[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), November 1, 2005 at 9:44pm] Trackbacks
Response to commentators -- Day 2:

Some brief responses to some very good and provocative comments today:

First, one commentator asks for "evidence" that gay marriage will produce the individualistic and communitarian benefits I predict. Asking for evidence of results is perfectly appropriate once a proposition has been tested somewhere. But of course there were no gay marriages anywhere until the day before yesterday, so there's no direct evidence about the effects yet. It's coming, now that we've got gay marriage in one state and several countries. I expect it will favor the argument for gay marriage, though even then we'll be having lots of debates about what the evidence means. This subject is full employment for family policy wonks for many years to come.

In the meantime, the lack of direct evidence is hardly decisive against any proposed reform. The best we can do when any reform -- like giving women the right to vote -- is proposed is to reason from our common experience, our values, and whatever evidence we have that seems relevant to the question. I've tried to do that.

Second, one commentator notes a potential contradiction in my claim that gay marriage will give state-provided benefits to gay families and at the same time reduce services those families demand from the state. It's not a contradiction, but perhaps a paradox, that's true of all marriages. Most of the legal marriage "benefits" that cost the government resources come at the end of the relationship or at selected points of weakness during the relationship. The relative service reduction, on the other hand, is an ongoing product of the fact that people with caretakers already have a triage expert on hand to deal with health and other problems that arise.

Third, some commentators have suggested that the best thing would be to give up on marriage entirely, for libertarian or practical reasons, and leave the marriage business to churches. I think this would be a bad idea for lots of reasons, but it's beyond the scope of the argument about gay marriage. I am arguing for gay marriage within the existing framework, a framework that is likely not going away.

Fourth, please have patience with me on polygamy and questions like, why experiment now with an institution that's already in trouble? etc. I promise I won't let the week go by without dealing with these very important considerations.

Fifth, in response to "Humble Law Student" and "Law Student Kate": Great ideas. I'd seriously consider reforms to strengthen marriage, like divorce reform, counseling periods, etc. Even civil adultery penalties, enforced at dissolution. Perhaps covenant marriages, for people who really want that old-time commitment. It's not in the interest of gay families to go to all this trouble only to enter a weakened and dying institution. I think these other reform questions can and should be addressed independently of gay marriage because I think gay marriage is a proposal to strengthen marriage, although almost nobody except Jon Rauch has yet thought of it that way. This very debate, through which the traditionalist case for gay marriage is reaffirming what's best and most important about marriage, is in its own way a contribution to revitalizing marriage. Gay marriage is a good idea, but it also matters how and why we get there.

By the way, Rauch's book, "Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America," is the best single book making the case for gay marriage.

Finally, I want to thank the commentator who noted that, in linking two otherwise distinct families, marriage also provides spouses with a network of supporters (or caregivers) who now take a special interest in their in-law that they tend not take before the marriage. And, of course, the children in the marriage get two sets of families to care about their future. Double the birthday presents!

Josh Jasper (mail):
Asking why experiment with an institution that's already in trouble is an odd question. If it's in troule, an experiment on how to fix or help it is needed.

What's the other option? More of the same?

Anyhow, from the benefits area, what exists today as 'civl unions' is not sufficient to an actual modern familiy. Families move from state to state. Civil union benefits do not, and in fact, you can still move to states where a landlord can deny you housing based on being gay. Civil unions provide no protection from biological parents, angry grandparents, or state legislators who assume that taking kids away from homosexuals just because they're homosexual is in the child's best interest.

So far, there is no real comprable state to marriage. Civil unions are not a valid substitute. 'settling' for them means that we egen get them. In many states it's not only unavailable, but the state is constitutionaly prohibited to grant same sex couples any rights resembling marriage. In fact, Bush almost signed a constitutional ammendment trying to go just that route: to prohibit all civil unions, or domestic partners registries.
11.1.2005 10:58pm
Mr. Obvious:
Mr. Carpenter seems a reasonable fellow but his line of arguement boils down to a repeated assertion that benefits of gay marriage will outweigh the drawbacks/costs. Pretty much the only evidence we have for this is that he thinks it'll be that way. Okay, fair enough, we don't have much to work with one way or the other. But surely this would argue that caution in making a fairly dramatic change to long standing social institution is required. Why don't we wait 20-50 yrs to see how things sort out in some unimportant place like Canada or Netherlands before we make an irreversible decision in favor of gay marriage?
11.1.2005 11:14pm
Mr. Obvious,

Dale hasn't addressed the costs yet. Ultimately, though, I think it probably does come down to a question of magnitudes: if you think the plausible costs simply aren't large in magnitude compared to the plausible benefits, then making the change (which you may not view as particularly dramatic in any event) now isn't much of a risk. Indeed, you might think the greater risk is not making the change now (if you really think gay marriage is more likely to strengthen than harm marriage in general).
11.1.2005 11:31pm
fred (mail):
Dale said:

First, one commentator asks for "evidence" that gay marriage will produce the individualistic and communitarian benefits I predict. Asking for evidence of results is perfectly appropriate once a proposition has been tested somewhere. But of course there were no gay marriages anywhere until the day before yesterday, so there's no direct evidence about the effects yet

I believe that if Dale Carpenter sends me $50,000, I will be able to invest it and return $60,000 dollars to him in a week. I believe that I will also make $10,000 for myself, which I will keep.

Send me the money, Dale, and don't ask me for any proof that I will be able to do this. I haven't tested it anywhere yet, so I don't have to provide you with any.

Asking for evidence of results is what prudent people do before taking risky moves with valuable things. When NASA sends a rocket to the moon, it's the first time they have done it - but they require proof that the rocket works before they send the first crew off into space. They don't just slap the first one together and hope that it works.

I am appalled at the ease with which people seem to be falling for the "marriage is an institution in trouble, therefore gay marriage will help" argument. Marriage is in trouble because of a string of ill-advised liberal changes made to the institution- and these changes were made on the hope and belief of their proponents that they would be good for all involved - just like Dale's suggestions. But they have crippled the institution. Yet another liberalization is not going to help it.
11.1.2005 11:46pm
Question Answerer (mail):
Is this all really a moot point?

As someone (I don't recall if it was Dale or Maggie or someone else) noted, the gay marriage question isn't about legal issues; if it was, then "domestic partner" laws would do the trick. Instead, this debate is about semantically equating gay and heterosexual marriage on a deeper level than just the law.

The assumption here is that if gay marriage becomes legal, heterosexual marriage won't change its semantics. I question whether that assumption is true. It seems similar in nature to when education experts decided that teachers' marking of incorrect statements using red pen was too traumatic (students associated red with "bad" and consequently lost self-esteem), and suggested that teachers use purple pen instead. They assumed students would continue to associate red with bad even after purple became the color of wrongness, rather than assuming that the wrongness association would change along with the color.

Here, too, I think the static assumption might not be correct. If the state defines the word "marriage" to include gay unions, why wouldn't defenders of heterosexual-only marriage (especially those who are morally opposed to homosexuality) coin a new term? Due to my own lack of creativity, let's say they choose the term "true marriage", and offer "true marriage" certificates to heterosexual couples who marry. This might not even be an opt-in procedure; given that civil marriage licenses are a matter of public record, a proactive religious group might even mail a complementary "true marriage" license to any heterosexual couples that receive a civil license, thereby promoting the fast spread of their new terminology.

If the idea of referring to (heterosexual) marriage by a different word seems odd, consider that language is constantly changing anyway - in fact, "marriage" wasn't always the popular term for marriage, as archaic language like "in holy matrimony" and "born out of wedlock" indicate. We don't use "matrimony" and "wedlock" in everyday language anymore, but at the time these phrases became standard those words were probably common ways of referring to marriage. If the institution of (heterosexual) marriage could withstand a vocabulary change in the past, why wouldn't it now?

Anyway, I apologize for a somewhat long comment. The gist is that this whole discussion might be moot; legislating one linguistic change doesn't preclude a likely responsive linguistic change, and if the gay and heterosexual marriage vocabularies remain different, then we'll end up with the equivalent of domestic partner laws anyway.
11.1.2005 11:47pm

So suppose someone was running a large business in the United States, and wanted to open up a small branch of that business in Canada. Potentially, the business venture in Canada could fail, and end up hurting the overall business. On the other hand, it could succeed, and end up helping the overall business.

What sort of evidence could you collect when assessing this proposed business venture? It hasn't been tried in Canada yet, so you can't yet look to things like how that business is performing in Canada. Does that mean it couldn't possibly be a justifiable venture?

Finally, suppose you had recently made some changes in your United States business, and they hadn't worked out as well as you hoped. Would that be proof that opening this branch in Canada was a bad idea?
11.2.2005 12:01am
Question Answerer,

It certainly seems possible that some people would do exactly that. But I believe that Dale's intuition, which I share, is that the family and friends of gay people who got married would be considerably less likely to do that (and indeed so on with all people close to the gay couples getting married, such as neighbors and coworkers, in rough proportion to their closeness to the gay couples in question). And insofar as those people end up embracing gay marriages, most of the social benefits will be captured--even if others somewhere are using social devices like the ones you suggest in an attempt to reject gay marriages.
11.2.2005 12:09am
Julian Morrison (mail):
There's already rock-solid proof that gay marriage doesn't cause the immediate collapse or of society, the family, the institution of straight marriage - or any other large and casually evident effect. For whatever that's worth.
11.2.2005 12:27am
Randy R. (mail):
And there is medium term proof that gay marriage doesn't cause the immediate cllaopsee of society or the family, since The Netherlands and Belgium have had gay marriage for several years now, since about 2001. No downward trends have even been suggested.
11.2.2005 12:34am
On Lawn (mail) (www):

But of course there were no gay marriages anywhere until the day before yesterday, so there's no direct evidence about the effects yet.

As someone pointed out after listening to you posit much of the same promises back in June...

There is no need to restrict discussion to just social theory (conservative or otherwise), because there is a population of self-selected participants living in "gay marriage" signified by ceremonial commitment (religious and not), Registered Partnership, Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, SSM, or just plain old longterm cohabitation. Supposedly there is evidence of a before-and-after comparision that would demonstrate the "powerful positive affect" of these living arrangements ...

And there are more concerns at that link. As a note, I'm a little churlish how you have recasted the debates of others. Could you provide links to the arguments, or sample arguments you are referring to? Short sleves help us trust you aren't stacking the deck.

Otherwise thanks for at least acknowledging the comments directed at you.

Perhaps soon you will be able to argue why you feel these benefits cannot come through some program. It seems there is a notable distinction between your view of marriage and others. A distinct institution for your proposed social experiment would be a great way to encapsulate and find evidence that you think is non-existant.

It would also preserving the importance of marriage noted by Margaret Gallagher two weeks ago, and as Prof Volokh notes is recognized by a vast majority of society. Also, of you feel these benefits are brought to couples by recognizing them as marriages, then why not extend these benefits to non-romantic couples who are raising children, depend on one another, etc...?
11.2.2005 1:34am
On Lawn (mail) (www):

No downward trends have even been suggested.

You'd do better to research before making such grand absolutist statements.
11.2.2005 1:39am
Remus Talborn (mail):
The best we can do when any reform -- like giving women the right to vote -- is proposed is to reason from our common experience, our values, and whatever evidence we have that seems relevant to the question.

I don't think gay marriage is equivalent to voting. Voting is required to express your preferences so that policy can be made. Gay marriage is a specific policy outcome. Having a right to participate in crafting policy is different than having a certain policy enacted in law.
11.2.2005 2:12am
Jack John (mail):

Another liberalization of marriage is not akin to opening a branch in Canada, and untested market. It is akin to opening yet a branch in Arizona after the first two iterations of the business failed in Arizona. A prudent investor might say, "Hey, the past two investments we made in Arizona didn't work out; maybe Arizona isn't receptive to our brand." Gay marriage is not an innovation of an analytically distinct kind; it's just the latest iteration of far-left tinkering with marriage. But I suppose I can't convince you of that because we have different conceptions of the good, and conceptions of the good don't count as evidence....
11.2.2005 2:44am
Julian Morrison (mail):
Jack John: I'd say gay marriage isn't a "far left" project, it's a "rationalist" project. They're distinct and seperable, for all they often run together. Likewise the opposition isn't "right wing", it's "traditionalist".
11.2.2005 3:32am
Ben-David (mail):
Why is Dale Carpenter wasting our time with stemwinding arguments about the "benefits" of gay marriage to society?

We are talking about a miniscule sliver of the population, whose need for financial and social recognition of their coupling is already well handled by the body of law that has grown up to deal with (the many more numerous) unmarried hetero couples.

In European countries in which gay marriage has been introduced, the response has been tepid to flat-lined - despite financial benefits to marriage. The Dutch Ministry of Health issued a troubling summary of the situation - it appears that extending the legal structure of marriage to gay couples has done nothing to curb the patterns of compulsive promiscuity that are the norm in the "gay community".

The New York Times published an article after Canada created a gay marriage right - the title tells it all:
"Now That Gays Can Say 'I Do', Many Ask: 'Do I?'"
- in other words, the vast majority of homosexuals have no intention of getting married.

So why is this issue so hot? The true goal of the campaign for gay marriage is to secure legal sanction for a behavior still largely considered to be maladapted and dysfunctional.

Of course, the Times only publishes such frank accounts AFTER the liberal cause has been won - beforehand all you'll hear and see are sympathetic treatments of 'committed' gay couples (most of whom do not in fact adhere to the standard of fidelity that is expected of married heteros) and talk about rights and benefits to society.

Again: only 2-3 percent of the population are homosexual. Of that group, only 7 percent EVER maintain a relationship for more than 2 years at ANY time in their adult lives. Most gays burn up their 20s,30s, and most of their 40s in compulsive, promiscuous, anonymous encounters and in "romantic" relationships that don't last beyond 18 months.

Only about 5-10 percent EVER maintain a relationship that lasts 5 years or more - usually after they hit their 40s and are less able to compete based on physical attraction. Most of THOSE relationships are open situations with no promise of fidelity. The overwhelming drive to promiscuity is accommodated at the expense of the relationship.

This is what the pro-gay propagandists are prettying up and presenting as "committed couples" in "long term relationships" who "just want our love to be recognized ".

Despite the Sex-and-the-City stereotypes, most heteros do not approach the sheer volume of sex partners that most gays pursue - and most are emotionally capable of maintaining relationships beyond the 2-year mark by the time they are in their 30s.

So: we are being asked to completely gut our society's definition of marriage - and it's core demand of intimate fidelity - to acccommodate a tiny and largely imaginary sliver of people - less than one percent of the population.

The legal structures that allow unmarried hetero couples to purchase and own property, and appoint each other as legal guardians, is all that is needed to accommodate these few couples' valid needs.
11.2.2005 5:30am
Jack John,

I don't understand your counter-analogy. How has gay marriage been tried twice before?
11.2.2005 7:13am
Josh Jasper (mail):
And we're back to the 'gays are inherently immoral and mentaly diseased' argument.

It's wrong to say that blacks are inherently criminal, wrong to say that Jews are inhernetly greedy, but it's right to say that gay people are messed in the head.

Why? As far as I can tell from Professor Volokh, it's because we're in the minority, and should be tolerant of getting told things like that.

Not even Martin Luther King jr. put up with this kind of crap. He wasn't rude back, and netiher am I. But I don't think he ever would have considered calling black people a 'criminal class' to be a respectful form of debate, no matter what the majority thought
11.2.2005 7:19am
APL (mail):
With all due respect, Ben-David, if you think that this issue is not worthy of debate, feel free to abstain from it. Then, at least, your time won't be wasted.

I question both your math and your unidentified sources. If only 7% of homosexuals ever maintain a relationship that lasts two years, how can 8,9,or 10% maintain a relationship for 5 years?

Your conception of homosexual sexual practices is way off base. I expect it is because you don't really know, or want to know, real gay people.
11.2.2005 8:21am
Josh Jasper (mail):
Women's voting is possibly not the best analogy, but it certainly had an effect on marriage. As did other progressive gains in women's rights. Once women were able to support themselves financialy, marriage took a hit. Once women were able to buy and use birth control, marriage took a hit.

But mostly, it was a cultural, and not a procedural change that put marriage where it is today. It became cultural acceptable to divorce.

You've got to go through some fairly tortured rationalizations to get to where you can find a same sex couple getting married affecting any given couple getting divorced, whereas women having full rights, birth control, education, etc... actualy does lead to a more easy mindset for divorce.

Most 'marriage advocates' I've read, including Maggie Gallhager and David Blankenhorn, have no long term game plan. They're stumbling in the dark about how to fix things, in part, I think, because they're conservatives, and are therefore unwilling or unable to see experimentation as a means to fix things.

The answer for conservatives is to go back. To regress. Of course, I've never seen how that's possible outside of physicaly and economicaly punishing people for transgressing moral laws like getting divorced.
11.2.2005 9:12am
fred (mail):

If the same people who had suggested the changes in the US business - changes that failed, and had seriously damaged the entire bedrock of the US business - If those same people were the ones recommending starting the Canadian business, then I would be very smart to run the other way as fast as I could.
11.2.2005 9:15am

I guess it just doesn't matter to me who is the source of a particular argument ... whether I generally like that source or not, I am going to evaluate the particular argument in question on its own merits.
11.2.2005 9:46am
Randy R. (mail):
You are right, On Lawn! MG makes suggestions for medium term damage. But so far, none has been proven.

Gee thanks, Ben-David. Where did you get your figures? Must be from the Pat Robertson crowd.

Sheesh. You've really got a problem with us gays, don't you?
11.2.2005 10:18am
Ross Levatter (mail):
Dale C. says, correctly (I believe):

"The lack of direct evidence is hardly decisive against any proposed reform. The best we can do when any reform -- like giving women the right to vote -- is proposed is to reason from our common experience, our values, and whatever evidence we have that seems relevant to the question."

Gee, Dale, while I'm generally in agreement with the position you're arguing for, I've got to say--looking at the size and power of the government at the time of passing women's suffrage and now, and the corresponding loss of many freedoms taken for granted then--this is NOT the strongest analogy you could put forth. Maybe we should rethink this whole women voting thing... :-)
11.2.2005 11:06am
Chairm (mail):
The census statistics show that less than 11% of the adult homosexual population live in same-sex households. And about 3% live in such households with resident children.

89% do not live in same-sex households.
97% do not live in same-sex households with children.

Of the households with children, less than 10% were attained from alternative sources such as adoption and ART/IVF.

That is the inverse of the child population in the rest of society which still sees almost all men and women integrate the sexes in the social institution of marriage which uniquely binds them to their children.

SSM is like turning all the road signs to face the wrong way.

For what explicit purpose would society, through the state, create a preferential status at law for the inverse of the social institution of marriage? What is the explicit purpose, of establishment of a preferential status for the unisexed relationship?

To turn the flow of traffic based on sexual intimacy? Romance? Adult consent?

It is doubtful that the SSM argument could stand on its own two feet, instead of piggybacking on the shoulders of marriage. Thusfar, Mr Carpenter has demonstrated a strained effort to climb up onto marriage and ride it by steering it into oncoming traffic.
11.2.2005 11:15am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Dale: But of course there were no gay marriages anywhere until the day before yesterday, so there's no direct evidence about the effects yet.

You apparently need to check your facts there. Civil unions in VT and neutered "marriage" in MA have been around much longer than "the day before yesterday." Surely by now you can put together a list of testimonials of the form "Yeah, I was on crack living 'in sin' with my sex partner before I got my marriage license, but since the state recognized my commitment to my partner I have stopped using drugs." or "Yeah, my sex partner and I used to sleep around a lot, but now that the state takes our commitment seriously we've decided to, also."

Or maybe you can produce testimonials to the contrary somewhere like Oregon where 3,000 couples thought they were married for a time and then the Supreme Court there ruled they weren't. Something like "Yeah, I got off crack when I got my marriage license, but now that the state doesn't recognize that license I'm back on it," or "We were sexually exclusive while we had the marriage license, but now that the Supremes have revoked our license we've gone back to sleeping around." I've got testimonials that say that didn't happen, but maybe you've got testimonials I don't.

Most of the legal marriage "benefits" that cost the government resources come at the end of the relationship or at selected points of weakness during the relationship.

Shouldn't be too much for you to enumerate exactly what those "government resources" are. Divorce courts? The participants pay for those. Probate costs? Again, the estate pays those costs. Sick leave? Businesses pay for that, not the government, and businesses are free to recognize whatever they want as "marriage." Come on, what government resources??

Third, some commentators have suggested that the best thing would be to give up on marriage entirely

Speaking of evidence! Funny, it only took you until Tuesday to portray neutered marriage as not worth the state's efforts. This is what we predicted would happen once procreation was removed as a purpose from marriage, i.e., once marriage was neutered.
So when people ask me, "How is your marriage weakened by allowing same-sex marriages?" The answer is simple: ...In order for same-sex couples to marry they have to make the definition all about the *feelings* of the two people involved and not about children. They have to remove the very social responsibility that warrants state notice of marriage to begin with. [Emphasis added]

By the way, Rauch's book, "Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for Gays," is the best single book making the case for gay marriage.

Save yourself the $1.65. Just read Of Seat Belts and Sweat Pants. You'll get the gist of Rauch's "best for gay marriage."
11.2.2005 11:36am
Ben-David (mail):
APL wrote:
I question both your math and your unidentified sources. If only 7% of homosexuals ever maintain a relationship that lasts two years, how can 8,9,or 10% maintain a relationship for 5 years?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There are several definitive studies, giving numbers ranging frmo 5-10 percent. So I took 7 percent.

I am basing myself on large-scale surveys, some of them conducted by the GMHC and other gay organizations. I am also basing myself on official Dutch and Scandinavian goverment reports of gay marriage rates post liberation.

These are also the source for my information about gay sexual practices. They all reveal a pattern of compulsive promiscuity as the norm - in fact, venues for anonymous sex are THE defining feature of gay "communities". This is the truth behind the carefully stage-managed media image of the carefully-groomed lesbians.

The Dutch government study reports that rates of depression and substance abuse among gays remain at 4-5 times the rate in the general population - a generation after all social and legal stigmas have been removed.

So we have a group of people whose intimate and social behaviors are driven by compulsive promiscuity and an adolescent fixation with appearances, and even the most liberal and open treatment by the surrounding society does not ease their psychological burden. Nor do they wed in any significant numbers when the option is offered them - perhaps because they remain incapable of maintaining long-term committed relationships.

Yep, this looks very much like dysfunction to me.

And the cause of gay marriage looks more and more clearly like a red herring, intended to anchor the legitimacy of a behavior considered to be dysfunctional throughout most of human history.
11.2.2005 12:09pm
Michael B (www):
You'd do better to research before making such grand absolutist statements.

On Lawn,
That research you linked to demonstrates absolutely nothing. It uses the magic number of 1.5% rise in out-of-wedlock births. But why? Because that was the year that gay civil unions were approved. But there was a steady increase in those births for nearly ten years before 1997. If you run simple models from data up to 1997 you can predict what the percent increase in those birth rates would be for future years. Using two simple, non-linear exponential growth models (I don't have time to verify how accurate they really are) you can predict that the percent increase in out-of-wedlock birthrates would be between 2.2 and 2.9% for 2001 and between 2.5 and 3.2% for 2003. The actual numbers are 2.3 and 1.7 respectively. There is absolutely no difference in the rate of increase before and after the institution of civil unions / marriage. Those numbers were steadily increasing before 1997 and have even seem to have fallen off. There remains no evidence that there are downward trends as a result of legal recognitions of same-sex partners...
11.2.2005 2:50pm
Mr. Obvious:
I see "Medis" is currently engaged with the raging debates under the latest post by Mr. Carpenter, but since "Medis" was kind enough to address my question in this section, I'll respond here as well.

I suspect the cost/benefit ratio in the long run would not favor gay marriage. "Medis" and Mr. Carpenter suspect otherwise. As Mr. Carpenter admitted, we have little evidence to work with, so surely reasonable people are entitled to different opinions on the matter. Mr. Carpenter has labeled the "Do Nothing" option "malign neglect", I could just as easily (and just validly) label his "Do Something" option "reckless endangerment". Now that we have both assigned pseudo-legal phrases to the other's position, how do we decide who wins the debate?

Given that we have no actual evidence to work with yet and the issue is very complex with way too many unknown variables for just using deductive logic to prove our point one way or the other, I guess we could take the issue to the Supreme Law Gods and let them decide our fate.

Or maybe we could get a bunch of people together, debate it, then let everyone vote and the position with the most votes wins. Of course, it is a little disingenuous of me to suggest having a vote, because I already have plenty of evidence that my "no gay marriage for now" position will carry the day as I remember Election Day 2004 pretty clearly.

In the end, Mr. Carpenter's utilitarian argument is unpersuasive because it is just one man's opinion, an entirely reasonable, carefully considered opinion from an intelligent, thoughtful man - but still just a opinion.

From a cynically tactical stand point, gay marriage advocates should play up the "civil rights" angle and try to go through the courts as this "traditionalist case" is at best window dressing that will change few minds.
11.2.2005 3:35pm
JLeon (mail):
"There are several definitive studies, giving numbers ranging from 5-10 percent. So I took 7 percent."

OK, name those studies or provide the links. I also question your conclusions concerning "gay sexual practices". I am curious as to how you come to this, please provide the studies. Quite honestly, I find your statements not only extremely offensive, but completely out of touch with reality. As a member of the gay community, I can promise that I see less promiscuity among my friends now, than I did as a fraternity member in college.

As to the marriage issue, I find the entire argument exhausting. The whole idea behind "preserving the tradition", "marriage is defined as…", ""the children", "blah, blah, blah". It comes down to something very simple, I am in a relationship with someone, we are committed to each other, and we want to take care of each other. We are tired of paying double for heath care insurance, auto insurance. Having no protections in the event one of us is hurt, our home ownership could be challenged. Overpaying income taxes, the list goes on. Call it marriage, call it a civil union, I really don't care. All I want is to make sure the person I have chosen to share my life with is protected to the best of my ability. I am tired of being penalized for begin born differnt.

One other note, if marriage is by definition a religious institution, does not the notion of government benefits for marriage raise the flag of the government's promotion of religion.
11.2.2005 3:54pm
John H (mail) (www):
Dale, if you havin't yet decided on a position on whether conception should be limited to male-female couples, or if same-sex couples should be allowed to use technology to procreate together, you should examine the issue. Would a ban on same-sex procreation violate gay rights or not? If you are puposefully avoiding the question so as to hide your position on procreation rights for same-sex couples until it is too late, that is underhanded and disingenuous.

If you think that people should have the right to conceive a child with a person of the same-sex, please list that as one of your demands. If you don't, and would support a ban on non male-female conceptions, please examine how this fits into your demands for equal rights, and how it would affect marriage law to allow couples prohibited from procreating to be married.

My suggestion for a compromise is enacting a Federal ban on non male-female conception, so that people can only procreate with a person of the other sex (married or not, using IVF or doing it naturally), and also (here's the compromise part) allowing people joined in state Civil Unions to identify themselves as marriages at the Federal level. States could create Civil Unions that granted all the rights of marriage EXCEPT the right to procreate together, so that marriage will not be changed by stripping it of procreation rights. What say you to that?
11.2.2005 5:15pm
Michael B, the Dutch data indicates a definite and rapid change in the nonmarital birthrate overall and in particular in second order births.

Until the mid-1990s, Dutch society as unique in Europe in that while it had very liberal laws, it maintain traditional patterns of family formation and childbearing. That came undone rapidly.


Dutch women (age 18-44 years) by marital status (%) and marital births by first and second child of mother (%), Netherlands, 1970-2004

Share of married and never-married Dutch women and non-marital births by first and second child of unwed mother (%), Netherlands, 1970-2004

Dutch non-marital births climbed by an unusual annual average of 2% points during 1997-2003

Think of this as a cross-country run. The terrain is not flat and smooth so the statistical trends reflect the varying path underfoot as you make progress from lower to higher elevation. Some parts will slow down the runner while others parts will make the journey easier.

For second order births, climbing the big incline from 10% to 20% share of nonmarital births took about 20 years but then it took less than 10 years to travel the further 20% to reach 40% during the mid-90s to now (about 10% from in 15 years from 1980 to 1995, and another 10% in under 10 years from 1995 to 2004). This is a significant haul done at a very rapid pace; especially when Dutch society had bucked the trends in countries all around it.

If you had projected the increase along the same trajectory as the first bump, during the 1970-80s, the Dutch would have a rate at least half the high rate of second order nonmarital births today.

Whatever is going on there, something unusually boosted the nonmarital birth rate starting in the mid-1990s. There is much more to demographics that just the numbers. Hence the context of what was prominent in shaping Dutch society's attitudes about marriage and childbearing.

The first chart also illustrates how the share of nonmarried women increased. But that trend line is not as severe and has few stark bumps than the trend line for second order nonmarital births. Dutch women (and presumably men) are increasingly opting out of marriage even with arrival of multiple children.
11.2.2005 5:21pm
Michael B (www):
Whatever is going on there, something unusually boosted the nonmarital birth rate starting in the mid-1990s. There is much more to demographics that just the numbers. Hence the context of what was prominent in shaping Dutch society's attitudes about marriage and childbearing.

My access was denied to the links you supplied so I cannot accurately address the points because I cannot see the graphs. However, from the data that On Lawn posted on a previous thread, and briefly from what you say above, I believe you are mishandling the statistics. To say that out-of-wedlock birthrates continue to climb after legalized gay unions without examining the rate of change is not relevant. I was able to calculate, from the data On Lawn supplied, that rate of rise in out-of-wedlock births after the mid-nineties can be easily predicted from the 80s and early 90s data in the absense of gay marriage. Which means that, it is not gay marriage that is responsible for it. Which is all I was saying to On Lawn, when he implied that those data were evidence for a negative effect of gay marriage.

As for using data from the 1970s to predict the early 90s bump, I agree (or would if I could see the graph) that the reality would be more than predicted; however that isn't what was being claimed. What was being claimed is the gay marriage caused the bump. The only way to accurate predict the rise in non-marital birthrates after SSM is to use all the points before, since there will be multiple factors affecting the rate of change.

But the bottom line is: it is not even close to being evidence that legal recognition of gay relationships contributed significantly to change in rate.
11.3.2005 12:47pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):

Look back at that link and then at the person you are arguing with. You'll recognize who I refered to :)

Of course your use of a exponential model is a wrong choice, as Chairm explains above.
11.3.2005 2:10pm
Michael B (www):
Of course your use of a exponential model is a wrong choice, as Chairm explains above.

Actually, Chairm doesn't say jack about why an exponential model is wrong. I understand why it is inaccurate but as a simple growth model, it's fine for illustration purposes. And those purposes are the intellectual dishonesty (to use one of your favorite phrases) of arbitrarily picking a rate of change over 1.5% as a cut-off for something drastic simply because it is in the year of the legalisation of gay unions. In order for Dutch data to say anything about the negative effects of gay marriage, you would have to show a statistical deviation from the predicted rate of out-of-wedlock births after gay marriage. There would have to be a change in the rate of change that corresponds with gay marriage. There isn't. There is a change in the rate, as Chairm pointed out, but that was BEFORE gay marriage....
11.4.2005 1:01pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
show a statistical deviation from the predicted rate

Which happened. You chose a much more drastic model to predict a rate, which was presented without justification.

You can have it your way if it makes you feel more secure in your arguments. But to say there isn't any evidence, then is just in your self-constructed bubble.
11.5.2005 1:19am