CPAC Blogging: Manning (But Not in a Gay Way!) The Marital Barricades

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At first, it looked like the CPAC panel on "Marriage in the States" wouldn't provide anything more interesting than the tragicomic spectacle of "ex-gay" Exodus International President Alan Chambers, still pinging loudly on my gaydar, woodenly professing how absolutely ecstatic he now is in his wholesome hetero marriage. But by the time Q&A rolled around, an intriguing rift among the defenders of marriage as a hetero-only club surfaced.

Panelist Alex Mooney, a state senator in Maryland, made clear that his beef was not just with gay marriage, but with the extension of any of the rights traditionally associated with marriage to gay couples, from hospital visitation to tax benefits to shared health coverage. As far as he's concerned—and maybe he's right—these steps make it hard to resist the push toward the equal recognition of gay couples. Of course, resisting even these steps is probably more cruel than the modal conservative is willing to sign on for.

And, in fact, some of the most hardcore social conservatives are now supporting a kind of preemptive extension of some of those very benefits in order to forestall more marriage-like arrangements such as civil unions. Focus on the Family has endorsed a Colorado bill that would create "reciprocal beneficiary agreements," for which "relatives, friends, roommates and same-sex couples would all be eligible. "

The hardliners in the audience here seemed to feel betrayed by Focus' stance, but to the extent that it's possible to delay the (probably inevitable) advent of gay marriage, their strategy is probably the sounder one. Because plenty of people have a knee-jerk problem with any kind of tinkering with full-blown "marriage," with all its broader cultural associations, and maybe even to something like civil unions, which are seen as marriage substitutes. For the vast majority of those people, though, a hard line against some kind of arrangement that allows people to visit their longstanding partners in the hospital isn't going to fly.

NEXT: CPAC Blogging: Too Good to Ask Edition

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  1. Gay marriage is a farce.

  2. Straight marriage is a farce.

  3. Marriage is a farce.

  4. Send in the trolls.

  5. Focus on the Family has endorsed a Colorado bill that would create “reciprocal beneficiary agreements,” for which “relatives, friends, roommates and same-sex couples would all be eligible.”

    This is just a roundabout way of denying that the relationship in a gay couple is any different from that that between 2 friends or 2 roommates–nothing new for FotF.

  6. Panelist Alex Mooney, a state senator in Maryland, made clear that his beef was not just with gay marriage, but with the extension of any of the rights traditionally associated with marriage to gay couples, from hospital visitation to tax benefits to shared health coverage.

    How much hatred do you have to have in you to want to refuse people something as simple as hospital visitation rights? Unlike tax benefits and shared health coverage, you can’t even make the argument that hospital visitation makes other people pay more taxes, or higher insurance premiums, or anything–that is simply pure spite.

  7. made clear that his beef was not just with gay marriage, but with the extension of any of the rights traditionally associated with marriage to gay couples

    Because you can’t eradicate “teh gay” if you start giving them “rights” and “privelages”, and treating them as anything other than a desecration of society only legitimizes their ungodly acts and their “gay agenda”. Following that path will lead us to all becoming conscripted into their queer army if we aren’t careful.

  8. This is just a roundabout way of denying that the relationship in a gay couple is any different from that that between 2 friends or 2 roommates–nothing new for FotF.

    So, what you’re saying is that the folks at FotF related to their college roommates the same way that gay men relate to their boyfriends/domestic partners/husband/insert-preferred-term-here?

    OK, that explains a lot.

  9. Rhywun,

    That’s about right.

  10. So, what you’re saying is that the folks at FotF related to their college roommates the same way that gay men relate to their boyfriends/domestic partners/husband/insert-preferred-term-here?

    Heh, nice interpretation, but no… what I’m saying is that FotF would rather grant civil unions to 2 total strangers than admit that 2 men could possibly love one another.

  11. Rhywun-

    But how do you know that they didn’t engage in some recreational activities with their college roommates? We only have their word.

  12. Rhywun,

    That’s what I thought you were driving at. To them any sort of positive feeling, action, etc. in a homosexual relationship is simply impossible and flies against the natural order as so defined by God. Such a relationship to them is based a disease of the mind and is inherently sinful. Then again, this also basically the attitude of the RCC and most other Christian churches, though they tend to be less harsh in their rhetoric about the matter.

  13. I wonder what Alan Chanbers thinks of Heath Ledger.

  14. theCoach,

    I dunno, but the RCC certainly reacted rather bizarrely to the film when it flip-flopped on its recommendation.

  15. But how do you know that they didn’t engage in some recreational activities with their college roommates? We only have their word.

    Well if they did, I’m sure they were dutifully “cured” at Exodus.

  16. Focus on the Family has endorsed a Colorado bill that would create “reciprocal beneficiary agreements,” for which “relatives, friends, roommates and same-sex couples would all be eligible.”

    Sounds like a fine idea to me.

    Who cares if this is available regardless of whether orgasms are involved? Why should having sex with someone be a prerequisite for entering into an agreement such as this?

  17. theCoach,

    Happily though assholes like O’Reilly and Krauthamer got to eat their words when they claimed Brokeback Mountain wouldn’t be a commercial success. Worldwide its raked in $100 million or more (over 60% of that from the U.S.). It would have done better if several predominatly Catholic nations hadn’t banned it.

  18. Who cares if this is available regardless of whether orgasms are involved? Why should having sex with someone be a prerequisite for entering into an agreement such as this?

    I’ve used that argument to persuade people that there should be a separation of marriage and state: The state just recognizes contracts between people who want to share property, responsibilities, etc. etc. The people involved and their families, friends, and (if they wish) churches decide what sort of personal/romantic/moral/social/ethical/religious/etc. significance to attach to the relationship.

    As an example to illustrate the point, I always ask them what I should do if my brother and I should find ourselves old, widowed, sick, and short on cash. Is it anybody else’s business if we decide to move in together and share our money, power of attorney, etc.? Ideally we should be able to go to a lawyer and do that, if we decide that a contract will make things easier. And if there just happens to be a short form available at the courthouse for us to fill out, well, so much the better. We can just go there, sign a paper saying that we share these responsibilities, and go about living our lives.

    And if two young guys who aren’t brothers decide to sign the same contract because they’re in love, well, that’s none of my concern.

  19. Hakluyt —

    Arguably, Brokeback Mountain wouldn’t have done as well if several predominantly Catholic nations hadn’t banned it…

  20. “full-blown ‘marriage,’ with all its broader cultural associations”

    Huh, huh . . . you said “full-blown.”

  21. Umbriel,

    Well, if, as you imply, controversy created enough of stir to lead to box office success then it backfired on those who hold negative views of homosexuals, which is all the better from my POV.

  22. we all know the answer is to get the state out of the business of officially ordaining or prohibiting any specific kind of mutual living arrangement (straight, gay, polygamous, platonic, whatever), and let people mututally contract for what they want.

    since that won’t be happening in our lifetimes, i have recently had the idea of having a “cafeteria” plan of maybe three or four types of state-recognized relationships that couples could choose from…from a “covenant marriage” sort of plan with maximum rights AND obligations, down to a “domestic partnership” plan w/ minimum rights and obligations.

    i know it’s not a compromise any true libertarian would ever go for, but society is moving in that direction anyway, and it would make for an easier ultimate transition to a wholly contractual model. the most restrictive form could be reserved for heteros; everyone would be free to enter into any of the other plans. theoretically this would cause only the extremists on both sides to complain, and no one listens to them anyway.

    i’m a gay man happy in a non-married, non-domestic-partnership relationship. i plan on using private contracts for my living arrangements rather than relying on state protection, regardless of how the law ends up.

  23. jimmy,

    Several European countries already have something like that.

  24. “we all know the answer is to get the state out of the business of officially ordaining or prohibiting any specific kind of mutual living arrangement (straight, gay, polygamous, platonic, whatever), and let people mututally contract for what they want.

    since that won’t be happening in our lifetimes…”

    Of course the state will be a part of marriage for the foreseeable future, and like you said, the rest of our lifetimes, but I think that the anti-gay-marriage laws will go the way of the anti-miscegenation laws in the next few decades.

    This of course is coming from my more optimistic side. The resurgence of fundamentalist Christians certainly keeps this possibility from being inevitable.

  25. andy,

    Well, most of them laws enacted in the 2004 election aren’t exactly immune from suit; indeed, many of them if taken to their logical conclusion would violate the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution (amongst other things).

  26. Who cares if this is available regardless of whether orgasms are involved? Why should having sex with someone be a prerequisite for entering into an agreement such as this?

    Because nobody else has said it: RC apparently misunderstands the nature of marriage 🙂

  27. I focused on the financial aspect of this controversy a few months back in my post on Gay Marriage.

  28. I can think of one reason to insist on full-blown marriage rights for gays. Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Wisconsin, and a couple other states have what is known as community property for married couples. That is, all property acquired during marriage other than by gift or inheritance is titled to both partners, regardless of who earned the money to buy it. This has loads of advantages, mostly only apparent if the couple divorces, but also in the event of an untimely death, in which case half the property doesn’t go through probate because the owner is still alive. One spouse can’t sell or incumber community property without the other spouse’s consent, either. Handing over expensive gifts to one’s adulterous lover is fraud on the community, and can, in certain circumstances, give the injured spouse the right to sue doxie and get the bling back. (The ‘certain circumstances’ require a bar exam essay to explain, but it’s enough to know that the right exists.) Domestic partner or “marriage lite” laws don’t provide similar rights.

    Also, although I know this isn’t really on subject, I’ve always wondered why FOTF and other organizations that supposedly adore motherhood and marriage don’t advocate for all states to adopt community property.

  29. Julian Sanchez,

    “Pinging” occurs in active sonar, not radar. And even then, it is the user of the sonar that pings, not the object being detected.

  30. crimethink,

    He was refering to gaydar, not radar. I think the technologies are slightly different.

  31. Also, although I know this isn’t really on subject, I’ve always wondered why FOTF and other organizations that supposedly adore motherhood and marriage don’t advocate for all states to adopt community property.

    Heh. I don’t wonder that at all. Might encourage them evil, tricksy womenses to divorce if they were able to go away anything but penniless, after all. If you’re a fundie, then what’s a women at all without a man to be dependent on?

  32. Also, although I know this isn’t really on subject, I’ve always wondered why FOTF and other organizations that supposedly adore motherhood and marriage don’t advocate for all states to adopt community property.

    Sure beats dower rights.

  33. corsetad,

    Julian is attempting a play on “pinging loudly on radar,” which actually is a nonsense phrase since there is no pinging involved in radar. Since the underlying phrase is nonsense, the play on words fails.

    Now, if he wrote “pinging loudly on my homonar,” then we’d have something.

  34. Actually, it still wouldn’t make any sense, since the object being detected does not ping, rather the user of the sonar does. Or, it would carry the meaning that Mr. Chambers (using active homonar) was pinging Julian (who “hears” the ping using passive homonar) to see if Julian was gay.

  35. There’s another interesting element of the FotF move that I don’t think most have noticed. FotF is endorsing unmarried “shacking up” in order to avoid allowing gay people to use the word marriage to describe their relationships. That’s quite an interesting shift. They hate gay people so much that they will endorse the kind of “moral decline” and casual attitudes toward sexual relationships against which moral conservatives have railed for so many years.

  36. crimethink,

    Actually my gaydar does ping and with a direct hit, its starts up a klaxon that sounds something like, “Yuuuuuu Gaaaaaa Guuuuurrlllll.”

  37. Tom,

    Kinda of ironic, given that FotF’s main reason for opposing gay marriage which is that it will lead to the decline of hetero marriage.

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