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A 90% solution?

David Blankenhorn, who came out against gay marriage in his recent book The Future of Marriage, now says he favors giving same-sex couples "90% civil unions." Under his proposal, gay couples would get all the rights and benefits of marriage under federal and state law -- but he would leave state laws (whatever they currently are) untouched on questions related to same-sex parenting.

This is a big step for a prominent opponent of gay marriage. Blankenhorn is breaking the almost uniform silence among gay-marriage opponents on the question of what to do to meet the needs of gay families.

Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
In a way, though, it's almost worse than nothing, because it perpetuates stereotypes about gay parents and the supposed dangers gays pose to children.
9.13.2007 1:17am
Unregistered Guest:
Three-fifths compromise, anyone?? I'm sure the gays will LEAP at this "solution".
9.13.2007 1:28am
Waldo (mail):
The problem with both gay marriage and civil unions is that they redefine the idea of marriage. Each separate marriage from the recognition of biological children. This poses a problem not because gay couples marry, but because it legitimizes people having children outside of marriage. And that brings up the difference between opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Opposite-sex couples have children that are related to both parents, and men and women have different rights and responsibilities regarding children. Marriage is the institution that resolves those differences. Lastly, from a libertarian perspective, why do I need government to recognize my romantic relationship? I don't; I want government to recoginize my parental rights. Civil unions for hospital visitation or medical decisions make sense, but financial benefits don't. Although, civil unions could also be beneficial for divorced dads.
9.13.2007 1:58am
Elliot Reed:
I guess this is a step in the right direction for Blankenhorn, which is nice. But I don't see myself getting excited about this proposal any time soon.
9.13.2007 2:12am
plunge (mail):
"This is a big step for a prominent opponent of gay marriage. Blankenhorn is breaking the almost uniform silence among gay-marriage opponents on the question of what to do to meet the needs of gay families."

It's utterly amazing that so many can get away with not doing this. So many argue for "marriage between man and woman only" without ever acknowledging or even mentioning the existence of gay people, much less explaining where and how gay people and gay families (which will exist no matter what) will fit into society.
9.13.2007 2:38am
Cornellian (mail):
It's kind of an odd approach, more European than American. Over there, same sex marriage is more readily accepted than it is here, yet with same sex parenting it's the reverse.
9.13.2007 3:27am
Brian K (mail):
Each separate marriage from the recognition of biological children.
people get married for the tax advantage. people get married to give someone instant citizenship. people get married because it makes it easier to get promoted/elected. people get married just because they are bored of being alone. people stay married because of prenups. people get married because the other person is rich/famous. etc... why aren't you advocation for all of these things to be made illegal or otherwise stopped?
9.13.2007 3:57am
fishbane (mail):
This is big (and great, to my mind) news. Not perfect, but nothing is, and no civil rights push has gone from point A to point B all at once (which is as it should be - care should be taken; even if I'm all for gay marriage, which I am, I might be wrong). But this admission is another nice crack in the dam. Maggie might even have to do another guest appearance...
9.13.2007 7:09am
crane (mail):
Maggie might even have to do another guest appearance...

Only if she can promise to put together a coherent argument. Paragraph upon paragraph of mystical fuzziness about the spiritual meaning of marriage, combined with a general unresponsiveness to the counter-arguments raised in the comment section - that just isn't adequate as a persuasive tool.
9.13.2007 9:41am
Curmudgeon:

Under his proposal, gay couples would get all the rights and benefits of marriage under federal and state law


This, of course, will worsen discrimination against the bachelor/bachelorette lifestyle choice. What is the compelling government purpose for that?
9.13.2007 9:57am
springjourney (mail):
I am for Civil Unions, it finaly opens door for polygamy. As a man I welcome Civil Unions, because it only takes a little while before polygamy become official.
Finally, I will be able to bring couple on new wives from some poor countries and live with them happily, instead of chasing girls and cheat on my wife.
9.13.2007 10:01am
Randy R. (mail):
Springjourney, you forgot to mention that soon you'll be able to marry your donkey. Oh, and that once that happens, everyone will stop having kids and that future of the world will die out....
9.13.2007 11:15am
Randy R. (mail):
I''m a little pissed at this Blankenhorn guy. First, he claims he's a liberal, and then comes out totally against gay marriage. That was only a few months ago.

So we debate the issue here several times here and wonder what the heck is wrong with him. and NOW he comes out mostly in favor.

Do you think he could have done just a little bit more research before he came about with initial position? Sheesh, on a topic like this, a responsible pundit wouldn't just write his initial impressions, only to have to backtract. Who is this guy anyway?
9.13.2007 11:18am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
A year or so ago, EV brought me around to civil unions, and running into someone I grew up with who ended up in extended litigation about an estate of his partner cemented it. So, my view is that people should be able to make the sort of arrangements they wish, and I see nothing wrong with the state providing short cuts in this form, as long as they are offered non-discriminatingly.

But I am still a ways away from accepting Gay (or polygamous) marriages. And, in particular, I am opposed to giving Gays (including Lesbians - in particular) equal rights as to parenting and adoption. I can accept that two parents of one sex are often better than one, but still have yet to see any good data that controls for education, income, etc. where two parents of the same sex are as good as one of each in raising kids. And, until I do, I am going to oppose any legal status that gives Gays (including Lesbians) equal priority in becoming parents.

I also find there to be something fundamental about marriage in society, and thus am not ready to provide this to Gays for that reason.

(I appologize to any Lesbians who might be offended by my calling out such, but as a male, I am esp. worried about fatherless families - overall, motherless families with engaged fathers tend to do fairly well, but fatherless families don't seem to do nearly as well as those with fathers).
9.13.2007 11:19am
springjourney (mail):

Springjourney, you forgot to mention that soon you'll be able to marry your donkey. Oh, and that once that happens, everyone will stop having kids and that future of the world will die out....

As funny as it gets, but I am seriously for a Civil Unions, because Civil Union means anything goes. According to constitution everyone have equal rights. If government recoginzes a union between two people then why shuould not union of three or more people to be recoginzed? So far no one have an answer. But benefits are great! If polygamy become reality, we are going to see tremendous increase in population of the United States, since every man and every woman can have a union with as many men and women as possible, so they can immigrate freely, and I believe we going to have more women then men. I think this is exciting.
9.13.2007 11:32am
Waldo (mail):
Brian K:

That's precisely my point. When you end the social norm that people marry when they have children, people will marry and divorce for a variety of reasons. The problem is that they don't marry when they do have children, leading to the social dysfunctions that occur with single parent families. Lastly, I'm not arguing that any of these relationships should be made illegal, just that the government shouldn't subsidize them. Why should someone get citizenship or a tax advantage solely on the basis of a romantic relationship?
9.13.2007 11:49am
Cornellian (mail):
I can accept that two parents of one sex are often better than one, but still have yet to see any good data that controls for education, income, etc. where two parents of the same sex are as good as one of each in raising kids. And, until I do, I am going to oppose any legal status that gives Gays (including Lesbians) equal priority in becoming parents.

Suppose gay person has children from former (opposite sex) relationship. This gay person has custody of the children, then enters a relationship with another person of the same sex. Together they raise the children from birth. When the children are ten years old, both their biological parents die. Are you saying that you'd treat those children as orphans, wards of the state and take them away from the only parent they know, a person who has raised them from birth?
9.13.2007 11:56am
Cornellian (mail):
I am for Civil Unions, it finaly opens door for polygamy. As a man I welcome Civil Unions, because it only takes a little while before polygamy become official.
Finally, I will be able to bring couple on new wives from some poor countries and live with them happily, instead of chasing girls and cheat on my wife.


You have your logic backwards. Every society today that allows polygamy prohibits same sex marriage. Conversely, every society today that allows same sex marriage prohibits polygamy. Therefore, if you would like to have polygamy you should oppose same sex marriage and if you oppose polygamy you should support same sex marraige.
9.13.2007 12:00pm
JosephSlater (mail):
A couple of my good friends are lesbians raising a child, and they are doing a great job at it. But even if my anecdotal evidence doesn't count, in addition to the question Cornellian asks Bruce, I would also wonder what other sorts of folks Bruce would legally prohibit from getting married because some study he read shows such folks are sometimes not the best parents, at least compared to some abstract ideal.
9.13.2007 12:07pm
Ramza:

Bennett: Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart: I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.

So which is it/ I think society just made one more step to one definition vs the other.
9.13.2007 12:07pm
abb3w:
It's a lousy compromise. What I find most interesting is that he's only about 52... and the young tend to be more liberal about such matters.

A short war of extermination can be won by brute power. An ordinary war is won by logistics. But to determine who will win a truly long war, you must look to demographics.
9.13.2007 12:12pm
Cornellian (mail):
Lastly, I'm not arguing that any of these relationships should be made illegal, just that the government shouldn't subsidize them. Why should someone get citizenship or a tax advantage solely on the basis of a romantic relationship?

So married, opposite sex couples shouldn't get any citizenship or tax advantage from that relationship unless and until they have children?
9.13.2007 12:19pm
springjourney (mail):

So married, opposite sex couples shouldn't get any citizenship or tax advantage from that relationship unless and until they have children?

Yep, that is how human society works, in case you do not know. Are you willing to invest your money into company that produce nothing, I do not think so. But somehow you force us(society) to invest money in gay-marriage where return on ivestment equals 0(ZERO).
We should support families because in 75-80% of marriages couples have children. Childless marriages in turn, serve as role models for young people.
9.13.2007 12:53pm
RV:
So married, opposite sex couples shouldn't get any citizenship or tax advantage from that relationship unless and until they have children?

Yep,


So, wait, you want to encorage couples to have a child that they do not want in order to get citizenship or tax advantages. What type of life would a child like that have?

And anyway, it's not as if gay couples don't have children. I have known plenty of gay couples that have kids (biological or adopted).
9.13.2007 1:11pm
RV:
So married, opposite sex couples shouldn't get any citizenship or tax advantage from that relationship unless and until they have children?

Yep,


So, wait, you want to encorage couples to have a child that they do not want in order to get citizenship or tax advantages. What type of life would a child like that have?

And anyway, it's not as if gay couples don't have children. I have known plenty of gay couples that have kids (biological or adopted).
9.13.2007 1:11pm
jim:
I can't help but think that all of these compromise intermediate states -- domestic partnership, civil union, 90% marriage -- will only serve to weaken marriage -- both traditional and same-sex -- by destroying the binary aspect of marriage. A system where you were either married or not and that was the end of the story seemed like it had certain advantages.
9.13.2007 1:49pm
Brian K (mail):
Waldo

That's precisely my point. When you end the social norm that people marry when they have children, people will marry and divorce for a variety of reasons. The problem is that they don't marry when they do have children, leading to the social dysfunctions that occur with single parent families. Lastly, I'm not arguing that any of these relationships should be made illegal, just that the government shouldn't subsidize them. Why should someone get citizenship or a tax advantage solely on the basis of a romantic relationship?

I think you completely missed my point. If you think marriage should only be for the children, that's fine...but you have to apply it equally. Where are the calls for ending the tax advantages of marriage? Where are the referenda for making divorce harder or making it harder to become a single parent or eliminate the social and fiscal benefits of marriage not related to childrearing? There aren't any. The opposition to gay marriage is based on a gays are icky feeling couched in neutral non-bigoted language, like "marriage is only about the kids".*

*i realize there are some people out there who hold the beliefs i just described, but they are rare and have little voice in the gay marriage debates.
9.13.2007 2:16pm
springjourney (mail):

So, wait, you want to encorage couples to have a child that they do not want in order to get citizenship or tax advantages. What type of life would a child like that have?

And anyway, it's not as if gay couples don't have children. I have known plenty of gay couples that have kids (biological or adopted).

I think it is very simple. There is a phenomenon when man marries a woman a couple have children in at least 80% of the cases.
So, why should not we support that phenomenon. If man marries a man or woman marries a woman probability to have children is 0(ZERO).
So it is obvious that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, otherwise there is no point to have a marriage at all.
9.13.2007 3:00pm
Waldo (mail):
Brian K:

Actually there are calls from a growing singles-rights movement to end the tax benefits of marriage (see Curmudgeon above). Also, there has been a, largely unsuccessful, attempt to promote "covenent marriage".

I would personnally eliminate no-fault divorce in families with children. People can still get divorced, but the person filing for divorce would recieve less consideration in custody and division of assets. Also, I believe we'd probably reduce both crime and poverty if we changed social programs to provide greater benefits to families with two biological parents. (And yes, it has to be biological parents to draw most men, and not just the economically viable, into the social structure.)

Finally, I've never said that gays are "icky". I personally don't care what people do in their bedrooms. Also, please note my original post:

This poses a problem not because gay couples marry, but because it legitimizes people having children outside of marriage.

What I do care about is that society recognize my relationship with my children.
9.13.2007 3:23pm
Elliot Reed:
There is a phenomenon when man marries a woman a couple have children in at least 80% of the cases.
We could easily make it 100% by requiring that the couple already have children before marrying, or by requiring that they sign a statement that they intend to have children and, to the best of their knowledge, are fertile. A marriage that didn't produce children within, say, 3 years would be void. Virtually nobody is in favor of this or anything like it.

Furthermore, the idea that marriage is solely about the promotion of procreation, and has nothing to do with childrearing, is an insult to all adopted children and their parents. Adoption is not a second-rate kind of parenting and should not be viewed that way.

(I also wonder what will happen to this argument when science makes it possible for people of the same sex to procreate, as it inevitably will).
9.13.2007 3:50pm
Aleks:
Re: Also, I believe we'd probably reduce both crime and poverty if we changed social programs to provide greater benefits to families with two biological parents.

Um, what about adoptive parents? Every time I hear this obesesion with biology I actually feel very sorry for adopted kids who must think they're freaks or second class children if they hear this. I'm OK with trying to foster two parent families; I agree, two parents are generally best and we should support such. However I don't see why we need to emphasize biological parentage. It's a sad reality that some children must be (and yes should be) given up for adoption, and also that some parents die when their children are still young-- and perhaps the surviving parent will remarry (the experience of my childhood when my mother died when I was 9, and my father remarried, giving me a step-mother I remain close to to this day). Anyone who is willing to raise a child not his or her own is, IMO, a moral hero and is just as deserving of social support as a natural parent. Genes alone do not make a parent and should not be privileged over conscious commitment to what is a major responsibility.
9.13.2007 4:35pm
Groucho Marxism:
What I do care about is that society recognize my relationship with my children.

But you obviously don't care about society recognizing other parents' relationships with their children, such as through adoption or artificial insemination, so your view that gays should not be allowed to marry is entirely based upon selfishness and paranoia--who, exactly, is taking away your relationship with your children?

Not everyone has their biological father or mother around to raise them. Can they just go to hell, or what?
9.13.2007 5:40pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"So married, opposite sex couples shouldn't get any citizenship or tax advantage from that relationship unless and until they have children?"

No. Why should they?
9.13.2007 6:03pm
Randy R. (mail):
Springjourney: "But somehow you force us(society) to invest money in gay-marriage where return on ivestment equals 0(ZERO)."

Not true. Gay people can adopt, and many do. Society has a big interest in getting as many children out of foster care and into real homes and families, and gay as doing a great job on that. Society can and does recognize that this is valuable, and that's an inexpensive return on investment. Why shouldn't it be credited with marriage or at least civil unions, to protect said family?
9.14.2007 1:14am
Anon1ms (mail):
Bruce Hayden: "but still have yet to see any good data that controls for education, income, etc. where two parents of the same sex are as good as one of each in raising kids"

What are your standards for judging success in raising kids?

This sounds a little bit like that argument I used to hear mixed race marriages . . . "I feel sorry for the kids."

Perhaps gays can do a perfectly acceptable job of child raising, but the problems result from the social stigma imposed from outside.
9.14.2007 4:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks, Anon1ms. Gays can and DO do a perfectly acceptable job of child raising. It is always perfect? I doubt it. But then, few straight parents can raise their children perfectly.

And one thing I've learned about parenting: Everything thinks they are raising the kids right, and the neighbors are awful at it.
9.14.2007 6:43pm
Chairm (mail):
The merger with marriage recognition is wrong whether it is called SSM or Civil Union. Both are based on a direct attack on the nature of marriage.
9.14.2007 11:26pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
This comes up so often its amazing we still have so many who don't know the basics:

Marriage equality issues are about equality of access. Yes the government has a right to regulate even basic rights, it has no right to totally proscribe or selectively ignore them.

The silly polygamy arguments are just that - silly. This is an issue about every citizen having a reasonable opportunity to license the civil contract of marriage and while there are people who can only reasonably be expected to do so with someone of a particular gender there are no known individuals who can only do so with multiple partners. Limiting everyone to a single spouse is a very different issue than saying that some citizens can not have any reasonably acceptable spouse.

And the idea that the ONLY reason society licenses marriages is for children is simplistic. There are many non-child related benefits to the individuals and society from encouraging stable family environments. Add in that 50% of US children are being raised by their non-genetic contributors and its obvious that trying to put procreation as the sole reason for licensing marriage is a argumentative ploy and not to be taken seriously.

Marriage is good for the citizens and for society regardless of the gender combination of the couple or whether they are currently raising children or not. Society benefits as do the individuals. How can anyone even rationally support the contrary?
9.15.2007 12:30am
springjourney (mail):
Adaption has nothing to do with marriage.
Institution of marriage is a tool that helps to bring man and woman together with hope that they concieve a child and then stay together for a long time rearing that child and giving him/her an idea what the marriage is.
9.15.2007 8:40pm
springjourney (mail):

Marriage equality issues are about equality of access.

Every person in U.S. have the exactly the same right to marry a person of his/her choice. Same sex is not a marriage, and there is no such right as right of free interpretation of word marriage.
9.15.2007 8:46pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Strawman. Marriage doesn't require the ability to procreate so pretending it does just diminishes your arguments. And the idea that everyone can reasonably marry someone of the opposite gender ignores how the world really is and again diminishes your arguments.

The right to marry is an natural right that derives from our biology and belongs to the individual regardless of the gender of their spouse. Regardless of the gender of their spouse, regardless of whether they household directly raises children, the individual and society benefits from the individual being married.
9.15.2007 11:00pm
springjourney (mail):
Yep, it is called friendship, not marriage.
9.16.2007 12:36am