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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 18, 2005 at 3:04pm] Trackbacks
Maggie Answer on Marriage, P.S.

In terms of its relation to marriage you can do one of two things with reproductive technology. You could say, only married people can use it, on the grounds that you should not be affirmatively at law encouraging people to have babies out of wedlock.

Or you could instead analogize to unwed childbearing and say, gee, if we are going to permit so many single parents to have babies as a result of sexual passion, why should we ban thoughtful single parents from reproducing using technology?

But neither line of argument threatens the core case for marriage.

Roger Schlafly (www):
It is not clear that either should be encouraged to use reproductive technology. Our society needs healthy kids raised by moms and dads, but it is not clear that we need test-tube babies and other unconventional procreation.
10.18.2005 4:12pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Again, the problem with Ms. Gallagher's position is her core lack of respect for human freedom. If people want to reproduce or not reproduce, either way, it's none of her business, and it is certainly not the government's business to enact her preferences as to people's procreative habits into law.

Also, what kind of BS spin is she giving us when she calls her argument "the core case for marriage". She's AGAINST marriage for a group of the population. The core case FOR marriage is made by gay marriage ADVOCATES. She's ANTI-marriage. Her spin is like someone who is against abortion except in the cases of rape and incest calling herself PRO-abortion!
10.18.2005 4:12pm
tdsj:
"You could say, only married people can use it, on the grounds that you should not be affirmatively at law encouraging people to have babies out of wedlock."

you are already muddying your own distinction between encouraging, permitting, permitting but discouraging, and banning.

Here you seem to say: we should ban non-married people from using this technology because the law should not encourage them to use it.

If the goal is simply not to encourage, then why not permit or permit-but-discourage rather than banning?
10.18.2005 4:17pm
Observer (mail):
Maggie,

This is off point but I just want to thank you for your postings here today. The discussion has been informative to say the least. I'm not sure you've advanced your objective, however, given how many folks continue to think that there is not even a rational basis for requiring marriages to be between men and women. How can there be a reasoned debate if one side doesn't even understand the arguments?
10.18.2005 5:04pm
Steve:
It is not clear that either should be encouraged to use reproductive technology. Our society needs healthy kids raised by moms and dads, but it is not clear that we need test-tube babies and other unconventional procreation.

Since we're talking about how same-sex marriage "deeply disgusts" certain people, let me offer this statement as an example of what "deeply disgusts" me.

We don't even have to get into the same-sex issue. There are countless happy couples who are ready, willing and able to bring new life into the world and give the child a happy home, but are unable to for medical reasons. There is no reason on earth why they should not have access to technology to make their dreams a reality.

And yet, certain sanctimonious people and politicians will haughtily proclaim, "Well, it's not clear to ME why we need all this technology." Okay, well if it's not your problem, then why not worry about something else. Why seek a law restricting other people's happiness just because YOU don't see the need to confer that freedom?

Among the reasons why humans join together and establish democratic governments, one is not so the government can decree who can and cannot have children. Leave that kind of thinking in China where it belongs.
10.18.2005 5:07pm
Grant Gould (mail):
Our society needs healthy kids raised by moms and dads, but it is not clear that we need test-tube babies and other unconventional procreation.

I was not aware that society's "needs" were the basis on which people were to be allowed to reproduce or not. I thought there were these things called rights that were supposed to be more important than whatever some society claims to need at the moment. It's not clear whether society needs people like me or you, after all, but here we are.
10.18.2005 5:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
One provocative question: to what extent should we be questioning Ms. Gallagher's motives? In other words, she constructs this entire artifice about how marriage is about procreation, when we know it is about other things as well, and how the state has an interest in regulating whether people's coital acts result in a baby, when we know it doesn't. Further, some of the premises underlying Ms. Gallagher's arguments, if carried to their logical conclusion, make a case against state recognition of many marriages, rather than in favor of it as Ms. Gallagher implies when she says she is making a case "for marriage". And Ms. Gallagher is also buying into some pretty questionable social science about the necessity of mothers and fathers, as if same-sex parents can't raise well-adjusted kids.

So at what point is it OK to posit that maybe Ms. Gallagher has other motives for her position? She certainly hasn't taken any time in her post to condemn or discredit homophobia, or to endorse steps short of marriage to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians (i.e., civil unions, gays in the military, employment discrimination laws).

Could this all just be an elaborate ruse to conceal the true motivation that she thinks gay sex (or maybe even all nonprocreative sex) is sinful and immoral, or that she thinks it is entirely proper for gays and lesbians to be treated as second-class citizens and denied the benefits that heterosexuals enjoy?

As I said, she certainly has not uttered one word to disclaim that motive.
10.18.2005 5:22pm
Wrigley:
Is the federal government paying Maggie Gallagher for these posts too?

10.18.2005 5:24pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
If her motives should be questioned, it should be done provisionally, after her arguments have been taken to task (which I think they have). They are what matter most, regardless of whether Mrs. Gallagher believes what she says, or is simply motivated to deny SSM so as not to appease 'The vanity of sodomites' as one 'traditionalist' in another thread put it.
10.18.2005 5:28pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Woah, is Wrigley right? I didn't make the connection is this That Maggie Gallagher?
In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."

But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal. Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials.

"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher said yesterday. "I don't know. You tell me." She said she would have "been happy to tell anyone who called me" about the contract but that "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose it.

Later in the day, Gallagher filed a column in which she said that "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."


If so, nice catch Wrigley, I completely missed that.
10.18.2005 5:30pm
Splunge (mail):
Our society needs healthy kids raised by moms and dads...

Alas, the subtle error in this statement is the core problem with modern fertility and child-rearing. Our society, meaning our present-day society, does not need healthy kids raised by moms and dads any more than it "needs" buggy-whip manufacturers. At least, not since we have committed ourselves to mutual support when we grow old, a support unrelated to the quality or quantity of our children. Arguably this is why basic fertility and the two-lifetime-parent household itself are both disappearing in the most advanced Western nations, and fastest in those countries with the strongest social support net for oldsters.

It is only the future society, which does not yet exist, that really needs present-day men and women to breed and to raise healthy and sensible children. Unfortunately, they have no way to communicate that need to the present, and appropriately reward and punish us today for the mistakes for which they will pay tomorrow.

Is this reversible? I doubt it. If the foresight of men and women of average intelligence were enough to guarantee reproduction of the species, then Nature would not have found it necessary to provide us with such a powerful sex drive. Now that we have severed sexual pleasure from child-bearing -- a development of which I personally approve whole-heartedly, mind you, so no flames please -- it seems not unlikely that we will quietly and gently go extinct over the next few thousand years because raising 2+ children each is just in the end not something the average man and woman finds worth the effort.

So, let the last one to leave turn out the lights, please.
10.18.2005 5:35pm
Anon7:
How much money does she make that she could "forget" a $21,500 payout to advocate the issue?
10.18.2005 5:35pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
One provocative question: to what extent should we be questioning Ms. Gallagher's motives?

To the same extent that you should question mine since I seem to agree with her. While you are on this witch hunt, you may wish to find the motives of the many others who are agreeing with Maggie in this thread.

While Maggie is prominent and I agree with much of her writings, understand she is a guest here presenting her opinions. It is far better to evaluate the position rather than the person making the position, or else you wind up really over-working your lynch-mob.
10.18.2005 5:36pm
Alex R:
I, for one would appreciate Ms Gallagher's posts a bit more if she would stop referring to the case against SSM as the case "for marriage" -- which by extension, refers to those in favor of SSM as against marriage.

If she wants to phrase her case in an affirmative way she can do so -- as for "exclusive heterosexual marriage" or even "exclusive traditional marriage". (But the "exclusive" word is necessary -- I know of no SSM proponents who wish to prevent men from marrying women...)

But since SSM proponents are also, almost by definition, "for marriage", her phrasing is deliberately tendentious
10.18.2005 5:41pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
Many others? Including you, I count two. I don't know about the other threads though.
10.18.2005 5:42pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
I, for one would appreciate Ms Gallagher's posts a bit more if she would stop referring to the case against SSM as the case "for marriage" -- which by extension, refers to those in favor of SSM as against marriage.



Good catch.
10.18.2005 5:44pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
If people want to reproduce or not reproduce, either way, it's none of her business, and it is certainly not the government's business to enact her preferences as to people's procreative habits into law.


Actually, in a democracy it is the government's business to enact her (and the public's) preferences as to whatever the people darn well please. That's the nature of a democracy. A government by the people, of the people, for the people. That whole jazz.

If society determines that it has a vested interest in encouraging an environment where citizens will have the best chance of being raised in a Mother/Father home, then society has every right to form their government in such a manner so as to encourage that environment. That's how this whole democracy thing works. If per chance you would rather live in a totalitarian regime or an oligarchy where the will of the few is inflicted upon the majority then by all means go find such a goverment that fits your tastes.

As for me I like public debate and allowing the people to determine how they will be regulated.
10.18.2005 5:44pm
Wrigley:
blockquote>Actually, in a democracy it is the government's business to enact her (and the public's) preferences as to whatever the people darn well please./blockquote>

Sure, that's right. And while they're at it they can tell everyone what religion to be as well. Or, I know, let's impose slavery by majority will!

I think you're forgetting about a little aspect of OUR democracy that we hold so dear: indvidual liberties, the negative restrictions on government authority.
10.18.2005 5:50pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
I, for one would appreciate Ms Gallagher's posts a bit more if she would stop referring to the case against SSM as the case "for marriage" -- which by extension, refers to those in favor of SSM as against marriage.


Traditionally and historically speaking marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

Maggie is for marriage as it has always been defined. I would say that that is very accurate.

Those in favor of SSM are either for something that is not marriage or are in favor of changing marriage to now include SSM. Either way they are opposed to what marriage was always understood to be.
10.18.2005 5:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Brian:

If we lived in a democracy that permitted the tyranny of the majority, you would be right. But our democracy is tempered by the principle of minority rights and also by the principle that certain state interests are illegitimate.

To take an obvious example, related to this discussion— if the majority of the citizens wanted to pass a law out of sheer animosity towards a disfavored group, that did not serve any purpose other than to punish that group, the fact that the law had democratic support and legitimacy would not save it.

A free society has no business regulating the purposes that animate its citizens' sexual activities. A society that does so may be democratic (although I would argue that a majority of Americans do not support such regulations), but it is not free.

On Lawn:

I think the arguments presented by Ms. Gallagher regarding same-sex marriage are unconvincing and disdainful of basic concepts of human freedom. If you accept them, it's your business. But since Ms. Gallagher has made a business out of making these arguments in the public square, and they are so deeply flawed, I think it is quite reasonable to ask whether her real motivations, unstated, are darker.
10.18.2005 5:53pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
think you're forgetting about a little aspect of OUR democracy that we hold so dear: indvidual liberties, the negative restrictions on government authority.


Not so. You first have to establish that people have a right defined in our constitution to have their union subsidized and encouraged by the government. I do not know of such a right spelled out in the constitution.
10.18.2005 5:53pm
Wrigley:
The debate about whether or not that right is enshrined in the constitution (perhaps in the equal protection clause) is part of what we're discussing here. Boldly asserting, however, that "[a]ctually, in a democracy it is the government's business to enact her (and the public's) preferences as to whatever the people darn well please," is patently wrong in the case of our democracy. You overstepped in your logic and should admit it.
10.18.2005 5:56pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
The will of the few inflicted upon the majority is not Totalitarianism.
10.18.2005 5:56pm
Steve:
The idea that a majority of citizens could pass a law precluding a disfavored minority from procreating is so offensive that if you believe a democracy should work that way, I really have nothing to say to you.
10.18.2005 5:57pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
Ok. How about, "In a democracy it is the government's business to enact her (and the public's) preferences as to whatever the people darn well please so long as it does not violate basic human rights."?
10.18.2005 5:58pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
The idea that a majority of citizens could pass a law precluding a disfavored minority from procreating is so offensive that if you believe a democracy should work that way, I really have nothing to say to you.

Whoa!! Where did I say that the goverment should prevent a disfavored minority from procreating?! Maggie is not arguing that and I certainly never stated that!
10.18.2005 5:59pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
Last I checked we were free in this country to engage in any sort of sexual/cohabitation behavior we darn well please. The question at hand is whether our tax dollars ought to be spent to encourage SSM or not. People can have any old public ceremony they want, have sex with who they want, have children with who they want, and live with who they want.

What we are talking about is whether the United States should spend tax dollars encouraging anything other than traditional marriage. Did I miss something?
10.18.2005 6:02pm
Wrigley:
I'm curious why you seem to think preventing one from procreating is so much worse than preventing them from marrying. In my mind, both restrictions are pretty offensive. I understand that good arguments can be made that one is worse than the other. But your use of "whoa!" (in contrast to your position on SSM) seems to indicate that you view one as FAR more oppressive than the other. What accounts for your perception of the size of the disparity? I think both are pretty offensive.

Or perhaps I misread your strength of preference.
10.18.2005 6:03pm
JB:
Regarding all those willing-but-unable potential parents:

What about adoption? Why can't they adopt? They could even adopt unwanted and otherwise-aborted children.

Regarding Maggie's post: If the core case for marriage concerns the raising of children, then her second option above goes against the core case for marriage.

Also, if she'd allow single people to undertake technological pregnancy, then how about single people who are living with, and having sex with, people of their gender? And if she allows that, then why not let them get married too?
10.18.2005 6:09pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
Are you serious?

You don't see the difference between placing a government agent in charge of watching when every single citizens sexual organs are used and preventing X citizens from using their sexual organs vs. not subsidizing and encouraging Y citizens from coming together and staying together in a stable relationship so as to create a stable home for any children that may result from such relationships?
10.18.2005 6:09pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Wrigley: I think you're forgetting about a little aspect of OUR democracy that we hold so dear: indvidual liberties, the negative restrictions on government authority.

Don't forget that those were enacted by majority will. Concent of the governed is best achieved through adherence to democratic principles. While theoretical and even very real cases of tyranny exist in democratic regimes, I think you'll find that oppression is more often found when power is concentrated than dispursed.

Actually, I'm not saying that you are arguing against Democracy, but that your churlish comments might cause people to overlook why we put faith in majority will.

> Alex R: I, for one would appreciate Ms Gallagher's posts a bit more if she would stop referring to the case against SSM as the case "for marriage" -- which by extension, refers to those in favor of SSM as against marriage.

Thought Experiment: A beautiful valley is being developed into a golf course. Would the golf course company be more or less "pro-valley" than those wishing it to stay pristine?

You could honeslty go both ways, because each has a very different understanding of what is best for the valley. But from where I see it the people defending the valley for what it is today are indeed defenders, while the proponents of change are the aggressors.

Marriage and ss"m" are different concepts. Related with intersecting qualities. But different, requiring a fundamental change in pretty much everything with a simply wave of the dictionary wand. I encourage you to read, "A defining moment in mathematics and the Gay Marriage decision" by mathmatician Daniel Gottlieb which I think helps underline this point of why I think marriage defenders consider themselves pro-marriage while ss"m" advocates are aggressors.
10.18.2005 6:10pm
Alex R:
Those in favor of SSM are either for something that is not marriage or are in favor of changing marriage to now include SSM. Either way they are opposed to what marriage was always understood to be.


Nonsense. They are in favor of allowing same-sex couples to become legally married. As I said before, I don't know a single proponent of SSM who is legally, socially, or morally opposed to opposite-sex marriage. If you can find a single quote from a SSM advocate who indicates that he or she opposes "what marriage was always understood to be" by restricting traditional, opposite-sex marriages, well, I'll be very surprised.
10.18.2005 6:10pm
Houston Lawyer:
I just want to second the thought that Maggie is pro-marriage. Calling bull a cow doesn't make it suitable for milking. The proponents of SSM that are posting on this site don't seem to have any respect for the institution of marriage as it currently exists. Yet we are supposed to believe that fundamentally changing the definition of marriage will have no effect on marriage.

If you were to tell anyone in the world that you were married, they would rightly assume that you were married to a person of the opposite sex. Consequently, I believe that we need a name for SSM that clearly defines what is going on. We also need new words that correlate to husband and wife.
10.18.2005 6:12pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
JB: What about adoption? Why can't they adopt? They could even adopt unwanted and otherwise-aborted children.

Don't feed the bears ;).

Seriously though, its a good question. To help understand that question I'd ask why foster-parenting is not good enough if they are simply raising children?
10.18.2005 6:14pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
Woops, I lost myself there :)

should read "vs. subsidizing and encouraging Y citizens to come together and stay together in a stable relationship so as to create a stable home for any children that may result from such relationships?"
10.18.2005 6:14pm
Alex R:
By the way, I very much like On Lawn's valley/golf course analogy. The difference with marriage, of course, is that while developing a valley into a golf course on one hand, or developing it into a shopping mall (or theme park, or national park...) on the other hand are *exclusive* uses of the valley: there isn't room for both.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, in no way deprives opposite-sex couples from the ability to marry: same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage are not exclusive uses of the legal institution of marriage.
10.18.2005 6:17pm
Wrigley:
You can describe government marraige as a selective subsidy if you like, but as SSM opponents love to point out, marraige is a central, important aspect of our society. Thus denying that "subsidy" to one whole segment of the population is every bit as painful as actively precluding one from engaging in any other central, imporant aspect of society. Categorizing it positively, as opposed to a negeative restriction, doesn't change the fact that it still restricts the ability of a big segment of the populace to enjoy something regarded as SO fundamental by SSM opponents and advocates alike.

So once you put aside the positive subsidy/negative restriction dichotomy, the question remains, why is it SO much worse for government to tell you whether or not you can engage in procreation (not sex, just child birth -- in the Same sex world, this is a much easier distinction; the gov't could bar the use of reprod. technology which woud significantly limit same sex procreation) than it is for the government to tell you you can't enter into a relationship regarded by SSM opponents as one of the most important parts of society?
10.18.2005 6:19pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
If you can find a single quote from a SSM advocate who indicates that he or she opposes "what marriage was always understood to be"


Marriage - union of a man and a woman in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

They are in favor of allowing same-sex couples to become legally married.


Same sex couples can't be legally married if marriage is the union of a man and a woman. You are not for marriage you are for something else.

I rest my case.
10.18.2005 6:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Houston, your statement that proponents of same-sex marriage don't seem to have any respect for the institution is not only absurd but offensive.

It is absurd because if these folks really disrespected the institution, why would they have ANY desire to be included in it? There are, for your information, gay rights advocates who don't have any respect for marriage. And guess what, those gay rights advocates tend to OPPOSE same-sex marriage and wish that the movement wouldn't spend so much energy on it.

In contrast, the people who are seeking same-sex marriage are people who desparately WANT to be included in the institution. They RESPECT the institution, think it is good for the people who participate in it, and want to be a part of it.

In addition to being absurd, though, your statement is also offensive. There are bad motives in this debate, but they are not among the advocates of same-sex marriage. Advocates of same-sex marriage are not trying to tear apart heterosexual marriages; they just want in.

In contrast, many (not all, but many) opponents of same-sex marriage ARE homophobes, DID support jailing gays and lesbians under sodomy laws, DO support excluding gays and lesbians from the military, DO support laws that punish anti-black hate crimes more stringently than anti-gay hate crimes, DO oppose laws that would prohibit employers from discriminating against gays and lesbians, DO oppose laws that allow gays and lesbians to adopt children, etc.

As I said, not everyone who opposes gay marriage is acting in bad faith. But some are. In contrast, there isn't a single gay rights advocate I know of who is advancing the case for same-sex marriage in order to destroy heterosexual marriages.
10.18.2005 6:21pm
Jazz:
Wrigley,

The differences between preventing someone from procreating and preventing someone from government sanctioned marriage are so obvious that I am surprised you even question it. Your view in this respect likey represents the views of many and helps me see why many are so sensitive, vehement, and irrational on the subject on the subject of SSM. However your view is distorted.

Preventing someone from procreating is seriously restricting a person's freedom to participate in a physical act or at least limiting that freedom. On the other hand, failure to encourage a person's union with another i.e. granting amarriage certificate, or failing to officially recognize that union does not limit that persons freedom to engage in any physical act.

Simply put, with marriage you only feel bad becuase you didn't get the piece of paper you wanted along with a few other incentives, but you are still free to act however you chose.

I hope this clears it up for you.
10.18.2005 6:23pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
marraige is a central, important aspect of our society.


Right, marriage is. Unions between men and women is an important aspect of society but what many are wanting is not marriage and is not an important aspect of society. Marriage is integral to a healthy society because it is marriage. If you change what it is then it is no longer useful or to be encouraged.

Again, people are free to come together and live together and act however they please, but the government has no interest in encouraging same sex unions. You tell me why the government has a vested interest in encouraging this?
10.18.2005 6:28pm
AppSocREs (mail):
Since people keep bringing up natural rights -- whatever the terminology -- it is worth noting that the one aspect of human behavior upon which all cultures (even the most primitive) seem to have imposed restrictions is sexual behavior, reproduction, and child-rearing. This is probably because any cultures that don't or impose the wrong restrictions will disappear.

An argument based on this asymptotic trend towards regulation of reproduction in the most primitive of human circumstances tends to suggest that there is no natural right of human beings to indulge their sexual urges in any manner they wish. The "natural" right here would seem to be that of the society within which a government and the individuals comprising that government exist to impose regulations on sexual behavior and reproduction.

Given this and the obvious fact that the framers of the Constitution clearly never favored any "right" that would trump the common-law institution of marriage only the most thoughtless of libertarians are going to rely on a simple-minded appeal to individual rights, "natural" rights, or whatever in this area.

I've noticed that radical libertarians in arguments on issues such as this wind up imagining an absurdly radical form of mass society where the only significant actors are atomistic individuals and the political system which is both the sole guarantor oand the worst enemy of individual rights. A reasonable argument here must respect that governments and individuals exist within culltural and societal frameworks and will not survive without these frameworks. One of the jobs of governments and the imperatives of individuals is to ensure the survival of the cultures and societies that sustain them.

There is an argument by reductio ad absurdam here: An individual "right" that threatens the existence of a culture or society threatens the existence of the government and individuals that sustain that "right". When the government is badly damaged enough that "right" and many others of more value will disappear. Preserving certain destructive "rights" uktimately destroys those rights and many other real rights that will also disappear
10.18.2005 6:30pm
Wrigley:
"You tell me why the government has a vested interest in encouraging this?"

I won't take up a lot of space here, but if you're interested, look at Jonathan Rauch's piece in the 5/30/05 issue of The New Republic. There are plenty of government interests served by SSM.

Here are some snippets:




"Gay children, of course, benefit directly from knowing that their future holds the prospect of marriage, with all the blessings that go with it. Straight children benefit when they look all around and see marriage as the norm. If a child sees that Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the neighbors to the left, are married, and that Mrs. and Mrs. Jones, the neighbors to the right, are married--that sends a positive and reassuring message to children about both the importance of marriage and the stability of their community. Every marriage signals the cultural primacy of marriage and adds to the social capital available to adults and children."




"The converse is also true: the fewer the marriages, the weaker the institution. If marriage is not universally available, it cannot be universally expected."




"Second, By definition, banning same-sex marriage would ensure that all same-sex couples with children raise their kids out of wedlock."
10.18.2005 6:44pm
Houston Lawyer:
Be offended if you will. It matters not to me. I do believe that some advocates of SSM would be quite happy to see marriage destroyed. If you have followed the posts to this site over the last couple of days you would have seen all manner of hostility directed towards the institution. Quite a few posts advocate the abolition of state-sanctioned marriage.

What those who support SSM really crave is state approval for their life choices. And like children, they pitch a fit when the don't get what they want.

Most people in this country are willing to tolerate things that personally offend them. They are not willing to endorse that behavior as normative. Efforts to coerce such such an endorsement through the courts offend the democratic concepts on which this country was based.
10.18.2005 6:51pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Brian Hanifan: Same sex couples can't be legally married if marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

This statement is factually untrue. In the state of Massachusetts, same-sex couples are legally married. So are mixed-sex couples. Therefore, marriage is the union of a man and a woman: and it's also the union of a man and a man: and it's also the union of a woman and a woman.

Your mistake is in thinking that marriage is an either/or proposition. This is not so. Extending the right to marry to same-sex couples does not thereby remove that right from mixed-sex couples. Your argument seems to be that if two men are legally married that means a man and a woman can't be legally married: but the logic of this proposition is flawed, and it bears no relation to reality.

So, Maggie's wrong to define herself as "pro-marriage" as if those she is arguing against were not also "pro-marriage". Obviously we are pro-marriage: otherwise, why would same-sex marriage be important to us?
10.18.2005 6:51pm
Alex R:
Brian, thanks (not) for rebutting my argument by deleting an important part of my sentence... I'll repeat the challenge again: find evidence of a SSM proponent who argues against opposite-sex marriages.

As for arguments that marriage means the union of a man and woman, so one must be against SSM to be for marriage, well, this is just ridiculous.

The whole SSM discussion is about what the legal definition of marriage should be: should same-sex couples legally be allowed to marry. To argue that marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman because marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman, well.... Isn't that a classic case of begging the question?

If you want to argue against SSM, go to it. But don't do so by taking your conclusion as your defining assumption.
10.18.2005 6:52pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Houston: Quite a few posts advocate the abolition of state-sanctioned marriage.

Yes. But if you notice, those are people who object equally to same-sex marriage AND to mixed-sex marriage. These are not people who are arguing for same-sex marriage.
10.18.2005 6:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Houston, 2 points:

1. I think the people who want to abolish marriage altogether don't want gays to be married anymore than they want straights to be married. In contrast, the people who favor same-sex marriage want both gays and straights to get married if they choose to. The former group cannot be said to be advocates of same-sex marriage. The latter group, who are the advocates of same-sex marriage, cannot be said to have anything against traditional, heterosexual marriage.

I don't know if you are willfully conflating the two groups or are just confused, but they really are two different groups.

2. The problem with casting the same-sex marriage debate as apart from "tolerance" is that if you discriminate against people, you aren't "tolerating" them. If you decide that certain people aren't entitled to get married for nonprocreative reasons while others are, you aren't "tolerating" the group that you are denying marriage to. You are discriminating against them.

"Tolerance" consists of more than not throwing people in jail based solely on who they are (though remember, a lot of opponents of same-sex marriage DID support sodomy laws). If one truly "tolerates" homosexuals, that person would oppose efforts to deny legal benefits to the group that are available to similarly situated homosexuals. One does not "tolerate" a group by using government power to create disincentives for people to belong to the group.
10.18.2005 6:57pm
maiya (mail):
I kept silent until now, since I agree with Maggie that the opposing sides will ever agree on this issue. To take it a step further, I believe that both sides have strong opinions and may occasionally be inclined to use selective facts to bolster their respective arguments. That said, I'll openly admit to supporting SSM and readers can take any statements that I make in that light.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Maggie's (and other SSM opponents') initial reasons are true, I still believe that those historical reasons are made irrelevant by social and technological developments. If they are irrelevant, then while the reasons provided MAY have been both reasonable and legitimate at the time of enactment; they may fail the reasonable or legitimate test in current times.

Here are the broad generalizations pulled from the existing posts.

1. Marriage was initially created to support procreation, as the state needs a younger generation to support an older generation;

2. Because of 1, it is reasonable and legitimate for the state to recognize marriage as a mechanism to support procreation;

3. It is reasonable for the government to only recognize relationships that it sees as "ideal" (typical nuclear family).

Before reproductive technologies, opposite sex relations were necessary to procreate. That is no longer the case, and therefore, this initial reason for advancing or providing benefits for opposite sexes marrying is no longer relevant to the discussion.

Regarding the third point, the term "ideal" is entirely subjective and can indeed change over time. Others have already pointed to miscegenation laws and how single-race marriages were once seen as "ideal," at least by some. The government cannot simply offer such an ambiguous word to support its actions; it needs to to have legitimate reasons for having that ideal. In the case of the nuclear family, the three repeated themes of predictable property distribution, financial security, and stability (for the child) are the only ones that appear objective.

These are easily dismissed. Various pieces of legislation now determine inheritance. Regarding financial reasons for supporting marriage (i.e. reducing the likelihood that the state will have to support the child of an unwed and poor mother), women have greater power and financial means than they once did. They no longer require the state sponsored "protection" of marriage to provide support for themselves or their children. Further, paternity tests can identify the father, and therefore produce an additional financial resource for the child, even when the child is born out of wedlock.

Last, regarding stability, it is easy to argue that having two parents is better than one. There are more resources, whether in time or in finances. But this would be accomplished with SSM as well as with heterosexual marriages.

Of course, I think my arguments have just proved that marriage shouldn't be recognized by the state as a special status at all. But my point is that if the state chooses to recognize marriage, its proffered original reasons for supporting only opposite sex marriages are no longer persuasive nor legitmate. The reasons can be equally applied to SSM.
10.18.2005 7:02pm
Alex R:
Houston Lawyer comments that "quite a few posters advocate the abolition of state-sanctioned marriage". This could be taken as a possible answer to my challenge -- I'd have to see the post.

But I would say two things: (1) the most forceful advocates of SSM most certainly do *not* advocate the abolition of state-sanctioned marriage. Indeed, someone who does is not really pro-SSM, in my opinion. (2) I have occasionally seen something like this given as a kind of end-run argument against those SSM opponents who seem hung up on dictionary definitions of marriage: fine, if you don't want same-sex marriages to be called marriage, let's just eliminate the *word* marriage from the law and call them civil unions or something. I'm not in favor of this, either, but it doesn't quite rise to the level of advocating the abolition of state-sanctioned marriage.
10.18.2005 7:08pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):

The pursuit of "rights" is not always one of liberty. As Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist #1,

[... A] dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter...


I've collected a few other's thoughts on this matter more directly relating to ss"m" in a piece titled Civil Libertarian Wedding Bells.
10.18.2005 7:20pm
Bungholio:
'The idea that a majority of citizens could pass a law precluding a disfavored minority from procreating is so offensive that if you believe a democracy should work that way, I really have nothing to say to you."

Incest? Polygamy? Or do those "minorities" not count?
10.18.2005 7:23pm
Houston Lawyer:
I still don't buy the argument that current marriage laws discriminate against anyone. If anyone has an argument there, it would be Muslums, who are not free to practice polygamy as is allowed by their religion.

Just because the law doesn't allow you to do something you want to do doesn't mean you are being discriminated against.
10.18.2005 7:29pm
Bungholio:
I think the argument that it's gender discrimination is lousy, but I find no objection to considering it sexual orientation discrimination. The rules apply to everyone, but sometimes (usually) the rules are not neutral. You are right, though, current law discriminates against many minorities: those in incestuous relationships, Mormons, Muslims, those under the age of consent, zoophiles, and gays.
10.18.2005 7:36pm
Defending the Indefensible:
Alex R,

Marriage is fundamentally a religious concept, and nowhere to be found in the constitution of the united states or of any of them as subject to license. Moreover, such licensure is a direct violation of the free exercise clause, and laws respecting particular institutions violate the establishment clause.

I do not call for the abolition of marriage, quite the contrary. I am married, happily so. I simply do not believe it is the state's business to license or regulate, only to recognize and/or record it as a fact.
10.18.2005 7:37pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):

The pursuit of "rights" is not always one of liberty. As Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist #1,

[... A] dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter...


That's a deadly serious allegation. Have you by any chance, speculated as to what the secret despotic ambitions of the people petitioning for the rights of same-sex couples to marry are?
10.18.2005 7:38pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Have you by any chance, speculated as to what the secret despotic ambitions of the people petitioning for the rights of same-sex couples to marry are?

That was in the link provided in that post. But I'll offer more. Other ways I see oppression occuring was referenced in this or on another thread.
10.18.2005 7:47pm
Alex Dorph (mail) (www):
Here is my crazy idea: republicans should stop worring about what others do when it comes to sex. Enough; we get it. You have a horribly boring, judeo christian regulated sex life (meaning not much of one) and you want us to pay for that. Either that or you are gay.

You have big government other than when it is cracking down on the gays, the jews, the blacks, you name it...

10.18.2005 8:32pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Houston Lawyer wrote:

"Yet we are supposed to believe that fundamentally changing the definition of marriage will have no effect on marriage."

It will have an effect on marriage. Same sex couples will marry. I suspect you were implying there would be some undesirable effects. If so, what are they?
10.18.2005 8:36pm
Brian Hanifan (mail):
Wrigley,

Your arguments for state sanctioned homosexual unions would work also for incestuous unions, multiple partner unions, and all other manner of unions. I am certain that you do not advocate these unions so I would like you to come up with a unique argument.

If having Bill and Tom "married" on one side, Jill and Nancy "married" across the street, and Mike and Lisa "married" on the other side would make children feel comfy knowing that so many people are able to get "married" as they please, then wouldn't having Mike, Bill, Harry, and Harry's sister Lucy in the house kitty corner to us "married" to each other also be comforting to children?

Why should I allow my tax dollars to encourage homsexual unions? Use an argument that would not also cause my tax dollars to sanction these other unions.
10.18.2005 8:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
Hmm, I would have thought tradition and history would provide for polygamous marriage and I'm not so sure that "consensual" has much historical support either, at least as far as the wife is concerned. How much history and tradition do you want? Married woman unable to sign contracts? Unable to own property separate from the husband? Your "traditional and historical" marriage doesn't have much history or tradition behind it.

It's certainly true that prohibiting gay people from getting married is a practice of long standing, but so was slavery and denying women the vote. A bad practice doesn't become a good practice through longevity.

Traditionally and historically speaking marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

Maggie is for marriage as it has always been defined. I would say that that is very accurate.

Those in favor of SSM are either for something that is not marriage or are in favor of changing marriage to now include SSM. Either way they are opposed to what marriage was always understood to be.
10.18.2005 8:53pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):



The ladder we climb to tyranny is sometimes motivated by good intentions. Each successive rung is reached for then stood upon as we grasp for authority to later use against others. First we give the authority to the state to do some work we find important, then we bring the state down upon our own heads in enforcement. To the rescue are civil-libertarians that wish to promote government as enforcement of an increasing enumeration of rights.


Just what exactly is your concept of the role of the state, if not the securing and proetection of our rights?


Once you start with a world-view which holds that society is simply a geographical grouping of free-floating individuals, all of whom carry with them a lengthy list of "rights" which are in danger of being violated at any time by any other individual or group of individuals, then an omnipresent and omniscient state is really a requirement to protect us all from one another.


Nonsense. Maybe if the 'rights'we are discussing are specious things like the right not to be offended or the right not to be discriminated against in the workplace, certainly. But for National defense, protection of the borders and the protection and insurance of our liberties no such institution would be neccessary. If this is an "omnipresent and omniscient state" according to you, might I ask how an alternative view of society, one in which I suppose people have less liberty, be less statist?


I'm pretty sure you can construct a rather totalitarian system out of the raw material of "individual rights" just as easily as you can out of "equality"... It requires that anything pertaining to our "rights" be the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts, and demotes the executive and legislative branches to simply carrying out the orders of the judges.


Totalitarianism is absolute control by the State, with any and all action, individual or otherwise subject to regulation of any degree depending on whether it is deemed in the interests of the state. Whatever a hypothetical system constructed out of the raw material of 'individual rights' might be, Totalitarianism it would not. Nanny state 'equality'legislation is not totalitarianism either but it is improper use of state authority which is somewhat in the same vein. Opposition to the state interfering with people's lives and only using it's power to protect our liberties is the furthest you can get from totalitarianism.
10.18.2005 8:53pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Be careful about Mormons and polygamy. "Real" Mormons (as defined as members in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints) oppose it vehemently, and have done so for well over 100 years. This is a matter of heresy. When their prophet had a revelation in the late 19th Century that polygamy was no longer acceptable, there were some who broke away from the church and formed their own "reformed" LDS churches that still alowed polygamy, and, indeed, allow it to this day. This is considered rank heresy as they are substituting their own prophets for those of the mother church, thereby denying its legitimacy.
10.18.2005 10:45pm
Cornellian (mail):
Anyone else find a telling clue as to the author's views on the role of the State in the fact that the only two options she can conceive of are to "permit" married couples to use it or "permit" single parents to use it? As if we need the State's permission for this. How about this for a view: It's none of the State's business to interfere in individual decision making in this area.

In terms of its relation to marriage you can do one of two things with reproductive technology. You could say, only married people can use it, on the grounds that you should not be affirmatively at law encouraging people to have babies out of wedlock.
Or you could instead analogize to unwed childbearing and say, gee, if we are going to permit so many single parents to have babies as a result of sexual passion, why should we ban thoughtful single parents from reproducing using technology?
10.18.2005 10:59pm
ElaineG (mail):
A question for Maggie that may seem obvious but it's confusing me: My partner (male) and I (female) are very much in love and considering marriage. He has kids from a prior marriage, and I'm reasonably old, so it's highly unlikely we'll have kids. But marriage will solve a host of other issues for us, number one being that he's an EU citizen and I'm a US citizen, and everything from work to property ownership to taxes becomes simpler if we carry the same passports. (And, as I mentioned, we're in love).

In Maggie's ideal legal regime, would we not be allowed to marry? Or at least not have any benefits (immigration, inheritance, taxes, retirement and health benefits) that legally flow from marriage? If marriage finds its legal legitimacy in procreation, then logically, we should not be permitted to reap the benefits our legal regime confers on the married, as our marriage (planned as non-procreative) lacks that legitimacy. The idea (suggested in one of Maggie's posts) that our marriage will help define adultery (if we cheat) and rein in our sexual passions hardly seems like a sufficient benefit to society to justify the enormous benefits that will be conferred on us.
10.19.2005 2:15am
Pro-Marriage:
If marriage finds its legal legitimacy in procreation, then logically, we should not be permitted to reap the benefits our legal regime confers on the married, as our marriage (planned as non-procreative) lacks that legitimacy.


I think that was addressed specifically in one of Maggie's previous posts. Your argument amounts to calling upon the state to more carefully draw the lines of eligibility of man-woman couples. It does not follow that unisexed couples (or triples of whatever combo, etc) would find themselves within the more tightly drawn boundaries of eligibility. But by what scheme would you imagine the state being empowered to investigate each and every man-woman couple's features, monitor their procreative behavior both before and after wedding, or dissolve marriages that had previously met the criteria for the newly drawn lines but later do not?
10.19.2005 4:21am
Wrigley:
Brian,

Well, on the one hand, I was merely responding to the query of what interest government has in encouraging SSM. To say that it also might have some interest in encouraging polygamy or incest doesn't take away the from the fact that there are some important interests fostered by SSM. Your response is really more along the lines of pointing out purported negative externalities, not denying the benefits.

That aside, however, you raise interesting points. For one thing, I might point out that however disfavored incest or polygamy are, allowing couples (triples, or whatever) of that sort to get married would still have some positive effects on society. Like the Rauch piece points out, conservatives decry the increase in opposite sex couples living together and bearing children out of wedlock. Allowing SSM (and polygamy and incest too) would further highlight to centrality of marriage in society . . . for all people. As we've all seen in the studies, married people are happier, better contributors to their communities, etc. etc. etc.

My day job calls, but the bottom line, I think, is that one can't deny the positive potential effects of SSM. You can point out potential downsides, and balancing the two sides, we may reach differing conclusions. But I think its hard to deny that society would gain SOME benefits from SSM.
10.19.2005 11:13am
Shawn:
How many legally married families are there in the US without children? Is it more or less than 2-5%? If you include families where the children have grown and gone I'm sure the number is greater. If you restrict to families where the parents remarried and had no further children, the number is also likely greater.

The bottom line here is that it is probable that the number of possible same-sex marriages is less than the number of existing childless marriages.

(And I'm intentionally ignoring the fact that a good number of same-sex housholds raise children.)
10.19.2005 11:30am
Chairm (www):
Most marriages do have children -- a good portion are in the stages prior to childbearing and another large portion are empty-nesters. If you look just at people of childbearing age you will find that marriage is as popular as ever -- as a bond between men, women, and their children.

While about 10% of married couples experience infertility, or rather subfertility, about half of that segment already have children. And most of the remainder can overcome their fertility problems by behaviorial changes, such as dietary habits and even timing of attempts to procreate. Only a very tiny percentage of couples of childbearing age are childless and infertile due to a disability such as that incurred through medically necessary surgery or some illness of the reproductive system. As couples, both partners share that disability, if they remain faithful to their marriage vows.

As for childless couples who intend not to have children, unintentional pregnancies do occur and people do change their minds.

Not sure what the point about childless couples really is about, but look at it in proper context.
10.19.2005 3:39pm