence of marriage I'd predict we'd need a huge government to deal with all the resulting social ills. As long as we're going to have marriage, there's an expected service-reduction effect from the recognition of any particular marriage.

3. Communitarian benefits to the institution of marriage.

Obviously, there are problems with marriage today: an almost 50% divorce rate, 1/3 of children born out-of-wedlock, too many children raised by single parents and unmarried cohabitants, too much domestic abuse, and so on. (Notice that these problems with marriage were not caused by gays.)

There is a movement in the country toward strengthening marriage and there are signs it is having limited success. That is healthy. The question is, will gay marriage have no effect on this movement, a negative effect on this movement, or a positive effect on it? A full answer to this question depends on consideration of the argument that gay marriage might somehow undermine heterosexual marriage, which I'll start addressing tomorrow.

But for now, let me note one way in which gay marriage could slightly strengthen the norm of marriage in our society. (I say "slightly" because any harm or benefit from gay marriage to marriage as an institution would have to come from what will be a small proportion of marriages.)

We are in the midst of a project to revive the idea that marriage is the gold standard for relationships and for having and raising children. Consider that it may be somewhat harder to convince people that marriage is the gold standard for relationships, that marriage and raising children really go together, if a subclass of the population is carrying on life entirely without marriage, including procreating and raising millions of children outside marriage, and appearing to be quite successful at it. At the very least, the children of marriage-less gay parents are more likely to see marriage not as some "gold standard" but as one option among many, an equal among equals.

Gay marriage, both by example generally and by instruction to children being raised in gay homes, could help reinforce the idea that marriage is the normative status for people who are willing to make the legal and social commitment it entails. To the extent that heterosexual couples look to homosexual role models at all, which I seriously doubt, allowing their homosexual role models to marry -- rather than simply to cohabit, as they do now because they cannot marry -- might strengthen the norm of marriage. A married homosexual couple is a rebuke to the idea that simply cohabiting is the optimal way to structure a relationship and to raise children. Far from destroying marriage, gay marriage could be a small part of the project of saving it.

So instead of conceiving gay marriage as a threat to marriage we ought to see it as part of this movement to revive, protect, and strengthen marriage. But as I say, this conclusion depends on an argument I'll make soon: that there's no good reason to believe that gay marriage will undermine marriage for heterosexual couples.

4. Communitarian benefits to gay culture, especially gay-male culture.

We have all seen the destructive effects that come when a sub-class of people live without marriage. Traditionalist theory rightly predicts that such a sub-class will experience high levels of single-parent families, children born out-of-wedlock, promiscuity (and all the ills, including STD's, that come with it), high rate of substance abuse, crime, and a host of other social pathologies.

In much gay male culture, as that culture is manifested in bars, publications, and on the Internet, there is much that this conservative social theory would predict about a marriage-less culture: relatively less respect for relationships, monogamy, and long-term commitment, than is given to these values inside marriage-opportunity culture. This is a point Andrew Sullivan made quite persuasively in his pathbreaking book, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality. I agree that some, perhaps much, of this is the artifact of male sexuality and not of the denial of marriage itself. But at least some of it is plausibly the product of the fact that our law gives gay men absolutely no incentive to settle down with one other person. Lesbians may not need this incentive nearly as much (though marriage is even more important to them in other ways, since they're more likely to raise children), but gay men surely do.

American law embodies a huge asymmetry. It says to gay people, "You may have as much sex as you like." (And it said this, in practice, long before the Supreme Court struck down the few remaining unenforced sodomy laws in 2003.) In the very same breath, it says to gay people, "There will be nothing available to you to encourage you to channel all this sex into productive and healthy long-term and monogamous relationships." I cannot think of another significant sub-class of the population to whom that asymmetrical message is sent.

While the absence of the proper incentives does not itself make men sexual, it surely doesn't help matters. Marriage should produce more gay couples, more gay couples who will be visibly, and in fact, somewhat more monogamous, and who will be more likely to commit to one another for the long-term. It will generate role models that gay youth, in particular, have simply not had up to now. The effects of this will probably take many years, maybe generations, to be fully felt. But felt they will be.

Perceptive sexual liberationists and some feminists see this clearly and have feared precisely this consequence of gay marriage. Michael Warner argued in his appropriately titled book, The Trouble With Normal, that gay marriage would valorize and privilege some sexual behaviors and relationships (long-term, faithful, two-person) over others (one-night stands, open relationships, and polyamorous ones). This, he suggested, would be another form of discrimination, potentially changing the whole tenor of gay life.

Precisely so. What sexual liberationists fear traditionalists should cheer. To just the extent that gay marriage has this traditionalizing effect on gay culture and the individuals who comprise it, all of us should be better off. Traditionalists, in particular, should welcome any movement in that direction.

I must admit, however, that this fourth communitarian benefit is the most speculative of the group since the factors that go into producing a "culture" are very complex. I expect marriage to help the cause of those in the gay community who want to see the values associated with marriage elevated, but I cannot say how much, or whether marriage can blunt the effect of the forces pulling the other way.

One more post later today dealing with the expected magnitude of the individualistic and communitarian benefits I have outlined. Tomorrow and Thursday, I'll start to respond to the arguments about how gay marriage might produce harms that must also be considered.

Alixtii O'Krul V (mail) (www):
But it is the public purposes of marriage that justify its existence and support in civil law.

What about inertia? We support marriage in civil law because we've always supported marriage in civil law. Sure, we can excise marriage from civil law completely, but why bother? It's much more feasibly politically and more beneficial socially to simply open marriage to whoever wants it.

People who keep on looking for the reasons behind the existence and support of marriage in civil law seem to be searching for the Emperor's clothes. They're just not there.

But there are plenty of things which enjoy existence and support in civil law for no reason other than because that's the way it has been for a very, very long time. Why is marriage any different?
11.1.2005 3:47pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I see gay marriage as the most vicious form of gay bashing, and as no gay has ever wronged me, see no reason to wrong gays.

A good relationship is certainly heavenly. A bad one is awful. Marriage -- a legal tie that requires people to be linked whether they love each other or not -- does little to improve the first, and turns the second into hell.

This might be condemned as paternalism. But we do not allow people to be enslaved merely because they consent to it.
11.1.2005 3:52pm
flaime:
Like Maggie, you have so far failed to convince me that there is any presently useful purpose of marriage at all that requires government recognition of marriage. As you state that your next post will rebut the arguements against gay marriage, I don't forsee that you will present any arguement that will assert that marriage has a justifiable reason to continue to be recognized governmentarily in any form and I will continue (fruitlessly, I know) to advocate that we eliminate all government recognition of marriage.
11.1.2005 3:58pm
Marianne:
Professor Carpenter:
Once they're allowed to marry, gay couples can be expected to make correspondingly fewer demands on the state for all the kinds of support they need when there's no personal caretaker there for them. This serves the goal of limited government, which is something conservatives support.


We might also think of the ways in which individuals in a married relationship are more likely to take on the burden of their spouse's extended family--her aging parents, her wayward nephews, and so on. For most married individuals, the very serious responsibilities of marriage hardly stop with responsibility for the spouse alone. When I marry I increase the size of my family and, therefore, increase the scope of individuals for whom I assume direct responsibility.
11.1.2005 3:58pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
You're not addressing the biggest objection, which is impossibility. Gay people cannot be married. There is no such thing -- nor can there be any such thing -- as "gay" marriage. By attempting to legislate an absurdity, you are introducing into our legal system dangerous levels of unreason, thus corrupting our legal system. You may make compelling arguments for a legislative appeal of the law of gravity or the reinstitution of the 55 mph speed limit, but that won't change anything. It will just cause confusion and disrespect for the law.
11.1.2005 4:09pm
Randy R. (mail):
I would like to throw in a ringer here, but there is a point that I would like to make. Much has been made about gay promiscuity, and also about marriage as a force that somehow harnesses that promiscuity.

Well, any gay man knows that there are plenty of straight married men out there looking to have sex with gay men. You have only to go to gay bars, or visit the chat rooms to find married men looking for gay sex. I have a friend who lives in an affluent suburb of Washington who somehow specializes in straight married men. Often, these men even have children.

So...How do these people fit into everyone's equation. I hear a lot about how gay men can't or shouldn't have children, yet here we have men who have gay sex, and they have children. These men are married, don't forget. So aside from the fact that they are violating their vows, the fact exists that there are plenty of married men having gay sex on the side. Yet these men are, ostensibly, part of the "perfect", "traditional" and "ideal" form of marriage. Because the conform to the outward appearances, you all assume that these men are better at raising children than gay men.

Perhaps marriage isn't a perfect institution. I've known some of these men -- one is always pressuring me to have sex with him. And I know he's quite depressed when he doesn't get gay sex, even though he is happily married. (No, wife doesn't know.) Where do these men belong in society? Are our only 'proper' options gay and single, and straight and married? This ignores a significant segment of our society.

Oh, and by the way, most of these men don't consider themselves gay. So that's another reason why the self-reporting number 3% is probably not accurate. It also ignores the significant number of african-american men who don't consider themselves gay, but rather same sex loving, as they think "gay" is a white man's conceit. I don't really agree with the concept of the "down low," since being on the down low is something that white married men do all the time as well.

So perhaps, just perhaps, two people married and monogamous isn't always the ideal or perfect arrangement for everyone, as Maggie contends. And maybe it isn't for gay people, either. But I still think we should be afforded the same opportunity as straight people.
11.1.2005 4:10pm
Randy R. (mail):
IB Bill: you are wrong. Gay marriage currently exists in The netherlands, Belgium and Canada. It will soon be allowed in Spain. In the US, gay couples are married in Massachusetts.

Those are just the legal marriages. Gay people are getting married all across America in many churches, although the marriage has no legal force.

So not only is it possible, it actually exists. The gays married in Canada are in every respect married, just as straight people. YOU may not recognize it, but others certainly do.
11.1.2005 4:13pm
Medis:
flaime,

I don't know if you will find this satisfactory, but I am sufficiently convinced that marriage reduces other social burdens and creates positive social effects that I would be willing to pay people to get married if necessary, with the expectation that in doing so, I would ultimately recoup my investment.
11.1.2005 4:19pm
Xander (mail):
This is what happens when the government gets overly involved in social "engineering." While we can argue that based on the externalities involved the government has a vested interest in promoting marriage. The real question is if most of these positive externalities are applicable to homosexual unions. I think the answer is yes. Given this why shouldn't the government encourage any two people to become responsible for each other in the eyes of the law?

As for the ascertains that "gay culture" is incompatible with marriage, or that it will change, I feel that this would be a good time to bring up Andrew Sullivan's article "The End of gay culture." Frankly, the "gay" sub-culture of the past was a thing born out of scorn and oppression. As that cloud lifts we find that the people coming of age today have very different outlooks on life than their counterparts of the pre-stonewall, pre-AIDS epidemic era. I think that gay marriage will take the title of homosexual from the promiscuous. We'll have committed monogamist, and the promiscuous, both gay and straight. Finally behavior will differentiate us, not our choice of partners.
11.1.2005 4:43pm
Josephine (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?

Another poster wrote this on the other thread. My question is this: How do you convince someone whose conception of the good says gay marriage is bad that it is good? I don't think your arguments are winning any of those people over, because it is being made at the wrong level.
11.1.2005 4:51pm
Marianne:
Professor Carpenter:
So instead of conceiving gay marriage as a threat to marriage we ought to see it as part of this movement to revive, protect, and strengthen marriage.

Certainly, this seems to be born out in much of the debate. Proponents of gay marriage speak to the myriad ways in which marriage is an almost ineffably salient bond between a couple, their families, and the larger social and civic worlds in which they lead their lives. Some of the most thoughtful encomiums to marriage in the past five or so years have been written in the context of arguments in favor of marriage for gay couples. To make their argument, opponents of gay marriage are often reduced to taking a much narrower, and, to my mind, denigrating view of marriage. To say, for instance, that a bundle of private contracts or something called reciprocal beneficiaries are as important and meaningful for two people in love, their families, and their communities as marriage is to deny marriage what I take to be its most commendable, most beautiful, most world-shaping qualities.
11.1.2005 4:55pm
John H (mail) (www):
"Gay couples cannot procreate as a couple and so might be thought incapable of fulfilling this basic public purpose. The story is more complicated than that, but that's a subject for tomorrow, when I begin to address the arguments against gay marriage."

Dale, you'll hopefully address new procreation technologies tomorrow then? Because gay couples CAN procreate as a couple using new technologies. That statement is just willfully blind to reality. Yes, SSP might not be available in any clinic today, but it could be tomorrow, and couples don't have to procreate the day they get married, they are allowed to marry in advance, and wait until their situation is right to procreate, so a same-sex couple is no different in looking to a future possibility of procreating. Marriage would be giving them the right to procreate when they feel ready.

Please don't go on in this discussion without addressing the fact that same-sex procreation is a reality, and gay couples will want to have children together just like heteroseuxla couples do.
11.1.2005 4:57pm
Jack John (mail):
Marianne:

Can't one have a neutral view toward marriage? That gay marriage has nothing to do with traditional marriage? One's conception of the good can exclude gay marriage without denigrating it, and promote straight marriage without promoting gay marriage. That doesn't make you a bigot, as Carpenter says. It also doesn't make you down on marriage, as you seem to argue.
11.1.2005 4:58pm
Joshua (mail):
Prof. Carpenter wrote:
The effects of this will probably take many years, maybe generations, to be fully felt. But felt they will be.


I suspect that this fact is scaring a lot of people who are on the fence about SSM toward the opposition side. After all, (1) we really have no idea how SSM will impact society in the long run, and (2) if it does turn out to have a poisonous effect on society as its opponents claim, then by the time that harm becomes apparent years or decades from now, the damage is already done, the die is cast, it's a fait accompli, you can't un-ring the bell, or [insert your favorite expression for "too late to turn back" here].
11.1.2005 5:17pm
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Carpenter,

Points 2 and 4 are convincing, but points 1 and 3 seem to be less so.

With respect to 1, their is issue as to whether homosexuals would exhibit similar patterns as the larger heterosexual culture when it comes to monogamous and committed relationships.

I gather that you believe two things: One, that there is the same tendency towards stable relationships; and, Two, where it is not present, extending marriage will induce greater stability and committment on the margin.

Organizations like the Family Research Center cite studies that suggest otherwise. Granted they should be taken with a grain of salt, but the studies don't appear to have been run or sponsored by them.

On point 3, you argue that the expanded view of marriage would offer a "slight" strengthening of traditional marriage because you'd be adding more committed couples to the pool.

The alternative would be to take narrow approach to marriage, drafting pro-natalist policies and graduated benefits for heterosexual couples dependent upon duration of marriage/committment. This safer approach also removes the guesswork and uncertainty of whether expanding marriage to same-sex couples would harm or help marriage.

This also does not rely on the added assumption that the number of committed same-sex couples would not be drowned out by more vocal gay activists that lack even a modicum of decency.
11.1.2005 5:22pm
Medis:
Josephine,

My sense is that Dale does not think he can persuade such people with his arguments ... at least not yet. But at the risk of getting overly philosophical, I think people's conceptions of the good are often subject to what has been called "reflective equilibrium," and I would suggest that some people may in fact be persuaded to rethink their conceptions of good marriages in light of reflections on consequences. Of course, the process of reflective equilibrium is not deductive, and thus it cannot meet the burden adopted by the commentator you quote. But in practice, I think it can in fact work--in other words, through reflection, I think people do change their conceptions of the good, even though they are not being forced to do so.
11.1.2005 5:25pm
Marianne:
Jack John,

I'm sorry if I implied that opposition to gay marriage equals opposition to marriage. I meant to make two much narrower points:

(1) That the writings of gay marriage supporters often contain what are currently the richest, most attractive, and most beautiful descriptions of marriage we have. If we think just about fiction, U.S. authors since Henry James--who I adore--have taken an overwhelmingly dim view of marriage. The proponents of gay marriage, as their praise of marriage itself reaches more ears, provide a welcome counterweight, and maybe even help some currently married couples take rejuvinated stock in the profoundness of their own relationships.

And (2) that opponents of gay marriage all too often make their arguments by denigrating marriage itself, or denying the power and beauty of the committments that go along with marriage. As an extreme example, witness Dave Hardy's post above. For me, a more subtle example is the extreme weight Ms. Gallagher put on the procreative act, as though for both couple and institution the often difficult, often mundane, sometimes beautiful, and always worthwhile labor one puts into a successful marriage means relatively little.

That said, there are, of course, in these pages and elsewhere, plenty of arguments against gay marriage that do not denigrate marriage.
11.1.2005 5:25pm
Taimyoboi:
"...for instance, that a bundle of private contracts or something called reciprocal beneficiaries are as important and meaningful for two people in love, their families, and their communities as marriage is to deny marriage..."

Marianne,

If this is the case, then why the need to press for legal recognition of same-sex marriage?

Same-sex couples are certainly able live in loving relationships amongst their families and friends to their heart's content.

What they don't currently get is state recognition and a bundle of incentives that come with that recognition.
11.1.2005 5:31pm
Josephine (mail):
Medis: Of course, the process of reflective equilibrium is not deductive, and thus it cannot meet the burden adopted by the commentator you quote.

But if your reasons cannot persuade a majority of legislators in a given state, and we challenge that state's marriage laws in the courts, won't we lose, as a matter of necessity, because if it isn't deductively true that there is no rational-basis for excluding gays from marriage laws -- or, so long as there is a conceivable rational-basis for excluding gays from traditional marriage, then the courts will reject the challenge? This reflective equilibrium approach seems to be limited to trying to persuade people in elections. But no one must listen to proponents of gay marriage, and I don't see how conceptions of the good that do not depend on facts, but on beliefs, whether religious or not, like, say, a political philosophy, are amenable to "reflective equilibrium." Everyone isn't a scientist and re-thinks their views, or the bases for them, thoroughly. And I am also certain that in reflecting on their views, some people become more entrenched in them, e.g., the constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage in many states that came after challenges to traditional marriage in state courts by gay activists. I support gay marriage, but I don't think your notion is practical at all, and I find the commentator I was quoting rather persuasive.
11.1.2005 5:34pm
Jack John (mail):
If we think just about fiction, U.S. authors since Henry James--who I adore--have taken an overwhelmingly dim view of marriage.

Wasn't there a bio of Henry James out a few months ago that proved he was gay?
11.1.2005 5:36pm
David Edelman (mail) (www):
Taimyoboi:

If this is the case, then why the need to press for legal recognition of same-sex marriage? Same-sex couples are certainly able live in loving relationships amongst their families and friends to their heart's content. What they don't currently get is state recognition and a bundle of incentives that come with that recognition.


Are you married or would you ever get married? If so, why? I'm a straight male and I definitely plan on getting married. Not for all the benefits, but because I like the joy of committing forever to one person, in sickness and in health. I want to have a family. Not just children, but a wonderful extended family. I want to make sure that I'm considered family when I care for my spouse.

Gay people want the same level of commitment in the eyes of their friends, their families, their societies and the law. If you don't call it marriage, it will never seem "as good" as the traditional concept of marriage from the fairy tales we all grew up on. For all the talk about "negative effects", gays are such a minority that they will hardly effect anything. What's a million gay families in a country of a hundred million?
11.1.2005 5:47pm
LittleJ (mail):
As a traditionalist opposed in general to gay marriage because of Biblical proscription, I think you have given some of the most cogent arguments for gay marriage that I have read. Much of your argument is based on the supposition that partners in gay marriages will behave similarly to those in heterosexual marriages, and the evidence for that needs to be presented if it exists. Speculation based on logic sounds good, but is still just speculation if it has no support. For example, you admit that relationships between gay men are different from relationships between lesbians, presumably because of that "artifact of male sexuality" that you cite; similarly, there is the possiblity that marriage between gay males will be different from marriage between heterosexual men and women, negating the conclusions that you draw. In addition, the ills you cite in gay-male culture aren't necessarily present to a similar extent in lesbian culture; is trying to "cure" these ills through re-engineering of a broader cultural institute (marriage) justified with so much unknown and not understood about gay male behavior?

In response to the question, "Sure, we can excise marriage from civil law completely, but why bother?", I would respond that religion also has a "communitarian" benefit to society; is destroying the religious intent of marriage a benefit to society? It would be more advantageous to define a union with religious basis, or "marriage", as a subset of legal union, equal in the eyes of the law with civil union but not defined as the same. In other words, every marriage is a legal union, but not every legal union is a marriage. Can we confer on a partnership - either heterosexual or homosexual - the legal advantages of "marriage", and reap the societal benefits, separate from religion, so as not to dilute or delegitimize religion as a foundation for marriage? If not, then the gay sub-culture must become a religion of its own to gain any of the "communitarian" benefits above.
11.1.2005 5:55pm
Josephine (mail):
Wow, LittleJ. I now see how religious people can be persuaded by Dale Carpenter. But I must say, I think there are very few people that believe gay marriage is wrong because of the Bible who care about empirical claims concerning the benefits of marriage. I think you are in the minority. And I since even you reject Carpenter's claims, I think that speaks volumes.
11.1.2005 6:10pm
Marianne:
If this is the case, then why the need to press for legal recognition of same-sex marriage?



A great question not just for same-sex couples, but for heterosexual couples as well. Why prefer legal marriage to symbolic marriage, common law marriage, or cohabitation?

Because, in our contemporary United States, the legal recognition is marriage, and nothing else can call itself marriage without seeming foolish. Only legal marriage is marriage; every other relationship comes second. Sure some gay couples outside of Massachusetts might say they're married, to which any reasonable person will respond, "yeah, but are you really married?"

I think this might be because only through legal procecures can marriage end (this is the really in the question above). We think of marriage as something that can only be broken with real, material and symbolic costs--even if this just means paying a court fee, appearing in front of a judge, and swearing under oath that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. Of course, it usually means much more than that. If two people can simply call it quits with each other, end of story, then they weren't ever even close to being married, even if they referred to themselves as such. It's that penalty for dissolution (with its recognizability as such in the public sphere) that allows family, friends, communities, even countries to take the relationship for granted, to accept it as a real marriage.
11.1.2005 6:10pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
As a sexual liberationist, I don't fear marriage, gay or straight. On the contrary, I share Heinlein's view that it's a great idea, between as many people of either sex as freely choose to participate. I also share his view that marriage is antecent to and independent from law, and is a solid part of human nature that mere bans won't stop. So therefore the law had better recognise facts, rather than humming "la la la" and putting its fingers in its ears.
11.1.2005 6:13pm
Jack John (mail):
It's that penalty for dissolution (with its recognizability as such in the public sphere) that allows family, friends, communities, even countries to take the relationship for granted, to accept it as a real marriage.

If it's penalty that gay people need, why not avoid the marriage question and simply criminalize sodomy again?
11.1.2005 6:15pm
Jack John (mail):
I also share his view that marriage is antecent to and independent from law, and is a solid part of human nature that mere bans won't stop. So therefore the law had better recognise facts, rather than humming "la la la" and putting its fingers in its ears.

Murder is is antecent to and independent from law, and is a solid part of human nature that mere bans won't stop. So therefore the law had better recognise facts, rather than humming "la la la" and putting its fingers in its ears. Make murder legal.
11.1.2005 6:16pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
Jack John: show me a third party who is directly, provably and materially harmed by marriage (of any variety) and I'll admit that your criticism is more than mere wordplay.
11.1.2005 6:25pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Dale: Once they're allowed to marry, gay couples can be expected to make correspondingly fewer demands on the state for all the kinds of support they need when there's no personal caretaker there for them. This serves the goal of limited government, which is something conservatives support.

Such is the mercurial nature of the argument for neutering marriage. When it is suitable to the arguer, marriage is a basket of goodies the government doles out simply to repress those that don't qualify. When that is not suitable, marriage is a means if withholding government goodies from those that do qualify. Mr. Carpenter himself has now taken both of these contradicting positions and it is only Tuesday.

We've already pointed out Dale's unfounded optimism in assuming neutered "marriage" will have the same benefits as marriage simply because he has named them the same. Not only are Dale's promises just unconvincing perched precariously atop such a flimsy assumption, but what experience we do have with neutered marriage arrangements doesn't bear out the vast cornucopia of rosy outcomes Dale predicts. I'll just point out the linked article was written back in June.
11.1.2005 6:32pm
Designbot:
When it is suitable to the arguer, marriage is a basket of goodies the government doles out simply to repress those that don't qualify. When that is not suitable, marriage is a means if withholding government goodies from those that do qualify.

If these are mutually-exclusive options, which do you believe to be accurate, Op Ed?

Wouldn't be more accurate to say that marriage reduces the strain on government services, and in compensation for this and other societal benefits, the government provides incentives for marriage?
11.1.2005 6:39pm
Jack John (mail):
Jack John: show me a third party who is directly, provably and materially harmed by marriage (of any variety) and I'll admit that your criticism is more than mere wordplay.

An autistic child who hates gay people is adopted by a gay couple in a state where adoption is contingent on marital status. He can't communicate his displeasure, and is adopted anyway, to his extreme emotional distress.
11.1.2005 6:50pm
Jack John (mail):
How about this Julian, does it matter that murder harms? Because murder is still prosecuted where the victim's family says don't prosecute, as is rape where the victim says don't prosecute. So harm is not the answer. If it is wrong, it is wrong.
11.1.2005 6:52pm
Designbot:
Not only are Dale's promises just unconvincing perched precariously atop such a flimsy assumption, but what experience we do have with neutered marriage arrangements doesn't bear out the vast cornucopia of rosy outcomes Dale predicts.

Your linked article says nothing more than that you haven't seen a satisfactory study of existing gay couples in "Registered Partnership, Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, SSM, or just plain old longterm cohabitation." You have no idea whether these couples have experienced benefits or not—you can't use your lack of data as evidence for your position.

Regardless, the matter under debate is legalized gay marriage, so even if you did manage to collect data about gay couples currently in commited relationships, it would tell you little about whether they might benefit from legal recognition of their relationship.
11.1.2005 6:57pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

Op-Ed makes a good point. It seems that just two weeks ago we were hearing the cry that marriage is not a panacea. This was in response to arguments much like Dale's that proclaimed that marriage would raise people out of poverty, that it would help children have happy families, etc...

To quote,

So what if a kid is born to an intact, unmarried couple that is cohabiting and later commits to marry--which is the "objectional" situation in Europe. How is that bad for the child, if the biological parents are in a committed--albeit, unmarried--relationship???


The search for why marriage has any benefits at all needs to be objective and apolitical. One thing that needs to be looked at is if the benefits comes from the government certificate or from the relationship itself. If it comes form the certificate, then Dale has a good claim to extend it to benefit more people. Of course, he would then have to explain why he won't extend it to cover *everyone* it could benefit, and so far Dale seems unwilling to do that.

But what if marriage draws its power from the diversity in gender? What if its power comes from its equal representation of both genders? I don't think Dale even cares, which indicates to me that he still has much to consider on the subject. I don't think he cares for anyone but gay/lesbian relationships, which indicates to me he has much to consider on the humanitarian nature of his goals.

I could go on, and probably should. No doubt my concerns about Dale's arguments will continue to come as the discussion unfolds.
11.1.2005 7:01pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

you can't use your lack of data as evidence for your position.

I'm not sure you understand the position. If his promises are unfounded, then we need to take a serious look before we leap.

So far Dale has not...

1) Argued that marriage is required for these benefits, (any program that bestows what he is asking for seemingly would do)
2) Marriage is capable of bringing these benefits (as noted above, much of the benifit of marriage is unlocked specifically from requiring equal gender participation in family establisment and government)
3) Other harms aren't incurred, which I assume he will try to argue tomorrow.
11.1.2005 7:06pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
I'll add a fourth,

4) Dale has not to my understanding considered that his arguments implemented in social programs would be a great source of abuse (abuse as in welfare abuse, or litigation abuse) as well as subjugating both romance and children into different categories with even less power to ensure rights and priveleges.
11.1.2005 7:08pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
Jack John: because I personally argue from the purist libertarian principle of self ownership, I would consider the current criminal law to be mis-framed where it ignores the consent of the victim (or their legitimate heirs). Still, that's beside the point. Murder is illegal because it's considered to harm the interests of society as a whole. Harm, not morality, is still at the core of the ban.

Your autistic child example could be shown to be wrong by extending the child's dislike to people with red hair (which is also far more plausible). Ought this to be an argument for banning ginger marriage? It's obviously silly and tangential.
11.1.2005 7:14pm
JDS:
I don't get this discussion. Legal marriage is a losing proposition for most people, and they're voting with their feet. From today's Wall St Journal p.D5: "Births to Women Who Are Unwed Hit Record in U.S." "Unwed women contributed 35.7% or 1.47 million of the total 4.1 million U.S. births in 2004, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics... The trend of more 20-somethings giving birth out of wedlock reflects a jump in the number of unmarried couples living together..."

The real problem is not whether to allow same-sex marriage, but whether to continue to discourage opposite-sex marriage!
11.1.2005 7:15pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

With one exception ... these public purposes parallel exactly the kinds of public purposes that justify the recognition of sterile opposite-sex unions through marriage.


For opposite-sex couples, the government would need to test each couple for fertility to determine which were infertile. With same-sex couples, no such testing is necessary, we know for a fact they are all infertile.

Society is under no obligation to set it's standards based on exceptions to the rule.


"Individuals in gay marriages should be healthier, wealthier, and happier, on average, than if they were single or simply cohabiting."


An unsupported assertion. Why will a government license have this effect? Gay people can live together and form commitments right now. That's what straight people did, they formed lifelong bonds long before there was any such thing as a government license for marriage.

Randy R, IB Bill is correct. Calling two different things the same word does not make them the same in reality.
11.1.2005 7:16pm
Designbot:
Op-Ed makes a good point. It seems that just two weeks ago we were hearing the cry that marriage is not a panacea.

You heard that argument from one person (DanielH) who set himself apart from "the marriage folks" and expressed no opinion on same-sex marriage, in reference to a hypothetical couple who did plan to get married. It's hardly fair to characterize this as a primary argument of the people who challenged Maggie Gyllenhall's posts.

One thing that needs to be looked at is if the benefits comes from the government certificate or from the relationship itself. If it comes form the certificate, then Dale has a good claim to extend it to benefit more people.

You present a valid argument for eliminating government recognition of marriage altogether. Presumably, government does certify marriage with the intent to provide some benefit.

I don't think he cares for anyone but gay/lesbian relationships

Dale has been kind enough not to characterize those on the other side of the issue as bigots; it would be thoughtful if you would extend the same courtesy.
11.1.2005 7:22pm
JDS:
If gays want to take on the burdensome income tax and other financial consequences of marriage - most severe when both parties are employed and affluent, arguably more likely to be the case in same-sex couples - then why argue?

Put another way, you can get most of the legal advantages of marriage by just sending a check equal to 25% of your tax bill to the US Treasury.

By focusing the discussion of marriage on whether gays should have the right to do it, we miss the real issue - how misguided government policies about marriage have caused more and more straight couples to live together without being married.

The best answer is to get government out of the marriage business - let it be a religious ritual only, with consequences and responsibilities according to religious and personal belief - and allow pairs of people (or perhaps larger groups) to form government-chartered domestic partnerships with appropriate income tax and other rules.
11.1.2005 7:24pm
Humble Law Student:
I know this is somewhat tangential, so forgive me for bringing this up. But I still have one main question that no one has answered well.

If we redefine marriage to include SSM, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages. I've heard all the usual platitudes. However, no one has been able to explain how using the very arguments relating to "love" and seeking the "stability found in marriage" and every other used in support of the redefinition of marriage that these same principles can at the same time still uphold a principled limit against multiple partner marriages.
11.1.2005 7:26pm
Oh my word:
Very little discussion has much connection to lesbian relationships, which are the lion's share of same-sex marriages. SSM will primarily foster lesbian marriage and, therefore, a lot more child-bearing lesbian families through artificial insemination. That is the biggest story in what the future world would look like with SSM, I think.

I believe that children need fathers, as I contended on the last comments section. Doing without, and the state subsidizing and encouraging that, is a very, very problematic route.

Regarding SSM for men, someone above unwittingly pointed out another major traditional argument against recognizing homosexuality as morally neutral. Casually gay men become quite enthusiastic about homosexuality as their wives become older and less attractive. Thus, you see the "on-the-low" situation as the marriages age a lot. A traditional reason for not recognizing homosexuality as normal was feminist—to protect the married woman against the philandering male who can far, far mor easily philander with a gay partner than find a willing female cuckold. Moreover, when they get caught, it's fashionable nowadays to pretend that they were always gay—and that straightness was somehow fake for them, despite years of apparently normal married sex lives and children therefrom. (e.g., Gov. McGreevey and Bishop Robinson) SSM will further that trend, to the detriment of heterosexual marriages.
11.1.2005 7:31pm
Designbot:
If we redefine marriage to include SSM, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages.

If we define marriage as based on well-established historical precedent and Judeo-Christian tradition, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages?
11.1.2005 7:37pm
Designbot:
If we redefine marriage to include SSM, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages.

If we define marriage as based on historical precedent and the need for procreation, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages?
11.1.2005 7:39pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

It's hardly fair to characterize this as a primary argument of the people who challenged Maggie Gyllenhall's posts.

Its so nice to hear you discredit DanielH's post. Certainly it is warranted. But what do you then think of this post to Editors of the AFJ?

You haven't demonstrated how giving a man &a woman a government license will help any children living in their house. It won't provide those children a mother.


Such incredulity was offered then, but not now to Dale. You may even recognize that post, you wrote it. It is one thing to wade through the hydra-headed and conflicting arguments of ss"m" advocates, but it is another to find people contradicting themselves.

However in all fairness I'll point out that you do reconcile the contradiction later, but only with the same wistful ideological dogma that Dale has at the center of his arguments...

The point is, if marriage encourages stability, fidelity, love, commitment, yadda yadda yadda, then it will confer the same benefits to same-sex couples, thereby, wait for it… helping the children living in their house. If marriage does not confer these benefits, then what's the point of protecting it?


If course, there you don't even agree that the benefits are to be had. Just that you can't see the distinction between a marriage and a same-sex couple. A difference that Maggie, The Editors, and myself pointed out to you. But indeed it is what you don't see that you depend on, not what you do see, right? Your post above has the statement that is your own condemnation...

you can't use your lack of data as evidence for your position.


Which I'll only add that you can't use your incredulity as defence for your position.

You present a valid argument for eliminating government recognition of marriage altogether.

Perhaps I do. I no doubt see marriage as having power and substance beyond government recognition. However, marriage does good towards society and the investment pays off, because there is such a unique potency in the male-female relationship. A potency not dissimular to having a representative government from diversity, only the potency in marriage has a very strident physical manifestation also. One that deserves top consideration by those who's interests are really for the innocent and needy.

Dale has been kind enough not to characterize those on the other side of the issue as bigots; it would be thoughtful if you would extend the same courtesy.

I don't think he cares about anyone but gay/lesbian relationships. Perhaps its because marriage already covers such a large segment of society? It doesn't cover everyone that by his arguments would benefit from it.

But that is where his argument is one of pandering a class of individuals through government programs. Which is a rather debased view of marriage, don't you think?
11.1.2005 7:43pm
Designbot:
(Sorry for the double post.)
11.1.2005 7:43pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
If we define marriage as based on historical precedent and the need for procreation, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages?

Procreation is a two person event which makes one party superflous. Polygamy may better be the argument if procreative capacity is the charge.

That was easy.
11.1.2005 7:45pm
Designbot:
Polygamy may better be the argument if procreative capacity is the charge.

That was easy.


I'm having a lot of trouble untangling the grammar of that sentence. Was that an argument for or against polygamy?
11.1.2005 7:47pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Was that an argument for or against polygamy?

It was an argument showing that polyamoury doesn't follow as a procreative relationship.

When you put narrow blinders of expectation on to read a post, you wind up misunderstanding it.
11.1.2005 7:54pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Designbot: ...you can't use your lack of data as evidence for your position.

You have me confused with Dale Carpenter. Dale is the promise maker lacking data.
11.1.2005 8:05pm
presbyter (mail) (www):
a couple of things jump out from you post,Dave.

1. your post images/black-boxes the argument of homosexual marriage within a larger lie of marriage-as-mere-emotional-opportunity as well as a supposed legitmate view of society as a whole as nothing more than a giant emotional economy in which to be denied any pleasure is to be wronged as being kept from the definition of its wealth (as if the real wealth of life and the only wealth was pleasure). It is a debauched understanding of life as a mere flight from emotional negatives toward a supposed earthly utopia of emotional positives minus any checks and safety measures to ensure the physical survival long enough to enjoy them. I.E. Marriage stripped of pro-creation but set up instead merely as a falsely idealized umbrella of emotional opportunity between sexes, some of which centers on sex, with no regard to sexually transmitted disease as death or death through the rage generated by jealousy.

Then your post tacitly posits the whole lie of homosexuality: that it is about "love" versus "mere sexual pleasure" and 'how' that 'love' might be beneficial to us all. (!)

Tada! Input the word "marriage" into the black box of emotional opportunity and out comes "whateverism" with its consequent warm fuzzies concerning whatever may be even a temporary emotional positive with no regard to physical consequences. From there move on to "communal benefits" within that lie of an absolute laissez faire attitude by soceity as regards emotional opportunity so as to end up absolutely ignoring AIDS, HIV and lack of pro-creation as a supposed equivalent to eons of human life in which homosexuality is well understand to be an abomination because indicative of a backward slide/destruction of any culture in which it was tolerated.

Not even one civilization has thrived through homosexuality but indeed it has been the death of many. Communal benefits? Role models? If homosexuality was actually genetic or a disease the CDC would be all over it to get rid of it as a danger to us all. But because it is cast/imaged in the false light of emotional opportunity and 'free' will it gets a pass and even promotion?

Role models for emotional opportunity while very carefully concealing the physical costs, as in medical costs, the burden new and more deadly strains of disease places on government/society, health care workers who will die from being contaminated by the blood and bodily fluids, etc..?

There are other thrill seekers/ seekers of emotion who do not pass on the results of their actions to others even after they are dead. Skydivers don't pass on that sudden stop at the bottom. HIV and AIDS victims however, are a danger just to handled after death.

I don't see any of those realites in your post. In truth, I don't see any understanding of reality in your post at all.

Proverbs 28:25,26 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen
11.1.2005 8:26pm
Designbot:
On Lawn: It was an argument showing that polyamoury doesn't follow as a procreative relationship.

When you put narrow blinders of expectation on to read a post, you wind up misunderstanding it.


I don't think the problem was "narrow blinders;" I think the problem was that the sentence "polygamy may better be the argument if procreative capacity is the charge" has no discernible meaning in the English language.

I fail to see how a man taking several wives and raising their biological children together does not qualify as a "procreative relationship."
11.1.2005 9:10pm
Medis:
Josephine,

Actually, the theory of reflective equilibrium specifically applies to moral and political reasoning. I personally think it does in fact work with at least some people (not all, but some). Of course, one cannot guarantee the results ... you might find yourself questioning some of your own basic conceptions of the good.

But you are right that no one can be forced to engage in reflective equilibrium. Nonetheless, I again think some people (not all, but some) are willing to at least listen to arguments on the other side of the gay marriage issue.
11.1.2005 9:10pm
Designbot:
You have me confused with Dale Carpenter. Dale is the promise maker lacking data.

Dale Carpenter is claiming that gay marriage may produce certain benefits. You are claiming that it won't produce those benefits.

A lack of data does not prove &disprove your case, nor does it prove or disprove Dale's. It's just that; a lack of data. A non-entity.
11.1.2005 9:15pm
Humble Law Student:
If we define marriage as based on historical precedent and the need for procreation, what principled arguments exist for denying marriage to those seeking polyamorous marriages?



That's a joke right? Nice try trying to put the onus on me, but it's easy for me to answer. The reason is that those aren't the only main reasons for the traditional view of marriage.

My point is that all of the main arguments in favor of SSM do not provide a principled way based on those arguments (pro-SSM) to deny further redefining marriage to include polyamorous relationships.
11.1.2005 9:33pm
Alixtii O'Krul V (mail) (www):
Little J:

n response to the question, "Sure, we can excise marriage from civil law completely, but why bother?", I would respond that religion also has a "communitarian" benefit to society; is destroying the religious intent of marriage a benefit to society? It would be more advantageous to define a union with religious basis, or "marriage", as a subset of legal union, equal in the eyes of the law with civil union but not defined as the same. In other words, every marriage is a legal union, but not every legal union is a marriage. Can we confer on a partnership - either heterosexual or homosexual - the legal advantages of "marriage", and reap the societal benefits, separate from religion, so as not to dilute or delegitimize religion as a foundation for marriage? If not, then the gay sub-culture must become a religion of its own to gain any of the "communitarian" benefits above.

Well, for one thing there's no reason that gay subculture couldn't perform the function. But I'm anathematic to allowing any religious concerns enter the argument--there are some things that no compelling state interest, no matter how great, can mandate, becauyse they are contrary to our most basic values as a society as enshrined in the Constitution.
11.1.2005 9:46pm
Alixtii O'Krul V (mail) (www):
Josephine:

But I must say, I think there are very few people that believe gay marriage is wrong because of the Bible who care about empirical claims concerning the benefits of marriage.

I'd go one step further--Dale Carpenter and Maggie Gallagher aside, I have difficulty envisioning many poeople at all who would see SSM merely as an a posteriori matter. It seems that for the gross majority of people, the questions of SSM do not depend on any empirical data but instead on the a priori idealogy.

Julian Morrison:

marriage is antecent to and independent from law, and is a solid part of human nature that mere bans won't stop. So therefore the law had better recognise facts, rather than humming "la la la" and putting its fingers in its ears.

Well said.
11.1.2005 9:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Well, Prebytr, I'm very proud and happy to be a danger to people like you.

Boo!

I hope I scared the beejeeses outta you, 'cause you certainly frighten easily. At the folks here can argue on rational grounds....
11.1.2005 9:52pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"My point is that all of the main arguments in favor of SSM do not provide a principled way based on those arguments (pro-SSM) to deny further redefining marriage to include polyamorous relationships."

Sure they do - as a 'equal access to a civil contract' issue those who need cosignees of the same gender are totally proscribed access vs those who want more than one contract, more than 2 people in a contract, etc already have access to the existing contract. Its a proscription vs regulation situation - apples and oranges.

This of course assumes that the majority of citizens can't choose the gender of person they are attracted to but hopefully that's pretty much a given, right?
11.1.2005 11:01pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
Alixtii O'Krul V: leaning entirely on an a posteriori approach would seem perverse. It's a precedent for applying the same utilitarian analysis to absolutely every private human endeavour - micromanagement far beyond the limit of good sense.

However, it does make sense to back a solid a priori case with "and also, it's good for you".
11.1.2005 11:27pm
Designbot:
<i>That's a joke right? Nice try trying to put the onus on me, but it's easy for me to answer. The reason is that those aren't the only main reasons for the traditional view of marriage. </i>

You all say it's easy to answer, and then you don't. What is the justification (using your arguments about marriage) for not allowing polygamy?
11.1.2005 11:41pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
This of course assumes that the majority of citizens can't choose the gender of person they are attracted to but hopefully that's pretty much a given, right?

Even worse, it assumes that marriage regulates people's attractions, which it does not. Nor does marriage hurt people who have attractions to their own sex.

One may argue that a lack of benefits is a harm, but that is rather like a school district arguing that a budget increase of 3 billion dollars is really a two billion dollar cut because they really wanted 5 billion dollars. It also fails to recognize that such benefits can be achieved in other ways.

When given the option for recognising ss-couples with something other than marriage, only about a third (if that) of people still want ss"m". That is not commentary on what they think of homosexuality as much as it is commentary of what they think of marriage. Maggie produced that case last week, and arrogantly people like yourself felt that with enough incredulity you could margionalize it.

As polls continue to decrease in support for ss"m" however, I think it is safe to say that the cannard of personal incredulity is easily seen through.
11.2.2005 12:28am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"Even worse, it assumes that marriage regulates people's attractions, which it does not. Nor does marriage hurt people who have attractions to their own sex."

once again you are confusing the terms. Of course the contract of marriage doesn't regulate feelings, but then the state doesn't have anything to do with marriage, only the civil contract.

Same gender couples can already marry - the state has no say in that - the issue is why these citizns don't have access to the civil contract supporting their fundamental right when all manner of those attracted to the opposite gender do.

If the state is going to license a contract in support of a fundamental right then it must be reasonably available to all citizens. Equal access to government, nothing more.
11.2.2005 12:50am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
but then the state doesn't have anything to do with marriage, only the civil contract.

Your hair splitting just drew blood from your argument. Marriage is more than a civil contract, it is an establishment of a political entity (of which there really is no contract, but protocols of recognition and regulation).

If it were a contract, what do I do to breach it? Marriages have been established through contracts historically, but as you can tell from society today the contractual nature is no longer enforceable. Is that good or bad? That would be another post.

the issue is why these citizens don't have access to the civil contract supporting their fundamental right

Again, the civil contract is a meaningless distinction. And as you just noted everyone can get married, just not recognized in whatever they want to call a marriage. So what "fundamental" right does marriage trample on? I think you tried to answer that...

If the state is going to license a contract in support of a fundamental right then it must be reasonably available to all citizens.

All citizens? Incestuals? How about two friends running from abusive husbands who have no romantic inclination? If it is equal access you are preaching (though admittedly vague in just what equal access you are referring to) one would expect you would have recognized them also.

Is that just too inclusive for you? That makes no sense. You must think relatives taking care of each other and their children is worthless, but thankfully most are not as closed minded as you are.
11.2.2005 1:04am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"All citizens? Incestuals?"

Never heard of an individual called an 'incestual' or are you trying to view the individual fundamental right of marriage somehow as a couple's right? It isn't. Each PERSON has the right to marry, and as has been pointed out many times before the government CAN regulate even fundamental rights - what it can't do is say that a citizen intrinsically doesn't have a right that other citizens have.

"How about two friends running from abusive husbands who have no romantic inclination?"

Considering that opposite gender people in that situation can license the civil contract right this very moment I don't see why two people of the same gender wouldn't be able to, do you?

" If it is equal access you are preaching (though admittedly vague in just what equal access you are referring to) one would expect you would have recognized them also. "

Opposite gender couples with no romantic inclination marry all the time - very typical in the military. There is no romantic requirement for licensing the civil contract.

"Is that just too inclusive for you?"

Of course its not, we allow it right now with opposite gender contractees. Your examples are pedestrian and not shocking in the slightest. As long as the couple is contractable and realize that this is a mutually exclusive contract licensed with the presumption of indefinite duration they can do so now - as long as they are of opposite gender.

"That makes no sense. You must think relatives taking care of each other and their children is worthless, but thankfully most are not as closed minded as you are."

Gee, you don't even need to have someone else in the discussion, you just decide what they are going to say, respond and chastize them. What a time saver! :)

All citizens have a fundamental right to marry. Since the government licenses a contract in support of marriage all citizens should have reasonable ability to utilize it. This means that even after government regulation there should be a reasonably large pool of potential cosignees. Heterogendered married couples of all flavors had access to a licensable pool that included all of age, non-contracted members of the opposite gender save a handful of close relatives. Homogendered ones have a pool that is zero. Regulation vs proscription of access to government regarding a citizen's fundamental right.

An ethically consistent government would allow all citizens reasonable access...
11.2.2005 3:20am
Shawn (mail):
After reading the promiscuity thread and others that skim over the notion of gay men in marriage as somehow alien to their very cosntruction, it may be helpful to note a very basic fact:

The vast majority of gay and lesbian citizens (I'd hazard 99.99%) were raised by heterosexual parents who treated their children as if they too were heterosexual and instilled upon them all the values, dreams, and desires appropriate for a heterosexual future. When these men and women discover they are in fact homoseuxal, they don't suddenly shed all those years of parental socialization and become "free spirits". Deep down inside nearly every homosexual person is the desire to be the person their parents wanted them to be, to see happiness in much the way their parents taught them to, and to have a desire to meet those visions as closely as possible.

Internet chat rooms and gay bars are full of gay men all looking to find a boyfriend. It is very common to be asked "how long have you been together" in gay social circles and just like in the straight world, the longer you've been together the more positive the reaction. So within the gay and lesbian community there is strong empirical evidence for the more optimistic views of gay marriage that Dale makes.
11.2.2005 7:56am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Bob,

Considering that opposite gender people in that situation can license the civil contract right this very moment I don't see why two people of the same gender wouldn't be able to, do you?

You would extend marriage to non-romantic relationships?

Funny, that is what most ss"m" advocates have against RB's, they don't recognize enough that the ss-couple is in love with each other.

I think you have just proven my overall point. That Dale's arguments for benefits for dependant relationshops is really for something other than marriage, something called 'reciprocal beneficiaries'. But as noted, the GLBT is adamently against RB's which means they are against Dale's arguments.
11.3.2005 2:07pm