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[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), November 1, 2005 at 7:09pm] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case -- The Magnitude of the Benefits:

Marriage will have one of three consequences for gay families united in marriage: they will be better off, worse off, or it will have no effect on them. It's hard to imagine how marriage would have no effect on their lives, and even harder to imagine how they would be made worse off than they are now. So married gay couples should be better off than unmarried gay couples in terms of the durability, happiness, and stability of their relationships. Similarly, their children should be better off in many ways.

The only question, then, is what the magnitude of these benefits will be. Here we run into some thorny issues.

One possibility is that we could simply extrapolate the benefits from marriage that opposite-sex couples enjoy over unmarried people. If these benefits can simply be extrapolated, the benefits to gay families united in marriage would then be huge as compared to unmarried people.

Another possibility is that gay families united in marriage will capture some, but not all, of the magnitude of the benefits that straight families derive from it. Why not expect that they will get the full benefit from marriage? There are, I think two reasons for this that apply to both gay male and lesbian couples, and one additional reason that applies only to gay male couples. If my analysis is right, lesbian couples will probably capture somewhat more of the benefits of marriage than will gay men. But we must be careful not to exaggerate these possible limitations on how much of the benefit of marriage gay families will get.

Here are two limiting factors on the magnitude of the marriage benefit to lesbian and gay male couples:

(1) It will take time for some gay people, generations of whom have led their lives with no expectation of marriage, to orient their lives and relationships toward the possibility of the deeper commitment marriage involves. While the most traditionally minded gay couples will likely be disproportionately represented among the new marriages, even some of these couples will need time to adjust. This will, I think reduce to a small degree some of the caretaking benefits that we could otherwise expect. But I suspect this will be a very small difference, and will quickly fade.

(2) There will initially be some social resistance to the idea that gay marriages are real marriages, so the social reinforcement of them will be on average weaker than it would be for a straight couple. This will reduce to some extent, at least initially, the expected social benefit a straight couple could expect. As time passes and the people around these couples, including their extended families, become accustomed to gay marriage, this social benefit will increase. I also think this will tend to happen rapidly for the immediate family and friends of gay couples, who are unusually likely to be thrilled that their loved one is getting hitched. Resistance to gay marriage will last longest and remain deepest among people who don't know any openly gay people, or who at least don't know any gay people who want to marry. But the resistance of these strangers to gay marriage matters least for the social benefit that couples get from marriage. What matters most is that their close families and friends fully support their marriages.

Both of these limitations on the expected benefits are transitory and small, so lesbian couples at least should get something approaching the full benefit of marriage almost right away. Since they will be half or more of all gay marriages, and since they are more likely to be raising children, the individualistic benefits to their families should be quite large.

Finally, here is third possible limiting factor on the magnitude of the benefit that will apply only to gay-male couples:

(3) There is a traditionalist objection to gay marriage that runs something like this: "Gay men are promiscuous, more than straight men, straight women, or lesbians. That makes them unlikely to benefit much from marriage. It is not marriage that settles men down, giving them the health and other benefits of marriage. It is women who do this. Women will be absent from gay male marriages, and thus much of the benefit of marriage will be absent from their marriages." If this is right, it may seriously limit both the caretaking and social benefits gay male couples get from marriage. Let's call this the promiscuity objection to gay marriage (the promiscuity objection is also offered to show how gay marriage might loosen marital norms of fidelity for everybody, about which I'll say more in the coming days).

Several observations should be made about the promiscuity objection that make it a very weak factor in the magnitude of the benefits to be expected from gay marriage.

First, it does not question the benefits that should be obtained by married lesbian couples, who will probably be among the most monogamous of all married couples on average, and who may well end up being at least half of all gay married couples. So 50% of the magnitude issue is already off the table. It is not really an objection to gay marriage at all; it is an objection only to guy marriage.

Second, even as applied to gay male couples, it goes only to the magnitude of the benefits; it does not negate the possibility of any benefit at all. Thus, even if the promiscuity objection is largely correct in its empirical claims about men, gay male couples should still enjoy the legal, caretaking, and social benefits to some extent.

Third, there is no good evidence for the junk-science idea that gay men are freakishly promiscuous, even in the absence of marriage. They are somewhat more promiscuous, yes, but not hyper-promiscuous. My take on this complex issue, drawing largely on Eugene's analysis two years ago on this blog, can be found here .

Fourth, surely socialization within a gay culture that has never had marriage, combined with the stigma and even criminality long associated with attachments to members of the same sex, has had some effect on rates of promiscuity and overall stability in relationships. The promiscuity objection takes a possible effect of the lack of marriage as a "natural" condition of men or gay men, and then uses that effect as an argument for justifying the very result (no marriage) that helped to produce it. This is circular. Marriage, because of the social and individual expectations that accompany it, should have the effect of somewhat reducing levels of promiscuity among gay male couples, even if it does not eliminate the differences between them and male-female or lesbian couples.

Fifth, the most traditionally minded and monogamously committed gay male couples are the ones most likely to marry. As male sexual liberationists never tire of pointing out, marriage is not for them. Thus, whatever moderate difference in rates of promiscuity there are between gay men and others, these differences are likely to be smaller in the pool of gay-male couples who get married.

Sixth, conservative social theory would predict that marriage itself, and not just the presence of women in the relationship, should have some domestication effect on men. It would predict, I think, that men simply cohabiting with women will have higher rates of promiscuity than men who marry their female partners. This effect is obviously not produced solely by women demanding and policing monogamy, since women are present in both the unmarried opposite-sex cohabitation and the marriage. It must be that marriage itself adds something to the pressure to settle down. The reasons for this are complex, but they surely have to do both with the seriousness with which people take themselves and their relationships when they are married and with the seriousness with which others treat their marital bond.

All of this points toward the conclusion that the promiscuity concern is a lot of sound and fury, signifying something, but very little.

Both gay male and lesbian couples will get the full legal benefits of marriage, and a large and growing portion of the caretaking and social benefits that we expect when people marry. Much of this same analysis will apply to their children, who will get the full legal benefits of marriage and will enjoy a large and growing amount of the benefit that can be expected from the increased stability of their families.

Similarly, bracketing until tomorrow the possibility of some negative effects, gay marriage will have one of three effects on the communities in which these gay families live: the communities will be helped, harmed, or not at all affected. Here any positive effect on the community will likely be very small since there will be so few gay couples. Since, as I'll argue, we should not reasonably expect any harmful effect from gay marriage, that leaves us with some positive effect on the communities in which these gay families will live.

David Pittelli (mail) (www):
I would vote for gay marriage if a referendum were held, I don't think gay marriage per se would likely harm marriage, and I think it's (eventually) almost inevitable. However, I do believe that Courts imposing gay marriage, before the people or political bodies are ready for it, will damage marriage. And since this is a legal blog, and this is the only way we're getting gay marriage now, I think this is more relevant than the sociological arguments about gay marriage per se (although the post may be right on most or all particulars).

The activist courts' necessary view of marriage as a "rights" issue, and of marriage as merely a contract which adults can enter into, means that marriage will be devalued as, like other contracts, primarily about economic benefits, and judicially imposed marriage will likely spill over to other groups, such as the "polyamorous" who will claim that, like gay people, they have an inherent orientation which gives them similar group rights. (Or multiculturalism will require us to first recognise an immigrant's existing marriage.)

Then we will have openly "sham" marriages between people of the same or both sexes, who don't have a romantic or sexual relationship, but just want health benefits or a green card (if marriage is a right to obtain benefits, then Immigration can no longer object to sham marriages). Then we will have incestuous marriages, probably first of the "sham" variety where a guy marries his widowed mother (because doesn't she have the same right to benefits as anyone else?), but then eventually the other sort.

The most damaging I think will be the sham group marriage. Once a mafia "family" or MS-13 local has entered into matrimony, we can say goodbye to, at least, the right not to testify against our spouses.
11.1.2005 9:31pm
Zargon (mail):
The activist courts' necessary view of marriage as a "rights" issue, and of marriage as merely a contract which adults can enter into, means that marriage will be devalued as, like other contracts, primarily about economic benefits, and judicially imposed marriage will likely spill over to other groups, such as the "polyamorous" who will claim that, like gay people, they have an inherent orientation which gives them similar group rights.

So, you're arguing a specific case of slippery slope, occasioned specifically because the change happens via judges.

Mass. would seem to indicate at least one datapoint refuting this; voters don't seem to want to reconsider the result. (And let's not forget that California's Republican governer decided that the choice should be left to the courts (!)).

Why, exactly, does a slippery slope occur in the judiciary, but not the legislature?
11.1.2005 9:44pm
Humble Law Student:
David illustrates some of the deep problems that I have with SSM as well. I don't want to do injustice to Dale's great post by continuing on this tangent, but it is an important one.

I still have yet to hear a decent explanation of how the pro-SSM arguments can still limit polyamorous relationships from the marriage "redefinition." From my understanding, all of the arguments in favor of SSM can just as well be used in favor of polygamy. Anyone willing to explain how the pro-SSM arguments can at the same time limit these other relationships?
11.1.2005 9:48pm
Humble Law Student:
David illustrates some of the deep problems that I have with SSM as well. I don't want to do injustice to Dale's great post by continuing on this tangent, but it is an important one.

I still have yet to hear a decent explanation of how the pro-SSM arguments can still limit polyamorous relationships from the marriage "redefinition." From my understanding, all of the arguments in favor of SSM can just as well be used in favor of polygamy. Anyone willing to explain how the pro-SSM arguments can at the same time limit these other relationships?
11.1.2005 9:48pm
Humble Law Student:
I must say that I have been very impressed by Dale's arguments. I've found Andrew Sullivan's work rather unpersuasive in making a conservative case for SSM, but I must admit that Dale's writings have caused me to rethink a lot of my beliefs and ideas relating to this issue. (Definitely more persuasive than all of you on this blog that constantly cry "bigot" and the like.)

I honestly don't doubt that SSM would provide many benefits for gays and lesbians; however, as indicated in my earlier post, I have definite reservations at what this redefinition would do to the institution, as tattered and strained as it is.

Throwing principles to the wind, I've been thinking that I might be in favor of a constitutional ammendment allowing SSM as long as it included a part that utterly abolished no-fault divorce. Just a thought though, any takers?
11.1.2005 9:58pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'd sign that petition
11.1.2005 10:01pm
Medis:
Humble Law Student,

Well, for one thing, it is impossible to give two or more people special status with respect to a third person without providing a mechanism for resolving disputes between those multiple people. For example, consider something like making emergency medical decisions: what if the multiple spouses disagree over the right decision?

Similarly, one could not use the same definitions of the duties and responsibilities of a spouse when there is more than one other spouse because of the possible conflicts.

These are not the only possible distinctions, but they certainly suggest there is a host of possible problems with trying to extend marriage to multiple people.
11.1.2005 10:07pm
Medis:
HLS,

Obviously, that last post was in response to your query about why group marriages present different issues, not your proposed amendment.
11.1.2005 10:08pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
I'd go for that too. I've said many times that the SSM movement could win lots of people to their side if they ever showed any real concern for the terrible state that marriage is currently in.

I think that for a lot of Americans, opposition to SSM is really just a manifestation of their anxiety towards the instability of marriage as a whole. The SSM movement would do well to show that they really care about marriage by backing measures like mandatory counseling before both marriage and divorce, longer waiting-periods for entry and exit, stricter laws for dissolution when there are children, etc.
11.1.2005 10:10pm
Humble Law Student:
Medis,

I appreciate your response; however, it is somewhat different than what I have asked for. Maybe my question is unfair . . .

Here is my problem. If the SSM advocates get there way, you have a new set of legal and moral justifications for the new "definition" of marriage. My problem is in understanding how any of their legal arguments(outside of more the technicalities you mentioned) could, in allowing SSM, at the same time exclude polygamy. Afterall, the fundamental understanding of marriage would be changing, so what are a few legal technicalities in the face of what is "right" and peoples' "civil right" etc...
11.1.2005 10:24pm
Medis:
Humble Law Student,

I don't think the issues I note are "technicalities" ... rather, they are basic structural differences that would relate to all sorts of considerations, including administratability, stability, the allocation of duties and responsibilities, moral implications, and so on. Of course, maybe these structural issues are surmountable and marriage could be extended to larger groups ... or maybe not. My point is just that these structural issues can't be resolved just by reflecting on gay marriage.

Incidentally, Dale is not making a rights-based argument.
11.1.2005 10:33pm
go vols (mail):
I don't believe, frankly, that the American people want to return to no-fault divorce. It's easy to talk about bringing back "no-fault" laws, or restricting the exit from marriage. We might even agree it's a good thing. But I don't see any popular support for it. Where are the laws? Why do Republican politicians (those who can keep their marriages together) not push for no-fault divorce? Doesn't it fit the agenda? Isn't it far more vital than worrying about SSM?

The answer, of course, is that you go for the easy fight. Gays remain an unpopular minority in much of the country, and the public's legitimate fears about marriage mix with anti-gay animus. Were we, as a nation, to vote up or down on gay marriage, but also have to take no-fault divorce if we vote down SSM, what do you think the result would be?

Naturally, I'm biased, but I'd like to hear the opinions of others. The biggest sticking point for me is the hypocrisy of those who attack SSM as a danger to the institution but won't keep their own marriages together. That's a lot of people--do the math. I don't see people running towards covenant marriages; do you?
11.1.2005 10:54pm
Josh Jasper (mail):
Abolishing no-fault divorces just makes them mroe expensive and time consuming. So rich people will get to re marry, but poor people can't, because a divorce is too expensive.

Are the proponents of ending no-fault trying to tell me that thye favor a set-up that essentialy punishes people for being poor?

What do you think these poor unable to divorce people will do? GO bak and work at being married? No. They'll just shack up with new people, and not have the govenrment able to tie them in to the benefits anymore.
11.1.2005 11:03pm
Law Student Kate (mail):

Are the proponents of ending no-fault trying to tell me that thye favor a set-up that essentialy punishes people for being poor?


No, I favor punishing people that fail to live up to the vows they made in their civil contract. With every other contract, if you breach the terms, you pay the consequences. I see no reason that it should be any different for the marital contract. By allowing unilateral, no-fault divorce, the government is simply undermining my freedom of contract. It's also punishing the spouse that *does* live up to their vows.
11.1.2005 11:07pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
Logically, if women civilize a couple, gay marriages should cancel out in effect - broaden the distribution, but stabilize the mean. Even as gay men sleep around and marry for kicks, lesbians would be shining paragons of virtue.
11.1.2005 11:37pm
ChrisPer (mail):
The slippery slope arguments are very poorly defined so far.

We have four excellent examples of similar changes from proscription to legal behaviour in family and sex-related issues, and can see the social issues that arose:

1) Unilateral no-fault divorce;
2) Approval of de facto marriage or cohabitation as a form of temporary marriage;
3) Legalisation of abortion.
4) Decriminalisation of sodomy.

The consequences of these are now fairly clear, and they include positives and negatives. What they also offer is a good analogy of the present debate; we can see clearly that wild claims about consequences or lack of consequences can be removed, and other claims evaluated.

It is clear that claims that the effects of the previous four would all be positive would be incorrect.

It is also clear that the claim that slippery slope arguments are per se ridiculous is not true; these legal changes reflect changes in social attitude that carried us along a 'slippery slope' to more freedoms.

Is there a responsible look at the negatives to be found, that is not just traditionalists hyperventilating? I think so, and the proponents' bland assumption that only good will follow is not good enough; we need them to address the downsides fully.
11.1.2005 11:56pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Law Student Kate: ...The SSM movement could win lots of people to their side if they ever showed any real concern for the terrible state that marriage is currently in.... The SSM movement would do well to show that they really care about marriage by backing measures like mandatory counseling before both marriage and divorce, longer waiting-periods for entry and exit, stricter laws for dissolution when there are children, etc.


Oh, yeah, that would really work. Just like the members of an all-white country club would be positively impressed if the black couple suing for entry said: "Oh, and here are some other ways you could improve your membership rules to ensure the longevity of your club."

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I think it reflects a reality. Not only is it hard for people who are being told repeatedly that not only are they not wanted in an institution but that those who belong will pass tougher and tougher rules to prevent them from EVER joining to think about ways to improve it, but do you think that the most fervent opponents of giving marriage rights to same-sex couples will feel anything but greater resentment if same-sex-marriage advocates start advocating for other changes in the institution at the same time?

Humble Law Student: Here is my problem. If the [same-sex marriage] advocates get [their] way, you have a new set of legal and moral justifications for the new "definition" of marriage. My problem is in understanding how any of their legal arguments(outside of more the technicalities you mentioned) could, in allowing SSM, at the same time exclude polygamy. Afterall, the fundamental understanding of marriage would be changing, so what are a few legal technicalities in the face of what is "right" and peoples' "civil right" etc.


I think you're mistaken on three grounds.

1. Dropping the artificial barriers that currently prevent same-sex couples from marrying doesn't change the fundamental legal and moral justifications of marriage any more than did previous marriage reforms (like permitting interracial marriage and giving women full legal personhood within marriage).

2. It is not incumbent on those arguing for eliminating the barriers to same-sex marriage to make any sort of case one way or the other with regard to others who might petition for marriage at some point in the future, nor is the fact that others may try to use these arguments justification for continuing to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.

3. Medis is right: The differences he cites are not just technicalities but fundamental differences that would go to any subsequent arguments for further modifications to the rules of entry for marriage as benefit vs. harm to the couples themselves, their relatives, their communities and the populace at large are weighed and discussed.
11.2.2005 12:00am
Humble Law Student:
Chimaxx,

Okay, hold up one second. To your first claim,

"Dropping the artificial barriers that currently prevent same-sex couples from marrying doesn't change the fundamental legal and moral justifications of marriage any more than did previous marriage reforms (like permitting interracial marriage and giving women full legal personhood within marriage)."


Umm, artificial barriers? Come on, you are assuming as fact what you are trying to establish. The whole issue is whether they are "artificial barriers" or not. Plus, I (and other) have expressed in other posts how the interracial marriage analogy fails.


It is not incumbent on those arguing for eliminating the barriers to same-sex marriage to make any sort of case one way or the other with regard to others who might petition for marriage at some point in the future, nor is the fact that others may try to use these arguments justification for continuing to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.


Well, I emphatically disagree. It is actually very much on point. It is horribly irresponsible to go around making fundamental public policy decisions without regard to their ramifications. Especially, in the legal field, judges are supposed to look at the effects of their ruling(s) on broader society. Just because a particular ruling makes a particular case come out "right" doesn't mean that you ignore the ramifications and justifications for other outcomes or behaviors for other cases based on your current ruling. Maybe, if your justifications lead (or can allow) other socially undesirable results, you might want to rethink the "correctness" of your decision. Just a though though. I honestly don't think many would reasonably agree with your statement.


Medis is right: The differences he cites are not just technicalities but fundamental differences that would go to any subsequent arguments for further modifications to the rules of entry for marriage as benefit vs. harm to the couples themselves, their relatives, their communities and the populace at large are weighed and discussed


I realize that there may be significant legal hurdles to overcome in allowing polygamy. But seriously, since when do such legal hurdles overcome a "fundamental right" and such. If people accept that polygamy is a civil right or such, you won't find them saying, "Sure you have a fundamental right to polygamy, but Gosh Darn, our legal system just isn't too great at establishing such contracts between more than 2 people. Tough Luck." Yah, right...
11.2.2005 12:19am
Medis:
Humble Law Student,

Again, though, that is not how Dale's argument in favor of gay marriage works. He does not conclude that gay people have a fundamental right to marry, and therefore that we should disregard the other policy implications of gay marriage. Rather, he argues that the policy considerations themselves end up supporting gay marriage.

My (somewhat obvious) point is that the structural issues raised by group marriages affect many (perhaps all) of the relevant policy considerations. So the fact that Dale is claiming gay marriage would be good policy does not mean he has to claim that group marriages would be good policy.
11.2.2005 12:30am
Someone:
Law Student Kate:
"I think that for a lot of Americans, opposition to SSM is really just a manifestation of their anxiety towards the instability of marriage as a whole."

Not, I suspect, for all that many Americans. I think for a lot of Americans, opposition to SSM is part of a general wish to clearly state, as a society, the principle that homosexuality is wrong. In conversations at places like the Volokh Conspiracy, that part of the argument tends not to come up as much, but in the general national debate, it's never far from the surface. If everyone agreed homosexuality was morally neutral, do you think opposition to gay marriage would last? If, on the other hand, everyone (or at least, so the hypothesis makes more sense, every straight person) believed that homosexual acts were by their nature sinful, would there be any support for gay marriage?

I think we should remember that legal arguments, arguments about social effects, etc, even when sincere and convincing, are often, in part, translations into politics of our moral beliefs. I'm in favor of gay marriage, and I agree with a lot of the arguments advanced here; but I'm not going to deny that my opinions are influenced by a more general sense that our society ought to be treating gay people more like the way we treat straight people, because they're not doing anything wrong. I think many of those who disagree with me are similarly influenced by a general sense that we ought to be making clear distinctions between the recognition we grant straight relationships and that we grant gay relationships, because the latter are essentially sinful.

This is why arguments about polygamy never seem to me very convincing. People (including judges) are, on the whole, not going to buy the idea that having the chance to marry the person you want is the same as having the chance to marry the two people you want. Most people think the latter is wrong, or unhealthy, or foolish, or something, and that will affect their reasoning. There will be a willingness to legalize multi-person marriages only once there is a willingness to recognize multi-person sexual relationships as socially, because morally, acceptable. Now you could argue a slippery slope from social and moral acceptance of homosexuality to social and moral acceptance of multi-person relationships, but you should acknowledge that this involves making a much stronger claim than "we shouldn't legalize gay marriage."
11.2.2005 12:48am
Dave Ruddell (mail):
I just wanted to say how much I love the term 'guy marriage'. It's just so on the nose.
11.2.2005 1:07am
Public_Defender:
David,

Why would same-sex-marriage cause an outbreak of "sham" marriages? Today, except for immigration purposes, non-related people of the opposite sex can get married for any purpose, including pension benefits, tax advantages (when one of them makes sutantially more than the other), health insurance, etc.

Based only on a lack of anecdotal evidence, I'd say that sham opposite-sex marriages are rare. Why would there be more sham same-sex marriages?
11.2.2005 4:42am
jeremy (mail) (www):
Straight men's testosterone levels drop by about half upon marriage. Those levels do not drop for co-habitation, presumably because the woman has not made the official commitment toward fidelity and biologically, the man's body somehow knows this.

You could view marriage's biological purpose as the trapping of excess, destructive testosterone within a stable form.

I'd love to see the effect of marriage on gay men's testosterone levels. After an acculturation toward marriage among straights that is so deep that our hormone levels respond to it, it's not clear to me that we'd see the same change among gays. NOr could it evolve, given the "detour" Darwinism that must be involved in producing gay males - if gayness has a genetic component.
11.2.2005 6:17am
jeremy (mail) (www):
Straight men's testosterone levels drop by about half upon marriage. Those levels do not drop for co-habitation, presumably because the woman has not made the official commitment toward fidelity and biologically, the man's body somehow knows this.

You could view marriage's biological purpose as the trapping of excess, destructive testosterone within a stable form.

I'd love to see the effect of marriage on gay men's testosterone levels. After an acculturation toward marriage among straights that is so deep that our hormone levels respond to it, it's not clear to me that we'd see the same change among gays. NOr could it evolve, given the "detour" Darwinism that must be involved in producing gay males - if gayness has a genetic component.
11.2.2005 6:17am
Mjdemo (mail):
Dale,

I just don't think it's possible that SSM can be as normalizing for gay couples as you think it will, or as normailizing as it is for hetero couples.

First of all, gay people can never really be the norm, and I am speaking only in the strictest statistical sense. It will always be true that >90% of everyone will be brought up by one or both straight bio parent(s), unless homosexuality and/or radical reproductive technology become vastly more common than currently. Children who grow up with attraction to the same sex will, by and large, always be in a cultural world that is somewhat alien to them. The same goes for gay couples, even if officially married. Here's one sign of the straight culture that same-sex couples won't fit into: Almost every stand-up comedian uses lots of material about the differences between men and women, whether it be about tastes, dating, co-habitating, marriage, or parenting. This material works because it refers to the near-universal experience of hetero couples having to reconcile the differences between men and women. Gay couples will never have the same cultural touchstones that hetero couples find they have in common, because the compromises and reconciliations that they make just won't be the same. The distinction between gay and straight cultures can never really go away, which points to what I think are the problems with your whole conception of what marriage will do for same-sex couples and the children they are raising. I concede that there will be some social benefits for newly married gay couples, although largely from those circles that were most accepting of them prior to SSM. I just think that over time, even after people have adjusted to the idea, the friction and alienation that cause problems for same-sex couples cannot be resolved by appending them to what will always be primarily a "breeder" institution. ;-)
11.2.2005 7:20am
Shawn (mail):
Mjdemo says:
Gay couples will never have the same cultural touchstones that hetero couples find they have in common, because the compromises and reconciliations that they make just won't be the same.

This simply isn't my experience as both a gay man in a committed relationship going on seven years now, and as a neighbor in a gay/straight mixed neighborhood made up of nothing but couples.

While it is true the mystery of women isn't something gay male couples must deal with, what I find is that we still have the same sorts of interpersonal foibles that our straight-couple friends do. So similar, in fact, that I wonder if the whole mystery of the sexes thing isn't really just a construction.

Gay men and lesbians really aren't that alien.
11.2.2005 8:42am
JGUNS (mail):
I still keep seeing SSM framed in terms of a contract between adults, and as a contract based on a commitment for love and companionship. I don't believe that governments involvment in supporting marriage ever had anything to do with companionship and love, but rather providing and encouraging a stable two parent Male/female household. What I don't ever see addressed by those for SSM or even opponents, is whether or not Same sex marriages should be viewed then as equal to heterosexual relationships in terms of children. I would assume that were the law to change, SS marriages would have equal consideration in adopting children as heterosexual couples. I believe that in some european countries that have passed the law, they have drawn the line at adoption. This shows at least some awareness of the belief that the best family environment for a child includes a mother and a father. Indeed a vast body of research does as well. This is a part of the the discussion that I never see addressed.
11.2.2005 9:04am
Medis:
JGUNS,

Actually, that issue has been repeatedly discussed in the commentary to both Dale's and Maggie's posts (which I don't point out to be snarky ... if you are really interested in what people have been saying, looking through the comments might be worth your time).
11.2.2005 10:27am
Designbot:
I still have yet to hear a decent explanation of how the pro-SSM arguments can still limit polyamorous relationships from the marriage "redefinition." From my understanding, all of the arguments in favor of SSM can just as well be used in favor of polygamy. Anyone willing to explain how the pro-SSM arguments can at the same time limit these other relationships?

Here's how: SSM advocates are arguing that the legal definition of marriage should be changed from: "a union between two non-incestuous, consenting, opposite-sex adults" to "a union between two non-incestuous, consenting adults".

No one is proposing a change to the number of individuals in the equation. That has nothing to do with it.

What is the rational basis for restricting marriage to two people? The exact same rational basis that exists now. I honestly don't know what that basis is—I doubt that the ban on polygamy is strictly rational. But the gender of those involved in a marriage clearly has nothing to do with the number of individuals involved. It's an unrelated debate. As far as I know, there is virtualy no one pushing for polygamy at this point, so it simply won't happen. If people do start arguing for legalized polygamy, you're welcome to debate with them.

I'm afraid the Maggie Gallagher-style arguments about historical precedent and connecting parents with their children are better arguments in favor of polygamy than anything that SSM proponents have come up with.
11.2.2005 1:02pm