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Online debate about SSM:

The Federalist Society has posted a lively but civil debate about gay marriage on its website. The exchange is available here.

The participants are: Andrew Koppelman (Northwestern), Bob Nagel (Colorado), Amy Wax (Penn), and me. I'm a big fan of the work of the other three participants and it was a pleasure to be involved. We were limited to about 500 words per post, a limit I honored more in the breach — which won't surprise VC readers.

Thanks to the Federalist Society, and especially to Marisa Maleck, for putting it together.

John D (mail):
Professor Wax's comments had an unsettling edge that gay men would constitute a contaminating influence.
8.19.2008 6:30pm
markH (mail):
Professor Wax lost me at "gay agenda", a phrase that indicates that what follows is based on paranoia and moral superiority.
8.19.2008 6:47pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Co-sign the "lost me at 'gay agenda'" sentiment. Although I was intrigued that even Prof. Wax apparently believes that gay marriage will be generally accepted in a generation or so.
8.19.2008 6:51pm
Steve P. (mail):
Professor Wax's comments had an unsettling edge that gay men would constitute a contaminating influence.

I didn't detect an 'edge' — I'm pretty certain that's essentially the crux of her argument.

I thought Prof. Carpenter's last contribution, in particular, was really excellent. As far as the previous exchanges, it was refreshing to see an actual argument about why gay marriage would be detrimental to heterosexual marriages, even if it was unpersuasive.
8.19.2008 7:38pm
Cornellian (mail):
Although I was intrigued that even Prof. Wax apparently believes that gay marriage will be generally accepted in a generation or so.

I seem to recall seeing a survey recently in which even a majority of those opposed to SSM nevertheless thought it would be a reality within some foreseeable time frame, 20 years or something like that.
8.19.2008 7:46pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
It is totally unfair that my classmate Marisa gets to be in the Federalist Society before we're even 1Ls...
8.19.2008 7:55pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
I have to whole heartedly agree with your position that marriage is an inducement, not a reward, for monogamy.

I also agree with the previous posters regarding the statement about the "gay agenda." Any time I hear this, it leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

I would point out that the idea of lesbian fidelity is as much of a stereotype as gay polyamory. I know a number of lesbians, both in their 20s and in their 30s and 40s. Their definitely is a degree of break-ups, divorce and cheating among the lesbians I know.

One final thought; Wax (I believe) commented that "blended families" do no better than children with one parent. I would be curious about this research. I suspect that their is a big difference between a family where the step-parent comes in when the children already fairly old, versus situations where only one parent is the biological parent, but has been with the child since birth.

Further, I would point out that many lesbian couples take steps to try to have both parents be related to the children, or at least create some sort of biological bonds. Both lesbian couples with children that I know have chosen sperm donors such that their children are biologically full siblings. One of those couples used the non-biological mother's brother as the father, so that the non-biological mother is actually the children's aunt. The other used the same sperm donor and each mother carried one of the children. I suspect that these situations are much different than one where the mother remarries someone who had no input as to when and whether the child is conceived or whom the biological father might be, and certainly different from an instance where the child had to live through their parents' divorce and where the biological father is still vying for the child's affection.
8.19.2008 7:56pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
And by unfair, I mean awesome.
8.19.2008 7:56pm
jgshapiro (mail):

To the polygamist we would say, "Pick a partner and get married. It's better for you, your kids, and the rest of us if you do."

The polygamy argument is not analogous unless you believe that some people choose to be gay, in the same way that some people choose to be polygamous. If you did believe this, you could just as easily say "pick a member of the opposite sex and get married. It's better for you, your kids, and the rest of us if you do."

If you assume instead that gays start gay, or simply are gay in the same way that people are red-haired or left-handed, that statement does not really work, since telling people to marry someone to whom they cannot be attracted seems pointless and detrimental to society -- far more detrimental than sanctioning SSM. At that point you do have to answer the question that Prof. Carpenter posed: if not SSM, than what?

Interestingly, this debate did not devolve into the usual claim that gays can get married, only to members of the opposite sex.
8.19.2008 8:15pm
Perseus (mail):
Professor Wax lost me at "gay agenda", a phrase that indicates that what follows is based on paranoia and moral superiority.

While Professor Carpenter put me off with the moral superiority implied by his remark about "any humane and civilized person."

Professor Koppelman was rather selective in his sordid utilitarian welfare calculus (what about the preferences of people who oppose SSM?). And his claim that "the movement for same-sex marriage is profoundly Burkean" is utterly preposterous to any serious scholar of Burke, who thundered against the legalistic drive for abstract equality. It not only tends to be tyrannical, but as Professor Nagel points out, also has the potential to be quite costly to the cultivation of individual souls (i.e. culture).

DC: Wait a second. The whole quote is: "But the needs of gay families must be considered in the debate. Any humane and civilized person should be concerned about the welfare of these people and thus should consider how public policy affects their lives." I did not argue, and do not believe, that every "humane and civilized person" must support gay marriage. I know quite a few who don't. But surely we should all at least be concerned with "how public policy affects their lives." Maybe this concern will lead you to support ssm; maybe it will lead you to favor civil unions or domestic partnerships; maybe it will lead you, after due reflection and weighing all the relevant interests, to think we should do nothing. But surely some concern should be there. We're talking about millions of people. The problem is that many (not all) opponents of gay marriage carry on this debate as if gay couples and their children don't even exist, as if it's utterly unimportant to consider them even a little.
8.19.2008 8:20pm
genob:

The polygamy argument is not analogous unless you believe that some people choose to be gay, in the same way that some people choose to be polygamous.


Actually, I think you have the polygamy/monogamy part of this backwards.

At least in my experience, I think men (and women) choose to be monogamous...but are natural born polygamists. Even the most happliy married naturally find themselves attracted to people other than their spouse. The trick is that they choose not to act on that natural attraction.
8.19.2008 8:28pm
John D (mail):

what about the preferences of people who oppose SSM?


Well, such people need not join in a same-sex marriage. They may even decline to attend if invited to such a wedding.

Let me offer a food analogy. Some people think squid is disgusting. There might even be people who would rather it not be available in supermarkets. There are supermarkets that have a policy of not stocking squid for religious reasons. There is no harm done to people opposed to squid if those who want squid are able to obtain it.

There are no compulsory squid purchases. And there are no compulsory same-sex marriages.

We can go through the grocery store and find further things that various religious groups oppose. It we go outside the supermarket, we can find all sorts of activities that are forbidden by one group or another. Sikhs don't cut their hair, but we're not talking about banning barbershops.

It is clearly wrong for the dominant religion to see its restrictions codified as law, even while permitting things that are opposed by members of minority religion.

Religious objection to same-sex marriage, no matter how strong, is insufficient to constitute a compelling state interest.
8.19.2008 8:37pm
Nate in Alice:
Thanks John D., for pointing out how preposterous Perseus' insistence that opponents of SSM be included in the general welfare calculus.

Dale--you and Andrew definitely won the debate. It's becoming increasingly difficult for opponents of SSM to lodge arguments when religious concerns are off the table.
8.19.2008 8:56pm
Perseus (mail):
The supermarket analogy is a poor one. As has been pointed out numerous times, unlike in the case of supermarket, the whole point of SSM is to force recognition of the contract in order to extract legal goodies from 3rd parties, including individuals, taxpayers, businesses, hospitals, private organizations, and even churches (to the extent that its activities are not deemed purely religious).

And for the record, my reservations against SSM have nothing to do with religion.
8.19.2008 9:28pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The trick is that they choose not to act on that natural attraction.

Or they choose not to run for President if they do.
8.19.2008 9:37pm
Jerry F:
Could some liberals clarify what is supposedly so offensive about the term "homosexual [or 'gay'] agenda"? No one can deny that pro-homosexual organizations do in fact exist in the United States and that these organizations and their supporters have a specific set of policies/political positions that they seek to promote. I am sure there are other ways to express this point but "homosexual agenda" seems to be the best way to put it without using an unecessarily large number of words.

Now, of course, people who use the term typically disapprove of the agenda in question. But so do other people who oppose homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and pro-homosexual anti-discrimination law. Unless you believe that everyone who disapproves of these things is unworthy of being taken seriously, I don't see why you would consider someone who uses the term "homosexual agenda" to be unworthy of being taken seriously.
8.19.2008 9:40pm
Jerry F:
Conservatives are for all practical purposes acknowledging defeat on the issue of homosexuality by debating homosexual marriage. There are anti-homosexual marriage arguments from a perspective that is generally pro-homosexuality (which is the arguments you hear at these kinds of debate) but they are generally very weak, and reading the transcript the pro-homosexual marriage side seems to have won. But this is all completely sidestepping the social, economic and moral (I won't get to the religious) arguments against homosexual conduct; if these arguments are correct (I am not saying they are), then it is clear that homosexual marriage and other laws encouraging homosexuality are completely unjustified. This is what conservatives should be arguing.
8.19.2008 9:46pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
There are two related problems with the term the "homosexual agenda."

The first is that it treats all gays as a single political entity, which is not the case. While I think you can safely say that most gays and lesbians support the basic concept of gay rights, this is about where it ends. For example my I know a number of people in the LGBT community who oppose gay marriage because they don't support marriage, while others clearly support gay marriage. I suspect that there are a whole lot of libertarians in the LGBT community who oppose Title IIV like anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians because they oppose that sort of anti-discrimination law in general. There are also major splits about how to fit bisexuals and transexuals into society.

The other problem is that the "homosexual agenda" is generally used to imply more than just seeking equal rights, but goes on to basically deconstructing pretty much all societal norms. Its not uncommon for conservatives to include things like repealing laws banning peodophilia and "indoctrinating children." Most people in the LGBT community get rather offended at such accusations.
8.19.2008 9:57pm
KWC (mail):
Was Professor Wax just a strawwoman? I mean, she has to be kidding right? Is that all she had?

(1) Her basic premise -- that gays are by definition non-monogamous -- is inherently flawed. First, the very right at question is the right to enter into a monogamous relationship or at least to strive to foster one. Second, it is a gross and unsupported generalization that gays are less monogamous by nature. Any such evidence would be probably best be attributed to honesty about sexual activity, not a true disparity in actual activity. In short, Wax's husband is probably cheating on her, but just not telling her. Gays, whose relationships have traditionally not been recognized, don't feel the pressure that a married man feels to lie or maybe even fight the urge to "cheat." I posit that with marriage will come a resurgence of gay monogamy.

(2) And that gays are somehow to blame for polyamory in the inner city (or elsewhere) is simply nonsense. Again, Wax worries that her husband will cheat because the "gays do it." Maybe she worries that he is actually gay.
8.19.2008 9:59pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Jerry F:


The following link is what people generally are referring to when they refer to the homosexual agenda: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/swift1.html

I think it should be pretty clear why this is offensive.
8.19.2008 10:11pm
KWC (mail):
Perseus:

The supermarket analogy is a poor one. As has been pointed out numerous times, unlike in the case of supermarket, the whole point of SSM is to force recognition of the contract in order to extract legal goodies from 3rd parties, including individuals, taxpayers, businesses, hospitals, private organizations, and even churches (to the extent that its activities are not deemed purely religious).

(1) That's not true. This repetitive appeal to the parde of horribles is just tiring. Explain how gay marriage affects these. Gay marriage, specifically, please. And no one is able to explain how gay marriage will affect churches. Oh, and "hospitals", the added "cost" of having to allow a gay person's putative spouse visit them or make final decisions over their estranged mother who hasn't talked to the person in 30 years? Yeah, that's awful. You're right.

Of the rights that you name that are valid, they already exist (mostly) with domestic partership.

(2) Even if it is true, so what? I subsidize straight marriages that end 50+% of the time anyway and cause irreparable harm on the children raised by them. I subsidize marriages KKK members and marriages of swingers and marriages between cousins. Should I continue?
8.19.2008 10:11pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
KWC:

Although I don't support Wax, in her defense, her point seemed to be, not so much that gay men are more promiscuous, but rather that they are more open about their promiscuity.
8.19.2008 10:13pm
KWC (mail):
The truth is that conservative today who oppose SSM, are the same bunch who back in the day would be pro-slavery, anti-Asian, etc. The only difference is that PROGRESS forces you all to admit your ways are backwards. Once that happens, you choose new battles to cling to and pretend that you aren't racist/bigoted/etc. Well, you are. Sorry. You are.

Put another way, back during segregation, there were tons of people in favor of it. Where are like-minded people today? I don't think it's hard to figure out. The anti-Black racists of yore are the anti-gay bigots of today...give or take a few, of course. Doesn't it make you ashamed to see how your positions, when looked back on, are just so incredibly awful???
8.19.2008 10:21pm
jgshapiro (mail):

[T]his is all completely sidestepping the social, economic and moral (I won't get to the religious) arguments against homosexual conduct; if these arguments are correct (I am not saying they are), then it is clear that homosexual marriage and other laws encouraging homosexuality are completely unjustified

The arguments can only be correct if you think that homosexuality is a choice and not an innate unchangeable trait. Fewer and fewer people believe that being gay is a choice, Anne Heche and Lindsay Lohan notwithstanding.

Replace the word homosexuality with "Irish" and see if you can construct a reasonable argument that being Irish (or Irish conduct) is immoral. Even if you just hated Irish people, that wouldn't make being Irish immoral; it would just affect your reaction to them. After all, the Irish can't help that they're Irish. Since they have no choice what their ethnicity is, how can this be immoral?

Seems to me the same argument applies to sexual orientation. Ignoring the religious arguments against homosexuality (and therefore the argument that we are all born in sin, gays and straights alike), doesn't morality turn on the choices we make, as opposed to those things over which we have no control?
8.19.2008 10:21pm
John D (mail):
Perseus,

the whole point of SSM is to force recognition of the contract in order to extract legal goodies from 3rd parties


I suppose the same could be said of interracial marriage. And, of course, that's not the whole point. Are heterosexual couples so mercenary as to marry simply so that they can extract benefits from the rest of us? Is that what Bridezilla is really up to?

But let us not wander into a discussion into whether or not benefits should accrue to married couples. That really is a side issue, and you're welcome to try to prune that back.

The question here is why should same-sex and opposite-sex couples be treated differently. An explanation of that would explain your reservations about same-sex marriage.

The problem I have with all of the non-religious objections, is that we are asked to apply them inconsistently.

Professor Wax noted that some gay men are unlikely to engage in marital fidelity, and she took this as a justification for not allowing any gay couples to marry, despite that some heterosexuals fail to engage in marital fidelity. Is she preparing the groundwork for an argument that no one should be allowed to marry?

There doesn't seem to be an objection that can be seriously raised to same-sex couples marrying that would stand if also applied to opposite-sex couples. (Other than the tautology that "heterosexual couples are heterosexual and homosexual couples are not. Spare us.)

Procreation? Not all heterosexual couples have children. Some gay people do.

Fidelity? Not all heterosexual couples are faithful. (People who proclaim their open relationships are crashing bores no matter their sexual orientation.)

Religion? Some religions favor same-sex marriage. Heterosexual atheists get to marry, not their church-going neighbors.

But, please, let's hear your reasons and how they can be applied to heterosexual couples. If you're going to argue that homosexuality ought to be anything but neutral under the law, it's going to take a lot of work.
8.19.2008 10:23pm
grendel (mail):
But, please, let's hear your reasons and how they can be applied to heterosexual couples.


I think it has something to do with the inevitability of human cloning if homosexuals are allowed marry. Seriously.
8.19.2008 10:30pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Grendel:

Unless homosexual marriage is required, I don't think we are going to have to resort to human cloning. Even then, sperm banks will suffice, as lesbians are still capable of having children with the help of a sperm donor.

As it is, I doubt that too many guys go down to the county clerk with their boyfriend, find out that gay marriage is banned and sign up for eharmony to find a wife to have babies with.
8.19.2008 10:39pm
njones (mail):
... that was a smack down. Did Nagel forget he had to post for a while? The tag-team on Wax was pretty ugly.
8.19.2008 10:49pm
Waldo (mail):
Wax's argument was rather disappointing. The idea that male homosexual promiscuity will affect heteros is a bit of a stretch. But she misses the argument that marriage is also a partnership about raising both partner's children. She touches on that when talking about "blended families", but doesn't talk about the importance of fatherhood. But "blended families" effectively means that it doesn't matter whether a man is related to his children. And I think that's the problem with homosexual marriage. Contrary to D.C.s claim, I think it's changing the behavior of heterosexuals. Women increasingly don't believe they need to be married to have children. And men increasingly don't feel an obligation to support their children.
8.19.2008 10:55pm
jgshapiro (mail):

Women increasingly don't believe they need to be married to have children. And men increasingly don't feel an obligation to support their children.

How is this related to gay marriage?

Both were going on long before SSM and will be going on whether SSM happens or not.

BTW, the same thing is true of blended families. Most blended families are straight (second) marriages, and that will continue to be the case whether SSM is legalized or not.
8.19.2008 11:00pm
grendel (mail):

Unless homosexual marriage is required, I don't think we are going to have to resort to human cloning.


This website makes it all clear:


I quote:

If we prohibit labs from attempting to create children that are not the union of a woman's egg and a man's sperm, then same-sex marriages will not have a right to conceive children together, which would fundamentally change marriage and put all of our conception rights in jeopardy. To protect our right to have children, we need to preserve marriage's right to conceive children together.


It makes perfect sense.
8.19.2008 11:02pm
grendel (mail):
oops, here's the link: http://www.eggandsperm.org/
8.19.2008 11:03pm
David Warner:
"As far as the previous exchanges, it was refreshing to see an actual argument about why gay marriage would be detrimental to heterosexual marriages, even if it was unpersuasive."

Perhaps if those offering such arguments weren't tarred and feathered on sight, you might hear some more. Although I think there's also a fear of doing the reflection necessary to construct such arguments lest the premises required to do so are found to have already been discarded for some other expedience.

"the co-biological family"

One result of SSM is that the above adjective is now necessary to describe the institution that can create such a family. From the perspective of the offspring (and a society that concerns itself with the fate of future generations, even if only as a steady source of support for our own avarice), that distinction is not unimportant.
8.19.2008 11:04pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Waldo:
While there seems to be a trend towards single parenthood, I think that it is at the very least, not necessarily relating to lesbian couples raising children without a father figure.

There are many, many factors that contribute to this trend. Some possible explanations (which are not mutually exclusive), include welfare rules that incentivize single parenthood; easing of divorce laws; stronger child support laws; high male-to-femaile ratios in inner cities due to the war on drugs; and weakening religious values.

One major change that likely leads to single parents is the entrance of women into the workforce (still a relatively new condition). With women able to succeed in the business world, they are more able to afford to be a single mother, or at least are in a better position to choose not to marry their child's father if there are problems in the relationship.
8.19.2008 11:15pm
Perseus (mail):
Are heterosexual couples so mercenary as to marry simply so that they can extract benefits from the rest of us?

That depends on how cynical you are, though it seems implausible to deny that it's a major reason for seeking marriage. But my point was that SSM will have an impact on just about everyone to one degree or another, including those opposed to SSM, so why should the preferences of those opposed to SSM be dismissed in Professor Koppelman's welfare calculus? And just because the current policy may be over-inclusive or inconsistent doesn't mean that it should be made even more so because yet another group demands more goodies from society. In other words, I place the onus on the proponents to demonstrate a compelling state interest in extending benefits further.
8.19.2008 11:16pm
Jiffy:
Perseus:

What is the "compelling state interest" in allowing you (I mean you personally) to marry?
8.20.2008 12:28am
Dave N (mail):
KWC,

Nice to tar with such a broad brush isn't it? Anyone who disagrees with you on this issue is only worthy of ridicule and being called names and not worthy of engaging in debate and discussion. That is truly an amazing way to win an argument: "I'm right and you're a bigot."
8.20.2008 12:40am
John D (mail):
Perseus,

I place the onus on the proponents to demonstrate a compelling state interest in extending benefits further.


Does that mean that you don't actually have these reasons you referred to earlier?

That's the only assumption I can make.
8.20.2008 12:45am
Perseus (mail):
What is the "compelling state interest" in allowing you (I mean you personally) to marry?

Following Nietzsche, the state does not appear to have such an interest:

A married philosopher belongs in comedy, that is my proposition--and as for that exception, Socrates--the malicious Socrates, it would seem, married ironically, just to demonstrate this proposition. (GM, III.7)
8.20.2008 1:10am
John D (mail):
Perseus,
What is the "compelling state interest" in allowing you (I mean you personally) to marry?

Following Nietzsche, the state does not appear to have such an interest:

A married philosopher belongs in comedy, that is my proposition--and as for that exception, Socrates--the malicious Socrates, it would seem, married ironically, just to demonstrate this proposition. (GM, III.7)


So, once again, lest the point be lost, you don't actually have a reason that can be articulated against same-sex couples marrying.

It just comes down to "well, I don't like it."

Hardly a decent answer for someone who is styling himself a philosopher.
8.20.2008 1:27am
Randy R. (mail):
" But "blended families" effectively means that it doesn't matter whether a man is related to his children. And I think that's the problem with homosexual marriage. Contrary to D.C.s claim, I think it's changing the behavior of heterosexuals. Women increasingly don't believe they need to be married to have children. And men increasingly don't feel an obligation to support their children."

Ah Yes. It's all the fault of gays who are getting married. And then this:

"One result of SSM is that the above adjective is now necessary to describe the institution that can create such a family. From the perspective of the offspring (and a society that concerns itself with the fate of future generations, even if only as a steady source of support for our own avarice), that distinction is not unimportant."

It seems to me that your real beef is with parents who adopt children, because that has been going on a lot longer than SSM. Perhaps if all people were prohibited from adopting children, then people would only have biological children. There seems to be this strange belief that parents who adopt children don't "really" take care of these children, at least not to the extent of biological children, and that is leading to the destruction of the family, and eventually means -- somehow- that people will stop having children altogether.

It's a bizarre argument, without foundation. But it certainly doens't involve gay people or SSM.

But please, David Warner, if you can give any concrete examples of how SSM is detrimental to the marriages in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, S. Africa, The Netherlands or Belgium, all of which currently allow SSM, I would be very interested in hearing them.
8.20.2008 1:35am
trad and anon:
men increasingly don't feel an obligation to support their children.

Is this even true? Skipping town and implausible claims that "it's not mine!" have a long, long history among men. Shotgun weddings happened in part because the man wasn't interested in taking responsibility for their (yet-unborn) children. And our society's model of parenting has traditionally placed the responsibility for raising the kids on Mom and limited Dad's job to financial support.

You might be right, but I'm skeptical.
8.20.2008 2:15am
David Warner:
Adoption even by a single adult is a clear improvement in the life of the child already of this world. Bringing a child into this world intentionally bereft of the biological tie to (and, crucially, between) both parents seems unfair to the child.

Maintaining a term with centuries of common usage behind it to refer to the bond that can produce children with the benefit of this tie seems to me to be of non-negligible utility, even to future homosexuals raised thereby. Once gay marriage is widely accepted, as it surely will be, we'll need to come up with a new term for the above which by necessity will lack the cultural inertia of the old. More likely, we'll just pretend there's no difference to save the effort.

As for the countries named already with SSM, they each enjoy a cultural homogeneity that we do not - specifically a much longer and deeper tradition of monogamy. Then again, their fertility is nothing to write home about...
8.20.2008 2:19am
David Warner:
"Shotgun weddings happened"

Not any more. Wonder why that is?
8.20.2008 2:20am
trad and anon:
Adoption even by a single adult is a clear improvement in the life of the child already of this world. Bringing a child into this world intentionally bereft of the biological tie to (and, crucially, between) both parents seems unfair to the child.
Isn't this an argument about sperm donation and surrogate motherhood rather than about gay marriage? If those procedures were banned, infertile opposite-sex couples would be restricted to adoption as a means of becoming parents, but it wouldn't be a reason to ban marriage among the infertile. Likewise with same-sex marriage.
8.20.2008 2:32am
trad and anon:
"Shotgun weddings happened"

Not any more. Wonder why that is?
Due to unmarried sex and parenting becoming more acceptable, presumably. And a corresponding greater willingness to enforce the assault laws in shotgun wedding cases. But how would that establish that men are now less willing to support their children than they used to be?

I don't think it's impossible, but the null hypothesis of no change has yet to be refuted.
8.20.2008 2:36am
Fub:
Five disadvantages of same sex marriage to gay people:

5. One more box to check on tax returns if you want to file separate returns. Before you could just check "single". Now you have to check "married", and "filing separately".

4. No plausible "it's a guy thing" or "it's a girl thing" reasons when your spouse asks why you need a night out with the boys (or girls).

3. Handling those moments when your kid tells you his schoolmate taunted him with "My mom can beat up your dad!" or "My dad can beat up your mom!"

2. The certain knowledge that your child's spouse will have not one, but two, mothers in law or fathers in law to complain about.

1. No more "because it's not legal" excuses when mom says "You're thirty already. Why aren't you married yet?"
8.20.2008 5:15am
Public_Defender (mail):
I may have missed it, but I think Carpenter missed one key argument for gay marriage--the absence of same sex marriage is creating a whole set of marriage-lite structures that heterosexuals can use if they don't want to get married.

Growing numbers of same sex couples, especially same sex couples with kids, are appearing before courts with real questions that courts must answer. "Can one of use adopt the other's biological kid?" "How do we divide property? "I've raised this child as her mom from birth to age 7, it's in her interest for me to have visitation." "She owes her daughter child support." "I need a power of attorney to deal with my partner's finances." "I want my child's school to treat my partner just like any other parent." Etc., etc., etc.

Those parallel structures include adoption, custody, child support, visitation, property division, estate planning, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, etc., etc., etc. Almost by definition, those structures are available to heterosexual couples who don't want to marry, giving them a marriage-lite option that really does undermine marriage. So the absence of same sex marriage is actually weakening heterosexual marriage by giving heterosexual couples an alternative to marriage.

DC: Good point, made more explicitly and more compellingly than I made it at the end of my third post in the debate: "The alternative to gay marriage is not standing still... . The alternative is millions of Americans living in real, functioning relationships, many of them parents, struggling to make the law responsive to their needs. And the law will respond, often in ways that potentially challenge the primacy of marriage itself: marriage-lite statuses made available to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, second-parent adoptions, de facto parent doctrines, and so on. To ignore gay families is not to preserve healthy family norms, it is potentially to undermine them." It's a potential cost of opposition to gay marriage that opponents rarely grapple with.
8.20.2008 7:21am
Perseus (mail):
So, once again, lest the point be lost, you don't actually have a reason that can be articulated against same-sex couples marrying.

The question about the compelling state interest in allowing me "personally" to marry was aimed (I presume) at demanding from me a consistent and neutral set of criteria that would include me but not same sex couples. My riposte was intended to indicate that I'm willing to tolerate distinctions that rankle modern liberal democrats (in the regime sense of the term) like yourself who insist on a very high degree of abstract equality and neutrality.

In any case, the arguments against SSM have been rehearsed ad nauseum on this blog and in other publications. In my case, I regard procreation and childrearing as the central (though not only) compelling state interest in marriage (that current policy is over-inclusive does not mean it should become more so, and I have no objection to it becoming less so). Because I consider childrearing by same sex couples as a general practice to be problematic for various reasons (no natural procreation, "blended families," lack of opposite sex parent, etc.), extending full marriage benefits to same sex couples seems imprudent.

At the same time, the libertarian imp on my shoulder combined with the debasement of marriage over the past several generations causes me to toy with idea of getting the government out of the marriage business altogether.
8.20.2008 8:15am
Public_Defender (mail):
B

ecause I consider childrearing by same sex couples as a general practice to be problematic for various reasons (no natural procreation, "blended families," lack of opposite sex parent, etc.), extending full marriage benefits to same sex couples seems imprudent.


Same sex couples will procreate and create families regardless of whether they can legally marry. The question is whether we want to give their kids the benefits of marriage--joint parental responsibility, child support and visitation in case of separation, inheritance rights from both parents, etc.

Recognizing the right of gay people to cohabit, have sex, and raise children without providing the inducements and protections of marriage (for both gay people and their kids) just makes no sense.
8.20.2008 8:25am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I'm really interested in the data that shows blended families do no better than single parent households. I have no hard time believing blended families do worse than 2 biological married parents. But I have a hard time believing a divorce and remarried family with step children yields the same result as a single parent household.

I have a feeling these studies control for income though. So for instance a single mother making $75,000 a year v. a blended family making $75,000 a year. That would probably be a mistake because it controls for an dynamic -- a big negative risk -- of single parent households.

Though I'll admit I have to bone up on these studies.
8.20.2008 10:00am
Golda:
"childrearing as the central (though not only) compelling state interest"

How is child rearing advanced, *by the State,* by restricting the number of children who can make legal claims on the care and support of adults?
8.20.2008 11:10am
T.J.M.:
"Because I consider childrearing by same sex couples as a general practice to be problematic for various reasons (no natural procreation, "blended families," lack of opposite sex parent, etc.), extending full marriage benefits to same sex couples seems imprudent."

Because it's problematic? Really? In that case, because childrearing by non-same sex couples is problmatic for a variety of reasons (raising children can be tough), extending marriage benefits seems imprudent.
8.20.2008 11:33am
DanMV:
Wax summed it up well:
"Too logical for me!"

Judging by her bio, this woman can't be nearly as thick as her performance in this debate would indicate. Tells us a lot about human nature and the power of dogma.
8.20.2008 12:17pm
Hoosier:
Randy R:

So typical of you. You can even find a gay angle to this issue!
8.20.2008 12:24pm
KevinM:
On the promiscuity problem (sometimes also posed as the pedophilia problem). Sorry to dump on my gender, but the problem is not homosexual men; it is men, period. Doesn't it seem likely that the XY vs. XX factor dwarfs the hetero vs. homosexual factor by orders of magnitude?
8.20.2008 12:24pm
Hoosier:
KevinM: That is the crux of it. The problem we heterosexual males generally have with promiscuity is that we have to be promiscuous with women. And they sometimes object.
8.20.2008 12:27pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I wonder why -- in a debate sponsored by a legal group that includes many libertarians -- no one made the libertarian objection to government licensing of sexual intercourse?
8.20.2008 12:59pm
KWC (mail):
Dave N,

Opposition to same-sex marriage (and gay rights in general) come from an invidious place. Plain and simple. I don't have to dignify your arguments as legitimate if you tell me that the sky is green, just as I don't have to legitimize your arguments that gays shouldn't have equal rights (or for that matter that Black people aren't even "people"--remember that? was that an argument worthy of being engaged? at one point in history, it was).

Thanks.
8.20.2008 2:01pm
Golda:
Professor Wax had an odd argument to make when she she admits that gay marraige is inevitable and she "hopes" that all these parade of horribles don't come to pass because of it. It seems she admits that her fears are not grounded on the fact of same sex marriage but on her perception that homosexuals exert an overwhelming influence over the entire culture -- which she reduces to non-monogamy. The fact that homosexuals are a tiny minority who are raised in the majority culture does not seem to occur to her. Homosexuals are not possibly the "other" that she thinks.
8.20.2008 2:08pm
Dave N (mail):
KWC,

I have not commented on the issue. I am actually somewhat agnostic about it. But "I am right and you are a bigot" is an idiotic argument on ANY issue. You are confusing objective fact: "I don't have to agree the sky is green" with your policy preferences. They are different things.
8.20.2008 2:21pm
John D (mail):
Dave,

I think there is an "objective fact" behind KWC's argument.

KWC is suggesting that the policy preferences of those opposed to same-sex marriage are grounded solely in an animus against gay people. I agree with this.

The typical response I've seen on the Conspiracy to this contention can be summed us as "I have nothing against gay people and their disgusting sinful practices."

I'm ready to start agreeing with those who insist that marriage is wholly religious (as long as they're willing to give up all the government protections of marriage), or those who say that marriage should be replaced by private contract (ditto), or even those who claim that it's solely for procreation (though they have to come up with the consequences of having a non-procreative marriage).

Personally, I've seen private contract and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's expensive and complex and never covers everything.

Ones sexuality should be a neutral consideration under the law. Same-sex couples are not magically exempt from the issues of family and property law that our marriage laws address. The best way to respond to these issues to drop laws forbidding the marriage of same-sex couples.
8.20.2008 2:44pm
PLR:
One's sexuality should be a neutral consideration under the law. Same-sex couples are not magically exempt from the issues of family and property law that our marriage laws address. The best way to respond to these issues to drop laws forbidding the marriage of same-sex couples.

Ancient wisdom of the penguins:

"When the sun goes down, we all smell like fish."
8.20.2008 2:57pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Chiming in late to answer the "what's wrong with referring to the 'gay agenda'?" question, yes, it's partly the idea of the monolithic group. I don't feel like my opinions should be dismissed or even categorized as being part of heterosexual agenda, the white male agenda, or the Jewish agenda.

But it's also what Wax claimed was a "significant part" of the "gay agenda": undermining norms of monogomy by not just being unfaithful but being, um, publically unfaithful in some ways.

If there is a "gay agenda," in the sense that "here are some things that probably a majority of gays and lesbians would support," it might include things like employment discrimination laws that include sexual orientation as a category. But Wax's claim that a SIGNIFICANT PART of what gays want is to undermine norms of monogomy strikes me as woefully ignornant/naive/borderline bigoted (yes, I said it): "I'll take what a handful of radicals in a group have said and make it a calling card of the group as a whole." As others have pointed out, it's especially bizarre in that none of the advocates of gay marriage (as far as I know) are making the anti-monogomy arguments.
8.20.2008 3:49pm
DHL (mail):
DH lawrence quotes
My whole working philosophy is that the only stable happiness for mankind is that it shall live married in blessed union to woman-kind --intimacy, physical and psychical between a man and his wife. I wish to add that my state of bliss is by no means perfect.

The great living experience for every man is his adventure into the woman. The man embraces in the woman all that is not himself, and from that one resultant, from that embrace, comes every new action.

The source of all life and knowledge is in man and woman, and the source of all living is in the interchange and the meeting and mingling of these two: man-life and woman-life, man-knowledge and woman-knowledge, man-being and woman-being.
8.20.2008 3:53pm
loki13 (mail):

I have not commented on the issue. I am actually somewhat agnostic about it. But "I am right and you are a bigot" is an idiotic argument on ANY issue. You are confusing objective fact: "I don't have to agree the sky is green" with your policy preferences. They are different things.


You didn't address the second part of KWC's response- that at one point, racial discrimination had its same defenders (blacks are property, blacks are subhuman etc.) that were prettied up into policy arguments. To address the policy argument is useless, as we can see from the debates here. For an example, see any Buckley column for the National Review from the 50s.

Saying you're agnostic on the issue of gay marriage today would be just the same as saying you're agnostic on integration in the 50s... your agnosticism probably allows a thin veneer of what you know is right to cover the deeper abyss of all the wrong that's been ingrained within you.
8.20.2008 4:08pm
H34E (mail):
Fascinating bit of censorship by the editors regarding "gay agenda." An earlier poster said there was a pink poster of the "gay agenda" at Boalt Hall with a tenth item of "turning western civilization inside out." The post is gone. Guess the issue isn't open after all, huh?
8.20.2008 4:09pm
JosephSlater (mail):
H34E:

So your point is that there actually is an Official Gay Agenda (printed in pink, no less), but the right-wing libertarians at the V.C. (normally not particularly prone to censorship) are actively trying to hide it from us?
8.20.2008 4:28pm
ba2 (mail):

Wax summed it up well:
"Too logical for me!"

Judging by her bio, this woman can't be nearly as thick as her performance in this debate would indicate. Tells us a lot about human nature and the power of dogma.


No mistake is so commonly made by clever
people as that of assuming a cause to be bad
because the arguments of its supporters are,
to a great extent, nonsensical.
Thomas H. Huxley
8.20.2008 4:30pm
David Warner:
Sorry, there's too much advocacy here, and too little effort at disinterested debate. Among lawyers, that's perhaps predictable if disappointing.

On the other hand, Public_Defender's post and DC's concurrence were persuasive on the merits of the narrow question of SSM. Not that I'm terribly excited about it being handed down from the various state Houses of Lords Supreme Courts.

On the wider question, one thing to ponder - if this argument is being won in society on the premise of "they can't help being gay", what implication does the genetic determinism thereby implied have for long-cherished liberal values?
8.20.2008 4:32pm
John D (mail):
H34E,

After years of hearing the opponents of gay rights make claims about "the gay agenda," a variety of humorous variations were produced. Let me underscore this: they were jokes.

A typical "gay agenda" document would include items like:

11:00 a.m. Brunch. Mimosas for all.
1:00 p.m. Spa.

and so on, going through stereotypes of gay male leisure activities,

"turning western civilization inside out."

or "destroying the American family"

usually show up in the late afternoon on this documents.

Did I mention that they were supposed to be funny?
8.20.2008 4:35pm
H34E (mail):
Joseph Slater:

I realize your irony reflex must be indulged, but the answer seems to be yes. Unless you tell me differently, I guess that "libertarian" can coexist with "nonjudgmental." What other explanation would you give? They did remove the post, after all, and the post had the effect of providing supporting detail for a notion that was the earliest posters in the thread had dismissed with a wave of the hand. If one gay employee at Boalt (this is 1990, remember, relatively early in the culture wars) takes the trouble to print up and distribute a list of "gay agenda" points culminating in "turn western civ. inside out," do we just automatically assume he was some kind of outlier from his "community"?
8.20.2008 5:28pm
JosephSlater (mail):
If one gay employee at Boalt (this is 1990, remember, relatively early in the culture wars) takes the trouble to print up and distribute a list of "gay agenda" points culminating in "turn western civ. inside out," do we just automatically assume he was some kind of outlier from his "community"?

Either outlier or, much more likely, it was exactly what John D. said it was: a joke.

But if you don't buy that, let me ask you this. Let's say that, 18 years ago, I put something somewhere with a Star of David that said "Jewish agenda" on it. Would that be worth citing on a blog today about what Jewish people, generally, believe?
8.20.2008 5:32pm
Golda:
"On the wider question, one thing to ponder - if this argument is being won in society on the premise of "they can't help being gay", what implication does the genetic determinism thereby implied have for long-cherished liberal values?"

Some might argue genetics but absent proof, one cannot really say. It is clear, that it is determined by the time of sexual awakening in adolecence - so I don't think it is necesarily dependent on genetic determinism. Regardless, they love whom they love -- so what could possibly be the implication of that, for these "liberal values," whether long cherished or not.
8.20.2008 5:36pm
dr kill (mail):
One of your commenters mentioned that this is really not a religious issue, but a financial one. I agree. It is an actuarial problem for lenders, insurers,and pensioners. Once marriage is no longer restricted to unrelated men and women, why not allow me to marry my father, grandfather, brother, mother, son or two-year-old daughter for financial planning reasons? Why not marry both my mom and dad at the same time? Once the traditional restrictions are defeated, could any restrictions be legal?
8.20.2008 5:45pm
Dave N (mail):
Loki13,

Since you don't know me, I am amazed that you can see into my soul. Congratulations on that. You are wrong, but I still congratulate you on your smug arrogance that you can.

I am agnostic on the issue because my problem is the actual word "marriage." I have no problem at all with "civil unions" that have all attributes of marriage other than the title. If this means repealing the marriage laws and calling all government sanctioned relationships between two people, whether homosexual or heterosexual, "civil unions" that is fine by me. But I do object to the term "marriage."

I hardly think this makes me a bigot, even though you seem to think you somehow know me.
8.20.2008 5:50pm
Golda:
Why not allow me to marry my father, grandfather, brother, mother, son or two-year-old daughter for financial planning reasons?

Do you really want to? Are there allot of fathers, grandfathers, brothers, mothers, sons', like you, demanding to be married, to each other? Really? Have you all fallen in love with each other?
8.20.2008 5:52pm
LN (mail):
If we allow anything, everything is permitted. This is why freedom is bad.
8.20.2008 5:56pm
T.J.M.:
Freedom isn't free.
8.20.2008 5:59pm
JosephSlater (mail):
How come these slippery-slope-into-mandatory-man-dog-sex arguments never refer to the various places where SSM is legal?
8.20.2008 6:00pm
dr kill (mail):
Oh, I see, we all have to be in love before we get hitched. OK Golda, we do all love each other, and we hope to have each others children. Now can we form a legal union that evades estate and inheritance tax law?
8.20.2008 6:04pm
Golda:
I suppose you can. Does it fit your needs?
8.20.2008 6:10pm
H34E (mail):
David Warner:

Is the SSM argument being won "on the premise that 'they can't help being gay,'" or is it just that the vocabulary for opposing any gay demand has been removed from the spectrum of legitimate discussion? Let's review a little "gay rights" history? It's 1969, and the demand is no more cops beating up people for the fun of it at gay bars (Stonewall). Okay done. Now it's 1973, and it's, no firing teachers just because they're gay. Okay done, as of that year it's "arbitrary and capricious" in California. Now it's 1979, and the demand is, unrestricted sex without public criticism (as detailed by Larry Kramer in his book "Faggots"). OK done, no more being judgmental. Now it's 1983, and the demand is, don't close the baths despite the evident public health risks. OK fine, Feinstein blocks it, over the advice of someone as obviously well-intentioned as Randy Shilts. Now it's 1985, and the demand is, lots of federal money for AIDS research. OK, fine, Reagan releases the funds. Now it's 1991, and the demand is, let's pretend AIDS isn't really a gay disease. Done, "everyone is at risk," even though we don't know anybody with HIV who isn't a bottom, a needle-drug user, or the recipient of a transfusion. Now it's 2006, and the demand is, "we want a license to disturb church proceedings." So the "winning argument" is actually something like, "if you're holding onto any notions of morality that existed before Woodstock, let go of 'em or you you're not part of us sophisticates."
8.20.2008 6:20pm
John D (mail):
Joseph Slater brings up an important point:


et's say that, 18 years ago, I put something somewhere with a Star of David that said "Jewish agenda" on it. Would that be worth citing on a blog today about what Jewish people, generally, believe?


Whenever I hear the phrase "the gay agenda," I quietly expand it to "The Protocols of the Elders of Castro Street."

Despite years of gay activism, I never get CC'd on the document, though the late Jerry Falwell always seemed to have a copy. The "gay agenda" was a creation of the religious right.
8.20.2008 6:22pm
JosephSlater (mail):
John D.:

I know what you mean. Despite my 40+ years of being a Jew, I haven't gotten my share of the media or entertainment industries that the far-right says my people own.
8.20.2008 6:31pm
Perseus (mail):
Of the rights that you name that are valid, they already exist (mostly) with domestic partership.

The benefits associated with domestic partnerships vary by state, and most states don't have DP. Similarly, the federal government has benefits that are restricted to married, opposite sex couples. So it's fair to say that SSM substantially increases the list of legal goodies enforceable against 3rd parties that are available to same sex couples. As for churches, to the extent that they are employers and providers of social services, SSM affects them as well.

Even if it is true, so what?

The point is that these are the sorts of issues that are legitimately raised in a public policy discussion about whether subsidies should be doled out, who should be eligible for them, the conditions for receiving them, etc., (and it's likewise legitimate to complain about having to subsidize straight couples, etc.).
8.20.2008 6:53pm
KWC (mail):
Dave N.,

What? I'm sorry, but you are making no sense. Is it your position that there should be no marriage, but everyone (including opposite-sex couples) should just have "civil unions"? If so, banning gay marriage isn't going to accomplish that.

The fact remains that marriage will go on -- with or without acknowledgement of same-sex unions -- your opposition or support for same-sex marriage won't change that. Anyway, your argument seems disingenuous. Unless you are blogging crazily somewhere else for the repeal of opposite-sex marriage, I don't really see how your position can be taken seriously.

But, assuming we do. How's this for a revise. People who oppose same-sex marriage, but support the current existence of opposite-sex marriage are bigots. There, you are excluded.

I notice that no one else is brave enough to even address the topic. Maybe others are afraid to admit that they are today's analogs of the segregationists of the past. I wouldn't address it either becuase, frankly, it's embarrassing.
8.20.2008 6:58pm
loki13 (mail):
Dave N,

You're right, I don't know you, and only you know what's in your heart. But I find your position, well, disingenuous (hence, my reference to the Buckley columns). It is analogous to one who, during the 50s, loudly proclaimed their agnosticism to the issue of civil rights because it was a 'states rights' issue, and, really, it was the principle of the matter of states rights, not equality against of the races, that they really had an issue with. And they would be fine when the (Southern) states finally came around.

So- you have no problem, it's just the word marriage. Well, when you start agitating strongly for the abolishment of marriage for all (except as a private religious thing, so some Christians can do one man, one woman, other Christians can do SSM, and some Mormons*/Muslims can do one man, many women... none of which is recognized by law), then I'll believe it. Otherwise, it's a convenient dodge for a status quo you prefer internally, while allowing plausible deniability.
8.20.2008 7:10pm
loki13 (mail):
Quick followup-

The note after mormon (LDS) was to indicate before I get flamed that this is not the current practice of mainstream LDS, but could be done by the offshoot ("fundamentalist") branches.

Also, to Dave N... this is not to mean that you are a bigot. Only you know what is in your heart. But perhaps you should look more deeply into your own rationales. Refusing current equality for people over the definition of a word is... strange. I take it you are a seriously hardcore prescriptivist (as opposed to a descriptivist).
8.20.2008 7:19pm
KWC (mail):
loki13:

I love you.

People here ignore reason. They will only engage with people who make bland mainstream arguments to which they have easy replies. It's a game of ping pong for them, not real debate. This is because people are unwilling to step out from behind their "argument" to confront what's really behind their opinions.
8.20.2008 7:35pm
David Warner:
"Maybe others are afraid to admit that they are today's analogs of the segregationists of the past."

You got us pegged. Oh, BTW, thanks for the free psychoanalysis. I just called my shrink and canceled my next appointment. I'd split the savings with you, but I'm also a greedy right-wing bastard. But you knew that.
8.20.2008 7:51pm
loki13 (mail):
KWC,

Much appreciated &returned. Unfortunately, too many debates turn into "pay no attention to the man [motive] behind the curtain. I learned (going to a Southern law school) that too many students who talked about Federalism (aka States' Rights) really weren't interested in the subject as a theory, but rather as a theory to advance their already-formed normative opinions.

So it is with so many debates; about gay marriage, about dog whistle politics, about affirmative action etc. ad infinitum. One side truly is not debating in good faith. I have more respect (from the argumentative, as opposed to moral, point of view) for those who simply say that they are religiously opposed to gay marriage / don't like gays than those who come up with elaborate rationales that never pass the smell test.

aka... I DOn'T HAYTE TEH GAYZ! I haYT TEH NINE BLACK-ROBED OVERLORD AKTIVZTZ SHOVING TEH GAY MARRIAGE DOWN MY THroAT!! U R TEH BIGOT 4 CALLin ME TEH BiGOT!!!!! scALIa FTW!!!
8.20.2008 7:59pm
John D (mail):
Thank you Loki13! (It's turning into a lovefest here.)

I find it annoying when the opponents of same-sex marriage make these claims that they want applied only to the question of same-sex marriage.

For example, the current complaint is that the justices in California struck down Prop 22, despite its passage by 61% of the voters.

Okay, I'll bite. Are we looking for a legal principle that actions of the popular vote are immune from constitutional review? They're not going there. No, it's just about this and not broader implications.
8.20.2008 8:25pm
Public_Defender (mail):

One of your commenters mentioned that this is really not a religious issue, but a financial one. I agree. It is an actuarial problem for lenders, insurers,and pensioners. Once marriage is no longer restricted to unrelated men and women, why not allow me to marry my father, grandfather, brother, mother, son or two-year-old daughter for financial planning reasons? Why not marry both my mom and dad at the same time? Once the traditional restrictions are defeated, could any restrictions be legal?


Within biological or adoptive families, marriage (and sex) is banned to avoid the sexual predation of children. It's banned for adults in order to prevent "grooming." Further, sex is already banned within families (except between married partners), so we don't have the oddity of permitting promiscuity but discouraging monogamy, which is exactly the position of many on the right when it comes to gay couples.

Currently, men and women who have no romantic interest in each other and no intent to raise children can get married solely for financial purposes, but it isn't that much of a problem. I don't know even one fake-married couple. Do you?

On the other hand, I do know lots of gay couples whose relationships are a lot stronger than many of my hetero married friends, and they are raising children together. I don't see why their kids should be denied the benefits that marriage provides to kids of married couples.
8.20.2008 8:30pm
a_j_1979:
I noticed that at no time Proffesor Wax wanted to address the question of: "if not gay marriage, what should it be done about the needs of gay families?"

She talked about how the unfaithfulness of gay men made them unfit to partage in the marriage institution, she talked about how non-biologically related families were worse off than biologically related ones (a point that is much debatable, btw), she talked about how gay marriage will bring forth poligamy, she talked about how she saw no problem in denying the vote to felons, and then she talked about how society could not be concerned with the "needs" (scary quotes) of every weirdo that came forth.

But at no time she appeared to concede that same sex families did exist, and that, somehow, the law and society had to deal with what recognition and benefits these families should expect to receive.

To Professor Wax's regret, same-sex families is not something that will happen after same sex marriage is accepted. Same-sex families do exist today, and their needs (not their "needs") have to be addressed. I am willing to hear proposals about how to do so besides same-sex marriage, but it seems many people are unwilling to engage in that discussion, and would rather talk about sex, polygamy, felons, etc., in summary, about anything but families
8.20.2008 9:34pm
Perseus (mail):
Same sex couples will procreate and create families regardless of whether they can legally marry.

Many will, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the availability of marriage has no effect on how many will, particularly on those at the proverbial economic margin.

So it is with so many debates; about gay marriage, about dog whistle politics, about affirmative action etc. ad infinitum. One side truly is not debating in good faith.

And, of course, people of your ilk are the arbiters of which side is debating in good faith.
8.20.2008 9:55pm
loki13 (mail):
Perseus,

I was unaware that I was an "ilk". I have, however, eaten elk, and if you are what you eat, then perhaps I come close. I am not the arbiter of good faith; I can simply see when there isn't good faith. There is a difference between having an a priori normative opinion and thrashing around for theories to back it up, versus having a coherent set of beliefs to be applied on a case-by-case basis.

To use this analysis on the SSM issue, I would do the following:
1. Do you think gays should be accorded the same (equal) rights as heterosexuals, including marriage? Simple- yes, or no. Either you do, or you don't.

2. Do you have (legal) beliefs as to the best method to accomplish 1? Are you a commited federalist that believes it should be a state-by-state decision? Do you think it would be best accomplished by legislatures or by the judiciary?

The problem is that many people try to avoid question 1 by voicing their displeasure in an analysis of question 2. For example, the ever popular "I have no problem with the homosexuals, or even SSM, I just think they achived SSM the *wrong way*". Or you get non-responsive answers (they're free to marry people of the opposite sex, they can have all the same rights except marriage, I don't hate gays . . . I just don't people that commit gay acts etc.).

This all goes back to the same tired conservative tropes employed during the civil rights era. Here's a taste:

"We frown on any effort of the Negroes to attain social equality by bending the instrument of the state to their purposes . . ." Buckley, NR 1960

"The white conservative has never said that in the South the forms will never change. He has fought against a disruption of the premises of Southern life by egalitarian statists who are given to deciding what the Constitution means after locking themselves into a quiet room and communing with Ideology. He has maintained that it is up to the state to decide whether its schools shall or shall not be segregated . . ." Buckley NR 1960

Hmmm.... how about fighting against the disruption of the premises of marriage by elitist statists who are given to deciding what the Constitution means after locking themselves into a quiet room and communing with Ideology.... and those stats get to decide whether marriage shall or shall not be restricted to opposite sex couples only?

Anyway, the point is not to slam Buckley (I would have used his columns defending the superiority of the white race from 1957 for that), as he eventually realized the error of his ways and became a staunch defender of civil rights for blacks... pity that he was behind the curve yet again.

The long point being that I cannot pass judgment on your motives; but I know the company you keep when you make these arguments. Perhaps you are the exception. Or perhaps, forty years from now, you'll be the crotchety old grandparent the lil' ones are warned against because of your very "old-school" beliefs about TEH GAYZ.

"People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply by the lives they lead."
8.20.2008 10:32pm
Aleks:
Re: But "blended families" effectively means that it doesn't matter whether a man is related to his children.

I don't think biological relationships mean much: adoptive families do just fine (when children are adopted as infants and have not experienced lots of pre-adoption family trauma). This is due to the fact that in an adoption (including a same sex adoption) both parents chose the child at the same time, and neither parent has a pre-existing relationship with the child-- more or less the same as when a couple conceives a child. The child is something the couple achieves together. Step-families are problematic because one parent already has a relationship with the child, the step-parent may be choosing a spouse but not the spouse's child at all, and there's also the other parent hovering on the edge of the family somewhere (perhaps even as a metaphorical ghost, in the case of a parent who has died). Of course step parents are usually not the evil mythical beast of "Cinderalla"; most are good and conscientious people trying to do right (or at least they are no worse than the average run of mankind, from whose numbers they are after all drawn). They just have more challenges to overcome.

Re: Women increasingly don't believe they need to be married to have children. And men increasingly don't feel an obligation to support their children.

That's been going on since long before gay marriage became an issue. Put the blame where it belongs: the men and women who do these things. Don't hand them scapegoating excuses!

Re: The problem we heterosexual males generally have with promiscuity is that we have to be promiscuous with women. And they sometimes object.

See: Prostitutes. (Who do you think keeps all those ladies of the evening in fishnet stockings?)

Re: I don't know even one fake-married couple. Do you?

Currently, no. I did know of one well in the past (it was immigration related). And I do know of couples where financial and security reasons played some role in their marriage, though they were at least close friends as well. Unless someone is committing a deliberate fraud I do think we shouldn't try to second guess people's reasons for marrying.
8.20.2008 11:48pm
Randy R. (mail):
Perseus: "And, of course, people of your ilk are the arbiters of which side is debating in good faith."

Well, people who advocate for SSM are pretty clear about their motivations: They want gay people to have the same rights as heteros. There is no other hidden agenda (unless you really believe that people who advocate for SSM really just want to destroy western civ).

But -- and I've posted about this before -- the only real objection that I can respect to SSM is "my religion forbids SSM" or "I just think it's not right." At least those are honest objections, though I disagree with them.

But when people start cloaking their objections in strained arguments, like saying that SSM will mean the destruction of the family unit, or it will cause all hetero men to suddenly become gay or promiscuous, then we see right through the rhetoric for what it is. Or when people say, hey, I'd be in favor of gay rights IF gays would be more polite about it, or didn't want those rights right now, or said pretty please with sugar on top, then of course, nothing would ever please those people.

What's more: young people can see right through those arguments better than anyone. Which is why a majority of people under 30 support SSM.
8.21.2008 12:15am
Public_Defender (mail):

Point: Same sex couples will procreate and create families regardless of whether they can legally marry.

Counterpoint: Many will, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the availability of marriage has no effect on how many will, particularly on those at the proverbial economic margin.


So now we're denying the very real children of same sex couples the protections of marriage because a select number of same sex couples "at the proverbial economic margin" might choose to avoid monogamy if same sex marriage were allowed? The kids get no protection and the government encourages promiscuity. That makes no sense.
8.21.2008 12:32am
Perseus (mail):
I am not the arbiter of good faith; I can simply see when there isn't good faith.

That's a distinction without much a difference, but I guess I'm just not one those who is so easily able to see when an argument isn't being made in good faith in any given instance.

Or perhaps, forty years from now, you'll be the crotchety old grandparent the lil' ones are warned against because of your very "old-school" beliefs

My beliefs are already really "old school" since many of them are informed by those ancient Greek philosopher dudes.

young people can see right through those arguments better than anyone. Which is why a majority of people under 30 support SSM.

As someone who teaches young adults for a living, I'm far less impressed by their ability to examine arguments of any sort, and seriously I doubt whether most of them are even familiar with the arguments made against SSM.

So now we're denying the very real children of same sex couples the protections of marriage because a select number of same sex couples "at the proverbial economic margin" might choose to avoid monogamy if same sex marriage were allowed?

The reply I expected (and a perfectly valid one) is that there are more direct ways of discouraging childrearing as a general practice by same sex couples if one wished to do so.
8.21.2008 4:24am
jrose:
Perseus: I regard procreation and childrearing as the central (though not only) compelling state interest in marriage (that current policy is over-inclusive does not mean it should become more so, and I have no objection to it becoming less so)

I doubt a statute or practice that forbade the infertile and elderly from a civil marriage license would survive a court challenge. If I am correct, then wouldn't that preclude the same argument from being used to deny same-sex couples?
8.21.2008 9:03am
jrose:
Perseus: The point is that these are the sorts of issues that are legitimately raised in a public policy discussion about whether subsidies should be doled out, who should be eligible for them, the conditions for receiving them, etc., (and it's likewise legitimate to complain about having to subsidize straight couples, etc.).

Fair point, but there are Equal Protection considerations which restrict the majority's ability to choose who does and doesn't get the subsidies.
8.21.2008 9:09am
T.J.M.:
"As someone who teaches young adults for a living, I'm far less impressed by their ability to examine arguments of any sort"

This does not speak well of you, as a teacher.
8.21.2008 10:50am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Although I don't support Wax, in her defense, her point seemed to be, not so much that gay men are more promiscuous, but rather that they are more open about their promiscuity.

From this I take it Ms. Wax doesn't fully comprehend how all male groups talk when she's not around. :)
8.21.2008 11:32am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Thanks Grendel for remembering the eggandsperm.org argument.

People should only be allowed to conceive with unmodified gametes, in order to preserve the right to conceive with one's unmodified gametes. That means people should only have a right to conceive with someone of the other sex, because same-sex conception requires modifying the genes of one partner to get a viable egg from a man or sperm from a woman.

No marriages should be prohibited from conceiving together, but all same-sex couples should be prohibited from conceiving together. All marriages should be guaranteed the right to attempt to join their genes to create offspring, this has been the sine qua non of marriage since the beginning of marriage and throughout history. Never has a marriage existed that was prohibited from attempting to conceive children using the couple's own genes. But same-sex couples should be prohibited from attempting to conceive children together, using their own genes. If they were married, that would mean that marriage no longer protected conception rights, and that would threaten everyone's rights to conceive with their own genes. Everyone would be coerced into using modified or selected gametes instead of their own.

SSM = Eugenics.
8.21.2008 11:57am
Hoosier:
JosephSlater :
How come these slippery-slope-into-mandatory-man-dog-sex arguments never refer to the various places where SSM is legal?


It's because of the political pressure exerted on the MSM. By the canine lobby.

But you already knew that.
8.21.2008 2:34pm
John D (mail):
Perseus,

My beliefs are already really "old school" since many of them are informed by those ancient Greek philosopher dudes.


Does that mean you approve of homosexuality as long as it's practiced as it was in ancient Greece? (See Wikipedia on Homosexuality in ancient Greece)
8.21.2008 3:38pm
David Warner:
It's a tragedy of comment sections that bad posts live on in the responses they provoke, but that good ones are interred with their post comment button. I'd like to thank Public_Defender and DC for doing the Burkean due diligence good faith gruntwork here. I wish the discussion could encompass something beyond the immediate and practical, but given that it does not and does not appear likely to, it seems clear that you've won on the merits.
8.21.2008 4:54pm