August 01, 2003

Enemies of the Future

It looks like the Republican Congress is seriously considering a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage forever.

I'm in favor of gay marriage for all the usual reasons.

I understand that when societies redefine "normal" there will be initial conservative opposition, and there will be reactionary opponents to the bitter (for them) end.

I don't expect Republicans to like it. But this ammendment business is indefensible.

Conservatives are going to lose this fight, and they know it. Opposition to gay marriage, which was recently overwhelming, is cratering. If gay marriage isn't stopped soon it will never be stopped. And so they want to freeze the debate right now while they still have a slim majority on their side.

That's cheating. It's like calling off a baseball game in the fourth inning, when your team happens to be ahead, and going home and calling it a victory.

Huh uh. Doesn't work that way, folks.

If the American majority later decides gay marriage is okay, it needs to be enacted into law. If it takes ten years, it takes ten years.

And if the majority of Americans want gay marriage in the year 2013, by what possible logic should it be prohibited because people thought it was a bad idea back in 2003?

Societies change. Norms shift. Cultures evolve. You can slow the process down, but you can't stop it.

A constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage is a declaration of war against the future.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2003 12:50 AM

Michael, if a marriage amendment is "cheating," then what of going to the courts rather than working through the democratic process? Isn't the gay movement "cheating" by asking gay marriage to be imposed by judicial fiat rather than waiting for society to evolve to support additional gay rights?

My view is that gay marriage is part of what John Rawls called a comprehensive conception of the good (CCG for short), and the government should not take sides with one party or another's CCG. Thus, I don't support the FMA since is it amounts to the imposition of a CCG in a destructive manner. But I also don't support what the gay movement wants to do, which is nationalize gay marriage by using an undemocratic judicial process.

Isn't the best alternative to the two extremes a law which says that states can have whatever marriage laws they want without imposing on one another (i.e. Hawaii can have gay marriage if it so chooses, but Montana doesn't have to honor those marriages until it votes to do so) while making some changes to the federal income tax code to end discrimination against "unmarried" couples?

Posted by: Matthew at August 1, 2003 01:17 AM

kinda like when the republicans couldn't believe that the general public didn't support their efforts to impeach bill clinton for BJ gate. i remember them poo pooing the polls that the general public said to drop it. i guess the right and left can be out of step with the center. i wish we had a center party.

Posted by: Captain Scarlet at August 1, 2003 01:33 AM


Inter-racial marriages were legalized by judicial fiat in 1967. Do you think that was wrong?

Inter-racial marriages would have been legalized eventually anyway, and there is a case to be made for wishing it happened that way.

But I don't think it would have been right to cause pain to racial minorities and those who love them just to make the bigots happy.

I have a good friend who is black, has a gay "marriage" with a white man, and has an adopted daughter.

I think about him when I read right-wing fulminations against everything he stands for and is. And I'll never side with them against him.

I don't mind an argument about process, although I think it's a bit of a distraction.

I think gay marriages should be legalized in all 50 states. I live in Portland, and part of our metro area spills over into Washington. Many people live in Washington and work in Oregon. The possibility of a person being married at home and not at work strikes me as ludicrous.

And what if a gay couple moves from one state to another? Are they suddenly not married anymore? What would conservatives who dislike divorce say about a marriage that could be dissolved simply by moving to a different suburb of Portland?

I think your argument about doing this state-by-state is a reasonble one, but I also think the real-world results would be absurd.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2003 01:39 AM

Michael, one of the problems with resorting to the Loving v. Virginia analogy is that there simply isn't the kind of cultural consensus on gay marriage that there was supporting interracial marriage. Virginia's laws were out of step with where the country was headed and reflected a legal vestige of the confederacy. But -- and I'm sorry to break this to you -- bans on gay marriage aren't out of touch with how the majority of people feel. As such, using courts to impose gay marriage in this way is "cheating" against the desires of people in the present just as using a constitutional amendment to ban it is "cheating" against people in the future.

That said, with regard to your hypothetical people in the future, unless you truly believe in a linear progression of thought, you should also admit that the people in the future might reverse their opinion of homosexuality just as easily as they might further liberalize it. And if the people in the future really felt strongly that gay marriage was a good thing to have, they could always amend the constitution again.

To continue on the main point, the basis on which the Supreme Court overturned the ban on interracial marriage is that it discriminated against people on the basis of who they essentially are. Now, if one is to argue that marriage should be expanded on the basis of who gays and lesbians basically are as a legitimate non-heterosexual identity, then there's no way to draw a distinction -- even though Andrew Sullivan and others wants to draw one -- between legalizing gay marriage and legalizing polyamorous marriage and legalizing incestuous marriage and so on on the basis that they, too, are legitimate identities.

Is this reductio ad absurdum? No. I would like to see gay marriage legalized in some form (civil unions), but the way the movement wants to go about things right now they are claiming that sexual identities are part of our essential natures like being white, black, male, female, etc. and thus gay rights should be advanced on those grounds. Conversely, I believe that gay rights should be advanced on Mills' libertarian harm principle, which says we should tolerate any behavior so long as it doesn't harm society. On libertarian harm grounds, you can have gay marriage but not necessarily polyamorous marriage. But on essentialist sexual identity grounds, you cannot prohibit any type of marriage. That's why I cannot support the gay rights movement in the marriage fight, because the precedents they set will be destructive.

Lastly, you say you would like to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Well, I would support this if it were democratically voted into law in all 50 states. But when only one-third or less of people support gay marriage (not civil unions, but out and out gay marriage), enacting a law to universally legalize gay marriage would be both illiberal and undemocratic, and makes your position little different from conservatives who want to universalize a ban on all abortion.

P.S. I would be in favor of ending all federal governmental discrimination against same-sex (or live-in) couples in the form of taxes, benefits, and rights, and perhaps even a constitutional amendment which requires states do the same thing. But I'm sticking to my guns on my belief that the government should not nationally enforce one cultural view over the other on the question of marriage and should instead let the democratic process work itself out.

Posted by: Matthew at August 1, 2003 02:45 AM

There is a bitter argument going on over at the Reason weblog Hit & Run (sorry, no permalinks, the post is titled Meet the New Boss . . .) on this very topic.

My point has been a purely practical one - that if the gay community tries to force the pace on acceptance of gay marriage by going the judicial fiat route, they run the risk of generating a backlash and creating the kind of bitter division in our politics that the Roe v. Wade created. It is two generations later, and Roe v. Wade still poisons our politics. I don't want to see a Joe v. Wade do the same to the gay community.

BTW, not that it matters for this argument, but I think the states should be allowed to set both abortion policy and marriage policy, and I think the better policy would recognize gay marriage and limited abortion rights.

Posted by: R C Dean at August 1, 2003 04:22 AM

I thinks this subject breaks down into two parts:

1. Religious unions recognized by the appropriate church

2. Civil unions recognized by the State

As far as religion is concerned it is the business of the Church on whether or not they will recognize a same sex marriage. Each religion will have to make a choice and then live with the results.

As far as a civil union is concerned it is not the business of the State to decide whether or not the union should be recognized. It is the business of the parties involved in the union. The State should be concerned with the civil functions that relate to that decision (i.e. taxes, insurance, enforcement of rights, etc.)

The reasons given for not recognizing same-sex marriages really boils down to religious beliefs. We should not allow the State to base the laws of our land on the religious beliefs of part of the citizens. Does the separation of Church and State ring a bell for anyone?

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 04:56 AM
Sorry but marriage exists for one reason: it is in the interest of society to have a legal cadre for the bringing and education of children. Society goes through the effort of maintaing this cadre and collateral benefits (like reduced taxes for married people, reduced succession taxes) because it is in its interest (married couples have more children than unmarried ones). There is zero usefulness for the society in extending the benefits of marriage when this does not bring additional children. Period.

And AFAIK even societies who had a real "pro-gay" culture, like the Dorian cities in ancient Greece, never extended marriage to gay couples. No social usefulness in doing it.

Posted by: JFM at August 1, 2003 06:06 AM

That's a pretty limited definition of marriage.

So if a man that is incapable of impregnating a woman and a woman that is incapable of being impregnated want to be married it should be outlawed since that union cannot produce offspring?

My wife who has had a hysterectomy should not legally be able to marry after I die an untimely death since she is now incapable of bearing offspring?

A man that had to have his testicles removed due to cancer cannot be married due to his inability to impregnate a woman?

Two woman, both capable off bearing children, decide to be artificially inseminated. Since the either or both can produce offspring shouldn't they be allowed to marry?

Where do you draw the line? All of the above examples come down to an unreasonable definition of marriage. The fact that you (and I) find same-sex relationships distateful or worse should not give you (or me) the right to impose your definition on others.

As far as social usefullness is concerned, why do you get to decide what is socially "useful"? Why is your opinion more appropriate than...

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 06:51 AM

Republicans are shouting into the storm. It's frankly not even worth discussing. Gay marriage and gay adoption will be accepted, in one form or another, within our lifetimes.

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die out, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." - Max Planck

I'm being patient and notworrying too much about it. The more we learn about couples like the one Michael described above, the closer we'll come. Eventually the tipping point will arrive, and the issue will be settled.

Even if Republicans today pass laws and/or amendments to limit "marriage" to a man and a woman, people will still come up with civil unions and all sorts of other things at the state level.

I'm really not worried. This is one of those historical inevitabilities that, as Michael said in his post, is only being delayed.

Captain Scarlet:

You can't have a center party, because a party requires a ideology to bind its members, create an agenda, and define a focus. That's (perhaps?) why Schwarzenegger isn't running for governor. He's a libertarian centrist. When it comes down to it, he basically believes, "Oh, whatever, let people do what they want." Politicians are not made of such attitudes. Leftists and Rightists are busy trying to control people. Centrists are busy trying to make a living. What can I tell you. :)

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at August 1, 2003 06:55 AM

There was a time when blacks could not marry each other - as slaves, they were likened to cattle. Cattle don't get married.

The whole theory of our democracy is majority rule with protection for minority rights. The courts largely do the latter part.

I very much doubt that you would get enough state ligislatures to ratify such an amendment. Only 12 states have to not say "yes." In those states, legislators simply have to prevent the amendment from going to a full vote. A determined and targeted effort among state legislators on the west and north east coasts will ensure that the thing never passes.

Just the same, the whole notion of a constitutional amendment serves as tacit admission that federal law effecting denial of marriage rights (which are granted by states, not the federal govt.) would be thrown out by the courts.

Posted by: Adam Sullivan at August 1, 2003 07:40 AM

I agree the Republicans are wasting their time and energy on a lost cause. They do so at their own peril with a national election next year. A fight for an Amendment against an extremely vocal minority will not help their reelection cause. While it probably would not threaten the Bush reelection is could certainly cost them the House and/or Senate.

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 08:00 AM

I would caution about such a flip attitude toward "conservatives" losing this one- it isn't a conservative/liberal issue. You push people too far with judicial tyranny and you'll get nothing but revolt. Many many good people are tolerant of gays but that does not translate to condoning or legitimising. And the gay activists that scream homophobia will find that to ultimately be a hollow and pointless vent. People are not homophobes if they don't accept that gay is normal, to suggest it is intellectual tyranny of the rankest sort. Isn't proven that homosexuality is nature vs nurture- which argues both ways, not just to the benefit of gays.

Setting that aside, the demand that gays be "married" is an affront to married heterosexuals. Why? Because we all feel that it is sacred union between a man and a woman. There is in fact no earthly reason why gays need to be "married" - if the issue is legitimate reconition of the partner's needs- hospitalisation authority, inheritance, propery rights, etc., that can all be accomplished by law and clearly by state law- not national. This is no more than a trojan horse to legitimize the concept of homosexuality in our society.

Posted by: Richard at August 1, 2003 08:10 AM

"the demand that gays be "married" is an affront to married heterosexuals. Why? Because we all feel that it is sacred union between a man and a woman."

We "all" feel? Speak for yourself. Plenty of married hets are in favor of gay marriage, and don't define it the way you do.

Posted by: Yehudit at August 1, 2003 08:18 AM

Extending marriage rights to gay people is the right thing to do. That said, I don't think that "It's eventually going to happen anyway" holds water legally or logically when it comes to the practical matter of passing legislation.

As far as I'm concerned, people can argue until they're blue in the faces and this judge can say yes and that one can say no, but altering the constitution to BAN gay marriages is, to be as blunt as possibly, effin stupid and remarkably hypocritical considering the conservatives are the ones who claim to be against such tampering. (Full disclosure: I'm a Republican)

Posted by: ken at August 1, 2003 08:24 AM

"...the demand that gays be "married" is an affront to married heterosexuals."

Why should the fact that someone else wants to be married be an affront to you? I have been in your "sacred union" for 27 years and it is not same-sex. Why wouldn't I want others to feel the same love and security I get from my marriage? Why do you not?

The State should butt out of this issue. "Marriage" should be not be about laws. It is about my telling someone else that I love them enough to shout to my God and to the world my devotion. What is the "earthly reason" that different-sex marriages are needed?

Perhaps your problem is that you are "married" to the idea that same-sex relationships are somehow wrong.

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 09:15 AM

And if the majority of Americans want gay marriage in the year 2013, by what possible logic should it be prohibited because people thought it was a bad idea back in 2003?

Let us rephrase that sentence:

And if the majority of Americans want 'TO PROHIBIT CRITICISM OF THE GOVERNMENT' in the year 2013, by what possible logic should it be prohibited because people thought it was a bad idea back in '1789'?

Laws are put into the constitution for a reason. This is not a argument to ban gay marriages, it's just an explanation of why your argument against an amendment isn't any good.

Posted by: Brandon at August 1, 2003 09:20 AM

I'm spotting a massive amount of what public opinion scholars call "false consensus" in this thread. As has been widely reported, there's been a serious decline in all measures of support for homosexuality in public opinion polls since the Lawrence decision:

And a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll suggest [sic] the Supreme Court ruling has prompted a backlash: The number of people who have endorsed the idea that homosexual relations should be legal has dropped from 60 percent to 48 percent since the ruling, and only 40 percent of Americans say they now would support civil unions for homosexuals.

This is not a losing issue for Republicans. It's telling that all three Dems who have endorsed gay marriage outright are true fringe candidates (Sharpton, white Sharpton, and female Sharpton respectively); even lefty darling Howard Dean hasn't gone that far. No matter what you--or I, for that matter--may want public opinion to be, it ain't going where we want it to.

Posted by: Chris Lawrence at August 1, 2003 10:08 AM

"I would be in favor of ending all federal governmental discrimination against same-sex (or live-in) couples in the form of taxes, benefits, and rights, and perhaps even a constitutional amendment which requires states do the same thing."

How about ending all federal & state government discrimination and/or BENEFITS based on marital or living status? In other words, why should single people receive fewer advantages and reduced benefits in comparison with married people? I see childrearing as a good worth subsidizing, but living arrangements involving adults in settings where no children reside?

Posted by: Ellie at August 1, 2003 10:20 AM

If you forced my peg into a hole you would probably find that a Republican hole would be a better fit than a Democrat hole. Except when it comes to changes to the Constitution.

Ken is correct on this. A change to the Constitution is not warranted for such a narrow subject. IMO there are a bunch of people out their that would feel the same way, regardless of how they feel about same-sex marriages.

I would fight against any Amendment that attempted to define "Marriage" if for no other reason than it smacks of the State defining my morals.

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 10:30 AM

Chris Lawrence's post makes sense, but only superficially. They may be some anti-gay public opinion backlash in recent months, but considering where we were only a decade ago, acceptance of all forms of gay rights have made trides and will continue to do so in the long haul. Virtually no progress on anything is made in a straight line. Why, of all things, would one expect it do be on issues of sexuality?

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at August 1, 2003 10:56 AM

The "sacred union" assertion implies that there is a divine power that should enter into our interpretation of law. Both Pat Robertson and Al Qaeda would very much like the world to operate under such a system. No thanks, count me out.

Churches have every right to not recognize civil marriages. The Catholic church does not recognize a marriage involving a non-Catholic. Pardon me - a non-practicing Catholic. Further, it does not recognize divorce. Annulments assert that the parties were never truly married (rendering children of such unions bastards from the perspective of the Church). That is all fine with me. I am a Catholic.

What is not fine (with me at least) is co-mingling of near universal law among churches with that of the federal government.

Andrew Sullivan posted an excerpt from a reader's email last night which is telling. A guy who was OK with lesbians having a "union" ceremony grew enraged as he watched the ceremony, admitting to himself that such a casual union undermined the integrity of his marriage.

If his church was conducting the ceremony, then he has a right to be enraged, should take it up with his church, and leave his church if he is still offended. But that was not the case.

From a different angle, if you had civil recognition of gay marriages, then gays would not make such commitments any more or less casually than straights. The combining of assets (more often debts) often forces people to try to make a marriage work rather than divorce. Why do you think marriage is such a big step for so many people? They just can't break up and move out. They have to see a judge, pay alimony and the rest. So even the "casual union" argument goes away when the marriage is recognized as a binding contract.

The point here is that we have two very different things - civil marriage and sanctified marriage. There is no way for the government (state or federal) to force churches to recognize gay marriage (or divorce, or mixed faith). Why have the opposite occur? It can't under the current constitution. If you don't like gays undermining the integrity of your marriage, move to a state that doesn't allow such. You have 49 to choose from.

Posted by: Adam Sullivan at August 1, 2003 11:11 AM

RickM said:
"The State should butt out of this issue. "Marriage" should be not be about laws. It is about my telling someone else that I love them enough to shout to my God and to the world my devotion. What is the "earthly reason" that different-sex marriages are needed?"

That's a good point. The State should keep out of the whole marriage business entirely. The only problem seeem to be about atheists who want to marry.

I don't understand your question: "what's the 'earthly reason' that different-sex marriages are needed?" A simple appeal to biology is all you need. The vast - and I do mean vast - majority of people take pleasure - at various levels - in the company of someone of the opposite sex. It's hard-wired into our systems. From about age 18 on, the underlying levels of our brains will turn our eyes toward an attractive member of the opposite sex. I think that's even why a majority of women voters voted for Clinton rather than Dole.

It's in the wiring, which is a reasonable approach for propagation of the species.

But like most other significant issues, it's not simple, and it will take a long time to work out the details. After all, Man has been around for somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 years. This issue isn't going to be settled in just a few years.

Posted by: Mike at August 1, 2003 12:39 PM

My question "what's the 'earthly reason' that different-sex marriages are needed?" refers back to Richard's statement that there was no earthly reason gay's needed marriage. I don't see marriage as a requirement to have children. Millions of them born every year without it. Marriage is about a union between individuals. It is about devotion and caring and dedication to someone other than yourself.

Posted by: RickM at August 1, 2003 01:44 PM

Roger, I'm not expecting a straight-line progression; opinion mobilizes in funny ways. But to assert that public opinion shows a "growing consensus" while ignoring evidence that Lawrence (the case) may have inadvertently set back that growing consensus by ten years shows a fundamental misunderstanding of where the public is on this issue. And the public, frankly, ain't buying it. And really they weren't before Lawrence either.

Even with the elites shoving mass opinion to accept racial equality (since the 1940s), for example, it took decades for the public to wholeheartedly embrace it (well into the 1970s). And the "gay rights" shove has essentially just begun in earnest.

So you can try to paint the Republicans (at least those "left" of Santorum) as fundamentally out-of-step with mass opinion, but the evidence just doesn't support that, and the public doesn't believe it either. Maybe next year, or in five years, or in thirty years they will be, but they aren't today. And neither are most of the Democrats (at least those "right" of Kucinich).

Actually, the dynamics of opinion on gay marriage etc. would make a fascinating study, and a perfect example of how opinion is often mobilized by emotional considerations.

Posted by: Chris Lawrence at August 1, 2003 03:29 PM

I'm a bit flummoxed, I thought you, Michael, could spell? What is this ammendment thing?

Further, so what, the idiotarion branch of the Republican party wants to place a constitutional amendment against gay marriage; the Senate will never pass it and the states will never ratify it.

I have to state that I'm ambiguous on the issue because I don't spend a lot of intellectual energy on things that don't affect me, but this seems a case where the idealogical/Christian wing of the party is charging off the cliff.

It's the old saying we have down in here in Texas about Baptists/Methodists; They are afraid that somewhere someone is having fun and they must be stopped!

Posted by: Jamie at August 1, 2003 08:12 PM

Goodness, I didn't spell amendment right.

Alas, I am but a flawed human. That's what I get for not using spellcheck...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 1, 2003 08:14 PM

I wasn't trying to be an ass; this time. You just did it twice and I thought I might be missing something.

You have my respect for your well thought out and well expressed views.

Posted by: Jamie at August 1, 2003 08:27 PM

(Apologies for the long entry. It's better to be exact than confusing.)

There is an element that has been missing from the discussion.

Has anyone checked on the latest demigraphics?

The Japanese Government gives money to women to have children. France and Germany have billboards advertising women to have children. In Westernized Countries, the birth rate has fallen below replacement levels. And those children already being born... more and more are bastards.

Europe is in full population decline. It is estimated that Europe may shrink by a third. A third! The world has not seen this since the Black Plague! Whatever is causing this population drain, it is equivalent to a plague and ought to be seen as one.

We are fortunate not to have seen a real war or devastating natural disaster. Yet, our population is shrinking. Why is the root of this?

Society is becoming more and more ignorant of sexuality.

Note that I did not say 'sex'. Males desperately want to feel like men and females want to feel like women. When societies become more androgenous, the more sex becomes prevalent, the more sex becomes enshrined.

To the women: haven't you noticed a complete disapearance of MEN?

To the men: haven't you noticed a complete disapearance of LADIES? The adults I see still act like adolescents.

And no one is asking, "In what context or origin did these laws on sex and society begin with?" (Have you noticed that no one is asking where these 'sex' laws came from. Rather, we are 'enlightened' and the ancients were just stupid. No inquiry is done on the origin.)

From what I can gather, sexuality extends to not just intercourse but all fruits from births, to families, to raising boys into men and girls into ladies, and so on. There was a melodic circle from one generation to the next. Why did societies do this? Obviously to extend the society. There was much interest within the following generation and the one after... etc.

A good barometer is the Catholic Church. As the oldest Western Institution, it has remained remarkably constant. Today, people's annoyance is with the church's stand on sexual issues. No one is demanding the Church change its position on sloth or gluttonry. This means the only 'change' has been our views (or lack of them) on sexuality.

The declining populations everywhere (which will become more prevalent as time passes) points to a breakdown of some kind. That breakdown, from what I can gather, is the increasing ignorance of sexuality.

Ignorance of sexuality? There is feminism and 'intellectuals' that attack both femininity and masculinity. Some do not believe there are any differences within the sexes.

I thought there were only two genders. At a UN Convention, there were FIVE (transexuals, gays, and another I believe).

Anyone with a family knows that families are work, probably the finest achievement of one's life since it lives on and surpasses you. In younger people, there is an anti-family persona. We get the same tired lines, "My ancestors were fools. I am a liberated person and see achievement only outside the family." Children are seen as an EXPENSE, something that spoils everyone's fun.

The point of all this is to show that sexuality is in a breakdown all over because we are placing our philosophies (be it political or whatever) over Nature's cycle. As we are finding, Nature stings back.

Some major writers have warned us of this. Houllebeq. Saul Bellow. And others.

When looked at events in this light, everything becomes clear. We already are inventing sexualtiies (latest one I heard was 'metrosexual'). One curious thing is the word 'homosexuality'. Gay acts have always existed but homosexuality is a modern word. How can homosexuality be a sexuality? It isn't. There are only two sexes, not three, five, or twenty.

Society is not an artificial combination of laws and texts. There is a natural thrust to it within all generations and is above our little philosophies.

A historian will record our time thusly: "Just as the Twentieth Century's problem was the ignornace of natural society for an articial society, with the horrors of Communism and Nazism trying to 'progress society', the Twenty-First Century's problem was the ignorance of sexuality and the notion that sexuality was artificial. Thus, like Communism and Nazism, came all these 'philosophies' whose result was severe population decline, bastardization, increase of androgenous, stagnant period in the arts (can the literature and art of today stand up to the classics of the past? No) and increase of internal suffering of those in that era. Those intellectuals, like in the Twentieth, who thought themselves so highly advanced, so wise, so enlightened, were actually twenty centuries behind the times.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 2, 2003 01:57 AM

Jamie (a bit OT): my observation of Methodists (at least United Methodists) is that by and large they are nowhere near as doctrinaire as Southern Baptists, and frankly could care less what people are doing in the privacy of their own homes; when the Tennessee UMC decided to come out against the lottery, most lay Methodists seemed to (a) not really care and (b) be somewhat surprised that the UMC would actually take a public position on the issue. I suppose the Southern Methodist Church might be different from the UMC, though. (Not sure which Bush is, but I think he's UMC; I do know he's a Methodist of some description.)

Posted by: Chris Lawrence at August 2, 2003 02:04 AM


Let me make sure I have this straight (yes, the pun was intended)...

If we legalize same-sex marraiges civilization is doomed?

Well shit, that changes everything!

Posted by: RickM at August 2, 2003 05:55 AM

Apparently, if they let gay people get married, then straight people will stop getting married for some reason.

Posted by: Mike Silverman at August 2, 2003 10:17 AM

Life's too short for this particular fight. I do hope the GOP drops this issue fast. They have less basis for this battle than they might in, say, fighting against sex-change operations.
The libertarian necessity wins every time-- because it is no one else's business.
Their arguments necessarily come down to religious, moral, cultural ones and not legal or societal ones. A plural polity is, as Messr. Totten says, inevitably going to allow it.

But it is interesting to note that Sen. H. R. Clinton told Chris Matthews on Hardball's college tour that she approved of civil unions but said marriage is a word that should be restricted to heterosexual relationships. Other Dems have said similar things.

Yet only the GOP is getting media heat.

note: RogerLSimon, I replied to you on "Barbarism" thread.

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 2, 2003 03:56 PM

Rick M,

I'm pointing out the issue is the increasing ignorance of sexuality. In fact, there is hostility even in acadamia about the differences between men and women.

For example, take the works of Shakespeare. These are immortal works. But Shakespeare's plays are just streaming with sexuality.

Take the Merchant of Venice. Why is Antonio sad? The reason is multi- but Antonio balks when others say he is in love. It is probably a disapointment of the affections that is part of the problem. So Antonio invested himself in his friendships (such as Bassanio) but Nature demands that such affection be blossomed into love with a women. Thus, Antonio is melancholy and almost suicidal.

In modern analysis, Antonio is 'gay'. Why? "Because he doesn't marry at the end." Modern Intellectuals come up with this thinking because they don't understand the currents of sexuality. Shakespeare keeps one person single to condemn. Remember the philosophical Jaques who thought himself 'brilliant' because of his philosphies but refused to understand Nature's role?

The Supreme Court, all the intellectuals, and activists are a bunch of Jaques. There are many Jaques today, thinking of 'progress' and such but everything they are saying is not new; it has all been said before.

We find Shakespeare making fun of these philosphers, lawyers, and politicians. "I will be flesh and blood! There was not yet a philospher that could endure the toothache patiently."

The discovery of rights and freedom and liberty and all that did not come from philosphers INVENTING things. Rather, they examined human nature. (Just look at the Declaration of Independence. The rights came from a proper examination of Nature. Thus, rights come not from courts or kings but from the laws of Nature.) Today, we are inventing sexualities rather than examining Nature's. This is the same flaw Communism, Nazism, etc. made. Remember, those many social systems last century all believed they were making 'progress'.

I am not saying that intellectuals today are as bad back then, but they are making the same exact 'intellectual' flaw.

There are many 'genuises' who put out manifestos and systems in recreating and progressing Mankind.

By rejecting all those systems, we embraced Nature's system, which we call 'Liberty'.

I say we ought to reject all these new intellectualized sexualities and embrace Nature's system, which is called 'Humanity'.

As brilliant as we think our philosphies are, Nature has the last say. If I am correct with the declining birthrates and unspiraling of sexuality, there will be much suffering in store for our youth and children.

Posted by: Jonathan at August 2, 2003 05:46 PM

Let me illustrate further:

Andrew Sullivan is posting a lot lately on Catholic teaching that impotence but not infertility makes the marriage null.

The reason is very simple: marriage is certainly about sexuality. This goes beyond procreation and fertility. If a man and woman marry, but the woman will not sleep or be with the man, then the marriage is nulled.

But Andrew is blind to sexuality. He is looking at it in the lens of Jaques. He'll never get it because, even if he played Hamlet and said these lines, he never believed them:

"There is more in Nature than every dreamed of in our philosphies."

Posted by: Jonathan at August 2, 2003 05:59 PM

Well, reflect on the fact that even after gay marriage is given imprimatur, it will be no more common than current relationships. It will just change the labels.

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 2, 2003 06:19 PM

After all commentary so far, I find there is little of value fo rme to add.

Now, it seems that I am rare being a conservative who supports same sex marriage, though not as rare as I thought, thanks to blogs and Andrew Sullivan's essay helped finalize the sale of the issue to me.

I would prefer that the legislature affirm same sex marriage than the judiciary, just because of the finality issue.

To go over abortion (and this has nothing to do with the never-ending debate), teh abortion laws have been varied throughout our history with it being legal in all 50 states to being illegal again and hwen Roe v Wade came about, many states were legalizing it, including California where tehn Governor Reagan signed a very liberal abortion bill into law. If Roe didn't occur it coudl eb very possible that by now abortion would be legal in most of teh country by way of state laws and in maybe a century that could all change, or not.

If Dredd Scott v Stanford went differently, it would have changed the issue of slavery, but the XIII Ammendment is a more final, exacting way of ending slavery in the Unietd States.

Now this new Amemndment being proposed could be a major problem if it becoems an Ammendment, and if that dark day eevr coems, let's hope it goes the way of the XVIII Ammendment. Now, a flip side is that this anti-gay marriage Ammendment cuts into the X Ammendment, which will hopefully generate conservtaive opposition to it and kill it. I hope the fact that thsi will diminish the X Ammendment will have some bearing on conservatives, well keyword is hope.

Posted by: Green Baron at August 3, 2003 03:30 AM

I do not oppose gay marriage (in fact, I voted No on the California DOMA Proposition a few years ago) but I do disagree with this argument for two reasons:

1) Saying that passing an amendment now, 'when there's a slim majority on their side' is "cheating" could also be said of just about any other law. Some group of people can always be found who are certain that their ideas will win out (why else would they believe them if not because they deem those ideas to be correct?) and that anyone who tries to prevent them from being enacted is "declaring war against the future.

We cannot predict the future and we don't know what the public will think on this topic in a decade or five. I believe you are right and that the public will come to widely accept gay marriage eventually. But that doesn't make legislating on the matter now "cheating." Like every other law that a large minority believes to be unwise that a slim majority promotes anyway, that's just how politics works. The fact that you and I might be in the large minorty on this one doesn't change that. Nor does the subject matter, I should add.

2) The Amendment process is not permanent, so no such ban would necessarily extend "forever." Myself, I doubt that this Amendment will even get passed - there's just no way it will garner 67 Senators' votes. I further doubt that the requisite number of States would ratify it if it did pass. I could be wrong on both counts, of course (all 6 of the Democrats running for President who actually have a chance to win the nomination say they oppose gay marriage, after all), but even if I am, the Amendment process is not ir-reversible. Witness Prohibition.

This Republican thinks this posturing by some of my fellow GOPers is a silly, counter-productive waste of time. I won't support it. But neither will I say that it would be "cheating."

Posted by: Dodd at August 3, 2003 09:17 AM

RickM replied:

"Marriage is about a union between individuals. It is about devotion and caring and dedication to someone other than yourself."

That's a good point. And I believe that it is the central notion of what marriage stands for. The ceremony of marriage is the public act by which the couple say to the world that they are married. It's one of the "rites of passage" (of which we have a lot fewer than other cultures). A couple of other rites of passage are college graduation - a public ceremony in which the graduates say to the world that they're ready to take on the world; graduation from medical school, after which they are allowed by society to "go cut 'em up", and graduation from law school, after which they can go sue 'em.

In the public proclamation, you're just saying to the world what you're doing, and that you're not hedging your bets. The institution of marriage just formalizes it.

Posted by: Mike at August 4, 2003 11:24 AM

Speaking about the Constitution, Artice IV says that "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.", and "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.".

So if one state allows it, all the others have to recognize it. And if one state disallows it, all the others have to do that, too.

But it seems that all this new fuss is moot (except for the fact that we all have such short memories):

President Clinton signed the federal DoMA in 1996.

Posted by: Mike at August 4, 2003 11:35 AM

So if one state allows it, all the others have to recognize it. And if one state disallows it, all the others have to do that, too.

That's not exactly what the FF&C clause means. It means that states must recognize a couple married by the laws of another state as a married couple, even if the first state doesn't allow that particular kind of marriage itself.

For example, if first cousins marry in a state where such marriages are legal, and travel to a state where they're not, they don't magically become unmarried for the duration of their visit. But the visited state doesn't have to allow such marriages and their home state doesn't have to outlaw them. FF&C means that states must recognize marriages performed under other states' laws as valid, not that the laws of all the states have to be the same.

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at August 5, 2003 06:22 PM

Having done extensive research into the FF&C Clause for an appellate brief on this issue just three years ago, I can tell you that, in fact, it is not a lock that the FF&C Clause would be applied to force a state to recognize an out-of-state gay marriage. The courts have long applied the Clause fully only in regard to the judicial instruments of other states (i.e., civil judgments from one state are binding in another). Other "official acts" are accorded widely variable degrees of deference, frankly (for instance, while drivers licenses are fully recognized everywhere, concealed carry permits are not - if the FF&C Clause meant to the judges what it appears to mean on its face, the latter would be treated the same as the former).

It's a lot more than can be adequately explained in a comment, but there are good legal arguments both ways (note, please, that a good legal argument is often a very different thing from a good argument; that's just how precedent works). This subject won't be settled until the Supreme Court rules on it (and it may not even be definitively settles then - they punt sometimes). My suspicion is that, by the time such a case made it up to them, they'd enforce the plain meaning of the FF&C Clause, but I wouldn't bet too heavily either way.

Posted by: Dodd at August 5, 2003 07:08 PM


I sympathize with you, but I think you are protesting too much.

Here's Article V of the U.S. Constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

That's a pretty high hurdle for getting the FMA ratified. The GOP is going to have to find 67 senators and 302 representatives to propose any such amendment, and then get 38 state legislatures to ratify it.

FMA is just posturing; the tide is moving against those who oppose gay marriage.

But at least the Republicans aren't trying to use the courts to manipulate the process.


Posted by: Matt Holbrook at August 7, 2003 11:45 AM


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