Rob Portman, Charles Murray, and the Conservative Challenge of Breaking Ranks on Gay Marriage

nasa hq photo / photo on flickrnasa hq photo / photo on flickrA few years ago I heard a very strange argument against gay marriage. The person making it was a right-leaning libertarian pundit, and the argument went like this: "I'm opposed to gay marriage because gay people don't actually want to get married." The (straight) pundit claimed to know a gay person who felt this way. I also knew some gay people, and had access to this thing called the Internet, which is full of gays, and I was hearing exactly the opposite. I left the encounter thinking the pundit wanted to impress someone he perceived to be a fellow right-winger (I was working for The Daily Caller at the time) with a contrarian argument, but that he didn't actually believe what he was saying. 

Then I read The New Yorker's CPAC dispatch about Charles Murray's support for gay marriage: 

Murray said his own views had been influenced heavily by friends. “I was dead-set against gay marriage when it was first broached,” Murray said; as a fan of Edmund Burke, he regarded marriage as an ancient and indispensable cultural institution that “we shouldn’t mess with.” He used to agree with his friend Irving Kristol, the late father of neo-conservatism, that gay people wouldn’t like marriage. “ ‘Let them have it,’ ” he recounted Kristol as saying, with a chuckle. “ ‘They wont like it.’ ” Murray said that he himself used to think that “All they want is the wedding, and the party, and the honeymoon—but not this long thing we call marriage.”

But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends,” and to what he jokingly called his “dismay” as a “confident” social scientist, he learned he’d been wrong.

....Further, Murray said, he had discovered that the gay couples he knew with children were not just responsible parents; they were “excruciatingly responsible parents.”

I knew that Murray had recently changed his mind about gay marriage, but I didn't know why. The answer--that he made some gay friends, and that those gay friends demonstrated to him that the straw-gay he and Irving Kristol and the nameless pundit all had constructed was exactly that--is actually kind of important. The day before Murray's CPAC speech, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the master debater who prepared Team Romney for the presidential debates, shocked his colleagues by giving a similar explanation for his evolution on gay marriage:

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.

At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.

Portman has received more flack from the left than from his fellow conservatives. Matt Yglesias called the decision narcissistic, and Jon Chait argued that Portman's reasoning reflects a conservative "inability to give any weight to the perspective of the disadvantaged." This is, of course, concern trolling at its most formulaic--10 percent approval, 90 percent goal-post moving. 

But I think there's an important lesson to be learned here, and I'm as guilty of forgetting it as anyone: A lot of people feel they need a morally superior reason to break ranks with their tribe; one that's more righteous and admirable than the discipline it takes to adhere to dogma or code. In politics the need for permission only increases as people become more prominent and powerful. (A great fictional example is Michael Douglas's drug czar character in Traffic, who renounces the drug war after his daughter starts hooking to get high.) This is how it works for so many issues important to libertarians--foreign policy, prison reform, gay marriage, immigration, drugs, asset forfeiture. People change their minds when their kid gets blown to bits by an IED, gets locked up for dealing, or falls in love with a day laborer. Condemning people for not coming around sooner, or for not coming around on more issues, is also a part of tribalism, but I can't really see what it accomplishes. 

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  • R C Dean||

    Riggsie takes the alt-text prize again.

  • H. ReardEn||

    The seaman on the left looks to have gotten some on his face.

  • Drake||

    I wish that Portman and Murray's beliefs were based in small government and federalism instead of experiences.

    As far as I can tell, the only time marriage matters to the Feds is when you pay income taxes. Fix the marriage benefit / marriage penalty (depending on single or duel income) thing - and mind your own business.

    Better yet, get rid of the income tax and pass a national sales tax.

    There - I just fixed gay marriage as a federal issue.

  • kinnath||

    The courts care who is married to whom to determine who can be forced to testify against whom.

    Fixing the tax laws doesn't change that.

  • R C Dean||

    The courts care who is married to whom to determine who can be forced to testify against whom.

    The marriage privilege, sadly, is not applicable in civil cases (in my recollection, varies by state, etc.), and in criminal cases can be waived by the testifying spouse if he/she really wants to put the knife in.

  • Agammamon||

    And, quite frankly, shouldn't exist in the first place.

  • Rasilio||

    Taxes, Inheritance (which is also partially tax issue), Social Welfare benefits (AKA Social Security and Medicare Benefits along with a few others), Child Custody, Spousal privelege in criminal trials, Service members familial status (big boost in benefits if you are married vs just living with someone) and I am sure there are more that I am not thinking of off the top of my head.

    True, the tax issues are the biggest ones at the Federal level but they are certainly not the only "benefits" or marriage encoded into federal laws or regulations.

  • wareagle||

    perhaps the larger question remains why the govt is in the social engineering biz to start with, giving out a goody here and a goody there for behavior it finds appropriate. Nice land of the free we have here.

  • Rasilio||

    While I will agree with you to some extent a lot of it is a logical extension of the very existance of those programs.

    Take Social Security benefits, my wife stays at home to take care of the kids while I work, in a very real sense she enables me to work and earn the income I do. However in doing so she is severely handicapping her lifetime earning and therefore the level of social security benefits that she would qualify for on her own.

    Given that why shouldn't she be eligible for a portion of my social security benefits should I kick the bucket before her?

  • Zeb||

    Tax on health benefits from an employer is another bog one.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Some gays don't want to get married. Some do. Some want a marriage license because they want to enjoy the benefits recognition brings. Some want it because it's societal validation in paper form. Some want it because they want to be treated the same as everyone else (but the polygamists). Some want it because they can parlay the license into legal action forcing others into acceptance. There's no single mindset or motivation.

    And people accept and/or pine for the idea of state same-sex marriage recognition for others for equally varying reasons. Each reason is exactly as valid as the other in my opinion.

  • $park¥||

    Are you trying to say not all people fit into tidy little groups? Because that's pretty stupid if you are. You probably think people should be treated like individuals or something too.

  • Almanian!||

    Fist is frighteningly....independent. It's probably best he's put away, for his own safety as well as the safety of others.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    FoE's dangerous individualism is tearing apart the social fabric we all depend for societal stability.

  • Almanian!||

    Nicely put, Fist. I'm with you.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And I'm against you. EN GARDE!

  • John||

    I am sorry Rob Portman is a fucking moron.

    But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends,” and to what he jokingly called his “dismay” as a “confident” social scientist, he learned he’d been wrong.

    What did he think gays had horns? Who in this day and age doesn't know any gay people. He is either lying or admitting to being so stupid and ignorant he is unfit for public office.

  • John||

    Sorry. Murray is a moron.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Who in this day and age doesn't know any gay people"

    "But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends"

    ?

  • wareagle||

    I found "acquired" a queer choice of word, as though there is some store where one can pick up a gay friend or two.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "as though there is some store where one can pick up a gay friend or two"

    Isn't it Starbucks?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Crate & Barrel?

  • ||

    You people are so goddamn ignorant. You pick up gays at Home Depot, ferchrissakes. I thought everyone knew that!

  • ||

    I thought that's where you got lesbians. I've clearly been doing this all wrong.

  • Agammamon||

    Gays - Crate and Barrel or Pier One

    Illegal mexican day laborers - Home Depot

    Lesbians - Lowes

    Jeez how do you guys ever manage to shop if you don't know where to go to get what oyu need?

  • ||

    See, my conservative Christian coworker disagrees with you Agammamon, she shops at Lowes because Home Depot sponsors gay pride events and therefor everyone in the LGBTQQ rainbow must shop there.

    She was really baffled that I shop at Ace or O.S.H. because they are conveniently located on my drive home.

  • Rasilio||

    yeah but can you think of a better one?

    I mean if he said "We made a number of gay and lesbian friends" that would imply that he set out with the goal of finding gays and lesbians to befriend.

    Acquired more properly implies that the friendships developed through random happenstance as opposed to a conscious goal

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "yeah but can you think of a better one?"

    Yeah..."We became friends with a number of gay and lesbian people"

  • Cytotoxic||

    Did anyone else read 'acquired' in Christopher Waltz's voice from Django?

  • John||

    Who comes to know gay people in just the last few years? Murray is basically admitting he is an idiot. I seriously doubt he thought any of that. Why he changed his mind, I don't know. But I doubt that is the reason.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Knowing a gay person and becoming friends with a gay person are not the same. He said he changed his mind because of close relationships(friendships) with gay and lesbian people. I don't see how this is so difficult to understand.

  • Killazontherun||

    He was likely deeply introverted with books being his best pals and with better pharmaceuticals got out there and became a regular ol' fag hag.

  • ||

    Hey...

  • Killazontherun||

    I was once asked for advice for how to get a woman to leave the guy alone. She just would not shut up and give him space. I told him, do what we all do, talk about sports. She'll eventually get bored with you. He said, he tried, but that didn't work. He suspected she was hounding him in an attempt at conversion, so benign methods would not work.

  • Killazontherun||

    I don't know how it ended as I was not particularly close to either.

  • SusanM||

    The proper term is: "Dyke Daddy"

  • ||

    Only if he's hanging out with lesbians Susan. I've always heard fag stag for straight men who hang around with lots of gay men, but that might be a regionalism.

  • ||

    So, John, what you are saying is that you know gay people are human beings, but you still want unequal treatment under the law? No, they aren't monsters, YOU are a monster. Honestly, John, I bet you are one of those people who hyperventilate about "encroaching Shira law" who would who would be giddy with delight over the same things renamed "Happy Jesus law".

  • Killazontherun||

    You want unequal treatment of my wallet, Audrey. How is that any less unjust.?

  • ||

    "You want unequal treatment of my wallet, Audrey. How is that any less unjust.?" Actually, Killazontherun, I don't support that at all. The liberal in my name refers to "classical liberal". I perhaps should have made it clearer.

  • Killazontherun||

    Well then, I stand . . . corrected!

  • John||

    I know a lot of polygamists. No kidding. There are a lot of them in the middle east. But I wouldn't want polygamy legal in this country.

    I don't have a problem with gay marriage. Let every state that wants to enact it. That is how it is supposed to work. What I do have a problem with is reading it in as a "right" under the 14th Amendment. It is just not there. If you want it to be t here, amend the constitution.

    Funny how you think someone who supports gay marriage provided it is enacted by state legislature is a "monster". I may be a monster but you are a fucking idiot Audrey. A real fucking idiot who can't think or do anything but hate the other. I feel sorry for you actually.

  • ||

    I think polygamy should be allowed. I also think working out some of the issues is going to be much more difficult (ironically because marriage has changed so much in the centuries since polygamy has been a thing).

  • MJGreen||

    Who said anything about the last few years? Considering he's mentioning Irving Kristol, "then" probably means the 70s or 80s. Possibly the 90s, and it's not out of this world to think that an old conservative man in the 90s didn't know any out-and-out gay people.

  • ||

    John, Murray is talking to people like you.

  • Virginian||

    Mewling quim mewls.

    Seriously, Barack Obama has ordered the killing of children, has thrown people into prison for running a store which sells plants, has stolen the wealth of millions, but John is a monster?

  • ||

    Sorry about the hyperbole. Yeah, he's no Obama.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    He is either lying or admitting to being so stupid and ignorant he is unfit for public office.

    Sadly, this is what makes him a typical politician. Those that came to this rationalization honestly and by way of developing relationships with actual gay couples had no business being in office in the first place because they were fucking clueless morons who knew nothing about the constituents they claim to represent.

    Those who are publicly changing their tune because they finally think that holding such views are now politically safe are just opportunists and don't give a rat's ass about anyone other then themselves to begin with.

  • John||

    Those who are publicly changing their tune because they finally think that holding such views are now politically safe are just opportunists and don't give a rat's ass about anyone other then themselves to begin with.

    Exactly. And Portman and Murrey will change back the moment they think it suits their purposes.

  • Randian||

    He's going to switch back to being anti-gay marriage?

    Yeah, right.

  • John||

    If doing so means winning an election, in a heart beat.

  • Randian||

    You're just making things up. Did you read the Portman op-ed or are you just borrowing the hate du jour from the Team Red Dipshits on Twitter?

  • John||

    I don't have a problem with gay, provided it is not read into the constitution. But yeah, Portman is an idiot. There is nothing worse that the people who change their positions on things once they affect their special snowflake.

    Fuck Portman. Is he so fucking stupid that he didn't know that other gay people have parents who love them too? He didn't think about that? Is he so fucking narrow minded and stupid that he can only see the virtue of something when it affects him personally?

    His appeal to his son is him just admitting he never had any rational reason for opposing gay marriage in the first place. Free country, he can change his opinion however he likes. But some opinions are worthy of more respect than others.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Is he so fucking stupid that he didn't know that other gay people have parents who love them too? He didn't think about that? Is he so fucking narrow minded and stupid that he can only see the virtue of something when it affects him personally?"

    If only some people were married to say...a native Pakistani.

  • ||

    "I don't have a problem with gay, provided it is not read into the constitution. " You also don't have a problem with black people, provided they accept that "three-fifths a person" thing.

  • John||

    "I don't have a problem with gay, provided it is not read into the constitution. " You also don't have a problem with black people, provided they accept that "three-fifths a person" thing.

    Yes, Audrey you prove once again that you are completely stupid. Let me say it for the 4th time, I support gay marriage. But sorry, something that didn't even exist until the 1990s, was not intended to be protected under an Amendment passed in the 1860s. Sorry you are too stupid and narrow minded to get the distinction.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, John, I didn't know you were in favor of legally recognized gay marriage. My bad.

  • Virginian||

    That's because you're a stupid cunt.

  • John||

    I don't have a problem with it all. Seriously. I just don't think it is in the Constitution. I don't disagree with Portman. I just think he is a clown. I really do hate the "when it happened to my kid my opinion changed" thing.

    Portman is such an insult to other people who have gay friends and loved ones. None of my gay friends matter to Portman. The only thing that matters is his little snowflake. And it just pisses me off.

    That is my whole issue with Portman. Sorry to be nasty back. I misunderstood you as well.

  • ||

    Maybe the Virginian is right and I am a stupid cunt. That said, interracial marriage wasn't "in the constitution" either, and it was still used in the Loving v Virgina decision.

  • Virginian||

    The Constitution does not protect gay marriage. It does however, have this thing called the 9th Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    That's the argument that the left should be making. But they won't. Because if the 9th Amendment is given some teeth with a wide reaching opinion legalizing gay marriage, it will seriously complicate the ability of statist fucks to control people through the power of the federal government. See their virulent hatred of Lochner and Citizens United.

    No one here is opposed to gay marriage because they think gays are subhuman monsters. Anyone who is opposed to it is concerned about further damage to a strict construction of the Constitution, or concerned about the violations of other's rights to free association which will be happening as soon as gay marriage is legalized, or they are concerned about a further erosion of federalism under the guise of equality.

  • ||

    Fine, you DON'T think gays are sub-human monsters. You still don't have any good reason to be against same-sex marriage.

  • Virginian||

    Glad you get to decide what reason is good or not. People are flawed, and sometimes "may do the worst of things without being the worst of men."

    It must be a nice view from up on that high horse.

  • Randian||

    Portman is such an insult to other people who have gay friends and loved ones. None of my gay friends matter to Portman. The only thing that matters is his little snowflake. And it just pisses me off.

    Because people keep refusing to read the op-ed...

    Yes, the fact that Portman's kid is gay was the catalyst for a rethink, but that is not the entire reason or even most of his case he makes in his op-ed.

    Keep in mind that it took him two years to do this since his son came out. That doesn't smell like convenient cynical turn to me - that smells like a sincere change of heart.

  • Agammamon||

    You don't think equal protection under the law is in the constitution?

  • ||

    or are you just borrowing the hate du jour from the Team Red Dipshits on Twitter?

    For John, I don't think he really has to "borrow" it.

  • John||

    I don't read twitter.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Well John's right. Portman is doing the right thing for asinine reasons.

  • Randian||

    Did you read the op-ed? Funny that I have to keep asking this.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "The process of citizens persuading fellow citizens is how consensus is built and enduring change is forged. That’s why I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states. Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it’s moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them."

  • Randian||

    Right, so the problem with a federalist approach is...?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Nothing at all. I agree with this statement.

  • Randian||

    Oh. OK.

    Portman's op-ed is actually really, really good.

  • ||

    "Portman is doing the right thing for asinine reasons."
    It's always difficult to know what to do when some dose the right thing for the wrong reasons. It would be like, hypothetically, and Democrat deciding to support second-amendment rights because someone in their family was a victim of crime or police brutality.

  • ||

    John doesn't believe straight people could be serenely pro-same-sex marriage. He probably thinks I'm hammering him on this point to impress my friends, well jokes on you pal; I don't have any friends.

  • John||

    No Audrey I just think you are stupid and incapable of understanding the arguments.

  • ||

    I think you are a smart person, John. Just a bit too eager to carry water for TEAM RED nitwits. Conversely, I tend to get far to get far to emotional over this issue, and tend to (sometimes unfairly) lash out at people who think differently. As I said before, I'm sorry.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Ummm, Murray isn't and has never been a politician.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    It is quite easy to not have any openly gay friends (as opposed to acquaintances). I only have one.

  • Virginian||

    I've always disliked the term openly gay.

    I mean, my friend's mom and her partner got married a while back. I think I was like ten when I realized that they didn't have but two bedrooms, which meant Lori and Bethany had to sleep in the same bed, which must mean something odd, but I didn't know or care at all. Still don't.

    I mean, is a bachelor who prefers to live alone and dates regularly, but doesn't take a fake wife or make up some imaginary girlfriend in the closet? Or is he just a private person who happens to be gay?

  • ChrisO||

    master debater

    I see what you did there.

  • Almanian!||

    Alt Text - yes.

    Also, I was a bit taken aback by all the flack for Portman. Yeah, he's a dumbass, but...I did a 180 on Teh Gaiz Marriage some years back myself (I had been against it on essentially pedantic "definition of marriage" grounds - I certainly had nothing against teh gaiz; but mostly my thinking changed completely after visiting sites like Reason and deciding that I DON'T GIVE A SHIT IF GAYS WANT TO MARRY - with the additional "WTF is govt in the marriage bidness anyway?" as an additional takeaway).

    So, yeah, the "I don't recognize it till it happens to me" is often infuriating, and we'd all like everyoneto believe everything WE do for the RIGHT reasons...but in the end, I was a little suprised more people didn't seem to think "while I wish you'd gotten there through clear reasoning instead 'ZOMFGmy own SON??" better late then never."

    Also - whatever

  • R C Dean||

    I suppose the best thing to do when some collectivist/authoritarian sees the light on an isolated issue because it actually punches through their massive narcissism and affects them personally is to encourage them that perhaps there are other issues where their collectivist/authoritarian instincts are also wrong.

  • $park¥||

    this thing called the Internet, which is full of gays

    Well, so much is clear now...

  • Almanian!||

    The internet is veritably raining men...

  • $park¥||

    If you squeeze the tubes gays come pouring out?

  • Charles.H.Anziulewicz@wv.||

    The GOP may not “Go Gay” anytime soon, but eventually they'll realize that vilifying Gay Americans is no longer a vote-getter for them. Back in 2009 a CBS News survey found that while only 18% of Americans over the age of 65 supported marriage equality for Gay couples, 41% of American under the age of 45 supported it. That was FOUR YEARS AGO, and the generational shift in attitudes among young people toward their Gay friends and family members is accelerating.

    Even conservative columnist Andrew Stuttaford acknowledged this: “I fully understand (even if I do not agree with) the idea that same-sex unions are a threat to conventional marriage and I fully understand those who argue that opposition to gay marriage is a fundamental principle too important to be abandoned for reasons of political expediency, but these findings should, I reckon, at least be some sort of warning to those who assume that the GOP’s current position on this issue will continue to be a vote-winner.”

    30 years ago most Americans were not aware of any Gay friends, family members, or co-workers. Today most Americans ARE aware, and they have become dramatically more accepting and supportive of the Gay people and Gay couples in their lives. And social networking sites like Facebook have made the proverbial "closet" virtually obsolete. The Republican Party ignores this growing acceptance at their own peril. Jobs and the economy are important, yes ... but your friends and family are PERSONAL.

  • wareagle||

    I'll cut folks some slack on the semantics of it. Holding a traditional view of the definition of marriage is not the same gay hating. And there are actually folks out there, a distinct minority to be sure, who don't think their personal views should carry the weight of policy.

    I went through some mental gymnastics over gay marriage before concluding that 1) there was no impact to my marriage and 2) the pursuit of happiness means what it says. Doesn't mean that those who disagree are, by default, bigots. At least not all of them.

  • ||

    "Holding a traditional view of the definition of marriage" You mean my father selling me to the guy down the street for two goats and a camel?

  • wareagle||

    because that's exactly what I said. Be serious. For a lot of people, marriage means one man and one woman, preferably unrelated. That's a bit more traditional that you being sold for a goat, though at two goats AND a camel, you must be quite a catch.

  • ||

    You know, wareagle, for a lot of people, marriage means one WHITE man and one WHITE woman. They are free to think that, even to forbid interracial marriage in their churches if they want. That hardly says anything about with should (and should not) be recognized under law.

  • Virginian||

    Derp derp derp.

    If, as you so stupidly assert, traditional marriage meant a dowry system where women were property, then press means a wooden printing press, firearm means a muzzle loading flintlock, and abortion means letting the mule kick you in the stomach until you piss blood.

  • ChrisO||

    The "take my wife, please" school of thought on gay marriage has been around for awhile. The hypothesis was that gay men would have huge divorce rates once they realized what a drag marriage could be, by comparison. It hasn't turned out to be true, AFAIK, at least not so far.

    The implied reasoning behind this, of course, is that marriage is an institution forced on straight men by women...and what kind of crazy gay man would give up anonymous bathroom sex for that?

    What's interesting is that neither left nor right are seriously willing to question why the state is involved in marriage at all. It's the only logical conclusion, once the polygamists and interspecies eroticists start demanding their turn at the alter.

  • John||

    As long as you have child welfare laws and joint ownership of property, the state will always be involved in marriage.

  • ChrisO||

    Child welfare laws do not require marriage, and in fact are only marginally based on marriage now.

    Joint ownership of property in marriage will fade as divorce rates remain continually high.

    Those are not very good excuses for the state to remain involved in the marriage business.

  • John||

    It is an endless chore to beat down that stupid fucking idea. As long as people live together, they are going to have disputes and those disputes are gonig to be resolved in court.

    You want get rid of intestacy laws? Well you better if you want to get the government out of marriage because last I looked the person's spouse usually gets the estate in absence of will.

    What about community property? Two people live together for 30 years, how do you split the property? I guess we will let them wrestle for it because the government is no longer in the marriage business.

    Getting the government out of marriage is without a doubt the dumbest thing libertarians say.

  • Randian||

    You proclaim things "the dumbest ever" twice a day, John. Try taking some Midol.

  • John||

    There is a lot of competition for stupid out there. But get the government out of marriage is near the top.

  • Cytotoxic||

    LOL I just looked up what Midol is.

  • ||

    I can't be too hard on John for that, Randian, because I myself engage in quite a bit of hyperbole.

  • Cytotoxic||

    So you're saying marriage is like every other contract in that it requires government mediation in the judiciary? Congratulations we still win.

  • wareagle||

    if marriage were like every other contract, the govt would not be restricting which consenting adults can participate.

  • ||

    As long as people live together, they are going to have disputes and those disputes are gonig to be resolved in court.

    I think it's this idea that "only the courts can solve problems of this type" that is the biggest hindrance to getting government out of marriage altogether. You shouldn't have to go through the county, state, or federal court system just decide who gets what in a break-up. Private mediation or arbitration and exists, and I think there is a market for opening that up on a wider basis.

    Courts are expensive; if a couple going through divorce can pay $300 for a private mediator and then any attorney/counsel fees they want to ensure that they aren't getting a completely raw deal, that should be encouraged more than forcing people to go to divorce court.

  • John||

    You shouldn't have to go through the county, state, or federal court system just decide who gets what in a break-up.

    You don't have to. There is nothing to say you can't divide your shit by mutual agreement. You only go to court when one side chooses too. The problem is that because of things like intestacy and child support, unless you want to effectively ban marriage, courts are always going to be called upon to determine who is married and who isn't.

  • ||

    You're right you can go to mediation but if marriage was treated like any other contract you could have mediation and arbitration clauses in your marriage contract that would prevent either party going to court (other than to enforce the clause). No way that will ever happen with child custody but for asset division there is no reason not to do it.

  • John||

    No way that will ever happen with child custody but for asset division there is no reason not to do it.

    I have no problem with that. But I am thinking feminists would.

  • AlexInCT||

    I think it's this idea that "only the courts can solve problems of this type" that is the biggest hindrance to getting government out of marriage altogether.

    Me, I like the way Arnold divorced that character played by Sharon Stone in the 1980s movie about "Total Recall".

  • Rasilio||

    Actually John your conflating Dispute resolution with involvement in marriage as what is dumb.

    Yes, the State will be involved in all duspute resolution because it is the final arbiter with the authority to enforce it's ruling with violence if necessary.

    This however does not require that the government define or sanction marriage in any way shape or form nor is the concept of marriage required to handle the resolution of either scenario you posited.

    Person dies and has had an ongoing relationship with a partner for a number of years but no will, well the estate goes to probate where the judge rules it goes to the partner as they are the most logical recipient of it. If that was not the dead persons wish then they should have had a will drawn up.

    Couple splits up after living together for 30 years, well marriage or not it is going to be messy untangling what assets belong to which party however this is no different than the dissolution of a business partnership after a long period of time and the courts are quite adept at handling it.

  • R C Dean||

    hasn't turned out to be true, AFAIK, at least not so far.

    We won't really know for 7 years, by my reckoning.

  • ChrisO||

    Yeah, that's probably true, although Vermont has been performing gay civil unions for over 12 years. It'd be interesting to know what percentage of those have been dissolved.

  • John||

    The fun part is when palimony laws start getting applied to gays. Oh, you let your friend sleep on your coach for a few years? Fuck you he says he slept with you a couple of times, he gets half.

  • ||

    From what I understand, women are twice as likely as men to initiate divorce. So, hypothetically, on average, marriages between two men could last longer then ones between men and women.

  • ||

    I can't really see what it accomplishes

    What does calling out someone for being a hypocrite accomplish? It's a notification to others saying "Hey, this person's rationalization process is flawed, so take their positions under advisement".

    I consider this almost the same as people who are affected by a certain tragic event and turn around and become cheerleaders for the cause, as if the cause didn't exist before. Hey...if you're really such a good person, then you would've been already giving strongly to a cause before your child was born a retard. So fuck you, write a check, and shut up.

  • Randian||

    That's a great way to ensure I never write a check, ingrate.

  • wareagle||

    why is it "concern trolling" to notice that Portman's is exclusively driven by personal reasons, or more likely, is that simply being observant and wondering how big a factor it is in the Senator's change of heart?

  • ChrisO||

    The goal of someone like Chait on the other side of the political divide is to isolate and vilify an opponent like Portman. It wouldn't really matter what Portman said or did.

    Chait's old enough to understand that most people change because of personal experience. Here's a longer quote from the article:

    "Wanting your children to be happy is the most natural human impulse. But our responsibility as political beings — and the special responsibility of those who hold political power — is to consider issues from a societal perspective."

    There is no such thing as a "political being", Mr. Chait, at least not outside the fevered imaginations of a leftist dimwit like yourself. Anyone over the age of 21 should realize that people rarely question their beliefs unless they are personally confronted with the outcomes of those beliefs.

    Chait is interested in point-scoring, nothing more.

  • R C Dean||

    To me, it just confirms that he is a narcissist (I know, quelle surprise, non?) and only cares about things that affect him personally.

    As a narcissist who is being hugely rewarded for being a collectivist authoritarian generally, well, you do the math.

  • Randian||

    why is it "concern trolling" to notice that Portman's is exclusively driven by personal reasons,

    Because it is not true? Did you read the op-ed or are you just making assumptions?

  • wareagle||

    Riggs calls it concern trolling. I'm question if that's what it is because of Chait's political objections to Portman. No reason it couldn't be pointing out how the personal has now become political for one senator.

  • Proprietist||

    Because Argument from Motives is fallacious? Of course, it's one of our favorites around here, so this is only pointed out when you disagree with the arguer.

  • MJGreen||

    Driven by personal reasons? Is he doing it now merely because he wants his son to get married?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Politician believes Big Govt should have the power to ratify any and all individuals' personal acts.

    Big fucking surprise.

  • ||

    A great fictional example is Michael Douglas's drug czar character in Traffic, who renounces the drug war after his daughter starts hooking to get high.

    FWIW, Traffic is a Hollywoodized remake of the superior British TV mini-series Traffik.

  • ||

    But did Michael Douglas's character also renounce prostitution laws because his daughter started hooking to get high?

  • ||

    I think prostitution should be legal. Not exactly a controversial position in these parts, but I wanted to put it out there.

  • Proprietist||

    I'm opposed to gay marriage because gay people don't actually want to get married

    I'm still waiting for a non-fallacious argument from gay marriage opponents.

  • ||

    I see what you did there.

  • Proprietist||

    ;-)

  • ||

    John wishes they never came around, because dem queers is worse then moosalim terrists.

  • Randian||

    Team Blue troll is a troll.

  • ||

    I feel quite a bit of regret for some of the posts I made regarding this issue, and have apologized on this forum, but I can assure you I'm not a TEAM BLUE anything.

  • ||

    No, you're just Team Troll.

  • John||

    Yeah Audrey. I am so anti gays. You tagged me. You are just so smart Audrey. You saw right through me.

    Jesus, Audrey, you are really more embarrassing than shreek. He at least doesn't even pretend to be anything but a sock puppet and a troll.

  • califernian||

    I don't know any polygamists. I've never met one.

    But I still think they should be able to marry as many wives/husbands as they like.

    But they are actually one step ahead. They don't involve themselves with state-sanctioned marriage anymore.

  • John||

    DOn't worry. It is coming. Once you say there is a constitutional right to gay marriage, there has to be one for polygamy as well. If the Supreme Court rules gay marriage is a right under the 14th Amendment, polygamy has to follow because at that point the states no longer have the authority to define what a marriage is and is not beyond who files the paperwork.

  • R C Dean||

    You're assuming, of course, that SCOTUS will decide in a principled and consistent manner.

    In that event, yes, legalizing gay marriage will eliminate the principled/legal arguments for keeping polygamy illegal. Especially if the go full Equal Protection Clause.

    But I wouldn't bet that way.

  • ||

    Penaltax!

  • John||

    Give them a few years. They will do it. Gay marriage was unthinkable ten years ago. Once you start inventing rights, it never ends. Gay marriage is one hell of a trojan horse. It has gotten lots of Libertarian judges and legal scholars to buy into the principle that courts can invent a right out of thin air. I don't think that is going to end the way libertarians think it will.

  • $park¥||

    Maybe I'm missing something here. What right is supposedly being "created?"

  • R C Dean||

    The right to demand state and social recognition of your marriage?

  • $park¥||

    Since that doesn't exist for hetero marriage, at least I don't think it does, why would it need to be created for gay marriage?

  • ||

    See, where is Eduard now? We just got into it over this. On one side SSM activists are criticized for not being avowedly pro-polygamy, on the other it's slippery slopes all the way down.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    No, the impression I got was that some SSM advocates think it's politically not advantageous to support polygamy, some have actual principled objections to polygamy which sound very much like the objections to SSM itself, and a third group candidly says it wants to put polygamy on the same level as SSM

    The first and third groups, after gay marriage is successfully established, will cite the SSM precedent as a reason to recognize polygamy. The first group will realize the coast is clear, so they will join the third group in trying to shame the second group, calling them bigots and the moral equivalent of racists and "homophobes." There will be slogans about "why should luv be limited by some arbitrary number? Why are you so afraid of polygamy?"

    Since we're going to end up debating the relationship between SSM and polygamy, I submit that the earlier the discussion starts, the better for the cause of honest debate.

  • califernian||

    You are thinking of positive rights, and in that case you are right.

    The more negative rights the better.

    If the state is going to force itself on us and involve itself in granting favors to marrieds, everyone gets it. Polygamists, gays, cultists, everyone.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    I'm already preparing myself for the legalized bestiality that will inevitably come with legalizing marriage for teh gayz. I've accepted that I'll probably have to be a power bottom with my dog, since there's no way I could get his consent for anything that doesn't involve heavy petting and a layer of spam.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    The GOP needs some issues that have clear effects. If you're a business owner, lightening up on regulation will have a clear effect for you, but consumers won't necessarily see it, even when they benefit from it. It's true with most economic issues; there just isn't that clear causation. Social issues are different, though. If one day you couldn't get married and the next you could, that's a difference you notice, even if it doesn't affect you. I really believe one reason the Dems do well is because their issues are clear and right out front.

    It seems to me that gay marriage and pot legalization are two things that would have an immediate consequence. It isn't that teh gayz and teh devil-weederz are fickle and selfish, it's just that there's certainty that a change in the law will have a discernable effect (DOJ notwithstanding).

    There was a book from a few years back called Grand New Party that discussed clear-cut things the GOP could do to win back the middle class. The solutions were a bit statist for my liking, but one of them dealt with reducing commuting times. The solution is obviously complicated, but it's something that affects everyone and that, if accomplished, would improve people's lives with certainty.

  • califernian||

    LESS TAX. Period. Easiest thing to do and massive benefit to everyone.

  • Fluffy||

    This touches on a favorite hobbyhorse of mine - namely, that the way to deal with social forces that are bent on repression or inequality is to aggressively outrage their sensibilities until they give up out of ennui.

    Because that's what's really happening here.

    If gay people had stayed in the closet, Murray would still claim not to know any. He'd know plenty, in reality, but that reality would be hidden from him by social convention, so he'd still say he didn't know any. And he'd still have the excuse of inexperience to support his specious social commentary.

    It doesn't matter if we're talking about gays, people who smoke pot, people who own and/or carry guns, women who have had abortions, people who watch porn, people who like violent video games, whatever. The first and most critical thing to do to secure the rights of "X" is to jam "X" down the throats of any and all regulators, nanny staters, and "good people" everywhere. Down. Their. Fucking. Throats.

  • ||

    It doesn't matter if we're talking about gays, people who smoke pot, people who own and/or carry guns, women who have had abortions, people who watch porn, people who like violent video games, whatever. The first and most critical thing to do to secure the rights of "X" is to jam "X" down the throats of any and all regulators, nanny staters, and "good people" everywhere. Down. Their. Fucking. Throats.

    This.

  • Jordan||

    Down. Their. Fucking. Throats.

    Oh Jethus Christ!

    /Mr. Slave

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "that the way to deal with social forces that are bent on repression or inequality is to aggressively outrage their sensibilities until they give up out of ennui.

    Because that's what's really happening here."

    I disagree. Baton twirling shirtless men shoving their crotches into cameras at parades did nothing but hinder the gay rights movement.

  • califernian||

    Disagree.

    The oiled-up dancing leather daddies in the parade helped IMMENSELY. A lot of people laugh and realize how harmless they really are once it's in the open.

  • Randian||

    Yeah that isn't even close to right. I'm as live and let live as most of you and even I thought the Shove It to the Squares Routine was getting really old and childish really fast.

  • Brandybuck||

    I agree. For the longest time the biggest enemies of gays were the flamboyant in-your-face gays. It wasn't until the "normal" mainstream gays came out of the closet that public opinion changed.

    It's goes back to that "ick" factor. The progressives would drag their young children out to gay parades to see the naked men with erections, because they had no sense of "ick". And then they would be offended at our offense at these offensive displays. What changed public opinion was getting rid of the ick.

  • ||

    It's interesting because the "normal" gays came out first and were not particularly effective. The Mattachine Society was one of the first gay rights groups and they were criticized in the '60s for being assimilationist and counter revolutionary and eventually faded out of existence. After a few decades of GLF style shock-and-awe, we "normal" gays were able to walk amongst you relatively unnoticed.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "A lot of people laugh and realize how harmless they really are once it's in the open"

    Sure. That's why 40 states passed DOM Acts. A lot more people, not having the benefit of knowing a gay person under "normal" circumstances do not laugh at "it"

  • califernian||

    And yet here we are with CBS making flamboyant gay characters a staple of every new comedy . I think IN YOUR FACE is underestimated. It turns into a joke.

    Hence no one says a word about splatter-porn movies but if they came out in the 50s it would have been a riot.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "And yet here we are with CBS making flamboyant gay characters a staple of every new comedy"

    Because they're portrayed as relatively normal people doing relatively normal things and not prancing down the street in assless chaps in an attempt to be as controversial as possible?

  • ||

    I would like to repeat myself: Sorry John.

  • thom||

    Regarding the criticism that Portman has received from the left: there is no way he can win an argument with those people. Would they rather that he, after learning his son was gay, double down on his anti-gay beliefs?

    Of course, they probably would have, because it would have solidified their beliefs about who conservatives are.

  • MJGreen||

    Yeah, just how does one change an opinion without being labelled a hypocrite? He holds a position in opposition to what he previously held. Whether he changed his mind in light of new evidence, new experience or simply being won over by an argument, they can still call him a hypocrite. Because he was for something before he was against it.

    Just be happy, dbags. It's one more convert.

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