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Prop 8 chilling SSM efforts elsewhere:

The passage of Prop 8 in California is hurting the prospects for gay marriage elsewhere.

Take New York, for example. Last year the state assembly easily passed an SSM bill. It seemed the state senate would surely follow if Democrats gained a majority on Nov. 4, as they did with considerable financial backing from gay supporters. But now The New York Times is reporting that senate Democrats are having second thoughts about pushing for a vote in the next legislative session:

"We want to get there, but we want to get there the right way or else we risk setting ourselves back another decade," said Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side. "I think the California proposition and the recognition that entities with large amounts of money who oppose same-sex marriage have decided to be large players in this have a lot of people going back to the drawing board."

There may still be a vote next year but the likelihood is now only 50-50. There are many factors involved in this, but Prop 8 has not helped. Many Democratic legislators know they can count on gay support, financial and otherwise, and have little personal stake in how soon SSM comes about. At the same time, they don't want to risk a backlash from voters or face a well-funded opponent in the next election. (On the other hand, no state assembly supporter of SSM was defeated on Nov. 4.) SSM opponents proved they can mobilize significant force, in terms of money and volunteers, when it really matters.

Then there's Washington, D.C. Less than two weeks ago, an openly gay city council member was predicting a vote in favor of SSM when the council meets next in January. Now reality is setting in, and reality is taking the form of a potential referendum in a city that is almost 3/5 black, a group that voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage in California. According to the Washington Blade:

"There needs to be a discussion within the community with a diverse group of people to make sure there's a consensus to move ahead with this," said Darrin Glymph, vice president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city's largest gay political group.

"Then, if you decide to go forward, you need to reach out to the entire D.C. community, including the faith community and the African-American community."

Glymph and other black gay activists pointed to the approval by voters in California of Proposition 8 as an example of a failed strategy for reaching out to minority voters. . . .

A CNN exit poll showed that 69 percent of black voters in California supported Proposition 8; subsequent reports have suggested the number might be closer to 57 percent. . . .

With blacks making up nearly 57 percent of the population in D.C., black gay activists said gay marriage supporters must redouble their efforts to reach out to blacks and other minorities in the District.

"I don't know if we can obtain the allies to help us defeat a referendum in the District," said Carlene Cheatam, one of the founding members of the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Men & Women.

Again, there may still be a vote in DC next year, but the prospects appear dimmer.

All of this suggests that Prop 8 has had a political effect beyond its immediate legal one. Now, not even the California Supreme Court can completely undo the nationwide damage to the movement.

SSFC (www):
Old age and death will undo the damage to the movement. That's small comfort to those who married this year, but it will happen.
11.29.2008 3:28pm
Simon P:
Here's a good example—I can't remember which VCer is fond of this thesis—where court involvement can help further individual rights. Here we have the political will to support the expansion of civil rights for gays and lesbians that's being pulled back in light of the threat of a powerful counter-movement that would be pointless had we only federal caselaw that protected gays and lesbians.
11.29.2008 3:28pm
Haakon:
If SSM supporters began preemptively blacklisting SSM opponents rather than just as retribution, perhaps they may be able to negate some of that nasty accountability issue for politicians.
11.29.2008 3:45pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Do not underestimate the effects on elected officials of nitwit attacks on SSM opponents. The political irresponsibility, immaturity and hysteria behind such attacks tells politicians to run away fast.

The anti-abortion movement collapsed politically from violence against abortion doctors. We may be seeing the same sort of thing happening with SSM, though fortunately with less violence as its cause.
11.29.2008 3:45pm
Patrick216:
The truth is that the homosexual lobby shot themselves in the foot. The public made a political judgment in Cali, as in other states, to not allow gay marriage. Rather than try to convince the people of California to change their mind, they ran to the courts and talked liberal judges into inventing a constitutional right to gay marriage that wasn't there. California voters didn't react well to that, and Prop 8 was born. Now gay marriage advocates are trying to get the Cali Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8 -- the ultimate slap in the face of the democratic process. Any Cali Supreme Court justice who votes to overturn Prop 8 virtually guarantees being recalled and removed from office.

The sad thing is that gay marriage benefits relatively few homosexuals. My understanding is that very few homosexuals get married in Massachusetts, despite the availability of gay marriage there for over five years. Likewise in certain European countries where gay marriage is also allowed. In other words, the fight for gay marriage was mostly about symbolism--to cement in people's minds that homosexuals are the same as heterosexuals.

The behavior of homosexual advocates following the defeat of Prop 8 was utterly shameful. The result was to associate, at least for the 2010 elections, violence, hatred, and out-of-control behavior with homosexuals. For a group looking to score a symbolic victory, they managed to not only lose their victory, but also any positive symbolism associated with gay marriage. And now they must suffer the consequences--including diluted support for gay marriage among otherwise sympathetic politicians.
11.29.2008 3:48pm
nicehonesty:
Damn shame the SSM proponents let their mask slip over Prop 8, and exposed themselves as violent, intolerant bigots.

Now the politicians don't want to play with them anymore.
11.29.2008 3:48pm
Behringer:
Like Patrick216 said, California homosexuals acted shamefully in the wake of Prop 8. And the political and religious rift between blacks and gays is wider now than it was pre-Pro 8. I'd say this is where the gays have failed miserably in their movement for marriage rights. Gays seem to always run to the courts to get those rights. Instead, they should be trying their damnedest to convince blacks and other minorities that the right to gay marriage is a good thing. The gay leadership here really has no idea what it's doing.
11.29.2008 3:57pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Why are Democrats promoting such a wedge issue when there are so many bigger issues to deal with?
11.29.2008 4:05pm
man from mars:
Am I the only one who thought prop 8 was a joke when he first heard about it, like flag-burning amendments?

I thought it had 0 chance of passage, frankly. True, the Cal. Supreme Court decision forcing prop 8 was clearly wrong, but that's par for the course for that court. I still could not believe anyone cared enough about this issue to change the constitution of a whole state.
11.29.2008 4:14pm
lonetown (mail):
The courts seem to be making a habit of recognizing new gay rights. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California. Its like they had a meeting, like the masons.

I think alot of the backlash is simple resentment of the courts enacting legislation.

It appears, however, the legislators are too gutless or do not believe in it enough to support their gay constituency and bring a bill forward.
11.29.2008 4:26pm
Brett Bellmore:

On the other hand, no state assembly supporter of SSM was defeated on Nov. 4.


Given how few incumbents get defeated in general, I question the significance of this.
11.29.2008 4:33pm
Real American (mail):
perhaps politicians have become aware of all of their constituents, not just the radical gay lobby that pays them buttloads of money to pass their radical agenda. It's a defeat for wealthy special interests who want to radically alter society without any debate while being opposed by vast majorities. That's what this is. Good.
11.29.2008 4:39pm
JohnJ (mail):
The reason why courts cannot "further individual rights" is because courts that make law take away the individual's right to an equal voice in government. Contrary to the opinions of some, individuals have a right to a democratic government. Using the court to take away that right does not further individual rights.

Also, I find it interesting that the news article referred to entities with large amounts of money who oppose gay marriage and have decided to play a role without noting that many powerful interests support gay marriage and have decided to play an active role as well.
11.29.2008 4:46pm
Bad English:
I believe that California recognizes civil unions that include all legal benefits of marriage. What is the difference between civil unions and marriage that is prompting the dispute?
11.29.2008 5:11pm
Art Eclectic:
The "public" rejected interracial marriage and civil rights for blacks at one point too. This train may have been slowed, but it has left the station.
11.29.2008 5:17pm
Sarcastro (www):
Everyone, associate your opponents with their most violent fringe! All gays are Mormon-hating rageaholics! All Muslims are terrorists! All Volokh posters think gay marriage is the first step to cloning!

And, of course, as PatHMV noted, all Democrats are California homosexuals.
11.29.2008 5:19pm
Lymis (mail):
I believe that California recognizes civil unions that include all legal benefits of marriage. What is the difference between civil unions and marriage that is prompting the dispute?


Just a few:

On average state laws grant a couple hundred benefits to married couples, while federal recognition of marriages performed by states grants an additional 1300 or so rights. Civil Unions grant no federal rights whatsoever. Regardless of the current status of federal benefits (the federal Defense of Marriage Act denies benefits to all same sex couples), the fact remains that it is the individual state, and ONLY the individual state that grants straight married couples access to those benefits. Straight couples in civil unions don't get them either. If DOMA was repealed tomorrow, married same-sex couples in Massachusetts get the benefits (social security, the ability to sponsor a spouse for citizenship, veterans benefits, etc), but civilly unioned couples do not and cannot - and it would be the state which was denying thme.

Marriages carry across state lines, civil unions do not. A couple married in Vermont is married in the other 49 states, while a civilly unioned couple doesn't. This is particularly critical when couples travel or vacation, or when they have some reason to want or need to move. For example, the civil unioned partner of a biological parent is a parent of a child born to the couple in Vermont, but if they drive to Florida and have a car accident in Georgia, not. No legal standing to make any medical decisions for their spouse or child.

(And the standard, "well, just get powers of attorney, etc" argument only highlights the very real differences between a civil union and a marriage. Married people don't need to do any of that.)

When a married person puts their spouse on their insurance policy, it counts as an employment benefit to the employee. When a civilly unioned person puts their partner on their insurance policy, it counts as taxable income for the partner.

Marital status is a requirement for a bunch of things around the country. Notably in this last election, for example, Arkansas made it impossible for unmarried couples to adopt. By definition, civilly unioned couples are not married.

Many employers provide insurance that is governed by federal law rather than state law, and civilly unioned partners frequently find that they are not allowed to add their partners to the insurance, while a married couple might be able to. Even so, frequently, insurance companies and employers cite the federal DOMA as reason not to need to treat gay couples equally.

And so on.
11.29.2008 5:38pm
californian (mail):
Bad English,

The civil unions are very close to marriage, but not quite identical. The California Supreme Court opinion has a list of the differences, and IIRC there are nine differences. In my view, the difference that matters most to both sides is that the civil unions are not called "marriage." In retrospect, some supports of SSM wonder if the court might have finessed the issue for a little while longer, until there was a broader political support. Of course, others feel that there's nothing improper with the legislature giving two separate names to two different kinds of unions.

As for the post-Prop-8 politics, there is a fine line between being an oppressed minority demanding equality by appealing to moral arguments, and being an oppressed minority that tries to hurt its opponents. Rev. King, among others, typically appealed to opponents as if there were the best person they might become. If the gay activists have tried that approach, it hasn't gotten much press. Moral triumphalism, embodied in Gavin Newsom's approach, is a recipe for disaster.
11.29.2008 5:43pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
...while federal recognition of marriages performed by states grants an additional 1300 or so rights.

Nope. The report in question says there are 1300 or so mentions of marriage in the federal code. Not much more than a simple word-count.

You should realize the near impossibility of citing 1300 rights in any context.
11.29.2008 5:55pm
Lymis (mail):
Can we please stop pretending that the actions of a few constitute the actions of all, or even of the group.

"Same-sex marriage proponents" did not rise up in violent rebellion. A few individuals behaved badly. Do we get to point out a few wife-beating straight husbands and invalidate all straight marriages?

No gay people anywhere get equal rights until all gay people everywhere behave properly? Who came up with this idea, and why isn't it being equally vehemently applied to all citizens?
11.29.2008 5:56pm
Lymis (mail):
Further, the whole blacklisting thing -

Suppose the manager of an organization with a 60% black customer base publicly donated significant amounts of money to strip existing rights from black people. Anyone shocked if the black community boycotts?

Equal means equal.
11.29.2008 5:58pm
Lymis (mail):
Nope. The report in question says there are 1300 or so mentions of marriage in the federal code. Not much more than a simple word-count.


Well that's wrong. Okay, I didn't recheck the exact count. It is not "1300 or so" - the federal General Accounting Office report and its update only total to 1138 federally recognized benefits uniquely associated with marriage.
wikipedia article

Hardly just a simple word count. Check your facts, please. By any standard, well over 1000 benefits associated with marriage. Many are not available any other way, while some require significant expense, time, judicial action, or other circumstances not required of married people.
11.29.2008 6:05pm
Lymis (mail):
And by the way, before you get even more pedantic- the question was whether marriage conveys more benefits than civil unions.

All it takes to provide a yes answer is a single item. Pick any one you want from the list. Chip away at it all you want. Civil Unions ain't marriage and do not provide all the same benefits. Period.
11.29.2008 6:08pm
Perseus (mail):
It appears, however, the legislators are too gutless or do not believe in it enough to support their gay constituency and bring a bill forward.

California legislators are shameless, not gutless, since they have tried to enact legislation that would in effect override Prop. 22.

The civil unions are very close to marriage, but not quite identical. ...In my view, the difference that matters most to both sides is that the civil unions are not called "marriage."

Agreed. Federal benefits aren't going to be granted until our federal black-robed despots decide to impose their capricious will on the states, which likely will not be allowed to offer civil unions to same sex couples based on casuistic equal protection arguments. So, federal benefits are essentially irrelevant in the comparison of the legal goodies between marriage and civil union.
11.29.2008 6:10pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Can we please stop pretending that the actions of a few constitute the actions of all, or even of the group."

Sure we can. The few are not the many. But that's just not how things work. A few really did mess things up for the many. I'd say they did far more damage to the SSM cause than the Mormons.

If I were working against SSM, I'd be delighted to watch those few gays getting P8 supporters fired from their jobs. And I'd be overjoyed at all the media coverage it generated.
11.29.2008 6:11pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Lymis,

The ones who get the publicity create the image. Elected officials are running away from that image.

There is a reason the No on Prop. 8 organizers excluded gay organizations from all leadership roles. Gay organizations tend to be, enough to make a difference anyway, more polticially irresponsible than those of most special interest groups.

Try some political maturity before going back to the voters on this one. As in,

Grow Up.
11.29.2008 6:36pm
jccamp (mail):
Lymis says-

"...1138 federally recognized benefits uniquely associated with marriage...Hardly just a simple word count. Check your facts, please..."


Actually, the cited reports says "...we should identify more generally all those laws in the United States Code in which marital status is a factor, even though some of these laws may not directly create benefits, rights, or privileges..."

It also says "...no conclusions can be drawn, from our identification of a law as one in which marital status is a factor, concerning the effect of the law on married people versus single people. A particular law may create either advantages or disadvantages for those who are married, or may apply to both married and single people. For example, those who are unmarried fare better than their married counterparts under the so-called marriage penalty
provisions of the tax laws, while married couples enjoy estate tax benefits not available to the unmarried. Other laws apply both to married and single people by virtue of terms like "survivors," "relatives," family," and "household..."


The second report merely adds to the number of provisions from the USC, to the total mentioned, while maintaining the above cautions.
11.29.2008 6:50pm
U.Va. Grad:
Old age and death will undo the damage to the movement. That's small comfort to those who married this year, but it will happen.

I agree. It's comforting to know that, thanks to demographics, the war is pretty much destined to end in favor of SSM, though battles may be lost along the way.
11.29.2008 7:01pm
Vanhattan (mail):
There is nothing at all radical for a group of persons to strive for the same rights and benefits their neighbors and coworkers have.

What is the behaviour that all of you find so abhorant in the gays peacefully marching in the streets after proposition 8 passed? Please don't tell me that you would not do the same if someone forcibly "divorced" or annuled your civil marriage. I suspect the heterozexual community would be even more outraged. Quite frankly, considering the outright lies and deceptions that proposition 8 supporters used to advance their bigotry, I am surprised that the demonstrations were peaceful at all.

All of you here can argue all you want about how the gays do not deserve to be treated as equal humans under our civil laws but you are dead wrong. Taking away the civil rights of a single group of people is discrimination at the very least and is also an extremely dangerous legal precident.

Minorities of all stripes should be extremely concerned about all of this. So I may ask some of you here, whos civil rights are next on the chopping block? And if you don't think that it can never happen to you, you are quite ignorant of global history. Jews prior to and during WWII, Asians in the US during WWII, blacks in the US prior to the 1970s, women in a significant number of countries even today, etc., etc.
11.29.2008 7:14pm
Bleepless:
Having been put to statewide votes thirty times, gay marriage has won -- zero. If democracy does not work, and victories from the judiciary are ephemeral, then temper tantrums are all that gays have left.
11.29.2008 7:19pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

What is the difference between civil unions and marriage that is prompting the dispute?

"What is in a name? That which we call a marriage
By any other name would not satisfy homosexuals."

Who opposed SSM in California: Church people, black people, and Hispanic people. What was the winning strategy? Little kids would be forced to learn about SSM in school, and would come to their parents to explain it.

My feeling is that the false equivalence drawn between SSM (nonexistent until modern times) and interracial marriage (person of pigment marries person of pallor) really pissed off minorities whose families had been oppressed for years. Gays always could get married; SSM did not exist.

How to reach opponents: "You know gay people; they want to live in couples just like you." Tell your kids that Uncle Adam loves Uncle Steve and wants to spend the rest of his life with him.
11.29.2008 7:50pm
Snorrebrod:
Does Carlene Cheatam work for that famous old D.C. law firm Dewey, Cheatam &Howe?


(Yes, that was a joke.)
11.29.2008 7:53pm
Smokey:
...black gay activists said gay marriage supporters must redouble their efforts to reach out around to blacks and other minorities in the District.
Maybe that will work.
11.29.2008 8:34pm
Mayken (mail):
@Patrick216
SSM supporters did not shoot themselves in the foot. NY and others who have stated their support are backing off because Prop 8 passed, not because of the protesting.
Also, the justices on the California Supreme Court are hardly liberal. They're mostly moderate Republicans actually. The California Supreme Court has a pretty good reputation across the country, having it's opinions cited by other states' high courts, SCOTUS and other counties'.
As far as SSM only benefiting a few gays - well, so what? Even if it were true, which I dispute, so what? Interracial marriage only benefits a "few" people of the whole USA so should Loving be ignored? Further, I dispute your assertion since 18,000 couples married in California in the few months that it was legal. In the first year it was legal, 6000 couple were married in Massachusetts. CT is doing a brisk business in same sex marriage licenses now. That's at least 30 thousand plus people who have benefited. Sounds like quite a lot to me. (Haven't looked for stats in Europe or Canada so I can't speak to that.)
Finally, it has been an extraordinarily rare thing for the people to ever actually vote to recognize the rights of minorities, especially ones as vilified as gays and lesbians have been historically. Where was the positive vote in favor of desegregating schools? Where was the vote in favor of interracial marriage? No, those came from the courts and the legislatures. One of the jobs of the courts is to protect the rights of minorities from the majority.
The fight for same-sex marriage rights is no more symbolic than the fight against other forms of discrimination.
11.29.2008 8:36pm
Mayken (mail):
Sorry, math failure - I meant that at least 30k couples had benefited. That's more than 60 thousand people.
11.29.2008 8:44pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
This reminds me of the light rail system in Austin. Voters refuse to allow it over and over again in elections, but the moneyed interests and their lackey politicians keep trying again and again and again.

The voters can say no a thousand times and the politicians can keep going back and asking again, but if the politicians can get a yes one time, there's no going back.
11.29.2008 9:33pm
Bama 1L:
Huh? Under California law, the voters always get to turn back the clock.
11.29.2008 9:50pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Maybe the politicians are just now learning that the SSM proponents can be intolerant and vindictive radicals, and so those politicians would rather avoid the issue.
11.29.2008 9:52pm
gasman (mail):
Blacklisting too broadly, the workplace and employer of someone who donated money against Prop8, is unfair. It is also likely to make more anti-gay folks, at least in the short term, and these people have nothing against the sexual orientation of gays, but merely their methods.
The gay community should recognize something; they are not a popular cause like racism was in the 60's and 70's. Straight civil rights workers simply are not fervent, aren't into bus riding, counter sitting, and risking their own necks. Why is obvious; because gays suffer very little in comparison to past groups. Marriage aside, they are a relatively privileged group, with high levels of education, income, and social status. Very rarely will a gay person suffer actual physical harm like blacks did, and then their total burden of suffering violent crime may still be less than the general straight public owing to their general affluence. Gays can bitch and moan about their plight, but the reality is they have very little plight. Gays want an embrace from society to reassure them that their lifestyle is alright. Well the reality is most of the straights were born that way, it is not a choice, it is our biology. Straights find the gay lifestyle and gay sex repugnant; again, that's biology talking, not something we can change. So you'll just have to accept us as we are because we cannot change our biology.
11.29.2008 10:15pm
Sagar:
CA is a trendsetter in a lot of matters, particularly environmentalism, to the rest of the country. Glad to see that someone finally thinks their actions are "chilling" things in other states!

The arguments of the gay lobby are not even aimed at winning the support of the public. When that changes, things will change for the better. Or as someone else above said, you can wait for the demographic change ...
11.29.2008 10:46pm
Nick056:
The passage of Prop 8 galvanized people. While civil marriage is not currently popular, ten years ago it simply wasn't a consideration. Yet a month ago, it failed at the ballot box by four points. Four points. And there is no evidence that any majority of people sees the response of the anti-8 groups, which I grant may not be gracious, as violent or particularly vengeful. It's being seen, mostly, as a matter between the Mormon Church, which largely bankrolled Prop 8, and gays, who've responded with a marches and anger. People ought to try reaching out instead of condemning, but I don't think even many of those uncomfortable with gay marriage view gays as villians here.

In perspective, this isn't a defeat at all. It is a rapid growth in support for a group that, as people here admit, is not even seen as suffering as much as other suspect classes. Despite this, support grows. If you consider the difference between prop 22 and prop 8, it tells the essential story.

Far too few people point out that gay marriage has become more acceptable to more people because it is fundamentally a dignified and conservative request. Two people seeking to pledge to and unite with each other may be making an admittedly a radical request, but, crucially, they are not asking to live radically -- quite the opposite. I've never thought "asserting my rights" was the proper formula for the gay marriage movement; it sounds less sexy, but "desiring full inclusion" is really the better phrase. Gay people already do live as family units. Recognizing this reality and encouraging more to follow suit by involving gays in the institution of marriage can only help society.

It really comes to that. If you accept that gays exist as persons defined by exclusive same-sex attraction, and concede that gays can and do build worthy lives centered around committment and family, it follows that the socially responsible action is expanding the civil definition of marriage to include the homosexual.
11.29.2008 11:07pm
ms (mail):
I don't think demographics guarantee the ultimate triumph of SSM at all. People with young children overwhelmingly voted for Prop 8--these are young people. As high school and college students become parents, their views are likely to change. In the longer run, who is it that HAS children? Religious people. Conservative religious people. The apple doesn't usually fall far from the tree.
11.29.2008 11:08pm
John Moore (www):
What gays argue for is "separate but equal." After all, gays can already marry - members of the opposite sex - just like everyone else.

State recognized "gay marriage" is the invention of a new privilege, not merely "equal treatment," and should be analyzed as such.


So you'll just have to accept us as we are because we cannot change our biology.


Apparently sociopaths and child molesters also cannot change their nature (whether it's biology or not is irrelevant at that point). Should we apply the same reasoning to them? How about declared homosexuals, especially female, who actually are bisexual? How about total equality for those with IQ's of 30? Obviously, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

The appropriate place to draw it, in light of thousands of years of practice in virtually every society in the world, is at the definition of marriage, and certain privileges (rights in some cases) that come with it - primarily with regard to children.

The bedrock unit of society should not be redefined.
11.29.2008 11:27pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"What is the behaviour that all of you find so abhorant in the gays peacefully marching in the streets after proposition 8 passed?"

I don't kow about the people here, but the behavior that has been damaging to the SSM movement is the well publiized efforts by some to harm individuals who supported P8. I realize some gays think it is justified and can go on at length about why. That doesn't matter. People don't like it, and they are the ones who vote. James Dobson coudn't have asked for a better boost for his cause.

Thousands have also watched the utube of he gays tearing the cross out of the hands of the woman at the gay rights demo. That's really poor PR if one wants to get votes.
11.29.2008 11:53pm
Soup:
Two quick things.

Firstly, it seems to me that many commentators believe that the only group aggrieved by the nonpassage of Prop 8 are gay men and lesbians. Prop 8 lost in California by, what, 4 points? From what I've heard, gay men and lesbians make up probably about 5% of the population. Maybe because California is more tolerant of homosexuality, and because SSM was on the ballot, maybe 15% of the voting population in Cali was gay, as a high guess. (I'm just pulling numbers out of thin air here.)

Even if true, even if every gay person voted against Prop 8, this still means that more than two thirds of votes against Prop 8 came from straight people. The fight over SSM isn't merely gay people against straight people. It's between those who believe in marriage equality and those who don't.

Look, I'm a straight white Protestant male who goes to a good law school here in the greatest country in the world. I've got it made! There isn't exactly a long history of discrimination against folks like me. I can live my life, happy in the knowledge that, when I find the woman who I love and who loves me back, we'll be able to marry, and society will recognize our love as legitimate and good and as something to be protected and encouraged. It absolutely breaks my heart to know that some of my fellow citizens can't enjoy the same rights I have, merely because of an accident of birth. That isn't the America I know.

Secondly, I understand that a few opponents of Prop 8 are doing some intemperate things after Prop 8 passed. Boycotts and such. I'd just ask supporters of Prop 8 to think what would happen if your fellow citizens, through the exercise of governmental power, just stripped you of the right to marry not only the particular person you love, but of anyone you could possibly fall in love with any time in the future. I dare say you might do some intemperate things as well, if you were stripped of your civil rights.
11.30.2008 12:08am
Elliot123 (mail):
"It absolutely breaks my heart to know that some of my fellow citizens can't enjoy the same rights I have, merely because of an accident of birth. That isn't the America I know."

Of course it's the America you know. There isn't any other. Thirty state have voted gainst gay marriage. It's legal in one state.

"I dare say you might do some intemperate things as well, if you were stripped of your civil rights."

Perhaps they would. And if those intemperate things were harming their cause, they would wait even longer for recognition of those rights.
11.30.2008 12:23am
FoolsMate:
Supporters of gay marriage are deluding themselves if they think, after the relatively narrow Prop 8 victory, California is just inches away from being a majority pro-gay marriage state. Prop 8 was not a simple YES/NO on the issue of gay marriage because a signficant portion of voters disapprove but hesitate to amend the CA Constitution in a way that limits rights of a group. On non-Constitution amending measures that define marriage as between a man and woman, voter support is overwhelming, likely still >60% even in California.

Gay marriage proponents have a long road ahead, if they are going to achieve their goal with the support of voters.
11.30.2008 12:36am
Ken Arromdee:
Despite the number of benefits that may or may not be in Federal law related to marriage, how many of them were actually affected by only allowing civil unions and not marriage in California? California is a state. For California to allow gay marriages wouldn't bring anyone Federal benefits anyway.

I can think of spousal privilege testifying in court... and nothing else.
11.30.2008 12:37am
Soup:
"Of course it's the America you know. There isn't any other. Thirty state have voted gainst gay marriage. It's legal in one state."

Respectfully, I think my meaning is clear. Historically, America has been about expanding freedom, not taking freedom away. Perhaps the US hasn't always lived up to this ideal, but it's always been the American ideal.
11.30.2008 12:56am
Two-Fisted Law Student (mail):
I'm glad to see that people whose own marriages aren't being snatched away can comment disdainfully about the intemperance of others.

Perhaps you can let some terminal cancer patients know that they're really dragging the vibe down for everyone else?
11.30.2008 1:25am
Latinist:
The truth is that the homosexual lobby shot themselves in the foot. The public made a political judgment in Cali, as in other states, to not allow gay marriage.

Except that (IIRC) the CA legislature did try to pass same-sex marriage legislation, and the governor vetoed it, on the grounds (which I think everyone agrees were BS) that although he favored same-sex marriage, it should be up to the courts. So it's a little more complicated than "democracy vs. the judiciary."
11.30.2008 1:30am
John Moore (www):
It absolutely breaks my heart to know that some of my fellow citizens can't enjoy the same rights I have, merely because of an accident of birth.


They have the same rights you have. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, just like you can.

They are insisting on a new privilege - to marry a person of the same sex with the legal accoutrements of traditional marriage.
11.30.2008 1:31am
Soup:
They have the same rights you have. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, just like you can.

They are insisting on a new privilege - to marry a person of the same sex with the legal accoutrements of traditional marriage.


By the same logic, SSM advocates aren't insisting on a special privilege at all. They're advocating for everyone, not just gay men and lesbians, to have the right to SSM. Everybody wins!
11.30.2008 1:48am
trad and anon (mail):
They have the same rights you have. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, just like you can.
And if the practice of Judaism were banned, Jews would have the same rights as Christians to worship God in the church of their choosing. Or: before the antimiscegenation statues were repealed, blacks and whites were equally free to marry someone of the same race.
11.30.2008 1:49am
MlR (mail):
Old age and death will undo the damage to the movement. That's small comfort to those who married this year, but it will happen."

Sure, if you think traditionalist Hispanics and other people from the rest of the world, who will increasingly make up America's population, are in favor of gay marriage.
11.30.2008 1:53am
Joseph McKinstry (mail):
gasman revealed above a commonly held misbelief; that gays "don't suffer" and so are not deserving of the same sympathy as other minorities who have struggled for civil rights. First, one should remember that only in hindsight are the suffragists and black civil rights movements remembered positively. At the time, there was great public opposition to them, and it was often the courts who granted civil rights in the face of public opposition (see interracial marriage, which was illegal in many states when the US Supreme Court overturned it in '67).

As for whether gays suffer; currently ays are third most likely to be victims of hate crimes (after Blacks and Jews), and Gays are first most likely of any group to be murdered in a hate crime. (see FBI site: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/incidents.htm). Gay teens are 3 times more likely than straight kids to commit suicide, to be kicked out of their homes, and to become child street prostitutes to survive. Hate crimes and neglect thrive in an environment of bigotry and marginalization and Prop 8 shows that active, aggressive, invasive intolerance is OK; that hate against this minority is OK. This is the legacy of those who support(ed) Prop 8. This is their respect for American liberties. This is their Christian love.

As for the reaction to prop 8's passing; it's natural. When you take rights away from Americans (even gays) they tend to get angry and do something. Tea party in the harbor anyone?
11.30.2008 1:54am
Perseus (mail):
the governor vetoed it, on the grounds (which I think everyone agrees were BS) that although he favored same-sex marriage, it should be up to the courts.

The governor (correctly in my view) vetoed it on the grounds that under the California constitution, the state legislature is prohibited from passing any legislation that modifies or repeals any initiative (in this case, Prop. 22) approved by the voters (unless the initiative itself contains specific language allowing it).
11.30.2008 2:06am
egn (mail):

They have the same rights you have. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, just like you can.


I really wish people would stop acknowledging this as something other than cruel, sneering nonsense.
11.30.2008 3:06am
Josh Barro (www):
Lymis,

I think all of the distinctions you draw between civil unions and marriage are incorrect, a remarkable feat for such a long list.

"On average state laws grant a couple hundred benefits to married couples, while federal recognition of marriages performed by states grants an additional 1300 or so rights. Civil Unions grant no federal rights whatsoever."

Because of DOMA, neither a couple with a civil union nor a same-sex married couple receives federal incidents of marriage.

"Marriages carry across state lines, civil unions do not. A couple married in Vermont is married in the other 49 states, while a civilly unioned couple doesn't."

This is a matter of state policy. A number of states with civil unions recognize civil unions from other states (or recognize same-sex marriages from other states as civil unions.) Similarly, states that ban same-sex marriage, in most cases, do not recognize same-sex marriages from other states. So, it's not correct to say that such couples are "married in the other 49 states." As a side note, Vermont does not even have same-sex marriage, it has civil unions.

"When a married person puts their spouse on their insurance policy, it counts as an employment benefit to the employee. When a civilly unioned person puts their partner on their insurance policy, it counts as taxable income for the partner."

Because the federal government, under DOMA, does not recognize any same-sex marriages, medical benefits to a same-sex spouse are a taxable benefit for federal income tax purposes to the employee (not to the employee's same-sex spouse) even in states with legal SSM. A state may set its own law about the taxability of same-sex spouse benefits (or civil union partner benefits) for state income tax purposes.

"Marital status is a requirement for a bunch of things around the country. Notably in this last election, for example, Arkansas made it impossible for unmarried couples to adopt. By definition, civilly unioned couples are not married."

Because Arkansas does not recognize same-sex marriages, a gay couple may not adopt in Arkansas, either with a civil union from another state or with a same-sex marriage from another state.

"Many employers provide insurance that is governed by federal law rather than state law, and civilly unioned partners frequently find that they are not allowed to add their partners to the insurance, while a married couple might be able to. Even so, frequently, insurance companies and employers cite the federal DOMA as reason not to need to treat gay couples equally."

There is no federal requirement to provide benefits to spouses of employees, including same-sex spouses. Employers are allowed to set their own policies on this; the trend is toward large corporations providing benefits to same-sex partners, even in states where there is no legal recognition available for such relationships. Because of DOMA, any federal protection that applies to "married couples" does not apply to same-sex married couples.
11.30.2008 3:55am
tsotha:
I'm glad to see that people whose own marriages aren't being snatched away can comment disdainfully about the intemperance of others.

I don't find this argument compelling. SSM rights were created by judicial fiat instead of legitimate legislative action. When the decision was handed down Prop 8 was already in the pipeline, and people who got married in those five months new what the score was.

Californians have had enough of rule by the judiciary. We have a mechanism to recall judges, and it will be used if the court doesn't allow this proposition to stand. There's already fund raising and organization to that end.
11.30.2008 4:31am
Avatar (mail):
To the extent that married couples are likely to generate children, and to the extent that society uses "married couple" as a proxy for "family unit that may have children", it makes sense for there to be a legal distinction between conventional marriage and single-sex marriage. (Keeping in mind, that is, that society has a vested interest in having children raised in certain sorts of environments - and that the "benefits" of marriage can induce men and women to create those environments to raise their children in.)

In the event that single-sex marriage is enacted, it's likely that the value of that sort of approximation will fall - that we will be less likely to assign benefits to "married couples" when we're looking to benefit families with children in particular. Thus, the married couples stand to lose future benefits that will not be extended to them should their relationships be conflated with single-sex ones.

Personally, I don't feel that this is a significant gain, and as a matter of policy, I'm opposed to it; when the issue of same-sex marriage came up here in Texas, I voted against the constitutional amendment banning it. However, that is not the same thing as saying that the other side has no valid argument here; I'm not comfortable with a court stating that constitutions which are mute on the topic should be read as prohibiting restrictions on who should get married to each other. (The inevitable slippery-slope arguments have a point here too; if it's none of the government's business who you marry, why is it the government's business how many times you marry? Or if you're related to the other party?)
11.30.2008 7:17am
Lymis (mail):
Marriage aside, they are a relatively privileged group, with high levels of education, income, and social status.


I think you need to rethink that - it isn't true.

You got it half right. Racial minorities suffer as individuals and as a group, and because of the way race works (black people have black kids), the systemic discrimination is easier to see across the population.

But gay people are not privileged at all. We appear in all economic groups, all ethnicities, all geographic regions. We do not have high levels of education and income, but rather appear all over.

But, because we can pass for straight when we feel we have to, what you see is that the more education, the better incomes, and the higher social status an individual has, the more willing and able he or she is to come out, and to participate openly as an out gay person.

A gay auto mechanic in Arkansas is a lot less likely to be out than a gay law professor in California.

The statistics showing how high our incomes are came from marketing information taken from subscriber lists to gay publications, not scholarly or scientific census data. And even data from census info requires self-reporting. Again, the better off people will be out.

All of which begs the question, so what? Scientologists are probably on average, wealthier than Baptists. So civil equality shouldn't apply to them? Freedom of religion need not apply because historically, Scientologists haven't suffered enough?
11.30.2008 9:47am
Mike S.:
Having been put to statewide votes thirty times, gay marriage has won -- zero. If democracy does not work, and victories from the judiciary are ephemeral, then temper tantrums are all that gays have left.

Democracy works even when you lose a vote. Except for a tyrrany in which you are the tyrant, any form of government will sometimes leads to results you don't favor. if you lose votes you have two choices in a democracy: work to persuade your fellow citizens to adopt your position, or live with the rules society imposes.

Had prop 8 failes, what would you counsel those of your fellow citizens who believe homosexual sex to be a capital sin to do? I presume you would counsel them to accept defeat gracefully, despite the fact that the religious impulse is of greater importance than the sex drive. Perhaps you should do the same.
11.30.2008 10:05am
SSFC (www):
Sure, if you think traditionalist Hispanics and other people from the rest of the world, who will increasingly make up America's population, are in favor of gay marriage.


Do their kids, not to mention the Asians who make up a large component of California's population, assimilate into a more or less mainstream American culture, or do they remain traditionalist Hispanics and Asians? I'm genuinely curious.

If they don't now, perhaps SSM advocates in California would better serve themselves by taking a pro-assimilationist, anti-multiculturalism, anti-immigration agenda. They should align with people like Duncan Hunter, on these particular issues and nothing more.

It would be an interesting coalition, would it not?
11.30.2008 10:58am
PC:
The gay leadership here really has no idea what it's doing.

The "gay leadership" is just following the The Protocols of the Elders of Homos.
11.30.2008 12:23pm
MlR (mail):
"Do their kids, not to mention the Asians who make up a large component of California's population, assimilate into a more or less mainstream American culture, or do they remain traditionalist Hispanics and Asians? I'm genuinely curious."

I don't know. My personal experience is to some extent, but also not entirely. Particularly once you reach a critical mass that is able to sustain itself.

It is my experience that many libertarians (and I am one), assume like progressives that since their view of the world and system of ethics is so advanced, it is the pinnacle to which most citizens in a modern democracy will eventually reach once they're exposed to it through public education, college, pop culture, mass media, etc.

I think it is extraordinarily arrogant to take this for granted, and underestimates the resilience of traditional moral systems and religion, especially outside of American denominations and sects, who've mellowed in the face of decades of secularist assaults. Considering the rate with which America is transforming (by 2050, for example, about a half of Americans will not have familial roots in the country that reach back 100 years) who knows how the political debate will evolve.
11.30.2008 12:59pm
trad and anon (mail):
Marriage aside, they are a relatively privileged group, with high levels of education, income, and social status.
I think there's research indicating that gay men have slightly lower incomes than straight men, while lesbians have slightly lower incomes than straight women. Or it's the other way around—I don't remember. Either way, it's a mixed effect and not a very large one. The perception of gays as richer, whiter, better-educated, and of higher social status than most people is the result of a two basic effects:

1) That's how we're portrayed in a lot of media fiction. Your typical TV sitcom or drama tends to be about well-off white people anyway, and shows and movies that don't follow that pattern tend to make the gay characters well-off white guys.

2) Well-off white people have the most practical ability to be out. Money gives you more ability to move to a gay-friendly location, less fear of gay-bashing because you can afford to live in a safe neighborhood, and less concern about losing your job for being gay because you probably have savings, high-quality professional contacts, and well-off relatives to fall back on; and statistically the well-off are more likely to be accepting or at least tolerant.
11.30.2008 1:14pm
ewannama:


They have the same rights you have. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, just like you can.

I really wish people would stop acknowledging this as something other than cruel, sneering nonsense.

I really wish that SSM/"marriage equality" folks would just admit that they are the ones trying to redefine marriage. Marriage means a lot of things, and started before our state. Please don't pretend that the California Supremes found a long existing and recognized right. Recognize a poorly reasoned decision. Beyond California, Loving simply said nothing against or expanding heterosexual marriage. And addressing the other canard, bigotry involves closed-mindedness, which is certainly possible among SSM supporters, and hardly requisite for SSM skeptics. But I should applaud SSM supporters--dishonest tactics are still sometimes effective, emotional cries of bigotry and lost rights may yet produce a new right.

Sadly our gov't got into the marriage business which seems to interact with the religious freedom business in the religious meaning of marriage. I'd like the gov't to extract itself from marriage and focus only on civil unions, but even short of that I do know that civil marriage has nothing to do with love. So what meanings of marriage survive the government's interference? Perhaps those of reproduction and family? Adoption is a great argument for SSM, and I have no problem with adoption by many singles or most homosexual partners. But traditional marriage is still more directly tied to perpetuation of society, even if we don't require parenthood. The misadventure of government involvement in basic marriage is a policy choice which simply doesn't lead automatically to expanded forms of marriage.

I am a non-believer and don't think that SSM really impacts traditional marriages, but that isn't enough to create a right. And I have heard SSM supporters question the right of theists to disagree and attach religious meanings to a limited form of union. And I have heard SSM supporters consider adult polygamy as a reasonable further expansion (without considering the demographic problem).
11.30.2008 1:56pm
Sam H (mail):
I don't understand this talk about "rights." Gays have the same rights to marry as anyone else. Everyone has to follow a set of rules. You can't marry someone who is: underage, your close family member, someone who is already married and someone of the same sex. Gays want to change the rules, not to get a "right."
11.30.2008 1:57pm
ewannama:
trad &anon -

Would you also argue that homosexuals are politically underrepresented?

Does the talk of gay bashing and marginalization mean that SSM skeptics are supporters of gay bashing?
11.30.2008 2:00pm
whit:

It really comes to that. If you accept that gays exist as persons defined by exclusive same-sex attraction, and concede that gays can and do build worthy lives centered around committment and family, it follows that the socially responsible action is expanding the civil definition of marriage to include the homosexual.



bingo. and i support gay marriage. i just wish other proponents would have the intellectual honesty to admit it is a radical redefinition of marriage, and stop using the absurd analogy to interracial marriage.

i support changing the definition of marriage to include gay marriage. i don't support tired rhetoric in support of same.
11.30.2008 2:01pm
trad and anon (mail):
Would you also argue that homosexuals are politically underrepresented?
Depends on what you mean by "underrepresented." Are out gay and lesbian elected and appointed officials below the proportion of gays and lesbians in the general population? Probably, but I haven't seen any statistics. Are gays and lesbians treated unequally by the law? Sure. We have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as heterosexuals, but as I've said before this is like banning synagogues and claiming that Jews and Christians are treated equally because both are free to worship at a church of their choosing.
Does the talk of gay bashing and marginalization mean that SSM skeptics are supporters of gay bashing?
As a general matter, no. A lot more of them are tolerant of the practice, though, or consider it bad but not as bad as regular violent crimes. Consider, for example, the "gay rage" defense to reduce murder to manslaughter, on the grounds that a reasonable person would fly into an uncontrollable rage because they thought they thought a member of the same sex was hitting on them. But I don't have any statistics.
11.30.2008 2:22pm
trad and anon (mail):
Sadly our gov't got into the marriage business
Government has been in the marriage business for as long as it's existed. Government marriage licenses are an invention of the 19th century, but that was hardly the start of government being in the marriage business. Consider, for example, the common-law definition of rape as a man's sexual intercourse with a woman not his wife without her effective consent. Or legal principles that said bastards were unable to inherit. Or the analogous rules under Roman law. And for those purposes government had to decide who was married and who wasn't.
11.30.2008 2:30pm
trad and anon (mail):
bingo. and i support gay marriage. i just wish other proponents would have the intellectual honesty to admit it is a radical redefinition of marriage, and stop using the absurd analogy to interracial marriage.
Well, it would be a redefinition under federal law and the laws of most states now, California included. But not under the laws of the states that license gay marriages or recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions, or in the other parts of Western civilization that do the same. I also disagree about "radical," and would say "minor."

Arguments about the supposed "definition" of marriage are pointless anyway. For one thing, it's circular: what makes your definition better than mine or that of most other marriage supporters? And most people who claim to oppose marriage on that ground also oppose civil unions anyway (though CA civil unions aren't quite identical).
11.30.2008 2:50pm
John Moore (www):
Well, it would be a redefinition under federal law and the laws of most states now, California included. But not under the laws of the states that license gay marriages or recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions, or in the other parts of Western civilization that do the same. I also disagree about "radical," and would say "minor."


It would be a historical redefinition, laws aside.

what makes your definition better than mine or that of most other marriage supporters?


How about 10000 years of recorded history, near universal customs among all cultures. If you want to overturn all of that, you need to make extraordinary arguments.

Simple relativism doesn't cut it. "Equal rights" is refuted by definition. Try again.
11.30.2008 3:05pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The two losing arguments of the pro-SSM forces:

1. Only bigots oppose same-sex marriage. These are the same bigots who opposed interracial marriages, because there is no difference between a white man and a black woman on the one hand, and two white men on the other.
-- The black and Hispanic opposition have no fundamental opposition to interracial marriage.

2. Same-sex marriage is the same as a man marrying a menopausal woman, because while two men cannot produce a kid without a third party, neither can a man and a menopausal woman.
-- The opposition to same-sex marriage is not based on infertility.

Nick056 hit the winning arguments. Same sex marriage legitimately expands the definition of marriage, because the loving relationships of gay people deserve such recognition.
11.30.2008 3:11pm
ewannama:
trad &anon - thanks for responding.

How many jurisdictions have entertained "gay rage" as a defense and continue to accept it? Yes, I would agree that legal tolerance of silly/prejudiced/intolerant hot-headedness is a problem, even though it is apparently sometimes also "reasonable" to kill someone just because you catch him having sex with your wife...


Regarding government involvement, I appreciate the history but also suspect that governments modern and ancient accepted the religious institution and meanings which predated civil laws. Recognizing a traditionally religious and reproductive partnership seems to be a policy choice which does not lead to privileging other partnerships. The government allows licenses to drive, but only if individuals agree to drive a certain way, within bounds. There is no equal protection argument to those determined/genetically inclined to drive only against traffic rules. Yeah, the safety aspect might make this a lame analogy, but perhaps we should look back at why government privileges/protects some partnerships, and why government could make an alternative policy choice not to. What are the meanings of marriage that matter to this policy choice?
11.30.2008 3:33pm
trad and anon (mail):
A losing argument, according to Tony Tutins:
Same-sex marriage is the same as a man marrying a menopausal woman, because while two men cannot produce a kid without a third party, neither can a man and a menopausal woman.
-- The opposition to same-sex marriage is not based on infertility.
SSM is indeed not (substantively) the same as a man marring a menopausal woman merely for the reason stated. However, there is an extremely common argument, including on this very thread, that SSM should be prohibited because a same-sex couple cannot procreate (given the current state of medical science). The point about menopausal women is (one example of) the refutation of this argument. Infertility is not grounds for denying a marriage license; it is not grounds for annulment; it is not grounds for a finding of tax evasion; it is not grounds for a third party to argue that a marriage does not exist in cases where the marriage affects the third party's rights; it is not grounds to avoid an equal division of "community property" upon divorce in a community property state.

But you are right that the point about infertile opposite-sex couples being able to marry, without more, is not in itself an argument for marriage. Instead it is a refutation of an argument against marriage.
11.30.2008 3:35pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Nick,

You wish, and wishing doesn't make it so. I voted against both Prop. 8 and Prop. 22, but I also managed a few campaigns in California a long time ago, and I know how to count. Your side is destroying itself, so elected officials are running away fast. There is a reason that the No On Prop. 8 leadership excluded gay organizatons from any role in the campaign.
"And there is no evidence that any majority of people sees the response of the anti-8 groups, which I grant may not be gracious, as violent or particularly vengeful. It's being seen, mostly, as a matter between the Mormon Church, which largely bankrolled Prop 8, and gays, who've responded with a marches and anger. People ought to try reaching out instead of condemning, but I don't think even many of those uncomfortable with gay marriage view gays as villians here."

Your side is behaving in such an irresponsible and juvenile fashion that there is a real good chance that your groups will be taken over by professional fund-raisers, aka "weasels in suits", who will milk gays for every possible dime while being very careful to keep you from ever prevailing on SSM at the ballot box. By perpetuating the self-defeating behavior pattern your side is demonstrating now.

This has happened to lots of other organizations and causes. Yours is next. Failure to accept that your side's reaction to Prop. 8 is morally wrong, as well as politically self-defeating, pretty much guarantees this fate.

And you will deserve it.
11.30.2008 3:46pm
Michael B (mail):
"Can we please stop pretending that the actions of a few constitute the actions of all, or even of the group."

Complicity comes part and parcel with silence, can we please stop pretending it does not? When that complicity involves all the spittle and spew, all the venom and viciousness and bile that has effectively been directed against the democratic process itself, it's worthy of some pointed emphasis.

Further still, the reality reflected in all the spittle and spew from SSM supporters is merely the most noticeable aspect of their tactics, it's merely the tip of the iceberg that gets reported in the MSM. Once marriage itself begins to be redefined there is no apparent reason to define it in yet other ways still, to include polygamy, to include marriages between close relations such as first cousins and brothers and sisters, to include - yes, in some future scenario - bestiality, to even include legal "marriages" between humans and comic book characters - all of it deemed to be a reflection of genuinely loving relationships as well.

And yet, in large part, all of that and more is merely sneered at and sniffed at - invoking a tout court dismissiveness of others' concerns, rather than reasoned arguments - therein representing the larger part of that iceberg previously referred to. Hence the spittle and spew is in fact merely the tip of that iceberg.

SSM - Spittle, Spew and Mendacity? Sneers, Snide and Malevolence?

But you have blacklists and similar McCarthyite tactics, you have black robed presumptives and other usurpers of the democratic process - and all of it in addition to the spittle and spew that recieves tacit and more overt forms of approbation - and all of it while the other side is willing to comply with the democratic process, using suasion and reasoned arguments in lieu of spew and spittle and snide and sneers.

Those are some of the prominent facts that inform this and other public policy debates.
11.30.2008 3:54pm
artaxerxes (mail):
Is there a constitutional right to the package of benefits that accompany marriage? Many commentors here repeat that banning/not allowing SSM is "taking rights away" from gays and is somehow causing great harm, yet if the government suddenly reversed itself and history and said only gay marriage is "legal" it would not change my relationship with my wife in any meaningful way. It would only be removing some set of financial and legal benefits granted by the state. I would have to work a little harder to make sure my family was taken care of, but that is all I see. It would suck since we have become accustomed to the benefits we now have, but it would just put us back in the situation we were in before we were married. Am I missing something here legally?
11.30.2008 4:39pm
Perseus (mail):
I really wish people would stop acknowledging this as something other than cruel, sneering nonsense.

I'll acknowledge it when the advocates of SSM stop claiming that it's some great cruel injustice if the rest of society does not wish to dole out to same-sex unions the legal goodies and recognition of civil marriage.

Same sex marriage legitimately expands the definition of marriage, because the loving relationships of gay people deserve such recognition.

The government's involvement in marriage is primarily justified by what such unions contribute to the common good, not mawkish individualism.
11.30.2008 4:56pm
Cornellian (mail):
Is there a constitutional right to the package of benefits that accompany marriage? Many commentors here repeat that banning/not allowing SSM is "taking rights away" from gays and is somehow causing great harm, yet if the government suddenly reversed itself and history and said only gay marriage is "legal" it would not change my relationship with my wife in any meaningful way. It would only be removing some set of financial and legal benefits granted by the state. . . . Am I missing something here legally?

Yes you are, but it's not something specific to SSM. You don't have a constitutional right to a home mortgage interest deduction, for example, but that doesn't mean the government can validly enact a law granting that deduction only to white people or only to Jewish people or only to people who don't criticize the government. The issue isn't whether you have a "right" to that particular benefit, but rather the government's basis for granting that benefit to some groups of people but not others.
11.30.2008 5:16pm
Cornellian (mail):

The government's involvement in marriage is primarily justified by what such unions contribute to the common good, not mawkish individualism.


What do childless marriages contribute to the common good?
11.30.2008 5:20pm
Lymis (mail):
Cornellian,

The question is what do childless straight marriages contribute to the common good that gay marriages do not. Corollary, what DON"T gay marriages with children contribute to the common good that straight marriages do?
11.30.2008 5:28pm
whit:

Well, it would be a redefinition under federal law and the laws of most states now, California included. But not under the laws of the states that license gay marriages or recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions, or in the other parts of Western civilization that do the same. I also disagree about "radical," and would say "minor."

Arguments about the supposed "definition" of marriage are pointless anyway. For one thing, it's circular: what makes your definition better than mine or that of most other marriage supporters? And most people who claim to oppose marriage on that ground also oppose civil unions anyway (though CA civil unions aren't quite identical).


no. marriage is an evolved social construct (see hayek, etc.). it wasn't invented by govt. govt. just enacted laws to protect it and promote it.

it is not MY definition. it is how marriage evolved.

opposite sex. it did not evolve as an arrangement between same sex, or between different species, etc.

bans on interracial marriage have nothing to do with how marriage evolved. for thousands of years, people of different races married. sometimes it was encouraged or even mandated (certain times when one group overtook another in war, intermarriage was encouraged and.or mandated in certain cases in order to help bring about peace, etc.).

marriage evolved as a construct between men and women. men and women are biologically different and BIOLOGICALLY distinct.

the races are not distinct in that over time, intermarriage dissolves the differences and creates mixed race people.

it is absurd (and anti-scientific) to analogize racial differences with gender differences. no amount of intermarriage or growing up in different climates (which is how races became different) are going to turn men into women or vice versa. they have different organs, a different hormonal milieu, etc.

i am FOR SSM. i am against anti-scientific, anti-historical, anti-reality arguments that gay marriage is not a redefinition or radical change in the definition of marriage.

if you want to ignore history and biology because your ideology is more important to you, feel free. you will be right at home with creationists and others who choose to ignore science because their beliefs in their cause is more important

deal with it.

a pairing between a man and a woman (biologically distinct creatures on many levels) is fundamentally different between a pairing of two men and/or two women.

i am FOR govt. recognizing and extending rights to pairings of men or pairings of women.

but call it what it is. truth and science are more important than ideology
11.30.2008 5:35pm
Lymis (mail):
How about 10000 years of recorded history, near universal customs among all cultures. If you want to overturn all of that, you need to make extraordinary arguments.


Well, let's start with your premise. Marriage, as it stands today is hardly the same as it was a couple hundred years ago, much less ten thousand.

The changes in women's rights, principally, which changed her from property transferred from her father to her husband into an partner equal under the law.

Your near universal customs, measured over 10,000 years include arranged marriages, polygamy, child marriage, child betrothal, the illegality of women owning property in their own name, the right of slave owners to define and/or dissolve the marriages of their slaves, the presence of absence of divorce, the requirement of impregnating your brother's widow if he died childless, requirements for living wives to kill themselves as part of their husband's funerals, dynastic marriages, wide varieties of acceptance of mistresses and bastard children, and so on.

For a big chunk of early Christianity, the church had nothing to do with civil marriage, refusing to allow them to be held in church. There was then a big shift to the point where a church wedding was considered the only "real" wedding in a lot of eyes.

Even just the change created by reliable birth control, and the US Supreme Court's upholding it as a right, changed marriage dramatically.

Allowing two mutually infertile people to make the same commitment by the same rules as their fertile neighbors hardly constitutes a redefinition anywhere near as radical as many or most of these.

Odd how that time frame keeps changing. Now it's up to 10,000 years.
11.30.2008 5:36pm
Perseus (mail):
What do childless marriages contribute to the common good?

Not much. Hence denying them access to the legal goodies of civil marriage would not be some cruel injustice.
11.30.2008 5:40pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
Hardly just a simple word count. Check your facts, please. By any standard, well over 1000 benefits associated with marriage.

I take it lymis you are no longer laboring under this delusion given that you were referred to the GAO report itself, not just the wiki article.
11.30.2008 6:09pm
Michael B (mail):
And Lymis, whether a few or many, Prop 8, as with the laws passed in other states (Florida and Arizona, in addition to California most recently), is not about restricting rights, it said nothing - literally nothing - as pertains to those rights you're alluding to.
11.30.2008 6:15pm
John Moore (www):

Well, let's start with your premise. Marriage, as it stands today is hardly the same as it was a couple hundred years ago, much less ten thousand.


One thing is constant in all those marriages over all those years (recorded is more like 4000 years), across all cultures: it is between a male and a female.

All the other characteristics you attribute to it, and which have changed, were neither omnicultural nor constant through time.

In other words, the rights and privileges associated with members of a marriage may have changed, but the institution remains fundamentally the same: heterosexual.

BTW, is there any reason, proponents of SSM, that proponents of polygamy and polyamory shouldn't use the same arguments you do?
11.30.2008 7:00pm
whit:
and fwiw, polygamy is NOT inconsistent with marriage as an evolved structure.

this is not to say i support polygamy as a POLICY DECISION, whereas i do support same sex marriage, but polygamy was more or less common in numerous cultures and for centuries.

i would think the argument that SSM proponents would use to counter the polygamy arguments is that polygamy is a "choice" and homosexuality isn't, according to the latest doctrine.

i find that largely irrelevant, the whole "choice" thang.

i support SSM as a matter of policy, and don't think the choice thang is particularly relevant to that debate.

few SSM advocates will admit that SSM is a radical redefinition of marriage, despite the scientific and historical basis for this truth. it simply goes counter to the ideology and the strategy (it's a rights thing man!@)
11.30.2008 7:07pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
The proponents of SSM avert their eyes from evolutionary biology and want everyone else to as well.
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

If and when SSM ever becomes widespread in the U.S., it will be despite, rather than because, of the political efforts of gay groups.
11.30.2008 7:15pm
Nick056:
Thomas,

I'm not really interested in talking about sides. I don't know whose side I'm on, anymore than I know whose side you're on. I happen to believe that extending the definition of marriage to homosexuals puts me on the side of the gay activists and the side of people who want to encourage monogamy and family -- without unnecessary and detrimental exclusion. I'm for gay marriage as a traditionalist, not an activist. Like I said, I believe that gay people are as they present themselves to be, and also capable of forming a relationship every bit as meaningful and powerful as any heterosexual. Therefore it is in society's interest to validate and encourage these relationships.

To the very important point that the definition of marriage has never before included the homosexual, going back thousands of years, I only ask everyone to consider this: homosexuals have existed for thousands of years, too.

As to the organizing issues of No on Prop 8, you have a point that people rip off the enthusiatic every day, but you're reading the situation exactly wrong. The largest gay advocacy group, the HRC, wasn't very involved mostly because they're useless on the question of gay marriage. They don't want to deal with that it, and instead pursue other measures -- such as the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I doubt that they've advanced those goals very much, either. Gay people are now deciding that HRC has been nowhere on the question of marriage and they're donating their money and energy elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in California, the legislature, judiciary, and governor all back gay marriage, so in that state in particular, there's been nobody running from support of gay marriage. All three branches of government support it. And it just became legal in Conneticut; I doubt that'll change as it did in California.

Anyone paying attention would've guessed at Prop 8's failure. The fact remains, nothing you've said specifically explains how the gap between prop 22 and 8 isn't indicative of the future, and certainly there's nothing aside from anecdotal evidence to suggest that more and more people are fleeing from support of gays. Based on the stories here, such an interpretation borders on a lie. Politicians are wary of advancing legislation that would then lose or be reversed on a referendum vote; that doesn't mean they're personally feeling alienated from the cause of gay marriage because of the reaction to Prop 8. That, by all appearances, is pure invention.

On a final note, why so angry, Thomas?
11.30.2008 7:31pm
trad and anon (mail):
Is there a constitutional right to the package of benefits that accompany marriage?
According to the Supreme Court, the answer is yes. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987); Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978).
11.30.2008 8:02pm
jrose:
few SSM advocates will admit that SSM is a radical redefinition of marriage, despite the scientific and historical basis for this truth

If you base your conclusion on the fact that for most of history marriage has not included same-sex couples, of course you are correct.

However, this mis-states the definition of marriage in the same way that Bowers mis-stated the liberty interest implicated by sodomy laws. The Bowers Court argued the liberty interest was same-sex sodomy. The Lawrence Court corrected it to be the right to have sexual "conduct [that is] one element in a personal bond that is more enduring".

Similarly, marriage is not defined by its participatory criteria, but rather its purpose. For many years now, marriage has been motivated by (among other things) a (hopefully) lifelong, romantic bond. The fairly recent recognition of homosexuality as an identity has included gay couples within the existing definition of marriage. No redefinition occured.
11.30.2008 8:09pm
John Moore (www):
Similarly, marriage is not defined by its participatory criteria, but rather its purpose.


Only when it is convenient to your argument.

Historically, that is simply not the case.
11.30.2008 8:18pm
jrose:
What do childless marriages contribute to the common good?

Not much. Hence denying them access to the legal goodies of civil marriage would not be some cruel injustice.

I will wager it would be unconstitutional.
11.30.2008 8:20pm
whit:

Similarly, marriage is not defined by its participatory criteria, but rather its purpose.


in your (unsubstantiated) opinion.

which still ignores history and biology.

i think religion (while certainly taking part in definitions of marriage) isn't really necessary to address, because the striking commonality of marriage as an evolved institution throughout history and across religions has been man-woman, two biologically distinct creatures.

if it was designed by its purpose and not ALSO by its particpatory criteria, then it's rather surprising that for thousands of years, in disparate cultures, in disparate religions, men married women, not men.

you have to acknowledge the biology here. men have different hormonal profiles, different ORGANS, and different purposes (evolutionarily speaking) in regards to providing components of future life.

changing that to include a male-male or female-female coupling IS thus a radical redefinition of a longstanding evolved structure- marriage.

it's not like these concepts warred with each other. SSM wasn't even considered as a type of marriage any more than a man who married a chair would be considered a type of marriage.

extremely rare genetic disorders aside (hermaphrodites, etc. who are sterile anyway but i digress), there are two distinct types of human beings. men and women.

and vive la friggin' difference.

they have differentiation in all the ways mentioned, plus even different ways of thinking (see: hemisphere use distinctions, etc. etc.)

whether that's a result of evolution or god(s) is irrelevant. it simply IS.

and marriage evolved as a way to join one type of human being with another. NOT the same type with the same type.

period.

CHANGING that is radical. i'm FOR it, for pete's sake, but i am not going to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's merely an extension of "marriage rights". it's a REDEFINITION *of* marriage.

again, this is an evolved institution. it's near universality, and consistency across cultures (in man-woman) format is clear and compelling evidence that a deviation from same is a radical redefinition.

ignore reality at your will.
11.30.2008 8:21pm
jrose:
Similarly, marriage is not defined by its participatory criteria, but rather its purpose

Historically, that is simply not the case

How so?
11.30.2008 8:22pm
whit:
jrose, do you have ANY understanding of evolved social structures? clearly not, if you can ask that question.
11.30.2008 8:25pm
jrose:
if it was designed by its purpose and not ALSO by its particpatory criteria, then it's rather surprising that for thousands of years, in disparate cultures, in disparate religions, men married women, not men

Given that homosexuality as an identity is very recent, it is not at all surprising. Until this development, society did not think of romantic love extending to same-sex couples. As you put it, such love was as foreign as a man and a chair.

you have to acknowledge the biology here

The only relevance of biology to marriage's purpose is procreation which we know is not the exclusive purpose.

and marriage evolved as a way to join one type of human being with another. NOT the same type with the same type.

I disagree. It's the lack of recongition of homosexuality identity and the legitimatcy of same-sex love that got us where we are today. Thought experiment: for the past 10,000 years sexuality is as we view it today. Do you think marriage still evolves for only one type with another? I don't.

Yes, there has been a radical change, but it's not in marriage. It's in our view of sexuality.
11.30.2008 8:31pm
jrose:
whit,

An argument as to why marriage has been historically defined by its participatory criteria rather than its purpose would be a whole lot better than a conclusory insult.
11.30.2008 8:36pm
whit:

Given that homosexuality as an identity is very recent, it is not at all surprising. Until this development, society did not think of romantic love extending to same-sex couples. As you put it, such love was as foreign as a man and a chair.


first of all, marriage did not evolve primarily as a "romantic love" thang.

homosexuals were recognized in numerous cultures throughout history.


The only relevance of biology to marriage's purpose is procreation which we know is not the exclusive purpose.



again , you are framing to get the result you want. you are looking at the (alleged) purpose, and ignoring the STRUCTURE.


I disagree. It's the lack of recongition of homosexuality identity and the legitimatcy of same-sex love that got us where we are today. Thought experiment: for the past 10,000 years sexuality is as we view it today. Do you think marriage still evolves for only one type with another? I don't.



that's laughable and proves the underlying point.

again, remember this wasn't just a narrow european-western culture thang. it's cross-cultural and cross religion.

PLENTY of cultures have been relatively accepting of and supportive of homosexuals to various extents. for pete's sake. study some frigging history.

and again, the point isn't how marriage might evolve given a different understanding. the point is that it DID evolve the way it did.

so, yes with 10,000 years of different history, it might have evolved differently. 100% irrelevant, and yet supportive of my point.

marriage evolved as an institution linking the DISTINCT types of creatures known as men and women.

so, you are tacitly admitting this is a radical redefinition, that might have occurred given 10,000 years of DIFFERENT social evolution.

duh.

here's another hint. if we had 9 fingers, we most likely would have a base 9 number system, not a base 10 system. but since we have 10, we have base 10.

suggesting a change to base 9 would still be a radical change in our numbering system regardless of the fact that *if* things were different in the past, they'd be different in the present.

thanks for presenting yet more compelling reasons to understand that SSM is a radical change in the definition of marriage.
11.30.2008 8:42pm
whit:

An argument as to why marriage has been historically defined by its participatory criteria rather than its purpose would be a whole lot better than a conclusory insult.



across cultures and religions, it was always man-woman unions.
duh.

even GODS (when they married) married the opposite (or complementary to use another philosophy) gender- think zeus and hera.

the idea of SSM wasn't even critiqued as much as it was incomprehensible. which proves the structure argument.

iow, it wasn't even a consideration to be disputed. it was simply inconceivable AS a concept.

religions are a pretty good depository of historical attitudes about stuff. i don't care if you look at judaism, christianity, or whatever. SSM was not even IN that historical record as a concept, let alone one to be criticized. it was no more considered than the marriage of a man and a chair. because you can't criticize a form of marriage that ISN'T a form of marriage, which is how the historical concept of two men hanging together was thought of - anything BUT a marriage.

so the structure was a GIVEN - man/woman.

that's about as blatant as you can get in terms of participatory criteria.

show me some historical counterexamples to support your absurd proposition (where are all these historical examples of people saying "marriage is about the union of two people who love each other, REGARDLESS of their gender?) where? how many friggin' data points do you want?

again, i support gay marriage. i do not support anti-scientific, anti-historic propaganda in support of my cause
11.30.2008 8:51pm
jrose:
homosexuals were recognized in numerous cultures throughout history

Were they recongized as an identity as we do today? Was their love considered legitimate?

so, you are tacitly admitting this is a radical redefinition, that might have occurred given 10,000 years of DIFFERENT social evolution

No. Once romantic love is included in marrige (which may have been a radical change), the inclusion of any particular legitimatly-recognized loving relationship is a small step. Of course, the other large step is acknowledgement of a new type of legitimately-recognized loving relationship.

Now it may be the case for many people, that SSM is that other large step (they don't yet recognize the legitimacy of same-sex loving relationships). But for others who already accept the relationships, it should be a small step. And there must be plenty of these people, or we wouldn't be broaching SSM.
11.30.2008 8:59pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Nick,

Prop. 8 failed for the same reason Prop. 22 passed - a majority of California voters oppose SSM. The diminished margin of Prop. 8, relative to Prop. 22, was due to the much stronger opposition to Prop. 8 by non-gay groups, notably the CTA (California Teachers Association).

And the leaders of the No On Prop. 8 campaign kept almost all gay groups and leaders,not merely the ones you mention, out of the campaign for a reason - they are politically irresponsible.

What has happened since is proof of this irresponsibility.

Elected officials know better than to stand by political suicide bombers. So they are running away. Likewise it will be a long time before non-gay groups like the CTA stick their necks out again for SSM, or other gay issues. Politics is not beanbag.
11.30.2008 9:00pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Ooog, preview is my friend.

"Prop 8. failed passed for the same reason Prop. 22 passed"
11.30.2008 9:02pm
jrose:
where are all these historical examples of people saying "marriage is about the union of two people who love each other, REGARDLESS of their gender?

The lack of such unions could be due to structure as you argue. Or it could be that the only identity was heterosexual, and the only legitimate, loving relationships were opposite sex.

The observed facts as you have presented them don't tell us which is the cause.
11.30.2008 9:04pm
Perseus (mail):
marriage is not defined by its participatory criteria, but rather its purpose

The two are related, which is why even the ancient Greek polities that encouraged same-sex relations in a military context did not entertain the possibility of SSM.

marriage did not evolve primarily as a "romantic love" thang.

Exactly. This is a recent phenomenon that is the product of an unholy marriage between Rousseauean romanticism and Lockean individual rights, which results in the belief that civil marriage is designed to facilitate the (fleeting) romantic unions of individuals.
11.30.2008 9:23pm
jrose:
The two are related, which is why even the ancient Greek polities that encouraged same-sex relations in a military context did not entertain the possibility of SSM

Yes, in a military context, not a romantic one.
11.30.2008 9:29pm
Robert West (mail) (www):
Thomas_Holsinger: I'm curious, now; what is it that you believe the leadership of the gay movement has done that is politically irresponsible?

And does that extend to people like, say, John Laird?
11.30.2008 9:32pm
jrose:
The diminished margin of Prop. 8, relative to Prop. 22, was due to the much stronger opposition to Prop. 8 by non-gay groups

Or changing demographics, or changing attitudes towards gays.

And the leaders of the No On Prop. 8 campaign kept almost all gay groups and leaders out of the campaign for a reason - they are politically irresponsible

Or, it was a mistake because gays need to make the affirmative case about their relationships.
11.30.2008 9:41pm
scattergood:
After reading the back and forth on this thread what is truly stunning is the a priori assumptions that the pretty much everybody has. Mainly, why are gays and lesbians a protected defined group of people worthy of special consideration under the law. Nearly everybody just assumes that they should be, but why?

There are two fundamental mechanisms that we have in our society to create protected classes. Firstly, by the choice of the people. For example, in our history we have defined religion as a protected class. The 1st Amendment is the prefect example of that. Thus we cannot make distinctions between Christians and Jews and Muslims because we as a society has said that we can't make those distinctions.

Secondly, we have come to the understanding that through deterministic biology groups should be protected. Men and women, white and black and Asian, etc. are 100% deterministic based on DNA, without the choice or effort on the part of the participant. Thus we have striven, albeit imperfectly, to protect with in the law.

Now, do homosexuals fall into either of these two categories? The answer is an unambiguous NO. In election after election on various issues homosexuals have not been extended by the populace a group or blanket protection. SSM votes, 'equal rights' acts votes, etc. have all seen this to occur.

Science has pretty much concluded that homosexuality is NOT 100% deterministic. Don't believe me, believe a gay activist scientist and read http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/aug/08080605.html Do the research yourself, there is not a 100% casual agent for homosexuality.

And this is the crux of the problem. This group of people, who decided to whatever degree they wanted to participate in their group, have the courts creating protections for them without any of the acceptable mechanisms, voter choice or genetic determinism.

The door through which we go will create pandemonium as groups and rights can be created at whim by a group of totalitarian black robed gangsters. This issue isn't about SSM or 'gay' rights, it is about the very process by which our society decides things.
11.30.2008 9:48pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I hear all kinds of blather from both sides about SSM. I challenge anyone here to define marriage.
11.30.2008 10:58pm
whit:

I said: arriage did not evolve primarily as a "romantic love" thang.

Perseus: Exactly. This is a recent phenomenon that is the product of an unholy marriage between Rousseauean romanticism and Lockean individual rights, which results in the belief that civil marriage is designed to facilitate the (fleeting) romantic unions of individuals.


thank you. as soon as the jrose made the romantic love claim, i knew he/she was ahistorical.

not necessarily ignoring history, but just woefully ignorant.

you cannot make the claim you understand marriage as a historical evolved construct (thousands of years, across many cultures) and claim that "romantic love" thang.

next, jrose will be saying that diamond engagement rings are also not a recent phenomenon.

hint to jrose... if you want to make a historical argument (and how can you possibly talk about the structure and evolution of marriage WITHOUT knowing history)... understand history.

with all thy getting, get understanding...
11.30.2008 11:04pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The government's involvement in marriage is primarily justified by what such unions contribute to the common good, not mawkish individualism.

I would appreciate if someone could constuct an argument showing how opposite sex marriages contribute to the common good, to use as a template. All I can think of at the moment is that my car insurance rates went down when I got married, because presumably I was no longer out every night going to bars to find compliant females with whom to slake my lust, coming home drunk and frustrated more often than not, but instead was home, helping with the dishes.

So lack of reasons to leave a trail of death and destruction as a drunk, frustrated driver would contribute to the common good. And I presume this applies to gay men as well.
11.30.2008 11:41pm
Randy R. (mail):
Let's see. In Massachusetts, Canada, Belgium, S. Africa, The Netherlands and Spain have all radically altered the traditional definition of marriage.

So what? Everything is going on quite well in those places. All the dire consequences that everyone here predicts have not come true in any of those places. Why hasn't it? I've asked many times, but no one has every mentioned any negative consequences evident in any of those jurisdictions, and they have allowed SSM for several years.
12.1.2008 1:10am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Trad and Anon: However, there is an extremely common argument, including on this very thread, that SSM should be prohibited because a same-sex couple cannot procreate (given the current state of medical science).

It's not whether a couple can procreate or not, it's whether society allows them to try or not. For example, a man certainly can procreate with his sister, but we don't let them marry. They are prohibited from procreating together. We should not let a man attempt to procreate with another man, even if a lab makes it possible using modified gametes.

All marriages are allowed to attempt to conceive children together, universally. There has never been a marriage that was prohibited by a law from creating offspring together. (Cousin marriages in those states that allow it for older couples do not prohibit them from trying to procreate). We should not allow people to be married that are prohibited by law from conceiving children, because that would strip conception rights from marriage.

Simply put, we all should have a right to attempt to conceive children with our own genes. That is a fundamental right. But none of us should have it with a sibling or parent or someone of the same sex.

It's all about conception rights. If we decide to allow people to attempt same-sex conception, then of course we should allow the couple to marry. But if we choose to prohibit same-sex conception, we should have Civil Unions defined as "marriage minus conception rights" for them, so that we do not strip conception rights from marriage.
12.1.2008 1:37am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Lymis, even if DOMA is repealed, states would not have to recognize Massachusetts same-sex marriages if they didn't want to. And even with DOMA now, states can recognize marriages or civil unions from out of state if they chose to. Also, Congress could replace DOMA with something that recognizes same-sex Civil Unions as if they were marriages for federal purposes. Congress isn't limited to only recognize marriages.

Congress should replace DOMA with federal recognition for state Civil Unions that are defined as "marriage minus conception rights". This would preserve marriage for a man and a woman, because Congress would also prohibit attempts at conception that do not join a man and a woman's actual genes, and affirm that all marriages must have a right to conceive children together, with the marriage's own genes. This would also provide a template for all states to use for uniform Civil Unions, and I bet all 50 states would enact these CU's within a year, even those states that prohibit CU's that are substantially identical to marriage (ok, maybe there'd be a state or two that held out for a while, but I bet 48 states would have CU's defined as marriage minus conception rights within a year.)

Heck, it should even be a worldwide definition, used by all nations for same-sex unions.
12.1.2008 1:51am
trad and anon (mail):
I agree with whit that our conception of romantic-love-marriage is largely an invention of Western culture in the last few centuries. It is not what marriage was among the ancient Greeks, or the Inca, or what it is among the Arabic peoples of the Middle East today. The same is true of the modern Western conception of marriage as being between two more or less equal partners, as opposed to between a dominant husband and one or more subservient wives with few or no rights enforceable against the husband. Marriage has changed radically across cultures and throughout history.

Like equal-partner love-marriage, same-sex marriage is a recent invention of Western culture. The question is why the one is merely a change and the other is a "radical redfinition," despite the fact that the model of the subservient wife was a cultural (near)-universal before the various social and legal changes that enshrined the equal-partners model in Western culture. Another question is why we should care: word meanings are social constructs that can be changed and do change all the time. And after Massachusetts and Connecticut, other states that recognize same-sex marriage without licensing it, and various other nations that are part of Western civilization and culture, it is too late to claim that one-man-n-women is what the definition of marriage "is," rather than "was."
12.1.2008 1:51am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Professor Carpenter, what's the priority? The equal right to attempt to conceive children with someone of the same sex, or equal protections now for all same-sex couples in the country in all other areas?
12.1.2008 1:53am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
The question is why the one is merely a change and the other is a "radical redfinition,"

trad and anon, allowing same-sex couples to marry wouldn't be a redefinition of marriage, but it would be a radical change in the way people are allowed to be conceived. Just like the various changes in history regarding who is allowed to marry who have not redefined marriage, but only changed who people are allowed to conceive with, like prohibitions on "inter-racial" marriage. But through all those changes, marriage has always been allowed combining the marriage's egg and a sperm and has never required genetic engineering to facilitate conception. That'd be a big change.
12.1.2008 2:20am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Robert West,

Nice try. I didn't say that. Straw man games reveal the troll underneath.

1) Gay organizations and leaders were generally, if not almost entirely, excluded from public roles in the No On Prop. 8 campaign by the controlling, non-gay (i.e., California Teachers Association, etc.), larger, better funded and more experienced organizations and leaders because the latter perceived the former as irresponsible.

2) The behavior of some gay organizations and lots of apparently unorganized gays after the election has proven that the perception in (1) above was well-founded.

3) Because larger gay organizations, and better known gay leaders, have NOT denounced the idiots trashing the democratic process, resulting in their movement and interests being associated, by the public, with gay nutballs and their public misconduct.

4) So (2) and (3) have led elected officials here and in New York, plus probably elsewhere, to cease publically advocating, or even associating themselves with, SSM and isuses which the public might perceive as being associated with gay nutballs, and gay rights, due to another well-founded (IMO) fear that the public now associates gay rights with gay nutball behavior.

5) IMO (2), (3) and (4) have also caused other special interest groups, such as the California Teachers Association, which were formerly allied with gay rights organizations on some issues, to "reassess" that relationship into the dead cold ground. This is to avoid potential injury to their own interests from being associated, by the public, with anti-democratic and nasty gay political misconduct.

6) Which is the normal and expected result of the failure of publically known gay organizations and leaders to denounce the anti-democratic misconduct of gay nutballs. This is commonly called "a failure of leadership".

Gay rights are now not merely dead, but radioactive insofar as electoral politics is concerned. This too is the normal and expected result of irresponsible and politically immature behavior by an identifiable minority suffering from a major, major leadership failure.

And I repeat my prediction that the future of gay rights will be dominated by fund-raising weasels in suits, who will keep their income flowing by being very careful never to actually let their gullible, foolish, and oh so generous, "marks" win.

"Mark" is a "carny" term for rubes who can be separated from their money.
12.1.2008 2:27am
whit:

Let's see. In Massachusetts, Canada, Belgium, S. Africa, The Netherlands and Spain have all radically altered the traditional definition of marriage.

So what? Everything is going on quite well in those places. All the dire consequences that everyone here predicts have not come true in any of those places. Why hasn't it? I've asked many times, but no one has every mentioned any negative consequences evident in any of those jurisdictions, and they have allowed SSM for several years.



which is one of the reasons why i support gay marriage.

saying it's a radical change in the definition of marriage does NOT make it a "bad thing."

it just means you are being honest.

i support SSM and i support acknowledging that it is a radical change in the definition of marriage.
12.1.2008 5:08am
whit:

Marriage has changed radically across cultures and throughout history.

Like equal-partner love-marriage, same-sex marriage is a recent invention of Western culture. The question is why the one is merely a change and the other is a "radical redfinition," despite the fact that the model of the subservient wife was a cultural (near)-universal before the various social and legal changes that enshrined the equal-partners model in Western culture. Another question is why we should care: word meanings are social constructs that can be changed and do change all the time


i have explained this several times. i will do it one more time. the answer is simple. biology.

none of those "radical changes" involved changing the very biology of marriage.

that is why.

if you still don't grok this, i suggest a biology textbook.

fwiw, there are still plenty in the US (men and women) that don't buy the equal partners thang. the law recognizes it as such. whether a couple has to, is entirely up to them. but the emancipation of women did not change the STRUCTURE of marriage.

marriage was still the same biological reality. the biologically unique human we call "woman" mates with the biologically unique human we call "man". two very different creatures with different organs, hormonal milieu and even brain hemisphere differentiation.

SSM *changes* that equation.

again. the answer is simple: biology.

i support SSM. the radical redefinition of marriage to allow same sex couples the same privileges that complementary/opposite sex (choose yer preferred term) enjoy.

i am glad to see you acknowledge the historical reality i had to school jrose on :) but you ignore the biological reality.

you can change society's/laws conception of the woman and the man (equal or non-equal, what archetypal roles, etc. etc.) but that is NOT changing the biological reality of marriage.

SSM changes the biological reality.
12.1.2008 5:15am
Smokey:
Tony Tutuns:
I would appreciate if someone could constuct an argument showing how opposite sex marriages contribute to the common good, to use as a template. All I can think of at the moment is that my car insurance rates went down when I got married...
OK, I'll play:

Insurance companies do not give their shareholders' money out for no good reason.

Therefore, your own argument proves that 'opposite sex' marriages contribute to the common good.

QED
12.1.2008 7:16am
jrose:
as soon as the jrose made the romantic love claim, i knew he/she was ahistorical

Perseus acknowledged that marriage evolved to be a "romantic thing" long before the issue of SSM came up. It might be wrong to argue back 10,000 years, but it's not wrong to do so hundreds of years back. The core of my argument remains unchanged.
12.1.2008 8:25am
jrose:
again. the answer is simple: biology

I slightly differ with "trade and anon", in that marriage in modern Western culture was a radical change from what it had been before. However once that change became accepted, it is not radical to include any romantic, equal-partner relationship that is considered legitimate (again, accepting same-sex relationships as legitimate in the first place is radical).

whit's argument that marriage is not about romantic, equal-partner relationships - but rather is (in addition) about the biological differences between men and women is not persuasive.
12.1.2008 8:33am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

While I can sympatize with your beliefs even if I find them to be somewhat loony, I also think they are going to fail the reality test. If/when the technology comes along that enables what you fear (I believe female-female unions will arrive before male-male) somewhere someone will do it. Whether that occures in the US or elsewhere isn't particularly material. Given that procreation is already fairly well divorced from marriage for many people I think you are going to have a very hard time putting that genie back in the bottle.
12.1.2008 9:37am
Splunge:
Well, I started out on the fence with respect to the underlying issue of SSM. But the in-your-face crap from the activist leaders has pretty steadily revised my opinion. I think if Prop 8 were up again for a vote tomorrow, I'd vote yes in a heartbeat. What sympathy I had for the movement has pretty much vanished.

Also, I think those who count on "demographics" are clueless. Tell me folks, have you ever noticed that attitudes towards premarital sex and whether the drinking age should be lowered are much more liberal among the young than the old and stay that way no matter how many decades go by? What do you suppose causes that?

Simple. As people age, their opinions change. That's what age is all about. When you're a teen or twenty-something, sure, you think all sex is great, and all teenagers should be trusted to handle alcohol, driving while texting, and so forth. Freedom, yay! Rules, bad! But as you get older, you change your mind. You get conservative. It's just the way of things.

So that big bulge of support for SSM among today's youth will still be a bulge in tomorrow's youth. Meanwhile, today's youth will have grown into their parents' shoes and -- surprise! -- will have also inherited their parents' more conservative outlook. Thus it has always been.

To hope that the 19-year-olds of 2008 will become the 39-year-olds of 2028 and not have the typical attitudes of today's 39-year-olds is as naive as thinking that they'll still be working at McDonalds, or spending all their money on pop music, or be just as horny.
12.1.2008 9:54am
ewannama:
whit - yours is the approach by which I may one day soon become a supporter of SSM. Realizing that civil marriage is more policy prejudice than right is more honest. (I distinguish caselaw found rights here, because they are framed by the existence of civil marriage in the first place, and one could imagine a state which has no civil marriage of any kind.) I hesitate because the burden is on those wishing to protect other partnerships and change some of the long-held meanings of marriage. We don't just protect government from religion here. Side question: what's your thing with thang?

jrose - even if homosexual love were a new invention, why should the state mess with love? Civil marriage does not require love, and does not preclude love by the unmarried. Group love is not a new, and is practiced/accepted by many. There might be a demographic problem if practiced widely, but if we already permit households of consensual adult polyamorous behavior, why not celebrate with a new category of marriage under law? There might be a different sort of demographic problem if SSM were practiced widely, no?

John Howard - pinning your argument on conception rights seems unlikely to persuade many, given bastardy's loss of pejorative power and the evidence of widespread extra-marital conception in our society. Not difficult to see that any law trying to stop unmarried conception has nil chance of surviving challenge, is it? The right to be a(n unmarried) parent has more solid precedent than the supposed right to SSM. But I do agree that marriage has many meanings, and the natural and low cost ability of males to procreate with females is pretty key. The existence of childless is a cute but unpersuasive argument on the other side, because we license many privileges without requiring they're full exercise. Just because some licensed drivers snarl traffic by breaking a rule is not an argument to license the blind or determinedly wreckless.
12.1.2008 10:27am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Insurance companies do not give their shareholders' money out for no good reason.
Therefore, your own argument proves that 'opposite sex' marriages contribute to the common good."


AIG?
12.1.2008 11:16am
ms (mail):
The state has an interest in promoting the kind of marriage that is best for kids. Since we live in a world of men and women, it makes sense that it is best for kids to be exposed to the masculine and feminine in the home environment. Very best is for kids to be raised by the two people who produced them. The state has an interest in promoting this scenario.
Now, we live in an imperfect world and this ideal case will not always happen, but its promotion in law and social norms is the best we can do to assure that it happens as often as possible. Fortunately many infertile couples provide wonderful adoptive parents for children whose biological parents die or mess up. But again, it is best for kids if these homes include a mother and a father. Marriage is the state's way of acknowledging that raising kids is a difficult task that takes many years and is best accomplished by two committed people. The evidence is all clear--kids suffer when raised by single parents or when parents divorce. It is too early to say about kids raised by same sex parents, but again, common sense tells us that kids with opposite sex parents have an advantage.
Yes--infertile people can marry, and many provide good adoptive homes. In addition though, since men, unlike women, can produce children into old age, if men take their marriage vows seriously, they will not be out producing children that they are not going to be there to raise. In this way, menopausal women who are married to men near their age help society by keeping older men, who might irresponsibly produce children they are too old to fully raise, in check.
How have countries that have legalized SSM fared? The weakening of ties between marriage and procreation has resulted over the long haul in a great decline in the number of children born and looming depopulation. On the surface this may not seem like such a bad thing, but you have to remember that this means a demographically skewed population in the near future, an especially alarming prospect for welfare states. There will simply not be enough workers to care for the aged. Once depopulation has begun, it is a very difficult trend to reverse.
I am not at all convinced that marriage is so divorced from parenthood as many here seem to think. Many couples live together but marry when they want to start a family. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, religious people tend to marry and have more children than non-religious people. Our country is, for a western society, highly religious. Many people still associate marriage with children and are against SSM because weakening that association is not best for kids or the society as a whole.
12.1.2008 11:43am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I agree with Splunge regarding the demographics issue. My experience is that people tend to get more socially conservative as they get older (the old adage about how if you're not a conservative when you're thirty you have no brain comes to mind) and people who vote tend to do so for a lot longer than the time when they were in high school and college which suggests that the demographics may actually go the opposite way. Ditto for our immigration policies which tend to favor Hispanics who are generally more traditional and more Catholic.
12.1.2008 12:08pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Actually, the cited reports says "...we should identify more generally all those laws in the United States Code in which marital status is a factor, even though some of these laws may not directly create benefits, rights, or privileges..."

It also says "...no conclusions can be drawn, from our identification of a law as one in which marital status is a factor, concerning the effect of the law on married people versus single people. A particular law may create either advantages or disadvantages for those who are married, or may apply to both married and single people. For example, those who are unmarried fare better than their married counterparts under the so-called marriage penalty provisions of the tax laws, while married couples enjoy estate tax benefits not available to the unmarried. Other laws apply both to married and single people by virtue of terms like "survivors," "relatives," family," and "household..."


I agree, also I think that the wording "laws in the United States Code in which marital status is a factor" may have as much to do with the status of children (e.g. a child is presumed to be fathered by the man married to her biological mother) as it does any legal "rights" of someone who is married.
12.1.2008 12:24pm
James Gibson (mail):
Splunge notes that young people tend to be more liberal until after they get out of college and then reality slowly sets in. You could have given examples.

Bill Ayers didn't believe in marriage in his youth but a decade later he married the mother of his child and is still married to her almost 30 years later. Tom Hayden was a radical as well, supporting the right to vote at 18 and the right to drink. Yet years later he has stood for restricting smoking and drinking until after age 21. And their are those who seek to raise the voting age back to 21 even though they were the ones in the 60s and 70s who pushed for it to be lowered.

Time and age brings forth new realities and revelations that young people neither get from their parents or teachers, or simply have to experience to fully understand. Thus, yes, don't expect the young people of today to have the same views twenty years hence. Particularly if the Gays continue with this new policy of demanding and confrontational activisum, backed up with lots of money (supplied by the Cabinet).

Thirty Years ago when I was in college gays were put forward as just ordinary people with just a different attitude on sex. They were nice, presentable, and were even put forth as politicians (like Milk). But since Rosie ambushed Tom Selleck this image has turned into a mask they wore just to gain acceptance. Now Gay pride parades are just out door sex parties, church services have been disrupted and then trying to force gay marriage down everyone's throat. This new image may only be that of a small fringe in the gay community, but until the majority publicly denounces it will be the image the next generation of young people will remember.
12.1.2008 12:41pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Splunge,

The misconduct you decry now will change from childish tantrums to official policy when the fund-raising weasels take over gay organizations.
12.1.2008 12:45pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Is it fair to ask if the minority trying to harm people who oppose SSM really wants SSM? Could it be this minority likes the struggle? Might they like being the underdogs valliantly striving against then tyrant? Is there a romantic image they associate with demanding their rights in the face of impossible odds? Will their lives have any meaning if SSM prevails? Is the aftermath of P8 what they live for? I'm asking here about the fringe that is hogging the headlines.

(So nobody has to bother posting it, there are anti-SSM people whose lives would be empty and devoid of meaning if SSM were completely, utterly, and permanently squashed.)
12.1.2008 1:02pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
ms,

I at least was not talking about social reality when speaking about the break between marriage and child rearing. John Howard however would like to see a legal tie made between the two, which I just don't see happening. Every trend in that arena is in the direction opposite that which he would like to see.
12.1.2008 1:07pm
Randy R. (mail):
ms: "How have countries that have legalized SSM fared? The weakening of ties between marriage and procreation has resulted over the long haul in a great decline in the number of children born and looming depopulation."

The weakening of ties between marriage and procreation has occured across the board throughout Europe, especially in France and Italy, two places were SSM is NOT legal. In fact, in some of the countries that have SSM, marriage rates have increased.

So tell me again what are the problems with having SSM?

At some point, you guys have to point to *some* degree of evidence to support your notion that SSM will somehow radically alter society. WE have many jurisdictions that already allow it. How many years of no problems before you finally give up your argument?
12.1.2008 1:24pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Soronel, we need to prohibit making children any other way than combining a man's sperm an a woman's egg. This is the law in Missouri, and it is the law in England and I think many other countries (note that in England they have comprehensive national Civil Partnerships), and it is the recommendation of The President's Council On Bioethics.

It would mean that people would be prohibited from attempting to have children with someone of the same sex. That's a major difference in rights depending on what sex you choose to partner with. That is also the essential universal right of every marriage and it should not be stripped off. We should not allow there to be any marriages that are prohibited from procreating, not in this age of coercive eugenic third party procreation.

The ban on asexual procreation would not affect unmarried conception. The point is to preserve natural conception and natural conception rights and stop cloning and genetic engineering and same-sex conception. If you want to give up on that, and just allow people do it anyway, then naturally you're going to be in favor of same-sex marriage. I don't think it will happen if we ban it and re-direct the resources. Heck, it probably won't happen even if people waste years and billions of dollars researching it. It is cruel to children to teach them that it might be possible soon, and that it doesnt' matter if they are gay or straight, when the fact is it probably never will be possible or legal to have children with someone of the same sex.
12.1.2008 1:32pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

Like I said, if it is at all possible, someone somewhere will do it. Lots of work that seems to be ethically challenging for the US goes on in places like South Korea. I personally don't share your ethical concerns, the only combination I would find problematic would be a YY child, which I would simply hope the underlying biology would determine to be non-viable.

Are you going to have two parents arrested when they return to the US? And even if you do, what of the child produced from such a union, a child with an extremely strong if not inviolate hold on US citizenship?
I honestly don't know how far we are from having sucessful female-female derived zygotes, but given all the work on cloning and stem cells it would not surprise me if its closer than you would like to think.
12.1.2008 1:40pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Yes, we should arrest everyone involved in creating a person asexually when they return to the US. The child would be given up for adoption, like children born from incest are.

Some researchers have predicted that it was "three to five years away" a couple years ago. Other experts have predicted that it will never be possible. It doesn't matter, the main point of banning it is to create a difference in rights so that we can have constitutional civil unions that Congress can reach consensus on recognizing. So the effect of the law would be to enable a conclusion of the marriage debate, more than anything. It is really crazy to insist that same-sex conception remain a right and oppose a ban, while so many thousands of same-sex couples are without any protections for their relationship. If you want to get them equal protections, give up something in exchange. Give up conception rights, they're useless and foolish.
12.1.2008 1:47pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Yes, we should arrest everyone involved in creating a person asexually when they return to the US."

How do we ID them? How do we ID the kid?
12.1.2008 2:01pm
ms (mail):
The weakening of ties between marriage and procreation can happen in many ways, SSM among them. Just because other social trends have weakened such ties does not mean we need to weaken them further with SSM.
12.1.2008 2:11pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Well, if they kept it secret they'd probably get away with it, just like when a father impregnates his daughter.

Is that your only question?
12.1.2008 2:13pm
jrose:
even if homosexual love were a new invention, why should the state mess with love?

Maybe it shouldn't, but it is clear one of the purposes of civil marriage is to encourage such relationships.

Group love is not a new, and is practiced/accepted by many. There might be a demographic problem if practiced widely, but if we already permit households of consensual adult polyamorous behavior, why not celebrate with a new category of marriage under law?

Because as it is practiced, it's men controlling women. Harems don't represent encouraging people to settle down with their romantic lifemate.

There might be a different sort of demographic problem if SSM were practiced widely, no?

Why would straights want to marry someone of the same sex (except as shams, as in Chuck and Larry)?
12.1.2008 2:15pm
whit:

whit's argument that marriage is not about romantic, equal-partner relationships - but rather is (in addition) about the biological differences between men and women is not persuasive.



thatis of course not what i said. but i expect people to misstate other's arguments when they have none of their own.
12.1.2008 2:42pm