Gay Marriage

If I needed any reminder of why I’m not a conservative, the bizarre contortions that right-wingers have been putting themselves through lately in opposition to the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on gay marriage would provide one. Watching this has been almost as much fun as watching the left thrash itself to pieces in a futile attempt to stop the War on Terror.

IsntaPundit points us at Jennifer Roback Morse’s analysis of the issue in National Review Online which he correctly describes as hilarious in a frightening way. It’s full of bloviations about the “natural and organic‘ function of sex and how we’ll all be happier if we adjust our behavior to conform to nature. It further argues that sex is not an individual activity but a social one, deriving much of its importance from the fact that it create and involves communities.

IsntaPundit acidly points out that the “natural and organic” purpose of sex is to recombine genes, and that casual ‘meaningless’ sex of the kind associated in conservative minds with gays and libertines is not just natural and organic but optimal strategy for the 50% of the population that is male. While InstaPundit is correct, he is missing some even more entertaining subtexts.

Conservatives have spent decades lambasting leftist feminists for their claim that the personal is political. They have argued that a world in which feminists and the state claim an ever-encroaching right to reinterpret sexual relationships as power relationships and intervene to ‘equalize’ them is a world slouching towards totalitarianism and the panopticon. Ahhh…but now watch the deft reverse spin as, when a conservative shibboleth is at stake, Ms. Morse suddenly argues that sexual choices are never private!

This whole business about ‘conforming to nature’ is almost funnier, in a bleak way. Exercise for the reader: chase this Google search on the phrase fascism nature organic and discover how very close Ms. Morse is sailing to the reasoning and rhetoric of classical Fascism.

These are the parts that are funny, at least if you get the kind of dark amusement I do from watching right-wingers obligingly behave like every left-wing caricature of conservatism ever cartooned. I would say that National Review Online ought to be ashamed of itself if I actually expected better from them on this issue. Hypocrites. Idiots. Ms. Morse’s reactionary rant is every bit as bad as the poisonous humbug that issues from the mouths of lefties like Robert Fisk or Noam Chomsky.

What’s even more comical is that when you corner a conservative about the consequences of gay marriage, what you’re more likely to hear than not is: “But what if the really icky people, like (gasp) polyamorists, use it as a precedent?” This is very revealing. Conservatives know that the gay lifestyle will never appeal to more than about 5% of the population — the rest of us ain’t got the wiring for it. What really terrifies them is the thought that people in the 95% of the population that is normally heterosexual might get the idea that they, too, could choose plural marriage or other forms of relationship that conservatives think of as ‘unnatural’, and not suffer for it.

But the part that’s really frightening is the argument that is not being made, but which seethes beneath every polished sentence of Ms. Morse’s screed. One cannot read it without sensing that all this namby-pamby “natural and organic” stuff is a thin pseudo-Deist cover; what Ms. Morse really wants to do is scream “IT’S GOD’S LAW AND YOU’LL BURN IN HELL, SINNERS!“. This is the “ancient religious rage” of Margalit and Buruma’s
penetrating essay Occidentalism; fundamentally Ms. Morse is railing against Babylon, and in this she is at one with the hot-eyed Islamists who gave us 9/11.

I must make a point of committing an act that is technically sodomy tonight. Perhaps I should see if I can’t mix with it some blasphemy against the evil authoritarian Nobodaddy-God shared by Islamists and Western conservatives like Ms. Morse. The whiny identity politics of the Queer Nation crowd turn me off, and their buddies in NAMBLA utterly revolt me — but ultimately I have something in common with the gays that I never will with Ms. Morse.

That commonality is the belief that isn’t up to anybody else, feminist or conservative, to tell me and my consenting sexual partners what kind of sex is “natural” or “correct”. “Do it for the chillldren!“ is no more honest or respectable an argument against the liberty of the individual coming from Jennifer Roback Morse than it ever was from Hillary Rodham Clinton. Neither kind of moralism is more than a fig-leaf over the lust for power over others, and that is a lust I will always oppose with my words, my actions, and my weapons.

91 thoughts on “Gay Marriage

  1. Why is the government of a free people regulating the free will associations of adults? The present laws can be used to convey property at death, provide powers of attorney to those we wish for any reasons we wish, and care for children. No need for a special regulation or law for a specific reason for adults.

    DOn’t grant gays the right to marry. Remove marriage for heteros from the control of the government. This is a private matter not a government matter.

    Thank you,
    Miller Smith

  2. I thought the reference towards straying toward facism might be a bit strong. And then I read the SRO article. Also interesting was that she paused her gay bashing to take a swipe at Pro Choice and along the way generally managed to wrap up her whole convoluted set of beliefs into one nice, unraveling ball.

  3. Dear Mr. Dead Cell (although in your case, it sounds more like a few trillion dead cells), for your information, there are already numerous laws against open (or hidden) molesting of children, applying equally to gays, straights, and Roman Catholic clergy; and all the gay men I know (and I daresay I know more than you do) would be equally vigorous in denouncing child molestors.

  4. well esr you commit acts of sodomy every night

    sodomy may belegal now in the us but it is not legal in the hearts of those of high morals

    i will pray for you

  5. Eric, you had me til “their buddies in NAMBLA.”

    I have yet to meet anyone straight, gay or bi who is anything but repulsed by NAMBLA.

  6. Miller Smith is right in principle, but in a modern western society the legal effects of being married are so extensive and complex that, even if there were political will to untangle them, it would make sense to allow Gay marriage in the meantime.

    In fact, carrying this through will send the message to religious conservatives that what the state means by marriage isn’t what they mean by marriage, and may cause them to start to de-emphasise legal marriage.

  7. I’m a little disappointed in Morse’s article, just because it doesn’t explain anything. I agree: she does want to reduce this to the “man shall not lie with man as with woman, for it is an abomination” argument. What I was hoping to see, at the very least, was an explanation of why the conservatives so strongly oppose gay marriage. Personally, I can’t figure it out. Is this really all it is?

    And I have to agree with Mr. Hanson: the only phrase I disliked was “The whiney identity politics [...] and their budies in NAMBLA utterly revolt me”. I think that NAMBLA represents an insignificant minority of a minority.

  8. One other small weirdness in the middle of the rest–while one might think that the insistance on mixed-sex marriages has something to do with reproduction, I’ve never heard anyone object to the legality of marriage between a man and a woman who can’t produce children together.

  9. Its not a matter of being conservative, fascist, or wathever label you want to use.
    You may argue that you dont have principles, but that would be a lie. What about democracy and anarchism? Arent they based on principles??

  10. I think that your linking of Morse with Fascism and Islamism is entirely unfair. Morse doesn’t directly call for any political action to police people’s bedrooms (though she’s probably arguing against gay marriage); I read her essay as more of philosophical one than a political one. I think she would do better to talk about what’s aethetic to her, rather than what’s natural (which is what I think she’s aiming at), but that wouldn’t have the same rhetorical effect. Okay, so you disagree with her over sex; that doesn’t make her a fascist or a theocrat.

    As for NAMBLA and gays, see here. I have no experience other than what I read there, so I have no idea whether such views are in fact typical or a minority of a minority.

  11. Once more into the breach!

    First of all, marriage for the government, if you’re going to recognize it at all as a state institution, has to be about public benefit being worth the public cost. Thus you first have to establish both the public benefits and public costs of marriage both heterosexual and homosexual. Then, if the homosexual marriage benefits and costs are the same or close enough to the same to make no practical difference, you have a proper case of violation of equal protection.

    Gay advocates have gone straight to the equal protection arguments without ever addressing seriously the public benefits of marriage that justify the whole thing in the first place. Heterosexuals have 5k years of successful heuristics on their side so they don’t generally bother to do the analysis either. This is an argument that is conducted so badly on both sides that it is breathtaking. So far there are light rumblings that the conservatives are starting to back and fill to exactly and explicitly explain why marriage as a state institution should exist at all.

    You want to radically reduce taxation Mr. homosexual by marrying your nonworking boy toy? Well, what’s in it for me. If it was purely about marriage as an institution, they’d go to churches that agreed with the idea and simply marry in them. It’s not about the institution of marriage, it’s about the cash and legal rights, and for that you have to demonstrate benefit.

    I’ve blathered on about this on my blog mostly under the heading of gay marriage.

  12. There are good reasons not to extend the benefits of marriage to polyamory, that have nothing to do with morality. The entirety of contract, civil and criminal law was written with groups of two people in mind. Attempting to retrofit that enormous code base to include larger groups would be a nightmare. Just for starters, how large of a group could be considered married? 3? 5? 10? 100? 1000? The mind boggles at the complications that would bring.

    s/n:r

  13. Wow, linked by ESR! What’s next, a cameo in a Neal Stephenson novel?

    Thanks for reading. Oh, and Merry Christmas!

  14. snr – No doubt removing the body of law regarding human chattel wasn’t so easy either. If people are willing to get rid of millennia of experience with a worldwide functioning heuristic of marriage, the difficulty of changing over to polygamy marriages will be pretty easy. After all there is a great deal of functioning law from other states today that permit polygamous marriage, sharia for example.

    First much around, then when it all comes down around your ears, then seek to understand what you’ve wrecked. That’s the libertine impulse in a great many things, including marriage. No thanks.

    Marriage is not tyranny and defending state benefits are no good reason a gun toting anarchist should go to the barricades.

  15. It’s worth noting that the current phase of Cold War II started when a man with multiple wives sent celibate males on a suicide mission. First, a polygamist system rendered a substantial fraction of the male population superfluous (as far as the next generation is concerned) and then got them to sacrifice themselves in support of said system.

  16. Beautifully said Eric. I also think it’s hillarious to see some conservatives behaving like frightened Neanderthals. What a bunch of hypocrites. I actually would have more respect for them if they came out of the closet (so to speak, hehe) and stated their true reasons: “I’m against gay marriage because the notion is a SIN againt my silly-ass religion.”

  17. Lutas and others: it is not all about tax breaks. One example: most Intensive Care Units limit visitors to “family”, and do not consider members of a homosexual relationship to be such.

    Then there’s the rhubarb about “civil unions.” OK, “marriage” is a union of two (or possibly more) people via a religious ceremony. But to be recognized by the state, it must be registered with the state and comply with limitations set by the state (in the us, this includes – or rather, excludes – polygamy and polyandry).

    But the state already recognizes “civil union”, folks! The registration of a couple as a union can be done by a judge, clerk of courts, justice of the peace, some sherrifs, and a number of other officers of the court, with no religious overtone.

    Such a union is usually referred to, even under the law, as a “marriage” – but it is not, according to the dictionaries.

    It might be interesting for some “gay” group to point this out, and sue to have all “marriage” recognitions and privileges removed from such couples – including having their children re-recorded as “born out of wedlock”, aka bastards.

  18. Agreed that it isn’t all about tax breaks but it is about civil benefits. Is the shorthand bundle of benefits including presumptive visitation rights at hospitals etc. a recompense for civil benefits the relationship provides to society? Yes. And do homosexual relationships provide the same benefits? Well, you’d have to define the lists and compare. You launch an equal protection action *after* you determine that the two classes, privileged, and unprivileged, are substantially the same but one is being discriminated against. If you don’t have the finding (and I haven’t seen much of that presented by the pro-gay marriage side of the debate) that we’re comparing apples to apples then you’re jumping the gun whether the pro-gay marriage side is ultimately right or wrong.

    I personally think that the pro-gay side is jumping the gun because an objective examination would lead to a conclusion that, from a public benefit analysis perspective, they wouldn’t be considered equally benefiting society, thus deserving equal status and equal protection.

    Make the case, prove equality, and you’ve got a strong argument. I smell a rat that this step has largely been skipped.

  19. TM Lutas: I somewhat see what your saying, but I have one question. When did marriage become about the public good? Your stating that we must prove that the somehow the public benefits from a gay marriage, like they do from a straight marriage? How does the public benefit from a straight marriage? Larger tax base? Larger insurance base to bleed? A more “stable” home life? Umm, I doubt it.

    Homosexuals are people, human beings, which defines them as being EQUAL to heterosexuals, which means they’re granted the rights guranteed under the constituion. Since marriage is a government recognized instituion, its discrimination to keep it from one group while allowing it to another.

  20. I got no problem wih gay marriage. It’s poly marriage I’m against.

    Imagine a gang, 5 or 10 guys, that gets “married” to each other. Now they can’t be compelled to testify against each other! Talk about Omerta.

    This is a can of worms we do not want to open. Gay or straight, marriage needs to stay between 2 and only 2 people.

    s/n:r

  21. Chris – Marriage, as a secular institution, became about public good in terms of federal law the day that the US passed the 1st amendment. It’s the establishment clause. When the Civil War amendments got passed, the incorporation clauses that applied the Constitution to the states made the 1st amendment religious establishment clause general.

    Heck, the last forced sterilization on public burden grounds was in the 1970s. Don’t imagine that marriage is any less cold bloodily calculated than fertility. This isn’t just some back and fill theory advanced because the homosexuals want into the marriage club. This sort of public benefit calculation has been around for a long time and within some limits there has been variation and experimentation.

    Opinions differ on cosanguinity (incest) limits from state to state. The difference in divorce laws, the difference in marriage laws, this is all federalist experimentation to invoke the maximal benefit for the least public cost. It’s all been right in front of you and until somebody decided to try to change the institution in a way that required thorough examination, everybody’s been wrapping it all in the romantic ribbons of the private institution of marriage.

    The difference is that the experimentation up to now has been within the range of human experience in the past. Cousin marriage limits have often varied. But homosexuality is so far beyond the historical limits that you’re basically running the risk of wrecking things without taking the time to minimize the risk and actually figure out if there’s a net benefit to society.

    It’s tear jerk politics at its worst and we have small government types like ESR proposing an expansion of government benefits without the slightest thought beyond satisfying the emotional value of egalitarianism and inclusion.

  22. Equating homosexuality with paedophilia again. You really are a hateful, ignorant moron, Eric.

  23. Have to agree with you on this one… I don’t like queers really, but they have the right to do what they want as long as they don’t involve me in it. These fundy nutcases do not understand what natural law really is….. It is impossible to violate the laws of nature. Try jumping off a building sometime, or if your a male gay, you will never get pregnant by sodomy. The laws of nature dictate that men cannot get pregnant, and that if you jump off a building gravity will see to it that you die. The laws of nature CANNOT be violated. What seems repugnant to humans in a subjective way, is not necessarily unnatural. Animals eat their own shit, and so do scatophiles. It may be disgusting, but it is not unnatural, or against the laws of nature, like thinking that you can jump into a bonfire and that it will feel like taking a dive into a swimming pool.

  24. Joseph Hertzlinger, the idea was to legalize polyamory–I doubt this would play out the same way in a society that has rights for women than in one that doesn’t. I’d expect polyamory to be fairly rare and about as many men as women in polyamorous relationships–nothing that would lead to an excess of unattached men.

    snr, you might have a point there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a few husband-wife criminal teams as it is.

    Perhaps the right fix is to require spouses to testify against each other if there’s evidence of criminal behavior by both/all of them. This may be giving too much trust to the criminal justice system, but that’s another whole large can of worms.

  25. Allen: Kudos.
    Why should they be exempt from the horrors of marriage?
    Let them squirm when the “M” word rears it’s ugly head up in the middle of an otherwise great dinner converstaion.
    Let them enjoy the thrill of being cornered by a relationship’s friends and family demanding to know what their “intentions” are.
    Let them watch the expectations of the person that they swore that they knew so well soar to unreachable heights once the contract has been obtained.
    Give em all couple of years of marriage and THEY will be the ones figuring out how to get back to the “good ol days” when it wasn’t an option…

    Haha HA…
    Be careful what you ask for…
    Cause “You’re gonna get it!”

  26. There are some sound arguements here, and I am pleased to see that the vitriol is being kept to a minimum. Whether thaqt is due to our host, or because of mutual respect for commentors I could not say.

    One thing that bugs me a bit, though, is the disinterest in examining the probable course of future events as related to this topic.

    Before I get wound up, let me lay out my opinion. I am one of those Jesus Freaks. I am not afraid to say that I think homosexuality is a bad idea. However, because outlawing things doesn’t seem to have much effect on behaviour, I don’t look at a government ban on homosexual marriage as some kind of victory for Almighty God. I don’t think that homosexual marriage is an endorsement of the activity, either. Marriage in America is so far gone at this point that it really is not much more than another tax shelter.

    Having laid that out, I think we do have to look at the polygamy issue, or at least glance at it. If we believe in cause and effect, we have to ask what the next step will be after homosexual union is legitamized. So, if I can marry a man, why not my brother? If my sister can marry another woman, why couldn’t that woman be my divorced or widowed Mother? It would certainly offer Mom some benefit in her later years to have a contractual obligation with one of her kids.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do this. I’m not particularly against it. I do think that, if we don’t ask a few simple questions regarding limits, or lack of limits, and why they are or are not in place, then we really haven’t progressed all that far from the guys that wrote these laws in the first place.

  27. Allen Anderson – If you truly believe in experimentation and adjustment to reality, the situation of easy divorce in the US should leave you horrified. We’ve got decades of sociological data that shows that easy divorce is not better for the children. Most of the time it isn’t even better off for the parents. It just creates a lot of complications and a growing need for psychologists and psychopharmaceuticals. So the experiment’s a failure, we should go back to strict divorce laws, right? Unfortunately, there is no appetite for it. We’re used to it so we’re stuck with it. It’ll take a new victorian era to get it done and I don’t see one coming round the corner.

    Given this real world history, the idea of experimenting with homosexual marriage fails because if the experiment fails, it will keep right on going in miserable failure. There’s no practical way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    I do thank you for pointing out one thing, the social pressure provided by the Church. But that works against your argument. Name one church that is strong on promiscuity and divorce and in favor of gay marriage.

    By the time a church gets around to being in favor of gay marriage easy divorce and sleeping around are no longer a big deal. There are very few anathemas and hellfire sermons going around. Even frowns are discouraged as liberal churches try ever harder to be “inclusive”. There is no equivalent social pressure on gays to remain married. There also does not seem to be any demand by gays to create such pressure. I’m not in that scene so references would be appreciated if I’m wrong on that point.

    Eric E. Coe – Civil marriage for homosexuals is a legal privilege. Gays are asking for accommodations in the courtroom, ultimately. Such accommodations always cost money from the public purse as well as inconveniencing society at large in various ways. They are thus granted only when the accommodation creates a bigger benefit than the cost. There gay marriage movement hasn’t demonstrated a net public benefit equivalent to heterosexual marriage. I suspect they haven’t because they can’t. You’re being conned into making a comparison with drug policy. It’s completely different.

    bps – I’d be with you if the damage would solely rain down on those in the institution. But that’s not the case and the innocent bystanders don’t deserve it.

    Ed – Civil marriage is worth fighting for to make it more than just a tax shelter. There are the children to worry about, after all.

  28. All right, TM, I’ll call you on your argument. Just what benefits do accrue to society from heterosexual marriage – specifically, marriages between a man and a woman that do not, and will never, produce children – that do not accrue to society from homosexual marriages? How about benefits that accrue to society from marriages between a man and a womand that do produce children that do not accrue to society from marriages between two women, one of whom has had a child (through artificial insemination, for example) or between two men who have adopted?

    My point is that there is nothing involved in the question that is relevant to the genders of the people involved beyond the ability (in some, but by no means all, cases; my sister adopted a child this year because she was unable to have a child on her own) to conceive a child without outside assistance.

  29. I haven’t got all of them down, the argument isn’t fully formed and it’s a very big subject. But I’ve been writing about it on my blog and the material already runs to a few pages over 13 entries at present.

    One secular benefit of heterosexual marriage is to supply the children with a model of durable male-female interaction. Men may be from Mars and women from Venus but we all live on earth and have to deal with each other if the species much less society is to survive.

    The best such models (in the ideal and common case) are the child’s parents because they are in closest proximity to the child and care the most for a positive outcome.

    The childless couple, if it adopts, provides that same quality of model of male-female interaction and cooperation. Even if it does not adopt, a pair bond can provide such a model and that’s worked into society in the institution of godparents, for example. My children’s godparents are themselves childless. They take their responsibilities seriously and are a help.

    In my church (Romanian Catholic), priests can marry. I have to say that the model of a particular priest and his wife has really inspired me to be a better husband and father. They never had children but by the way they lived their lives, they probably saved more marriages than they will ever know. In my case, that improves the likely outcome for my (soon to be) three children.

    Homosexual pairs, of necessity, do not provide the same sort of teaching ability for male-female interaction. Children adopted by homosexuals may, in the individual case, still turn out ok, but the outcome in the collective case will be worse. Both models of parenting will create bell curves of outcomes. The homosexual parenting results will be shifted to the left. I believe that it’s shifted enough to the left to justify differential treatment without going into any other reasons. Gay marriage advocates aren’t interested in proving that the shift to the left is small enough that equal protection applies. They simply assume it a priori and call people nasty names if they disagree with their unsupported assertions.

    In the end, we’re dealing with a multi-millenium heuristic here. The burden of proof should be on gay marriage advocates to demonstrate the error in the heuristic. They are failing to carry that burden.

  30. TM Lutas:

    “Civil marriage for homosexuals is a legal privilege. Gays are asking for accommodations in the courtroom, ultimately. Such accommodations always cost money from the public purse as well as inconveniencing society at large in various ways.”

    I am not so sure about that. Many of them seem to be reclassification of people into pre-existing categories (the handling of which is already paid for.) What are the costs/benefits?

    1. Tax law. Uhh, is it really all that great to be married at tax time? That hasn’t been my experience.

    2. Inhieritance. It changes the default receipent when someone dies without a will. As far as the state is concerned, it’s a wash.

    3. Next-of-kin arrangements for hospitals, etc. Again, a wash. And a matter of free association too.

    4. Insurance. This is one area where you might have a point – because “spouses” would be brought in under employer family HC plans where otherwise the gay employee would take a single’s HC plan. On the other hand, normally one will pay more for a family plan, and a lot of the HC spending for young famillies goes to frequent kids “sniffle visits”, which gay couples generally won’t have (unless they adopt). It’s something to look at in more depth, to see how the tradeoffs work out.

    “They are thus granted only when the accommodation creates a bigger benefit than the cost.”

    I doubt that. Politics is rarely so rational.

    “There gay marriage movement hasn’t demonstrated a net public benefit equivalent to heterosexual marriage. I suspect they haven’t because they can’t.”

    No, see above. The issue is political, and that is the arena it is being fought in. Cost/benefit analysis takes a back seat to talk of “rights” and “fairness” for these sorts of issues.

    “You’re being conned into making a comparison with drug policy. It’s completely different.”

    Nobody conned me into anything. It’s my own analogy, and was merely a reflection on the common logical error of reversing cause and effect. The rest was more or less OT ranting.

  31. Eric E Coe –

    1. Tax law:
    US tax law started off giving a marriage preference. If a single man and a married man earned the same money, the married man would have a much lower effective taxable income because he would spread half his income over to his nonworking wife. The marriage penalty exists in current law for two earner couples. The tax law is currently adjusting back to the original status of encouraging single earner couples and we’re likely to maintain that situation in future. This is an encouragement for single earner married couples and always has been.

    There are also special survivor benefits that limit or eliminate taxability when a spouse dies. This does cost the treasury money. This brings us to…

    2. Inheritance:
    The state gains fees in probate and taxes at inheritance time. The probate avoidance effects of marriage cost the state money and I already covered tax avoidance above. It also slightly reduces the portion of the population which dies without heirs which also costs the state money.

    3. Next of Kin:
    This, you’re right, is mostly a wash but you don’t need marriage to create a legal status for your lover to decide whether to pull the plug or not. This is just power of attorney and unmarried heterosexuals find a close friend or relative to do this for them all the time.

    4. Insurance:
    Yes, an in depth look would be nice, agreed. A major part of the problem is that this in-depth look is being skipped (and not just on the insurance portion). One of the problems here is that you’re throwing a historically sicker portion of the population (gay males) in with traditional families which makes their part of the insurance pool somewhat more expensive. And in terms of social policy preference, this is justified how?

    You doubt that politics is rarely so rational to judge things on a cost/benefit analysis. Well, when you get into the emotion and non-rational parts gays are going to be at a disadvantage. They are, in the majority’s opinion, perverts after all. But that’s not my point.

    What I’m saying is that even throwing aside emotionalism and sentiment, the rational case for gay marriage is not met on strict cost/benefit grounds. That’s the precondition for equal treatment claims, a finding of equality. It’s also what’s undergirding all the homophobia hoopla. The homosexuals are assuming equality and asserting that their different treatment is based purely on emotional discrimination.

    You are incorrect when you say that the issue is political. The issue is largely judicial because gays are pushing this through the courts. You don’t have a right to equal treatment when you aren’t in an equal, or at least equivalent class. That’s the heart of the matter here.

    Do homosexual relationships constitute an equivalent class to heterosexual married couples? What are the things that make marriage something that is appropriate for the civil government to intervene in? There are literally a thousand laws (federal, state and local) which marriage impinges on. We’ve talked about maybe 10, or 1%. Until the other 99% of such laws are rationally examined, debated, and decided that the public accommodation should be extended to homosexuals, it’s not appropriate to include them in the same class.

    It’s all very well and good to talk about “lust for power over others” as a bad thing. But gaining legal privilege means putting somebody in a superior, not equal position in the law. The only sustainable reason for that is the extra responsibilities and public benefits that also come with marriage. This is precisely the argument that gays are avoiding. That avoidance is a con, whether you admit it or not.

  32. I am constantly amazed when reading discussions about gay marriage how absolutely ignored are children in the whole thing.

    The legal justification for the state’s right to pass laws regarding marriage is based on reproduction. The state (ie, society) has a fundamental interest in seeing that there is both a sufficient birthrate to perpetuate the society, and that these children are raised in an environment that is, at least minimally, considered likely to produce healthy and well adjusted citizens.

    The benefit of reproduction to the state justifies the benefits bestowed on married couples.

    Now, the restrictions on to who can marry is based on the idea that the ideal family begins with a man and women who consensually live together, produce children, and care for them. (thus the requirements of a male and a female is based on the biological necessity for one of each to be present for a child to be produced).

    Many like to note that not all married couples can or do have children. In some cases this is personal choice, others have medical issues. Regardless, this does not provide grounds for disqualifying them for marriage.

    There are reasons for this. In the case of medical conditions, there maybe treatments that solve the problem. In addition the issues may not be known, or may arise after marriage. In the case they are not able to have a child of there own, but desire one, then they can still provide a role to the state by adoption of a child. This is not as an ideal environment as a child raised by their biological parents, but ranks as second best.

    In the event of personal choice, this is a variable. Couples when they marry may not desire children, but latter may change their mind. Also, a child being born to parents that does not want it may find it’s care lacking. The state does not benefit from this.

    In both cases, to screen these couple out of the marriage process would involve invasion of privacy, access to medical records, and in the case of choice any couple that would like to marry but doesn’t want children would likely just claim they do, or are undecided. Simply put, the state lacks a means to screen these couple. And, as noted, these couple still may provide a benefit back to society.

    What I have noted can be found in a plethora of court decision over the past 100 years on ruling involving marriage. You will note, morality or religious preferences are not included.

    The simple fact is, marriage as a legal institution provides a tangable benefit back to the state in return for the cost (ie the benefits of marriage). Those that CAN provide those returns are thus allowed to particpate, those that CAN NOT, are not allowed.

    The state has a duty to ensure that anyone can participate in a given institution or aspect of society as long as they have the ability to perform the necessary duties. This is no different than job applicants meeting the qualifications for that job.

    In the case of marriage, the state has determined the minimal necessary requirements are that there is a consenting male, consenting female, not of close relations are necessary to provide for a potential child. If one looks at history, they will note that arbitrary limitations such as race have been removed as they had no bearing a couple’s ability to produce offspring. The fact the restrictions are quite minimal is a reflection that added restrictions are untenable legally when the state is challenged in court.

    The simple fact is that the typical homosexual couple is incapable of bearing children in a manner that is anywhere near equal to the typical heterosexual couple. In fact, they can not produce a child without involving a 3rd party. For a homosexual couple, this the rule, for a heterosexual couple this is the exception.

    Thus, to extend marriage to gay couple would require the state to provide benefits to a group of people that do not provide the return. This is patently unfair, and a violation of the concept of equality.

    The concept of equality as it applies to humans, as we are all different in at some level, basically states that everyone has equal access to every thing except where either by choice a person commits an act to exclude/include them, or as a result of conditions beyond their control they are unable to participate equally as other can. In the case of a driver’s license, a blind person is disqualified since sight is required to safely operate a vehicle. To extend the benefit of marriage to a group that cannot equally participate in reproduction is a violation of this concept.

    Now, if you care to argue that children are irrelevant to marriage, you then are in the position of arguing the state has no right to regulate personal relationships at all. In addition, you will be in a position of contradiction eons of human history in mating.

    The day that gays can prove equality in reproduction as heterosexuals is the day they will deserve, rightfully, access to it. But until them, they no more deserve the benefits of marriage than I do as a single male.

    And speaking personally, I will vote against gay marriage because it is a violation of equality. Should, somehow, the day comes when gays can show an equality in reproduction, I will then vote for it. Unfortunately for gays, biology has rather precluded that and no amount of human legislation from the bench or anywhere else is likely to change that.

    BK

  33. The day that gays can prove equality in reproduction as heterosexuals is the day they will deserve, rightfully, access to it. But until them, they no more deserve the benefits of marriage than I do as a single male. And speaking personally, I will vote against gay marriage because it is a violation of equality. Should, somehow, the day comes when gays can show an equality in reproduction, I will then vote for it.

    So you’re in favor of lesbian marriage then? There’s been recent advances in reproductive technology. Researchers in Australia have fertilized eggs without using sperm, by modifying cells from other parts of the body.

    http://www.eurweb.com/printable/morenews327607112001.cfm

    s/n:r

  34. well written, but the point about homosexuals and their “nambla buddies” kicked the rest of the essay out of the realm of being taken seriously. obviously, there are gays and bisexuals who don’t pander to the “identity politics” stereotype. perhaps i’m just sensitive, but it bothers me that your article portrays gays and bis in a seemingly negative light, and polyamorists in a positive one, when the two groups so often overlap and have so much in common with some of their most basic ideas.
    best regards.

  35. BK, TM Lutas – it is true that for millenia, society had an interest in fostering reproduction, and legal marriage was one of many means employed to encourage it. However, in a world of six billion people (and growing) with a global free economy, that isn’t important any more.

    It in fact makes no economic sense for Americans to reproduce. Like TVs and software, other countries have significant comparative advantage over the US in the production of humans. It costs a US couple (and/or government) tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and an immense amount of stress (and thus lost economic productivity) to raise two or three children to college age. Mexicans, Chinese, and Indians can do it a lot cheaper. Since the US is adept at assimilating foreigners and their cultures (somewhat unlike Europe, which is undergoing an economically damaging population decline), we can simply import college age humans, educate them, and put them to work. Making them here makes no sense.

    The quality of education and early nutrition may be lacking in some of these producer countries, but we have the advantage of being able to screen the imports – let them produce a billion people, and we’ll skim the smartest, most energetic ten percent off the top. To some extent this happens naturally, since getting to the US (legally or illegally) takes some intelligence and effort. If you think that’s somehow cruel, remember that these humans will be produced whether we import them or not. Giving the useful ones a good home seems more humane than not doing so.

    If Americans want to raise children as a hobby, fine. I suggest that the purpose of legal marriage in the global economy is not to encourage reproduction, but instead to encourage responsible childrearing, given that reproduction has already taken place. If you choose to bear/adopt children, then whether you are a gay or straight couple, you should stay together and provide a stable home for the critters, so they will become productive (or at least non-destructive) adults.

  36. BK – I agree with you on the importance of reproduction, yet I think that you place a bit too little emphasis on education and inculturation. Children are the perennial barbarian invasion. They have to be civilized and enrolled in the culture that produced them. If it were mere biological reproduction at stake, medical progress (as the link above from snr shows) will eventually upset the applecart, with an artificial uterus if with nothing else.

    snr – Your link might provide justification in BK’s model but it does nothing to address my objections, except with regards to polygamy (which I mostly haven’t gone into in this forum but it’s in my blog). Even, for the moment, just taking into account the biological, it would be extremely reckless and selfish to take an experimental procedure that is not proven to work properly and use that as a justification for changing social policy so radically. The problems with Dolly the sheep didn’t come to light until years after the original triumph. On biological reproduction let’s talk around 2020.

    tb – I can only assume that you are uninformed regarding the recent trends of human fertility. It’s crashing everywhere, not just in Europe, and the consequences to modern society are on display in Europe where low fertility rates are playing havoc with government’s ability to fund itself in the future.

    Assimilation problems among immigrants are showing up and it’s quite possible that Europe may end up intolerant muslim after all. It’s a financial, political, cultural nightmare.

    As for the US getting its children from all over the world, those health problems you wave away are quite serious and expensive. But beyond that, we would have to have a tightening of citizenship rules and an extensive increase in americanization efforts to ensure we don’t get swamped by intellectually incompatible ideas coming from the 3rd world. That doesn’t seem to be on tap. Without a significant crop of fully assimilated americans raised from birth in the culture the great american assimilation machine will break down and become ineffective.

    There is nothing about having children that is inherently less stressful in a poor family than it is in a rich one. The cruel lives you would need to enshrine in the third world to make your idea successful are being alleviated both by better local governance and through globalization. Their birth rates are falling too, though from such a high start that they are likely to be the last to have problems. With the first world largely in birth dearth and the third world looking to join them a few generations later, this is no time to relax and say that we can discourage reproduction.

  37. TM Lutas: It might be reasonable to look at the causes for the birth dearth as you put it. Granted, without the data at hand its hard to make a reasonable guess as to why that would occur but wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the reason there was an explosion in births was do to the increase in health care and access to good food supplies in Western Europe and America and the reason for the decrease is the stabilization? There is no reason now, in those countries, to have six to eight kids per family. Indeed, it becomes prohibitively EXPENSIVE to do that, there’s no economic return.

    Also, I find the whole argument that marriage should be based upon the biological ability to bear children ridiculus. Frankly, in todays society, there’s no reason for that. We don’t NEED to expand the human population beyond six billion people. We don’t need to have six children per family and there’s more than enough kids out there who need adopted, and plenty of women who would be willing to serve as host mothers, to assure that if a homosexual couple wants children they could have it. Marriage isn’t about biology anymore, it hasn’t been. Marriage is about politics and money, society evolves just as we do.

    Even more disturbing is the one fact you raised that children raised in a heterosexual enviroment are going to be better adjusted to society than those raised in a homosexual enviroment? Can I ask to see proof of that? Frankly, the homosexual families I know of that have children generally raise great kids. Not just that, but the families are stable. I look at the amount of hetero families that are degenerate, who can’t raise kids if you gave them a manual, who don’t even know how to instill their children with basic values and concepts even though they’re “religious” and take their guidence from the “good book” is ridiculus.

    It seems like much of the argument against gay marriage bares little reasonable weight either. Its based upon stereotypes and biological reasons that made sense two thousand years ago, not today.

  38. Chris – Replacement rate fertility is 2.1 children per female over the course of her lifetime. That’s stabilization. In Italy, the average is currently 1.2. This means first a grey society, then a shrinking society where things simply fall apart. You’re chasing down a straw man and you really should get the facts before you go further on this theme of six to eight children. When I say birth dearth, I mean that the populations are undergoing fertility rates significantly below replacement rates and they are having exploding longevity rates so you are ending up with predictions of one worker supporting more than one retiree.

    That’s simply unsustainable at current rates of social support. You want to talk expensive? Think about how expensive it will be to have 70-80 percent tax rates to support the current social safety net.

    The idea of marriage is to follow God’s commandments as part of a rich tapestry of love and fidelity and holiness. The idea of secular marriage is to provide for the creation and raising of the next generation to carry on society plus to stabilize and fix atomistic individuals in a conservative social matrix that reduces the chance of violent revolution. So which vision of marriage are you talking about? The important philosophical/religious one that helps us get to Heaven or the earthly practical one that keeps the gears of society running? Please don’t mix the two together. The state isn’t, and shouldn’t be, in the business of love, holiness, and intimate social arrangements.

    You’re also taking the tack of reversing the burden of proof. When you have a functioning heuristic that’s been working for thousands of years and you want to monkey with it, the burden of proof is on the people who want to change, not on the people who want to keep things as is. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    The social science on the issue of child-rearing in homosexual family groups seems to consist largely of poorly done studies, a large portion of which have an ideological ax to grind. I just wrote up an article in my blog that covers this point in greater depth along with a pointer to a scientific examination of the available social science to 2001. You may have a feeling deep in your bones that what worked in the past no longer works, but you need to prove it, and not in some ginned up study that compares national average child outcomes to highly educated, well-to-do lesbians in a culturally rich area and says ooh, no difference between the two when they don’t come close to controlling all the variables properly.

  39. TM: The idea of marriage is to follow God’s commandments as part of a rich tapestry of love and fidelity and holiness.
    This betrays your true agenda. Not all of us believe in the same god you do, or indeed in any god. Love and fidelity do not require a religion to grow and flourish, and holiness is, by definition, only applicable to those who believe in a god in the first place.
    Nevertheless, you disqualify your argument by showing your religious foundation for it. You complain about those who have ideological axes to grind while at your own grinding wheel. Decisions on the law in the US are not made on a religious basis. If you want a theocracy, you know where to find one.

  40. Jay Maynard – Ah, belief in God is a hidden agenda. Do you realize the kind of unfair bind you’re trying to put believers in? On the one hand the establishment clause of the 1st amendment which requires the kind of separation formula I gave and then complying with the Constitution is dubbed a hidden agenda!

    Why don’t I sit down and shut up like the 2nd class citizen you would like to make me. No thanks, I think I’ll pass and keep my rights.

    The entire idea of separating civil and religious marriage is an accommodation by the religious to other faiths and the irreligious. Civil marriage is a sort of middleware application that achieves some of the basic functions of marriage but not all.

    If you don’t at least mention the other portion of the marriage structure, civil marriage discussions get a bit divorced from reality because it sounds so incomplete, loveless, and clinical. I didn’t want to dwell on religious marriage but in other discussions I’ve had on the subject understanding suffered precisely because of this sort of misconception of state marriage being a competitor to religious marriage. They’re not competitors but complementary parts. What the atheists use to fill those parts that the rest of us use God for is their problem. The middleware piece shouldn’t be set up against the rest of the institution.

  41. I’m not asking you to sit down and shut up…not at all. You have the right to participate fully in the political process, and you have the right to believe in anything you choose. What you do not have the right to do is impose your beliefs on those who do not share them.

    I don’t care if your religion does not recognize the right of two people to enter into a legally binding, committed, monogamous relationship, regardless of their gender. I do care that you (and others; you are far from alone in this) are using your beliefs to tell others what they may or may not do.

    I was called out of town before I could answer your previous message about the benefits of marriage to society, but in seeing your later words, I see that the basic assumption you made – that it is beneficial to encourage men and women to get together in order to show kids how to ge along – is itself based in your religious belief that that is somehow the only way people should be shown as getting along together. It is just as important to show people of all kinds, be they different races, genders, sexual orientations, or nationalities, getting along together as it is the narrow case of a man and a woman, most often from the same race and general cultural background. After all, if we truly want those benefits, we should mandate marriages only between white Americans and black Zimbabweans of the opposite gender, and similar absurdities. Showing a kid that an affluent WASP male and an affluent WASP female can get along is, by comparison, trivial.

    Finally, I know two couples who do not now, and will never, have children, largely because the woman in each case cannot stand them. Should they have been permitted to marry? Your claim that disqualifying them would mean an unacceptable invasion of privacy is actually quite close to the sme argument that I, and others, make about allowing two people of the same gender to marry: it’s none of your, or the government’s, damned business.

  42. TM Lutas:
    You’re also taking the tack of reversing the burden of proof.
    When you have a functioning heuristic that’s been working for thousands
    of years and you want to monkey with it, the burden of proof is on the
    people who want to change, not on the people who want to keep things as
    is. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I agree that the model of a growing society has worked for 2000+ years.
    It got us to this point and, in a world with infinite space and natural
    resources, it would certainly be a viable model for the future.
    I also agree with your point that a society where the young
    provide for the old only works when each successive generation is larger than
    previous one. Unfortunately, we don’t have the infinite space or resources
    to sustain this rate of expansion.

    If there is a problem in this world, it’s not the old world’s
    slowing of reproduction but the third world’s inability to stem reproduction.

    Natural selection favors species who can adapt to a changing environment.
    The ability to form societies and civilization has put us (a relatively
    slow, weak, and naked species) at the top of the food chain. It’s allowed
    us to drive the largest and strongest species to the brink of extinction and
    then, at will, bring them back.

    The change in our environment to which we will need to adapt is the lack of
    a frontier. We’ve run out of room to spread. The model that has worked so
    well up to this point, one in which competing tribes, city/states, nations
    vie to put themselves in the best position to grow is about to hit a
    brick wall. So, unless we’re convinced that a deity will eventually,
    swoop down and create heaven on Earth for us, it’s clear that the time to
    re-examine society is now.

    The fact that it’s been working for thousands of years does not mean
    that it’s not broken. Given that we can see a flaw in it that will
    prevent it from working in the foreseeable future, the “burden of proof”
    or better, the responsibility to alter society is on all of us.

    Accommodating a class of people who will work and
    contribute to society, one who will for the most part not ask society
    to pay for the education of their children or increase the size of the human
    population seems like a reasonable thing to explore.

    If you believe that everything boils down to cost/benefit (which, by the way,
    it doesn’t.. Take a look at the cost vs benefit of handicap accessability)
    then it is clear that we will benefit much more by adapting society to
    accommodate as many classes of people as possible in a way that will allow
    us to continue to exist on this planet with a higher standard of living for
    as long as possible than to fearfully cling to the status quo, blinded to the
    facts on the table.

    Jay Maynard:
    I don’t think it pays to attack TM for laying his religious beliefs on the
    table. His arguments thus far have been based on logic, not blind faith.
    Just after the sentence that you quoted, he also stated his definition of
    a secular marriage and then claimed, rightly that “The state isn’t, and
    shouldn’t be, in the business of love, holiness, and intimate social
    arrangements.” Although I don’t agree with his overall premise, I still
    consider it unfair to pull one sentence outof context and condemn his
    entire argument based on what it says.

  43. Jay Maynard – I’m not trying to impose my religious beliefs here. If I did, there would be annulments but no divorce and a host of other things that I’m not talking about. The middleware model is a model of tolerance where everybody has their own private marriage rules and laws and the state sticks to the parts that impinge on the secular functioning of society which include but are not limited to reproduction and functional child rearing/civilizing.

    Can’t you see that in a widely pluralistic society, any one model is going to tick off somebody? You have to divide this into a state/private model where certain points can vary, widely but others that are essential for the entire society to survive are given to the state to enforce.

    The entire point of mentioning God is to set down a placer that yes, you can be a believer and have all the romantic, wonderful things of your own faith because the state role is limited and will not intrude into things that it does not have to intrude into. This is not sectarian imposition. It is tolerance of diversity in the best sense.

    The argument over private religious marriage of homosexuals is virtually nonexistent. Nobody that I know advocates the state ban such things though many think it a scandal. That sort of thing would be an imposition of our individual faiths.

    What is being discussed is the shape and nature of the middleware. This is the cold and clinical part of marriage that is rightfully a matter for the state to be involved in (at least until that happy day when all other more intrusive and ugly expressions of statism have been resolved). Marriage costs money. It is a series of benefits provided by the state in exchange for the carrying out of certain responsibilities to society.

    What I object to, at this point, is that homosexuals want to create a new category of marriages without demonstrating that they will give good value for what they wish to receive. As a citizen it’s right to set the bar fairly and to tell them to prove their case and they are in as a new category, and not before. I strongly believe as part of my faith that they will never be able to pass that hurdle but that does not mean that they should not be allowed to try. And if I’m wrong? Well, I’m wrong then and it won’t be the first time.

    Is this the big bad sectarian imposition that you’re so afraid of? Or maybe you had a certain preconception of your own?

    bps – First of all, thank you for your defense of my mentioning God. While tolerance requires that the details of his nature remain outside of a discussion on state policy, the state has, does, and should always acknowledge that they are not a competing alternative.

    Married couples control their own fertility and broadly choose the number of children they will have. This is the only logical conclusion you can draw from the 1st world/3rd world differences in fertility. After all, good nutrition and medical care shouldn’t make a woman have fewer children, quite the opposite.

    In a world of broadly controlled fertility, women will lower the number of children they have as the care they need to provide rises and the benefit they get from them drops. With child labor laws, compulsory education, and social pressures, this has broadly brought down the average number of children.

    The rationing of space and other resources is the realm of economics. You raise the price, you lower demand of any commodity, including children. Children are individuals, special, an end, not a means to an end, but the demand for children exists before the child exists and that demand does broadly change on price.

    You posit a world of limited resources. Well, that’s a truism in economics. All resources are physically limited. But that doesn’t mean much because the rationing mechanism of price ensures that people will self-limit their consumption of resources as prices rise.

    You claim that the 3rd world is incapable of controlling fertility. I suggest that you’re dealing in old numbers. The UN was the last to notice but now there is a consensus that everybody’s fertility levels are dropping, including the 3rd world. This is what led to the recent lopping off of a considerable number from the UN medium population projection model for 2050 (I believe it went from 11B to 9B).

    I suggest you look at the comparative population density of the EU states and the US. I believe we’re approximately at 10% of their population. If we were as densely packed as Europe (not an inherently unpleasant prospect), we could have 3B in the US alone. I think that the idea of the world being out of room seems foolish from that perspective. The space is there. If you go to the standards of suburbia and put every family on a 1/4 acre lot, you could just about put everybody in Alaska assuming a family size of about four people.

    I happen to agree with you that age does not prove that a system is functional, not broken. What I was saying was a bit different. The burden of proof is on the challenger, the reformer to demonstrate it’s broken, otherwise nothing will ever progress. We’ll be constantly defending this or that vital bit of civilization because somebody had the bright idea of tearing it down and the conserver has the burden of proof. I can’t really accept that.

    You assume a consensus that we’re about to run into a brick wall exists. It does not. I don’t share your opinion so you’re going to have to lay your case out to me.

    I’m not even so sure that frontiers are gone for good. Take a look at the X-Prize people and chew over the idea of space colonization. We might have 50, even a hundred years before that becomes practical but I suspect it won’t even be that long.

    Getting back to the point of the thread, how does running out of space and more expensive resources justify state recognition of gay marriage? Even granting your point, you don’t get there from here. In a court of law, that’s grounds for summary judgment.

  44. John Maynard – I just noticed, BK was the one that talked about privacy, not me. I view childless couples as educational models for children that reinforce the idea of family.

  45. A lot of people turn this issue into a crusade for various reasons. The religious right blows a fuse because gay relationships are “morally wrong” and some such. The Gays sidestep what amounts to judicial tyranny because, in this case, it works to their favor.

    I think you’ll find most intelligent conservatives are considerably more concerned with the fact that four unelect judges are dictating law, rather than the context itself.

    As for myself, I’m a conservative atheist, and my position is that I don’t expecially give a damn what goes on behind closed doors. What I do care about is government benefits put in place to create an ideal environment for raising children expanded to include gay couples, the vast majority of which have absolutely no interest in raising children. (Aside from the fact that they can’t, even if they wanted to, short of adoption)

    Some say those benefits should be abolished alltogether, so that this becomes a non-issue. To those people, I’ll suggest they take a look at the stagnant birth rate in France, and ask them if they really want the same thing to happen here.

  46. TM: Sorry about the misattribution. I’ll answer the rest of your argument below.

    Mr. Lion: I, too, have philosophical problems with judges making law. OTOH, the Bill of Rights exists precisely to guarantee rights to the minority, no matter what anyone else has to say about it. There are some rights that no government, and no majority of the people, may violate and have the government retain its legitimacy. Recognizing those rights, and overturning laws that violate them, is not making law.

    I still maintain that arguments about the civil aspects of marriage existing to benefit children are logically inconsistent unless those raising them 1) force all married couples to have children, wanted or otherwise, and 2) prohibit all unmarried couples and single people from having children, by natural means, artificial insemination, or adoption. If you don’t take those steps, your arguments ring very hollow indeed.

    What other benefits to society are there in having two people of different genders marry that are not provided by marriages between two people of the same gender?

  47. Jay: I couldn’t disagree more with your conclusion that this is not about “making law”.

    It is not the function of a Judge to legislate, but that’s what the four in question have done. They have dictated law and instructed an equal branch of government to pass a law that they think should be put in place.

    That isn’t their job. That’s the job of the people, and by circumventing it, they are effectively practicing judicial tyranny.

    You’re going with the suggestion that civil and social benefits of marriage are a “right”. I disagree.

    As to my arguments about ideal environments for raising children, if they’re “ringing hollow”, you’re completely missing the point.

    Oh no! Some straight couples don’t have kids! Surely that proves that social marriage benefits have nothing to do with them!

    No, sorry. I’m afraid not. Do all straight couples have kids? No. Do the vast majority do so? Yes, yes they do.

    By comparison, the vast majority of gay couples will not have kids, as they are physically unable, and the tiny minority that may adopt does not change that metric.

  48. Sorry, but the four judges in question have not made law. They have found that a law on the books violates the guarantees of individual rights in the Massachusetts Constitution, and therefore is invalid. That is not making law. If they were making law, they would have set forth a law themselves instead of directing the legislature to pass a law that meets Constitutional muster.

    If it’s about kids, then the benefits of marriage should accrue to those who have kids, regardless of gender, and not those who do not, again regardless of gender. It’s really that simple.

  49. John Maynard – Your argument seems very simplistic and without any subtlety or distinction. The state has the ability to make mind-numbingly complex rules but everybody has pretty much figured out this is not a bright idea for marriage. You make broad rules that encourage certain behaviors because if you do, your society has a better chance of surviving and you try to leave people to work out their own marriages within those broad parameters. One of these parameters is biological reproduction. Another is providing a good model for children growing up to continue society. The first, obviously, only includes fertile couples. The second includes infertile heterosexuals. You’re trying to teach children (most of whom you can’t tell what their reproductive ability will be) how to deal with the opposite sex and that when they grow up, they get married and, if they can, have children, if not, help out where they can.

    There’s a lot of room for variation in there and certainly a place for infertile couples. But homosexuals aren’t biologically infertile, they’re a different path entirely, barren coupling by design, not by accident.

    Does the different design warrant equal treatment? I say no, just like I can’t get equal access to a nunnery.

    Marriage is a great deal about kids, but it’s not only about kids, it’s not even only about the state. But the part about the state is kids and making a place for them in the world. The foundations under marriage in the US are cracked. Destructive divorces, easy excuses for sleeping around, a culture that supports marriage less and less. The institution is losing its value as a stable heuristic with each and every ill thought through novelty added onto it.

    We all deserve better.

  50. I believe there are two basic conservative objections to gay mariage, one bad, one good.

    The bad one of course is “It’s against the Bible.” Even from a consevative viewpoint, historically we are a largely Christian people with a non-sectarian government, and this argument is not sufficient for making public policy.

    Though I disagree with it in this case, I think TM Lutas has put his finger on the “good” conservative argument – risk avoidance. “It’s a change to an important institution. Something unanticipated might go wrong and cause a disaster, so lets not muck with it.”

    I happen to thinnk efforts to prevent gay marriage on such grounds are misguided: even if there is a chance of gay marriage being the straw that breaks the marriage camels back, wouldn’t it make more sense to expend effort on removing known logs on the poor camel’s back, like no-fault divorce, rather than fighting the addition of this straw?

    Still, “we oppose it just because it’s new” is a position I can understand and respect.

  51. Ralph Phelan – Actually the argument is don’t muck with it based on poor to no data just because you want to feel cool and with it on the hip cocktail circuit.

    I don’t think that all change to marriage is necessarily bad but poorly researched, thought out, changes should be sent back to the drawing board.

    As for the current logs bearing down on the camel, the marriage plus initiatives seem to be a step in the right direction. The problem with joke marriages like Britney Spears’ one in Las Vegas is that too little of her fan base cares about marriage and those of us who don’t consume her products can’t do much. We’ve long avoided her over her poor moral message so now what?

  52. Here’s a friend’s comment in her LiveJournal: (CF is shorthand for “childfree”)

    Because come hell or high water, my remaining CF is more important than anything. Even my marriage. I will not breed for anyone.

    Tell me again why, under the “marriage is for the benefit of kids” argument, she should be allowed to marry? She’s not ever going to have a baby, either her own (the post is about her husband’s reaction to her asking for his consent to her permanent sterilization) or adopted, and she’s militant enough about the issue to be willing to end her marriage over it.

    Also, TM, your post a few messages up carries with it a basic assumption that we should be promoting heterosexual marriage as a universally superior alternative to homosexual marriage for everyone. This is fine for those who are wired that way. For those who are not, however, it’s condemning them to a lifetime of unhappiness, as well as telling gay kids that society has no place for them. Gay teens have an unconscionably high suicide rate as it is, and your position doesn’t help any – because you are telling them that you don’t want them in your society, period. They can’t help what they are, any more than black kids can help being black.

  53. Jay Maynard – Thanks for bringing forth a perfect case study why marriage policy should be about broad direction and not detailed to individual cases.

    Your friend, in my opinion, is nuts (in the layman’s sense of the word). I don’t know if its a man, woman, what their sexual orientation is, or whatever. Saying you’d violate your marriage vows rather than have kids is a mark of such profound selfishness that it I can’t see a sane person making it and meaning it over the long haul.

    Marriage, in whatever form you like, is a permanent commitment that is supposed to last as long as both members of the couple live. You’re supposed to become two bodies but one flesh. And this person wants to end their marriage if their partner wants children (as a large majority of people do)?

    All I can say is that everybody has their selfish moments, and we’ve all written things that, looking back, were profoundly ignorant and we wish we could take them back. I strongly suspect that in future years, your friend will count this statement as one of those.

    I in no way, shape, or form feel nor do I advocate that gays have no place in society at any age. I don’t think that what they are doing is right and that they should change their behavior but, barring that, they can stand alongside the rest of us imperfect sinners and try to make the best of things.

    The fact that their sexual acts are sinful means they have as little, or as much place in society as many of our politicians, celebrities, and sports figures who also have reputations for sexual lives that are sinful. If homosexuality creates such a fragile psyche that they can’t stand being put in the same boat with Wilt Chamberlain, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, or Madonna then I’m sorry, homosexuality would be demonstrated as an objective psychological disorder that deserves to go back in the DSM. People that fragile need to be sheltered in an institution that will cater to their special needs for psychological security.

  54. Thanks Jay. I’m glad that this has finally been said. Certain people here would like to keep the discussion free of any emotional arguments. But it’s not just a cost/benefit thing.

    I’d like to share this comment from a child-raising gay couple:
    =========================
    I, for one, will argue that the average gay male couple will make better parents than the average straight couple. Before you get all worked up over this statement, consider that gay men can not have children by accident. They have to fight anti-gay adoption agencies, anti-gay U.S. government, anti-gay foreign adoption agencies, anti-gay foreign governments, disapproval from family, disapproval from friends, and disapproval from society. My partner and I have faced all of these things. Compare this to any straight couple which can have a child by sheer accident and never have to worry about any of the hurdles that gay couples have to face.

    Face it: If my partner and I want children, we have to work for it, and work for it hard. Much harder than the average straight couple will ever have to. And we do this because we want very much to have children of our own to love, raise, and turn into compassionate and responsible young men and women. And this is the experience for almost all of the gay men who wish to have children. It takes a lot of love, more than I’ve ever mustered for either myself or my partner.

    In contrast, many straight couples can and do have children becuase the condom broke. How much love does that take?
    ===========================
    The full comment is here:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=10364&cid=452931
    and there’s also a link to their homepage, complete with family pictures.

  55. TM Lutas – you’re comparing apples and oranges here. Teenage kids and mature celebrities. Please. As a straight man you probably have no idea about what these kids often have to go through:
    desperate loneliness, being labeled as a weirdo by other kids, alienation from parents, the fear of comeout and many smaller hurdles. If legalizing gay marriage can help that, then I’m all for it. But Jay has already said that, so I stop right here.

  56. TM Lutas:

    Scuse me there, sir… But that’s ME you’re talking about, and for that matter, MY marriage. Although I regret the comment that was made (and accurately said by me, make no mistake) was taken out of context, the reply regarding it was directed to my attention, and as you might expect, I’m just a wee bit annoyed about same. So I have a couple of things to say. First of all, my CFness was known to me and to my family by the age of *five*. If you don’t believe that, I’d be happy to direct you to my mother– as she is the one who has always told me so. I have never, in my entire life (and btw, I’m 35 years old now, and female, as this wasn’t made clear earlier.) had the slightest interest or desire to become a parent. It has *never* been a fact about me that has been in the closet. If there were any way for me to have been more out front about it, I have no idea what it is. The man I married knew *long* (as in years long) before we ever became even a couple, never mind married, that I would never have children. We discussed this openly, and honestly, more times than I can count. We were engaged for over three years before we married and *NOWHERE* in our wedding ceremony is there ONE. SINGLE. WORD. about having children. Jay Maynard can vouch for that– he was sitting within 20 feet of me when we said our wedding vows. I assure you, if there had been, those vows never would have been uttered by me.

    Your assumption, ignorant and short-sighted as it was has nothing to do with reality. There is *NO* difference in the level of “selfishness” from being CF or being a breeder. None. The self-righteous cry of “kids above all, and btw those who bear them are more important than everyone else” is complete rubbish. In the end, most people don’t know who their great-great grandparents were. But they sure as hell know who Sir Isaac Newton was, or Nikola Tesla, Julia Child, Emily Dickinson (I could go on forever with this list..) and none of these people had children. One need not have children to contribute to the world. If you’d actually like to educate yourself further on this topic, I would direct you to the following URL: http://www.olist.com/essays/text/ray/shame_children.html

    I quote:

    “Let us imagine that I marry a man who has not been open with me on this topic, and he begins to pressure me to have children. Supposedly, I love this man, and would not want to deprive him of anything. Therefore, it would be very painful for both of us if I were to deny him children. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to compromise and give him just one child?

    I contend that such a compromise would be exceedingly cruel. Even in the case in which I have to do the least work — where a child is adopted rather than carried in my body, and my husband does most of the caregiving — there are severe problems with the arrangement.

    There is no evidence so far that I will ever change my mind about children. If that is the case, then I will be living with a child I don’t want. I will be miserable. It is not a good compromise if the happiness of one partner requires the misery of the other.

    What about the child’s well being? The child would have to live with someone who doesn’t want her! This is a horrible thing to do to a human being. It is much worse than preventing my husband, a grown man whose self-esteem and integrity are mostly formed, from living with a child.
    It is quite possible, if this man’s longing is severe enough, that the marriage must end. This would be a much better compromise. Hopefully, he would overcome the social stigma and be more responsible the next time he discusses marriage with someone who so openly declares her disinterest in children. “

    Amen, Sista, sista.

    Bottom line is that my husband will, in the end, support my efforts towards permanent sterlizatiion. To do otherwise would be to admit he deceptively entered into our marriage.
    It would be *he*, and not *I*, who were selfish and deceptive. It’s just that simple.

  57. Alex Kanavin – The proper way to set policy is to actually find out the truth. To at least 2001, there were about 49 original research studies on the question of gay parenting and one meta-study that found that every single one of the 49 was done so poorly that any conclusions they drew could not be described as scientific. I covered that in my blog. You may have your personal opinions and even anecdotal stories but if you don’t have scientific data, you haven’t demonstrated anything useful in the setting of public policy.

    Marriage, as I’ve said earlier, is of two parts and the gay marriage debate is about the secular/government part only. If you want to create private social groups that foster acceptance of homosexuals and homosexuality, that’s up to you, not the government. People in small minorities really need to learn early that the majority doesn’t understand them and the majority’s opinion of one facet of their personality doesn’t mean the end of the world.

    bronxelf – I take ’till death do you part very seriously. I think that threats of divorce are emotional blackmail, especially when not in response to any abuse. It seemed you have a very understanding and loving spouse who has overlooked this abusive behavior on your part. Good for you both. Marriages are best when we can close our eyes to some things that are not optimal in our other half’s. But that was assuming that the context I read it was the true context of the sentiment.

    What I was addressing was a threat to your spouse to divorce, a threat that, now that you have made clear what was actually going on, never really existed.

    I’ve made clear that from a state perspective, there are legitimate reasons for childless couples to have equal rights. From a religious perspective, the same thing holds true in my book. Childless heterosexual marriages do have a role to play in society even in most conservative constructions.

    I do have to respectfully disagree about people who have children and selfishness. Until you are in the situation, you never really understand how much you have to accommodate and sacrifice for your children to be brought up properly. It’s a bruising course and, in my opinion, will knock most selfish thoughts right out of your head, even the ones you didn’t know you had. Don’t kid yourself that you understand a process that you have chosen not to go through enough to be a better expert at it than actual parents.

    The idea that parenting ends partying is a very common one. Perhaps you might not have heard of it, but I can assure you that most parents have either before, during, or after pregnancy if they don’t show signs of knowing it on their own.

    That being said, there are moments of selfishness in any marriage. The question is do you work through that or do you throw up your hands and abandon a solemn lifetime commitment. Now that I’ve actually heard from you, you don’t sound that crazy.

    Your life is not the choice that i would choose, nor would my church be very happy at the prospect of sterilization. I think you’re making the wrong choice but that’s not something that’s enforceable. There’s nothing from a secular point of view that’s wrong there and that’s all that is appropriate for the state to intervene in.

    This sort of tolerance of other people’s wrong headed choices is the heart of experimentation in marriage. The reason why homosexual marriage crosses the line is that it’s not only ticking off most of the major churches (tough, it’s a secular state) but it interferes in the state part of marriage in a way that is bad. When that happens, the state has no obligation to sanction such arrangements.

  58. Bravo! TM Lutas: I think I see your point, but I place the burden of proof on those arguing for inequality. It seems clear that religion played a large part in excluding gays from marriage, as did the need of memes for a large population of warriors to serve them. Neither factor seems like a valid argument today. In the absence of hard evidence for favoring inequality, how can a secular state write the views of “major religions” into law? I have doubts about GM foods, but I wouldn’t outlaw them just because they might cause trouble.

  59. Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst – The current situation is that we have a functioning heuristic. It does not include gay marriage. It’s been under assault by a bunch of other innovators who have made a mess of things (no fault/easy divorce is a big one). How you justify putting the burden of proof on anyone other than further innovators is beyond me. I just can’t see it.

    bronxelf – selflessness does not equal martyrdom. You’re setting up a straw man that has nothing to do with my argument. As for my use of the word partying, it was a metaphor for whatever you do to fill your time that does not involve kids. It could be any of a number of things. If you haven’t read my stuff, I suggest you do so before you blow a gasket. I believe that under normal circumstances, rules regarding marriage should be broad and leave lots of play for statistical outliers such as yourself. Replacement fertility is 2.1. US fertility is somewhere around 2.05 last I checked. Your fertility rate of 0 is the left end of the curve. I think you should have a right to be there and have constructed a traditional argument for marriage that leaves your type of marriage a first class relationship as far as the state goes. My particular Church grants a few special rights to the ‘breeders’ as you put them. For instance, those that die in childbirth get an automatic ticket to Heaven, direct express route. Pregnant women also do not have to fast or confess their sins prior to taking holy communion. This is the same sort of exception that soldiers are given prior to going into battle.

    If you can tolerate this discriminatory treatment, I don’t think we’d have much practical problems in either the state or the religious section of marriage in your personal case.

    Your argument for homosexual marriage is that marriage is a right, as far as the state goes. I have a right to free speech. I can talk to my niece. I cannot marry my niece (and a good thing too). Under my definition of marriage, it’s pretty obvious why that’s so.

    Under your definition of marriage, I don’t see how you could sustain an argument against consanguinous (incestuous) marriages. And if you can’t sustain the argument, it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to try to get that legalized if your definition were adopted by society at large.

    The only legitimate secular bar to an incestuous marriage is the increased chance for deformed children and the encouragement even consanguinous barren couples would provide to others. Some states allow proven barren 1st cousins to marry while banning fertile 1st cousin marriage. Nobody permits marriages closer than 1st cousin. How could they maintain that barrier under your definition. Would you even want them to?

    If reproduction has nothing to do with marriage and you can’t see why homosexuals should be barred, what’s the reason that uncle and niece or even brother and sister aren’t permitted a bite at the apple? There are other constructions of marriage that would make the distinction between the two but yours does not seem to. Perhaps you need to think a bit more about the subject before wading in at full speed?

  60. I will speak more bluntly. We have what I would call a simple and compelling explanation for the anti-gay meme that accompanies Judeo-Christianity, namely the fact that warlike memes benefit from large host populations. This also explains why many non-Christian memes have discriminated against gays. In fact, it explains a great deal. It explains why the anti-gay meme focuses on men (warlike memes address themselves to warriors) and sheds light on seemingly unrelated features of the Torah. I therefore regard the connection “as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as [I learn of] other phenomena” that suggest some change to the theory. Thus I place the burden of proof on those who claim that the inequality serves some useful purpose today.

    Speaking for myself, I see no reason not to allow barren siblings to marry. I thought some states did, though I haven’t researched it.

  61. Omar – So, you would say that gay marriage would reduce society’s chances of surviving war, and that we should do that because…

    Why?

    I don’t buy your reasoning and you haven’t proven it, merely asserted it. Even granting that you are fully correct about the facts, the proper policy to is to strengthen, not weaken a civilization or society and gay marriage would thus be banned by your own logic.

    But you really go over the edge in endorsing sibling marriage. No, there are no states that sanction more consanguinity than 1st cousin marriage, some with restrictions that the marriage cannot be fertile.

    Brother/sister marriage? Beyond the ick factor is the fact that you’d have to seriously restructure the family to manage this as “why can’t we do it, timmy and sally are” is the inevitable conversation that would result all through society. You’ve gone straight into permissive marriage idiocy if you think it’s a good idea to weaken society in war and saddle it with a significant population of genetically defective inbreeds. This kind of thinking is what I’ve been worried about, that the new rules of marriage are being proposed without due thought to the consequences of applying them. You’ve left little defensive terrain left to avoid inbreeding and adult/child abusive sex. ESR took a hit for throwing in a line about NAMBLA but given the child’s ‘consent’ I wouldn’t be surprised that you’re incapable of making a defensible argument against adult/child incestuous homosexual marriage. And before you take the obvious out that children can’t decide, what if the child’s guardian would approve? Heck, what if the prospective husband is the child’s guardian?

    I’m not arguing that you can’t make changes to marriage laws but if the standards you adopt lets a 50 year old male ‘marry’ his minor niece or nephew over whom he has legal guardianship, you just haven’t thought through this nearly well enough.

    Think hard, really hard before you advocate basic changes to marriage. Changes that we’ve done recently have made things worse. Don’t contribute to the problem.

  62. *sigh* I did not say that gay marriage would reduce America’s chance of surviving war (with who? another nuclear power? a bunch of criminals with delusions of grandeur?), I tried to say that it would have injured Judaism’s chance of success back when that meme had a much smaller host population. I did not say that I endorsed “genetically defective inbreeds”, I said I would “allow barren siblings to marry.”

    I will make one more try and then stop commenting. It seems clear to me that religion created the inequality in our marriage laws. I argue that we can explain the religious objections as the result of past conditions. Given the coherence of this explanation, it would take hard evidence to convince me that said inequality has another purpose, a purpose that applies today. (The quote in my previous post comes from Newton’s fourth rule for experimental philosophy, Princ. Math.) Going back to the indisputable religious influence on the law: you quite rightly point out that religion does not constitute a valid argument for a law. You seem to agree that without some other argument, our principles would tell us to remove the inequality. Following Newton’s Rules, I place the burden of proof on those who claim the law serves a secular purpose.

  63. Omar – I’ll match you sigh for sigh. There are a lot of jewish habits (read Deuteronomy) that have long died out that were practical for the jews at the time but were changed later. But marriage is not one of them. The kosher rules on slaughter, on eating unclean animals, etc. have all been put by the wayside but marriage has gone through lots of revisions but never homosexual marriage. What is there about marriage that made it survive past its practicality date longer than the rule against a ham and cheese sandwich?

    As for incest and inbreeding, the straight truth is that teenage siblings are often confused about reproductive facts and have easy access to each other’s bedrooms. If you don’t think that providing any legitimate access to each other will increase incest and incestuous offspring you’re just not in the real world.

    Finally on burden of proof. All courts have the option of throwing out the entirety of marriage law because it does not serve a secular purpose. That’s never been done, not even in Massachusetts. The burden of proof that civil marriage serves secular purposes has long been met and is not seriously debated.

    When you get married you gain privileges, which is why it is a licensed activity. You don’t need a license to exercise your rights. You have to qualify for a license. Homosexual marriage proponents have to demonstrate that they qualify for the license. They are not carrying that burden of proof.

    It may seem clear to you that religious prohibitions were the bottom line cause for gay marriage prohibition. You could say the same thing about our murder laws. The commandment saying thou shalt not kill was probably a greater factor in the majority’s head on passage of those laws than any purely secular reasoning. That does not make the murder laws constitutionally suspect.

    You have stuffed words in my mouth by making the assumption that I agree that civil marriage between any two individuals is a right. It is not. You can’t marry your sister, your nephew, or your children. You can’t marry someone of the same sex. You can’t marry more than one person. You can’t marry a nonhuman.

    This is because all of these types of marriages do not provide the secular benefits that the state has decided that it wants to require as reason to grant the privileges that marriage gives you. This was done through the political process a long time ago, though it has been addressed since then in various forums.

    The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to overturn the longstanding political judgment of the majority. Reversing it is just not right and challenges the idea of the democratic republic.

    You can claim that it is a violation of equal rights but you have to prove that you belong in the same class. The burden of proof is not on the democratic majority. They are presumed to have acted rationally.

  64. You assume that the current secular definition is an overt act of the majority, rather than being passed down essentially unaltered from the days of monarchy. This is, at best, specious.

    You are intent on denying gay people the same rights as you enjoy, simply because their brains are wired to be attracted to those of their own gender rather than those of the opposite gender. This is fully as contemptible as denying those same rights to those who wish to marry across racial lines. Nothing you say, no fancy arguments you make, will change this basic fact, and until you recognize it, you’re just another fundamentalist trying to force your religion on those who do not share it.

  65. One other note: The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, exist to prevent any majority, no matter how large, from violating rights of a minority, no matter how small. This issue is such a case. Hiding behind “the majority says that’s how it should be!” is just that – hiding, and constitutionally indefensible.

  66. Jay Maynard – If you think that a majority of the Continental Congress or any gathering of representatives since then would have addressed this in a manner favorable to homosexuals any time since then, lay out your case. I’d be fascinated, but I doubt that I’d be convinced. Remember, this is a country that seriously considered making the official language german to escape the influence of the british monarchy. That tells me they went through the entire code on the subject and didn’t take anything that they didn’t want.

    I can marry a horse (Caligula did), or another man, just as anybody else can. But the state does not sanction it with legal and tax preferences. The state sanctions and supports marriages that it finds are in the interests of the state to support. This state interest largely revolves around societal stability and raising children. Homosexuals have a + on the societal stability part and a – on the raising children part both for themselves and for the example they make for children. This example argument has historically weighed pretty heavy as divorce for infertility was made possible but state preference was granted regardless of fertility status.

    The state also has a public health interest. Lesbians fare better in an objective analysis on this issue than male homosexuals whose customary practices are biologically riskier.

    All this does not mean that a state legislature would be outside its rights to recognize such couples though I would fight such a bill in my state because I have opinions (as is right for every citizen) as to how the various factors should be weighted. What it all means is that homosexual relations come under a different class and thus that equal protection does not guarantee state recognition of their relationships. It is and should be a political question as to how to work out these different factors. If it were not, if there were some actual right to marry, it would be unconstitutional for the state to stay out of the question.

    Sexually transmitted disease, child raising, and social stability are all legitimate distinctions that legislatures may take into account with regard to policy. The Massachusetts panel that decided that these were not political questions decided wrongly. The original court decision to toss it to the legislature was correct, as was the final dissent. The legislature has to come up with the answers, and not under some court imposed deadline that precludes changing the state constitution in response to judicial concerns.

    As to my own wiring for sexual attraction, you know nothing of my personal likes and dislikes and it is as wrong to speculate on mine based solely on my public policy preferences as it would be for me to speculate on yours based on your public policy positions. I haven’t done it and I expect the courtesy to be returned.

  67. Homosexuals have a + on the societal stability part and a – on the raising children part both for themselves and for the example they make for children.

    Once again, you base your argument on an unsupported premise: that there is something less desirable in gay people forming a bond with those they are biologically wired to be attracted to than there is in straight people doing the same thing. You have yet to support this. All of the rest of your arguments are simply dancing around the same basic premise: “Gay people are icky, and what they do together is even ickier. They don’t deserve the same rights as normal people.” No, those aren’t your words, but they might as well be, for they have the same semantic content.

    An editorial in today’s St. Paul Pioneer-Press lays out the argument why the state should get out of the definition of marriage better and more concisely than I have.

    If you’re not a straight person, you must really hate yourself. If that’s the case, I strongly suggest you seek psychiatric help immediately – depression and self-hatred is a terrible thing to live through.

  68. Jay Maynard – Just because you don’t understand my arguments does not mean that I have not made them. Let’s try again, in simple language.

    1. The state has an interest in promoting social structures that benefit society.
    2. These social structures generally have solid scientific foundations backed by thousands of years of practical experience.
    3. gay marriage enhances some of the social structures, is neutral on others and has a negative impact on still others. The worst of these negatives is in providing a model that distracts others from heterosexual, fruitful marriage.
    4. Since gay marriage does not accomplish the same thing as heterosexual marriage there is no valid equal protection case.

    When you want to funnel people into one particular social arrangement, you don’t open up the choices unnecessarily. Someday we may tick off all the more egregious bits of government and it might be time to see whether the civil marriage statutes can be got rid of because we’ve developed a society where church weddings and the institutions that hold them, are strong enough to maintain a sustainable society. We’re not there yet. We aren’t likely to be there in my lifetime.

    Until we get there, civil law is going to have a role in promoting intergenerational societal sustainability and gay marriage messes with that in unpredicted ways. Just look at this thread. We’ve got somebody advocating legalized incestuous marriages. Clearly, badly thought through changes in marriage definitions can pop up very ugly consequences.

    The innovators have to prove their case. The innovators haven’t. Leave marriage alone unless an innovator does prove that their innovation will improve things.

  69. TM Lutas – you still don’t say exactly what kind of ‘proof’ you need. Except maybe that ‘a flawless scientific study about gay parenting hasn’t been done yet’ part. But how about this: making gay marriages legal would improve public health and social stability because it
    would actually promote and support stable lasting relationships between gay people. I don’t think you need ‘studies’ for something as simple as this.

    Then, I don’t get your ‘model that distracts’ argument. How being able to marry a man would distract you from marrying a woman? You are either gay or straight; it’s not something you can choose or ‘become’. Same goes for having kids: you either want them or you don’t. It’s your and your partner’s own choice. How gay marriage can possibly interfere with that, I just don’t see. But you can show me, if you can :-)

    Anyway, there are places in the world where gay marriage is legal already, namely Europe. Did any ‘very ugly consequences’ pop up?

  70. TM: I understand your argument. You have yet to answer my challenge to that argument. I’ll take your argument, step by step:

    1. The state has an interest in promoting social structures that benefit society.
    No complaints here. This is one of the state’s few legitimate functions.
    2. These social structures generally have solid scientific foundations backed by thousands of years of practical experience.
    This is essentially an argument that the only things that are worth doing are the things we’ve always done. By that argument, we shouldn’t have rebelled against the King of England (here in the US) and formed a democratic nation.
    3. gay marriage enhances some of the social structures, is neutral on others and has a negative impact on still others. The worst of these negatives is in providing a model that distracts others from heterosexual, fruitful marriage.
    Here’s where your argument really falls down, and this is what I’ve been trying to get you to defend. You assume that gay people would, or should, marry those of the opposite gender anyway, apparently (this is the common basis for such a belief) because they can choose either way. This is just flat WRONG. Gay people cannot choose to be attracted to those of the opposite gender any more than straight people can choose to be attracted to those of the same gender. It’s not a matter of choice, but rather brain wiring. There has been demonstrated, repeatedly, structural differences between the brains of gay and straight people. Given this proven fact, talk about “distractions” is so much hot air: Gay people cannot be part of “heterosexual, fruitful marriage”. Yes, gay people have married, but they have not been happy in such relationships. I utterly fail to see how forcing people into marriages of that nature, which are doomed to failure, is either a desirable example for others or a defense of marriage in any form.
    4. Since gay marriage does not accomplish the same thing as heterosexual marriage there is no valid equal protection case.
    It accomplishes the same thing as heterosexual marriage does aside from the ability to produce children without external assistance…no, wait, that’s not true either in a large number of cases. If you wish to be consistent in this argument, you must deny the benefits of secular marriage to straight couples who do not have children as well, and grant them to gay couples who have children (yes, they exist, whether you like it or not). It is a settled matter of law in many places that gay couples can adopt. Should the children in those families be denied the same benefits as children who have been adopted by straight couples? Why? They certainly had no choice in the matter.

    Oh, that’s right: Gay couples are less desirable as examples for our children. …PFAUGH! The example we should be advocating for our children is that of long-term commitment to another, in a stable, monogamous, loving relationship. There are those who are biologically incapable of having such a relationship with those of the opposite gender. You are advocating nothing less than that they be treated as second-class citizens because of something they cannot change…just as people advocated 100 years ago that those with black skin be treated as second-class citizens. Your argument is fully as wrong, fully as immoral, and fully as reprehensible.

  71. Jay Maynard – I recommend that you read the Declaration of Independence. The founders had a healthy respect for the conservative instinct and took great pains to justify their actions as consistent with a larger sense of justice that transcended the normal duty to stick with what works and reform within the system.

    The pro gay marriage side denies there even *is* such a duty and that they have an obligation to provide evidence and prove their case. That’s what the entire burden of proof discussion is all about. The founders’ attitudes support my own. Rebellion against the King, change in the social order, all this has to be justified. The rebels, the changers have the burden of proof, a burden of proof that the founding fathers carried.

    Marriage has been under assault via easy divorce, the state stepping in as a father substitute far too much, and loosening social customs. All that needs to be fought but instead of restoring and improving marriage, we’ve got this new revolution that is supposed to make things better and it’s taking the same advocacy path as easy divorce did all those decades ago. It’s making facile assertions with little scientific proof to back it.

    I don’t believe that ‘gayness’ has been settled as either biology, learned behavior, or a combination of both. But what I am sure about is that there is a population distribution and it is not x% entirely homosexual, y% entirely heterosexual, and 0% in between. If you think that the ‘gay gene’ has been identified and proven, show your references because I’ve yet to find an advocate who can provide proper evidence.

    Brain structure changes don’t mean anything about biological determinism. You have brain structure changes due to entirely environmental factors as well as combination phenomena where both environment and biology play a role.

    Social policy, in a free society, deals in incentives and encouragements. Marriage is not a neutral state. You are trying to encourage people to do things and steer them away from other things. I am arguing that a societal preference for at least replacement fertility is encoded in a great deal of our current law code. Our entire welfare state depends on it. Social Security, Medicare, the whole social spending dynamic assumes at least constant numbers, and highly prefers, growing numbers. 1 worker supporting 1 retiree is *hard* and implies that everybody is working with no stay at homes.

    It is thus irresponsible to pass any legislation that would encourage fewer children when our fertility is already under replacement rates. That’s like having a leaky boat and instead of bailing to put water out of the boat, you take water and dump it in the boat. Even if all you have is a coffee can and the boat in question is a sinking ocean liner, you just don’t do it. It’s patently pathological. You have to justify the behavior.

    Do I think that some people who are in this uncounted sexually confused middle would end up with fewer children because they would find a same sex partner? Yes. I guess but do not know that it would not be a large number but I wouldn’t want to encourage it by giving equal sanction to fruitful and non-fruitful relationship types. A bigger effect would be to simply lengthen the process of choosing for everybody by offering alternate social forms. People are already taking too long to decide to get married and running away from the institution’s demands too quickly. Alternative social arrangements only enhance this negative tendency.

    I’ve covered the reasons for including barren heterosexual marriage in a large number of posts in this thread and elsewhere. If you’re just going to circle back and ignore my previous posts on the subject in this thread, there’s no way we can progress to a conclusion.

    Teaching boys how to deal with the very different way women have of doing things is a vital thing. If men treat a woman as they would a man, you get a woman who has broken bones.

    Women break male violence taboos all the time. They get too close. They stand wrong. They are aggressive in ways that would get a guy a punch in the face if he did the same thing. They do all this because their social interaction instincts are different.

    It is vital that men know how to treat women and recognize that they’re not just differently shaped men but complementary beings with their own partly social, partly biological traits that have to be accommodated because we share an equality in our humanity but not a sameness. We need every successful model of male/female interaction that we can parade in front of young boys.

    Young girls have their own need to understand men for different reasons than boys but no less important. As my daughters grow up I may eventually get enough insight to write more but that’s the best I’ve got right now.

    I don’t disagree that we need to teach some things that gay couples could teach by personal example in a loving, committed monogamous relationship. What I argue is that we also need to teach children other things that gay couples detract from, not just skip over, teaching and these detractions make the equal protection claims that gays are using in the courts invalid. I separately have religious objections but keep them out of my public policy arguments. This does not make them invalid though, merely impossible to carry the day in a society premised on a free market in religious ideas.

    I would suggest that PFAUGH is as little thought out as those undereducated christian fundamentalists that ESR is so freaked about. I can do a pretty good mock and scorn too but that doesn’t get us anywhere.

  72. When we get into Heinlein land, wake me up. I can see a world where government is so small that you could do away with the incentive structure of secular marriage and not get walloped with huge tax burdens down the line, essentially enslaving future generations to pay for their elder’s leisure.

    However, I note that the pressure for eroding the traditional pro-fertility structures of marriage heavily overlap with the people who would prescribe high tax funded social benefits resulting in ever increasing rates of taxation as the working tax base is overwhelmed by an expanded leisure class. No thanks.

  73. TM Lutas – I think we all should just stop arguing and move on, but before I do, I want to ask you one last thing and I’m sorry for it being a bit more personal and disturbing. Maybe this way the point that so many people here were making will get across.

    Imagine you find out one of your own existing or future kids is gay. How will you handle this? Don’t say “this can’t possibly happen to our kids since we’re so squeaky clean straight role model for them” – it’s a dangerous delusion and the cause of parents’ grief in so many families. I could go further but I need to see your answer first – only if you want to.

  74. I’ve given up on trying to convince TM. It’s obvious that his religion has dictated his conclusion, and he’s coming up with arguments to justify it after the fact.

    I will point out, however, that I am in no way among those who “prescribe high tax funded social benefits”…in fact, those who know me at all would find the very concept laughable.

  75. People may argue that homosexuals are “wired” for such attraction, but as with anything in life, it is all a matter of choice.

    If I say (and I’m not, but for the sake of the discussion) I’m “wired” to be a pathological wife-beater, does that mean I have no choice but to give in to that “wiring” and beat my wife? No.

    In the same way, I refuse to believe that someone who claims to be “wired” for homosexuality has no choice but to be homosexual. It’s not the same thing as being black or white. It’s much harder for someone to change their skin color than it is to change their choice of partners for the night.

    I get very disappointed in those who claim that there is no choice in how they live their life. We always have choices, and what we do with those choices defines our character.

  76. Pingback: FiercePoet. Writings. Musings. Commentary. And a Gay Southerner.

  77. Pingback: FiercePoet. Writings. Musings. Commentary. And a Gay Southerner.

  78. Larry S – the point you’re making is simply not true. It has repeteadly been shown that it’s just not possible to change one’s sexual orientation (which is more than simply choosing a partner for the night) and any attempts to do so will force one into unhappiness.

    You’re right in saying everyone should have a choice in how to live their lifes, but then you have to accept people choosing the way that makes them happy – and that’s usually being what they are and not trying to be what they are not.

  79. I just wanted to sat that I am 100% against gay marriages. Why can’t people see this…it is going against God’s plan. God ment for man and women to come together in marriage. As far as those of you that say America is a free country, and gay marriage should be allowed, it is more inportant to protect our children from a corrupt society that protests for gay marriage and allows the murder of unborn children. Gay marriaged is a further degration of human life. Thank you.

  80. I do not understand why people use God in their arguments against gay marriages. Why cant they see it is a completely circula argument? i am against gaymarriage and am a Christian, but it is simply not logical to argue against gay marriages usig the Bible or God with people who don’t believe the Bible. You need to have good, logical reasons, otherwise it is retarded to even try to argue in the first place

  81. If the US DOES ammend the Constitution for homosexual marriage… I am moving to Australia with Heath Ledger.

  82. Discrimination against ANYONE is wrong…everyone knows it, but some just choose to accept it. It’s pitiful that you people have to go around putting people down just because they are different than you. I would like to say thanks to those of you who get where I’m coming from, maybe one day everyone else will listen…

  83. I believe in the death penalty for homosexuality, not because I am a Christian and it prescribes this in the Bible (Old Testament, just as much God’s word as the New) but because homosexuality has proven to have ill effects on society like the rippling waves of a tsunami. A tsunami of septic fluid, to be more precise, full of disease, corruption and filth.

    Gays have taken up the argument that “love” should be honored by the government no matter the gender of the persons engaging in this so-called “love,” but since when is it the government’s concern who loves each other? Naturally-oriented (heterosexual) individuals create procreate, which create nuclear family units which in turn provide units of production and consumption which benefit the economy. They provide role models for children. They provide care for elderly parents. Heterosexuality has many benefits for society.

    What benefits does homosexuality provide for the rest of us? None. Thanks to unnatural sex acts, we now have AIDS and so many other vile STD’s, a propensity of pornography, child molestation (don’t give me that crap about more heterosexuals being child molesters — that is propaganda distorting the true facts), a wave of youth calling themselves “transgender” and mutilating their bodies, and an assault on the traditional family which has served society so well. We now have an anti-family culture. A culture which calls for the destruction of traditional values, a culture which is waging all-out war on that which is natural, normative, beneficial and healthy.

    Darwin documented this well in primitive cultures — it is called “degeneration.” It is the opposite of evolution. It marks the decline of a civilization. What are we to do? What must be done — we must stamp out homosexuality. Because it is NOT genetic, homosexuality must be detected early in children, and conseuling and therapy given to ensure the child does not grow up to act on his or her unhealthy impulses. I said before I advocate the death penalty for gays, and I do. For individuals who will not relinquish their homosexual lifestyle and embrace a normal and healthy life, well, they have given up their right to life entirely and must be relieved of it, before they spread their disease further. I DO NOT advocate senseless murder, as in the case of Matthew Shepard, but safe, humane euthanasia carried out by trained medical professionals. This can be the only way to save America and our world.

    I’m sure I’m going to get all kinds of flames for this, but think about it. If you are gay, ask yourself: What have I taken from this world in order to pursue my lifestyle? And what have I given back? Most likely you have taken far more than you have contributed. Homosexuality is a disease, a virus that is bleeding our culture to death. Like any virus, it must be quarantined and eliminated. Someday in the future, mankind will look back on this time period as a cultural plague.

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