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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 20, 2005 at 12:09pm] Trackbacks
Brief Rebuttals:

Ok, very brief rebuttals, since you insist.

On adoption: I think adoption is great. I even think single parents adopting is great (if the alternative is no family).. I think arguably adoption is morally better than procreation. (The Christian view is we are all children of God through adoption).

But before you can adopt you have to have parents who have abandoned or are judged by the state to be incapable of caring for their own children. Adoption is thus a happy end to a tragedy or a crime. I personally think there should be preferences for married couples in adoption law. I could be persuaded you ought to have second-parent adoption laws for gay couples. But I don't see how the fact that some married people adopt undercuts the relationship between marriage and procreation.

Anymore than I think the fact that people can and do bear children outside of marriage (and the state doesn't forcibly repatriate their children) means that marriage really never really been about procreation.

People raise the most bizarre arguments: Well, if marriage were really important for procreation and family structure we'd do "X." And the "x" is something no marriage culture has ever done to my knowledge: like forcibly annulling childless couples.

Andrew Sullivan is particularly good at this: He pulls out of his hat his standard for what would make marriage connected to procreation, like testing couples for infertility and barring those who are found not to be procreative, or having the state end marriages that are not child-producing within five years. And then he declares that the fact we don't do this "proves" marriage isn't really connected to procreation in law.

But the way marriage cultures work is quite different: by separating out a certain kind of sexual unions—husbands and wives-- and surrounding these unions with special legal, familial, religious and cultural support. Because the way it works in reality is, the more people attracted to the opposite sex who enter such unions, the better off children will be.

A subtler argument sometimes made is this: well, we have some nonprocreating couples in the mix. Why would adding SS couples change anything? Two points: SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples. This intrinsically means (if the effort is successful) downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure). The second truth is that both older couples and childless couples are part of the natural life-cycle of marriage. Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all.

A2 Reader:
People raise the most bizarre arguments: Well, if marriage were really important for procreation and family structure we'd do "X." And the "x" is something no marriage culture has ever done to my knowledge: like forcibly annulling childless couples.

I don't see why this is a bizarre argument. The goal of the absurd hypothetical is to undermine the initial premise -- that the beginning and ending of marriage's utility relates to procreation -- by revealing its logical conclusion.

The fact that marriage don't work this way, that cultures don't work this way, is evidence against the premise. There's nothing absurd about it.
10.20.2005 1:23pm
Angus (mail) (www):
If adoptive familes are just as good as procreative ones, from the perspective of the child --- as Gallagher seems to imply here --- then it seems obvious to me that it would be better for a child to be raised from birth by a committed same-sex couple than in any of the family arrangements (single-parent, blended-family) that Gallagher has disparaged.

And since Gallagher contends so strongly that marriage strengthens families, she would presumably have to agree that the children of same-sex couples would be well served by policies that did not merely allow, but encouraged, their parents to marry.

That she is unwilling to concede either of these points demonstrates once again that she harbors an animus toward same-sex couples that she is unwilling to acknowledge.
10.20.2005 1:24pm
Progressive Joe (mail) (www):
People raise the most bizarre arguments: Well, if marriage were really important for procreation and family structure we'd do "X." And the "x" is something no marriage culture has ever done to my knowledge: like forcibly annulling childless couples.

In fact, infertility has been an accepted justification for annulment and historically infertile women have faced significant social stigma. It may not have been de jure forcible annulment, but in practice such social stigma in effect barred infertile women from marriage. So, barring childless couples from marriage in fact has a historical analog in barring same-sex couples from marriage: they are both intended to ensure marriage was used for procreation. To the extent such barring of gay people and infertile people from marriage is based on moral disapproval or animus toward those groups, such hate-based rationales cannot be used to justify such restrictions today.
10.20.2005 1:25pm
Paul Sherman (mail):
So is procreation now only "connected" to marriage? Or is it still "the reason" for marriage? The former seems beyond question. The latter assumes that marriage has a single, overriding reason; a contention that seems open to debate.

Is Sullivan claiming that marriage isn't "connected" to procreation? Or is it, as it appears to me, that he's claiming it's obviously not the ONLY "reason" for marriage (as you stated in your first post)?

If he is arguing the former, he's a crackpot. If he's arguing the latter, you're doing him a considerable injustice by making a strawman out of a very reasonable argument.
10.20.2005 1:26pm
Crane (mail):
SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples. This intrinsically means (if the effort is successful) downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure).

I was under the impression that gay couples wanted to get married precisely so they could add their partners to their own official "family structure". And, of course, many of them do raise children. So how does this downgrade the social significance of generativity?

Or is a marriage only generative if the couple can make babies together? Again, this would seem to relegate adopted children to second-class status.
10.20.2005 1:26pm
Angus (mail) (www):
For clarity, my "it would be better for a child to be raised from birth by a committed same-sex couple" above should probably be "it would be better, by Gallagher's professed standards, for a child to be raised from birth by a committed same-sex couple."

I myself have no opinion on whether, as Gallagher has claimed, blended families cause problems for kids.
10.20.2005 1:29pm
Maggie Gallagher (mail) (www):
Generativity is THE reason for marriage in the sense that it is the reason that is a. a legal status and b. a universal human institution.

It is not the only motive for marriage, nor the definition of marriage, nor the only personal benefit of marriage. (Childless couples really are marriage, and as I point out, their marriages also partly serve the procreative function of marriage, in that no member of this couples will be producing out of wedlock children.

Procreation and is also the most endangered social function of marriage, which is why I think any additional risk to this function at this time in history is morally unacceptable. Maggie
10.20.2005 1:32pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Hi Maggie,

Good to see you here. Even though I disagree with much of your view on SSM, I think that you're onto something, especially with this post. One aspect of the idea that marriage is not entirely separate from procreation is the fact that we don't let siblings marry. In fact, the same arguments used by SSM proponents could easily be transferred to the realm of sibling marriages. After all, how can you be so bigoted as to deny the potentially sexual love that a brother and a sister share? The reason we don't do this is because we know that marriage is too inately tied to procreation. For example, we don't ban sex between siblings. But we do ban marriage between them because we do, in law, recognize that marriage as an institution is a baby-producing one and as such, we wouldn't want little Alexey Romanovs running around bleeding all over the place every time they fall in the playground, a high probability outcome of sibling marriage.

I have several disagreements, but will save them for a future comments. Again, good to see you here, and hope all is well.
10.20.2005 1:33pm
guest:

SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples.


This seems as close as we'll get to a candid admission that her opposition to SSM is actually all about keeping them homos subjegated.
10.20.2005 1:36pm
Justin Kee (mail):
"SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples. This intrinsically means (if the effort is successful) downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure)."

From your writing, I interpret this to you mean the dilution of generativity by the addition of same-sex marriages to the mix.

"The second truth is that both older couples and childless couples are part of the natural life-cycle of marriage. Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all."

But it dilutes the generativity, does it not?


I can not wait unti Friday, when I hope the semblance of rational thought returns to this web site.
10.20.2005 1:38pm
guest:
So as best I can tell, Maggie, your point is that a lack of procreation will doom our civilization, and that SSM will contribute to a lack of procreation.

Because the way it works in reality is, the more people attracted to the opposite sex who enter such unions, the better off children will be.

If that's the case, get off the point of what's best for children. That doesn't matter - you claim that you are in favor of adoption, and surely a stable home is what is best for children in cases of adoption. Since homosexuals can have kids, it would stand to reason that you would think a stable home for those children is also best. But you actually don't care about that, do you? Unless I misunderstand your argument, you just want to encourage more procreation. Is that correct?
10.20.2005 1:40pm
Goober (mail):
Maggie,

You've been pretending that the frustration felt by your commenters stems from your reluctance thus far to rebut their specific arguments.

It's not. It stems from your refusal thus far to articulate any reason why SSM would hurt marriage or otherwise discourage people from raising children in the context of traditional husband-and-wife households. And, emphatically, you have refused to articulate any such reason.

That is what your commenters want to know. Not whether you approve of adoption.

You've been promising it all week. Please, finally, tell us in what way allowing same-sex marriage will affect negatively different-sex marriage.

Cheers,

Goober
10.20.2005 1:46pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Generativity is THE reason for marriage in the sense that it is the reason that is a. a legal status and b. a universal human institution.

And since many same gender married couples are 'generative' just fine with the same technologies used by opposite gender ones that means they should also have access to this civil contract, right?

Again a flawed basic premise - 14% of opposite gender couples by choice or inability are 'non-generative'. The number of same gender couples who are non-generative is totally dwarfed by the the opposite gender ones that are. According to the Urban Institute demographics, 20% of gay and 33% of lesbian households are raising families with minor members. Of the gay families the same percentage have a 'stay at home' parent as do opposite gender-parented families. Children raised by loving parents are indistinquishable from each other regardless of the gender combination of their parents.

Marriage is no longer about controlling mere breeding and hasn't been for a very long time. That you reduce it to this indicates to me you are rather desperately looking for rationalizations for a preheld opinion not delving for the truth.
10.20.2005 1:53pm
tdsj:
"Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all."

... or does it signal that marriage isn't always and only about procreation... and that marriage is already a varied and fluid institution with many forms...
10.20.2005 1:54pm
jrose:
Maggie: The second truth is that both older couples and childless couples are part of the natural life-cycle of marriage. Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all. [...] Generativity is THE reason for marriage in the sense that it is the reason that is a. a legal status and b. a universal human institution.

My father (a widower) will be remarried next year at the age 74 to a post-menopausal woman. That marriage is not part of a life-cycle of marriage. Ditto for a couples which are known to be infertile before they marry.

Why does the state recognize these marriages? It cannot be to "partly serve the procreative function of marriage, in that no member of this [sic] couples will be producing out of wedlock children [if they aren't married]."
10.20.2005 1:54pm
Markusha:
Eugene,
No one has claimed that marriage is entirely separate from procreation. Of course, it is not. Although, as many commenters have demonstrated, it is by far not the only purpose nor has it ever been. Nurturing children is much more of a purpose than physical sexual act leading to pregnancy.
We don't allow siblings to marry for reasons having nothing to do with same sex marriage debate. We don't allow them to marry because it has been shown that children of these marriages are likely to suffer from diseases, as you yourself stated. Note that this rationale is simply inapplicable in SSM. There has been no scientific evidence that children raised in SSM are any worse off than children of heterosexual marriages. Moreover, the situation is also distinguishable because in the case of sibling marriages, there is nothing to prevent siblings from marrying someone else. In contrast, in the absence of SSM, gays cannot marry at all unless they change their sexual orientation.
10.20.2005 1:55pm
John H (mail) (www):
I can't stand that Sullivan argument, and I keep asking Maggie to respond to it this way:

All those married couples have the right, the license, to procreate together. Even the old ones, even the infertile, even the ones that don't intend to. Same-sex couples, like siblings, should not have a right to procerate together. This is incompatible with marriage, since every marriage has a right to have children together, even if the couple doesn't really need the license because they can have children outside of marriage now. Couples that don't have the right to procreate can't get married. These are the only couples that can't get married, and what is intended to be prohibited in denying them marriage is their procreation. We have not changed the procreation rights that come with marriage, even as the culture expanded the procreation rights of unmarried people. All marriages still grant the right to procreate like they have always done throughout history and in every culture, and as the court understood in the Loving and Zablocki cases.
10.20.2005 2:06pm
jpe (mail) (www):
It may not have been de jure forcible annulment, but in practice such social stigma in effect barred infertile women from marriage.

Presumably, the response to this would be in terms of presumption &administrative costs: we don't want to expend the energy it would take to have people take fertility tests, so we presume heterosexual couples are capable of having kids.

If there were obvious physical markers of infertility (a 3rd nipple or something), though, would we then prohibit those people from marrying? My intuition is that we shouldn't. Those people should still be able to marry, infertility or not. At least for me (and I suspect for most people), then, intuition doesn't track the proffered rationale for marriage.
10.20.2005 2:11pm
John H (mail) (www):
btw, when I say "Same-sex couples, like siblings, should not have a right to procerate together" I mean literally combine their gametes, using some technology that may or may not be developed. We don't have to wait for the technology to be developed to realize that even just trying it would be unethical, most obviously for safety reasons related to gene expression, but also for a whole host of other reasons, including all the reasons people oppose SSM, as well as reasons that have nothing to do with homosexuality or marriage (don't even bother to ask what the reasons are, they are too numerous to list. Just think of them as a huge storm cloud of ethical issues that can't be denied and won't go away by objecting to one particular issue I might offer as an example).

And currently, btw, same-sex reproduction is NOT illegal. I do not see how anyone can be opposed to a couple that intends to procreate together getting married first. As Maggie says, procreation is the reason for marriage, and if two women can procreate, they have a reason for marriage.
10.20.2005 2:13pm
Randy R. (mail):
Alright Maggie, it seems to me that you are arguing that we cannot separate biological child bearing from marriage, or else western civilization will collapse. If you truly believe that, then you should be arguing for a law which would say this:

"All persons entering into a marriage agree that they will produce children by natural childbirth within X years (X to be determined by the state). Failure to produce any children by the end date will result in an automatic declaration that the marriage is null and void."

This way your goals are fully accomplished -- it prohibits gay marriage, since gay people can't have children naturally, and it directly links marriage and procreation. Anyone impertinent to think otherwise will find themselves back at the singles bar in short order. It will get people's attention very quickly, will insure that people will associate marriage with procreation. It has the added benefit of not mentioning whether love or sharing a life has anything to do with marriage, as you seem to not care about that at all.

Wouldn't that be a better way to accomplish your goals? Then anyone opposing this legislation, you can label a bigot for resisting change!
10.20.2005 2:14pm
timbuktu (mail):
The following is from today's National Journal Hotline. I just found it an interesting aside to the current debate.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) "wants to promote marriage by" using "federal funds to match the savings of married or engaged couples to help them buy a home, get job training or start a business" in D.C. He's included a $3M provision in a pending '06 D.C. spending bill, half of which "would fun the marriage accounts," to give up to $9K to low-income couples, because he said "we must act quickly to stop the erosion of marriage in our nation's capital."
Legal Momentum Gov't Relations VP Lisalyn Jacobs said Washington "has always been the stepchild of carious congressional whims or preferences" and Brownback's proposal "could really be an incentive for someone whose relationship is questionable or problematic to make a bad choice." Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said the proposal was against the GOP's principles and said, "We continually talk about the ineffectiveness of federal programs, and then we turn around and propose similar ones" (Dodge, Bloomberg, 10/20).
Brownback will hold the 3rd Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing to discuss "a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman" today at 2pm. "Experts will testify about the fate of traditional marriage in today's judicial environment and the role of a constitutional amendment in preserving marriage" (release, 10/19).
10.20.2005 2:18pm
John H (mail) (www):
jpe, it isn't just adminstrative costs of infertiilty tests. All of us have a right to attempt to procreate, that's why we all have a right to marry the person of our choice (with the exception of relationships where there is supportable basis to forbid their procreation, ie siblings and other (blood and non-blood) relatives.)

So, we don't give infertiity tests because everyone has a basic civil right to try.
10.20.2005 2:19pm
Marty (mail):

The fact that we don't revoke someone's drivers license if they don't own a car and never actually drive is PROOF that drivers licences have nothing to do with driving. If drivers licenses were about driving, you'd be required to own a car before you could get one.
10.20.2005 2:21pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
Oh my, this discussion is embarassing. It's one thing to disagree with Maggie (as I do). It's quite another that most of the posters apparently can't even discern her argument. She's made it pretty clear people. I guess that ideological brick wall she mentioned really does exist in most of your heads.

Here's the argument as I see it:

1. Marriage is a universal institution in successful societies. It has served many purposes (i.e. property distribution), but the main purpose has been to protect pregnant women and the children they have by binding the father to the family. For most of history, romantic love had nothing to do with it.

2. In the last 200 years, society has slowly moved away from the idea that marriage is about anything other than romantic love and personal fulfillment. With no-fault divorce and high out-of-wedlock childbearing, the idea that marriage is mostly about procreation has become tenuous.

3. If marriage is defined as being just about romantic love, fulfillment, and commitment to a partner, then marriage is doomed, because:
A. Romantic love is just about the most fickle and undependable emotion in human experience, and can't sustain an institution as important as marriage, and
B. Once you say marriage is just about a love commitment, there's no reason to limit it to unrelated, unmarried dyads in a sexual relationship. Any number of people who are or aren't having sex will be able to get married, and that removes any meaning from marriage.

4. Allowing SSM will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and push our culture over the edge into believing that marriage is really just about a romantic love commitment, and not inherently tied up with the protection of pregnant women and children.

Now, I disagree with this analysis because:
1. I think that over the next 200 years, our society will move towards the unstable, individualized romantic view of marriage anyway, regardless of SSM. So I don't think allowing gay marriage will have anything more than a very slight accelerating effect on that change.

2. Denying a class of citizens the dignity of having equal rights isn't worth staving off a slight accelerating effect.

However, I can at least understand her argument, which is more than I can say for most people here. And her argument does make sense in a non-bigoted way, even though I ultimately think it's wrong. She's right that most Americans still think of marriage is being mostly about procreation (as a married, childless by choice woman, I can attest to this - I can't count the amount of times I've been asked "Why did you even bother to get married?" when I tell people that I don't intend to have children). However, the link is weakening, and this is especially true in the urban/liberal/educated areas that are also most in favor of SSM.

There are lots of reasons to disagree with Maggie. But it's shameful how many of the posters here are so blinded by ideology that they're literally incapable of understanding her argument. Aren't most of you lawyers, law students, or law professors? Isn't it your job to be able to comprehend and analyze both sides of an issue??

Also, several posters have challenged Maggie's views on gays in general, in an effort to reveal what they think is an underlying animosity. A valid concern, but I would ask the analogous question of SSM-supporters: Would you really care if marriage ceased to meaningfully exist in our culture?
10.20.2005 2:23pm
Anonymous Coward:
Marty,

The fact that we don't revoke someone's drivers license if they don't own a car and never actually drive is PROOF that drivers licences have nothing to do with driving. If drivers licenses were about driving, you'd be required to own a car before you could get one.


Everyone knows drivers licenses are for buying tobacco and liquor.

On a serious note, do you not have to pass a driving test to get a drivers license? Maybe we should have a 'pop out a baby' test before issuing marriage licenses?
10.20.2005 2:26pm
MarkW (mail):
Two points: SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples. This intrinsically means (if the effort is successful) downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure)

How does recognizing the fundamental equality of gays and lesbians in any way "downgrade" the importance of "generativity." Non sequiturs do not become somehow valid simply because they are made by right-wingers.
10.20.2005 2:26pm
Angus (mail) (www):
I would ask the analogous question of SSM-supporters: Would you really care if marriage ceased to meaningfully exist in our culture?

I'm one of the folks who've tried to connect the dots on Gallagher's anti-gay animus, so I'll bite.

I'm not at all clear on what it would mean for marriage to "cease to meaningfully exist," but if that somehow happened? Yes, I'd care. I'd care very much.

I'm married. Heterosexually. Have been for ten years. I've got a kid. I believe in the institution of marriage, and I consider the commitment I made to my wife to be the most solemn, important commitment I've ever made to anyone.

I am the child of parents who have been together for forty years, as is my wife. I consider those stable marriages to have been formative in my character and in my wife's, and I look to them as examples as we raise our child.

So yes. Count me as a supporter of marriage.
10.20.2005 2:35pm
PaulD:
Basing marriage laws on pragmatic objectives or probabilistic outcomes is contrary to the principle of freedom and is just bad law. If you're going to go down the path of "likely to succeed in raising fertile offspring" it would be better to insist that a couple have a demonstrated income of $X per year than to insist that they be of the opposite sex. SSM should be forbidden because it is wrong, not because state planners don't foresee the requisite number of children being produced by it.
10.20.2005 2:42pm
Quarterican (mail):
Law Student Kate -

I think most people here do understand Ms. Gallagher's stated argument. After all, there's a nice thread started by Orin Kerr providing crib notes, and before the argument resumed there, we all seemed in agreement as to what the structure of her position was.

But it gets tiring to say the same things over and over in each thread. We're not really in dialogue with Ms. Gallagher, certainly not at this point (in my opinion). We're having a debate in these threads which references her posts as a jumping off point, and occasionally now she acknowledges some of the points which have been raised, though not in a way I find meaningful. (I mean, On Lawn at least has a paper he likes linking to on "The Sterility Strawman" - I disagree with it, but it's an argument. The closest Ms. Gallagher's come to addressing the same topic is to say that artificial insemination isn't passionate and beautiful the way heterosexual intercourse is.)

That said, I like the idea of marriage having a life-cycle. Bonus points to Ms. Gallagher for ratcheting up the mysticism. Especially for somehow saying that "childless couples" are "part of the life cycle" of marriage. What? Unless "every childless couple is a set of parents who haven't slipped one past the goalie yet," the Peter Pans of married life, they're not in the same life cycle as "marry, have kids, have grandkids."
10.20.2005 2:45pm
RBG (mail):
I think Law Student Kate's right, both in her evaluation of the quality of many of the comments and in her summary of Maggie's argument.

As to the first, I find it disturbing that apparently our law schools--I saw this among my own classmates as well--have failed at teaching the most basic elements of logic and rhetoric. It's certainly easier dealing with discomfiting arguments by asserting that your opponent is a bigot (how, by the way, is this any different from asserting, as some on the right do, that your opponent is immoral; certainly the commentors here would recognize THAT as an illegitimate form of argument--why not when the tables are turned). But it's still universally accepted, is it not, that the merits of an argument are to be decided on the strength of the argument itself, and not on the proponents motivations, underlying beliefs, or sources of funding? If not, I fear that this is evidence of an abandonment of reason that poses a far greater threat to enlightenment values than poor Maggie's alleged animosity toward gays.

As to the second, Maggie captures something important that has been obscured by reproductive technology--primarily birth control. Prior to reliable means of birth control, it was inevitable that male-female unions would produce babies; in this way, they were fundamentally different from same-sex relationships, and even had such relationships been recognized, they would have not have presented the same problem of how to contain and nurture the inherent generativeness (?) of the male-female union. Defining marriage broadly enough to capture most fertile couples was an attempt to solve the myriad problems this generative (and uncontrollable, apart from celibacy) characteristic of male-female relationships. Perhaps Kate is also correct that the popular concept of marriage has been transformed (arguably by the development of reliable birth control technologies). If she is, and the popular concept of marriage has finally diverged (or will diverge) so markedly from the traditional religious concept, perhaps it's time for either a privatization of marriage or a reassertion of the distinction between civil and religious marriage?
10.20.2005 2:47pm
Aultimer:

Law Student Kate:
If marriage is defined as being just about romantic love, fulfillment, and commitment to a partner, then marriage is doomed, because:
A. Romantic love is just about the most fickle and undependable emotion in human experience, and can't sustain an institution as important as marriage, and
B. Once you say marriage is just about a love commitment, there's no reason to limit it to unrelated, unmarried dyads in a sexual relationship. Any number of people who are or aren't having sex will be able to get married, and that removes any meaning from marriage.


Let's add this:
"C. The government has no business whatsoever regulating or bestowing advantage upon romantic relationships. Even less than in enforcing church-created contracts."

Does anyone think preventing SSM is a better way to accomplish Maggie's professed ends than restoring adultery law, repealing no-fault divorce for parents or a myriad other more targeted government acts? If there are better ways to serve the ends, why does she spend time on this?
10.20.2005 2:49pm
justanotherguy (mail):
It seems to me that MG is making a classic Burkean argument: that the wisdom of society shows this is best, and when not bad things happen. She then goes on to assume that the known and traditional structures are the best for assumed goals of society (procreation and child-rearing.)

Unfortunately(?), society underwent several revolutions in the 20th century, some technology driven (pill, antibiotics), some government driven (welfare state), and some socially driven (value changes in society). What we are left with is a system that does not allow differing methods of establishing society to compete within the self-government countries and no way to tell which are better than others.

MG mentions that marriage has been challenged in the inner cities, but doesn't note that it has been replaced with the welfare state, and assumes that her prescription would lead to a better result. (what goals, what opportunity costs, what outside effects?)

It looks like there are too many other influences on the measurements MG is using as MOEs for why or why not SSM to accurately assess its benefit to her self-chosen goals. Of course as a libertarian, I would like government to get out of the way, including helping those that fail and allow society to develop new traditions that work.

Why not allow and see? We have enough other changes in society... why limit the choices... maybe this will lead to better traditions that meet or current tech driven society's needs.
10.20.2005 2:54pm
corngrower:
I have not followed this close. It is not a legal issue. Want SSM fine with me. Get your personal state legislature to approve SSM. Or, I'm sorry, seems only sitting judges that can use commas have the brain power to sort out these complex social issues. Us commoners is tooo stooppid.
10.20.2005 2:55pm
Seamus (mail):

Anymore than I think the fact that people can and do bear children outside of marriage (and the state doesn't forcibly repatriate their children) means that marriage really never really been about procreation.



"repatriate"? I do not think that word means what you think it means.
10.20.2005 2:58pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Maggie:

1. Do you think that having married parents benefits an adopted child?

2. If you think that, why do you think that children adopted by same-sex couples do not deserve those benefits?
10.20.2005 2:58pm
Ron:
PaulD,

SSM is wrong, how?
10.20.2005 3:00pm
JoeW:
For lack of anywhere else to post this; could Maggie Gallagher's guest blogging terminated. She's making the same arguments over and over and over and dozens of people are making the same counter-points just as redundantly. Unfortunately, the genuinely interesting posts for which I come to this site, are now lost in the seemingly endless paragraphs of Maggie blabbing. I'll give it another day before unlinking this blog permanently.
10.20.2005 3:03pm
Shawn (mail):
Gene Vilensky,

4 states permit first cousin marriage under the condition that they prove at least one member of the relationship is infertile. So in at least those four states, lack of procreation is a pre-condition to certain marriages.

I agree with Maggie that procreation is desireable within marriage. I also agree that it is important for children to be raised within a marriage as the legal benefits given to the parents create a more stable environment for them.

I disagree that SSM will harm procreation. I am disappointed, though not surprised, that Maggie avoids the issue of child raising (which is hard to tie only to opposite-sex couples) in favor of direct procreation (which is easily tied to only opposite-sex couples.) If she gives in and admits that marriage is good for the 18+ years a child is raised, versus the 9 months it takes to procreate and give birth, she greatly weakens her argument against including same-sex couples within marriage.

As a citizen, I am more concerned about how children are raised rather than how they come into being.
10.20.2005 3:15pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
By the way, saying you think adoption is great is not a rebuttal to the point being persistently raised - why do you think adopted children don't deserve to have married parents when they are adopted by same-sex couples?
10.20.2005 3:19pm
eddie (mail):
Here's is a simple question regarding your rebuttal of Andrew Sullivan:

While I agree that he uses faulty logic, perhaps the point should be this, why are childless marriages supported with the same rights as child-bearing. IF the bundle of rights and privileges are really about supporting this result, then I would rephrase his criticism as one which says:

If you include all heteroxexual marriages under this blanket of procreative incentives and protections, why shouldn't there be a separate kind of marriage for barren, childless couples. Many couples never intend to have babies.

In any event, if the procreation and protection of children is the point, what does marriage (and the specific legal protections for the spouses) have to do with the kids? It would make more sense to create a body of law that actively protects the welfare of children.

And by the way, have you ever been to Norway, for example, where procreation and the protection of children are directly addressed without the need for the institution of marriage being propped up by the government.

Finally, as a contract, I don't recall any promises made to the other spouse regarding procreation or the support of children.

A final query, should the refusal to procreate be a ground for divorce?

Marriage as an institution to me is secondary to the family as an institution. What has been destroyed, with the help of our government, is the ability to have extended families, or tribes if you will. This is deomonstrably a more innate "cultural" institution than marriage per se.

Marriage and the bundle of rights and privileges appurenant thereto are mostly concerned with the disposition of property.
10.20.2005 3:19pm
drealy (mail):
I would dispute the notion that marriage is about procreation. Marriage is about sex. Sexual relationships are different than other relationships in a whole host of ways, and the possibility of procreation, while probably the most important, is by no means the only one. Cultures primarily deny marriage where sex is forbidden (like between siblings or other close relatives), and use marriage to ecourage and support stable and monogamous relationships.

People who believe that all homosexual sex is morally wrong also believe that same sex marriages should be forbidden because to recognize it is to legitimize homosexual sex.

I believe that marriage is a critical institution, and I also believe that society has strong interest in encouraging sexual relationships to be stable and monogamous, preferably with the institutional stability of marriage.

Our society has decided that homosexual sex can not be legally prohibited. Therefore I believe that allowing gay marriage, and encouraging gay couples to institutionalize stable monogamous relationships will strengthen the institution of marriage rather than weaken it. The threat to the role of marriage in protecting children is from sexual relationships outside of marriage, not from non-procreating sex within marriage.
10.20.2005 3:22pm
PaulD:
Ron,

I say SSM is wrong because a non-pleading interpretation of the Bible indicates that it is. Should religious views not have a place in this debate? Perhaps our society will decide that they do not, or it will turn out that the majority of even religious voices will turn out in favor of SSM. But it seems silly to me to think that the predominant reason heretofore that SSM was illegal was unrelated to the predominant Judeo-Christian moral framework of this country.
10.20.2005 3:24pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
Aultimer,

I think you are absolutely right that restoring fault-based divorce for parents and actively enforcing adultery and/or fornication laws would achieve Maggie's goals much more efficiently than prohibitng SSM would (the latter probably being practically useless for her goals).

Maybe she will answer why she isn't advocating for a restoration of the old laws. My guess is that she knows it's politically unfeasible.

As to whether the government should be regulating romantic relationships, the answer would clearly be no if it weren't for the fact that the children that are often the product of those relationships are vulnerable and need protection. Although certainly, we could deal with that problem by basing our laws directly around children and their rights to their parents, rather than trying to do it backwards through marriage laws.

See now, this is a useful discussion, when posters come up with better alternatives to deal with the problems Maggie is concerned with, rather than just telling her that she's a moron or evil.
10.20.2005 3:29pm
Molly:
Maggie,

You say: "People raise the most bizarre arguments: Well, if marriage were really important for procreation and family structure we'd do "X." And the "x" is something no marriage culture has ever done to my knowledge: like forcibly annulling childless couples."

However, your factual assertion is wrong. According to strict jewish law a marriage is annulled if it does not produce any children within 10 years. Obviously very few Jews currently follow this practice, but the Ultra-Orthodox still do.

I'd say the reason most Jews no longer annul childless marriages, and the reason most people would be appalled if the US government did so, is that we recognize that whatever the purpose of marriage is, its about more than just procreation.
10.20.2005 3:31pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
eddie -

Refusal to procreate is currently a ground for anullment - the law considers procreation to be an "essential of marriage" such that without it, a spouse can actually void the marriage as if it never existed.

(P.S. "essential of marriage" is not my language, it's the common law language)
10.20.2005 3:35pm
PaulD:
For the government to allow divorce in the case of childlessness would be reasonable if divorce in general were outlawed, but what is the point when you can get a divorce for any reason?
10.20.2005 3:37pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Law Student Kate
A valid concern, but I would ask the analogous question of SSM-supporters: Would you really care if marriage ceased to meaningfully exist in our culture?
I think most here recognize that people generally benefit from being coupled up and the accompanying reasons why the state should encourage it. People are healthier as couples both physically and mentally, they are happier, they are more economically stable, they contribute more to the society and take less from it. And they are the best environment for the raising of children so that they will grow up to be healthier.
By giving these couples a way of merging their legal rights into effectively one entity, it allows a division of labor and responsibilities that are not easily possible when each individual is viewed only by themselves.
So yes, the very reasons why marriage should continue to exists are the same ones why all citizens should have access to the civil contract. Its good for the citizens (which in a government which exists to serve the citizens should be reason enough right there) its good for their families, and its good for the society in general.

As to your saying we are ignoring Gallager's thesis, we do because it is flawed - the current national debate isn't about 'marriage the insititution' but marriage the civil contract. Reality always trumps mental constructs and the reality is that same gender couples have been marrying, are marrying, and will continue to marry - the only question wh shouldn't their marriages have access to the civil contract of the same name?
10.20.2005 3:39pm
John H (mail) (www):
Jesurgislac: "why do you think that children adopted by same-sex couples do not deserve those benefits?"

Those benefits can be granted without granting procreation rights to those children's parents by creating civil unions which do not grant procreation rights. If we give them all the rights that a both-sex marriage has, either with marriage or a civil union that gives all the rights of marriage, then they would have the right to procreate that all marriages have. It would harm the adopted children if their parents attempted to procreate, not help them. They should be protected from their parents attempting to procreate by banning non-male/female procreation.
10.20.2005 3:41pm
Francis:
we have some nonprocreating couples in the mix. Why would adding SS couples change anything? Two points: SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples.

Aha! a point of agreement between this pro-SSM advocate and Ms. Gallagher.

If non-naturally generative couples may marry, then there is some marginal impact on the idea of generativity being the central concept behind marriage.

of course, there are a number of powerful arguments in rebuttal to this hypothesis.

a. no-fault divorce, the end of an agricultural-based economy (resulting in increased mobility of labor, resulting in people moving away from home more), the suffragette movement, the anti-anti-miscegenation movement, and the women's liberation movement have all had very powerful and irreversible effects on the definition of marriage, enhancing the contract theory to the detriment of the permit theory.

b. We're talking about 3-5% of the population. The impact to marriage arises from the current dispute. Once SSM becomes commonplace, the other pressures on "traditional" marriage will, arguably, far outweigh the pressure created by SSM.

c. It is possible that the hypothesis is backward. It is just as possible that the societal impact of having even the most disfavored community seeking access to marriage will enhance the concept of marriage.

d. Some prices are worth paying in order to give effect to our societal and Constitutional commitments to equal rights.

The second truth is that both older couples and childless couples are part of the natural life-cycle of marriage. Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all.

hogwash. their presence signals that our society assigns values to marriage other than procreation. Their presence signals that the contract theory -- those who wish to marry should be allowed to marry -- has won out over the permit theory -- that the state licenses procreation.

Assuming away the evidence that contradicts one's hypothesis is always a weak move. Given the number and vitality of non-procreative marriages in this country, this assumption is fatal to this hypothesis.
10.20.2005 3:42pm
DM Andy (mail):
PaulD, I think that religious views do have a place in the debate. However the most common reponse to "The Bible says SSM is wrong" is "Yeah, so?". Maggie's been trying to outline why she thinks SSM will destroy marriage. I might be persuaded if she had provided decent statistical evidence of that from what's happened in other places but as far as I can work out, she hasn't.

By the way, TRC made a point last night that I did find interesting, if we have SSM, what's to stop non-gay couples from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages. If so that would change the nature of marriage in my eyes as marriage wouldn't be about love, but about finances. If there was evidence that was happening then I would be worried.

Kate, as a supporter of SSM, I would say I would care if marriage ceased to meaningfully exist in our culture. I happen to think that the introduction of SSM would make marriage more important in our culture as more people would be included in it.
10.20.2005 3:42pm
PaulD:
Law Student Kate,

Are you saying that from the perspective of the government one can indeed get a marriage annulled (as opposed to a divorce). Does that mean that community property laws, for instance, would not apply?
10.20.2005 3:43pm
jnet (mail):
Kate - well said. thanks.

Your summation makes me think of two apt metaphors. I do think that MG sees SSM as the proverbial back-breaking straw in this cultural and social moment in history, but to her credit I don't believe that she claims that it's the only clear and present danger to generativity. No-fault divorce is one 800 lb gorilla that comes to mind, but certainly not the only one. My sense of why people cringe or lash out when someone makes a straw-that-breaks-the-camel's-back argument is their belief that it is unfair or demonstrably untrue (2 different things) to claim that the next straw (here, SSM) will be the coup de grace that finishes off a good social institution. How can we know today that SSM will at some future time be that coup de grace? We can't, we're only hypothesizing. Also, with all these other material causes of the decline that preceded SSM, is seems arbitrary and unfair to make SSM the point at which society says "this is enough, nothing more." Kinda like being the last step you take before stepping off of a cliff into the abyss.

Another metaphor that comes to mind is the tide. I think your observation of some factors that have contributed to the decline of marriage and the threats to generativity is a realization that the decline/threat comes from the combined effect of many forces gathered over time. Reinforcing something to withstand to everyday effect of the tides is difficult, never-ending work. People don't stop building homes on coastal beaches after it is damaged or destroyed, but they rebuild a better beach home the next time. If we're concerned about building better the next time around, then we would address the biggest threats, and SSM is not one of the biggest.

I'm riffing on your post and am not trying to mischaracterize it. I realize that metaphors have limits, but sometimes they are helpful.
10.20.2005 3:44pm
PaulD:
DM Andy,

I suppose you're right -- "So?" probably is the extent of most people's interest in what the Bible has to say about marriage. On the other hand, I think the let's-keep-gays-from-marrying-without-saying-it's-wrong approach lacks integrity. I don't think a person who doesn't think homosexuality is wrong has any right to say what they should or shouldn't do. Of course, most people say I don't have that right either. I agree -- almost. I say I have no right but to withhold my approval -- which I think translates into a support for civil unions instead of SSM.
10.20.2005 3:51pm
Witgin:
One of the things that has struck me is the ease with which one of Gallagher's central arguments - that it is best for a child to be raised by her mother and father who are married to each other - is turned against MG by some commenters who argue, in effect, "if you agree with that, why would you deny the children of same sex relationships the benefit of married 'parents'".

Same sex "parents" are not the child's mother and father. Is that such a hard concept to understand? And the social science is pretty well established that the marriage status of a child's mother and father is highly correlated with the child's well being.
10.20.2005 3:54pm
Leeron:
Did Volokh give Maggie just enough rope to hang herself?

On adoption: I think adoption is great.

Peachy.

I even think single parents adopting is great (if the alternative is no family)

No arm-twisting needed here - Maggie concedes that adoption can even be "great" for single people.

I could be persuaded you ought to have second-parent adoption laws for gay couples.

As long as they're not gay? You would have to persuade Maggie to allow adoption within the context of a gay couple, even though it's "great" that singles can adopt, because...

Well, either she rejects the notion that two parents are better than one, at least where the two would be of the same gender, or she is motivated by anti-gay animus. The former position would seem irrational; the latter position would be what most people believe that Maggie Gallagher's arguments are all about.
10.20.2005 4:00pm
John H (mail) (www):
I'd like to know everyone's position on the question of allowing or not allowing same-sex couples to procreate together, using some process that combines their genes so that they are the two proginators of their children and no person of the other sex is involved in the conception.

I cannot fathom how people can avoid this question, or not see that it is the question of allowing marriage or not allowing marriage. Everytime there is a question of 'should this type of relationship be allowed to mary' the question was exclusively about the ethics of a relationship of that type procreating together. Why Maggie is content to let the question of marriage for this type of relationship be argued on a different basis than procreation rights is beyond me, since she ought to be in favor of anything that would further the connection of marriage and procreation.

I think Maggie must be in favor of procreation rights for same-sex couples, since she seems to be opposed to banning all procreation that is not the union of a man and a woman.
10.20.2005 4:00pm
Cornellian (mail):
Wow, Congressional Republicans must really think they're in trouble now. Usually they only start talking about the "threat" of same sex marriage when an election is less than 3 months away.

Brownback will hold the 3rd Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing to discuss "a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman" today at 2pm. "Experts will testify about the fate of traditional marriage in today's judicial environment and the role of a constitutional amendment in preserving marriage" (release, 10/19).
10.20.2005 4:02pm
DM Andy (mail):
John H, I'm fine with it. Of course there are technical issues, would a YY embyro be viable?
10.20.2005 4:03pm
Kevin St. John (mail):
Eddie said:

Finally, as a contract, I don't recall any promises made to the other spouse regarding procreation or the support of children.


Marrying institutions may look at things differently, but I know that the Catholic Church asks engaged couples seeking to be married by the Church directly about their intent with regard to procreation. It is my understanding that a marriage that is entered into with the intent to procreate may be annuled when a spouse later refuses to procreate. It is as if the marriage was procured by material fraudulent misrepresentation.

As for the support of children, I think this obligation exists in our society regardless of marriage status (or contract), but those obligations may be removed by terminating parental rights.

In the context of marriage, to say that the support is not part of the contract--to the extent that marriage is a contract--just strikes me as bizarre. As a civil matter, marriage is not, of course, a written instrument (or oral agreement) with a list of terms and conditions. And even when it is through pre-nuptial agreements and the like, it is my understanding that courts find the portions of the agreements regarding the support of children to be either void (thus the marriage "contract" is like an agreement to, say, fix prices) or merely advisory for the court to take under consideration (in an action for divorce), but the language of the agreement is not, strictly speaking, enforceable. Put another way, the state erects many background rules or public policy interest that may not be contracted around. If a couple signs and files the marriage deed, observing all the requisite formalities, they become bound by many unalterable terms and conditions that the state created through statute and the common law. Because of this, I find the the whole concept of marriage as contract a messy analogy that does not fully capture the legal relationship between spouses and their children.
10.20.2005 4:04pm
Cornellian (mail):
Nothing at all, in the same way that a gay man is free to marry a lesbian "to gain the financial advantages", or a straight man is free to marry a straight woman "to gain the financial advantages" even where he has no romantic interest in her or desire to have children. Do such marriages of convenience change the nature of marriage? Since marriages like that happen now, what would you propose doing about them?

By the way, TRC made a point last night that I did find interesting, if we have SSM, what's to stop non-gay couples from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages. If so that would change the nature of marriage in my eyes as marriage wouldn't be about love, but about finances. If there was evidence that was happening then I would be worried.
10.20.2005 4:05pm
DM Andy (mail):
oops, pressed enter too early. But Same Sex Parenthood is going to happen somewhere sometime in the future and will happen even if Same Sex Marriage is outlawed. So I don't think it belongs in this debate which is about SSM.
10.20.2005 4:05pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
DM Andy
By the way, TRC made a point last night that I did find interesting, if we have SSM, what's to stop non-gay couples from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages. If so that would change the nature of marriage in my eyes as marriage wouldn't be about love, but about finances. If there was evidence that was happening then I would be worried.

What about the opposite? Very common in the military for opposite sex lower ranked enlisted to 'marry' only so they can get off post housing and the increased benefits.

Sauce. goose. gander.

In reality though this is a mutually exclusive contract that in many states involves community property rights and distribution on dissolution. Most of the benefits of the civil marriage contract are of value to those who actually do want to build a life together, not casual roommates.
10.20.2005 4:06pm
Ampersand (mail) (www):
By the way, TRC made a point last night that I did find interesting, if we have SSM, what's to stop non-gay couples from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages.


What currently stops men and women who are "just friends" from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages?
10.20.2005 4:09pm
John H (mail) (www):
Their [older and childess couples] presence signals that the contract theory -- those who wish to marry should be allowed to marry -- has won out over the permit theory -- that the state licenses procreation.

How about siblings? We do not allow siblings to marry because their procreation would be unethical. It is unethical not only because it has a higher risk of birth defects, but also because declaring it ethical would mess up the proper dynamics of the family. Siblings should be considered off-limits as procreation partners, so that a proper, deeper sibling relationship can develop.
10.20.2005 4:10pm
Aultimer:

Witgen -

Same sex "parents" are not the child's mother and father. Is that such a hard concept to understand? And the social science is pretty well established that the marriage status of a child's mother and father is highly correlated with the child's well being.


Not hard to understand. Where's the established science that says adoptive M/F parents fair any less well in that analysis? Nowhere. Biology isn't relevant.

The problem is that there doesn't appear to be any science that says how kids with MM and FF parents fair compared to kids with MF parents.
10.20.2005 4:11pm
P J Evans (mail):
First: IANAL.
Second: Personally, I think marriage isn't going to disappear soon. I think it's a commitment, or if you will a covenant, between two people for mutual support, financial, social, or emotional, which may or may not include children, either naturally or by adoption. I don't think SSM is outside of that view.

I have worked with one person in a longterm same-sex relationship. From what I could see, it was marriage in every way but the legality. There was an adopted child - it took much longer than it should have done to get that through the system! - and I can say there was no difference in kind between a SSM and an OSM in that relationship.

If you want to say that SSM is wrong because marriage is about procreation, to me you must then show why it is not wrong to have childless OSM. If you want to say that SSM is somehow going to weaken marriage as an institution, then you must explain why same-sex couples want to marry. If you are telling me that SSM weakens marriage, or that marriage as an instituion needs to be defended from SSM, then you should be prepared to explain why then same-sex couples (or opposite-sex couples, for that matter) are eager to marry; you should also be prepared to explain why Brittney Spears's three-day opposite-sex marriage, with its attendant publicity, does not weaken marriage as an institution, where a twenty- or thirty-year same-sex relationship does.

Just saying.
10.20.2005 4:12pm
Shawn (mail):
DM Andy asks:

By the way, TRC made a point last night that I did find interesting, if we have SSM, what's to stop non-gay couples from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages. If so that would change the nature of marriage in my eyes as marriage wouldn't be about love, but about finances. If there was evidence that was happening then I would be worried.

With the many threads and hundreds of posts, it's no wonder you missed this when it was first brought up and shot down.

Essentially, this is already happening with opposite-gender marriages. People marry for many reasons, some of them not out of love. Mail-order brides? Arranged marriages? Same-sex marriage would only remove the male/female barrier to that problem.

On the flip side, community property laws would make this arrangement potentially expensive for both parties should they ever divorce. That and social stigma to those kinds of marriages keep them small in number, I'd bet.
10.20.2005 4:13pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Witgin: Same sex "parents" are not the child's mother and father. Is that such a hard concept to understand? And the social science is pretty well established that the marriage status of a child's mother and father is highly correlated with the child's well being.

So your view is that when a child is conceived by donor, there is no correlation between the child's well-being and the marital status of the child's legal parents? How have you established this? Is there a social study of children conceived by donor whose parents - the biological mother and her partner, male or female - were married, versus one where the mother and her partner were not married?

And you think that when a child is adopted, given that the child's adopted parents are not the child's "mother and father" biologically, it therefore can make no difference to the well-being of the child whether or not the adoptive parents are married? Again, what social studies are you basing your opinion on? Cite them.
10.20.2005 4:15pm
Maggie Gallagher (mail) (www):
"She then goes on to assume that the known and traditional structures are the best for assumed goals of society (procreation and child-rearing."

On this point, I don't really assume it. I provide considerable evidence for it, if you've followed the discussion.

But aside from the social science evidence on family structure one quesiton I have for you is this:

My eldest son's father abandoned me and his son. We were never maried. He never wanted to have children, he wanted to have sex and companionship.

What was wrong with what he did, if anything?

He didn't violate any vow or contract. He never asked to have a baby.

By what standards do we htink fathers are responsible for the children they make, if we don't think procreation and biology matter?
10.20.2005 4:17pm
dk35 (mail):
Law Student Kate,

I think your summaries of Gallagher's argument as well as the reasons for its failure are cogent, but I think you go overboard in your criticism of the commenters.

I agree that trying to surmise the ideology driving a person's argument is tricky. However, I think many (and I admit it, even me) who think there is homophobia underlying Gallagher's argument are providing their most educated guess to something that you yourself point out: namely, that though there are many, many other reasons for the breakdown of "traditional" notions of marriage, somehow same-sex marriage is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

What Gallagher has not offered is an explanation as to why same-sex marriage is the straw. I suppose this is simply a question we can ask. However, it is also true that Gallagher has barely mentioned no-fault divorce, has only mentioned the women's liberation movement within the context of villifying it, and has not mentioned at all what I think is, in my opinion, the real "straw that broke the camel's back" with regard to this subject: namely, the repeal of laws in the late 19th/early 20th century that had defined women, in property terms, as men's chattel.
10.20.2005 4:17pm
go vols (mail):
"If so that would change the nature of marriage in my eyes as marriage wouldn't be about love, but about finances. If there was evidence that was happening then I would be worried."

A historian might prove me wrong, but isn't the "romantic" version of marriage a relatively new concept? Particularly when comapred to how marriage relates to property and "finances"?

Another question--if you ask someone who's opposed to SSM about no-fault divorce, what will they say?

1) SSM poses dangers to the norm of traditional marriage and raising children that no-fault divorce does not.

By sheer numbers, this assetion seems dubious. I have certainly seen no evidence of it.

2) We would, ideally, get rid of no-fault divorce, but we can't, politically, so we'll focus on holding the line on SSM.

Fine-that's politically pragmatic. It raises the question, though: quite a few folks (a majority?) would never support the end of no-fault divorce laws. Many of these same folks, however, see a threat from SSM. Isn't that hypocrisy? If social conservatives REALLY care about the "procreative abyss," or whatever phrase Gallagher wants to use, where's the movement against no-fault divorce? How many conservative leaders have pushed for (or better yet, done) "covenant marriages"? Why worry about the small problem when the big one's staring you in the face?

The answer, as many SSM advocates suspect, may be animus towards gays. Otherwise, how can this be an intellectually honest position to take? I'm trying to make an honest argument, note, not just call everyone a bigot. I want a good answer.
10.20.2005 4:19pm
John H (mail) (www):
John H, I'm fine with it.

Do you demand a right to it? Are you against banning it? If you demand the right to procreate with a person of your same sex, you should list it a the top of the list of your demands, since it is a very significant demand, and not keep that demand hidden until later and hope no ne asks about it.

Of course there are technical issues, would a YY embyro be viable?

There are more than just "technical issues". We can't let people just create experimental embryos in the lab and see how they come out, these are people we are talking about. Yes, hetersexual couples create embryos and see how the baby comes out, but we all have the basic civil right to do that, when it is not banned for a supportable reason, such as prohibiting certain relatives, children, etc, from marrying.
10.20.2005 4:25pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
-> A2 Reader: The fact that marriage don't work this way, that cultures don't work this way, is evidence against the premise.

The absurdity does not lie in its use of reductio ad absurdum, but in its absurd misconstruing of the arguement. Here Maggie is pointing out that if such a fallacy existed as Andrew and others say it does, it would have been exposed long ago. The non-existance of such measures in itself provides the discrediting of the argument.

The mechanics of how the argument is discredited lies not in the conclusions drawn, but in the premise made. The premise is what has been dubbed, Sterility Strawman. The impetus of marriage is its more for responsible procreation, where procreation is duely observed as crucial. The most excellent article so far on this issue that I've read, points to the anthrological purpose of marriage as The 800lb Gorilla. And to this date there has not been an argument raised to disprove it.

-> Angus: If adoptive familes are just as good as procreative ones, from the perspective of the child --- as Gallagher seems to imply here --- then it seems obvious to me that it would be better for a child to be raised from birth by a committed same-sex couple than in any of the family arrangements (single-parent, blended-family) that Gallagher has disparaged.

The reconsiliation of this dillema is rather straightforward, actually.

-> Progressive Joe:In fact, infertility has been an accepted justification for annulment and historically infertile women have faced significant social stigma.

Change in attitudes towards the disabled accounts for the reason this is no longer a common practice. However, homosexuality is not a handicap. To equate the two marks one of the inhumane phylosophies behind ss"m". Other threats from the adoption of inhumane phylosophies are also noted.

-> Paul Sherman: Or is it, as it appears to me, that he's claiming it's obviously not the ONLY "reason" for marriage (as you stated in your first post)?

Neither actually. His contention is more a cheap rhetorical trick called a strawman of the real argument. In short, he is unable to discredit the real argument, so he creates one he feels better able to tackle.

- > Crane: And, of course, many of them do raise children. So how does this downgrade the social significance of generativity?

What you argue here would cause one to wonder. Is the solution of ss"m" then really able to cover every situation where children are being rasied by a two (or more) person team? Consider that should I die, my wife would move in with her mother and that mutual trust and child raising relationship whould deserve every bit the same attention as any other couple comprising the same sex. Say, she moved in with my parents (which is just as likely in our plans at this point) so the children could still have a strong male figure in my father. There would be a trio arrangement, my wife and my parents. They should also have the same trust based arrangement recognized by the courts.

The problem with same-sex marriage is that it doesn't even try to address these issues, if its stated purpose is as you say. Indeed it is one area where the mask of charitable purpose slips and we see more a desire to pander a sexual habit.

Either way what you make is an argument for a parallel Reciprocal Beneficiaries program, since that would show but due deference to children's rights while attempting to assist with benefits the situations you and I describe.

-> Angus: it would be better, by Gallagher's professed standards, for a child to be raised from birth by a committed same-sex couple.

I cringe at your attempt to bolster an already discredited strawman, but that is beside the point. Quarterican asked me recently a question that I believe provides an answer to your assertion. Surely one can take anything related by someone and say existentially that is mearly their own values. But I believe they are rooted in much more fundamental values than you wish to admit.

-> guest: This seems as close as we'll get to a candid admission that her opposition to SSM is actually all about keeping them homos subjegated. [link]

[...]

If that's the case, get off the point of what's best for children. That doesn't matter... [link]

Yes it is a matter of priorities, is it not? I prefer ensuring the rights of children, you wish to pander sexual habits?

-> Justin Kee: From your writing, I interpret this to you mean the dilution of generativity by the addition of same-sex marriages to the mix.

I too have been dissapointed in the discourse on this site. But as far as your interpretation, I believe it could be clarified with the notes in this comment and this article, both posted yesterday.

-> Goober: It stems from your refusal thus far to articulate any reason why SSM would hurt marriage or otherwise discourage people from raising children in the context of traditional husband-and-wife households.

This is an example of the Argument by Personal Incredulity I mentioned as degrading the signal to noise ratio here.

-> Bob Van Burkleo: And since many same gender married couples are 'generative' just fine with the same technologies used by opposite gender ones that means they should also have access to this civil contract, right?

Wrong. Homosexuality is not a handicap.

-----

more later....
10.20.2005 4:27pm
Law Student Kate (mail):
Bob -


As to your saying we are ignoring Gallager's thesis, we do because it is flawed - the current national debate isn't about 'marriage the insititution' but marriage the civil contract. Reality always trumps mental constructs and the reality is that same gender couples have been marrying, are marrying, and will continue to marry - the only question wh shouldn't their marriages have access to the civil contract of the same name?


But I think your characterization is exactly what Maggie was talking about when she said that the two sides on this debate are talking past each other. Your characterization reflects the perspective of most SSM supporters. But for many SSM opponents, the issue IS about marriage as an institution, and whether it can withstand further change. So the two sides aren't even having the same debate. Opponents tend to see the institution as already being into extreme jeopardy, so they're wary about further changes. Supporters think that this is an exxagerated chicken-little view, don't see the harm, and thus are focused mainly on the equality/civil contract view.

I think that the reason that Maggie keeps repeating the same thing over and over is because she's trying to get agreement on what the debate is even about, and she's been losing. Your practical view is winning over her more abstract view. But if we can't agree on the issue, then how can we ever move on to the "meat" of whether SSM will positively or negatively effect the institution?
10.20.2005 4:31pm
Maggie Gallagher (mail) (www):
I've spent the last 20 years trying to reduce divorce and unmarried childbearing and strengthen marriage so that more children grow up with their own marriage mothers and fathers.

I could well be wrong--anyone could be wrong--but trying to figure out my "real" motives is kind of silly for anyone whose been familiar with my work.

Of course most people aren't for the good reason they have better things to do.

When I raise the argument about bigotry, its not personal. I'm not interested in a pass from Pro-SSM advocates on my motives. I'm interested in the consequences of this form of moral argument for the conjugal view of marriage
10.20.2005 4:34pm
Goober (mail):
Law Student Kate---

You make a nicely reasoned argument that explains a possible reason not to allows homosexuals to marry. Unfortunately, it's not an argument that Ms. Gallagher has made. She hasn't made any such argument, being perfectly content to let her readers assume she must be saying this or that. Rhetorically useful, but it's still a dodge.

I think probably most of us can imagine a potential argument. What I'm still interested in is what Ms. Gallagher's actual argument is. And I don't think it's beneath comment that after four days, Ms. Gallagher has been unable to give a single reason why gay marriage would hurt straight marriage.

I look forward to the debate, should it ever happen. But I can't fault those who think the reason Ms. Gallagher hasn't come forward with an answer, is that there is no answer.
10.20.2005 4:35pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Let's accept for the moment the notion that SSM will sever procreation from the definition of marriage.

What reason do we have to think this would sever procreation from marriages?
10.20.2005 4:36pm
DM Andy (mail):
John H, I'm not demanding a right to it, to be honest I don't think it's that important. But like cloning it seems to me to be an inevitable medical happening. It doesn't seem that it would be possible to ban anyway.
10.20.2005 4:38pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Ampersand: What currently stops men and women who are "just friends" from "marrying" to gain the financial advantages?

This is an interesting question. What is to stop young african american teenage pregnancy to gain the financial advantages of welfare for her and the child?

If I have it right you promote teenage pregnancy for african americans in poverty?

Where does this lead to you advocating abusing others to gain access to government money?
10.20.2005 4:39pm
Bill (mail):
Of all the factors that effect the well-being and opportunities of children, I doubt that having married parents tops the list in terms of influence.

Those who want to help children, therefore, would do better to address poverty, long working hours, parental illiteracy, the trend toward needing two incomes to support children, child health care, abuse and neglect, educational quality (or lack thereof), and arguable deterioration of civic/social support systems in some communities.

True, married couples (like any couple) will have more income. But the fact that two incomes are now viewed as a necessity detracts from parental availability.

Children with sub-literate parents are less likely to succeed in school. Marriage does not promote literacy.

Marriage arguably has a deletarious effect on forming successful support systems. Single parents often cooperate more successfully with other working single parents and extended families in sharing responsibility for childcare.

Etc.

It hardly seems to me that avoiding gay marriage is any kind of strategy for improving the well-being of children.
10.20.2005 4:40pm
Bill (mail):
Also, casual observation suggests that men and women often have a hard time living together. Fighting, poor communication, and divorce proceedings adversely effect children. Perhaps we should study whether same-sex cohabitors/child care providers do any better at making a happy home environment.
10.20.2005 4:44pm
Eisenstern (mail):
"The second truth is that both older couples and childless couples are part of the natural life-cycle of marriage. Their presence in the mix doesn't signal anything in particular at all."

Oh, yes, when two 70-year-olds get married, it's just part of the "natural" circle of life. Hakuna Matata!

"I could well be wrong--anyone could be wrong"

Given the extremely weak nature of the arugments presented here, I, and I suspect many others, are inferring that the reasoning is results-driven.
10.20.2005 4:55pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Law Studen Kate
But for many SSM opponents, the issue IS about marriage as an institution, and whether it can withstand further change.
But it already IS changed! Churches all over the US and the world have been religiously marrying same gender couples for decades. Same gender couples have been marrying themselves even longer. I would speculate that the majority of gay people in the Seattle area are married, all they lack is access to the civil contract.

So yes, I do see her point of view as hysteria, and a manipulative one at that - by trying to take the discussion back to the unreal situation of 'should we allow this' it ignores the facts that:

1) 'we' don't get to decide if someone else is married - that's their decision, and
2) same gendered couples are already married in droves and have no identifiable behavioral difference from opposite gender ones.

To debate 'should we allow' is just sophomoric 'what if' mental masturbation. ("what if spartacus had had a piper cub?") These same gender married couples already exist, their families already exists and they will continue to exist in even greater numbers. The questions are:
1) is it ethical for and american government to deny some citizens reasonable access to the civil contract licensed in support of their fundamental right to marry?
2) will these citizens be better off allowing them access?
3) is society better off with them contracted or not?

I mean we can discuss Gallagher's thesis but when 14% of opposite gendered licensed couples already aren't 'generative' the percent or 2 that same gendered MIGHT add renders the point rather moot. For someone to obsess about the minority or 'principle' usually means there is an ulterior motive in my years of discussion.

Maybe if she could explain how citizens are better off not having access to this civil contract I could get more into her point of view.... ;)
10.20.2005 4:56pm
Ron:
Witgin: "And the social science is pretty well established that the marriage status of a child's mother and father is highly correlated with the child's well being."


No it's not. Not as it pertains to this discussion. The data indicate that children raised by (heterosexual) single mothers suffer in comparison with children raised by married couples (finances play an important role).

There is no data that I know of suggesting that children raised by two male parents or two female parents suffer in comparison with children raised by heterosexual married couples. If you can direct me to some, I would very much like to see it.
10.20.2005 4:56pm
Cornellian (mail):
The Bible says, among other things, that a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night shall be put to death. Just how much Biblical literalism do you want? And to what extent are you will to impose compliance with the Bible on Christians who have a different interpretation of the Bible, on adherents of other religions and on non-religious people?

I say SSM is wrong because a non-pleading interpretation of the Bible indicates that it is. Should religious views not have a place in this debate? Perhaps our society will decide that they do not, or it will turn out that the majority of even religious voices will turn out in favor of SSM. But it seems silly to me to think that the predominant reason heretofore that SSM was illegal was unrelated to the predominant Judeo-Christian moral framework of this country.
10.20.2005 5:00pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
-> Bill,

Besides casual thinking, and self admitted doubt, you wouldn't have any proof to substantiate those conjectures. In fact the proof tends to show that there is something of real substance to gender integration. We see children turning out better when raised in an intact family, we see the economic status of the parents and children raised, we see the health and longevity also improved.

More on the need for gender integration in parenting is here.
10.20.2005 5:00pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Eisenstern: Oh, yes, when two 70-year-olds get married, it's just part of the "natural" circle of life. Hakuna Matata!

Christian makes a powerful argument that the purpose of marriage is consistent with the elderly getting married. I'll also note that the disabilities that happen with age are very much different than social disability.
10.20.2005 5:03pm
DanielH (mail):
Your misuse of research is as glaring as Maggie's, On Lawn. None of those studies included same-sex parents, so we actually don't know how they stack up. In addition, "gender integration" doesn't work in homes involving step-parents, where the presence of an unrelated male actually INCREASES risk to the child where mom had remarried or is shacking up.

The only reason the term "biological" parents is used as a qualifier, is to separate them from "adoptive" parents. There is nothing in the research to show that the biological link is what is the deciding factor.
10.20.2005 5:05pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Bob: So yes, I do see her point of view as hysteria, and a manipulative one at that [...] 'we' don't get to decide if someone else is married - that's their decision, and

Such is the impotence of libre. Self-authorization has never been a very sane way to propogate welfare among societies. I submit your suggestion along those lines is something to re-evaluate.
10.20.2005 5:06pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
None of those studies included same-sex parents

So what do you suggest is the difference between a same-sex couple and say, a grand-mother and mother teaming up to raise a child (which are included in the studies)?
10.20.2005 5:07pm
John H (mail) (www):
John H, I'm not demanding a right to it, to be honest I don't think it's that important.

Cool, so you would be happy if this right were not given to same-sex couples? If you say you wouldn't be happy if it was banned, and people only had a right to procreate with a person of the other sex, then you are demanding a right to it. And you aren't, so you'd accept a ban, even though it established a right that only both-sex couples had.

But like cloning it seems to me to be an inevitable medical happening. It doesn't seem that it would be possible to ban anyway.

No, it isn't inevitable (and it isn't medical, which is concerned with disease, and there is no disease or health issue involved) And it would be easy to ban, especially now, with this Congress and this President. All it needs to be is put in front of them so that they see how it could be used to preserve marriage, and the real meaning of marriage, at that.
10.20.2005 5:08pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
One more thing...

The only reason the term "biological" parents is used as a qualifier, is to separate them from "adoptive" parents.

The reason biological is used as a qualifier is because it truely denotes an advantage to parenting. As the studies show, in-tact families do better in raising children than adoptive, and step-parent families.
10.20.2005 5:09pm
DanielH (mail):
Maggie,

Since you've admitted that you doomed your son to a non "gold standard" upbringing (based on your social science research) by not marrying his father, is it possible your ultimate marriage should have been banned by the government? We know what a risk you made by introducing a step-father (based on your social science research, of course), so should the state sanction "bad marriages" that create harms to children????

You'd ban same-sex marriages for committing the same, alleged offense.
10.20.2005 5:11pm
DM Andy (mail):
John H, as it seems like only us that seem interested in this line of debate and as it is off-topic it seems prudent to end it here. Email me if you want to continue the discussion elsewhere.
10.20.2005 5:13pm
BobNelson (mail):
I really wasn't going to go there, but since she brought it up, I think Ms.* Gallagher needs to explain how her crusade is reflected in her own life. She says her son's father abandoned her and him. So, she gave birth out of wedlock. Why? Other sources assert that she refused to marry him. Perhaps he should join the discussion to confirm her view (I'm way past taking her at her word on anything). She reportedly raised her eldest son as a single mother for a decade. I assume that, and her recent departure from the board one day to pick up her son, means she has since married a man and had at least one other child.

* I have been unable to find any indication that she is currently married, so I refer to her as "Ms.".

Maggie, feel free to correct my understanding, BUT don't do so if you won't EXPLAIN.
10.20.2005 5:15pm
Ron:
On Lawn,

I guess we'll have to take your word for it re: your first source since it requires subscription. Your second source is anecdotal. Pretty thin gruel

If all children needed a male and a female parent to develop a mature gender identity, why do children who have only one parent have so little difficulty doing so?

It has been said repeatedly by opponents of SSM that a firm male and a tender female are needed to raise children. But parents who do not fit that role, i.e. the strict Mom and the easygoing Dad, produce perfectly fine children as well.

If there were any literature suggesting children raised by male couples or by female couples were psychologically or emotionally disordered, this gender argument might carry weight, but such literature does not appear to exist.
10.20.2005 5:16pm
DanielH (mail):
The reason biological is used as a qualifier is because it truely denotes an advantage to parenting. As the studies show, in-tact families do better in raising children than adoptive, and step-parent families.



Actually, it doesn't. Since we don't know how reproductive technology or same-sex parents measure up, "biological" is merely a term used to differentiate from adoptive and step-parent heterosexual (and single-headed) families.
10.20.2005 5:17pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Has anyone noticed that SSM is here already? It's alive and well and staring us in the face. We see same sex couples openly cohabitating, adopting kids, buying houses, and raising children of one or both couples.

The culture has already made the move. Procreation has been severed from the definition of marriage. All that remains is for the law to catch up with its culture.
10.20.2005 5:19pm
Ampersand (mail) (www):
Law Student Kate, thank you for your posts on this thread - I think you've improved the tenor of conversation here.

# # #

Granting for the sake of argument that marriage as an institution is in crisis, I still think Maggie's arguments are unpersuasive.

It seems obvious that there are many possible approaches to saving marriage (for example, legislation to provide marriage education and support for low-income couples, voluntary "covenant" marriages, public pro-marriage campaigns (similar to the anti-smoking campaign), changing tax codes to reduce or eliminate the "marriage penalty," eliminating no-fault divorce, increasing the number of "marriageable men" through educational initiatives and college scholarships aimed at low-income men (large number of poor single mothers, when polled, say that they want to marry but can't find men who would make good husbands), increasing tax incentives for married parents to stay married, and on and on). You may not agree with every one of these approaches - I sure don't - but the point is, if a marriage crisis exists, there are many alternative plans for fighting the crisis other than opposing SSM.

None of these (or many other) approaches are mutually exclusive with same-sex civil marriage; it is possible to pursue any (or all) of these approaches while having SSM. (It is worth noting that Massachusetts - the state with possibly the greatest public acceptance of same sex relationships - also has the nation's lowest divorce rate.) Even if we accept all of Maggie's premises, it still seems unlikely that SSM will have more than a small marginal effect on heterosexual marriage, whereas these other approaches could plausibly have more direct and significant effects.

So - even accepting Maggie's premises - it seems unlikely that marriage is doomed if SSM becomes accepted, or that SSM is incompatible with fighting the marriage crisis. Instead, we must perform a balancing test. On the one side, we can oppose SSM and thereby prevent a small, marginal increase in the marriage crisis. But the cost to this is that same-sex headed families will never have equal legal rights (access to marriage is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient of full equality); that both same-sex couples and the children raised by same-sex couples will lack the enormous benefits of being raised in a married household (those benefits are outlined in detail by Maggie in her book, Why Marriage Matters).

It's not at all obvious, given this balancing equation, that we should oppose SSM. To me, it seems the injustice of denying same-sex couples and their children legal equality more than outweighs a slight marginal harm to "marriage as an institution" that can be opposed in many other ways.

# # #

All that was accepting, for the sake of argument, Maggie's premises. But what if one or several of her premises are mistaken?

For instance, Jonathan Rauch persuasively argues that refusing to allow same-sex couples to marry would actually weaken the connection between marriage and children in the minds of many Americans.

Same-sex couples raising children have come out of the closet, and the practice is becoming more prevalent every year. In many schools, it's rare for kids to not know schoolmates who are being raised by same-sex parents; inevitably, same-sex families are going to start being characters in TV shows and movies. And these trends are only going to increase in years to come.

Furthermore, even the strongest mainstream opponents of SSM, to their credit, are not willing to say that such children and their parents should be marginalized, disrespected or regarded as freaks.

In ten years time, most children are going to personally know, know of, or see on TV, unmarried same-sex couples raising children, and this will usually be regarded as acceptable. What's the message sent by this?

The message sent will be that marriage and raising kids are not connected; and that it's acceptable for a couple who love each other to raise kids, live together, and not marry.

If Maggie is correct that laws send messages which change the culture's view of marriage, then she should be much more worried about the impact of creating a class of respected parents raising children who aren't married, than she should worry about allowing gay parents to marry.
10.20.2005 5:22pm
John H (mail) (www):
Elliot123: Let's accept for the moment the notion that SSM will sever procreation from the definition of marriage. What reason do we have to think this would sever procreation from marriages?

Marriage is all that protects our procreation rights. If we were ban non male-female procreation and allow marriage, it would mean that marraige no longer granted a right for that marriage to procreate together. Severed, legally. Marriage would no longer do what every single marriage has always done throughout the history of mankind: say that these two people may now procreate together. (And yes, even those compromise "infertile cousin" marriages in some states are allowed to procreate, it was just assumed they woudn't be able to, and if they are stipulations that prohibit them from using IVF, then I submit that they aren't real marraiges and the law shoudl be reconsidered)

And at that point, same-sex couples who wanted to try the technology but couldn't because of a ban would question (as they already do) why couples with Huntington's disease are allowed to procreate. They'd make us, for equality's sake, treat all couples the same and not give a pass to any couple just because they were male and female.
Also, the normalization of using donor gametes that accompanies same-sex couples would put pressure on perfectly fertile marriages to spurn their own gametes in favor of gametes from a screened healthier and prettier donor. When a man gets rejected as a donor for whatever reason, don't you think he would feel unworthy of impregnanting his wife?
10.20.2005 5:23pm
John H (mail) (www):
Elliot123: The culture has already made the move. Procreation has been severed from the definition of marriage.

Not true, currently same-sex couples have a legal ability (I won't say 'right') to attempt to procreate together using technology. ONly if we ban that but allow couples whose proreation is banned to marry would we sever procreation from marriage.
10.20.2005 5:27pm
Eisenstern (mail):
"Christian makes a powerful argument that the purpose of marriage is consistent with the elderly getting married."

Christian, like a certain other SSM opponent inflicted upon the reading public, has a problem with concise expression. I made my way through the blog until I found the "powerful argument" referenced above:

"Even more importantly, women tend to go infertile in their 40s, while men, so long as they are capable of the sex act, are more often than not capable of making sperm down to their dying breath. Better to tie the old geyser down in a good marriage so that he isn't making babies that will be raised by single moms."

Dsiclosure appears to be sufficient refutation here.

"I'll also note that the disabilities that happen with age are very much different than social disability."

I don't understand what this means, in general or as applied to SSM, and I'm not inclined to wade through the linked slough of pretension to figure it out.
10.20.2005 5:31pm
Ampersand (mail) (www):
Regarding same-sex parenting, the peer-reviewed literature is (as far as I know) unanimous in finding that children of same-sex parents turn out as well as children of opposite-sex parents. I've posted several supporting links on my blog; here's a description of a well-done study, published last year in a peer-reviewed academic journal, addressing this issue.

We drew information for our study from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, in which researchers conducted interviews with and collected information from thousands of American adolescents and their parents. The two groups we studied had several similar characteristics, including age, gender, ethnicity, level of parental education, and family income. There was an equal number of girls and boys, and an overall average age of 15.

We found that adolescents whose parents had same-sex romantic partners were developing in positive ways. We found no significant differences in their school achievement or psychological well-being when compared to their peers with male/female parents.

Adolescents whose mothers had same-sex partners were neither more nor less likely than those whose mothers had opposite-sex partners to report they were involved in a romantic relationship during the past year, or that they had ever engaged in sexual intercourse. Adolescents in both groups were generally well adjusted, with relatively high levels of self-esteem, relatively low levels of anxiety, few symptoms of depression, and good school achievement. […]

Summarized from Child Development, Vol. 75, Issue 6, "Summary of Psychosocial Adjustment, School Outcomes, and Romantic Attractions of Adolescents With Same-Sex Parents" by J.L. Wainright, S.T. Russell, and C.J. Patterson
10.20.2005 5:31pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
on lawn
Such is the impotence of libre. Self-authorization has never been a very sane way to propogate welfare among societies. I submit your suggestion along those lines is something to re-evaluate

Can't. This nation was founded on the premise that the individual has inalienable rights that need no rationalization, the right to marry being a fundamental one. The key word is the individual - not society, not the group, not Ms. Gallagher. It was also founded on the idea that government's purpose is to serve the individual and protect these rights for all individual citizens.

And from just a practical stand point marriages are empirically identical no matter what the gender combination - the variation within each group is greater than the variation between the groups. If someone is going to claim they aren't married they're just going to have to show what criteria that one citizen doesn't meet that others who are married have. (a big preemptive laugh for any one who holds up eligibility for the civil contract as the yard stick).
10.20.2005 5:32pm
Eisenstern (mail):
"When a man gets rejected as a donor for whatever reason, don't you think he would feel unworthy of impregnanting his wife?"

Absolutely. I favored SSM until I read this, and now I've completely reversed myself. Well done.
10.20.2005 5:33pm
Eisenstern (mail):
"When a man gets rejected as a donor for whatever reason, don't you think he would feel unworthy of impregnanting his wife?"

Absolutely. I favored SSM until I read this, and now I've completely reversed myself. Well done.
10.20.2005 5:33pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Ron,

If all children needed a male and a female parent to develop a mature gender identity, why do children who have only one parent have so little difficulty doing so?

The use of "need" in that is of your own creation.

Better to say it as biological parents are indeed advantaged to understand and help children understand themselves because of their shared genetic makeup.

It has been said repeatedly by opponents of SSM that a firm male and a tender female are needed to raise children.

Please show me where this was discussed. Normally I am a trusting soul, but I feel that by your miscast of the argument so-far that I should see this for myself.

If there were any literature suggesting children raised by male couples or by female couples were psychologically or emotionally disordered

"Disadvantaged" rather than disordered, and yes there is quite the evidence to be seen.

That last link is for Daniel H also.
10.20.2005 5:34pm
PaulD:
"The Bible says, among other things, that a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night shall be put to death. Just how much Biblical literalism do you want? And to what extent are you will to impose compliance with the Bible on Christians who have a different interpretation of the Bible, on adherents of other religions and on non-religious people?" -Cornellian

Well, I don't feel as a Christian (though some Christians do) that I am under the Jewish law; you haven't, for example, heard me say that we should be stoning homosexuals (or adulterers, for that matter). In fact, I'm not trying to impose any behavior whatsoever; I'm merely resisting the effort to extend marriage to homosexuals. A civil union with the same legal benefits is something due them out of fairness, but to call it marriage (in my mind) implies society's approval.

I expect that Christians of other opinions and others who see no problem with gay marriage will win the day eventually.
10.20.2005 5:35pm
John H (mail) (www):
DM Andy: John H, as it seems like only us that seem interested in this line of debate and as it is off-topic it seems prudent to end it here.

You don't know me very well do you :) Thanks for considering it to the extent that you have. I will continue to try to get people to focus on this important subject.

Hint: To all SSM opponenets, if we don't ban SSP, we can't stop SSM. Why? See all 20 years of Maggie's writings on the importance of connecting a child with its proginators, and connecting the two genetic proginators to each other. That's the main reason we have marriage, according to her. And another hint, if we ban SSP, and it should be easy, then there will be a real difference in Adams rights to do something with Steve and Eve, and a right that is essential to marraige, according to tons and tons of law and history.

This shoudl be the compromise that should make everyone happy: civil unions that don't grant procreation rights for same-sex couples, but that grant all the protections that are important to same-sex couples.
10.20.2005 5:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Maggie's point, that I can discern, is that
1) marriage is about procreation, not even child-rearing, but just plopping out children. Once we sever that and say marriage is about loving another, then,
2) Marriage will cease to have any meaning. Which will lead to,
3) Dissolution of all families and the end of civilization.

On all three points, she has consistently failed to show any evidence of support of these contentions. Marriage may be about procreation, but it about a lot of things, and I would dare say that each and every marriage is unique in its own way. To broadly paint ALL marriages as one is breathtakingly simple-minded. For some people, the marriage is about the kids, for others, it's about the spouse, for others, it's about marrying for money or status. Other's may have a mix of feelings. That is why half the posts this week have been about this debate alone -- what is marriage about? It's a good debate, but Maggie thinks she has it all worked out and reduced to just one item. Sorry, but that's pretty idiotic on its face.

2) Her second point is that severing the bond between procreation and marriage will render it "meaningless." She never defines the word meaningless. We are left to assume that people will stop having marriages, which is clearly not true in Mass or Canada. Nor does she justify how or why this severance will render it meaningless. She just says so, and says you have to take my word for it, that look what happened in the past when we moved too fast, and so on. The second half of these posts have bee trying to get around what she means by meaningless and how she can be so sure absent pure speculation.

3) The third leg of her argument is that once marriage is meaningless, it will lead to the end of civilization. Not only is this hypothesis untestable, there is no record in human history that she can point to for support. it's just something she came up with out of thin air.

So basically, all three points of her argument are without substantiation and are just her musings. Well, everyone is entitled to their musings, but that's not an adequate basis for public policy, nor is it adequate to deny a whole segment of the population the right to marry.

Why is she therefore given any voice on this matter, more than other rational people? THAT's the big question.
10.20.2005 5:37pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Can't. This nation was founded on the premise that the individual has inalienable rights that need no rationalization

From Alexander Hamilton...

[... 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...


Your argument fails simply in its absolutism. Because certain unalienable rights exist, that does not mean everything is an unalienable right. Of course that is a side point as marriage already does not discriminatory.
10.20.2005 5:37pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Ampersand,

Regarding same-sex parenting, the peer-reviewed literature is (as far as I know) unanimous in finding that children of same-sex parents turn out as well as children of opposite-sex parents.

A review of them showed they in fact have no basis for that conclusion and are based on very poor science.
10.20.2005 5:39pm
John H (mail) (www):
Eisenstern: Absolutely. I favored SSM until I read this, and now I've completely reversed myself. Well done.

You're not joking with me are you?!?! I need a cigarette...
10.20.2005 5:40pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Randy R,

Please join in reducing the signal to noise ratio here by avoiding the temptation to rest your argument on mere personal incredulity.
10.20.2005 5:41pm
DanielH (mail):
On Lawn, if you are going to challenge the research, you might want to rely on someone more reliable than Maggie's think tank and the marriage center at Catholic University law school. Neither are terribly credible, and in fact arguably mangle more research than they understand. Since you rely on discredited organizations like NARTH, I guess this isn't a surprising tactic.
10.20.2005 5:48pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
On Lawn

Because certain unalienable rights exist, that does not mean everything is an unalienable right.
Obviously true. Fortunately for me both common sense and the SCOTUS have recognized marriage as a fundamental right. The need to pairbond is innate - any government that refused to acknowledge it is a failure and a fraud.

Your link was humorous in the way that all people who argue divorced from reality generate a laugh. Never lose sight of the fact that the law is a mere crude mental construct that has no substance and is only useful if it reflects reality.

There are people who could only want to pair bond with another contractable citizen of a particular gender - hopefully that is a given. If so, why are only some citzens given reasonable access to the civil contract in support of this fundamental right? All other prohibitions are restrictions on the citizen's right, only those who want a cosignee of the same gender are proscribed from access.
10.20.2005 5:50pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
DanielH,

Your bias is noted.

Bob,

Your link was humorous in the way that all people who argue divorced from reality generate a laugh.

That your argument here depends on vain and unverifiable character judgements, I'll take that as admission you don't really have a point. If you do, please rephrase in a way that speaks to the arguments, not the people making them and your self-serving opinions of the ;)
10.20.2005 5:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
One thing Maggie states is that she things gay marriage is probably inevitable.

If she believes that (as I do), then perhaps instead of making all these silly divisive arguments, we all join hands and work to a common good, shall we? How about having us try to create a culture where people don't get married until their are mature and ready? That until then, they become educated enough to prevent unwanted pregnancies? And that for some people, marriage is NOT the ideal for eveyrone -- perhaps singlehood is better for some people? And that parenthood is NOT the ideal for everyone -- perhaps being parentless will create fewer undesired children? That no one should be demeaned for the choices they make in life, however, they turn out, because it only causes resentment and anger? That marriage is an equal partnership, and the desires, emotions and feelings of both people are equally important (in other words, women are not subservient to men in a marriage, unless they both agree that that's what they want)?

By taking these steps, wouldn't you be strethening marriage far better than just banning gay marriage? After all, you can ban gay marriage, but all the other problems that you mention are still unaddressed.
10.20.2005 6:01pm
Ron:
So what do you suggest is the difference between a same-sex couple and say, a grand-mother and mother teaming up to raise a child (which are included in the studies)?

That's not obvious? The relationship between a parent and child is very different from a couple in love, and let's hope it stays that way.
10.20.2005 6:14pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
On Lawn.

That your argument here depends on vain and unverifiable character judgements, I'll take that as admission you don't really have a point.

No I just don't respond to red herrings. You think that information is relevant, state it here in this discussion where the specific points you think prove your contention that access to the civil contract of marriage is not discriminatory can be rebutted. Otherwise I will assume you presented for what it did, generate a chuckle.
10.20.2005 6:16pm
Ampersand (mail) (www):
One thing Maggie states is that she things gay marriage is probably inevitable.


Actually, I belive she's said exactly the opposite.
10.20.2005 6:17pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Ron,

The relationship between a parent and child is very different from a couple in love, and let's hope it stays that way.

Seems here that you are accusing the mother-daughter team raising the daughter's child as not being a loving one. Perhaps less loving? It seems the mother daughter relationship is one of love and committment also. Perhaps you have some reasoning for this assessment that I haven't had access to?
10.20.2005 6:24pm
eddie (mail):
I question to responses to my post:

Law Student Kate:

I would like to see some support for your somewhat sweeping statement. Even a simple google search will reveal that refusal to engage in sexual relations as a grounds for annulment or divorce, but not refusal to have children, unless coupled with a reasonable reliance on a fraudulent promise that children would issue from the marriage. Extending your argument, would a spouse have grounds for an annulment if, absent fraud, the other spouse is found to be impotent? This to me is a much more slippery slope. This seems to be turning the whole "institution" on its head. Should failed marriages (i.e. childless ones) be treated diferently? Should I be able to simply waive a magic wand and say this marriage never existed simply because I develop infertility? As you would agree, these are two very different issues; unless we are to become more religious in our analysis and propose that sex itself has no purpose outside of procreation and that the government should be protecting that interest. . . Any takers on that issue from a legal point of view?

Kevin St. John:

First I didn't realize that contracts needed to be written in order to be enforceable. However, my point is that the contract is between the two persons. Bringing up what the Catholic Church requires is both relevant and irrelevant to this discussion:

It is irrelevant since this discussion was about what the law should do. If I marry in the Catholic church then I have agreed to a lot more than simply how child rearing is to be accomplished. I would only ask this simple question: What about the marriage between two people past the age of procreation? Are you actually saying that the Church would not sanction such a marriage? And more importantly, why should the government sanction such a marriage if the main reason for the bundle of rights is for procreation?

The relevancy of your bringing the church into this debate is simply that religion is really at the heart of all any discussion which states that SSM is not in the government's interest. Why stop at SSM--shouldn't heterosexual felons be denied this privilege? Where does it stop?

And you actually undercut the basic argument by admitting that the rights of children are effective sans marriage, i.e. the birth parents have obligations. So then this begs the very question that Ms. Gallagher seems so confident she has answered: How can procreation be the goal of governmental entanglement with the "institution" of marriage. Why should there be any divorce actions, i.e. governmental intervention in a private contract between individuals, if there aren't kids involved?
10.20.2005 6:39pm
Ron:
On Lawn: "Disadvantaged" rather than disordered, and yes there is quite the evidence to be seen.

Thanks for the link, but as you know, NARTH is an anti-gay organization dedicated to the dubious proposition that homosexual orientation can be changed. In the paper you cite, I can see flaws just from a casual read so far.

For example, there is no discussion of the effect of finances, or parental attitudes towards education, or crime rates or cother neighborhood pathologies on children raised in single mother homes, or homes where there is a mother and grandmother but no father.

Another: there appears to be the presumption that any slight departure from "traditional" roles is bad (the feminization or males, or masculinizing of boys), but where the proof that this is disadvantageous in life for an individual?

But I'd like to read more. And I'd like to read more of of the sources, since I am skeptical of the conclusions.

Btw, I don't doubt that the studies claiming that children raised in gay households are not very different from those raised in straight households have flaws. But I don't see that groups like NARTH, or activists like Maggie G., have produced any well-designed studies that indicate that children raised by gay parents are harmed.
10.20.2005 6:47pm
Medis:
As I understand the meta-argument, the issue is whether we believe that Maggie and those like her are genuinely and rationally (albeit perhaps mistakenly) worried about gay marriages harming straight/procreative marriages, or whether we think instead that these are merely rationalizations and that the real reason for their opposition to gay marriages is that they do not like gay people and/or gay sex and do not want to do something that would send a message that it is OK to be gay.

I, for one, remain convinced that these are mere rationalizations. But I am not sure how to go about PROVING that they are mere rationalizations. I think it is indeed telling how easily other nonprocreative couples get a pass from Maggie, as long as they aren't gay. I also think it is obvious that the clear "social meaning" of opposing gay marriage is "we don't like gay people and/or gay sex," and that it remains exceedingly unclear how, if it all, supporting gay marriage sends the message that "we don't like straight/procreative marriages."

But does all this amount to proof? Ultimately, we can't really look in Maggie's head and know for sure what is motivating her. In fact, Maggie may well not know herself what is truly motivating her (our own rationalizations can sometimes convince ourselves).

So we are left with noting that her public arguments don't make much sense, and that there is a more obvious and far less tortured explanation for why she would oppose gay marriage. But I guess we will never know for sure what her real motives might be.
10.20.2005 6:52pm
Ron:
Seems here that you are accusing the mother-daughter team raising the daughter's child as not being a loving one.

No, not at all. I've seen such arrangements, and they are usually admirable. But I think there is a different dynamic between two people in love with each other raising a child, and a parent-child team raising a grandchild.
10.20.2005 6:53pm
Medis:
Just an aside:

I am intrigued by the mother-daughter example. Is there evidence that a father-daughter or mother-son child-raising pair would be better than a mother-daughter child-raising pair?

But this is just an aside because all of this clearly doesn't matter. Gender diversity may or may not have some sort of marginal advantage on average, but all sorts of diversity may have marginal advantages, and there is no doubt that all sorts of other non-diversity factors (like wealth) are going to matter more than gender diversity.

So the idea that we are singling out gay couples as presumptively unfit parents, but not applying the same logic to many other categories of parents, for reasons unrelated to antipathy to gay people, seems just as likely to be a rationalization as any of these arguments.
10.20.2005 6:58pm
Bill (mail):
Who says that "developing a gender identity" is such a great thing?

Also, I couldn't say what my gender identity is and I was raised by straight parents who didn't divorce until I was in college.
10.20.2005 7:17pm
Pro-Marriage:
Since the SSM argument is about equalizing homosexual and heterosexual relationships, and is not truly about sex discrimination, the difference between the unisexed combo of mother/daughter versus two women who are lesbians is presumably that the latter engage in sex play together.

Is this what would make the lesbians a superior form of same-sex combo when it comes to caring for children? If not, what is it and where is the objective measure of the superiority?
10.20.2005 7:18pm
John H (mail) (www):
How come people are talking about fitness of parents and stuff? We are supposed to be talking about marriage, and not allowing people to marry someone of their own sex whether or not they have children. We also don't allow fathers and daughters to marry whether or not they are raising children. Clearly we don't really care about the raising children part. That is not what is significant about marriage. The state doesn't insist single moms marry so the kid will have it "better".
Marriage is about allowing the conception of new children. That is why we don't let fathers and daughters marry even if they are raising a child together, because we don't sanction conception between such pairs.

Abandon the useless debate about the optimal setting for raising children. Even if you could measure such things, it is not even relevant. Marriage must continue to be about conception - procreation rights - and everyone who argues for it based on raising kids is destroying marriage even if they think they are defending it.
10.20.2005 7:20pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Ron,

Thanks for the link, but as you know, NARTH is an anti-gay organization dedicated to the dubious proposition that homosexual orientation can be changed.

Which doesn't really mean much to me, nor should it for you. I appreciate that you met the studies as they are, I believe that is the proper way to evaluate any scientific endeavor.

For example, there is no discussion of the effect of finances, or parental attitudes towards education, or crime rates or cother neighborhood pathologies on children raised in single mother homes, or homes where there is a mother and grandmother but no father.

One of the reasons for that is, as I'm sure you know, there is a correlation shown between those factors and marriage. There may even be a causal relationship between them, in that marriage motivates people to seek those more safe environments. Marriage may even encourage the development of such environments.

I believe that follows as a factor of gender integration. The civilization effect that Dafydd Ab Hugh discusses.

there appears to be the presumption that any slight departure from "traditional" roles is bad

I understood that not as gender roles but parental roles. Not so much masculine and feminine as actively parenting the children.

I don't see that groups like NARTH, or activists like Maggie G., have produced any well-designed studies that indicate that children raised by gay parents are harmed.

There is a general problem with studies.

think there is a different dynamic between two people in love with each other raising a child, and a parent-child team raising a grandchild.

What impact do you see that difference in having on raising the child? In other words, what advantage do you see (and any evidence for this?) in the lesbian couple raising a child over a mother and grandmother raising a child?


Medis,

I tend to agree, though Ron may yet prove me wrong. When studies find that children need a mother and a father by specifically controling for the lack of a gender, the fact that they didn't specifically control to find lesbian and gay couples is pretty moot.
10.20.2005 7:22pm
Bill (mail):
And I was not arguing against "gender integration" in any significant sense. Why would gender integration require that every "normal" marriage couple is of opposite sexes? Perhaps people can integrate better with the opposite sex if they do not take for granted that any child raising partnership must necessarily be with someone of the opposite sex.

Not living full time in matrimony with the father/mother of your child hardly means that you cannot be "integrated" with the other parent.
10.20.2005 7:24pm
John H (mail) (www):
Bill, did you know any friends whose parents divorced? I think that seeing a friend's parents divorce is much more influential on a person's attitudes and identity than people think, perhaps it is even more influential in some cases than seeing one's own parents divorce.
10.20.2005 7:24pm
Bill (mail):
John H: The reason we are talking about raising children is that the present argument against gay marriage is that it is inimical to proper child raising. (Interestingly, some people are suggesting that Mrs. G is more interested in the possibility of conceiving children then in the practicalities of raising them. But that is a red herring as most of us recognize.)
10.20.2005 7:26pm
Bill (mail):
John H: Good point about friends' divorce! I did see that, but I admit that it did not resonate adequately with me.
10.20.2005 7:27pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Bill,

Perhaps people can integrate better with the opposite sex if they do not take for granted that any child raising partnership must necessarily be with someone of the opposite sex.

You make an interesting point. The studies I've reviewed shows that re-marriage is pretty insignificant in impact to children who have a parents die or divorce. First and foremost the biological commonality between parents and children seem to provide the most advantage. As marriage encourages those two parents to stay together to raise children, it is a valuable institution. As a bandage to try to piece together a receptical for government welfare, it doesn't seem to do a very good job at all.
10.20.2005 7:34pm
Bill (mail):
On Lawn: I don't understand. There is inevitably "biological commonality" between parents and children so long as we know who the biologial parents are (and maybe even so long as there ARE two parents who biologically conceived the child). If remarriage has no significant impact, then doesn't that tend to support the point that having care-parents (of the same sex are you saying?) is the important thing.

The effectivness of "govermnent welfare" (as you put it) just focuses us on the other factors in child well-being that I claimed earlier are more important than the sexes of parents. If the welfare the government provides happens to be inadequate to address those issues (or if the stigma outweighs them, etc.) that just raises an additional issue about how to address those, more important, factors.
10.20.2005 7:52pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
I did look over your rationalization and its primary fatal flaw is that it ignores that the right to marry is an individual right, not a group right. As such the attempt to say that some how the different possible gender combinations are discriminatory falls apart - each individual in the contract is fulfilling their own right to marry irrespective of the gender of their contract cosignee. Looking at them together is an error - there is no couple's right to marry - all rights spring from the individual making gender combination irrelevant. The question is, "is every individual citizen being given reasonable access to the civil contract in support of their right to marry?' and excluding those who need a partner of the same gender means that answer is a big old 'no'.
You also mention the 'institution of marriage' but since same gender couples are being married in places of worship and private commitments throughout the country, in civil courts in Massachusetts, and countries around they world, the institution of marriage already includes same gender couples no matter how much some may wish that wasn't true.
10.20.2005 8:02pm
Cal Lanier (mail) (www):
My eldest son's father abandoned me and his son. We were never maried. He never wanted to have children, he wanted to have sex and companionship.

What was wrong with what he did, if anything?


Okay, first off, I think you should mention this severe case of bias you have at every opportunity. I'd never heard this before.

Second, given that you're trying to argue the need of marriage for procreation, what on earth possessed you to bring up an example that establishes the opposite?

The state's recognition of your doomed relationship wouldn't have in any way interfered with his ability to dump you cold. The lack of a marriage certificate doesn't interfere in any way with your ability to hit him up for child support.

We changed the laws to be sure of that. If the government had wanted to ensure that marriage and procreation were linked, it could have told women like you to take a hike. Instead, it hunts down as many of these "deadbeats" as possible, and if they can't be found, the state steps in and hands over money.

So what's your point again, about how this government views marriage as fundamental to procreation?

Second, you say that you have been researching marriage for twenty years. Aren't you the Maggie Gallagher, syndicated columnist, who hired on to ghostwrite Linda Tripp's tell-all?

If there's second Maggie Gallagher, then apologies for the mixup.

If you're the same Maggie Gallagher, then sell your tale of 20 years of research to stupid people. It's purely dishonest to claim that you're a disinterested academic when you hire out to write political tell-alls.
10.20.2005 8:18pm
John H (mail) (www):
Bill: The reason we are talking about raising children is that the present argument against gay marriage is that it is inimical to proper child raising.

Yeah, I was actually directing my comment at those that are arguing against gay marriage. It's a useless argument, it's hot air. I want them to focus on procreation rights, and the necessity of banning procreation that is not the union of a man and a woman, for numerous ethical reasons. There's no hot air there, no dubious "studies" to argue back and forth about.

I offer this as a compromise that could put this issue behind us. Both sides meet in the middle: We can ban forms of procreation that don't combine a man and a woman's gametes. We can at the same time grant at the federal level Civil Unions for couples that do not have procreation rights that can give all the benefits of marriage except procreation rights. We can preserve the meaning of marriage as granting procreation rights to those couples that whose procreation would not be unethical.
10.20.2005 8:21pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Bob,

right to marry is an individual right, not a group right ... Looking at them together is an error - there is no couple's right to marry

Which is why saying a right exists to call a same-sexed combination a marriage is asenine.

and excluding those who need a partner of the same gender means that answer is a big old 'no'.

Which contradicts what you just explained ;)

Besides, perhaps you are ignoring that marriage's requirement for equal gender participation does not criminalize same-sex partnerships.

the institution of marriage already includes same gender couples

Such is the amphibology of marriage. What it really shows is that Massachusetts has something different with the same name. A welfare program that is like a hallmark basket of goodies to help people feel warm about their romantic relationships instead of support for responsible parenthood. What is lost is the importance of moving beyond the selfish demands of romance. Sure marriages will still have access to the same basket of goodies, but the institution is very changed indeed.
10.20.2005 8:24pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Cal,
It seems that for someone who you paint with such an evil brush, she gives arguments that you seem inable to handle or discredit. Besides there are many (as Prof Volokh point out), even two thirds of the US (approx) that agree with Maggie. Your lynch-mob approach will be far too overworked to try to discredit all of them. Better approach will be to stick to the arguments at hand.
10.20.2005 8:27pm
Sheila (mail):
Maggie, they're here, they're queer, they fall in love, they go to work, they pay taxes.

Either they are full citizens or they aren't. If they are not full citizens, then please advocate that this be legislated and enforced, and that they get deported, or rounded up and put in camps, or at least get to pay lower taxes since they have fewer freedoms.

If they are full citizens, then please just back off and let them live their lives with the same freedoms and privileges as the rest of us.

It's just revolting to see you homophobes trying to rationalize your bigotry.
10.20.2005 8:28pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Either they are full citizens or they aren't.

You aren't talking about immigration are you? I was not aware that anyone already naturalized required a marriage to be a full citizen.

then please just back off and let them live their lives with the same freedoms and privileges as the rest of us

Which is already the case, there need be no change and Massachusetts is free to enact their constitutional ammendment defining marriage.
10.20.2005 8:31pm
Cal Lanier (mail) (www):
Lawn,

Hmm. I didn't call her evil, never mentioned a majority opinion, and don't recall summoning a lynch mob.

You appear to have taken a page from A Man for all Seasons. ("I trust I make myself obscure.")
10.20.2005 8:32pm
Anand H (mail):
Your argument centers on there being some sort of crisis here. But the only real problem you've remarked on in this whole attempted argument is that the US has a high rate of divorce and single motherhood. So fix those. Instead, you seem to be trying to convince us that divorce and single motherhood would likely increase if the mythical meaning of marriage is changed to include same sex marriage? You think straight people who loved each other enough to get married and have children and have later decided to get divorced care about gay people getting married? You want to help them? Help them get affordable childcare so they can occasionally talk to each other. You think horny kids care about gay marriage when they decide not to "abstain"? Perhaps you might consider rethinking that approach... Seriously, I'm not sure who to be more insulted for - the gay people you allege are plotting the end of civilization as we know it, or the straight people whose civilization you claim to be protecting!
10.20.2005 8:36pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Cal,
Some side-by-side comparison between what I said and your response.

>> someone who you paint with such an evil brush
> I didn't call her evil

>> Besides there are many (as Prof Volokh point out), even two thirds of the US (approx) that agree with Maggie.
> never mentioned a majority opinion

>> Your lynch-mob approach will be far too overworked to try to discredit all of them.
> and don't recall summoning a lynch mob.
10.20.2005 8:36pm
ss:
Can these marriage posts be available on a single page view? That would be most handy if I'm to forward this series of posts on to readers who don't normally visit this blog. Thanks.

And Shiela. It's revolting (but revealing) to see you resort to petulant name-calling as an argument. It only highlights your frustration over your evident inability to convincingly justify your self-righteous moral indignation.
10.20.2005 8:46pm
Cal Lanier (mail) (www):
Lawn,

You're two and 0, dude. Stick to posts you understand next time.
10.20.2005 8:47pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Cal,

Stick to posts you understand next time.

Or without anything subtantive to say, post a juvinile score proclaiming just how much I think I'm winning ;) Add an insinuation that the *other* person is the one who doesn't understand what is going on, just in case anyone gets suspicous?
10.20.2005 8:55pm
John H (mail) (www):
If they are full citizens, then please just back off and let them live their lives with the same freedoms and privileges as the rest of us.

OK, But none of us should have the right to combine our gametes with somene of the same sex. All of us should have the right to combine our gametes with someone of the other sex.

This technology is three to five years away, according to one fertility doctor, and people want to try it, even though it would be completely unethical to attempt. It took 451 attemtps at combining two eggs to get one mouse to live to adulthood. We cannot allow people to attempt to create humans this way, and their safety and health is only the most obvious concern. All of us should be created equal: as the union of one man and one woman.
10.20.2005 8:58pm
Medis:
John H,

Just speaking for myself, I don't view the mechanism by which a human was created as relevant to their equality.
10.20.2005 9:05pm
Been There Done That:
I wonder if Ms. Gallagher believes that if a spouse in a childless marriage has a sex-change operation converting an opposite-sex marriage to a same-sex marraige, if that marriage should thereupon be dissolved.
10.20.2005 9:13pm
Antonin:
It's now 5:30 pm Thursday, California time, and Ms. Gallagher has yet to offer any argument whatsoever to demonstrate that gay marriage is going to undermine straight marriage.

She's gotten as far as "the principal public-policy justification for having marriage statutes is to encourage [not child-rearing but] procreation and the connection of children to their natural parents" (which is also where she was on day 1). She still hasn't provided the argument that takes us from that to "gay marriage should be prohibited". Even if the principal purpose of marriage is to promote procreation and the rearing of children by their natural parents, why don't the enormous benefits to gays and lesbians and their children justify opening up the institution to them?

She needs to show either that (a) the state has no legitimate interest in promoting the well-being of gays, lesbians, and their children or (b) letting gays and lesbians marry will hurt marriage for straight people to an extent that outweighs the known benefits to gays, lesbians, and their children. She just doesn't want to say it, because either way would require revealing her true homophobic colors

Also - where did this "natural life-cycle of marriage" shit come from? This is a human social institution, not a law of physics. Why is "a man and a woman stay married until they die unless they divorce" any more "natural" than "a man and a woman stay married until the woman is post-menopausal and their kids are financially self-sufficient?" (At which point the state's interest in encouraging them having or rearing kids completely disappears.)
10.20.2005 9:45pm
BobNelson (mail):

(don't even bother to ask what the reasons are, they are too numerous to list. Just think of them as a huge storm cloud of ethical issues that can't be denied and won't go away by objecting to one particular issue I might offer as an example)


Is this comic relief? A storm cloud of inexpressible issues?

There are all sorts of quite expressible ethical issues regarding IVF and genetic manipulation. I can't think of a single one that is applicable only to same-sex couples (assuming that experience with animal models did not reveal any special biological concerns with mixing genetic material from two individuals of the same sex).

Can you at least express the issue that would stop two men or two women from availing themselves of a technology that mixed-sex couples would use?
10.20.2005 9:45pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Antonin,

And Ms. Gallagher has yet to offer any argument whatsoever to demonstrate that gay marriage is going to undermine straight marriage.

As noted previously, the argument from personal incredulity is not on the positive side of the signal to noise equasion. Simply put if you don't have anything to say about what Ms Gallagher has said its better to be silent. Imagining yourself in some judgly role pronouncing what has or has not happened is, well, more akin to arrogance and desperation than honest argument :)
10.20.2005 9:50pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

Would you apply the same principles to those commenting on Maggie's critics? Just curious.
10.20.2005 9:59pm
Antonin:
On Lawn,

Are you saying that Gallagher has offered an argument against gay marriage? All I've seen is "the public policy justification for marriage is [procreation, etc.]." Arguing that we therefore shouldn't have gay marriage is another step.

Also, I wasn't making the argument from incredulity, just noting the absence of an argument (any argument whatsoever) on Gallagher's side.
10.20.2005 10:07pm
Antonin:
Also, it is 6 pm Pacific time on day 4 of 5. Why has she spent four days attempting to prove one premise when the meat of the argument is yet to come?
10.20.2005 10:08pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Would you apply the same principles to those commenting on Maggie's critics? Just curious.

Critics or not, that is correct.

Maggie hasn't personally attacked anyone has she? I can imagine a sort of knock-down drag out between someone who's poisoning their well, and someone defending their well. But Maggie has kept to issues, and answered the question many times. Many may be unsatisfied with the answers and by all means express it, but here seems to be the standard template of what I consider noise posts....

_________

Accuse Ms Gallager of failure. Impugn Ms Gallager's intentions. Smarmy sideways comment about how impossible it seems to even suggest marriage would decline.

Accuse Ms Gallager of failure again. Set up hoop a, b, and (possibly) c. Demand jumping through said hoops before satsified. General comment again about how impossible it seems to jump through them.

Pseudo-scientific statement declaring that because there is no evidence its wrong, it must be safe. Accuse Maggie of ignoring how important it is to consider things solely from the perspective of gays. Mock considerations to the innocent such as infertile people or children.

------
10.20.2005 10:10pm
Medis:
On Lawn,

I guess I was being too subtle. I was suggesting that your commentary on Maggie's critics is just as much "noise" as anything you are complaining about. In other words, you aren't contributing anything of substance to the debate, but rather are just asserting a lack of substance in others--so why not apply to yourself this principle: "Simply put if you don't have anything to say about what Ms Gallagher has said its better to be silent. Imagining yourself in some judgly role pronouncing what has or has not happened is, well, more akin to arrogance and desperation than honest argument."

Of course, this post of mine is in the exact same genre. But then again, I'm not the one complaining about "noise."
10.20.2005 10:22pm
von (mail) (www):
SS couples are being added to the mix precisely in order to assure that society views them as "no different" than other couples. This intrinsically means (if the effort is successful) downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure).

So far as I can tell, that's the heart of the argument. Admittedly, it holds water -- though, FTR, I find it ultimately unpersuasive. (The second point doesn't quite hold water; although "procreated" couples -- who are now too old to continue to procreate -- support the thesis, couples who refuse to procreate also arguably downgrade the social significance of generativity and are contrary to Ms. Gallagher's point).
10.20.2005 11:01pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
Ms. Gallagher,

First off I'd like to thank you for taking the time to respond to the question that I asked you.

However, in your answer I think you've given away the farm. If you (and I quote directly) "don't see how the fact that some married people adopt undercuts the relationship between marriage and procreation," then why do you think that married *gay* people adopting children undercuts the relationshiship between marriage and procreation?

I can't see how you can have it both ways here.
10.20.2005 11:07pm
Francis:
von, welcome back from where ever you've been.

this statement -- "downgrading if not eliminating the social significance of generativity (procreation and family structure." -- is not intrinsically true, despite MG's belief that it is. I disagree, therefore, with your concession.

It is entirely possible that the social significance of "generativity" will be increased by SSM. Think of the thousands of positive statements posted on all sorts of blogs when the photographs of gay couples getting married in California were posted. Think of all the people commenting about all the love and commitment demonstrated in those ceremonies.

Many of those couples had children, through adoption, prior (hetero) relationships, IVF and turkey basters.

MG has confused love with plumbing.

I at least have some evidence to support my hypothesis that SSM will support traditional marriage. MG has an unproven fear that it won't.
10.20.2005 11:23pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
In other words, you aren't contributing anything of substance to the debate

Not substance, but tenor. And even then only having to wade through far too many junk posts.
10.20.2005 11:38pm
P J Evans (mail):
OK, But none of us should have the right to combine our gametes with somene of the same sex. All of us should have the right to combine our gametes with someone of the other sex.

The last I heard, genetically speaking, combining two gametes of the same sex was non-viable every time. RED HERRING! This is not SSM. In fact, it isn't marriage at all. It's procreation, it's biology, but it isn't marriage.

If you want to bring in cloning, which is what it looks like to me, find out what's really involved. But don't confuse it with marriage, please.
10.20.2005 11:39pm
Crane (mail):
John H has been posting a lot about the possibility of scientists finding ways to combine the gametes of a same-sex couple to produce a child with the genetic material of both. Obviously, this would rank with cloning for difficulty and potential damage to the resulting viable embryos. Even if anyone really is working on such a technique now, I'd guess it'll still be at least a decade before they can produce a sheep with two mommies, so I'm not sure why it should be relevant to this discussion. John H seems to be quite worried about it, though.
10.21.2005 1:19am
The Countess (mail) (www):
Maggie, I'm glad you think adoption is great. I also see that you believe the purpose of marriage is procreation. I just have a few questions. I'm married for the second time, but my husband and I have no intention of having children. Are you saying that we should not be allowed to marry because we will have no children? Also, my mother was unable to have children. I am adopted. Are you saying that my parents should never have been allowed to marry because my mother is - to use a dated term - barren? Should parents who can bear children of their own be forbidden to adopt? I'm curious.

Being adopted, I'm rather insulted that you say that children who are given up for adoption have been "abandoned". I wasn't abandoned. If I were abandoned, I probably would have been left in a trash can somewhere, hoping that someone would have found me and taken me to a nunnery or a hospital. That's not what happened to me. I like to think that my natural mother was considerate enough of me to take me somewhere where she knew I would be properly cared for.

My natural parents were also not "judged by the state to be incapable of caring for their own children." I don't like being labeled by anyone as being either a "tragedy" or a "crime", as you said. All I know about my natural mother is that she was 19 and unmarried when she gave birth to me. She thought enough of my welfare to put me up for adoption. I must commend her at least that much.

So, please, before you say that all adoptees have been "abandoned", talk to adoptees first to see hear their point of view .

I won't pretend to know much about same sex couples. I will say that I believe that any two parents, regardless of their gender, who are able to successfully raise a child shouldn't be disallowed to do so. Married parents divorce frequently enough. Being married doesn' necessarily mean that the children will turn out just fine. Being divorced doesn't necessarily mean that the children are doomed. Same sex couples are just as capable of raising children successfully as hetero couples. I know that you don't approve of same sex couples raising children, but you don't have much good to say about adoptees either. They're either from "tragic" circumstances or "criminal" ones. There are a lot of adoptees who would take issue with your characterization. Like I said, talk to some adoptees before you make such gross generalizations that have no basis in fact.
10.21.2005 1:39am
Randy R. (mail):
Well, now I'm a little irritated with On Lawn. I pointed out that Maggie's propositions lack any foundation in evidence, and are merely speculations. They are on par with my saying, the moon is green, therefore it's most likely made of green cheese, therefore we can harvest the moon for profitable dairy consumption. All speculation without any foundation or support. And yet Lawn would admonish me for "personal incredulity!"

Well, call it whatever you want. But if Maggie or anyone else makes a statement that is sweeping in generalities without any support, I will call her on it. If that's "personal incredulity," there are plenty of other people who share my skepticism. In the meantime, you may skip my posts, On Lawn, and don't bother reading them, if they irritate you so much.
10.21.2005 1:41am
Randy R. (mail):
Here's something a little off topic, guaranteed to irritate some people here. But this is the crowd that Maggie hangs out with, supports her, and publishes her columns:

Uber-activist Grover Norquist has driven the right-wing agenda for many years, all the while pushing legal and ethical envelopes, enraging Democrats with some of the most inflammatory rhetoric imaginable, and viciously attacking anyone who gets in his way. In many Republican circles, this makes Norquist a hero.

But Norquist is not untouchable. In fact, some of his recent political outreach efforts have led to bitter criticisms from some of Norquist's own right-wing allies. You'll never guess why.

Was it Norquist's controversial outreach to some radical Islamic extremists? No, Norquist has done this for years with nary a peep from the far-right.

Maybe it was Norquist's integral involvement in a fraudulent scheme cooked up by disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff? No, Norquist may have violated several laws by helping funnel casino money to Ralph Reed, using Americans for Tax Reform as a kind of money laundering institution, but conservatives haven't said a word about it.

So, what did Norquist do to disgust conservative activists? He agreed to meet with a group of Republicans in Texas — who happen to be gay.

A number of conservatives are seething over the fact that Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), was the featured speaker at a fund-raising event for a group of homosexual Republicans last weekend. One pro-family leader called Norquist's appearance "an act of utter betrayal."

Norquist was the main attraction at the "Grand Ol' Party," the largest fund-raising event of the year for the Dallas, Tex., chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual advocacy group within the GOP.

Carla Halbrook, a member of the national Log Cabin board and the organization's chapter in Dallas, told Cybercast News Service that Norquist gave a "fantastic" speech at the dinner on Saturday night. Halbrook said that during his speech, Norquist discussed "Social Security reform and reducing taxes and government in general. It was his normal message.

"The fact that the group is gay was irrelevant," she said. "It was one conservative talking to other conservatives."

Conservatives don't quite see it that way.

The Texas Eagle Forum called Norquist's presence at the gay Republican group's fundraiser "traitorous," adding, "If he was a serious economic conservative, Grover Norquist would not have accepted the invitation or the honorarium for speaking at a fund-raiser for a group bent on the destruction of traditional families."

The American Family Association of Michigan more or less accused Norquist of political treason, saying that it would urge its supporters "to withhold their future support until Grover 'takes the pledge' to no longer give aid and comfort to homosexual activist groups intent on undermining traditional marriage and the family."

At the national level, the Family Research Council was equally incensed.

"Grover has spent years working to assemble a coalition of fiscal and social conservatives and his decision to aid those who are trying to destroy the institution of marriage is truly a disappointment and will no doubt split this important coalition."

Look, Grover Norquist is one of the most loathsome figures in public life. He has no sense of decency, honesty, or ethics, and I've long believed Republicans should distance themselves from his vile brand of politics. I'm delighted, to a limited extent, to see conservatives blasting Norquist, but in this case, their motivation is absurd.

These far-right groups don't care if Norquist hangs out with criminals or those suspected of helping terrorists, but they're livid if he talks to gay Republicans? Given the circumstances, the criticism says more about the right than it does Norquist.
10.21.2005 1:46am
Cyn23 (mail):
Grover is more of a libertarian sort -- not quite the same thing as "conservative." Still, nice comment.

How about how Reed is pretty much in the muck over this gambling business, even though the Christian Coaltion etc. generally (and when he still headed it, he so noted) are not big fans of gambling? No matter -- Reed said that people in generally don't really care about the crooked lobbyist pool involved in this matter.

Ah hypocrisy. As to this issue, the marriage = procreation bit is just fallacious. Marriage is just not that simple. If anything, it has been traditionally a matter of males and females joining together to balance their abilities/societal roles. But exceptions always were present, and changing times made both things more complex.

Procreation is a vast simplification leading to scholastic (sp?) arguments explaining way all marriages that don't fit. And, any societal breakdowns that gay marriages would further are relatively trivial in comparison to other interests.

But, maybe, I'm missing part of the argument. But, apparently, Maggie is taking forever to clearly state it. So, it's not just my problme.
10.21.2005 2:54am
DM Andy (mail):
In the UK, Civil Partnerships (same-sex agreements equal to marriage in all ways except the name) was made law last year with the vote in the House of Commons being 426-49 in support. The first civil partnerships will happen on 21st December this year.

If Maggie is correct, there will a sharp decline in traditional marriage and an faster increase in out of wedlock births (currently in the UK out of wedlock births are trending up before civil partnerships).

I think this week has proven that we can repeat our chosen position until we're blue in the face with no effect. Why don't we wait a few years, see what happens in the UK, in France, Spain, Canada. If "marriage as we know it" is destroyed in those nations, then the US can breath a sigh of relief they didn't go down that path, if (as I believe) SSM proves to make no difference, then the fears raised will have been investigated and proven unfounded.

Think of it as a clinical trial, what would be wrong with that?
10.21.2005 4:20am
Bill (mail):
John H: Are you saying that most any man/woman pairs (and only man/woman pairs) should have these "procreation rights"? That term, btw, is new to me and somewhat repugnant. I don't know about emerging technologies for combinining gametes from parents of the same sex to make children, but whatever the possibilities I'm far from sure that it would warrent creating such a new legal concept.
10.21.2005 4:28am
Chairm Ohn:
The issue of single sexed combos providing care for children is not tucked away neatly behind the speculation that sex play makes the lesbian couple, or the gay couple, superior to the mother/grandmother combination.

The available studies demonstrate that where a father is absent the outcomes for children do not compare favorably to the outcomes for children in intact homes led by their mom and dad.

Single-sex arrangements fall short of the gold standard. That does not mean that single parents, or mother/grandmother combos, or lesbian combos, or gay combos, should take offence. What they lack they cannot backfill by the addition of another person of the same gender. Whether this is due to deep cultural issues, psycho-social factors, or the fundamentals of responsible procreation, the discrepancy exists in our society.

The SSM argument that uses the presence of children in same-sex households has emotional appeal but it is very weak. The vast majority of those children are from the previously procreative relationships of one of the custodial parent who has since moved on to a partner of the same sex. These are children who have the same rights and protections of any other child of divorced or estranged parents.

The presence of these children does not bestow marital status on the two adults -- that also applies in the case of two adults of different sexes. If the adults are not eligible to marry, the presence of children does not suddenly make those adults eligible. Two siblings, for example, do not be come eligible to marry in such a scenario.

Public policy in this instance is based on adult consent to enter a conjugal relationship, not the choice of partner in a shared parental arrangement. Sexual orientation is not the obstacle to marriageability. To claim otherwise is to claim a special status that over-rides conjugality. That claim on its face cannot stand on sex discrimination grounds because conjugality integrates the sexes and the presence of both sexes is the basis for gender equality within the social institution of marriage.

Put aside the issues of adoption as it does not add weight to either side of the marriageability issue. Put aside the matter of IVF and other technologies that directly treat the subfertility of husband and wife, because the that medical disability does apply to two persons of the same sex.

If you want to talk about reproductive technologies that would impact SSM, there are these two scenarios.

First, third party procreation which depends on a couple going outside of their conjugal relationship to attain the use of a third person's genetic material.

The method depends more on a source of sperm, eggs, embryos, than on novel technologies. The source and related services do not treat the disability and do not restore fertility. Less than 1% of the small segment of childless couples who experience infertility or subfertility actually use third party reproduction technologies. A tiny portion of same-sex couples reside with children at home and a tiny fragment of that already tiny segment have attained children through technologies.

For the second scenario, unisexed procreation, look at the implications of John Howard's comments regarding the prospect of two men or two women combining to attempt to create human life together. There is some indication that homosexual men and women would be in favor of technology that would avoid the need for the combination of man and woman in procreation. In fact, it would appear to be congruent with the pro-SSM argument.

To bring the third party procreation issue to the aid of a pro-SSM argument, you'd need to deal with the ethical and public policy issues that flow from it. Probably best to also put that aside.

Note: same-sex procreation is not about third party procreation and is not cloning.
10.21.2005 4:44am
Chairm Ohn:
Correction of typo: Put aside the matter of IVF and other technologies that directly treat the subfertility of husband and wife, because the that medical disability does not apply to two persons of the same sex.
10.21.2005 4:47am
stephen (mail):
If I might just try to summarize what I think Maggie's said so far.

Point 1) I think Maggie is saying that there are millions of people today in jail or addicted to drugs or suffering low self-esteem and most (but not all) come from distressed or single parent families. She's saying we're all paying for family distress dearly: with higher taxes, a lack of money for positive proactive social projects; a massive budget deficit, a lack of freedom to walk in most cities at night, and more. She's saying that all the trends for family stability right now are negative - and if we don't do something soon, the 2 million we see in jail at the moment might well explode to 4 more million or more. She's saying that when marriages break down there's a lot of pain, especially for the children, and what society more than anything else needs to be doing right now in the marriage area is to be finding ways to strengthen marriage, not looking at ideas which could very well weaken it. For example, she's saying that by opening the door to redefine marriage, bisexuals claiming the right to have a marriage of 3 or more people WILL use the same SSM arguments to push this door open further, and that all the research shows that such unions will be more unstable and ultimately it will be the children of those unions who will suffer - and so will our bank balance. Because of the truth of this fact, she's asking SSM advocates if their fight to be called a 'marriage' rather than a 'union' is worth even one child's pain (let alone hundreds or thousands). Hopefully I hear the word NO here.

Point 2) Maggie is also saying she recognises that the massive social problems caused by distressed families, single parenting and the like are not the fault of gays or lesbians but when they ask for their unions to be called marriages, they are making it even more difficult for us straights to start to reverse this negative trend of social problems which is affecting America. Her argument seems to be that we now finally understand, through an immense amount of research, the fact that kids, if they were born from heterosexual unions, do best, on average, if they are raised not only by their biological parents, but by their married biological parents. [Marriage is also under attack from other social arguments (e.g.; cohabitation - which is a far bigger threat to kids than the SSM debate) which the pro-marriage lobby is also trying to counter.] So she's trying to put the case that those parents who care about their children having successful families (and by parents she includes SS parents too) need the FREEDOM to be able to say to their heterosexual kids (which is over 95% of all kids) what all the research seems to be saying - that 'Children of heterosexual unions do best, on average, if they are raised by their married, biological Mums and Dads.' And not only parents but society as a whole right now needs to make a focussed effort to get this message across to the next generation of heterosexual kids before even more pain and social problems arise. Her argument then seems to say that if we give SS unions the Title 'Married' - we will create a situation where we as society - the schools, churches, media and us parents - cannot make this focussed effort because it will seem like we are being homophobic or we will be attacked as being homophobic when in fact we are not - we are just trying to state WHAT IS TRUE FOR HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGES. I guess she's saying that heterosexual children need one sort of information to get the best from their partnerships (and the phrase 'married biological mum and dad' is part of that healthy information) and gay children need another sort of information and both have a right to it. She obviously believes that it is the heterosexual kids RIGHT to receive the best research information so they know what a good marriage entails and stopping society from passing this information on just because we worry about offending gays and lesbians - is real short sightedness. She has a point. Do we hide away smoking research just in case we offend smokers? Thus she seems to be saying this RIGHT of heterosexual children to clear information has more value than the feeling of inferiority which some gays may feel if they are called unions rather than marriages. The logic also follows that if a gay child has the right to receive the best research on how to build a good SS partnership, then heterosexual children also have that right too. She obviously believes this charge of bigotry or homophobia will make it impossible for society to fulfil this right and give clear, researched based advice to our heterosexual kids - and she strongly notes that this will cause us ALL to suffer (Yes, gay and lesbian marriages will have to pay higher taxes like the rest of us, and they will suffer from the same raising crime and violence rates like the rest of us). She's seems to be pleading with the SSM advocates - please don't muddy the waters even further. She is willing to give SS advocates all the benefits and burdens that marriage offers - but she believes it doesn't help any of us or future generations if society can't tell to our heterosexual children - that 'Children do best, on average, if they are raised by their married, biological Mums and Dads.' and even gay and lesbian couples will need the freedom to say this to their children if their children are heterosexual. In other words Maggie's fighting for future kids - not against gays and lesbians - and she's hoping we all reach a mature compromise.

Lastly point 3). The word Marriage. Another of Maggie's arguments seems to be the social and cultural problems that will ensue when the term 'marriage' is widened to include SS unions. She argues that words are not just words but the term marriage is a powerful cultural symbol and to tamper with it will lead to large scale cultural battles which will make the abortion debate seem like a tea party. She asks us to reflect on what will happen, for example, in the area of religion. At the moment, there is a reasonably strict separation of church and state - with non-religious people complaining bitterly if the religions step on to neutral state ground. By the state offering the term marriage to SS unions, the interference will be heading the other way - for it will lead to the state not just stepping on to religious ground - but it will involve the government trampling over the religions garden, almost moving in and telling religions what they can and cannot say or do concerning marriage. Will churches be sued because they say they marry people, but refuse to marry SS partners? Will they prefer to lose their tax-exempt status rather than give in to political law - thus stopping them from helping the poor and the needy? Will religions be forced to change some of their scriptural texts to include the new definition of marriage? This same issue has already split the Anglican Church - will it split others, and in the process leave lasting damage and weakness in religions that are just trying to help society become a better place? When many churches see how the new marriage laws affects their cherished values, weakening their ability for them to raise their heterosexual children to have good families - do you think they will just roll over and give up without a fight - becoming more tolerant of SSM in the process? And it's not just in the area of religion where division will occur. Unless we all become incredibly politically correct in our language really quickly, the number of law suits that will occur when SSM believe the have been discriminated against will reach massive proportions. What if I hold marriage enrichment seminars but don't include contents that are specifically tailored to the needs of SS partnerships - will I be sued? What if I write a book on marriage and focus on the husband/wife dynamic? What if I say something about marriage and I infer that I'm talking about men and women and a gay couple take offence? Now this is such a touchy subject, and it would not be long before we had a whole list of law suits against good people who grew up with the notion that marriages were between men and women, and somehow they just haven't learnt to speak taking the new definition into account. There will be many, many mistakes, a lot of useless arguments over who meant what when they said this or that. It would be field day for lawyers but a tragedy for society. To cope with all these challenges we would have to learn to be far more precise with our terminology so we clearly define which kind of marriage we are talking about. We would probably end up using the terms heterosexual marriages and gay marriages for the sake of definition. In other words we WOULD HAVE TO MAKE A LINGUISTIC DELINEATION BETWEEN THE TWO TYPES OF MARRIAGES. Though they may have many similarities, they are many differences and when we talk about marriage we would have to work hard to always clarify which kind of marriage we are talking about. With all this in mind, if we look down the road 10 years after SSMs are legalised, we will see a trail of destruction, with religions divided, with people fighting the state - a state they pay to protect them and their children, with thousands of lawsuits against reasonable people who made a linguistic mistake, with everyone having to work hard to make sure that everything they said in this area was politically correct and many people maybe so frightened of getting it wrong that they decide not to mention the word marriage at all. And will our children be better at building marriages and will our society be any healthier? Of course not! And Maggie asks - for what reason such division, suffering and pain. We WILL STILL NEED 2 terms to define the differences between the two types of unions. So why not save everyone a load of problems and headaches and just use the terms marriage for heterosexual couples and SS Unions for Gays and Lesbians.

Have I got this right?
10.21.2005 7:51am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
DM Andy: In the UK, Civil Partnerships (same-sex agreements equal to marriage in all ways except the name) was made law last year with the vote in the House of Commons being 426-49 in support. The first civil partnerships will happen on 21st December this year.

19th December, in Derry, Northern Ireland, to be precise.

(And anyone with a same-sex marriage/civil union from outside the UK will become legally married, or civil-partnered, midnight 5th December.)

Stephen, I respect you for summarizing Maggie's argument from her POV much more briefly than Maggie herself is apparently able to do: but it would be a lot easier to read if you'd broken it down into paragraphs.
10.21.2005 8:58am
Seth Gordon (mail):

[Stephen:] By the state offering the term marriage to SS unions, the interference will be heading the other way - for it will lead to the state not just stepping on to religious ground - but it will involve the government trampling over the religions garden, almost moving in and telling religions what they can and cannot say or do concerning marriage. Will churches be sued because they say they marry people, but refuse to marry SS partners?

No.


Civil law permits marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew, but many rabbis will refuse to officiate at such a marriage, and they are entirely within their legal rights to refuse. By the same token, clerics in Massachusetts who are morally offended by same-sex marriage have no legal obligation to perform it.

10.21.2005 10:55am
Aultimer:

My eldest son's father abandoned me and his son. We were never maried. He never wanted to have children, he wanted to have sex and companionship.

What was wrong with what he did, if anything?


In any case he was wrong to abandon his son. The law says he's liable to provide financial support. Ethics and morals say that he's liable to provide more, but there's no way to codify that.

If he told you he didn't want children, only sex and companionship, then what he did wrong was utilize ineffective birth control (or to assume you would utilize effective birth control/abort). At law, the consequence is his payment of child support unless you elect to allow adoption.

Otherwise, it's hard to tell what he did wrong, although he at least failed to have honest communication about his role in the relationship. He may well have lied. Only the two of you know that. There may be additional remedies at law and equity.

None of that means we should change the law to make sure your experience isn't repeated - we have child support and rape laws that make the consequences of sexual relationships pretty clear. You didn't mention any lack of consent, so rape is out.

If you want to save other children from similar situations, I read the literature to say that real sex ed (not abstinence-only) at an early age is the best method. None of this has anything to do with SSM, despite the attempt to bootstrap otherwise.

By the way, On Lawn - we get it - you're a troll.
10.21.2005 11:15am
DanielH (mail):
Calling On Lawn a troll is an insult to trolls.
10.21.2005 11:22am
Shawn (mail):
I've seen a few people, including Maggie, make the assertion that the push for SSM isn't about the rights but about the status. If anyone could provide some objective evidence to prove this, that'd be great. But as we're talking about peoples true motives, it's as easy as trying to prove Maggie's true intentions. Yes?

Seems to me, of those that support SSM, you have the following possibilities:

1) Marriage only. It is about the equal status.
2) Marriage only. It is about the rights. Separate but equal is not equal.
3) Marriage only. Civil unions would be great, but the effort to win civil unions is now the same as marriage.
4) Civil Unions. It is more about the rights than the status. Civil Unions are good enough for now.
5) Civil Unions. The state has no business meddling in a religious institution. All unions should be civil unions, straight and gay.

From my perspective, I see very few gay and lesbian people that profess #1. There are more for #2. The most tend around #4. I believe #3 will grow in popularity as ammendments prohibiting civil unions conintue to pass. And #5 is only loosely an SSM position.

Lest we forget, the leading gay and lesbian rights groups were urging no fights for marriage in any state when the Hawaii case first came up. The majority of gay and lesbian americans didn't think it could be won--and were mostly right. Small numbers of gays and lesbians filed suit in various states anyway which eventually drew the larger organizations into the fight. I think congress passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Clinton signing it created a great deal of anger and spured the community to endorse the battle to obtain equal marriage rights.
10.21.2005 11:26am
Goober (mail):
On Lawn---

You mistake me. I'm not asserting my own personal incredulity; I meant every word I wrote in precisely its literal meaning, and that alone. Ms. Gallagher has not given any reason yet for her conclusions about the propriety of gay marriage. She has only argued that marriage is important, not that gay marriage would hurt straight marriage. I didn't at all suggest that I found her stated reasons uncompelling; what I said, rather, and quite literally, was that she hadn't stated any reasons.
10.21.2005 11:31am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
If two men are married, then marriage as a public act is clearly no longer related at all to generativity, and the government declares as well it has no further interest in whether children are connected to their own mom and dad. link

What was with that "I think adoption is great" assertion you made not even two days ago? Changed your mind on that already?
10.21.2005 12:13pm
John H (mail) (www):
Medis - of course a person created by any mechanism should and would have equality in terms of legal rights and dignity and all that. But they would very likely have physical and pyschological inequalities that would be terribly unfair to them, or, if their physical inequalities are engineered improvements, unfair to the rest of us. If someone were to attempt to create a baby with genes for snake skin or mouse hair (and doing that is NOT ILLEGAL!), or more likely with extra strength or extra intelligence, that baby would have equality before the law, but no one should be allowed to create babies that way. That's what I mean when I say we should all be created equal - because of our equality before the law, no one should be allowed to experiment on us. None of us should be experiments, we should all be created the same way we all have been created so far.
10.21.2005 12:28pm
John H (mail) (www):
Crane: "Even if anyone really is working on such a technique now, I'd guess it'll still be at least a decade before they can produce a sheep with two mommies, so I'm not sure why it should be relevant to this discussion. John H seems to be quite worried about it, though."

They've already created a mouse with two mommies, named Kaguya. And another researcher thinks with stem cell derived gametes, someone might be born in three to five years. See my blog for links to all this. It is really happening, and people really want to do it. No one WANTS to have to involve a third party, all couples would prefer to have their children together, the same way heterosexual couples prefer (actually, some fertile heterosexual couples are already beginning to reject their own gametes and electing to use donor gametes that might produce a healthier or prettier child).

As to how procreation is relevant to marriage, umm, where to begin?
10.21.2005 12:34pm
John H (mail) (www):
Bill: "Are you saying that most any man/woman pairs (and only man/woman pairs) should have these "procreation rights"? That term, btw, is new to me and somewhat repugnant."

They are otherwise known as marriage. Just look back to 1967 and see what was at issue in Loving v Virginia - their procreation. Virginia wasn't banning them from loving each other or visiting each other in the hospital, it was banning them from miscegenation - literally 'mixing genes' - aka procreation. We don't give procreation rights, and you can't marry, a sibling (incest), a child (rape), someone already married to someone else (adultery). Marrying is what gives you the procreation right, even if in practice you don't need the marriage license to procreate anymore. If Virginia (and Wisconsin, in Zablocki) had allowed people to procreate without getting married back then, marriage would not have been found to be a basic civil right at all.

"I don't know about emerging technologies for combinining gametes from parents of the same sex to make children, but whatever the possibilities I'm far from sure that it would warrent creating such a new legal concept."

No, we already have the legal concept - marriage. If we allow two people to procreate together, we MUST allow them to marry, else we are no longer saying that people that procreate together should be married. (Maggie has trouble seeing this too).
10.21.2005 12:47pm
Medis:
John H,

You are raising by my count three different issues, only one of which is directly relevant to this discussion.

One issue is whether the reproduction technology in question is likely to be harmful to the human beings produced as a result. I am concerned about that as well, but that concern applies to any such technologies, whether or not they start with the genetic material of two men or two women. And insofar as this harm can be eliminated for a technology involving two men or two women, it is a separable issue.

A second issue is whether a reproductive technology can be used to engineer "improvements". Once again, I have some concerns about such technology, but that is again a concern which exists independent of this issue about two men or two women reproducing, and so that is also a separable issue.

The last issue is the one that is actually inseparably relevant: that a technology may allow two men or two women to mix their genetic material and create a human being. As an independent issue, I just don't have any problem with that result. In other words, if you can do so without harming the resulting human being, and also can do so without otherwise engineering "improvements" in this human being, then I see no reason to be concerned about such human beings coming into the world.
10.21.2005 1:39pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
RandyR,

Nice touch, if you can't get personally at Maggie or myself well enough try someone you can?

Goober,

If you actually had a point, I wouldn't have complained. As it is, because you see or don't see something has no impact on anything or anyone but yourself.

Aultimer and DanielH,

Wow, lets remember the advice of Prof Volokh,

We're trying something new here, perhaps quixotic but I hope useful. We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible. So please, also avoid rants, invective, and substantial and repeated exaggeration. Sticking with substance will make the comments more helpful to other readers, and more pleasant.


I'm desperately searching for reasons for ss"m". I figure in large part that some people really do have an honest drive for it. But so far the arguments they point out are...

1) Personal insults (homophobe, bigot, anti-gay, etc...)
2) Fatuous (marriage someone equalizes or gives increased ("full") citizenship to homosexual couples)
3) Egregious (homosexual couples can "have children" in the same way heterosexual couples "have children")

Is there a good argument that can withstand scrutiny? So far I've not seen it. And I've read a great deal. I'm not even like the ss"m" advocates running for the unverifiable personal opinions of how "unpersuasive" something is.

Call people what you will, call arguments "unpersuasive" or even ignore them flat out if it makes you sleep better with yourselves at night. These things can only work for yourself.
10.21.2005 2:27pm
Chris B (mail):
Ampersand said:

Regarding same-sex parenting, the peer-reviewed literature is (as far as I know) unanimous in finding that children of same-sex parents turn out as well as children of opposite-sex parents. I've posted several supporting links on my blog; here's a description of a well-done study, published last year in a peer-reviewed academic journal, addressing this issue.

There are, of course, issues around those studies, mostly involving selection effects. But, putting those aside, let's suppose that same-sex raised children are just as likely to flourish opposite-sex raise children. In fact, let's suppose they are more likely to flourish than OS-raised kids. And suppose we were convinced that SSM would improve their lot even further. That still wouldn't weaken what I take to be Maggie's main point: when you modify marriage to permit SSM, you remove so many of its distinctive characteristics, that willy-nilly you undermine its capacity to serve its central purposes for the entire population.

Considering that 95 percent plus (maybe 99 percent plus) of kids are likely raised by heterosexuals in the foreseeable future, even a modest global reduction in the effectiveness of marriage as a support for child-rearing would offset any advantages that might acrue to same-sex couples raising children.

On another issue, why is SSM rather than no-fault divorce the straw that breaks the camel's back? Well, obviously, SSM arrived on the scene 30 years after no-fault divorce. It's never the first bale of straw that breaks the camel's back. If we were a non-NFD, non-SSM society facing a referendum that forced us to choose between NFD and SSM, I assume that conservative family researchers like Maggie would vote for SSM. If not, I too would tend to question their motives. Practical public-policy activists deal with the questions of the day; they don't tilt at windmills. (Which isn't to say some tightening of divorce laws isn't on the horizon.)
10.21.2005 3:07pm
Chris B (mail):
Let me add that, to some degree, we've sleepwalked through the marriage issue up to now. The mid-1990s welfare debate brought a few marriage-related issues into focus, but for many people, it's SSM that served as the wake-up call: What are we doing to marriage? People - even card-carrying social-democrats like me - are becoming more critical of the liberationist/autonomist assumptions that pretty much ran the show for the 1970s and 1980s. (Though, personally, my own wakeup call was one of my son's birthday parties, when I realised that only one of the ten kids attending was from an intact marriage. Progressive schools, ha!)
10.21.2005 3:17pm
John H (mail) (www):
Medis,

So, you would oppose a ban on non male-female procreation, and consider access to safe procreation to be an essential right that must not be denied to same-sex couples. I think you should list that as one of the essential demands then. There is no excuse for SSMers to conceal all of their demands, especially when they often mock the slippery slope argument.

I too am concerned about the safety of other technologies that are used in conception, indeed I personally think all forms of IVF should be banned and only sexual intercourse allowed, and even some fertility drugs should be banned if they tend to result in multiple births, which are dangerous for all involved. And if some other strange unsafe technology were to be invented that a heterosexual couple were considering using, such as an artifical womb, I would want to ban that, too.

But we do not need to try to lump all technologies into the same ban, though the more blanket a ban the better, so that new unsafe technologies are not able to slip through a loophole. So the first law we should do is one that would be a blanket ban on cloning, genetic engineering, combining animal DNA, combining DNA from more than two people, and combining DNA from two people of the same sex, and ban them all by the simple language saying that only procreation that is the union of a man and a woman is allowed. This would basically allow everything that we do today, and ban all the things that a vast majority of us are opposed to. Then, if people want to make a case to change the law to allow cloning, or same-sex procreation because they believe it is safe, they can do so.
10.21.2005 4:40pm