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Does the "Example Effect" of Gay Marriages Made Possible by Pro-Gay Marriage Court Decisions Increase Support for Gay Marriage?

Gay rights advocates often claim that pro-gay marriage court decisions increase public support for gay marriage through the "example effect" of giving heterosexuals an opportunity to observe happily married gay couples. People who see or better still, personally know, gays who benefit from being able to marry are likely to become more sympathetic to gay marriage than they were before. Since pro-gay marriage court decisions allow gays to marry in states where they would not be able to otherwise, they presumably contribute to opinion-altering example effects.

I think there is something to the example effect argument. But there is a reason why I didn't include it in my litany of reasons why pro-gay marriage court decisions help advance the cause of gay rights: I fear that the effect may be overblown.

Lots of surveys show that personal acquiantance with gays is correlated with support for gay marriage. For example, a recent Pew survey shows that 55% of those who have gay friends or relatives support gay marriage, compared to only 25% of those who don't. This data may support the example effect thesis. However, it is not clear which way the causation runs. It could be that heterosexuals who are already more tolerant are more likely to establish friendships with gays than those who are less so. Moreover, gays are more likely to "come out" to tolerant acquiantances than homophobic ones.

Other survey data suggest that the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut has not increased public support for it. Today, 55% of Americans oppose gay marriage and 36% support it, statistically identical to the 57-35 margin that existed in early 2001 (two years before the Massachusetts decision). There is, therefore, little evidence that the example effect of gay marriage has increased support for the practice, at least so far.

The history of interracial marriage, to which the gay marriage struggle is often analogized, is also a case in point. Interracial marriage was legal in many northern states throughout the Jim Crow era. Yet there is little if any evidence suggesting that this fact diminished public opposition to interracial marriage during most of that time. Jim Crow-era black public figures who married whites, such as Frederick Douglass and Jack Johnson, were widely reviled for doing so, sometimes even by other African-Americans. Their examples had little positive influence on public opinion.

More generally, the way one reacts to the existence of gay marriages depends in large part on one's preexisting views. A person supportive of gay rights is likely to applaud the sight of married gay couples. A homophobe is likely to to consider it offensive and perhaps become even more virulent in his opposition to the practice. This is part of the more general phenomenon that people tend to interpret new political information in ways that reinforce their preexisting views.

That said, it may be that example effects will influence public opinion in a pro-gay marriage direction in the long run. There is some evidence that support for gay marriage has increased in Massachusetts since the state instituted it in 2003, even if it hasn't had the same effect nationally. I doubt, however, that the effect will be as great as many people think.

hazemyth:
I think this is a view people adopt more out of personal experience than formal inquiry. I'm sure there are plenty of people here who can supply anecdotes of views they have changed (their own or others') through personal acquaintance. Nothing encourages an acceptance of gays so much as a gay son (though, of course, not in all cases). So what of a gay-son-in-law?

Of course, the anecdotal evidence usually shows this is a slow process (far slower than the three years since the MA ruling).
12.1.2008 6:46pm
Cityduck (mail):
It seems to me that the only way to measure the effect that legalization has on attitudes is to look at the attitudes of people in a state before and after legalization.

If so, your citation of nationwide opinion polls is not helpful.

In addition to the evidence you cite showing an increase in support for gay marriage in Mass. post-legalization, I think the experience in California also provides evidence that there is an effect. Prop 22 passed in 2000 by a 61% to 39% margin. Eight years later, Prop 8 passed by only a 52% to 48% margin.

How to explain this difference? One possibility: Gays started marrying in California for a limited time in 2004 leading to the highly publicized debate and court decisions that resulted in the March 2008 decision overturning Prop. 22. Between March and November a lot of gays married, and the issue got a huge amount of sympathetic press. The changed attitudes of the voters showed up in the vote margin on Prop. 8.

It just seems like common sense to me that visibility leads to legitimacy and acceptance. This is what happened to gay rights generally as more and more gays have come out, and fear that visibility will lead to legitimacy is, in fact, one of the reasons that the religious right opposes gay marriage.
12.1.2008 6:49pm
HeScreams:
Two observations:

1) I don't personally think that the nationwide poll numbers are a good measure of the 'example effect' in one state. That state's poll numbers are more relevant. (Prof. Somin hints at this, but still cites nationwide polls while downplaying Mass. polls.)

2) There's another part of the 'example effect' that's being ignored: assume a voter's stance on SSM changes when an acquaintance comes out and gets married. Did the voter's mind change because the acquaintance got married, or because they came out? Put another way, for the 'example effect' to be real, we'd have to imagine that this voter knew a gay person and was against SSM, and then changed his mind *only* when the gay person got married. Just my gut feeling, but that doesn't seem right; seems to me the voter would change his mind upon meeting the gay person, or wouldn't change at all; the marriage and its legality wouldn't generally matter.

There are probably exceptions to the rule, but I can't see this account for a large part of any shift in opinion.
12.1.2008 6:52pm
Ilya Somin:
It seems to me that the only way to measure the effect that legalization has on attitudes is to look at the attitudes of people in a state before and after legalization.

If so, your citation of nationwide opinion polls is not helpful.


Advocates often claim that example effects should have an impact even beyond the boundaries of a particular state. After all, people outside MA or CT can also be aware of what is happening there.
12.1.2008 6:52pm
HeScreams:
Cityduck: [re Prop 22 vs Prop 8]: Another possibility is that eight years passed between the two propositions. IMO, that's the reason for the bulk of the shift in opinion. But I don't have any data to back that claim up...
12.1.2008 6:55pm
Ilya Somin:
Cityduck: [re Prop 22 vs Prop 8]: Another possibility is that eight years passed between the two propositions. IMO, that's the reason for the bulk of the shift in opinion. But I don't have any data to back that claim up...

That is in fact correct. The 52-48 vote for Prop 8 is very similar to the results of a 2006 poll which showed Californians opposing gay marriage by a 50-44 margin.
12.1.2008 6:58pm
LM (mail):
The "example effect" is leveraged beyond those who have directly observed the example. Take gay adoptions. It's one thing for me to argue that I know gay couples who would make great parents, as I used to argue before any of the couples I knew had kids. It's quite another for me to say, as I do now, that I've seen stable, happy families consisting of well-adjusted kids being raised by their gay adoptive parents. People take the latter argument much more seriously.
12.1.2008 7:29pm
Cityduck (mail):
Ilya,

True, but comparing the sample from that poll to a sample of voters (which are likely not demographically the same) is an apples to oranges effect. More relevant is a comparison of the 2006 versus 2008 Field Polls:

2008 (after S.Ct. decision) - 51% approved gay marriage.
2006 (not sure date) - 43&approved gay marriage.
1977 - 23% approved gay marriage.

What would be good to know is what was the approval rate prior to the 2004 gay marriages in SF and 2005 trial court ruling that the ban on gay marriage was unConstitutional, and resulting publicity. That is where I'd put my baseline if I wanted to use polls as a measure of the effect of this legal strategy -- prior to the 2004 gay marriages.
12.1.2008 7:42pm
Jamie (mail):
Nationally, it might not have a huge impact. That's a gradual shift. But in states where gay rights have made advances, there is steady increase in support of gay marriage. Just look at Massachusetts. Who is seriously calling for an anti-gay marriage amendment there, now? Admittedly, Massachusetts is very liberal, but the national average is taking numbers from the most conservative states where gay marriage isn't likely unless SCOTUS legalizes it. For an issue that is left up to the individual states, I think a national poll is largely worthless. Gay marriage doesn't stand a chance in Utah or Mississippi (and the rest of the south), but might in New England.

And if Obama sticks to his campaign pledge to abolish DADT and DOMA, pass (G)ENDA, etc. gay equality will become even more mainstream on the national level. Of course, as a gay Republican, I'm not holding my breath for Obama to be any different than most other Democrats when it comes to gay rights.
12.1.2008 8:26pm
Jamie (mail):
And speaking as a gay person, I speak from personal experience that even the most homophobic people can come around on gay rights, given time. Coming out is imperative to the struggle for equality, because it humanizes homosexuality and helps to shatter negatives stereotypes. Eventually, in many cases, that leads to increased political support for gay rights, as well as growing social tolerance and personal acceptance.

I came out to my brother when I was 14, terrified of how he'd react. But he snooped and I confirmed. He said "gays should be beaten straighter than a pole" and "don't deserve to breathe." Within three years, he took me to a gay pride parade. My Mom went from believing homosexuality was "an abomination to the lord" to not believing it's immoral, and supporting gay rights.
12.1.2008 8:30pm
Brent the tired:
Would someone - hopefully the author of this post - please define "homophobe"?

Since I am not a supporter of gay marriage I would like to understand exactly why the writer feels completely free to call me such.
12.1.2008 9:52pm
ReaderY:
Dredd Scott v. Sanford is the classic example of a case where a court decision not only failed to decide public opinion, but created a backlash which left proponents worse off than they were before.
12.1.2008 9:55pm
Brent the tired:
I mean, since we get to call each other names, I'm already practicing "immoral sex supporter" or even "Sex offender supporter" to describe the author and those in agreement.

I will get to use such a phrase in a guest editorial on my local paper's website, that I have been invited to write on Prop 8 for publication next week.

Or is it even a possibility that we can stop seeking to offend those who disagree with us while trying to persuade as well?
12.1.2008 9:57pm
Patrick22 (mail):
Why would you need someone to provide a definition for a word? Look it up in a dictionary.


▸ noun: a person who hates or fears homosexual people


I see the civil rights argument for allowing gays to marry. But I never see a coherent argument against it. Most news stories are about the process and polls. But outside of homophobia, is there a reason why gays shouldn't marry? Unless you can come up with a rational reason, then you are a homophobe.

Sometimes reasons are given but they fall apart when applied to current laws that allow people to marry childless, or many times.
12.1.2008 10:02pm
Randy R. (mail):
Patrick22: "Sometimes reasons are given but they fall apart when applied to current laws that allow people to marry childless, or many times."

don't hold your breath. Whenever someone says that gay marriage will destroy society in some fashion, I ask them if that has happened in any of the jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal. They never answer back, of course, because none of the problems that they assume will happen has actually happened.

Basically, it comes down to, marriage is for straight people, and that's they way it should be.
12.1.2008 10:17pm
Brent the tired:
Well, Patrick, let's take a moment here:

1) My 16 year old son wants a motorcycle. He has the money to buy a motorcycle. He has, in fact, ridden his friends motorcycles, and has taken, a class on motorcycle riding. His mother agrees that he should be allowed to get his motorcycle license, and that he should be allowed to buy a motorcycle.

I disagree. He is an excellent student, and he has had his license since he was 15 and a half years old. But he also has 3 tickets for his car driving (one was dropped). When i look at the statisitics on driving by car drivers his age with his amount of infractions who become motorcycle drivers, the odds of my son being in a fatal accident at his age are phenomenally high.

Seeing as driving is a PRIVELEGE as determined by the state/society, and NOT A RIGHT, I will not let my son have his motorcycle.

Do I hate or fear my son?
12.1.2008 10:25pm
Brent the tired:
Randy R:Whenever someone says that gay marriage will destroy society in some fashion, I ask them if that has happened in any of the jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal. They never answer back, of course, because none of the problems that they assume will happen has actually happened.

Hold on Randy. We'll take that up as soon as Patrick 22 gets back to me.
12.1.2008 10:26pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Illya wrote:


Advocates often claim that example effects should have an impact even beyond the boundaries of a particular state. After all, people outside MA or CT can also be aware of what is happening there.


They probably do but that probably goes both ways. People who are afraid of gay marriage become more threatened. People who have gay friends become more hopeful. In short there is a wider backlash too. There may be a point of critical mass when the example effect outweighs the backlash, but until that point, it will be difficult to show beyond state boundaries.
12.1.2008 10:27pm
Fuzzy Face:
"Whenever someone says that gay marriage will destroy society in some fashion, I ask them if that has happened in any of the jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal. They never answer back, of course, because none of the problems that they assume will happen has actually happened. "

The arguments that I know of for gay marriage destroying society speak of the effect taking several generations. In which societies has gay marriage been legal for three or more generations?
12.1.2008 10:31pm
Randy R. (mail):
Brent: "Do I hate or fear my son?"

of course. You fear that he will get into an accident because he is not yet ready to a driver. That is a rational fear, based on your experience that he is not ready.

Additionally, the state has determined that not everyone gets a drivers' license. However, once you pass certian criteria, you are indeed entitled to get a license, and it cannot be denied for any non rational reason.

Rational reasions to deny a drivers license: Inability to operate a car due to physical handicap, such as blindness, in capacity to understand traffic laws, etc.

Irrational reasons: Because you are black, or poor, or gay.

Same thing with marriage. The only rules for marriage is that it must be two people who agree to marry each other, they cannot be too closely related, and they must be of sufficient age. There are no other tests -- you can get married if you don't love each other, if you are beyond child bearing age, whether you intend to adopt, if you are atheist or religious, or any other reasons.

Two gay people meet all the criteria. What rational reason can there be to deny them to right to marry?

Furthermore, marriage is not a privilege, but a right. See Loving v. Virginia. But even if it were just a priviledge, the state cannot deny a privilege or a right to any group of people unless there is rational reason to do so.
12.1.2008 10:34pm
DangerMouse:
Just one post back, we're talking about the wages of a woman who is sexually confused and how it has basically destroyed her marriage. Someone there suggested that maybe there IS something to traditional western morality when it comes to sex, since it restrains the worst of men and women and channels it into a social function designed to support children and families.

And people have to wonder why destroying marriage will harm society?
12.1.2008 10:37pm
a_j_1979:

The arguments that I know of for gay marriage destroying society speak of the effect taking several generations. In which societies has gay marriage been legal for three or more generations?

So if it's going to take generations, how do we know it's going to happen at all?

You are trading here the certain and quantifiable denial of rights/benefits/etc. to existing gay people and their families, including their very much alive children, in exchange for a possible risk generations from now that no one ever offers to quantify.

It sounds to me the same - but opposite - argument made about CO2 emmisions that is much reviled by some commentators in this blog
12.1.2008 10:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Fuzzy FAce:" The arguments that I know of for gay marriage destroying society speak of the effect taking several generations. "

if it takes that long for the effects of destroying society, then it would be extremely difficult to isolate the causes to just one thing. And in any case, why would it take so long? Please explain.

But I'll bite: Please give me any scenario, however fanciful, that gay marriage will lead to straight people no longer getting married or having children.
12.1.2008 10:37pm
Brent the tired:
For Thanksgiving at my home, we had 32 people total for our meal, served buffet style, with everyone seated along 2 one adjacent tables in out back yard.

2 of the ladies at our table - seated 2 seats over on my wife's side - are our neighbors of 6 years, a lesbian couple. 2 of my oldest daughter's theater students, both gay young men in their early 20's, are with us at dinner, as well as a niece who has been in a lesbian relationship for over 10 years. Her partner could leave work to make the flight from California.

Our neighbors had the only "No on 8" sign in our neighborhood (I don't do lawn signs or bumperstickers - that's just me). We have had numerous friendly discussions with them on the issue, but most of conversations are about the usual: the car repair I helped them with; their exceptional baking recipes which the entire neighborhood enjoys; the lives of our children, whom they used to babysit. They are wonderful neighbors, and I would defend to the death all of their current rights. But I do not believe in gay marriage.

Do I hate or fear Ann and Cynthia?
12.1.2008 10:38pm
Randy R. (mail):
Dangermouse: "we're talking about the wages of a woman who is sexually confused and how it has basically destroyed her marriage. Someone there suggested that maybe there IS something to traditional western morality when it comes to sex, since it restrains the worst of men and women and channels it into a social function designed to support children and families. "

True. But that women is not sexually confused about her sexual orientation.

Your argument now is basically that no one should be gay or have any gay sex. That argument fails, since gay people have existed in every society and in every age, and no one has ever suggested that any society fell apart because of a handful of gay people.

Or are you suggestiong that if we just enforce traditional western morality regarding sex, men and women's worst behaviors will be restrained, and their energies will instead be channeled into supporting children and families?

That's all well and good, but what has that got to do with gay marriage? Actually, a lot. By allowing gays to get married, I agree with you -- it will restrain their worst behavior, and channel it into socially productive partnerhsips and famlies.

So thanks Dangermouse! You have made an excellent case for gay marriage.
12.1.2008 10:43pm
Brent the tired:
Patrick22,

I believe you mean that I fear for my son, not that I actually fear my son.

Also, Loving v Virginia, the Supreme Court decision knocking down interracial marriage, can actually be used to bolster the right of the state/society to limit marriage to gender basis, between a man and a woman.
12.1.2008 10:46pm
a_j_1979:

They are wonderful neighbors, and I would defend to the death all of their current rights. But I do not believe in gay marriage.

Do I hate or fear Ann and Cynthia?


You tell us, Brent.

How is your life diminished by your neighbors' marriage? What changes in them or in you if you call what they are living now a marriage?

You describe them as beautiful people that you trust and cherish. And yet, somehow, they do not meet your standards. What is wrong with them? Why don't you want them to be a happy married couple? Can you explain it to yourself or to us?
12.1.2008 10:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
Brent: " But I do not believe in gay marriage.

Do I hate or fear Ann and Cynthia?"

Yes, of course. Because you fear that if they get married, something negative will happen, or change will occur that you do not like. People who support the right of Ann and Cynthia to get married do not have any fear that their marriage will suffer, or that society will collapse.

If you really believe that nothing bad will happen if your friends get married, then you really have no reason to fear gay marriage.
12.1.2008 10:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
brent: "I believe you mean that I fear for my son, not that I actually fear my son. "

Little bit of both. Your son getting into a major accident could cost you plenty. he could damage you in many ways by his inability to drive responsibly. It's his *actions* that you fear, though you might not be actually fearful of him (I'm assuming he's not some raving monster).

Same with gay marriage. You might dearly love Ann and Cynthia, but you are afriad that if they take the action of getting married, something bad will happen to you or to society. Worse, it isn't even about them, but about all the other gay people that you *don't* know. You would deny them the right to married, even the ones you don't personallly know.

On what grounds?
12.1.2008 10:51pm
Brent the tired:
Thank you Randy.

I do not fear Ann or Cynthia, and their individual marriage, were it to happen will not bring down the fall of civilization.

But that is a disingenuous argument about what the main reason to oppose same sex marriage is.

I have to go to a practice now - I should have waited to begin posting until later, but if you will kindly allow me to return later, I would like to express my view on this.

Thank you for the kind responses.
12.1.2008 10:52pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Unless you can come up with a rational reason, then you are a homophobe."

There is an interestng tendency among some SSM advocates to say those who don't care about the issue hate or fear gays. There really are lots of folks who don't give a damn about gays. If advocates want their vote, saying they hate or fear gays is a poor way of doing it.
12.1.2008 10:55pm
hazemyth:
Enough with the hypothetical exam questions, Brent, even if they are drawn from your life. The only question is, why? Why do you think Ann and Cynthia or anyone like them should (or can) not marry? That's where the hate and fear lie.

You don't like being accused of hate and fear when you don't feel hate and fear in your heart. Fine. It's not a crime of passion, officer. But hate and fear aren't just feeling. They're acts. Excluding people from society on the basis of an immaterial difference is fearful. Disregarding and diminishing their lives, loves and well-being in ways that you cherish for yourself is hateful.
12.1.2008 10:57pm
hazemyth:
a_j_1979: Thanks. You put this much better than I could. Wish I had waited to see your post.
12.1.2008 10:59pm
hazemyth:
At the risk of doing myself further disservice...

Elliot123

Questions of hate and fear should have a purpose beyond mere accusation. They are legitimate aspects of overcoming prejudice. As there is no rational reason to discriminate against homosexual behavior (be it sex, adoption, or marriage), what irrational reasons drive people. These need to be identified and addressed. And, yes, people will get touchy when the spotlight is turned on them. It still pales next to the scrutiny and acrimony to which gay people are commonly subject.

And actually... Sometimes shame is a real motivator, at least when its deserved and can be redressed. I wouldn't advocate this as public policy but it's been a force in my social life.
12.1.2008 11:18pm
DangerMouse:
That's all well and good, but what has that got to do with gay marriage? Actually, a lot. By allowing gays to get married, I agree with you -- it will restrain their worst behavior, and channel it into socially productive partnerhsips and famlies.

There's nothing socially productive about two homosexuals pretending that they're the same thing as a mother and a father. They're not. Children need a mother and a father. They don't need a farce to satisfy your ego. Gay partnerships will never, ever, ever, ever be equal to a traditional family.

There's an evolutionary complimentariness to marriage in the relation of men and women. On an evolutional level, women get a guaranteed provider to be there during a pregnancy, when a woman otherwise would have extreme difficulty on her own. Likewise, men have a guaranteed mate. The other thread mentioned this when discussing which acts of adultery the other sex would find the most offensive. Women would find men's emotional affair to another woman the most offensive because it would damage their guarantee of protection. Men would find a sexual affair the most offensive because it would damage their guaranteed mate. Marriage is the perfect evolutionary system to raise children.

It is a farce to engage in that sort of thing for homosexuals. It's just a joke.
12.1.2008 11:52pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Dangermouse wrote:

There's nothing socially productive about two homosexuals pretending that they're the same thing as a mother and a father. They're not. Children need a mother and a father.


What exactly does this have to do with gay marriage? Single people can adopt children, and unwed mothers are not forced by law to give their children up for adoption to heterosexual families.

Furthermore, your views seem fairly typical for hard-line Catholics. So my question would come back to: shouldn't marriage be seen exclusively as a sacrament and shouldn't the state recognize some other sort of family contract? That would help avoid questions of whether the Catholic Church is discriminating unlawfully against divorcees in the way people are afraid laws will go with gay marriage.....
12.2.2008 12:30am
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Yes, of course. Because you fear that if they get married, something negative will happen, or change will occur that you do not like. People who support the right of Ann and Cynthia to get married do not have any fear that their marriage will suffer, or that society will collapse.


That isn't quite the same as a fear of homosexuality. We need to invent a new word for it. Maybe "Homomatramoniaphobia" and it even internally rhymes.....

Actually, I think a lot of fear of same-sex marriage comes down less to a fear of gay people than it does a fear of change. A lot of this fear is in fact justified, broadly applied to all forms of social change, and it is one reason why I voted against McCain (he was promising more change than Obama so he was a super-progressive and/or a liar). The fact is that rapid social change does have unforeseen consequences.

I say that as a supporter of gay marriage. My own view is that it is less of a radical and dangerous change to support equal rights for gay couples than it is to enshrine discrimination in our legal establishments. However, we really need to be talking about it in these terms, and I actually believe there is an opportunity for a near-consensus in support of gay marriage once real common ground is sought.
12.2.2008 12:40am
Randy R. (mail):
Dangermouse: "There's nothing socially productive about two homosexuals pretending that they're the same thing as a mother and a father. They're not. Children need a mother and a father. They don't need a farce to satisfy your ego. Gay partnerships will never, ever, ever, ever be equal to a traditional family. "

There are currently many families that exist which are comprised of two men and their two children. Usually, the children are adopted. There are currently also many familes comprised of two women and their two children. Usually, these children are adopted, or one of the mothers is a birth mother.

You may not like these familes, but the fact is that they exist. Today. Right now. And their numbers are growing quite a bit. You may not find this socially productive, but most people would say that it is. This is why all major adoptive agencies agree that children are, on average, as well raised by two gay parents as by two straight parents.

You may consider these families a farce. But if your concern is with society, families, and with children (and not with gays), then surely you would agree that this existing families will function better when the parents are married than when they are not. It is better for the children to have married parents than unmarried parents, agreed? It is better for society to have married couples raising children than unmarried couples, which is currenlty the case.

So again, your own arguements support gay marriage, even if you don't like it.
12.2.2008 12:42am
Randy R. (mail):
Brent: "But that is a disingenuous argument about what the main reason to oppose same sex marriage is."

Which is.....(we wait with baited breath)
12.2.2008 12:44am
David Walser:
There is no rational objection to SSM? None at all? It must be comforting to dismiss your opponents as irrational bigots, but it does nothing to address the objections that they, at least, do find rational. Nor does it persuade as much as it intimidates. Intimidation is not the favored way of building support for a public policy -- it might be an effective way, but few would proclaim intimidation as a legitimate form of debate.

Having said that much, allow me to outline what I find to be a rational objection to SSM. Most of human behavior responds to incentives. For a long time, society has provided incentives to marry and to stay married. Either society provided these incentives because they were necessary, on the margin, to get people to marry, or the incentives are the result of the married majority extracting rents from the single minority. (I expect most of the libertarians will be sympathetic to the second of the two explanations for society's marriage incentives.) Regardless of the reason these incentives exist, changes to the incentive structure has always had an affect on marriage. For example, LBJ's Great Society program in the 60's gave greater welfare assistance to single women with children. This created an incentive for poor families to break up and many of our poorest families responded to that incentive leaving generations to be raised in single parent households.

SSM will reduce the incentives to marry in at least two ways. First, one of the reasons people marry is because it is expected of them. We do and don't do many things because it's expected of us. We graduate from high school; we don't jay walk (or we do jay walk) because that's what's expected of us. Many of us also "settle down and get married" to fulfill that expectation and to obtain society's approval. SSM will reduce the general expectation that part of becoming an adult is to get married. It reduces that expectation by making society's approval open to virtually all relationships. Why bother to try hard in high school if everyone graduates with the same diploma?

Second, SSM will undermine the general consensus that society should underwrite some of the costs of marriage. Already, many posters on this blog have called for the abolition of any governmental role in marriage -- including the elimination of any tax benefits given to married couples. If these marital benefits are available to virtually anyone, why provide them?

There are, of course, several rational reasons why these arguments against SSM should be ignored. You might say, for example, that our conception of fairness compels us to adopt SSM even though the incentives to marry would be weakened. You might also claim that sexual orientation is innate and that SSM could be combined with additional financial incentives to marry such that, on net, marriage would be strengthened, not weakened. You could argue that people should not require an incentive to marry. Society would be better off if people only married for love. Or, you could argue, despite all historical precedent, that the marriage and divorce rates are not influenced by incentives. However, the availability of these arguments does not make the arguments against SSM irrational.
12.2.2008 1:14am
Matteo (mail) (www):
'Homophobe' is quite an interesting term. It is rather useful for shutting down discussion and denigrating others, because it carries connotations of being a wicked psychosexual disorder.

'Wicked' because I have yet to find anything other than moral indignation attached to the term. Indeed I've never seen a scintilla of compassion expressed for people suffering from the unfortunate condition. They must be morally to blame for it.

'Psychosexual disorder' because the very form of the word implies exactly that. A psychological diagnosis. Any well adjusted, non-disordered person, it seems, should not be suffering from the condition.

Bottom line: The people hurling the term around are accusing their opponents of being beyond the pale, since they have a wicked psychosexual disorder.

Interesting.

I thought doing such a thing was supposed to be uncool.

I thought this was the very thing that SSM activists were fighting against.

But I guess I was wrong.
12.2.2008 1:17am
ReaderY:
Is there a rational basis for discriminating against vocational homosexual preference? There are generally two bases stated. The first is that homosexual employers are gay because they hate women, and hence prohibiting sexual preference in the workplace is necessary in order to prevent hate. But ascribing a particular emotion to an entire group, and debarring them from an entire social niche (in this case, being employers or owning businesses large enough to require employees) would seem to be the very definition of prejudice. Is such ascription rational? Isn't it simply a form of animosity?

The second argument is that if sexual preference in employment wwew permitted, everyone would do it, and if it were done unequally (for example all the men did it), women would be effectively excluded from employment. It's a sort of "if you let them in an inch they'll take over the neighborhood" argument. THe surface appeal of this argument is that there actually have been past periods in history where vocational homosexuality was popular and one-sided, and women were excluded. Anti-gay activists argue that this is the natural and inevitable order of things -- unless sexual preference in employment is vigorously suppressed, men will naturally tend to hire only men, and women will be excluded from economic opportunities.

The fundamental problem with this argument is that it could be equally made for domestic sexual preference. There have been periods in history where domestic homosexuality was popular, and the result was to the detrement of women. (See e.g. "The Reign of the Phallus", describing classical Athens.) If it is rational to ban sexual preference in selection of employment partners as a prophylactic to prevent a possible future imbalance resulting in one sex shutting the other out of the system, the difficulty is that it would be hard to avoid this being a rational argument for the domestic sphere as well. If it's rediculous to believe that allowing a few percent of people to take same-sex domestic partners will result homosexuals taking over society and excluding the other sex from domestic life or turning them into objects, it ought to be equally rediculous to argue that allowing a small percentage of people who feel more comfortable working with folks of their own gender to choose vocational associates in a way that makes them feel comfortable will somehow result in preference taking over all of society with a mass exclusion of the other gender from employment. It ought to be equally appropriate to argue that people who make this sort of argument in both cases do so out of hatred towards persons of preference and for no other reason, even though they may not subjectively feel hatred internally.

We constantly get situations where if something happens a very small number of times it's not a real problem but if it happens all the time it is, and such situations cause difficulty for societal regulation. If one regulates too well people may forget why the law was enacted. Environmental law is often like this: nature is very forgiving of a tiny amount of pollution, yet if enough builds up it can work drastic change. Employment discrimination law is like this: if one person in ten thousand was much happier and more productive around people of their own gender, it would be foolish society to prevent it because it basically wouldn't hurt anyone, the number of people involved would be to tiny to make anything more than a symbollic difference in other people's lives. Yet if most members of society hired only their own gender, there would be havoc, particularly if most employers were of the same gender.

Society can rationally ban a practice which would be harmful if everyone did it (or if done in an imbalanced way) in order to keep it from spreading from a tiny percentage to the whole society. And the fact that taboos may result in its being confined to a small percentage for long periods of time doesn't make the taboos irrational. They remain rational throughout. Certainly fire prevention doesn't become irrational just because there are very few fires. Policies can become so successful they virtually eliminate their targets. When this occurs their rationale stops becoming readily apparent. But even if the policy's target becomes so rare we can scarcely see it and it becomes difficult even to imagine a world where it is prevalent, the policy is nonetheless not rendered irrational.

In general, it's very hard to tell the difference between a rational policy and a superstitition. Superstitions are things that worked in the past but, presumably, don't work anymore. But how can we tell when something is no longer needed? The absence of fires doesn't render fire prevention activities superstititious behavior. We feel comfortable fire prevention works even if we can't see it. But we have no guidance to help us distinguish between success and superstition in the general case. How can we tell if the thing went away because of our policy, or despite it? This is a much harder thing to tell than it might seem. We often can't conduct an experiment in which we construct an alternate universe to see the outcome of a different policy would work better than the one we have. We have to decide things as best we can.

We can easily imagine a world where men who employ only men keep women out of economic life except as very low-level objects. This occurred in a fairly recent past. It's much more difficult to imagine a world where all fellowship was same-gender and women were objects of kitchen and nursery. This occurred in a more distant past. But it, too, occurred. In my view, the societal response of banning the exercise of same-gender preference is equally rational in both contexts, so far as the constitutional concept of rational basis is concerned. There are policy arguments why one should be done but not the other, of course. The recentness of the alternate universe matters to these arguments. But the existence of counter-arguments does not render a policy irrational. How much remoteness in time matters is a question of degree, not time. Are we in a fundamentally different social context than the distant past, rendering its prophylactic measures mere taboos? Or is it the measures themselves that have kept the past from repeating? We don't know.

It is very easy for self-confident but blind people to claim that because they fail to see something, it cannot possibly exist, and others who claim it does are mad. One has to proceed with less certainty, and keener vision.
12.2.2008 1:37am
Randy R. (mail):
David Walser: "SSM will reduce the incentives to marry in at least two ways. First, one of the reasons people marry is because it is expected of them. "

And so when we expect that gays get married, they will. Therefore, the number of people getting married will increase. When CA allowed gay marriage this summer, 40,000 gay couples got married. That's 80,000 more married people than before. I would think that would make you happy, if your goal is to increase the number of married people.

"SM will reduce the general expectation that part of becoming an adult is to get married. It reduces that expectation by making society's approval open to virtually all relationships."

How so? You have to have an explanation for your broad statement, or it's irrational. If you mean that if gay people get married, then straight people will say, oh, now I'm NOT expected to get married like other straight people, so I'm not going to get married? That's just silly. In fact, it will INCREASE the expectation to get married.

Allowing gay people to get married does not infringe on the ability or desire of straight people to get married at all. Nor is there any evidence to support such a notion in the jurisdictions that have allowed gay marriage for several years.

Furthermore, it is the prohibition of gays getting married that is doing the damage you fear. Gays cannot get married in most places currently. So they live together, they adopt children together, they raise a family, and they do so with out the benefit of marriage. Gays can get domestic partner benefits because they can't get married, and so now straight unmarrieds are now demanding the same thing. So the message to young people who see us doing this successfully is that you really don't need to get married in order to have a family. You undermine your own argument. If you truly want to strenghten marriage, then you would be *insisting* that gays get married.

Here's a thought -- prohibit domestic partner benefits to everyone, and allow everyone to get married. That will be the incentive that you crave so much.

"If these marital benefits are available to virtually anyone, why provide them?"

Because there are still a great number of single people who would not qualify for these benefits. Remember -- gays are only a tiny percentage of society. And only a small number of gays actually get married where it is available, right? So the marital benefits will fall only to those who actually get married, which isn't much more than it is today.

So your two arguments against gay marriage are not rational because they simply don't make any sense. Nor is there any evidence in the real world to support your contentions.

But the statement that makes me wince the most is this one: " It reduces that expectation by making society's approval open to virtually all relationships."

What is so bad about gay people entering into relationships? You would rather us scurry about in the dark underworld because society doesn't approve of our relationships? That ain't gonna happen, at least not anymore. It seems to me that you are more concerned about casting disapproval upon gays than just mere denial of marriage benefits.

Do you oppose civil unions for gays as well? Or would that come too close to showing approval for my relationship?
12.2.2008 2:27am
LM (mail):
hazemyth:

You don't like being accused of hate and fear when you don't feel hate and fear in your heart. Fine. It's not a crime of passion, officer. But hate and fear aren't just feeling.

No, actually hate and fear are just feelings. In fact, that's exactly what they are.

They're acts. Excluding people from society on the basis of an immaterial difference is fearful.

Excluding people may be motivated by fear, but again, the fear is the motive, not the act. Words matter, and re-defining terms to make them rhetorically available isn't honest.

Disregarding and diminishing their lives, loves and well-being in ways that you cherish for yourself is hateful.

Well, yes, for someone whose purpose is to disregard and diminish. But you're taking the position that unless someone comes up with a motive you accept as valid, hatred and fear are the only possible explanations. That's bad logic and, I'd argue, contrafactual.

Obviously there's no shortage of real homophobes, and they may well be in the woodwork of a cause like Prop 8. But I do know a lot of people who also oppose gay marriage who aren't at all hateful or afraid. They just accept the teachings of their religion. You may say there's something hateful about any such religion, but even assuming arguendo that's true, you'd need a pretty broad brush to paint every believer personally with the most objectionable aspects of his religion.

More to the point, accusing someone of bigotry is serious business, and you shouldn't do it unless you have evidence of his actual motives, not just the absence of a better explanation. Now, when someone says something like:

There's nothing socially productive about two homosexuals pretending that they're the same thing as a mother and a father. They're not. Children need a mother and a father. They don't need a farce to satisfy your ego. Gay partnerships will never, ever, ever, ever be equal to a traditional family.

... then I'd say you're on pretty solid ground inferring hostility from the, well, hostility. But it's no fair blaming someone like DangerMouse on everyone he agrees with. Plus, fair or not, it's bad strategy. People like DangerMouse cost his side sympathy and support. Likewise, accusing everyone who shares his goals of also sharing his bigotry costs your side sympathy and support.

To DangerMouse, I'd only add this: You're on the wrong side of history. Not only is every succeeding generation less willing to buy into your tired biases, but when there's been enough history to compile convincing data, I predict gay marriage and adoption are going to come out smelling like roses. Because the families I've seen that consist of gay couples raising (usually adopted) children aren't just more stable and well-adjusted than average hetero families. They're more so by an order of magnitude. Even allowing for limited sample sizes, I'm confident predicting that this issue isn't going your way. Unless of course you really are concerned for the interests of the kids.
12.2.2008 2:33am
buck:
Ah, yes. The 'example effect'. In which the entire campaign for gay marriage is unmasked for what it really is- emotional blackmail. Here goes:

-If you're uncomfortable with the idea of gays or the campaign for their 'rights', it must be because you flat-out hate or fear gay people. This is likely because you think you don't know any homosexuals.

-Well, surprise! Homosexuals are just like you, in fact they're all around- beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, parents, co-workers, roommates...

-It's really important to the gay people you know and love that you support and accept them. After all, they love, support and accept you, despite the fact that, as a straight person, you don't want to crawl out from under the shelter that your evolutionary rock gives you.

-It's really hurtful that you don't want to allow your gay friends and relatives to get married. All they want is what you want- the security of family, to have and raise kids- just like straight people!

-You wouldn't hold political opinions that *gasp* actually hurt people you know and love, would you?

-If you really love your gay friends and relatives, then you'll support efforts to give them what they want. If you don't support them, you must fear or hate them.

Yes, what is touted as social 'progress' is really an old fashioned guilt-trip. It is staggering what passes for rational discourse on social evolution these days.

I'm over-educated and live in a large American metropolis. I have plenty of chances to know and interact with gay people, and I do. I'm really not interested in pushing gay people back into the closet. I find it offensive that the Taliban used to persecute homosexuals by pushing walls over on them. However, like many people in this country, I'm not comfortable with the idea of gay marriage. What support for gay marriage asks for is, in my mind, beyond tolerance and acceptance of my gay friends and relatives. I don't hate or fear them, and being called a homophobe for not supporting gay marriage seems petulant and intellectually lazy. Maybe if you took time to get to know me instead of applying your knee-jerk label, you'd understand and accept the way I feel.

Gay rights supporters marching in the street and hurling epithets because of the passage of Prop 8 is the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum when you don't get your way. Which only reinforces my original premise that gay rights advocates cloak emotional blackmail in the language of rights and reason.
12.2.2008 2:58am
buck:

To DangerMouse, I'd only add this: You're on the wrong side of history.

I'll concede that this is true and highly likely. When it happens, though, don't hold your breath expecting to see me out in the streets throwing a temper tantrum about it.
12.2.2008 3:10am
a_j_1979:
Buck:

I'm over-educated and live in a large American metropolis. I have plenty of chances to know and interact with gay people, and I do. I'm really not interested in pushing gay people back into the closet. I find it offensive that the Taliban used to persecute homosexuals by pushing walls over on them. However, like many people in this country, I'm not comfortable with the idea of gay marriage. What support for gay marriage asks for is, in my mind, beyond tolerance and acceptance of my gay friends and relatives. I don't hate or fear them, and being called a homophobe for not supporting gay marriage seems petulant and intellectually lazy. Maybe if you took time to get to know me instead of applying your knee-jerk label, you'd understand and accept the way I feel.

I want to understand, Buck, why you think that your gay friends and relatives -and their children and families- do not deserve what you have, the right to establish and build a family?

Again I do not want to be lazy, but why you "tolerate" or even "accept" your gay friends and relatives? Does your family or friends tolerate or accept you? How would you feel if your friends wrote that something of buck's is beyond their tolerance or acceptance of you?

Could it be that you do not believe that gay people are just like you? that you think that they are somehow deffective?

And thus you have to make a stand, a line in the sand, so that it is clear that even if you tolerate, them, if you accept them, they are not as you, and not as good as you, and not as worthy as you?

I hope that is not the case, but I want to know and understand you so that we can perhaps find a common ground. I hope I get to hear your answer

with best regards
12.2.2008 6:59am
a_j_1979:


They are wonderful neighbors, and I would defend to the death all of their current rights. But I do not believe in gay marriage.

Do I hate or fear Ann and Cynthia?


You tell us, Brent.

How is your life diminished by your neighbors' marriage? What changes in them or in you if you call what they are living now a marriage?


Regretfully, we didn't hear from Brent why Ann and Cynthia were not deserving of what he had.

Somehow when you ask that question, when you ask to explain why fine wonderful people do not deserve a family, there is a lot of silence.
12.2.2008 7:03am
Ken Arromdee:
Because the families I've seen that consist of gay couples raising (usually adopted) children aren't just more stable and well-adjusted than average hetero families.

Obviously, you're not claiming that gay couples are more stable and well-adjusted because gays are somehow better than straights. So you must believe that there is some other factor which leads to this.

And you don't know the magnitude of that factor (so it could be that gay couples are less well adjusted if you don't take it into account) and you don't know if that factor generalizes to everyone.

(And I can think of some such factors that might not. For instance, if it's hard to be a gay couple, any such couple is likely to be richer than average, and we all know that that implies more stable and well-adjusted. If gay marriages become easy, they might not be.)
12.2.2008 10:53am
Enki:
LM:
Obviously there's no shortage of real homophobes, and they may well be in the woodwork of a cause like Prop 8. But I do know a lot of people who also oppose gay marriage who aren't at all hateful or afraid. They just accept the teachings of their religion.

of all these comments and threads, this is perhaps the most rational argument against gay marriage - that the person simply believes, from a religious perspective, that homosexuality is morally wrong. now I do not agree personally, but I can at least understand this position. it's honest and, from the point of view of the person who holds this belief, rational.

except marriage is a secular contract in this country. I would think most religious people wound understand that we at least have some separation of church and state in this country, and that religion benefits from that.

there is nothing - not from the SSM movement or, to my knowledge, anyone who supports gay marriage - stopping churches from refusing to marry gays. In fact, I'd wager that most gays have no interest whatsoever in being married in a church by people who think their lives are morally wrong. churches are free to refuse to marry gays.

but our secular rights to a contract, recognized by the government, have nothing at all to do with that. proponents of gay marriage want to be treated equally by the government, not by the church. that is the distinction.

so while I respect the position, even if I disagree with it, it's still not an argument agaisnt secular gay marriage.
12.2.2008 11:01am
Randy R. (mail):
Enki: I've long stated that the only rational reasons for being against SSM is that my religion tells me I shouldn't be, or I just find it icky and wrong. The first is just following a tenent of an organization one believes in, and the other is an emotional response.

WE can't argue against emotions and feelings -- actually, we should honor and respect them. I find that most people fall into one or the other camps,but they justify it with strange theories aboutg marriage. To me, that isn't necessary.

There was a time when interracial marriage was considered icky, and even interracial dating was considered odd and somehow wrong. I remember the first time I had a friend who dated a black woman, and I was totally uncomfortable with it. I held my peace, but I didn't like it at all, despite the fact that I had many black friends, I liked her, and the guy was one of my best friends.

Somehow, though, I overcame that feeling, and now I am perfectly comfortable with interracial dating. (I've done a little myself, in fact). Which just goes to prove to me, that if the objection to gay marriage is an emotional one, it can and should be overcome.

With the relgion arguement, I have a hard time giving someone a pass on that one. There was a time in our country when people hid behind religion to justify slavery, and they were totally convinced that slavery was a gift from God. They were wrong. Religions can and often are wrong about social issues such as this. God gave you a brain, and I expect you to use it.
12.2.2008 11:52am
james (mail):
Jamie:

Massachusetts is a non-starter. When the State Supreme Court legalized gay marriage the immediate result of the population was to attempt to amend the constitution. To amend the state constitution an amendment must first pass as a state wide ballot issue, then pass two consecutive legislative sessions, and then pass another state wide ballot issue. The amendment was killed in the second legislative session based on the argument from opponents that it would indeed pass the state wide ballot. The Massachusetts state legislature has a long and storied history of overruling ballot issues (sometimes illegally) without suffering any political consequences. No one would bother with an amendment that the state legislature would just kill in the second session. Has nothing to due with public opinion.
12.2.2008 11:56am
Gay Conservative in DC:
What about the possibility that unpleasant interactions with gays or direct exposure to the more unsavoury aspects of gay culture actually increases opposition to gay marriage?
12.2.2008 11:57am
Patrick22 (mail):
Thanks Dave for trying, I know it is hard.


to get people to marry, or the incentives are the result of the married majority extracting rents from the single minority. (I expect most of the libertarians will be sympathetic to the second of the two explanations for society's marriage incentives.) Regardless of the reason these incentives exist, changes to the incentive structure has always had an affect on marriage.


Allowing more people to marry will increase taxes on the unmarried. But it doesn't follow that you address that by excluding groups of people from marriage. Excluding Catholics from marriage would also reduce taxes on those currently unmarried.


SSM will reduce the general expectation that part of becoming an adult is to get married.


Are the gays getting married children? I don't follow the logic at all in that paragraph.

Here is the basic logic as I come to the issue:

1. Everyone is equal.
2. Marriage is legal.
3. Everyone should be able to get married.

Since we all assume marriage is legal, then all arguments against SSM have to be that gays are unequal. To be prejudiced against a person based solely on gender is bigoted. If that person is a homosexual, then the bigot is classified as a homophobe. If your religion teaches you to be a homophobe, your religion is homophobic. If you don't like being described as a homophobe, then stop your homophobic behavior.
12.2.2008 11:57am
Randy R. (mail):
" However, like many people in this country, I'm not comfortable with the idea of gay marriage."

Perfectly fine, as I say above.

" What support for gay marriage asks for is, in my mind, beyond tolerance and acceptance of my gay friends and relatives."

So what? It upsets you that gay people might actually want you to celebrate their relationships in the same manner you celebrate straight relationships?

"Maybe if you took time to get to know me instead of applying your knee-jerk label, you'd understand and accept the way I feel." Then go ahead and explain why you feel the way you do. There is plenty of space on this blog.

"I don't hate or fear them, and being called a homophobe for not supporting gay marriage seems petulant and intellectually lazy." Well, when all you do is say that gays shouldn't have the same rights as straights, and instead just give a cryptic "you don't understand me", you give us very little else to work with.
12.2.2008 12:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
Gay Conservative: "What about the possibility that unpleasant interactions with gays or direct exposure to the more unsavoury aspects of gay culture actually increases opposition to gay marriage?"

I would say that any striaght person getting direct exposure to the more unsavory aspects of our gay culture would get very jealous very quickly.

What about the more unsavoury aspects of straight culture? Like all that bondage and S&M? the swinging? The usual fights in a bar? When you think about it, I think we should create opposition to straight marriage, because it is they who destroyed it with all those divorces.

And I don't care what you think -- I will NOT give up my Judy Garland CDs just to conform to a boring straight culture!
12.2.2008 12:04pm
Enki:
Randy,
I wholeheartedly agree. being an atheist myself, I have a hard time on a personal level finding a justification for ... well lets call it discrimination, is that a "light" enough word for it? but to be honest I do think that is a different battle.

I have some personal friends, ergo anecdotal evidence, who battle constantly within their church. they are gay, they want to be free to worship and free to marry, and they fight two battles. I know that both fights are important, but I also think that the two should be fought separately, and in different ways.

and perhaps that is the tie-in to the original point of this blogpost ... that exposure may very will cast a positive light that transcends the current state of things. sure, that's difficult-to-impossible to truly quantify, but it may still be true. if the rational mind can separate the religious from the secular - even the rational minds of religious folks - then it becomes really easy to justify secular gay marriage.

ultimately, my hope is the same as yours - that all closed minds will someday open. I also understand that this is a process and not a switch that can simply be flipped. I recognize that doctrinal tenets of entrenched faiths do not change overnight, nor do they necessarily have to. for gays who want to marry, this fight is a secular fight first, because in reality that is where the discrimination is happening on a meaningful level and in one place where - I sincerely hope - we can all agree there should be NO discrimination.

our government should be blind to religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, or any other characteristic that individually defines who we are. I find it hard to fathom that anyone in THIS country thinks otherwise.

so for now I accept the fact that a private organization like a church may discriminate at will as long as my government does not do so, with the understanding that I hope even that changes as well.
12.2.2008 12:09pm
Randy R. (mail):
Buck: " I'm over-educated and live in a large American metropolis. I have plenty of chances to know and interact with gay people, and I do." Okay, I'll conceed that this is probably true.

"In which the entire campaign for gay marriage is unmasked for what it really is- emotional blackmail. "

Really? You are totally sure that the fight for gay marriage has nothing to do with the fact that many gay couples have children and believe that their children should have the benefit of married parents? You are totally sure that there are no gay couples out there who want the security of marriage in their relationship so that when they get old, there is some one there to care for them, and they get the same benefits as straight married people?

I'd say you interact with gay people, but you certainly don't know much about any of them. But really, it's not because they are gay! Afterall, you aren't aren't a homophobe — you believe that it's wrong to just topple walls on us.

" It is staggering what passes for rational discourse on social evolution these days."

On this, we must agree. It's just sad that you can't see that there are reasons for gay marriage other than just 'emotional blackmail.'
12.2.2008 12:11pm
David Walser:
there is nothing - not from the SSM movement or, to my knowledge, anyone who supports gay marriage - stopping churches from refusing to marry gays. In fact, I'd wager that most gays have no interest whatsoever in being married in a church by people who think their lives are morally wrong. churches are free to refuse to marry gays.

If SSM becomes the law of the land, how are you going to guarantee that no gay couple will demand that a church perform their marriage and that no judge will require the church to comply with the couple's demand?

The Catholic Church believes providing adoption services is part of it's religious obligation to help the less fortunate. The doctrine of separation of church and state did not prevent Massachusetts from requiring the church to place children with gay couples. The state's argument was an institution does not need to be religious to provide adoption services; therefore, regulations covering providers of adoption services should be applied to both religious and secular institutions on the same basis. Since the regulations require secular providers of adoption services to place children with gay couples, the Catholic Church should be required to do the same. (Note: The fact the church quit providing adoption services rather than be forced to provide those services to gay couples is treated by some as proof that adoption services are not central to the church's religious mission.)

Secular institutions provide marriage services. Once SSM is the law, secular institutions will be required to provide marriages for gay couples. If secular institutions are not allowed to exclude gays from their marriage services, why should church's be allowed to discriminate? Given the courts' willingness to interfere with the way churches run their hospitals and provide adoption services, I've no faith that churches would not be required to marry same sex couples.
12.2.2008 12:13pm
Enki:
David Walser
as soon as you find me a case where a judge ordered any church to perform a marriage ceremony, then I'll buy your "sky is falling" attempt at an argument.

this is why we have religious freedom and freedom of association. this is why the boy scouts are allowed to exclude who they want, and why the catholic church is allowed to do the same. as long as people can head down to the JP and get married there, there is no rational reason to force any church to do so, and any judge who DOES issue such an order will be roundly overturned by the court of appeals.
12.2.2008 12:21pm
Enki:
If secular institutions are not allowed to exclude gays from their marriage services, why should church's be allowed to discriminate? Given the courts' willingness to interfere with the way churches run their hospitals and provide adoption services, I've no faith that churches would not be required to marry same sex couples.

and this one is easy to answer. because marriage, in a church, is a religious ceremony, and protected by the free exercise clause of the first amendment. medical and adoption services are public services that - while they may be provided by the church, they do not take place in the church in a ceremonial fashion. in fact these services are protected by government laws, possibly (though I do not know this) subsidized by the government, and in both cases regulated by the government relatively heavily. in other words, providing a health care or adoption service does not fall within the 'exercise' of 'religion', but is simply a religious organization providing a public service.

marriage ceremonies that take place inside a church will be protected, that runs to the heart of the free exercise clause.
12.2.2008 12:36pm
Cornellian (mail):

If SSM becomes the law of the land, how are you going to guarantee that no gay couple will demand that a church perform their marriage and that no judge will require the church to comply with the couple's demand?


If divorce becomes the law of the land how are you going to guarantee that no judge will require the Catholic church to recognize divorces?
12.2.2008 12:36pm
David Walser:
Enki, you, as you know, are asking the impossible. You want me to prove that something will happen if action x is taken. Since action x (SSM), has only recently taken place in two states, there has not been enough time for the question of whether or not the courts will impose on churches a duty to marry gays will play out. Given the history in the area, both in our country and elsewhere, it's rational to fear that it will only be a matter of time before some judge requires a church to perform a SSM. Your assurance -- even assuming that it is accurate -- that such a decision would be overturned upon appeal is of little comfort. Court battles are expensive and stressful.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with an attorney in Dallas about 10 years ago. The SSM marriage case had just been filed in the Hawaii courts. The attorney, who was also a gay rights advocate, assured me that no court would ever find a constitutional right to SSM. I was told such cases were just a way to get the issue in front of enough people to get legislatures to act. I saw the attorney a few months ago -- after the CA Supreme Court decision and before Prop 8 passed. The position he thought no court would ever accept was now so obviously correct that only bigotry could explain rejection of SSM.

We've come a long way down the slippery slope in a little more than a decade, haven't we? Courts won't have to move nearly as far to hold that requiring churches to marry gays is not a prohibited interference with their exercise of religion. No, it will be seen as no more than regulating the "neutral act" of providing a service. If a wedding photographer can be fined for not accepting a gay couple as a client, why can't a priest be fined for not performing a marriage?
12.2.2008 12:50pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Haven't you seen enough now to know that the fight for gay marriage is really a fight for postgenderism and genetic engineering and against natural conception?

When they say "equal rights" they mean it, they want an equal right to attempt to combine genes with someone of the same sex to create offspring. They want to move beyond gender and make it so that people are not restricted by their gender regarding with whom they can conceive a child with.

We don't have to allow same-sex procreation, it is not bigotry to oppose postgenderism and want to preserve natural conception rights and sexual complementarity.
12.2.2008 12:51pm
Enki:
David
I am not an unreasonable person, I would never ask you to "prove" something that you cannot (IE see into the future).

but, and Cornellian provided a nice example, if you can demonstrate something comparable in the past, well I might be more inclined to believe your concern is more than irrational fear. in other words, can you show me where a judge forced a catholic church to marry, say, a jewish person? how about a judge who forced a catholic church to recognize a divorce? (like Cornellian suggested) how about a judge forcing a catholic church to marry an athiest? I use the catholics as an example because their tenets are fairly well understood and they tend to be the most organized, but it can be any church, doesn't have to be them.

in other words, give me an example where any secular court interfered with a religious ceremony that took place within the religious institution and I might believe your concern.

this, of course, may in fact be impossible because no judge has ever so ruled, and if so was probably (and I can almost guarantee this, but only almost) overturned by a court of appeals.

I trust the rule of law. still, there will always be rogues out there, but we should never base policy on the extremely remote possibility that someone, somewhere, at some undisclosed future time, may choose NOT to follow the law. The law - that is, the constitution - protects the marriage ceremony that takes place in churches. Trust that. We do not refrain from making policy on the off chance someone won't follow it, that's asinine and nothing would get done. I'm afraid that your argument lacks any real world punch...
12.2.2008 1:03pm
David Walser:
and this one is easy to answer. because marriage, in a church, is a religious ceremony, and protected by the free exercise clause of the first amendment. medical and adoption services are public services that - while they may be provided by the church, they do not take place in the church in a ceremonial fashion. in fact these services are protected by government laws, possibly (though I do not know this) subsidized by the government, and in both cases regulated by the government relatively heavily. in other words, providing a health care or adoption service does not fall within the 'exercise' of 'religion', but is simply a religious organization providing a public service.

marriage ceremonies that take place inside a church will be protected, that runs to the heart of the free exercise clause.

The 1st Amendment guarantees not just the freedom of religion; it protects the freedom of expression, too. Help me understand why the 1st Amendment guarantees prohibit a church from being required to provide a service (marriage) yet allow an artist to be forced to provide a service (wedding photos)? The wedding photographer thought being forced to take pictures of a gay couple's commitment ceremony violated both the photographer's freedom of expression and freedom of religion rights. The "court" disagreed.

You said that marriage is a "ceremony" that takes place inside a church. Marriage, you argue, is more closely related to the religious aspect of a church than are the "neutral" issues of providing health and adoption services. Let's be clear, the health services we are discussing are abortion and contraception -- issues the Catholic Church feels very strongly about. Yet, the courts had no trouble drawing a line that excluded such services from the church's "religious" activities.

In a prior life, I served as the "pastor" of my local church. Part of my duties included counseling couples facing marital difficulties. My advice was based on the scriptures and the teachings of my church. The advice almost always conflicted with what was commonly accepted by secular marital counselors. (For example, a secular counselor might recommend a couple view pornographic movies to rekindle sexual intrest. I would never have made such a recommendation.) Marriage, not just the ceremony but the day-to-day interaction between husband and wife, is central to my religion. The way a husband and wife treat each other and their children is seen as a manifestation of the husband and wife's religion. Would the fact I was offering advice as a religious leader and that the couple had come to me in that role protect my marital advice from regulation by the state? Of course not! While I served in this capacity, a court in California held a religious minister could be sued for malpractice because a couple was dissatisfied with his marriage counseling services. The standard for determining malpractice was whether or not the advice given was consistent with what a secular practitioner might have given.

Nothing is more central to an artist's freedom of expression than determining what will and will not be the subject of that expression. Yet, a "court" fined a wedding photographer for refusing to photograph a SSM. Does the collection of a fee remove all freedom of expression protections provided by the 1st Amendment? (If so, I've got a great way of shutting down all topless bars!) Or does a photographer need some certification as an artist before the 1st Amendment protections kick in?

Given all the above, you might fairly conclude that it is unlikely that a judge would force some priest to perform a SSM, but you cannot conclude it is irrational to worry that it might happen.
12.2.2008 1:42pm
Patrick22 (mail):

We don't have to allow same-sex procreation, it is not bigotry to oppose postgenderism and want to preserve natural conception rights and sexual complementarity.


Too late. IVF has been used for decades. For that matter, there is nothing "natural" about Caesarean sections.

Even if the science fiction of same sex gender procreation came to pass, it would not effect the evolution of the human race. For every single asexual procreation, there are hundreds of thousands of sexual procreations. The numbers make the former insignificant to the latter.
12.2.2008 1:54pm
Enki:
David
Your well-thought out comments raise some fascinating issues, many of which are - you are quite right - borderline. however, I am not sure that they really impact the distinction between secular marriages and those performed by a church (I use church loosely to mean any religious organization).

I am not familiar with the photographer case, maybe you have a citation? I can certainly imagine a court enforcing a contract between a photographer and the people who hired him, but I have no idea whether or not that was the central issue, so outside of that hypothetical response, I cannot really answer that part of your post.

as far as the counseling services, I think context is pretty critical there as well. a church which provides counseling can certainly protect itself with the priest-penitent privilege, but I suppose that depends on the circumstances as well. remember, the right to sue is simply the right to file a lawsuit, it does not guarantee that the plaintiff will prevail, nor does it deny the minister/priest being sued the availability of privilege as a defense. without more, I cannot really comment on that either, except to say that these situations are always more complex than they are initially made out to be.

the issue involving catholic hostpitals and abortions is certainly a well known issue, and I will confess to having no clear answer to that problem because I find the issue to be close in both ways. On the one hand, a hospital that is available to the general public ought to provide services that non-catholics might want. Would you also defend a hospital run, say, by Christian Scientists who refused to provide blood transfusions to non-Christian Scientists? I realize that is a pretty extreme example, but it does address the same issue. nevertheless, with regard to the hospital, because it's a "service" rather than the actual PRIVATE practice of religion, it's at best only dubiously protected from government intrusion.

a ceremony, performed in the church, is not so dubious. it's very clear. If the Court will protect Santoria practitioners in their ceremonial sacrifices, or allow native americans to smoke peyote in their religious ceremonies, but allow the government to restrict those practices outside the ceremonial confines of the respective religions, I am pretty sure the Court will protect more traditional religions in their conduct of marriage ceremonies.

I agree that marriages conducted within the church carry a very heavy religious component. but not all marriages are religious. Take mine for example. My wife and I were married by a JP, both of us are atheist, and as such our marriage means something very different to us than someone in, say, your church. But my marriage is still legally recognized by our government, and I get all of the same secular benefits conferred upon married folks in your church. Your church may still refuse to marry gays, just like a catholic priest may refuse to marry a non-catholic. that is, like I said, the essence of the free exercise of religion - it's NOT, as your other examples may be, a close question.
12.2.2008 1:59pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
IVF and caesareans are part of natural conception rights. Same-sex conception is not a right, and it would lead to the loss of the right to use one's own genes to procreate with our spouse's own genes. IVF and caesarean facilitate conception rights, they allow couples to attempt to conceive with their unmodified gametes. Same-sex conception threatens that, it ushers in genetic engineering and makes it right to use modified genes rather than use our own unmodified genes.

Even if the numbers are small who would do SSP or GE'd babies, it would really suck in a big way. It'd waste money, make people unsettled and angst-ridden, confuse children, create a rich-poor divide for genetic enhancements, change the way we all think of human life and procreation, and toss the principle of human equality out the window.

Why insist on same-sex conception rights when giving them up would accomplish so much? The priority is getting equal protections to same-sex couples across the US, not making it so that a few crazy same-sex couples can create offspring together.
12.2.2008 2:19pm
Yankev (mail):
Enki,

Expanding on DavidW's posts:

First, the New Mexico photographer case was not a matter of enforcing a contract. The case was the subject of at least one thread here on Volokh.com. The photographer politely declined to accept a contract to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony. For this act, she was convicted of discriminating by sexual orientation and fined. I think the photographer was a born again Christian but I may be mistaken.


Second, legal exemptions for religious needs generally construe religion in the narrowest sense -- i.e. what takes place in church for a few hours on Sunday morning. As DavidW pointed out, anyone who is truly religious considers religion inseparable from their daily lives, 24/7. The narrow view of religion is especially disadvantaggeous to religions like Orthodox Judaism that include a strong legal code as an basic core of the religion.


in other words, give me an example where any secular court interfered with a religious ceremony that took place within the religious institution and I might believe your concern.
Suppose it was performed elsewhere? Orthodox Jewish weddings are often performed in hotels or catering halls; would the venue remove the religious protection? Kosher catering halls are generally run by Orthodox Jews, for profit, and the catering is performed under Rabbinic supervision. Without the supervision, the kitchen and the hall are no longer kosher, and must be re-kashered at great expense. Could the owner of a kosher catering hall decline to accept a same sex wedding? Suppose the rabbinic organization that supervises the catering hall threatens to revoke his supervision if the event -- which Orthodox Judaism equates to murder, adultery and idol worship -- were held there? Could the rabbinic organization be sued or prosecuted for their refusal? After all, they charge a fee for their supervision, but an Orthodox rabbi could no more sanction or facilitate such an event than he could deliberately facilitate adultery or child sacrifice.

Suppose the rabbinic organization merely refused to supervise this one event. The owner now has to bring the agency back in to supervise burning out his ovens, boiling out the sinks and countertops, replacing all the china, etc., at a cost that could well exceed the gross revenue (let along the profit) from the same sex ceremony. Who pays the cost? (Three guesses, and it won't be the agency or the same sex couple.

To anyone faced with these threats to their religious observance and their liveliehood, your assurances are not as reassuring as they are to someone who views religion as nothing more than Sunday school and church services.
12.2.2008 2:37pm
David Walser:

I am not familiar with the photographer case, maybe you have a citation?


Here are two links:

Volokh

Scott Fillmer

I included the second link because Fillmer summarizes a number of the events following the initial filing of the complaint.
12.2.2008 2:40pm
Enki:
John Howard, I guess I can't resist. I have one question.

IF genetic engineering is not legal for anyone, married or unmarried, gay or straight, etc etc etc. then how, pray tell, does allowing gays to marry suddenly make it legal?

Even if your doom and gloom are true, and someone out there wants to conceive via genetic engineering, what does that have to do with marriage? what's stopping someone today from wanting that very thing, regardless of marriage?

ok I know your answer, it has to do with some warped notion of a "right to conceive" that you somehow tie to marriage. of course, you fail to prove that's anything more than rhetoric, but even assuming that's true, what is stopping the government from simply keeping genetic engineering of children illegal, for gay and straight alike?

and how about this. if you are right that this is a real threat, who is to say that it's not just as real even if gay marriage remained illegal?

in other words, you are making an artificial link between genetic engineering and gay marriage. you have not provided any reason why the two should be linked, outside of your assertions.
12.2.2008 2:42pm
Yankev (mail):

I think context is pretty critical there as well. a church which provides counseling can certainly protect itself with the priest-penitent privilege,
Which can be waived by the pentitent if she chooses. And which does not apply in all religions.

There was a case in NY some years ago in which a rabbi was sued by a wife for revealing to the husband something that the wife had told the rabbi during counseling. There was absolutely no question that under Jewish law he was REQUIRED to divulge it to the husband. Nonetheless, the wife sued for violating the priest-penitent privilege afforded by New York law. Despite unanimous expert testimony that the Jewish religion did not permit the rabbi to withhold the information, the judge (a non-religious Jeww) ruled for the wife and blasted the rabbi for not behaving in the manner that the law required, even thought the law was written to meet the needs of the Catholic Church and, under the circumstances of the case, violated the free exercise rights of the rabbi. I believe the case was reversed on appeal, but I may be mistaken. Even if it was reversed, the rabbi and his congregation were dragged through years of expense, stress, distraction, and wasted time.

This is the problem with applying a single model of religion to all religions. I suspect that any religious exemption as to SSM would be similarly flawed.
12.2.2008 2:47pm
SFJD (www):
So according to the data from the Department of Obvious Studies, if you know gay people or gay married couples you are less likely to oppose it. Allowing gay marriage means more gay couples, which means more people will get to know gay couples, which means it will become more acceptable. Seems simple enough.
12.2.2008 2:49pm
Enki:
Thanks for the links, I'll read them when I have some extra time (haha I guess I am writing this, right?).

thing is, it's really easy to come up with example after example of "possibilities" but that shouldn't be a reason to discriminate. I think that fact easily gets lost in the shuffle.

I will concede that location is probably not important, but ceremony certainly is important. It was important in both the Santoria and Peyote cases, and would certainly be important in the marriage context too.

even without reading the photographer case I can distinguish it - the photographer is not the church, not the priest, and not being ordered to perform a ceremony - regardless of where - that his church does not want to. as disturbing as your description of the case sounds - and this is without having any background on it - it's not analagous. a fine for a past act is a far cry from a court order to perform a ceremony.

And I guess that's what still gets me. I'd like to see one example of a court ordering a church to perform a ceremony it didn't want to.
12.2.2008 2:52pm
David C (mail):
It seems to me that example effects, if any, are likely to be much stronger at the state than at the national level.

When I see people talking about example effects they usually seem to be talking about two slightly different things: positive examples (i.e. visibility: "there's a gay couple in our PTA now and they turn out to be quite nice, sensible people"), and lack of negative effects ("we've had gay marriage for a year now, and society doesn't seem to have collapsed yet").

Positive examples seem necessarily to involve fairly direct contact, because they're about gut-level impressions of actual people. But I think even "lack of negative effects," which is a more abstract sort of example, has a range limitation. It's by no means contradictory to assume that, for instance, the institution of marriage HAS collapsed in some distant state you don't yourself live in or visit-- so gay marriage or divorce or whatever having been legal there for a long time won't contradict whatever your view of it might be.
12.2.2008 2:56pm
David Walser:

thing is, it's really easy to come up with example after example of "possibilities" but that shouldn't be a reason to discriminate. I think that fact easily gets lost in the shuffle. - Enki

Enki, I've never said any of the concerns I've raised justifies discrimination. The original reason I posted on this thread was frustration over the attitude that the only reason someone might oppose SSM is homophobia. Well, I believe there are lots of rational reasons for objecting to SSM. Some of those reasons I accept and some I do not. (Rational is not the same as valid.)

The objection that you and I have been discussing for the past while is whether SSM might lead to further government intrusion into church affairs. You, an atheist, give little weight to such a concern. A church, to you, is no more than a social club. To me, it's much more. Since you see little to object to government intrusion into church affairs, you grant little weight to a risk -- no matter how remote -- of increased government involvement in church. I, on the other hand, place a lot of weight on even a very remote risk that government might use SSM as an excuse to exercise more control over churches. I am already upset at the at the extent government has its tentacles in church affairs, so I'm much more attuned to this issue than you are. (For example, you were unaware of the wedding photographer example we've been discussing.)

My point is that neither of us is being irrational. (You're being dismissive and are completely lacking in empathy for my concerns, but that's not irrational.) We are simply weighing the risks differently. What's the percentage likelihood that some judge somewhere will fine a church for not performing a SSM? (Note: A NJ church recently lost the tax exempt status on land it owned for refusing to allow gay couples to use the property for their marriages.) You say it's a very low but non-zero percentage. Fine. Let's say the same percentage were the probability a foot-bridge would fail. You see the foot-bridge as being 1 foot high and going over an inflatable wadding pool in someone's back yard. What's the worst that can happen should the bridge fail? You conclude: A very remote risk of a sprained ankle is NOT a reason to oppose SSM (it must be homophobia, etc.)! On the other hand, I see the bridge as going over the Grand Canyon. Failure is NOT an option, no matter how remote the possibility.

You say there is very little chance any judge would ever require a church to perform a SSM, and I agree. (I've seen the courts do too many things in the last 20 years that I was confident that they would never do to feel too safe in that regard, but I agree.) However, the possibility that a US court would inject itself in this area is so appalling to my eyes I do not want to accept ANY risk that it will happen. YMMV.
12.2.2008 3:50pm
Enki:
David
I apologize if I have come across as unsympathetic to your concerns. That could not be further from the truth, but I have done a poor job of making that clear, so that's my fault.

to me the freedoms that are protected by our constitution mean that you and I both should be allowed to believe what we believe. at the heart of the first amendment is freedom of thought, free from government intrusion or control. For my part, my life encompasses the defense of these liberties, and to that end I will be first in line to defend - in any court if need be - your (and anyones) right to believe what you want and practice your beliefs as you please. in other words, my carreer IS the defense of constitutional liberties for all of us, and my own beliefs are only relevant to my life and my anecdotal experiences. That I am not religious does not mean that I am intolerant of religion, or that I do not understand or have any compassion for those who are deeply religious. my mother is a born again fundamentalist christian (her words), and I have a deep respect and understanding of what that means in her every-day life. that I don't believe as she does does not mean I do not respect her beliefs, and if She (or you or anyone else) were ever threatened with government interference in her (or your or anyones) exercise of her faith, I am there to defend that liberty. It's who I am, what I do, and what I will continue to do.

that said, I have a hard time disagreeing with anything in your last post. I agree with you that there ARE rational arguments opposed to SSM, I have never said otherwise (and I think our conversation started with me, basically, saying so) and some people - yourself included - have represented that point of view well. I do not think everyone is a bigot, even though I cannot conceive of a way to oppose SSM without supporting discrimination. So, even if there are rational reasons - which I acknowledge - I still find the practice inherently discriminatory.

and ultimately I am willing to take the risk that there may be the occasional bad side effect if we were to legalize SSM in this country. That, I suppose, is the price of freedom. And like I also said, if forging ahead with the goal of eliminating discrimination and pursuing freedom butts heads with other freedoms, I will be right there to defend those as well. Nobody said it would be easy, but that doesn't mean it isn't right.
12.2.2008 4:15pm
Yankev (mail):

I, on the other hand, place a lot of weight on even a very remote risk that government might use SSM as an excuse to exercise more control over churches.
And an even greater risk of interference with the free exercise rights of believers who are not themselves "church actors". See my example about the catering hall.
12.2.2008 4:57pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
IF genetic engineering is not legal for anyone, married or unmarried, gay or straight, etc etc etc. then how, pray tell, does allowing gays to marry suddenly make it legal?

OK, first of all, it's currently legal, it's not prohibited. Prohibiting it would mean people could not attempt to conceive with someone of their same sex, which, if we still had same-sex marriages, would conflict with the historical universal right of marriage to conceive children. That conflict could be used to justify denying or coercing away a hetero marriage's right to use their own genes, or it could be used to fight the prohibition on same-sex conception, or both.

Even if your doom and gloom are true, and someone out there wants to conceive via genetic engineering, what does that have to do with marriage?

In and of itself, nothing. But if it is not allowed, then it has something to do with the rights of same-sex couples, it means they don't have one of the essential historical rights of marriage, and don't have equal rights to a hetero marriage.

what's stopping someone today from wanting that very thing, regardless of marriage?

Nothing, it is not prohibited right now.

ok I know your answer, it has to do with some warped notion of a "right to conceive" that you somehow tie to marriage. of course, you fail to prove that's anything more than rhetoric, but even assuming that's true, what is stopping the government from simply keeping genetic engineering of children illegal, for gay and straight alike?

It's not rhetoric, Kennedy's opinion Lawrence v Texas (and the synopsis) affirm that marriage has a right to conceive children, because that's what a right to sexual intercourse implies. The government could make (not 'keep') genetic engineering illegal, I'm not sure exactly what is stopping them. Gay rights activists, for one, and the lucrative government regulated industry, for another, etc. They could make it illegal, though. That's what I'm pushing for, do you want to help make it illegal?

and how about this. if you are right that this is a real threat, who is to say that it's not just as real even if gay marriage remained illegal?

It is just as real if gay marriage is illegal. It needs to be prohibited with a federal law, which would prohibit it regardless of marriage.

in other words, you are making an artificial link between genetic engineering and gay marriage.

Equal rights for same-sex couples implies a right to same-sex conception and therefore a right to do genetic engineering. Even Civil Unions with "all the rights of marriage" are therefore unacceptable, the point is that same-sex couples should not have equal rights as a man and a woman.

you have not provided any reason why the two should be linked, outside of your assertions.

The two should be linked to affirm that marriages all have the right to procreate together using their own genes, and that same-sex couples shouldn't have that right.
12.2.2008 4:57pm
Lymis (mail):
David Walser,

What about the churches that are currently being prevented from conducting legal same-sex marriages, when their traditions and policies support such unions? Why does religion trump civil equality only in cases when the religion wants to deny it?

You really haven't answered the questions posed to you beyond saying that nobody can prove something won't happen.

The closest thing you got to was the New Jersey case, but you got your facts wrong. The church that owned the land was not forced to perform a marriage against their policy. In fact, no civil marriage was performed at all - New Jersey doesn't allow them, so using this example in a discussion of same-sex marriage is a stretch in the first place. The case was not because the church would not conduct the wedding, the case was because, having gotten special tax exemptions for assuring that the land was open to all citizens, they claimed that they didn't have to honor that agreement for religious reasons. It was a civil case about civil issues.

The legal truth is exactly what people above pointed out - Catholic churches are not and cannot be sued for not remarrying divorced Catholics, or for not marrying Jews or Episcopalians. Jewish congregations cannot be forced to conduct weddings for non-Jews, or mixed marriages when it conflicts with their particular tradition. Heck, Catholic priests commonly tell even otherwise eligible Catholics that they aren't serious enough and need to go rethink things for a while.

This isn't new law, and the precedents are there for all to apply. This is what thinking of same-sex marriage as something new and scary gets you, instead of thinking of it in terms of what it actually is - applying the existing laws to a group of people previously excluded from them. Allowing same-sex marriage doesn't create a new kind of marriage with no precedents to apply.

I agree about the photographer. Any law that forces an artist to be unable to choose their clients is poorly written or badly applied. I do find myself wondering why everyone's solution is to permanently ban same-sex marriage for all time rather than figure out what went wrong with that particular law and fixing it. Preventing ALL photographers from photographing legal civil same-sex weddings seems an overreaction.
12.2.2008 5:10pm
Enki:
ok GM's are not currently illegal. want to make them illegal? I'll agree. it has nothing, nor should it, to do with SSM in a purely secular sense.
12.2.2008 5:11pm
jrose:
David,

The photographer is providing a service that is a public accommodation. He is thus subject to Employment Division. A church preforming a strictly-religious wedding is not a public accommodation. In contrast, if the church is acting on behalf of the state in performing civil wedding ceremonies it would likely have to comply with non-discrimination laws. The state can choose to exempt the church from such laws if it so chooses.
12.2.2008 5:22pm
Randy R. (mail):
David: "The Catholic Church believes providing adoption services is part of it's religious obligation to help the less fortunate."

Your memory of this case is incorrect. Catholic Charities had no problem placing children in the homes of gay parents for quite some time in Massachusetts. It was only *after* gay marriage was legalized that they suddenly decided that they shouldn't place children with gay parents. (Actually, many members of the board voted to continue the policy, but they were over ridden by the bishop). When they announced that they would stop placing children, the state then informed them that they were receiving state funds to help them with their placement of the children, and they had a choice: Either forgo the state funds, or comply with non-discrimination laws. CC decided to stop all adoptions all together, which was *not* one of the options that the state gave them, although it did solve the problem as far as the state was concerned. The CC could merely have stopped receiving state funds, or they could have complied with the law, as they did in the past, but they choose not to. No one forced their hand.

And that's as it should be. Any organization, religious or not, that received tax dollars for a project or mission must play by the rules that the state mandates. If you don't like it, don't take the money. It's not a difficult concept, and all organization have no problem with it.

This has nothing to do with separation of church and state. Again, the church could continue their own policy so long as they don't recieve money. Frankly, I don't want my tax dollars funding them if they discriminate against gays. But if they use their own money, more power to them.

"f SSM becomes the law of the land, how are you going to guarantee that no gay couple will demand that a church perform their marriage and that no judge will require the church to comply with the couple's demand?"

For the simple reason that no church is currently required to marry anyone they don't want to marry. Some churches ban interracial marriage, some, like the Catholic church, won't allow divorced people to get married. Why hasn't anyone been successful in forcing them to consecrate a marriage they don't want to? Because they church has a right to marry whom they please. And furrthermore, after having gay marriage in Mass and Canada, there are no cases of anyone forcing the church to conduct a gay marriage.
12.2.2008 5:27pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Great Enki! You agree that we should prohibit reproduction that uses genetically modified genes. That is very important. Now, assuming we are able to get Congress to actually pass that, do you see that it prohibits people from attempting to conceive with someone of the same sex? I would be able to conceive with another man, or at least try, but for the law that prohibits it. The law would not effect my right to conceive with a woman. Do you see that same-sex couples would not have equal rights?

So far, I haven't mentioned marriage, because you are right, marriage has nothing to do with the truth of what I have mentioned so far. I just want to see if you agree so far with what would happen if we do manage to make GM illegal.
12.2.2008 5:34pm
Enki:
Randy - well said. I couldn't have said it better myself (in fact, I didn't)

John - um I think a law that makes GEM's illegal is, well, sexual-orientation neutral. it has nothing to do with gay, straight, green, brown, whatever. so I suppose the technical answer to your question is yes, but trust me, I'll never get where you want me to go. I think basing current law on a fictional and irrelevant view of the future is bad public policy. in fact, if the technology someday becomes feasible and safe (assuming I'm still alive), I'd very likely change my mind.
12.2.2008 5:40pm
David Walser:
Enki,

When did discrimination in all its forms become inherently wrong and its elimination a universal good? Saying that someone had "discriminating tastes" was once considered a compliment.

Government discriminates in many contexts. Students of wealthy parents are ineligible for certain types of financial aide. Veterans receive assistance in buying a home and other benefits. Families with low income may receive dairy and other agricultural products from the government at little or no cost. "First time" home buyers may be given loans unavailable to other buyers. All of these examples involve discrimination on the part of government in that one group is treated differently than the rest of the population. I choose these examples because I hope they are not too controversial and demonstrate that discrimination, even by government, is not a universal evil.

The question then becomes, is it wrong for government to restrict its recognition of marriage to complimentary sex couples even if that restriction discriminates against same sex couples. The answer to this question depends on how you answer several additional questions. Chief among these is what is the purpose of government's recognition of marriage? If the only purpose of government's recognition of marriage were to address property rights, health care decisions, and similar concerns, I would agree with most of the commenters on this forum that SSM should be the law of the land. However, I believe government's involvement in marriage serves a larger, more important, purpose: the promotion of stable heterosexual marriages.

Society has an interest in promoting such marriages for many reasons. Some of these reasons may apply to SSM, just as some of these reasons may apply to complimentary sex couples who choose not to marry. While society should not throw up significant roadblocks to these other types of relationships, it might not have the same interest in promoting their formation as it does in promoting traditional marriages. In short, if government has a justifiable purpose in promoting one type of relationship, it may not be illegitimate for government to discriminate in favor of those relationships. (Did I put enough subjunctives in that sentence?) I believe that society does have a justifiable purpose in promoting traditional marriage and that it is legitimate for government to promote that form of relationship even if that means discriminating in favor of it.

Exactly why society should prefer traditional marriage is a topic for another post. This one is long enough already.
12.2.2008 5:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
David: Your arguments are not with SSM, but with gay rights at all. All the cases you cite, adoption, photographer, land usage, had nothing to do with SSM. So to say that you are against SSM because it will lead to these abuses makes no sense. What does make sense is that any gay rights ordinances will infringe on your religious right to discriminate against gay people.

We've had these battles before. In the 50s and 60s, people said that they have a 1st amendment right to association. So, if I own a restaurant, I can limit it to white people. My club can exclude blacks. My movie house can have separate lines for white folk and for black folk.

And of course, they had a point. It's their belief systemt that blacks are either inferior, or just not the sort of people good religious white people would want to associate with, even to the extent you can't have them at the table next to you at the diner. Where these bigots? Oh no! Of course not. It's just that they prefer their own types to blacks. Nothing against blacks, mind you. They can have their own stores and restaurants, and really, everything is much better that way. You stay over there, we stay over here. Everyone's happy, right?

But we, as a country, decided that was NOT okay. We forced those places to integrate, which may violate their first amendment rights. And it was not pleasant — people rioted over this.

But somehow we got over this. And is there any person today to wants to go back to that time? Nope.

So when a photographer doesn't want to take pictures for a gay couple, I say, that's their right and their loss. Their loss because their lives would be enriched by finding out that gay people are not evil and could potentially be friends.
12.2.2008 5:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
David: Since you were once a pastor and did some counseling. Did you ever counsel a gay person? Do you believe being gay is a choice or is innate? Do you believe that gay people are by nature sinners? Just curious....
12.2.2008 5:43pm
Enki:
David: I believe government's involvement in marriage serves a larger, more important, purpose: the promotion of stable heterosexual marriages.

aha. here is where we disagree. I do not believe that is the government's role in marriage at all. And if it truly is, then it shouldn't be. our government must be neutral to religion, and the above statement has its roots in religion. all of the other reasons you mention - property rights, etc? those are the reasons, and like you said, based on those there is no good reason to deny SSM.

as for the rest, all of those examples of discrimination have one thing in common - the discrimination is not based on something innate in the person being discriminated against, but instead on other circumstances in that person's life. a gay person can no more be "not gay" than you could or I could be "not straight". for that reason, discrimination against you or me because we are straight is not justified, and discrimination against a gay person is equally not justified. you are correct, some forms of discrimination are OK - the ones that are not based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. this is pretty elementary, to be honest.
12.2.2008 5:57pm
Randy R. (mail):
David:"Society has an interest in promoting such marriages for many reasons. Some of these reasons may apply to SSM, just as some of these reasons may apply to complimentary sex couples who choose not to marry. While society should not throw up significant roadblocks to these other types of relationships,

Let us agree that stable marriages are good for society, and that gov't has a right and perhaps even duty to provide incentives for that. That question is, if SSM is recognized, how does that detract from stable heterosexual marriages? You haven't made

"it might not have the same interest in promoting their formation as it does in promoting traditional marriages."

Why not?

There is actually a good argument for recognizing stable gay marriages. First, as I've pointed out many times, there are currently many gay couples who are raising children. Don't those children deserve a stable relationship with their parents? Dont' they deserve the benefits of married parents? What possible good can come of denying those parents the right to marry?

Second, don't gay couples --even without kids -- deserve the same stable relationships that straight people have? If you don't want gay people engaging in short term relationships, perhaps the best way is, as it is for striaghts, to encourage them to get married. Is that a good for society, or a bad?

Third, you forget that because of stigma often attached to being gay, even today (and especially in religious families), many gay people get married when they are young because they think it is a passing phase, or it will somehow 'cure' them, or because it's what their families expect of them. I know quite a few gay men in my generation and older who were in fact married. And they married for all the wrong reasons. Eventually, they got divorced and moved on.

However, there are many married men out there today who are really gay. They cheat on their wives, or if they don't, whatever love there died out a long time ago. Is this fair to the unsuspecting wife? I don't think so.

People here on VC and other places say that SSM is really about acceptance and approval, and they don't want to give it. I say, it's in YOUR best interest to approve it. Do you really want your daughter to marry a gay man? I dont' think so! Better that the young gay man realize he's gay, not try to be straight, not get into a sham marriage, and live the life he should be living. This is much better and stable for society than having gay men cheat on their wives or be in otherwise loveless marriages.

Certainly, as a pastor, I would hope that if you ever have a case where a gay man is married to a woman, you realize that the best situation is divorce.
12.2.2008 5:58pm
David Walser:
Randy,

If my recollection of the case in Massachusetts was wrong, I apologize. I agree that someone takes the state's money it needs to comply with the state's rules.

As for a case where a church has been forced to marry someone against its wishes, I'm not aware of such a case. I am aware of a case from Europe (Denmark?) where a priest got in trouble with the government for preaching that homosexual acts were sinful. True, Europe does not have the same tradition of religious liberty as does the US, but the thought that a minister would get in trouble for preaching such a doctrine was unimaginable 20 years ago. It's not out of the question in Canada, today.
12.2.2008 6:01pm
Randy R. (mail):
David: "When did discrimination in all its forms become inherently wrong and its elimination a universal good? Saying that someone had "discriminating tastes" was once considered a compliment. "

it's pretty simple, David. You can discriminate based on taste because no thing is good and another is bad — to you. It's not good to discriminate against a whole class of people just based on a perceived notion of what they are like. Furthermore, even that's okay with your personal life, but certainly not okay when it comes to public laws.

Or are you saying that it's perfectly okay for people to discriminate against all blacks, or all Pentecostlists, or all Italians, or all antique dealers, just because you have 'discriminating taste'?
12.2.2008 6:02pm
David Walser:

The photographer is providing a service that is a public accommodation. He is thus subject to Employment Division. A church preforming a strictly-religious wedding is not a public accommodation. In contrast, if the church is acting on behalf of the state in performing civil wedding ceremonies it would likely have to comply with non-discrimination laws. The state can choose to exempt the church from such laws if it so chooses.


So an artist's free expression right (protected by the 1st Amendment) is trumped by another person's right not to be discriminated against by a private actor? Why can't a judge determine that the provision of a wedding service is a "public accommodation" whether it is religious or not? If the right to free expression is trumped by anti-discrimination concerns, why don't such concerns trump the right to religious expression? That's too many questions in a row.
12.2.2008 6:08pm
Enki:
and with that, I must now go home to my wife and contribute to the stability of my own marriage. Peace.
12.2.2008 6:27pm
David Walser:

aha. here is where we disagree. I do not believe that is the government's role in marriage at all. And if it truly is, then it shouldn't be. our government must be neutral to religion, and the above statement has its roots in religion. all of the other reasons you mention - property rights, etc? those are the reasons, and like you said, based on those there is no good reason to deny SSM.


I'd agree with you if I believed that the purpose of fostering traditional marriage were religious in nature. I don't. Scores of studies indicate that children suffer when raised by a single mother. (I'm not aware of studies looking at children raised by single fathers, but I don't doubt they would show similar results.) From such studies, many believe children profit from having positive male and female role models. Children of divorced parents have higher divorce rates when they marry. This indicates that the ability to be a successful marriage partner is, in part, a learned behavior modeled on the what the child observed of his or her parents' interactions. For these reasons we would prefer that men and women, once married, would stay married and that children would be born to married parents.

Some argue that same sex couples can be just as good parents as can complimentary sex couples. That may be true on a case by case basis. However, we have reason to doubt that this is the case as a general rule. Even in the ideal situation, same sex parents will not be able provide a male (or female) role model for their children nor will they be able to model the interactions their (non-gay) children may need to become successful marriage partners.

'Nuff said? Notice, I did not once mention religion. I didn't need to. It's not a religious concept.
12.2.2008 6:34pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Matteo, generally agreed on the dialog points.

DangerMouse: What do you think of Justice Thomas's assessment of anti-sodomy laws in his dissent in Lawrence? Do you think he is correct? Or is Scalia the only one on the court on this matter you side with?
12.2.2008 7:00pm
David Walser:

David: Since you were once a pastor and did some counseling. Did you ever counsel a gay person? Do you believe being gay is a choice or is innate? Do you believe that gay people are by nature sinners? Just curious....


Randy,

I'll try to answer your questions with the understanding that there's no way I can do them justice in the time I have or in this medium.

First, did I ever counsel a gay person? Yes, but not on the question of homosexuality. Second, do I believe that gay people are by nature sinners? No, not anymore than I believe that I am, by nature, a sinner. We all sin; that is part of the human condition. But I don't believe God has put us in a position where we are required to sin. If I am compelled to act in a certain manner, it's not a sin.

Which brings me to the question I've chosen to address last, do I believe sexual orientation is innate? If by innate you mean genetic, then, no, I don't believe sexual orientation is wholly or even primarily genetic. Studies looking at identical twins seem to argue against a genetic component. (If sexual orientation were purely genetic, learning the orientation of one twin would allow you to predict the orientation of the other twin with near certainty. That's not the case. Indeed, learning that one twin is gay, it would be safe to bet that the other twin is NOT gay.)

The lack of a genetic component does not mean that sexual orientation could not be fixed by birth. Perhaps some hormonal or environmental factors (such as something the pregnant mother eats or drinks) triggers a particular sexual orientation in a developing fetus.

Which leaves us with a substantial "environmental" or learned component in determining sexual orientation. You mentioned the word "choice". In most cases, I don't believe there is an active choice involved. That doesn't mean that decisions we (or others make) may not be involved in some way. I do. For instance, I believe that, had things gone only slightly differently in my youth, I'd be gay. When I was 13 an older boy of 17 offered to help me learn how to ejaculate. I never took him up on his offer -- not because I wasn't interested but because we never had the chance to be alone together. If we had had the chance to get together, would I have enjoyed his ministrations? I think so. (A certain amount of friction applied in certain places tends to produce a certain result.) Having learned to satisfy myself sexually in that manner, would I have ever gone straight?

I don't know. Nor do I know what causes sexual orientation. Nor do I think anyone knows, for sure, what causes sexual orientation. I do know it's a very complex question. A question that's resulted in more additional questions than answers.
12.2.2008 7:15pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Well, Enki, you've changed your mind already! For an hour you were agreeing with me that we should ban GM, but now apparently equal rights for same-sex couples trumps whatever concerns you had. That's really unfortunate. You are way over-invested in equal rights for same-sex couples. Why not accept that people should only be allowed to conceive with someone of the other sex, and focus on getting equal protections for same-sex couples in all other areas, including federal recognition? There are thousands of couples that have no recognition by their states, and even in the states that do give legal protections, they cannot get federal recognition. Yet you are more concerned that same-sex couples be allowed to do - today! - something that can't even be done consistently in animals and might never be possible to do in humans. Do you see how ridiculous you are being?

And newsflash: no one, not even the most libertarian transhumanists, ever says that it should be done while it is infeasible and unsafe! But when you ask them who decides when it is feasible, well, they say that people should make up their own minds on that, and decide for themselves. But of course what we'd have to do is make a federal bureaucracy to decide that question, keeping people from attempting any form of same-sex conception until that review board says OK. But a marriage should never be subject to a review board to determine if they can safely procreate or not, it is a right of marriage for them to attempt it as long as they are married.
12.2.2008 7:51pm
Enki:
John
two things. first, my opposition to GEMs is not moral, only practical. it's not safe, so it should not be allowed in general. however, you didn't ask so I didn't say, but it SHOULD be researched. why? because we're human, that's what we do (advance science). once it becomes safe, if that ever happens, then I will have no more reason to object. it's that simple. I have not changed my mind, I simply understand that it has nothing to do at all with marriage.

second, evolution happens. you may object, but you can't stop it. *shrug*

David:
the studies I've read point to the economic and time problems faced by single parents rather than the assumptions you are making. two parents typically have more time and more resources to devote to raising children than one. the gender is pretty irrelevant to that. if you can point to any studies that suggest two men or two women provide a less stable home life simply because of the gender, well maybe you would have an argument. otherwise, I'm not convinced.
12.2.2008 8:30pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Well, if we don't ban it, we won't be able to realize the benefits that will come from banning GE and reprioritizing the researchers. Useless research is not good just because it is research, it is a bad waste of resources and energy and morally unacceptable when so many people need medical care and we need to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, we won't be able to get equal protections to same-sex couples any time soon and will continue to have a wasteful and contentious and hurtful debate because people would rather insist on equal rights to procreate using genetically modified gametes than accept Civil Unions that give all the rights but the right to procreate together. It is very revealing that being allowed to do genetic engineering to create children turns out to be the essential demand of SSMers, not any of the things that they say they want.

And it's revealing that though you agree it is unsafe now, you don't agree that it should be banned now, or specify how you are going to decide when it is safe. It shows you are basically bullshitting.

To repeat, safety is not the only reason not to allow same-sex conception or genetic engineering, though it will always be the first obstacle and will always make it unethical to attempt the first experiments. But even if someone did it anyway, and they somehow proved that it was safe (nevermind that we wouldn't be able to say that until the babies have reached old age and their children are fine, too), we should not allow it. Preserving individual conception rights, and therefore human dignity and equality, is perhaps the top reason, as well as the issue of wasting resources on something totally unnecessary.

You are insane to think we have to allow genetic engineering and same-sex conception, it's crazy. Not only can it be banned, but it certainly should be and would be if it were allowed to get before the people.
12.2.2008 8:49pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

I fail to see how same sex procreation would involve "genetically modified gametes". That would indicate that the DNA was altered in some way, which seems like a necessary step in creating superbabies but not same sex procreation. At its simpelest level same sex procreation would entrail stimulating the natural process of fertilization , most likely without a serm cell. I may be wrong but I would think this to be a chemically triggered process that would not require any genetic engineering as I understand that term.

To me genetic engineering covers things like the gene splicing used to create glow in the dark kittens. I would not even include cloning under that term. Cloning would be covered by bio-engineering, possibly even cellular engineering, but not genetic engineering.
12.3.2008 8:23am
jrose:
So an artist's free expression right (protected by the 1st Amendment) is trumped by another person's right not to be discriminated against by a private actor?

No. The photographer is not a private actor.

Why can't a judge determine that the provision of a wedding service is a "public accommodation" whether it is religious or not?

A judge could. A judge could also rule the earth is flat.

If the right to free expression is trumped by anti-discrimination concerns, why don't such concerns trump the right to religious expression?

Anti-discrimination statutes which are limited to public actors, that are generally applicable and only incidently impact religious expression, trump religious expression.
12.3.2008 8:59am
jrose:
I believe government's involvement in marriage serves a larger, more important, purpose: the promotion of stable heterosexual marriages

What is the logic behind promoting opposite-sex marriages but not same-sex marriages?
12.3.2008 9:02am
Enki:
John Howard
I will freely admit that I am no scientist, and as such I do not know the ins-and-outs of genetic engineering (or bio engineering or cellular engineering, etc). I do have an opinion on such things as far as two things: whether it's practical, and whether it's safe. if both are true, then I have no moral objection, the most important, of course, being the latter (safety). now, I will admit that, because I am no scientist, I cannot tell you how specifically to regulate such knowledge, only that I think it should be regulated in some intelligent fashion. But I am a person who fully supports any work that advances human knowledge. I do not fear doom and gloom, as you apparently do, because I believe that in the end knowledge is preferable to ignorance. To that end, I do not believe that the pursuit of that knowledge should be stifled, only that it should proceed carefully and intelligently. I will leave it to people who actually know what they are talking about to sort out the details.

And I guess that's the important thing. my opinion is just that - an opinion. and guess what, so is yours. I do not begrudge you for having your opinion - hell I'm actually willing to engage you in this conversation. At the same time, I would never call you insane or accuse you of bullshitting. I accept the fact that your opinion is genuine, and I move from there. I may debate with you, but I would never denigrate your opinion because you are entitled to it.

but make no mistake, we do not have facts here, so all we have are opinions. you are talking about some as-yet-undetermined future, and so at best you are speculating. that makes what you say opinion and nothing more.

so, in my opinion, it is preferable that our government does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. there is no good reason to prohibit two consenting, unrelated adults from marrying. your future-shock does not change that. For example, you do not give any reason, beyond a bald assertion, why allowing SSM will somehow stifle natural conception. Someone mentioned this earlier, but there is no reason why people will suddenly stop having babies in the normal way - even if your fears come true. It makes no sense. So you may have these fears, and of course your opinion is your own, but in MY opinion, they are wholly unfounded.
12.3.2008 10:35am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

I also agree with Enki in that I believe that it is impossible to know beforehand what avenues of research are worth pursuing. I would be perfectly happy not spending tax dollars on such research while allowing private efforts to go forward, but then I believe most research should be funded through private means.

As for moral arguments, you're going to have to switch to ethics in order to have any chance to convince me. (I will admit your chances are already near nil.) The first law of morality is "Thou shalt not question." I may not have fully succeeded in divesting myself of morality but I have given it serious effort and whenever someone points out my making a moral arguement I question myself on it.
12.3.2008 11:01am
Randy R. (mail):
David: Thanks for your answers. The question that we tiptoed around, though, is this: Gay people are attracted only to people of their own sex. That's by nature, innate, nurture, whatever. What we do know is that is can't be changed, and it's set at some time quite early in childhood. Therefore, for a gay person, there are two options open, either celebacy for the entirety of one's life, or establishing relationships with someone of the same sex. Asking anyone to be celebate is unfair, unwise, nearly impossible and will likely end up messing up a person's mind. (It's one thing to choose it for oneself, quite another to demand it of someone else). So the fact is that most people who are gay are going to have same sex relationships. Whether that is a sin is up to any particular religion, but in my view it's not, as there are no other options for me.

"Some argue that same sex couples can be just as good parents as can complimentary sex couples. That may be true on a case by case basis. However, we have reason to doubt that this is the case as a general rule. Even in the ideal situation, same sex parents will not be able provide a male (or female) role model for their children nor will they be able to model the interactions their (non-gay) children may need to become successful marriage partners.:

Actually, no. All major studies have shown that children of gay parents do just as well when measured against standard criteria as other children of straight parents. If you find any other study, please cite it. However, this is why all major adoptio agencies agree that children should be placed with gay parents rather than remain in foster care. No major gay agency has said that children placed there do worse than other. Children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than children of striaght parents, for instance.

This may go against your intuition, but we cannot set laws, nor deny rights to people based on mere intuition.
12.3.2008 11:10am
Enki:
Soronel
you may feel free to substitute "ethical" for "moral" in any of my posts. I cannot, however, speak for JH. heh.
12.3.2008 11:18am
hazemyth:
David Walser:

"The original reason I posted on this thread was frustration over the attitude that the only reason someone might oppose SSM is homophobia. Well, I believe there are lots of rational reasons for objecting to SSM. Some of those reasons I accept and some I do not. (Rational is not the same as valid.)"

I believe one of my posts was among those to which you initially replied. I argued that there was no rational basis for invalidating SSM -- by which I meant on its face. That is, there is no rational argument to deny the validity of SSM marriage as marriage.

But, yes, concerns about the consequences of any legal development can be real and rational. Such issues were raised regarding integration and suffrage movements. As you acknowledge, such considerations may be outweighed by the larger issues, such as discrimination. And this is where the specter homophobia still lurks... in people's tendency to dehumanize or otherwise marginalize homosexuals, and so disregard their needs, dismiss their rights and underestimate their suffering.
12.3.2008 11:47am
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Anything that changes the genetic payload that is passed on from parents to children is engineering, even if it uses a chemical process to achieve the change, which may very well be all that is required to get male imprinted gametes from a woman's body.

How about this: we all seem to agree that it is unsafe now, so why not make it illegal now, and if the public does decide that it should be allowed, then we allow gay marriage. Until then though, as long as we are agreeing that same-sex conception is unsafe and not ready, let's agree that it should be prohibited now, and settle for Civil Unions that give all the other rights of marriage for now. That distinction makes CU's valid and recognized and constitutional in California, and it makes it possible to achieve consensus in Congress for federal recognition of Civil Unions that are defined as "marriage minus conception rights".

Then, we can debate the issue of conception rights for same-sex couples separately, and not hold up all the other protections and benefits for couples that (trust me) have zero interest in subjecting their children to unnecessary radical and risky experiments just to both be biologically related. I would still strenuously argue that we should preserve natural conception rights and so we should make the ban permanent, because only then would we all get the benefits of not having genetic engineering and Transhumanism looming over us anymore. But at least there'd be a public discussion and if we decided to pursue same-sex conception and make it safe, we would switch the Civil Unions to marriages at the same time that we repeal the ban on genetic engineering and/or same-sex conception.
12.3.2008 12:27pm
Enki:
the only thing I'll agree to is that same sex conception is impossible right now. the ethical considerations are, thus, hypothetical at best. and you have still not demonstrated how - even if your fears come true - that somehow threatens "natural conception rights". probably because that's impossible to prove in a hypothetical unknown future, but hey I still have to ask.
12.3.2008 12:35pm
hazemyth:
David Walser: "Having learned to satisfy myself sexually in that manner, would I have ever gone straight?"

Not to diminish the earnestness or thoughtfulness of your reply but I don't think you really get gay people. You might need to clear out some misconceptions and take a harder look at what gay life is really like. People don't become gay because they find a sexual practice that works for them. It's more than simply sexual and it is entirely compelling -- which would suggest it's not a sin, by your definition. You don't chance upon it because of an offer someone made. It's a central and insistent aspect of your desire for human contact.

And, as for male/female role models, Enki is right. The public perception that studies support the need for them results from misrepresentation by interested (religious right) parties. The key studies typically discussed did not examine gender, just single parentage vs. parental partnerships. Those that conducted the studies have repudiated their misappropriation. Discussions of female/male role models tend to be oversimplified and stereotyped. I would suggest you take a more critical look at gender, generally... but it's beyond the topic of this thread.

This is also what I mean by dehumanizing gays... Or anyone really. You can't qualify someone as a parent, or any social role, based on something like their gender.
12.3.2008 12:42pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
No, it's not impossible right now, it's just not likely to be successful. But it is certainly possible to attempt it right now, and the ethical issues pertain not just to whether it should be attempted, but whether it should continue to be researched and taught as a possibility for the future. It most certainly is threatening individual conception rights right now, because people are treating conception rights as unrelated to marriage and something that can be prohibited or allowed at any time, even if a couple is married.

I say that people should always have conception rights with someone of the other sex, and should never have conception rights with someone of the same sex. But you insist on equal conception rights for same-sex couples, even as you agree that it is not something that anyone is going to attempt any time soon. Why insist on something that you don't even think is possible? Oh, that's right, it's because you realize that I've got a winning argument against same-sex marriage, so you have to insist that same-sex conception be legal, right now, even though it is super unsafe right now, super wasteful to develop, super wasteful to perform, super expensive to fund, and totally unnecessary to achieve. But because you don't want to lose this marriage argument, you have to force us to develop same-sex conception and keep it legal and let people do it if they want to.

I'm glad you illustrated that the same-sex marriage argument is not about hospital visitation or protecting any of the families raising children or anything that has been claimed, it is about equal conception rights to attempt same-sex conception.

Please consider the actual couples that need protections when you turn down the Civil Union idea and insist on equal conception rights.
12.3.2008 1:56pm
Enki:
John Howard.
this is getting a little tired, but I am, as they say, a patient man. nevertheless, I am a rather busy person so I think this will be my last response here, because ultimately we are getting nowhere, and I actually get a little irritated when people such as yourself attempt to speak for me without actually reading what I say.

It most certainly is threatening individual conception rights right now, because people are treating conception rights as unrelated to marriage and something that can be prohibited or allowed at any time, even if a couple is married.

this is your opinion and completely unsupported by any facts. in fact, from what I've seen (and I've been involved tangentially in the issue for twenty years now), you are the ONLY person to make this argument. so your assertion that "people" are doing this is simply unsupported by reality. Even if you can find a handful of your friends who agree, it's still far from some large scale groupthink.

and, it doesn't answer the question anyway. your statement, even if it's true, does not show how normal conception is threatened by SSM - that is, how will SSM lead to people no longer having babies in the normal way. I'm guessing that there is no answer to this, but hey.

But you insist on equal conception rights for same-sex couples, even as you agree that it is not something that anyone is going to attempt any time soon.

you are putting words into my "posts". I never insisted on anything even resembling that. Your interpretation of what SSM means is not the same as mine, clearly.

I do not think you have a winning argument, all you have is an opinion that you believe is correct. of course, you are entitled to that, but I'm not here to win or lose anything. I'm sorry if you are, because what you and I think is not likely to mean anything either way.

I'm glad you illustrated that the same-sex marriage argument is not about hospital visitation or protecting any of the families raising children or anything that has been claimed, it is about equal conception rights to attempt same-sex conception.

again, that's YOUR interpretation, which of course you are entitled to, but do not ascribe it to me. I do not agree with your view of the future, no matter how you may attempt to spin my own opinion.

I have made every effort to engage in a meaningful discussion with you. perhaps you are incapable of that, which I suppose I must get through my own thick skull. FYI, in the future, it might behoove you to refrain from calling people "insane", accuse them of "bullshitting", or - perhaps most eggregiously - ascribe arguments to them that they did not, in fact, make. In short, show the same respect to other people that they show to you. until then, peace.
12.3.2008 2:13pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

Given that I would like to see marriage in its current form abolished I'm not sure how your worries apply. Given that natural procreation is already legal between people who can not marry (because they are already married to someone else), I again fail to see your arguement being a winner.

My personal desire to see same sex procreation stems from the desire to make polyandry more equal, not for any particular desire for SSM as such.
12.3.2008 2:16pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Excuse me, polyamory, not polyandry.

As for saying that the research is not worth pursuing, many people thought the same of early work on micro-computers and any number of other areas.

The safety issues I will conceed for the time being, which is why I would confine any such work to animal experiments, just as cloning has been. I can see great potential benefits of such work, such as quicker development of new traits like milk production in dairy cattle by breeding two cows rather than needing an intervening generation.

Beyond that the longer this discussion continues, the more shrill you sound without being able to point to any actual danger to anyone who would like to procreate naturally. If you are trying to posit some sexless Demolition Man future as the end product of such research, well I don't know what to tell you.
12.3.2008 2:38pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
because ultimately we are getting nowhere

Are you kidding, we have confirmed that your real demand is for same-sex conception to be developed and made safe, not for any of the benefits and protections that people have been claiming the argument is about. We have established that you don't care about getting protections to same-sex couples, you only care that genetic engineering and same-sex conception be legal, now and in the future.

you are the ONLY person to make this argument. so your assertion that "people" are doing this is simply unsupported by reality.

Huh? That's my point. Everyone but me (and Justice Kennedy in Lawrence) is treating the issues separately, and that denies the conception rights of marriage, and that threatens individual conception rights.

I never insisted on anything even resembling that.

Show me where you agree that same-sex couples should not have conception rights. All of your posts seem to me to be refusing to accept a ban, insisting that it should be allowed. If it's putting words in your mouth, it's words that follow from and are consistent with the words you have said and the words you refuse to say. You are insisting on conception rights, because you won't agree that same-sex couples shouldn't have them.

I should say "it is insane" to choose same-sex conception rights over equal protections right now. I am hoping that you will prove not to be insane and be persuaded by my arguments to change your priorities and join me in calling for the Egg and Sperm Civil Union Compromise.

And, the whole manner of deferring and avoiding the issue until some unspecified time in the future, and denying that you have taken a position on the issue now, and claiming to be open to the possibility that you might be for it or against it later, and saying it has to do with science, etc, is bullshitting. That's the term for writing stuff that isn't true, just to placate someone who's put you on the spot and avoid admitting defeat.

It's simple, Anki: if we decide to allow it someday when it is safe, we'll turn the CU's to marriages. Until then, we'll prohibit attempting it, and give all the other rights of marriage in the form of CU's. Don't screw over the thousands of real couples that would benefit from this compromise right now, for something that might never be possible anyhow.
12.3.2008 2:55pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
John Howard,

The problem with your "wait for it" line is that if the line is drawn where you advocate it will in fact never be possible. Your are hiding ultimate defeat in the wrappings of comprimise.
12.3.2008 2:59pm
Enki:
I have not "demanded" anything at all. that you have inferred such from my comments in order to fit them within your view does not change the fact that it's your opinion, not mine. so. enjoy your opinion, and peace.
12.3.2008 3:17pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
Enki, I mean, sorry.

Soronel:

As for saying that the research is not worth pursuing, many people thought the same of early work on micro-computers and any number of other areas.

That's a bad argument, in and of itself. You have to look at every issue on its own and consider whether pursuing it will be good or bad, and whether banning it will be good or bad.

Let me ask you why you assume banning it will be bad and allowing it will be good. It seems the only argument either of you have made is that we shouldn't ban any inquiry of science because it is increases knowledge, regardless of whether that knowledge will be useful or perhaps bring about bad things, because sometimes we like the results of scientific research. But address this issue directly: why is same-sex conception a good thing, what is bad about it not existing?

I'm not sure that conception is legal between people married to other people. I call that adultery and unethical. It may happen, but lots of things happen that people decide not to pursue criminal charges over. That doesn't make them legal.

And I'm saying that same-sex couples shouldn't have the right to conceive together, which has nothing to do with unmarried conception or extra-marital conception.

If I'm sounding shrill, it's because I'm incredulous that you are all choosing such a dumb and dangerous choice of making procreation unrelated to what sex we are and choose to procreate with, instead of getting equal protections to same-sex couples and preserving equality and individual conception rights.
12.3.2008 3:17pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
The problem with your "wait for it" line is that if the line is drawn where you advocate it will in fact never be possible. Your are hiding ultimate defeat in the wrappings of comprimise.

Well, it wouldn't be a defeat for the couples that would rather have equal protections and would understand why they have CU's and not marriages. It would be a defeat for people that want to do GE, same-sex conception, and complete equality with same-sex couples, true.

But keep in mind that I wouldn't be the one to decide this issue. I'm only on the sidelines trying to make my case. People might very well disagree with me that the ban should be permanent, and might very well decide to allow same-sex conception and change CU's into marriages. Then you'd win, but in a way so would I, because I would have preserved the right of all marriages to procreate with their own genes, even though I don't think that would mean much once people are faced with the choice to have their baby using GE or woth their own defective genes. It would be like the right of gay people to marry someone of the other sex, so useless that people often say that gay people don't have the right to marry unless they have a right to marry someone of the same sex.
12.3.2008 3:33pm
John Howard (eggandsperm.org) (mail) (www):
I meant to say "It would be a defeat for people that want to do GE, same-sex conception, and for same-sex couples to have complete equality with male-female couples, true." I suppose that was obvious enough, but this gives me a chance to note that those people are called Transhumanists. My beef is not with homosexuals but with Transhumanists. They're using gay people with this equal marriage question to achieve their goals, and it is harming thousands of same-sex couples and their families.
12.3.2008 3:51pm