Real Men Back Gay Marriage

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Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura on gay marriage:

"Love is bigger than government," Ventura, taking a break from his studies as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said at a State House news conference yesterday. "Government should not have the right to tell you who you fall in love with and who you want to spend your life with."

Whole thing here.

Read Reason's 1999 interview with Ventura here.

[Link thanks to reader Stephen Ayers]

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  1. How can I accept the opinions of someone who was once on a wrestling bill with “Gorilla Monsoon”?

    And who wore a yellow boa?

    http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/3025/ventura.htm

    See the last picture on the page.

  2. Citizen-

    Technically, a legal marriage isn’t a contract, but rather a license. As such, it is issued by a government, not drafted by an attorney as a contract might be. Think driver’s licenses, not bills of sale.

    It is worth noting that as marriage is a license and not a contract, a state is not subject to the requirements of the Full Faith and Credit clause in regards to respecting a marriage performed in another state. The people raising a hue and cry about Massachusetts “forcing” gay marriage on the nation are either too young or too stupid to know about the patchwork approach to mixed-race marriages in the 1950s and 1960s. Same thing applies here.

    Also, Massachusetts still has a law on the books from 1913 which bars Massachusetts from issuing a marriage license to an out-of-state couple when such issuance would be illegal in their home state. The law was intended to prevent mixed-race couples from crossing state lines to Massachusetts solely to get married. So no, you won’t see a Mass. migration this May for marriage licenses, Chicken Littles to the contrary.

  3. As quoted, I agree with Gov. Ventura 100%. Unfortunately, all the emotional, “who should be allowed to love” controversy over gay marriage obscures the thing that the (ex-)Gov didn’t say: the real problem here is the raft of government mandates and other institutionalizations of special rights or breaks for married couples, which have traditionally been provided to help promote the stability of families that raise children (i.e., future taxpayers and cannon fodder). Government has been able to get away with offering special rights, incentives, and tax breaks to married couples because 1) marriage is a heterosexual tradition and heterosexuals are in the political majority; and 2) society benefits in real terms from the key product of heterosexual marriage: children. As long as the total number of married couples produces enough children, all the benefits bestowed on all married couples are repaid several times over. To the extent this last is not true, however, the system is stretched, people encounter and perceive unfairness, and societal stresses occur. If no married couples were producing or raising any children, for instance, I doubt that the special legal or financial treatment they receive from or because of government could be sustained by the society.

    The whole “marriage as primarily an expression of romantic love” thing is a relatively recent development, at least in Western society, and so I think it is disingenuous of anyone, gay or straight, to cast the debate over marriage in terms of whom the government will or will not allow to “love” each other. Love whom you choose, but if you’re going to use the power of government to force anyone else to subsidize your union in any way, then there had better be a real (if perhaps indirect) payback to the subsidizers — especially if you are in the political minority — or all hell will break loose.

    I think it is very important for government to sort out the obvious issues of human rights (e.g., next-of-kin status, power-of-attorney, probate etc.), from the issues of subsidy and special rights (e.g., tax breaks, spousal fifth-amendment privilege, etc.). Civil mechanisms for people to exercise their human rights in the context of a partnership need to be established that are open and easily accessible to all. Government doesn’t need to be in the business of approving or disapproving of “love.” It most certainly ought to respect the partnership arrangements that people make with each other. Subsidies and special rights, on the other hand, are sustainable and only make sense in terms of quid pro quo. There is a good libertarian argument against having the government offer (or compel) such benefits in the first place. But to the extent that government does, no couple, gay or straight, should get the “quid” without providing the “quo.”

    Speaking as a man, who is married to my son’s mother (quite fortunately for me, the romantic love of my life), I resent being forced by my government to get a “marriage license,” as a necessary prerequisite to being “legally married,” as if we would be any less “married” without that piece of paper implying governmental “blessing.” I could rationalize the utilty of an optional “certificate of domestic partnership,” however, in order to streamline the qualification process for various benefits (e.g., tax filing status).

    Finally, let’s not forget that, over the thousands of years that marriage has existed as an institution, families tended to be much bigger than the (often childless) nuclear families we see today. The raising of each generation took big investments of familial resources (being as “it takes a village,” and all that), and this fact helped to shape inheritance laws and the probate process. Although I think that heirs and next-of-kin are things that the mentally and legally competent person should be able to designate with reasonable certainty that government will respect the designations, and without jumping through arbitrary government hoops, I also think that any government “respect” of families must also include some fair regard for familial interests in such issues as inheritance, maintenance of life-support, etc. These issues bring into sharp relief the question of “who owns” (or at least, “who speaks for”) a person. I don’t have any clear-cut answers, though I certainly have my opinions and preferences, like anybody. I do know, however, that a system of law and probate that doesn’t include and respect a notion of familial “ownership” of some property, as well as some baseline set of mutual obligations between families and their members, can’t be said to respect, much less support, the institution of family at all.

    Notice how almost none of the above has to do with “love,” but almost all of it has to do with “life”?

  4. well, yeah, the government can’t make money offa love…yet!

    love for tax….loooooooove for tax……

  5. “In fact, the government already asserts the right to tell you what types of contracts you may enter into…,”

    Oh, they can ASSERT ’til they’re blue in the face (and beyond if we’re lucky). But all they really have is the POWER to dictate what sorts of contracts they would like us to form or not. Many of us think that government should not have this power. I think most of us agree that it does not possess that RIGHT.

  6. Except, Charles, that I am unaware of any society in the whole of recorded history that truly needed to subsidize cohabitation and procreation to ensure that sufficient children were produced to allow the society to continue, thus providing “benefits” to that society. It would be a sad set of parents that had children merely to obtain the associated financial benefits that federal and state governments provide. I don’t doubt that the government believes that it is encouraging beneficial behavior in the tax code, but it seems to me an equally important, if unexpressed, motive is to obfuscate the true nature of federal and state tax burdens by requiring some taxpayers to subsidize others. Single people subsidize my family by reducing my tax burden because I’m married with kids. The public pays me back for my child care costs, even though I can certainly afford for them not to. Similar subsidies reduce the cost of my mortgage and student loans by allowing me to deduct interest, reduce the cost of buying the house in the first place by allowing me to deduct certain closing costs, reduce the cost of my taking a higher paying job by letting me deduct moving expenses, and so on. I’d engage in all of these activities without the tax break, but it certainly makes my tax burden seem lighter. I just don’t accept that it is an appropriate purpose of the tax code to encourage favored behaviors or discourage unfavored ones, so the “limit marriage to heterosexuals because society would wither and die if heteros don’t get hitched” argument against homosexual marriage (or, for that matter, polygamy) doesn’t hold any weight for me. For those who subscribe to this view, how about we allow gay couples to marry if they promise to adopt children (that also certainly provides a societal benefit if it eliminates the cost of raising such children in the custody of the State)? Or revoking the marriage license of hetero couples if they don’t have children?

  7. It is true that government limits the type of contracts one can enter into. Most libertarians would agree that a very limited number of contracts should be out of bounds (say, a contract to commit murder). In this case, the government doesn’t say you can’t enter into the contract, it instead limits who you can enter into the contract with (and yes, I understand the argument that this isn’t a contract at all, but instead a license to enter the government benefits candy store). I’d argue that that restriction is almost never warranted (the sole exception being counterparties that are unable to provide acceptance and consideration for the contract, which is not the case here).

  8. Citizen: “[Government] does have the right to tell you what kinds of contracts you can enter into.”

    Do I really need to tear down this argument, or is it sufficiently silly on its face?

  9. Funny, only about 24% of US households are married with kids. About the same minority as smokers.

  10. I liked Jesse Ventura. He seems smarter than Arnold Schwarzenagger. Arnold was an actor and bodybuilder, Jesse was an actor as well, but he was a Navy SEAL first. My understanding is that to be a SEAL one must be intelligent as well as muscular. To be an actor, one must be attractive and sound convincing. And to be a bodybuilder one just has to be muscular.

  11. snerk – no legal student am I, so I’ll have to take your word for it. License it is. Even still, the government has the right to limit who can obtain what kinds of driver’s licenses. Blind people can’t get licenses (although it seems like there are some of them out there), crappy drivers (theoretically) can’t get licenses, folks with DUI records can’t get licenses. And that’s just for a generic C class driver’s license.

    You don’t have to like that right, but it’s been claimed and there it sits. And to that end, there’s not much to say to comments like those by speedwell. Yup, he’s right; in the end the governement’s power is all about coercion. But is this an issue of governement derivation of power or about marriage licenses?

    CodeMonkeySteve – I’ll bite. Do you have something to say or are you gonna make like Ruthless?

  12. Citizen: Ideally, anyone may enter into any contract of any kind, without the approval on anyone else. The government not only has no “right” to prevent it, they have the duty to enforce it, at the behest of the parties involved.

    Allowing anyone — government or otherwise — the authority to decide what agreements may be entered into is to abdicate all freedom. It’s as simple as that.

    Snerk is correct in that, technically, marriage is not a contract, but a license. The government(s) have taken it upon themselves to decide who may and may not be allowed to get married. It is only through their mercy that the requirements are not more stringent than “one man, one woman”. In principle, they could deny people the right to marry for any reason, or none at all. This, I feel, is the problem.

    If marriage were simply a matter of contract, the whole issue would be moot, and anyone who is qualified (i.e. of sufficient age and state of mind) to commit to, say, a credit card, could enter into a marriage contract with any number/gender/species of others, so long as all involved freely consented.

    Obviously, “wedding” an animal or a child would be right-out: they don’t have the authority to enter into a legally binding agreement. Anything else should be fair game.

    Society may not agree on some arrangements — and those involved may simply need to relocate to a more tollerant locale — but government should have no say whatsoever.

  13. Citizen-

    And the gub’mint has some valid circumstances in which to limit issuance of marriage licenses. Every state in the Union has a minimum age requirement; most have some form of residency requirement; many require blood or health tests of some form. Current thread to the contrary, the issue of the day has less to do with total abolishment of marriage license requirements than with the acceptable limits of those requirements.

    The issue would actually be quite a bit simpler if marriage were a contractual rather than licensed condition. If marriage were a contractual condition, a competent attorney could draw up a parallel contract for the union of two adults of unspecified gender, simply omit the word “marriage” from the contract, and the issue would become a non-issue. BTW, there would still be minimum age requirements simply because if you’re not legally an adult, you can’t enter into a binding contract.

    As the issue is one of licensing, this approach will not work. You cannot contract for the rights and priviledges afforded you by a license; you must actually have the license. And that’s where it’s getting sticky.

    Personally, I’ve written to two newspapers and five elected officials in an effort to make and keep gay marriage legal. I’ve been married since 1992, and I feel in no way threatened by the turn of events.

    Regardless of your own positions, I do hope you’re expending some efforts to communicate your views to the outside world. I doubt that many judges, legislators, county commissioners, or city managers read this message board. We do not shape policy when all we do is argue with each other.

  14. CodeMonkeySteve-

    After a response like that, how do you expect anyone to keep believing we’re not the same person?

  15. I’m warning you, if Jesse Ventura gets his way the world will be full of men having sex with dogs and HREF=”http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0411/savage.php”>grannies masturbating their parakeets!

  16. Here’s a great argument in favor of gay marriage:

    We know that Muslim fundamentalists don’t like gay marriage. And we know that when political outcomes suit the tastes of Muslim fundamentalists, that can be interpreted as capitulation to terror (e.g. the conservative response to the Spanish election, or Andrew’s stance on the French headscarf ban). Therefore, in order to spite Bin Laden and make it crystal clear that our policies will not be dictated by him, we should legalize gay marriage in this country.

    It’s all about defying the terrorists!

  17. I love you, thoreau. Will you and your wife marry me? 🙂

  18. I see that a poster here is now proposing a 3-way marriage. I told you this would happen!

  19. What is this a Heinlin novel?

  20. Grr, meant to copy scott’s entire post.

  21. If we change the defitition for same-sex, why limit to just two?

    That’s oddly phrased, since we don’t have to change the definition of marriage to cover polygamy. Most of the world considered polygamy normal until the later half of the 20th century. Much of the world still considers it normal today.

    Anyway, I don’t think there’s any coherent argument in favor of legal recognition of gay marriage that doesn’t also apply to legal recognition of polygamy. Adults should be free to enter into whatever contracts they wish to.

  22. Can someone explain to me why supporting gay marriage and not pologomy is not hypocritical? if all we need is love, why limit it to two people? (and marriage is not currently between two ADULTS, it is between one man and one women. If we change the defitition for same-sex, why limit to just two? Why not just whatever between ADULTS?)

  23. Is “pologamy” a marraige of polo (horse or water?) players?

    I take no issue with legalized polygamy.

  24. Government should not have the right to tell you who you fall in love with and who you want to spend your life with”

    No, it doesn’t. But it does have the right to tell you what kinds of contracts you can enter into.

    Seriously, there’s been so much more interesting debate about homosexual marriage on these boards. Why quote Jesse Ventura? You might as well quote Randy Savage or Jimmy Snooka for all that clip was worth.

  25. One of the many reasons why I thought Ventura was the best governor candidate in ’98. He supported same-sex marriage then, gays in the military then. Wanted to look at legalizing prostitution and drugs.

    Too bad he turned out to be so thin skinned that it turned him off of governing. I still would have voted for him for reelection. Gridlock was working well, and he proposed the best state budget in recent history until the Ds and Rs teamed up against him and expanded state spending.

    He was about the most libertarian candidate you’ll see elected to statewide office, although his platform was far from perfect.

  26. Underpants,

    A family is whatever its members willingly say it is.
    In my anarchic world, family would be the highest sovereign. Government would come last in my pecking order.
    What I continue to fail to grasp is what it is exactly marriage entitles one to?

  27. Ventura, taking a break from his studies

    Any Minnesotan can tell you how hilarious that is. The studies, that is, not the break-taking.

  28. “Can someone explain to me why supporting gay marriage and not pologomy is not hypocritical?”

    See posts from last week.
    And the week before.
    And the week before that.
    And hang around for next week’s.
    We’ll settle this issue very soon.
    Or not.

  29. Citizen –

    I you would, give me the reason government has the right to tell me the types of contracts into which I may enter.

  30. Ventura locuta est, causa finita est.

  31. Make that an “if”

  32. Underpants,

    I’m w/ Jean Bart. I’m sure there’s a equitable way to legally accomodate polygamy. It’d be a very unpopular arrangement, but society shouldn’t have the power to prevent individuals from voluntarily entering into it. It’s not reasonable, though, to expect folks concerned about the gay rights movement to expend much effort fighting for things unrelated to gay rights.

  33. I thought pologamy was the art of folding colored paper into the shapes of piqu? golf shirts.

  34. Jeez, I can’t even get one wife, and some people want five or six! Forget about it! No polygamy till all the single people get theirs. It’s only fair.
    And think of the children, of course.

  35. Chris —

    In fact, the government already asserts the right to tell you what types of contracts you may enter into, some for good reason. You can’t (legally) make a contract to murder someone for hire, or knowingly acquire stolen property, or intentionally defraud a third person, or a lot of other things.

    Although I share your view on freedom of contract, let’s face it: this is the rationale that is used to support many of the “morality = legality” arguments for disallowing gay marriage, polygamy, drug dealing, prostitution, and a whole bunch of other stuff that lawmakers just don’t think we should be doing.

  36. Jesse Ventura speaks out in favor of Gay Marriage.
    Is that announced to gain support for gay marriage
    or is it meant to belittle by association?

  37. I wonder if Jesse ever went up against Andre the Giant during his wrestling career. So to speak.

  38. “Funny, only about 24% of US households are married with kids. About the same minority as smokers.”

    Smokers and mirrors. 🙂

    About 95% of Americans marry and the vast majority of married couples have children. More than half of married couples stay together (and continue to parent) beyond their childrearing years. And most of the other half retain parental responsibilities and liabilities even after seperation, divorce, widowhood, or remarriage. Still, some people don’t marry or don’t have children, for whatever reasons, and they benefit from the special contribution of parents — such as that of their own parents. [Going on memory with those approx. stats.]

    And 40% of homosexual individuals marry individuals of the opposite sex; and most of these couples conceive and raise children.

    And to state the obvious: since we all begin life as vulnerable children each of us has also benefited from the elevated status of marriage and parenting.

    “Allowing anyone — government or otherwise — the authority to decide what agreements may be entered into is to abdicate all freedom. It’s as simple as that.”

    So the sky has already fallen? How can we hoist it back up!?! 🙂

  39. A general thought on gay marriage:

    The conservatives should recruit Clinton to speak out against gay marriage. Just think about it for a moment. We know he’s 100% heterosexual, and we know he doesn’t take marriage very seriously, so gay marriage would be anathema to him…

  40. Heh.

    The SSM advocates would claim that Clinton is NOT “100% heterosexual”. He did not have “sex” with that woman. He preferred the cigar model of triangulation. He was emotionally monogamous. To steal a phrase, Clinton was the first Gay president. Heh.

  41. I’m sorry, Jessie Ventura is a total doink. I believe him now less than I believed him when he was a wrestlemaniac!

    And if you’re a boy named Sue who wants to marry another boy named Sue, tough shit. You’re lucky you can walk down the street making out with your boyfriend and not get arrested; thank you’re lucky stars you’re American.

  42. I CONCUR. The readers are fed up with gay crap.

    http://slashdot.org/pollBooth.pl?qid=1082&aid=5

  43. Not to be pissy here, but being muscular enough to be a successful bodybuilder, or strong enough to be a successful powerlifter requires YEARS of extremely dedicated, intense, intelligent training. Most of those big “goons” in the gym you might scoff at for being troglodytes are a lot smarter, organized, and mature than you give them credit for being. You aren’t just born that way, contrary to popular belief.

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