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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 19, 2005 at 10:34pm] Trackbacks
The Marriage Debate, What's the Harm? (cont.):

Let me clarify: this is not a question of motive. It's a question of the internal logic of the position being promoted. The main motive here is to elevate the status of gay people and their relations to the same social and legal plane as opposite-sex married ones. But let's play with that logic and see where it takes us.

Let's take the Loving v. Virginia analogy seriously. People who believe that there is something unique and important about unions of husbands and wife (like say they can make babies that the child's own two parents will raise together) are like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. People like me who have been working for 15 years against the family diversity advocates to call attention to the fact that "children need mothers and fathers" are like bigots who oppose interracial marriage.

If like me you think renewed attention to the problem of generativity is the key to saving Western civilization, this has got to worry you.

Now of course some advocates of SSM (Andrew Sullivan) say this change has already taken place. People like me are living in a fantasy world. All I can say is, I've been out in the world quite a lot saying this, and find that far from a fantasy it still has enormous power and resonance. So using law to discredit it, or stigmatize it, or just embarrass people who believe it and work to strengthen this connection, is likely to have a real impact on real children. Marriage as a cultural idea that has social power doesn't just happen. The law doesn't create it. Families and faith communities do, primarily, supplemented by artists, lawyers, counselors etc. Telling the big chunk of people at work trying to strengthen the idea that children need moms and dads they are officially now bigots, is well, its going to make this work a lot harder and less effective. Probably impossible

Other advocates of SSM acknowledge that SSM will change these things, but these changes won't matter, because we will still be able to say "marriage is good for children." It is just of course the underlying logic and rhetoric will shift.

In the new dispensation, socially respectable people may not say moms and dads matter, but they will still be able to say "two parents are better than one" (and why is it then, that three parents aren't better than two?) or "kids need love and stability." This latter of course is precisely what family advocates have been saying for 20 years: its not marriage or family structure that matters, it is only love, money or maybe stability. This is where the conservative case for SSM melds seamlessly into the liberal case against marriage. And people saying it don't know enough about the marriage debate to even notice!

More "tk" as the copy editors say. . . .

Kendall:
The state already says that you don't need to have married couples raising kids maggie. Unmarried individuals are raising adopted kids. Gay couples ARE raising kids. That is the reality we live in. The question then, becomes what is in the best interests of THESE families, real families not always idealized traditional families. What recourse of rights and benefits should a gay couple raising 3 adopted kids have if you reserve marriage for heterosexual couples? what rights are you denying the kids by denying the couple marriage? On what basis are you denying the kids these rights?
10.19.2005 11:40pm
This is dumb.:
Maggie, your arguments stink, you don't reply to the comments and, when you do, you twist those arguments around to build up a strawman that you can then knock down.

I was hoping to learn something from your blogging here. I had thought that people could legitimately not support same-sex marriage and not be bigots. Your blogs suggest that this is not the case.

Moreover, you said initially you wanted the two sides to understand each other, but then your arguments are convoluted, don't make sense, and don't address legitimate questions. Your failure to address the question of what civil rights you do support for homosexuals suggests that your twisted arguments are just that - and rather than enlightening us on your thought process, simply justifies a position that you hold for irrational reasons.
10.19.2005 11:52pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Gallagher's post does not tell us the harm that would come from gay marriage.

Perhaps she can simply list three specific and particular ways gay civil marriage will harm heterosexual civil marriage.
10.19.2005 11:55pm
Choosing Sides 2:
Once upon a time, I was a high school debater. I argued all sorts of nonsensical things. We would regularly say that if small admistrative policy was implemented, it would sap the president's political capital so he couldn't get NATO expanded. That, of course, would cause global thermonuclear war.

Now I hear that gay marriage will cause a birth dearth so severe that Western Civilization will end.

I used to think my high school ramblings were silly. Now, they seem sane by comparison.
10.19.2005 11:56pm
Hubba Hubba:
The real elephant in the room with the SSM opponents is, Do you consider gay people inferior or defective in any way?

It seems the answer is yes. Because so far, there hasn't been any other argument that makes sense:

1. Marriage is for procreation? Not thanks to modern technology.

2. SSM will 'water down' the meaning of marriage and make straight men less likely to be monogamous? 3% of marriages by nesting lesbians will not have this effect.

3. SSM will 'de-link' the concept of marriage and procreation in the heads of children? Again, 3%. Plus, think of the de-linking from all those childless and elderly/sterile marriages happening right now! The horror.

4. SSM will make straight marriage "jump the shark". No, that show was already canceled due to the actions of Henry VII, Larry King, no-fault divorce, and Britney Spears.

5. SSM will "normalize" homosexuality... now the elephant is being revealed.

What is abnormal about homosexuality? Please cite medical journals and not scriptural quotes.
10.20.2005 12:00am
Adam (mail) (www):
If marriage is such a strong cultural norm that it has persisted in importance for millennia with enormous social power, then it shouldn't be threatened by adding gays to the mix.
10.20.2005 12:08am
Anon7 (mail):
Where the **** has The Volokh Conspiracy gone, and when do we get it back?
10.20.2005 12:08am
BobNelson (mail):
Perhaps Mr. Volokh should rescind his invitation to Ms. Gallagher. She's doing nothing but rehashing the pap she has built her (less than stellar) career on. The sad thing is that she is presented as an expert on marriage. There are plenty of scholars with real credentials who are experts on marriage, its history, its legal ramifications, its problems. They don't get invited to debate this issue, because they're not true believers in any ideology.

It's all about conflict. YAWN
10.20.2005 12:10am
sickofitall:
This has gotten ridiculous. Maggie is a horrible writer and refuses to directly take on any of the valid points made by the commenters.

Plus, she's a paid propagandist for the Bush administration. Couldn't Eugene find anyone with credibility who can make this case more effectively?

Maggie, please address the points made to you in a CONCISE, logical fashion.
10.20.2005 12:11am
Kory (www):
I can't believe that anyone would argue that homosexuality is 'normal'. There is a reason that all species that use sexual reproduction have male and female members of the species.

Sex is primarily for procreation. In all other species than humans, it is pretty likely it is the only purpose of sex. Without procreation, species are extinct in one generation.

Homosexuality may be somewhat common. It may be inevitable in humans. It may deserve to have marriage rights. But it is clearly not the 'normal' state of human sexuality. If it were, we'd have been extinct long ago.
10.20.2005 12:13am
Christine:
Marriage as a cultural idea that has social power doesn't just happen. The law doesn't create it. Families and faith communities do, primarily, supplemented by artists, lawyers, counselors etc.

And that cultural idea shifts over time. Polygamy is no longer accepted. Women are no longer property. And your sexuality no longer makes you less-than.
10.20.2005 12:15am
Unbelievable:
Kory, sounds like you skipped some biology classes.

Maggie, sounds like you dodged the argument.

Is there no one that can make a clear argument against SSM?
10.20.2005 12:19am
BobNelson (mail):

But it is clearly not the 'normal' state of human sexuality. If it were, we'd have been extinct long ago.


It is not THE normal state of human sexuality. It is A normal state of human sexuality.

Left-handedness is "abnormal". Blue eyes are "abnormal". Being male is "abnormal". Etc., etc.
10.20.2005 12:24am
paa:
Kory:

1) You are wrong. Homosexuality is normal.

2) Even if you were right, so what? That doesn't make it wrong. And that doesn't mean you discriminate against gay people.
10.20.2005 12:26am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Maggie, you are worried about the impact on children of changing the law to recognize same-sex marriage, but you don't give a bleep about the impact of the denial of marriage rights on gays and lesbians, do you? Your anti-gay prejudice is becoming clearer and clearer with every post.
10.20.2005 12:27am
SAC (mail):
Christine:

And that cultural idea shifts over time. Polygamy is no longer accepted.


Except in the majority of the world's cultures, where it is.

So, if you currently support SSM, but oppose polygamy, can you make an argument supporting your stance? And if the American "cultural idea" changes in your lifetime to support polygamy, will you instantly and happily back down on your disagreement with it? Or will you take a stand and allow yourself to be ridiculed as a bigot?
10.20.2005 12:29am
It's Mr. Queer to you! (mail) (www):
How much longer before we get to hear from the LAW PROFESSOR in Minnesota? I realize that the "head to head" wasn't desirable but I think after reading several days of these posts an alternative viewpoint would be like a glass of fresh clean water....
10.20.2005 12:38am
BobNelson (mail):

So, if you currently support SSM, but oppose polygamy, can you make an argument supporting your stance?


One need only examine the consequences of polygamy (American style, at least) in Colorado City, UT, to see that there are real harms in allowing it in this culture.

Obviously, there are other societies where it has worked well enough to survive for generations. In none of those cases did more than a tiny minority actually have multiple wives. B
10.20.2005 12:45am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Elliot123: Gallagher's post does not tell us the harm that would come from gay marriage.

Elliot, I've watched you say that in every thread, even the past two where that question was specifically addressed. In the words of Indigo Montoya, "I do no think it means what you think it means".

The piling on of hoops to jump through does not make the display you wish to make either. Rather than present yourself as a judge of the proceedings (of which I doubt many will accept your authority) you should reside with the rest of us including Maggie in advocacy of one side or the other.

> Christine: Polygamy is no longer accepted.

Yes there are many changes to the protocols and policies, regulations and manners of marriage. However, the post you are replying to speaks accurately of the unchanging practically universal nature of marriage. The more things change the more they stay the same, and that is one of the ways we can tell there is something of substance to it.

There is more substance to marriage as an institution of gender integration/mating than perhaps any other institution. It even predates government (families forming probably the first forms of government).

> To all:

I find the shout-out crew here generally leaves these posts alone after meaningful discussion starts. Personal attacks and other such flailings aside, discussion seems to be starting here also.
10.20.2005 12:50am
Quarterican (mail):
On Lawn -

(a) posted belated response of sorts to you in the now quiet "Round 3 (or 4)" thread.

(b) as someone who once could recite The Princess Bride from memory (the movie, of course), "Indigo" pained me.

(c) if marriage even predates government didn't you just lower the standards for marriage?...after all, marriage doesn't equal men and women living together (and having children), it also requires some external recognition by some (religious or civil) authority. Otherwise we wouldn't be having this debate. (And, incidentally, are there any anthropologists reading? Can any social structure be said to predate government?)
10.20.2005 12:58am
Kory (www):
One need only examine the consequences of polygamy (American style, at least) in Colorado City, UT, to see that there are real harms in allowing it in this culture.


And a person could then just as easily point out that the HIV virus, spread predominantly by male homosexual conduct, resulted in real harm to the culture as well.

As it relates to marriage, either you have to say that:
A) government/voters should have no business or interest regulating marriage whatsoever, in which case any willing combination of any number of consenting adults should qualify even if some people disapprove or think such marriages to be harmful, or
B) the current situation where government/voters get to decide and define what qualifies.
10.20.2005 12:59am
Randy R. (mail):
Kory: Sex is about procreation.

Wow! I'd hate to be your boyfriend!
(I'd hate to get your views on masturbation....)
10.20.2005 1:02am
joshuaedwards:
So using law to discredit it, or stigmatize it, or just embarrass people who believe it and work to strengthen this connection, is likely to have a real impact on real children

I am literally dumbfounded at those words.

You believe that my lifestyle is fundamentally abhorrent. You believe that the love you experience is essentially superior to the love that I experience. You believe that you should have legal rights that I do not have. And when I say no, when I say we should be equals, when I say that you have every right to believe what you believe but you do not have the right to enshrine your beliefs in law, you say that I stigmitize you? How dare you. How dare you.

I believe in equality. I respect differences in opinion but I believe the law should be above that kind of thinking. I don't ask anyone to support my lifestyle or change their religious beliefs to accomidate me. I only ask that my lifestyle not come at the cost of my constitutional right to be treated as an equal according to the law. That is my right as a citizen of America.

It is you who believe in stigmatizing people you disagree with.
10.20.2005 1:04am
It's Mr. Queer to you! (mail) (www):

And a person could then just as easily point out that the HIV virus, spread predominantly by male homosexual conduct, resulted in real harm to the culture as well.

What is the point of that? To show your ignorance about a virus or to take a cheap pot shot?
10.20.2005 1:04am
Kory (www):
What is the point of that? To show your ignorance about a virus or to take a cheap pot shot?


So what are you saying, that HIV was not predominantly spread by male homosexual conduct?

And Randy, are you saying that sex is not primarily for reproduction in all sexual species on the planet?

And here I thought that the religious people were supposed to be the ones to ignore biology and science when it conflicted with their beliefs.
10.20.2005 1:12am
Randy R. (mail):
You know, I'm really getting fed up with Maggie. She says that it isn't a question of motives, it's a question of logic. Then she attacks the motives of the SSM believers.

In a previous post, she printed an email where someone thanked her for adding to this debate. Then she lifted a comment from another website which compared opponants of SSM to Nazis, even though NO ONE on this website said so! I find that breathtakingly bad debate, disingenuous, and downright dirty. I could lift comments from website where Maggie has contributed, such as Focus on the Family, and Family Reseach Council, both organzations devoted to eliminating all laws protecting gays from discrimination, and sought to not only keep, but spread the anti-sodomy laws that the Supreme Court struck down.
Now perhaps Maggie doesn't subscribe to those views -- but birds of a feather flock together. She hasn't responded to repeated inquiries about her views towards gays in general, or whether we deserve basic rights. I do know that she believes that if we really really try, we could all be straight.

What we see are rambling arguments, unfocused thoughts, attacks on the gay community, speculation, and downright false information. (My favorite? When she said that marriage creates gender equality for women. Apparently, Maggie has never read any Victorian novels!)

Maggie, you are out of your league here. At least the other posters provide decent thought and exchange, even when I disagree with them.
10.20.2005 1:13am
BobNelson (mail):
Never discount the possibility of having dual purposes...
10.20.2005 1:15am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Quarterican: after all, marriage doesn't equal men and women living together

Committing to each other, yes. Living their lives together, yes. But I see your point it is a third party contract. I hoped that by pointing to the family as the government springing up together with marriage that we see how marriage is one of (if not the) seed of civilization. For just as any government has its initiation ceremony, it is my theory that civilization was born with a marriage ceremony corronating family governance.
10.20.2005 1:35am
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Randy R: When she said that marriage creates gender equality for women. Apparently, Maggie has never read any Victorian novels!

How women got from there to here I believe is due in large part to the political power they were able to wield through their marriages. In fact what political tool at their disposal they had with more power for change other than that marriage required equal gender representation, I can't think of it.
10.20.2005 1:45am
Eisenstern (mail):
I wonder how long this forum can retain its stature as a preeminent blog if it persists in presenting this blatant bigotry as reasoned argument.
10.20.2005 1:46am
snuh (mail):
good grief! you have repeatedly cited "children need mothers and fathers" as the basis of your argument against gay marriage. anytime you want to, you know, prove that this is actually true, feel free.
10.20.2005 1:49am
Challenge:
"One need only examine the consequences of polygamy (American style, at least) in Colorado City, UT, to see that there are real harms in allowing it in this culture."

Most Americans are pretty freaked out by Sanfranciso. Is that rational or bigoted? And why is Colorado City different?
10.20.2005 1:52am
BobNelson (mail):

Most Americans are pretty freaked out by Sanfranciso. Is that rational or bigoted? And why is Colorado City different?


It's neither rational nor bigoted. It's just not true. San Francisco is one of America's favorite tourist destinations. As I recall, we have one of the highest rates of return visitors.

As for Colorado City, the place is awash in welfare abuse, child rape (religiously sanctioned), wife abuse (religiously sanctioned), and child abandonment (religiously sanctioned). All documented. All real. (All religiously sanctioned)

Also, from what I gather, the food sucks and
10.20.2005 2:04am
Penta:
BobNelson: What makes you think people don't visit San Francisco for the same reason they gawk at a car wreck?

I wouldn't be surprised if some people do make return visits for that purpose. (I mean, c'mon. People are people...And people are scary.)
10.20.2005 2:11am
BobNelson (mail):
Penta:

What makes you think people don't visit San Francisco for the same reason they gawk at a car wreck?


Because I live here and am part of what you seem to see as a zoo exhibit. I interact with tourists almost every day. Many seem genuinely curious about the number of gay and lesbian couples here. They seem to appreciate what we contribute to this city. Maybe some come here to gawk. If they do, they have better manners than you and don't call our lives "car wrecks".
10.20.2005 2:18am
HC:
Randy -
In a previous post, she printed an email where someone thanked her for adding to this debate. Then she lifted a comment from another website which compared opponants of SSM to Nazis, even though NO ONE on this website said so!

That post was by Eugene Volokh, our host here, not Maggie Gallagher. Hang her for her own sins, please.
10.20.2005 2:19am
Master Shake:
Sorry, she has not presented any intelligent arguments. Eugene, thanks for the try, but this was a failure. She is as dumb as a rock.
10.20.2005 4:55am
Richard Bellamy (mail):

So what are you saying, that HIV was not predominantly spread by male homosexual conduct?


I think what people are saying is that HIV is not spread by gay marriage.
10.20.2005 11:47am
Josh Jasper (mail):
The majority of new HIV cases in Africa are spead by heterosexual contact. I'm not sure, but they probably represent the largest fromt in the diseases spread.
10.21.2005 1:48am