pageok
pageok
pageok
Understanding the Argument:
Reading over the various posts and comments, I think I'm beginning to understand the argument Maggie is making. The argument is that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would not just give rights to a small subset of the population, but would radically transform what marriage is. So long as only opposite-sex couples can marry, the thinking goes, marriage is linked to procreation; if same-sex couples can marry, too, then marriage is transformed into something else entirely. Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution and create a new one, and the new institution would not longer retain a focus on having and raising children. Viewed in that light, same sex marriage is a threat to society: by redefining the institution, it will kill off its most important feature.

  Leaving aside the question of whether this argument is persuasive, am I at least understanding it accurately?
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Basically, yes.
10.20.2005 12:49am
Quarterican (mail):
By my understanding, acknowledge that marriage is already under serious assault/undergoing decline even without the threat of gay marriage, and focus much more on making babies than raising children, and yeah, I think you've got the gist of what Ms. Gallagher is saying.
10.20.2005 12:50am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Also acknowledging that the same arguments were made in favor of liberalization of divorce laws and the introduction of welfare . . .
10.20.2005 12:53am
Nunzio (mail):
Well put.
10.20.2005 12:56am
HC:
I'd say that's mostly it, with a side note that there have been several other changes (divorce laws, welfare, pensions), independently desirable yet which have already decreased the institution's effectiveness at encouraging 'having and raising', and that the results of that decrease are serious problems already.

Otherwise, I don't suppose she thinks it would kill the institution's function in the 'having and raising' department - just impair it marginally but significantly, and so create enormous social costs.
10.20.2005 1:02am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
HC:

It would "kill" it in the sense that all these previous changes, while weakening the strength of the institution, did not destroy its basic function. With this one, you can't even fake it any more.
10.20.2005 1:06am
SP (www):
Maybe I'm making too big a leap, but it seems to me, that SSM doesn't neccesarily disconnect marriage/partnership from child-rearing. Purely speculating, but I can see legalized SSM allowing/encouraging more adoption/surrogacy/in vitro among LGBT couples by ensuring a 'stable family unit'.
10.20.2005 1:10am
John Armstrong (mail):
Well, it's also coupled with the straw man that everybody pushing SSM is insistent on the name. In point of fact, most people I speak with are pragmatists -- they want the legal rights more than the name "marriage". Yes, the loudest voices cry out for "marriage" over civil unions, but me experience is that the bulk of advocates would be fine with a practically (if not nomenclaturally) equivalent situation.
10.20.2005 1:15am
Noah Snyder (mail):
Yeah, I think you have it now.

I'd really like to see someone try to make some argument about why it's "procreation" that's the fundamental not "child rearing."
10.20.2005 1:20am
Noah Snyder (mail):
Looking back over your post again. You don't have it right unless you replace "child raising" with "procreation."
10.20.2005 1:21am
Crane (mail):
And it only took her what - 14 or 15 loooong posts to get there?

(Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit. I figured her basic argument would be something like that by the end of her 10th post, where she talked about the sacredness of the reproductive sex act. It's not a big leap from there to the idea that only couples who can engage in reproductive sex should be allowed to marry.)
10.20.2005 1:22am
Randy R. (mail):
I think you are correct, but I can't be sure -- she throws in a lot of other extraneous stuff too. She also says that gay people's principle motive is to utterly destroy the concept of marriage, and uses that to support her notion that it will in fact be destroyed.
10.20.2005 1:22am
Katherine:
Is the concern a crisis in disconnecting marriage from giving birth to children, or disconnecting marriage from raising children, or disconnecting giving birth from children to raising children?

If it's the first gay marriage does it no more than the marriage of any man and women who either cannot or have no intention of bearing children. If it's the second, I don't see how gay marriage threatens it--committed gay couples can adopt as well as infertile straight ones can and their children do quite well. If it's the third then your problem is not with gay marriage but with all forms of adoption--procreation and adoption are no more separate for gay couples than unmarried straight ones.

What if I agreed with Ms. Gallagher that the ideal family was a man and woman, utterly committed to each other and to the children that they bore and raised together? Would it follow that anything that did not meet that ideal dishonored it and should not be allowed by law?

If you apply that logic consistently, we ought to:
--ban infertile couples from marriage
--force people to make a legally enforceable promise to bear children before they get a marriage license
--end no fault divorce
--require a detailed screening, background &compatibility check before granting a marriage license
--raise the age of consent to marriage to 23 or 24

Even if you agree with Ms. Gallagher about the ideal, there are all sorts of families that fail to live up to it. Why is that she does not support extinguishing their rights, but she does support denying comparable rights to gays?

Anything human is imperfect. Things that are imperfect can still be good. The idea of banning marriages that fail to live up to an ideal--even if you send no one to jail--is like something out of The Handmaid's Tale.

It's just homophobia. Genteel homophobia, but homophobia nonetheless.
10.20.2005 1:28am
Robbie (mail):
I can follow the argument that law is needed to preserve a worthy element of culture. What I don't understand is how preserving the status quo in law addresses the changes already happening in culture.

Religious communities are already accepting gay couples and sanctifying gay marriages. Thus, without any influence from law, culture is clearly changing.

It would seem to me that if these cultural changes represent a danger to the anti-SSM crowd, then they would either need to (1) change the status quo and enact legislation that punishes these cultural trailblazers or (2) create a cultural tyranny of the majority that would ostracize the subversive element (although this would most likely violate laws at some point).

I guess my question has two-parts: how does preserving the legal status quo stop cultural change, and does the anti-SSM movement really want status quo?
10.20.2005 1:28am
Jackson (mail):
I think that the other aspect of the argument that Ms.Gallagher is making is that the threat is not just to the institution of marriage, but to the legal system in many ways, since marriage has a special legal status. By removing the special factual underpinning for the special legal status of marriage, there remains no real rational basis for any special status for marriage at all. So there is no rational basis for adultery or bigamy as crimes; no particular rational basis for spousal testimonial privilege; for elective share in inheritance and so on. Maybe this is just restating the summary above, or maybe it is not what Ms.Gallagher really had in mind at all, but it is what I seem to be seeing as particularly important to the devotees of this blog.
10.20.2005 1:29am
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
Purely speculating, but I can see legalized SSM allowing/encouraging more adoption/surrogacy/in vitro among LGBT couples by ensuring a 'stable family unit'.

For that to be effective, would it then be necessary (or desirable) to restrict adoption/surrogacy/IVF only to OS and SS marriages and forbid single people from adoption/surrogacy/IVF?
10.20.2005 1:31am
PC:
I think Orin has stated the basic argument succinctly. While I can see the logic of Gallagher's argument, if you really want to make marriage more child-centric by emphasizing the links between marriage, procreation and child-rearing you should aim at a much bigger target than SSMs: conventional marriages in which the couple has no children and doesn't want any. (I suspect that there are far more deliberately childless marriages than there would be same-sex marriages.) If you really think that we're experiencing a crisis that threatens Western civilization, then we should change marriage law to require childless couples to have children (or at least adopt) within a few years of being married. That way society would unequivocally state that the purpose of legal marriage is to provide a proper environment for raising children, and that this environment includes both a mother and a father.
10.20.2005 1:31am
BobNelson (mail):
Frankly, I can't understand why so many of you seem uncertain about Ms. Gallagher's arguments and motives. Perhaps she could more directly shed light on them if Volokh would organize a blog on "milking the religious right for fun and profit, how abandoning intellectual integrity can make you famous".

I can think of several "experts" on psychology and family law who would no doubt gladly participate... for a fee.
10.20.2005 1:33am
Challenge:
I am not convinced that SSM would have much affect on marriage, but it could. But it just seems ridiculous to me. What if two friends love each other and want to get married? What if two sisters are raising their brother's kids after he dies? They love each other, they are raising children, so why do they miss out on those 1500 benefits? How discriminatory! How much do we want to dilute the concept? How far are we prepared to go?
10.20.2005 1:33am
Challenge:
Somebody in another thread responded to my making light of the "plight" of gays with respect to marriage. After all, I said all singles are excluding from those "benefits," but we are not claiming discrimination. To highlight his point, he pointed to citizenship rights. I still don't see how this resolves the issue. Those who are single are still discriminated against! How unfair! The plight of the single immigrant, who stands no chance of citizenship! Maybe they can marry themselves? Hey, why not.
10.20.2005 1:39am
Mjdemo (mail):
Noah Snyder - All children are concieved by a mother and a father. Most SS couples raising children have them as a result of a previous divorce. The fact is that the vast majority of children are raised by the people that created them. When they aren't, we have to make the best of an unfortunate situation (adoption, for example.) I re-checked my earlier numbers about births - there are about 200,000 HOUSEHOLDS headed by lesbian couples and only a small fraction of them give birth each year, vs 4 million births per year in the country overall. In terms of societal changes, any effect that SSM has on procreating couples will be much larger, by the numbers alone, than the effects on SS couples themselves. This is why procreation is important (1.4 million unwed births in 2003). You and I will be paying taxes to care for, educate, try, and/or imprison a tragic percentage of these children born to single mothers. This is why marriage laws and benefits should be focused like a laser beam onto their most effective target - men and women who might otherwise beget babies that the community will later have to deal with. SS couples should get the benefits they need, but the tail shouldn't wag the dog. Else we will all have to live in a worse-off society.
10.20.2005 1:40am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Yeah, why can't I marry the guy sitting next to me in the office just so we can reduce our tax bills? Hell, you can get married AND divorced in 20 minutes in most states now. Why not just marry two other guys and demand the IRS create a new status for 3+ person marriages? What's the government gonna say, we're discriminating on the basis of love?
10.20.2005 1:44am
HC:
Gen Y - I doubt we really disagree much on that, but I think you underestimate the ability of people to fake it, or redefine matters.

Randy - her argument there was, I think, not that gay people want to destroy marriage, but that advocates and opponents of SSM alike acknowledge that SSM would change the nature of the institution in certain significant ways. One can still think - as the quoted advocates do - that these changes would be desirable; her point there is to answer the claim that accepting SSM wouldn't change much, so why resist it.

Jackson - Marriage has, I think, more than one special factual underpinning. Even if marriage ceased entirely to function as an institution encouraging procreation, I expect that many would survive. Do we as a society permit spousal privilege because we want well-raised babies or because, like doctor-client privilege it makes for healthier, saner citizens? Do we permit elective shares in inheritance to encourage baby-having and raising or because it's a default that most people would choose if they thought about it?

Other things would certainly change. Some already have. Alienation of Affection is, I think, almost gone as a tort.
10.20.2005 1:47am
A Berman (mail):
Yes, that's essentially it with some additions-- it's not persuasive to many people by itself without backup.

I was back and forth on SSM myself for a while. Then I noticed that aside from the intrinsic argument, all the available evidence is consistent with it. I know of no major society which has had same-sex marriage and remained healthy for a long period of time. Not in X thousand years of history, Western, Eastern, Christian, Confucian, just nothing. Historically, you would think that *some* society *somewhere* had same-sex marriage and thrived if it wasn't harmful. So really, to me, the burden of proof is strongly on the backs of proponents of same-sex marriage.
10.20.2005 1:51am
SuperChimp:
I simply cannot comprehend how this argument is logically correct:

1) Marriage is predicated on procreation...
2) Same sex couples cannot procreate...
3) Allowing SSM would harm the institution of marriage...
4) Marriage should remain a union of man and woman.

My problem is where the leap is made between 2 and 3. If legalized, the number of SSM would represent 5% of the country (at best). Moreover, these couples could use in vitro fertilization or adoption as an alternative method of procreation (already practiced in a minority of traditional marriages). Thus, how could SSM possibly harm the institution of marriage and the government's--supposed--interest in promoting procreation when it would be an extremely small minority of all marriages (and many SSM couples would actually procreate similar to infertile traditional couples)?
10.20.2005 1:52am
bago (mail):
So if SSM is legal, then straight married couples will not feel as special and won't make babies?

Somehow I have a feeling that the legal uniqueness of the institution of marriage is the last thing on the minds of a couple making babies.

Or is it that if Tom sees Dick and Harry happily wed, he'll leave his female fiancée at the altar and catch the gay?

Her own evidence shows that fertility rates are not linked to marriage rates, so how increasing the overall marriage rate and increasing the number of stable 2 parent homes leads to declining birth-rate/quality-of-life I do not know.
10.20.2005 1:57am
Eisenstern (mail):
If the argument is being understood correctly, we can all look forward to Gallagher's immediate stipulation that any advance in technology allowing same-sex couples to reproduce would annihilate her position.
10.20.2005 2:00am
JB:
A Berman: There's no evidence of a society that had same sex marriage and was destroyed by it, is there?

While you'd be right to argue that ssm is an untested experiment and therefore should be approached cautiously, you'd be wrong to say that "since it hasn't been done, we shouldn't do it."

(I'm rejecting the data from Sweden mentioned a couple posts ago because that seems to be mistaking correlation for causation).
10.20.2005 2:08am
Atty in Chicago:
Katherine :

I'll ignore your ignorant name calling for now...

Your list and logic is silly. Marriage is the type of relationship that always has the potential to result in children, and almost always does through birth or adoption regardless of intent when getting married. And when a child is unfortunately born to a single mother, the government incetivizes the women to get married for the sake of the child. The government isn't going to force behavior, but it can and should endorse, encourage and reward the type of relationship that is clearly beneficial to society, one that creates and raises children with the critical perspectives of both a mother and father. If people choose a non-marital life alternative, that's just fine, but don't ask the government for money and to endorse it.

Not all relationships in society deserve government encouragement and funding. Marriage clearly does because of children aspect, but why should the government encourage two guys to hang out and have gay sex? Or why should society pay for a sister and aunt to live together?
10.20.2005 2:10am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Off topic, does anyone know how much the Romans were into homosexuality before they had extensive contact with the Greeks, say before 300 BC?
10.20.2005 2:11am
Eisenstern (mail):
Has any factual, historical basis been presented for the eleventh-hour characterizations of marriage presented by the anti-SSM faction?
10.20.2005 2:13am
Eisenstern (mail):
"Marriage is the type of relationship that always has the potential to result in children."

Incorrect. The aged and the infertile can marry as they please. Another embarrassing fact for those who seek to redefine marriage at the eleventh hour to fabricate a justification for a position that results from one thing: hostility toward homosexuality.
10.20.2005 2:22am
HC:
Eisenstern - what do you mean? That people historically understood marriage in terms of 'generativity'? That marriage is sensitive to mores and subsidies? What?
10.20.2005 2:23am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
I didn't realize statistics can prove causation, JB.

I was reading H.H. Scullard's History of the Roman World. He seems to think the decay of the Republic in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC had at least something to do with increasing Roman involvement in the Hellenistic world and increasing Roman adoption of Greek culture and morality at the expense of the old Roman virtues. He's dead, so we can't ask him about it.
10.20.2005 2:23am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Nobody stops me from cutting my hair with a hedge trimmer or sleeping in the bathtub. Of course, not too long ago, the tub would have dumped me for doing that.
10.20.2005 2:26am
Crane (mail):
Proud Generation Y Slacker -

I don't know about the timing, but the ancient Romans didn't really have a concept of homosexuality the way we do. By their standards, what mattered was who did the penetrating. So, nobody cared if the emperor liked to sodomize slave boys. If the emperor liked being sodomized, on the other hand, that was bad. One of the things Nero did that scandalized people was keep male concubines, but treat them in a way that suggested to observers that Nero was on the receiving end of the relationship. (He even married one, once. He dressed as the bride, too, which I think had more shock value than the marriage itself.)

It's really a part of the whole Roman idea that the higher your rank in society, the more control you had over your own body. For example, actors and gladiators weren't considered much better than prostitutes, because they used their bodies to entertain others, and it was considered shameful for a noble to enter one of those professions.
10.20.2005 2:27am
On Lawn (mail) (www):

Orin, thank you for your care in understanding the position. I believe you have it pretty accurate but allow me to add one dimension that might give it some more perspective.

Re-defining marriage is not exclusive to homosexual couples. I think many people enter into marriage with a mistaken notion of what it is. Unless they learn quickly their marriage will most likely fail.

Underlying even deeper than procreation is marriages power that comes from integrating sexes. Procreation is the most physical manifestation of that power. The rest comes at a much higher price of devotion and selflessness to a member of a gender much much different than you are. And at the heart, it is "selfish" satisfaction in romantic enterprise vs the selfless love and devotion to someone you need to comprimise with to obtain so many wonderful things.

At the core of same-sex marriage we have a philosophy that says a segment of society is cannot love a member of the opposite sex enough to have a meaningful marriage. That their innabilities (which are not a handicap, btw) and sexual preferences should be pandered to. This directs people down the "romantic selfishness" path that we already know through cultural experience ruins marriages.

I don't buy that philosophy. I don't like it when blacks are told they can't drink from the same water supplies, whites can't jump, or any number of limiting stigmas that we wish to place on segments of society.

I'm not anti-gay however in that I do not care what preference people have. I care that in making such an egregious exemption that the message of devotion and sacrifice to someone so different does to people trying to find happiness in marriage. I'm worried about what it means for government when sexual habits are all that are required to gain the same access to resources as the truely handicapped. I worry about a philosophy that requires equalization of results (choosing heterosexual or homosexual companionship), at the great expense and enforcement of government which honestly is incapable of equalizing them.

The line between living your life the way you want to and demanding government pander to your lifestyle is crossed when centuries old mores of society are in the sights of the target. Marriage has provided for governance where poverty, wars, distructions where government failed. It is a grand tradition of gender integration, finding such impetus as to be practically universal throughout culture. It speaks to gender diversity, to truely sacrificing for others. The more people hear that message from government and other sources the more they find that happiness for themselves. But the line is crossed when people want to make it into a veritable Hallmark basket of goodies to celebrate and pander to every romance that flickers in the fickle hearts of humanity.
10.20.2005 2:28am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Crane:

Yeah, I know all this stuff happened during the Empire and even in the late Republic, which is why I set the date when I did. Anyway, I also get the sense that that kind of ostentatious pederasty in Rome was never celebrated the way it was in Greece, but mostly just tolerated in an eye-rolling kind of way. Those crazy Julio-Claudians, you know.
10.20.2005 2:35am
JB:
Proud Generation Y Slacker:

Let me rephrase: I'm putting aside the Sweden example because the people who were arguing that Sweden was (a) in serious decline and (b) in serious decline due to same-sex marriage seem to be confusing correlation with causation.

Was my original comment really that confusing?
10.20.2005 2:47am
Quarterican (mail):
Proud Gen Y Slacker -

I don't know the answer to your question (what did Roman practice look like pre-Hellenic conquest). I don't think the answer's relevant for the reason Crane (and Perseus, and I) have all said: they didn't have a concept of homosexuality that corresponded to ours. It wasn't a meaningful category of self-identification. The idea that the Greeks were corrupting the Romans was around at the time, though. Cato in particular liked to make speeches about how the Greek influence was destroying Rome because Roman youth cared more about poetry than fighting. (I think he also criticized a senator for kissing his wife too passionately.) Don't know what he thought about same-sex conduct. Of course, whining about how civilization is own the downslope is pretty famously a pastime of every age.
10.20.2005 2:50am
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
I was reading H.H. Scullard's History of the Roman World. He seems to think the decay of the Republic in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC had at least something to do with increasing Roman involvement in the Hellenistic world and increasing Roman adoption of Greek culture and morality at the expense of the old Roman virtues. He's dead, so we can't ask him about it.

In fact, Emperor Augustus became so concerned about the lack of interest in marriage among the upper classes, that he obtained legislation, the Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea, which restricted inheritance rights of the nobility unless the testators and heirs were in appropriate marriages that produced a certain number of children.
10.20.2005 3:00am
Rue Des Quatre Vents (mail):
I haven't been following the debate too closely. But has anyone brought up that some hetero couples are happily married and infertile? If the goal of the state is to promote an instititution whose sole purpose is to aid procreation, then ought the state to look down upon these sterile couples? Are they aberrations? If not, then why not homosexuals too?
10.20.2005 3:11am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Thanks folks. Indeed this isn't the first time people have worried about this. In hindsight, though, maybe the traditional Romans had a point.
10.20.2005 3:12am
Veggie_Burger (mail):
"marriage is linked to procreation"
"Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution..."

What backward, sexist, and anti-children things to say! It is sexist because women usually lose there ability to have children sometime in their forties. For the safety of mother and child, it is better if they don't wait even that long. On the other hand, men can father children until an advanced age. Remember good old boy Sen. Strom Thurmond getting married in his eighties or nineties and fathering a child? Remember the good old days when a woman who wanted to marry late in life was sh*t out of luck and destined to remain a spinster for the rest of her life. And a child born to an unwed mother was referred to as a bastard, and mother and child were shunned by decent society. Women weren't allowed to enter the work force, except for working the spinning wheel or running a day-care center out of her home. Women weren't allowed to vote or own property. She was property - that of her husband. Divorce and abortion were both illegal. A women who cheated on her husband could be stoned to death - a righteous biblical punishment. Pregnant unmarried girls had to hide under a rock out of shame. Homosexuals were beat up, jailed or worse. Yes, things were so much better in the olden days! I'm making myself nostalgic,...and sick to my stomach.
10.20.2005 3:15am
BobNelson (mail):
I really am amazed at how people look at the past. Your grasp of history of tenuous. Your grasp of humanity is cartoonish.

Gay people HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED. We have always been here and have always found some way to survive. We predate law. We predate religion. We predate culture. Human love -- for companionship, for lust, for survival -- includes those few of us who find ourselves inexorably drawn to members of our own sex. Stop pretending we aren't just like you.
10.20.2005 3:18am
Diane:
OnLawn, glad you're not anti-gay. So why "pandering"? Please tell me in detail the "lifestyle" of homosexuals. Why can't you just admit that you find homosexuality repulsive?

Gen Y: As long as you're making unsubstantiated and offensive theories linking homosexuality and the fall of the Roman Empire, let me offer a more accurate one: Rome could no longer defend the empire because the population became less interested in the realities of daily life and more focused on the whims of God and getting to heaven because of the widespread belief in reinvented, repackaged Mithras myth called Jesus. In other words: stupid Christian fundamentalists killed the Roman empire.

History is repeating itself.
10.20.2005 3:23am
BobNelson (mail):
I wonder how many of the men deriding romantic marriage here chose brides based on their birthing potential, absent any romantic attraction.

I wonder how many had the guts to tell her so.
10.20.2005 3:25am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Diane:

First, I didn't, and second, nobody was talking about the Empire until you showed up.
10.20.2005 3:30am
Quarterican (mail):
BobNelson -

Gay people HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED. We have always been here and have always found some way to survive. We predate law. We predate religion. We predate culture. Human love -- for companionship, for lust, for survival -- includes those few of us who find ourselves inexorably drawn to members of our own sex. Stop pretending we aren't just like you.

If by gay you mean: "Romantic and sexual desires exlusively directed towards members of own gender," then yes, you're correct. If by gay you mean the previous definition plus: "which plays a major role in self-identification and categorization," it's not at all clear that you are. People didn't ascribe the psychological importance to sex that we do now if you go back a few hundred years. A "sodomite" in the Middle Ages was considered a legal criminal analogous to a thief or a murderer, not a type of person. That world - and the Greek world - wasn't divided into "straight" and "gay". If an Athenian only satisfied his pleasure with his male slaves, that wasn't considered a meaningful categorical truth about him; it was considered a preference, like being a vegetarian. That's how that society processed sexual desire; it's not how ours does. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, and it doesn't affect the argument for gay marriage, and it doesn't affect the truth of a gay person's feelings, and it doesn't make a gay person's romantic or sexual relationships any less worthy or true or beautiful.
10.20.2005 3:47am
BobNelson (mail):

That's how that society processed sexual desire; it's not how ours does.


No, that's how that society processed wealth and power. It describes how a small minority was free to act. It doesn't address interpersonal relationships within the upper classses nor among the common people and it certainly doesn't take into consideration the private romantic/sexual lives of slaves between attacks from their owners.

Use common sense. People with same-sex attractions were largely free to find and live with the persons they wanted to. Government largely ignored them. The private lives of common folk were irrelevant to the state. If the only manifestation of homosexuality was rape, why was there romantic poetry? Why were there open relationships between equals (even if looked down upon by some)?


This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, and it doesn't affect the argument for gay marriage,


Then chide the folks who brought it up. Start with Ms. Gallagher.


and it doesn't affect the truth of a gay person's feelings, and it doesn't make a gay person's romantic or sexual relationships any less worthy or true or beautiful.


Seeking to associate my 25-year romantic and sexual relationship with slave-raping aristocrats most certainly does seek to diminish it.
10.20.2005 4:12am
Chairm (www):
Descending a small hill, you have come to a fork in the road and your conversation pauses as each of you study your location in silence. There is no signpost, but the terrain looks familiar. Each possible pathway appears to be servicable, though one is less travelled.

With small nods and glances, the members of the group quietly acknowledge that there is disagreement about which fork in the road to take.

There's a studied silence and an impatient shuffle of the feet. Each of you has that traveller's instinct urging that to get someplace, it is best to keep moving.

And at that moment, right on cue, the ground begins to shake and a large figure appears in the distance. Shrouded by a rising cloud of dust, the looming interloper lumbers toward your little group. It's a huge beast.

You cannot look away and so you brace yourself and prepare to stand your ground. This has happened before and each of you recognize what is headed your way.

continued here
10.20.2005 4:17am
bago (mail):
"Marriage is the type of relationship that always has the potential to result in children"

So do one night stands. To go for the extreme, so does rape.

If your logic is that children are valuable, and government should promote activities which result in children, then by that logic shouldn't the government ban/heavily tax condoms so that more children are produced? Shouldn't it encourage teen sex, so they can maximize their child producing potential?
10.20.2005 4:31am
Quarterican (mail):
BobNelson -

I've been chiding every comparison between modern homosexuality and Greek society, irrespective of which side in this argument raised it. I've been chiding Ms. Gallagher for a variety of reasons. I don't associate any relationship of yours with a slave-raping aristocrat. Proud Gen Y Slacker asked a factual question with a clear agenda -

(Fact: Some contemporary Romans and, apparently, some historians thought the decline in Roman culture was due to Greek influence. Factual question no one has answered, asked by PGYS: what did Roman gay culture look like before they came under Greek influence? Why did he ask? Because it'd be convenient for him to be able to say that the influence of homosexuality influenced the decline of Rome. He'd be wrong.)

- to which I responded as factually as I could, w/out agenda. Well, my agenda is that I don't like analogies between the present day and Classical Greece. Am I saying there weren't men who loved other men? Not at all. And to that extent, as long as appropriate power structures were observed, yeah, I don't think anybody gave a damn. But there wasn't a conceptual divide between sexual orientations the way there is now. We're talking past each other on this.
10.20.2005 4:32am
BobNelson (mail):

I've been chiding every comparison between modern homosexuality and Greek society, irrespective of which side in this argument raised it. I've been chiding Ms. Gallagher for a variety of reasons. I don't associate any relationship of yours with a slave-raping aristocrat. Proud Gen Y Slacker asked a factual question with a clear agenda -


Point out where you told anyone else to "cease immediately". And I don't think YOU associate my relationship with slave-raping aristocrats. Not directly, at least. What I'm objecting to is that some people hold homosexuality somehow responsible for the fall of civilizations -- a position that requires blinders and crayons. Then you chimed in with your description of "how that society processed sexual desire". That's nonsense. Roman patricians were free to rape female slaves. Was that how Rome "processed heterosexual sexual desire"? The abuse of power in legitimized rape is more about slavery than it is about sexuality.

I agree with you that what happened in Rome and Greece has little bearing on discussions of modern policy EXCEPT for two points: I won't sit by while the Maggie Gallaghers of the world say they are defending Western civilization when they attack gay people. The roots of Western civilization spring from cultures that accepted homosexuality. And, two, I won't sit quietly when people draw simplistic caricatures of the complex issue of sexuality in ANY culture.


But there wasn't a conceptual divide between sexual orientations the way there is now. We're talking past each other on this.


No. I agree completely with you that Greeks and Romans did not view homosexuality as an identity (as gay people do today, with varying degress of agreement from others). Nevertheless, even Romans and Greeks must have noticed that the preferences of some individuals seemed awfully skewed in one direction or the other (especially in adulthood).
10.20.2005 5:56am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Orin wrote: I think I'm beginning to understand the argument Maggie is making.
Because I have a lot of respect for EV and the other conspirators, I start out willing to cut some slack for a guest. But I'm frustrated. I'm also uncomfortable with the levels of hostilty in the comments. The typical post on this blog runs one to three paragraphs, has an introductory sentence, a conclusion, and in between some argument or evidence. A dozen lengthy posts into Maggie's topic, and I'm still not sure what her point is. (Orin may have it about right.) Once she gets to a point, I can decide if she's wrong, if she's being offensive, if we just happen to disagree based on different life experiences, or if she has some interesting insight into the situation. But the shaggy dog tale is just annoying. I've been trying to sort out whether I'm missing her point because it's late and I'm tired, or whether my strong emotional reactions are getting in the way of understanding. But if Orin's not sure either it's probably not just me.
I had a similar experience over at lefttoright blog, where a Ms. Anderson started what seemed like an interesting discussion, but four months into it hadn't made her point yet, and I've pretty much stopped reading that blog.
10.20.2005 7:27am
corngrower:
Marriage is a strawman

The govt in nat denying anyone the abilty to marry. It is not a legal deffinition. The debate centers on the privleges granted by the govt. this is not a judicial issue. It is a legislative issue.
10.20.2005 9:57am
Eric:
Here is a story from yesterday that shows a practical effect of SSM:

Gay Marriage Controversy Extends To Massachusetts Schools.

ABC World News Tonight (10/19, story 8, 2:20, Tapper) reported that in suburban Boston, "David Parker was stunned when his 5-year-old son brought back a 'diversity book bag' from kindergarten. Inside -- this book, 'Who's in a family,' about all kinds of families -- multi-racial, single-parent and, controversially, same-sex parents." Parker "asked the school to notify him any time the subject of homosexuality came up." But after "one meeting, Parker refused to leave the school without that assurance. He was arrested. And after refusing to post the $40 bail, spent the night in jail. The school board then obtained a restraining order to keep him off school property. Last month, rallies for...and against Parker. Some parents agree with the school's effort to instill sensitivity in a state where same-sex marriage is legal," but "same-sex marriage opponents" do not.
10.20.2005 10:01am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Proud Gen Y Slacker asked a factual question with a clear agenda -

(Fact: Some contemporary Romans and, apparently, some historians thought the decline in Roman culture was due to Greek influence. Factual question no one has answered, asked by PGYS: what did Roman gay culture look like before they came under Greek influence? Why did he ask? Because it'd be convenient for him to be able to say that the influence of homosexuality influenced the decline of Rome. He'd be wrong.)


Thanks for the mind reading. I suppose it's impossible that I'm actually curious about this question, and I thought that since people keep on bringing up ancient sexuality here, someone might know something about it? No, of course not, everyone you don't like has an "agenda." What the historian was talking about specifically was slavery, despotism, factional violence, and cynical diplomacy. I'm rather insulted that you think I would say something like "homosexuality destroyed Rome." I am interested to know that Cato complained about Greek influences while walking around without underwear, so thank you for that.
10.20.2005 10:21am
Perry (mail):
After SSM, it would become increasingly difficult to legally prohibit polygamy (especially among Mormons or Muslims).
10.20.2005 10:41am
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
Off topic, does anyone know how much the Romans were into homosexuality before they had extensive contact with the Greeks, say before 300 BC?

I'm not sure we have the evidence to answer your question. Our knowledge of Roman society before 300 BC, especially in those terms, is woefully inadequate.
10.20.2005 10:42am
A Berman (mail):
JB:

I didn't say that SSM was an untested experiment. People on this thread have given the example of Rome during it's fall. Thus, SSM is an experiment that apparently has been tried, but has never been shown to be successful.
10.20.2005 11:26am
thedaddy (mail):
Why is this question posed as an almost universal reaction to the news of the breakup of a marriage --
Did they have any children?

Answer -- No
Reaction--Thats good.

Answer -- Yes
Reaction--Oh how sad.

The only thing that makes a marriage meaningful to the rest of society is children.

if two "Homosexuals" get "Married" what does it mean to the rest of society --- Nothing -- see above.
That being the reality, society has no reason to codify SSM in law.

"Homosexuals" can live together to their hearts content and split up at will with absolutely no positive or negative effect on society so why bother to legitimize or criminalize their actions.

The vast gay wing conspiracy are only doing this because it gains them the attention they crave a allows them to bludgeon acceptance from the rest of us that is unavailable to them under uncoerced conditions.

I fail to see why I should have to approve of someones sexual dysfunction as a matter of law.

The arguments for SSM are based upon emmanations from the penumbras of the cravings of deeply flawed human beings. I reject them in there totallity.

I say Go Maggie.
To the sexually dysfunctional on this comment thread I say get a life, look at yourself in the mirror and ask what does my chosen lifestyle contribute to society in a beneficial way that would be missing if I were normal.


thedaddy

P.S. I reject the concept of "homosexuality" being normal, so don't jump on my statement as being "bigoted" or "homophobic". I don't care what you do among yourselves, I just don't want to have to hear about it or have it be made into laws which affect the vast majority who are not suffering from your delusions.
10.20.2005 11:47am
Neal R. (mail):
It has been maddingly difficult to try to discern any logical thread connecting Ms. Gallagher's posts. Thank for putting her thoughts into a more linear framework. The argument as you have framed it is dubious, question-begging, and fraught with questionable assumptions, but at least I can follow it.

One good thing I will say about Ms. Gallagher's posts is that she has piqued my interest in this subject. So . . . Can anyone recommend any particularly persuasive academic pieces either in favor of or in opposition to SSM?
10.20.2005 11:55am
Eisenstern (mail):
HB - I refer to the argument that procreativity, as opposed to love, disposition of property, familial alliance, or something else, exclusively defines marriage. The question is more or less rhetorical, because it's obvious that couples who are incapable of procreation can and do marry all the time.
10.20.2005 12:14pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Diane: Please tell me in detail the "lifestyle" of homosexuals. Why can't you just admit that you find homosexuality repulsive?

Homosexuality is as homosexuality does.

> BobNelson: I wonder how many of the men deriding romantic marriage here chose brides based on their birthing potential, absent any romantic attraction.

Thats rather a false dillema is it not? Romantic inclination does not preclude anything. This nuance is rather easy to explain -- I'm not attempting to explain how marriage is different as much as I am pointing out what is marriage more.

> Bago: If your logic is that children are valuable, and government should promote activities which result in children, then by that logic shouldn't the government ban/heavily tax condoms so that more children are produced?

The key to understanding this is responsibility. A one night stand specifically lacks the responsibility in procreation that marriage fosters. They are in fact diametrically opposed options in that regard.

> thedaddy,

Excellent points!

> Eisenstern: I refer to the argument that procreativity, as opposed to love, disposition of property, familial alliance, or something else, exclusively defines marriage. The question is more or less rhetorical...

It comes up a lot. Its even been dubbed the Sterility Strawman. No one is saying that procreation is opposed to "love, disposition of property, family alliance, or something else" but that it is the core of those dimensions. Procreation without those dimensions is a digressive enterprise.
10.20.2005 12:53pm
Op Ed. (mail) (www):
Orin (apologies to Eugene): Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution and create a new one, and the new institution would not longer retain a focus on having and raising children.

Here you have invoked an amphibology that makes it difficult to judge whether this statement is accurate. Interestingly enough, this one statement has perpetuated the problem of the two sides of the debate talking past each other.

On the ss"m" side, readers have almost universally read this statement to mean something along the lines of forced pregnancies or mindlessly pumping out children. To that end they have dismissed marriage as "sexist," and one reader even brazenly proposed promoting rape as an acceptable alternative to marriage. If encouraging child-bearing is what you meant as a purpose for marriage, as the ss"m" side here seems to have glommed onto, then you are entirely wrong. Nature itself has taken care of the "promoting child-bearing," and that is precisely why marriage is needed.

The purpose of marriage is not to promote child-bearing, but rather to promote responsibility in that activity. While the human species may survive in the atmosphere of perpetual rape sought after by your one poster, society itself obviously would not. Quoting from The Gorilla:
The success of any society depends on its ability to survive past the current generation. Societies throughout all ages have developed systems to encourage mating couples to bear primary responsibility for the outcome of their union and also various mores against sexual activities without this commitment.


Viewed in that light, same sex marriage is a threat to society: by redefining the institution, it will kill off its most important feature.

Here you have wandered afield of the point as "kill off its most important feature" attempts to imply something as trivial as changing the costume on an actor in the ongoing theater that makes up society. The scenery may change, a new act may begin, but the play will go on. Separating marriage from society's interest in responsible procreation is more like removing the actor entirely. Not only is marriage left a rumpled and shapeless pile, but the play itself is ground to a halt. Marriage, indeed, loses its animating feature, the actor, but society itself, leaving its interest in responsible procreation completely unattended, is destroyed..

Some on this blog and elsewhere postulate that as long as there are a few who continue to recognize the purpose in marriage that those few anchors will be sufficient to hold society together, but that is unlikely and empirically false. Others claim that religion is sufficient to safeguard society's interest in responsible procreation, but that would require the state to develop an interest in religion that Americans find to be constitutionally a bad idea, and, I judge by the anti-religion tirades so common among these comments, so do most of the ss"m" proponents.

Leaving aside the question of whether this argument is persuasive

I doubt many ss"m" proponents will find anything like purpose to be persuasive in the least, as purpose is not what drives the push for ss"m." But it is not the extremist that I am speaking to.
10.20.2005 1:00pm
Quarterican (mail):
BobNelson -

You ended up being the target for my little outburst because you were the most recent person who engaged in what I think of as a serious fallacy. I wasn't processing the identity of the person who wrote it, in my head the progression just went, "First time: no. Second time: really, not so much. Third time: this is just a fallacy. Fourth time: Stop it!" For that I apologize.

I agree with the remainder of your post. Yes, Greeks noticed that some people had certain preferences. They thought exclusive preferences were a little strange, but not great harm - sort of like my thinking it's weird to only eat food with a whitish color. We have a deep cultural belief that our sexual desires say something important about us, are revelatory of our inner natures, etc. Many other cultures didn't. That's all. That's why I tried to draw a distinction between: "Gay/homosexual as category of sexual desire" vs. "Gay/homosexual as category of person."

Proud Generation Y Slacker -

If that wasn't a leading question, it sure as hell looked like one. There've been a fair amount of mind-reading accusations in these discussions, and I was just swept up in the fervor of the mob. But, seriously, you understand how it looks like a leading question?
10.20.2005 1:39pm
Shelby (mail):
Orin,

Why is it Maggie is making the "case" against SSM here, not you? This argument is far clearer and uncluttered.
10.20.2005 1:55pm
Unnamed Co-Conspirator:
Orin, if your assume that marriage (civil marriage, not the religious kind) is a status that confers some benefits on people in a committed relationship similar to traditional marriage, where the marriage partners may also be parents of children, then extending marriage to SS couples only "radically changes" what marriage is if we acknowledge that SS couples have some right to marry, apart from what their state legislature gives them -- that is, a constitutionally guaranteed right. If a state legislature makes a change in laws regarding marriage so that two adults, regardless of sex, can be married (assuming they also meet whatever other requirements are applicable to M-W couples), then I don't see how any fundamental change has occurred (apart from the obvious one, but objecting on those grounds is not at all useful for purposes of this discussion). It's still a status defined by state legislatures, and it doesn't open the door to "marriages" involving more than two people, a person and an animal or any of the other combinations that someone might imagine.
10.20.2005 2:30pm
Chairm Ohn (www):
Orin Kerry, your paraphrase of the argument is pretty close, however:

This is not about adding a new ingredient to the marriage recipe and risking spoilage. It is about removing the essential ingredient, the man-woman criterion that suffices to mark the social institution as conjugal and integrative of the sexes. An apple pie minus apples would just be an unfilled pastry shell.

I've responded more extensively at Opine Editorials.
10.20.2005 2:43pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):

Unfortunately the more focused Maggie gets in answering the questions, the greater the signal to noise ratio gets.

Allow me to point out what is noise...

Arguement from Personal Incredulity

Far too many posts here seem to be ignorant shouts from people freely admitting how much they don't see. If you don't see it, chances are you missed it.

The heart of this fallacy is one of setting one's self falsley as an authority on the subject. In their own minds their judgements are rolled like boulders from the hill to be taken at face value by people who are less likely to be thinking about the subject, and more likely to be reacting to the subject-matter.

We are all advocates here, no one is set up to judge what has or has not taken place. It is better to argue what has been said, to look circumspectly at the topics being discussed, than to insolently demand as an argument that others simply meet their personal (and ever changing) goalposts.

Amphibology

A catalog of these double-speak words is collected here. Please navigate with caution. Much of the misunderstanding can be traced to poorly navigated language.
10.20.2005 3:30pm
bago (mail):

The key to understanding this is responsibility. A one night stand specifically lacks the responsibility in procreation that marriage fosters. They are in fact diametrically opposed options in that regard.


Wouldn't a marriage and lifelong commitment be a source of responsibility? A straight one night stand has child-bearing potential, but little child rearing potential. A gay marriage has less child-bearing potential, but more "responsibility", and child rearing potential.

So what is your sticking point?

Thanks to technology, sex has become more than a mere means to produce children. Almost all of the classical reasons where divorce was permitted had to do with sex. Either a lack of it in the married bed, or too much outside of that bed. Now that sex doesn't always entail pregnancy, and pregnancy doesn't entail a 25% chance of death, the fundamental institution of marriage as a gatekeeper to sex will change.

Marriage was originally about property, which wives being little more than elevated concubines. That has changed over time, and with the elimination of the dowry tangibly so. Marriage has been changing throughout all of human history. To deny so is to deny the facts. Stating that marriage has always been between one man and one woman, and that marriage has always been about children is pure ignorance.
10.20.2005 5:09pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Wouldn't a marriage and lifelong commitment be a source of responsibility?

I believe that is what I said, yes.

A straight one night stand has child-bearing potential, but little child rearing potential. A gay marriage has less child-bearing potential, but more "responsibility", and child rearing potential.

Correct, they both lack the ingredients for responsible procreation.

So what is your sticking point?

They both lack the ingredients for responsible procreation.

Thanks to technology, sex has become more than a mere means to produce children.

No one argued sex was a mere means to produce children. It was argued that sex does produce children, and that a framework of responsibility (ala marriage contract) is a responsible way to choose to have sex. Both for the sake of the partner as well as the children.
10.20.2005 5:14pm
Greg D (mail):
Well, I think you've missed one other point (but perhaps that's because Maggie hasn't covered it, either). Which is this:

Normal marriage brings benefits to society. It gives children a stable structure with a mother and a father to teach them how to be human. It civilizes men. It, in short, makes society possible. It is reasonable, therefore, for society to reward heterosexual marriage.

We know soceity doesn't need homosexual marriage to survive. So, what are the benefits that homosexual marriage provides to society such that society should provide it with the same benefits that it provides heterosexual marriage?

All that I've heard from SSM supporters pretty boils down to whining "I want these things too. I want the benefits, I want the respect." What I've never seen is any sort of rational justification that says that "these are the benefits that SSM will provide for society, and therefore society should reward SSM because the benefits are worth the rewards."

I'm a libertarian. I don't favor government handouts. But that's what the SSM supporters seem to want.
10.20.2005 10:52pm
Zen Curmudgeon (mail):
I'm new to this forum and maybe I haven't examined all the posts in the detail they deserve. Perhaps I am missing something, and please do correct me if I have, but I don't see posts that offer data from places, such as Massachusetts, that actually have SSM. Wouldn't it more productive to examine the real world data than argue from an ideological basis? I mean, I can't honestly say that my heterosexual relationship and legally-sanctioned marriage has suffered because SSM in Massachusetts is now over a year old. It doesn't seem to me that the doom'n'gloom prophesies have been realized.

And even Maggie Gallagher found another husband. :)

Take Care -

ZC
10.22.2005 2:05am
Ghengis Cohen (mail) (www):
ZC: Go to Maggi Gallagher's site, and read what's happening in Canada, how the law there is being used to persecute and silence those who publicly argue that children need mothers and fathers, that marriage is between a man and a woman, photographers forced to use their artistic skills to promote same-sex "marriages," church organizations forced to lease their facilities to same-sex "marriages," etc. I'm glad that both your heterosexual relationship and your marriage are (independently?) flourishing. But if you were paying attention, you'd notice that the stuff that Maggi Gallagher was talking about occurs over periods of decades. Like the effect of quickie divorces on marriages -- the impact didn't occur overnight.

Note though that same-sex couples are now adopting 40% of adoptions in the state. That's grossly out of proportion to their numbers, suggesting that PC social workers are favoring same-sex couples over real married couples, and systematically depriving children of fathers and mothers. I support adoption by same-sex couples, but the Goodridge atrocity effectively declares that the state can't and won't even take the child's need for a father and a mother into consideration. That's what happens when the courts say that the laws of marriage and adoption aren't supposed to be about the child's best interest anymore.
10.23.2005 4:07am