March 04, 2004

Hitch on Gay Marriage

Dennis Prager sees the fight for gay marriage as a war of "secular extremism" against Western Civilization, and he compares those of us who support gay rights to Al Qaeda. (Thanks, Dennis. You're a pal.)

Christopher Hitchens provides some perspective.

It demonstrates the spread of conservatism, not radicalism, among gays.

...

When I become bored or irritated by the gay marriage battle--and I do, I sometimes do--I like to picture the writhing faces and hoarse yells of the mullahs and the fanatics. Godless hedonistic America, not content with allowing divorce and pornography, has taken from us our holy Taliban and our upright Saddam. It sends Jews and unveiled female soldiers to our lands, and soon unnatural brotherhood will be in the armed forces of the infidels. And now the godless have an election where all they discuss is the weddings of men to men and women to women! And then I relax, and smile, and ask my [gay] neighbors over, to repay the many drinks and kind gestures that I owe them.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 09:33 AM
Comments

Good ol' Hitch. While there are certianly some moonbatty gays(such as Richard Goldstein) out there who favor gay marriage because they hope it'll knowck over marriage and other such bourgeois institutions, they are rather a minority among a minority.

I can understand how some folk are reticent to endorse the concept of gay marriage -- it's new, it's different, and some of the loudest and most visible proponents are, well, jerks. Of course, gay people, and gay couples, in general are not. Once same sex marriage is a fait accompli, I think just about everyone will get used to it fairly quickly once they see that married gay couples make a home together, work, raise their kids, keep pets, mow their lawns, etc., etc., just like they were human beings or something.

Posted by: Oddly Normal at March 4, 2004 09:48 AM

I'm not sure if the mullahs thought of Saddam as "upright". I think the foaming at the mouth rage these people have displayed at Saddams downfall is because it happened at the hands of the West particualrly the US. They hate us anyway, Iraq was just another excuse.

If Saddam had been overthrown by a group of Islamic fundamentalists who were setting up a theocracy in Iraq right now they'd be celebrating in the streets. They would also be calling upon the faithful to "defend the new holy nation of Iraq against the decadent infidel West" Or words to that effect.

I know this isn't on topic, but I'm not trying to hijack the thread. I agree with the argument that Hitchens is making, I just have this annoying tendency to nitpick. And now back to the point of the post.

Posted by: sam at March 4, 2004 09:49 AM

Funny how nobody can answer rationally why I as a man can't marry two sterile women or my male cousin if we allow two, unrelated gays to marry.

But I forgot this is about building a faux-movement of hypocritical wishy-washy "centrists" who can dishonestly pull a bait and switch on our democracy (as Hitch and Sullivan are - big surprise), not about discussing this issue in a fair, rational and democratic manner.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 10:13 AM

"Dennis Prager sees the fight for gay marriage as a war of "secular extremism" against Western Civilization, and he compares those of us who support gay rights to Al Qaeda. (Thanks, Dennis. You're a pal.)"

Hey, welcome to the "as-bad-as-Osama" club. Many of us who opposed the Iraq invasion got tarred with that brush as well.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 10:14 AM

"Funny how nobody can answer rationally why I as a man can't marry two sterile women or my male cousin if we allow two, unrelated gays to marry."

Because bigamy is illegal, duh. Your argument is similar to the ones made when women were being given the vote, that soon, children would also be given the vote. Then pets.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 10:16 AM

At the local level, i.e.; your neighbor, your sister, your college buddy, the issue of gay marriage is straightforward and simple and just as Hitchens describes: a celebration of two lives given to each other.

And that is the essence of democracy too, that the debate and decisions are best made most closely to the point of impact. The people who are involved can look each other in the eye and argue the pros and cons. They aren't allowed to forget that a real human being, who is very much like them and who will be their neighbor for a long time, is affected by their debated and agreed upon decision.

This deliberative (often slow moving) but highly effective system is usurped when courts find rights in the law that no one previously thought existed. This, in turn, incites the backlash we see today toward gay marriage.

I firmly believe that some number of years from now gay marriage will be widely implemented and accepted. We will look back on the gay marriage issue of today and think "wow, what was everyone so upset about".

If we are smart that will be a few years from now, if we are not it will be many.

Posted by: steve at March 4, 2004 10:18 AM

I agree EX, if this is all about my right to be happy, then I'd like to marry twin females please.

No, we can't have a real debate on what the term "marriage" implies/means, we just have to start tossing out the word "bigot" for those that disagree with homosexuals marrying.

I disagree with letting homosexuals marry, I disagree with judges and elected officials breaking laws, I disagree with not protecting live in partners under the law ie. homosexuals. However, the homosexual special interests are not stopping at anything short of legalizing homosexual marriage.

Posted by: Mark D. at March 4, 2004 10:19 AM

{{{What do you expect me to say about them? Like I asked you earlier, what do you think of leftists who say conservatives are Nazis?}}}

When I hear a leftist refer to conservatives as Nazis (which is all too depressingly common) I sigh real big and assume that the speaker is probably just not truly acquainted with the origin and significance of nazism. I most definitely do not assume the speaker to be my declared mortal enemy, bereft of any redeeming wisdom. Maybe the Al Qaeda comparison is somewhat over the top but cut the guy some slack. Learn a little about his true character before you set out to publicly lynch him.

Posted by: Ariel at March 4, 2004 10:23 AM

One of the most hedonistic sections of our society finally embraces the idea of monogomany and marital commitment and people go apeshit and claim it will destroy marriage.

Posted by: Scott at March 4, 2004 10:27 AM

Funny, ginger thought I was joking when claiming Hitch's point -- or perhaps it WAS my mistake in not expanding on the huge human rights and liberty that Americans have, that Muslims can barely even realistically dream of getting, in their own lifetimes, with just their own efforts. And they focus on sexual morality, as the sign of US decadance, as do many believers.

I'm glad there's freedom enough, to burn, in America (and I'd be against any anti-Flag burning laws). I'm glad there's no police stopping gays from loving each other (although there is huge criminal AIDS spreading that can't be talked about).

But I can't avoid thinking Hitch would also be quite happy to have CA force Catholic Charities to not discriminate against hiring gay marrieds; to take away the freedom of Christians to claim homosexual behavior is sinful, and act like that in their personal, voluntary, peaceful decisions.

Are laws against "Sin speech" coming, too? You know one former lesbian mother, now a Christian, has been forbidden to teach her adopted daughter what the Bible says about homosexuality? (From Donald Sensing's site, Nov, Rocky Mountain News).

The balance is already too secular, faith-repressive.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 4, 2004 10:31 AM

Bigamy is illegal? That's only because we treat those people like second class citzens. Don't they have a right to be happy too? Who are you Stu, to decide where the definition of marriage ends?

Posted by: Mark D. at March 4, 2004 10:40 AM

Tom Grey:
"take away the freedom of Christians to claim homosexual behavior is sinful"

Would Hitchens be willing to support measures like that? Possibly but he's in a distinct, if loud, minority on that issue. I'm perfectly happy for Christians to claim anything they want. So long as other groups are allowed to make their claims freely I'm not bothered.

Please note that I'm not talking about government mandated equal time in the pulpit for both sides of a religious or social issue or anything crazy like that. Simple balanced maintenance of the right to free speech in society as a whole should take care of problems of this nature.

Posted by: sam at March 4, 2004 10:42 AM

>>Because bigamy is illegal, duh

So is gay marriage, duh. But if it is ONLY about consenting adults in the bedroom then why is it YOUR business if I want to marry two or more sterile women or my same-sex cousin???

PS: This has nothing to do with the slippery slope argument, of which you are trained since birth to imediately marginalize (i.e. I wouldn't even bother with it). I just want to watch you squirm, as you know there is no good answer.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 10:52 AM

Orson Scott Card on gay marriage:

http://www.rhinotimes.com/greensboro/archives/021904/osc2.html : Humpty Dumpty Logic

(Card is the writer of the "Ender's Game" series, along with 40 or 50 other books.)

Posted by: Mike at March 4, 2004 11:13 AM

Stu:
"Because bigamy is illegal, duh. "

OK, so what? Homosexual marriage is illegal now, and we're trying to change that.

Why stop halfway?

Posted by: Mike at March 4, 2004 11:16 AM

Mike: Why stop halfway?

Why not?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 11:29 AM

So is gay marriage, duh. But if it is ONLY about consenting adults in the bedroom

Sex is about consenting adults in the bedroom (or somewhere).

Marriage, however, is about a whole lot more than that.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 11:33 AM

Major contraversies over gays in the last decade or so:

1. Right to serve in the military
2. Right to join the clergy
3. Right to marry
4. Right to adopt & raise children
5. Right to participate with the Boy Scouts

Good lord - THEY'VE TURNED INTO REPUBLICANS!!!

Posted by: Independent George at March 4, 2004 11:42 AM

Um, gay marriage is not illegal, as your courts seem to be in the process of determining that forbidding gay marriage is unconstitutional, and therefor illegal.

And if you want to marry twins, or your sister, or whatever, then take that up with the courts.

"Who are you Stu, to decide where the definition of marriage ends?"

Just a guy expressing my opinion. Social conventions are decided, after all, by the society they exist in, which is composed of people like you and me. Unless you believe they're mandated by some invisible guy in the sky. In which case, the topic can't be discussed logically or reasonably.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 11:47 AM

Independent George: Good lord - THEY'VE TURNED INTO REPUBLICANS!!!

Yep. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 11:51 AM

Dennis Prager should not have compared advocates of gay marriage to Al Qaeda -- it's mostly wrong (each side has its nuts), it's demeaning to all of the advocates of gay marriage who are not wingnuts, and it closes off debate in the same way that advocates of gay marriage do when they scream about bigotry. Moreover, it undermines that portion of the argument that is actually valid: some portion of the advocates of gay marriage are unwilling to settle for anything less than "marriage" because they see it as the only way to force society not only to refrain from discrimination but also to endorse their unions. Dennis Prager deserves nothing but condemnation for saying this.

That said, I think it would be very wrong to mandate acceptance of gay marriage without first having an open and honest political debate about the issue. Advocates of SSM are attempting to use the courts to force this change without going through the political process. This will give us another issue (like abortion) that will tear apart our social fabric: if the issue is dealt with politically, there will be a much wider acceptance of the outcome, whatever it is.

On a personal note, I believe that gays should have the right to live in peace and lead their lives as they see fit, but I am very reluctant to support gay marriage (I am much more likely to support civil unions, but I'm not sure yet). I believe that marriage is about social organization rather than self-fulfillment. Its overriding purpose is to facilitate the rearing and support of children; I don't think there is any doubt that children have the most advantages when they grow up in a family with both of their natural parents. I am deeply skeptical that gay marriage will advance the social purpose of the institution of marriage and may actually hurt it.

I think we need to study this issue carefully before we upset a tradition as old as recorded history to make sure that we are not causing more harm than good. The outcome of such a study will inform my opinion on SSM. Secondly, we need to have an open an honest public debate and resolve this issue through the political process so that all sides believe they have a voice in the process. I suspect that this is unlikely to happen, however, because the extremists of both sides of the issue will do their best to prevent it.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 12:01 PM

That is the problem Stu. As you said, the COURTS are deciding this. Instead of taking the issue to the legislature and passing a law or having referendums in the states that allow them, the homosexual lobby is depending on the courts to impose it on the population.

By this reasoning, any judge can declare that bigamy is allowed under the constitution and anyone who disagrees would be a bigot and in favor of discrimination.

Posted by: Mark at March 4, 2004 12:04 PM

"That is the problem Stu. As you said, the COURTS are deciding this."

Well, WHO tehn should decide on the legality and constitutionality of civil law if not the courts? That's their role. If a state passed a law that says that women are no longer allowed to vote, you think that the courts shouldn't be able to rule on it being unconstitutional? That's how your political system works.

"By this reasoning, any judge can declare that bigamy is allowed under the constitution and anyone who disagrees would be a bigot and in favor of discrimination."

Okay, I'm a foreigner, and even I know enough about your legal system to know that's wrong.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 12:23 PM

I don't much care about gay marriage, but I care deeply that no one asked me. I am told by the media that I am a hater because I don't want courts to create the right to gay marriage. Give me a vote.

I think Bush can make hay with many Americans by framing gay marriage as juduciary-run-amok issue.

Most folks know that judges provide the forward momentum for the activist left. the momentum that elected bodies could NEVER provide.

Posted by: Jack M at March 4, 2004 12:34 PM

That is the problem Stu. As you said, the COURTS are deciding this. Instead of taking the issue to the legislature and passing a law or having referendums in the states that allow them, the homosexual lobby is depending on the courts to impose it on the population.

Yeah, next thing you know black people will want the courts to impose school desegregation on the population.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 12:47 PM

I posted this yesterday in an unrelated discussion topic but didn't get much thought on my perspective...

Some would argue that opinion polls don't support gay marriage. Well, I have seen polls (CNN, non-scientific) that say that more people oppose an amendment banning gay marriage than support it. Asking poll questions one way or another can dramatically change the poll result. So polls are bullshit and shouldn't be the basis for policy decisions.

Others say we should have a vote. Well, this merely invites the "tyranny of the majority" on an issue that is fundamentally a personal choice. There was probably a point in the history of America where if it had been left to a vote, slavery would have been upheld by the majority. Just because most people believe something doesn't make it right. Remember, Hitler and the Nazi party won an election or two.

Finally you get some that say gay marriages "invalidate" hetero marriages. Give me a break. If your straight marriage is so weak that it can't be "valid" because Bob and Dave down the street are married, then it wasn't a very solid marriage. If anything invalidates marriage, it is divorce, but you don't see anyone calling for a constitutional amendment banning divorce do you?

The constitution is a "Bill of Rights". Not a list of banned activities. The declaration of independence has words like "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and "unalienable rights". How can we then amend the constitution to deny those liberties to a group of people just because some of our citizens don't like them? Publicly backing a constitutional ban is a cynical act by a divisive president who doesn't deserve the title.

I am not sure what the defense if of people who support a ban other than "the Bible says..." or "this is they way we have always done marriage". Can someone honestly show harm done to society by gay marriage? I'd love to see the evidence.

Posted by: Graham at March 4, 2004 12:50 PM

Today's incomparable Daily Howler has a good dissection of this "slippery slope" anti-gay marriage argument.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 12:54 PM

"There was probably a point in the history of America where if it had been left to a vote, slavery would have been upheld by the majority. "

Yep, and it's a damned disgrace.

On the other hand, at a point in American history when some states were chipping away at slavery (say, with laws that a slave who escaped into their state was now a free man), the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote a majority opinion that such laws violated the slaveholders' right not to be deprived of their property.

So I get a little weary of people crediting activist courts with racial progress in the U.S. Once you let judges exceed their powers to do what they see as the right thing, you need to make sure that their idea of the right thing will always coincide with yours.

Posted by: JPS at March 4, 2004 01:24 PM

One of the most hedonistic sections of our society finally embraces the idea of monogomany and marital commitment and people go apeshit and claim it will destroy marriage.

This argument is the best way to reach conservatives on the issue. Me? I'm for gay marriage.

But first? I want the Mayors of San Fransisco, New Paltz and every other public official who is violating existing black letter law by authorizing "gay marriages" to go to jail.

Posted by: spc67 at March 4, 2004 01:30 PM

I want the Mayors of San Fransisco, New Paltz and every other public official who is violating existing black letter law by authorizing "gay marriages" to go to jail.

What? Elected officials are doing all this? Here I thought was those activist judges.

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 01:32 PM

I can't believe there are those here so culturally biased by their Christian-right beliefs and tryannical in attitude that they want to segragate group-married and incest-married people from society and impose their reactionary beliefs into the bedroom of conscenting adults to ban activities that don't hurt anyone.

You are all hypocrites.

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 01:38 PM

Hey, Ex, as I said, if you want to promote group-marriage and incest-marriage, then do so. No-one is stopping you. This stuff comes down to (a) personal opinions about the contract, and (b) getting others to go along with it. Overcoming some the prejudices associated with homosexuality has taken decades, and we're now at the point where gay marriage can be discussed and tried. If you feel a need to do the same for incest and group marriages, better get started soon, because it looks like it takes about forty years to accomplish.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 02:13 PM

Stu: So you think principals are an out of date concept? Careful, you don't want to base the rightness of gay marriage on popularity because it is 1) unpopular 2) being imposed on others.

Marriage is either based on tradition (man/women) or freedom (any - group, incest included) or on a new arbitrary standard imposed undemoractically by a tiny minority (i.e. tyranny) through the State.

Just admit you are willing to be a tryant to force through option #3 and that your motivation is bigotry. That is all I ask! Please end the hypocracy!

Posted by: Ex at March 4, 2004 02:21 PM

Keep on sliding back to the Left, Michael. Remember you're not a Republican, either. I'm glad you're finally firing some shots in their direction for a change. The endless leftist-bashing was starting to get a little old.

There's just as many nutjob wackos on the Right, too. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 4, 2004 02:35 PM

MJT...

Dude, I dunno what you're so pissed off about lately but it's great you bein' all spiky and shit: Like someone crapped in your cheerios or something and now you've had enough. I'm loving it. :)

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 4, 2004 02:43 PM

"Marriage is either based on tradition (man/women) or freedom (any - group, incest included) or on a new arbitrary standard imposed undemoractically by a tiny minority (i.e. tyranny) through the State."

Well, if marriage is based on tradition, then there is nothing to say that it cannot be modified. Unless you want society to stay exactly as it is forever. Let's not forget that part of the marriage "tradition" was that people of different races were not allowed to marry, and when that changed, people who objected to the change were making exactly the same arguments that you are now against gay marriage.

Civil rights and social contracts are not fixed and static, and nor are they based soley on principle. If you want incest and group marriages to be on the table, then by all means, try to convince your fellow citizens that they have some value to society, and should be allowed. Or that people in close relationships are being denied their freedoms if they are not allowed to marry. I think you'll find some people who point out that there are some harm done to society if marriages like those are allowed, and I doubt you'll get many people to agree with you. Certainly a smaller number than are ready to permit gay marriage.

But this is moot. Homosexual marriages are happening, and I think that once the novelty has worn off, and people have had a chance to see that it isn't influencing their lives in any negative way, they won't oppose it. Opposition to it here in Canada certainly died down after the first few weeks.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 02:56 PM

Because bigamy is illegal, duh.

Stu,

WHY is it illegal?

Your logic is circular, and basically can't answer the question on its merits, which is what that poster's complaint was about. So why did you bother answering him?

Posted by: David at March 4, 2004 03:05 PM

Stu,

It's not illegal to marry my dog.

Posted by: David at March 4, 2004 03:08 PM

Apparently Mr. Ex doesn't think there's anything to marriage beyond what happens "in the bedroom."

Posted by: RoguePlanet at March 4, 2004 03:16 PM

"It's not illegal to marry my dog."

As one of the perks associated with marriage is regular sex with your spouse, I think you might have some legal problems in store. And even if you find a way to legally marry your dog, it would probably sue for annullment based on non-consumation.

But why propose to your dog? Propose to furniture, or fruit, or a corpse or something. That dramatizes the slippery slope argument much better. Hell, suggest marrying yourself.

Okay, I give up. As the Daily Howler points out today, the top of the slippery slope is, in fact, hetrosexual marriage. After all, if you allow straight couples to marry, you'll just encourage gays to ask for the same rights. Then children, relatives, groups of people, animals, inanimate objects, dead people, trees, clods of dirt, etc. It would be much better just to ban the institution entirely than go through that.

Posted by: Stu at March 4, 2004 03:17 PM

Ex, have you noticed that you haven't convinced anyone yet, even though you harp on it incessantly any time the word "gay" appears in a post?

Here's two reasons to oppose it.

First is political pragmatism. More people don't like it. If you insist "no gay marriage until group marriage and incest", you're making the slippery slope real and are, quite literally, proving the extremist opponents right. (I'm trying to actually form an argument here, but this would be where the you're-a-troll-just-pretending-to-hold-this-position claim would go otherwise.) It's quite possible for people to say gay marriage is OK but group/incestuous isn't - this is "haggling over the price." (Any incest debate is haggling over what degree of consanguinity is OK.) You can't legislate respect. Many more people respect committed gays than respect group marriages or inbred families in the US. Thus, it's a division line that it's reasonable for somebody to take.

Furthermore, gay marriage not only can be but has to be separated from group marriage, legally. All our laws about marriage have as an assumption "two people, and maybe some helpless dependents." Spousal benefits, visitation rights, etc. for gay marriage can be imported directly. We have no tradition of group marriage, and the contracts would need to be worked out on their own. That's a lot of work, and any starting attempt at it would almost certainly be unworkable. The legal mechanics of pairwise gay marriage are by comparison a total no-brainer. The only question I can see becoming controversial at all would be whether or not a gay couple can adopt children. (What, is the Christian Right going to get hot under the collar that gay couples can file their income taxes jointly?)

Posted by: Michael Martin at March 4, 2004 03:29 PM

Ex,

Although I may not agree, you have solid arguements. Why shouldn't we allow polygamy or incestuous marriage if we're going to permit homosexual union? You have to remember once upon a time the same thing was being said for inter-racial marriages.

I would suggest it's based on demand, to say that if enough citizens wanted polygamy they would ask for it, challenge laws for it. Marijuana is illegal in all forms, yet the topic is frequently debated/protested because it's an important issue to a large enough portion of society. That's the point of living in a free country.

I personally believe morals should not be weighted when looking at issues. I don't see how three consenting adults would be any less moral than two consenting adults of the same gender getting together. The purpose of the courts however is to make illegal all activities that disrupt society (in any major way). But just because an activity is prohibited, doesn't mean it's immoral. Our government is run by human beings, fully capable of mistakes, or changes of heart.

For the record: in certain states I'm pretty sure it's legal to marry your cousin.

Posted by: Jen at March 4, 2004 03:43 PM

Jen --

By stating that "I personally believe morals should not be weighted when looking at issues," you have stated a position on morals. Why is it wrong for anyone else to take a contrary position?

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 04:37 PM

Ex: Careful, you don't want to base the rightness of gay marriage on popularity because it is 1) unpopular 2) being imposed on others.

Gay marriage is not being forced on you. You are not being asked to marry another man.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 05:13 PM

Grant McEntire: I'm glad you're finally firing some shots in their direction for a change. The endless leftist-bashing was starting to get a little old.

I fired in the leftist direction for so long primarly because they were making more noise than the rightists. Now that the right-wing is out in force again, it's their turn. I will keep hammering and hammering them as long as they continue to ask for it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 05:16 PM

I'm a relative newcomer to this site, but as far as I can tel Ex works very, very hard to avoid actually discussing gay marriage.

Posted by: Kurt at March 4, 2004 05:56 PM

Several comments:

1) The issue is not 'gay' marriage. Gays have been able to marry for as long as marriage has existed. This is about same-sex marriage. Theoretically, Gavin Newsome could be marrying two heterosexuals out in San Francisco, for all we know. Heterosexuality has NEVER been a necessary element to marriage. And neither has love. This debate should only be about why society feels that traditional man-woman marriage is a relationship deserving of special privileges, and thus by extension why SSM should be suddenly created to deserve these same special privileges. Therein lies the problem. Those who prattle on about love and commitment are dispensing flam-flam and balderdash, spiced up with a huge helping of narcissism and starry-eyed adolescence. Marriage is primarily an instrument needed for the process of raising children. If it is not then marriage is simply nothing more than a public valdiation of a very intense, closely bonded friendship -- nothing more. In my opinion, if we opt for the latter, marriage should be abolished altogether, and we should opt instead for legal civil unions where the responsibilities are agreed upon on a case-by-case basis, and NO special rights are accrued. Legally there should be no privileges granted to friendships, no matter how intense or sexual they are.

2) I have a sense, which is completely unprovable, that heterosexual advocacy of SSM arises primarily out of a desire of its proponents to demonstrate their personal exceptionalism by jumping in defense of a traditionally specially designated victim group. I can't prove this, but the inability of proponents to deal adequately with the polygamy argument is the surest sign that logic need not apply, and that there are other, more personal motivations at work.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 4, 2004 06:02 PM

Catalonia: other, more personal motivations at work.

Want my personal, rather than political, motivation? Here it is:

One of my best friends is gay. He was in my wedding. He is going to marry his boyfriend this summer, even if the state refuses to recognize it.

Do you expect me to refuse to attend? To dissent? To spit in his face by refusing to recognize his relationship as he himself understands it?

I will not do that. That would be a betrayal. It would end our friendship, and I would deserve to lose my friend. I am not that kind of person.

Maybe when you find yourself in a similar situation, you'll understand.

Marriage is primarily an instrument needed for the process of raising children. If it is not then marriage is simply nothing more than a public valdiation of a very intense, closely bonded friendship -- nothing more.

I am married. I do not and will not have children. My wife is not merely my "friend." Do you know nothing of love? Do you really think I love my wife less than my parents loved each other?

In my opinion, if we opt for the latter, marriage should be abolished altogether

Do you really think my wife and I should not have been married?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 06:20 PM

2) I have a sense, which is completely unprovable, that heterosexual advocacy of SSM arises primarily out of a desire of its proponents to demonstrate their personal exceptionalism by jumping in defense of a traditionally specially designated victim group.
------

I can't really complain about this, given the eagerness of so many gay marriage adovcates to question the motives of their opponents. I can tell you that personally, my support of gay marriage stems from the belief that gay people are here, whether we like it or not, and marriage will promote stabilities and families. I also am completely unconvinced that such marriages actually harm anybody, so be careful about charging your opponents with failure to adequately address an argument. What the hell is the harm here?

Posted by: Kurt at March 4, 2004 06:27 PM

The issue is not 'gay' marriage. Gays have been able to marry for as long as marriage has existed. This is about same-sex marriage.

A quote from Anatole France seems relevant to the argument that gay men are as free as they always have been to marry women:

How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!

Posted by: Michael Martin at March 4, 2004 06:34 PM

Of course, what we are dealing with here in Prager is someone who still believes in Judaeo-Christian monotheism, a system devised when people thought the world was flat. No wonder it can't encompass anything new. Sort of like Islam that way, but less dangerous.

Posted by: Galileo at March 4, 2004 06:34 PM

Galileo: But he thinks it's a "unique American creation", so it can't be more than 200-odd years old!

... maybe that's time compression from the universe being only 6000-odd years old.

Posted by: Michael Martin at March 4, 2004 06:53 PM

MT, for crying out loud, Catalonia has proven that talk of commitment is a bunch of "flim-flam and balderdash." The point of marriage is to reproduce, not to have commitment between people. There was a man named "Darwin". Ever heard of him? Sheesh. The idea that our society should condone commitment amongst people is a bunch of "narcisistic, starry-eyed adolescence," to borrow Catalonia's phrase. This is a powerful argument on Catalonia's part. The logic is inescapable, flawless.

And, Kurt, being pro-marriage is conservative only if the couple in question is not gay. Why? Because they're gay, for crying out loud! Not going to harm anything? Are you kidding? Kids are going to go gay if we start having gay marriage, and then the species won't exist anymore. How can I raise my son to be straight if he goes to a gay wedding and feels a stirring in his loins, a titillating excitment that becomes a design for his future? The logic is inescapable, flawless.

And as for you, Galileo, how dare you! And who do you think banged the Big Bang? Huh? God, that's who! The logic is inescapable, flawless.

This is making me hysterical!! I'm going to send fifty bucks to the Family Research Council tonight! Isn't there a post office open 'til midnight? Achk! I can't breath!

Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2004 06:57 PM

Maybe when you find yourself in a similar situation, you'll understand.

You presume too much. Suffice it to say that you can attend any sort of ceremony you wish; indeed, you can CREATE any sort of civil ceremony you wish. Legal recognition of SSM is neither here nor there regarding your desire to support your friend. And legal recognition of SSM is neither here nor there regarding your friend’s desire to hold a ceremony. In fact, homosexuality is neither here nor there regarding SSM. They are completely unrelated.

And your emotionalism highlights a point: Much advocacy has little to do with rationality and a close examination of the issue, and everything to do with the desire to demonstrate personal exceptionalism (Hitchens is as prone to this as anybody). That is all fine and good, and a universal human failing, but it isn’t sufficient. You can demonstrate your love for your friend in many ways without resorting to bad public policy (assuming I think SSM is bad public policy ;-). Just because your friend desires special privileges doesn’t mean he should get them (thus my comment about starry-eyed adolescence and narcissism).

I am married. I do not and will not have children. My wife is not merely my "friend." Do you know nothing of love? Do you really think I love my wife less than my parents loved each other?

You presume too much. Suffice it to say that modern, Western motivations for getting married differ significantly from the bulk of humanity in 2004, to say nothing of history (and marriage’s historical ubiquitousness demonstrates its necessity, no?). Michael, you are not granted privileges because you love one particular female ‘a lot’, nor should you. Perhaps another way to think of it is why you have been granted some privileges that single people do not have. Why? Why do you get benefits that a couple of friends do not? Do you really believe that the institution of marriage exists just because one particular female makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Surely there are other reasons. (I’m being a devil’s advocate. I need you to tell me why you deserves special consideration, why married couples have ALWAYS deserved special privileges. And yes, you’re being set up, assuming I have time to follow up on all this.).

And oh by the way, you can love multiple women with the same intensity as your wife. See where I’m going with this? You must, of necessity, ignore this line of reasoning, because it will destroy the logical basis of the 'love' argument. As I said, flim-flam and balderdash.

Do you really think my wife and I should not have been married?

If in an alternate universe the vast majority of marriages never resulted in children, then yes, marriage as a special institution should be abolished. What would be the point when you can get a lawyer to draw up a legal contract for you, personalized to your every whim (pre-nups, anyone?). The state need not get involved in such a scenario. Frankly, there’d be no reason for it.

And to throw out an old cliché, the exception does not make the rule.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 4, 2004 07:19 PM

Jim,

You haven't travelled much, have you? I've been to every continent on earth, and trust me, marriage for most of humanity is not about love. Being a man of the world, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what it is about marriage that cuts across all cultures, and tie it into the argument at hand. Don't hurt yourself.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 4, 2004 07:27 PM

MT is a freeloader. The state let him get married so he could reproduce. But he didn't! The state does not wish to recognize the legitimacy of non-reproductive marriage. It assumes in good faith that you're going to have kids when you marry. It bears nothing but reproachful scorn for couples who don't reproduce!

Slavery cuts across all cultures! We never should have ended it. OW! I hurt myself!

Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2004 07:32 PM

Michael --

I understand your feelings for your friend and would likely do the same in your situation. (I, too, have a close friend who is gay, but he shows no interest in getting "married"). BUT Catalonia, although abrasive, is correct: whether a particular proposal is good public policy is a separate question from whatever you or I or anyone else would like to see on a personal level.

The present "rush to judgment" on gay marriage is absolutely irresponsible, IMHO. Advocates of SSM propose a radical shake-up of the social order that has governed human society for thousands of years, while presenting nothing even resembling evidence as part of their justification. Marriage primarily is a social phenomenon which exists for the benefit of society as a whole, rather than for the benefit of any particular individual. Before extending marriage to same sex couples, we need to have some understanding of the potential effects of our actions.

Although I lean toward opposition to SSM, I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong. This would require scientific and socialogical studies, as well as a public debate where all sides have the opportunity to present their points of view and any supporting evidence. To do anything less would be reckless and would rend our social fabric in ways we cannot even contemplate.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 07:46 PM

Jim --

Thank you for trivializing this issue. I wish we could have a real debate where actual evidence is presented and considered after comprehensive studies are done. I will likely be disappointed.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 07:49 PM

Ben: whether a particular proposal is good public policy is a separate question from whatever you or I or anyone else would like to see on a personal level.

Yes, I know. The story of me and my friend is not my entire view of the matter. I mention it because my motivations were called into question (which is a terrible tactic, and is usually followed with a conspiracy theory). So I simply put my personal motivation (which is separate from my intellectual view) on the table.

If you're worried about polygamy, pass a law that defines marriage as a union of two people. And be done with it.

That said, there is a case to be made to allow polygamy. It is consenting adult behavior, although I personally think it's a poor arrangement on many levels. I am not convinced that it is the state's role to say who can and cannot get married at all. It isn't anyone's business but the people involved.

Perhaps there is a case to be made that polygamy harms children. I don't know. (I don't care about polygamy. It's a boring topic and it doesn't scare me in the least.)

I do have a gay friend (this is a different gay friend) who adopted a daughter. The gay parent "boogeyman" seems hysterical to me. He makes a far better parent than almost anyone else I know. His little girl is perfectly normal.

Also, this gay friend is a black man. He adopted a little white girl. (He is "married" to a white man, and the girl is his biological daughter.) I know some people don't approve of that, either, but he, she, and I couldn't care less.

I suppose I could summarize my view of this entire subject in four words. Mind your own business.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 08:10 PM

I suprised no one has noted that if a heterosexual couple gets married and then one has a sex change that they are allowed to stay married. Or what about people who are hemaphroditic? Are they not allowed to marry anyone?

Posted by: Larry at March 4, 2004 08:31 PM

Larry: I suprised no one has noted that if a heterosexual couple gets married and then one has a sex change that they are allowed to stay married.

Interesting. I wonder if it has ever happened. Anyone know?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 4, 2004 08:32 PM

MT --

On a personal level, I tend to agree with the MYOB point of view. There is some truth to the notion that "ignorance is bliss" when it comes to knowledge of the private lives of one's associates; in this regard, I try to be as blissful as possible. Moreover, I agree that in some particular cases homosexuals or parents of a different race can be wonderfully effective parents. (For that reason, I do not oppose adoption by gays, preferring to rely on an evaluation of the best interests of the child in each particular case). Conversely, a child's natural parents can be absolutely atrocious in some cases. All of this is quite beside the point, however, in evaluating whether SSM is good public policy.

I think that it is safe to say that on balance children are better off if they live and are reared within a traditional family structure. Public policy entails choices: I don't want to risk disrupting the social institution within which a majority of our children are raised (reasonably well, on balance) when it appears likely that that institution provides the best chance of success to the most children, simply because some people think they have a better idea about how our society should be organized. I don't think that it is too much to ask for studies to be done and evidence presented. Marriage and homosexuals have both been around for thousands of years and we have all survived so far; I fail to see why it is necessary to rush forward now.

Furthermore, I believe that there must be a public debate about this issue. Debate is a necessary component of closure for the party that ultimately loses. I see this as much like abortion: in 1973 the courts intervened in a way that still inflames everyone 31 years later. If there is a political debate, neither party is likely to win in full (at least initially), but the long-term damage to our social fabric will be minimized.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 08:34 PM

For the record, MT, I did not call your motivations into question (nor do I think you accused me of doing so, but your post is ambiguous). The great thing about a democracy is that we can be motivated by anything we damn well please and if anyone questions us we can tell them to go straight to hell.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 08:45 PM

Ben,

Marriage primarily is a social phenomenon which exists for the benefit of society as a whole, rather than for the benefit of any particular individual.

Aye. Thus I believe the argument needs to be reframed from one of 'gay marriage' to one of 'same-sex marriage.' As strange as it sounds, sexual orientation is at core completely irrelevant to this whole issue. Once you eliminate the gay moniker, and by extension eliminate all of the political/social baggage that comes with it, the argument shifts inevitably to a discussion not only about the exact nature of marriage, but more importantly about why marriage is recognized by the state, and why it affords special privileges. That, at least, is how it has worked for me. Additionally, it is very interesting to me that so many who proclaim their open-mindedness re:SSM marriage are so closed-minded when confronted with the idea that perhaps marriage is more than just about love and kisses, and that perhaps it has an effect on other people (and thus entails a certain level of responsibility). It tells me that perhaps they haven’t seriously examined their own assumptions about marriage and are merely operating on auto-pilot, which is to say they haven’t adequately thought this issue through, in spite of their strident positions.

Side note: If marriage is a social phenomenon for the benefit of society, and is transformed into a phenomenon for the benefit of the individual, doesn’t it follow that the state no longer need to recognize it? Are there any issues with equal protection under the law? Just a fleeting thought.

Posted by: Catalonia at March 4, 2004 08:58 PM

Catalonia --

Right on.

Posted by: Ben at March 4, 2004 10:01 PM

Actually bigamous marriage is very traditional, I wonder why someone who thinks marriage is about tradition would be aainst it?

What is less traditional than bigamous marriage but much older and more traditional than the modern marriage of a man and woman on (relatively) equal footing is the ideal of celibacy.

To whoever said that one of the perks of marriage is regular sex, no! Not since the state recognized spousal rape as rape. On the other hand, $$ is definitely one of the perks. Marriage is deeply tied to supporting someone you love - think medical insurance, widow(er)'s pension, etc. Children, on the other hand, do not get pension after a parent, whether they were married or not, after the age of 18/21 if they are a student.

I think it's funny that all these people whose parents were married to each other, at least at one point, feel so confident about asserting that marriage is good for children. Because you turned out great, didn't you?

Traditionally, of course, marriage was not for the benefit of children. The first laws about child neglect (which btw apply to non marrieds too), child custody, etc, are relatively extremely modern. Not to mention that it's already been a while since they've applied to non-married parents as well.

As for the courts interpreting law, ahem, isn't that what we have courts for? If we're going to talk about slippery slopes - if you want to put every legal issue up for a referendum, why not every legal trial as well?

Posted by: Tara at March 5, 2004 03:29 AM

>>I suppose I could summarize my view of this entire subject in four words. Mind your own business.

ME: Unless you are going to marry your sister or two women.

SSM: No, its about two people who are non-relatives.

ME: Why?

SSM: Because that is against the law.

ME: But isn't SSM marriage also illegal?

SSM: No, more people want SSM over incest/group-marriage, it is politically pragmatic.

ME: So its not about the law. I should note that both the law and your attitude toward incest or group marriage is similar to those who were against inter-racial marriage. But, SSM also isn't popular or being voted on in the political arena?

SSM: Well, it's about consenting adults minding their own buisness in their bedrooms.

ME: So its not about the popular or pragmatic. But why not allow people that want group-marrage or incest to mind their own business?

SSM: Well the state has obligations to make sure we don't get genetic inferior children that might burden the state.

ME: So it isn't about consenting adults. But Micheal Totten doesn't have children and he is married? Plus what if I am a gay man who wants to marry my brother or I want to marry my two sterile cousins?

SSM: Well we have traditions that say marriage is for two people to share their love. It is about more than what goes on in the bedroom.

ME: Well actually the tradition isn't two PEOPLE, it is between a man and a women. So it's about traditions and the family and inter-generational relations between human beings? Then doesn't tradition and evolution and biology and the nature of human beings support marriage as man/women?

SSM: No, man/women is just right-wing christian bigotry.

ME: But isn't also your attitude toward incest?

SSM Look this debate is over. I have friends who are gay, so I am not going to make a rational argument, debate, vote, ask your opinion, or avoid hypocracy. Instead I am going to make circular arguments, violate my presmises, pick and choose democracy and tradition then dump it when I am through, call YOU the bigot and accuse you of trolling.

ME: Above sums up all the discussion in this thread.

Posted by: Ex at March 5, 2004 06:26 AM

Tara --

1. You are walking validation of the slippery-slope argument. So much for its being discredited.

2. Arguing that children are not better off in a stable, traditional family is an unwinnable position for you. There are reams of data unequivocally showing that for the most part children are better off in a 2 parent, traditional family.

3. Arguing from history that marriage is about love is also a losing proposition for you.

4. SSM is an entirely new concept, please acknowledge it as such so that we can have an honest debate.

Posted by: Ben at March 5, 2004 06:51 AM

Larry: I suprised no one has noted that if a heterosexual couple gets married and then one has a sex change that they are allowed to stay married.

Michael J. Totten: Interesting. I wonder if it has ever happened. Anyone know?

Lola, Manuela, and Esteban. (Oh, and then there's Penelope Cruz). ;)

Ok, seriously - yes, of course it happens. I remember hearing of real stories like that. There's no requirement to divorce just because one of the partners changes sex. Most people would want to divorce anyway in that case, so, you wouldn't find many instances of sex change without divorce. But if they want to stay married, they can.

Which makes it all very very interesting for the gay marriage debate, doesn't it?

Posted by: ginger at March 5, 2004 07:27 AM

Ginger: It is interesting. It's also interesting that transsexuals can almost marry just about anyone, depending on which state they're in. In most states, a post-operative male-to-female transsexual is considered a woman and is allowed to marry a man, and likewise a female-to-male transsexual is allowed to marry a woman. In some states, such as Kansas, however, transsexuals are considered to be of their birth sex -- so a female-to-male could marry a man and a male-to-female could marry a woman. I think this is an interesting of the application of states' rights to marriage law generally, and obviously of interest for their application to same-sex marriage.

Of course, MTFs and FTMs can get married to each other anywhere.

Posted by: Oddly Normal at March 5, 2004 08:31 AM

Ginger,

Do NOT joke about the lovely Penelope Cruz! ;-)

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 5, 2004 09:16 AM

Ex:
Do you have an opinion on civil unions for gays, or do you want to leave the situation as it was before the events in San Fransisco? Other people posting here who are opposed, or at least undecided, say that they would be willing to support civil unions or a similar arrangement.

You obviously feel that same sex marriage would
be detrimental to society, what would you suggest instead? I'm not being snarky, I genuinely want to know. I may have missed it if you responded to a similar question in another thread.

Posted by: sam at March 5, 2004 09:30 AM

Oddly Normal: beautiful! it's all like an Almodovar movie.

Maybe the best solution would be to abolish marriage altogether, it'd sure be simpler for legislators ;)

Michael Hall: but I was not joking about Penelope, I do like her. Her totally totally hetero marriage to Tom Cruise is probably her only flaw.

Posted by: ginger at March 5, 2004 10:43 AM

.... I forgot: Tom Cruise, legally not gay. Emphasis on "not".

You know, just in case his lawyers read this blog.

Posted by: ginger at March 5, 2004 10:44 AM

sam: I have less issue with civil unions, as long as they are created like any other type of law.

But I think marriage (defined as man/women) is something that exists outside of the State. Currently when a man/woman are married there are actually two events occuring, a marraige (which exists beyond the authority of the state) and a civil union incorporated by the state (this is a hard concept for statists to understand).

But I see no rational basis why this incorporated contract couldn't be extended to any group or make-up of individuals, as it is a contract like any other recognzing economic rights, i.e. civil unions of multiple partners.

But this debate has nothing to do with economics, and everything to do with statists attempting to destroy pre-existing institutions and replace it with a sham.

The fact they mask their intentions under "equality" and "freedom" is even more disgusting, as they violate their own premise when they exclude group-marriages or incestous marraiges (especially disgusting since their motivation is pure bigotry).

Posted by: Ex at March 5, 2004 10:53 AM

This argument has turned into a logical black hole...

It looks to me that the opponents of gay marriage in this thread have invented and latched onto a couple of little logical inconstancies in their opponents arguments in order to pretend that their own position is logically sound.

That doesn't follow.

Unfortunately it's trivial to invent logical inconstancies in an argument that was never based on logically consistent axioms and deductions in the first place, and since marriage is based on tradition not reason logical nitpicking is besides the point.

By the way here's a short and very incomplete list of some of the problems with applying long chains of brittle deductions to social problems (and to the real world in general):

1. Arguments about the value of something are inductive, not deductive reasoning and the categories are not precisely definable. If they were, we'd end up reasoning in numbers not truth.

We wouldn't say, for instance, that marriage between first cousins (legal in some states and the norm in some societies) is "wrong". We'd say that increased the incidents of birth defects by say, 0.2%. Then we'd have to decide what that's worth, and there would be no way to get people to agree on what % = "wrong". Someone might point out that animal breeders use incest to cull weaker genes out the gene pool - then we'd have an (admittedly weak) positive to possibly balance out the negative... What rule do you use to decide how important this is?

So when I said we'd reason in numbers, I meant we might end up with mathematical rules. Something like inventing a bunch of numerical axis to ethics, coming up with some complex rules for translating real world effects into numerical scores and some complex rules for deciding whether the group of numbers related to an issue is bad enough to be illegal.

And of course we'd never get people to agree on those rules.

Oddly enough, such rules may not be so different from the way our brains actually work. But each of us has a set of rules that's both idiosyncratic and mostly hidden from conscious access.

1. Human reasoning isn't based on absolute categories... So arguments like the most of Catalonia's (for instance, "It's possible to love more than one person at once - and it's not legal to marry more than one person at a time - therefore love is irrelevant to marriage", or her argument that children are irrelevant to marriage because not all married people have children) ... these sort of arguments can be used to invalidate ANY position that can be taken on ANY social issue. This fact, taken with a deeper understanding of the sort of reasoning that's actually useful can be used to prove that this sort of argument is useless.

2. In general all you have to do to make a perfectly logically argument that doesn't apply to the real world is to leave out a single relevant fact. And since there's no limit to the relevant facts in the world there's no reason to suppose that any argument that's logically consistent applies to the real world. Mathematics is the only science that never has this problem because it only reasons about objects that are defined axiomatically - so all facts are known from the start.

3. In real life, people, (Catalonia and Ex included) make arguments that miss some of the logical implications of their own arguments.

In the book "Godel , Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid" there's a mathematical example that shows that if a single logical rule or inference isn't accepted then it can become impossible to prove the obvious.

....
So we have to recognize that this is an argument about relative values, not about strict logical categories and, if we're honest, we have to argue in a human way about human values, not as logicians.

I grew up in Canada where, and perhaps I missed it having spent most of my adult life in the United States, but it's my impression that there is no cultural war in Canada (the Quebec thing could be called a culture war, but the meaning would be different).

It looks to me like for a few years, perhaps in the 90's the Christian right went nuts trying to start a culture war... And then lost interest, just as they succeeded in making enemies and turning the debate permanently hostile. The secular left got pretty ugly toward Christians as a result. And now the right is coming back for more...

I wish I could just yell "Stop!" Society is better off with no cultural war. Religion and sexual mores can be a private thing, and society doesn't fall apart. And that way it's possible for the political sphere to remain civilized.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at March 6, 2004 12:25 AM

Oops, I hate those editting errors. I moved #1 from the 4th position while editting and forgot to renumber. So there's #1 followed by #1.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at March 6, 2004 12:28 AM

Oh, I see, the second #1 was actually an inferior version of the what became #1. I guess I should actually proofread.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at March 6, 2004 12:30 AM

Joshua --

I'm glad you're an expert on logic -- now, what's your point? You contend that opponents of gay marriage make illogical arguments, but you have not advanced a logical argument in favor of your position.

My contention is that marriage has a social purpose rather than an individual purpose. Marriage is an arrangement conferred by society precisely because it advances the social purpose. Before we radically change that which appears to have served us relatively well for millenia just because it seems like a good idea to some people to do so, we should at least try to develop an understanding of the possible effects of the change so that they can be mitigated or the rush to judgment stopped before we do something which may be destructive. What's wrong with that?

Posted by: Ben at March 6, 2004 09:16 AM

Ben, I wasn't trying to make a logical arguement in favor of gay marriage. I was trying to:

1. Point out that logical arguements about the precise meaning of marriage and it's precise purpose are inherently useless. Thus suggesting that we argue (if we are to argue at all) on a different basis.

2. I wanted to suggest that this sort politics is unnecessary and that this sort of political struggle all by itself, has negative effects on society - creating enemity, distrust and disunity. Not even that the cure is worse than the disease, but that the process of promoting the cure is worse than the disease.

Yes I do have an arguement to make about the actual topic that will illustrate the sort of reasoning that I think is applicable, but after staying up all night last night I'm way too tired. So that will have to wait.

One point to make about what you said, though. Isn't it clear that constitutional amendments are meant to permanent? That being the case, your last few sentences seem wrong. No one is proposing a temporary moratorium on gay marriage so that we can understand it better. They're proposing banning it for all time. So while I get some sleep, perhaps you can make an argument that actually seems to support the current proposal.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at March 6, 2004 10:38 AM

Ben

1. Huh?

2. Actually, in the last thirty years studies have been done comparing the welfare of children being raised in families of same sex parents versus opposite sex parents and none found any significant difference.

Your question betrays itself - what is traditional?

Everyone wants "tradition" to start exactly where it benefits their position. Where would you like to see traditional start? Sometime after the children of poor families spent their childhoods working long hours in potentially dangerous jobs at the expense of an education and children of rich families grew up raised by servants of the parents? Sometime after 'childhood' ended at puberty for girls and the rest of their being brought up was by their husbands? Sometime after the stability of 'traditional' families was thought to be legitimately protected through the application of physical violence and rape on the wife by the husband? Right, but sometime before men started leaving the soon to be or already mothers of their children when it suited them? Sometime after parents irresponsibly died before their children were fully brought up, leaving their children in unstable single-parent families? Some time after divorce becasme relatively freely available?

And exactly whose traditional families are we talking about? The extended traditional families where two-parents alone would seem like an indadequate and puny environment to raise children?

The words "Children are better off in a stable traditional family," are basically without practical meaning. Even if I read them in the light in which I think you intend them, and I would definitely agree that children are better off in a family where the people are committed to each other, don't leave each other or the children, don't get sick and die, are loving and accepting and not violent, well, then what?

Shall we forbid people with high genetic probability of terminal or decapacitating illness that would likely leave their children short at least one parent from marriage and childbearing? Shall we forbid people with any past record of having left a child or former spouse from future marriage and childbearing? Should we forbid people who have shown a tendency towards instability from marriage and childbearing? Shall we forbid people who are too poor to have two parents actively participating in childcare from marriage and childbearing? Shall we forbid people who are very rich and plan to hire single nannies of only one gendre to raise their children from marriage and childbearing?

Or is it just gay people alone we should forbid, because in some theoritical situation the best possible environment for any child to be raised in includes two, no fewer and no more, primary parents of opposite sexes?

"There are reams of data unequivocally showing that for the most part children are better off in a 2 parent, traditional family."

I love that juxtaposition of "for the most part," and "unequivocally."

3. I never argued that the history of marriage is about love. In fact, I believe it is about nothing of the kind - it is about power, social organization, and exploitation. Which has a lot to do with why I so strongly disagree with the use of traditonal referring to marriage as a positive adjective...

4. Same sex marriage is an entirely new concept... Well since I have no sense of unexamined reverence for the traditional, I don't have a problem admitting this. Go have fun.

Posted by: Tara at March 6, 2004 11:06 AM

Tara - 3. I never argued that the history of marriage is about love. In fact, I believe it is about nothing of the kind - it is about power, social organization, and exploitation.

Oh, finally, someone talking about the real world. Enough of all this sit-com mythologising about marriages and families already.

Now someone explain to me why do gays want to buy into that marriage myth too. No really. Maybe Hitchens is right, it "demonstrates the spread of conservatism, not radicalism, among gays".

Which is sad in a way, isn't it?

(I'm not entirely joking, either ;) )

On a related note. Why do people against gay marriage argue that the state cannot interference and change a "natural institution" blah blah socialists blah blah nanny state blah blah - but... they're ok with the fact the state legally upholds that very "natural institution". Is that not interference anyway?

Why not take marriage entirely into the private realm (and religious, for those so inclined) and leave the state out of it?

Why does any personal relationship need legal or political approval?

Posted by: ginger at March 6, 2004 03:51 PM

Joshua --

1. Pointing out the purpose of marriage in the context of a discussion about whether to extend marriage into uncharted waters most certainly is not useless. In fact, it is vital to determine whether the proposed change supports the purpose. I have no intention of arguing on another basis because that would undermine the very point I intend to make.

2. This sort of politics is absolutely necessary. I do not want massive social changes engineered by a small elite (e.g., judges). It is essential for social peace that this issue be discussed thoroughly before any such change is made. I am willing to abide by a decision when I have lost within the context of a democratic process; when something is imposed on me without my input, I become extremely upset.

3. I favor a constitutional amendment only as a last resort. I want this matter to be decided via a democratic process involving the legislatures of each of the several states. If gay marriage is forced upon the nation by activist judges and/or the full faith and credit clause I will support a constitutional amendment in order to stop my opponents from abusing our system.

Tara --

1. First, I suggest that you get rid of the feminist rhetoric about power relationships. There is a small grain of truth in that analysis, but it is mostly wrong.

2. I see no need to engage in irrelevant semantic debates about when tradition starts. Suffice it to say that marriage has been around for thousands of years, as have homosexuals. We have somehow managed to survive so far without same sex marriage. I think we can survive a little longer while this issue is thoroughly investigated and debated.

3. Our current system derives from many years of experience. We have done some things right, and we have done some things wrong. I fail to understand what relevance pointing out some of the things you believe is wrong about marriage has to do with this debate. In other words, it doesn't help combat the argument that gay marriage may undermine the family to point out everything else that is undermining the family. Many things undermine the family -- adding one more does not help the family (n.b., I am not arguing that gay marriage necessarily hurts the family -- only that we should take our best shot at determining whether it does prior to permitting it).

4. You cite my use of the words "unequivocally" and "for the most part" in the same sentence in an attempt to undermine my argument. Perhaps my phrasing was inelegant, but I was attempting to say that numerous studies show that all other things being equal, children raised within the traditional family are better off than children raised in other circumstances. That doesn't mean that this is true in every case, but it does mean that it is true more often than it is false.

4. I most certainly do not have "unexamined reverence for the traditional." To the contrary, I believe that some traditions are good (e.g., Mother's Day) and some traditions are bad (e.g., genital mutilation in Africa). That said, I think it is colossally stupid not take experience into consideration. I have watched enough items fall from high places at a high rate of speed to know that stepping off of the roof of a building under the assumption that I can levitate my way across the street is not a good strategy.

Posted by: Ben at March 6, 2004 04:08 PM

But Ben, Tara has a point you're entirely dismissing - you just assume that gay marriage per se may undermine the family, without giving examples of how it may do so.

Whereas she has made very real examples of how families are undermined on the basis of other factors that are independent of whether it's a man and woman or same sex couple.

Many things undermine the family -- adding one more does not help the family (n.b., I am not arguing that gay marriage necessarily hurts the family -- only that we should take our best shot at determining whether it does prior to permitting it).

But how would you determine that?

That's the real heart of the whole debate.

Those "many other things" are determined already - families, ie. couples with or without children, are destroyed by things like abuse, cruelty, maltreatment, psychological screwups, abandonment, etc. Those are all variables that can affect anyone, hetero or gay. No matter what the incidence of those factors on the total number of marriages and families is, they do occur.

On the other hand, you have to "demonstrate" that the mere fact of being gay would be a more negative factor than any of those. How?

Also, tradition is very much a vague concept, Tara is right in pointing that out. Marriage as it was only 100 years ago, not to mention 1000 years ago, is not marriage as we conceive it today. In cultural and social terms, many things have changed in the relations between men and women, for one thing, they're on a much more equal level now; the whole idea of children upbringing has also changed, and children have been recognised rights as individuals only recently, it didn't use to be so. Also, families for some mean extended families, for others it's more about the nuclear family. Divorce is not only legal but no longer (ideally) necessarily carries a stigma so couples can remain on friendly terms and the kids can have two families instead of one. Plus, you already have facts on the ground here, situations where kids can already have a gay father or mother.

So who's to say what tradition is? Laws are also meant to reflect changing "traditions", uses, practices. Not to simply accept the facts, ok, but they have to deal with them anyway.

You can't just say "that's how it always been" and leave it at that, when reality has already taken huge steps away from "how it's always been".

Posted by: ginger at March 7, 2004 04:18 AM

Why can't people just leave consenting adults alone? My son and I are in love, and when he turns 18 we want to get married. Some people think we are sick, but why is this anyones business but me and my sons. Sheesh. You are all just a bunch of bigots.

Dirk Diggler

Posted by: dirk diggler at March 7, 2004 10:46 AM

Ginger --

1. Gay marriage has been legal in Scandanavia for about 10-15 years now. During that same period, out of wedlock birthrates have skyrocketed. (To connect the dots, we all know that children who grow up in broken homes have a much higher liklihood of poverty, crime, etc.). Is this coincidence or causation? I don't know, but I think it's something we should study before radically changing our social structure. I am confident that social science models can be developed to look at actual experience in Europe as well as other data here.

2. The fact that families are undermined by other factors does not argue for adding yet another factor that may undermine the family.

3. I am not talking about "the mere fact of being gay" undermining families. I am talking government licensed same sex marriage potentially undermining families. In Europe this may already be happening (see #1, above).

4. Substitute the word "experience" for "tradition" (as I have done) and your argument that you don't know what it is looks absurd.

Posted by: Ben at March 7, 2004 02:35 PM

Just picking out a few quotes from various posters:

I disagree with letting homosexuals marry,
and
I don't much care about gay marriage, but I care deeply that no one asked me.

Nobody is trying to take away your right to disagree with it. They're just saying, hey, your approval or disapproval shouldn't dictate what I can and cannot do in my life. I disagreed with Catherine Zeta-Jones marrying Michael Douglas. And not even four lawyers in Mass. got to vote on that one. Nobody (except Catherine and Mike, and maybe Catherine's dad) was asked. It was an outrage I tell you.

Marriage primarily is a social phenomenon which exists for the benefit of society as a whole

If marriage exists for the benefit of society, why doesn't society have the final say over whether or not you can get married? Why isn't a marriage license granted by referendum? And if it's primarily a social phenomenon, why is the law involved in this at all and why is the President trying to change the constiution?

Now this is the really interesting one:
I want the Mayors of San Fransisco, New Paltz and every other public official who is violating existing black letter law by authorizing "gay marriages" to go to jail.

If judges authorize gay marriage, they're riding rough-shod over democracy. If democratically-elected officials authorize it, they're riding rough-shod over the law. It's a conservative's wet-dream.

And a quick correction:
4. Same sex marriage is an entirely new concept...

Not true. Various pagan cultures had same-sex marriage. Some early Christian cultures had same-sex marriage. The most famous person to have been involved in a same-sex marriage was Alexander the Great. Alexander was part of a four-way ceremony in which he married both a Persian princess and his life-long male lover and companion Hephaestion, who also married a Persian princess. Bet that won't make it into the forthcoming films about him.

Posted by: Tim H at March 7, 2004 08:07 PM

Ex: But if it is ONLY about consenting adults in the bedroom then why is it YOUR business if I want to marry two or more sterile women or my same-sex cousin???

Broadly speaking, it isn't - and I don't see why polygamy, if all parties are fully informed and fully consenting (and fully adult) shouldn't be legal. (I'm not sure about the cousin thing - I note you specify same-sex cousins, which would be a different situation from opposite-sex cousins, and it's not a situation that had ever occured to me before.) Homosexual is something you are, like ginger-haired or colour-blind; monogamous marriage, polygamy and incest are things you do - that's the difference. Homosexuals should have the right to do the same things heterosexuals can do.

There is also a practical case, of the individual citizen's safety. At the moment, by allowing and sanctioning the marriages of heterosexual couples but not of homosexual couples, the State actively discriminates against people based on a natural and harmless part of their physical make-up. This is not a tolerable situation, as it enshrines a dangerous conceit - that homosexuals are inferior, that they don't need to be treated the same way heterosexuals are treated. Until you have equality before the law, you face the legitimization of bigotry, of individuals and institutions acting on prejudice. In many ways, you lead a life with fear constantly in the background - an enshrined conceit of "otherness", a state-sanctioned indicator of your difference, your inferiority and freakishness, hanging over your head.

That's why it's "nothing less than marriage". And that's why all opponents of that are being labelled as "bigots": even if they aren't bigoted themselves, they are defending a situation that legitimizes and even encourages bigotry.

Posted by: GS at March 7, 2004 09:22 PM

Ben - 1. Gay marriage has been legal in Scandanavia for about 10-15 years now. During that same period, out of wedlock birthrates have skyrocketed. (To connect the dots, we all know that children who grow up in broken homes have a much higher liklihood of poverty, crime, etc.). Is this coincidence or causation?

??

No we don't "all know that". "Out of wedlock" doesn't mean abandoned or beaten up or guaranteed-to-become-a-criminal, for chrissakes. Are you kidding? Children can be born to stable couples who are not married, there's absolutely no difference except on paper. Or they can be born to a single mother who will guarantee a decent upbringing all the same. The damaging factors I listed before (abuse, abandonment, etc.) have got nothing to do with how the family is structured - they can affect marriage or unmarried couples, stable or unstable ones, single parents, hetero or gay couples - they are indpendent factors affecting everyone, that's the point.

Plus, your link between gay civil unions (not really marriage - gays are still not allowed to adopt in most Scandinavian countries) and decrease in marriage is NEITHER causation NOR correlation.

Marriage rates had been decreasing anyway, long before civil unions between gays.

Plus, what logical connection could there be? Hetero couples decide not to marry "because" there are gay couples?? That doesnt' make sense.

It's just that less people get married because, amongs many other reasons, being unmarried no longer carries the stigma it used to have. Because children "born out of wedlock" are no longer considered bastards.

If you see all that as a damage effect, then I'm afraid we're not on the same planet here. I don't consider a marriage that stays together despite abuse, abandonment, unhappiness and you name it a non-damaged family model. I consider it the worst possible example of damage to the family. Divorce allows to skip that trap and give a higher respect to the individuals in the family, not just to some abstract and cynical idea of marriage and family where as long as statistics about marriages stay high, it's all ok.

Posted by: ginger at March 7, 2004 11:44 PM

continuing, in response to Ben again:

2. The fact that families are undermined by other factors does not argue for adding yet another factor that may undermine the family.

Back to square one: how would that other factor undermine the family, when it has nothiing to do with the other factors?

Recap: factors objectively undermining families are violence, abuse, abandonment, cruelty, severe unhappiness within the family; they are independent of whether it's a married couple or not, a same sex couple or not, a couple with children or not.

Factor 2 is gay marriage. It's a factor affecting the legal definition of marriage, NOT a factor affecting the cohesiveness, solidity, happiness and worth of a marriage or family in itself.

Prove otherwise, if you can.

3. I am not talking about "the mere fact of being gay" undermining families. I am talking government licensed same sex marriage potentially undermining families. In Europe this may already be happening (see #1, above).

No, it's not gay marriage there, and in most those countries gay couples, even those recognised through civil unions, are granted fewer legal rights than in many US states. In some states in the US, gays can adopt children. There is also much easier access to artificial insemination in the US, for instance.

And again, I want to know how you see that legal licence to marry as undermining the family. AS I see it, it doesn't affect any family at all. It only affects the legal definition of family. It's different. That may be seen as a negative effect in legal terms, ok. But it's not, it cannot be, a negative effect in direct practical terms on existing families, because whether my gay neighbours can get married or not does not affect my own marriage one bit. Does not affect their marriage either. It's not an indicator of whether it'll be a happy union or not.

4. Substitute the word "experience" for "tradition" (as I have done) and your argument that you don't know what it is looks absurd.

I didn't say "I don't know what it is", that's your own absurd reading.

I did say, tradition evolves constantly and has constantly evolved throughout the centuries. So there's not onen monolithic tradition to be held as sacred here. Divorce affected the nature of marriage a lot more. In a positive way, in my view, I reckon you'll disagree there, but it sure is a fact the option to unbound that legal contract does affect both the legal nature and the practical realisations of marriage a lot more than gay marriage would.

Also, we're talking legal tradition, as far as I'm concerned. religious traditions and views being entirely separate from a discussion on marriage in terms of laws.

You have avoided answering, Ben. You just reiterated your mantras...

Posted by: ginger at March 7, 2004 11:55 PM

Surely marriage is a social contract between two people before witnesses and sanctioned by the state, even if not sanctified by church. The partners agree to m ake a set of promises or commitments, etc.

Currently more than one in three of these contracts is dissolved in time, and indeed second or even third marriages are not that uncommon. The point is, society doesn't care, except for the members of it that witnessed your wedding, and even then, not a lot.

So just what is the function of marriage nowadays? Why does anyone require state sanction for their partnership, and why should anyone consider it of any symbolic significance? The only part that matters is the legal disposition: vis a vis children and the joint estate.

It is ironic that gays should be embracing such a hollow institution at a time when heterosexuals (in the West, at least) are pretty well rendering it a a quaint, archaic social occasion with no clout whatever.

Posted by: Dave F at March 8, 2004 04:44 AM

GS –

Homosexuality may or may not be an in-born trait – it has not been proven either way. Whether it is or is not, however, is irrelevant to the question of whether same sex marriage should be permitted. Marriage is a benefit conferred by society for a specific purpose (to create an orderly environment in which children can be reared with the most advantages). Same sex marriage does not advance that purpose, and, in fact, may hinder it. Whether it does or does not needs to be studied and debated before a decision is made.

I am not a bigot, and many of the people I know who oppose same sex marriage are not bigots. For the record, I do not “hate” gay people, and in fact I consider several of them friends. This does not mean, however, that I therefore have to believe that gay marriage must be legalized. Name-calling is a method employed by people with totalitarian tendencies who want to steamroll their opposition by demanding that they get their way and their opponents keep their mouths shut. I do not intend to fall victim to this tactic.

Ginger –

1. You are absolutely incorrect to assert that children born out of wedlock are “no different except on paper” from children born within stable families. Study after study has shown that children born to single mothers are FAR more likely to end up in poverty, commit crimes, use illegal narcotics, and engage in other destructive behavior. I do not purport to say that this is always true, only that it is significantly more likely, to the point that many of our worst social problems could be significantly improved if we deal with the problem of illegitimacy. Your statements to the contrary are just plain wrong.

The connection between same sex marriage and children born out of wedlock may be either causation or correlation – THAT’S WHY I WANT TO STUDY IT! The logical connection is that same sex marriage further divorces the institution of marriage from child rearing. You may or may not like this line of reasoning, but remember that actual statistics show that legalization of same sex marriage in Scandinavia occurred contemporaneously with an alarming increase in the rate of illegitimate childbirth. My position is that this issue is important enough that it must be thoroughly explored before action is taken.

Your last paragraph of criticism is a weak attempt at reductio ad absurdum (because some marriages are characterized by abuse, therefore marriage is no longer a valid model). Studies have shown that for the most part, children are better off in a family where the parents are unhappy than they are after a break-up of that same family. Obviously, cases of abuse must be treated differently, but if the parents are simply unhappy, they should consider staying together for the good of their children.

2. There is clearly a sufficient reason to demand further study (see the reasoning cited above) before a change is made to permit same sex marriage. By further divorcing marriage from child rearing, marriage itself is devalued when same sex marriage is legalized. Moreover, you state your opinions regarding what harms marriage as if they are fact. They are not. I acknowledge that the factors you have cited undermine marriage, but I do not acknowledge that your list is exhaustive. In any event, as the person advocating the change, you must demonstrate that the change will do no harm.

3. Affecting the legal definition of the family by definition affects the family. See above for how this can occur. Moreover, I am not concerned about whether legalization of same sex marriage will affect your marriage or any other existing marriage. The question is whether this will deter future couples from marriage and encourage more people to accept the view that marriage has no connection to child rearing.

4. I have never claimed that tradition is “sacred.” It does have value, however, in a number of areas. First, it helps preserve the fabric of society. Secondly, it can show how something can be done successfully. Throwing out tradition is sometimes good, but other times it is foolish. My point is that we should make sure we have a good reason to discard tradition before we do so.

5. Much of our dispute, I think, revolves around our different understanding of the purpose of marriage. You appear to believe that marriage is a venue in which people who love each other join together in blissful union. I believe marriage exists for the purpose of providing a social framework in which children can be reared and have instilled into them an understanding of the duties and values that make society function. You refer to this as a “mantra.” I consider your position on my views, as well as your view of marriage, to be patently absurd. You apparently have the same position regarding my views. Accordingly, it appears unlikely that we will ever agree on this issue.

Dave F –

I believe that gays are embracing this “hollow institution” in an attempt to force society to legitimize their relationships.

Posted by: Ben at March 8, 2004 07:14 AM

...FAR more likely to end up in poverty, commit crimes, use illegal narcotics, and engage in other destructive behavior

You mean, like Bush's own daugthers and their fondness for booze? Or Blair's son, famously arrested after throwing up and passing off in Piccadilly ? And mind you, that's a rather normal level of "destructive behaviour", but I don't recall if Charles Manson's or Jeff Dahmer's parents were married or not. It kind of gets in the background, in such cases...

Seriously, Ben, I'm sorry, I give up, I just cannot argue with someone who is so insulting to single mothers or even unmarried couples to imply there's a higher chance their children will be screwed up for life only because they didn't sign a contract. "Study after study", I'm afraid that sounds a bit too vague. There's no need of any study to know that there's lots of screwed up people coming from all sorts of backgrounds.

The logical connection is that same sex marriage further divorces the institution of marriage from child rearing. You may or may not like this line of reasoning

It's not "I don't like it". It's "I don't see the "logical connection" there.

but remember that actual statistics show that legalization of same sex marriage in Scandinavia occurred contemporaneously with an alarming increase in the rate of illegitimate childbirth

Ooh, I love that "illegitimate childbirth". I hadn't heard that phrase in ages. Childbirth is not illegitimate or legitimate. It's childbirth, Ben. Each child that is born is a legitimate person, and their parents are legitimate parents. Jesus...

And regarding things occuring contemporaneously - do you have data on the climate change occurring during legalisation of gay unions? Who knows, there might be a correlation there too.

I honestly, in all seriousness, fail to see how gays being allowed to get their unions recognised as civil unions - not even marriage, because the institution of marriage is still legally separate from civil unions in most those "Scandinavian countries" - would increase the rate of children born to parents who are not married.

People who have children keep having them anyway, gay marriage or not, right? really, I don't follow.

Your last paragraph of criticism is a weak attempt at reductio ad absurdum (because some marriages are characterized by abuse, therefore marriage is no longer a valid model)

Excuse me? And who wrote that? I never said marriage is not "a valid model". It's a choice, not even a model. It's only valid insofar as those two people getting married consider it valid and worthy to keep staying married. I can't generalise on marriage, because it depends on individuals. One marriage is good, another is bad. What makes it good or bad depends entirely on factors that are irrespective of gender. That was my point.

Studies have shown that for the most part, children are better off in a family where the parents are unhappy than they are after a break-up of that same family.

You have got to be kidding. Hello? "Studies have shown"? Do you live in the real world or not? do you want to hear some real stories of real unhappiness - or rather, out of euphemism, domestic violence, spouse and child abuse, and all variations thereof?

How in hell could anyone want to uphold situations where children and partners can be threatened psychologically, and/or physically?

Obviously, cases of abuse must be treated differently, but if the parents are simply unhappy, they should consider staying together for the good of their children.

We were not talking "unhappiness" of the kind "gee, I feel so stressed out today" or "gee, darling, you burnt the toast!", or even the ordinary moments of unhappiness that happen to everyone.

We were talking real serious problems - factors undermining and ruining marriages and entire families, remember? Problems the kind real people face. In the real world, not in "studies".

There is clearly a sufficient reason to demand further study (see the reasoning cited above) before a change is made to permit same sex marriage.

Now that's a point I can understand - legally, yes, gay marriage requires redefining marriage itself. I get that. But that's got nothing to do with all the stuff you talked about before.

By further divorcing marriage from child rearing, marriage itself is devalued when same sex marriage is legalized.

Eh? Are you saying marriage is already devalued by childless marriages?

It may be so in your view, but not in the law's. So, same sex or not, nothing would change there.

Marriage is not defined legally in terms of children. No law considers it a second-class marriage if you don't have children.

Moreover, you state your opinions regarding what harms marriage as if they are fact. They are not.

No, I don't even have an opinion on gay marriage or marriage per se. I'm not against, not pro, I really don't mind either way, I'm not really sure, whatever - thing is, I don't see any valid logical, ethical or legal grounds for opposition to gay marriage really. One motive I can understand is the will to hold on to a female-male family structure, but that's changed already in reality, so I'm having trouble finding a good reason why gays shouldn't get married.

I acknowledge that the factors you have cited undermine marriage, but I do not acknowledge that your list is exhaustive.

No one said it was. It was just a few instances of the factors that, by sheer observation of facts like abuse and violence within families, overtly undermine the families where they occur. The effect of those things are under everyone's eyes, when they happen.

Whereas the mere fact of two men or two women getting together is not bound to produce particular effects in itself. Gays are still individuals like anyone else, for gosh's sake. Individual cases will still vary. There's no way to tell if a gay union is going to be more or less successful, just as there's no way to tell if a hetero union will.

People are still allowed to get married, no matter what their personal record is.

There's no nazi-like selection of people-to-be-married, Ben. That was Tara's point. The law doesn't prevent even the most screwed up scum on this earth from getting married. Why should it prevent it on the basis of gender alone?

In any event, as the person advocating the change, you must demonstrate that the change will do no harm.

Wow, I'd love it if that method was applied to everything consistently, to things who have indeed brought harm. We'd have no nuclear weapons, no pollution, no wars, and no toxic chemicals in our food. Surely everyone knew beforehand that those things were harmful, right?

But how do you know that gays getting together is harmful to... who exactly, themselves, other non-gay couples, the instution-of-marriage in the abstract sense - and how?

If the harm you're contemplating of the same kind as "illegitimate childbirth", then, Ben, I think you need to look at the calendar, it's 2004, not 1904...

I'm not advocating changing any laws, and of course it takes careful consideration of pros and cons to do that, and it'll be up to legislators, not me. I'm merely trying to understand the different arguments. So far, I see much more common sense and logic on the pro-side. I also see a logic in the position of those who are not too keen on the idea of gay marriage because they'd like marriage to remain man-woman - be it a cultural, social, religious or whatever preference - , but do not have to resort to predictions of harm or destruction of society to make their preference clear, and are in favour of gay civil unions anyway.

What I don't follow is arguments based on non-existing correlations and sophistries that do not reside in the real world.

3. Affecting the legal definition of the family by definition affects the family. See above for how this can occur. Moreover, I am not concerned about whether legalization of same sex marriage will affect your marriage or any other existing marriage.

Then how can it affect "marriage"? In the Platonic abstract sense? Is marriage some kind of intact idea existing only in the superunkown? Or is it a real thing, existing in all its individual variations?

In other words, do we have to argue on the sex of angels, or on real matters, concerning real people?

And most importantly, are laws made on the sex of angels, or on real matters that concern real citizens?

You tell me..

The question is whether this will deter future couples from marriage and encourage more people to accept the view that marriage has no connection to child rearing.

I don't know Ben, you seem to be referring to this "marriage" abstraction, which doesn't exist. This is not a discussion about views of marriage. It's about the real possibility of getting really married, for real.

Besides, you could never ever make any predictions on how anything would deter anyone from marrying, or not. It's impossible. People got it wrong even with divorce.

And get this: marriage already does not necessarily have any connections to child-rearing. Check the laws and tell me if they mention otherwise.

Also you seem to ignore marriage would give gays full rights of adoption; not to mention gay males or females already have, like anyone, the sacrosanct right of fathering or mothering their own biological children.

I'd rather face reality than argue about views or deterrence - from what I don't even consider something to deter anyway. we're not talking crime, we're talking personal, individual choices. Marriage means something different to everyone who's married.

4. I have never claimed that tradition is “sacred.” It does have value, however, in a number of areas. First, it helps preserve the fabric of society.

It depends. It also depends from what you see as threatening the fabric of society.

Secondly, it can show how something can be done successfully. Throwing out tradition is sometimes good, but other times it is foolish. My point is that we should make sure we have a good reason to discard tradition before we do so.

That's all truly nice and neat and clean. But, back to the real world...

How, in what precise, concrete, real ways, can two gay people getting married harm society ?

Gee, you'd think gays were the new Al Qaeda, really. Bin Laden? that's soo 2001.

Posted by: ginger at March 8, 2004 02:31 PM

Ginger --

1. "I just cannot argue with someone who is so insulting to single mothers or even unmarried couples to imply there's a higher chance their children will be screwed up for life only because they didn't sign a contract."

I am not insulting anyone, so don't be so defensive. I have not assigned blame to anyone, and I clearly stated that some situations are different than others. That said, I am simply stating a fact: Children reared by their natural parents within the context of marriage are better off, on average, than children who are not. If you check the records of any juvenile probation department, I'm sure you will see my point (n.b., I have a professional relationship with one such department -- more than 80% of their charges are children from broken homes). In any event, the only way you can dispute this point is to ignore the available facts and evidence.

2. So, because you cannot see the connection it must not exist? Are your ideological blinders so firmly affixed that you are not willing to look into the matter? This is a serious issue that merits serious study and discussion.

3. I refer you back to my point about our different views of marriage. When a married couple has children, their first obligation is to those children. If this means they have to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of the children, then so be it.

4. The fact of the matter is that most divorces, even where children are involved, do not occur as a result of abuse. You can focus on that small percentage of divorces if you like, but I am speaking about the typical situation. I believe that I have already clearly stated that divorce may be the best option in cases of abuse; each case must be evaluated on its merits.

5. Your OPINION is that same sex marriage has nothing to do with the problems I cited. I see no evidence to back up that opinion. I have cited potential problems and evidence which may support causation. I have also called for the issues to be studied -- I see no justification for your rush to judgment on this issue.

6. Citing existing childless marriages as justification for contending that marriage is not about children is a red herring. The point is that same sex couples are by definition incapable of procreation -- see the difference?

7. In asserting that some gay "marriages" will be successful and others will not entirely misses the point I was making. Whether any particular marriage will or will not be successful is not the issue -- the issue is what effect, if any, same sex marriage is likely to have on whether people who intend to have children in the future.

8. Your point about nuclear weapons and the other horribles you cited has no relevance whatsoever to this debate.

9. Laws are made on the basis of how they will affect real people. Note that this is not "how they will affect particular people" but "how they will affect society as a whole." The issue with same sex marriage is that it may have a detrimental effect on society because it may tend to discourage future couples who intend to have children from marrying. This is a concern, and it should be addressed.

10. If you are so interested in facing reality then why are you so much more interested in your ideological biases than in examining actual evidence?

11. Gay marriage can harm society as follows: Gay couples cannot have children. Permitting gay marriage sends the message that society believes that marriage has nothing to do with child rearing. The original purpose of marriage was to facilitate child rearing. Gay marriage is inconsistent with this purpose at the very least and is possibly detrimental to it. If people believe that marriage has nothing to do with child rearing, they will tend not to get married when they have children. A father who is not married to the mother of his child perceives less of a responsibility to his child and the mother of his child than he otherwise would and is more likely to abandon them. Women with children are better off married than single, and children are better off with 2 parents than one. Q.E.D.

12. While it is true that children in a gay household may be better off if gay marriage is permitted and the gay partners actually marry, less than 0.5% of children in the USA are living in gay households. Doing something that arguably benefits that 0.5% at the expense of the other 99.5% is foolhardy.

Posted by: Ben at March 8, 2004 03:56 PM

Children reared by their natural parents within the context of marriage are better off, on average, than children who are not.

Says who?

If you check the records of any juvenile probation department, I'm sure you will see my point (n.b., I have a professional relationship with one such department -- more than 80% of their charges are children from broken homes). In any event, the only way you can dispute this point is to ignore the available facts and evidence.

"Facts and evidence" you cite vaguely by way of reference to statistics about crime (...how did we get there from gay marriage? anyone explain that to me please?) and demand that's enough, and I'm the one one "dissmissing facts" because I don't buy into that kind of circular reasoning about so and so's study or statistics on crime. I'm sorry?

I ask you, once again, what is the difference for a child - a real child, not a statistical child in some vague unnamed report - if his parents are married in the legal sense, or married in the sense they're together, but not legally bound?

Isn't the discriminating factor, that DOES make a difference, whether or not that family environment is a healthy one? Whether or not the parents are loving, supporting, caring and sane enough to raise their kids properly? Also, isn't it important whether they get social support from their community? Isn't the character of each child important?

Ben, have you lived long enough and met enough people to have seen and heard enough cases to prove to you, without the need of numbers, that it's individuals that make the difference, and that all sorts of situations and backgrounds can produce problems for children, or not, and it's often hard to tell why? I'm not talking crime per se, I'm talking much wider range of problems children can develop. In fact, sometimes even the most decent parents will have children that grow up to be murderers or rapists or just plain bastards, or conversely, lovely children but with lots of difficulties in life and psychological issues. It happens. You too must have realised that, or else we're really not talking the same world here.

The most important thing for children is to be taken good care of. Whether by two stable and unmarried parents, or stable and married parents, or single parent plus extra help, or single mother and grandparents and uncles and friends, or elder siblings, etc. OR two dads or two moms, well, what counts is to provide the basics. The rest is up to the kids and to society. Those basics can be provided by people who are willing to do so - regardless of who and how many they are and whether they signed a legal paper or not. Understand what I mean here?

Now I no longer see how we got to discussing lack of marriage, when the actual topic is people wanting to get married, hmm...

2. So, because you cannot see the connection it must not exist? Are your ideological blinders so firmly affixed that you are not willing to look into the matter? This is a serious issue that merits serious study and discussion.

Oh please. I never said "because I cannot see the connection it must exist" - I have been asking you to show me that connection, and show it with real examples.

How do gays getting married discourage non-gay people from getting married?

3. I refer you back to my point about our different views of marriage. When a married couple has children, their first obligation is to those children. If this means they have to stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of the children, then so be it.

I refer you back to the distinction between "unhappiness" and "abuse".

Where do you draw the line, Ben?

What do you mean by "unhappy"?

Temporarily or permanently unhappy? Just disliking, or outright hating each other? Shouting at each other every single day horrible things in front of the kids? Or "just" no-longer-even-having-sex-but-we-can-pretend-we're-still-in-love-for-the-sake-of-the-kids unhappy?

Because kids of, say, 7 to 12 are notoriously as perceptive as little gerbils with no capacity to understand what's really going on?

How far would you take your "family value" of keeping up appearances, Ben?

And mind you, precisely as an "obligation" - I'd prefer "respect", if you don't mind - for BOTH the children, and themselves.

4. The fact of the matter is that most divorces, even where children are involved, do not occur as a result of abuse. You can focus on that small percentage of divorces if you like, but I am speaking about the typical situation.

Me neither. I'm including them all. All degrees from unhappiness to abuse. From the "simple" unhappiness of couples no longer loving or caring for or even liking each other, and no longer liking staying together - which shows, and which the kids perceive - to the most violent cases of child and spouse abuse, including outright paedophilia within the family. - You may know from both reality and statistics that that's indeed where most of paedophiliac crimes occur. Within families. The orc is not always outside.

I believe that I have already clearly stated that divorce may be the best option in cases of abuse; each case must be evaluated on its merits.

Ok. Of course, but we can still draw some general conclusions, no? Maybe you could just elaborate on where you'd draw the line between "keeping up appereances" presumably for the sake of the kids, and acknowledging it's not good for the kids in the first place to keep up apperances.

Having your opinion on what's the dividing line between "unhappiness" that can be overlooked and abuse that cannot, would help understand exactly what kind of ethical principles, and concerns, you would evaluate each case on.

5. Your OPINION

We're ALL talking our opinions here, so no need to point that out.

... is that same sex marriage has nothing to do with the problems I cited.

No, see, I'll try and rephrase that: I haven't understood how it would HAVE something to do with them.

I haven't heard it from you. I'm still asking! you can keep returning back the question to me, but since you're positing a series of correlation that go from gay marriage to more and more things you view as catastrophic for the family, without even starting to say on what exactly that correlation would be based, other than "gays would devalue marriage by separating it from childbearing" - which ignores a series of things like, gays can ALREADY father, mother and raise children -....

You're building your entire argument from a series of unproven assumptions, you swing from correlation to causation all the time, so allow me to ask you to be more precise.

I have cited potential problems and evidence which may support causation.

Hah, no you have not. You just observed that in some countries, gay unions and decrease in marriage occurred contemporaneously.

Again: where is the correlation? simple fact two things happen at the same time is NOT correlation.

6. Citing existing childless marriages as justification for contending that marriage is not about children is a red herring. The point is that same sex couples are by definition incapable of procreation -- see the difference?

No, childless by choice.

You're not getting the point, Ben: the laws about marriage do not require marriage to produce children in order to be valid!

You're validly and legally married the moment you get married. Whether you have children or not after that, is not the law's business.

I thought we're talking the laws here, the laws and the legal definition of marriage - not each particular person's views of what makes a valid marriage or not. If you think a marriage without children is less valid than one with children, be my guest. But your idea holds no relevance to the legality of that marriage, and to the law's view of marriage as union between two people, whether or not they have children.

Also please note: I did not say "marriage is not about children".

I said: "it is not NECESSARILY about children". Ie, they're not required to make a marriage a marriage, legally and socially - regardless of what your or my or anyone's views thereabout are.

Can you follow that? Please don't make me rewrite that again.

7. In asserting that some gay "marriages" will be successful and others will not entirely misses the point I was making. Whether any particular marriage will or will not be successful is not the issue -- the issue is what effect, if any, same sex marriage is likely to have on whether people who intend to have children in the future.

... Right. Which is dependent on gay marriage how, exactly?

Can you please put it in very common English for me: how can two gay people getting married affect the chance/desire/possibility etc. of other non-gay (right? that's what you mean?) people to have kids?

8. Your point about nuclear weapons and the other horribles you cited has no relevance whatsoever to this debate.

More or less like "illegitimate childbirth", you mean?

9. Laws are made on the basis of how they will affect real people.

Oh finally. That's rather plain to see, isn't it?

Note that this is not "how they will affect particular people" but "how they will affect society as a whole."

Ah ah, indeed, but here is where you risk stepping into complete and utter abstraction, sophistries and unrelated non-correlations.

You sure can generalise, but you have to start from real examples.

Then again, I understand where you're coming from - seeing you think people should stay married even if they no longer care for each other, you seem to consider marriage like some pagan god on whose altar to sacrifice one's and one's kids right to the pursuit of happiness.

No wonder you think this scary and vengeful God of Marriage, to be appeased with human sacrifice, is worthier than its servants.

The issue with same sex marriage is that it may have a detrimental effect on society because it may tend to discourage future couples who intend to have children from marrying. This is a concern, and it should be addressed.

That is a concern for you, I get it. You haven't addressed it one bit. You need to spell it out: how does gay marriage discourage child-bearing for everybody?

Or are you seeing the threat coming from this mythical pagan (no offence to pagans) god of Gay Marriage who wants to dethrone the Real God of Marriage, and unless you're a polytheist you can't have two Gods?

Really, Ben, your "logic" here is about the same as that of someone worshipping a capricious and malignant divinity who wants the unhappiness of its followers and the sacrificing of their most fundamental rights - and duties to each other. If you put Marriage above respect, happiness, honesty, then can you tell me what it becomes?

Posted by: ginger at March 8, 2004 05:13 PM

.. Gay marriage can harm society as follows: Gay couples cannot have children. Permitting gay marriage sends the message that society believes that marriage has nothing to do with child rearing.

"Sends the message"? is that it? is that the correlation? oh dear...

The current message goes like this: not "marriage has nothing to do with child rearing" but "marriage is a union between man and woman" not necessarily to do with child rearing.

The current message to society is: "I am the law and I don't care if you have kids or not, if you intend to or not, if you're good person or not, if you're clever or not, if you're a criminal or not, if you're a peadophile or not - I'll declare you married all the same".

But the proposed amendment would have the message say "I am the law and I do care if you're gay and if you are, you shall not get married. If you want to get married in a same-sex couple, you can always change sex so as to match the opposite one from the sex of your partner. I'll even pay your operation expense, now go and stop bothering me, thanks".

ALSO, please note: gay individuals can already have children - like anyone else, doh -, get together with their gay partner, and raise children within the resulting gay family. No law can stop that.

Now, since you seem to think that "children born out of wedlock" are bound to be so much worse off than those with a "born to married parents" stamp on their forehead, why do you want to deny that to the natural children of gay males or females? Is that your concern for children?

The original purpose of marriage was to facilitate child rearing.

Says who?

In which culture? which tradition? "Original" when? Are you talking thousand of years ago, or the constitution? Or current family laws?

Or are you talking religion?

It gets confusing, you know, if you don't specify.

Gay marriage is inconsistent with this purpose at the very least and is possibly detrimental to it.

....

If people believe that marriage has nothing to do with child rearing, they will tend not to get married when they have children.

Oh maaan... let's see what's wrong with that phrase:

- you're talking of a mass of utter brainless idiots there, getting directions on their own most personal choices from the law. Is that your idea of "people"?

- I don't care what your opinion on that is, you're entitled to one, but you have to acknowlege it's not the same for the law, which does NOT consider a "child born out of wedlock" as either a disaster for society or "illegitimate" - father and mother are still legally recognised as such even if not married, do you know that or are you up to date only with 17th century legislation?

- Having children is a personal matter. The most personal one. It doesn't have much to do with laws or opinions, as much as with a LOT of practical factors, and then one's own cultural background, mentality, etc.

- Having children is not in itself a value. Just like being married is not in itself a value. It's how, why, what you do with what you're given, what you do with what you choose. You can't possibly put your Marriage Divinity so high above humans it tramples upon them, can you?

A father who is not married to the mother of his child perceives less of a responsibility to his child and the mother of his child than he otherwise would and is more likely to abandon them.

Says who, again?? Countless stories disprove that correlation. Marriage is not itself immunity from harm. It's only a piece of paper - what counts is what's BEHIND that piece of paper, Ben. The intentions and behaviour of people are not dictated by such a superficial difference, the difference is in the substance below - wehther it's in a marriage, or unmarried couples.

You can't possibly be so obtuse, really.

Women with children are better off married than single, and children are better off with 2 parents than one.

Unless one of them is a right bastard that doesn't give a toss about them or their mother/father, right? Or are they better off with two parents no matter what?

Where did your "each case must be assessed etc." go? If it's still valid, so is my question: where do you draw the line.

12. While it is true that children in a gay household may be better off if gay marriage is permitted and the gay partners actually marry, less than 0.5% of children in the USA are living in gay households. Doing something that arguably benefits that 0.5% at the expense of the other 99.5% is foolhardy.

You still have to give even the tiniest logical and reasonable foundation to that "at the expense of" assumption.

Posted by: ginger at March 8, 2004 05:32 PM

Ginger --

1. There simply is no doubt that on average children living with their natural parents who are married to each other are better off than those who are not. Mountains of social science research back this up. This is a fact. It doesn't mean that all children brought up this way are better off than all children brought up in other circumstances. It doesn't mean that children brought up this way cannot turn into Charles Manson. It doesn't mean that children brought up in other circumstances will turn out bad. It does mean that this form of social arrangement is to be preferred because it leads to a higher liklihood of success.

In terms of making blanket social policies, it doesn't make sense to talk about individual children. It only makes sense to talk about what is most likely to be best for the majority of children.

2. I have nothing further to say about this, as I believe I have made my points.

3. I was quite careful to draw a distinction between unhappiness and abuse. I know that I can tell the difference between the two, but apparently you can't.

4. Social science research demonstrates that children are better off when the family unit stays together, EVEN IF THE PARENTS NO LONGER LOVE EACH OTHER. Abuse is different, but most of the time, children are better off if the family stays intact.

5. Paragraph 11 of my previous post explains the reasoning. You may accept it or not.

6. It makes no difference that the law doesn't mention children in defining marriage. The social justification for the institution of marriage revolves around rearing children. This is why the law exists. If the purpose of the law is frustrated, then there is no longer any reason for it.

7. See Paragraph 11 of my prior post.

8. See Paragraph 11 of my prior post. In addition, I would hardly describe my view of marriage as being "worshiping." To the contrary, I have stated clearly that if you chose to have children, your first obligation is to them. This means that you may have to sacrifice personal happiness for their benefit. You can avoid this dilemma by choosing not to have children.

9-10. No further comment.

11. I have no further comment on this, except to say that we are so far from the same page that further discussion seems pointless. If you are interested, I will point you to research done by Stanley Kurtz at the Hoover Institution regarding the effects of legalization of same sex marriage in Scandanavia. Kurtz concludes that same sex marriage has caused a dramatic acceleration in the rate of children born out of wedlock. Of course, I'm sure you would not consider this to be evidence, since you seem not to want to see any evidence that diverges from your point of view.

12. No further comment.

Posted by: Ben at March 8, 2004 08:43 PM

Ben:There simply is no doubt that

Oh, ok! if you say so, then we'll all accept it as FACT.

on average children living with their natural parents who are married to each other are better off than those who are not

Not living with their parents? Or living with their parents who are not married?

Let's make some instances, of things that happen, in reality:

- case A: child raised with three other siblings by natural married parents who are psychologically (not physically) abusive towards each other and the children -> unhappiness on a scale from 1 to 10, since you like numbers: 8

case B: child raised by natural parents who did not get married out of choice, love each other and the children, and do not show psychological abuse traits - unhappiness: 0 (we won't measure the ordinary and temporary unhappinesses of life)

case C: child raised by single mother after divorce, good relations with the father still being maintained, as with respective mother and father families who also help take care of the child - unhappiness: 2, because even if things have settled very well for all, the process of separation can still bring up disputes and fights that affect the child -- but the unhappiness grade before separation was 7, because even if the parents were not abusive towards each other or the child, they were still no longer united, no longer caring for each other

case D: child raised by single father and his stable girlfriend (or new wife) after natural mother died of overdose - unhappiness: 4, because the death of a mother (or of a father) is still a shock to any child, no matter how absent they might have been before already

case E: child raised by unmarried father and mother, who are (psychologically) abusive to each other and the child - unhappiness: 8

case F: child raised by married father and mother, who are psychologically AND physically abusive - 10

case G: child raised by unmarried father and mother, psychologically AND physically abusive - 10

case I: child raised by single parent; psychologically AND physically abusive - 10

case H: child raised by married parents, loving and caring to each other and the kids - 0

Do you or don't you agree that case H is equal in all respects to case B, and that F=G=I, and that E=A?

How can you insist the mere fact of being married makes a difference, irrespective of the other factors directly affecting happiness?

Where did your "each case is different" and "I acknowledge those factors affect families" qualifiers end up?

It doesn't mean that all children brought up this way are better off than all children brought up in other circumstances. It doesn't mean that children brought up this way cannot turn into Charles Manson. It doesn't mean that children brought up in other circumstances will turn out bad. It does mean that this form of social arrangement is to be preferred because it leads to a higher liklihood of success.

Yes, but only when all those other factors granting happiness and stability and psychological wellbeing are present! Otherwise it's irrelevant whether you're raised by two parents or one or married or unmarried!

You wrote that unhappy parents should stay together for the sake of children, well you seem to totally disregard that if they're unhappy, and I take that to mean seriously unhappy, ie. no longer caring for each other and indifferent to each other and in ohter words no longer married in the real deep sense of the word, then they are damaging their own family. Because that kind of situation DOES affect children. It doesn't take outright abuse and violence to empty a marriage of its meaning.

If a marriage is voided by the absence of love and happiness and respect and honesty for all the members of the family, then what's the meaning of marriage and family?

Hasn't it occurred to you maybe it means something more than the mere fact of staying together in the same house?

In terms of making blanket social policies, it doesn't make sense to talk about individual children. It only makes sense to talk about what is most likely to be best for the majority of children.

But the majority of children live in very different situations where all sorts of variables come into play.

And no one is advocating changing the structure of the family anyway. But the structure of each family is determined from each individual's choices, behaviour, etc., not by the law.

You're still reasoning from a non-existing link between gay couples and couples' and children's unhappiness in non-gay families.

You can't reason on this sort of thing by taking statistics and drawing lines connecting dots that are not necessarily connected in the first place. You've got to reason about real world examples.

For instance, child A, E, F, G, I, would be better off raised by their natural father and his gay partner, or natural mother and her gay partner, as long as those other factors directly affecting children's wellbeing could be granted.

You can't always have the Brady Bunch family situation, Ben. It does not happen so often in the real world. You may think the vast majority of families are happy and stable and loving. It's not so. Since you love statistics, take those on child abuse and domestic violence and see what you come up with.

I'm not saying marriage is bad, or empty, in itself. I'm saying it becomes a meaningless value if it's upheld no matter what.

I'm not saying marriage has no child-rearing purpose either. It just doesn't necessarily entail child-rearing. There's lots of couples, married or not, who chose not to have kids. Why should their marriage count any less?

Social science research demonstrates that children are better off when the family unit stays together, EVEN IF THE PARENTS NO LONGER LOVE EACH OTHER.

What "social science"? There's tons of psychology and sociology studies examining all sorts of different cases, I'm not aware of any such BLANKET STATEMENTS conclusions being drawn by ONE "social science" supergod who decreeed Marriage to be this hypocritical, empty, pathetic thing that needs upholding even in the practical cases when it's been totally voided of its meaning.

In the real world, which social sciences study, anyone can tell you that the absence of love in a family most often has very visible, tangible, audible signs of that discord which rubs off on every member of the family.

You must live in a very privileged and guarded environment if you've never know that.

Abuse is different, but most of the time, children are better off if the family stays intact.

Even in abuse?

And again, where do you draw that line between unhappiness of the kind that can be covered up by huge doses of hypocrisy, and unhappiness which can't?

Do you deny that in many cases where serious unhappiness reigns, it is also expressed in ways that do have an effect on children?

Do you deny that even the "silent" unhappiness, well concealed "for the sake of apparances" does get transmitted to children?

Or do you consider a failed family or marriage only one with the highest possible degree of abuse?

In other words, where do you see the 1-10 unhappiness scale start to tip unfavourably, at 5, or at 10?

It makes no difference that the law doesn't mention children in defining marriage. The social justification for the institution of marriage revolves around rearing children. This is why the law exists. If the purpose of the law is frustrated, then there is no longer any reason for it.

The law is there spelt in black and white and equal for all, so it damn well matters a LOT.

The "social justification" is not black on white and is not equal for all, because in society, in a DEMOCRATIC society, all kinds of people have all kinds of different ideas about what a family, or THEIR family, is about. And have all kinds of different situations. And have all kinds of different unions, based on all sorts of motivations. From the most happy and ideal one, to the most cynical and exploitative one. There is no ONE social view, Ben. A concept you may wish to learn, instead of repeating dogmas of your own making.

The purpose of the law of marriage is to recognise unions between couples, currently, man and woman. That's it! Nothing else. No mention of whether they have children or not. It doesn't change the nature of marriage.

You know, I respect a lot more the arguments of people who simply admit they don't like the idea of gay marriage being conflated with marriage as it is between man and woman, not because they think it would "soil" their idea of marriage, or harm it or harm society, but because they do think that man-woman union, children or not, is different, so the difference should remain in law. There's no need to prove or argue about that preference, it's a lot more honest to simply say, I'm fine with gays getting legal rights in civil unions, I'd just rather that kind of union remained separate from man-woman marriage, that's all. That's enough. It's understandable. It assumes a traditional marriage, it acknowledges all kinds of different types of unions as well.

In fact, that's how the legislation is in many of those Scandinavian countries you cite. And that's how new legislation is being proposed in countries which do not yet recognise civil unions. Laws are being advanced to give legal recognition to all civil unions, hetero or gay - the French "PACS", Pacte de Solidarite or something like that - that would keep them different from marriage. That's a solution that fits most people. And it sounds like a good compromise to me. And it upholds the legal and social value of marriage as it is.

Your arguments on the otehr hand revolve around a ton of hypocrisy, abstraction, inconsitencies, non-existing correlations,and total disregard for individual wellbeing of both children and parents.

I would hardly describe my view of marriage as being "worshiping."

No, indeed, you worship hypocrisy, not marriage.

Gays who want to get married have a much higher opinion of what marriage is than you with your "for the sake of the children" fraud.

To the contrary, I have stated clearly that if you chose to have children, your first obligation is to them. This means that you may have to sacrifice personal happiness for their benefit.

Oh Ben, try putting your feet back to earth and answer me this: you don't think that the real, tangible lack of real personal happiness among the parents can rub off on the children?

You don't think that a cold, loveless marriage - even without the presence of outright physical abuse - can affect the children as well as the couple?

What kind of world do you live in, seriously?

You can avoid this dilemma by choosing not to have children.

... in which case according to you and your idea of society, it's a second-class marriage, right?

I will point you to research done by Stanley Kurtz at the Hoover Institution regarding the effects of legalization of same sex marriage in Scandanavia. Kurtz concludes that same sex marriage has caused a dramatic acceleration in the rate of children born out of wedlock. Of course, I'm sure you would not consider this to be evidence, since you seem not to want to see any evidence that diverges from your point of view.

Pot, kettle... Ben, since you're so wonderfully willing to discuss and never oh never use dogmas you declare to be so just because you say so or blanket statements "social science DECLAREs" and "it's a FACT", I would be so happy to oblige by going and reading a twenty-page research by ONE person, ok, but I was merely humbly hoping you'd sum it all up for me, by explaining in plain terms from what and how and based on what reasoning anyone can conclude "same sex marriage has caused a dramatic acceleration in the rate of children born out of wedlock", and that the fact children were born to unmarried parents, whether they're together or not, was not linked to any other factors such as wider, pre-existing changes in society. See, I remember reading that in Scandinavian countries parents, married or not, and single or married mothers get a lot more state benefits for child-rearing, better facilities, better assistance from the authorities, better working conditions, etc. Also, there is a much more liberal society in many of those countries than in Southern Europe, for instance. Marriage is not seen as this must-have to bring up children. MAYBE, just maybe, those are some of the factors explaining why women and couples don't feel it necessary to get married in order to bring up children, what do you think?

Also, maybe, just maybe, that people have children without getting married is not necessarily a bad thing, - but you've alredy excluded this factor from your tunnel view because you just want to see harm to society, and gays as responsible.

But hey, if you could kindly point me to the relevant pages, I'm willing to read this research "proving" without a shadow of a doubt that it's all due to GAYS getting civil unions. I'm also willing to read anything else which might disagree with that conclusion, because in "social sciences" it works just like in any discussions, there's hardly one final and indisputable point of view, and all must be examined in order to get the bigger picture, don't you think?

Or if you're so into citing sources, do you think citing one is enough?

See, I just thought we all could discuss this starting from our own real experiences in the real world, in the countries we live in. But I guess reality in all its different declinations is too complicated a concept to deal with for you. "No futher comment" is easier.

Posted by: ginger at March 9, 2004 02:33 AM

Ginger --

I see no point in continuing this discussion because the points are getting repetetive. In closing, I will simply say that I stand behind everything I have said previously in this thread. I never said that gay marriage is unequivocally bad -- only that the effects of legalization should be studied before we take a flying leap into the unknown. I think that's a very reasonable position. You choose not to look at the items I have cited. That is your right, but I would think that you should at least be willing to inquire into the facts prior to making a decision.

Posted by: Ben at March 9, 2004 03:58 PM

Ben, of course it's getting repetitive, you may choose to see it as my fault, but I honestly, genuinely cannot even grasp what you so assuredly take as correlation between gay unions and "children born out of wedlock" and how that last item should be a disaster to society in itself; or how can you pretend to be defending marriage when you're considering it such a cynical thing it can physically be kept in place even when it means nothing. I don't share your very bizarre "values" there, and to me concern for children means something a lot more precise and REAL than hypocrisy or pretence.

You cite one study, as if it was final proof, and consider social science as one block of final conclusions in one direction only. Then you say I'm not willing to discuss? Projection, Ben, projection.

It should also be noted neither you nor I nor anyone else are "making a decision" here. Only discussing. I'm for a real, down to earth approach to the matter. I'm not even arguing pro-gay marriage per se. But I must say the kind of "arguments" you use are the best possible ones to convince even the reluctant ones that gay marriage could be a much more honest proposition than an idea of marriage where people have to - in your own words - "sacrifice their happiness", which inevitably has consequences not just on themselves but also on children, if they have any. That's frankly a horrible idea of marrriage. And it's exactly that kind of ideas that destroys the meaning and value of marriages and families.

I'm concerned with real humans, with real human emotions and real experiences in the real world. I'm not interested in dogmatic, unproven abstractions that result in cynicism and hypocrisy.

Just so it's clear.

Posted by: ginger at March 10, 2004 04:14 AM

Ginger --

1. I don't think it's your fault: Neither one of us has any intention of changing his or her minds, so we have reached an impasse. To wit, you don't see a connection that is clear to me.

2. To me, marriage means a lot. It means something different when there are children when there are not -- when there are children, the primary concern is the children.

3. I said numerous times that I don't think it is final proof, ONLY THAT IT RAISES A CONCERN AND THAT MORE STUDY IS REQUIRED TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE CONCERN IS VALID.

4. I am not arguing that people "have to sacrifice their happiness" -- only that it is sometimes necessary for them to do so.

5. I am talking about real people too.

Posted by: Ben at March 10, 2004 06:45 AM

Ben: discussion is not about "changing" one's or another's mind, it's about understanding different points of view. I do not even have "a mind" on the topic of gay marriage. I consider several different arguments valid, interesting, and intelligent, in both pro and con positions. If someone asked me to vote in a referendum, I wouldn't know what to vote. I'm not sure. That is why I'm interested in discussion. Reading comments here has brought up interesting sides of the issue I wouldn't have considered.

But I do draw lines between what makes sense and what doesn't.

I don't see a connection that is clear to you, indeed - but the problem is you haven't brought anything to support that connection except... reiterating that THERE just is a connection! that's not an argument.

I'm for concern for the children too, Ben. That's precisely why I consider it a fraud to the children (*as well as* to the partners) to PRETEND that you're still together when in fact you aren't. If you don't care for each other, it will show anyway, it will have effects on the children's wellbeing.

I believe that honesty is healthier than pretence.

Children are not brainless, clueless creatures. They know what's wrong and why. They feel it. It's plain stupid and cynical to pretend they don't. Whether a couple phsyically inhabits the same house or not, and is legally married or not, is irrelevant - what matters is why they are together. If all reasons to be together fail, it's worse also for the kids to force oneself to cohabitation with someone you have come to dislike and be UNHAPPY with. How can you separate the happiness of a couple from that of the young children? It's a family, it's one thing. Parents forcing themselves to stay together end up showing their frustrations and venting them off on the kids. AT BEST, they are teaching their kids hypocrisy and putting them off marriage for life. That's such a SMART and admirable way to uphold the value of marriage and family, oh sure! teach them it's all about faking it. Absolutely brilliant.

And you call it "concern" for children. Bah.

4. I am not arguing that people "have to sacrifice their happiness" -- only that it is sometimes necessary for them to do so.

What's the difference? In English, have to = it is necessary.

Bleh.

Posted by: ginger at March 10, 2004 01:12 PM

Ginger --

1. It is now widely acknowledged in social science circles that those in the 1970s who said children whose parents were unhappy were better off if the parents divorced were wrong. Research shows that most of the time children are better off if the parents stay together, even though they are unhappy. This is a fact, and there are numerous studies on it. I do not intend to cite them here because I do not intend to waste the time doing the research. I have seen the studies, however; you may take my word for it, or not.

4. Having children is a choice. When a couple makes this choice, they setting themselves up for 18 years of sacrifices. This is offset by a lot of joy, but the two go together. My position is that when you choose to have children, your primary responsibility is to them.

Posted by: Ben at March 10, 2004 06:20 PM

It is now widely acknowledged in social science circles that... were wrong

research shows that

that is a fact, and there are numerous studies on it

ROTFL

Sorry Ben, but that's so hilarious. If you don't see why, you should try and go to any psychologist or sociologist or economist or anyone working in that wide world grouped together as "social sciences" and ask them.

You'll get 100 different replies even on that. LOL.

I do not intend to cite them here because I do not intend to waste the time doing the research. I have seen the studies, however; you may take my word for it, or not.

Ooooh! That's exactly how one proves things, of course! It's fact! Because I say so! So we won't discuss it! Yes, Ben I'll take your word if it makes you feel better.

My position is that when you choose to have children, your primary responsibility is to them.

Ben, you're not even reading me, and I don't know in what other language to put it. You are incredibly obtuse.

Try again:I am not denying parental responsibilities to children - quite the contrary, I am highlighting what responsibility means to me. It is part of parents' responsibilities to children to grant wellbeing to their children, and, when a marriage is so unhappy, that unhappiness inevitably produces thingies called frustrations which result in behaviour and attitudes that show and rub off on the children, especially if they're young or in their early teens, ie. minors.

Even the most silent, cold, apathetic kind of unhappiness in a marriage does harm to the children.

Of course, if you put hypocrisy above honesty and keep talking of the sacrifice of one's happiness as a value, then you won't get that that kind of "sacrifice" results in sacrificing your children as well. Drag them along in your hell. That's saving a marriage? No thanks.

And this still has nothing to do with gays.

Posted by: ginger at March 11, 2004 12:14 AM

... this has to be the most fitting conclusion to this surreal discussion:

There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.

Posted by: ginger at March 11, 2004 02:02 AM

Ginger --

I agree that whether unhappy parents should stay together is tangential to gay marriage. I also agree that when parents are unhappy, it causes problems for the children. My point is that it causes fewer problems (in the aggregate) than does divorce.

I explained numerous times how preservation of teh traditional family relates to gay marriage. You do not accept that reasoning, so further discussion on that issue is pointless.

Posted by: Ben at March 11, 2004 03:50 PM

I also agree that when parents are unhappy, it causes problems for the children. My point is that it causes fewer problems (in the aggregate) than does divorce.

That's plain impossible to prove, either way. It will vary in each different case, depending on what exactly that "unhappiness" is about and how it gets translated into reality and real behaviours.

I explained numerous times how preservation of teh traditional family relates to gay marriage. You do not accept that reasoning, so further discussion on that issue is pointless.

Indeed. You have explained why you believe preservation of an ideal of family (not: the different instances of different families with all their real variables) relates to gay marriage, in your view.

You haven't explained why anyone else should be convinced your view is more correct than theirs. That's all.

Which is fine to me. I don't discuss in order to find one final answer. I don't believe in dogmas. I don't believe there is one single social ideal of a family, or that the purpose of the law is to uphold ideals about personal choices for which there are as many different views and applications as there are individuals.

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