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New at Reason: Where has all the nuance gone? Jonathan Rauch says President Bush is getting in the habit of picking the most extreme positions available, and the gay marriage amendment idea is evidence.

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  1. Cate is a funny, witty, five-year old girl. She loves Barbie, her bicycle, and her hamster Ham-Ham-

    and her well-being (and the thousands of children like her) lay at the heart of the social liberal argument FOR gay marriage. Social Conservatives are very fond of claiming to be “for the children”, but they have yet to explain to Cate just why her family has to suffer to protect “children” in the abstract.

    You wanna send a message about families, use Western Union, but leave the Constitution alone.

  2. Ah, the logical fallacies contest got started, free for all!

    The first contender, Sir Real, enters with a classical example of argumentum ad misercordiam.

    What a refreshing departure from the usual fare of ad hominem, straw man, and slippery slope.

    Next!

  3. Randy,
    What “extra taxes” are you talking about? I’m sure all of us here also oppose subsidizing someone else’s living arrangement. However, as Jonathan points out, there are legal attributes that are unique to marriage (protection against testifying against a spouse, primary inheritance beneficiary, etc) which don’t require taking a bite out of your hard-earned. Civil unions for all is the only answer.

  4. You mean Shannon when Bush met with Musgrave more than 3 months ago and said he supported *her* ammendment?

    Gee, I don’t know where he got that silly idea.

    That b’ch Musgrave has been crowing quite a bit about that lately.

  5. Warren, are you saying that giving one group a tax break does not increase the tax burden on other groups that are not elligible for that tax break? I’m thinking specifically about primary inheritance. Seems to me this takes money away from uncle Scam, and eventually more money will “need” to come out of my pocket. (I say “need” because, obviously, the government is not capable of taking less from one group and adjusting its spending habits downwards. They will “have” to find another source of replacement funds)

  6. Warren,
    Thanks for your response. I know that there are non-economnic issues which marriage purports to settle, but I feel that these issues could be settled without the government intervening at all. Just because somebody calls themselves a spouse of another citizen shouldn’t absolve them from having to present the facts as they know them in a court of law. Under the Constitution the only person you can’t be compelled to testify against is yourself. On the issue of inheritance, if you have a will, and it specifies a beneficiary, then your property transfers to that designee, otherwise, it goes straight to probate upon your death. Just because somebody didn’t have the foresight to create a will, doesn’t mean that an entire class of conjugal law needs to be promulgated to deal with this issue. I know that establishing “civil unions” seems to address these concerns, but it blows a huge hole in the equal protection clause of the Consitution. To sum up my position: Any group of people living together under any circumstances is still a collection of United States citizens, each of which has exactly the same rights as any one person living alone.

    I appreciate the cooperative tone of your post, and thank you for your civility. I hope I have been equally civil in my response.

  7. Shannon Love,

    “I also find it telling that Rauch writes an article purporting to try to understand Bush?s thinking on gay marriage but doesn?t mention children once, even though the welfare of children lays at the heart of the social conservative argument against gay marriage.”

    What lies at the heart of their argument is that gay people are “icky.”

    Randy Ayn,

    Regarding inheritance, statements in a will are far more easily voided if one is not a “relative,” than if one is.

    “Any group of people living together under any circumstances is still a collection of United States citizens, each of which has exactly the same rights as any one person living alone.”

    Gay couples would argue that they are exactly equal to straight couples. And to be blunt, straight married couples do have more rights and privileges than single people, gay couples, etc. The law specifically carves out and favors a class of persons; straight married people.

  8. Rauch says that “Bush is no bigot”. I disagree. It’s not that Bush is a Nazi or even a segregationist. But he *is* a bigot when it comes to homosexuals, and more geneally when it comes to those who don’t share his religious worldview.

  9. Randy,
    This is thoreau’s statement about civil unions, but I like it a lot. Basically, it boils down to two people entering a contractual agreement that makes arrangements for dispursement of property upon death, child care, visitation right and the other assorted aspects of marriage that can be handled with basic contract law in lieu of marriage. However, lots and lots of people are going to want a simple and easy form to do this on. So the government will just make a bunch of these basic civil union forms and people can make their own adjustments as they see fit (which happens today with pre-nups). This will save time and money for filling out the contract.

    I think we’re all in agreement on the tax benefits side of things, so I’ll move past that. So far so good on equal protection grounds. That leaves the extention of self-incrimination to spouses as a sticking point. Clergy are exempted from testifying fully in cases against a defendant if he was his “spirtual advisor.” This is what keeps statements from confession out of the courtroom. Granted, the spousal relationship is different than a relationship with God (which is what the clerical exemtion presumably covers) and I would not be opposed to losing that exemption, but on balance I don’t find it to be that bad. Then there’s the entire immigration mess and how would one deal with family reunification for spouses (or green cards for new spouses).

    As much as I’d like to see government get completely out of the marriage gig, there is an interest for all of us to encourage strong families and marriages. I like the idea of a civil partnership only recognized by the state and leave religious marriage to the churches.

  10. Someone get on the horn with the poster Scott Harris — it’s lunchtime, and I’m in the mood to rifle through pages and pages of his biological determinist nonsense.

  11. if you have a will, and it specifies a beneficiary, then your property transfers to that designee, otherwise, it goes straight to probate upon your death.

    I’m no lawyer, but it’s my understanding that wills are often successfully contested by relatives or whatever who feel cheated. I’ve heard of people leaving token amounts to estranged relations so the person can’t go to court and say he was denied his “rightful” inheritance.

    Now, the ideal solution is obviously to change inheritance law. But until we take that step, I see nothing wrong with letting any two (or more, in Utah 🙂 people grant each other a special status with regard to one another so that a will leaving property to one another can’t be challenged. It’s their property, it’s their right to will it as they wish.

    Mo-

    Thanks for basically stating my case. I’ve heard all sorts of statements on this forum about how we shouldn’t undermine marriage. I have yet to hear a single person tackle head-on my assertion that any two people have the right to make whatever arrangements they want with regard to property, power of attorney, etc. They routinely challenge the argument that “we all have the right to marry whom we love”, and it’s probably because the argument rests on warm, fuzzy things aren’t really the government’s business. But nobody has directly challenged my assertion that any two people should have the right to do as they please with their own property, their own decisions, etc.

    As to taxes: I’m not a big fan of our current tax code, and I understand the concerns of those who decry extending the list of people who have more complicated tax forms. But I’m not going to take the more basic legal aspects of marriage and make them hostage to the IRS. If legal gay marriages (or unions, or whatever word you want) means that taxes become more complicated, that means we should reform the tax code, not that we should put other aspects of gay marriage on hold waiting for tax reform (expected to arrive around the same time as Godot’s appointment at the DMV). Ditto for aspects of health insurance, social security, etc. that might be complicated by gay marriage. If there’s a problem with our laws on health insurance, social security, etc., then push to reform those things, but don’t make more basic rights contingent on reforming health insurance and whatnot.

    As far as spousal privilege in court, once again my argument is the same. Maybe such a privilege shouldn’t exist. If so, then lobby to remove it. But don’t say to gays “Well, until we remove this special privilege granted to heterosexuals, we can’t guarantee you the right to share property, power-of-attorney, etc.

  12. if you have a will, and it specifies a beneficiary, then your property transfers to that designee, otherwise, it goes straight to probate upon your death.

    I’m no lawyer, but it’s my understanding that wills are often successfully contested by relatives or whatever who feel cheated. I’ve heard of people leaving token amounts to estranged relations so the person can’t go to court and say he was denied his “rightful” inheritance.

    Now, the ideal solution is obviously to change inheritance law. But until we take that step, I see nothing wrong with letting any two (or more, in Utah 🙂 people grant each other a special status with regard to one another so that a will leaving property to one another can’t be challenged. It’s their property, it’s their right to will it as they wish.

    Mo-

    Thanks for basically stating my case. I’ve heard all sorts of statements on this forum about how we shouldn’t undermine marriage. I have yet to hear a single person tackle head-on my assertion that any two people have the right to make whatever arrangements they want with regard to property, power of attorney, etc. They routinely challenge the argument that “we all have the right to marry whom we love”, and it’s probably because the argument rests on warm, fuzzy things aren’t really the government’s business. But nobody has directly challenged my assertion that any two people should have the right to do as they please with their own property, their own decisions, etc.

    As to taxes: I’m not a big fan of our current tax code, and I understand the concerns of those who decry extending the list of people who have more complicated tax forms. But I’m not going to take the more basic legal aspects of marriage and make them hostage to the IRS. If legal gay marriages (or unions, or whatever word you want) means that taxes become more complicated, that means we should reform the tax code, not that we should put other aspects of gay marriage on hold waiting for tax reform (expected to arrive around the same time as Godot’s appointment at the DMV). Ditto for aspects of health insurance, social security, etc. that might be complicated by gay marriage. If there’s a problem with our laws on health insurance, social security, etc., then push to reform those things, but don’t make more basic rights contingent on reforming health insurance and whatnot.

    As far as spousal privilege in court, once again my argument is the same. Maybe such a privilege shouldn’t exist. If so, then lobby to remove it. But don’t say to gays “Well, until we remove this special privilege granted to heterosexuals, we can’t guarantee you the right to share property, power-of-attorney, etc.

  13. “married couples do have more rights and privileges than single people”

    That’s true. That would be true if we had gay marriage/civil uninons: the couples, straight or gay, would enjoy privileges denied to singles, straight or gay.

    How can we justify privileging ANY couples over singles? Such a justification is required in any civilization that values equality of treatment.

    Traditionally we privilege straight couples, because of the high probability that interactions between straights will produce children…

    (after all, with perhaps a few exceptions– Jesus? a few test-tube kids?– that is how ALL the children ever came into this world),

    and because of the near dead-certainty that most women in a generation WILL have kids, married or not, if they are biologically capable…

    and because civilizations NEED kids, a next generation, not merely because that is axiomatically how a culture persists, but because a constant replenishment of the work-force is vital to the properity of all (even the childless)…

    and because manifestly the most effective model for raising children successfully is to have them raised by their biological parents–

    BOTH of them: two biological parents in the home easily beats any other model, some more than others– collectives and orphanages are pretty bad, single parents not much better, “blended” families and adoptive parents are MUCH better, but still not as good as two biological parents, on average.

    That is why we privilege straight marriages, and why it makes little sense to extend the privilege.

    BTW: we don’t ask straight couples seeking marriage whether they are fertile or not, because a) it is not nearly as possible to be certain b) it would create needless delay to require confirmation c) it would create an incredible and unnecessary intrusion into privacy.

    On the other hand, the liklihood that a same-sex couple will prove infertile between themselves amounts to a certainty, obviously.

  14. Okay Andrew, since we’re all baby-making machines for the health of the state, how about we forbid a straight couple from marrying that is certain not to result in offspring, such as one where the man and woman are over the age of, say, 65?

    Or are there really other good, and more recent, reasons for marriage, such as love, the security of a union, and the aggregation of resources, risk, etc?

  15. BP

    I would answer your question by saying we don’t JUST privilege straight marriage, we ENCOURAGE it.

    And we encourage it not so much out of some fascist desire to “make society stronger”, as out of a resigned recognition that alternatives are incalcuably, but almost certainly BAD.

    Would extending the privilege to gays, as already we do to the elderly, undermine the core institution ALL that much ? Who can say?…I can’t even guess. It might.

  16. My feeling is: If you can’t say it in three paragraphs, I ain’t reading it.

    Brevity is a virtue.

  17. Mo,
    Thanks for your response. I don’t believe that clergy should be exempted from testifying in court against those whom they counsel. The Constitution provides for one and only one exemption from testimony, as outlined in the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. I see the clergy as just another confidant to whom you might or might not tell your darkest secrets. If you don’t want your darkest secrets revealed in a court of law, then tell them to no one.

    I agree with you that there is an interest for all of us to encourage strong families and marriages, but that is the purview of citizens and family advocacy groups, not the government. The interest of the government, I believe, is to guarantee that citizens are free to choose the living arrangements and partnerships that reflect the way they want to live their lives. When citizens are free to choose, more often than not, they choose wisely, and society is the better for it.

  18. Marriage is licensed by the state because the state/society has an interest in the PROBABLE outcome (new citizens) of such unions. Why should the state have any interest in unions that only serve selfish individual interests?
    Should heterosexual couples who have no ability or interest in children be allowed to marry? Sure. Should they get ANY benefits from such a union? Not anymore than any other two (or more)adults who chose to live together, no.
    Marriage licensing grew out of the state’s interest in protecting offspring. Yes, lots of possible benefits have been hung off the arrangement over time but the original impulse behind the laws had everything to do with describing responsibilities and virtually nothing to do with benefits for childless couplings.
    Want to give various groups of people marriage type benefits? Fine, that’s one valid question. Want to make marriage meaningless by making it mean anything? Well, that’s altogether something else.

  19. To those who asset that it is too easy to contest a will in probate court. I have read too many cases this past year in property law and fiduciary relations to know that people, often those with no lawyer or an incompetent lawyer, are not specific enough, do not use the proper language, or do not do one of the various things necessary (like delivery – a legal concept as well as a physical one) to ensure that their intent is protected in their will. It is very easy to ensure that any beneficiary that is not blood related actually receives a portion of your assets if you use the proper language. If you say something like, to my sister I give my earthly possessions to distribute as she and I discussed, then you can hardly expect the court to actually divine what the f*ck that means and do as the decedent intended. When people do not take the time to carefully craft their will havoc will ensue. Also, when one changes a will at the last minute, this is often seen as a potential for fraud or undue influence and therefore there are bitter arguments in probate court. The outcome is always based on or the lack of evidence.

    One does not need marriage to ensure that their property will go to a spouse or a loved one. In fact, if one dies intestate, but is married, all of their assets, in most states, will actually be disbursed amongst that individuals heirs. That includes the spouse, children, grandchildren, and any other family relation. Now this doesn’t mean every possible heir gets something but in the eyes of the law everybody dies with an heir, just takes time to find them. Now a spouse doesn’t automatically just get everything unless they are entitled to it, by title or some other contract. If there is no contract, no joint title, then tough toenails. That spouse will be forced to share the assets of the decedent with other heirs.

    Word of precaution to married and unmarried inviduals, pay an attorney to draft a will and read and reread every word of it. And know what the policy is of your state so that you don’t put anything in your will that might go against what is known as public policy. The court’s won’t uphold it no matter your intent.

  20. I will just note that since my posting none of the gay marriage detractors have taken up my basic question: Why shouldn’t any two consenting adults (or more in Utah 🙂 be allowed to grant one another power of attorney, share property ownership, etc. etc.?

    If you think that the state should only recognize such contracts for heterosexual couples, you basically think the state should say to some people “Look, we know that it’s your private property and you should be able to share it with whomever you want. And we know that it’s your own life and your own decisions, so you should be able to grant power of attorney to whomever you like. But we don’t feel like recognizing those basic rights for you.”

    This isn’t about gay rights. This is about any two consenting adults being allowed to make their own decisions without the state putting the kibbosh on it.

  21. Yes JAG, and the laws, and reasons for having such laws, change over time. That’s why those pesky legislatures meet on a regular basis. And since some of you folks are so quick to collectivize the institution of marriage, I’m forced to point out the “lots of possible benefits” that make marriage a positive for society apart from procreation. Reasons which would equally apply to gay couples and procreatively barren couples as straight couples.

    Otherwise, I second what Randy Ayn has to say in his/her second paragraph of 4:14 pm.

  22. for what it’s worth, data from the 2000 census seems to indicate that 1:3 co-habitating lesbian couples are raising children–the number for gay men is 1:5. comparison with the 1990 census shows these numbers are quickly increasing. maybe those who use the argument that gays shouldn’t marry because it doesn’t directly benefit kids should give things a little more thought…

    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/assignment7/052903_assign7_gaybyboom.html

  23. Randy,
    Do you go all the way with your “one and only one exemption from testimony”? What about doctor/patient? What about lawyer/client?

    Rebekah,
    Your post reads like this to me:
    If your not willing to spend every waking hour, over the course of several years, in earnest study of all manner and minutia of arcane law, and carefully craft and assemble, with the aid of a professional lawyer whom you must pay more than you own, your last will and testimony, you are too stupid to live and your kids deserved to get screwed.

  24. This debate has been fun. Just a few short months ago, some were worried about legalizing gay sex, as a slippery slope (lubed with Vaseline no doubt) to other yucky stuff like man on dog sex or whatever.

    It’s funny to watch the tight-asses keep loosing.

  25. Agree with Trainwreck – even Repub social conservatives are coming around towards civil unions as the ‘moderate’ choice. Wasn’t Bush & Co. preparing to ridicule Dean and Vermont for legalizing civil unions just a few months ago, when Dean was the presumtive nominee? This too will pass.

  26. . . . though the welfare of children lays at the heart of the social conservative argument against gay marriage.

    Which is why they’re also simultaneously trying to make divorce illegal, end marriages between persons past the capability of reproducing, and make it illegal for married couples to get sterilized without having children first.

    What? They aren’t doing any of those things, and are instead uniquely singling out gays for a Constitutional amendment restricting their legal rights?

    I thought so.

  27. Hmmm, 60%+ of Americans polled are against gay marriage.

    Yeah, that’s an amazingly whacked out, extreme, out of the mainstream, non-centrist, ultra-right wing, nearly fascist position there.

    Jeebus, it’s nearly as insane as being opposed to wife beating, a position favored by a similar fringe percentage…

  28. Stephen,

    Get your head out of your poll.

  29. Legal rights shouldn’t be contingent on poll results. You think I couldn’t find a significant enough number of people willing to rescind the Fourth and Fifth Amendments on the basis that they make it too easy for criminals to get away with stuff?

  30. Phil-

    You might even be able to get a majority of the posters here to support rescinding the 4th and 5th amendments. They’d probably give you some nonsense about how “We’re only doing this because liberal judges have abused those amendments, so we’re just taking away some tools of oppression” but the result would be the same.

    Or at least that’s the way it seems at times.

  31. With the California Supremes telling San Francisco to stop issuing gay marriage licenses, I predict this controversy will simmer down for a while. At least until John Kerry addresses the Democratic convention wearing a mumu with a feather boa, and names his running mate, Joan Edwards.

  32. Andrew (Bigot),

    “How can we justify privileging ANY couples over singles?”

    I wouldn’t. You see, we have very different notions of the role of the state; you want a state as a parent, I want one that is neutral arbitrator.

    Your argument based on “biology” does not convince; if all of this really were the case, then people who never want to have children (more and more Americans) would not be allowed to marry, as well as the infertile, etc.

  33. Andrew (Bigot),

    “I would answer your question by saying we don’t JUST privilege straight marriage, we ENCOURAGE it.”

    That may be the case; but that is hardly an argument to maintain the status quo. Indeed, at one time American states encouraged the ownership of human beings; but that was itself hardly an argument for that practice.

    “And we encourage it not so much out of some fascist desire to ‘make society stronger,’ as out of a resigned recognition that alternatives are incalcuably, but almost certainly BAD.”

    Those being? What freedom? Liberty? The more you argue yourself into a corner, the more you look like a fascist. Human beings are not baby-making machines for the state or society or your moronic notions of what a good culture is. They are individuals. Individualism is paramount.

    “Would extending the privilege to gays, as already we do to the elderly, undermine the core institution ALL that much ? Who can say?…I can’t even guess. It might.”

    No more than de-criminalizing “inter-racial” marraiges did; or “inter-ethnic” marraiges; etc. Its rather funny; you tell us that the alternatives are bad, yet at least one alternative – allowing people the freedom to marry as they please – you cannot predict the outcome of. This is at base a glaring inconsistency.

  34. Stephen Fetchet,

    Yet a majority favor civil unions; how strange.

  35. Since Bush has not endorsed the wording of any specific amendment, how can Rauch claim that he is endorsing the most radical vision? In fact, Ranch?s proposed moderate amendment wording would seem to fulfill all the conditions that Bush set out in his speech that Raunch ?translated.?

    (and why isn?t there a link to the speech embedded in the article itself? That?s rapidly becoming a major pet peeve of mine.)

    Bush seems primarily concerned with avoiding the imposition of gay marriage via judicial fiat at both the state and federal levels. It is not at all clear that he would support an amendment that would prevent states from voting to create gay marriage. He would not support it but I don?t see evidence that he would try to block it at the constitutional level. Though I suppose that remains open to interpretation until Bush clearly states otherwise.

    I also find it telling that Rauch writes an article purporting to try to understand Bush?s thinking on gay marriage but doesn?t mention children once, even though the welfare of children lays at the heart of the social conservative argument against gay marriage.

  36. Only one way to solve this: Government gets out of marriage altogether, then instead of giving everybody a “civil union” as some have proposed, the government simply gets out of “civil unions” altogether. If you want to marry someone, do so. I, however, will not pay extra taxes in order to subsidize any kind of living arrangment, be it gay, straight, non-sexual, or otherwise.

  37. So JB, what’s going on in France with regards to gay marriage? Any action over there?

  38. Douglas Fletcher,

    We have a civil unions law; it came into effect in 2000. There is no attempt to declare gay marraige unconstitutional. Really the law was a giant compromise for all sides in the debate, and was debated over several years in the Parliament. There were marches on both sides; etc. It is easier for France to act on these matters, because we aren’t such a giant country with fifty-one sovereign governments.

    Anyway, now that it has been implemented it seems to work well; it is not exclusively for homosexuals either; heterosexuals not wishing to marry can also do it. I think a lot of people who would not marry use it as a means to clarify legal relationships, etc.

  39. “…they wink at the negation of the procreative model of marriage…”

    AS IF men & women are gonna stop fucking and wanting kids!

    [wink wink]

  40. Nobody has yet answered the objection I’ve posted in several threads:

    Please tell me what exactly is wrong with the state saying “OK, listen up: We have no authority over love, honor, and cherish and whatnot. But if any two consenting adults want to share property and power of attorney, we can hook you up there. It’s none of our business whether you’re opposite sex or same sex, related or unrelated, or whatever. We’ll just recognize any contracts between two consenting adults who want to share property, power of attorney, etc. As to the religious and social significance of it, well, that’s for religion and society to handle. We’re just recognizing contracts, since that’s really the extent of our authority.”

    Who would be harmed? Would procreation and child-rearing decline? Would anybody leave his or her opposite-sex spouse? Would young couples in love decide to not marry? Would the world end?

    The only harm I see is Rick Santorum’s head exploding. But even that negative event would have some positive externalities…

  41. Sounds good to me, I hope it all ends up that way here. I just don’t want 3 or 4 Massachussets judges forcing it onto the rest of the country.

  42. Thoreau that’s why I can’t discuss this topic seriously any more…there’s just no case against gay marriage being made that relies on objective, empirical evidence…this is just a faith-based issue, pure & simple.

    I really can’t take it when they start talking about biology, as though there *could not be* a biological basis for homosexuality.

  43. “that 1:3 co-habitating lesbian couples are raising children–the number for gay men is 1:5. comparison with the 1990 census shows these numbers are quickly increasing”

    Obviously, the statistics do not point to a redefinition of procreation. 🙂

    These children are from a previous heterosexual relationships — most often marriages. Parental responsibilities and privileges are not dissolved by one parent’s new relationship. Joining a household that has children does not bestow marital status on the third adult; this is also so for heterosexual couples — even if one of the birth parents were to remarry.

    Sure, parenthood originates with men and women; it is a natural outcome of marriage and, as such, it is reasonable to expect both parents to care for their own children and for children to be raised by their own parents. If we legislate a norm that cuts this out of marriage, we’ll just be inviting more state encroachment on liberty.

    Re the top of this thread: Bush will have a lot of influence on the wording of an FMA, I think, and the cache of his influence will also be at stake; so I think he’ll search for the wording that has the best chance of passing congress. Something close to the Hatch draft.

  44. Thoreau

    There is an argument you include in your package I have heard others make in these threads that I assume could only slide unchallenged on a libertarian site:

    All kinds of public, mandated and customary spousal benefits are built into Social Security and similar entitlement programs, mandates imposed on private employers in many states, and long-term contracts covering many workers in the private sector

    (indeed, the existence of such benefits is one reason so many gays are interested in getting the legal status of spouse and, in SOME contexts, serve as an argument FOR granting them this…it isn’t trivial)

    and the net contribution new gay spouses would make to the burden on taxpayers and the cost of business isn’t trivial, either (particularly as it is open ended– many straights would have an incentive to “cash in”).

    The casual practice around these parts is to “hell with it…Social Security should be abolished ANYWAY! We are libertareians, right?”

    OK, but not SO fast, brother.

    A.) Well I don’t score better than 73 on that Libertarian Purity Test, and somehow I don’t believe you break a 100 either, Thoreau. How about it– are YOU a social security abolitionist? I KNOW joe isn’t.

    B.) There is a question of priority. I know all kinds of people who support Open Borders in principle, but not with any urgency so long as there is much of a welfare society for immigrants to interact with.

    (BTW, the same activist courts which “legislate” Gay Marriage are NOT going to let immigrants receive any kind of “unequal” treatment…bet on it!)

    Neither entitlement/mandate programs, nor their spousal features, are going to disappear soon, in any rational political calculus. What is urgent about gay marriage?

    C.) Abolishing the spousal benefits in all entitlements, mandates and long-term private contracts WOULD seriously effect the success rate of hetero-sexual families. Nobody who believes in the power of incentives and disincentives can rationally doubt this. How do you come by your sang-froid, Thoreau?

  45. “even Repub social conservatives are coming around towards civil unions as the ‘moderate’ choice.”

    That is an understandable illusion. Where civil union is presented as marriage in all but name, there is no distinctive option and, thus, there is no moderate choice.

  46. While the gay community is not a monolith, the voices advocating same-sex “marriage” are seemingly unopposed in the community. They call for something that the rest of the country increasingly understands as civil union rather than marriage itself. Advocates talk glowingly of sexual monogamy and relationship commitment: domestic stability that resembles traditional marriage.

    If this is the true meaning of the advocate’s model, then, the homosexual community has unanimously taken the bigger steps toward moderation. State affirmation of an emerging norm like this is normally the work of legislators, not judges. And usually presaged by armies of social scientists.

    Outspoken social and cultural critics of the gay community are suddenly silent about the value of conformity to this new model of gay domesticity. Where there is normally a hotpot of diverse opinion, there seems to be careful solidarity.

  47. It is unclear, even doubtful, that SSM advocates really do represent a new norm in the gay community.

    Advocates gamefully argue for appropriation of a word and for a substitute meaning that does not fit society’s model of marriage. They reject state legislatures as the loci of marriage law. Civil union is touted as a stepping stone; they wink at the negation of the procreative model of marriage. Despite denials, this maneuvering looks more and more like a cynical shell game.

    Meanwhile, with or without civil union, a bright line is being more clearly drawn around the procreative model upon which marital privileges are assigned by society. If there’s no distinctive civil union option, the moderate choice will be to fix one-by-one the practical problems that advocates complain about. In other words, social conservatives are probably as moderate as the country.

  48. Bush the consevative takes the position that marriage dimensions should remain static and that makes him ‘extreme’ — extremely interesting.

  49. “Who would be harmed [by state-sanctioned SSM]? Would procreation and child-rearing decline? Would anybody leave his or her opposite-sex spouse? Would young couples in love decide to not marry? Would the world end?”

    Do the proponents of state-sanctioned SSM have definitive answers to these questions? The onus is surely on the advocates of this broad change.

    Also, would homosexual couples in love leave each other if their form of relationship is recognized as something other than marriage? If current policy causes harm, aren’t there focussed public policy remedies that do not overturn marriage?

    Even if SSM did not cause the end of the world, how would it be good public policy for the state to sanction it as the equivalent of marriage?

    “there’s just no case against gay marriage being made that relies on objective, empirical evidence…this is just a faith-based issue, pure & simple”

    Not so.

  50. Related to Andrew’s response to thoreau’s post, but slighty different:

    “We’ll just recognize any contracts between two consenting adults who want to share property, power of attorney, etc.”

    Americans are already free to make almost any form of contractual relationship they desire. Couples can certainly setup house without the state’s approval.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t seem necessary to drop state-sanctioned marriage so that society will recognize adultcentric contracts. Marriage benefits society so society benefits marriage. That’s public policy so it could be altered; reasonable people might disagree on the particulars, of course. Marriage originates with human physiology, sure, and it is reinforced by society in various ways (not just religious); but if government policy undermines marriage, that’s a legitimate issue for the electorate. Without sufficient societal reinforcement, marriage does suffer and harm is done — especially to children and subsequent generations. There’s 30 years of social science evidence to back up the consensus on this.

    As I mentioned earlier, more and more Americans are looking at a less open-ended version of the Thoreau’s proposal; it is becoming identified under the banner of civil union. This is not the equivalent of marriage and it wouldn’t replace marriage.

    The issue becomes one of how to adapt to the changes in society without doing yet more harm to marriage. I’m not sure anyone has offered a convincing liberatarian case for rolling the dice on this one.

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