Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gay Marriage

Over at Crime and Federalism, Norm Pattis has an interesting post on gay marriage.


  1. What complete and utter claptrap and hypocrisy.

    "But neither should the state stand in the way of marriage between consenting adults. The bonds of affection are as real and enduring between heterosexual couples as they are between homosexual couples. Any couple should have the right to stand on an altar or court house step and to declare to the world life-long fidelity to the love of their life. "

    First, the author completely undercuts his own argument by arguing that the state doesn't have the right to stand between a couple and the altar. Last I checked, the altar was in a church and whether or not the state condoned the legal state of marriage or not had nothing to do with whether or not the "church" had to allow a couple to come in and use their altar. If the author wanted to be intellectually honest, what he should really be arguing for is getting the state completely out of "marriage" all together. Let people decide whether or not to get "married" all on their own with no state involvement whatsoever. Be they Catholic, pagan, or Satanist, if they want to enter into a "religious institution" that should be between them and their chosen form of organized religion.

    Now, if those same people want to get some sort of special entitlements from the state (tax breaks, property rights, etc) that is a different issue all together.

    Why not do away with "marriage" (and its religious implications) as a legal entity all together and just replace it across the board with civil unions?

    "Every public policy goal that supports marriage for heterosexuals applies to those bending the lines of gender. Stable families, estate planning for couples with life-time commitments, a sense of respect for the intimate choices defining us. Why not accord these to all people?" asks the author. But he doesn't mean it. Because his definition of "all people" is really "all people who he thinks deserve the benefits of marriage" (just like the people he eviscerates for denying rights to homosexual couples).

    Whether the author wants to admit it or not, much of what shapes our laws is our history and culture. Although he lacks either the intelligence or the honesty to admit this, he implicitly acknowledges it when he limits marriage to "couples" and associates it with "love".

    Hey, if the state has no business limiting who can get married based on its tired old morality, why stop with sexually active couples. Why require the "unit" in question to be a couple? Why not a threesome, why not a husband and a half a dozen wives, or vice versa; why not an entire tribe or commune? Why does it matter if "bonds of affection" or "fidelity" are involved?

    If the state has no business discriminating between homo- and heterosexual couples, why does it have the right to discriminate against asexual couples or polygamous groupings? Why can't business partners, siblings, or parents and children get all the legal benefits of being "married"? Why does "libido" get dragged into the discussion at all? Why can't every member of the commune be "married" to every other member? Why can't the Mormons dust off their polygamous heritage and join the Muslims in the brand new wonderful world of legal polygamy in the USA?

    Oh, I forgot, "that's different". Different because the author is "enlightened enough" to not discriminate against one alternative life style, but still has some hang-ups with some others? Different because the author associates marriage with only certain kinds of "pairings" and "relationships"? Gee, the author is starting to sound an awful lot like the people he was belittling for not accepting his views on the definition of marriage . . .


  2. As you know from our many discussions, I don't completely share Norm's rationale for supporting gay marriage; but I do support gay marriage, and I do think he makes good points.

    To the extent that a church has decided that homosexuality is not a sin, and is willing to offer gay marriage, the state does stand in the way of that church offering the gay couple the same services it offers to a straight couple. Now you can certainly argue that the church can still offer a "church" wedding if it chooses, and you can certainly argue that the "real problem" is that the state should be removed from the equation of what is or is not "marriage", but even granting that it nonetheless remains that there is not presently equality before the altar.

    Certainly, by "all people", the author means any pair of competent, consenting adults. You can call that hypocrisy, if you will, but it is no less hypocritical than the status quo. And while history and culture certainly have influenced our nation's law of marriage, have we not effectively "legislated" the (majority) Christian definition which we now defend on the basis of "history and culture" rather than addressing this legislative incorporation of religious doctrine?

    It may not be "fair" to people who want polygamy to be legal to restrict marriage to pairs of people. But that has no impact on any individual's right to marriage. Any individual competent adult, even if he would *prefer* an alternative arrangement, can marry a single, competent adult of the opposite sex - a limitation that discriminates against homosexuals. If gay marriage were legal, the opposite sex restriction would be removed, all competent adults will be treated equally. If your goal is to eliminate arbitrary restrictions and discrimination, isn't that significant progress over the status quo?

    Further, the reverse slippery slope applies, to all the silly reasons why marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples. For example, stability of the family unit for raising children? Why, if that's a compelling basis to restrict marriage, should infertile or childless couples be permitted to marry or remain married?

  3. I SO agree with Aaron's final comment on the institution of marriage. While I am not gay myself, I unequivocally support gay marriage mainly because of that premise. If defending "traditional, family-centered marriages" even hints that the purpose of marriage is to procreate and have children, then the States that ban same-sex marriage today should extend that to ban ALL marriages except where only a fertile man and woman marry. Any other marriage (where the couple is known to have one infertile member, or have stated that they do not wish to have children) should be deemed illegal, as there is no purpose to such a marriage -- according to right-wing evangelists and anti-gay marriage proponents that claim marriage is a sacred heterosexual-only institution that needs to be preserved in order to produce and raise children.

    Therefore, unless we want to go out and publicly make such a ludicrous statetment, then gay marriage (or marriage between any two people regardless of their intent/capability to produce children) should be allowed. STOP THE HYPOCRISY!!!

    Doug, Marblehead MA


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