February 25, 2004

Freedom and its Discontents

Like Andrew Sullivan, Sheila O’Malley, and Roger L. Simon, I am frustrated but not at all surprised by George Bush’s support for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage forever.

The very idea of using our Constitution the ban anything is viscerally repulsive to me, especially when we’re talking about the harmless pursuit of happiness.

You don’t have the freedom to rape and murder and steal, nor should you. That is universal. We do not, or at least I should say that we should not, limit the freedom of our citizens unless that freedom will be used to harm another. That is revolutionary.

Neither side in our binary political system gets it quite right. Some on the left, when they can, won’t let you smoke in restaurants or voice your opinion on campus. A large swath of the left was content to let Iraqis rot for the rest of their lives in a totalitarian dungeon.

Many people on the right really do want to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom. They would, if they could, force my children (if I had any) to pray to their God in school.

On some days I feel pulled to the left, and on other days I feel pushed to the right. It mostly depends on what’s in the news that day. Today I’m feeling left.

As frustrating as this is, there is an upside. There is a Glass Half Full way of looking at it.

When I find myself wishing we had a political party that consistently stood for freedom and against authoritarianism so that I might find a home there, I remember that our political system is binary. If one of our parties were truly liberal (broadly speaking), that would mean that the other would necessarily be an anti-liberal party. Freedom wouldn’t be an American value after all. It would only be a sectarian partisan value. And if that were the case, we’d be looking at civil war.

The left specializes in promoting certain kinds of freedom. And the right chooses to focus on different varieties. They balance and make up for the blind spots of the other. It’s not a bad system, really. But it’s awfully disconcerting to be in the middle of the vortex.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum points out that Bush supports five new Constitutional amendments, not just the gay marriage ban.

He really seems to think the constitution is just a rough draft, doesn't he?
Just think. If every president supported five new amendments and they all passed, how many would we have?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 08:54 PM
Comments

Michael, this is sort of off topic, but would you support the repeal of the 2nd Amendment?

On the other hand, your analysis of the two parties is quite accurate. Each philosophy sees certains things as important, and a freedom worth having. Others see it as a public nuissance. I guess that is the benefit/curse of a democratic society.

Posted by: FH at February 25, 2004 09:05 PM

Hey! That was damned level-headed. And a pleasure to read given the week's emotionalism.

Posted by: SM at February 25, 2004 09:06 PM

Mr. Totten, doesn't this action by the President imply that we invaded Iraq for reasons other than liberating the Iraqi people?

Statement of Bias: I believe the Democratic Party to be the liberal party and the Republican Party to be the anti-liberal Party and that freedom is a sectarian partisan value.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 25, 2004 09:09 PM

FH: Michael, this is sort of off topic, but would you support the repeal of the 2nd Amendment?

No. Of course not. After what I just wrote?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 09:12 PM

Kimmitt: we invaded Iraq for reasons other than liberating the Iraqi people?

This is true because we invaded Iraq for lots of different reasons. But, hey, it wasn't called Operation Iraqi Freedom for nothing.

I believe the Democratic Party to be the liberal party and the Republican Party to be the anti-liberal Party and that freedom is a sectarian partisan value.

Someone is bound to come along any minute now and argue exactly the opposite. You'll both be half right and half wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 09:16 PM

This is true because we invaded Iraq for lots of different reasons. But, hey, it wasn't called Operation Iraqi Freedom for nothing.

I've used the phrase "cynical props" before, and I stand behind its usage.

And anyone that wants to come out here and argue that the Republican Party is the Party of freedom can kiss Jose Padilla's uncharged ass.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 25, 2004 09:21 PM

Kimmitt: "And anyone that wants to come out here and argue that the Republican Party is the Party of freedom can kiss Jose Padilla's uncharged ass."

Geez, c'mon. In the previous thread I said that the commentators on this site were for the most part civil and serious, and you go and say that.

Posted by: Michael Hall at February 25, 2004 09:31 PM

I've used the phrase "cynical props" before, and I stand behind its usage.

And anyone that wants to come out here and argue that the Republican Party is the Party of freedom can kiss Jose Padilla's uncharged ass.

Amen Kimmit! I wonder, if I did a Lexis/Nexus search, how many times I would find GWB saying that the troops in Iraq/Afghanistan were "fighting to defend our freedom". HOwever, the same president has apparently been fighting against those "defenders of freedom" since he has taken more steps at limiting American citizens' freedom than any president in recent memory. But hey, Georgie, you're either with us or against us. It just seems that he's mostly against us.

I just wonder how Totten can reconcile a possible endorsement of this man on his blog. Hopefully you change your mind.

Posted by: Graham at February 25, 2004 09:35 PM

MJ, I'd bet that before you became more centrist you thuoght the middle was an easy place to be. Nope. In the middle you are surrounded by extremists who want a piece of you. And they will never quit. Never. But you'll get used to it. Solace is found in that most of your countrymen are mostly decent folks who mostly want what's best most of the time. I'm convinced that to ask for more than that is to ask for too much. Friends and family help keep the Vortex from upending you.

Posted by: SM at February 25, 2004 09:40 PM

And Michael, that is precisely why I have been a wacked out Libertarian, oh these many years. I line up with the lefties on social/cultural issues and with the righties on fiscal and security issues.

It's not a perfect system - I'm opposed to the Left's nanny state activism (NO SMOKING!) and the Right's recent abandonment of fiscal conservatism but... whatever.

Most frustrating is that there are no principled arguments from these clowns anymore, its all just spin, spin, spin, message, message, message, talking points, talking points, talking points and, good Lord, make sure you get (re)elected!

Posted by: steve at February 25, 2004 09:44 PM

SM: MJ, I'd bet that before you became more centrist you thuoght the middle was an easy place to be. Nope. In the middle you are surrounded by extremists who want a piece of you. And they will never quit. Never. But you'll get used to it. Solace is found in that most of your countrymen are mostly decent folks who mostly want what's best most of the time. I'm convinced that to ask for more than that is to ask for too much. Friends and family help keep the Vortex from upending you.

Amen to that. You know exactly how it is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 10:02 PM

Problem with trying to mark yourself as "perfectly" centrist is that no one is perfectly centrist. The center is normality, correct? And the wings are the extremes? But no one is perfectly normal. We've all got our quirks, political and otherwise.

You say, Michael, that you wish there was a party that stood for broad cross-spectrum liberalism, correct? Would this be a Centrist party, in your mind, or more like a Moderate Libertarian Party? Perhaps the two are one in the same? Or are they?

Then again, it's kind of tough determining just where the "Center" is, sometimes. There's broad-based support in this country for somehow finding a way to cover the 44 million Americans without health insurance: Overwhelming Broad-Based Support. But ANY kind of coverage program, even if it's completely market-based, is deemed liberal. Does that make it liberal, just because it's to the left of what we've currently got (which is nothing)? That's the kind of stuff that throws me.

Supporting same-sex marriage would fall into the moderately libertarian category pretty easily. But I doubt most people would consider it centrist.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 25, 2004 10:07 PM

Libertarian Centrism?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 25, 2004 10:09 PM

Good questions, Grant. And heck if I know the answers.

I wrote about health care from this angle in a post called Socialism Without the Socialism.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 10:13 PM

Many people on the right really do want to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom.

Well, some, but not most. Other than incest, harming another, etc., what someone does in their home is their business.

I agree we whould not set the precedent of a constitutional amendment. Pres. Bush will not see it happen. It was a bad call, because you should never recommend something as a leader that the body politic will not let happen.

But why is allowing the civil union, legal status of joint tenancy, spousal benefits, etc., not enough? Can't the word "marriage" have an exclusive meaning-- as a lexeme? Whether it should or shouldn't is one thing, but the bigger legal issue here is that the court has overstepped its role in the MA case, and now the President is compounding the problem.

And Kerry's position is about identical.

They would, if they could, force my children (if I had any) to pray to their God in school.
I don't think that's widely true. Or do yo umean "under God" in the pledge?

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at February 25, 2004 10:22 PM

Yeah, I remember the "Socialism without the Socialism" post. That and the Churchill quote about the difference between liberalism and socialism are two of my very most favorites.

Have you read Matthew Miller's book, "The 2 Percent Solution: Fixing America's Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love", yet? I really have to take issue with a few of his proposals, especially when it comes to the military, but if you haven't checked this book out yet you should.

He sets out to solve America's social problems from a radically Centrist point of view and bucks just about every sacred cow of both the Left and the Right in the process. You gotta appreciate the approach...and the complete lack of dogma and demagoguery. I highly highly recommend you look into this.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 25, 2004 10:23 PM

Grant,

You just sold a book.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 25, 2004 10:43 PM

"Radical Centrist" is perhaps an amorphous term, but it could be used to describe some "in the center" who don't fall in the moderate, undecided field. I supposed one could call it neo-libertarianism, if one wanted, considering the love of the word "neo" these days.

Oh and Michael, I asked the question because I don't remember reading your opinion of the matter, and because I was looking for consistency. (one of my personal beefs with the left is its inconsistency on constitutional interpretation when the 2nd amendment is concerned).

Posted by: FH at February 25, 2004 11:41 PM

TOTTEN...

A Few Reviews To Wet Your Appetite:

"Matthew Miller shows that the biggest crisis we face is the crisis of imagination. Political leaders refuse to think outside the conventional ruts. But Miller has done just that, superbly. I haven't felt this hopeful about domestic policy and our national prospects in a long time."
-David Brooks

"Matt Miller's Two Percent Solution challenges us to get serious about social justice by confronting the reality of America, not the unreality of most political campaigns. This critical book asks us to open our minds far enough to see that real remedies exist for some of this country's toughest problems."
-Bill Bradley

"Whether you mostly agree or disagree with Matt Miller, you can never fault him for thinking small. Indeed, he is fast becoming one of the most original and interesting essayists on politics and policy in the country. The Two Percent Solution offers another intelligent challenge to the tired conventions of contemporary political debate from a man whose chief interest is always the progress of his country."
-John McCain

"Original, arresting, and carefully argued, The Two Percent Solution establishes Matt Miller as the liberal to reckon with. Conservatives need to pay attention -- because what Miller is proposing today, we're all going to be debating tomorrow."
-David Frum

"If liberals and conservatives could ever agree on anything, it would have to be something as blazingly simple as Matt Miller's Two Percent Solution...The Two Percent Solution is an ideal place to begin the debate on rebuilding America."
-Barbara Ehrenreich

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 25, 2004 11:46 PM

Hey, this has absolutely nothing to do with the topic but I just had to throw this out there:

I just read that Mel Gibson's movie is apparently so graphic and intense that it literally killed a woman watching it in Kansas. And she was only in her 50s. This wreaks of urban-legendness but I sware to God, it's not. I just read this on CNN's website.

Ebert damn near teared up on the air giving his review of the thing. Does anyone now still doubt the sheer force of The Passion?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 26, 2004 12:08 AM

I was watching a documentary about the fall of Shanghai to the Communists. It showed this film of a KMT commander just pulling out a pistol and executing a prisoner so he wouldn't be freed when the Communists showed up.

I turned off the TV and went for a walk . . . that image stuck with me.

I guess what I'm saying is that graphic violence has its own power.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 26, 2004 01:06 AM

Does anyone now still doubt the sheer force of The Passion

What there is absolutely no doubt on is the sheer force of Gibson's marketing and production company.

Absolutely the best orchestrated PR campaign for a movie, ever. Scorsese was a dilettante by comparison (film talent aside, that is). Why have just sex and religion as driving controversy points in your film when you can have sex, religion, politics and antisemitism all rolled into one? :p

I saw a news clip of the shop with the Passion merchandise. They said the replicas of the nails used on the cross are the biggest-selling item there.

Bah.

I'd rather still lust for the iPod, thanks...

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 01:14 AM

Here's another glass full way to look at it:

GWB can't decide to use the constitution to do anything except those powers he has as head of the executive branch, which were defined by that constitution, a constitution that spelled out the requirements for its own amending.

If a FMA passes, it will be because 2/3rds of both houses agreed, and then 3/4ths of the states ratify it.

That is a choice Americans make, in the process spelled out by their Constitution--a document which is Just a Piece of Paper, and yet somehow, we unite to give it power. What a beautiful system that is. We all argue about what should or should not be amended. We don't murder each other;we go write letters to congressmen, who then act according to a document, just because they believe that document is the way people have agreed we should do things. It's Astonishing how we solve our problems.

We will see what the people choose--maybe you will end up disappointed in your fellow Americans. Maybe you will not. Isn't that what matters most of all-- what the Americans think about this issue?

This is why it doesn't matter how many amendments a president supports--he doesn't have anything to do with this process.

Posted by: foo at February 26, 2004 02:09 AM

--You don’t have the freedom to rape and murder and steal, nor should you. That is universal.

Uh, what? it's universal in the US, you mean? It isn't universal because of anything in our Constitution. It's because every state of this nation made those things "not freedoms". And that's because of those Western Civilization values you hold, which don't happen to support honor killings. Even the rape thing seems a relatively new phenomenon for a state to outlaw.

If a state said it was okay to rape, would you think that amending the Constitution would be appropriate to limit it?

I am not arguing this as a specific analogy to same sex marriage, just pointing out that your rhetoric doesn't hold. I agree that you might say "but it's Obvious that rape hurts someone!" It's obvious NOW to us Americans (and others--but not all). It wasn't always--you'd have to acknowledge that women are people to find the hurting "Someone" to be meaningful. Many cultures still don't see that. "But it's obvious no one is hurt by same sex marriage except the couples who can't marry!" Also, not obvious. It's not yet obvious one way or another--it's not yet obvious that same sex couples are hurt by this, it's not yet obvious that the institution of marriage isn't hurt by this, and it's not obvious that our society isn't hurt if the institution of marriage is hurt/changes drastically. Some day, it may be obvious. But it isn't yet.

One needs to be careful when one claims certain things are civil rights--our definitions have changed over time. To then resort to naming things "universals" is a hole in your own argument. Human societies both evolve and decay. It's usually not clear at the time if either one or both are occurring.

Posted by: foo at February 26, 2004 02:20 AM

foo: I take the "universals" in Michael's post to refer to things like the declaration of universal human rights. Murder, theft and rape are universally considered crimes because they violate human rights of individuals.

Then, the contexts you're referring to are contexts where forms of violence and rape are justified under a larger and more invasive system (say, theocratic, or dictatorial) that does not recognise the preminence of human rights, nor accepts their universality. Yet. Because those contexts are not democracies. I thought the framework of reference for this discussion was democracy, and human rights - not their negation or absence, or their subordination to theocratic systems of power.

So I don't see any hole in making a reference to universals.

Human societies both evolve and decay. It's usually not clear at the time if either one or both are occurring.

Societies "decay" when they disappear by extermination or conquest or whatever (in the context of the whole history of humanity) or fall into anarchy, literally, ie. anarchy = the law is absent or no longer enforceable and there is no authority.

It's very clear that is NOT occurring at the moment, neither in the US nor in any other democracy. (Not even in most dictatorships, since dictatorship makes anarchy impossible but that's another kettle of fish).

If you mean "evolve or decay" in any other non-literal meaning, then it becomes a matter of subjective perception vs. objective factors. Some seem to think a society is decaying because it allows more freedom than older societies or dictatorships. Others beg to differ. "Moral decay" is not something that everybody agrees on. That's why it's much more useful and pertinent to debate this issue in terms of universals (and of legal principles), because that's something everybody agrees on. Or even if they don't individually agree to it, there's laws setting universal principles.

Hope that's clear...

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 03:40 AM

I don't get the excitement about President Bush voicing his opinion on an amendment to the Constitution. The Office of the President has an opinion when it comes to amending the Constitution. He is still a citizen and still is entitled to his opinions and to voice those opinions just like the rest of us. This proposed amendment has zero chance of surviving the process and being enacted.

How anyone can be surprised about his opinion is astonishing! This is a man that is deeply religous. What did everyone expect his opinion to be?

Just in case anyone is wondering I believe that the State should allow contractual agreements between consenting adults, regardless of sex or number. It is NOT the State's business how or who I cohabitate with. "Marriage" should be between me and my Church.

I've been happily married for 27 years. She has a lower number and I assume it has to do with the "happily" modifier.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at February 26, 2004 03:52 AM

MICHAEL, I asked to read Bush's statement before commenting. You didn't.

Posted by: Edgardo Barandiaran at February 26, 2004 04:32 AM

Anyone who supports gay marriage should read this commentary:

http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2004-02-15-1.html

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 04:49 AM

I again quote Dr. Hurd on this.

Q: "Why do you think President Bush is making Constitutional opposition to gay marriage such a priority?"

A: "I blame it all on religion and supernaturalism. Religion teaches sacrifice of self to the group. The conservatives express this, as Bush does, in the form of sacrificing one's sexuality to "the morality" of the community; the liberals express this by picking your pocket for the sake of "the morality" of the community."

Faith-Based Freedom

Posted by: Robert Tracy at February 26, 2004 04:50 AM

The link doesn't work. Try this:

http://www.drhurd.com/news_835.html

or go to the main site and you'll see the full article:

http://www.drhurd.com/

Posted by: Robert Tracy at February 26, 2004 04:53 AM

Kimmett, I can argue the left wants to take away freedoms.

2nd Amendment, they have been trying to get this thing changed for 30 years. I have a right to bear arms, and so do you. However, if the Left were to get their druthers, it would be taken away from the citizen.

Capitalism is one of mankind’s greatest freedom achievers. I have the right to open my own business, to work for a small company, to work for a large company. To move here or there. Why? Capitalism, if you take away that, you take away one of the greatest freedoms we have.

1st Amendment, you can say anything you want, unless of course, it is religious in nature, or it may offend someone, PC police, I rest my case there. Anti-War protestors that threaten people who do not believe the way they do. And for the people, who may mention the Presidential Free Speech Zone, please remember the Democrats are going to do the same thing at their convention.

Now they are talking about changing our Constitution to make the President vote majority and not electoral. Yet, when they talk about this, I do not see you people getting all up in arms. There is a reason we are an electoral, there is a reason that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution.

17th Amendment. This amendment was a huge strike against State's rights. From that moment on, the State lost some of its power to try and fight the Federal Government. I say let the State decide who can be married or not, whether they will accept another State's marriage law. I say let the State decide whether they will allow Abortion or not. To me I think those are issues that should be decided by the people of each State. Yet, I see no support for these State's Rights, well not until the Left lost the power in the Federal Government.

We all know none of those Amendments have any chance, none what so ever of being passed. Just because the President supports it, does not mean it will pass. It may not even make it out of Congress, to allow the States to vote on it.

So please do not speak to us about how the Left is all about Freedom, it isn't any more than the Right. They just have different agendas.

Remember in 2000 California voted down Same-Sex Marriage, does that Mayor have the right to say the hell with the will of the People? I think not. But obviously a few people here think that these Judges and Mayors should have a right to force the People to do what they wish to do. Instead of letting the people have the say. Why, because they are afraid to let the people voice their wishes.

"I said it before and I will say it again people, Democracy doesn't work", Kent Brockman, The Simpson’s.

Of course I disagree with the above statement, but I think it is funny nonetheless.

Sorry for the length.

Posted by: James Stephenson at February 26, 2004 05:09 AM

from HA's link:

"In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.

Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all."

Have any of y ou read anything more mind-boggingly stupid than that? "oh sure you can marry, only you'll have to marry a woman even if you actually don't like women and are in love with a man". Wow, such respect for the institution of marriage! Now bragging about cases of blatant hypocrisy in marriage is thought to be a defense of marriage! ROTFL...

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 05:19 AM

Not to mention the disgusting ideas behind that phrase "any gay man who can PERSUADE A WOMAN TO TAKE HIM as her husband can AVAIL HIMSELF OF ALL THE RIGHTS OF HUSBANDHOOD..."

Good grief, who wrote it, the Mullah Omar?

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 05:21 AM

From the parent article:

"You don’t have the freedom to rape and murder and steal, nor should you. That is universal. We do not, or at least I should say that we should not, limit the freedom of our citizens unless that freedom will be used to harm another. That is revolutionary."

I think Plato put it best when he said;

"Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

This has always been my benchmark for the difference between a free society and anarchy.

Regarding the comment made by Kevin Drum:

"He really seems to think the constitution is just a rough draft, doesn't he?"

Didn't the founding fathers kind of see it that way? I had the impression that the constitution was put together so they could have something to "run with" but they all anticipated that it would have to be modified as time went on. As I recall (and I admit my American history knowledge is not that good). Jefferson called for something like a revision every two years. On the other hand, he also once wrote a scathing article on how congress had transformed the constitution into a "ball of wax" that was manipulated at their whim.

...but I could be wrong...any of you poly-sci experts care to fill in the blanks?

Posted by: Joe at February 26, 2004 05:30 AM

Hey, your right to smoke in a restaurant ends with my lungs, buddy. Take that sh*t outside.

Posted by: praktike at February 26, 2004 06:15 AM

Give it up. There is no rational basis for marriage between anyone according to gay "rights" advocates such as ginger.

Because two-person marriage is unjust to more-than-two person marriage, the institution is inherently unjust.

So therefor I am supporting a Federal Marriage Ban. Everyone will be equally unmarried.

Or are you all against equality?

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 06:33 AM

I agree with Micheal and Andrew Sullivan. This anti-gay "marriage" bashing is by the extreem fascist religious right-wing. You know, most of the country.

At least you lefties have realized that democracy is not the best solution for everything. That is progress.

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 06:39 AM

Regarding Totten's comments that both sides of the political spectrum push freedom in different areas, I was struck by a news story today about the Unborn Victims Act.

Liberals are pretty much opposing it because it would contradict the 30-year-old federal ban on recognizing fetuses as human. One Democratic lawmaker is even proposing an alternative bill that would levy some penalties for "interrupting a pregnancy" but not fully recognize a fetus as a separate person against whom a crime could be committed. And, of course, this reminds me that the mainstream pro-choice position is that abortion rights can not be left to the states to decide, but must be protected by a blanket federal mandate, i.e., Roe v. Wade.

Sound familiar?

Some conservatives are pushing a federal amendment that would take away the right to legalize gay marriages from the states. Others, myself included, would like to give gays civil union status, but not all the way to marriage. Just like that Democratic legislator regarding the Unborn Victims Act.

Something to chew on.

Posted by: Matt Ward at February 26, 2004 06:48 AM

Because two-person marriage is unjust to more-than-two person marriage, the institution is inherently unjust.

Ex, you made such a brilliant effort to understand and discuss. Intellectually overpowering, really.

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 06:58 AM

ginger: You are just a two-ist bigot. Anyone who says marriage should be confined to just two people (two-ism) is as stupid and backwards as those that supported the burning of witches. Shame! shame!

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 07:08 AM

It seems to me that having a state or federal judge legalize same-sex marriage is not the centrist position, but the leftist one.

The FMA is the rightist position. The centrist approach would be to let the citizens of each state vote on the issue (or to let the state lawmakers decide).

If the question, "Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?" be put on a ballot, it would lose in every state, including Massachusetts, Hawaii, etc.

However, if the constitutional amendment asking, "Should the federal government take away the right of the states to ban same-sex marriage?" goes to the states, it wouldn't garner the necessary two-thirds of the states to become law.

Think about it: only 50% of the population support the FMA, but more than 60% oppose gay marriage.

State's rights are important to Americans. We don't want judges making law.

Posted by: Matt Ward at February 26, 2004 07:20 AM

From praktike:

"Hey, your right to smoke in a restaurant ends with my lungs, buddy. Take that sh*t outside."

Interesting that you bring that up. I live in Delaware and, not too long ago, smoking was banned in all indoor public places. The rationale, as I understand it, was to protect the people working in bars, resturants, etc. It's been fairly contraversial. Part of the problem is that a large portion of Delaware is within 10 miles or so of a neighboring state. As a result, a lot of the little "mom-and-pop" establishments have been taking a financial hit. On the other hand, I've talked to a couple of bartenders (both smokers by the way) who were in favor of not having to work in a smoke filled environment. Tricky question really. As an engineer, I can't help but wonder if there was another solution that would protect the worker's environment without financially harming these smaller establishements. Also, what exactly is the second hand smoke danger? No offence to the US government, but there is so much politics surrounding the issue right now that it's hard to take a government funded study on this matter at face value. I'd love to find some truly independant data.

I have read both the 1965 and follow-up 1979 SG reports (I did this when the Delaware legislation was originally proposed to bring myself up to speed). One interesting tidbit was that moderate pipe and cigar smokers had mortality rates pretty close to non-smokers (pipes actually were slightly less - but within statistical resolution). Since both pipe and cigar smokers tend to be surrounded by tobacco smoke while they are smoking - it does call in to question the actual danger of "second-hand" smoke. Although, to be fair, it doesn't quite rebutt the statement that second hand smoke is dangerous.

Assuming that there is a significant danger from second hand smoke, is that limited only to the tobacco leaf? Since I have two children, should I avoid getting a house with a fireplace? Should I not allow my children to sit around a campfire? Is the problem only tobacco, or should I be concerned about any burning organic material?

I'm not asking these questions just to be contrary, I'd really like to know. It would be great to see an independant study on the subject.

Posted by: Joe at February 26, 2004 07:24 AM

Yeah, banning smoking makes sense from a freedom point of view. Because you have a gun to your head to enter bars and nightclubs, which you know beforehand is going to be smokey.

But I fogot about the magic "right" to be smoke-free at the expense of my freedom to kill myself with tobacco. I suppose this magical "right" comes from the same one that gives two adults to marry, but not three or more adults?

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 07:40 AM

A: "I blame it all on religion and supernaturalism. The conservatives express this, as Bush does, in the form of sacrificing one's sexuality to "the morality" of the community"

The marriage issue is distinct from the concept of "sacrificing one's sexuality."

What someone does in the bedroom is their business, what someone does in the courts is everyone's business.

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at February 26, 2004 08:11 AM

Ammending the Constitution through the consitiutional process is the biggest threat to our Republic. More proof about how evil Bush is.

Our saviours are those unelected and annointed judges who can decide for the rest of us. They will stop the libertarian/corporate/religious right-wing imperialmilitianuts who are the biggest threat to freedom.

Posted by: Tolerent & Informed at February 26, 2004 08:20 AM

ex: for the record, I'm not a "gay rights advocate", I am just a person with an opinion. I'm not gay nor married so I do not have any personal stake in this, and am quite happy with my private life being the one area that's free of legal certificates and state acknowledgement OR interference. But I can totally understand those who may prefer otherwise, be they 100% super-duper-straight or not.

As it happens, I have the utmost respect for people holding a different opinion from mine on this topic, as on any other, provided they have a sliver of common sense and honesty and openness to discussing and actually have an argument to discuss. I'm not interested in puerile and obtuse non-reasoning.

You've had it explained to you by several other commenters why, in legal, ethical and social terms, polygamy and marriage between a couple are different and why polygamy cannot be considered legitimate and legalized. That's something everyone with a working brain and decency, no matter what their opinion on gay marriage, would understand. You keep ignoring any patient and reasoned replies and prefer to indulge in ridiculing yourself. As you please. I know I've heard well-reasoned arguments against gay marriages, so unlike you, I'll refrain from painting anyone with a different opinion as idiots just because someone holding that opinion is being idiotic.

Bye bye.

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 08:25 AM

Interesting that a US-supported military coup of a democratically elected, albeit corrupt, government is in progress 90 miles away from the US border, and I bet nobody reading this gives a damn.

Oh well, at least this gives the US and France (which even more strongly supports the coup) a chance to work together again!

Posted by: markus rose at February 26, 2004 08:31 AM

ginger: So let's discuss why it is wrong to ban more-than-two marriages.

But noooo, you rather marginize my post by calling it "puerile and obtuse non-reasoning," attack me ad homimen as being stupid, idiotic and indecent and then ignore my arguments, all why wearing your HALO of supreme rationality, openess and honesty. Well, I ain't buying it.

The truth is that I have exposed a fatal contradiction to the pro-gay "marraige" argument. If it is truly about freedom, recognition and fairness for consenting adults, and the State's role is to recognize it as a mere contract right, then it is discrimination and bigotry to prevent me from freely marrying my sister, myself, or six other women -- if all of them consent to it.

Bye bye ginger. You can run from the Truth, but you can't hide from it.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 08:36 AM

Interesting that a judicial coup of a democratically elected government is taking place in San Franciso, yet nobody here is worried.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 08:38 AM

Just think. If every president supported five new amendments and they all passed, how many would we have?

Probably no more than we have because that hill is so high. Chances are if it were to pass, it would be proper. What was the last amendment and when was it passed?

The very idea of using our Constitution the ban anything is viscerally repulsive to me

For me? The idea of banning and misconstruing what is already in the Constitution is what repulses me. This happens all the time! Here in Washington D.C. we have the highest murder rate and no right to bear arms! And then you hear the constitutionally ignorant say things like "Why would you need a gun you don't need to hunt in the city?" as if the 2nd amendment were about hunting. But these same people take one part of the first amendment to literal absurdity. Reading our Founding Fathers shows the clear intent of the first part of the First Amendment was obviously political free speech and not obscene and profane gestures. The part about freedom of religion, of course today has become freedom from religion. Society doesn’t respect the Constitution or actually worse doesn’t understand the need to follow the process. I believe the left is by far the most egregious in such things.

Posted by: Samuel at February 26, 2004 08:53 AM

It's amendment, not ammendment. Just thought you'd like to know.

Posted by: Pedant at February 26, 2004 08:54 AM

I obviously know the answer to my first question in my above post, it is rhetorical. I would still like someone to answer it.

Posted by: Samuel at February 26, 2004 08:57 AM

Michael Totten: "Many people on the right really do want to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom."

But this is not the issue we're talking about.
We're talking about gay marriage that is a very different thing. I am for. But I think that the attacks against Bush statement are exagerated.

Regards.

Posted by: e.r. at February 26, 2004 08:58 AM

Markus: Interesting that a US-supported military coup of a democratically elected, albeit corrupt, government is in progress 90 miles away from the US border, and I bet nobody reading this gives a damn.

It's not a military coup, it's a revolution.

I haven't written about this not because I don't give a damn but because I'm still not really sure what's going on down there.

I am not personally taking sides yet. Aristide was supposedly elected, but he is also accused of rigging the election. I don't know if that's true or not. He's also accused of acting like a dictator. Again, I don't know if that's true or not.

If he really is a thug then, as far as I'm concerned, he should be overthrown. I say that for the same reason I support the democratic revolution brewing in Iran.

But I don't know the first thing about the Haitian rebels. They could be some seriously sinister people for all I know. I don't want to pop off and say "woo hoo" only to find they're the Caribbean's Shining Path.

Either way, it's not a coup. It's a revolution. And I, for one, am surprised that the Bush Administration hasn't crushed it or come out against it. That's what Republicans have always done with revolutions in our hemisphere. It's usually the left that supports or tolerates them.

(I'm behind the curve on Haiti, so I freely admit the above could be total nonsense.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 09:00 AM

Pedant: It's amendment, not ammendment. Just thought you'd like to know.

Thanks! (I knew that, but goofed it for some dumb reason.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 09:03 AM

Wise and tolerant federal judges have proven to be the only true bulwark between the people and a fascist state. Any progressive issues that have been advanced in this country has done so due to federal judges. The freakin' congress is controlled by the neanderthal party and proven itself to be useless. If only we just had a few more Ruth Bader Ginsbergs!

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 09:04 AM

ex-- the issue of whether an individual's civil rights are being violated, say a gay individual who wants to have the right to assume the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, are properly decided by courts, not voters. Abolishing Jim Crow and desegregating public schools were extremely undemocratic actions.

I haven't had time to read all the above posts, sorry if I repeat here. It is appropriate for states to choose to ban group marriage and polygamy, which are inherently unstable and unequal partnerships. Additionally, polygamy imposes excessive costs on government, since few are able to support multiple partners and their offspring). It is appropriate to ban adult incestuous relationships due to genetic concerns. It is appropriate to ban pedophilia and bestiality due to lack of consent. And banning group marriage, polygamy, bestiality, incest do not deprive individuals of access to the institution of marriage, it merely limits that access. Homosexuals are PROHIBITED from access to the institution, unless they are willing to enter into non-sexual marriages with other individuals WHOM THEY WOULD NOT OTHERWISE CHOOSE TO MARRY. This is very reminicent of the ban on interracial marriage, and much too big of a limitation, I would argue.

Gay marriages are neither inately unstable, nonconsensual, or harmful to the gene pool. They do not hurt homosexuals, and they do not hurt heterosexuals.

Posted by: markus rose at February 26, 2004 09:07 AM

Michael,

Our choices for Amending the Constitution seem to fall into two camps:

1. Have both Houses pass an Amendment and have three quarters of the states ratify it;or

2. Have the Supreme Court do it by decree (Griswold v. Conn., Roe v. Wade etc.).

Leaving aside whether the policy decisions of the court are good or not, looking at the two methods?

Would I rather have the process be one in which a) nine non-accountable people appointed for life make the call in secret or b)debate at both the Federal and State level is conducted publically by officials subject to re-election by the people? I'll task the latter.

We have fewer than 30 official Amendments (and hundreds of effective Amendments). Looking back? We should have had national debates on many more issues leading to many more amendments.

Posted by: spc67 at February 26, 2004 09:13 AM

Arial, the problem with what you are saying is that if the right ever becomes as activist as the left on judicial matters you will change your tune. That "Neanderthal" congress is controlled by the "Neanderthal" party which has been elected by the people. The liberals in the Senate are blocking "Neanderthal" Judges which is a legitimate process. But when the right turns it all on its head with the same tactics of the left it will be the left's fault for endorsing such unconstitutional "ends justify the means" tactics. Process matters. At least the President understands this, the mayor of San Francisco and other people on the left don’t.

Posted by: Samuel at February 26, 2004 09:14 AM

spc67 said what the true issue is, the process of achieving such things is what is at issue. The left shows way less respect on contitutional processes than the right. So spc67 I second your point.

Posted by: Samuel at February 26, 2004 09:19 AM

Michael -- I'll admit that I'm not Haiti expert and I've learned about what I think is (mainly)going on from listening to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now on Pacifica while stuck in traffic the past two mornings. (also reading the Washington Post's coverage). I don't doubt Aristide has alienated a lot of people who wanted him to succeed, nevertheless, the rebels are former military officers with close ties to the current State Dept. head of policy on Haiti, a man named Noriega who was formerly a Jesse Helms staffer. Aristede is acknowledged to have been democratically elected, and there is no evidence that he does not retain the support of most of the highly impoverished majority. The biggest sin of the neoconsevative foreign policy perspective that you (and myself to a much lesser extent) are so enamoured of is that it tends not to give a damn about backwater countries with no oil and tons of poor people, as long as those countries do not support communism or Arab terrorism. (When do you think is the last time that Elliot Abrams has even THOUGHT about what's going on Nicaragua or El Salvador?) Maxine Waters of the Congressional Black Caucus claims that Haiti could turn into a mini-Rwanda. That might be hyperbole...but we better make sure that's the case before decide there are more important countries in the world to pay attention to.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 09:23 AM

Arial,

You don't believe in democracy then? It seems you're closer to fascism than those who believe laws should be made by elected lawmakers.

Tolerant and Informed,

If constitutional amendments are always a bad idea, what about those freeing the slaves or giving women the right to vote or allowing direct election of US senators, etc. etc.?

Your statement doesn't even pass the barest intellectual muster.

Posted by: Matt Ward at February 26, 2004 09:24 AM

The last amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1992 (originally proposed, by the way, as one of the first 12 amendments, 10 of which became the "Bill of Rights"). It prohibits a change in the compensation of Senators or Representatives taking place unless there is an election between the passing of the bill and the time it takes effect.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at February 26, 2004 09:24 AM

The truth is that I have exposed a fatal contradiction to the pro-gay "marraige" argument

LOL.

And why in gay marriage? If that's the contradiction, then it applies to straight marriage as well. Doh.

There is NO contradiction, dear ex, oh amusing wonder you. I'll repost from Jim's comment to the previous post - the two main reasons why polygamy is not legal and should not be legalised:

"(a.) natural jealousy so bad that lives are made unhappy and (b.) neglect of spouses and children. These are highly likely under a regime of polygamy, and they make allowing polygamy very unwise."

What's difficult about that? Everybody understands the reasons why polygamy and incest are not to be legitimised with marriage. It's completely different from gay marriage, for gosh's sake. You're carrying the slippery slope nonsense to absurdity and beyond if you don't get it.

There ARE reasoned and intelligent arguments to oppose gay marriages. I've heard them.

Not from you, for sure.

If it is truly about freedom, recognition and fairness for consenting adults

Nope, you entirely missed the point there. It's not just about consensuality. Consensual relations of ANY kind are already allowed. it's aboute legal recognition in marriage. Get it?

That legal recognition has to be ALSO in the interests of the state conceding it, or at least, NOT AGAINST the interests of the state.

Giving legal rights to partners of a polygamy and incestuous relation is CLEARLY NOT in the interests of a state, not just because incest is objectively unhealthy even when it's consensual, and polygamy can be considered unethical and unprincipled towards children and spouses - a legal recognition would bring about a legal mess regarding spousal and parental rights.

Which does not happen in a couple.

So OBVIOUS.

You may personally hold the opinion that gay relationships are as unhealthy and unethical as incest, fine, that's your own idea, I couldn't care less. But legally and socially, they are very very very different. In another category so to speak.

Get some law expert to explain it to you because I don't know how else it can be spelt out.

and the State's role is to recognize it as a mere contract right

No. That's where you are obtuse. There's been many explanations here, re-read carefully please and see where you're not even getting the arguments right.

All sorts of unions are already allowed, ie. not illegal.

Marriage = legal recognition of an union via a binding contract with both duties and right. It is BOTH about giving rights to individual partners, and setting rules and duties for one partner toward the other, and towards children (if there are any); AND about the state legitimising and giving an official "stamp" of approval to something that is in its own interests. Because families, be they childless couples or couples with children, are productive nucleus of society.

then it is discrimination and bigotry to prevent me from freely marrying my sister, myself, or six other women -- if all of them consent to it.

You can screw your sister, yourself, and other six woman all you like, dear ex, but the state won't give you a legal contract for it, because it doesn't consider your screwing your sister, yourself, or other six women a socially useful way to build a productive nucleus of society that would grant recognition in form of a contract. Clear now?

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 09:41 AM

>>It is appropriate for states to choose to ban group marriage and polygamy, which are inherently unstable and unequal partnerships.

Untrue. There are numerous examples in history of stable and equal partnerships in group-marriages who had more than enough resources to provide for their children, as well as numerous examples of incestuous parents who had children without genetic defects (there are numerous scientific studies that show incest between cousins does not automatically lead to defects). Besides, Mr. Totten has already proved that child-bearing is not the purpose of marriage, so the state should care less about the offspring.

The only way you can prove this is a "civil right" is to prove that that marriage is a right to contract among consenting adults, like any other business partnership.

But in that case there is no rational basis to be against group-marriages either. If a man can marry a man because both are consenting adults, why limit the marriage to mean "two adults" and "many adults"?

To be against group-marriages is bigotry and discrimination, akin to supporting Jim Crow, as you are preventing freedom and access between consenting adults WHO CHOOSE TO MARRY EACH OTHER.

The anti-group marriage bigots are backwards anti-progressive witch-burning neatherthals trying to press their beliefs on what happens in people's bedrooms -- and wise progressive judges have a duty to correct this injustice regardless of democratic process or public opinion.

Bottom line is that group marriages do not hurt homosexuals, and they do not hurt heterosexuals.

You bigots are just trying to stamp on the civil rights of consenting adults.

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 10:01 AM

>>If that's the contradiction, then it applies to straight marriage as well

Indeed. Which is why I support the outlaw of all marriages.

"(a.) natural jealousy so bad that lives are made unhappy and (b.) neglect of spouses and children."

A) There are counter-examples from throughout history that disprove this claim B) See A -- also, marriage is not about children as per Mr. Totten's point.

>> Everybody understands the reasons why polygamy and incest are not to be legitimised with marriage.

"Everyone" knew that blacks were inferior during Jim Crow. (Nice appeal to popularity BTW - my fav fallacy). But we have progressed as a society. You are just being reactionary and pushing your superstious beliefs into others bedrooms.

>> It's not just about consensuality.

According to Mr. Totten, it is.

>>That legal recognition has to be ALSO in the interests of the state conceding it, or at least, NOT AGAINST the interests of the state.

So it ISN'T about Freedom. At least you are honest about your anti-freedom agenda.

The rest of your post is just unfounded, intolerent bigotry about group-marraiges, which have existed for centuries in many, many cultures without issue. You are just being culturally imperialist.

All you have proved is your intolerence for alternative lifestyles and your bigotry. So OBVIOUS.

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 10:13 AM

Federal judges give us what Congress cannot. Movement on issues that are too controversial for our legislature to act upon. Plus they provide a defense for the congress that passes idiotic laws. When the elected legislature is gridlocked, judges are the safety valve that lets off the pressure for progressive social change. And I don't worry about the neanderthal party turning the tables because they believe in the status quo. At worst, conservative judges will refuse to move the ball forward, but they are temperamentally incapable of moving the ball backwards. Judges are, by their inherent nature, far more usable by the left than the right. As it should be!!!

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 10:27 AM

Ariel is at least honest about her averstion to democracy and democratic process. She is saying that the fiat of the Commissars, oops I mean judges, is justfied if it leads to a new progressive order. Where have we heard that one before?

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 10:31 AM

ex -- I'll support consensual incestuous marriage between infertile adults if you'll admit that legislatures have no business deciding whether or not civil rights can be abridged, unless they are willing to go to the extraordinary step of passing constitutional amendments or convening a constitutional convention.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 10:42 AM

Come on ex, don't be so hard on me. Federal judges are, after all, appointed by the people's democratically elected leaders. It may not be pure democracy but it's close enough. Now, if the federal judiciary was stacked with activist conservatives who were willing to use the bench to pursue their social agenda, I might feel a little different. But that is pretty much not capable of happening. Conservative judges typically don't behave that way. Thank god!

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 10:46 AM

Markus: This isn't a negotiation.

Ariel: It isn't the role of the judiciary to legislate. You are correct that most conservative judges support republicanism, even when it leads to non-conservative ends. But it seems that liberals are wishy-washy about their pet democracy.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 10:53 AM

You know, it would be nice if everyone could make actual arguments. Watching a right-winger pretend to be a shrieking leftist isn't going to convince anyone of anything, but it will make you look like a cartoon character.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 10:55 AM

OK Michael, you outed me. Yeah, I am one of those conservative neanderthals I was writing about. Sometimes playing the devil's advocate results in people being a little more honest about where they stand. I offer my sincere apologies if anyone took offense.

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 10:58 AM

Note on above: Republicanism, as in the political orientation of those who hold that a republic is the best form of government, not the Party.

Mr. Totten: My argument is that defining marriage to just two people is trampling the civil rights of consenting adults who wish to have a group marriage, and those against group-marriage but define gay-marraige as a "civil right between consenting adults" are trapped in a contradiction.

The shrieking is just an attempt to translate my argument into langauge they are familier with. Plus it is fun to turn leftist shrieking against leftists themselves. What is cartoonish is the cowardly way y'all are avoiding my arguments (as you did above).

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 11:02 AM

banning gay marriage forever.

Like prohibition?

Besides, even w/the 2nd Amendment, states have done really well trying to ban it w/o removing it.

I still think all this is a lot of hot air.

It's not stopping anyone doing almost anything in their bedroom. You can't do it if you're not married? Since when? Even w/all the laws on the books, things still went on.

Posted by: Sandy P. at February 26, 2004 11:16 AM

Ex, your argument is being avoided because it is part of the "slippery slope" debate which they despise and have no persuasive answer. The "slippery slope" question can only be dealt with honestly by people who are willing to actually "DEFINE" marriage in some concrete fashion. That is exactly what Bush is attempting to do. And the folk here would crucify him for being so insensitive. Gay marriage proponents, by definition, do not want to see the word defined in a way prevents future manipulation.

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 11:19 AM

"You know, it would be nice if everyone could make actual arguments. Watching a right-winger pretend to be a shrieking leftist isn't going to convince anyone of anything, but it will make you look like a cartoon character."

Nicely put Mr. Totten, much better than my "Super Chicken" post yesterday. Of course, yesterday's thread was just getting absurd. Today's is looking a little on the boorish side.

Ya know, if this were a made-for-TV movie, ex and ginger would probably wind up getting married at the end of it ;)

Posted by: Joe at February 26, 2004 11:21 AM

Ariel: I offer my sincere apologies if anyone took offense.

It's not offensive, it's just silly. It shows how little you understand liberalism when you can't convincingly pretend to be a liberal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 11:21 AM

Ex: will you admit that citizens and their legislatures have no business or authority in decide whether to abridge the civil rights of other citizens can or should be abridged, unless they are willing to go to the extraordinary step of passing constitutional amendments or convening a constitutional convention? Unless they take those steps, federal and state attorneys and law enforcement officials are responsible for the protection and enforcement of civil rights, and federal and state judges are responsible for deciding when those rights are being abridged, and in deciding whether there is any compelling state interest in maintaining their abridgement.

Posted by: markus rose at February 26, 2004 11:22 AM

Indeed. Which is why I support the outlaw of all marriages.

Ok, then I absolutely agree, actually, like I'd already said, I'm for more radical solutions, like outlawing births.

Just to be safe. No one is born, no one can get married, no one can reproduce and generate more people who could be born gay and grow up to want marriage. Eliminate the problem at the root, that's something that works not only for dentists.

Less people on this planet, less stupidity. It's mathematical.

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 11:27 AM

*** It shows how little you understand liberalism when you can't convincingly pretend to be a liberal.***

Well, you nailed me on that one. I have little practice (at least not since I voted for McGovern!) and was going from memory. I'll do a closer read of barbrastreisand.com and study up.

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 11:30 AM

It isn't just a slippery slope. I am exposing a contradiction of the "freedom between consenting adults" argument, since those that favor gay-marriage but not group/incestous-marriage are violating their own premise. I just want them to admit they are being irrational and bigoted toward other consenting adults that have alternative lifestyles.

Marriage is either 1) an institution grounded in our natures as men and women, between men and women, that is only recognized by the State as already existing, or 2) a creation of the State.

And if it is a mere creation (#2 -- which is what the SSM advocates claim), then by any sense of FAIRNESS and EQUALITY it must be open to any combination of consenting adults (or all marriage must be outlawed entirely). Anything else of institutionalized discrimination and bigotry.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 11:33 AM

Markus: Depends on which "civil rights" we are dicussing. For some rights, I would agree to it.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 11:40 AM

Joe: hmm, I don't think so. I have to confess, I'm a man, and I'm happily gay, and already got happily married in Amsterdam. So even if Bush outlaws gay marriage, I'm already sorted, nyah nyah nyah.

By the way, how much is it for a plane ticket from the US to Amsterdam? Now that I think of it, Bush would do the right thing with the ban. There could be a boom for travel, and airlines could recover from the terrorism crisis. See, Bush's best asset is always about the economy. Now that's a true winner.

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 11:42 AM

(I know I should leave it but...)

Marriage is either 1) an institution (...) that is only recognized by the State as already existing, or 2) a creation of the State.

It's b-o-t-h.

It's both a recognition of rights to partners in couples and an institution on which the state as a society is based and which it regulates. Polygamy and incest being too disadvantageous to societies and to the law and to children to grant them legal-contract recognition and to even attempt to regulate.

The premise of marriage is not only consensual + adult relations, but consensual + adult + not in contradiction with society's interests, laws, and rights for all involved.

Polygamy and incest are in contradiction with all that for reasons previously detailed, gay marriage is not, for reasons previously detailed.

I can't put it any more concisely than that, nor rewrite it yet again in a different way.

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 11:48 AM

Bottom line ex is that it is simply impossible to construct any compelling rational basis for banning consensual marriage between multiple adults once the definition of marriage is made fair game by powerful interest groups.

An apt but less socially significant analogy would be trying to make the case that it is permissible to allow bare boobs on network TV but not permissible to allow bare "nether regions" on the tube. Once the original line is crossed it becomes extremely difficult to determine where to draw the next line. Impossible, in fact.

Up to 1937, mass murder was as unthinkable in Germany as it was in the US. Then Hitler initiated a program to eradicate deformed and "defective" infants. It was a highly controversial move even within Nazi officialdom. But they went ahead with it and, alas it paved the way for the eventual elimination of all barriers to any sort of barbarism. Again, not to suggest that anything remotely like that is brewing in the US but put forth only to show that when traditional norms are changed, the course of human affairs can spin off into many unintended directions.

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 11:48 AM

Arial: I have to inform you the nazis were a dictatorship. Gay marriage debates are currently occuring in democracies. I fail to see the connection.

Also, I hate to inform you that in current dictatorships, like Saudi Arabia or Iran or Cuba, gays are getting persecuted and jailed or even killed. So it's highly unlikely that gay marriage would lead to totalitarian-minded changes in society.

(Why am I even bothering?)

Posted by: ginger at February 26, 2004 11:57 AM

ginger: You have just repeated your authoritiarian and statist position that marriage is not about freedom. Mr. Totten would disagree, as per his post.

The rest is just unfounded cultural bias against incestuous and group-marriage, as I previously detailed.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 11:57 AM

Ginger, try reading the ENTIRE post before responding "Again, not to suggest that anything remotely like that is brewing in the US but put forth only to show that when traditional norms are changed, the course of human affairs can spin off into many unintended directions."

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 12:04 PM

"Bottom line ex is that it is simply impossible to construct any compelling rational basis for banning consensual marriage between multiple adults once the definition of marriage is made fair game by powerful interest groups."

I agree. But SSM-advocates will continue to support the ban consensual marriage between multiple adults anyway. Why? Because it was never about freedom.

Don't forget their interest is Power, not freedom. They will fight tooth and nail against group-marriage and incestous marriage because they harbor cultural bias and bigorty toward groups that have these practices.

"Freedom" - like "democracy" - is just a convienent weapon, to be tossed aside once they get what they want.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 12:09 PM

The "definition of marriage" was recently changed in many states in order to recognize marriages between people of different races, thanks to the efforts of "activist" judges seeking to uphold the constitution as well as a wide range of "powerful interest groups." Arguments against gay marriage are substantially the same.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 12:11 PM

"Don't forget their interest is Power, not freedom. They will fight tooth and nail against group-marriage and incestous marriage because they harbor cultural bias and bigorty toward groups that have these practices.

"Freedom" - like "democracy" - is just a convienent weapon, to be tossed aside once they get what they want."

Dead on accurate!!

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 12:12 PM

Markus, this is a bit of a red herring. As you well know, race has never been an overt part of the traditional definition of marriage. This is nothing but a rather lame attempt to equate the "gay marriage" movement with the noble struggle for black civil rights.

Posted by: Arial at February 26, 2004 12:18 PM

Markus: As I noted yesterday, this not the same. The definition of marriage as men/women was not changed by the judges. They just recognized african-american men as "men" and african-american women as "women."

Unless you are willing to accept group/incestuous marriages, wraping this in a "civil rights" mythology is a doomed project.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 12:19 PM

Ariel -- people had the same reactions to blacks and whites getting married that they do to gays, most importantly the visceral emotional reaction of disgust and horror at the thought of a black man and a white woman together that is so similar to the reaction that homophobes have to gay people. And the "rationalizations" of that prejudice, conceiving of it as something "unnatural", historically unprecidented, and somehow dangerous to the future health of society and culture. Having established that marriage is not about reproduction, just what makes the attribute of racial identity somehow less important than gender identity?

Conservatives always accuse liberals of being governed by emotion rather than reason. Occasionally, such criticism is justified. Gay marriage is the issue on which conservatives get to be all emotional and instinctive. The reasoned arguments are on the liberal side. I can introduce you to many people who would benefit from gay marriage, and harmed by a ban. Show me a person, any person, that will be harmed by expanding the defninition to include gays.

Posted by: markus rose at February 26, 2004 12:36 PM

Michael writes " . . . the current Bush administration-induced environment of censorship . . . . "

Michael, I find this to be an absolutely amazing phrase. I have scoured the internet and cable and network TV as well as the major dailies and weeklies and, frankly, I am unable to locate the slightest example of censorship. Indeed, the opposite would seem to be the case. Anything goes, just about everywhere.

What exactly, is it that you would like to see that is being censored with the backing of the Bushies?

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 12:38 PM

"just what makes the attribute of racial identity somehow less important than gender identity?"

Just what makes the numerical identity less important to the gender identity? Other than the emotional reaction of disgust and horror generated by your cultural bias.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 12:42 PM

Ariel: Michael writes " . . . the current Bush administration-induced environment of censorship . . . . "

I didn't write that. I did a search for that phrase on this page and it doesn't appear anyone else wrote it either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 12:43 PM

Ex -- answer my question first, then pose your own.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 12:46 PM

Ariel: Michael writes " . . . the current Bush administration-induced environment of censorship . . . . "

I didn't write that. I did a search for that phrase on this page and it doesn't appear anyone else wrote it either.

Oops, my mistake. This comment came from the "TrackBack" feature and I thought that was a feature you controlled. Clearly I haven't mastered all aspects of this blogtalking just yet!

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 12:50 PM

Markus: OK - If marriage is not about reproduction (i.e. it is a contract between consenting adults as per my post above), then racial identity is as irrelevent as gender identity.

Your turn. Based on your premise, why is numerical identity relevent? Why shouldn't it be also irrelevent?

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 12:53 PM

***Based on your premise, why is numerical identity relevent? Why shouldn't it be also irrelevent?***

No answer other than tradition and since we are about to throw that one out . . .

Posted by: Ariel at February 26, 2004 01:03 PM

Okay, here's a question no one seems to be asking...

What is it about "Judicial Activism" that seems to scare so many of you guys so much? Is it the idea of "judges making the laws", like it's some kind of new phenomenon? I mean, come on, would this REALLY be the first time that's happened?! Hardly.

The concept of judicial review and the idea of the Courts acting as a check to the tyranny of the majority in defense of minority interests has been around for literally hundreds of years. Among other causes, Judicial Activism played a vital role in moving along the Civil Rights Movement and forcing America to start dealing with those issues. Does anyone here really want to argue against Brown vs. the Board of Education?

Maybe, perhaps, this nation needs judicial review and activist courts from time to time. Some of the greatest things to ever of happened in America came about because of it. Undoubtedly, it's not what the Founders intended. I'll give you that much. But, ask yourself, did the Founding Fathers REALLY get everything right?

The enforcement of the Constitution requires Judicial Review, not excessive review mind you, but activism none the less from time to time. Without the Courts, basic rights and minority groups would not be adequately protected.

You may not agree with this argument at first, but give it some thought. Just stop and imagine how different our history would have been without a little Judicial Activism throughout the years. Is that a history you would prefer?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 26, 2004 01:10 PM

Ex -- OK, I think I already answered your questions earlier. Number is relevant because states have an interest in promoting stable and lasting unions. Polygamous and group marriages, have a built-in tendency toward factionalism, and are therefore less stable, in contrast to gay, interracial or any other marriages between two consenting adults. Two person marriages can be unstable as well, but those marriages are unstable despite, not because of, the number of people in the marriage.

Posted by: markus rose at February 26, 2004 01:10 PM

Markus: That is just cultural bias. There are numerous cultures that have group unions and stability. Historically it is the norm for most societies.

At any rate you are following ginger into the authoritarian rout of State interest over freedom of consenting adults, which is in opposition to the original post by Mr. Totten and a different thread entirely.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 01:20 PM

Grant: Who here is scared? I just pointed out that it ain't democratic.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 01:33 PM

When did suggesting legislation become totalitarian?

It would seem that two blogs I read and trusted the most - Totten and Sullivan - have both lost their minds in the last few days.

If there is currently a danger to democracy, it is renegade mayors violating state law with no consequences. Newsome has dismissed the state law, dismissed a vote of the people of California and has pressed ahead with his politically correct yet highly damaging path of ignoring any laws he does not like.

On the other hand, George W. Bush has suggested that he would support one half a debate in the halls of Washington D.C. and the fashioning of a bill that MIGHT - if approved by the people of the United States - become law one day.

There is a right side and a wrong side to this issue. There is also a lot of room for disagreement within the right side. But at this point, the only thing I have seen from Totten and Sullivan - as well as the entire media and most of everyone else - is that Bush is a fascist for following the law and Newsome is a hero for violating it.

So much for any shred of intellectual honesty.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 02:13 PM

Roark: Remember to be an "unbiased centrist independent social-liberal fiscal-conservative" you get to smear both leftists and righists without consequence, wave whatever flag is hip at the time ("democracy" "freedom" etc), then throw it in the dust when you get what you want. All wearing your Crown of unbiased objectivity.

It's a sweet gig, if you don't give a damn about honesty. I am sure all the pro-war conservatives are regretting they pimped Sullivan for so long.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 02:19 PM

"It's a sweet gig, if you don't give a damn about honesty. I am sure all the pro-war conservatives are regretting they pimped Sullivan for so long."

No, I think both Sullivan and Totten are better than that.

What I am amazed by is just how quick both of them were perfectly willing to abandon their professed love of democracy when it was easy.

Gay Marriage will, in the end, be a non-issue. Eventually it will be decided and it will most likely be against what I believe it should be. That being said, I am willing to fight against gay marriage - in the correct way - until I lose the fight. I think gay marriage will have yet another in a long line of bad effects to the morality of this country.

All of that said, that is my OPINION. The last time I checked, the purpose of a Democracy was that we all sat down, debated issues and compromised. We elected leaders and we voted on laws. We, collectively, steered our country. Conservatives turn one way. Liberals turn another. The country, just like the sum of two vectors, goes to a third place that is better than either of the other two.

I thought that Sullivan and Totten understood that. Obviously I was wrong.

For suggesting we obey the law, Bush is a facist. For violating the law, hundreds of people in California are getting what they want without working for change. And in Mass, judges are hijacking our boat and steering it to where they - and their special interests - want it to go.

And everyone who claims to be "enlightened" is dropping their battle flags and jumping on board because of their gut reaction and because they see a path to victory that is easier.

We'll pay for this victory. We will pay dearly.

And at some point in the future, Totten, Sullivan and the rest of the bangwagoners will realize what they have done and want to take it back. And it will be too f-in late.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 02:27 PM

Roark,

I never said Bush was a fascist or a totalitarian. I do, however, think restricting citizen's rights and freedoms in the Constitution is deeply and profoundly anti-American. That is not what our Constitution is for.

You want to argue about gay marriage? Fine. But keep it the hell away from the Constitution. It this movement picks up any speed, I'm really going to punch the right with brass knuckles.

Bush is an idiot for whipping up the culture war in a time of national peril. A lot of people who didn't vote for him have given him some slack because of foreign policy, but that will end in a heartbeat if he can't keep his priorities and his duties straight.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 02:33 PM

Roark -- Bush is proposing a constitional amendment, pretty obviously for solely political purposes, that if approved would enshrine discrimination against a minority group in the US constitution, and also trample on the conservative principle of federalism that Cheney put forward in the 2000 campaign -- the idea that different states ought to be able to come up with different responses to the demand for gay marriage. (Obviously, if he wanted to put forward an amendment exempting marriage from the full-faith and credit clause which at least potentially be used to force states to recognize gay marriages of other states, he could do that instead.) This is not fascism, it is crass opportunism, showing a willingness to jettison coservative principle for political gain.

The San Francisco ersatz marriages are non-binding political theatre.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 02:40 PM

Roark -- Bush is proposing a constitional amendment, pretty obviously for solely political purposes, that if approved would enshrine discrimination against a minority group in the US constitution, and also trample on the conservative principle of federalism that Cheney put forward in the 2000 campaign -- the idea that different states ought to be able to come up with different responses to the demand for gay marriage. (Obviously, if he wanted to put forward an amendment exempting marriage from the full-faith and credit clause which at least potentially be used to force states to recognize gay marriages of other states, he could do that instead.) This is not fascism, it is crass opportunism, showing a willingness to jettison coservative principle for political gain.

The San Francisco ersatz marriages are non-binding political theatre.

Posted by: Markus Rose at February 26, 2004 02:40 PM

I am sure the right is fearful of brass knuckles based on intelletual dishonsty and wishy-washy sentiments.

Posted by: Ex at February 26, 2004 03:09 PM

Ex,

Whatever.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 03:27 PM

"You want to argue about gay marriage? Fine. But keep it the hell away from the Constitution. It this movement picks up any speed, I'm really going to punch the right with brass knuckles."

Michael,

With the Full Faith clause in the Constitution, what one state recognizes the rest must recognize.

At this point, the only thing that will legally work against Gay marriage is a Constitutional Amendment.

Now that Mass has recognized gay marriages, or more correctly; now that Mass has written in gay marriages to its State Constitution via a backdoor, "it was there all along" method, every other state in the union is compelled, under law, to honor that. What is legally binding in Mass is legally binding in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. So less than ten people have altered the law of the land with one court decision - and you see no problem with that? But further discussion of the process of Democracy will merit "brass knuckles"?

Bring the brass knuckles Michael, but I think you will find they aren't needed. While you specifically haven't called Bush a totalitarian yet, many have. Just as with the slow public acceptance of the idea of "civil unions", the public will eventually accept gay marriage. Unless, of course, it is rammed down their throats via the court system and renegade governors who are immune from the law.

John Kerry recentally did the same. After he accused the President of "reopening the wounds of Vietnam", he then stated that his defense voting record in the Senate was off limits for discussion.

There is a frightening amount of "case closed" rhetoric flying from the left - and evidently, now from the center.

The last time an issue was "decided" by judicial legislation, a 30 year battle over abortion was hatched. If you think that is a smart direction to take, go for it. I think you'll find that public acceptance of homosexuals will decline as a result and they will face increasing amounts of hostility from the entire country.

On the other hand, a national debate centered around a Constitutional Amendment (that will most likely be defeated long before it gets close to being a law) will allow all sides an ample opportunity to state their cases, compromise to a rational solution and eventually realize that gay folks probably do deserve the same legal rights as straights.

I guess you need to crack out your brass knuckles. I'm amazed that people, like yourself, are so adverse to the trappings of Democracy after you spend so much time posturing over how much you love them; but I guess in the end words are only worth as much as your actions stand behind them.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 04:02 PM

"Bush is an idiot for whipping up the culture war in a time of national peril. A lot of people who didn't vote for him have given him some slack because of foreign policy, but that will end in a heartbeat if he can't keep his priorities and his duties straight."

Sorry for the double post, but you deserve a response to this.

I hate to break it to you man, but this ship has already sailed. Somewhere, about six months ago, the train went off the tracks. Democrats realized the WMD wasn't in Iraq and pounced when they smelled blood in the water. The Republicans went into full-on cover mode and have been caught up in trying to justify the war in Iraq full time since then.

Meanwhile, Saddam's WMDs have found a new home somewhere in the Middle East. The CIA is looking backward. Tenet is trying to save his job. No one has a damn clue where Saddam's weapons are - and frankly, no one in Washington cares anymore. For one half of the establishment, it is not politically expident for them to be found. For the other half, making overtures toward aggressive action against ANY other Middle Eastern country is off limits in an election year after they have been accused of being "warmongers" and about half of the population has decided to agree with that assessment.

And again, meanwhile Saudi Arabia has been forgotten. North Korea has been given a big pass for the time being. Osama Bin Laden may, or may not, be about to be caught; but in the end it matters little. Palestine is still blowing up buses full of Jews at random for fun and the U.N. is sitting back, fat on its "anti-war" stance popularity with the rest of the American hating world and we are hanging on by a thread.

And to top it all off, we have a field of Democrats who have consistently and continually questioned our current sitting President to the point at which most Americans actually believe there are two economies in this country, that the top 1% of income earners pay no taxes and that George Bush is an idiot.

Bush didn't chose to "wage a cultural war" - it was brought to him. If he didn't do something, he was set to lose in November. So, in true form, he did something that is probably a bad idea and will cost him points. It may very well cost him the election.

And to replace him, we will get someone who either A) views the War on Terrorism as a law enforcement problem or b) get a guy that is just finishing his first term EVER of elected office.

I'm digging a bunker. We're screwed.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 04:13 PM

Roark,

I have no problem with debating gay marriage. You're a reasonable person. You and I could probably come to some sort of compromise or at least agree to disagree.

But not if it's enshrined in the Constitution forever. Talk about saying "case closed." Christ. Bush would make it so that even future generations can't discuss this.

I don't think legalizing gay marriage through the courts is the best way to handle this. And if you think that's the left-wing equivalent of Bush's amendment strategy, I take your point. But I don't agree. Here's why.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 04:40 PM

Sure Michael.

I agree that the actual PASSING of the FMA is not, in any way, what I want either.

The problem is that the FMA is the only way to open the debate. Without it, this matter is going to be decided radical court by radical court until such time as the Supreme Court steps in and reminds everyone of Full Faith. Once that happens, gay marriage will be the law of the land.

Let me try to recast this situation as I see it, and perhaps you'll at least see why I think we need SOMETHING to push forward debate. On one side, we have radical courts legislating gay marriage into our life and re-reading it where it wasn't before. On the other hand, we have a President who - until this - has been a pretty decent social moderate. He supports a Constitutional Amendment, but you'll note he does not support either of the ones currently on the floor of the Senate or the House.

I'm going to have to go back to my basic vector addition example from earlier. One of the positions is Bush. The other is Newsome/Mass court. If we have one, we have to have the other or the result will be skewed too far in one direction or the other. Giving lip service to the conservative position while the courts and renegade government officials push ahead isn't going to cut it.

I wouldn't have supported Bush before the Mass decision and Newsome. Now I see that the left is going for the cheap - and undemocratic - victory and I think we need a counter balance. Bush's FMA is just that and it will serve to slow down the process, tie everyone up in debate and hopefully give the Democrats a real place to focuse their energy. They SHOULD win this battle, but it should be a battle. In the meantime, Bush and Republicans can refocus on the War on Terrorism and maybe we can kill some damn bad guys in the meantime!

The FMA isn't going to happen overnight - and in my view it is a direct result of the corner conservatives have been pushed into. I don't want to see Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell around any more than you do, but if it gives the liberals something to remind them what being liberal is all about, gives the conservatives a place to refocus some attention of family issues (and maybe realize that no fault divorce is a hell of a lot worse for families than gay marriage) and gives Bush some breathing room to go after terrorists, I think it is a damn good thing. Jerry Fallwell included.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 05:10 PM

Alright Roark, you're reasonable.

You should consider, though, that there's nothing like giving the right-wing a bull-horn to push independents to the left.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 05:54 PM

"You should consider, though, that there's nothing like giving the right-wing a bull-horn to push independents to the left. "

Why do you think I sound so freaked out?

Bush is down at around 45% approval. The right wing had just been unleashed. The two men who very well might replace the President are totally unqualified and the rule of law and the vote of the public in this country has just gone out the window, thanks to Mayor Newsome.

And Bush is getting beat up for trying to put the train back on the tracks. While he is at 45%.

I'll consider what a bullhorned right wing will do if you'll consider what Syria under John Kerry will do. And then ask which has a greater potential for danger.

Posted by: Roark at February 26, 2004 06:25 PM

Roark: ...if you'll consider what Syria under John Kerry will do.

Well, yeah. I've been worried about that for a while now...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 26, 2004 06:41 PM

ginger,

Societies "decay" when they disappear by extermination or conquest or whatever (in the context of the whole history of humanity) or fall into anarchy, literally, ie. anarchy = the law is absent or no longer enforceable and there is no authority.

Here are some fertility rates (births per female) in various European nations:

Italy 1.26
Spain 1.26
Russia 1.33
Germany 1.37
Poland 1.37
Belgium 1.62
UK 1.66
France 1.85

The native populations of these nations are not even close to replacement level fertility rates of around 2.1 births/woman. Europeans are literally dying off. If this isn't decay, then the term is meaningless.

Meanwhile, Arabs/Muslims are immigrating to Europe and reproducing at rates far in excess of the replacement level. Here are the fertility rates in several Arab/Muslim countries:

Algeria 2.55
Jordan 3
Egypt 3.02
Syria 3.72
Pakistan 4.1
Iraq 4.52
Saudia Arabia 6.15

Given the disparity in fertility rates between the natives and immigrants in Europe, it is only a matter of time before native Europeans are displaced if these trends continue. One would expect the fertility rates to rise as this occurs. This may already be occuring. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe. It also has the highest fertility rate. Concidence? Maybe. But to me it looks like the former colonial powers are becoming the colonies.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 08:09 PM

ginger,

Have any of y ou read anything more mind-boggingly stupid than that?

Yes. Pick any of your comments.

Care to address the author's conclusion that if left continues to cram its value system down the rest of the nation's throat that Red states will no longer be willing to defend the Blue states? Consider further that the Blue states aren't actually Blue. They are Blue urban centers surrounded by Red suburban and rural regions. And it is those Blue urban centers that will be the future ground zeroes.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/cbc/map.htm

It is the most morally conservative portion of society that is most successful in raising children who believe in loyalty and oath-keeping and self-control and self-sacrifice.

And we're tired of being subject to barbarian rules and laws that fight against our civilized values. We're not interested in risking our children's lives to defend a nation that does not defend us.

Who do you think is volunteering for the military to defend America against our enemies? Those who believe in the teachings of politically correct college professors? Or those who believe in the traditional values that the politically correct elite has been so successful in destroying?

Let's take a poll of our volunteer military -- especially those who specialize in combat areas -- and see what civilization it is that they actually volunteered to defend.

Since the politically correct are loudly unwilling to fight or die for their version of America, and they are actively trying to destroy the version of America that traditional Americans are willing to fight or die to defend, just how long will "America" last, once they've driven out the traditional culture?

http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2004-02-15-1.html

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 08:33 PM

ginger,

polygamy and marriage between a couple are different and why polygamy cannot be considered legitimate and legalized. That's something everyone with a working brain and decency, no matter what their opinion on gay marriage, would understand.

Unless of course you happen to be a member of the second largest religion in the world. Are you insinuating that no Muslim has a working brain and any decency?

Man cannot forbid what Allah permits. What are you going to say when Muslims demand their civil right to polygamy? I doubt they'll be persuaded by your superficial cynicism.

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 08:43 PM

MJT,

Alright Roark, you're reasonable.

My, how big of you!

Posted by: HA at February 26, 2004 09:00 PM

HA: This is what you wrote originally when you first brought up "social decay":

it's not yet obvious that the institution of marriage isn't hurt by this, and it's not obvious that our society isn't hurt if the institution of marriage is hurt/changes drastically. Some day, it may be obvious. But it isn't yet. ... One needs to be careful when one claims certain things are civil rights--our definitions have changed over time. To then resort to naming things "universals" is a hole in your own argument. Human societies both evolve and decay. It's usually not clear at the time if either one or both are occurring.

You were talking about the possibility that "changing" or "hurting" the institution of marriage would bring about decay.

Now, what do fertility rates in Europe and among Muslims have to do with that?

But just to be clear, I don't even subscribe to the idea that "lower fertility rate" = "society decaying". I don't know in which precise way you meant "decay", but to me a society is thriving when it is democratic, free, and productive. Which all of Europe is just like the US. Whereas the societies you cite as having the highest fertility rates are mostly not democratic, not free, and not productive.

The lowest fertiliry rate is in Italy. The highest fertility rates in the world are among Palestinians in the Gaza strip. You wanna tell us that just because of that Italy is a society in decay whereas the Palestinians are a thriving society?

What kind of standard is that?
Where do you put all those other factors? Take Saudi Arabia. A society where human rights are trampled over, where adultery leads to stoning, and aposthasy to death, where polygamy is forced on women who have no legal rights of their own, is not knee-deep in decay... only because of a high fertility rates?

And again, just what does this have to do with gay marriage is beyond me.

As for the article you quoted, I'm not in the least interested in the opinions of someone who says that gay men should "persuade a woman to take them as husbands" to "enjoy the rights of husbandhood". He'd feel very at ease in Saudi Arabia indeed.

------

markus rose: Number is relevant because states have an interest in promoting stable and lasting unions. Polygamous and group marriages, have a built-in tendency toward factionalism, and are therefore less stable, in contrast to gay, interracial or any other marriages between two consenting adults. Two person marriages can be unstable as well, but those marriages are unstable despite, not because of, the number of people in the marriage.

Exactly. Well put.

Also, it would be next to impossible to legislate on divorce and spousal and parental rights. If you allow polygamy, and grant equal rights to all members of the marriage contract - say, four people, two men and two women - and one of them wants to divorce from the other three people, how would it work? And if there are kids, who are natural kids of one of the men and of one of the women, you still have to give parental rights to all. If the biological mother wants to divorce, worse still, if everyone wants to split from each other, who do you give parental custody to? Having to adapt marriage legislation to a polygamous situation would indeed drastically change the institution of marriage and basically destroy it. Beacause marriage has no meaning outside of couples.

And indeed, legal polygamy only "works" when you deny rights to the other partners. Like in Saudi Arabia indeed.

That's if we talk reality, and not sophistries.

Posted by: ginger at February 27, 2004 12:25 AM

Mr. Totten said:

---I have no problem with debating gay marriage.
But not if it's enshrined in the Constitution forever. Talk about saying "case closed." Christ. Bush would make it so that even future generations can't discuss this.

BUSH CAN'T MAKE IT SO. only WE can. US. you know, the people. that's what we believe in, that the constitution can be amended. So our generation can discuss it.

But funny, I haven't heard anyone complaining about how Roe V. Wade stopped future generations from discussing abortion rights. They still discuss them. We haven't stopped debating the 2nd amendment, and that was added to the constitution 200 years ago. We haven't stopped debating the 1st amendment, either. I mean, the constitution is a living document, right? what makes you think it won't change with the times, too?

You may think this is a stupid reason to amend it. Okay. But to blame GWB for taking a position on something that he can't make happen still doesn't follow. Further, to say that he "whipped up" the culture wars, when I live in a society that actively violates its own statutory state law is absurd. It wasn't the case that the culture wars had reached a detente. We had SCOTUS act on Lawrence. We had the MA supreme court act on same sex civil unions/marriage. We had the mayor of SF tell the county clerk issuing licenses to same sex couples regardless of CA statutory law. Why do these events all get a pass in your culture war?

Posted by: foo at February 27, 2004 01:53 AM

ginger,

You were talking about the possibility that "changing" or "hurting" the institution of marriage would bring about decay.

You're mixing up my comment with foo's. He commented that societies decay and evolve and we can't always tell the difference. In response, you offered a definition that:

Societies "decay" when they disappear by extermination or conquest or whatever

and you go on to assert that:

It's very clear that is NOT occurring at the moment, neither in the US nor in any other democracy.

and then further:

but to me a society is thriving when it is democratic, free, and productive. Which all of Europe is just like the US.

The connection between left-wing values of libertinism, nihilism and relativism rooted in Marxism and the decline in Western fertilitity rates is clear. The ideas of Marx have penetrated more deeply in Europe than in the US. It should be no surprise then that they have the lowest fertility rates. Marx's value system is as maladaptive to the process of natural selection as his economic system. A society that is democratic, free, productive and headed towards extinction due to sub-replacement fertility rates is in decay.

Now, what do fertility rates in Europe and among Muslims have to do with that?

Nature abhors a vacuum. As Europeans die off, Muslims will rush in. Islam is a highly efficient civilization from an evolutionary standpoint. This is clear from the fertility rates. Men with financial resources are allowed to hoard the most precious of reproductive resources - women. Women aren't stuck with men with inadequate resources to provide for their children. And the excess men due to polygamy are available to wage Jihad, conquer new terrority and claim their virgins in paradise. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world because of this reproductive efficiency.

You wanna tell us that just because of that Italy is a society in decay whereas the Palestinians are a thriving society?

Absolutely from a genetic standpoint. Our genes are selfish and they don't care if their containers live in liberty.

But just to be clear, I don't even subscribe to the idea that "lower fertility rate" = "society decaying".

Do you subscribe to the idea that the sun will rise tomorrow?

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 04:36 AM

ginger: You are just being culturally imperialist.

>>Beacause marriage has no meaning outside of couples.

Untrue, in Western history and currently in reality among many non-Western cultures. By any cultural standard in the world, marriage has no meaning if it isn't between men and women.

The only sophism is your pet cause, which doesn't exist outside the minds of a few wacko leftists who can only bully instead of reason.

So I am going to bully back: You are just letting your bigotry blind you to reality. Indeed, almost akin to racism as you are marginalizing other cultures. You insensitive reactionary!

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 05:30 AM

HA: ah yes, my bad, that initial comment was by foo, but you answered my reply to that initial comment.

As for the rest, I won't bother, there's not even a rational common ground to discuss about here. European fertility rates aren't that lower than in the US, Europeans aren't "dying off", and Muslims aren't "rushing in" anymore than in other countries where immigration is occurring, and most of all, a relation between Marxism and fertiliry rates is laughable. "Marxism" is not the basis of societies in Europe anymore than it is in the US. But thanks for the laugh :) :)

I give up trying to see how any of the above figures in the debate on gay marriage, anyway. Must be in the same "decay" category, right?

But nevermind. Thanks for the wonderfully enlightening chat.

- PS - it just occurred to me, that if extremist Islam is really going to conquer and subjugate the west as in bin Laden's vision and in the most paranoid fantasies of gays-will-bring-about-decay-of-society slippery-slope folks, then these folks should be thrilled! because the radical Islam of fudamentalists as enforced in theocratic regimes like Iran and Saudi Arabia, while not in any way "a highly efficient civilization from an evolutionary standpoint" except perhaps in the sense that viruses are evolutionary smart, is definitely the society that's most virulently opposed to gays, seen as elements that bring about decay.

So, if it's not Bush, it's Osama that will ban gay marriages, in even more radical ways than good old Bush could ever intend.

Sounds like the perfect solution if you believe that gays will destroy society. After all, it's only natural, even if contradictory, that people with a certain mindset would envy the absolutism of Islam and its repression of individual freedoms, and buy, without even acknowledging it, into the mullah's tirades against the decadence of the gay gay west... Ironic.

Posted by: ginger at February 27, 2004 08:55 AM

HA: The connection between left-wing values of libertinism, nihilism and relativism rooted in Marxism and the decline in Western fertilitity rates is clear.

Beware the cause-correlation fallacy.

You can find (really) a correlation between ice cream sales and crime rates. That's because crime and ice cream sales both go down in Winter.

I am not going to have children, and it's not because I'm a nihilist, a Marxist, or a relativist.

People who don't want children are plausibly accused of being selfish. Perhaps you should consider blaming individual freedom for the decline in fertility rates. But I wouldn't say that should lead you to be against individual freedom. Everything has a cost.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 27, 2004 09:10 AM

EX: The only sophism is your pet cause, which doesn't exist outside the minds of a few wacko leftists who can only bully instead of reason.

Is Andrew Sullivan a wacko leftist? Or is he just a gay man who wants to live a normal life like most other people?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 27, 2004 09:11 AM

Sullivan is a wishy-washy, hypocritical "contrarian" who wishes to make 2+2=5 for his own selfish interests. He will wave whatever flag is convenient.

Posted by: Ex at February 27, 2004 09:26 AM

ginger,

I see you haven't found any arguments since last night. You've returned with the same thin broth of simple assertions and sophomoric preening.

You've failed to make a case that you are right or I am wrong. Makes all that preening somewhat pathetic.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 10:14 AM

Michael,

But I wouldn't say that should lead you to be against individual freedom. Everything has a cost.

Freedom without responsibility is decadence and I'm against decadence. The cost of decadence is societal decay.

Posted by: HA at February 27, 2004 07:54 PM

Freedom without responsibility is decadence and I'm against decadence.

Like I said, it's only natural, even if contradictory and very ironic, that people with a certain mindset would envy the absolutism of Islam and its repression of individual freedoms, and buy, without even acknowledging it, into the mullah's tirades against the decadence of the gay gay west.

HA & like-minded comrades, let it be clear: I never said "you are wrong" in opposing gay marriages per se. The point is you use fallacious, illogical, ridiculous arguments where correlation becomes cause and unconnected elements are given as evidence.

I am not really pro-gay marriage myself. From a wholly secular position, I'm more for the civil union solution, as it is in Denmark and Holland, granting gay partners all those legal rights whose absence creates a discrimination and practical problems, but without the rights of adoption - because I think children need a mother and father figure for their psychological wellbeing. Even with all the individual different cases like absent mother or absent father, even with the possibility for gay singles or couples to adopt in some places, I think the principle of children upbringing needs to remain the natural biological female-male parents. I'm sure there's gay couples who can do a splendid job with kids, but so could a commune or an enlarged family, it's not enough to give up on a principle.

Even if marriage is not based on parenthood, and the value and goal of a union is not based on having children, that possibility is always there for all marriages, and I don't think it's wise or in the interest of society at large to redefine parenthood even when it's just a possibility. I do not agree even to artificial insemination because as a principle it can equally deprive children of one of the parent figures, but that's another matter entirely.

That's my main objection to gay marriage. Legally, it can be justified; culturally and socially, I think civil unions as are defined in Holland can be a good compromise for all.

There you go. So you see, I'm not saying I find the "gay marriage would redefine and indent the principle of marriage" argument ridiculous or unjustified per se. I find the "then it's polygamy then incest then what" argument ridiculous. I also find the "social decadence" argument ridiculous and unjustified. I find your whole framework of reasoning illogical and unjustified. I've already previously discussed why, at length, patiently and rationally, but feel free to repeat yet again the word "preening" if it makes you happy.

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 12:25 AM

Sullivan is a wishy-washy, hypocritical "contrarian" who... will wave whatever flag is convenient.

That's largely true, but does not really apply to this issue. He's gay and wants to get married, that's his position. It's more honest and straightfoward than many of his other political stances.

And he's definitely not lefist.

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 02:53 AM

ginger,

Perhaps you ought to wait until the final resolution of this suit seeking to overturn a state ban on polygamous marriages before you spout off about how illogical and irrational the slippery slope argument is, and how such unthinkable things could never come to pass.

After all, won't you look the right fool if it makes it to the SCOTUS and they logically follow up on their Lawrence decision by ruling in favor of the Cooks.

Posted by: Shad at February 28, 2004 05:46 AM

ginger,

May also want to keep an eye on Tom Green's appeal of his recent bigamy convictions, which also argues that since the Lawrence decision protects gay relationships it's unfair for the state to discriminate against polygamist relationships.

I'll grant that neither this nor the Cook case I cited above has won yet. But the people sticking their heads in the sand and screaming "That'll never happen! Too illogical! Slippery slope fallacy!" with regards to polygamists springboarding off of homosexual-relationships precedents are denying reality.

Posted by: Shad at February 28, 2004 06:07 AM

Shad: first, gay marriage is not being legalised, and looks likely not to be legalised, Bush ban or not; secondly, marriage is based on couples, and regardless of any cases being brought up, you must know too well that marriage=couples equation will not be changed.

The fact that there may be people USING that slippery-slope argument to argue, even in court, in FAVOUR of polygamy is not itself a logical justification of any direct relation between the two.

You know, anybody can try bringing up whatever arguments, in court. If the idea of gay marriage is already causing such debate, you go figure what the idea of polygamy - which isn't even supported by 1/10th of the people who support gay marriage - would cause.

I'll grant that neither this nor the Cook case I cited above has won yet.

There you go, you answered yourself. We'll talk about it when some wackos manage to win a case to get polygamy ratified with a marriage contract nation-wide, ok?

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 06:26 AM

ginger, it's frustrating trying to discuss with you since you seem content to try to score debate points by dismissing any events in the real world which contradict your hypotheticals.

Shad: first, gay marriage is not being legalised, and looks likely not to be legalised

Yes it is, in some places. And yes it does, in the rest of the country, courtesy of the FF&C clause. You seem to be not paying attention to current real-world events.

The fact that there may be people USING that slippery-slope argument to argue, even in court, in FAVOUR of polygamy is not itself a logical justification of any direct relation between the two.

You don't seem to understand that this has progressed past a slippery slope argument. This is actually happening, in the real world. Suits have been filed. They are relying on the precendent established by the SCOTUS Lawrence ruling to advance their cause. It is no longer a hypothetical that this could happen.

There you go, you answered yourself. We'll talk about it when some wackos manage to win a case to get polygamy ratified with a marriage contract nation-wide, ok?

Whether these polygamy cases ultimately end up winning or losing is irrelevant (although if the SCOTUS does validate polygamy nationwide, there won't be much point in discussing it after the fact, as it will then be the law of the land). The fact is that these cases exist; they've been filed; they are concrete evidence in support of the slippery slope argument that many people posited during the Lawrence case.

Posted by: Shad at February 28, 2004 07:01 AM

Shad, that's funny, I get the very same frustrating effect in reading comments like yours. Must be contagious.

Honestly, I've missed this massive effort to legalize polygamy in the US or anywhere in most of the world that isn't Islamic, that is, because that's where polygamy is legal - along with the concepts that 1 woman=legally worth half of 1 man, adulterers get stoned, and gays get taken care of in even more drastic ways. If that's your or other people's frame of reference for "legal polygamy", I'm afraid it's got little to do with the legal framework of democracies that respect human rights.

I honestly don't know much about the US legal system as I don't live there. But can suits alone force the state to recognize polygamy? and change marriage laws nation-wide? Of course whether each case wins or loses is VERY relevant, doh. We could spend hours citing the wackiest suits being filed for the most ridiculous demands, but if they get rejected they're insignificant.

Just because there's people jumping on the bandwagon of demanding changes to marriage laws, changes that have nothing to do with gay rights but are only using that as a pretext, doesn't mean all gay rights campaigners (even those content with civil unions, not marriage) are to blame, and it doesn't mean that any of those changes will have an EFFECT.

This, to me, is talking about reality.

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 08:30 AM

Hmmmmmmmmmm.......

There are 2 things I can't figure:

1) How is marriage a "right" for those who do not fit the hundreds of years' definition? By this I mean that marriage is not something that was created by any government. It is an institution that has been developed primarily by many separate religious factions throughout the world and has proven itself to be the best method in raising offspring. So now, after hundreds of years, a scant percentage who want certain benefits created by governments for the sole purpose of encouraging this proven, useful institution of marriage claim that they are being denied their rights?!?!? Come on...

2) Does anybody - and I mean ANYBODY - know exactly what the original context of the American Constitution actually means and implies? I will be the first to admit I don't. Well, hopefully not the first...

BUT

I do know that our original Constitution did not originally encourage neither homosexuality nor homosexual marriage.

So a dilemma... since our original Constitution is so far out of whack with our current liberal society, shall we dump it and create a new one? Or, has our Constitution been the sole backbone responsible for the advancement and success of our United States of America? Obviously these are not the only 2 questions available to define or decide the future of our Constitution; but, I believe this 200+ year old document stands for more than "do whatever you want" or "do whatever pleases you, as long as it doesn't hurt or interfere with my rights." I believe it stands for values and integrity. For decency and justice. For equality within the common boundaries of nature and natural instincts. Define this as you will, but to take marriage and pick it apart will not, cannot benefit our future society as a whole. History is not something that should be ignored when history has proven itself time and again regarding marriage.

If a Constitutional Amendment is passed (which is doubtful), I will not shed one tear.

Posted by: Gaijin at February 28, 2004 08:30 AM

ginger,

I honestly don't know much about the US legal system as I don't live there. But can suits alone force the state to recognize polygamy? and change marriage laws nation-wide?

Ah, I see now where the disconnect is. I made the assumption that you were knowledgeable about the subject you were talking about. You assumed everyone else was as ignorant as you are and were simply spouting verbal sophistry for the sake of scoring debate points.

Your admission that you have no idea what you're talking about makes further discussion with you on this topic seem... unproductive.

Posted by: Shad at February 28, 2004 09:18 AM

Oh sure, Shad. So, because I don't live in the US and don't know the details of the legal passages to approve new laws and how court cases can affect them, I shall henceforth stop reading anything else and take it from the one and only reliable source, ie. you, that by the next ten years, gay marriage AND polygamy will be legal in the US. And that the first will have led to the second.

And that judges, congressmen, presidents in the US will all have to succumb to the polygamous lobbies - notoriously very popular in the US and with millions of supporters. No constitution, no legal foundation of marriage as it exists in the same way in the entire democratic world, will be able to stop them. Polygamy will be!, and it's all going to start with the gay couples in San Francisco. A giant ripple effect will swallow America, and the Mormons shall triumph.

Thank you for enlightening me. I'm off to the boomakers to make a fortune with this fabulous prediction.

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 11:21 AM

PS - note I said I don't know the details of the workings of court cases. Not the basics and foundation of the law in the US.

But thanks anyway.

Posted by: ginger at February 28, 2004 11:22 AM

ginger,

Thank you for solidifying my earlier impression that trying to discuss this with you would not be worthwhile. No offense intended, but you don't seem to have knowledge of the basic issues involved here.

Have a good weekend.

Posted by: Shad at February 28, 2004 02:32 PM

Shad, you're welcome. However, ignorance on my or your side apart, you may wish to try and grasp the concept that just because some Mormons are filing suits to overturn existing polygamy bans by using gay marriage as a pretext, does not in itself mean that polygamy can be justified by the same arguments.

Besides, bigamy and polygamy are considered felonies.

And the lawsuit is also using religion as a justification for polygamous practices.

And like you said, that lawsuit still has to be won - or lost.

I'll point out again that I'm not in favour of gay marriage either, but can you acknowledge that it's a different context? and that the motives brough up by bigamists to serve their own interests are not enough OBJECTIVE evidence of a legal and logical connection between gay marriage and polygamy - which was the point, regardless of how that court rules in that case.

You may take the easy way out again and tell me I don't have a clue, but you know, logic and realism are principles equally valid in the US as in the UK.

Posted by: ginger at February 29, 2004 02:46 AM

ginger,

HA & like-minded comrades, let it be clear: I never said "you are wrong" in opposing gay marriages per se. The point is you use fallacious, illogical, ridiculous arguments where correlation becomes cause and unconnected elements are given as evidence.

You seem to have a reading comprehension problem. Don't conflate my arguments with those who put forward the slippery slope to incest and the death of marriage arguments. I've made neither.

You have never even attempted to make a case that a single one of my arguments is fallacious, illogical or ridiculous, much less proven it. I attribute this to fear of failure.

Posted by: HA at February 29, 2004 05:35 AM

Shad

Don't bother debating with ginger. She doesn't process what others say and won't acknowledge real world conditions, events and trends. You might as well argue with the Larouche wacko standing on the street corner with a billboard and a bullhorn. I recommend ridicule instead. She richly deserves it.

You are absolutely correct that the combined effect of Lawrence and gay marriage remove any legal basis for denying polygamy. Arbitrary regulations against polygamy may stagger on for a few years, but ultimately the right of religious freedom which is explicitly stated in the Constitution will prevail. Mormons have been a weak and persecuted sect lacking the political power to win their fight. But Muslims are not weak and they will be relentless in pursing the temporal legal authority to practice what their god permits and that no man made law can deny.

The argument that Lawrence and gay marriage will lead to polygamy is not a slippery slope argument. It is the inevitable outcome because we will have removed any legal principle used to oppose it. It is only a matter of time.

Posted by: HA at February 29, 2004 06:21 AM

HA,

Agreed, that the courts themselves have painted themselves into a corner by removing the legitimate obstacles to polygamy and other varieties of marriage.

What I found interesting in the Tom Green appeal is that he's not even relying on a freedom of religion argument (he represents himself as not a practicing Mormon). He's simply relying on the newfound rights the SCOTUS generated in Lawrence. I suppose he can fall back on that, though, if the right-to-sexual/marital-privacy tack fails.

And I disagree with your characterization of ginger. I think he/she is just (willfully) ignorant on the topic and is unserious about having an actual discussion which goes beyond scoring debate points.

ginger,

With every post, you continue to flaunt your ignorance of the current situation in the U.S., the various pending and recently resolved cases involved, the concept of judicial fiat, the FF&C clause of the U.S. Constitution, and Constitutional amendments.

You might want to go back to the front page and (re-)read MJT's blog post about the First Rule of Holes. I'd recommend you put down your shovel and instead focus some of your energy and enthusiasm into educating yourself on the topics involved if you wish to engage other people in an intelligent discussion.

Posted by: Shad at February 29, 2004 08:22 AM

I don't know if anyone is still reading this post after several days, but since everyone is attacking "Ginger", I'll just point out that her comments seem reasonable, and even if one disagrees with them or finds them lacking, they are certainly not worthy of the responses they have solicited from "Shad" and "HA." "Gentlemen", your obnoxious, condescending, disrespectful tone makes you sound immature and ridiculous, rather than provocative or intimidating.

Posted by: markus rose at February 29, 2004 02:38 PM

Ganging up on Ginger because Ginger implies other arguments are stupid while denying them.
Scalia, on the Supreme Court, says the Lawrence could lead to polygamy reevaluation. Slippery slope might not win, this round or ever, but it's a clear and reasonable argument.

Marriage today is man+woman, with a large possibility of children.
Gays want it to be any two people, even same sex with no possibility of children.
Polygamists want it to be more than two people, with a large possibility of children.

Gays already live together.
Male polygamists already live with multiple women, and already have multiple mother'ed children.

Is marriage "more" about two people, or about parents and children? Society is choosing, and discussing, but right now the rights of existing children in the polygamous relations to have married parents are a LOT more being denied, by state legal prohibitions, than gays.

There's a lot more gays, and they're more active, and THEIR mayors & judges are attacking Bush -- because the anti-war folk look for any reason to attack Bush. And it's not like the Dems are really gonna be much better -- we oppose gay marriage but don't favor any ammendment. THAT sounds like appeasement logic, to me.

Individualists who value freedom too much lead to social decay -- or whatever long term extintion trend you want to call it. It's on OK choice -- unless social security is heavily modified to be dependent on taxes paid by grandchildren.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 29, 2004 07:48 PM

markus rose: thank you.

If I'm allowed to, I'd just like to try and make my position clear one last time:

- I am not defending gay marriage. I'm not 100% sure about it, but though I have no religious or ethical opposition to it, I tend to disagree with the concept anyway. Because of the practical reasons I've given previously, ie. mostly, safeguarding children's rights. I think granting gay partners most other rights of legally recognised couples except for adoption should be fine already. In other words, I'm for civil unions as they are recognised in Holland, for instance.

So, I do NOT consider ALL arguments against gay marriages ridiculous or stupid.

I also do acknowledge that gay marriage would indeed change the institution of marriage as we know it. I don't see that as a "decadence" issue, as I'd rather leave that sort of ideological language to religious fundamentalists. I don't think gay couples being allowed to marry would harm the rights and status of heterosexual couples. If anything, the fact that many gays (not all) want marriage only goes to show how much the institution of marriage is still valued in our "decadent" society. But, from both a legal and social point of view, I don't think that literally equating gay unions to marriage with adoption and parental rights would be wise or useful to society at large.

- Still, there are arguments being used against gay marriage which I see as faulty, as they assume a causal effect on other situations when there isn't one. So, I do consider the Santorum-like slippery slope argument stupid when it's taken as indicating a logical, necessary progression from gay marriage to polygamy to incestuous relations being legalised into marriage.

The fact that such a progression is being ARGUED in lawsuits by polygamists as a self-serving tool to take advantage of the debate on gay marriage to further THEIR own interests, is not in itself evidence that there is a logical progression.

Just like a rapist bringing up the argument that he was provoked is not in itself a validation of the idea that rape can be provoked by the victim. ok? People use all sorts of arguments in courts, it's not enough to validate them.

I'm being totally honest in simply acknowledging I don't know the details of the legal procedures that can lead to changing laws in the US. Just like I don't know the details of constitutional amendments in the US.

That doesn't mean I can't see where logic is, and which outcomes of this debate can come about at legal level. Legal principles about marriage are the same in the entire west. And marriage is based on couples. So while it's technically easier to open it up to gay couples, it becomes more complicated to open it up to polygamy - regardless of what arguments polygamy advocates and their lawyers bring up in court.

Plus, those court cases raised by polygamists have still to be ruled on. And it seems there is nowhere near the support for polygamy as there is already for gay marriage. Which itself is not even being legalized nation-wide. So, before anyone convinces me that polygamy is about to be legalised in the US, merely by the result of one or two court cases, without any constitutional impediment, without any political debate, without any intervention by citizens, their political representatives, and the President of the United States, current or next - I'd rather wait and see, if you don't mind.

That's all. It's only my point of view, I may feel strongly about it, like anyone else here, but it's just an opinion like any other. I don't make the laws either, ok? I'm perfectly happy with anyone disagreeing with any of the above, that's taken for granted. But I'd rather they did it on what was actually written, and not some imaginary assumptions, and possibly in reasonable terms, because to me this is not a crusade but only a discussion. Thanks.

Posted by: ginger at March 1, 2004 02:31 AM

Markus,

You and I have butted heads in the past. You're comments are hardly unbiased.

The funny thing is, the actual differences on this issue between me and ginger are small. I oppose gay "marriage" but I could support civil unions as long as they are extended to non-sexual pair-bonds such as an adult caring for an elderly parent. Also, any benefits to civil unions must be voluntary and not mandated.

Marriage is a privileged institution because it returns tremendous benefits to society. Gay "marriage" provides no material benefits to society. Even if the dubious theoretical benefits its advocates claim turn out to be real, the number of homosexuals who actually do get "married" will be be so trivial as to have no material impact.

Therefore, extending the benefits to gay couples the state gives to marriage makes no sense. Furthermore, excluding non-sexual pair-bonds from receiving the same benefits that gay couples receive is a violation of equal protection and would be discriminatory. The number of people who could benefit from civil unions that don't discriminate against non-sexual relationships would far exceed the numbers who would benefit if it was arbitrarily limited to homosexuals. There is also a conservative argument in favor of non-discriminatory civil unions because it would decrease dependence on government and increase dependence between individuals.

But I oppose gay "marriage" because it will remove any legal barriers to polygamy. It will also open a flood of lawsuits in the areas of adoption, property rights, etc. For example, do you think that gay couples should have the same adoption rights as straight couples? Inevitabley and rightfully, straight couples will be given preference over gay couples in adoption. This will show in the numbers and I have no doubt that lawsuits are already being planned out in advance of the actual realization of these statistics. It would be naive to think otherwise.

If you want to redefine what marriage is, don't be surprised if you don't like the new definition.

Posted by: HA at March 1, 2004 04:41 AM

See, HA, I think opposing gay marriage on the grounds that it would lead to polygamy is based on the same assumption as favouring gay marriage on the very same grounds it would lead to polygamy - an assumption that disregards the obvious fact that gay marriage is still between couples (and all current legislation on marriage, from family law to taxes to you name it, is specifically directed at couples), while polygamy drastically redefines the idea of marriage, from couples to groups (and therefore, it would take much deeper upheaval of the legislation than gay marriage itself). It's two different categories, that's why the slippery slope argument can't work there. Polygamy advocates can disregard that obvious difference and posit a direct connection where there is none, but they only do that to serve their own interests.

Now, I can understand that your own motives for following that very same line of reasoning are motives of concern, not self-interest. But it's still the same faulty reasoning.

Anyway, agree to disagree there. You have a very good point about the issue of parental and adoption rights and the problems that can arise there. And even aside from the potential legal complications, I think it's not fair to ignore the rights of children to have a mother, female, and father, male, even if one of them should be absent. It's more an issue of basic psychology than traditional family values to me.

Posted by: ginger at March 1, 2004 05:54 AM

gay activism as a movement is no longer looking for civil rights, which by and large homosexuals already have. Rather they are seeking to enforce acceptance of their sexual liaisons as having equal validity with heterosexual marriages, to the point of having legal rights as spouses, the right to adopt children, and the right to insist that their behavior be taught to children in public schools as a completely acceptable "alternative lifestyle." from Orson Scott Card's 1990 essay & comments:
http://www.nauvoo.com/library/hypocrites-osc.html

Now, I don't believe OSC is right about gays already having all legal rights of medical care, in practice -- the practice needs to change. But he's right on about the gay insistence on equality. Gay marriage insists that gay sex is as good for society as hetero sex.

And I don't see how sex for pleasure with a chance of children equals mere sex for pleasure with no chance for children. Homosexual sex, from the individual's viewpoint, may well be as orgasmic, or even more so. But from society's viewpoint with respect to reproduction, it's not. Today, marriage is (very imperfectly) more about children. Gays want to push marriage to be outside of child consideration, and force acceptance of their lifestyle as equally good.

I also support some civil union arrangement to give gay lovers precedence over parents in deciding medical care, and in property probate, etc.

So ginger, we'll agree on some civil union points, and strongly disagree on slippery slope reasonableness.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 1, 2004 08:48 AM

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