February 26, 2004

Required Reading

Read Sullivan now.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 04:19 PM
Comments

Thank you for directing me over there Michael.

The say Sullivan starts quoting people who know that "Senator Santorum wants to outlaw non-procreative sex" and that you start to consider that required reading is the day that both of you have lost your marbles.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 04:29 PM

AND YOUR READERS SHOULD READ THIS WRITTEN BY K. BURGESS-JACKSON. MICHAEL, YOU HAVE YET TO READ BUSH'S STAMENTS AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON.

The Coming War over Homosexual Marriage

A battle is not a war; a skirmish is not a battle; maneuvering of troops is not a skirmish. All we're seeing right now is maneuvering of troops in the coming war over homosexual marriage. Some conservatives, such as John McCain, are not convinced of the necessity of a constitutional amendment. This doesn't mean they won't eventually see the necessity. Nobody wants to amend the constitution unless it's necessary. It's possible (though unlikely) that no state will be forced to accept another state's homosexual marriages. But all that will change the moment a state supreme court or the United States Supreme Court rules that a homosexual marriage entered into in state A must be recognized in state B (or, if it's the United States Supreme Court doing the ruling, in every state). That's when the fun begins, for then, the only way to nullify such marriages is by constitutional amendment.

Homosexual activists such as Andrew Sullivan should not be misled by what is happening. Reluctance by conservatives now is not reluctance forever. Conservatives are waiting to see what transpires. What Sullivan should fervently hope is that no court forces homosexual marriage on an unwilling population. That will ensure amendment of the constitution to prevent homosexual marriage everywhere. Be careful what you ask for, Andrew. If you ask for too much, you may get nothing.

posted by Keith Burgess-Jackson 2/26/2004 03:19:21 PM

Posted by: Edgardo Barandiaran at February 26, 2004 04:30 PM

No offense to Mr. Sullivan, but the letter and the contents seem bogus to me. Perhaps some lawyers with a focus on Constitutional Law could provide a better analysis than I, but the notion of a single amendment addressing SSM altering Roe vs. Wade seems ludicrous to me. Debate the merits of SSM, fine, but if this is what I think it is, don't try and create conspiracy theories to justify your oppposition.

Posted by: FH at February 26, 2004 04:40 PM

Most of what I've read on this whole issue tends to assume that hell has frozen over and the ammendment will have that snowball's chance in hell. This is reactionary. I think it's time we saw some more pragmatism.

Posted by: Scott Janssens at February 26, 2004 04:43 PM

Roark,

Rick Santorum in his own words:

I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual.

...

We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose.

It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution.

...

The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 04:48 PM

Michael,

There is a hell of a lot of room between saying that Santorum does not like some sexual practices and saying he wants to prohibit all sex other than for procreation.

I think Santorum is a prude. Beyond that, I think he is a puritan. But putting words into his mouth is below both you and Sullivan and the fact that both of your have taken to doing it speaks to a larger problem with both of you.

Shape up. Lots of people depend on both of your for honest commentary. If we wanted conspiracy theories and paranoid political spin we would go to Democratic Underground or Free Republic. You are both above this and letting hysteria over the FMA cloud your judgement about what is and isn't responsible editorial is going to cost you readers and respect.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 04:59 PM

Michael, this is not about Rick Santorum and certainly is not about Andrew Sullivan. This is about Bush's statement. You have not read it. I want to know your views on Bush's statement and why he is wrong to ask people to decide how to define marriage. He's taking the risk of being rejected whatever the political cost. The question is who should decide the legal definition of marriage. I'm writing you from Chile and I can understand this from far away. Why is so difficult for you to address the issue?

Posted by: Edgardo Barandiaran at February 26, 2004 05:04 PM

Edgardo,

With all due respect, it is you are changing the subject on me.

I don't mind arguing about marriage. To answer your question, we all should either agree or compromise on the definition of marriage.

What I vigorously oppose is letting this argument get anywhere near the Constitution. It isn't the place for this sort of thing.

On a different note: Are you visiting Chile, or do you live there? My wife and I went down there last Christmas and we both enjoyed that trip more than any other we have ever taken.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 05:10 PM

I would like to take the time to reiterate my belief that Bush should have supported an Amendment that exempted marriage from the FFC clause. Far more sound, politically and consitutionally.

Posted by: FH at February 26, 2004 05:16 PM

"I would like to take the time to reiterate my belief that Bush should have supported an Amendment that exempted marriage from the FFC clause. Far more sound, politically and consitutionally. "

I agree. I think the FMA will evolve into this - probably in pretty short order. There was a certain amount of political posturing involved in Bush getting behind the FMA. His immigration reform had distanced conservatives from him and his spending habits have been getting on their nerves. All in all, his support of the "unnamed FMA", is just a way to slam on the brakes in California, draw attention to the issue, pander to the right a little and set out the outside conservative position.

I do have to say that I would be a little afraid of messing with FFC for the good of the nation and Sullivan's quoted law professor would probably have hysterical fits over that as well. In that case, I think his slippery slope argument might resound a little more solidly.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 05:37 PM

Michael,

Sorry but I have not changed the subject. Last Tuesday you wrote on "Bush and Gay Marriage" the following

Well, he did it. George W. Bush decided it's a good idea to use the U.S. Consitution to deny freedom to American citizens.

and then you promised to discuss his statement, but for some reason (as many others with different political inclinations), then you decided to discuss something else.

I understand if you don't want to discuss Bush's statement, but then I hope your readers understand you're not discussing it but your views on gay marriage, a different issue.

I'm an economist with some knowledge of legal and political systems, and I may be wrong but I know that someone must decide some issues. You can argue a lot about the legal definition of marriage, but one is needed. Please tell me who should decide that?; Congress? The Supreme Court? The States separately? Please tell me if you are ready to accept the same decision body to take the responsibility for some other legal decisions; which ones?. Also, do you think that a constitutional reform is not part of the democratic decision-making process? Do you agree with K. Burgess-Jackson's views on this issue?

I don't want to impose on you a discussion that you have not chosen, but at least make clear to your readers that there are moral and legal issues that should be separated. Bush made clear his moral position on the definition of marriage, but his statement was about the political process that should decide the legal definition; moreover, his moral position is irrelevant because of the complexity of any process to decide the legal definition!

I've been living in Chile for the past five years, but I'm from Argentina and lived in several countries before returning to Chile for a second time(I got my Ph.D. in Minnesota). I'm glad to hear that you and your wife enjoyed your visit to Chile. If you visit again, please let me know.

Posted by: Edgardo Barandiaran at February 26, 2004 05:50 PM

MJT,

That looks like one of Moby's hoaxes to me. Here is a better read:

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=3390

Teaser quote:

Many contemporary leftists, especially Marxist-inspired feminists, would concur with the sentiments of Engels and Kollontai. Indeed, many have taken up where their 19th century forbears left off. Gloria Steinem, the famous celebrity feminist, once declared, “We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage…By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God…We must understand what we are attempting is a revolution, not a public relations movement.”

Make no mistake. Gay "marriage" is a continuation of the socialist assault on marriage.

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 06:58 PM

But HA, those freaks also support having a public school system. I support this, too, but this shouldn't make me feel like I'm one of those freaks. You're assuming that gay marriage will damage the family. There's no evidence for that. I'll fight the freaks tooth and nail to shut down their attempt to destroy conservative values. But I see support of homosexual marriage as conservative of such values on long-term commitment, promise-keeping, and domestic solidarity. The gay activists who hate the traditional family, and all those other nihilists, can go get bent, and while it's no fun to be on their side on any issue, these sociopaths also supported women's sufferage and interracial marriage because it helped their moronic cause. It's just one of those things and doesn't bother me in the least. They are a laughing stock on Main Street and I have a feeling they will be only a memory in a couple of decades, especially as their sophistic intelligentsia will be retiring from the university faculties soon.

Edgardo, who gets to decide whether blacks and whites can marry? The Court? Congress?

Posted by: Jim at February 26, 2004 07:31 PM

HA: Gay "marriage" is a continuation of the socialist assault on marriage.

Horseshit. My gay friends who want to get married aren't socialists any more than you or I are. I don't care what a twit like Gloria Steinem believed back in the 60s.

Everything is the socialist boogeyman to you. Keep crying wolf and no one will listen when you say that Cuba is socialist.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 07:38 PM

The right to privacy was "made up" in Griswold. Emanations and penumbras, sheesh. THIS is the topic we should debate. Do we want to enshrine a right to privacy in the Constitution, or is it OK for judges to make things up? (I like the outcome of Griswold, but if we accept that? How do we prevent a step by the court we don't like?) More ammendments please!

Posted by: spc67 at February 26, 2004 07:44 PM

re Horseshit. My gay friends aren't socialists either. They also are not leading any assualt at all. That does not mean that that there are no socialists who wish to undermine marriage - gay or otherwise.

Posted by: SM at February 26, 2004 09:53 PM

SM: That does not mean that that there are no socialists who wish to undermine marriage - gay or otherwise.

As if letting gays get married will undermine marriage in the first place.

Ancient Sparta really did attack the family. It did so on purpose. Men were segregated from women (in military barracks) very deliberately. This is because the family was seen as distracting men from their primary task of fighting for Sparta. (See Civilization and Its Enemies by Tech Central Station columnist Lee Harris.)

That's the sort of thing you need to do if you're going to seriously attack the family. You need to break families up.

Encouraging people to create stable families is exactly the opposite of what the Spartans did. If some socialist twit thinks gay marriage will undermine families, they haven't thought their strategy through very well. They need to read more history and learn how to apply themselves better.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 10:14 PM

Back to the topic on the post itself. I’ve read comments earlier debunking the validity of Sullivan’s printed e-mail but can I please have a proper rebuttal of ? Is there anyone who has a firm grasp of constitutional law able to state why the following argument is incorrect?

“By including a provision regulating the most intimate of relationships into the Constitution, the traditional analysis that the court has used to limit government power will be fundamentally changed and the right to privacy, if it is not destroyed completely, will be severely curtailed. As a result, decisions like Roe v. Wade, (Abortion), Griswold v. Connecticut (Birth Control), Lawrence v. Texas (Private Sexual Acts), will all be fair game for re-analysis under this new jurisprudential regime as the Constitutional foundation for those decisions will have been altered.”

Jean

Posted by: Jean at February 26, 2004 10:43 PM

I'm not an expert on constitutional law but I have taken a few classes on the subject and I think Sullivan's analysis is off the mark.

If the Supreme Court were looking to interpret the right of privacy out of existence, it would hardly need an amendment to do so. As Andrew's anonymous "Republican" lawyer points out, privacy is nowhere expressly acknowledged as a discrete right in the Constitution. Rather, the Court has said, it exists by implication in various provisions of the first ten amendments. That being so, if a conservative majority wanted to get rid of it so that jack-booted thugs wearing Ken Starr masks could break into your bedroom and bludgeon your penis with batons (or whatever other cartoonish nightmare scenario Sully's imagining), all they'd have to do is say "If it ain't in the document, it don't exist" and that'd be that.

But the Court hasn't done that. On the contrary, as the number of Republican appointees has increased over the past 20 years, so, paradoxically, has the Court's support for gay rights. The state of the law until 1996 was that the right of privacy didn't extend so far as to protect the right of homosexuals to engage in sodomy. (This was decided in the infamous Bowers v. Hardwick case.) Then, in 1996, in Romer v. Evans, the Court decided that a Colorado referendum permitting discrimination against gays in matters such as housing, etc., violated the Equal Protection Clause. That was significant for two reasons. First, it established (or at least strongly implied) that laws which single out gays for special burdens merit the same kind of scrutiny under the Fourteenth Amendment as laws which do the same for racial minorities. And second, the case was decided by a clear majority of 6 to 3, not 5 to 4. Not only that, but three of those six votes came from Republican appointees (Kennedy, Souter and O'Connor), with Kennedy authoring the majority opinion. Hardly a coup by the Court's liberal wing. This set the stage for last year's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which finally overruled Bowers v. Hardwick and established that the right of privacy does extend to gay sexual conduct and that state sodomy laws are, accordingly, unconstitutional. Again the vote was 6 to 3.

The point, then, is that not only hasn't the Court's conservative majority used its numerical advantage to attack the unwritten right of privacy, it's actually gone quite a ways toward expanding that right as it applies to gays. Nor has the Court wanted for cases through which to make its feelings on privacy known. It had a golden opportunity to overrule Roe v. Wade in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it declined to do so. Everything was in the right-wing's favor: Republicans David Souter and Clarence Thomas had just been appointed to replace liberals William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, respectively, so social conservatives thought they finally had the votes to get rid of Roe--perhaps by a margin as great as 6 to 3. They lost, 5 to 4. Souter co-wrote the plurality opinion with fellow Republicans Kennedy and O'Connor affirming Roe on the grounds that the Court shouldn't upset settled law except in the most dire circumstances. (Curiously, this reasoning didn't seem to matter so much in Lawrence vis-a-vis overruling Bowers.)

Given this recent history, I'm baffled as to why Sullivan's anonymous "Republican" attorney (who, needless to say, I doubt is really a Republican) thinks the Court will seize upon a constitutional marriage amendment and wield it as some kind of interpretive sword to destroy the very rights it's been working so hard over the past ten years to create. If anything, I'd expect the Court in its current incarnation to construe the amendment as narrowly as possible to preserve those rights. I'm equally baffled as to why Sullivan continues to portray the gay marriage debate as a battle with the religious right. Can he really not conceive of the fact that many people have an objection to the amendment on moral, not religious, grounds? John Hawkins, for example, has expressed his contempt for the Pat Robertsons of the world many times, yet he supports the amendment. And before anyone tells me that we shouldn't be in the business of legislating morality, I'll simply pass along to you what my con law professor said to me when I raised that objection with him a few years ago: What about anti-discrimination laws?

The truth is, I'm not so baffled about Sully's or his attorney/reader's motives here. I understand that he feels passionately about this issue. If I were in his position, I'd feel passionately too. But it's precisely because of his passion that I'd recommend taking his doomsday rhetoric with a grain of salt. He's in a political fight here, and one of the best ways to win a political fight is to demonize your opponent and drum up hysteria about what'll happen if your side loses. Jerry Falwell and his ilk use the same tactics, screeching constantly about how "the queers is comin' to gitcha!" So too with Sully's use of Robert Bork and Rick Santorum as boogeymen. So too with his night sweats about constitutional armageddon, replete with absurdly ominous comments about how we straights "are next." (How long before he busts out the Niemoller quote?) Let's everyone just relax and dial it down a bit, okay?

Posted by: Allah at February 26, 2004 11:40 PM

Duh. When I wrote

Can he really not conceive of the fact that many people have an objection to the amendment on moral, not religious, grounds?

I meant to say

Can he really not conceive of the fact that many people have an objection to gay marriage on moral, not religious, grounds?
Posted by: Allah at February 26, 2004 11:48 PM

Michael: also, ancient Sparta was a society that practiced infanticide. Children who were born disabled or not healthy were killed. The healthy ones were taken away from families at age 7 to become warriors. That's another pretty good indicator of a specific totalitarian state interference on families that hasn't got much to do with gays... (or socialists even).

Encouraging people to create stable families is exactly the opposite of what the Spartans did

Indeed. I don't get how that is so difficult for some to understand.

Posted by: ginger at February 27, 2004 12:37 AM

I don't quite understand the strictly legal ramifications of the constitutional amendment proposal, but I also tend to agree with Allah here. The letter published by Sullivan does sound a bit too much like doomsday preaching. I think that imagining the state would take away privacy rights or rewrite abortion laws or even infringe on consensual sex really sounds paranoid.

It seems all a lot simpler to me. Bush is both religious conservative and pragmatic and campaigning for re-election. He's convinced marriage should not be granted to gays, and he's also using this proposal to strengthen consensus among conservatives and to force his opponents to come out openly on this issue, which is going to be troubling for them.

None of this is very elegant, but it's still a very smart move from his point of view. And in any case, I highly doubt the ban will pass, and even if it did, I very much doubt it can have far-reaching effects beyond those intended.

I may be wrong, but that's my impression.

Posted by: ginger at February 27, 2004 12:44 AM

Gay marriage IS a significant battle in the culture war. The nuclear family of man+ woman+ children is considered by virtually all conservatives, and even most liberals and many Leftists, as the true building block of civilization.

The ideal nuclear family.

That idealized family is alone on a pedestal -- which ideal is frequently met (many marriages last until one dies), but all too often fails. Infidelity; Divorce; wife-beating (and husband-beating); mental & verbal abuse of spouses, and children.

There ARE, today, injustices in gay lovers trying to make contracts to duplicate marriage-benefits/ legal rights with respect to property and especially medical care. One excellent likely outcome of this culture war gay marriage battle is the end of THOSE injustices, where explicit contractual/ agreements really do take precedence over parental or sibling assumed rights.

But accepting gay marriage as equal to straight marriage destroys the ideal of the nuclear family. And many advocates for gay marriage know this, and want that ideal destroyed.

(Just like Iranian commies wanted to get rid of the Shah in the late 70s. Destroyers aren't always happy with what replaces what is destroyed.)

The biggest destructive influence against marriage is male promiscuity. It is truly unclear if gay marriage will reduce gay promiscuity. Sullivan's passionate arguments notwithstanding, I flatly believe accepting gay marriage increases promiscuity; he believes otherwise; it's not very testable.

What IS testable is the number of young gay men who are not infected with HIV, and who get infected. That seems fairly high; and if AIDs fear doesn't reduce promiscuity, I don't believe marriage will either.

And yes, I'm sure this is seen by the Religious Right as a slippery slope possibility in the other direction -- this can also be phrased as a direction reversal of a pendulum swing. Just as the end to partial birth abortion was part of the pendulum swing.

In the long 162 comments a couple days ago, slippery slope of gay marriage was poorly served with goats & chickens (though funny).

If gays can get married, there will be no good reason to stop two sisters or two brothers from having same sex marriage. I truly find it inconceivable that "some" gay marriages will be legally accepted, but brothers or sisters won't.

And if two brothers can marry, why can't a brother marry a sister?

There's already the difficult issue, I don't know how it's resolved, of two mentally retarded people wanting to marry each other, and wanting to have children. I think it was allowed -- and I don't think it's good, but I think the state stopping it is worse. (A common libertarian conclusion.) Judges should not be redefining marriage, as has been, wrongly, done.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 27, 2004 01:11 AM

Tom Grey: But accepting gay marriage as equal to straight marriage destroys the ideal of the nuclear family.

Only if you could otherwise force gay people to marry members of the opposite sex. Which you can't. So it isn't even relevant.

There will be no decrease whatsoever in the number of heterosexual marriages. If my gay friend Ezra marries his boyfriend it will not affect your family or mine.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 27, 2004 01:32 AM

There ARE, today, injustices in gay lovers trying to make contracts to duplicate marriage-benefits/ legal rights with respect to property and especially medical care. One excellent likely outcome of this culture war gay marriage battle is the end of THOSE injustices, where explicit contractual/ agreements really do take precedence over parental or sibling assumed rights. But accepting gay marriage as equal to straight marriage destroys the ideal of the nuclear family.

I can follow this far, and can understand that sentiment, especially in regard to the issue of raising children. I do think it can be a legitimate and valid position, if expressed in rather reasonable terms as above, more or less.

Where I stop following and understanding is here:

If gays can get married, there will be no good reason to stop two sisters or two brothers from having same sex marriage.

I promise to be patient, but please, can someone explain in rational terms once and for all what would be the logic behind that bizarre theory that gay marriages would bring about incestuous marriages?

Also, on male promiscuity. Or AIDS. AS if those were not already affecting non-gay males as well? Those are all individual variables in any couples, in any marriages. Male promiscuity exists even among heterosexual men, be they married or not. Ditto for women! But usually, when someone wants to get married so badly, they'll have put promiscuity behind them at that stage, don't you think? Or is there some kind of assumptions that all gays tend to be more promiscuous than heterosexuals? And even if that was the case, so what?

Promiscuity alone is not what "destroys" marriage. The institution of marriage survives even despite all the individual cases where a marriage is "faulty" or has become only pretence, or there is abuse or promiscuity or whatever.

Even sticking to existing traditional man-woman marriage, the law doesn't decide who can get married and who can't based on their character or history. Any couple can get married. What they do with it is not the state's business.

Posted by: ginger at February 27, 2004 04:01 AM

Thanks allah for taking the time to clear that up and ginger for your input. I appreciate the thorough response. Yes, the anonymous e-mail does set a frightening tone, but then the topic we are dealing with is a hot button issue and emotions run high.

allah:
I want to question your argument in regards to the ban on "moral" grounds. Even after I read your subsequent statement regarding your professor’s response, I'm slightly unsatisfied. How about progressive morality? From my understanding anti-discrimination laws were meant to right a wrong. As are most laws made in regards to morality. The argument being discrimination is unjust/bad. The only instance that comes to mind where the law has stated something formerly acceptable as illegal is prohibition. In this current issue, what are the unjust factors that must be resolved?

Posted by: jean at February 27, 2004 05:46 AM

Let's not forget that we are talking only about the extreem far right fringe, 50-60% of the adult population. Not the senisible center of the gay-left and 2-3 bloggers.

I think it is telling that NOT ONE SINGLE POSTER could answer my challenge that if marriage is based on freedom between consenting adults, what is the rational basis to LIMITING the freedom of couples that want group-marraige or incestous marriage, institutions that are PROVEN in many culture, past and existing, to be more stable than unproven gay-"marriage"?

Nope, all I got was ad hominem, cultural/racial bigotry -- and vague, authoritarian indications of "the states need" which violates the very premise!

No this isn't about reason, freedom, civil rights anymore than it is about democracy and rule of law, which are being pissed on.

It is about HYPOCRACY, pet causes and POWER grabs and intelletual bullying. Why? Because Micheal et al wants to get friends what they want, despite what anyone else thinks. And despite the law. The first steps to dictatorship!

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 05:47 AM

Allah, thank you for that essay.

Allah u Akbar and Jeff!

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 06:17 AM

Tom Grey,

The slope does not exist:

Gay couplehood does not by its nature tend towards misery.

Polygamy and incest, by their nature and ours, tend towards miseries of various kinds.

The slope argument against gay marriage assumes that there is something wrong with polygamy and incest, something wrong that we know about. The slope argument thus answers itself. It says, "Okay, gay marriage, but then what's to stop us form permitting kinds of marriages that we know are bad ideas?" Well, what's to stop us is that we know they are bad ideas.

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 06:34 AM

>>Polygamy and incest, by their nature and ours, tend towards miseries of various kinds.

Untrue historically and in other cultures and completely unscientific, culturally biased and irrational. How very authoritarian of you to press your reactionary beliefs into the bedrooms of conscenting adults.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 06:55 AM

Jim, Ginger
I promise to be patient, but please, can someone explain in rational terms once and for all what would be the logic behind that bizarre theory that gay marriages would bring about incestuous marriages?

I'm incredulous that you don't see two gay brothers wanting to get married as an obvious step.

The reason adult incest is not allowed is the higher likelihood of problems with any children born. That's it. Incest is illegal to reduce problems with children.
(Does Jim have any other misery?)

So, logically, this proscription against marriage because of the issue of children, does NOT apply to two gay brothers who want to get married. Today, they can't get married because no gays can get married. But once,
1) Gays get married, then
2) Gay brothers get married, since there can be no children -- or else their rights to a loving relationship are denied for the sake of impossible children. And then,
3) Brother marries sister -- or else discrimination AGAINST heteros is acceptable.

You call this bizarre logic? Do you really not see the injustice of allowing a gay to marry a friend, but not allowing a gay to marry his brother?

Jim, polygamy would (should?) still exist in the US, except the USA made the Mormon religion change. Pretty clear violation of the separation of church & state, wouldn't you say?

The purpose of gay marriage is to allow the atheists to be (even MORE) intolerant to Christians, and to deny their belief that homosexual behavior is sinful (as is adultery, or BJs in the WH). Already many gov't schools explicitly punish Christian children, with teacher scorn if not worse, who try to live in accordance with their beliefs, for instance by praying.

Polygamy DOES result in children, and in that sense it is much more normal than gay marriage; and historical, even biblical. What stops polygamy is the definition of marriage: one man to one woman.

Michael, I sympathize with your friend Ezra, and hope he and his lover live long, happy, committed lives (& you and Shelly, too). I'm sad to think of him as a sinner; but I, too, am a sinner -- as are we all who are not saints.

My father, too, was a very sinful, cheating, multiply married & divorced selfish guy, the son of my married til death grandparents. The grandparents were in an example of close to the ideal. Each of my father's failures could have been a success, a matching of the ideal. Ezra and his lover can never be that ideal -- and it really bothers me that (some) gays want to destroy the ideal.

You say this ideal is destroyed
Only if you could otherwise force gay people to marry members of the opposite sex. Which you can't. So it isn't even relevant.

I'm sorry I can't communicate better. Your comment makes no sense to me, it's not addressing what I'm trying to talk about. I have no interest in forcing anybody to do anything.

I have an ideal of marriage: man+woman, for life, with fidelity; for the purpose of accepting children if they come (birth control is OK, abortion is always worse than adoption).

The social status of this marriage ideal is partly, maybe mostly but certainly partly, the acceptance of the children coming into the nuclear family.

Elevating gay coupling, even life-long commitment with fidelity, to the status of marriage destroys my marriage ideal. My dream. My hope, for my own life and for my kids. And I'm repeating myself and thinking you're still unlikely to understand.

Super Chicken was on with George of the Jungle and Tom Slick. I (mis) remember the first line being:
When you're in a lot of danger
...
When it looks like he will miss or overlook it,
Besides you knew the job was dangerous when you took it (puk puaack) ...

(The Super Chicken song I would sing to my kids when bathing them and cleaning their poopy diapers)
This middle line has become a joke in our house, despite my Slovak wife never having seen the cartoon. There's a live version of George of the Jungle, with a greeeeat fast wind distorting the face while he didn't quite (watch out for that tree). It was on, in Slovak, on Monday.
http://www.outpostsound.com/CartoonLyrics1.html

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 27, 2004 10:12 AM

Tom,

1) Gays get married, then
2) Gay brothers get married, since there can be no children -- or else their rights to a loving relationship are denied for the sake of impossible children.

1 does not follow from 2. The reason is because the state does not care if a marriage produces children or not. I'm married and will not have children. The state doesn't even know that fact, let alone care about it.

Gay brothers will not be able to marry because siblings are already not allowed to marry. And no one wants to change that law.

You could probably find some crackpot fool who would like to change it, but society at large will never tolerate it. Gay relationships are tolerated already, but incestuous relationships, married or otherwise, are taboo and will remain so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 27, 2004 10:37 AM

Tom:

Barren incestuous marriages: Never heard of it. Too insignificant a concern to worry about. If that's all you have, then my reply to the slope argument stands. Nevertheless, I think you can see that encouraging such marriage will reduce the barrier between us and the miseries of incest. The taboo against incest isn't fine-grained enough to countenance any exceptions.

Pretty clear violation of the separation of church & state, wouldn't you say?
No. Neither does our refusing to sanction adult-child marriages or to encourage human sacrifice.

Elevating gay coupling, even life-long commitment with fidelity, to the status of marriage destroys my marriage ideal. My dream. My hope, for my own life and for my kids.

Some people felt that way about black-white marriages. Feelings don't matter. Only reasons do.

Polygamy DOES result in children....
So does rape.

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 10:46 AM

Mr. Totten: Right now 50-60% of the population does not want to change the law to let gays marry.

But you already said it is about freedom between consenting adults, not democracy.

Suddenly you are talking about what society wants (without a vote to back it up) and trying to set artificial limits on taboos.

Let the flip-flopping begin again.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 10:48 AM

Oops, I accidentally italicized one of my replies to you, Tom:

"No. Neither does our refusing to sanction adult-child marriages or to encourage human sacrifice."

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 10:48 AM

From Tom Grey's post:

"When it looks like he will miss or overlook it,
Besides you knew the job was dangerous when you took it (puk puaack) ..."

Gads...someone who's watched more cartoons than me...and a Jay Ward fan no less....this is scary

;)

....now, if I could only find a way to work a "Roger Ramjet" quote in here........

Joe

Seriously though, I'm kinda seeing an attempt to put gay marriage, polygamy, incest, etc. into a "package deal". However, no one has really given a compelling reason (to me anyway) as to why I should think of it that way. I see them as separte issues that have separate implications to be addressed. I'm also hard pressed to understand how any number of gay marriages will effect a traditional marriage. The marriage between my wife and I is independant of any other marriage, let alone a gay one. Then again, I don't claim to be particularly up-to-speed on all the intracacies of this issue.

Bottom line is, it would seem that the issue of gay marriage should stand or fall on it's own merits. If you wan't to make the case that gays should not get married, then make the argument. Don't come at me with incest is bad - therefore, gay marriage is bad or sexual relations with chickens is bad - therefore gay marriage is bad. To me, those arguments are just noise, no different than me posting the 1st verse of the Super Chicken theme song.

In fact, let me get you started; Gay marriage is a bad idea because.....

Posted by: Joe at February 27, 2004 10:52 AM

Joe, I think the slippery slope argument needs to be address; it's not just a fallacy. Liberalization has inertia and can keep going farther than we like. We better know beforehand where and why to put on the brakes. You going to trust Congress to encourage pot smoking when you know they haven't a clue as to where to draw the line in the heroin and LSD neck of the woods?

I bought my son the entire first season of Speed Racer.

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 11:20 AM

From Jim's Post:

"I bought my son the entire first season of Speed Racer."

Know where I can find "Beany and Cecil" for my kid?

Joe

Posted by: Joe at February 27, 2004 11:35 AM

Jim,

If you read the comments on this website the last few days, I think you'll see that the slippery-slope argument has indeed been addressed. The problem with the slippery-slope argument is that it fails to explain why the initial step must inexorably lead to further steps down the road.

Let me give you a concrete example. The voting age used to be 21 years old, but it was later lowered to 18. If, while this change was being debated, would a persuasive argument have been, "Sure, we can lower it to 18, but what's to stop it from later being lowered to 16, or 14, or 10, or even 1?"

In other words, just because a change is made to something, it by no means follows that further changes must be made, or are even likely to be made. If, down the line, a further proposal is made, it will be debated just like the present proposal, during which arguments for and against will be presented.

By the way, I appreciate the civility of your comment (seriously).

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 11:59 AM

Marriage as a legal institution was created and serves one purpose alone, establishing property rights. And marriage as a religious institution serves another purpose, establishing tribal/community bonds, establishing who is in the group.

In fact, "marriage" was long too expensive a proposition for non-nobles or non-clergy (protestants). Therefore Anglo-American communities have long recognized "common law" marriages or voluntary, nonceremonial unions between heterosexual couples. And we have long accepted the cohabitation of two spinsters, two widows, two brothers, etc.

Today's debate is not about "defending marriage", it is about legalizing discrimination against gay people. All these legal gambits have always been about this. Measure 9 and the OCA in Oregon made this quite obvious back in the 90's. And, in Oregon at least, they were soundly rejected.

You can quote statistics all day long and prove first one point and then another. But with out context these stats are less than worthless. So, here is your context... although most polls still put about 55-60% of Americans against gay marriage, that stat has been consistently slipping ever since the polls began... from a high of 80% in the 70's down to a low of 50% in the late 90's. This suggests that this statistic, far from proving that Conservatives are "right" on this issue, in fact reflects the rather obvious fact that the Left won the culture wars back in the 70's, and progressive and liberal tolerance is winning, neigh is the established moral rule in our society today.

People just need some time to get their heads around the idea that the anti-discrimination and pro-diversity mores they accepted as hippies extends all the way to accepting both Conservatives and gay people... that is, a Berkley professor needs to allow a right wing nut job to have his say and then he needs to smile when the two male bartenders exchange wedding vows, because the ideological system that he signed on to back in the day leads logically to accepting both these groups and actions, no matter his own tastes.

Here's another nugget. We have the medical ability today to either sterilize a person or to pick and choose ovum and sperm, or even to create these cells in the pattern that we desire, such that worries about inbreeding are no longer valid. Meanwhile, as noted above, same sex siblings do not have this concern at all. Therefore what, really, should concern the State about sibling unions, gay or straight? Or that of cousins?

Truly the only criteria that the State has any business legislating on, within the institution of marriage, is that of consent... the two people must be of adult age and intellectual capacity. Meanwhile, your various religious groups should be left free to accept, decline, or restrict their sanctification of marriage as they wish.

The great thing about the US is that we have a separation of church and state... in most things, except this one... marriage. We ought to clear up this debate once and for all, all right, we ought to get the State completely out of the bedroom. So, I'm for a marriage amendment all right: "The State shall pass no law either establishing or abridging the free union of two citizens in the institution of marriage, nor shall it force any religious institution to either accept or deny consecrating such vows." I call it the Freedom Of Marriage Clause.

Again, it cant be said enough... allowing committed gay couples to "marry" threatens the institution of marriage for straight religious conservatives not one iota. Now... Brittney Spears getting married in Vegas as a joke... THAT threatens their precious vows much more.

Oh, and for those confused about the "Right To Privacy", please read the entry on the Ninth Amendment in Findlaw: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." And the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This is what gives us all the "right to privacy", the fact that the government must be GRANTED authority over your personal life and liberty, your daily actions, and your "lifestyle" or otherwise IT HAS NONE. What the Bushies are asking for is that you expressly grant them this authority, in the guise of “defending marriage”. What the Scully letter writter is worried about is that this is a "foot in the door" that weakens the "pnenumbration of privacy". It might seem preposterous today... but maybe not so after it passes.

As any good State's Rights Libertarian would tell you: don’t give to the Fed's what they don’t need; keep as many of these issues with the boundaries of your state, your county, or your parish - if not your own homes.

Posted by: sean at February 27, 2004 12:29 PM

>>In other words, just because a change is made to something, it by no means follows that further changes must be made

Indeed, especially if you are a wishy-washy hypocrite willing to wave a flag of some value to get what you want, then throw it in the dirt when you are through.

E.g. Freedom for consenting adults to do what they wish...but not if I personally disaprove. Let the people decide...but not if they disagree. Etc.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 12:33 PM

Why only two people, sean? What about cousins? Do have a right to interfere in bedrooms of people who seek group-marriage?

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 12:37 PM

Ex, sorry for not having a response, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 12:42 PM

Michael,

Oh, yes, I'm one of the ones who offered (what I believe are) good reasons to reject the slippery slope argument. My point is that the argument isn't to be dismissed out of hand as "the slippery slope fallacy." That is the fallacy of saying without reason that a slippery slope is at hand. I think the anti-gay marriage side of the debate has not done any such thing. They have given plausible reason. I think I've refuted their reasons, but they commited no slippery slope fallacy.

On that note, I take issue with your example of the fallacy from criticial thinking textbooks; I think these textbooks are too dismissive of the SS argument. If a congressman says, "Hey, let's lower the age to 18, since lots of folks want us to," then the sarcastic reply, "Why not lower it to 16 or 12?" would not be fallacious. Policy liberalization requires that institutional inertia be addressed. If you ride your bike down a steep hill, you better have a plan for stopping before the brick walls. Congress should not support this congressman's bill until all chance of a slope has been eliminated.

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 12:44 PM

So long as judges keep finding rights in the purposeful vagueness of the constitution (state or federal) then opponents of these new found rights will attempt to close the loopholes through legislation and/or constitutional amendments.

Posted by: steve at February 27, 2004 12:53 PM

Mr. Hall: I mean that pro-SSM advocates are hypocrites - they avoid the slippery slope by pure deception. They state that SSM is about freedom of consenting adults, but quickly add that they are against freedom of consenting adults if it involves group-marraige and incest.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 01:07 PM

Jim,

You wrote the following:

"My point is that the argument isn't to be dismissed out of hand as 'the slippery slope fallacy.' That is the fallacy of saying without reason that a slippery slope is at hand. I think the anti-gay marriage side of the debate has not done any such thing. They have given plausible reason. I think I've refuted their reasons, but they commited no slippery slope fallacy."

As my previous comments have stated, I don't think the slippery-slope argument makes any sense (for the reasons I expressed in those comments). You say that the anti-gay marriage side of the debate has "given plausible reason," but I'm not sure what you mean -- plausible reason for what?

You also wrote:

"On that note, I take issue with your example of the fallacy from criticial thinking textbooks; I think these textbooks are too dismissive of the SS argument."

I'm unfamiliar with these critical thinking textbooks. I made the voting-age example up while writing my comment, so its appearance in any textbook is purely coincidental. In any event, the important question would seem to be why you think these textbooks -- and I, I suppose -- are too critical of the slippery-slope argument.

As for the term "policy liberalization," I'm not sure what that means.

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 01:07 PM

Ex, how did I dodge the slippery-slope argument through deception?

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 01:14 PM

Michael,

Clarification: The "policy liberalization" is the expansion of marriage rights to gays. The "reason" the anti-gay marriage side has given for believing that a slippery slope is at hand is that the forum for debate has not made clear how far the liberalization should go. The textbooks (I taught critical thinking at a university for a couple of years, so I lived them and breathed them for a while) are slightly too critical of the SS argument form, labeling it outright a fallacy, because they overlook the institutional inertia I'm talking about. Moreover they often fail to mention the possibility of proving in some cases that there certainly is a slippery slope to be avoided (as, say, when you advise an addict not to take one dose of a drug on the grounds that doing so has in the past always led to his taking many doses). For the congressman in my example to say, "Don't worry, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" doesn't fly. When we get to it we may find ourselves going across it without time to think.

In any event, you and I are debating logical archana here, as we both agree that there is no troublesome slippery slope at hand in the case of gay marriage. Nevertheless, we have different reasons for this belief. Your reason is "we'll cross that bridge later," while mine is "I think we have a good handle on the brake, when it comes to polygamy, incest, and the rest."

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 01:25 PM

Hall: Wasn't aimed at you directly...but possibly it was. This thread is too long...no time to search through...so if you could restate your premise (concisely) on why you support gay marraige and not incest/group-marriage I can answer.

(Hint: if you are going to say something based on freedom or universal civil rights, then just read what I wrote previously).

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 01:26 PM

Ex,

You and I have already had this discussion. Two days ago, in the comments to Michael Totten's post entitled "Bush and Gay Marriage," you asked me whether I thought it was self-evident that polygamy was a bad thing. I replied that I hadn't given it much thought but that I tentatively DO support group marriage. The short answer as to why I support gay marriage and (probably) group-marriage is that I think the positives outweigh the negatives, i.e., the pleasure these people would derive from marrying outweighs any negative externalities they might impose on others, if any.

The calculus changes when we start talking about incest because, according to my current understanding (and I'm no doctor), incest tends to lead to babies with mental problems. Therefore, there is an externality imposed upon the baby and that must play a part in the decision whether to allow incestual marriages.

I don't view the "mutually-consenting adults" rationale as decisive, but merely as a factor. In other words, I'm adopting a utilitarian position.

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 01:50 PM

Mr. Hall: A fine answer, and clearly you are not using deception on this issue (others are). You are a rarity in this debate.

FYI - There is recent scientific evidence that incestual marriages between cousins does not affect genetic make-up negatively.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 02:00 PM

Ex, thanks.

Jim, I agree that we're getting rather far afield here, but let me add one thing. I take your point about addicts, but I'm not sure that's a good analogy to politics (like gay marriage or the voting age).

It probably goes without saying that I don't dispute the existence of an actual "slippery slope," e.g., a tall mountain of snow or ice that a person will inevitably slide down when he reaches a certain incline. I think the addict's case is more like this physical phenomenon than the case of citizens voting for a proposal such as gay marriage. On the other hand, I take your point that in certain circumstances there does exist a slippery slope (the addict).

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 27, 2004 02:41 PM

Jim,

You're assuming that gay marriage will damage the family. There's no evidence for that.

I'm not assuming anything. It is the socialists who in their indiscreet moments let these things slip. Its their argument, not mine. I think marriage is stronger than that. It wouldn't be the first thing socialists got wrong. But time will tell.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 05:44 PM

MJT,

I don't care what a twit like Gloria Steinem believed back in the 60s.

You might not care what Gloria Steinem thinks, but the Democratic leadership sure does. Her beliefs aren't some 60s relic. They are carried on by NOW who represent one of the major Democratic interest groups.

My problem with gay "marriage" is not that it poses any threat to real marriage. I have no way to know if it will or won't. I'm inclined to think it won't. My problem is that it is part of the leftist pattern of redefining words to mean something other than what they always meant. Redefining marriage is more Newspeak. They do the same thing with terrorism.

Speaking of NOW and defining terms, here is NOW's advice on how to setup an "action plan":

http://www.canow.org/actions/setup.html

Step 1: Define the issue that you want to raise awareness on.

Its Newspeak in action.

Keep crying wolf and no one will listen when you say that Cuba is socialist.

I'm not the boy who cried wolf. I'm more like Cassandra. Most leftists don't even admit Cuba is a tyranny. That socialist cess pool would be utopia if not for the evil imperial American hegemon.

Everything is the socialist boogeyman to you.

Speaking of trotting out bogeymen, need I remind you that you started this thread by breathlessly imploring your readers to "Read Sullivan now" and linked to his post of an anonymous email that had all the characteristics of a hoax predicting the coming fascist theocracy. And you couldn't let the thread pass without trotting out Rick Santorum who is obviously your favorite bogeyman. Get real Michael.

If you want to ignore the influence of socialism in our society that is your business. But it diminishes your seriousness as a political commentator. Do yourself a favor and read some Hayek.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 06:28 PM

Jim,

The slope does not exist

Freedom of religion is supported directly in the First Amendment. Gay marriage is mentioned exactly nowhere. What Constitutional basis do you have for redefing marriage to include gays, but disallowing polygamy which has been practiced in Islam for 14 centuries? If you redefine marriage to include gays today, then excluding Islamic polygamy in the future will have all the legitmacy of banning head scarves. It will be completely arbitrary.

Of course the incest argument is just stupid. The slope is slippery, but it ain't that slippery.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 06:40 PM

Michael Hall,

I don't think the slippery-slope argument makes any sense

Since you don't think it makes any sense, I submit to you too the question of polygamy in Islam. How do reconcile the First Amendment, a redefinition of marriage, 14 centuries of Islamic practice, and the exclusion of polygamy from marriage. I don't think you can do it, but I'm open to argument.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 07:05 PM

Michael Hall,

I tentatively DO support group marriage.

I guess that answers my prior question. Unless I misread your comment, you support polygamy. An honest answer, but it puts you pretty far out in the fringe.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 07:11 PM

What Constitutional basis do you have for redefing marriage to include gays, but disallowing polygamy which has been practiced in Islam for 14 centuries? If you redefine marriage to include gays today, then excluding Islamic polygamy in the future will have all the legitmacy of banning head scarves.

The basis for not sanctioning that polygamy will be the same as the basis for not allowing them to marry six-year-olds; it's demonstrably wrong. Emphasis on "demonstrably".

Posted by: Jim at February 27, 2004 08:46 PM

Jim,

Demonstrable? Maybe. If so, demonstrate it for me. Polygamy is also demonstrably beneficial to both men and women according to evolutionary psychology. At best, this argument is a wash and we come back to the issue of religious freedom which is explictly supported in the First Amendment becoming the deciding factor in favor of polygamy.

Here are a couple of variations on the slippery slope argument:

If equal protection is the deciding factor in support of gay "marriage", shouldn't it also apply to affirmative action which makes a complete mockery of equal protection?

Furthermore, sean brought up the fact that "we have long accepted the cohabitation of two spinsters, two widows, two brothers, etc." Why should homosexuals be granted benefits that society has extended to marriage and continue to exclude those in non-sexually based pair-bonds from receiving these benefits? If "marriage" is open for redefinition, does it even require sex to be called marriage? I don't see why.

Posted by: HA at February 28, 2004 04:37 AM

I think this debate is too judeo-christo-centric. What do our Islamic friends think of polygamy? Let's get some insight:

http://www.islam.tc/ask-imam/view.php?q=10896

Posted by: HA at February 28, 2004 04:40 AM

I think this debate is too judeo-christo-centric. What do our Islamic friends think of polygamy? Let's get some insight

HA, you're really hilarious :)

Can you ask the imam to give us some insight into wife-beating as well? thanks!

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 04:59 AM

HA, good point about the spinsters (sisters who aren't lovers but live together as the nucleus of their familial world). Don't know what to say.

Affirmative action? Are you kidding? Dump it. Yesterday. It's racist and blacks don't need a crutch.

Evolutionary psychology is worth considering. But you always have to remember that behaviors evolution has made biologically practical may not be morally acceptable. Maybe I'm programmed to have adultery to spread my seed, but I resist because it's wrong (to the would-be fatherless kid). Maybe polygamy optimizes reproductive success and is "healthy" in some sense after that fashion, but this doesn't mean it doesn't cause much too much unhappiness, making it immoral to encourage it. The unhappiness: debilitating jealousies and neglected spouses and children.

Posted by: Jim at February 28, 2004 06:00 AM

Andrew Sullivan's Moby-Republican lawyer worries that the FMA will undermine landmark Supreme Court precedents involving "privacy":

... decisions like Roe v. Wade, (Abortion), Griswold v. Connecticut (Birth Control), Lawrence v. Texas (Private Sexual Acts)"., will all be fair game for re-analysis under this new jurisprudential regime as the Constitutional foundation for those decisions will have been altered.

First, those cases deal with sexual and reproductive autonomy, not "privacy." Why do the courts (and the decisions' defenders) inisist on the weasel-word "privacy"? The issue isn't the government's authority to find out who is boinking whom, or who is pharmaceutically blocking post-boinking conception. The issue is the government's authority to regulate these activities.

Second, how can any genuine defender of liberal democracy (like Sullivan and MJT) defend the process of amending the constitution by judicial fiat (like the Roe, Griswold and Lawrence courts), while attacking a democratic effort to amend the constitution by the process that's actually spelled out in the document?

The answer is simple and unflattering: Sullivan and MJT like the results of the judicial-amendment process, but they dislike the probable effects of the FMA.

Whenever I read Sullivan rhapsodizing about our nation's "most sacred political document" and the need to defend it, I want to throw my monitor out the window (or at least write Sullivan a disagreeable email). Sullivan (and MJT?) really is concerned only with getting the policy result he favors. The Constitution-waving is an act.

(And not that it should matter, but I've voted for more Libertarian than Republican presidential candidates in the last 4 elections, and I agree with Griswold and Lawrence as matters of policy. I just don't want the courts to make those decisions and then pretend that the Constitution mandated the results.)

Posted by: MDP at February 28, 2004 06:59 AM

ginger,

Can you ask the imam to give us some insight into wife-beating as well? thanks!

I am sure you can find his views on wife-beating using this new-fangled technology called the Internet. Try this link:

http://www.google.com/

You're welcome!

Posted by: HA at February 29, 2004 04:52 AM

Jim,

But you always have to remember that behaviors evolution has made biologically practical may not be morally acceptable. Maybe I'm programmed to have adultery to spread my seed, but I resist because it's wrong

The human ability for morality is itself an evolutionary adaptation. Men are programmed to spread their seed. Women are programmed to ration their ovum. Marriage is the evolutionary adaptation to arbitrate the competing impulses of male and female sexuality. It provides the moral framework for you to resist your impulses to spread your seed, and it provides the predictability of adequate resources that women need to ration out their ovum.

Marriage serves absolutely no purpose in the context of homosexuality which is why the concept is bizarre. The sudden urgency is somewhat ironic because the desire for homosexuals to marry reveals some latent evolutionary heterosexual impulses. I wonder if gay marriage is a threat to marriage, or a threat to homosexuality?

Posted by: HA at February 29, 2004 05:13 AM

AIDS is the threat to homosexuality, AND the reason for the sudden urgency; more gays are reducing or eliminating their promiscuity.

MJT is wrong that AIDs has nothing to do with the debate; but I'm more disappointed in:
1 does not follow from 2. The reason is because the state does not care if a marriage produces children or not.

Yes, 1 does not follow from 2, nor do I claim that order. Rather, 2 follows from 1. (1-Gays marry, 2-Gay brothers marry).

Again, with all the words on this multi-hundred comment posts, it's strange for you to claim "the state does not care if a marriage produces children". It's obvious in China that the number of children produced is of significant concern. It IS reasonable to be explicit about this issue though, in the past marriages have produced plenty of children so there was no big reason to care about producing children, except for inheritance, property rights, adoption, custody, and raising issues -- hmm, quite a lot of issues, actually.

I'm married and will not have children. The state doesn't even know that fact, let alone care about it.
Before the US gov't existed, the Church married nobles, and annulled marriages -- made them not exist -- based on lack of children. One of my own little heresies is the idea in a true marriage that "man and woman become one flesh". Which scientifically happens when a man's DNA mixes with a woman's in their child.

The high social status of "marriage" is that bringing up children is the hope, and future, of that society. And it's fine to honor with greater status those who are contributing more to the future more. Childless hetero marriages, historically rare (less than 10%?), are status free-riders, and the gays want the same status.

I'm quite willing to downgrade marriages that don't have children to be mere civil unions, so as to equate them more to gay pleasure sex; but not doing so is no problem, either.

Gay brothers will not be able to marry because siblings are already not allowed to marry. And no one wants to change that law.

You could probably find some crackpot fool who would like to change it, but society at large will never tolerate it. Gay relationships are tolerated already, but incestuous relationships, married or otherwise, are taboo and will remain so.
No one ... becomes crackpot fool ... but society will never tolerate it ... are taboo and will remain so.

Well, nobody can prove the future, but after seeing an SF mayor violate the law giving marriage licenses to gays, how do you know none of them were already siblings? What about half-siblings? Step-siblings?

There's a good chance your "never tolerate it" has already been violated, and you support the violation implicitly.

Do you deny that the law against incest is primarily because of children? Yet obviously children isn't an issue for gay brothers, so what's to stop a Mass court from adding that right? I'm glad you're opposed to that result, as I am, but glib dissmissing of the problem as a non-issue makes me feel more certain it is an issue.

(from yankee doodle memory, it's not on the cartoon page I linked to):
Roger Ramjet, he's our man
Hero of the nation.
For his adventures just be sure,
To stay tuned to this station.

(Michael Totten substitutes well here, so I'll leave now but be sure to come back;
same bat-time.
Same bat-station.)

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 1, 2004 09:44 AM

Childless hetero marriages, historically rare (less than 10%?), are status free-riders, and the gays want the same status. I'm quite willing to downgrade marriages that don't have children to be mere civil unions, so as to equate them more to gay pleasure sex

I'm speechless.

Posted by: ginger at March 4, 2004 12:14 AM

HA, yes, I agree with your first paragraph, and pretty much with your second, only I don't think your question is a real worry. The urge to marry may be an impulse separable from heterosexual proper functioning.

Take an analogy. The urge to eat lots of sweets is no longer connected with the function of getting as much fruit as possible when we are lucky enough to find it; we have lots of fruit to eat now. Evolution is sloppy, imprecise. We still have tailbones, for example, and other vestigial things about us. So, the urge to marry might have been selected for in tandem with heterosexual function without being necessarily connected to it. In this way, gay marriage isn't necessarily contrary to homosexuality or to marriage.

Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2004 07:18 PM

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