GOP Marriage Hearings


As Senate Republicans get set to execute a "full-court push to educate the public on the importance of marriage" by holding interminable hearings on the topic, they'll no doubt be looking for matrimonially friendly witnesses from the GOP ranks. Among the individual sessions they'll be running over the next few weeks are "Healthy Marriage: What is it and why should we promote it?"; "The Benefits of Healthy Marriage"; and "What social science can tell us about marriage, divorce and children."

No doubt the first witness on their list was the Senate's own sexual Iron Man, the multiply hitched and notoriously priapic segregationist Sen. Strom "Sperm" Thurmond (R-S.C.). But he's dead, missed even by the love child who posthumously complicated Strom's grotesque legacy of fomenting race-based hate in this sweet land of liberty.

But if the Senate is willing to dip into America's House of Commons, they can always interview folks like Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) about how important marriage is. Or better yet, ask the Hoosier's illegitimate kid about how important parents can be–especially, parents who actually acknowledge and support their out-of-wedlock children.

And the Senate Republicans might call in former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for some riveting Whittaker Chambers-style testimony about the desanctification of marriage from one who knows the real deal. Gingrich, who doesn't seem to be doing very much these days anyway, once railed against Democrats for espousing "Woody Allen family values." That was back when Newt was only on wife number two (the one he married after dumping wife number one, his former high school math teacher). Now that he's on number three (happily wed to a former staffer), he surely has plenty of insight on the marriage issue.

As do a raft of other Republicans, including short-lived Speaker of the House and phone-sex freak Bob Livingston; former Sen. Helen Chenoweth (who helped put the 'ho back in Idaho during an extramarital affair for which she says God has forgiven her); Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.); and many more, no doubt to be named later by Larry Flynt after he stops fighting with fellow pornographer Rob Black over Reason's May cover story (on newsstands now).

None of this is to deny that marriage is a very good thing. But an election-year ploy aimed at demonizing gays for demanding access to that good thing is a really bad thing.

NEXT: Busting up a Starbux

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  1. Voters tend to identify individual party members with what a party advocates rather than what individual party members do, and that might be a good thing if you believe there’s an invesrse relationship between the power of parties and the power of special interests.

    The disconnection is, probably, a symptom of the same disease that causes voters to venerate their own representatives even while they despise Congress.

    Of course, we should denounce hypocracy wherever we find it, but I don’t think very many Representives or Senators have lost their jobs for being thought of as hypocrites.

    Voters expect that; at least, I do.

  2. Jennifer,

    The underlying Santorum argument was simply a derivative of the slippery slope argument. In this case, the establishment of sodomy as a constitutional right undermines the foundational supports for making beastiality illegal.

  3. Jennifer is right. Once upon a time I experimented with homosexuality. It was just one night. He was an older man, with a South Carolina accent. Called himself Strom. But after that night I had an insatiable desire for perversion, and a week later I found myself having sex with a beagle. That was my wake-up call, and from there on I accepted Jesus. Now I am straight, and every time I come in my wife I thank God that she isn’t a man, while she thanks God that I’m done.

  4. From the “Evil Bastards’ Rationalization Guild:”

    Homosexuality is clearly outlawed in the Bible, the book of Leviticus in fact, the exact same book whose kosher dietary laws forbid the consumption of meat and dairy products in the same meal. God does not allow people to be gay any more than he allows them to eat cheeseburgers, which are filled with fat and cholesterol and lead to obesity.

    But in the eyes of God, eating a cheeseburger is only a minor sin compared to seducing Ronald McDonald, unless of course you?re talking about a woman, in which case she still can?t mix meat with milk but she can sleep with a male clown, provided he?s her husband.

  5. she can sleep with a male clown, provided he?s her husband

    It’s too bad that God didn’t make it a sin for women to sleep with clowns. That would give me an easy out.

    Believe me, there are days when I wish Rick would rediscover his gay urges. It would make my life a lot easier.

  6. See, some are even honest enough to admit it.

    “But it wasn?t the ?religious right? or President Bush who started this round of the culture war. It was us.”

  7. Mrs. Santorum-
    You need to develop a fondness for alcohol. Remember this rule of thumb: “If you’re sober enough to remember your name, you’re too sober to sleep with Santorum.”

  8. Phil: But, but, that bill was meant to allow doctors from providing abortions! How could a law lead to something horrid that no one could forsee?

  9. VM, if I even put my boot on your throat, I trust you won’t be so violent and divisive as to try to remove it.

  10. What a bunch of clowns. It’s like a sucker punch over and over again.

    “Hey, your shoe is untied!” = “We believe that big government is not a solution.”

    I can’t believe grown men and women spend time on this.

    Then again, in the other part of the tag team, you get the honesty of high taxes, high spending, no right to self defence, blah, blah, blah.

  11. Joe, it would be your own fault for going out there flaunting your neck and shoving it in everyone’s face, rather than just wearing a turtleneck so all the right-thinking people couldn’t see your filthy throat.

  12. Phil, the preferred construction is, “shoving it down our throats.”

    BTW, the word homophobe is inaccurate, because anti-gay beliefs hve nothing to do with being afraid of gay men and what they might do.

  13. Jennifer,

    Thank-you for the idea. However, I think I’ll try getting Rick drunk instead, and then see if that rekindles his interest in men and/or beagles. Anything to get him away from me. Every time we do it he finishes with “Thank-you Lord for helping me prove that I’m straight!” He’s especially likely to do this after watching that show where the gay men give a man a makeover.

  14. How would homosexual marriage destroy marriage?

    My roommate and I go to get a “marriage” license. We have no intention of being “married” in any sexual respect. One has benefits at work the other hasn’t.
    We have no relationship outside of the desire to exploit an employment benefit available to those “married”.

    How will this not be a “legal” marriage? Someone gonna check up on us? Besides, why can’t we just claim our relationship is “progressive”? We are beyond simple, ancient, conventional definitions of such things. Sex? Who’s definition matters anymore? Why should that be an operative component of a “marriage” any more?

    Oh and are we males, females or one (or more) of each? Are we cousins, brothers, or siblings? Elderly widow with a huge estate and only child? One an alien who wants to become “American”? Who’s business is it? Don’t we have any right to privacy?

    When marriage can mean anything it will mean nothing, by definition.

  15. I like what Brian Doherty said on H&R about Michael Moore:

    “One often wonders the advantage some people are seeking by pointing out hypocrisy in one’s political oppenents. . . . [I]t’s not like you are going to embarass [Moore] into changing his public ideology to match his actual behavior.”

    It’s not like Newt is going to go back to his wife. So Republicans are hypocrites. Bears shit in the woods. Deal with it.

    If the adulterous contingent in Congress [Republicans *and* Democrats] were to act in a “consistent” and non-hypocritical way, then surely it would support government-recognized polyamory. Isn’t adultery just a way to get around our society’s priggish and hypocritical insistence on monogamy?

  16. JAG-

    So far so good. Now, here’s what’s bugging me: How, exactly, will this affect hetero married couples? Will they look at you and your roommate and decide to split up? Will they start cheating on each other because of you and your roommate? Will they go have sex like dogs like Senator Santorum says he did?

    See, I can see how it might (just might) make the word meaningless, and that might have some linguistic consequences. But how will it undermine committed relationships? That’s the missing link for me. Right now I’m taking it on faith that gay people are a threat to civilization as we know it. But I’m having a tough time understanding exactly HOW they’ll destroy civilization. The cognitive dissonance is driving me crazy.

    Take it from me: Uninformed bigotry is a lot harder than it looks!

  17. Uh, Jag? You realize that if your room mate were a woman you thought too hideous to wed, you could do the same thing, don’t you? Why is such a fake wedding better than the guys only version you described? Is it more real somehow?

  18. because they’re kissing boys, not girls.

    how many times do i have to fucking explain this, people?

    girls, not boys.

  19. JAG said: “When marriage can mean anything it will mean nothing, by definition.”

    It strikes me that the most moral and societally relevant meanings of marriage (at least in my opinion) are much more undermined by quickie Britney-style weddings, adultery, and multiple divorces, which as is well documented are popular among some social conservatives who oppose gay marriage (at least the adultery and divorces; I don’t know about the Britney-style weddings…).
    And the example you give of two people getting married to exploit an employment benefit could just as easily occur with straight people, so that hardly seems like an argument against gay marriage.

  20. Well, a month or so ago on this forum a poster argued (among other things) that the economic impacts of spousal benefits would be huge if anybody and everybody could get married to anybody and everybody. Since most would agree that homosexuals are between 1% and 10% of the population (feel free to pick your own heavily politicized and unsubstantiated estimate), the problem wouldn’t be “real” gay couples (well, except in San Francisco). The problem would be people hooking up with roommates to score health insurance or whatever, since unmarried heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals.

    So maybe gays will destroy the US economy by encouraging unemployed heterosexuals to get married for health insurance. Or maybe employers will stop offering spousal benefits. Hmm, I was hoping that the destruction of life, the universe, and everything might be a little more dramatic than “I got dropped from my partner’s HMO.”

    Please, somebody, tell me how the gays are going to destroy the fabric of society. I’m dying to know.

  21. Thoreau,

    I wouldn’t suggest it will effect current relationships formed on the historic understanding of the institution. But as the meaning of the word marriage devolves into nothingness it seems hard to argue that it will have NO impact on the future of traditional forms of marriage.

    Marriage has a distinct meaning. Yes, society has allowed the ideals of fidelity and commitment to slide (for better or worse) but the ideal of a committed, monogamous, relationship between “A” man and “A” woman aimed at having and nurturing children in as sound a relationship as possible is a singular, valuable, component of a healthy society.

    Why is it “uninformed bigotry” to point out the obvious consequences of this policy? Have I made a remark that could be considered bigoted?
    Can homosexuals successfully rear children? I don’t suppose they cannot. However, it isn’t the same as “marriage”, by definition. Do you not believe children benefit from male AND female parents? There seems to be a lot in the literature to support it. Can a child be raised”successfully” by one person or two of the same sex? Not going to argue that it can but, as a parent of three, I can tell you it is a lot easier when both male and female perspectives are employed.

    I don’t believe there are any laws preventing homosexuals from having relationships of any kind. They can write wills, make durable powers of attorney and share property. They can name each other guardians of whatever children they “share”.
    The point is, whatever benefits or protections they might now lack they can achieve by changes in laws or policies with their employers. What they don’t have the “right” to do is demand that the world reorder itself to suit their, unique, life-style choices.
    It is they who have CHOSEN to be PUBLICLY defined by their sexual preference, unlike blacks, asians or other groups who have faced bigotry. As it is now, the two guys down my street may or may not be “gay”. They could have kids running around the property, how would I know they were gay and not just roommates, divorced or whatever? As it is, I don’t know what their proclivities are, nor will I ever care (even if they someday feel compelled to tell me they’re gay).

    I don’t see you refuting the notion that the cases I’ve described will not come to fruition. Maybe you are right, perhaps nothing will change as the traditional symbolism of marriage becomes meaningless. I see that as a logical impossibility, however.

  22. … the word homophobe is inaccurate, because anti-gay beliefs hve nothing to do with being afraid of gay men and what they might do.

    Not really: -phobic means “aversion” as well as “afraid”.

    … the ideal of a committed, monogamous, relationship between “A” man and “A” woman aimed at having and nurturing children in as sound a relationship as possible is a singular, valuable, component of a healthy society.

    I’m not buying it. Name some society where the overwhelming majority of the people are part of traditional, permanent marriages (say, 1950’s America) where a substantial fraction of those marriages are not a dysfunctional mess. This will include all the marriages where one or both partners is gay, plus all those marriages which would today end in divorce. Is that a healthy society? How healthy is it for children to grow up in a hateful family? Ask me: I can tell you. I think the society that recognizes the ACTUAL relationships that people form is the healthier one.

    It is they [gays] who have CHOSEN to be PUBLICLY defined by their sexual preference …

    As a gay man, I can most emphatically tell you that you are wrong. Oh sure, I suppose I could CHOOSE to be straight, and form a loveless marriage with kids I don’t want in order to contribute to a “healthy” society… but that wouldn’t be fair to my wife, to the kids OR to society. I think if anyone should be able to understand the merits of *individual* freedom and choice, it would be the readers here.

  23. “Ploy” he says…

    Don’t forget who fired the first shot (and the next, and the next) in this war…

  24. well, it is fairly ridiculous, unless you subscribe to that whole occult santorum evil-power-of-sodomy-at-a-distance thing.

    personally, i’m just not that superstitious.

  25. Well, if they can’t stop them from marrying, at least they can maybe stop them from getting medical care.

  26. Ahem, “vigilance”, what is that supposed to mean? Gays demanding equal rights was not the “first shot” in this “war”. This “war” has been going on for quite awhile, on racial lines, on gender lines, on religious lines, on sexual lines.

    Claiming that gays demanding equal rights was the “first shot” (and, subsequently, that the GOP campaign against gay marriage is merely a reaction) is like claiming that blacks “fired the first shot” in the civil rights war, and the people who sprayed blacks with fire hoses and beat them down were merely reacting to that “shot”.

    As certain things protrude more and more into our lives (like minority equality, or homosexuality), the more debate there will be about it. Personally, my feeling is that the government shouldn’t be involved in the marriage business to begin with. Why should the government be allowed to steal money from my paycheck every two weeks, only to use that money to pay for other people’s marriage counseling, and/or other “marriage promotion” campaigns? But if the government insists on staying IN the marriage business, it should not be doing so in a way that denies all citizens their equal rights.

    It is extremely ignorant to suppose that citizens demanding equal rights “fired the first shot”…but that’s the excuse that I hear from the morality police these days. “oh, they forced our hand on this one, we HAD to act!” I suppose that the same people who came up with that line would have excused the Klan for their lynchings, because the blacks “fired the first shot” by demanding equality. Sorry, but no.

  27. I’d rather these doughy, unattractive men tell me how they do it. How is Newt on his third wife? Any pointers Newt?

  28. What a colossal waste of time and expense.

    Because this is SOOOOOOOO much more important than finding Osama bin Laden, promoting a limited government, reducing the national deficit, reducing the complexity of the tax code, etc. (Not to mention how this is totally outside the realm of what US Senate should actually be involved with.)

  29. dude–

    Elected office.

    Did you read the bit about LBJ below the story about Strom? There’s an image that’s going to keep me up (and by that I mean awake) tonight.

  30. A few weeks ago, on KFI, they had a bit called married, divorced or single. The whole gag was to name the biggest supports of the DOMA and see if they were married, divorced or single. A bunch of the big Congressional supporters, along w/ some other notable, RR and Rush, were named. Every single one of them was divorced, most of them multiple times. Having these guys defend marriage is like having the bull guard the proverbial china shop.

  31. Jennifer/Phil/Mo — the story is false. Stuart Buck points out that the language of the bill simply doesn’t support the claims. It allows doctors to opt out of specific procedures (i.e. abortion), not people. Nothing in the text of the bill says anything about denying care to gay people.

    (That having been said, doctors, like all private businesses, should not be forced to serve customers if they choose not to. Even if it’s not PC.)

  32. but at least they’re kissing girls and not boys.

    that’s the important thing.

    girls not boys.

  33. This just goes to show the hypocrisy of neoconservatives’ (and no, Stephen, I don’t mean the J.E.W.S.) Tenth Amendment rhetoric. They love to write boilerplate and speak throwaway lines about leaving things to the states and localities–until they can use the federal government for CONSERVATIVE social engineering purposes.

    Their version of federalism is not to withdraw federal funds and then just leave the states the hell alone to decide for themselves what to fund. Their version of federalism, at best, is to block grant federal money and give the states greater adminisrative leeway in spending it. At worst, it’s attaching all kinds of “conservative” mandates to intergovernmental grants in aid, threatening to cut off the moolah if the states don’t act as agents of federal policy–exactly what the liberals do. Either way, the states are really just administrative subunits, and “states’ rights” for the Republicans just means greater administrative autonomy for practical reasons–not to powers that are inherently theirs by sovereign prerogative.

    How about a federal government that limits itself to the functions enumerated in Article I, Section 8–and then minds its own damned business.

  34. Phil-
    I read that story you linked to. Jesus Christ, that’s horrifying.

    Are any of the “Reason” employees checking this thread? If so, may I suggest that Phil’s link might be a worthy Hit and Run posting in its own right?

  35. I thought of e-mailing it, but I figure someone is bound to follow the link.

    Apparently the new answer to “What Would Jesus Do?” is “Turn people away for medical care because they’re sinners.”

  36. Well, clearly the lesson to be drawn from politicians’ infidelities is that marriage is already in a precarious state, and legalizing gay marriage would only make things worse. Clearly.

    The only problem here is that I don’t really know exactly how gay marriage will undermine marriage and destroy the fabric of society. But everybody assures me that if we legalize gay marriage the world will end, so it must be so. So even though nobody can give me an explanation or mechanism, I’m taking them at their word.

    Still, it would be nice if somebody could explain the exact mechanism by which gays will destroy the fabric of society, because I’m suffering from the cognitive dissonance of hating gays while having no clue why I should do so.

    Let me tell ya, uninformed bigotry is hard work!

  37. A court has ruled that the historic premise of one man and one woman defining marriage is constitutionally inoperative because it discriminates against a certain type of love relationship between two people.

    And how does this example support your argument? You and your daughter are “one man and one woman.”


  38. Here, BTW, is another reason most fathers and daughters won’t be clamoring to walk down the aisle together anytime soon:

    Reverse sexual imprinting is also seen: when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction and bonding. This phenomenon, known as the Westermarck effect, was discovered by anthropologist Edward Westermarck. The Westermarck effect has since been observed in many places and cultures, including in the Israeli kibbutz system, and the Shim-pua marriage customs of Taiwan, as well as in biological-related families.

  39. … doctors, like all private businesses, should not be forced to serve customers if they choose not to.

    What a charming thought. How does it work–do they post a sign on the wall stating exactly which classes of people they will not treat? It’s the least they could do, ‘casue I would hate to waste my time with a doctor who won’t treat me. Does the same apply to police or firefighters?

  40. jag – you’re right. the old forms will be replaced.

    big whoopty doo-dah.

    what’s so bad about that? it’s part of the game. otherwise we’d all be wearing kneesocks and waiting to have sex until after we’re married, which i think we can all agree is pretty fucked.

  41. rosie,

    Are you saying that the marriage of fathers and daughters is “agin’ nature?” That’s the same insensitive argument that bigots use against gay marriage!

    And who says that fathers and daughters live in “close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life” of the daughter? Maybe that’s the case under the old, stifling paradigm of family life supported by Taliban types like you, but there are so many other alternate ways of structuring families!

    There are some fathers who move on to a new relationship shortly before the birth of their children, and who never see their children at all until a later date. And there are fathers who are denied custody and who only get to see their children on rare occasions, leaving little opportunity for “reverse sexual imprinting.”

    Are you suggesting that fathers in this situation should be denied the opportunity to marry their daughters when they grow up?

    And what about mothers and sons? Oedipus married his mother and he would have done fine, except for the hostile social attitudes that made him feel guilty (plus the whole killing-his-father thing). Even today, people are so insensitive to mother-son unions that there’s a cruel curse-word that mocks this sacred bond (the word is twelve letters long and begins with “mother”).

    I despise the hypocritical politicians who preach “family values” yet, inconsistently, turn their backs on the intramarried community. You’d think that Sen. Byrd, at least, would sympathize, given what state he represents.

  42. I love my adult child. I prefer to have my relationship with her called a “marriage” because she doesn’t have benefits she could have if our relationship was called a “marriage”.

    Older men marry younger women. Couples get married and don’t have sex or a desire for children. Maybe, someday, we’ll adopt a child or she will be artificially inseminated. If we do acquire children who’s to say we won’t be successful parents? Maybe we won’t even live together but married couples often live apart and some even have “open” sexual relationships. We understand that, maybe, someday she will meet someone else and divorce me and remarry but that’s a given with “traditional” marriages. Yes, our “love” is different than the “norm” but since it is now understood that the “norm” unfairly discriminates against any two people who “love” each other why wouldn’t you be a “bigot” if you opposed our union? If marriage is an “evolving paradigm” why shouldn’t it logically evolve in this direction?
    Why don’t we, as a loving couple, get the “right” to maximize our tax, health and retirement benefits just like any other loving couple? A court has ruled that the historic premise of one man and one woman defining marriage is constitutionally inoperative because it discriminates against a certain type of love relationship between two people. We are two adults who love each other. The type or existence of sex in a marital relationship is no longer a legal issue. The fact that a father marrying a daughter may appear unseemly to some but Woody Allen’s marriage to his stepdaughter was apparently unremarkable. So why would an asexual “marriage” to a natural daughter be unacceptable in a progressive world?
    If marriage can be legally redefined to mean any loving relationship between two people what law or logic will be employed to prevent someone from successfully pleading this case?

  43. JAG said: “If marriage can be legally redefined to mean any loving relationship between two people what law or logic will be employed to prevent someone from successfully pleading this case?”

    One thing that would help to prevent it is that two (unrelated) gay people marrying is a hell of a lot closer to two (unrelated) straight people marrying in terms of the dynamics and emotional relationships in the marriage than either is to parents marrying children, 5 people marrying, people marrying ducks, or whatever other nightmare scenario you can dream up.

    Another reason is that there’s not exactly a flood of people dying to marry their parents, children, or pets. It strains credibility to suggest that, if gays can marry, these other types of marriage will suddenly become desirable to a substantial portion of the population. One guy in Arkansas who wants to marry his daughter doesn’t exactly drive the final nail into the coffin of traditional marriage.

  44. Why don’t we, as a loving couple, get the “right” to maximize our tax, health and retirement benefits just like any other loving couple?

    So get rid of the benefits. Then you have no reason to marry her, right? Traditional marriage was never about getting benefits from the state, why is it so important now?

  45. As a scientific matter, is there “reverse sexual imprinting” if the parent and child live apart from each other for the first few years of a child’s life? If there isn’t, then “reverse sexual imprinting” would pose no barrier to incest, and your point is deprived of some of its force.

    But if it can be demonstrated that this syndrome exists, it can certainly be argued that there might be a damn good reason for it. And what, again, is the parallel damn good reason for refusing the rights of marriage to gay people?

    And where are the “Incest Rights Movement” folks on this, anyway? (That’s rhetorical, of course.)

    I’ve argued that there are some good reasons to disallow polygamy, also, although I agree it’s not as strong as the case against incest. You’ve mentioned some, too. The dirty truth is that the courts don’t have to be consistent; there will be found something that is “legally distinguishable” between the two things. Perhaps it will be one of the things you and I have talked about.

    Look: Personally, I think there are some good reasons to favor “marriage” as it’s defined today. But in the end, I’m afraid, it will come down to semantics – to the definition of a word – and that seems even more ridiculous. But, again speaking personally, I’m perfectly happy with “civil union.” But I don’t think conservatives should be.

    The government is involved in the marriage business by definition. One of the big problems for gay couples is the immigration issue, for instance. But how about defining “marriage” as a strictly religious thing – it will be legally recognized, of course – and “civil union” for everybody else?

  46. (Here’s another dirty truth: everybody will think of themselves as “married,” anyway, no matter what you call it. People will still refer to their “husbands” and their “wives.” Or, maybe, their “partners” and “spouses.”

    And if gay people do get “marriage,” plenty of others won’t recognize that that word applies to the relationship.

    So what’s the big deal, everybody? The main reason to give in and allow gays to “marry” is that you won’t have to write up a whole separate (obviously 2nd class) set of laws. It will save taxpayer dollars!)

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