pageok
pageok
pageok
[Dale Carpenter (guest-blogging), November 3, 2005 at 8:13am] Trackbacks
The Traditionalist Case -- The Procreation Argument (Standard Version):

The most common argument of all against gay marriage is the procreation argument. It can be stated this way: "Procreation is indispensable to human survival. Marriage is for procreation, and procreation should occur within marriage. Procreation is the one important attribute of marriage that supplies the male-female definition. Gay couples can't procreate as a couple, so gay couples shouldn't be allowed to marry."

The argument over procreation has generated a back-and-forth between advocates and opponents of gay marriage that follows a familiar and somewhat tedious pattern. It goes something like this:

Thrust (by gay-marriage opponents): Marriage is for procreation. Gay couples can't procreate. So gay couples should not be allowed to marry.

Parry (by gay-marriage advocates): But procreation has never been required for marriage, so the premise that "Marriage is for procreation" is wrong, or at least incomplete. Sterile couples, old couples, and couples who simply don't want to procreate are all allowed to marry. Nobody objects to their marriages, so nobody should on this ground object to same-sex marriages.

The parry by gay-marriage advocates is sometimes called the "sterility objection." Let's take the argument beyond this standard thrust-and-parry.

1. The sterility objection to the procreation argument: two responses and counter-responses.

The procreationists have a couple of fairly standard responses to the sterility objection.

First, they say that laws are made for the general rule, not the exceptions. Most opposite-sex couples can reproduce, but no gay couple can. Second, they argue that the failure to require married couples to procreate is only a concession to the impracticality and intrusiveness of imposing an actual procreation requirement. It is not an abandonment of the procreation principle itself. We need no intrusive test to know same-sex couples can't reproduce (as a couple), the procreationists observe.

The first response to the sterility objection -- that laws are made for the general rule — is an evasion. Laws do often state general rules, and they are often over- or under-inclusive in some way. But laws also provide exceptions where appropriate and just, where some policy purpose is served by the exception. Gay marriage, like non-procreative straight marriage, might be a good policy exception to the procreationists' rule that marriage exists for procreation. Whether gay marriage is a good exception to the asserted general rule that marriage is about procreation depends upon arguments extrinsic to the procreation argument, e.g., whether encouraging stable gay coupling through marriage would benefit gay families and society. (Remember, I'm not making a constitutional argument about whether the government should, as a constitutional matter, be able to make marriage laws that are not narrowly tailored to the state's claimed interests.)

The second response to the sterility objection -- that a procreation requirement would be unduly intrusive -- is equally unavailing. If we were serious about the procreationist project -- that is, if we were serious that procreation is the only public interest in marriage -- we could require prospective married couples to sign an affidavit stating that they are able to procreate and intend to procreate. (We could entirely bar from marriage elderly couples beyond a certain age.) If, say, in ten years they had not procreated we could presume they are either unable or unwilling to do so and could dissolve their union as incapable of satisfying the only public purpose of marriage. That system would not require invasive fertility examinations.

Yet we would never require opposite-sex couples to fill out such a fertility form. I think most people would scoff at the idea, and rightly so. They would even think it's cruel, especially perhaps to elderly couples. But why? They would scoff at the idea because marriage today is not understood to be essentially about procreation, although procreation-within-marriage is important. Marriage is understood today to have other important public functions and purposes -- including providing the individualistic and communitarian benefits I have outlined.

Here the procreation argument suffers an experiential flaw; it is like an argument from another world, not the world we inhabit. In the world we inhabit, procreation is an important but not essential attribute of the public institution of marriage.

This may also expose a potential political flaw in the procreation argument: by repeatedly emphasizing that the only public purpose of marriage is procreation, opponents of gay marriage run the risk of demeaning the many married couples for whom children are either unwanted or impossible. Yet their marriages are celebrated, not simply tolerated and certainly not disdained.

Further, this second response to the sterility objection suggests that the general rule of procreation must bend (1) to the overriding needs and interests of society to help individuals settle down and (2) to the interests of the couples unable or unwilling to live by the procreation purpose. If that exception exists for non-procreative straight couples, why not for non-procreative gay couples? If it would be cruel or pointless to deny them marriage, why not gay couples? If there is an answer to this question, it cannot be found in the procreation argument.

2. Practical consequences to procreation of admitting gay couples to marriage.

Even if the procreation argument seems logically weak, are there practical consequences to human procreation of admitting gay couples to marriage? I can think of two possible fears. One fear is that procreation itself would slow down, perhaps below the "replacement rate," the level at which humans must reproduce in order to stay ahead of deaths. This slowdown would eventually imperil the species. The other fear is that, as the connection between marriage and procreation is loosened, procreation may increasingly occur outside of marriage. Both could happen at once, and both would be bad.

But neither of these consequences is very plausible. Start with the fear of a population implosion. How would allowing gay couples to wed cause a decline in reproduction rates? It's not clear why straight couples would stop procreating, or even procreate less, if gay couples could marry. The factors driving people to reproduce — the needs for love and to love another, the instinct to propagate one's genes, religious obligations — would all still exist if Adam and Steve could marry. If Western civilization is truly facing a population implosion, as some suggest, that is attributable to many complex factors that are already in play (like great wealth and better health in old age), long before gay marriage was even a twinkle in Andrew Sullivan's eye.

Here's one possible mechanism arising from gay marriage that might lead to population decline. Professor Douglas Kmiec, quoting Robert Bork, has argued that gay marriage "'will lead to an increase in the number of homosexuals.'" Kmiec, The Procreative Argument, 32 Hastings L. Q. 653, 661. Perhaps, the procreationist might conjecture, there are some "waverers" -- people who stand somewhere between homosexuality and heterosexuality -- who will be brought toward more homosexual behavior by the stigma-easing effect of permitting gay marriage. More homosexuals means less procreation, the theory goes.

There's been a lot of research on sexual orientation in the past few decades, and I've never seen good evidence for the waverers theory. Sexual orientation, whatever its causes, appears for the vast majority of people to be unchosen and at least strongly resistant to change based on incentives in public policy. The idea that the incidence of homosexuality in a society varies with the degree of legal repression or acceptance shown toward homosexuality has no empirical support. Richard Posner, Sex and Reason, at 163, 296-97. Homosexual preference appears to be no more common in tolerant societies than in repressive societies. Id. at 296.

But even assuming there are waverers, the idea that they would contribute meaningfully to a population implosion is not plausible. Remember, for this theory to be correct, there need not only to be waverers but enough of them brought into homosexuality by the gay marriage to make any real difference in rates of reproduction. There is no evidence to support the idea that they exist in such substantial numbers.

Not only that, these waverers would have to more than offset the gains in reproduction from allowing gay marriage. After gay marriage is allowed, closeted homosexuals will be less likely to enter unhappy and unstable marriages with partners of the opposite sex. This will free up their heterosexual spouses to seek marriageable partners with whom they can procreate and form more lasting relationships. The resulting reduction in the number of such unstable marriages should be good for procreation rates and good for marriage as a whole, not bad. But this, too, will not be a large enough number to affect reproduction rates.

It's also not clear why gay marriage would drive more straight couples to reproduce outside of marriage. The legal and social-reinforcement benefits of marital procreation would still be available to them, after all. The problems of non-marital procreation would still be there to discourage it. (Maggie has a theory about this, which I'll address in the next post.)

But fortunately we do not have to guess at the probability of these cataclysmic consequences. We already have much experience with a world in which there is no requirement to procreate within marriage. No couple has ever been required to procreate in order to marry. No couple has ever even been required to be able to procreate in order to marry. Sterile couples and old couples can marry. Couples physically able to procreate but who do not want to procreate can get married.

These non-procreative categories of childless married couples are already a larger segment of the married population than the small number of gay married couples would be. Everybody knows married couples who can't or won't have children. Yet despite their inherent or explicit rejection of the putative marital duty to procreate, and despite the fact that we nevertheless let these non-procreative straight couples wed with abandon, humans continue to procreate and marriage continues to be the normative situs for procreation.

Nobody blames non-procreative married straight couples for the alleged population implosion; and nobody blames them for illegitimacy rates. Why should non-procreative gay couples, once allowed to wed, get the blame for these phenomena?

So here's where we are: millions of existing married opposite-sex couples are just as non-procreative as any married gay couple would ever be, yet gay couples are to be denied marriage because they are non-procreative.

Does Maggie have an answer for why this different treatment might be justified? I'll address Maggie's argument against gay marriage in the next post later today.

APL (mail):
Professor Carpenter makes an important point with respect to the sterility argument. Those opposed to same-sex marriage must distinguish why allowing sterile couples to marry does not interfere with the procreative argument against allowing same sex couple to marry. Aside from the "exception to the rule" and the "intrusiveness" arguments, which as pointed out cannot withstand reasonable analysis, attempts I have seen on this Board to make that distinction also include some vague notion that such couples are allowed to marry because they have the "right" to procreate, or because they could procreate but for a procreative disability. In other words, they have the right equipment between the two of them, but it is defective.
11.3.2005 9:45am
APL (mail):
Professor Carpenter makes an important point with respect to the sterility argument. Those opposed to same-sex marriage must distinguish why allowing sterile couples to marry does not interfere with the procreative argument against allowing same sex couple to marry. Aside from the "exception to the rule" and the "intrusiveness" arguments, which as pointed out cannot withstand reasonable analysis, attempts I have seen on this Board to make that distinction also include some vague notion that such couples are allowed to marry because they have the "right" to procreate, or because they could procreate but for a procreative disability. In other words, they have the right equipment between the two of them, but it is defective.
11.3.2005 9:45am
APL (mail):
Professor Carpenter makes an important point with respect to the sterility argument. Those opposed to same-sex marriage must distinguish why allowing sterile couples to marry does not interfere with the procreative argument against allowing same sex couple to marry. Aside from the "exception to the rule" and the "intrusiveness" arguments, which as pointed out cannot withstand reasonable analysis, attempts I have seen on this Board to make that distinction also include some vague notion that such couples are allowed to marry because they have the "right" to procreate, or because they could procreate but for a procreative disability. In other words, they have the right equipment between the two of them, but it is defective.
11.3.2005 9:45am
Erik H:
A few corrections:
1) inability to procreate (historically) was certainly a bar towards marriage; sterility would provide grounds for divorce. Or simply killing your wife, depending on the culture.

2) You say couples have not been required to 'be able to procreate' in order to marry. Our law uses a "fertile octogenarian" as an example (ergo the rule against perpetuities, for those who have studies law). In a certain sense, our common law states that anyone can procreate irregardless of age. As a result, the current marriage laws DO reflect a legal recognition of the ability to procreate.

Again, I'm pro gay marriage. I just want you to get your fatcs straight.
11.3.2005 9:48am
deMaistre (mail):
Let's assume that same sex marriage will not exacerbate the trend towards non-procreation. Does that mean that there is no procreation objection to same sex marriage? No: Even if same sex marriage does not exacerbate non-procreative trends, it might still make them more difficult to reverse. Same-sex marriage may "lock in" a norm lof non-procreation.

I think it's pretty clear that, whereas not long ago a couple that married was *expected* to have children if they could and pressured into doing it, today there is much less of an expectation, if any at all. Suppose, however, we wanted to restore the norm that married couples should procreate. Same-sex marriage could conceivably make this project more difficult.

Here's how. I think it plausible that same-sex couples have less of a desire to raise children. After all, it is impossible for both partners to contribue their gametes to making a baby, and so the desire to pass on genes together is reduced.

If this is true, same-sex married couples will increase resistance to re-establishing a norm that married couples should procreate. Moreover, if an exception is then made for same-sex couples, straight couples might ask why they should have to bear the burden of doing more of the procreating.
11.3.2005 9:52am
APL (mail):
Professor Carpenter makes an important point with respect to the sterility argument. Those opposed to same-sex marriage must distinguish why allowing sterile couples to marry does not interfere with the procreative argument against allowing same sex couple to marry. Aside from the "exception to the rule" and the "intrusiveness" arguments, which as pointed out cannot withstand reasonable analysis, attempts I have seen on this Board to make that distinction also include some vague notion that such couples are allowed to marry because they have the "right" to procreate, or because they could procreate but for a procreative disability. In other words, they have the right equipment between the two of them, but it is defective.
One of the many problems with this assertion is that it ignores reality. It is an intellectual construct designed to support an otherwise unsupportable argument. The reality is that while procreation is an important part of many, even most marriages, the fundamental concept of marriage, as currently understood, does not require it. Marriage is a joining together of two individuals in romantic love to spend the rest of their lives together; it is a union, not a breeding pit. Our ceremonies, our reverence for the marital concept and institution, and our discussions of the value of marriage in other forums all sustain this view.
11.3.2005 9:55am
APL (mail):
Yikes! I am not sure how the multiple posting happened, but please accept my heartfelt apologies for the clutter!
11.3.2005 9:56am
deMaistre (mail):
I'd also like to point that that there is a causal mechanism whereby same sex marriage will exacerbate non-procreative trends.

Right now, there is a lingering stigma on non-procreative sex acts. This stigma is extremely weak, but still there. It is plausible that this stigma increases procreation by causing people to channel their sexual desires in such a way as to increase the chances that they will procreate.

Same-sex marriage, however, would signal that the government officially approves of non-procreative sex acts (at least so long as they're in the context of a life-long monogamous relationship). This would further weaken the already enfeebled norm prohibiting non-procreative sex acts, and thus change people's behavior such that they have less procreative sex and consequently make fewer babies.

This is just a sketch of the argument, but enough to give the gist of it. Consider, for example, how difficult it would be for Catholics to teach that non-procreative sex acts are sinful, if state governments on the contrary start giving them official approval.
11.3.2005 9:58am
Freder Frederson:
Right now, there is a lingering stigma on non-procreative sex acts. This stigma is extremely weak, but still there.

What a ridiculous notion. Except for a few religions that have medieval notions of sexuality like the Catholic church the stigma on non-procreative sex acts has mercifully been banished from society. And even if you have such hangups, it is certainly not the government's job to reinforce or promote them.

The only real argument against gay marriage is that gay sex is icky and you don't want the government to give people a license to have icky sex. When you stop trying to make up rational arguments (which will always ultimately fail because they just don't exist) and truthify with your gut argument we will all be better off.
11.3.2005 10:15am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"gay sex is icky" is a stigma, Freder.
11.3.2005 10:21am
deMaistre (mail):
Freder Frederson:

There are many millions of Catholics in the U.S., so I think it's going much to far to say that the "stigma on non-procreative sex acts has been banished from society." You may not like the stigma, and think that only troglodytes support it, but that has nothing to do with whether the stigma still exists.

Your other points aren't related, but, for what it's worth, since Lawrence v. Texas, the government *has* already allowed people to have "icky" sex. (And most states allowed icky sex long before Lawrence.) What state governments other than Vermont and Massachusetts have not yet done is offically *approve* of icky sex. If it's not the government job to "reinforce or promote" sexual stigma, why should the government reinforce the stigma on sex outside of monagamous relationships? It seems to me that you be against gay marriage, not for it.
11.3.2005 10:29am
M Bop (mail):
I'd be interested in reading Prof. Carpenter's thoughts regarding what role, if any, technological advancements should have in the argument regarding gay marriage. Reasonably assuming that in most cases homosexuality is biologically-determined, it is quite possible that improvements in genetic science will mean that, within a few decades, we can ensure that far fewer persons are "born gay."

So long as you believe that the unborn do not have an interest in their sexuality, it seems to me this would be a very good thing for two reasons. First, I think that most everyone would like the option of creating offspring with the persons they love. Secondly, it's in humanity's best interest if as many people are able to contribute to our collective gene pool as possible (I realize that gays can contribute to the gene pool already, but I'm under the impression that a small minority actually do). Wouldn't that be good reason not to start treating homosexual and heterosexual relationships in an identical manner, because doing so might make couples morally reluctant to genetically modify their potential offspring's sexual orientation (why mess with it when one orienation is just as valid morally as another?), even if doing so makes sense from a utilitarian perspective? Shouldn't we wait a few decades and see where science takes us (who knows, science might allow homosexual couples to procreate) before we begin treating heterosexual and homosexual relationships as having equal value?

Just so we're clear, I'm speaking strictly in utilitarian and consequentialist terms. Gay relationships can be just as loving and emotionally fulfilling for their participants as heterosexual ones.
11.3.2005 10:35am
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
Like it or not, the argument against gay marriage is ultimately moral and religious. The family exists for the sake of man, woman and children, not only the procreating, but the educating. The argument is the same as against pre-marital sex and adultery. It is the same argument which prohibits two sisters, two brothers, an aunt and nephew, etc., etc., from marrying. Marriage is for a man and a woman basically having the wherewithal to have sex and able to educate their children if any are produced. Any other argument goes on forever.
11.3.2005 10:35am
PeterH:
Very well written, Dale. The only aspect of this argument that leaps out at me as missing is the fact that in addition to all the other considerations, lesbian women can and do have children.

We don't currently demand proof of paternity when a married couple produces a child in order to legally consider the child as the couple's. Unless the father objects, it is none of anyone's business. Legally (not biologically) why should a lesbian couple be different?

Further, while I don't know the law, it seems to me that if a child born of a married woman automatically counts as the couple's, even if someone external to the marriage could prove that the father isn't the husband, why wouldn't the same legal case apply in the case of a donor mother and a gay male couple?

In short, while I agree with everything you say, you leave out the fact that gay people can and do reproduce biologically. This isn't just about adoption of a non-related child, or custody of a child from a previous opposite sex situation, though both certainly have their place in this discussion.

Just as the rules for non-fertile couples that apply to straight couples should apply to all, the rules for child-producing couples where only one parent is the genetic contibutor should apply as well.
11.3.2005 10:36am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yeah, but one side explicitly ignores that argument, and the other side won't change its mind until that argument is answered.

You've just hit on the unspoken reason why the two sides pass eachother quietly in the night as Maggie noted.
11.3.2005 10:38am
Medis:
I think deMaistre's posts are particularly clear and useful examples of a general response to Dale's analysis. Basically, the idea is that some sort of norm-related mechanism will serve to magnify the effects of gay marriage. I take it Maggie was also presenting such an argument through her theory of "social meaning". So, I'll be interested to see what Dale has to say about these norm-related magnification arguments (personally, I don't think they are plausible, but I also think they are awfully hard to disprove).

But now for a general comment: I think perhaps the most important insight is that we do not just tolerate something like elderly couples getting married, but we also celebrate those marriages. And I don't think it is at all plausible that our celebration of their union is based on the possibility that they will have children.

For example, suppose your grandfather passes away. After a suitable period of mourning, your grandmother meets a nice elderly gentleman, and eventually they get married. If you feel joyous about your grandmother's remarriage, is it plausible that your feeling is based on the hypothetical possibility that you will be getting a new Aunt or Uncle? I really don't think so.

That said, maybe some people would not feel joyous. But I sure would.
11.3.2005 10:38am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Unless your grandfather marries Anna Nichole Smith, of course.
11.3.2005 10:42am
Chimaxx (mail):
That wasn't the argument, Daniel. He said there was a stigma--though a feeble one--against nonprocreative sex acts. Is there really a stigma--even feeble--against, say, oral sex? And is prohibiting Adam and Steve down the block to marry, and thus forcing them to continue to stay shacked up, really going to make Jack and Jill any more receptive to arguments that they should no longer include oral sex as part of their married sex life?
11.3.2005 10:45am
PeterH:
deMaistre:This is just a sketch of the argument, but enough to give the gist of it. Consider, for example, how difficult it would be for Catholics to teach that non-procreative sex acts are sinful, if state governments on the contrary start giving them official approval.


The government has already "given official approval" of non-procreative sex acts by recognizing that the individual has the right to choose whether or not to use contraception without government interference, and the Church continues to quite successfully teach against it.

The government currently gives official approval to remarriage after civil divorce, and the Catholic Church doesn't have any trouble maintaining its message that it is wrong.

The government actively supports, through various grants and subsidies, pork producers, or at the very least, treats pork farmers and distributors the same as, say, beef producers (USDA inspections, etc) and the Orthodox Jewish community continues to teach its own that they cannot participate.

The difficulty of any religious group to maintain social disapproval of anything on purely religious grounds has no bearing whatsoever on whether other citizens should be free to do it. There may be other reasons to prevent it, but purely sectarian religious disapproval is clearly a religious freedom issue and cannot be a factor in law.
11.3.2005 10:46am
Joel B.:
The whole sterility/fertility issue is one that I absolutely abhor, it is cruel, and I think SSM advocates are foolish to tread on it heavily.

As someone who is married as has had difficulties "procreating" the whole thing reeks of offensiveness when SSM advocates bring it up.

If you've ever been to a wedding at least a modestly traditional one, there is the lighting of the unity candle. Does anyone care to take a guess at what that's really getting at?

If you talk to married couples who have trouble conceiving it's pretty uniformly viewed with great sadness and frusteration, and here SSM advocate come back with a reason as to why SSM should be allowed. But regardless of ones problems NO SS couple could ever be disappointed that they failed to conceive. Does no one see this as a single f-ing difference. I'm seriously ready to explode...lol...breathe....

If you actually looked at the statistics it is a very very small number of marriages that are entered into with NO expectation of having children. But that is ALWAYS the case with SSM ALWAYS. And when married couples do have trouble conceiving it is very frequently a great source of frusteration and even bitterness.

And now SSM advocates want to use their pain for their gain to destroy marriage....ARGHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhh....

(Prof. Volokh I apologize for the rant/invective, but I think this is one area where it is needed.)
11.3.2005 10:46am
Todd H.:
deMaistre
Here's how. I think it plausible that same-sex couples have less of a desire to raise children. After all, it is impossible for both partners to contribue their gametes to making a baby, and so the desire to pass on genes together is reduced.

If this is true, same-sex married couples will increase resistance to re-establishing a norm that married couples should procreate. Moreover, if an exception is then made for same-sex couples, straight couples might ask why they should have to bear the burden of doing more of the procreating.


Yikes! If the desire to have and raise children comes solely out of a desire to pass on gametes and to fulfill some sort of implicit social burden, no doubt very few of us would be raising children.
11.3.2005 10:53am
PeterH:
deMaistre: If it's not the government job to "reinforce or promote" sexual stigma, why should the government reinforce the stigma on sex outside of monagamous relationships? It seems to me that you be against gay marriage, not for it.



I don't see that it does. I am not an expert, but I do know that the vast majority of jurisdictions do not treat adulery as a crime. Nowhere does the government invalidate marriage for persons known to have had sex outside of it, whether before or after. Yes, adultery can be used as a factor in divorce, but only at the choice of the people involved in the divorce. The government does not do anything to "reinforce the stigma" on sex outside of marriage.

Marriage has no legal sexual component at all. In the legal sense, married people are neither required to have sex with each other, nor legally required to limit themselves to sex only with their spouse. Social approval is another issue-- but it would be with same sex marriages as well. But what the neighbors think does not currently define the legal status of any marriage.
11.3.2005 10:56am
deMaistre (mail):
Medis,

One of Prof. Carpenter's general responses to norm-changing arguments has been that there aren't enough gay people and gay couples to make much a difference to marital norms. I think, however, that this way of looking at it tends to underestimate the effect that same sex marriage will have.

First, the whole question of same sex marriage, in case nobody's noticed, has been getting a huge amount of attention lately. Thus, the signaling effects of just a few gay couples getting married is much larger than their numbers would suggest. Indeed, even if no gay couples ever chose to get married, the very idea of state-recognition of same sex marriage may have large signaling effects.

In addition, and this will be controversial, it strikes me as likely that gays are over-represented in the idea-mongering professions. I attended two fairly prestigious universities, and my experience suggests there were many more gays there than in the population at large. (Recall the "one in four, maybe more" scandal at Yale back in the early 90s.) It may be, in short, that more intelligent people are gay, which would lead to larger numbers of gays occupying influential positions in the meritocracy.

In addition, gays tend to spend less time having children. This frees them from obligations to make money, and allows them to go into more intellectually stimulating fields like journalism. Thus, there may be a disproportionate number of gays in the media.

If these speculations are correct, then any norm-changing effects of same sex marriage are likely to be magnified, as gays in the media may use their positions to defend whatever new norms develop from gay marriage.
11.3.2005 10:58am
Todd H.:
Further, deMaistre's argument about non-procreative acts implicitly assumes that such acts are more pleasureable than procreative sex. How many fellow heterosexuals reading these comments would buy that one?
11.3.2005 10:58am
Tigger:
APL,

Marriage is a joining together of (two) individuals in romantic love to spend the rest of their lives together; it is a union, not a breeding pit. Our ceremonies, our reverence for the marital concept and institution, and our discussions of the value of marriage in other forums all sustain this view."

Can you explain to me how, using your definiation of marriage, that any judge can refuse to see polygamy as acceptable as well? Simply remove the number 'two' from your definition and everythings is ready. The only reason it's there in the first place is that you feel 'two' is appropriate and not some other number. Societies opinion on the matter doesn't hold much sway with a judge who feels that 'marriage' is a social construct that can be changed at will.
Some people don't see two as the perfect number for marriage. Some people would argue that the three or four of them share a "romantic love" and wish to "spend the rest of their lives together". What would stop that 'marriage' from happening? How can you argue that one is different than the other without completely contradicting the arguments that got you here in the first place? It's not about children it's about love. The polygamists have that. For that matter why not three gay men being in an exlusive 'marriage'. If the three of them are in love and willing to enter into a lifetime commitment, why should they not be allowed to have thier relationship recognized as a valid 'marriage'?
11.3.2005 11:04am
Anon E Moose:

So here’s where we are: millions of existing married opposite-sex couples are just as non-procreative as any married gay couple would ever be, yet gay couples are to be denied marriage because they are non-procreative.


So the fact that marriage persists despite non-reproductive heterosexual couples a reason to alter the institution to include homosexual couples that are biologically incapable of procreating without intervention (insemination, surrogates, adoption)? That's a classic logical fallacy of singling out the worst case of the opposing argument and ignoring the typical or best case.

Inefficiency is inevitable in our imperfect world. The fact that inefficiencies exist is not a compelling argument to increase inefficiency.
11.3.2005 11:05am
deMaistre (mail):
PeterH:

Strictly speaking, state-recognition of marriage has no necessary legal consequence at all (beyond the right to have a bureaucrat sign a piece of paper calling your relationship a "marriage"). We could design a legal system so that there are no legal benefits or burdens (which are just as important, btw: getting married means that you lose control, very roughly speaking, over half of your property) to marriage whatsover.

Similarly, we could address perceived inequities in the legal system one at a time--e.g., we could change the rules of intestate succession to give rights to surviving partners, &c, &c. (Note that changing rules like this might make life more difficult for some gay persons, not easier.) Nothing is requiring us to change the reform the whole kit an kaboodle under the rubric "marriage."

Why, then, are we arguing over state-sponsored marriage at all? Who *cares* whether the state calls some relationships marriages? I think the only real reason to care is that the state recognition of marriage signals approval for certain kinds of relationships.

I don't Prof. Carpenter disagrees with me on this point--most of his argument depends on the premise that state-recognized marriage will introduce beneficient norms among gays and gay families. If state-recognized marriage did not have the effect of signalign the state's approval of some sexual relationships over others, then we wouldn't be arguing.

(We might still argue over what legal burdens and benefits gay couples should enjoy, but, as explained, that's a separate question.)
11.3.2005 11:08am
Todd H.:
Joel B.,

To my mind, more offensive to nonprocreative, heterosexual, married couples are comments that cheapen reproductive technology (insemination and surrogacy) or that denigrate adoption. While many married couples are no doubt profoundly disturbed by their own inability to procreate biologically, most it seems do not allow such disturbance to become a permanent barrier to family formation. They find ways to start a family, and they feel no less about that family (or about themselves) than they would had it been started "naturally."
11.3.2005 11:12am
PeterH:

Joel B.: The whole sterility/fertility issue is one that I absolutely abhor, it is cruel, and I think SSM advocates are foolish to tread on it heavily.

As someone who is married as has had difficulties "procreating" the whole thing reeks of offensiveness when SSM advocates bring it up.
and later
Joel B.: But regardless of ones problems NO SS couple could ever be disappointed that they failed to conceive. Does no one see this as a single f-ing difference. I'm seriously ready to explode...lol...breathe....



Joel, I am sorry about your situation. I have had family members in a similar one (different brother, for those of you keeping track -- we're a big family).

Truly, though, it isn't the same-sex marriage advocates who are bringing up this issue, and certainly not for the express purpose of causing pain. What is happening is that a great majority of those opposed to same-sex marriage say, repeatedly, that we are incapable of being in anything resembling a meaningful marriage, and in fact, are trying to destroy marriage itself, specifically because we cannot have children together as a couple.

And yet, for all the pain and frustration you experience, your relationship is a marriage. It is considered so by you, by the community, and most importantly to this discussion, by the government for the purposes of legal protections, obligations, and benefits.

Further, while you are experiencing pain and disappointment, and I do not, sincerely, do not want to minimize that, I point to couples like another of my brothers, who met and married a lovely woman who had a hysterectomy before they met. They will never have the frustration that you have, because they knew going into their marriage that she could not have children. There may be pain or the sense of a missed experience that they would have loved to have, I don't know. But they are married, and again. it is recognized by the government. Their situation is in no meaningful legal way different from a same-sex couple's and yet they can and did marry.

If you choose to be frustrated and angry with one or the other side of this debate, I'd say you might want to be angry with the people who say that a couple without children has an invalid, sham, or pointless marriage, because only those who reproduce contribute to society and everyone else is deliberately out to destroy it.

Those of us on the other side say that marriage is for many reasons, of which children are only one, and yet they still can be life-affirming and wonderful. We are on the side of your relationship, whether you can see it or not.

And not being able to have the children you want to have is a pain I can't imagine, and a real one, but at least you and your wife are married going through it. I recently lost a friend to AIDS (contracted before its existence was known), and he and his partner had been together nearly 20 years, with NO support for things like insurance and medical coverage, and constant battles with things like visitation rights and other things a married couple would have had automatically. I suspect that my surviving friend had more than his share of times when he was ready to explode and had to remind himself to breathe. Infertility is not the only tragedy couples face.
11.3.2005 11:17am
joelw (mail):
Joel B,

1) It isn't the SSM-advocates who bring it up, it's the SSM-opponents who bring procreation to the table.
2) I think plenty of lesbian women want SSM and intend to have kids, even ones of their own. Artificial insemination makes it possible.
3) I think attributing the worst motives--using others pain for gain--to SSM advocates isn't really helpful. Is it possible that they'd prefer that everybody have the ability to raise children in a stable, committed Marriage--including themselves. Gay adoption, surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination, etc. etc. make it so that the expectation of child-rearing exists for all couples, and while the means to it are different, I don't think that your claims are necessarily fair.
4) You talk about frustration and bitterness for married couples who cannot conceive, and yet don't realize that there is frustration and bitterness for gay couples who cannot marry, cannot share their love in a way accepted by society, etc. etc.
5) Given that SSM would be such a small percentage of marriages, your claim that "If you actually looked at the statistics it is a very very small number of marriages that are entered into with NO expectation of having children," would remain true, even if my previous points were disregarded.
11.3.2005 11:18am
Joel B.:
And that applies to my comment how? The use of insemination or in vitro, affects my comment not at all, but even if those avenues are taken, and yes they can be unsuccessful, and not every inability can be remedied through all this wonderful reproductive technology that we dare not cheapen how does that change the fact that in most cases you're still using the husband's sperm and the wife's eggs.

Unless you're talking about sperm or egg donors in association with SS couples. But that goes right to my point, that there is no way that they could have ever expected to procreate on their own as a couple. The same is most assuredly NOT true for heterosexual pairings, the opposite assumption being the main, that they should be able to have children together as a couple.

Adoption is also a very wonderful thing, but again that changes nothing, that adopted children are loved as much as natural children I have no doubt, but I seriously doubt most couples got married with the expectation to adopt over having their own children, and that there was no initial sense of loss when they couldn't have their own.
11.3.2005 11:26am
APL (mail):
Tigger, I would be happy to have a discussion with you on why marriage is essentially a two-person construct. But I believe that is a separate topic from the one at hand. Accordingly, if you wish to have the discussion, feel free to email me and we can proceed without imposing off-topic posts on other readers.
11.3.2005 11:28am
deMaistre (mail):
Todd H:

The pleasure of non-procreative acts is probably not greater or less than the pleasure in procreative acts, just of a different quality. One of the reasons that some writers (e.g., the Marquis de Sade) have championed sodomy is that it subjects the recipient to a certain amount discomfort and humiliation. The sodomizer enjoys the power the he wields over the recipient.

Allan Bloom (no stranger to sodomy, if I may add) has suggested that, conversely, the recipient gets the pleasure of knowing that the sodomizer *cares* about the recipient, if only enough to inflict pain and humiliation.

Procreative sex acts can achieve these effects through "rough sex," but probably not to the same degree.

The pleasure inherent in a sex act done with procreative intent from both parties is quite different. Such acts involve a great deal of sharing and trusting, even self-sacrifice. Some may find this kind of sex quite unerotic, but others may find it the most satisfying of all.

In any case, while analyzing types of pleasure is always fascinating, I don't think it's terribly relevant to the question of what sex acts are best. Hedonism, after all, is not a very plausible theory of the good.

It seems to me that whether a sex act is good or not depends most of all on the end that it tends to promote. Non-procreative sex may promote intimacy between two people; thus, there are plausible arguments in favor of the goodness of sodomy. Nevertheless, procreative sex acts are probably on a morally higher plane.

I hasten to add that none of this has much to do with what the consequences of same sex marriage will be. To be sure, if same-sex marriage succeeds in weakening norms that favor procreative sex, then that will cause a certain flattening of souls. We will become less noble, more selfish creatures--even more boring creatures. Would you rather have a culture that produces Romeo &Juliet or the Vagina Monologues?

But none of this is a basis for making social policy, in my view.
11.3.2005 11:29am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

If you actually looked at the statistics it is a very very small number of marriages that are entered into with NO expectation of having children.


This is false. There are many marriages entered into with NO expectation of having children whatsoever. Given high divorce rates (and deaths of spouses), there are plenty of second and plus marriages entered into by folks of older years -- either post-menopause or close to menopause, where there is absolutely no expectation of children whatsover. And a significant % of marriages fit this description. Look at Bob and Liddy Dole, John and Teressa Kerry, Ted Kennedy and his present wife, Prince Chas. and C.P. Bowles. We could go on and on with examples.
11.3.2005 11:30am
PeterH:
deMaistre:Strictly speaking, state-recognition of marriage has no necessary legal consequence at all (beyond the right to have a bureaucrat sign a piece of paper calling your relationship a "marriage"). We could design a legal system so that there are no legal benefits or burdens
and later
deMaistre: Similarly, we could address perceived inequities in the legal system one at a time--
still later
deMaistre:Why, then, are we arguing over state-sponsored marriage at all? Who *cares* whether the state calls some relationships marriages?


Yes, we could do all those things. But we don't. We are not talking about a hypothetical situation in which we are deciding from scratch how to handle all these issues -- there is currently a system in place that grants access to all this to roughly 97% of the population, today, right now.

As to who cares? Well, I do, for one. Look around. A lot of people do.

We care whether the state calls some relationships marraiges because it isn't just a word or a "piece of paper" but a legal status that carries with it a huge wealth of things that in many cases cannot be achieved any other way. Further, whether or not an alternative system could be set up, the fact remains that such a system is NOT being set up, and in the few places that are even trying to cobble together something somewhat like it, it is being fought tooth and nail by those who are opposing same-sex marriage as "marriage by another name" -- so if the OPPONENTS of same sex marriage see alternatives as similar enough to marriage to be prevented, it is disingenuous to complain that the proponents of same-sex marriage should pursue them rather than marriage itself.

Honestly, though I think it would be utterly, utterly pointless, and it would be untrue to say I would be "perfectly happy" with it, if a legal relationship with each and every right, obligation, and privilege associated with marriage, permanently and irrevocably linked to the definitions of marriage so that future changes were locked together (in other words, something that really was "marriage by another name") that would be acceptable. Right now straight men and women have identical rights as married persons, and yet a married man is a "husband" and a married woman is a "wife" -- different words for the same legal status. But it would have to be something that would be unique to same-sex couples and absolutely equivalent to marriage in all legal respects.
11.3.2005 11:31am
Medis:
Joel B,

I agree that using the example of couples who want to conceive but cannot does in fact add little or nothing to the debate. But what about my grandmother hypothetical? Isn't that completely distinct from the sort of issue you are talking about? And don't we celebrate those marriages, with no hint of reluctance over the fact that our grandmothers will not be having children?

deMaistre,

As you might have predicted, my sense is that the possible effects you are talking about are still going to be dominated by the ongoing pro-procreation norms. As I expressed elsewhere, I think it is easy to overlook how much support there is for such norms, because we tend to take that support for granted, and focus our attention only on the problematic issues. Indeed, the forces in favor of the procreative norm have to be overwhelming, because otherwise we would have already disappeared.

Moreover, I personally think that all the other positive norm-reinforcement effects from gay marriages (for norms like monogamy, altruism, stable childraising, and so forth) will outweigh any possible effects with respect to procreative norms. Indeed, I suspect that even the effect on procreative norms may be positive.

That may sound absurd at first blush (how could non-procreative marriages encourage procreative norms?), but insofar as gay couples are getting married at least in part in order to raise children, that will reinforce the idea that straight couples should be getting married at least in part in order to raise children. And since creating children is at least one of the ways in which straight couples can have children to raise, I think any general norm in favor of child-raising indirectly becomes a norm in favor of child-making once that general child-raising norm is specifically applied to straight couples.
11.3.2005 11:33am
Joel B.:
Oh my, some of what I read I cannot believe.

See, traditional marriage advocates, argue that procreation is the underpining of marriage, and I agree. Procreation is the single greatest underpining of marriage.

It is however, the SSM proponents who bring the sterility issue to the table. They are the ones who wield the sword of sterility against those they oppose, as those it is some kind of valid logical argument, my point is that it is not. The two are different very different. The couple itself is experiencing a loss. For the SS couple it is a GIVEN it is required, from the outset of the relationship that to procreate a third member would at least have to be involved in the procreative process. It is guaranteed, it cannot happen that there are only two people involved. It is also guaranteed that one of partners will not be biologically related to their offspring. This is guaranteed from the outset. This is again, in direct contrast to the married couple who are unable to conceive.

Do not try to patronize or condescend to me by suggesting it is SSM opponents who bring up this issue. SSM proponents would be better conceeding that marriage is about children, but that it should also be about something X....but this is often refused to be conceded. I do, want to say however, that I do appreciate your personal concerns. Despite my rhetorical disagreement on this issue.
11.3.2005 11:36am
Chimaxx (mail):
If you actually looked at the statistics it is a very very small number of marriages that are entered into with NO expectation of having children. But that is ALWAYS the case with SSM ALWAYS. And when married couples do have trouble conceiving it is very frequently a great source of frusteration and even bitterness.


I haven't looked at the statistics on the first part of your statement, Joel, but the second part simply isn't true. I had a tenant a couple of years ago who was talking marriage with her girlfriend--and children were definitely part of their plan, including lengthy discussions over how many and when. (Of course not legal marriage--I live in Illinois, and this was before even a peep had come out of Massachusetts or Canada on these issues--but their church would marry them, and their families were supportive.)
11.3.2005 11:38am
Todd H.:
deMaistre, Your point, if I didn't misread you, was that ssm will decrease the stigmas on non-procreative sex, thereby leading married coupled to engage less frequently in procreative sex, thereby leading to a decrease in procreation. Pleasure is clearly relevant here: If procreative sex is as enjoyable and intimacy-producing as you and I agree it is, then we shouldn't fear that, after ssm, we'll engage in it less frequently than we did before ssm. Nor, for that matter, should we fear that we'll desire to have, nurutre, and raise children less than we did before.
11.3.2005 11:38am
Oh my word:
Dale, in my view, is knocking down the easier aspects of the procreation argument. I more or less agree with most of what he says, and I think that the procreation argument (societies need babies) is generally useless unless there are government entitlements involved--in which case, the welfare state is the problem. I don't care about gradually declining population, and neither do most. That argument is sort of a Catholic spin--and Maggie's Catholic.

What Dale misses is that the legal institution of marriage is designed for childrearing. That's why there are various benefits to it and why divorce and custody laws are as they are. SSM would be different, because of the very different interpersonal dynamics of men and women, so the law would probably have to change and adapt. Thus, there is an argument for same sex civil unions that have somewhat different laws and presumptions attached to them for same sex couples, but preserving the marriage laws for heterosexual contexts, which are quite different.
11.3.2005 11:40am
Joel B.:
I agree that using the example of couples who want to conceive but cannot does in fact add little or nothing to the debate. But what about my grandmother hypothetical? Isn't that completely distinct from the sort of issue you are talking about? And don't we celebrate those marriages, with no hint of reluctance over the fact that our grandmothers will not be having children?

I will agree and disagree. I do think most regard octagenarian marriages as more quaint, or for companionship, true, they are not regarded as less than marriage, but they are I think viewed differently. Consider for example, someone brought up Prince Charles and CPB, but isn't even that case instructive there was a discussion, that should would not receive the title of queen when Charles ascended, (since resolved I think), but would that have even been considered if Charles and CPB were to bear the next crown prince? I very much doubt it.

Also, I doubt that these older marriages receive as much attention and gifts and the like as others, and even the participants seem to recognize as much, having smaller more private ceremonies.

Also, and I know this is odd to bring up, but we do accept the fertile octagenarian in law and socially, and part of it may be because of the story of Sarah. After all three major religious cultures depend on the idea that even an octagenarian can be fertile.
11.3.2005 11:44am
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Carpenter,

Several posters raise the objection by citing that lesbian couples, and down the road maybe gay couples, can procreate via alternative fertility techniques.

Do you view alternative fertility techniques (for lack of a better phrase) as perfectly substitutable with natural procreation?
11.3.2005 11:45am
Joel B.:
Chimaxx-

But the point is even that woman and her girlfriend the expectation had to be, that someone from outside the coupling would be involved in making it happen. Which again, kind of implies the polygamy issue, but also, it raises a question of who was really united into one family.

That's not to denigrate the relationship, but that had to be an expectation where children were involved.
11.3.2005 11:48am
Medis:
Joel B.,

I take you to be arguing that we see grandmother's earlier marriage as even better than her later marriage. Suppose that is true--but don't we still see grandmother's later marriage as good?

And why isn't that enough to make the case for gay marriage? If, like grandmother's later marriage, they would be good marriages, then what difference does it make that other marriages are even better?
11.3.2005 11:50am
Chimaxx (mail):
For the SS couple it is a GIVEN it is required, from the outset of the relationship that to procreate a third member would at least have to be involved in the procreative process. It is guaranteed, it cannot happen that there are only two people involved. It is also guaranteed that one of partners will not be biologically related to their offspring. This is guaranteed from the outset.


Once again, Joel, the first is true, but the second is not. In the case of my tenant, the expectation was that she would carry the baby and her partner's brother would be the sperm donor--so the partner would be at least partly biologically related to the child.

I don't know how all this turned out. They moved, and I didn't keep track of their progress after they left.
11.3.2005 11:53am
Todd H.:
JoelB: But the point is even that woman and her girlfriend the expectation had to be, that someone from outside the coupling would be involved in making it happen. Which again, kind of implies the polygamy issue, but also, it raises a question of who was really united into one family.

That's not to denigrate the relationship, but that had to be an expectation where children were involved.


You're arguing that the use of a sperm or egg donor is a form of pseudo-polygamy and, moreover, that such use throws into question the the very existence of a singular family. How does this not denigrate families who rely on reproductive technology -- heterosexual and not?
11.3.2005 11:54am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1. Laws are made for generality, not with an eye to particular cases, as we are frequently told when challenging them for lack of rational basis, etc.

2. The law does recognize sterility, albeit in a reversed form. At least in my state, first cousins and closer are forbidden to marry -- whether they are in love is of no moment -- unless they can prove one or the other is sterile.
11.3.2005 11:56am
Joel B.:
Once again, Joel, the first is true, but the second is not. In the case of my tenant, the expectation was that she would carry the baby and her partner's brother would be the sperm donor--so the partner would be at least partly biologically related to the child.

Well she's related in the sense that the child would be like a niece or nephew, but most would agree that a niece or nephew is not the same as son or daughter. I mean heck we're all "related" at some point, i.e. Mitochodrial Eve. But that doesn't change the fact that the "unity" was between the brother and the partner. Not the sister and her partner.

I take you to be arguing that we see grandmother's earlier marriage as even better than her later marriage. Suppose that is true--but don't we still see grandmother's later marriage as good?

And why isn't that enough to make the case for gay marriage? If, like grandmother's later marriage, they would be good marriages, then what difference does it make that other marriages are even better?


More I'm arguing that to some degree society views older marriages as quaint, and while a marriage traditionally represents new life, an older marriage is kind of like fading off into the sunset together, and at least in the past it hadn't been frequent enough to have any sort of effect on marriage, one interesting statistic is that most widowers don't outlast there spouse by more than a year, now the same is not true of widows, but it did serve to limit the number of "available bachelors" for all these octagenarians.

The more legal point however, was that for whatever reason our society has decided to accept the legal principle of the fertile octagenarian, this is most commonly seen with the Rule against Perpetuties. But also, there is a cultural underpining for it. So that, yes we may say that the octagenarian can not bear children, but our legal system is engaged in the fiction that she can. Society has not yet accept the fiction that a same sex couple can have children together, maybe if/when they do, SSM will be easier accepted, or even a natural extension. I do note that I'm not likely to accept that fiction myself in the near future. There is a cultural story of the fertile octagenarian, there isn't one about the fertile SS couple.
11.3.2005 12:04pm
Joel B.:
You're arguing that the use of a sperm or egg donor is a form of pseudo-polygamy and, moreover, that such use throws into question the the very existence of a singular family. How does this not denigrate families who rely on reproductive technology -- heterosexual and not?

I was semi-unclear, and you were right to call me on it, my greater concern was the situation where a third person was temporarily brought in to remedy the problem where there might be some kind of intercourse involved. This may not frequently be the method, but I have little doubt that it is occasionally one.

But also, I think most married couples do have substantial concerns about sperm/egg donors, and you can complain about me denigrate reproductive technology, but I am making a point that to me is quite simply true. I gather most spouses are often not happy with being the donor-replaced partner, and in fact, often enough those couples instead adopt.
11.3.2005 12:09pm
PeterH:
Joel B.: Do not try to patronize or condescend to me by suggesting it is SSM opponents who bring up this issue. SSM proponents would be better conceeding that marriage is about children, but that it should also be about something X....but this is often refused to be conceded.


Joel, I don't think you are really looking at things accurately when you say this.

The rest of my comments do apply to you, but they are going to be a bit of a rant, and apply to ALL the opponents here, not just you. And I know that when I get to the part about infertility, it will push the buttons you shared with us, and I am sorry for that, but if it helps, imagine the buttons that get pushed each time I get told that my loving relationship is crafted for no other reason than the express purpose of destroying society. You want frustration?

Nobody that I know of, and certainly nobody on these boards is saying that a lot of the time, marriage involves children, that frequently, people get married expressly for the purpose of having children, that children need protections, or any of the other children-related points that might be brought up. I even am willing to say that in marriages involving children, the children are the single most important part of the marriage, and people who don't think so should probably not be raising kids. I concede that raising stable, confident, protected, loved, healthy children is one of the fundamental concerns of a healthy society.

But we don't need to "concede" that marriage is about children but should also be about something else.... because in real life, in the world around you, it isn't. I won't concede that the world is flat, I won't concede that the sky is green, and I won't concede that in order to be legally married, straight people have to have children, or even want them.

The fact is that what straight people choose their marriage to be "about" is up to the two individuals involved in it. Pretending that it is in all cases about children is simply pretending something that isn't true.

You, or anyone else, can judge the social, functional, moral, historical, religious, or heck, decorative, "value" of any particular marriage by any standard that you choose.

But please stop pretending that procreation has any part in the legal definition of marriage as it exists today. If anyone needs to concede anything, it is same-sex marriage opponents who need to concede that children, or even the desire for them, are not a requirement for a legally recognized marriage.

I hear you when you say that you don't believe a lot of what you read here. It just continues to amaze me that the opponents of same-sex marriage seem utterly unwilling to acknowledge that there are straight marriages without children, and that they are legal and valid.

Whenever anyone brings up really, truly, medically, verifiably sterile actual people (Medis's grandmother, my sister-in-law), the opponents bend-over backwards to absolutely refuse to even acknowlege the question, much less even try to address it in a meaningful manner.

Instead, we get the absurd fiction that 100% of all heterosexuals who marry are doing their darnedest during each and every sexual act to have yet another child. By extension, we are supposed to believe that no straight couples use contraception (except, perhaps, by accident, I guess). This fiction completely ignores the fact that yes, Virginia, there are couples who (hysterectomy,tubal ligation, vasectomy, menopause, cancer, injury, or just for some reason having had medical tests and knowing) who enter valid marriages knowing that they cannot have children, and utterly ignores the couples -- and admit it, you and everyone else know some -- who truly never intend to have children.

You want to concede something? Admit that these couples exist, and stop pretending that the only childless couples in the world are ones who didn't know in advance. Admit that they are legally considered just as married as those who do have children, and if you want to make a real reach, admit that society considers these marriages just a real as the ones with kids.

Please, stop pretending that there is some ideal form of marriage out in the real world that each and every straight married couple is currently following in all respects and explaining why gay people aren't eligible and talk about the actual realities of marriage that straight people actually live and explain why they don't apply to us.

Admit that gay people are currently in relationships and that straight people already know about us. That gay sex already happens, and isn't likely to go away.

Stop pretending that the Universe is currently coming to an end because of the realities of marriage as is stands today, and the only thing standing between some tiny, shivering remant of humanity actually surviving and the utter annihilation of all of humanity is making sure that gay people don't get insurance, survivor benefits and all the other protections that straight people take for granted.

Would someone, ANYONE, please actually attempt to directly address the question of why it is okay for the genuinely, truly sterile to marry, but not gay couples? Not the ones who "didn't know" or who are "trying" but the ones who actually know going into it?

I have a prediction. You will all continue to ignore this question completely, and we will get yet another round of fictional diversionary tactics.

Honestly, I think it is because you are truly, genuinely afraid that if you even admit that such couples exist, your whole justification for opposing same-sex marriage crumbles, and that you are unwilling to even look at the question.
11.3.2005 12:21pm
Jack John (mail):
Laws do often state general rules, and they are often over- or under-inclusive in some way. But laws also provide exceptions where appropriate and just, where some policy purpose is served by the exception.

Yeah, but they don't have to.

(Remember, I’m not making a constitutional argument about whether the government should, as a constitutional matter, be able to make marriage laws that are not narrowly tailored to the state’s claimed interests.)

Yeah, but they don't have to, which means your argument can be ignored by anyone just because. So, why should we listen to your argument?
11.3.2005 12:26pm
PeterH:
Joel: There is a cultural story of the fertile octagenarian, there isn't one about the fertile SS couple.


Wrong. If you are going to throw in Biblical Stories as cultural underpinnings, you have to acknowlege that Joseph was not involved in the insemination of Mary.

If Jesus was born with the assistance of an outside agency other than his legal father, then what is the justification for denying it to everyone else? If Joseph made no genetic contribution to the child, what did his gender matter?

How would a lesbian couple having a child with a donor be different?

If you want "cultural underpinnings" you surely cannot discount the Holy Family.
11.3.2005 12:30pm
Antonin:
I don't quite understand the objection that the law isn't designed for marginal cases. I'm a law student, and all we do is study marginal cases, because those are the hard ones, and all kinds of weird exceptions get carved out for them, even when the exception isn't explicitly in the statute. It's not possible for the legislature to think of every possible contingency.

Here's a hypothetical: Chet and Chelsea get married. They both hate kids, so just to be extra-sure they never have any Chet gets a vasectomy and Chelsea has her tubes tied. Chelsea later sues for a fault-based divorce on the grounds that Chet repeatedly cheated on her.

Chet argues that he should not be required to share his personal property with or pay alimony to Chelsea because they were never married. He points to the fact that their marriage was purposefully non-procreative and that the judge should consequently declare it a legal nullity. Why shouldn't the judge declare that the marriage never existed and therefore Chet has no obligations to Chelsea?

If Chet instead dies and Chelsea later claims his Social Security benefits, why shouldn't the Feds go after her for fraudulently claiming benefits to which she isn't entitled?
11.3.2005 12:32pm
Medis:
Joel B.,

If I understand correctly, I think you are arguing that we don't really celebrate grandmother's marriage at all. Instead, according to you we find such marriages "quaint", which I take it means to you something like "not actually a good marriage". I guess I just don't share that feeling: I do think grandmother's marriage, and marriages like it, are not just "quaint", but also worth celebrating, and I see them as "good marriages".

Incidentally, I'm not sure what relevance your legal fiction argument has. Yes, for the Rule Against Perpetuities, we entertain the legal fiction of the fertile octogenarian. But I am raising a point about actual norms, not legal fictions, and I see grandmother's second marriage as not just legal, but actually as good.
11.3.2005 12:34pm
Joel B.:
I admit readily, that the couples you describe exist, in addition, I readily concede that regardless of this debate people will go about their relationships in whatever way they choose.

I do want to say I don't think your relationship is crafted for the sole purpose of destroying society.

And I agree that couple who have no attempt desire or whatever at having children are legally considered married, but where I think we disagree is that I think still to some degree society does not view childless marriages equally with marriages with children.

Maybe, it's that you don't see this, but I think it is true, even in places like California that are pretty darn progressive, being married is tied closely with so...when are you having children. Society expects it of most marrieds, and marrieds who say from the start or stop the conversation by saying oh...we're not having kids... I think are viewed differently.

That's just the way it is, and as someone pointed out, there are inefficiencies in life, so we accept for ease and convenience that the state ought not mandate fertility awareness before marriage, and also, but, for the same ease and convenience we can say that the opposite inference is true of SS couples.

Even then marriage, without children is frankly, kind of silly, for my wife and I for example in the past we'd be substantially "better off" tax-wise being unmarried, that penalty has lessened. It's not until you start getting the Child Tax Credits, that the tax benefits really start kicking in. As for all the miscellaneous fringe benefits, I don't know how useful those are considering most employers charge an arm and a leg to cover a spouse as opposed to just oneself, so covering a spouse is kind of a waste if you're both working. So I've never really understood that argument.
11.3.2005 12:39pm
Joel B.:
Wrong. If you are going to throw in Biblical Stories as cultural underpinnings, you have to acknowlege that Joseph was not involved in the insemination of Mary.

If Jesus was born with the assistance of an outside agency other than his legal father, then what is the justification for denying it to everyone else? If Joseph made no genetic contribution to the child, what did his gender matter?

How would a lesbian couple having a child with a donor be different?

If you want "cultural underpinnings" you surely cannot discount the Holy Family.


Whoa, oh my...How would a lesbian couple having a child with a donor be different. Again, sometimes I wonder why I bother, if that's your perspective. Uh...maybe because the father of Jesus was God, I mean hey just a little difference.

However, in direct conflict with your underlying point, that Mary and Joseph did not have children together, it should also be noted that Joseph and Mary went on to have children of their own. James being the foremost example.
11.3.2005 12:45pm
Todd H.:
Joel,

Does this mean that you would accept, if such a thing were possible, marriage for lesbian and gay couples with children if lesbian and gay couples without children could still be excluded?
11.3.2005 12:49pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"And now SSM advocates want to use their pain for their gain to destroy marriage....ARGHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhh.... "

Its amazing that you would think people fighting for the ability to get legally married are somehow 'destroying' it. How does that work exactly?

The procreation argument is just a dodge anyway - 14% of legally married people never pass on their genes for one reason or another - adding the few same gender marriages that don't is a drop in the bucket. Nearly 50% of american children are being raised by other than their 2 genetic contributors. Marriage is about raising children, regardless of their source, not having them. People can have children without government interference just fine.
11.3.2005 12:50pm
Joel B.:
Does this mean that you would accept, if such a thing were possible, marriage for lesbian and gay couples with children if lesbian and gay couples without children could still be excluded?

I don't know how I would feel yet, but I do think at the point science can fertilize an egg with an egg, it will be very hard to argue convincingly against same sex marriage for lesbians. Sperm fertilzing sperm of course is certainly much more unlikely, but that raises the same issue. I don't know that that answers your question.

I will say I don't necessarily like the idea, as it seems like it could make men, well more "obsolete." Of course, what will I care I'll probably have passed on. But I do think SSM will eventually become accepted if that happens.
11.3.2005 12:55pm
Gerald A. (mail):
The single biggest argument against gay marriage is that once you have gay married couples it seems there can't logically be a prohibition against gay adoptions, which already happens in many cases unfortunately anyway, but shouldn't. Obviously some don't see a problem with putting a child into such a situation but many do. I think a child should ideally have one mother and one father, as most people had. Adoptions first and foremost should be for the child's welfare, not the adopting couple's benefit. If they benefit too, fine but they're not the priority. It's amazing how this issue is ignored with the gay marriage debate.

A predictable argument that many children don't have the ideal two parent home are an obvious illogical evasion. To the extent that's the result of government policies, i.e. welfare, that's also regrettable but doesn't justify another bad policy. To the extent it's just people doing what they choose with their lives or uncontrollable circumstances like death, it's irrelevant.
11.3.2005 12:58pm
shell (mail) (www):
Joel B says:
Well she's related in the sense that the child would be like a niece or nephew, but most would agree that a niece or nephew is not the same as son or daughter. I mean heck we're all "related" at some point, i.e. Mitochodrial Eve. But that doesn't change the fact that the "unity" was between the brother and the partner. Not the sister and her partner.


Do you realize how offensive this statement is to adopted children? I was raised by my real mom and dad. It just happens that my real Dad did not contribute any of my DNA. I have three siblings that are biologically the offspring of both parents. By your logic, Dad wouldn't feel as "united" to me as to my siblings, and if I had been the only kid, my parents marriage wouldn't have meant as much as it did once my sister came along.

And do you really think that heterosexuals are the only ones who know the pain of childlessness? I really don't think you can support that contention.
11.3.2005 1:07pm
KenB (mail):
Gerald A.,

It's amazing how this issue is ignored with the gay marriage debate.

Perhaps you should read all of Professor Carpenter's posts before complaining about issues that are being ignored.
11.3.2005 1:13pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"However, in direct conflict with your underlying point, that Mary and Joseph did not have children together, it should also be noted that Joseph and Mary went on to have children of their own. James being the foremost example."

Actually I just recently read elsewhere that James is considered to have been Joseph's from a previous marriage. Isn't xtian mythology that the Virgin Mary STAYED the virgin Mary?
11.3.2005 1:15pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
(I may have skipped this point in some of the comments.)

Homosexuality was accepted in anicient Greece and Rome. But when two Greeks or Romans married, is was a man and a woman. Essentially the same throughout Western history, up until just recently, here in the US.

Whatever variations there have been on the theme - polygamy, inter-family, etc - have always held to the N men + N women (N >= 1, as they say in math). Polygamy isn't there so the women can carry on; neither in Mormon Utah nor Turkish harems.

The argument is not so much about whether procreation is the primary aim of marriage, but rather whether a long-standing institution is going to be trashed for the satisfaction of a small and vocal minority.
11.3.2005 1:21pm
Antonin:
Gerald A:

Why shouldn't gay adoption happen? There are lots of kids who need loving, stable homes, and many gay and lesbian families are desperate to provide that but aren't allowed to.

So far, none of the studies on this issue have found any statistically significant difference between kids raised by straight parents and those raised by gay praents on any measurable indicator of well-being. These studies aren't completely dispositive because they suffer from the sampling problems endemic to all studies of gays and lesbians, but the one-sidedness of the results strongly indicates that if there is an effect either way, it's very small. If it exists at all, it's negligible compared to the difference between having one straight parent and having two straight parents, or rich parents rather than poor ones.

So we're depriving a kid of the known benefits of having two loving parents based on purely speculative harms that could conceivably result from both parents being the same sex.

Elliot
11.3.2005 1:22pm
Medis:
Gerald A.,

Actually, I think there is a lot of discussion of adoption going on in thse comments, if you look around.

Incidentally, would you be satisfied with a preference for straight couples in adoption, rather than a complete prohibition on gay couples adopting? I ask because that is usually what we do with adoption factors. For example, it might be better for the child if the parents have college degrees, or an above-average household income. Accordingly, adoption agencies often have q preference for couples with college degrees and a preference for couples with above-average household incomes, but that is not the same thing as an absolute prohibition against adoption by couples without college degrees or without above-average household income. Indeed, one factor may balance out the other (eg, a successful businessperson without a college degree might be preferable to a highly-educated person of lesser means).
11.3.2005 1:25pm
Antonin:
Bob Van Burkleo:


Actually I just recently read elsewhere that James is considered to have been Joseph's from a previous marriage. Isn't xtian mythology that the Virgin Mary STAYED the virgin Mary?


That's a matter of some dispute among scholars. As a theological matter, I believe it's only Catholics who hold as a matter of doctrine that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life.
11.3.2005 1:25pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Mr. Carpenter says:

"The idea that the incidence of homosexuality in a society varies with the degree of legal repression or acceptance shown toward homosexuality has no empirical support."


He evidently didn't look very hard before making this assertion. We posted a recent CDC study a few months ago that showed a huge increase (double or triple) of Americans reporting participation in homosexual behavior. We also have the example of the ancient Greeks, where evidence suggests their acceptance of homosexual behavior led to much more of the behavior.

It would also be interesting to know if Mr. Carpenter is aware of Stanley Kurtz's writing on the effects of gay 'marriage' in Scandinavia. There is evidence that gay marriage has a negative effect on traditional marriage and procreation.
11.3.2005 1:29pm
Antonin:
Mike Z:

The argument is not so much about whether procreation is the primary aim of marriage, but rather whether a long-standing institution is going to be trashed for the satisfaction of a small and vocal minority.


I think the argument is really about whether proposed changes to a longstanding institution constitute trashing it or improving it.
11.3.2005 1:30pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
I would second Joel B.'s notion that society not only looks down on intentionally-childless marriages, but is actively disturbed by them as well. I'm 30 and married. I constantly get asked when we're having kids. When I say that we don't want any kids, the reaction is almost always:

1. Refusal to believe me ("oh, you'll change your mind"), and/or

2. Horror and offense

Now obviously I think it's worth being married even without kids (in fact I think I take marriage more seriously then most). But in my experience, society absolutely thinks marriage is about procreation and expects couples to breed. It actively offends and disturbs people to find that a married couple won't be procreating. That same attitude seeps over into SSM, and I don't really think it's too much of a double-standard.
11.3.2005 1:31pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Right Antonin, we can learn more about whether kids need a mother and father from a limited study by some Marxist Ivy League sociology professor than by thousands of years of human experience. Or perhaps not.
11.3.2005 1:33pm
Antonin:
TE,AFJ:
It would also be interesting to know if Mr. Carpenter is aware of Stanley Kurtz's writing on the effects of gay 'marriage' in Scandinavia. There is evidence that gay marriage has a negative effect on traditional marriage and procreation.
Does it really need to be pointed out that there is no gay marriage in Scandanavia?
11.3.2005 1:35pm
Medis:
Law Student Kate,

Is that really a universal reaction, or merely a common one? Because I think you are sneaking in an "absolutely" after you merely started with an "almost always". And that "almost always" was with reference to people actually asking you about kids, so what about the people who aren't asking at all?

All that said: I think it is true that the norm-reinforcement with respect to procreation remains quite common and effective, which is why gay marriages aren't much of a threat to the future of the species (even if they really undermined those norms--I tend to think the opposite).
11.3.2005 1:38pm
Chimaxx (mail):
even in places like California that are pretty darn progressive, being married is tied closely with so...when are you having children. Society expects it of most marrieds, and marrieds who say from the start or stop the conversation by saying oh...we're not having kids... I think are viewed differently.


I'm sure that is true for people marrying in their 20 or early 30s who don't already have kids. But if you have kids going into the marriage (the Gulf War widow remarrying, say), they may say "So are you going to have more kids?" without an expectation one way or the other. And if both members of the couple getting married are in their mid-40s or beyond, does anyone truly ask "so when are you gonna have kids?" even if it's a first marriage for both and neither has kids already?

On the other hand, I fully expect that once same-sex marriage is more widely legal, and more same-sex couples are marrying in their 20s and early 30s, they'll start being pressured by family and friends to have kids. And just as most of the people who casually ask "so...when are you gonna have kids" now don't delve into the messy details of your sex life and any assistive technologies you may be using/considering/have tried but abandoned, so they won't with the same-sex couples. They'll just ask "So...when are you gonna have kids" and leave the couple to wrestle with the issues of adoption/surrogacy, etc.
11.3.2005 1:38pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Antonin:

Does it really need to be pointed out that there is no gay marriage in Scandanavia?


The End of Marriage in Scandinavia by Stanley Kurtz
11.3.2005 1:39pm
Gabriel Malor:
TE,AFJ:

We posted a recent CDC study a few months ago that showed a huge increase (double or triple) of Americans reporting participation in homosexual behavior.


The key phrase is reporting participation. The Editors seem to equate increase in self-reporting as an increase in the event itself. Is it really more likely that more people are participating in homosexual acts as a result of wider acceptance OR that more people are comfortable reporting homosexual acts as a result of wider acceptance?
11.3.2005 1:41pm
Medis:
Chimaxx,

I share the same intuition. To put it bluntly, mothers will want to become grandmothers even if their daughters have wives.
11.3.2005 1:41pm
Antonin:
TE,AFJ:
Right Antonin, we can learn more about whether kids need a mother and father from a limited study by some Marxist Ivy League sociology professor than by thousands of years of human experience. Or perhaps not.
Next you'll be telling us that we can learn more about physics from thousands of years of human experience than we can from Ivy League physics professors.

What, exactly, in that thousands of years of human experience teaches us that kids need "a mother and father" rather than "two parents"?
11.3.2005 1:42pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
No of course it isn't absolute. I get that reaction from people who tend to be more religious and/or traditional of course.

I was actually just trying to point out that the people that oppose SSM on procreation grounds are *also* generally opposed to opposite-sex non-procreative marriages. So my point isn't that they're right but that they're more consistent than some here are arguing.

Also, to extend this to Medis' remarried grandma example, I think many traditionalists would not only not celebrate her re-marriage but actually be upset by it. I know that when the patriarch of my husband's family died, many of his siblings were very upset when widowed Grandma "replaced" him a few years later (and she was just dating, not remarrying).
11.3.2005 1:43pm
Antonin:
Law Student Kate:

If they were really consistent, they'd refuse to consider Grandma's marriage valid. There's a difference between considering something a bad idea and considering it fundamentally illigitimate. Some years ago one of my friends married a guy all of her friends hated. We told her that she was making a mistake, she shouldn't marry the guy, and to this day I'm not convinced it was a good idea. But all of us recognize that he really is her husband, and we have to treat him that way.
11.3.2005 1:51pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
Antonin - that's because the law exists that way now. No one is trying to get the law changed, like SSM proponents are.

But let's just pretend that the current law did not allow for non-procreative marriages (say, by barring marriage to those over the age of 50 and requiring those under 50 to sign 'Intent to Reproduce' pledges). If I, and other intentionally childless couples, started agitating for an extension of the right to marry, I have no doubt that those that are opposed to SSM would also be opposed to that extension. And to an extension for old, non-fertile couples.

Thus, my point is simply that appealing to SSM-opponents by pointing out the existence of non-procreative opposite-sex couples is a losing strategy, because they don't think those marriages are valid either. Joel has said as much, and I experience it all the time. So as a strategic matter, there are other, better, arguments to make. This one is a loser.
11.3.2005 2:03pm
ericvfsu (mail):
I think Joel B. made an unfortunate choice of words whn he described older marriages as being quaint. Allow me to take a stab at describing the sentiment he may have been driving at.

I am a married man with three children. Since marrying my lovely wife, I find certain feelings reflected back at me from family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. Those feelings include respect, inclusion, hope (for the future), tenderness, sympathy, even trepidation (marriage is hard work, you know). This response from my community is not just because they are happy for me and my wife and are pleased to know that we will be there for each other in the coming years (and that we will thus be more stable members of the community). They know that our family is the future - we are what will carry their legacy forward. It is a very profound connection.

When an older couple (past likely child-bearing years) marries there is may be every bit as much joy and love as when I married. But is there that profound connection (born of hope) with the community I spoke about above?

By the way, I strongly support same-sex marriage essentially for the reasons that Dale has been discussing. I think that society will always have a reverence for young married (opposite sex) couples. They will always represent the future. Allowing SSM will not change this.
11.3.2005 2:13pm
Medis:
Law Student Kate,

I suspect there are in fact some people who would not celebrate grandmother's second marriage, although in that particular situation it may not actually have helped that they were just dating, and it obviously could have been personal.

But regardless, there may in fact be some people who would consistently be the sort to tell you that you should have kids and who would also not celebrate grandmother's marriage because she is too old to have children.

But here is the thing: I think a lot of people would encourage you to have kids AND they would also celebrate grandmother's marriage. I'll even be so bold as to claim that would be most people, although I don't know for sure. And I think Dale's argument is basically directed at those people. I also think that those people show that the norms in favor of procreation are not really in tension with a broader range of good marriages.
11.3.2005 2:19pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
"The End of Marriage in Scandinavia by Stanley Kurtz"

Long debunked. Do a google search for Sweden, demographics, marriage and an nice study commissioned by the Swedish government shows how the trend to have fewer children and children initially out of wedlock has been going on since the 70's. The trend actually decreased post recognition of gay partnerships being blamed mostly on children of divorce are more prone to avoid marriage, women not leading housewife existences, and there is no need to marry in a socialist country until you actually do have children.

Then zip over to the Norway marriage and partnership registrations and see how in the years after same gender partnerships were allowed only about 1 in 250 regitrations were same gender and the number of heterogendered marriages increased disproportionately to the absolute population during the same time period. A humorous observation from the Stanley Krutz debacle - he rants about a Norweigian district near some university as some liberal hellhole - in the online records they record 4 gay partnerships in the years since they'd been allowed.

In non-socialist nations that allow same gender registration there has been no significant change in marriage patterns - blaming gay marriage for trends that were going on for decades earlier and ignoring the effect of socialism on the need to legally marry pre-childbirth is a bit transparently self-serving and disingenuous on Stanley's part.
11.3.2005 2:24pm
Medis:
ericvfsu,

I mostly agree, with the exception that I think there will still be many connections between grandmother's marriage and the aspirations of the community, even if they are not all the same. Indeed, I actually think grandmother's second marriage is, in its own unique way, quite encouraging to we young couples: if she liked marriage so much that she is willing to do it again, then marriage may not be half bad!

In fact, I think some opponents of gay marriage are on to something when they explain grandmother's second marriage (or even her first marriage once it extends to the older years) as part of the "cycle of life", or as "like other marriages in kind but not in fact", and so forth. I just think they are wrong about what makes for the crucial connections, and therefore are wrong to think that gay marriages are somehow going to be seen as outside the cycle of life, or not like other marriages in kind.
11.3.2005 2:27pm
SacSays (mail):
Just a quick point about "nonprocreative sexual acts." While it's pretty clear from the comments that people assume this term means some form of sodomy, or mutual masturbation or something, I think it's important to realize that a heterosexual couple in which one or both uses birth control is engaging in a nonprocreative sexual act -- and that this amounts to one heck of a lot of the total sexal acts that go on in the modern world. In a world where birth control is fairly widely practiced, even (and maybe especially) among married couples, I think it's a bit important to focus a bit on how the intent to reproduce is (or at the very least can be) a conscious choice even for married couples, and that once they have determined that they have reached the family size they are comfortable with, they will continue to engage in sexual intimacy without any further intent to reproduce - i.e. engage in nonprocreative sexual acts.
11.3.2005 2:27pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dale,

You offered the following as a counter to the "sterility objection" which has been more often referred to on Volokh as the "sterility strawman".

  1. Most opposite-sex couples can reproduce, but no gay couple can.

  2. the failure to require married couples to procreate is only a concession to the impracticality and intrusiveness of imposing an actual procreation requirement.


There is a third argument which I'd like for you to address.

Naturally all opposite sex couples can reproduce. Where they can't it is due to a disability, either brought about by the infirmities of age or defective organs or on purpose by medical procedures or medications.

The first reason, disability, provides a neccissary distinction that provides the very argument you expect from marriage supporters. Liberal democratic cultures seem to try to compensate for disabilities that people may have. Restoring as best as possible the capacities robbed by their disability. Assuming that medicine does not provide the cure, allowing them to marry and adopt is the best we can do at this point.

To wit: If you are arguing that infertile couples should not be able to marry, you are arguing against the humanitarian outreach to helping out the disabled.

Are you really arguing against the measures we take socially to restore the disabled to do what naturally people can do? Sterility is a handicap, Homosexuality is not a handicap. If so your gay chauvanism is showing brite and clear for everyone to see, even more so than when you argue extending benefits dispersal by extending marriage and ommit other same-sex non-romantic couples dependant on each other and raising children.
11.3.2005 2:45pm
John H (mail) (www):
Would someone, ANYONE, please actually attempt to directly address the question of why it is okay for the genuinely, truly sterile to marry, but not gay couples?

The man-woman marriage has the RIGHT to conceive children together. The CONCEPT of children being born to them is perfectly fine. The concept of children being born to siblings or children is NOT perfectly fine. Likewise, the concept of chidren being born from two women or two men, or from one person (cloning), or a combination of animal DNA or DNA from any source other than a man and a woman, should not be regarded as perfectly fine. Same-sex couples should not have a right to conceive children together, it would be unsafe and unethical.

Procreation technology that could allow a lesbian couple to combine their genes and create a baby girl (they would only have girls!) is only three to five years away. We should get Congress to ban this technology before someone thinks they want to use it. All people should be the union of a man and a woman.
11.3.2005 2:50pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Isn't there something of a problem in your argument, aimed ostensibly at conservatives, that assumes the current state of heterosexual marriage is A OK. We don't think so. From divorce, to adultery, to the widespread phenomenon of DINKs, the west is unhealthy, particularly in its confrontations with the self-confident and fecund Muslim world.

We are contracepting ourselves out of existence and importing third worlders to do work that large American families would be able to do. It's hardly a healthy situation. To say gay marriage would be more of the same is hardly an important and persuasive appeal to conservatives who reject the major premises of the sexual revolution, such as the idea that sex is primarily about personal expression, that procreation is optional, that "consenting adults" can do generally what they want, that repression and regulation of sexual urges is bad, and all the rest.
11.3.2005 2:52pm
Medis:
JohnH,

I'm sure you have covered this before, but if lesbian-only reproductive technology was actually safe and involved no other genetic modifications, do you still think it would unethical? If so, why?
11.3.2005 2:53pm
ericvfsu (mail):
Medis,

Marriages other than procreative ones can be loving, supportive, satisfying, comforting, challenging, beautiful, and so much more. In short a microcosm of some of the things that make life most worth living. The community sees these possibilities in all marriages and lends their support (their connection).

In procreative marriages there is an added factor - the tangible continuation of society itself. This adds an additional and profound nature to the connection. As we pass through our cycle of child-bearing years that additional part of the connection fades a little. And maybe as we loosen that part of our connection with society, we in turn strengthen those connections with young marrieds. Surely this is part of the cycle.

I am sorry to go so far off topic. I just believe that it is important to express my opinion that SSM will not jeopardize the support that society offers to young married (opposite-sex) couples. And I believe that opinion should be heard from someone that has felt that societal support and knows how important it is.
11.3.2005 2:54pm
Medis:
Roach,

What is wrong with legal immigration as a supplement to domestic births?
11.3.2005 2:55pm
Roach (mail) (www):
I also think missing from this argument and the definitional point is some notion of telos. Conservatives belive that nature is not random but has important purposes built within it, and that conforming to those purposes is a large part of what morality consists of. Humans are uniquely free and must use their freedom to discern those purpose and conform to them, unlike the instinctual natures of animals. The nature or natural law question asks what is sex for? What is it supposed to do? And what is marriage for? What is it supposed to do? It's not simply an assertion that it doesn't include homosexuals, though it doesn't.

I think Humana Vitae--the Catholic encyclical on abortion--rightly predicted that when sexual morality becomes unmoored from procreation, as it has in the west through the widespread use and availability of abortion and contraception, that it will lead to further decadence, alienation, unhappiness, and the unraveling of all sexual morality.

This is the point of the various slippery slope arguments. While you have made a conservative argument of sorts for gay marriage, it's not the dominant voice in favor of gay marriage. Gay marriage is an extension of the "consenting adults" view that people can decide for themselves what sex means to them. That every individual can create his own private ethics of sex and relationships. Many people, especially libertarians and liberals, see nothing wrong with this. But the important point is that gay marriage would be seen as validating this view and would lend it further strength as the dominant organizing principle of our society's approach to marriage. As such, polygamy, polyamory, and all the rest will become more plausible and harder to defeat.

Well meaning, decent, and humane people rightfully are concerned that our society does not have a proper place for gays that is not on the fringe, alienated, unhappy, and the rest. But it's hard to say in extending marriage that we will draw the line here and go no further. What will say when the next case is made on the basis of the same liberal arguments that Carpenter's points are so clearly distinct from are made on behalf of, for example, the right of immigrants to continue their polygamous relationships. We'll have disarmed ourselves and will have to rethink sexual morality from scratch, when , for now, prejudice and taboo give high brow natural law arguments some support.
11.3.2005 2:58pm
Medis:
ericvfsu,

I think you and I are pretty much in agreement. I'd just toss in that gay couples raising kids (or any couples raising adopted children, or so on) also participate in the continuation of society, and I think they will eventually be perceived by most people as doing so.
11.3.2005 2:59pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Medis, I need not derail the numerous conservative arguments about legal immigration, but, briefly, we believe that massive, unassimilated numbers of immigratns, legal and illegal, are changing our culture for the worse.
11.3.2005 3:01pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Gabriel:
The study showed a tripling of the people reporting the behavior, from ~4% to ~12%. I'm reporting the data, your engaging in conjecture about the data. We also have the ancient Greek experience to consider.


Antonin:
The differences between a hard science like physics and sociology should really be entirely obvious.


Bob Van Burkleo:
Saying "it's been debunked" does nothing at all to debunk it.
11.3.2005 3:03pm
Medis:
Roach,

I'm actually quite comfortable with teological reasoning. Personally, I think gay people having gay sex and entering gay marriages are doing what is natural, rational, and good.
11.3.2005 3:04pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Antonin:

If they were really consistent, they'd refuse to consider Grandma's marriage valid.

No, not at all. First, arguing the rare exception does not refute the rule. Second, two elderly people marrying does not violate the natural complementarity of a man and a woman the way a same-sex relationship does.
11.3.2005 3:06pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dale,

I see a statement like this and it makes me wonder...

The second response to the sterility objection – that a procreation requirement would be unduly intrusive – is equally unavailing.

Now there are two arguments you are declaring victory over with that statement. The only reason I can find that you think the first was unavailing is the following...

Whether gay marriage is a good exception to the asserted general rule that marriage is about procreation depends upon arguments extrinsic to the procreation argument, e.g., whether encouraging stable gay coupling through marriage would benefit gay families and society.

There are three problems with your counter here...

  1. You have admitted that you have no basis for whether marriage will benefit gay families and society, just personal theories.

  2. You have yet to argue how "marriage" is required for these benefits. If you are saying that an exception should be made, don't you need to also argue that there is no other way but by exception that these benefits can be obtained?

  3. Other currently non-marryable couples (even non-romantic couples) fit your general criteria for benefiting from a marriage license. These include a mother daughter team raising children, or two aunts raising children, etc... If by your argument an exception should be made on the criteria you specify, then these should also be let in. And marriage has turned from away from even being about romance, which honestly the GLBT laughs at and will refuse to accept. This brings you in your own crossfire as you concluded yesterday that polygamy doesn't have enough support to every be considered.

    If neither the right nor the left will line up behind you, your prospects of success are very dim. So no matter what we do about gay marriage, polygamy will not arrive, especially in the West, where liberal individualism, sex equality, and the loss of polygamy’s own religious adherents, all combine to make it a very rare and dying practice.


    But when you lose the support of marriage advocates and gay-rights advocates you have the same problem. I think in your own way you just provided the very arguments that show just what a threat to marriage your advocacy is.


In short your counter that you made is not only unavailing, but works out against your very premise.
11.3.2005 3:06pm
Medis:
The Editors,

And personally, I don't think two gay people getting married violates the natural complementarity of gay people.
11.3.2005 3:08pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:

I'm sure you have covered this before, but if lesbian-only reproductive technology was actually safe and involved no other genetic modifications, do you still think it would unethical? If so, why?

It is a denial of the innate differences between men and women, and the resulting benefit to a child of having both a mother and a father.
11.3.2005 3:08pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:

And personally, I don't think two gay people getting married violates the natural complementarity of gay people.

It violates the natural complementarity of the two genders. Please try to read more carefully before responding.
11.3.2005 3:12pm
John H (mail) (www):
Medis: "if lesbian-only reproductive technology was actually safe and involved no other genetic modifications, do you still think it would unethical? If so, why?"

They'd have only girls. They'd only be able to do it if they had money, so it would seperate rich lesbians from poor lesbians, unless it would be publicly funded. It would become an industry that needs as many women to be lesbians as possible. It would siphon off research for curing and preventing real disease. There is no medical need to develop this technology, not being able to have a child with someone of the same sex is not a disease or health problem, it is actually the picture of health. It would open the door to genetic engineering by numbing the public so they can't oppose science's right to create people in any way it wants. Men and women should need each other to reproduce, we should all be the union of a man and a woman.

And, it won't ever be safe enough to risk creating a person that way. Problems in gene expression might not show themselves until the next generation. Animal studies would not compare, as they have different patterns of gene expression. It should be made illegal now, and if a future Congress ever decides to allow it, then of course they will allow it. At that point, Civil Unions could be converted to marriages with the full procreation rights of marriage preserved.
11.3.2005 3:12pm
Medis:
The Editors,

Hmm. It seems to me like it is actually a celebration of the importance of genetic diversity and the wonder of new human life.
11.3.2005 3:13pm
Designbot:
It's ironic that the story of Sarah is held up as an example of traditional marriage.

If you'll recall, Sarah was initially unable to have children.

So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” —Genesis 16:2, NKJV

Sarah's servant, Hagar, served as a surrogate mother for Abraham &Sarah, giving birth to Ishmael. It's true that Sarah did go on to have Isaac at 90, but this is clearly referred to as a miracle.

So, the "cultural model" for our traditional marriage is a three-person polygamous relationship (one partner in slavery to the others), involving a surrogate mother and supernatural fertility enhancement techniques to overcome the initial couple's sterility.

Do I have that right?
11.3.2005 3:14pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):

Hmm. It seems to me like it is actually a celebration of the importance of genetic diversity and the wonder of new human life.

This is an empty, meaningless sentence.
11.3.2005 3:14pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Gabriel Malor: “The key phrase is reporting participation.”

Indeed, the old “masturbation effect” (30 years of study show a strong correlation between educational level and admitting to masturbating with whatever frequency).
11.3.2005 3:15pm
PeterH:
Thus, my point is simply that appealing to SSM-opponents by pointing out the existence of non-procreative opposite-sex couples is a losing strategy, because they don't think those marriages are valid either


Kate, you are getting sloppy in your use of the language. I doubt that there are too many people out there who think that childless couples don't have a legally contracted marriage.

They may disapprove. They may feel the marriages are lesser. They may, if they have reason to believe that the couple has actively chosen to be childless, feel that they are immoral. All those are up to the individual to decide.

But the fact remains, they are legal, and social disapproval is not an impediment.

And you know what? I think that the exact same is true of same-sex couples. People are welcome (if wrong-headed) to judge us negatively.

None of the arguments I have made, and I suspect few of the arguments others have made were about approval (though I freely admit I wouldn't mind the approval to happen) but rather about the legalities.

Similarly, I don't argue that there are people who feel the samewhat about openly non-monogamous couples, about couples who are into S&M, about couples whose ages are "too far" apart, about mixed-race marriages, about people who are on their 6th or 7th spouse through serial divorce, or about people who get drunk in Vegas and marry a relative stranger. And they are welcome to those judgements, whether I agree or not.

But still, all of those marriages are legal. Since mere social disapproval isn't enough of a reason there, why is it in our case?
11.3.2005 3:20pm
Medis:
JohnH,

I realize I am asking you to answer what you view as impossible hypotheticals, but I'm just curious about whether you think there is an independent reason for your claim, "Men and women should need each other to reproduce, we should all be the union of a man and a woman." Most of what you are describing sounds like you anticipate bad side-effects (the reduction of spending on medical research, the safety issues, the slippery slope to genetic engineering, and so on), but I was wondering if even in the absence of those effects, you would oppose same sex reproduction.
11.3.2005 3:20pm
Joel B.:
So, the "cultural model" for our traditional marriage is a three-person polygamous relationship (one partner in slavery to the others), involving a surrogate mother and supernatural fertility enhancement techniques to overcome the initial couple's sterility.

Uh..hmmm...that's an interesting way to read it, I mean Hagar was never thought of as married to Abraham, and Sarah after the event sent both her and Ishmael away. Which also, ended up leaving behind it, two sets of people who have for quite a long time been in heated conflict, the sons of Isaac, ,and the sons of Ishmael. The story is better read as a drastic warning against such measures, and instead trusting in God for his provision even in the womb of a 90 year old woman. Who laughed when told she would have a child.

Sarah is not held up as the example of "traditional marriage," but that any opposite sex pairing regardless of how unlikely still has the miraculous possibility of new life.
11.3.2005 3:22pm
Medis:
The Editors,

I could try rephrasing, but I suspect you view my statement as "meaningless" because you disagree. But for what it is worth, I can understand you, even though I disagree with you.
11.3.2005 3:23pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dale,

if we were serious that procreation is the only public interest in marriage – we could require prospective married couples to sign an affidavit stating that they are able to procreate and intend to procreate.

In some ways that gets around the over-intrusive inspection of marriage candidates. You know, such inspection isn't unheard of. Blood tests, bans on consanguin marriages, and even the ability to annul marriages that are sterile have historically been used.

Science has overcome the problems with blood rejection of babies and the privacy of the law has overcome the desire to test for diseases that would harm the child such as AIDS. The ban on consanguin relationships remains, and as mentioned above we deal with disabilities in very different ways today.

So, you feel that shortcutting the intrusion you could have them sign an affidavit declaring their abilities and intentions and still protect the procreative purpose of marriage? By presenting a solution that you feel is adequate to both sides, you then set up its lack of implementation as as proof that the underlying concerns are not really there.

One of the reasons the 800lb gorilla (the article outlining the procreative case for marriage) is still champ is that all the arguments weilded against it are answered already by it. If you really are arguing that an affidavit would be adequate to protect the procreative purpose of marriage, I refer then to the following...

Through what intrusive, all knowing crystal ball will we determine who truly cannot have children and who can? I personally know of many examples of couples who were thought to be infertile who later found themselves pregnant. One couple I know persued every possible infertility treatment. When all hope was exhausted they stopped trying to have children themselves and turned to adoption. In the very same month when they finalized their adoption of a beautiful baby girl, they discovered that the wife was pregnant. Another example includes a couple who had decided not to have children. The woman's tubes had been tied many years prior to her finding out she was pregnant. ...

The State and I cannot ignore the responsibility of what my wife and I can create. My marriage is a commitment to my spouse, but even more relevant to the state it is a commitment to my children. Barring death, I will be there for my children even after they are capable of caring for themselves and their own children.


Simply put an affidavit is worthless in this case. It does not encourage people who may have kids to be married, because they may not want to have kids and cannot sign the affidavit. But the commitment needs to be in place prior to the birth so that both partners know, that if it happens (and who knows it won't) the other won't skedaddle. In this case it acts like an insurance policy, and as you know you don't have to sign an affidavit saying you will get into an accident, or that you can get into an accident (the ownership of a car and possession of a license is sufficient for that) to get car insurance.

If I have it right, then your appeal to a solution that isn't implemented is "unavailing" :)
11.3.2005 3:27pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
SacSays:

In a world where birth control is fairly widely practiced, even (and maybe especially) among married couples, I think it's a bit important to focus a bit on how the intent to reproduce is (or at the very least can be) a conscious choice even for married couples, and that once they have determined that they have reached the family size they are comfortable with, they will continue to engage in sexual intimacy without any further intent to reproduce - i.e. engage in nonprocreative sexual acts.

Yesterday I was exchanging posts with another commentator on an earlier thread (a conversation I hope to continue, probably here, as work permits). The poster seems sincerely ambivalent about same-sex marriage, but was very concerned about population decline.

While I don’t share the poster’s concern about American fertility rates (which have remarkably stable for the past 30 years), I can’t help but question why, if producing babies was the societal need, would one not focus more attention on something other than same-sex marriage? The connection seems terribly remote and unlikely to do anything to address the perceived risk.

As near as I can tell, the poster wasn’t overly concerned about whether couples (of whatever gender) created babies the old-fashioned way (obviously the most common method: then, now, and in the future) or through other means. Likewise the poster seemed to value the societal contribution of raising children (although that apparently wasn’t the pressing need).

Mental note: must continue that conversation.
11.3.2005 3:28pm
Law Student Kate (mail):

But still, all of those marriages are legal. Since mere social disapproval isn't enough of a reason there, why is it in our case?


PeterH - Because all those types of marriage that you outlined are already legal, and only by default - they slip in under the existing rules, not because anyone consciously and purposely changed the law for their inclusion.

So for the purposes of procreation, while there may be no principled difference between non-monogamous couples, purposely childless couples, and same-sex couples, it's only the last category that requires an active change in the law. As I said before, if the law currently prohibited the other non-procreative marriages, I'm quite sure that many SSM-opponents would oppose them just as strongly. See Roach's comments above for an example of that view.

It's simply very difficult to persuade someone to change an existing law - which is both why marriage hasn't been opened up to same sex couples AND why it hasn't been closed off to non-procreative opposite sex couples.
11.3.2005 3:35pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Medis: I'm sure you have covered this before, but if lesbian-only reproductive technology was actually safe and involved no other genetic modifications, do you still think it would unethical? If so, why?

No ethical issues at all, presuming you see nothing wrong with male and female simply being competing genotypes where one would eventually simply displace the other. None at all, assuming you don't mind any of the deformities and suffering that result from the errors made on the way to finding this "safe" lesbian-only reproductive technology. Nope, don't see any ethical issues there at all. The idea of sacrificing however many babies it takes to work out the problems in the system so that some baby might be created that doesn't have any icky man DNA in it is totally worth it.

Basically, if we want to make children out of abandoned tufts of hair I don't see any ethical reason we should not. After all, even if they are born and live a shortened or tortured life as a result, heck, it's still better than if we left them as a hair balls in the garbage can, right? Besides, maybe some good would come of it if we could experiment on them or something.

Nope, I'm with you. Screwing around with the basic facts of human reproduction can't possibly have any ethical issues at all. Good catch on John, there. Good to know we've got sharp eyes like yours out there guarding the ethical gateway for us!
11.3.2005 3:36pm
BobNelson (mail):

I would second Joel B.'s notion that society not only looks down on intentionally-childless marriages, but is actively disturbed by them as well. I'm 30 and married. I constantly get asked when we're having kids.


I'm gay and partnered for 25+ years. People are always asking me and my partner of 26 years why we never/don't adopt. When Canada extended marriage to same-sex couples, we were asked when we were getting married.

But in my experience, society absolutely thinks marriage is about procreation and expects couples to breed. It actively offends and disturbs people to find that a married couple won't be procreating.


Nevertheless, married you remain.



That same attitude seeps over into SSM, and I don't really think it's too much of a double-standard.


Then, for the sake of principle, get a divorce.
11.3.2005 3:39pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dale,

Further, this second response to the sterility objection suggests that the general rule of procreation must bend ... to the overriding needs and interests of society to help individuals settle down ...

The general rule of procreation doesn't bend to the interests of society to help individuals settle down. It is what gives it force, which is the root of the argument in the article, The Birds, The Bees, and The Massachusetts Supreme Court. I'll put it in even plainer: it is not an exception, it is an expectation.

Further, this second response to the sterility objection suggests that the general rule of procreation must bend ... to the interests of the couples unable or unwilling to live by the procreation purpose.

As argued in the post above, this is also not an exception it is an expectation.

The only real exception is based on disability — sterility that cannot be overcome with science. And it is very common in our society to see an exception made for the handicapped when that exception restores what naturally they would be able to do. To argue that gay and lesbian relationships deserve the same exception is not by arguing benefits, for many benefits such as social security checks and building regulations are made only to overcome handicaps, and specifically denied to others it might benefit. For instance, I don't get a social security check.

You'd have to argue above just showing a benefit, you'd have to argue that homosexuality was a handicap.

If that exception exists for non-procreative straight couples, why not for non-procreative gay couples? If it would be cruel or pointless to deny them marriage, why not gay couples? If there is an answer to this question, it cannot be found in the procreation argument.

I believe then that answers your question, and prvides the argument you claim to not have found.
11.3.2005 3:41pm
Chimaxx (mail):

Medis:
And personally, I don't think two gay people getting married violates the natural complementarity of gay people.



The Editors, American Federalist Journal:
It violates the natural complementarity of the two genders. Please try to read more carefully before responding.


I'm sure he did read it carefully and understand it. His responses to date have shown nothing less. Just because he reads, preceives and understands the rhetorical box you have set up does not mean he is obliged to stay within it.
11.3.2005 3:41pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Dale,

The rest of your arguments are summed up with your repeated use of the phrase "it is not clear then..."

Which we have to say is one of the major failings of your case that somehow a marriage certificate would benefit gay and lesbian couples and society, which you yourself have said is just a personal theory you have no proof of.

Stick a fork in him, he's done.
11.3.2005 3:47pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
BobNelson -

Apparently you this is impossible, but one can think that SSM-opponents are not hypocrites, and even see the logic of their arguments, without ultimately agreeing with them.
11.3.2005 3:52pm
Medis:
Law Student Kate,

And it might even be possible to persuade them (or vice-versa, of course).
11.3.2005 3:54pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:
No, there was nothing in your statement to either agree or disagree with, it was a meaningless statement.
11.3.2005 3:55pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I'm sure he did read it carefully and understand it. His responses to date have shown nothing less.

Funny, the quote you provided shows that without any doubt.

And personally, I don't think two gay people getting married violates the natural complementarity of gay people.


When the Editors point out that he is shifting the goal posts between same-sex and gender integrated couples, "it violates the natural complementarity of the two genders," it is either a bad-faith attempt or a misunderstanding. Would you rather the accusation be bad faith?

To further hammer in the point lets look at the word used...

Main Entry: com·ple·men·ta·ry
Function: adjective
1 : relating to or constituting one of a pair of contrasting colors that produce a neutral color when combined in suitable proportions
2 : serving to fill out or complete
3 : mutually supplying each other's lack
4 : being complements of each other
5 : characterized by the capacity for precise pairing of purine and pyrimidine bases between strands of DNA and sometimes RNA such that the structure of one strand determines the other


A gay/lesbian relationship is not complementary, as the definition clearly requires opposites or at least different things working together and finding extra capacity in the relationship.

Perhaps Medis is simply confusing (a difference being one small letter) with another word...

Main Entry: com·pli·men·ta·ry
Function: adjective
1 a : expressing or containing a compliment b : FAVORABLE
2 : given free as a courtesy or favor


That could have a simular effect, and not require distinct differences in the members of the relationship. In fact it shows how simularities compliment.

Gay/Lesbian: complimentary (same)
Marriage: complementary (potentcy coming through the combination of differences)

As any plumber will tell you, it takes a male and a female.
11.3.2005 3:58pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
"As any plumber will tell you..."
Even a gay plumber? :)
11.3.2005 4:02pm
Todd H.:
On Lawn: A gay/lesbian relationship is not complementary, as the definition clearly requires opposites or at least different things working together and finding extra capacity in the relationship.

Anyone who has ever had a friend of the same sex knows that sex is not the end all be all of opposition or difference. I have plenty of complimentarity with my male friends. And anyone who's ever had a spouse of the opposite sex, knows that profound similarities across the sex barrier exist in abundance. I have plenty of similarity with my wife. In short: it's easy to find two women who have more difference between them that a man and a woman. While I'm not saying that men and women do not have some essential differences, I do think that to believe the above statement one must rely on a set of ideas about gender that, if made explicit, wouldn't find much support in people's lived experience.
11.3.2005 4:08pm
Antonin:
TE,AFJ:
First, arguing the rare exception does not refute the rule. Second, two elderly people marrying does not violate the natural complementarity of a man and a woman the way a same-sex relationship does.
As for the first point, you've missed the issue. The argument is that the purported procreation rule is not the real rule. You claim that it is the true rule and we just accept that we do not cover all cases. But in this case, accommodating the purported "rare exception" carries a cost to society and simple, minimal-cost changes that would eliminate the "exception" are available, yet those changes are neither made nor advocated for. It would be easy to require those who wish to marry to sign an affidavit saying that they intend to procreate and nullify their marriages if they have not done so within, say, 10 years, or to prohibit post-menopausal women from marrying. That we do not do this indicates that we do not consider procreation to be the sole reason why we allow marriage.

As for the second point, you are moving the ball from procreation to "natural complementarity". Can you describe the exact nature of the "natural complementarity" you're talking about and why the law schold care about it?
11.3.2005 4:16pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Todd H.

Anyone who has ever had a friend of the same sex knows that sex is not the end all be all of opposition or difference.

You are talking orders of magnitudes less intrinsic difference. The differences between people inside of a gender does not unlock any capacity on the scale of the physical differences between a man and a woman.

Hence the plumber's razor. Two pipes may be very different and very complimentary to each other, but it still takes a male and a female. Thats complementary.

You are straining at gnats and swallowing camels there Todd.
11.3.2005 4:17pm
Chimaxx (mail):

When the Editors point out that he is shifting the goal posts between same-sex and gender integrated couples, "it violates the natural complementarity of the two genders," it is either a bad-faith attempt or a misunderstanding. Would you rather the accusation be bad faith?


No, it is simply rejecting the premise.

A gay/lesbian relationship is not complementary, as the definition clearly requires opposites or at least different things working together and finding extra capacity in the relationship.


And I know any number of long-term same-sex couples whose differences act synergistically, making them stronger, more productive and more valuable to their friends and family than either would be alone--which is precisely the second part of your definition.
11.3.2005 4:21pm
PeterH:
So for the purposes of procreation, while there may be no principled difference between non-monogamous couples, purposely childless couples, and same-sex couples, it's only the last category that requires an active change in the law.


That is a fact, true.

But surely you are not saying that the justification not to change the law is that it would require changing the law.

I've asked you to support your contention, not to describe the difficulty in implementing the change.

Please support the halfway position. If childlessness is a bar to marriage, why not actively work to bar the childless while holding the line against same-sex couples? What remains of the philosophical support other than anti-gay prejudice?
11.3.2005 4:21pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Todd H.: You ar abusing the word "complementarity"

Antonin:

It would be easy to require those who wish to marry to sign an affidavit...


We could do any number of things. But we don't need to do anything to know for a fact that as a rule, male-female couples can procreate and same-sex couples cannot.


Can you describe the exact nature of the "natural complementarity"


You should consult an introductory biology textbook. Or, per On Lawn, call a plumber. :)
11.3.2005 4:21pm
Medis:
I'd say gay people can complement each other under definitions 2, 3, and 4.

Of course, I didn't say gay people complement each other with respect to gender. But there is nothing more boring that arguing about what I did or didn't say.

The substantive point would be that I don't see gender complementarity within marriage as natural for gay people, and that is why I don't think gay marriage violates the "natural complementarity" of gay people.
11.3.2005 4:25pm
Todd H.:
On Lawn,

You are talking orders of magnitudes less intrinsic difference. The differences between people inside of a gender does not unlock any capacity on the scale of the physical differences between a man and a woman.

Nope. I'm talking about difference as more than mere bodies. (Though if we want to talk about bodies, it does seem that in our increasingly obese world, the difference between male and female bodies is becoming trivial, no matter what the piping.) You want to specify difference to genitalia, to those parts of biology that most matter for procreation. That's why you believe so wholeheartedly in the procreation argument. In my life, the important and meaningful differences that separate people are not merely those tied to anatonomy and are usually not organized around some ur-grouping of male and female.

To wit: I bet there'd be more heterosexuality in a marriage between you and me, On Lawn, than there is in the marriage I have with my wife.
11.3.2005 4:26pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

No, it is simply rejecting the premise.

What premise is rejected ... and how?

which is precisely the second part of your definition.

Ignoring the definition by claiming just a part of it is either bad-faith or a misunderstanding. Only you know for yourself.
11.3.2005 4:27pm
Medis:
Oh, and because I am in a whimsical mood:

I think gay people are like Lego pieces, not plumbing parts. And the thing about Legos, is that even though they are all shaped the same, they still fit together.
11.3.2005 4:28pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Or ask a carpenter, where butt-end joins are common.
11.3.2005 4:28pm
Jack John (mail):
But in this case, accommodating the purported "rare exception" carries a cost to society and simple, minimal-cost changes that would eliminate the "exception" are available, yet those changes are neither made nor advocated for.

This gets right back to "imposing your conception of the good" onto other people who don't share it. I reject utilitarianism and instrumentalist approaches toward policy issues. It conflicts with my sense of human dignity. Therefore, your cost/benefit analysis is nothing to me and the general rule is just fine. A majority of any legislature can do exactly the same without lacking a rational-basis. So why exactly should we care about YOUR argument? Remember, Carpenter has the burden of proof.

Yet all Dale has been doing is knocking down straw-men, he has yet to make his own case. He has even yet to distinguish gay marriage from polygamy (and to the extent that he may have, he suggested that polygamy had a stronger case and he had none whatsoever).
11.3.2005 4:29pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Todd,

I'm talking about difference as more than mere bodies.

I know what you were saying. Please re-read the reply. Everything you put here was already replied to. If you have any questions I remain available to help you understand.
11.3.2005 4:29pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis, two vaginas do not fit together. And a penis and an arsehole fit together like a fish needs a bicycle.
11.3.2005 4:31pm
PeterH:
On Lawn: You'd have to argue above just showing a benefit, you'd have to argue that homosexuality was a handicap.


You are very fond of this handicap thing. It must be terribly frustrating to you that nobody is buying it but you.

Even in the purely semantic sense, you are confusing inability with disability. The two are very different concepts.

Seems to me that you desperately want someone to buy into this disability idea because you want homosexuality to reflect a defect or flaw. If on the other hand, it is a natural variation, then a gay couple has no disability towards procreation, merely the inability to do so. It is within the perfectly normal and properly working natural expression of homosexuality not to include mutual fertility.

You could as easily argue that straight couples using contraception have a disability -- the disability NOT to have children by an act of will. It would require the same twisting of the meaning of the word. Mutual fertility is a natural (but not universal) fact of the heterosexual reality. Mutual infertility is a natural fact of the homosexual reality.

Harping on your point doesn't change it's falsity. There is no legal requirement for producing children in order to become or remain married. Society may "expect" whatever it wishes, but the fact remains that it does not now nor has it ever required it. The inability to do something that is not required does not constitute a disability that requires and exception. It is merely a fact. Since it is not a bar to straight couples marrying, it is insupportable to claim it as one for gay couples.
11.3.2005 4:35pm
BobNelson (mail):

Apparently you this is impossible, but one can think that SSM-opponents are not hypocrites, and even see the logic of their arguments, without ultimately agreeing with them.


The only "logic" in the argument that allows your "flawed" marriage and disallows mine is prejudice. Prejudice is not, in and of itself, hypocritical, of course. Harboring it while insisting that one doesn't, of course, is. (And no, I'm not talking about you.)
11.3.2005 4:36pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: but I was wondering if even in the absence of those effects, you would oppose same sex reproduction.

Maybe he thinks those disastrous effects are a natural complement to same sex reproduction, much as you think a penis and an arsehole are complementary. Hey, look, conflicting conceptions of the good.
11.3.2005 4:37pm
Medis:
Jack John,

I'd say that all depends on whose bodies you are talking about. Of course, it is artificial to look at just a particular part: the whole human body is involved in sex, and we now know that the most crucial part is actually the brain. When you consider the whole body, particularly the brain, gay male bodies best fit with other gay male bodies, lesbian bodies best fit with other lesbian bodies, and straight male bodies best fit with straight female bodies.
11.3.2005 4:37pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

I think gay people are like Lego pieces, not plumbing parts.

Hmm, interesting. I wonder if you have seen a lego piece? A lego piece uses the same principle as pipes. It seems a lego piece is hermaphroditic, it has both a male and female end.

That is not like homosexuality, now is it.

It seems odd the extent you will try to focus toys rather than the arguments. Editor's comment was valid, Chimaxx's retort was fruitless. I explained with an analogy and all of a sudden we are awash in cheap sexual innuendo.

Chimaxx,

I'll forbare the childish comedy.
11.3.2005 4:37pm
Chimaxx (mail):
On Lawn: When a definition includes "or" that explicitly means that something falls under that definition if it satisfies either half.

In your larger defintion, there were five points. Nothing I know of could simultaneously fulfill all of them, so clearly the dictionary intends that anything that fulfills any one of them is complementary.

It requires no bad faith to call my black coffee cup "light" simply because it ways very little. It does not have to be a pale color as well.
11.3.2005 4:38pm
Medis:
Jack John,

Incidentally, I agree that you and I likely have different conceptions of the good . . . for now. But I believe that with some reflection, you might come around.
11.3.2005 4:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I would say the number of posters responding to both Gallagher's and Carpenter's essays demonstrates that we all accept the notion that a free society defines marriage as it chooses. These discussions are part of the process of developing such a definition, and anyone engaged in these discusions is actually engaged in creating that definition.
11.3.2005 4:39pm
Jack John (mail):
The only "logic" in the argument that allows your "flawed" marriage and disallows mine is prejudice. Prejudice is not, in and of itself, hypocritical, of course. Harboring it while insisting that one doesn't, of course, is.

I told y'all this would happen! Here comes the animus again. Proponents of gay marriage like this acolyte of Carpenter think no rational person can disagree with their arguments, i.e., they are necessarily true. So, if we can prove Carpenter's arguments are not necessarily true, Carpenter has not met his burden.

Carpenter has even already admitted he has no proof of any of his claims. You can't meet an evidentiary burden without any evidence y'all. But I guess that's just the animus talking.
11.3.2005 4:41pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
PeterH -


If childlessness is a bar to marriage, why not actively work to bar the childless while holding the line against same-sex couples?


Well, your point is exactly why I just don't think this is a compelling argument for SSM-proponents. Because you're right - it just as easily cuts both ways. For the goal of consistency, I think Roach, for example, would favor outlawing purposely childless marriages rather than allowing same sex marriages. But even beyond that, I just don't think that the internal-consistency argument is very compelling because LOTS of laws are inconsistent on principle (especially in the arena of family law), and no one seems to care much.

Thus, I think that when SSM-opponents bring up the procreation argument, a much better response is to point out that gay couples do have children, and that those children need the protections of the law just as much as any other children.

I've been following this debate in different forums for a long time, and I've never seen the consistency argument phase SSM-opponents. They have a much more difficult time explaining why the children of gay parents don't need the protections of marriage law (most especially upon family dissolution). In a paradigm wherein marriage exists for the sake of children, it's rather grotesque to prevent a child's parents from marrying.

Of course then they'll argue that they aren't both the real "parents" and that gay couples shouldn't be adopting or having kids in the first place, but that still doesn't deal with kids in existing families. If a woman in a lesbian couple is inseminated, and the family later divorces, why shouldn't that child have the protection of legally enforceable child-support from the non-biological mom?
11.3.2005 4:44pm
Jack John (mail):
These discussions are part of the process of developing such a definition, and anyone engaged in these discusions is actually engaged in creating that definition.

Not true. If we all discuss right now what time it was yesterday, that doesn't mean that we are moving backwards in time as we do so.
11.3.2005 4:45pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Why is comparing sexual organs to plumbing a valuable analogy to which we all should attend but referring to carpentry, where great effect is produced by joining like to like cheap sexual innuendo?
11.3.2005 4:45pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
On Lawn and The Editors should be commended for fighting the good fight. It won't do much good, though: They trying to point out the obvious to those who refuse to see it. Most of the proponents here are sodomites, including Professor Carpenter, and they will never admit that sodomy is different qualitatively than sexual intercourse, and they will never admit that conflating the two things is a dangerous and deeply offensive perversion of the definition of marriage. To them, it's entirely a justice and civil rights issue, and most of that sense is driven by emotional reasoning. Too bad.
11.3.2005 4:45pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
PeterH,

It must be terribly frustrating to you that nobody is buying it but you.

Thank you for putting more light on the subject as people seem to be too involved in their petty ankle-biting to notice.

Even in the purely semantic sense, you are confusing inability with disability.

Funny, the conflation of homosexuality with a handicap is exactly that, confusing disability with inability. I'm arguing against confusing inability with disability.

Seems to me that you desperately want someone to buy into this disability idea because you want homosexuality to reflect a defect or flaw.

Actually, no. I'm arguing that people's bodies are not flawed that chase after their own sexes. Remember, I argue that homosexuality is not a handicap.

Thats two strikes.

It is within the perfectly normal and properly working natural expression of homosexuality not to include mutual fertility.

Please do not make the mistake of assuming that fertility is an individual capacity. It is always a "mutual" quality as it always (for humans) requires someone else.

Otherwise I agree, the inability to procreate is natural to the homosexual relationship. It is not natural to the heterosexual relationship, hence it is a disability.

Strike three.

So if you are agreeing with me, then where is the disconnect?
11.3.2005 4:47pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: Jack John,

Incidentally, I agree that you and I likely have different conceptions of the good . . . for now. But I believe that with some reflection, you might come around.


You are mistaken. I do not need reflection to ascertain the correctness of my position. I know it to be so because I exist. My conception of the good will never change. It is basic to who I am. Innate. That is why, if I viciously kill an elderly lady, I should be put to death, even if I am 17. International treaties written by diplomats in countries with gay "marriage" notwithsatnding.
11.3.2005 4:48pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Dale: we could require prospective married couples to sign an affidavit stating that they are able to procreate and intend to procreate.

So Dale's argument boils down to the fact that since his imagined affidavit approach isn't already employed marriage must not be about procreation. This is Dale's reason to reject the procreative purpose of marriage, which he must do in order to make any other argument for neutering it. So Dale creates the following template for reasoning. If a requirement can be imagined that would support a given purpose, but that imagined requirement is not currently imposed, then the purpose that imagined requirement would serve must not be a valid purpose. Without accepting this logic, one cannot procede to Dale's desired logical destination of neutering marriage.

So how valid is Dale's reasoning? Well, there is no limit to the imagination. Therefore, whatever qualifications are currently recognized to persue a given purpose, there are always more qualifications that can be imagined. So using Dale's logic, no societal purpose can exist for anything because whatever qualifications it imposes to ensure that purpose, Dale can dream up some that it hasn't. Clearly Dale's reasoning template is wrong.

So Dale's logic can't be extended. Still, maybe it works only in this particular imagined instance. Maybe the affidavit approach is so trivial, so obvious, and so simple to implement that even though the generalized argument is irrational, the specific argument can still be valid. Well, let's look specifically at Dale's affidavit proposal.

How will the affidavit be enforced? If a couple signs the affidavit and then doesn't produce children, what will happen? Did they lie? Should they be punished? Did they try? If so, did they try hard enough? Should inspectors be sent out to judge the adequacy of their attempts and maybe offer suggestions on how they could do better? Gee, this approach isn't looking so trivial.

What about the opposite? What if someone chooses to sign an affidavit saying they don't intend to procreate, but then they end up getting pregnant anyway? Should the government require them to abort? Did they lie? Did they try hard enough not to conceive? Should inspectors be sent out to judge the adequacy of their attempts at birth control, maybe make suggestions on how what they could be doing it differently? Should they be at least guilty of negligence? So much for easy to implement.

Maybe it's better not to enforce the affidavit at all since having a government official taking notes and offering suggestions while we try to conceive a baby seems a bit onerous. In that case, what meaning does the affidavit have? If it doesn't have any meaning, why did we go to the trouble of requiring it?

There is no reason to go beyond the fundamental flaws in Dale's proposal in searching for a reason to reject it. Dale wants us to look past those flaws and assume the affidavit approach is rejected because it would serve a purpose that marriage is not intended to serve, but Dale's proposal itself is so flawed that claim is clearly without merit. Therefore, Dale has not refuted the procreative purpose of marriage, and Dale's call for its neutering has failed, skewered on this one fanciful attempt.

Now this does not in and of itself establish responsible procreation as the purpose behind marriage. It is possible that some other purpose would explain society's interest in it, its various restrictions, legal treatments like a presumption of paternity, and social treatments like mores against sex outside of marriage. The possibility of such an alternate purpose exists, but to date none has been offered. Likewise, it is possible that the world really is flat and there is an alternate explanation for why the world acts like it is round, but that alternate explanation hasn't been found yet, either. So Dale can take comfort in the fact that his hope for a neutered marriage is only as dead as a hope for a flat earth.
11.3.2005 4:49pm
Medis:
IB Bill,

For what it is worth, I think that as a matter of reason, gay sex and gay marriages are natural and good for gay people.
11.3.2005 4:49pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: When you consider the whole body, particularly the brain, gay male bodies best fit with other gay male bodies, lesbian bodies best fit with other lesbian bodies, and straight male bodies best fit with straight female bodies.


When you consider the whole body, particularly the dead brain, dead gay male bodies best fit with other gay male dead bodies, dead lesbian bodies best fit with other dead lesbian bodies, and so let's kill all gay people in pursuit of "the principle of fit."



If what is in bold is nonsense, what is in italics is nonsense, too.
11.3.2005 4:52pm
BobNelson (mail):

Here comes the animus again.


After, what, almost 1000 posts on this topic over three weeks, with repeated references to immorality, beastiality (legal in Texas, by the way), and pedophilia, you're just now noticing that animus plays a roll in this issue? And you're only noticing it because I pointed it out?

Not very observant...
11.3.2005 4:53pm
Medis:
Jack John,

In a sense I agree with you. But I believe that you and I share a deeper conception of the good, and that with enough reflection, you might realize that your current conceptions of good sex and good marriage are inconsistent with your deeper conception of the good. Or maybe mine will change ... it is impossible to know for sure.
11.3.2005 4:54pm
Todd H.:
IB Bill,

No doubt most folks on both sides of the issue are sodomites -- not that that has any bearing.
11.3.2005 4:55pm
Jack John (mail):
and that with enough reflection, you might realize that your current conceptions of good sex and good marriage are inconsistent with your deeper conception of the good.

After, what, almost 1000 posts on this topic over three weeks, with repeated references to immorality, beastiality (legal in Texas, by the way), and pedophilia, you're just now noticing that animus plays a roll in this issue? And you're only noticing it because I pointed it out?


Now I get it. Anyone who disagrees with proponents of gay marriage is.... STUPID!!! That's why we should legalize gay marriage. Because if we don't, we're doo-doo heads. Gotcha.
11.3.2005 4:57pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx:

When a definition includes "or" that explicitly means that something falls under that definition if it satisfies either half.

Yet what you missed was the "and" as in "and provides extra capacity". Please reference the M-W definition in the future if you wish to get technical, that is why it was provided.

Why is comparing sexual organs to plumbing a valuable analogy to which we all should attend but referring to carpentry, where great effect is produced by joining like to like cheap sexual innuendo?

Heh, heh, you said "butt"....

I'm sorry but as Beavis and Butthead as my witness, I can't imagine just where your reference was considered childish...

Tehcnically a butt end joint is just two pieces glued together. It is a very weak joint compared to others (heh heh... tongue and groove ... heh, heh). Without the glue, there isn't a joint at all. But isn't that your argument, marriage is a glue so homosexuals need marriage or else they can't stay together?
11.3.2005 4:57pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Otherwise I agree, the inability to procreate is natural to the homosexual relationship. It is not natural to the heterosexual relationship, hence it is a disability.


But the inability to reproduce in fact is natural to some heterosexual relationships. Again: your grandmother remarries after her husband dies. She has long since passed menopause. The inability of this couple to reproduce is not a disability: It is a normal and expected inability.
11.3.2005 4:57pm
PeterH:
On Lawn: A gay/lesbian relationship is not complementary, as the definition clearly requires opposites or at least different things working together and finding extra capacity in the relationship.


Jack John:Medis, two vaginas do not fit together. And a penis and an arsehole fit together like a fish needs a bicycle.

Jack John, you could at least work a little harder to get your offensive remarks gramatically correct. It's excusable for the unintentional insult, but lacks style when you are doing it on purpose.

From a plumbing standpoint, I can certainly reassure everyone that my partner and I fit together quite to our satisfaction, and I am reassured by my lesbian friends that they do as well. Since we haven't invited any of the rest of you to get involved, you don't get a vote. For anyone who doesn't understand how it works, there are plenty of websites that might sort things out for you. The fact that things don't go together the way you would choose to stack them doesn't matter a lot.

And again, since sex is not a requirement for marriage, whether it works the way you think it should doesn't apply to the legal argument in the first place.

As far as complementarity, again, I assure you, my partner and I are very, very different people, and we reinforce each other very well. I am a better person for his presence in my life and vice versa. We have differing outlooks and approaches and are constantly both challenging and learining from the other. We are "different things" working together, and we most definitely do find "extra capacity" in the process of doing so.

It seems deeply sad to me that people so blithely discount the kinds of complementarities that are present in gay couples, because by saying "none of that is complementary" and to extend it to "none of it has anything to do with marriage" it demeans marriage.

You are already fighting to insist on marriage as "one man/one woman" but to deny that there is anything meaningful in the complementarities of personality is to say that marriage is "any man/any woman" and that individual differences among men and individual differences among women have less to do with marriage than their plumbing. In essence, marriage becomes "one penis/one vagina."

So marriage is about sex and nothing else? Anything that happens outside the bedroom isn't a part of marriage? For that matter, anything that happens IN the bedroom other than tab A and slot B isn't a part of marriage? How insulting to every married couple in the world.

By choosing this and nothing else as the only thing that makes a marriage valid, you are effectively saying that nothing else matters. It might be a nice to have, or pleasant, or whatever, but that it doesn't matter.

A couple who has absolutely nothing but a license and vaginal sex is a real marriage, while a couple who have absolutely everything BUT vaginal sex (which some people extend to procreative vaginal sex) isn't.

Do any of you really believe that this is the way marriage really works? Are you really advocating that it SHOULD work that way?
11.3.2005 4:57pm
Medis:
Jack John,

Obviously, that was a cross-post: I don't agree that we should kill gay people. Being killed is not in the nature of gay people. Being gay is. Hence, gay sex is natural and good for gay people. Being killed is not.
11.3.2005 4:58pm
DaveP:
The Editors,


It violates the natural complementarity of the two genders.


Sigh. The naturalness argument is entirely without merit, both in its premise and conclusion.

Man's most distinctive characteristic is his dominance over nature. For example, agriculture, housing, HVAC, transportation, information technology are all grossly unnatural, yet without which, most of us would not exist. Thus, 'natural' cannot be a standard of ethics.

Further, to the homosexual, homosexuality is comfortable and natural -- feigning heterosexuality is awkward and degrading . That you personally choose not to acknowlege that is not germane to the SSM argument.

The studies that show a strong correlation between reported homosexuality and involuntary physiological response, are germane. If it exists in nature, it is natural. While you and I may not agree with the politics of the investigators, the results are valid.

Not an endorsement

Further, the argument from history that SSM is novel and disruptive, therefore impermissible is also fallacious. Information technology is novel and disruptive -- shall we ban Windows?
11.3.2005 5:02pm
Medis:
Jack John,

Also, I don't think people are "stupid" just because their particular conceptions of the good are at odds with their more general conceptions of the good. No one said moral reasoning is easy, and even smart people get it wrong.
11.3.2005 5:02pm
Jack John (mail):
I don't agree that we should kill gay people. Being killed is not in the nature of gay people. Being gay is. Hence, gay sex is natural and good for gay people. Being killed is not.

Says who? Since we're redefining the natures of things, e.g., marriage, why can't it be the case that is natural and good for gays to experience pain and suffering. A whole lot of them seem to be into sadomasochism and their suicide rates are higher than that of the population as a whole. Maybe their nature is to suffer and die. It seems that killing them would be good. I mean, I would disagree with that argument, but now that I am coming to understand just what loosey-goosey natural laws and metaphysics you think bind the universe and language together it makes perfect sense as I understand your philosophical position. Thank you for enlightening me, Medis: We must kill gays. It is natural and good.
11.3.2005 5:03pm
Chimaxx (mail):
How will the affidavit be enforced? If a couple signs the affidavit and then doesn't produce children, what will happen? Did they lie? Should they be punished? Did they try? If so, did they try hard enough? Should inspectors be sent out to judge the adequacy of their attempts and maybe offer suggestions on how they could do better? Gee, this approach isn't looking so trivial.


No, it's only trivial if you complicate it. If the time period has elapsed, and no children have been produced, then the marriage is dissolved.

Since our goal is to encourage procreation, it doesn't matter whether wilfulness, inability or disability is the cause. For the sake of our goal it is better that this couple be dissolved and forced to shoose new partners, where the likelihood is that at least one of them will procreate.
11.3.2005 5:04pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: just because their particular conceptions of the good are at odds with their more general conceptions of the good.

You made up my particular conceptions of the good. I never said anything about good sex or good marriage. Nor did I state what my conception of the good was or is. All I noted is that one can reject all of Carpenter's claims rationally because one's conception of the good is in conflict with a number of his controversial presumptions.

Try not to rely on straw-men.
11.3.2005 5:05pm
PeterH:
So if you are agreeing with me, then where is the disconnect?


I don't. I would have thought you might notice that.
11.3.2005 5:07pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

The inability of this couple to reproduce is not a disability: It is a normal and expected inability.

If that were true then senility, poor eyesight, or any other infirmity brought about by age would not be a disability either.

You could also extend your argument to say that lopping off a leg means the inability to walk is natural. Or that poking your eyes we can conclude naturally means you cannot see, and that makes blindness not a handicap.

But since none of those are the case, we can conclude that the contradiction it points out shows your argument is flawed.
11.3.2005 5:07pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
PeterH,

I don't. I would have thought you might notice that.

You did, I though I demonstrated that.
11.3.2005 5:08pm
Medis:
DaveP,

Just an aside, but I think you have made a good case for it being part of the nature of humans to acquire knowledge and use technology. In that sense, learning about physics and building bridges is natural for us, even though bridges are not "natural" in the sense that trees are natural.

And even our own bodies are subject to our nature as scientists and technologists (think surgery). We've got a pretty amazing nature in that sense.
11.3.2005 5:10pm
John H (mail) (www):
Medis: "I was wondering if even in the absence of those effects, you would oppose same sex reproduction."

No, I wouldn't. In fact, one of the worst effects would come if same-sex procreation is safer than natural procreation. It is certainly plausible that it would eventually be safer, given that it would always be intentional and carefully controlled. That would clearly make natural procreation seem unethical and put our basic civil rights to have natural children with the person we love in jeopardy.

Plus, I think all people should be raised today to know with certainty that same-sex procreation will never be an option, that if they ever want to have children, they wil have to do it with someone of the other sex, with whom they will share parentage. I think it is good to keep the sexes dependent on each other for the continuation of the human race, and bad to circumvent that dependency.

I'm curious why you make me answer that hypothetical in the first place. Are you think ing that if I answer that yes, I oppose it even if it is safe, that it would prove I was merely homophobic or driven by animus against same-sex couples, and thus invalidate the argument that we should not allow same-sex procreation? Well, even if I was driven by nothing but animus and homophobia in opposing SSP, I don't see how it would make a difference to how we answer the question: SSP is unethical and unsafe, period, whether we are living in a hypothetical world where it is safe, or in reality, where it isn't.
11.3.2005 5:13pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Medis,

And even our own bodies are subject to our nature as scientists and technologists (think surgery). We've got a pretty amazing nature in that sense.

Yes we do. But we don't see gays/lesbians lining up for sex-changes to get married now do we? It is the naturalness of thier condition they want recognized, no?
11.3.2005 5:13pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
I don't buy the complementarity argument either.

My husband and I very much alike on many different dimensions - it's why we chose each other. And this is true for most couples I know. While I realize that there are a few "opposites attract" couples out there, most people choose a mate who is as like to them as possible. And that applies to looks, age, politics, values, energy-level, hobbies, life-plans, etc. etc. etc.
11.3.2005 5:13pm
John H (mail) (www):
Ooops! I meant, Yes I would oppose it! Sorry!
11.3.2005 5:14pm
Chimaxx (mail):
That should have been: "No, it's only non-trivial if you complicate it."

I've made some massive type blunders along the way (ways for weighs), but this one obscures my meaning. Hence the clarification.
11.3.2005 5:15pm
Angus (mail) (www):
Law Student Kate:
In my experience, society absolutely thinks marriage is about procreation and expects couples to breed. It actively offends and disturbs people to find that a married couple won't be procreating. That same attitude seeps over into SSM, and I don't really think it's too much of a double-standard.

I think you're on to something here, but it does seem to me that what troubles most folks isn't "a married couple [not] procreating" so much as a married couple that rejects parenthood.

Does it "actively disturb and offend people" when a couple tries to conceive and fails? When they adopt? When they use a donor egg or donor sperm to help them conceive? I don't think it does.

And that brings us back to Joel B. In his first post in this thread, he said this:

If you actually looked at the statistics it is a very very small number of marriages that are entered into with NO expectation of having children. But that is ALWAYS the case with SSM ALWAYS.

But that's obviously, patently false. Many, many same-sex couples want kids, and for a lot of them, their decision to have kids is the basis of their decision to marry (whether their marriage is recognized by the state or not). It's just flatly absurd to say that same-sex couples "ALWAYS" enter into marriage "with NO expectation of having children."

Confronted with this, Joel backtracked. It wasn't parenthood he was referring to here, but unassisted biological procreation. That's the prospect that makes a marriage for most folks.

But no, again, it's not. Most heterosexual married couples hope to conceive on their own, but some enter into marriage intending to adopt. Some know that one partner or the other is infertile, and enter marriage intending to avail themselves of reproductive technology.

Do we, as a culture, view such marriages as somehow less valid, less real, than ones in which the couple hopes at the outset to conceive without help? No, I really don't think we do.

Joel talks about the sense of loss that many heterosexual couples feel when they run into problems conceiving. And that sense of loss is certainly profound. But in what sense is it more profound than the sense of loss felt by a couple --- straight or lesbian --- whose pregnancy, begun with donor sperm, ends in miscarriage? Is it disrespectful of Joel's loss to respect the loss that such a couple experiences? I honestly can't imagine how it could be.
11.3.2005 5:15pm
Medis:
Jack John,

It is not in the nature of gay people to suffer and die. Since you and I apparently agree about that, I don't see the point in bringing it up.

I do, however, think it is in the nature of gay people to have gay sex. Therefore, gay sex is the good and natural sex for gay people.

I don't see what is so "loosey-goosey" about any of this. Nor is it an odd use of language. Indeed, why would I be calling them "gay people" otherwise?
11.3.2005 5:17pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Kate,

The psychological differences are not relevant in the discussion of complementary nature of genders. If they were, then we'd be arguing gender roles, which to me is inviting of gender chauvanism.

As it is, to say a gay relationship is complementary is wrong. Two men are not a difference, though they might have differences between them. None of the differences between them (by the nature of the argument) are intrinsic to anything about the relationship.
11.3.2005 5:17pm
Designbot:
Uh..hmmm...that's an interesting way to read it, I mean Hagar was never thought of as married to Abraham…

Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife


and Sarah after the event sent both her and Ishmael away.

Admittedly, things didn't work out perfectly in the story, but there's no indication that there was anything inherently wrong with having a child via a third party.

But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”


Sarah is not held up as the example of "traditional marriage," but that any opposite sex pairing regardless of how unlikely still has the miraculous possibility of new life.

I see. So it is rational to establish marriage laws predicated on the possibility that 90-year old women may have the potential of becoming pregnant via miracles. However, it would be irrational for these laws to take into account the possibility of a surrogate mother providing a child for an infertile couple.

So long as we're talking about miracles, couldn't God miraculously provide a way for a lesbian couple to impregnate each other? Shouldn't our marriage laws take this possibility into account? Let's get cracking, people!
11.3.2005 5:17pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: If the time period has elapsed, and no children have been produced, then the marriage is dissolved.

And do what? Sign another affidavit? Move away from each other? Let them continue to live together? If they stay together, what happens if they then conceive? Should they be forced into government performed abortion? How long should the time period be in the first place? Go ahead. Show me how "simple" your affidavit approach is.

Since our goal is to encourage procreation...

Nope. Nature takes care of that goal just fine, which, as it turns out, is precisely why we need marriage. Chimaxx, meet Gorilla.
11.3.2005 5:21pm
Medis:
JohnH,

Actually, I really didn't have a deep agenda. I just wasn't sure what you meant by some of the things you were saying, and I wanted to learn more. In large part that is because before you brought up this issue the other day, I am not sure if I ever thought about it, and I certainly hadn't done so in more than passing.
11.3.2005 5:22pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
On Lawn -

If you don't think there's some psychological component that attends the physical differences between men and women, then I don't see why the bare physical differences (or lack thereof) should matter much at all? Unless we're just going to come back around to procreation, in which case I don't see the point of a detour that argues about physical complementarity and parts fitting together.
11.3.2005 5:28pm
Medis:
I'd note that our capability to have "personalities" (in the comprehensive, not more trivial, sense) is one of the most distinguishing attributes of human nature. Certainly this capability is far more distinguishing than something like having penises and vaginas.
11.3.2005 5:28pm
Jack John (mail):
Indeed, why would I be calling them "gay people" otherwise?

Well, you're saying gay people are people who are gay. That begs the question that there are gay people. Now, I'm not one of those people whose conception of the good rejects the idea that people are innately gay, e.g., a fundamentalist, but Dale called some people "gay" that I and most people I know would call "bisexual". So you have to define what gay is, and show me where in reality exist people that fit within your definition to justifiably claim your definition is "natural." Otherwise, it's just presumptions and linguistic games. I can look to the facts of reality and posit that it is natural for gay people to suffer and die using your methodology. The point is, it's crappy methodology.
11.3.2005 5:29pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: I'd note that our capability to have "personalities" (in the comprehensive, not more trivial, sense) is one of the most distinguishing attributes of human nature.

My dog's personality is a perfect match with mine. Let's legalize man-dog marriage.
11.3.2005 5:30pm
Jack John (mail):
See the loosey-goosey! See the loosey-goosey?
11.3.2005 5:30pm
John H (mail) (www):
Designbot: "So it is rational to establish marriage laws predicated on the possibility that 90-year old women may have the potential of becoming pregnant via miracles. However, it would be irrational for these laws to take into account the possibility of a surrogate mother providing a child for an infertile couple."

The 90 year old woman and her husband have the right to conceive children together. They are not legally prohibited from procreating the way siblings are, or the way a same-sex couple ought to be.

"So long as we're talking about miracles, couldn't God miraculously provide a way for a lesbian couple to impregnate each other? Shouldn't our marriage laws take this possibility into account? Let's get cracking, people!"

It's happening, Designbot! Miracle or not, a mouse has already been created from two female mice. It took 451 tries, but one lived! Our laws are not based on the possibility of miracles, but on rational reality. We don't let murderers free because a miracle could revive the victim. The 90 year-old couple is not required to procreate, but they are allowed to procreate.
11.3.2005 5:31pm
DaveP:
On Lawn:

homosexuality is not a handicap


Your parking analogy suffers from reverse causation. Handicapped people are afforded proximal parking due to their handicap. The fallacy, by example: the company president's parking space is proximal, therefore the president is handicapped. False.
11.3.2005 5:32pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis, straight liberal: It is not in the nature of gay people to suffer and die.

Foucault, actual gay man with a different conception of the good than Medis: Yes, it is.
11.3.2005 5:33pm
Medis:
Jack John,

I haven't offered any specific methodology for ascertaining the nature of something. I've asserted what I believe is the nature of gay people, but I haven't explained exactly how I arrived at those conclusions. I have implied one general thing, however: I think ascertaining the nature of a thing is a matter of reason. I'm actually pretty comfortable with reasoning as a methodology.
11.3.2005 5:34pm
Remus Talborn (mail):
It is not in the nature of gay people to suffer and die.

I would also note, Medis, that it must be "in" the nature of gay people to suffer and die, or else all gay people would be impervious to pain and immortal.
11.3.2005 5:35pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis, your "reasoning" has been shown to be illogical. You are comfortable with nonsense-making as a methodology, which is the point. Snarkiness doesn't cover up your lack or argument. See Mr. Talborn's comment above.
11.3.2005 5:37pm
Medis:
Jack John,

I think Foucault is wrong.

And your dog does not actually have a personality in the comprehensive sense.

Finally, it strikes me as odd that you used language like that in a ""loosey-goosey" way, and then act as if I agreed with your usage, and then criticize me for that usage.
11.3.2005 5:37pm
Jack John (mail):
Oh, and begging the question is not reasoning, Medis.
11.3.2005 5:38pm
Designbot:
John H,

I know that your pet issue is same-sex reproductive technology. I thought I might hear from you. As I'm sure you're aware, your argument is actually directly at odds with the standard procreation argument under discussion.

As you have pointed out many times, those who argue that marriage is dependent on procreative ability won't have a leg to stand on if same-sex reproductive technology does become available.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with your viewpoint that such technology is inherently unethical in and of itself, but I will say that you have been, at least, fairly logically consistent. Your argument, if I understand correctly, is that same-sex marriage must remain illegal in order prevent same-sex reproduction from becoming legal. Is that right?
11.3.2005 5:39pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: I think Foucault is wrong.

Foucault is gay, and know more about the nature of gay people than you. Why should we treat your statements about gays as anything but ignorance when you reject what gay people claim about their own natures based on their own knowledge of what it is to be gay? Do you deny that gay people have knowledge of what it is to be gay?

Medis: And your dog does not actually have a personality in the comprehensive sense.

See? Linguistic games. You just redefine the word to your liking. That is pure absurdity.
11.3.2005 5:41pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Gorilla is irrelevant.

If the essential purpose of marriage is reproduction, and we have decided that we will enforce that through affidavit, then the marriage contract simply has a birth rider. Would there be some debate on the number of years allowed? Sure. For the sake of argument, let's say that after long debate it is agreed that we choose seven years. If they produce a child, the marriage contract remains in force for life.

If the couple does not successfully produce at least one child within seven years, the marriage is dissolved and they are separated. At this point they can seek new partners or they can choose to remain single. The only things they cannot do is continue to live together as if they were married or remarry one another.

If we seriously believed that procreation is and should be the central defining factor of marriage, we would work toward something like this.

Of course, we already would have excluded post-menopausal women and those who have had complete hysterectomies from marriage
11.3.2005 5:45pm
Medis:
Remus,

As I am sure you are aware, you are raising a complicated topic (how to discuss change and interactions within this framework of natures).

It is true that people die. However, once they die what remains is no longer a person. Death is a change of natures in that sense. So, it is true that as people we are capable of dying, but that does not mean that to die is part of our nature as people.

Similarly, a capability to feel pain does not mean that to suffer is part of our nature. When we are actually suffering, we are feeling pain as a result of some sort of loss, harm, evil, or so on, and to experience such things is not part of our nature: it is something which happens to us.
11.3.2005 5:47pm
Medis:
Jack John,

I think that if you go back and reflect on what I have actually said, you might come to different conclusions. But as I have noted before, there is nothing more boring than arguing about what someone has said in the past.
11.3.2005 5:50pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Kate,

You sound wound around the axles on this one. Perhaps you need a more straightforward approach...

If you don't think there's some psychological component that attends the physical differences between men and women, then I don't see why the bare physical differences (or lack thereof) should matter much at all?

If there is "some psychological component that attends the physical differences between men and women" then why wouldn't that be counted? You were arguing that psychological differences should be considered "complementery" even when those differences were simply random rather than designed like a male-female is.

When you figure your point out, let me know.

DaveP,

You'll have to do better than that.

Your parking analogy suffers from reverse causation.

Arguing a handicap is like a corporate president is a false analogy. You even note that they conditions of their priveledge are entirely different. If the president had claimed he should get the parking place because other handicapped people did, then your analogy would work.
11.3.2005 5:53pm
Jane Kalvert (mail):
So, it is true that as people we are capable of dying, but that does not mean that to die is part of our nature as people.

Ask an aborted fetus whether he agrees.
11.3.2005 5:55pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
Chimaxx -

It would be perfectly rational if society decided to dissolve marriages at the 7-year mark if no children are produced. However, there's no reason this should be true:


The only things they cannot do is continue to live together as if they were married or remarry one another.


Society allows gay couples, polyamorous lovers, and all sorts of people to live together "as if they were married". There's a big difference between not sanctioning a relationship and prohibiting it altogether.
11.3.2005 5:56pm
Jack John (mail):
Medis: I think that if you go back and reflect on what I have actually said, you might come to different conclusions.
1. Ah, I am lazy and stupid, like all critics of Dale Carpenter's arguments.
2. Ok, I went back and reflected. Your argument is still crap.
11.3.2005 5:57pm
DaveP:
John H:


No, I wouldn't. In fact, one of the worst effects would come if same-sex procreation is safer than natural procreation. It is certainly plausible that it would eventually be safer, given that it would always be intentional and carefully controlled. That would clearly make natural procreation seem unethical and put our basic civil rights to have natural children with the person we love in jeopardy.


Indeed, just as we now force the sick children of adherents to "spritual healing" into effective medical care. The life of the child is considered more important than the superstitions of the parents. Further the technology would presumably be employed in the main by heterosexuals to lessen the risks to themselves and their own genetic children.

I think this line of reasoning has gone too far afield. Artificial meiosis is not dispositive to same sex marriage, for SSM is just with or without it.

Closer to home, would you deny a straight couple the right to conceive a child by using their own genetic material in order to impregnate a surrogate mother? Is the child less theirs, somehow?
11.3.2005 5:58pm
Remus Talborn (mail):
a capability to feel pain does not mean that to suffer is part of our nature.

Wow. Suffering is not an essential part of the human condition? Burn down all the museums! Art is meaningless. So saith Chairman Medis.
11.3.2005 5:59pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
On Lawn -

I wasn't arguing that psychological differences should be considered in complementarity. I was arguing that I don't think most couples are complementary to begin with - people usually choose mates that are LIKE them, not DIFFERENT from them.

YOU (and others) were arguing that complementarity matters. But then you told me that psychological components don't. Thus, it seems to me that you were arguing that pure physical difference (and thus complementarity) is very important.

And my question is, if that's so, why? I mean, outside of the procreation argument? And if it *only* matters because a penis and vagina are necessary for procreation, then why not just argue the procreation point and avoid getting into silly discussions about parts fitting together?
11.3.2005 6:02pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

You can't simply take the part of the argument you think you can counter, call part of it irrelevant and ignore the rest.

Op-Ed already pointed out the fallacy of assuming the non-existance of a plan you conjured up is at all evidence against procreative purpose of marriage. Not to mention, so did I. In fact in my link I show directly, (lest your vague and unsuported challenge of irrelevancy be believed) how the gorilla proves your attempt as invalid.

And continuing to rely on the fallacious argument to trick people into thinking it still stands is miming, not reasoning.
11.3.2005 6:03pm
Antonin:
Op Ed.:
Dale's argument boils down to the fact that since his imagined affidavit approach isn't already employed marriage must not be about procreation. This is Dale's reason to reject the procreative purpose of marriage, which he must do in order to make any other argument for neutering it. So Dale creates the following template for reasoning. If a requirement can be imagined that would support a given purpose, but that imagined requirement is not currently imposed, then the purpose that imagined requirement would serve must not be a valid purpose. Without accepting this logic, one cannot procede to Dale's desired logical destination of neutering marriage.
That's not the argument at all. Such a requirement can be rejected for many reasons. For example, it might be impractical, too expensive, or have undesirable side effects. Yet once we accept procreation as the sole (or principal?) public purpose of marriage, Dale's example exhibits none of those properties, and I've never seen a remotely convincing reason that it would. OE argues that it would be complicated, but that's only because he adds to the complications unnecessarily. After some years, we figure out whether the couple has actually produced children (not hard to determine), and if they haven't, the government rescinds their license.

Yet the vast majority of those who oppose gay marriage would actively oppose such a proposal. I don't think this is because they think it would be nice in theory but hard to implement in practice, or because it would cost too much. They think those people should be allowed to marry. In years of arguing this issue, I have never once seen anyone bite the bullet of the redudctio and say no, it would be nice if we could keep the childless from marrying, but it's not practical.
11.3.2005 6:03pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: If we seriously believed that procreation is and should be the central defining factor of marriage, we would work toward something like this.

False, and absurd on its face. The fact that there aren't jack-booted fertility squads out forcing opposite sex couples apart doesn't say anything about the procreative purpose of marriage. Instead, it says we think your jack-booted fertility squads are a dumb idea. You know that, that is why you try hedging your bets with yet more imagined requirements:

Of course, we already would have excluded post-menopausal women and those who have had complete hysterectomies from marriage

Of course, presenting our reproductive organs for government inspection is just such a pleasant and non-intrusive approach the only reason we would object to this newly imagined requirement could possibly be because we have some different purpose in mind.
11.3.2005 6:07pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Kate,

No wonder you seem wound around the axles. Your point is rather two fisted. But allow me to try again to show what I'm saying, and what the plummer analogy illustrates.

YOU (and others) were arguing that complementarity matters. But then you told me that psychological components don't.

You are missing the point. That it is psychological v physical means nothing here. That the differences are part of a design to complete the other is. A random psychological difference is not complementary. A random physical difference is not comlementary. The ones put there that are part of the definition of their identity as genders (or other classification) by evolution are.
11.3.2005 6:07pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
DavP:

Sigh. The naturalness argument is entirely without merit, both in its premise and conclusion.

You seem to be in need of an introductory biology textbook and a reality check.

Kate:

I don't buy the complementarity argument either.

Complementarity is not an argument, it is a biological fact.

Also, Kate:

I don't see why the bare physical differences (or lack thereof) should matter much at all?


Are you implying that the gender of your spouse was of trivial consequence to you when choosing a mate? Something on the level of eye color perhaps? I've never met anyone for whom the gender of their mate was not of critical importance.
11.3.2005 6:09pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Antonin,

Such a requirement can be rejected for many reasons. For example, it might be impractical, too expensive, or have undesirable side effects.

Which is the reason why Dale's scheme is rejected also. What Dale is suffering from here is the a lack of imagionation. If his program isn't implemented, and he can't see a reason why not, then the reason he proports must be valid. And that is a fallacy.
11.3.2005 6:14pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Medis:

I do, however, think it is in the nature of gay people to have gay sex. Therefore, gay sex is the good and natural sex for gay people.


Restated in the abstract - "It is in a person's nature to engage in behavior X, therefore behavior X is good and natural."

Do you really believe that?
11.3.2005 6:14pm
Antonin:
On complementarity, On Lawn wrote:
You are missing the point. That it is psychological v physical means nothing here. That the differences are part of a design to complete the other is. A random psychological difference is not complementary. A random physical difference is not comlementary. The ones put there that are part of the definition of their identity as genders (or other classification) by evolution are.
Women and men have some kind of psychological complementarity imposed on them by evolution? Can you explain in what this psychological complementarity consists, what reason we have to believe in it, and why we care?
11.3.2005 6:15pm
DaveP:
On lawn:


You'll have to do better than that.

Your parking analogy suffers from reverse causation.

Arguing a handicap is like a corporate president is a false analogy. You even note that they conditions of their priveledge are entirely different. If the president had claimed he should get the parking place because other handicapped people did, then your analogy would work.


OK. To recapitulate your argument: straight couples who are infertile are handicapped. Infertile couples use reproductive services. Gay couples use reproductive services. Therefore, gay couples are handicapped. Contradiction: gay people assert they are not handicapped.

Fallacy of reverse causation: It does not follow that if A uses B, then B implies A. Let A equal handicapped people, B equal proximal parking. Handicapped people use proximal parking (A uses B). Fallacy: President's use of proximal parking implies president is handicapped (B does not imply A).

That handicapped straight couples use reproductive services does not imply that other users of reproductive services are handicapped. Couples may use a surrogate mother, for example, to avoid the loss of productivity due to pregnancy. Gay people may use reproductive services to create a child. No handicap. No contradiction. Clear?
11.3.2005 6:16pm
Law Student Kate (mail):

Are you implying that the gender of your spouse was of trivial consequence to you when choosing a mate? Something on the level of eye color perhaps? I've never met anyone for whom the gender of their mate was not of critical importance.


No, I'm saying that people choose the sex of their mate based on their own sexual orientation. NOT because they're out there trying to find someone who "complements" them. If they were, why stop at genitals? The skinny should marry the fat, the tall the short, the smart the stupid, etc. That way, kids would get the benefit of having parents that represent a wide swath of humanity, right?!?

Look, I'm joking. I now see that you and On-Lawn are really arguing from some more basic "plan of Nature/God/Evolution" that men are made for women, and vice versa. I had thought that the argument was a little more specifically obsessed with genital complementarity for its own sake, which I thought was dumb. I get the point now.
11.3.2005 6:19pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Kate:

I was arguing that I don't think most couples are complementary to begin with - people usually choose mates that are LIKE them, not DIFFERENT from them.

Now I see your problem, you don't understand what is meant by "complementarity."
11.3.2005 6:19pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Antonin,

That won't work. I already stated that phsychological v physical is moot to my argument. Fishing for psychological importance from me will leave you with an empty stringer.

The physical end is hardly refutable, and that is enough for me.
11.3.2005 6:20pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Antonin: That's not the argument at all.

Pray tell, what is the argument, then. How does the lack of an affidavit procedure say anything about the procreative purpose of marriage?

OE argues that it would be complicated, but that's only because he adds to the complications unnecessarily.

Jump right in there. Which complication is unnecessary?

I have never once seen anyone bite the bullet of the redudctio and say no, it would be nice if we could keep the childless from marrying, but it's not practical.

That is an improper reductio as "nice if we could keep the childless from marrying" does not follow from any statement of the reproductive purpose behind marriage.

In all the years I've spent arguing against the neutering of marriage, I've never once seen anyone bite the bullet of presenting a societal reason other than responsible procreation that explains marriage. Most, just like yourself and Dale, don't even try. Like I said. That doesn't mean it's not out there, but then again maybe the earth is flat, too.
11.3.2005 6:20pm
Designbot:
Op Ed, Editors, On Lawn,

Let's not quibble over whether particular arrangements are practical or not. The important thing about Dale's example is not the exact affidavit arrangement. It's that there is literally no effort towards or interest in limiting marriage to fertile couples—unless they are same-sex. This implies that fertility is not the true dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable marriages.

Simple question: If there was a simple, practical, non-intrusive means of limiting marriage to couples who will have children, would you prefer that to the current arrangement? Yes or no?
11.3.2005 6:24pm
Antonin:
TE,AFJ:
Complementarity is not an argument, it is a biological fact.
As far as I can tell, the "biological fact" in question is that normal men and women, if they engage in the right sex act, can conceive a child. Is this the complementarity of which you speak? If so, how does it entail that any unmarried man and woman of appropriate age, including the infertile and those who intend to avoid conception, and no one else, should be allowed to marry?

It seems to me the "complementarity" you're talking about is really PIV intercourse. Why should a couple's capacity to engage in this particular sex act be the basis for public policy?
11.3.2005 6:24pm
Designbot:
I've never once seen anyone bite the bullet of presenting a societal reason other than responsible procreation that explains marriage. Most, just like yourself and Dale, don't even try.

Hasn't Dale been listing numerous societal reasons for marriage unrelated to procreation for the past week? Did you miss that?
11.3.2005 6:26pm
John H (mail) (www):
Designbot: "Your argument, if I understand correctly, is that same-sex marriage must remain illegal in order prevent same-sex reproduction from becoming legal. Is that right?"

Not quite. I don't assume that merely keeping SSM illegal is going to prevent same-sex procereation from being attempted. The only way to prevent that is with a federal law that would ban all attempts at conceiving that are not the union of a man and a woman's gametes.

My argument is that we need to do that, and that as it would ONLY effect the procreation rights of same-sex couples, it should be discussed when discussing the rights of same-sex couples. My argument is also that if we allow SSM but do not enact this law, then marriage will change in the most fundamental way - it will no longer automatically grant the couple the right to procreate together. This could be seen to be a huge change in the future, when a state might enforce genetic engineering or use of donor gametes for couples that might pass on a genetic "defect" to their child, on some "right to be bron without defects" basis, even if they are married. They could look back at the same-sex couples that were married but not allowed to procreate and say, marriage doesn't give a right to procreate. But any reading of Zablocki or Loving shows that it is plainly assumed that marriage does indeed grant a right to procreate, and is ineed the only place where the right is granted.
11.3.2005 6:33pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

Let's not quibble over whether particular arrangements are practical or not. The important thing about Dale's example is not the exact affidavit arrangement.

Dale would disagree...

Laws do often state general rules, and they are often over- or under-inclusive in some way.


There Dale cedes that the general viewpoint (such as yours) is insufficient. He carefully crafts his affidavit scheme to avoid being felled by what he considers typical, but (apparently even by his standards) valid reasons for the exceptions.

So for you to turn around, (to save Dale's crumbling argument?) and say that his scheme is not important that we should accept the origional premise again simply wipes away a lot of careful construction on Dale's part. And it falls prey to the very obstacles he was trying to avoid.

If there was a simple, practical, non-intrusive means of limiting marriage to couples who will have children, would you prefer that to the current arrangement? Yes or no?

Sounds like Minority Report science fiction to me. But my answer should be obvious.
11.3.2005 6:35pm
Chimaxx (mail):
You're right. I went too far with the proposal. There is no need to separate the couple and no need to test fertility. If in seven years a married couple has failed to procreate--whether through disability, inability or willfulness--they would simply no longer be married under the law.

No jackboots needed. The couple would simply be regarded as "single, never married" under the law from that point forward. There would be no ban on remarriage: they would simply have to obtain and complete a new marriage contract.

It's nonintrusive, and it ably reinforces our commitment to responsible procreation as the centerpiece of marriage.
11.3.2005 6:39pm
John H (mail) (www):
DaveP: "Further the technology would presumably be employed in the main by heterosexuals to lessen the risks to themselves and their own genetic children."

Attempting to conceive be any means other than combining your gamete with a person of the other sex would be illegal. This would effect everyone equally, but would only iimpede same-sex couples wishing to procreate together, scientists wishing to create children using some sort of genetic engineering or cloning. It would not impede any person doing anything that has been done up to now (ie, IVF, AID, etc). It would stop the heterosexual couple from utilizing genetic engineering just as it would stop a gay couple.

Artificial meiosis is not dispositive to same sex marriage, for SSM is just with or without it.

Being allowed to procreate with the person of your choice is a right. If same-sex couples join siblings and children as people who are not allowed to procreate with the person of their choice for a "supportable basis", that is substantive and relative to this debate. Couples that are not allowed to procreate are not allowed to marry.

Closer to home, would you deny a straight couple the right to conceive a child by using their own genetic material in order to impregnate a surrogate mother? Is the child less theirs, somehow?

They would be combining a man and a woman (I assume that's what you mean by "straight couple") and would not be prohibited by this law from using a surrogate. I also support laws banning use of surrogates and donor gametes, but those do not relate to the marriage discussion at all.
11.3.2005 6:45pm
Antonin:
OE: Suppose

(1) Policy P is supposed to promote end E, and
(2) P is designed so that it also spends money on things unrelated to promoting E, and
(3) a restriction R of P has been opposed that would reduce the costs of P without in any way inhibiting its role in promoting E, and
(4) there are no good reasons to believe R would be impractical, too expensive, abhorrent to human dignity, etc.

In that case, I submit that it is transparently irrational to actively oppose restriction R.

That is exactly what is going on with marriage and procreation. You came up with a bunch of costly hypothetical constraints that might be imposed, but they're all covered under (4) above. No need to go around trying to figure out if people tried hard enough: we just figure out if they have kids after ten years or so. If they don't, we rescind their liscense. Yet virtually everyone would oppose such a restriction. I submit, therefore, that the purpose of marriage is not mere procreation, although that is one purpose.

I'm not sure why the burden is on advocates of same-sex marriage to "explain" marriage. It's a central element of our society, it serves various useful purposes, and who knows what the effects of its wholesale abolition would be? Much safer to keep it around with appropriate changes to improve it. One of those changes is letting a small number of same-sex couples marry.
11.3.2005 6:45pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: ...they would simply no longer be married under the law.

Would that increase or decrease the number of children born out of wedlock?

Next?
11.3.2005 6:46pm
John H (mail) (www):
Chimaxx, marriages are not forced to procreate. They have a right to procreate. Same-sex couples should not have a right to procreate.
11.3.2005 6:48pm
DaveP:
The Editors:

DavP:

Sigh. The naturalness argument is entirely without merit, both in its premise and conclusion.

You seem to be in need of an introductory biology textbook and a reality check.


Hah. And you seem to be in need of being dropped naked on a desert isle for a few months. :)

To recap your false conclusion: Gay is unnatural. Unnatural is bad. Ban gay. Fallacy: unnatural is bad. My counter example: The green revolution is unnatural. Ban the green revolution. People die. People dying is bad. Therefore, banning the unnatural is bad.

So, you need to offer some justification for selective application of the 'naturalness' doctrine to homosexuality, but not to every other aspect of modern life. Good luck.

Deriving your false premise: Baby makers are natural. No gay people are baby makers, therefore no gay people are natural. Fallacy: illicit major. As baby makers are a subset of the natural, there is no proof that gays are not natural.

Natural is "having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature" [MW] Homosexuality exists in nature. Homosexuality is natural.

Clear?
11.3.2005 6:51pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

Hasn't Dale been listing numerous societal reasons for marriage unrelated to procreation for the past week? Did you miss that?

Perhaps you missed where Dale cut off his own legs ...

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.


His answer to the lack of evidence is "to reason from our common experience, our values, and whatever evidence we have that seems relevant to the question". Unfortunately he doesn't want to allow for evidence of programs like gay marriage. He seems to think it never existed until yesterday (his word not mine). This absense was particularly suspicious in his argument against polygamy.

Dale's house came tumbleing down then when in this article when the last half of was spent chanting "it is not clear then" to dismiss others arguments. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. He really wants us to think he's made a substantive case about his trickle-down theory of social benefits. And he seems to rely on that a lot. But his asynchonous application of incredulity shows that prejudice is bearing the most load in this argument.
11.3.2005 6:56pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
DaveP, Schizophrenia exists in nature too. Your point?

"To recap your false conclusion: Gay is unnatural. Unnatural is bad. Ban gay."

Since I didn't say anything like that, you're either misunderstanding or lying.
11.3.2005 6:57pm
Chimaxx (mail):
It would likely have no effect. I don't have time now, but I'll see if I can find some resource that will show the number of married couples who have zero children in the first seven years of marriage who subsequently go on to have children (with one another). I suspect the number is vanishingly small.
11.3.2005 6:59pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I don't have time now, but I'll see if I can find some resource that will show the number of married couples who have zero children in the first seven years of marriage who subsequently go on to have children (with one another). I suspect the number is vanishingly small.

Are you arguing that is a reason to break up their marriages? That their numbers are "vanishingly small?"
11.3.2005 7:01pm
Designbot:


So obvious you can't be bothered to say it, apparently. I take it your answer is no, you do not actually favor limiting marriage to couples who are capable of having children, on the grounds that it would be unfair to discriminate against them.

If you are arguing that infertile couples should not be able to marry, you are arguing against the humanitarian outreach to helping out the disabled.

(Insert sound of head spinning.) So, it is morally unjust to discriminate against opposite-sex couples who are incapable or uninterested in having children, so we extend them the privilege of marriage. Even though the whole purpose of marriage is to raise children, and their marriage is, by your standards, pointless and a bad example.

But to discriminate against a same-sex couple is morally necessary, because you don't classify homosexuality as a "disability."

Two questions:

1) Is there something wrong with a "humanitarian outreach" (in your terms) to help people other than the disabled? Are programs to help the sick or poor unjust?

2) What about couples who are capable of having children, but choose not to? In an ideal world, would you prevent them from marrying?
11.3.2005 7:04pm
Cold Warrior:
Re: the idea that same-sex marriage will lead to a rise in gay couples, which in turn will lead to a drop in the birthrate.

The argument is usually rejected as nonsense by those in favor of same sex marriage. But is it nonsense? Or is it really just that the effect would be negligible?

I think Volokh blogged once or twice on similar concepts. Here's the idea:

-- the percentage of exclusively homosexual men and women is very low

-- the percentage of bisexual men and women (defined as those who have had at least one sexual relationship of either type) is far higher; within this bisexual realm we generally find persons who have stronger attractions to either the same sex or opposite sex, but this is on something of a continuum. For the sake or argument, let's say we have persons who are varying degrees of bisexual: those whose objects of desire are, say, (A) 90% of the same sex (and 10% of the opposite sex) or (B)those who are 30% of the same sex (and 70% of the opposite sex).

-- it is perfectly sensible to posit that those in category (B) may have, over the course of their dating lives, met numerous sexually compatible persons of both the opposite sex and the same sex. When a (B)-type bisexual has to decide if this is the person he/she wants to settle down with and enter a committed, monogamous relationship, he/she is no doubt influenced by prevailing mores. And chief among these (or at least one of the leading factors) is whether his/her relationship is recognized as valid and proper by the community. And whether the activity is lawful is, of course, important in this determination. For the same reasons I choose to drink alcohol rather than use illegal intoxicants; I'm pretty indifferent as to the effects of alcohol vs. other illicit substances, so for me the deciding factor is that one is legal and the others aren't.

-- So I think we should all agree that social acceptance of gay marriage, as expressed through the law, will sway at least SOME bisexual people into forming committed same-sex relationships when they find a compatible partner, rather than continuing the search for a similarly-compatible opposite sex partner.

Now, I agree that the number of such persons is probably very small. But it isn't zero. So to me it doesn't make sense to dismiss the argument with a wave of the hand as silly, misguided, homophobic, etc. It also doesn't make sense to say that people are born and live their lives as exclusively gay or straight with nothing in between. I've known plenty of gay people; the ones who are my friends always admit to having had sex with persons of the opposite sex, and some tell me they've had long term heterosexual relationships. Now they may be primarily gay in orientation, such that they'll never be as happy in a heterosexual relationship as in a gay relationship. Fine. That's a good argument that gay marriage will increase the storehouse of happiness in our society by encouraging people to find their optimal partner. But it will also discourage some people from forming perfectly satisfying yet suboptimal heterosexual relationships.

And if we as a people, through our laws, believe that this is an important goal (i.e., encouraging people who could go both ways to go hetero), then legalization of gay marriage would, indeed, be a bad thing.

Note that I'm not one of these people. I do not think this is an important goal; I don't even think it's a legitimate goal of government.

But the argument has to be dealt with seriously. And the "you're either gay or straight from birth" argument just doesn't fit with all the facts.
11.3.2005 7:13pm
DaveP:
Op Ed:

In all the years I've spent arguing against the neutering of marriage, I've never once seen anyone bite the bullet of presenting a societal reason other than responsible procreation that explains marriage. Most, just like yourself and Dale, don't even try. Like I said. That doesn't mean it's not out there, but then again maybe the earth is flat, too.


Oh, puhlease -- with an emphasis on ease. Gay marriage deters promiscuity. Promiscuity spreads disease. Disease is bad for society. Therefore, gay marriage is good for society.

Gay marriage makes gay people happy. Happy people are more productive. Productivity improves society. Therefore, gay marriage improves society.

Gay marriage offers a better environment for child development than foster care. Better child development leads to a better society. Gay marriage leads to a better society.

Gay marriage allows gay people to fulfill a legitimate role in the majority social network. People fulfilling legitmate roles in the network improves the network. Improving social networks improves society. Gay marriage improves society.

Gay marriage legitimizes homosexuality. The legitimacy of homosexuality terminates the debate on the ethics of homosexuality. Terminating the debate frees time for more productive persuits. More productive persuits improve society. Gay marriage improves society.

Gay marriage legitimizes homosexuality. Ligitimizing homosexuality alleviates the emotional trauma gay people experience. Reducing emotional trauma improves mental health and reduces drug and alcohol abuse. Improved mental health and reduced drug and alcohol abuse lead to lower medical demand. Lower medical demand results in lower medical costs. Lower medical costs are good for society. Gay marriage is good for society.

Etc.....
11.3.2005 7:20pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Designbot,

I take it your answer is no, you do not actually favor limiting marriage to couples who are capable of having children, on the grounds that it would be unfair to discriminate against them.

I don't recall making that argument. The answer is "no" but what are you referring to as the "grounds"?

it is morally unjust to discriminate against opposite-sex couples who are incapable or uninterested in having children

The uninterested is a case I didn't deal with specifically. I think it is way to easy to change ones mind, or have accidents to really consider them an exception.

Those incapable, are they not disabled? I don't care if they are homosexual or heterosexual, just that it is a true disability.

Even though the whole purpose of marriage is to raise children

Um no. I don't subscribe to that argument. The purpose of marriage is to keep families intact. Not every case where we see children being raised do we have a marriage. Once a family breaks up there are a number of other programs whose purpose is to raise children. From orphanages, to foster homes, to safe-houses, to adoption we have a lot of programs that raise children. But only one of them tries to keep a family intact.

Marriage doesn't seem to have much effect. As Barbara Defoe Whitehead points out, a marriage does not seem to repair the damages of breaking up a family. A single-parent seems to do as well as a parent and step-parent, with some added risks of molestation, and teenage promiscuity.

Are programs to help the sick or poor unjust?

What is specifically unjust about the attempt to conflate homosexuality with a handicap for the purpose of gaining the same benefits is that they are not handicapped. Plain and simple. They are not sick or poor because of their sexual orientation either.

Yet no matter how it is sliced, renamed, obfuscated or camouflaged, granting any treatment to any group based on the capacities and uniqueness ofanother group is wrong.

Otherwise, I will endeavor to stay on topic if you don't mind.

What about couples who are capable of having children, but choose not to?

Ah, I believe I dealt with that in this comment.
11.3.2005 7:26pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
DaveP,

Those benefits have nothing to do with marriage, and no doubt could be provided by some other means without the social upheaval. In fact, I've noted previously that Dale's trickle-down theory of social benefits is possibly satisfied by RB's, with the added benefit that it would benefit even more situations than just gay/lesbian couples.

If the benefits drive the need, then this would be the superior approach. Dale's been aware of this query to his debate since day one, lets hope he replies to it soon.
11.3.2005 7:30pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Law Student Kate:

a much better response is to point out that gay couples do have children, and that those children need the protections of the law just as much as any other children.

Particularly when debating a public-policy perspective, I’ve generally agreed with your suggestion.

Today’s, well, er, umm... rhetorical train wreck removed any doubt that may have existed.
11.3.2005 7:37pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Designbot:

What about couples who are capable of having children, but choose not to? In an ideal world, would you prevent them from marrying?

That would require the ability to see into the future. Can you do that? Do you know people who can? Should the government put a team of psychics on the payroll?
11.3.2005 7:57pm
John H (mail) (www):
Marriage is not the only way to give couples raising children protections of law. Civil Unions could give all the rights of marriage EXCEPT the right to procreate together. It does not help a child for their parents to have the right to create more children, they are usually harmed by that, at least materially. And they would be especially harmed if their younger sibling was needing constant medical care and attention due to having been conceived from two people of the same sex.
11.3.2005 8:04pm
John H (mail) (www):
Designbot: What about couples who are capable of having children, but choose not to? In an ideal world, would you prevent them from marrying?

Not if it would be ethical for them to have children if they were to have children. Assuming they aren't siblings or children or already married, then their procreation would be ethical and they can and should marry. They don't have to have children, but the CONCEPT (conception) of children has to be ethical. (Really, they shouldn't have sex until they are married, whether they intend to have children or not. They should be required to marry, though no one is pushing for that so don't worry about that...)
11.3.2005 8:10pm
DaveP:
The Editors:

DaveP, Schizophrenia exists in nature too. Your point?


My point is to refute your argument that homosexuality is not natural, not natural is bad, therefore SSM is bad.

"To recap your false conclusion: Gay is unnatural. Unnatural is bad. Ban gay."

Since I didn't say anything like that, you're either misunderstanding or lying.

To wit, The Editors:

Second, two elderly people marrying does not violate the natural complementarity of a man and a woman the way a same-sex relationship does.

You assert: Same-sex relationships violate natural complementarity. To violate the natural is unnatural. Therefore, gay is unnatural. The connotation of violate is bad. Unnatural is bad. Therefore, gay is bad. Bad things should be banned. Therefore, ban gay.

Of course, I conflate gay with gay marriage. The two concepts are ethically equivalent, however.

Can homosexuality be ethical and gay marriage not? No, because individual rights end where the rights of other individuals begin. For example, I am in front of you in line and I buy the last icecream cone. Have I harmed you by denying you the cone? No. My persuit of my legitimate interests does not infringe on your rights, so long as I do not commit force or fraud, even if you should incur a material deficit.

Similarly, my persuit of my legitimate interests in my same sex marriage is ethical. Even if it results in some third party freely choosing homosexuality over heterosexuality, reducing fecundity, which presumably, leads you to some material deficit (such as a smaller market for your goods).

To restate, your assertion that SSM should be banned, implies homosexuality should be banned.

Of course this scenario that you propose is littered with unprovable assumptions anyway, and is very weak. In particular, that the small increases in productivity due to the acceptance of homosexuality will not offset the small decrease in productivity due to lower fecundity.


The schizophrenia counter-argument is a red-herring. Schizophrenics have reduced productivity and may harm others. Schizophrenia, therefore, is bad.
11.3.2005 8:12pm
Chairm (mail):

Here the procreation argument suffers an experiential flaw; it is like an argument from another world, not the world we inhabit.

Quite right, SSMers who cherish their blinders do seem to live in a different world than the one that the rest of us inhabit.

But at least in this remark Dale Carpenter acknowledges the "blank wall" that Maggie Gallagher described in her opening post last week. That is a good starting point and Mr Carpenter reached it, finally.

The unisexed template does not dictate the purpose of state recognition of marital status. But the question remains unaddressed by Mr. Carpenter:


What is the explicit purpose of the proposed establishment of the preferential status of the unisexed relationship?


SSM should stand on its own two feet and should not piggyback on the social institution of marriage. What is the independant claim that forces the state's hand?

I've read the posts and comments here and other places that refer to the marriage blogothon that has taken place at Volokh, and I have yet to see an SSMer frankly state the independant claim.

The sterile (i.e. disabled and elderly) can marry, so we must license the self-declared romantic couplings of the unisexed combo? Really, now.

Supposedly the back of the sterility objection has been broken: there is no requirement for procreation, as Mr. Carpenter has just repeated. But will SSM enact a regime that will enforce a requirement for "expresssion" of sexual orientation in the bedroom? Will the unisexed be required to consumate thier non-mating somehow?

No requirement, no barrier, the thinking of SSMers seems to go. If affidavits are such a great solution, reciprocal Beneficiaries will be acceptable in establishing a preferential status for the nonconjual trust relationship. But SSMers object to including gays and lesbians in such a easy-to-implement scheme, precisely because such RB makes no presumption about sexual relations between the partners.

So the starting point is the question in bold above. It is THE challenge to the SSMers who want the rest of society to endorse the unisexed arrangement.
11.3.2005 8:14pm
Chairm (mail):
Groan, typo corrections:

No requirement, no barrier, the thinking of SSMers seems to go. If affidavits are such a great solution, Reciprocal Beneficiaries will be acceptable in establishing a preferential status for the nonconjugal trust relationship(no sex integration, no mating, no man-woman criterion).

But SSMers object to including gays and lesbians in such a easy-to-implement scheme, precisely because RB would make no presumption and reflect no expectation about sexual relations between the partners.
11.3.2005 8:19pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
DaveP:

You assert: Same-sex relationships violate natural complementarity. To violate the natural is unnatural. Therefore, gay is unnatural. The connotation of violate is bad. Unnatural is bad. Therefore, gay is bad. Bad things should be banned. Therefore, ban gay.


I did not assert. Now you've made it less likely that you're misunderstanding, and much more likely that you're lying.
11.3.2005 8:24pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

the percentage of bisexual men and women (defined as those who have had at least one sexual relationship of either type) is far higher; within this bisexual realm we generally find persons who have stronger attractions to either the same sex or opposite sex, but this is on something of a continuum. For the sake or argument, let's say we have persons who are varying degrees of bisexual: those whose objects of desire are, say, (A) 90% of the same sex (and 10% of the opposite sex) or (B)those who are 30% of the same sex (and 70% of the opposite sex).

-- it is perfectly sensible to posit that those in category (B) may have, over the course of their dating lives, met numerous sexually compatible persons of both the opposite sex and the same sex. When a (B)-type bisexual has to decide if this is the person he/she wants to settle down with and enter a committed, monogamous relationship, he/she is no doubt influenced by prevailing mores. And chief among these (or at least one of the leading factors) is whether his/her relationship is recognized as valid and proper by the community.


I don't see it this way. To me, person B clearly can only flourish in the long run with members of the opposite sex. I would assert that one needs a full attraction to the gender to which one is attracted to make it work in the long run. After 5, 10, 20 years of having the same sex with the same person, sharing a bathroom with them, knowing them "warts and all," that full passion has got to be there to begin with in order to make it last in the long run. (And often even when it's there to begin with couples break up after the spark goes out.)

Therefore, if someone is fully attracted to one gender but less than full attracted to another (in other words, Kinsey 1s,2s,4s, and 5s) in the long run, they really have no other choice than to settle with the gender to which they are fully attracted. The only people who have a real choice are the perfect Kinsey "3s" who are extremely rare among the male gender. They appear to be more common among women.
11.3.2005 8:36pm
DaveP:
On Lawn:

Those benefits have nothing to do with marriage, and no doubt could be provided by some other means without the social upheaval. In fact, I've noted previously that Dale's trickle-down theory of social benefits is possibly satisfied by RB's, with the added benefit that it would benefit even more situations than just gay/lesbian couples.


I disagree, of course. That SSM leads to social upheaval is not proven. As this is your assertion, the burden of proof is upon you. Gay marriage exists in Massachusetts, and I am not aware of any increase in riots, mass suicides, feral children wandering the streets, dogs and cats living together, or the like. Nor am I aware of any rational, coherent model which can explain the presumed negative effect that gay marriage will have on straight society.

Thought experiment: The straight couples opposed to gay marriage certainly would not allow it to affect their relationships, that would be illogical, right? The straight couples in favor of gay marriage would not allow their relationships to be harmed by gay marriage -- that would refute their point. So, the only couples of concern are those indifferent to gay marriage -- those not susceptible to suggestion from either camp, yet who are somehow susceptible to the influence of gay marriage itself. That would be truly bizarre.
11.3.2005 8:37pm
DaveP:
The Editors:

I did not assert. Now you've made it less likely that you're misunderstanding, and much more likely that you're lying.


Disingenuous claim -- statement is assertion. Ad hominem.
11.3.2005 8:43pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Are you arguing that is a reason to break up their marriages? That their numbers are "vanishingly small?"


A reason? Of course not. That is a specific answer to your concern that it might increase out-of-wedlock births. It was an answer to your objective of an unintended harm that might come from such a policy.

The reason is:
a. to encourage them to instead find a different marital partner with whom the can/will have children.
b. to by defaul tremove them from marital status, since all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage are, we are told, designed to support those couples who procreate and their children
c. And to remind them of this fact, should they choose to obtain and execute a new marriage license.

Such a change would reinforce the relationship between the marriage license and reproduction without creating an undue burden. (After all, you have to renew your driver's license every few years; having to relicense your childless marriage, should you wish to retain it, is no greater burden.) It would encourage some number of individuals to abandon a childless coupling to find one with a partner with whom they can/will reproduce, also furthering the primary goal. It also would reduce the burden on other taxpayers paying benefits intended for precreative couples to nonprocreative couples (since some number of childless couples would choose not to or forget to renew, and probably, over time, would feel a social stigma against renewing).

If we are to accept that marriage, unlike any other human institution that has duration and value, has one and only only one overriding primary aim (to encourage responsible procreation), and that all the legal and social benefits and responsibilities attendant to the adult couple in that marriage have as their purpose to support that overriding primary goal, then we should at least be considering ways to discourage participation by "marriage malingerers."

Of course this is absurd, because the premise is wrong. Marriage wouldn't have survived this long and have been able to adapt in so many ways to so many cultural milieus if it had one and only one overriding purpose.

When someone say that our goernment is designed to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" do you say: "No, no, no: What is the one and only one overriding primary aim for which this institution was formed"? Of course not.

And you allow people to work for the government even if they will be involved in only one small subset of that list of tasks.

That's the downfall of the 800-lb Gorilla argument. It starts from the assumption that marriage must have one and only one overriding goal. But given all the other benefits to the participants in marriage, any children they raise, their other relatives, and their communities that Dr. Carpenter has noted, there is no reason to cede that marriage must by some unstated logical necessity have one and only one overriding primary purpose. There goes the core premise of the gorilla.

In fact there is no good logical or historical reason why marriage alone must have one and only one primary purpose, why it cannnot have been designed and intended to fulfill all of its multiple purposes and roles equally--to support and encourage stability in intimate adult relationships; to encourage the proper raising of any children; to provide clear kinship lines for the sake of law, commerce, social exchange and inheritance; and, yes, to encourage responsible procreation--and to be flexible enough to adapt and continue to adapt to changing social circumstances.
11.3.2005 9:05pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
DaveP: That SSM doesn't lead to social upheaval is not proven. As this is your assertion, the burden of proof is upon you.
11.3.2005 9:40pm
Antonin:
The Editors:
Designbot:
What about couples who are capable of having children, but choose not to? In an ideal world, would you prevent them from marrying?
That would require the ability to see into the future. Can you do that? Do you know people who can? Should the government put a team of psychics on the payroll?
I'm beginning to think you're being deliberately obtuse. What, exactly, would make Dale's proposal so difficult to implement? We could even make people who lack the requisite intention when they marry guilty of a crime. There's no reason proving intent should be more problematic here than it is in any other case.
11.3.2005 9:44pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
It's quite simple Antonin. No one knows (except perhaps psychics, if you believe in such things) whether they will have children at the time they apply for a marriage license.
11.3.2005 9:56pm
DaveP:
The Editors:

DaveP: That SSM doesn't lead to social upheaval is not proven. As this is your assertion, the burden of proof is upon you.

Not at all. In a rational ethics (liberty), all is permissible unless shown to cause harm. So, the burden of proof of harm lies with the person that desires the prohibition. I am properly free to marry, unless you show why I must not.

Further my thought experiment, above, offers a pretty good case for the refutation of harm.

Cheers.
11.3.2005 9:59pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
DaveP, you are free to marry right now. You do not have a right to a government license. The law is not obligtated to treat two different things as if they were identical.
11.3.2005 10:06pm
DaveP:
The Editors:

DaveP, you are free to marry right now. You do not have a right to a government license. The law is not obligtated to treat two different things as if they were identical.

Of course. Nor do straight couples have a right to a government license. George Washington did not have a government license. Government licenses harm society by illegitimately restricting the enforcement of the marriage contract to a socially powerful majority. So, while I am free to enter into a marriage contract, I may not avail myself of its enforcement -- hospital visitation rights, for example. Thus, the contract is, in effect, intrinsically void.
11.3.2005 10:16pm
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):
Dale raises the old sterility straw man, and makes a better effort than most ssm advocates to answer the glaring flaws in that argument. I give Dale credit for at least admitting that his first response is constitutionally deficient:


Remember, I’m not making a constitutional argument about whether the government should, as a constitutional matter, be able to make marriage laws that are not narrowly tailored to the state’s claimed interests.



But Dale's response to the "intrusive" aspect of the sterility straw man, misses the point entirely.


If we were serious about the procreationist project – that is, if we were serious that procreation is the only public interest in marriage – we could require prospective married couples to sign an affidavit stating that they are able to procreate and intend to procreate. (We could entirely bar from marriage elderly couples beyond a certain age.)


Dale's proposal mis-states the procreation objective, and ignores simple biological facts about age and sterility.

You don't need marriage to make babies!

Marriage is about responsible procreation. Contrary to Dale's construction, this is NOT just about making more babies. FIRST, Marriage increases the number of children socialized in a stable home with a mother and a father. SECOND, just as importantly, marriage decreases the number of children born into situations where they won't have a father and mother to socialize them.

1: In older couples it's almost always the woman who is infertile, and by encouraging f/m monogamy through marriage, the state makes it less likely that the fertile old man will beget children on younger women. This decreases illigitimacy.

2. Among younger "sterile couples," usually it's only one party that is sterile. If the woman's sterile, the marriage makes it less likely that the fertile guy is going to be going around impregnating other women. Here again, a "sterile" marriage decreases illigitimacy.

3. Even in the rare case where both parties are infertile, a sterile member of an f/m married couple is less likely to develop a romance with a married mother or father, thereby putting the stability of a family in danger. Here, this increases the chance of children growing up with the same mother and father.

4. Additionally, in either situation 2 or 3, having an infertile marriage around increases the chance that an illigitimate or abandoned child might be adopted and given a father and mother.

5. Finally, the f/m model of marriage celebrates gender diversity, driving home the social lesson that a child needs a mother and a father. The more married couples there are, the more power marriage has as a norm. And this norm benefits almost everyone, since it functions as a model to be sought or at least approximated. Three examples: The marriage model (a) motivates single parents to marry, (b) motivates single mothers to at least to seek out some sort of godfather figure for the kids; (c) motivates widowers and other single fathers to at least to seek out some sort of godmother figure for the kids; (d) the marriage model even encourages many same-sex couples to find an opposite-sex godparent. So even if the kids don't get an actual mother and father, the marriage norm encourages their parents to get them some sort of substitute for the missing role. A substitute may be better than nothing.

The same principle applies to the states that allow 1st cousins to marry if they prove their sterility. It's irresponsible for cousins to procreate, so if two cousins get the hots for each other, society is better off bribing the couple with maritial status if they get snipped. When it comes to inbreeding and illigitimacy, responsible procreation means no procreation. That's good social policy, policy that reduces the population of our prisons and mental hospitals. The Goodridge ruling posits marriage as something that somehow protects children by getting tacked on after the children are born. Blended families happen, and they deserve our protection and support, but it strains credulty to pretend that marriage was designed to help blended families, well, blend. If Joey's mom divorces his dad, and then marries Roger, does Mom's marriage to Roger turn Roger into Joey's father? Nope. That might happen, but it's called adoption. It's not a function of marriage. Marrying after you've had kids with someone else does not convey the main benefits of marriage onto your kids, i.e. to give your kids a father and a mother, a stable financially independent home, etc. An acrobat gets the most benefit from a net, if you mount the net before the acrobatics. Once the acrobat has fallen, she probably doesn't need a net. At best, she needs a hospital. At worst, she needs a morgue. Similarly, a marriage that is in place before the child is born, is more likely to help the child.
11.4.2005 6:10am
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

I'm saying that people choose the sex of their mate based on their own sexual orientation.


That's the present fad, Kate, but that's not how it's always been. If you assume that homosexuality is genetic, and assume that people only choose the sex of their mate based on their own sexual orientation, then gays would have bred themselves out of existence wherever mating is consensual.

Or take an historical approach. King James I of England was openly gay, made no attempt to hide it, but kept his recreational sex life quite separate from his married life. So did previous gay monarchs -- all men who had the power to make gay marriage legal had they wanted.

Greeks and to a lesser extent some Roman societies were extremely homophylic, sometimes valuing same-sex relationships OVER marriage. And yet they didn't confuse homosexual relations with marriage.



NOT because they're out there trying to find someone who "complements" them. If they were, why stop at genitals? The skinny should marry the fat, the tall the short, the smart the stupid, etc. That way, kids would get the benefit of having parents that represent a wide swath of humanity, right?!? [snip your patronizing remarks about your opponent's religion]


Kids need a mom and dad, Kate. They bond differently with the mom than with the dad, and boys without moms end up with a separate set of problems than boys without dads. Same applies to girls. Why is this? I don't know, Kate. Maybe you missed something in all your reduction of sex differences to genitals. I suspect it's something cultural. But that doesn't mean that it's not real. I suspect that we are free to define the genders differently, culture to culture, and even family to family, but the difference, like the dancing lines of yin and yang in the tao symbol, the difference means something to those kids.

I'm not willing to toss a working system away for a fad. When this fad passes, we;d be left with a neutered definition of marriage, and an even greater problem with irresponsibility, from breaking the link between marriage and procreation.
11.4.2005 6:52am
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

I'm beginning to think you're being deliberately obtuse. What, exactly, would make Dale's proposal so difficult to implement?


The constitution and the Supreme Court. Read Redhail v. Zablocki, then tell me if the answer to your question does not become bleeding obvious.
11.4.2005 6:55am
PeterH:
logicblackbelt: Marriage is about responsible procreation. Contrary to Dale's construction, this is NOT just about making more babies. FIRST, Marriage increases the number of children socialized in a stable home with a mother and a father. SECOND, just as importantly, marriage decreases the number of children born into situations where they won't have a father and mother to socialize them.



If you are going to argue that the reason older sterile people can marry is to prevent the older man from having babies with younger women, then why not allow same-sex marriage to reduce the number of children born to gay people who married a heterosexual for social approval and later broke up?

Similarly, marriage will stabilize the relationships of gay people who are now forming families that include children.

If you allow sterile straight people to marry for the reasons you state, you have to allow that similar reason apply to gay families as well.
11.4.2005 9:19am
PeterH:
logicblackbelt,

a close read of your sterility straw man comments indicates two things: you take for granted that everyone is straight, even in a discussion of gay marriage, and that while you talk about "why marriage was set up" you are only look at how it is used today, not at how and why it actually was set up.

To say that marriage was never set up for blended families is to utterly ignore that when marriage was settling into form, women's death in childbirth, men's death in war, and both's death to disease was much more common. In fact, one (and only one among many, but one nonetheless) was precisely TO blend families and provide for widows and the children who lost a father or mother. Maybe the families weren't blended for the same reasons they are today, but blended they often were.

Most of your other arguments (like sterile straight couples would be a good place to put illegitimate or orphan kids) clearly takes as an assumption that gay couples wouldn't be an equally good place to put them. There is some circularity to your argument.
11.4.2005 9:26am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
DaveP attempts to describe society's interest in marriage or in neutered (so-called "gay") marriage as one of the following:

Gay [sic] marriage deters promiscuity.

You have data that supports this? Something even approaching a testimonial by a same-sex couple that they were promiscuous prior to Goodridge but now that they have a license they are not?

What interest does the government have in detering promiscuity? We have many types of relationships that are quite promsicuous that the government exerts no influence over. Shaking hands, for example. I have no exclusive partner with whom I shake hands. Culturally, we even encourage rampant handshaking.

Promiscuity spreads disease. Disease is bad for society.

Following on with the previous example, promiscuous handshaking spreads disease. By this theory of government interest, government would take an interest in handshaking.

There are other behaviors that spread disease as well. Sharing of needles among drug users, for example. Different governments have seen a need to interfere here, but not one has attempted to redefine marriage in their effort to control diseases spread by needle sharing. Marriage is obviously not there as a catch-all for containing disease.

What about sexual promiscuity among under-aged youth? Does that not spread disease? Currently the under-aged are not allowed to marry. This would be contrary to the "spreads disease" theory of marriage. So would consanguine restrictions, the number two, the presumption of paternity, etc.

Gay marriage makes gay people happy.

You have data that supports this? Even an anecdotal claim that gays are happy in MA and Canada, but not elsewhere?

Allowing threesomes to marry would make threesomes happy. Allowing cousins to marry would make cousins happy. Allowing children to marry would make children happy. Allowing corporations to be marriages would make corporations happy. Allowing me to drive as fast as I want, wherever I want would make me happy. Calling sweat pants "seat belts" would make sweat pants wearers happy in states where seat belts are required to be worn.

There are lots of things that make people happy and the government does not redefine marriage to include them. Bowling makes people happy yet the government is not out recruiting bowling teams to apply for a marriage license. The nebulous "makes people happy," as a purpose justifying societal intervention could be used to justify virtually any intrusion into public life, and certainly doesn't contribute to an ordered society.

Cousins marrying would make them "happy." How would you explain a restriction on allowing cousins to marry in terms of your "makes people happy" theory? More directly, "makes people happy" would promote a view of marriage that when one is no longer happy one should leave the marriage. That is different than the current view of marriage, celebrity behaviors notwithstanding.

Gay [sic] marriage offers a better environment for child development than foster care.

You have studies that show this?

The same objections as above apply. Lots of child raising arrangements, including single parent adoption, are probably better than foster care for children, neither is a same-sex couple the only alternative to foster care.

Limiting the marriage to the number two certainly doesn't wash among the "two paychecks are better than one" crowd. Three paychecks are obviously better than two, and four would be better still. This works contrary to the restriction of marriage to two individuals.

Gay [sic] marriage allows gay people to fulfill a legitimate role in the majority social network.

You have studies that show this? Is anyone else offended by DaveP's assertion that gay people don't "fulfill a legitimate role?" How did previous societies like the Greeks, who openly accepted homosexual behaviors manage to do so without neutering marriage?

Gay [sic] marriage legitimizes homosexuality.

You have studies that show this? There are lots of legitimate activities out there that are not marriages. Researching new drugs, protesting government policy, etc., are all legitimate activities that achieved their legitimacy without redefining marriage to be centered about them. Clearly marriage is not a catch-all for every behavior society sees a need to legitimize. See also the case of the Greeks, previously mentioned.

Terminating the debate frees time for more productive persuits.

Dictatorships and censorship are specifically targetted at "terminating" debate. If we thought terminating debate were a legitimate societal purpose, tyranny and censorship would at least be vaguely considered as positive governmental activities. Yet, they are both considered bad things even in societies that practice them.

Gay [sic] marriage... improves mental health and reduces drug and alcohol abuse.

You have studies that confirm this? How about anecdotal evidence from someone to the effect "Yeah, I got off crack when Oregon issued me a marriage certificate, but when that was taken away I started up again." Or maybe even a study that shows the incidence of depression among homosexuals in more accepting societies like the Netherlands is lower than in the United States? Do you even have evidence that shows that marriage reduces depression, drug and alcohol abuse among male-female couples?

As we discover new things that might promote public health, mental or physical, we do not look to encorporate those activities into marriage.

In total, what you list is a bunch of benefits society derives from marriage. It is certainly not a given that those same benefits would result if marriage were neutered. Even if one were to accept that all the above benefits would accrue to a neutered marriage, that still does not excuse the fact that neutered marriage has lost its procreative purpose. The impact of irresponsible procreation on society has proven to be profound and of much more significant impact on your above set of societal interests than we would get by removing that interest. If marriage is neutered to the point that it is now only looking out for the happiness of the two adults involved, what institution will be left to look after society's interest in responsible procreation?

While I thought I was clear before, let me try this again. I did not say it is in any way difficult to invent random purposes for marriage. It's easy enough to spew theories like "marriage is to promote gumdrops and lollipops." What I did say is that to date it has proved impossible for any proponent of neutered marriage, yourself included, to come up with a societal purpose that explains all of the restrictions and treatments they say they want for neutered marriage. You have proven no exception in that regard.
11.4.2005 10:33am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
DaveP,

Read first, understand then post. A social upheaval does not require bloody revolution. I have no idea why you require that of my statement before you accept its validity.

SS"m" is a social upheaval, turning marriage into something it is not. As marriage is an institution that

1) Realizes individual liberty in providing responsiblity for the capacity that only comes through a relationship with the other sex
2) Establishes our most historic, our first and most immediate governance, that of the family.
3) Integrates the sexes providing the very foundation of all humanitarian outreach to those who are different than us.

Each of those are margionalized or dismissed in Massachusetts, and everywhere ss"m" is believed to be marriage.
11.4.2005 12:28pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

Of course not. That is a specific answer to your concern that it might increase out-of-wedlock births.

You are arguing then that the increase will be only slight, vanishingly small. It follows then as a reason to dismiss Dale's ceterpiece of trickle down social benefits by extending marriage to gay and lesbian relationships.

Such a change would reinforce the relationship between the marriage license and reproduction without creating an undue burden.

Breaking up a marriage is an undue burden. The current practice works much better than your heavy handed government controlled scheme.

then we should at least be considering ways to discourage participation by "marriage malingerers."

Social pressure to this end was already discussed, and would be the evidence you are looking for.

Your plan sounds more, well, vindictive. If you feel that a gay/lesbian couple cannot be recognized as a marriage for one particular reason or another, you feel the need to weild that reason as a whip to punish others. Hardly a display of charity that your trickle down social benefit theory relies on for acceptance.

It was already shown to *not* encourage anyone to do anything, which make vulnerable people who think they won't have kids but wind up having them. I know many situations where once a couple was married, and shared much of their lives together they became convinced to have children. Where children once seemed a daunting task, they found that after putting their trust in marriage partially, that they wanted the full family experience. You would deny people that too, which I consider vindictive.

Things work pretty well now, there are adjustments that may need to be made. And you are certainly free to alter your advocacy from ss"m" to your affidavit scheme. It seems they are competing goals, do they not? You can't have it both ways. I suggest plans like covenant marriages and other means to educate people better about marriage. Allow people to have their choice to be married, and educate them as to what is gained by it. And what central to what is gained is from the ability to have and respect their responsibilities towards children.

Bill Cosby in his show had a couple in his office who were having children (he played an OB). One of the things he told them was once the baby came, it would be in charge not them. At the beginning of marriage we have our hands full, and as we wane into our later years we see the product of our marriage in children out doing (hopefully) good for society. Then our hearts are full, my relationship with my wife is much greater than before and our marriage has reached a completed state that began with out complementary relationship.
11.4.2005 12:45pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Of course not. That is a specific answer to your concern that it might increase out-of-wedlock births.


You are arguing then that the increase will be only slight, vanishingly small. It follows then as a reason to dismiss Dale's ceterpiece of trickle down social benefits by extending marriage to gay and lesbian relationships.


Let me try again: The marriage contract has a seven-year reproduction rider. Procreate in seven years or your license is legally void. At that time you may reapply for another license with the same partner or seek another or choose to remain single.

Your objection: How much of an increase would this cause in out-of-wedlock births?

I suggest that the number of married couples who have zero children within the first seven years of marriage and then subsequently have children is vanishingly small. (Because the conversation galloped off in different directions, I never looked into the statistics, but with the comment above, you seem to have conditionally accepted this premise for the sake of this hypothetical discussion.)

Couples who have lost their marriage license but subsequently find themselves pregnant can, of course, get a new marriage license, like any other couple whose license has run out, reducing the already vanishingly small number of additional out-of-wedlock births this scheme might encourage.

Now how does this affect Dale's theory of trickle-down benefits? The very small number of additional out-of-wedlock births would be indistinguishable from the already substantial pool of existing out-of-wedlock births, whereas, if I recall correctly, what trickle-down benefits accrue from permitting same-sex couples to marry would come from the fact that the couples ARE distinguishable.

Such a change would reinforce the relationship between the marriage license and reproduction without creating an undue burden.


Breaking up a marriage is an undue burden. The current practice works much better than your heavy handed government controlled scheme.


I would agree that breaking up a marriage is a burden, but if the overriding purpose of marriage is to encourage responsible procreation, then why is requiring that the couple responsibly procreate within a certain period of time in order to retain their marriage license an undue burden? It would seem to be to the point. Your comment was in response to my second go at this scheme, in which the couple are not forced to move away from one another or split their property, though they may and may even be socially encouraged to ("We want grandchildren, so find someone with whom you can give us that"): They simply lose the legal protections, benefits and responsibilities of marriage unless and until they relicense.
11.4.2005 1:43pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Your plan sounds more, well, vindictive. If you feel that a gay/lesbian couple cannot be recognized as a marriage for one particular reason or another, you feel the need to weild that reason as a whip to punish others. Hardly a display of charity that your trickle down social benefit theory relies on for acceptance.


Yes, my hypothetical suggestion is somewhat vindictive--but a good deal less vindictive than forever barring same-sex couples from marriage, even though they are living in realtionships that are functionally equivalent to marriage, apart from the fact that any children they are rasing are not the fruit of both of their loins.

This is a beautiful statement, with which I wholeheartedly agree:

Allow people to have their choice to be married, and educate them as to what is gained by it. And what central to what is gained is from the ability to have and respect their responsibilities towards children.

Bill Cosby in his show had a couple in his office who were having children (he played an OB). One of the things he told them was once the baby came, it would be in charge not them. At the beginning of marriage we have our hands full, and as we wane into our later years we see the product of our marriage in children out doing (hopefully) good for society. Then our hearts are full, my relationship with my wife is much greater than before and our marriage has reached a completed state that began with out complementary relationship.


And there is nothing it this statement that could not apply equally to same-sex couples. I know of several lesbian couples who could say it with precisely the same words. Yes, like some few heterosexual couples, they would have required some external assistance in achieving pregnancy, but once those children born they would be just as healthy, inquisitive and dependent on the two parents who raised them.
11.4.2005 1:58pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

but a good deal less vindictive than forever barring same-sex couples from marriage

I did not marry my wife to stick it to homosexuals. Marriage does not oppress gays or ask them to break up as you did.

even though they are living in realtionships that are functionally equivalent to marriage

By no means has this statement withstood scrutiny, I'm rather embarassed that you state it so bald-faced.

They do not do anything to provide for intact families, they do nothing to integrate sexes and ensure equal gender participation in household goverance, all that above and beyond the very fundamental function they are inable of -- procreation (which as we noted is different than 'disabled').

And there is nothing it this statement that could not apply equally to same-sex couples.

  • a couple in his office who were having children

  • we see the product of our marriage in children
  • marriage has reached a completed state that began with out complementary relationship


On each of those points we can review from the discussion above that your attempts to conflate a homosexual relationship with those qualities failed. Besides, conflation is no way to run social policy.

Yes, like some few heterosexual couples, they would have required some external assistance in achieving pregnancy

You've walked right into Prof Velleman's reason he cannot support same-sex "marriage". Because he cannot endorse the act of fraud you endorse in that statement. This attempt at conflation, then is not only wrong it involves oppression of an innocent segment of society.

It also makes ss"m" into ">the functional equivelant of a polygamous relationship, which was already rejected by Dale.
11.4.2005 2:24pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I had not previously heard of Prof Velleman. I fear that you will always find his reasoning persuasive because you see the act of conception as "of the essence" of what makes a family, while I do not find him persuasive because I do not.

However, I reject your last assertion "It also makes ss"m" into the functional equivelant of a polygamous relationship, which was already rejected by Dale." (not sure what you were linking to because the link didn't work). Unless you are ready to say that every mixed-sex couple that has used donor sperm is the functional equivalent of a polygamous relationship, then you cannot say that about every same-sex couple that uses it. I understand that you may object to both on the grounds of Prof. Velleman's argument, but to call either a polygamous relationship borders on the absurd.

And conflation is a perfectly acceptable aspect of public policy. We may disagree (and clearly we do) over whether any particular conflation is appropriate. We don't require a public establishment to provide separate restrooms for each customer. One for "Men" and one for "Women" is sufficient--conflating the customers regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation and whether they're good or bad customers. And if there is a separate one-person restroom equipped for the handicapped, it may conflate the Man/Woman restriction.

I admired your story, heartily aproved, even though you and I disagree on what it means.

Are you prepared to tell me that the lived experience of Cincinnati Reds player Joe Valentine isn't what he says it is?
11.4.2005 3:13pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
I fear that you will always find his reasoning persuasive because you see the act of conception as "of the essence" of what makes a family, while I do not find him persuasive because I do not.

I'm sorry, you've flung out into unverifiable vaguary on that one. Could you elucidate?

Unless you are ready to say that every mixed-sex couple that has used donor sperm is the functional equivalent of a polygamous relationship

I fear your problem in countering the past two points is that you didn't read or understand the arguments at all.

First, Velleman doesn't see conception as the reality of marriage, he never makes such a point. What makes Velleman's argument interesting is that he works on a documented and understood notion of basic children's rights.

Here you are wondering if I am making a claim or not, which is in your eyes both here and there in the argument. Such ambiguity should be reconciled before attempting to reply.
If you have a question as to the case I did make, then that would be different.

And conflation is a perfectly acceptable aspect of public policy.

Please provide an better example, as you noted male-female bathrooms make distinctions. It does not conflate races or ages. It does not say that a white person is a chinese person, or a child is an adult.

Are you prepared to tell me that the lived experience of Cincinnati Reds player Joe Valentine isn't what he says it is?

What does he say it is that you are referring to?
11.4.2005 3:30pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Okay, let me start with this and come back to the rest in a subsequent message: What claim ARE you making when you write "It also makes ss'm' into the functional equivelant of a polygamous relationship, which was already rejected by Dale."?

What is the "it"? Why does it make same-sex marriage into the functional equivalent of a polygamous relationship?
11.4.2005 4:02pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
What is the "it"?

The requirement for a third party for reproduction.

Why does it make same-sex marriage into the functional equivalent of a polygamous relationship?

Because it requires more than two people.
11.4.2005 4:08pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: the act of conception as "of the essence" of what makes a family, while I do not find him persuasive because I do not.[!!!]

And exactly where do you think babies come from? Chimaxx, I had no idea you were this far out of touch!
11.4.2005 4:55pm
Chimaxx (mail):
And conflation is a perfectly acceptable aspect of public policy.

Please provide an better example, as you noted male-female bathrooms make distinctions. It does not conflate races or ages. It does not say that a white person is a chinese person, or a child is an adult.


I don't understand your objection. In a conflation, one doesn't enumerate the differences between people that are irrelevant to the purpose at hand. If bathrooms formerly labeled "White Men" and "Black Men" had their signs changed so both simply said men, the conflation would be obvious to anyone who had seen the signs before the changes, but to those who had seen the signs only after the change, the conflation is implicit. Race and age and socioeconomic status and a whole host of other factors are being conflated implicitly because they are considered irrelevant to the purpose at hand.

I see the differences as inessential, so I don't bother to enumerate them. You see them as crucial so accuse me of conflating them.

Let's look back at the elemts of the list you objected to:

* a couple in his [an OB's] office who were having children

...is still a couple in an OB's office having children if they are both women. Nothing in your arguments prevents this very real occurence in real life from happening. nothing will stop the fact that thie child will be born or that this is the couple who has presented themselves as the couple who will welcome the child into the world and raise it.

* we see the product of our marriage in children

And this child would be the product of their marriage, even if it was not, admittedly, the product of their sexual union. Even in states where they could not be married legally they could well be married in the sight of family friends and the god they believe in in many churches.

* marriage has reached a completed state that began with out complementary relationship

Again, completely true for the lesbian couple. The fact that their complementarity does not extend to their geital organs is not relevant: They have purposely brought a child or children into the world, raised it with care to adulthood and are seeing their life in a completed state.

Before you jump on the "not relevant" and point me to Gorilla, let me circle back to your first comment:

Me: I fear that you will always find his reasoning persuasive because you see the act of conception as "of the essence" of what makes a family, while I do not find him persuasive because I do not.

You: I'm sorry, you've flung out into unverifiable vaguary on that one. Could you elucidate?


I didn't realize that we had to write each exchange as if we had never corresponded before.

Your entire argument, it seems to me, is based on a flawed premise--that unlike other lasting valued human institutions, marriage can and must have one and only one overriding social purpose to which all others are subsidiary. if one accepts that premise, then all the procreation arguments follow. But when, for example, we not only allow but demand by our defining documents that government have multiple coequal social purposes there is no logical or historical reason to accept the premise that marriage can or must have only one.

Encouraging responsible procreation is only one social purpose of marriage. I see at least three others:
* Stabilizing adult intimate relationships.
* Supporting and encouraging the proper raising of children within a family setting.
* Providing clear kinship ties for the sake of law, commerce and smooth social functioning.

Just as we do not deman that every governmental office or officeholder directly support all of the many purposes of goverment to be recognized as such (indeed, most only work in support of some small subset), so not every family needs to fulfill all the purposes of family to be recognized as such.

Since you proceed from the assertion that marriage, unlike other lasting, valued social institution must have one and only one primary social purpose, and that purpose is responsible procreation, the conception within marriage by the marital partners is "of the essence" of what defines the marriage and the family built from that marriage.

Since I proceed from assumption that marriage, like other lasting human institutions, is meant to address multiple coequal overlapping human needs and purposes (which is part of why it is so lasting, durable and flexible), all of which are important but no one of which is defining, I find Prof. Velleman's argument to be an interesting but not overriding concern.

So I fear we will always talk past each other.
11.4.2005 4:56pm
Chimaxx (mail):
What is the "it"?

The requirement for a third party for reproduction.

Why does it make same-sex marriage into the functional equivalent of a polygamous relationship?

Because it requires more than two people.


So are all couples who use gametes from a third party in order to be able to bear a child actually in a polygamous relationship, regadless of whether the couple is a ssm or an msm?
11.4.2005 5:01pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I don't understand your objection.

That is helpful to admit. I was rather suspicious of that this morning.

If bathrooms formerly labeled "White Men" and "Black Men" had their signs changed so both simply said men, the conflation would be obvious to anyone who had seen the signs before the changes

Nonsense. They were both "men" before also. If the sign said "black men" and white men entered in because they conflated themselves with black-men then you would have something.

is still a couple in an OB's office having children if they are both women.

That is a conflation, one is not having a child but there as a bystander but you say both are "having a child" as is the case of the father and mother in the office.

And this child would be the product of their marriage, even if it was not, admittedly, the product of their sexual union.

It is not the product of the marriage in any degree whatsoever. It is the product of commercial enterprise between the couple and a neccissary third party who is payed off (in somecases not even that) to abandon their child.

How can that even be considered the same thing at all?

The fact that their complementarity does not extend to their geital organs is not relevant:

I don't care what your personal judgements of relevancy are. There is nothing complememtary (completing) about a lesbian relationship.

At the heart of the physical complementary argument is that sexual organs are designed for a purpose. They require both to complete the other. They were designed that way.

A lesbian relationship may have differences, but nothing about it is part of the design. In fact it can't be because a lesbian relationship is a homosexual relationship. When they are the same, any varience is merely random and nothing to do with being complementary.

So if it is what a complementary sexual relationship is about organs, than the only reason I can see that you wish to call it irrelevant is to be in willfull denial.

Deny what you want, be as incredulous as you can be, but you discredit yourself.

Your entire argument, it seems to me, is based on a flawed premise--that unlike other lasting valued human institutions, marriage can and must have one and only one overriding social purpose to which all others are subsidiary.

Sorry, no strawmen allowed. I know Dale's fond of them, but as they've been whacked down already I can hardly see your decision to follow suit to be wise.

Marriage has many dimensions, many purposes. I've said that many times, so where you imagine otherwise is most likely your self-serving imagionation.

But underlying each dimension is children, and the ability to keep a family intact for the sake of those children. If you are trying to argue that things *can* change then you are simply hiding with your head in the clouds. Theoretically anything is possible. But you'll have to do a better job than Dale at arguing why they *have* to change to be at all persuasive. To wit he's not argued why the benefits he seeks cannot happen through some newly established program. To whit he's not argued why only gay/lesbian couples should be called a marriage if we are only going to accept a subset of fulfilled purposes as enough.

He's finishing up his argument soon, and honestly he doesn't even look like he'll answer that. He didn't even do a good job of arguing his case of margionalizing procreation which Appellate Junkie, an avid ss"m" advocate called a "rhetorical trainwreck".

So what are you going to do?
11.4.2005 5:18pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

So are all couples who use gametes from a third party in order to be able to bear a child actually in a polygamous relationship, regadless of whether the couple is a ssm or an msm?

This is unclear. If you are asking if I am against 3PT for heterosexual couples also, the answer is yes.
11.4.2005 5:19pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Chimaxx,
So are all couples who use gametes from a third party in order to be able to bear a child actually in a polygamous relationship, regadless of whether the couple is a ssm or an msm?

OnLawn:
This is unclear. If you are asking if I am against 3PT for heterosexual couples also, the answer is yes.


No, I asked whether you would also consider a heterosexual couple that DID use 3PT to be in a polygamous relationship, not whether you disapproved.
11.4.2005 5:28pm
Chimaxx (mail):
OnLawn:
Sorry, no strawmen allowed. I know Dale's fond of them, but as they've been whacked down already I can hardly see your decision to follow suit to be wise.


I apologize. I must have been confusing you with another of the msm-only advocates on here.
11.4.2005 5:35pm
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):
Peter H said:

If you allow sterile straight people to marry for the reasons you state, you have to allow that similar reason apply to gay families as well.

I agree, PeterH. The reason that I stated is to increase the proportion of children raised with a father and a mother. That means that a valid should either (a) increase the chances of children in society being raised with a mother and a father, or (b) Decrease the chances of children in society being raised without a father and mother. SSM does neither, and if anything has the reverse effect, by taking bisexual males out of the pool of eligible husbands. (remember there are more women in the population than men.)


logicblackbelt: Marriage is about responsible procreation. Contrary to Dale's construction, this is NOT just about making more babies. FIRST, Marriage increases the number of children socialized in a stable home with a mother and a father. SECOND, just as importantly, marriage decreases the number of children born into situations where they won't have a father and mother to socialize them.


Peter H responds: If you are going to argue that the reason older sterile people can marry is to prevent the older man from having babies with younger women



You have mis-stated my purpose. Marriage makes it less likely that the older man will make illigitimate with a younger UNMARRIED woman. There's no law to stop an older adult from marrying a younger one.


then why not allow same-sex marriage to reduce the number of children born to gay people who married a heterosexual for social approval and later broke up?


How would that (a)increase the number of children raised by a mother and father, or (b) decrease the number of children not raised by a mother and father?


[snip "stabilize society," which is bromide-vague, and not material to either of the criteria I mentioned.]

[snip your absurd and unsupported assertion about my assumptions]


while you talk about "why marriage was set up" you are only look at how it is used today, not at how and why it actually was set up.


Why should I care how and why it was set up? I'm interested in how marriage functions. Marriage has evolved for practical reasons over millenia. Now a fringe radical group wants to make sweeping changes for ideological reasons, rather than practical reasons.


To say that marriage was never set up for blended families is to utterly ignore that when marriage was settling into form, women's death in childbirth, men's death in war, and both's death to disease was much more common. In fact, one (and only one among many, but one nonetheless) was precisely TO blend families and provide for widows and the children who lost a father or mother. Maybe the families weren't blended for the same reasons they are today, but blended they often were.


Excellent point, but not really relevant to today, since while marriage may still work for orphans (where no one outside the marriage has a claim on them), marriage is incapable of really providing a legal stable mom and dad to children of divorce, and to many children of single moms where the biological dad is still in the picture due to child support, etc.

[snipped your circularity reasoning which I could not understand -- suggest you look up what a circular argument is before you try to identify one.]
11.4.2005 6:00pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx takes on the challenge of finding a purpose for neutered marriage that merits removing its procreative centered one. The problem for Chimaxx is, he can find no single theory that fits the bill, so instead he presents a family of them, each to describe some different aspect of it and leaving himself the opportunity to add yet more theories should his current ones prove incomplete.

Encouraging responsible procreation is only one social purpose of marriage.

One that wholly disqualifies all same-sex couples, whatever the "orientation." If this is an important purpose, which of the following three, are so important as to justify removing it from marriage? Are all three even important enough that we should abandon this first interest?

* Stabilizing adult intimate relationships.

Adults have lots of different intimate relationships, yet the state seems only interested in "stabilizing" one of them. In that one case, a stable relationship is vital to responsible procreation not only because it encourages the best environment for the child to be raised, but also because it encourages both partners to take responsibility for the outcome of their intimacy, rather than having one or both bolt once the prospect of procreation becomes reality. Seems like this "social purpose" is best explained in light of procreation. Looks like you tripped over the Gorilla, there.

* Supporting and encouraging the proper raising of children within a family setting.

Again, where did those children come from? Being unclear on that point you may have failed to notice they come from...procreation. Pretending the Gorilla wasn't in the middle of the room, looks like you ran straight into it on that one.

* Providing clear kinship ties for the sake of law, commerce and smooth social functioning.

And where do we get the concept of kinship ties and what makes them vital for the sake of "law, commerce and smooth social functioning?"... That's right, procreation again. Deference to "kinship" in the law is a vital part of promoting responsible procreation. It says that if we expect the procreating couple to bear primary responsibility for the result of their actions, that they actually have the authority to go with that responsibility.

Marriage has many dimensions. There is no reason to complicate or obfuscate the purpose of marriage by looking at each dimension in isolation or trying to substitute out any single dimension. "Stabilizing adult intimate relationships" as a purpose, for example, applies to any size relationship, not just a couple.

It does no good to come up with one theory to deal with the isolated effect of how seismic waves propogate through the earth, and then a completely different one to explain circumnavigation. Instead, by looking for a unifying theory that encompasses all observed effects we can understand that the world is round. Likewise with marriage, separated and fragmentary theories generated to explain only one or two of its aspects at a time do not have the potential to aid our understanding like a single, unifying theory that encompasses all aspects of the relationship. Marriage is about responsible procreation.
11.4.2005 6:03pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: I asked whether you would also consider a heterosexual couple that DID use 3PT to be in a polygamous relationship, not whether you disapproved.

No, but I might consider them "functionally equivalent" to one, at least in terms of the reasons Dale gives for why polygamous marriages should be rejected.

(BTW, your use of the term "also" looks a heck of a lot like a strawman to me since I can't find anywhere that OnLawn claimed he considered a "[single-sex] couple that DID use 3PT to be in a polygamous relationship." Not that you'd stoop to such insipid shenanigans in lieu of a cogent argument.)
11.4.2005 6:20pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Op Ed:
Chimaxx takes on the challenge of finding a purpose for neutered marriage that merits removing its procreative centered one. The problem for Chimaxx is, he can find no single theory that fits the bill, so instead he presents a family of them, each to describe some different aspect of it and leaving himself the opportunity to add yet more theories should his current ones prove incomplete.


Op Ed: It is a single theory that marriage encompasses multiple overlapping purposes. Which is the singly unifying purpose for our federal government: "Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, or secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Remember, you have to choose only one or else you'll be hobbling yourself with separated and fragmentary theories rather than a single, unifying theory that encompasses all aspects of government. Don't worry if this procrustean exercises leaves out some important real-world aspect oh how government is to function in our lives. We're talking theory here.

* Encouraging responsible procreation is only one social purpose of marriage.

One that wholly disqualifies all same-sex couples, whatever the "orientation." If this is an important purpose, which of the following three, are so important as to justify removing it from marriage? Are all three even important enough that we should abandon this first interest?


I listed procreation first because it is the focus of the commentators here, not because it has any more importance than the others. Do you assume that establishing justice is more important than providing for the common defence merely because it comes earlier in the list?

As to removal, none have to be removed, because all of the purposes are important, none of them alone is definitional. Is a mixed-sex married couple that bears no children (for whatever reason) but raises several adopted children less married than one that bears and raises children of their own? And yet the first couple has not procreated, responsibly or not.


* Stabilizing adult intimate relationships.

Adults have lots of different intimate relationships, yet the state seems only interested in "stabilizing" one of them. In that one case, a stable relationship is vital to responsible procreation not only because it encourages the best environment for the child to be raised, but also because it encourages both partners to take responsibility for the outcome of their intimacy, rather than having one or both bolt once the prospect of procreation becomes reality.


And in those localities and countries where same-sex couples can marry, it also encourages both parents to take responsibility for the children they have chosen to bring into their lives, whether through reproductive technology or adoption, rather than to bolt when the chips are down.

But, of course, the state seems to work to encourage the stability of these relationships long after the children are grown and have families of their own, so it is obvious that procreation is not the only purpose for that support.

And of course we would disagree long and hard about whether Masschusetts supports one or two and the other 49 states support one or a majority subset of one.

* Supporting and encouraging the proper raising of children within a family setting.

Again, where did those children come from? Being unclear on that point you may have failed to notice they come from...procreation.


Sure. Of course they came from procreation. But in the real world, while it most likely was the couple raising them, it may not have been (as in the example above), and adopted children have equally legitimate needs to be well-raised, do they not?

* Providing clear kinship ties for the sake of law, commerce and smooth social functioning.

And where do we get the concept of kinship ties and what makes them vital for the sake of "law, commerce and smooth social functioning?"... That's right, procreation again.


Actually not--at least not historically. Historically it was primarily about establishing legal and financial ties between the groom and the family of the bride. Earlier, it was about who is a member of THIS tribe and who is a member of THAT tribe. Children were assumed as an eventual outcome, yes, but they were not the motivating factor for choosing one match over another. That had to do with land, power and other property. Nowadays on the legal scale it's about things like who gets to make decisions when the child is hospitalized, while on the others it's about things like who gets presents at holidays and other aspects of social exchange that are less trivial than they appear on the surface.

So one theory, multiple purposes, no discussion of dimensions.
11.4.2005 7:17pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

Really if you are going to rely so heavily on amphibologies then just don't bother.

You say "have children" to you it mean possess in a home. To marriage defenders it means responsibility because they procreated them. You say "marriage" but you keep using it contextually like a reciprocal beneficiary program, and marriage defenders take it to mean the completion that one sex gives to another (of which brings us more children which demands attention of the state who watches out for the rights of its citizens). You can't even use the word complementary right.

The collection of amphibologies, and the arguments you use to support them (well it doesn't have to mean that) are laughable. Is that really all there is to your argument?

Honestly, I think you are trying to go stealth liberal among conservatives. And you wound up attempting to insult their intelligence. I know many marriage defenders that are liberals, me included. But the way you've tried pretend to be something you are not (through egregious use of ambivolence) seems to have weakened your position.

Its no wonder that the mainstream ss"m" advocates are simply trying to set up a tyranical court system to get their way. Their arguments are not-compelling.
11.4.2005 8:06pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: It is a single theory that marriage encompasses multiple overlapping purposes.

You are free to think of marriage as being just too complex to explain with a single theory. You are free to think of government as being too complex to explain with a single theory. There certainly are things out there that are too complex for us to explain in a unified way. For example, to a flat-earther, explaining the function of the world in a single theory is too hard. You're free to hold up your own awkward and disjoint bag of theories in opposition to the single unifying theory that explains all your theories and then some. Just don't be surprised when others don't find your confused view of the world the most persuasive.

Which is the singly unifying purpose for our federal government: "Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, or secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

You can't be serious. You can't see an overarching purpose for why governments are instituted among men?? (Heavy hint there!) I'll let you google think about that one and come back. If that's the only example you can give of something that can't be explained with a unifying theory you've come up woefully short!

And in those localities and countries where same-sex couples can marry, it also encourages both parents to take responsibility for the children they have chosen to bring into their lives

False! It encourages one of the parents, the donor, to abandon its interests in the child. Thank you for showing exactly how neutered marriage directly contradicts the purposes of marriage.

But, of course, the state seems to work to encourage the stability of these relationships long after the children are grown and have families of their own, so it is obvious that procreation is not the only purpose for that support.

What's obvious is that children benefit from the support of their parents even after they have left and are raising their own children. What's obvious is that the spouses, who have traded off their own interests in responsibly raising their children, just may need to continue sharing responsibility for each other even after the hardest work of raising the children is done. For example, one spouse that sacrificed career to be more available to his children might not have been willing to do so if he thought he would lose all support from the other spouse once the last child left. What's obvious is that you are, at this point, simply thrashing about hoping for a counterexample to support your foreordained conclusion rather than presenting the reasoning that led you to that conclusion in the first place.

...adopted children have equally legitimate needs to be well-raised, do they not?

Adoption is a second choice for any child. The preferred place for children is with their biological parents. Adoption steps in when that preferred choice has failed due to tragedy of some kind. Neutered "marriage" makes no consideration for adopted children since cousins or sisters are fully capable of adopting children and those children "have equally legitimate needs to be well-raised, do they not?" If you truly want to create a legal entity for regulating the relationship of adopting parents then you better make sure you take all legal adopting parents into account.

Historically it was primarily about establishing legal and financial ties between the groom and the family of the bride.

Baloney. No more so than the reason we have marriage today is to sell white dresses. Whether your historical fictions ever happened within your myopic and self selected historical revisionism or not, they were never seen as the overarching purpose to marriage. Trying to reduce marriage to some business transaction cannot explain the availability in these same cultures of other avenues for two families to mutually enter into business, or of any of the restrictions that were placed on marriageability within those cultures.

So one theory, multiple purposes, no discussion of dimensions.

No discussion of anything, really, just your longwinded explanation of how made up your mind already is. You see marriage as a random agglomeration of different purposes and have no clue as to why it is what it is today. This serves to explain your closed mindedness, but it does not serve to discuss or persuade in any measure.

Your position for replacing marriage with neutered "marriage" reduces precisely to the argument of a bad mechanic:
"I'm not sure what this part does, but I'm sure it can be replaced with this part here, 'cause I don't know what this part here does neither!"
11.4.2005 8:29pm
Chimaxx (mail):
OnLawn says:
Really if you are going to rely so heavily on amphibologies then just don't bother.

You say "have children" to you it mean possess in a home. To marriage defenders it means responsibility because they procreated them.


I have just searched this entire thread, and the only times I used the phrase "have children" referred to couples in a mixed-sex marriage procreating. Next complaint.

You say "marriage" but you keep using it contextually like a reciprocal beneficiary program, and marriage defenders take it to mean the completion that one sex gives to another (of which brings us more children which demands attention of the state who watches out for the rights of its citizens). You can't even use the word complementary right.


Like it or not, legal marriage includes same-sex couples in one US states and several countries, and several religious denomination will marry same-sex couples in their churches. If you mean to specify mixed-sex marriage, you have to say that, unles the context makes it clear. Similarly, the word "complementary" is not a synonym for gender or genital complementarity, and you have no right or reasonable expectation to assume it is unless you specify it.

If I were writing in an online forum specifically by and for the opponents of same-sex marriage, I would adopt your argot, no matter what I thought of it, but this forum is not the rhetorical sandbox of the opponents of same-sex marriage, and neither I nor anyone else have an obligation to use words in the peculiar ways that same-sex marriage opponents take them to mean.
11.4.2005 8:59pm
logicblackbelt (mail) (www):

Like it or not, legal marriage includes same-sex couples in one US states and several countries, and several religious denomination will marry same-sex couples in their churches. If you mean to specify mixed-sex marriage, you have to say that, unles the context makes it clear.


That arrogant expectation is reason enough in itself for us to amend the US constitution to protect the definition of marriage. You've spelled out the dillema -- if we don't protect our definition of marriage, we get marginalized, and have to describe real marriage as some esoteric subset.
11.4.2005 9:34pm
Chimaxx (mail):
That arrogant expectation is reason enough in itself for us to amend the US constitution to protect the definition of marriage.


And then will you burn all the dictionaries?
11.4.2005 9:56pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: If you mean to specify mixed-sex marriage, you have to say that...

Actually, Chimaxx here unwittingly reveals another problem with his neutered view of marriage. There is no reason to refer to any marriage as "mixed sex." Only same-sex relationships can't be referred to directly by gender composition because the combination is either male-male or female-female. No such problem exists for the husband-wife combination. The two same-sex relationships are different from each other and both are different from the husband-wife combination. That highlights a fundamental problem with defining laws around neutered marriage: those laws must accomodate all the differing needs of these three different groupings.

And while we're on the subject of gender paradoxes faced by neutered "marriage"-oholics, anyone notice how they can't see the importance of gender to the child even though they see it as of utmost importance to the adults?
11.4.2005 10:06pm
Chairm (mail):
neit

her I nor anyone else have an obligation to use words in the peculiar ways that same-sex marriage opponents take them to mean

IF this is a cherished foible of SSMers here, and IF you have a lexicon that needs pure oxygen in a hermetically sealed bubble, and IF the ways in which common words are used by those with whom you disagree are indeed peculiar to you, then, that would concede very much more than you have said explicity.
11.4.2005 10:08pm
Chimaxx (mail):
IF this is a cherished foible of SSMers here, and IF you have a lexicon that needs pure oxygen in a hermetically sealed bubble, and IF the ways in which common words are used by those with whom you disagree are indeed peculiar to you, then, that would concede very much more than you have said explicity.


I'm afraid you have it backwards, Chairm. No dictionary I know of defines "complementary" exclusively as a synonym for gender or genital complementarity. Can you point one out?

And the major dictionaries of the English language have already recognized that the word "marriage" is in common usage to describe same-sex as well as mixed-sex marriages, and since most revised their definitions before the legal changes in Canada and Massachusetts, their editors expect that the changes will go even further in future editions.

So it is the msm-only crowd that is pleading for a hermetically sealed lexicon.

I'll leave it to you what that says about the assertion in your last sentence.
11.4.2005 10:20pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I have just searched this entire thread, and the only times I used the phrase "have children" referred to couples in a mixed-sex marriage procreating.

Allow me to refresh your memory...

>>a couple in his [an OB's] office who were having children ...

>is still a couple in an OB's office having children if they are both women.


Like it or not, legal marriage includes same-sex couples in one US states and several countries

Which is still just an RB program. In fact, as you recall that is exactly the threat to marriage is that to call it ss"m" you change marriage into RB's.

*Yawn* when are you going to start trying? I mean Dale's arguments are decimated now. The poor guy, his last article went on blabbering about his vision of some dead guy who tells him to move in incremental steps but done federally all at once. With a source like that, surely you can proport any position you want. (As commenters on that thread lead me to conclude, his envoking of Burke was as much a train wreck as this article).

Similarly, the word "complementary" is not a synonym for gender or genital complementarity, and you have no right or reasonable expectation to assume it is unless you specify it.

Read that sentance again and tell me if you just tried to argue whether or not "complementary" was a synonym for a specific instance of a "complementary" relationship? A synonym for the same word? I'm sure normally you are an intelligent competant writer, but when you argue something like that its time to take stock of what you are really trying to prove.

but this forum is not the rhetorical sandbox of the opponents of same-sex marriage

It isn't? Noooo.....

I'm sorry but you are really searching for your soap-box. Perhaps you estimated that this is a rhetorical sandbox of the proponents of neutering marriage and you could get away with saying just about anything and have people go with you, then that explains your shoddy arguments.

neither I nor anyone else have an obligation to use words in the peculiar ways that same-sex marriage opponents take them to mean.

Triangular insect! By meat the torn wax handle...

(You'd probably understand that better as, "Surely not! Why use common definitions at all?")
11.4.2005 11:04pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
No dictionary I know of defines "complementary" exclusively as a synonym for gender or genital complementarity.

You are flinging a red-herring here Chimaxx. And please you are using "synonym" entirely wrong. Your abuse of english is like nails on a chalk-board at this point.

First, are you arguing that complementary doesn't describe the uniting of male and female sexual organs? No? Then my use is not incorrect.

Second, did you argue that a same-sex relationship was complementary? How ever could that be? No special capability is brought about by their combination. Their differences have nothing to do with their gender (since that is the same). Their differences have no design to it whatsoever to even be completed.

Chimaxx, your about as dense as Dale here. You cannot counter-argue a point by claiming that the origional usage was too restrictive. It is error to say that the neccessity of the procreative purpose of marriage means the same as it being the one and only reason. It is error to say that because heterosexual relationship is complementary that someone is saying that something else cannot be complementary. Yet that is what you are doing, and its very poor attemt at chicanery if you ask me. Other complementary relationships, lock and key, right and left shoes, oxogen and hydrogen, fingers and keyboard, etc...

Face the simple facts of life, there is no purpose that someone can complete of another of the same sex. There is nothing complementary of same-sex relationships. Any differences are entirely random, not designed. You are using the word incorrectly, and no over constricting and mis-stating of my position is going to change that.

If there is a reason we are talking past each other is because you are now in a constant state of finding cheap evasions instead of meeting the argument head on. We met Dale's argument head on, found distinctions he was looking for, showed his affidavit scheme to be simply an appeal to lack of imagionation*, and how his cheap dismissals of evidence played very poorly for his case which he admits has no evidence. Those were easy to meet head on and tackle.

By the way, did anyone else notice how his setup of the affidavit program was entirely anti-burkean, that is if what he says is true that Burke pointed out that we should have deference to traditions because their may be a purpose that we know not of. How much a shambles his self-serving and ultimately contradictory logic.

Never the less he's abandoned those arguments himself, in his response to commentators he reached for an entirely different argument alltogether. All that is here is you and your games trying like a mime to convince everyone there is substance still left in them.
11.4.2005 11:21pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
And the major dictionaries of the English language have already recognized that the word "marriage" is in common usage to describe same-sex as well as mixed-sex marriages

You'll note that the definition of one man and one woman remains, and what you describe is held seperate. It is a seperate definition, and as such you are admitting your relying on an amphibology to make your argument.
11.4.2005 11:25pm
Chimaxx (mail):
So are you misunderstanding or intentionally misdescribing how dictionaries work. It is not a separate definition; that would require a separate entry, starting with the word itself. It is another equally valid sense of the word. The order of the senses in a dictionary is historical: the sense known have been used in English is entered first. The fact that one has chosen to use one sense rather than another is not in itself an indication of amphibology (a big word you seem to enjoy throwing around). Can you point to an instance in which I have used the word in a way that seems intended to deceive or confuse on the basis of ambiguity over which meaning I intend? The mere fact that you would rather not admit use of the word marriage in reference to a same-sex couple does not indicate amphibology on my part.

Then there's your peculiar use of the word complementary, insisting on a very particular meaning that doesn't even appear in a dictionary. It's like decoding a message from the Red Queen.
11.5.2005 12:06am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I'm appreciative of the lecture on dictionaries, but it winds up to just be another attempt to sweep your amphibology deeper under the rug.

A "sense" is a different definition. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary this is noted in the very definition of sense...

especially : one of a set of meanings a word or phrase may bear especially as segregated in a dictionary entry


I can only say that this says much of the intellectual capacity of those neutering marriage, that this kind of chicanery is expected to work at all. Or perhaps has worked on the other marriage nueterers?

Can you point to an instance in which I have used the word in a way that seems intended to deceive or confuse on the basis of ambiguity over which meaning I intend?

It all seemed to come to a head around the time that you wanted to say that Massachusetts and other countries had marriage for same-sex individuals. No, they simply changed the definition for everyone instead. Also anywhere you say marriage does not have to be between a man and a woman.

insisting on a very particular meaning that doesn't even appear in a dictionary.

What particular meaning of complementary does not appear in the dictionary?
11.5.2005 12:23am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Chimaxx,

I think you I need to call this for your sake (if I were your coach I'd have thrown in the towel already). You can't make a realy defensible stand when you are this punchdrunk, and it shows.

In your zeal to find something to pick at and look alive in the discussion you are have dropped many of your previous points and missed much of the complaint directed at you. These objections are getting increasingly objectionable.

You should start again here where you really seemed to lose your footing. Re-read this conversation and really take stock as to what you are trying to do. Look at it objectively, quietly just to yourself and contemplate what you are really trying to do. Because right now your arguments are not passing scrutiny, and your nit-picking is increasingly petty.

If you have something to bring up, then I'll check around from time to time to address it. But I really strongly suggest for your sake to re-assess your position.
11.5.2005 1:06am
Chimaxx (mail):
The fact that the complementary talents, personality attributes, psychological strength, social skill sets are chosen in and individual partner and vary across the poulation doesn't make them any less real or any less complementary, any less important in "serving to fill out or complete" the relationship or "mutually supplying one another's lack." They still strengthen the couple and make them more valuable to one another, to any children they may raise, to their relations, to the community and to the populace than they would be as two individuals.

Nothing in the definition of complementary requires that the complementary attributes be designed or uniform. The third dictionary definition of complementary refers to colors. The fact that red and green are complementary is not designed; it is a simply a fact. the same with yellow and purple, blue and orange, then the tertiary colors and then, well, millions of color couplings on the color wheel, no two of them alike, still all complementary.

You want me to admit that same-sex couples can't procreate? Fine. So stipulated.

But same-sex couples still complete one another through their complementary aspects of psychology, personality, skills, and physical attrivutes. Just as in the color wheel, the fact that these complementary attributes vary from pair to pair doesn't make them any less complementary.

There's no reason to let you hijack the word complementary to mean the ability to procreate.
11.5.2005 1:11am
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Chimaxx: But same-sex couples still complete one another through their complementary aspects of psychology, personality, skills, and physical attrivutes. [sic]

Looks like you've taken to hijacking the word "complete" then. I'm willing to believe that the same-sex couple adds to each others' strengths and weaknesses, but how would you say whatever random addition was accomplished is "complete" or not?
11.5.2005 1:20am