Rauch on Gay Marriage

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Reason Online fixture Jonathan Rauch's new book on gay marraige has drawn a rave review from the Washington Post. Here's a snippet:

Rauch's impressive book is as enthusiastic an encomium to marriage as anyone, gay or straight, could write. Identifying himself as "a true believer in the special importance and unique qualities of the institution of marriage," he declares that marriage is "the great civilizing institution" and "the most fundamental institution of society." Reasoning that "two people's lifelong commitment. . . to care for each other" defines the essential core of marriage, he concludes that the key social purpose of marriage is "to bond as many people as possible into committed, stable relationships." Indeed, he says, "marriage, like democracy and capitalism, meets the personal and social needs of human beings as nothing else can."

Rauch's columns are archived here. And I'm happy to announce that our next issue, the June one, will carry an excerpt from his book.

NEXT: Institutionalized

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  1. “marriage, like democracy and capitalism, meets the personal and social needs of human beings as nothing else can.”

    Now if only I could get my bitch wife to see it that way.

  2. Now if we could only get Bush and the fundies to admit that gays are human too.

  3. But, he’s destroying the fabric of civilization! The sky is falling! Can’t he see the damage he’s doing to society at large?

  4. Of course i’ll have to read the book, but your choice of quotes is revealing in what it omits:

    [Reasoning that “two people’s lifelong commitment. . . to care for each other” defines the essential core of marriage, he concludes that the key social purpose of marriage is “to bond as many people as possible into committed, stable relationships.”]

    Not even a word about children?

  5. VM-

    Exactly! People who read his book won’t want kids anymore. In fact, just reading that quote, devoid of references to kids, makes me no longer want kids. Originally my wife and I were planning to save our money to adopt (medical issues preclude having kids the old-fashioned way for us), but homosexual propaganda has turned us off to the procreative value of marriage. We will instead have orgies where we bring animals and relatives into our bedroom, just like Rick Santorum predicted.

    We may even convert to Satanism and sacrifice unbaptized infants.

    I’m telling you, the Log Cabin Republicans are one of the signs of the Apocalypse!

  6. VM-
    My boyfriend and I (who live in sin, a.k.a. Connecticut) would be allowed to get married if we wanted to, even though we have no desire to have children. A gay couple who wants to adopt still can’t get married.

    If children were the goal of marriage, then wouldn’t there be laws dissolving marriages after a certain amount of time if no children are produced? Or, at the very least, marriage licenses would only be granted to those who swear that they plan to procreate.

  7. My boyfriend and I (who live in sin, a.k.a. Connecticut)

    Exactly! People living in “blue states” (e.g. my wife and I, who have renounced all plans for kids after hearing about gay marriage, and who now plan to convert to Satanism) can’t be trusted! We’re all out to destroy the family, and it’s all because the gays manipulated us!

  8. My simple point is that any attempt to “define the essential core of marriage” that does not mention the creation and nurturing of children is fraudulently incomplete.

  9. i would agree with you, oddly enough, but change “is fraudulently incomplete” to “was fraudulently incomplete” – since there’s a small but growing number of people getting married (like myself) who have no intention of having children (like myself).

    plus people are getting married at much later ages nowadays, which sort of clamps down on the window for having children.

    but the essential core of marriage doesn’t necessarily include children, especially at its start – it’s a union between two people, under various auspices depending on their religious ceremony or lack thereof.

  10. VM-

    OK, so I went a little over-board. But, the fact remains that Rauch and his fellow gays seeking marriage are still seeking to undermine the fabric of society, right?

    I mean, if they weren’t trying to undermine society and harm other people I can’t imagine why anybody would actually care whether they form a voluntary union and sign a contract to share their property and power of attorney.

    So clearly they must be seeking the end of civilization as we know it. Right?

  11. “fraudulently incomplete”? Sheesh. Not mentioning children makes him “fraudulent”? This despite the fact that many, many couples get married with no intention of having kids. Just because someone has a view different than yours does not make them fraudulent.

  12. you haven’t spent much time on this planet, have you? 🙂

  13. Another thing that Mr. Matters’ vigilance failed to note:
    Anyone who believes that children are neither created nor nurtured except by the married is sufficiently clueless to render his usage of language fraudulent.
    One simply has to wonder how some people can come to such madness as “unless the union can, in principle, generate children of itself, it cannot be considered marriage”. (And a pretty funny principle it is, too, that considers the biologically sterile ‘capable, in principle, of spawning offspring’ but rules out actual factual cases of child creation and child nurturing that occur outside what they consider to be “marriage”.

    Are the inmates running the asylum?
    Shirley Knott

  14. Jennifer says:
    “A gay couple who wants to adopt still can’t get married.”

    I think fears about Gay couples adopting children motivates at least some people to oppose same-sex marriage. Some might go along with Gay marriage if it included a total ban on adoption by Gay couples.

    I understand that people might be concerned with the environment an adopted child would grow up in. On the other hand, many children are left in orphanages because no straight couple wants to adopt them – not cute enough, or other problems.

    It is a conundrum, and I am not sure what the answer is.

  15. If you think gay adoption makes the bible-beaters mad, just wait until cloning technology gets to the point where you create a child by combining DNA from both parents of the same sex. That would send them over the edge–if they weren’t there all ready.

  16. > Democracy “meets the personal and social needs of human beings as nothing else can.”

    Needs for what? Taxes? Wars? Eminent domain? District attorneys? Victimless crimes?

    Dictatorship by the majority may not be as bad as dictatorship by one person. But does that mean it meets the needs of individuals? Hell no!

  17. Once again the editors get excited beyond belief at the approval of the liberal/left of something they have said. This time it is a favorable review of a Reason editor in the Washington Post.

    Yee Haa! A liberal has thrown us a crumb of approval. Maybe someday if we bahave well they will let us hang out with the cool kids.

    I fear libertarians are going to go the way of classical liberals and evolving into statist modern liberals. Reason appears to be leading the way. (Of course, it will be a liberalism that places great metaphysical importance on the annual burning man festival.)

  18. Once again the editors get excited beyond belief at the approval of the liberal/left of something they have said. This time it is a favorable review of a Reason editor in the Washington Post.

    Yee Haa! A liberal has thrown us a crumb of approval. Maybe someday if we bahave well they will let us hang out with the cool kids.

    I fear libertarians are going to go the way of classical liberals and evolving into statist modern liberals. Reason appears to be leading the way. (Of course, it will be a liberalism that places great metaphysical importance on the annual burning man festival.)

  19. Geez Woody, why are you upset that “iberal/left” agree with the libertarians on an issue. I don’t think Rauch wrote the book to get invited to the lefty sock hop. If someone you don’t like agrees with something you say, all of the sudden you are turning into that person? That makes no sense to me. I thought the whole point of expressing your view in a REASONable manner and showing people your rightness was supposed to get those that you disagree with to come to your side. I think most Reasonites don’t want to go to the “cool” leftist prom, but wouldn’t mind if we convinced some lefties to join the libertarian D&D game (as long as libertoids get to DM).

  20. Believe it or no, but some people have legitimate, faith based objections to gay marriage. I am not one of them but have heard their arguments articulated very well in recent months. Why are these people not allowed to be heard, or express their opinions, without immediately being tagged as bigots. They are not. They are dissenters to what is becoming an increasingly popular (or at least less unpopular) idea.

  21. “Legitimate, faith based” reasons to oppose gay marriage? That’s oxymoronic, not to mention just plain moronic. What is legitimate about the attitude “YOU cannot marry because MY God says so”?

    To all fundies I say: if gay marriage really pisses you off, then don’t marry someone whose gender is identical to your own. Problem solved.

  22. “My simple point is that any attempt to “define the essential core of marriage” that does not mention the creation and nurturing of children is fraudulently incomplete.”

    You are just plain wrong on the facts, VM. Your vision of marriage, while once accure, has been obsolete for two generations. For thousands of years, it is true, the rearing of children was at the core of marriage. So were guaranteeing that one’s property was passed to a blood heir, securing dowries, securing on’s place as a fully adult member of society, and cementing alliances among clans. Like those other obsolete definitions, the centrality of children to marriage has fallen by the wayside. Gay marriage, rather than being the cause of this change, is a result of this change.

    And you can no more undo this change than you could univent gun powder.

  23. Jennifer, many of the dissenters I referred to would never say what you did in your 8:48 post. They would merely ask that their view be heard. Namely, that their belief structure tells them that gay marriage is wrong. It has nothing to do with the fears of the bigots. To demand that someone like that HAS to sanction gay marriage is just as wrong as telling a gay couple that marriage is out of the question.

  24. MALAK-
    I have nothing against their views being heard; I just don’t want their views dictating public policy. Who said anything about forcing religious people to “sanction” gay marriage? For that matter, what does “sanctioning” marriage mean, anyway? If gays marry it will not make a single difference in the lives of the non-gay; it won’t raise or lower taxes, it won’t change the nature of heterosexual marriage, nothing. So what the hell gives religious people the right to try and stop it?

    Ignore for a moment my semi-strawman argument against gay marriage; what faith-based objections remain? Seriously.

  25. Jennifer,

    As I understand it, the concern is that calling relationships other than heterosexual marriage “marriage” will take some of the luster off of the standard variety in the minds of the general public, and therefore make it less desirable to them, resulting in lower rates of marriage. Sort of like if every two seater was called a “Corvette.”

    Now, to me, this argument is not only nonsense, but also insulting to marriage itself, because it denies that marriage, as Rauch says, is fundamental to human experience, and cannot be shaken so easily.

  26. Joe-
    So let’s just invent some new terms to prevent the sanctity of Marriage from being tarnished. Let’s see:

    Who Want to “WHORE HERSELF OUT TO” a multi-millionaire?

    Who wants to “GET DRUNK AND FUCK” a midget?

    Britney Spears “MADE AN ASS OUT OF HERSELF” in Las Vegas.

    I have a higher opinion of marriage already.

  27. I guess the theocrats would respond with, when the Huns invade your country, you stop them at whatever ridge you can.

  28. “Ignore for a moment my semi-strawman argument against gay marriage; what faith-based objections remain? Seriously.”

    Remember the lawsuit over Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument? The plaintiffs, mainly lawyers, were offended by the mere presence of the monument in a courthouse where they worked. As people who didn’t believe in the religious basis of the Ten Commandments, these lawyers felt alienated by the Ten Commandments monument in a public space. They were not concretely harmed by the monument. The monument’s existence didn’t force them to obey the Ten Commandments. The presence of the monument didn’t force them to change their religious beliefs. All the monument did was demonstrate, in a concrete (ha!) way, that the government had come down on a particular side in the culture war.

    Would you tell these plaintiffs that they shouldn’t object to the monument? Would you tell them, “If you don’t like the Ten Commandments, don’t obey them! If the monument offends you, avert your eyes! That innocent little monument isn’t doing anyone any harm, it’s merely a harmless expression of Moore’s love for his religious principles.”

    I imagine that you would reply that if Moore believes so deeply in the Ten Commandments, let him erect his monument on his own property, not on government property. Let him put as many monuments as he wishes on private property, so long as the owners consent. But he should keep the public square free of symbols that are deeply offensive to other members of the community.

    I could argue against government-recognized gay marriage along similar lines. If Steve and Bob want to have a “marriage” ceremony, let them do so in the Episcopal church, or the Unitarian meetinghouse, or just let them invite a bunch of friends over for a party at which they exchange vows and make mutually-acceotable arrangements for the division of their property. But don’t ask a clerk at City Hall to give them a marriage license. That would mean getting the government involved in a divisive religious issue, just as if it were to erect a Ten Commandments monument.

    It’s true that government officials issue marriage licenses to heterosexual couples. As government becomes more and more libertarian, that practice ought to be phased out until heterosexual marriage becomes as much of a private affair as homosexual unions.

  29. Torquemada-
    One difference between gay marriage and Judge Moore is that what Moore did was unconstitutional, whereas the desire to marry is not. Are you actually saying that marriage discrimination is no different than promoting religion in a courthouse?

  30. “Are you actually saying that marriage discrimination is no different than promoting religion in a courthouse?”

    My limited point was this: You suggested that us “fundies” have absolutely no basis for objecting to government-sponsored “gay marriage.” I was saying that the mere fact that “gay marriage” contradicts our beliefs is sufficient reason for us to oppose government employees (mayors, judges) doing “gay marriage” ceremonies.

    By way of illustration, I brought up the Moore case. The people who went to court to object to the monument had suffered no more harm from the monument than we “fundies” suffer from government-sponsored “marriages” of gay people. Yet you would concede that the anti-monument people had a right to complain about the monument.

    You can say that the anti-monument people are right on the merits of the Ten Commandments sculpture, whereas we’re wrong on the merits of “gay marriage.” We can discuss that. But you’re going further even than this. As I understand it, you’re actually saying that we have no right to complain because we aren’t harmed directly, i. e., we aren’t being *forced* to “marry” someone of the same sex, or to solemnize such a union in our places of worship. Well, by the same process of reasoning, the people who objected to the Ten Commandments monument had no right to complain because they didn’t suffer any direct harm, either. No-one forced them to believe in, or obey, the Ten Commandments, or even to read what was written on the monument. No-one forced them to recite the Ten Commandments during their Ethical Culture meetings. Therefore, by your reasoning, they would have absolutely no business objecting when the government expressed its approval of the Ten Commandments.

  31. Correction:

    When I said, “No-one forced them to believe in, or obey, the Ten Commandments”

    I should have said,

    “the existence of the monument didn’t force them to believe in, or obey, the Ten Commandments.”

  32. On a related point raised in the discussion:

    “One difference between gay marriage and Judge Moore is that what Moore did was unconstitutional, whereas the desire to marry is not.”

    The desire to marry is perfectly constitutional, just as the desire to proclaim the Ten Commandments is perfectly constitutional. The constitutional issues arise when a public official tries to transform his desire into public policy. Moore changed his desire into public policy by erecting his monument, and we can of course debate the constitutional issues involved. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts changed its desires into public policy by issuing its edict requiring government-solemnized “gay marriage.”

    As far as the constitutional issues raised by the Supreme Judicial Court’s action, I point to Part One, Article XXX of the Massachusetts Constitution: “In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.” [emphasis added]

    By rewriting the marriage laws of Massachusetts, the majority of the Supreme Judicial Court behaved unconstitutionally. The only difference between the majority justices in Massachusetts and Judge Moore in Alabama is that Judge Moore lost his job.

  33. Joe your points are well taken. But remember, joining two halves does not always make a whole.

    it requires two OPPOSITE halves.

  34. kwais: “I really don’t think the government should be involved in marriage. If it is going to be, lets hear the rules of marriage, and the why of the rules.”

    A perfectly valid position to hold, and a debate well worth having.

    But if your position is truly held, then you MUST NOT support gay marriage either. That is, unless you really DO believe that it will be the deathknell for ALL of marriage.

    A wolf in sheeps clothing?

  35. 1,138

    That’s the number of rights, I’ve heard, which are denied to gays because they can’t legally marry. Everything from inheritance rights to who is allowed the 2 minute visit in ICU to who the military visits with word the partner has been killed in Iraq. And a thousand — literally — other day-to-day things that people never even stop to think about.

    Nothing to do with religion; everything to do with equal access to rights under law. (The Judge Moore analogy is inapplicable; the plaintiff-attorneys weren’t being denied rights, their constitutional rights were being violated.)

  36. All I know is that Mr. Rauch is destroying the fabric of society. I don’t know how, but plenty of people assure me that it is so.

    Anyway, I’d be a lot more comfortable hating Mr. Rauch if somebody could explain the actual mechanism by which he’s destroying the fabric of society. Right now I’m just taking you guys at your word, so some sort of logic and evidence would be really helpful. Let me tell you, uninformed bigotry is hard work!

  37. Jennifer, the right to object to the legalisation of gay marriage is the same right that allows gays to try and legalise it.

  38. Sorry I took so long to respond, guys, but I was at a barbecue. You’ve never lived until you’ve tasted the sweet taste of fried heretic, washed down with the blood of infidels. Them’s good eatin’!

    Let me briefly recapitulate the arguments against those Christians who oppose government-sponsored gay “marriage:”

    “I ain’t prejudiced or nothing, and some of my best friends are Christians, but I object to those d____d Bible-thumpers taking a position on gay rights that is different from my own. If those stupid fanatics disagree with me, then they should have the decency to be quiet about it. The thing about those fundamentalists is that they are superstitious dolts. As if that wasn’t enough, they are always going around stereotyping other people and using hateful rhetoric.”

    Now let’s look at interracial marriage. The first successful lawsuit since Reconstruction against the miscegenation laws was launched in California after World War II. Marriages between whites and blacks were not legal, and some Roman Catholic activists went into state court to get this law struck down. These plaintiffs pointed out that the Roman Catholic Church’s sacrament of marriage did not make distinctions based on race, and that a marriage across the color line was as valid, in Roman Catholic doctrine, as any other marriage. Therefore, said the plaintiffs, the California miscegenation law was a violation of religious freedom. The plaintiffs won their case, with different justices in the majority analyzing the issues differently. The dissenting justices said that the miscegenation laws were supported by valid *secular* justifications which outweighed the religious freedom of the plaintiffs, and therefore the law was constitutional.

    I’m sorry to mess with your treasured myths about “Fundamentalist Christianity versus interracial marriage.”

  39. Torquemada, you didn’t answer my question: if your family were the one being single out for discrimination, what would you do? would you accept that your children are being held at a disadvantage to your neighbor’s…that if you were to die, your children could be taken away from your spouse…that upon your death, your spouse could have to pay inheritance tax on the house…upon your death your family woudn’t receive the social security that you had paid into your whole life….if your wife were a foreign national, she could be deported…if you got sick she could be denied hospital visitation rights…after you die, your parents could have the state undo your will and deny your family their inheritance…would you sit back and take that? why would you wish that on anyone?

  40. I suppose everyone here is just fine with this then:

    “Unitarians from Boston to Berkeley have opened another front in the liberal crusade to expand the definition of marriage and family in America.

    It’s the new polygamy, and according to the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness, their relationships are at least as ethical as other marriages — gay or straight. ”

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/04/20/BAGIG67LNQ1.DTL

  41. Mark S.-
    YOu know something funny? I grew up in the white-trash part of the South, and heard the exact same religious arguments for why blacks are inferior to whites. And once, when I used the B-word, I actually heard this priceless gem: “I ain’t no bigot. I just don’t like niggers.”

    See? Torquey ain’t no bigot; he just don’t like faggots on account of his God done tole him not to.

  42. VM, I would object to that, on practical and principled grounds. First, while the centrality of children is no longer definitional to marriage, the concept of two people joining into a union remains so. In fact, it is the undeniable conformity of gay marriages to this model that convinces me that gay unions are actual marriages.

    Second, the legal arrangements the surround marriage are designed around this concept of two-becoming-one. Introducing third and fourth and fifth parties raises unanswerable legal problems. The laws on the books about marriage can be easily applied to gay marriages – just make the language gender neutral. But they cannot be so applied to polygamous unions.

  43. Oh, great, another group of consenting adults trying to destroy the fabric of society by sharing property rights and power of attorney as part of consensual relationships.

    Look, I’m still waiting for an explanation of exactly how Mr. Rauch is destroying civilization as we know it. Right now I’m just taking it on faith, but it isn’t easy because I’m missing the connection, the mechanism. I keep trying to close my mind, but there are these springs installed that keep trying to pry it open.

    Uninformed bigotry is hard work.

  44. MALEK:
    “Believe it or no, but some people have legitimate, faith based objections to gay marriage.”

    So what? How does “faith” suddenly make their immoral, stupid, and bigoted beliefs legitimate?

    “Why are these people not allowed to be heard, or express their opinions, without immediately being tagged as bigots. “They are not.”

    Yes, they are.

    When a person’s opinions are based upon backward and hateful assumptions about a group of people, that makes you a bigot. The backward and hateful assumption here is that homosexuals are “immoral” and they should therefore be excluded from the same rights and legal protections that hetrosexuals enjoy. The opponents of gay rights are more than just bigoted. In a society where the recognition and protection individual rights is a moral imparitive, the denial is said liberties is an act of EVIL.

    So cut the “they-are-not-bigots” act. I’m not buying it.

  45. If anyone is offended that gays might get to marry, they can choose not to marry. I don’t understand the religious people getting their panties in a twist: marriage is a civil ceremony, not a religious one. I got married and never heard “God” mentioned. It didn’t even happen in a church. No preacher even attended!

    As for the children, gay marriage isn’t going to result in the end of humanity. If it takes a sex orgy of the fans at a double-bill concert of Elton John and Melissa Etheredge to keep the species going, then heterosexuals have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

  46. Only someone who’s not married to a woman could speak so highly of marriage.

  47. Torquemada wrote

    “As government becomes more and more libertarian, that practice ought to be phased out until heterosexual marriage becomes as much of a private affair as homosexual unions”

    Agreed, but *until* hell freezes over, should same-sex couples sit back and watch as their families are held at a disadvantage to yours? Let me put it this way…if your family were currently singled out for discrimination…by folks that you perceive to be superstitious crackpots no less…what would you do? I bet you’d first do what you felt was best for your family…and worry about the feelings of intrusive busy-bodies later.

    “But don’t ask a clerk at City Hall to give them a marriage license. That would mean getting the government involved in a divisive religious issue, just as if it were to erect a Ten Commandments monument”

    when religion influences the law to deny a class of people equality…that’s when the government is getting involved in a divisive religious issue. government recognition of a civil marriage should carry no religious connotation…the way things stand today, it does

  48. Scott, i mean that it impossible for something that has been conventional wisdom from the beginning of time to “single someone out”. Please don’t take it personally if mother nature had no particular use for sodomy.

    And I’m only “wishing” that the mental health industry would do their job instead of being a politically correct lapdog for the fickle forces of social justice.

  49. vm,

    i don’t really know how to respond to that, except that mother nature created me, so you can drop the “homosexuality is unnatural” bit. and what would you have the mental health industry say? that someone who is a well-adjusted, upstanding and productive member of society is sick, because you find his romantic inclinations yucky?

  50. “why would you try to deny other families equal treatment?”

    You are operating on the assumption that I wish to “deny other families equal treatment” with respect to “inheritance taxes, social security, immigration” and wills. You have provided no support for your accusation. Because I don’t accept the truth of your allegations, you say I am evading your question.

    Let me go through my positions on the items you listed, and I will tell you what I think. Then you can decide for yourself whether I want to “deny equal treatment” to “other families.”

    “that upon your death, your spouse could have to pay inheritance tax on the house…”

    I support repeal of the estate tax.

    “upon your death your family woudn’t receive the social security that you had paid into your whole life….”

    I support privatization of the Social Security system, with recompense to those who have “paid into,” i. e., been suckered by, that system.

    “if your wife were a foreign national, she could be deported…”

    I oppose the deportation of immigrants who are lawful permanent residents of the United States.

    “if you got sick she could be denied hospital visitation rights…”

    I oppose socialized health care in any form, intrusive regulation of health care, as well as taxpayer subsidies for health care. If the administrator of a hospital asked me for advice on how to deal with gay patients, I would recommend letting the patients’ lovers visit them.

    “after you die, your parents could have the state undo your will and deny your family their inheritance…”

    I support the right of any adult (except those under guardianship) to will their property to anyone they want for any reason they want.

    Your question is based on the planted axiom that I support discrimination in the areas you listed. I have demonstrated that your premises are mistaken. Do you want me to answer a question based on false premises?

    OK, then, why don’t you tell me whether you’ve stopped beating your wife? And I don’t want any evasive answers such as “I don’t beat my wife,” or “I have a husband, not a wife,” or “I’m single.” Just answer the question without equivocation!

  51. Correction: I said I opposed the deportation of legal immigrants. I meant I oppose their deportation unless they’re convicted of a sufficiently serious crime.

  52. Another potentially discriminatory position I hold, in response to one of your questions:

    “that if you were to die, your children could be taken away from your spouse…”

    I would think that, if one parent dies, the other parent should take custody of the child.

  53. Torquemada, sorry, man, we’re not on the same page. if you go back and read my first post…it was in response to your claim:

    “As government becomes more and more libertarian, that practice ought to be phased out until heterosexual marriage becomes as much of a private affair as homosexual unions”

    i agreed, but then asserted that this won’t happen until hell freezes over. hopefully that was just an exaggeration, but the government certainly isn’t getting out of the marriage business anytime soon. agreed? then i asked you…*in the meantime*…what would you do if your family were the one being discriminated against? i’ve asked you this same question in three previous posts…

    if you’re against giving gays the same rights and responsibilities regarding marriage today (which i assume you are, based on your previous statement:

    “But don’t ask a clerk at City Hall to give them a marriage license”)

    then you are, whether you like it or not, promoting an artificial inequality between your family and mine. i’m not accusing you of wanting bad things to happen to people, but i am accusing you of taking a position on gay marriage that winds up doing just that.

    so, now, back to the question: if your family were the one receiving the butt-end of discrimination, what would you do about it?

  54. Singled Out? As if this is a new policy all of a sudden? Get real!

    No, what i wouldn’t wish on anyone is a psychological inability to properly relate to the opposite gender of my species.

  55. “Torquemada, you didn’t answer my question: if your family were the one being single out for discrimination, what would you do? would you accept that your children are being held at a disadvantage to your neighbor’s…that if you were to die, your children could be taken away from your spouse…”

    Who else wants to take custody of the child, in your scenario? If I don’t know that, it’s hard to answer the question.

    “that upon your death, your spouse could have to pay inheritance tax on the house…”

    Why do you assume that I support inheritance taxes for *anyone,* gay or straight?

    “upon your death your family woudn’t receive the social security that you had paid into your whole life….”

    What makes you think that I support the scam known as the Social Security system? Do you really believe that Social Security is some kind of insurance program that people “pay into?”

    “if your wife were a foreign national, she could be deported…”

    What makes you think I support the deportation of law-abiding, legal immigrants?

    “if you got sick she could be denied hospital visitation rights…”

    That would depend on the policy of the private hospital in question. Or do you assume that I support socialized health care, which would make medicial decisions a matter of public policy?

    “after you die, your parents could have the state undo your will and deny your family their inheritance…”

    What makes you assume that I oppose the right to bequeath one’s property by will?

    “would you sit back and take that? why would you wish that on anyone?”

    What evidence do you have that I “wish” for any such thing?

  56. torquemada, this isn’t a debate about the merits of inheritance taxes, social security, immigration, etc…you’ve still avoided my question: if your family were singled out for discrimination…if they were put at an unequal footing when it comes to child custody, inheritance, social security, immigration, hospital visitation rights, etc, would you sit back and take it, or would you press for an equal application of the laws? assuming you would want what’s best for your family, that begs the question…why would you try to deny other families equal treatment?

  57. vm,

    “Singled Out? As if this is a new policy all of a sudden? Get real!”

    i don’t get your point. does the fact that its an old policy justify it?

    “what i wouldn’t wish on anyone is a psychological inability to properly relate to the opposite gender of my species”

    if you’re wishing that homosexuality didn’t exist, then you’re the one who needs to “get real”

  58. “i’m not accusing you of wanting bad things to happen to people, but i am accusing you of taking a position on gay marriage that winds up doing just that.”

    I appreciate that, but some of your earlier questions-“why would you wish that on anyone?” and “why would you try to deny other families equal treatment?” seem to be accusing me of “wanting bad things to happen to people.” Thank you for clarifying that such was not your meaning.

    “so, now, back to the question: if your family were the one receiving the butt-end of discrimination, what would you do about it?”

    There’s still that planted axiom that I support invidious “discrimination.” In interpreting your term “discriminaiton,” all I have to go by are the specific examples you listed earlier, so let me go through these examples and discuss what I’d do to protect my family:

    Wills-If the government tried to deny me the right to will my property to my family, I would join with other freedom-minded people to defend my property rights. Assuming I wasn’t already dead, which is kind of what your example presupposes.

    Inheritance tax-If the government threatened to slap an inheritance tax on my property after I died, I would (again, hopefully *before* my death) join with other freedom-minded people to fight the inheritance tax and seek to abolish it root and branch.

    Social Security-If the government threatened to deny Social Security benefits to my family after I had “paid into” it all my life, I would join with other freedom-minded people to work for the privatization of Social Security and the refunding of payroll taxes to people who had paid them.

    Deportation-If I was worried that my wife might get deported, I would hire an immigration lawyer so that she could become an American citizen.

    Hospital visitation-If the hospital wouldn’t let me visit my sick wife, I would raise heck. I would also join with freedom-minded people to get rid of the federal “medical privacy” law.

    Custody-If my wife had children from a previous marriage, and after her death the father wanted custody, then hopefully I would support whatever was best for the children.

    Now let me ask a question of my own: Looking at all the harmful results from letting the government regulate heterosexual marriage, why would you wish the same sort of regime on gay people? I’m particularly referring to easy divorce and interminable, bitter custody wrangles.

    Let me ask you another question. If your daughter told you that her husband had abandoned and divorced her in order to take up with a boyfriend whom he wanted to “marry,” would you support your daughter or your son-in-law?

  59. Since when did Sexual orientation become a Deep Category, along the lines of Race Gender and Origin? Until it does, then you cannot claim that gays have any less marriage rights than heterosexuals. We BOTH have the same right to marry a sexually opposite partner.

    Equality sucks doesn’t it?

    Make the case for the Deep Category, then we’ll talk about rearranging marriage.

  60. cool, Torquemada…sorry for previous misunderstandings

    so, on all the points you make about wills, soc sec, etc., i think we’re in pretty good agreement. we even agree on the idea that gov’t should get out of marriage as much as possible and leave it to the churches.

    but where im pretty sure we disagree is that since gov’t commissioned civil marriage does exist, and it bestows so many privileges/securities upon married couples, should the government be able to exclude an entire class of americans from marriage. in my mind at least, the answer is ‘hell no’. now, if your family were the one being mistreated, maybe you’d fight each of the hundreds of inequalities separately, but i think most people in that position would just fight for marriage equality. i know i would, especially if kids were involved

    “Looking at all the harmful results from letting the government regulate heterosexual marriage, why would you wish the same sort of regime on gay people? I’m particularly referring to easy divorce and interminable, bitter custody wrangles”

    whether a couple marries or not should be up to them…not you or i. let them weigh the pros and cons themselves. i just want same-sex couples to have the same options as opposite-sex ones regarding marriage

    “If your daughter told you that her husband had abandoned and divorced her in order to take up with a boyfriend whom he wanted to “marry,” would you support your daughter or your son-in-law?”

    my daughter, of course, but the gender of the person my son-in-law ran off with wouldn’t be the issue. the issue would be that he abandoned my daughter. i don’t get your point on this…

  61. Torque, why does your email address bounce?

  62. “Torque, why does your email address bounce?”

    Try it now.

  63. Scott, thank you for the stimulating and frank discussion. As is the way with Internet debates, I doubt we’ll be able to do much more than clarify our respsective positions. Not that this will stop me from continuing to talk.

    Basically, I think it was a bad idea for the government to get into the marriage business. In the long term, it would probably be best if, as the government got smaller, its involvement in heterosexual marriage got smaller, as well. At the same time, the immediate deregulation of heterosexual marriage, without carefully preparing the ground, might well result in disaster. For example, if the government remains as big as it is now, the deregulation of marriage could result in pressure for more Big Government policies. Examples:

    -Prosecutors moight demand that the spousal immunity from testifying against each other be abolished, in the name of “law and order.”

    -Border-control advocates might urge that the special immigration privileges for spouses be abolished, in the name of “national security.”

    -Liberals might demand that the tax “privileges” of married people be abolished, in the name of “fairness.” In other words, a tax increase.

    You get the idea. That’s why I said that before marriage gets deregulated, we first need a smaller and less ambitious government that wouldn’t use such deregulation as a pretext to grab more power.

    But getting the government out of the marriage business ought to be the long-term goal. Extending the scope of the government’s regulation of marriage, as would happen with government-approved “gay marriage,”
    would extend the tent of government protection over a whole new class of people, and make the ultimate deregulation of marriage even more difficult. This is apart from the other issues I discussed.

    In the case of heterosexual marriage, the government is holding a wolf by the ears. Ultimately, it has to let go, but if it lets go right away the result might be even more problems than we have now.

    In the case of “gay marriage,” the government is considering the option of grabbing a wholly new wolf by the ears.

    There are differences between the two cases. In the first case, when you’ve got a wolf by the ears, there are pragmatic arguments in favor of holding on in the short term. In the second case, the answer is quite simple: Don’t grab its ears in the first place.

    What to do with discrimination against gay people right here and now? I would suggest a case-by-case consideration. Some kinds of discrimination are invidious, and some (IMHO) aren’t. That’s why I prefer to discuss specific examples of “discrimination,” rather than lump them all together.

    Take the inheritance tax. The inheritance tax is oppressive to everyone who has to pay it. I’m sure that everyone subject to the tax would like to get a wholly arbitrary exemption for their own group, even if that means leaving other equally-deserving groups groaning under the burden. If there were a proposal to exempt grandparents who willed property to their grandchildren, probably the grandparents would endorse the idea, even though it wouldn’t benefit gay people. And vice-versa, of course. If I said that gay people should get an exemption before anyone else, grandparents could say that I was advocating discrimination against *them.* So you see why I hesitate to say that one group should get an exemption ahead of another group, when ultimately I would prefer to see the entire inheritance tax thrown onto the ashheap of history.

    I would use similar reasoning about some of these other forms of discrimination. Discrimination in the application of the inheritance tax, the Social Security payroll tax, etc., takes place in the context of a policy that is awful to begin with. If this group or that group gets an exemption from a bad law, then I’m happy for them, but I would complain about the injustice that other equally-deserving groups *haven’t* gotten an exemption.

    Thus, if gays get exempt from the inheritance tax when they transmit property to each other, or if gays are allowed to recoup some of the Social Security payroll taxes of their deceased partners, then hooray for them! My question would then be, “why did the government exempt gays from inheritance taxes when they bequeath property to their partners, while continuing to apply the tax to close (non-sexual) friends who bequeath property to each other?” Would you support that kind of discrimination? I presume that you wouldn’t pull up the ladder after you yourself had climbed it! I presume that you wouldn’t be happy until the inheritance tax had followed Prohibition into the graveyard of failed political experiments.

    If the government has a bad law, and it exempts gays, or whites, or Republicans, from that law, then good for the gays, or whites, or Republicans. But the exemption would, IMHO, be arbitrary and discriminatory, and the remaining victims of the bad law would still be entitled to complain.

    Want more analogies? You don’t? Well, that’s too bad, because here’s another analogy. When we had a federal military draft, college students were deferred. So if your family could afford to keep you in college until the Army no longer wanted you, you avoided the draft. Meanwhile, young men working in factories because they couldn’t afford college got drafted. That’s unfair. Some people say that the cure for this unfairness is to draft college students along with everyone else. I would say the cure is not to draft anyone. I see no reason why the case of the college student is any more compelling than the case of the factory worker. Because I hold this view, a college student might tell me, “since we’re going to have a draft anyway, surely you would do the compassionate thing and exempt students? Or don’t you care about my plight?” It’s obvious to the student that his case is more urgent than that of the factory worker. Since it’s *not* obvious to me, he might think I’m an anti-student bigot.

  64. “Too numerous to list in this space. Here’s one: when a husband dies, the wife is the presumed beneficiary. So who gets the house when a poly husband dies, and who has no legal right to stay in the home?”

    The laws of Moses and the laws of the Islamic world managed to adapt themselves to the institution of polygamy, so I would hardly call the legal problems “unanswerable.” The fact that the ancient Jews, and the modern Muslims, managed to work out the details of integrating polygamy into their legal system shows that it *can* be done. The question is whether it *ought* to be done.

    I can’t speak to the motives of any “gay marriage” advocate on this forum. Yet I know that many advocates of government-recognized “gay marriage” say that the government should *not* recognize polygamous unions. This isn’t a matter of principle; it simply means that these advocates think that gay people are more worthy of recognition than polygamists. Also, “gay marriage” advocates usually recognize that taking their “inclusive” principles to their logical conclusion would make their enterprise even more unpopular than it already is, not to mention alienating the feminists who are a key part of their coalition.

    Therefore, let me ask the supporters of government-recognized “gay marriage:” Do you want to have the government recognize polygamous marriage as well as “gay marriage?”

    What government benefits should polygamists get for their spouses (or “spice,” which should be the plural of “spouse” just like “mice” is the plural of “mouse,” and anyway variety is the *spice* of life)? Should the taxpayers pay Social Security benefits for the spice of a deceased polygamist? Should the taxpayers pay benefits for all the spice of a polygamist government employee?

    If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, then you should be ashamed of yourselves. Have you no compassion? Have you no family values? You awful, awful hatemongers!

  65. Jennifer, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to answering your remarks until now:

    “See? Torquey ain’t no bigot; he just don’t like faggots on account of his God done tole him not to.”

    You see, Jennifer, I have nothing against women; I just wouldn’t want my sister to marry one.

    Similarly, I love men, just not in *that* way.

  66. “Joe,
    What are the unanswerable legal problems?’

    Too numerous to list in this space. Here’s one: when a husband dies, the wife is the presumed beneficiary. So who gets the house when a poly husband dies, and who has no legal right to stay in the home?

  67. Sign me up for the Torquemada Fan Club.

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