Wake Up Maggie, I Think I've Got Something to Say to You

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Post below revised a bit from first version for clarity.

Same-sex marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher has been guest-blogging up a storm over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and Crooked Timber's Kieran Healy has rounded up the posts with a bit of commentary.

I am, alas, inclined to agree with Healy: The post series began with some reasonable-enough throat-clearing about the historical link between marriage and procreation, but rapidly degenerated (beginning with the suggestion that "death by sexual disorganization" caused the fall of the Roman Empire), by the time she reached her penultimate and final posts, into a truly phenomenal collection of non-sequiturs. That this seems to have been the opinion of most of the Volokh commenterers is, rather self-flatteringly, taken as evidence that "the wall is still up pretty high" against the "air and light" she's offering. (Continued after the jump…)

What's most interesting is that, while Gallagher purports to be making the case against same-sex marriage, there's very little there there: We go from throat-clearing about the general importance of marriage to postscript, with a bare handful of sentences devoted to what one would expect to be the crux of the argument. The throat-clearing bits mostly have to do with establishing that a major historical function of marriage has been the regulation of procreation and child-rearing, and that it's ceteris paribus better for children to be raised by a married couple than by single or even cohabiting parents. She further argues that it's better still if the married couple are the biological parents of the child they raise—something that's plausible enough on evolutionary psychology grounds as a statistical generalization.

Let's grant all those premises as generalizations; they still don't get Gallagher remotely near where she's trying to go. To the extent it's possible to extract a straigthforward argument from this series of posts, it's crucial to it that the regulation of procreation and child-rearing be, not merely a major public purpose of marriage, but the purpose.

Now, that's just demonstrably false. Gallagher cherry-picks some case law asserting the importance attached to this function of marriage, but omits, for instance, Loving v. Virginia's emphasis on the freedom to marry as "as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." In her final post, Gallagher imagines the (apparently ridiculous) situation in which business partners marry as an economic arrangement, without any particular love or intimacy between them. But, of course, nothing in current law precludes (different-gendered) partners from doing just than. And, as I noted last month, there have been times and places where marriage was seen, above all, as about cementing a business partnership and regulating household division of labor—or establishing trade between nomadic groups, or uniting disparate landholdings, or regulating inheritance, or cementing political alliances. As Amptoons observed a few years back, even contemporary pro-marriage conservatives had (until SSM became such a bugbear), a list of six "dimensions" of marriage, of which child-rearing was but one.

Gallagher chastizes Andrew Sullivan for raising the inconvenient point that, in fact, we don't narrowly-tailor the legal institution of marrriage to make it centrally or exclusively about procreation. Certainly, we could: Infertility has, in the past, been seen as natural grounds for dissolution of a marital union. If we wanted to really hammer home that all-important link between marriage and child-rearing, we could make it available only to those with a declared intent to conceive a child or adopt. Of course, with a rapidly growing number of gays raising children and half of the rest indicating a desire to someday, this would fail to exclude gay couples systematically unless we allowed marriage only between pairs who intended to biologically conceive a child genetically related to both parents—and even then the exclusion would probably not last much past a few advances in reproductive technology.

Gallagher seems to think that arguments of this sort are attempts to prove that marriage has no (public or legal) functional connection to procreation. But that's, one, ludicrous and, two, far more than someone like Sullivan needs to show to explode Gallagher's argument. All that's required is what's frankly boringly obvious in both history and law: Marriage serves a wide variety of private, public, and legal functions; child-rearing and procration are among them but far from exhaustive; and the institution as already structured recognizes this multiplicity of function. So why exclude gay couples, who certainly might raise children, and in the case of lesbians are capable of bearing them as well, but admit all heterosexual couples, whether they intend to or are even capable of procreating or raising children? According to Gallagher: "Because the way it works in reality is, the more people attracted to the opposite sex who enter such unions, the better off children will be."

That's it. Recognize that this is the crucial turning point in the argument—this is where her case stands or falls. Gallagher could defend a version of marriage that's more narrowly and strictly linked to child-rearing and procreation, though that wouldn't really allow her to draw the clean gay/straight boundary she wants. Instead, she moves to a distinction based on affective orientation rather than either procreation or child-rearing, asserting that this, too, is somehow "better for children"—presumably even after taking into account the children whose gay natural or adoptive parents can't marry their partners—but without any hint of explanation.

Now, we can make some sense of this if we see it through a sort of Straussian lens. As I suggested previously, the idealization of marriage, and much of its appeal, turns crucially on its serving those other functions: promising fulfillment and intimacy for the married couple, rather than just a stable childrearing environment. It's not that SSM threatens to disconnect marriage from procreation; the argument for gay marriage is appealing precisely because people already understand that marriage has meanings and functions beyond procreation.

Maybe what Gallagher says here is an indication that she recognizes this. She's effectively saying: Look, we can't have marriage just be about procration (and design law accordingly); its appeal involves all these other things that induce people to do it. Indeed, the people for whom (and for whose children) its most important are precisely those who demonstrably don't feel the need to get married just to provide a stable environment for their kids. Those people need, if you will, the marriage fairy tale. This entails a recognition that, at least for many people, marriage is not conceived as (exclusively) a procreative institution, even if its serving that function is what explains its universality. But that's the end of the game for Gallagher, or should be. You might think that providing a stable structure for linking kids and biological parents is the most important function marriage serves, but Gallagher's own argument against Sullivan (not to mention, as she might put it "all of human history") make it crystal clear that it can serve this function without the parties to it generally conceiving that as the sole or even primary function. Indeed, as her argument recognizes, it might very well serve that function better if people don't see that as the exclusive or even primary function.

In short, Gallagher wants it both ways. At some level, she understands that since the 18th century shift away from marital pairings determined by extended families, by a strong-handed paterfamilias, or by the broader community, the already existing conception of marriage as (inter alia) a vehicle for romantic fulfillment is necessary to the preservation of the institution as a sufficiently broad one. But she wants to avoid the logical consequences of people's thinking about it that way. I don't think she can get both.

En passant: We also get, in Gallagher's final post (the low point of the series, with the highest non-sequitur/text ratio) the assertion that SSM advocates want to "the use government power to impose a new morality on a reluctant people." The idea here is that there are too many cultural accretions of marriage to extend the legal institution to same-sex couples without appearing to give some kind of endorsement—conferring the cultural good vibes no less than the legal privileges. Gallagher doesn't seem able to see that the situation's perfectly symmetrical in this regard: So long as marriage (which, as she observes, was not invented by government) is bound up with the legal and political institution, the law will "impose" in this fashion. State involvement in marriage has, at various points in history, entailed little more than the formal recognition of an antecedent, primarily religious ritual. Codifying one particular form of marriage in law locks out the kind of natural evolution we otherwise have seen and doubtless would see in the institution. If we did not see the state as defining "marriage" in terms of its cultural connotations as well as its formal legal benefits, we'd already have widespread "gay marriage."

As we come to Gallagher's final post, we find little more than a rehashing of what we've seen to date: Having married parents is a great good to children (fine), and admitting couples who can't (yet) conceive any child they might raise between themselves somehow degrades the procreative and child-rearing functions of marriage. But the crucial mechanism is, as per usual, never really specified: We're not told why allowing that marriage may serve non-procreative functions will undermine the institution. All we get are some highly disanalogous analogies. Since this—not whether marriage is generally good, not whether it's typically better for kids to grow up in the context of marriage than with a single parent—is the key point of disagreement, we're going to need something a lot better here to make the argument work.

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  1. I hate to be so crass, but couldn’t they just be honest and say, “Because God says no! No! No! No!” in the tone of a petulant six-year-old?

  2. Actually, I lie. I don’t mind being crass about it at all.

  3. Eric the .5b,

    Well, we live in a world where such appeals to religiously inspired bigotry aren’t as appropriate anymore. So they have to cloak their reasons in arguments about the public good and the like.

  4. Eric – you’re exactly right. I imagine that these people aren’t really being faithful to the tenets of their, um, faith, by being so deceitful.

    Is it because they know that most people, even if they claim to be “Christian” or whatever, have more of a live and let live attitude?

  5. A long time ago someone told me that the Romans had a habit of using lead in some of their cooking.

    I have no idea if that’s true or not (where’s gaius when you really need him?) but if so, I would think that literally eating lead would more likely cause the downfall of a civilization than buggery.

  6. I’ll have to be very bluntly contrary to the likes of Gaius, but I’m quite convinced that the development of a secular, liberal tradition of ethics as a complement to religious teachings has been a major advance for civilization.

  7. If marriage is all about bearing and raising children, why the empasis on till-death-do-us-part? Wouldn’t a 30-year contract be adequate to bear and raise the 2.6 kids society needs?

    Eric nailed it. These people hate gays. Period.

  8. Mediageek – that might be a misdescription of using lead for water pipes and as a component of dishes. I had a professor in college address that issue (at least for drinking water) in his “Science and Technology in the Ancient World” class, which was hands down my favorite my first year. He said it was basically a non-issue due to the alkalinity of water – very little, if any, lead would actually migrate out of the material.

    He did point out that a cup of orange juice in such a glass would be rather toxic, though…

  9. Eric nailed it. These people hate gays. Period.

    Well, not necessarily. There are people who really, genuinely don’t hate gays but believe it would just be horrible to let them marry. There are other people who have nothing against gays in any meaningful sense* but are bothered by the idea of gay marriages. The reasons are still ultimately religious.

    *In that they do think homosexual sex is a sin, but aren’t offended by it, per se.

  10. mediageek,

    You are likely thinking of the Nriagu v. Scarborough debate on whether lead poisoning brought down the Roman Empire. Nriagu takes his argument too far IMHO. It may be the case that Roman leaders, aristocrats, etc. imbibed a lot of wine with lead in it (from the defrutum* used to sweeten the wine) and that this in turn harmed fertility rates (one of the problems associated with heavy lead intake is becoming sterile), but its unlikely that the empire itself fell due to this one reason.

    Defrutum is a syrupy mass of reduced wine that was often boiled in either lead pots or copper pots lined with lead.

    As a side note, the Romans weren’t the only ones to put lead in their wine. The English did so too to sweeten and/or preserve their “patriotic” Port wine from Portugal (essentially they’d drop a lead ball into the wine). By eschewing French wines, which were of a much higher quality, and thus did not need lead added to them, they were in fact harming their health.

  11. mediageek,

    The Empire fell due to a lot of reasons. Buggery had nothing to do with it. Its clear that this woman hasn’t even picked up a basic primer on the Roman Empire, much less read any monographs or primary sources on the era.

  12. And I seem to recall wine being rather acidic. Eyagh.

  13. Eric the .5b,

    Actually, the Romans were aware of the dangers of lead pipes and that’s why they most used clay pipes to transport water with. Furthermore, lead pots, pans, etc. weren’t as commonly used as many have claimed; bronze and the like were more common.

  14. “I think the most likely outcome of same-sex marriage is not polygamy but the end of marriage as a legal status.”

    Not to be too obvious– but isn’t that kind of the point? Well, that is kind of obvious, but I would like to hear from opponents of SSM WHY it’s so important for marriage to have “a legal status” (sic.)

  15. Reasons the Roman Empire fell:

    * lack of proper means of succession

    * 3rd and 4th century tax and commercial “reforms” that were protectionist and confiscatory in nature

    * balance of trade mal-distribution between the east and west

    * mercemnary, professional army made up largely of non-Romans who are less and less attached to the concept of the Empire itself

    * collapse of the aristocratic class in the 3rd and 4th century

  16. You know, one of the reasons why I didn’t go to a graduate school that had a heavy classics department was to avoid the classical world that had sucked away so much of my life already. I can’t get away! 🙂

  17. I think Gallagher’s main failing, a point Jonathan Rauch once made in these august pages, is reading through her Hayek backwards.

    To wit: Hayek’s point was that even if we could agree on an optimal, static end-point for the whole of society, society is made up of so many interlocking institutions that we wouldn’t know which ones to change and how, and would probably mess things up trying.

    In contrast, advocates of SSM seem more to be trying to change a single institution, with the reasonable expectation that society, a robust thing, will homeostasis itself towards another viable balance. Of course, some advocates like Judith Stacey seem to be advocating SSM in an instrumental sense, but the vast majority seem to be humbly seeking to correct an injustice, the very type of evolutionary change Hayek accepted and even encouraged.

  18. I never heard of Maggie Gallgher and if I never do again that will be too soon but Leon Kass’s comments that you link to are truely outrageous, how’d that fucker get a high school diploma let alone some presidential commission on bio ethics?

  19. I’ve always suspected that at the root of the opposition to same sex attraction and marriage is a certain disgust among some people for the simple mechanics of it. It’s not the way I have sex, not what I find attractive, and I don’t like to picture it, therefore, it would be best if it just disappeared entirely and I could somehow forget about it.

  20. Its clear that this woman hasn’t even picked up a basic primer on the Roman Empire, much less read any monographs or primary sources on the era.

    True enough, but it doesn’t matter to the True Believers. The facts would only confuse them, so the hell (excuse me, heck) with the facts…

  21. Kudos to Sanchez for the headline.

  22. One of the ppeople commenting made a really interesting point. Let me quote it here (it’s in the final post by Maggie):

    Here’s what I think she thinks it is: SSM will shift the cultural meaning of marriage from the conjugal model to the “close relationship” model, and that this is bad for kids because it places a higher priority on adult desires than it does on children’s.

    That’s all. I think that the answer is unsatisfying to so many posters here because they already conceive of marriage in the close relationship model, so it doesn’t seem like any answer at all.

    Having spent years living in both the most liberal state in the US and the most conservative, I can say that this is one major source of the disconnect in this debate. Many people living in liberal and/or urban areas already live in a culture where the close relationship model of marriage is the norm, so Maggie’s argument seems completely nonsensical. But the so-called red-states still understand marriage as conjugal. And in the conjugal vision, it’s SSM that’s completely nonsensical.

  23. Spur:

    I never heard of Maggie Gallgher and if I never do again that will be too soon but Leon Kass’s comments that you link to are truely outrageous, how’d that fucker get a high school diploma let alone some presidential commission on bio ethics?

    I bet you have heard of her. She was one of those fun ‘reporters and pundits’ who managed to pull down a double paycheck for her work. I think she was paid a rather large sum (60k?) to write a few “brochures” for the government on the subject of how great marriage is (part of Bush’s pro-marriage initiative, a waste of money if there ever was one) and got caught up in the whole “paid-for-punditry” thing along with Williams because she got paid an awful lot for very little work while she was also getting paid to write columns and op-eds on how snazzy marriage was.

    I know many don’t find it appalling, but I’m personally of the belief that both the journalists AND the government agencies involved should be horsewhipped. The fourth estate sucks too much already. They don’t need government help.

  24. I think Morat has part of it. One important consideration-which probably explains why “there’s no there there”-is that she’s not trying to convince readers that SSM is bad. She’s trying to explain enough of her position so that readers can understand why a sane person could believe SSM is bad. I have some sympathy for her: I don’t actually agree with her arguments, but they’re not per se incoherent. They’re just wrong.

    Her argument against SSM is actually very close to my argument against marriage as a state institution. As I understand it, the claim goes something like: “Marriage has many purposes, but most of these are irrelevant to the state. The state can only endorse marriages for some relevant purpose; and the reason the state supports marriages is to promote procreation. This isn’t why people marry; it’s just why the state supports them.” I’ve actually been claiming that this is non-unreasonable for a while; if you believe that
    A)the state has the authority to endorse marriages in order to promote X, and
    B)promoting gay marriage undermines X,
    then it follows that the state should not endorse gay marriage.

    Most SSM proponets attack (B), and they’re probably right (I’m pretty sure they are, but I don’t know, not having seen any really good reasearch. But it seems obvious). Around here, we also sometimes attack (A), arguing that the government has no good authority that allows it to endorse marriages; I’m in that camp myself. But this is why we’re reasonably close to Ms. Gallagher. She says, “there’s only one value that could legitimize the state interfering here: procreation. So the state can only sanction marriages that benefit procreation.” In contrast, I say, “there is no value that could legitimize the state interfering here. So the state can’t sanction marriages at all.”

    We actually agree on SSM: the state has no authority to allow it. We disagree on regular, straight marriage: I don’t think the state has authority to allow it, either.

  25. Well that’s where the historical roots of government involvement with marriage comes in. As Julian noted, if the government wasn’t involved this would be a non-issues — gays have been marrying for years.

    However, even if you disagree with government’s involvement in marriage (I actually don’t see much to get excited about when it comes to government’s role in marriage for the most part. “You willin’? You 16? Great, you’re married since it certainly simplifies a lot of paperwork down to a pair of signatures.)

    But agree or disagree with government being involved, they shouldn’t be discriminating without a solid reason. “We’ve always done it this way” isn’t one. From the standpoint of the actual laws (and the relevant court cases) involving marriage, making it gender neutral does nothing — family courts are already dealing with the only real issues (custody of non-genetic children for same-sex couples) and will regardless of whether gays can legally marry.

    Now, polyamory — that’s a legal nightmare and a whole different kettle of fish. Too many laws, precedents, and such to tackle — I mean, assigning power of medical attorney is an issue all in itself. How do you decide which of Bob’s two wives gets to decide who pulls the plug?

  26. “…that channels the swirling erotic energies of young men and women towards each other”

    There’s got to be some bad 19th-century erotic-style poet that wrote that, right? I don’t know any of that stuff. Someone help me out; all it brings to my feeble mind is bad Sting.

  27. “Spur:

    I never heard of Maggie Gallgher and if I never do again that will be too soon but Leon Kass’s comments that you link to are truely outrageous, how’d that fucker get a high school diploma let alone some presidential commission on bio ethics?

    I bet you have heard of her. She was one of those fun ‘reporters and pundits’ who managed to pull down a double paycheck for her work. I think she was paid a rather large sum (60k?) to write a few “brochures” for the government on the subject of how great marriage is (part of Bush’s pro-marriage initiative, a waste of money if there ever was one) and got caught up in the whole “paid-for-punditry” thing along with Williams because she got paid an awful lot for very little work while she was also getting paid to write columns and op-eds on how snazzy marriage was.

    I know many don’t find it appalling, but I’m personally of the belief that both the journalists AND the government agencies involved should be horsewhipped. The fourth estate sucks too much already. They don’t need government help.”

    still doesn’t help — I don’t have cable, don’t read newspapers and self censor all conversative POV’s cause I don’t care if they have a point or not, I don’t wish to hear it caue they suck and should be taken out and shot, uniformly…yes, I live in the bay area. piss off you pikie…

  28. So, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have no clue how it will harm society if homosexuals are allowed to sign binding contracts to share property, power of attorney, etc. etc. Granted, in an ideal society the state would not apply the word “marriage” to those contracts, leaving that decision to the two people (or more in Utah) involved in the contract, in accordance with their personal beliefs and desires.

    But it doesn’t seem all that harmful if the word “marriage” appears at the top of the contracts. I mean, it’s just a word. Speaking as a happily married Catholic, I can tell you that purchasing the marriage license from the courthouse was not a particularly meaningful event for either me or my wife. The vows were much more meaningful.

    So, what exactly is the harm in letting gays do this? Heterosexual couples who want to get married won’t refrain just because they see gays doing it. They won’t refrain from having kids if they want them, and they won’t want kids any less. They won’t love each other any less if gays get married. My wife and I didn’t feel any differently about each other after Massachussettes started marrying gays.

    And gay marriage certainly won’t prompt heterosexuals to try the other side of the fence in response. You know how straight guys generally won’t even sit too close to each other on the couch when watching a football game? And you know how you could never talk your girlfriend into so much as kissing another woman, let along sleep with one? Well, do you really think that marriage licenses will change either situation? At most, it will encourage the handful of gays still in the closet to come out.

    Last year I had this argument over and over and over with a guy who no longer comes here, and in the end all he could come up with was that gay marriage would ruin the economy due to health insurance and pensions and other benefits. Two responses: The first is that if this were true then employers would prefer single heterosexuals over married heterosexuals. (That may be the case in certain select professions, for all I know, but it certainly isn’t the general case.) The second is that gays are at the very most 10% of the population (probably considerably less IMHO, but that’s just my guess). I find it hard to believe that gays will be the straw that makes the economic camel’s back. (For more on what might destroy our economy see gaius marius.)

    So, I have yet to see any explanation of why this will destroy our society. If anything, it will create a few more jobs for florists, caterers, bakers, etc.

    Besides, as I’ve said before, between the the florist, the musicians, the decorators, the pastry chef, the old uncle with no date, and the priest, every wedding already includes at least one gay person. How much harm could it do if we add another one to the wedding? 🙂

  29. More relevant to the post at hand: My wife and I, for a variety of reasons, will adopt children. Give me one good argument why our non-procreative relationship should be treated any differently from Maggie Gallagher’s marriage?

    Just one argument. That’s all I ask.

  30. You know, one of the guys at National Review made this point a few months back:

    I’ve always suspected that at the root of the opposition to same sex attraction and marriage is a certain disgust among some people for the simple mechanics of it.

    He said that many people just, plain and simple, have problems with the mental picture of one guy mounting another. I don’t know how much he was using this as an excuse or just as an observation, but I don’t read the Corner like I used to…
    It all goes back to the “natural” thing. What “feels” right to one person probably doesn’t to another, and many straights get united in their sense of “eww.”
    Which is sad, because a) they don’t know what they’re missing 😉 and b) a sense of eww ain’t enough to deny people equal rights.

  31. To all of ya’s who answered my question: thanks! I’ve said it before, but there’s a pretty big pile of brains hanging out in this joint.

    As for this:

    ‘How do you decide which of Bob’s two wives gets to decide who pulls the plug?”

    I’m guessing that they could resolve it by flipping a coin that one or both of them might or might not get a glimpse of in midair that might or might not impart some special knowledge as to whether it will land heads or tails.

  32. I mean, assigning power of medical attorney is an issue all in itself. How do you decide which of Bob’s two wives gets to decide who pulls the plug?

    Bob could be a man about it and make the decision while he’s in decent health, thereby sparing his wives the guilt of having to choose themselves. There are no insurmountable problems inherent to polygamy that aren’t just as likely to arise in a traditional marriage.

  33. Shem: I never claimed they were insurmountable. I claimed polyamorous marriages were inherently more difficult.

    For all practical intents and purposes, you’d really need a lawyer to handle the details. All the assorted rights, responsibility, duties, legal privaleges, etc are designed for two people. A few — like the privalege not to testify against your spouse — are easily extensible, but the bulk of them would require a great deal of planning.

    Two-person marriage is, basically, plug-and-play. The contract is standard, easily understood, and workable right out of the box. Polygamy requires a lot of tinkering just to nail down the basics.

  34. What “feels” right to one person probably doesn’t to another, and many straights get united in their sense of “eww.”

    I think it’s more than that. …I think it’s worse than that.

    I think a lot of gay marriage opponents don’t think of the people their discrimination hurts. …or, rather, I don’t think they think of gay people as people. They think of them as some kind of cartoon, propagandized caricature of a person. …I’d like to think that most of ’em wouldn’t support open discrimination if they thought they were hurting real people. I know that sounds like a weird disconnect…

    …but I’m sorry to say I’ve experienced the disconnect myself. When I was growing up, I somehow had the idea that gay people were about as common as Siamese twins. …The part that’s hard to account for is the realization that in the back of my head, I knew gay people in my high school and my junior high, and, even though they hadn’t made the leap out of the closet yet, I knew they were gay. Anyway, when I got a little older–and got the facts–I realized what a weird disconnect that was.

    …I think a lot of people are like that. …and worse. They think the only people they’re hurting are few and far between and far away. …and they think of them as being the enemy–like figures from those old propaganda posters in World War II desensitizing soldiers to hurting “Huns” and “Japs”. …Sometimes listening to gay marriage opponents, I just want to tell them that this isn’t a war and, for pity’s sake, gay people aren’t the enemy.

  35. In summation here: Maggie’s already lost the war. She fears gay marriage will lead people to thinking marriage is about each other, and not focused on the kids to come.

    It’s already like that. It’s why gay marriage is becoming increasingly accepted. She’s mistaken an effect for a cause. Gay marriage won’t cause a shift in beliefs on the reasons for marriage — gay marriage IS the result of a shift in belief.

    Ultimately, it’s why she’ll lose. Women aren’t property anymore, they’re not baby factories. As women’s role in society changed, is it any wonder the focus of marriage changed? Maggie’s already lost the war. She just doesn’t know it.

  36. “I think a lot of gay marriage opponents don’t think of the people their discrimination hurts. …or, rather, I don’t think they think of gay people as people.”
    Yes, I agree, to a point. It’s not so much that they don’t think of them as humans; it’s just that the reality of them isn’t sunk in. It’s the whole “40,000 die in Foreign Earthquake” vs “7 Killed at Local Mall” thing: the farther away and the less we can relate, the less we are able to care. I don’t think homophobes are unique in this; this seems innately human. Since gays were so hidden for so long, most people never had to face the issue as “real.” When I came out, I had a few friends tell me, much later, that aside from my personal happiness they were glad I had come out, as they were forced to evaluate a few beliefs they hadn’t realized they had–in addition to questioning why they didn’t view gay rights as a civil right.

  37. For all practical intents and purposes, you’d really need a lawyer to handle the details. All the assorted rights, responsibility, duties, legal privaleges, etc are designed for two people…Two-person marriage is, basically, plug-and-play. The contract is standard, easily understood, and workable right out of the box.

    Single people have these too. Prenuptual agreements. And, having seen more than my share of messy divorces, “Plug-and-Play” marriages are a lousy idea in this day and age.

  38. Julian,

    Leon Kass is a worthier target – i suspet people don’t even know who Gallagher is (i didn’t). Kass is a even more frightening than i imagined – that courtship article is driving me back to drink.

  39. Just one argument. That’s all I ask.

    I think there is still a strong belief in Conservative circles that Homosexuality is a product of nurture, not nature. Thus, the continued fears of gay couples raising gay children and spreading the plaque. Considering how easily ID has taken root within (religious) Conservatives, this POV should not be surprising.

    Beyond that, when people ask the question “what harm is there in SSM?”, I always refer them back to Meghan McArdle’s essay on that topic. Always remember the law of unintended consequences.

  40. But agree or disagree with government being involved, they shouldn’t be discriminating without a solid reason.

    Married individuals are granted more rights than non-married individuals. You don’t need to give a reason for not granting someone special rights and privledges; you need to give a reason FOR granting them special rights and privledges. So the question is: what does society gain if married homosexuals join married heterosexuals at the government trough? I can’t think of anything.

    And before you say “well, we don’t gain anything from giving special benefits to married heterosexuals”, consider that (if true) that is an argument for removing the special status of heterosexual marriage, not an argument for adding new groups to the list of the favored.

    That said, I’d vaguely like to see gay marriage recognized; the above is only meant to illustrate that the “gays are being denied rights” argument is a load of bull.

  41. MP-

    I skimmed the essay. The difference is that most of Jane Galt’s examples were “If you let more people do something (or even subsidize) you’ll get more of it.” I don’t see how such an argument leads to more heterosexuals remaining single. Jane Galt’s examples would suggest that, if anything, gay marriage would lead to more gay people, not more single heterosexuals.

  42. It will be a long time before homosexuals will be truly accepted in American society, barring some great societal collapse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like homosexuals (particularly men) are only marginally accepted in industrialized, well developed nations. In the third world, or more impoverished nations, homosexuality is a blatant sin, and heavily discriminated against, to the point of torture, imprisonment, or death.

    If the all the wealthy, developed nations of the world were to collapse, or become much less powerful, homosexual rights would be nearly forgotten. Its only because we live in a relatively peaceful, prosperous society that we have the luxury of arguing about giving homosexuals the right to marry.

    I have no problem with gays getting married. However, I am not married or even in a serious romantic relationship. Most of the married people I’ve talked to about gay marriage are against it. I believe that homosexuality is a biological process that cannot be totally “unlearned”. However, most of the people I talk to about homosexuality think its a lifestyle choice.

    So, from my meager perspective, gay marriage is dead in the water. That doesn’t mean that other places see it as such. I have a cousin who lives in Illinois with his gay partner. For all intents and purposes they are “married”. They own a house together, live together, and are faithful to each other. I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to have the same benefits as my other cousin, who’s been in the exact same kind of relationship for much less time, just because she is married.

  43. thoreau,
    Bravo! for the long post above. The argument that gays getting married will undermine traditional marriage is outlandish and so obviously-false that you’d think no one could ever come to believe it.

    Maybe if they could just talk to you for 5 minutes…

  44. i’ll ask. alas?

  45. I’m married. Have been for a long time, will be for the rest of time. Society didn’t tell my wife and I when we were in love nor when we were ready to commit our lives together. No other “form” of marriage is going to have the slightest impact or effect on ours. Our marriage is for us. And this whole gay marriage “crisis” leaves us baffled.

    Are they two mature, consenting adults who are in love and wish to commit to a life-long relationship? Then, as far as I’m concerned, they’re married, and the rest is just paperwork.

    If our society really thinks it has the right to to make grandiose judgements and decisions about their relationship, well, that says more about the evils of our society than anything they may be doing.

  46. The issue is moot. In a generation or two gay marraige will be something fought by very marginal groups in society. It’l be another version of the “Flat Earth Society.”

    MP,

    I stopped reading the article at the first sentence when she claimed that she didn’t have an opinion on gay marraige. Clearly she does have an opinion, which is why she is writing the article. Well, that and I realized that I read the article quite some time ago and realized that it was basically an argument about slippery slopes. Slippery slopes exist, but you have to actually demonstrate that you are on one before you sound different from a naysaying bigot.

  47. MP,

    Oh, that, and her first claim about the nature of marraige over time is complete hogwash. When you are so off-base re: your most important premise, things don’t bode well for your argument.

  48. I don’t think that marriage, as in the whole “two people who love each other and want to be life partners” thing, will be harmed by gay marriage at all. It’ll probably be strengthened.

    Hell, in the short term, once homosexuals get married and start paying taxes and saying “we paid how much?”, we’ll see quite a few more Log Cabin Republicans.

    However: marriage, as in the whole “two people who want to live together and start a family” thing, will probably decline somewhat. More DINKs, fewer Mommies and Daddies… well, at least, fewer planned pregnancies (there will most likely be a similar amount of “blessings”).

    (Please note: I am not using the word “should” or “ought” in this post)

  49. I support gay marriage for the simple reason that I see no compelling argument not to. As for the anti-gay-marriage argument that the state primarily meddled in marriage because of the importance of procreation. . . .has there ever been a society that only granted marriage licenses to people of childbearing ability, but refused to allow postmenopausal women (or sterile men) to marry? I’ve never heard of such a thing, and the fact that old women are allowed to marry despite having no chance of bearing children shows the flaw in the “marriage is primarily for procreation” idea.

  50. As an addendum to my last question: has their ever been a society which forced couples to divorce if they couldn’t produce children within a set amount of time? I highly doubt it.

  51. . . .has THERE ever been a society. . .

  52. You don’t need to give a reason for not granting someone special rights and privledges; you need to give a reason FOR granting them special rights and privledges.

    I reject the suggestion that the state grants rights to people.

    …The state makes laws, and those laws are either in accordance with or in violation of the rights with which people everywhere, by definition, are born.

    So the question is: what does society gain if married homosexuals join married heterosexuals at the government trough? I can’t think of anything.

    I also reject the suggestion that the law should acknowledge or ignore an individual’s rights based on what’s convenient for society.

    …I believe the sole legitimate function of a government is to protect the rights of its people; it seems to me that protecting the rights of people has sometimes been terribly inconvenient to society. …and I’m okay with that.

    That said, I’d vaguely like to see gay marriage recognized; the above is only meant to illustrate that the “gays are being denied rights” argument is a load of bull.

    I’m not saying the Equal Protection Clause applies here, but I’m not sure I understand why it doesn’t.

  53. Well, that and I realized that I read the article quite some time ago and realized that it was basically an argument about slippery slopes.

    Hakluyt,

    I always read that essay as highlighting the Law of Unintended Consequences, rather than the Slippery Slope. I like the reference that Morat gave of Conjugal vs. Close model of relationships. The thing is, we don’t really know what the long term societal consequences are of moving from Conjugal to Close. Of course, the fear of disasterous consequences is simply the Precautionary Principle, and IMHO, since there is a lack of hard evidence or solid reasoning that says SSM will lead to a breakdown of society as we know it, there is no good reason to resist it.

    In essence, one can equate Conservative fears regarding the domination of the Close model with Green fears about Frankenfoods. Maybe they’re both right, and in 50 years we’ll have anarchy and mass pestilence. I strongly doubt it, but I can’t bring myself to say that either group is flat out wrong.

  54. MP,

    There is some slippery slope stuff going on in that article.

    The thing is, we don’t really know what the long term societal consequences are of moving from Conjugal to Close.

    Baseless fears of the future are no reason to give into a Mulder and Scully routine – they are no reason to “fight the future” in other words.

  55. MP-

    I do see your point. Gay marriage is, admittedly, a significant enough change that it deserves some thought.

    But there’s a big difference between stopping to think and desperately pumping out illogical arguments. I’ll say that Jane Galt’s essay is good enough reason to think before acting. Well, the issue has been getting more and more attention over time, culminating in the extravaganza of the last few years, and the opponents have yet to come out with anything that makes sense. That suggests to me that it’s OK to move ahead and do something.

    Besides, the cases that Jane Galt brought up all amounted to examples of the old saying “When you pay for something you usually get more of it.” With gay marriage, I’ll concede that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get more gays. Not likely, but I see the point. However, foes of gay marriage aren’t just saying that there will be more gays. They’re also saying that relationships between heterosexuals (those who don’t decide to convert) will suffer. Something for which they offer neither evidence nor logical arguments).

  56. thoreau,

    With gay marriage, I’ll concede that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get more gays.

    Which unwittingly demonstrates that force is at play in these interactions; namely force practiced by the government against homosexuals. Its the classic example of a “chilling effect” in other words.

  57. It amazes me to find so many proponents-of and leaners-toward SRSSM (state-recognized same sex marriage) at an ostensibly libertarian web site. The state shouldn’t recognize gay marriage because the state shouldn’t recognize marriage. Eliminating SRMFM resolves the oppression problem w/o introducing further oppression.

  58. Johnny-The issue isn’t state sanctioning as such, it’s the fact that along with that sanctioning comes a whole package of priveleges like inheritance, medical rights, spousal shielding in trial, and a whole host of other items. Not all of this can be surmounted by general contracts, and even in the cases where a contract is in place, it can still be difficult to get them recognized, especially in “conservative” areas in cases where the family disagrees with the partner.

  59. stumpbump- Most of us have resigned ourselves to living in the real world, and there, the odds that anybody can pry the government’s icy fingers out of marriage are slim to nil. Given that fact, most have moved on and are now trying to decide what the least objectionable option is. I think we would all like to see marriage become private again, but whining because it ain’t gonna happen doesn’t serve any constructive purpose.

  60. stumpbump,

    If I had my druthers, I’d have a state which didn’t sanction any sort of marraige, nor provided anything other than a referee process for enforcing, nullifying, etc. a marraige contract.

  61. Shem, how can the least objectionable option be expansion of state involvement in private affairs?

    The pragmatic approach is to destroy SRMFM by eliminating preferential treatment of male-female pairings; not to “award” the same “benefits” to a larger group.

  62. I reject the suggestion that the state grants rights to people.

    Well then, you’re wrong. Just because there are rights (such as free speech) which people naturally possess doesn’t mean that there aren’t rights granted by the state. State recognition of marriage grants married couples the *right* to force others to give preferential treatment to their spouse. Hospital visitation is a good example of this; hospitals restrict access to patients, but are forced by law to allow access to spouses.

    I’m not saying the Equal Protection Clause applies here, but I’m not sure I understand why it doesn’t

    Inasmuch as the Equal Protection clause applies here, it forbids giving preferential goverment treatment to ANY married couples. It certainly doesn’t mandate that gay couples join straight couples in receiving better treatment than is given to single people any polygamists.

  63. stumpy;
    Idealistically, you’re correct in that many libertarians oppose the concept of the state sanctioning marriage. Pragmatically though, libertarians are all about individual rights and liberties. Do we stand a better chance at winning the idealistic war before homosexuals are recognized as being worthy of these rights or after? I would say that many feel after and so we have to fight an oddly chosen battle to lead us toward the end we desire. I can’t speak for everyone though.

    Dan

  64. db:
    Not much of a natural law theorist are you?

    Dan

  65. State recognition of marriage grants married couples the *right* to force others to give preferential treatment to their spouse. Hospital visitation is a good example of this; hospitals restrict access to patients, but are forced by law to allow access to spouses.

    I guess this really is taking me back to the basics.

    Under the premise that other people’s rights end where mine begin, I’m tryin’ to think how a gay person getting married encroaches on my rights and liberties–and I’m drawin’ a blank!

    Also, I think people have the right–and sometimes maybe the duty–to break unjust laws.

    …but a discriminatory law prohibiting gay marriage would be hard to break. If the state discriminated against gay people by prohibiting them from getting driver’s licenses, that would be easy. …They could just drive without licenses. …but how do you collect survivor’s benefits in spite of not being legally married, etc.?

    Still, if gay people start getting legally married, somehow, I suspect hospitals will adjust. …and I’m not so sure the state should force hospitals to give preferential treatment to spouses anyway.

    Inasmuch as the Equal Protection clause applies here, it forbids giving preferential goverment treatment to ANY married couples. It certainly doesn’t mandate that gay couples join straight couples in receiving better treatment than is given to single people any polygamists.

    I asked about the Equal Protection Clause because I know we have some fine legal minds that visit this site, and I really would like to understand why the Equal Protection Clause doesn’t apply here.

    …I didn’t mean to suggest that the Equal Protection Clause specifically mandates gay marriage!

    The Equal Protection Clause–as I understand it–says that the states can’t discriminate against a person arbitrarily. They can do it if a person is convicted by a jury of his peers, etc., but they can’t just decide not to register a black man to vote or not to give a driver’s license to a Chinese woman… …or, it seems to me, they can’t just decide arbitrarily not to give a marriage license to a gay person.

    …I could be wrong about that, that’s why I asked. …but I don’t see anything in your response that explains why Fourteenth Amendment protections don’t apply to a gay person.

    I suppose the state could discriminate and not give a marriage license to a barnyard animal, but we’re not going down that silly road, are we?

  66. Shem-I believe we agree on this, but I’m not sure. I feel that marriage is a commitment, an “emotional contract” so to say, between two mature, consenting adults, at which point their sex is completely irrelevant. If the state doles out privileges to people willing to jump through the necessary hoops to have their marriage recognized by the state, then their sex is still irrelevant. They should get the same privileges as any other two people who choose to jump through the hoops.

    DB points out hospitals can’t block spouses from seeing each other. Why not? Well, they have an emotional commitment. They probably have a household to manage, people to contact, things to discuss and get done because they live together. Once again, their sex isn’t important. All those tasks still have to be accomplished if it’s two men or women living together. And the emotional pain of being prevented from seeing a loved one in dire straits is going to be just as bad for a gay person as a straight one.

    I’m also baffled by the whole “it cheapens marriage” argument. How? Every gay person on the planet could get married tomorrow and it wouldn’t mean a thing to my marriage. Once you pull religion out of the mix, and the state isn’t supposed to be supporting religion anyway, the arguments against gay marriage sort of fall apart.

    Finally, speaking of religion, I don’t think anybody’s suggesting the religious folks are going to have to open their doors, arms and altars to homosexuals. If they want to continue excluding them from a religious marriage ceremony they will, doubtless, retain that right. ‘Cuz, y’know, we’re all equal in the sight of The Lord and all that.

  67. The state shouldn’t recognize gay marriage because the state shouldn’t recognize marriage.

    There are many things the state shouldn’t be involved in but is. That doesn’t mean we should tolerate the state’s arbitrary discrimination.

    I don’t think the state should be involved in education for instance. …that doesn’t mean I should tolerate discrimination against whomever.

    I don’t think much of Medicare, Social Security, etc.

  68. Do we stand a better chance at winning the idealistic war before homosexuals are recognized as being worthy of these rights or after?

    The government inappropriately affords benefits to some couples based on a personal choice. Extending this mistake to include a larger group of individuals only further entrenches it. It further marginalizes (and thus “oppresses”) those who still do not fit into this broader definition.

    Level the playing field: focus on obviating the benefits of marriage by extending the same benefits to those not participating in a traditional marriage.

  69. What if the state only recognized same-race marriages? Would that be a rollback of the scope of the state?

  70. “What’s most interesting is that, while Gallagher purports to be making the case against same-sex marriage, there’s very little there there: We go from throat-clearing about the general importance of marriage to postscript, with a bare handful of sentences devoted to what one would expect to be the crux of the argument.”

    I hope y’all ‘ll see that what I’m about to say is in the spirit of the thread rather than just a nasty jab…

    …but I am unimpressed with the arguments I’m seeing here against same sex marriage.

    These arguments, grom where I’m sittin’, are a lot less persuasive than the arguments I’ve seen for the Iraq War–which I remain steadfastly against–and only a little more persuasive than the silly arguments I’ve seen for teaching Intelligent Design.

    …That’s not supposed to be an insult, I’m just callin’ it like I see it. Maybe there are better arguments out there, and we’re just not gettin’ to ’em here. …but I haven’t always believed everything I believe–people have persuaded me to change my mind in the past. …I just haven’t seen anything here to make me want to rethink anything.

  71. What if the state only recognized same-race marriages?

    That would roll-back the scope of the state! But it wouldn’t advance justice. Assuming anti-miscegenation as the status quo, would allowing deltaepsilon inter-marriage but (still) forbidding epsilongamma inter-marriage be any better? The deltas and epsilons would be better off, but the gammas are (relatively) worse off.

  72. What if the state only recognized same-race marriages?

    And maybe it wouldn’t roll-back the scope of the state anyway. The government would have to classify everyone as delta, epsilon, gamma, etc. And nobody thinks the government should be in the business of awarding benefits based on some notion as antiquated and amorphous as race, right?

  73. Shem, how can the least objectionable option be expansion of state involvement in private affairs?

    The other option involves state involvement in private affairs and the continuance of a state sanctioned affront to natural rights. In the best of all possible worlds the state would get the hell out and we’d rely on contracts. But, we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. Our choices then become either working to limit injustice where we can while being mindful of our limitations, or demanding perfection and then refusing to play when others won’t go along. You seem to subscribe to the latter, to which I respond by encouraging you to enjoy Galt’s Gulch, preferably as soon as possible. We have a hard enough time dealing with the people who drink colloidal silver to put up with being accused of being statists by “purists” at every turn.

  74. Johnny- We agree on the important things. I just think that the fact that the government gives certain rights to spouses that aren’t extended to partners means that we can’t just let this slide with a “well, in every way that matters you’re married, so there’s no reason to concern ourselves.” If this wasn’t your point and I misunderstood you, then I apologize.

  75. Tom Crick,

    “The state shouldn’t recognize gay marriage because the state shouldn’t recognize marriage.

    There are many things the state shouldn’t be involved in but is. That doesn’t mean we should tolerate the state’s arbitrary discrimination.”

    (Sorry, I still don’t know how to do italics)

    When the state regulate marriage it inevitably, inevitably discriminates. It cannot regulate without descriminating.

    So the question is; who gets to decide the rules of the regulation? Popular vote? To me that seems as reasonable as any other, and that could go either way SSM or not.

    I think that the safest way to go is to be against state sanctioned marriage. It would do most to avoid discriminating against people like me who remain single.

    My personal opinion is that marriage was over long before the issue of SSM came up. All marriage is now it dating. “Until death do us part” is just part of religion that people don’t follow anymore.

    I am with Jadaqul on A) the state has no authority to promote marriage for X

  76. Libertarianism must always be constrained with pragmatic boundaries. I.E. your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. A pragmatic curtailment of the liberty to swing fists.

    Knowing that most everybody supports the idea of marriage, a reasonable position to assume would not be the entirely radical idea of eliminating the state from marriage, which would be a practical impossibility, but rather granting the privelege to more and more people so that the segregational effect becomes highly diminished, accomplishing the desired result within the framework of current political trends.

  77. Kwais,

    Suggesting that we shouldn’t oppose gay marriage because we don’t want the state involved in marriage is like saying we should’t oppose discrimination in public schools because we don’t want the state involved in education. …At least that’s the way it seems to me, and that’s what I was tryin’ to say.

    It cannot regulate without descriminating.

    So the government shouldn’t regulate it then. ’til then, let’s oppose every government policy that would discriminate against otherwise law abiding Americans.

    My personal opinion is that marriage was over long before the issue of SSM came up. All marriage is now it dating. “Until death do us part” is just part of religion that people don’t follow anymore.

    I’m kind of an old holdover from days of yore, I guess. I grew up in a really Christian fundamentalist enclave. …and one of the reasons I’m not married yet is because the girls I’ve met that wanted to get married didn’t think of marriage the way I do.

    …I came real close a couple years ago–this girl had the heart of an angel, and she was beautiful like a mountain meadow in bloom–just the way God made her. Unfortunately, I would have had to convert to Islam if I was going marry her, and try as I might–I come from five generations of missionaries and ministers–I just couldn’t make myself do it.

    Anyway, I suspect the fear that marriage is over as we know it is part of what’s pushin’ the drive to ban gay marriage. …but discriminating against gay people won’t turn the clock back.

  78. In regards to italics, I can’t show you how we do it here–it would just show up as blanks. …but go to this link:

    http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/reference/html_cheatsheet

    …and scroll down to where it says “Creates italic text”.

    Just put an “i” between < and > before what you want italicized, and at the end of what you want italicized do the same–but put a forward slash before the “i”.

  79. see it cut out the less than and greater than signs in my sentence above…

    My sentence read, “Just put an “i” between the greater than sign and less than sign before what…”

  80. Or, from those of use who know lots of really cool tricks… 🙂
    <i>This would be in italics.</i>
    <b> And this would be in bold.</b>
    And Tom, if you want to know how to do that, I typed in
    &lt;i&gt;This would be in italics.&lt;/i&gt;

  81. Wouldn’t one of the unintended consequences of state sanctioned gay marriage be the marriage of non gay people to each other just to obtain the benefits of marriage? This is sort of along the Jane Galt argument. I read her comments and they made a lot of sense to me. The slippery slope isn’t always a fallacy. How would people abuse legalized gay marriage? Would single people get married to each other just to get tax breaks? If its no longer about sex, then why bother looking for a romantic, heterosexual relationship just to enjoy the benefits of marriage?

    I’m kind of agreeing with stumpbump’s argument. I still think its an injustice to not allow gay monogamous couples to legally marry. I just wonder if, over time, the elimination of the stigma of being gay will result in more non gays getting married to their friends just for the benefits. Two bachelors could live together, share health benefits, get tax deductions, and not have to bother getting seriously involved with any woman just for the sake of getting married. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous. Its just a thought.

  82. mattc-

    That’s a valid concern. In regard to taxes, I dunno. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard some gay people complain about not getting tax advantages, but I’ve also heard constant complaining about the “marriage penalty”. I always find my tax forms confusing enough that I’ve never bothered to calculate taxes for me and my wife without marriage factored in, just to see. Just too much hassle. I wouldn’t be shocked if the tax code, as convoluted as it is, has both an incentive and a penalty for marriage.

    In regard to health benefits, my wife and I each get our insurance from our employers, so we’ve never looked into what it would take to get one of us covered on the other’s policy. I always thought that people who want spouses covered usually have to pay. I dunno, maybe there are some employers who give free benefits to spouses, but for most people they’ll still have to pay if they want to get insurance through their buddy’s employer.

    Also, marriage contracts are messy to terminate. If two friends get married to enjoy some financial benefits, and then get divorced when one of them meets a girl that he’d like to marry, the buddies may become former buddies when one tries to take the other’s car or something.

    I’m not completely discounting the financial incentives that might motivate two heterosexual men to marry each other, but I wouldn’t weigh them too heavily either. And considering the hassles associated with terminating such a relationship, I’m even more skeptical.

    Finally, good luck to the guy who’s at the club with his friend, trying to pick up some girl, and then introduces his buddy as “my husband.” See how fast that girl runs away.

    OTOH, the girl who introduces her friend as “my wife” may find that lots of guys become much more interested all of a sudden…

  83. would allowing delta-epsilon inter-marriage but (still) forbidding epsilon-gamma inter-marriage be any better? The deltas and epsilons would be better off, but the gammas are (relatively) worse off.

    The Epsilon who wants to marry the Gamma in your example would be worse off. And for that matter, how would a Delta or Epsilon be “better off” for not being allowed to marry a gamma? Or, to keep Gthis in the real world, how am I better off living in a world where same-sex marriages can’t take place? I see no difference at all, but even if there were (say, if my insurance rates went up because of the hordes of gay people stampeding to get marriage licenses and all the insurance benefits) it’s pretty solipsistic to think that rights for someshould be dependent on the convenience of others.

    (Semi-related and true story: my health and dental insurance is through my boyfriend’s company; I am officially his “domestic partner,” after signing a corporate affidavit stating that we are in an “exclusive and committed relationship of mutual caring.” But now that our state allows gay civil unions we’re watching things very closely, because his company might use that as an excuse to stop offering benefits to “domestic partners,” and if that happens we’ll HAVE to get married. So much for the old “gay marriage weakens straight marriage” argument–from where I stand, the only thing gay marriage or civil unions threaten is the sanctity of heterosexual cohabitating fornication!)

  84. “I say let ’em get married. Why shouldn’t they be as miserable as the rest of us?”

    D.A. Adam Schiff on Law and Order

  85. Jennifer, don’t go around confusing people with inconvenient examples that don’t fit the narrative of “defending marriage.”

  86. Sorry, Thoreau, but I can’t ignore the truth just because it’s inconvenient: GAY MARRIAGE THREATENS THE SANCTITY OF FORNICATING HETEROSEXUAL ATHEIST COHABITATORS LIKE ME!!!!!

  87. Hmm. That should actually have read “Gay marriage threatens the sanctity of fornicating heterosexual atheist cohabitating

  88. Goddamned picky HTML rules. This never would have happened if my state didn’t allow gay civil unions.

  89. Matt-
    Men and women are already free to marry for the tax benefits or whatever other reason rather than love; it seems not to be a rampant problem. I don’t know why we’d expect vastly more straight men or women to lock themselves into a marital contract for that reason.

  90. I’m sorry, but what difference does legal marriage make for gays taking care of children? Up until now, gays have been having children anyway, just as straights have. You don’t have to get married to have a child, as we know, so how would that be any different for gay people? And how would stopping gay marriage put an and to gay people having children?
    After all: children don’t come from the wedding cake at a gay marriage any more than at a straight one. If you wanna use these arguments, you’ll have to make a law that takes children away from any household that doesn’t have a married man and woman living there.

  91. …the marriage of non gay people to each other just to obtain the benefits of marriage?

    Hmmmmmmm…I smell a sitcom. Maybe get those two guys from Friends

  92. “If you wanna use these arguments, you’ll have to make a law that takes children away from any household that doesn’t have a married man and woman living there.”

    shhh! don’t give them any ideas.

    they’re ALWAYS listening for bad ideas, farce or fancy be damned.

  93. I’m sorry, but what difference does legal marriage make for gays taking care of children?

    The fact that it’s not possible in many states for a gay couple to both be parents. One is the parent, with all the rights and priveleges pursuant, and the other is just that person who lives with Mom or Dad in the eyes of the State. Which means that if a “divorce” happens, the non-biological parent has no rights which the other parent need respect, regardless of how many years they’ve spent serving as a parental figure.

    “If you wanna use these arguments, you’ll have to make a law that takes children away from any household that doesn’t have a married man and woman living there.”

    I believe Mr. Sanchez has written several articles about a Florida law that does just that. Florida forbids gay couples from adopting, even going so far as to remove already adopted children from gay households.

  94. On a pragmatic level, the main thing that needs to be overcome is the oft-pointed out “ick” factor.

    One of the reasons people are against gay marriage is the “ick”.

    Yes, I know that only racists, bigots, and RAHOWA skinheads experience “ick” when they think about gay marriage and the last thing that would occur to me is the idea that maybe we shouldn’t point out to these racist, bigoted RAHOWA skinheads how racist, bigoted, and skinheaded they are.

    But, sometimes, when it’s 2AM and I can’t sleep, I wonder whether maybe there’s a better way to overcome the “ick” factor than increasing polarization…

  95. Man on man butt sex is pretty “ick” for most average people. woman on woman cunnilingus however, is the stuff of boner inducing pornography. What’s with the double standard?

  96. What’s with the double standard?

    No double standard. It’s just that girl-on-girl action is hot and man-man action isn’t. 🙂

  97. Mattc, it has something to do with the fact that I don’t really want to ogle one naked guy, much less two.

    Not that I mind anyone else ogling whom- or what-ever he, she, or it wishes or feels compelled to or is biologically inclied to or religiously impelled to or winds up ogling due to biological preconditioning and/or a mechanistically deterministic universe. I just don’t want to myself.

  98. Jennifer: The Epsilon who wants to marry the Gamma in your example would be worse off. And for that matter, how would a Delta or Epsilon be “better off” for not being allowed to marry a gamma?

    I was saying that loosening restrictions on miscegenation benefits those who are added to the privileged class and further harms those who continue to be excluded. Epsilons and deltas benefit by being able to select from a larger pool of potential partners. They still can’t marry gammas (who continue to be excluded from all but gamma-gamma pairings); the epsilon or delta who wants to marry a gamma is still SOL. Gammas are even SOLer because they’re excluded from a larger pool; faced with an epsilon and a gamma, the cost of the latter to a delta is greater.

    Or, to keep Gthis in the real world, how am I better off living in a world where same-sex marriages can’t take place?
    You are better off because some special benefits and privileges are available to a class of individuals deemed to be “married”. The pool of “marrieds” is restricted based on a couple of arbitrary distinctions, but you conform so those benefits are available to you. If the pool is expanded by loosening the restrictions, the benefits are still available to you, but they are less valuable since they’re more widely available.

    As you note, some benefits formerly available only to marrieds are available to you as a domestic partner. Pragmatically, relabeling of spousal benefits is the easiest way to eliminate the benefits of a state-recognized privileged class like “marrieds”; domestic partners can fly under the VRWCCCC radar long enough to achieve parity in all but name.

    The best thing to do is to eliminate special statuses such as “married”. I don’t figure that’s going to happen. So the next best thing is to reduce the criteria for entering the privileged class to such a low level that the benefits accrue to anyone who wants them. Redefining “marriage” is such a high-profile, easy-to-understand problem for the VRWCCCC to seize on, that it’s going to be counter-productive for same-sex rights proponents; your example demonstrates one possible result of a frontal assault on marriage, even when the compromise “civil union” approach is used.

    It may very well be that same-sex pairings are undertaken solely for the benefits that may accrue (I like the idea of two criminals marrying (in a state w/o a spousal privilege exception) to solidify their business partnership). So what. Who’s the government to classify two folks’ relationship?

    I see two contradictory goals in the SRSSM enthusiasts: (1) eliminate discrimination, (2) extend the benefits afforded state-recognized male-female marrieds to others. Unless “others” in the later case is understood as “everyone”, then the first goal can’t be achieved; it’s just a benefits expansion for some other class of individuals.

  99. If the pool is expanded by loosening the restrictions, the benefits are still available to you, but they are less valuable since they’re more widely available.

    This is why trying to apply economic theory to every facet of life is bogus. The fact that someone else can now draw on the rights given them by marriage does not affect the marriages of other people in any way. There’s no set pool of “spousal bennefits” that people draw on when they’re married. I’m not going to be refused access to parental rights or spousal privelege in court because, well, golly, we would have had enough but that gay guy got the last of both.

    Redefining “marriage” is such a high-profile, easy-to-understand problem for the VRWCCCC to seize on, that it’s going to be counter-productive for same-sex rights proponents; your example demonstrates one possible result of a frontal assault on marriage, even when the compromise “civil union” approach is used.

    So, just what is your position on this? Upthread you seemingly advocated for doing away with state-sactioned marriage all together, now you say that this plan would make it too easy for somebody somewhere to use as a rallying point. It’s not terribly consistant, unless of course your goal is fucking around with the people on this thread, in which case, bravo.

    Also, please stop using acronyms that you’ve coined yourself. Same-sex marriage isn’t that much of a hardship to type out, definately when you compare it to trying to figure out what the hell you’re saying. And I still have no idea what VRWCCCC is.

  100. …I came real close a couple years ago–this girl had the heart of an angel, and she was beautiful like a mountain meadow in bloom–just the way God made her. Unfortunately, I would have had to convert to Islam if I was going marry her, and try as I might–I come from five generations of missionaries and ministers–I just couldn’t make myself do it.

    Tom send her my way. (is she in my age of interest group 21 to 28?)

  101. Fuck yeah, I can do italics now!!!!!!!!!

  102. “Gay marriage threatens the sanctity of fornicating heterosexual atheist cohabitating like mine.”

    Right, what is there in todays day, besides people cohabitating together? I mean besides a huge stupid relic waste of time ceremony designed to strain the relationship. And why the fuck should the state care that you had a religios ceremony, and promised that you really are never going to cheat now????

    I mean in the old days where there was a difference in the roles and abilities of men and women it mattered, but now?

    The state sanctioning of marriage is wrong. Gays getting married doesn’t make it one bit better to me. It might even make it worse.

  103. I think that calls for ending state recognition of marriage are a little utopian. The state’s recognition of my marriage isn’t really a burden to me or my wife. It’s non-ideal, but it’s not something that I can get all worked up over.

    If we privatized marriage, here’s my best guess as to what would happen: Although the “m-word” would be conferred in accordance with the personal, spiritual, and/or other beliefs of the two people involved (or more in Utah), most of the people getting married would still sign some sort of contract for sharing property, power of attorney, and various other responsibilities and privileges. Even the most minimal “night watchman state” will still be in the business of handling contract disputes (if private mediation fails).

    Now, everybody will be free to come up with their own unique contract governing the legal aspects of their relationship-that-the-state-doesn’t-call-marriage-but-they-can-call-it-that-if-they-want. But my guess is that most people will probably go for similar contracts.

    And while every divorce (or contract-termination-that-the-state-won’t-call-divorce-but-the-couple-probably-will-call-it-that) is unique, most of those divorces (or insert-long-name-here) will have similar issues: How to divide property, how to assign responsibility for debts, and how to handle custody of young children, etc. (And yes, I know, in Libertopia children won’t be treated as property and responsible kids will be free to emancipate themselves and start working without the burdens of parental authority. But I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that even in Galt’s Gulch, for young kids there will be one or more adults who have some degree of authority over and responsibility for really young children.)

    So, if a lot of people with similar contracts have similar issues to resolve, I’ll bet that a lot of law firms and/or courthouses will start offering standard contracts that couples (or larger groups, in Utah) can modify at will. And a body of case law will probably arise to handle the more common contractual disputes.

    I’m not here to defend every aspect of family law. (God knows I suffered during my parents’ divorce.) But marriages contracts as they exist right now really don’t bother me that much. Oh, sure, there are problems. But on my list of things to worry about, state licensing of marriage is WAY, WAY low on the list. And I figure that a similar situation would arise in Libertopia, so it’s hard to get too upset.

  104. Hi Shem, I’m just kidding around with “VRWCCCC”. All the extra Cs are just in there to make the conspiracy vaster, culturally conservater, and Christianer.

    So, just what is your position on this?
    I think state-recognized marriage is wrong. That it creates privileges a class of individuals based on arbitrary criteria.

    I think the individuals who are outside of the privileged class at this time have a legitimate grievance.

    But I have no clue how to resolve the issue. The right thing to do (eliminate state recognition of marriage) isn’t going to happen. Pursuing same-sex marriage seems counter-productive and ignores all the individuals who will still be aggrieved should the definition of marriageable partners be expanded. The best short-term approach seems to be to eliminate the privileged class by making the same benefits available to everyone without attaching the “married” label.

    This is why trying to apply economic theory to every facet of life is bogus. The fact that someone else can now draw on the rights given them by marriage does not affect the marriages of other people in any way…

    Say I want to get married; I have two potential partners, A and B. I’m indifferent between them. But A has some attribute P and the government decides that P is required for marriage. A is now more valuable to me as a partner, since A is marriable and B is not. If the government then decides that P is not a requirement for marriage, or that B has some attribute Q that makes B eligable for marriage, then A and B are again indifferent to me, they are equal. Thus A’s value to me as a marriage partner is reduced, relative to B, i.e. A no longer has an (unfair, arbitrary) advantage over B.

    Maybe that’s an unrealistic, abstract appraisal of the situation, but it’s not bogus to say that expanding the class of people eligible for benefits based on some arbitrary characteristic reduces the benefit to each member of the existing privileged class relative to everybody else. That’s a feature, not a bug of expanding that “privileged class”.

  105. If you’re indifferent to both of them, why would you marry either one? They must possess some atribute that would make them a suitable partner, otherwise they wouldn’t even be considered. And, even leaving this aside, the State saying it’s OK to marry partner B doesn’t remove anything from Partner A, it just adds to whatever atributes partner B has.

    I agree that the best solution would be removing the State rather than extending it’s mandate. But, at this point that just doesn’t seem to be possible. And, given the fact that an injustice is being carried out against a group of people, we have a responsibility to do the best we can. And maybe, in the process of fighting, the chance to present our favored solution as a sort of compromise will present itself. It’s not that far beyond the pale that the opposition will decide to “destroy” the concept of state sancioned marriage rather than allow it to be redefined. But, this won’t happen if we just assume that we won’t get what we want.

  106. Maybe “indifferent between them” isn’t the best phrase. Just assume they’re both highly suitable candidates for marriage, that I can’t decide between them. The state “helps” me to decide by making it possible to marry A and impossible to marry B. At this point A is a better choice for marriage than B. If the law is then changed so I can marry A or B, then A’s position relative to B is diminished. I’m not saying this is just or right, but it does help to explain the feeling of some that “something is being lost” by expanding the definition of marriage to be more inclusive.

    I agree it’s important to correct the injustice of the situation and that the best solution (elimination of state-sponsored arbitrary discrimination) is untenable, except in the scorched-earth scenario you mentioned.

  107. Well said. I totally agree with you. The point you are making here does make sense.

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