Conservatives: For a Government Small Enough to Sneek into Your Bedroom

Courtesy of Lil’ P, we learn that Martin Kennedy sees nothing funny about nor even particularly wrong with a self-hating gay man passing legislation that deliberately curtails the rights of other gay people.

I will let those of you who are married without children explain to Martin how deep in bullshit he stands when he says, “Extending the benefits of marriage to those who can not procreate renders marriage an arbitrary relationship.”   I, instead, ask you readers to consider the following:

Who better than Larry Craig to appreciate that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could be problematic?  A gay person’s right must be balanced with concern regarding the unique mission of the military – to fight and win wars.  Who better than Larry Craig to appreciate that gay marriage is not the same thing as traditional marriage?  The state has a keen interest in the state of the family.

I’m sorry.  I wish I had astute analysis but I’m too busy laughing.  Seriously, this is ludicrous.  It’s like there’s a huge fabulous pool we might call “Homosexual America” and all the folks who are in the pool are having a grand ole time, they just wish they had a diving board like the folks at the “Heterosexual America” pool.  Now let’s say that, for some reason, the folks at the Heterosexual America pool are the ones in charge of doling out the diving boards and, for some reason, they refuse to give the folks at the other pool one.  The folks in the pool are all “Hey, we’d really like one.”   The folks in the straight pool are split, but most folks believe, for some reason that giving the gays a diving board would somehow ruin their diving board.

And who do straight people like Kennedy turn to for guidance about this?  Not the vast majority of gay people who are openly in the pool and openly having a good time.  No, he turns to the fucked-up dudes who are standing in the bushes, peering through the fence at the gay pool, throwing rocks at the cute boys, trying to get their attention.

That is hilarious to me.

66 thoughts on “Conservatives: For a Government Small Enough to Sneek into Your Bedroom

  1. I love my arbitrary relationship!

    The state has a keen interest in the state of the family.

    Why? Doesn’t this scare anyone else?

    Why should the state have a “keen interest” in the condition of anything private?

    Since the state has such a keen interest, perhaps someone in The State would like to drive over to my house with grape cough syrup, some Tom Ka Gai soup and a few funny videos to see me through this cold.

  2. Gay people might just ruin the 50 percent of marriages that are actually working if given the right to say “I do”.
    We’ve got to be really diligent about that, because apparently the heterosexual agenda is ruining half the marriages in the US already.

    And I really want to go swimming now, with or without a diving board. But I’d love to have that board, because everyone knows how I love to make a big splash.

  3. B.

    “Extending the benefits of marriage to those who can not procreate renders marriage an arbitrary relationship.”

    I think you are misunderstanding that assertion. There is a difference between those who can not procreate, incidentally, like a male-female couple where the guy is impotent and one where procreation, in principle, is impossible, like a male-male couple.

  4. There is a difference between those who can not procreate, incidentally, like a male-female couple where the guy is impotent and one where procreation, in principle, is impossible, like a male-male couple.

    What is that difference, other than the genders of the respective parties? And how does that difference matter in any way to the state?

    Maybe you can use your magical cooter to help you get some cough syrup.

    How do you think I got my Nyquil and Kleenex® last night?

  5. OK, Martin. Say a post-menopausal woman wants to marry (or remarry). Procreation would be impossible in such a relationship. Should that marriage be allowed?

    I suppose that I don’t understand a) the difference between “incidental” and “in principle” and b) how you’re not suggesting that the purpose of marriage is procreation if the ability to procreate (in principle) determines whether a marriage is valid.

  6. Squirrel Queen is damn right. Heterosexual couples are already doing a mighty fine job of making marriage “an arbitrary relationship.” Are we really to expect that Teh Gay is going to make things worse?

  7. B and Kat,

    Regarding the diving board analogy, marriage is not merely for the pleasure or benefit of those getting married. It is an institution that serves the interests of the state. The state has an interest in domestic tranquility – low crime rates, well-adjusted kids who can learn and become productive citizens contributing to the common good. The family that is built on a committed male-female relationship is a good model with respect to the rearing and development of children.

    It is not that giving gays a diving board would ruin the “straight” diving board. It is worse. It would distort the concept of diving. If the concept of marriage is “extended” to include a relationship between two men, by what logic do we not “extend” it to include a relationship between a man and three women? between two men and five women? It becomes arbitrary.
    Is domestic tranquility served be “extending” marriage? Are the interests of children served?
    The concept of marriage emerged from the biological reality that procreation requires one male and one female, and no more.

  8. Josh,

    People are ambulatory. They can walk. However, not all people can walk. Someone who was hurt in an accident may not be able to walk ever again. He is still a person who, incidentally, is not able to walk.

    People who can not procreate, incidentally, should be able to get married.

    A oyster is not ambulatory in principle. No oysters can walk. People who can not procreate, in principle, should not be allowed to marry.

    Church Sec.

    … Heterosexual couples are already doing a mighty fine job of making marriage “an arbitrary relationship.”

    I agree. I disagree with respect to the policy response.

  9. Martin, marriage, as it exists right now in the world has room for marriages that are one man and one woman, one man and many women, and one women and many men.

    If you mean that the concept of marriage as we think of it here in the United States emerged from a biological reality, you could just as easily say that it emerged as a way of insuring that men passed their property on to their biological sons while ensuring that there weren’t so many biological sons as to cause the property to be split up into meaninglessly small pieces.

    Our codifying marriage as one man and one woman is arbitrary already and we could set another arbitrary standard, that marriage is between two consenting adults, and the world would not end.

    There’s never been a credible study that suggests that it’s more harmful to grow up in a gay household than a straight household. Gay people are just as capable of raising children or fucking them up as anyone else.

    I don’t know. I wish there was something I could do to show you that your fears are unfounded, that it’s really going to be okay. Gays can get married right now in Massachusetts. Do you feel that your marriage is somehow distorted by that?

    Yes, a committed male-female relationship is a good model for a family. It doesn’t have to be the only model.

  10. marriage is not merely for the pleasure or benefit of those getting married. It is an institution that serves the interests of the state. The state has an interest in domestic tranquility

    Accepting your premise as true for the sake of furthering discussion…

    One of the long-held stereotypes against homosexual relationships is that they are by nature unstable and not designed to last. [1]

    Wouldn’t it then be more in keeping with the interests of the State to allow homosexuals to marry, thereby forcing them to engage in the same contractual parameters used by the state to ensure domestic tranquility (a phrase I think you have reduced down to its most absurd application, by the way) in heterosexual relationships? Here we have both a perceived flaw AND a perceived tool for the correction of that flaw. Why not implement it?

    The family that is built on a committed male-female relationship is a good model with respect to the rearing and development of children.

    Undoubtedly so. However, many couples enjoined in this contractual relationship of state-sanctioned marriage do NOT fit this bill at all. Do we then arbitrarily dissolve the marriages where a working mother is too often absent or an alcoholic father is too often drunk to suit the state definition of role-modeling?

    It would distort the concept of diving.

    No more so than No Fault Divorce. [2] Frankly, if we’re going to insist that homosexuals can’t marry because of the supposed perversion of the institution than we also ought to repeal the No Fault Divorce statutes in the states which have them. Those make even more of a mockery of the idea of marriage than any two people of the same gender having a committment ceremony.

    People who can not procreate, incidentally, should be able to get married.

    I cannot procreate, incidentally. I’m glad the State sanctions my relationship. Yet I don’t see how my “accidentally legless” uterus deserves a pass, logically, under the criterion that marriage is about the upbringing of children.

    Look, if we want to say “that’s the way it is, so that’s the way it is” then fine. If you want to say “Marriage as a solely heterosexual union is the tradition of this country and we aim to preserve that tradition” then I’m all for that argument. I can respect it. I may not wholly agree, but I can respect your position.

    But the rest of this stuff is just illogical. There is no follow-through to any logical conclusion more solid than “because we said so.”

    [1] “http://www.declaration.net/news/11-20-03.asp”

    [2] “http://family-law.freeadvice.com/divorce_law/no-fault_divorce.htm”

  11. There is a difference between those who can not procreate, incidentally, like a male-female couple where the guy is impotent and one where procreation, in principle, is impossible, like a male-male couple.

    marriages are not made in general principles. they are made in specific, individual, incidentals, one consenting adult couple at a time.

    (i’m technically fertile, but childless by choice, and married. should i get a divorce? why or why not?)

  12. … marriage, as it exists right now in the world has room for marriages that are one man and one woman, one man and many women, and one women and many men.

    I guess so B, but you are not suggesting that such changes are not profound. No, such changes have the potential to radically alter society as we know it.

    Marriage is arbitrarily defined already? I don’t think so. It takes a male and female to procreate. That’s not arbitrary. If one male pairs off with one female it insures that the supply and demand of the respective genders is kept in balance. That is conducive to peace. Polygamy is bad for men because it reduces the availability of women. Gangs of sexually frustrated men are a menace.

    … There’s never been a credible study that suggests that it’s more harmful to grow up in a gay household than a straight household…

    Perhaps (I’m not sure), but that doesn’t prove that it is not harmful. I suspect that it is harmful.

    … I don’t know. I wish there was something I could do to show you that your fears are unfounded, that it’s really going to be okay…

    How do you know?

    … Gays can get married right now in Massachusetts. Do you feel that your marriage is somehow distorted by that?

    Yes. My marriage, one male and one female, is not comparable to a male-male “marriage.”

    … a committed male-female relationship is a good model for a family. It doesn’t have to be the only model.

    You can travel around the world in a row boat or on a jet. I’d prefer the jet.

  13. NN,

    … marriages are not made in general principles. they are made in specific, individual, incidentals, one consenting adult couple at a time.

    Yes, but we use general principles and concepts to make laws and policies.

  14. NN,

    (i’m technically fertile, but childless by choice, and married. should i get a divorce? why or why not?)

    Much tougher question. I don’t think so. Why not? You may become open to life. As I said much tougher question, not at all conducive to a short answer.

  15. The state has an interest in domestic tranquility – low crime rates, well-adjusted kids who can learn and become productive citizens contributing to the common good.

    Except for homosexuals, you mean. Are you suggesting that the state has an interest in forcing homosexuals into crime and maladjustment by giving them the choices of closeting/repression or furtive, criminalized ‘perversion’?

    If the concept of marriage is “extended” to include a relationship between two men, by what logic do we not “extend” it to include a relationship between a man and three women? between two men and five women?

    Um, offhand I’d say by the logic that says that we have kept the magic number of adults who can marry at two.

    It becomes arbitrary.

    Based on personal choice, huh? That’s the basis for my own marriage and it’s the reason my spouse and I keep working on it to make it a source of good for ourselves, our families, and our friends. That is, in fact, the only basis I can see for a good marriage. Marrying because of anyone else’s choices or preferences, or because of communal demands, seems to me to be doomed to fail.

  16. If one male pairs off with one female it insures that the supply and demand of the respective genders is kept in balance.

    Bwahahahaha! And I’m certainly not going to start advocating marriage in order to keep market forces in balance.

  17. but you don’t want to make law and policy out of the specific general principle which you’re appealing to as your “explanation” for why you want to make law and policy.

    otherwise you’d require couples where one or both partners get surgically sterilized get divorced, as well. you’d make it impossible for post-menopausal women to be (or remain) married, by the general principle that all those are couples which cannot — even in general principle — mutually procreate.

    appealing to one principle as your reason for making a different one law is disingenuous, and possibly dishonest. maybe i should recommend you read Kant, if you can stand the boredom.

    (here’s a neat hypothetical: couple gets heterosexually married. after some years, one partner has a sex change. other partner decides the person they fell in love with, and married, is still the same, so opts to remain in the union.

    we now have a perfectly legal gay marriage, potentially even after the trans* partner legally changes gender. nevertheless, the union will not likely result in (any further) procreating, since most gender transitioning results in incidental sterilization.

    hypothetical question: how many other, separate heterosexual marriages will be irretrievably ruined by their staying together? which ones?

    dose of reality: such marriages — and transitions — are happening, right now. who feels their own marriage thereby threatened?)

  18. Kat,

    … No Fault Divorce statutes… make even more of a mockery of the idea of marriage than any two people of the same gender having a committment ceremony…

    So embrace both? I do agree that No Fault Divorce statutes are detrimental to the very concept of marriage.

  19. Kat,

    …However, many couples enjoined in this contractual relationship of state-sanctioned marriage do NOT fit this bill at all. Do we then arbitrarily dissolve the marriages where a working mother is too often absent or an alcoholic father is too often drunk to suit the state definition of role-modeling?

    No. We do take the kids at some point if they are being harmed beyond some degree. The state should protect when the family is profoundly dysfunctional. However, people can and do change. Give them the opportunity.

  20. If the concept of marriage is “extended” to include a relationship between two men, by what logic do we not “extend” it to include a relationship between a man and three women? between two men and five women? It becomes arbitrary.

    I don’t get this argument. You just say that marriage, in the legal sense, is a relationship between two consenting adults. That’s it.

  21. kat,

    …. Look, if we want to say “that’s the way it is, so that’s the way it is” then fine. If you want to say “Marriage as a solely heterosexual union is the tradition of this country and we aim to preserve that tradition” then I’m all for that argument. I can respect it. I may not wholly agree, but I can respect your position.

    The institution of marriage did not emerge arbitrarily.

  22. Kat,

    … Wouldn’t it then be more in keeping with the interests of the State to allow homosexuals to marry, thereby forcing them to engage in the same contractual parameters used by the state to ensure domestic tranquility in heterosexual relationships? Here we have both a perceived?

    I think people, regardless of sexual preference should be able to enter into various contractual arrangements.

  23. Josh,

    …I don’t get this argument. You just say that marriage, in the legal sense, is a relationship between two consenting adults. That’s it.

    But why NOT extend it to other arrangements? Why discriminate against polygamists? Where is the logic?

  24. The institution of marriage did not emerge arbitrarily.

    indeed it didn’t. when it first emerged, it was a quite deliberate means for men to ensure their property rights, which of course included their rights to their wives. it quickly expanded to help support inheritance rights, of course.

    the notion that women weren’t part of the marital property is a relatively new development which did, indeed, radically change the nature of both society and marriage itself. as did the slightly earlier notion that there was to be only one woman in the marriage. neither of these notions have yet become truly universally accepted.

  25. … And I’m certainly not going to start advocating marriage in order to keep market forces in balance.

    It might sound funny but it is a reality. China could have a real problem in the very near future… what to do with the surplus men. Many unattached men is a problem for society.

  26. NN,

    In your longer post I a.) don’t get some of what you are saying and b.) reject the conclusions that you put into my mouth.

    Let’s keep it simple. Are men and women different? Does it take a male and female to procreate?

    The answers to those questions have implications.

    We should, when we explain something, be as simple as possible, and no simpler. It is conducive to good discussion and debate.

    Gotta Go

  27. We do take the kids at some point if they are being harmed beyond some degree. The state should protect when the family is profoundly dysfunctional.

    Martin, look at what you’re saying: you’re saying that you know that some people don’t live up to your personal ideals about marriage, but that unless they are actively harming their children we as a society do (and should) allow the household to remain intact, and we certainly allow the marriage to continue. You have pointed out above that you have no evidence that being reared by a homosexual couple is more harmful to children than being reared by a heterosexual couple. And yet you don’t see that by your own logic this means that you should put your personal unhappiness with homosexual marriage aside.

  28. China has a problem already, that of undervaluing women, which is what led to their current skewed sex ratios. They are definitely going to have an additional problem as all the surplus men reach marriageable age. Just going by your supply/demand approach, I would think it would be in the interests of further domestic tranquility to start promoting male homosexuality pronto.

  29. m.k., i’m saying you’re waffling on your principles. you’re using your “procreation is important” principle as a mere excuse for wanting to push a completely different principle (“gays can’t get married”) into law.

    if procreation is so principally important, then let’s make law out of that principle. people known to be infertile (due to age, known medical sterilization — hey, we already need a medical exam to get a marriage license, right? — or other similarly general cause) cannot get married.

    this has the benefit of preventing more undesirable (because barren) marriages than just outlawing gay marriage, so is a better implementation of the principle you consider to be so very important to begin with. outlawing gay marriage alone is an unproductive, even counterproductive, red herring that you ought to drop.

    or if it isn’t, then the firstly mentioned principle really can’t be all that important after all, and you’d have to admit you’re just using it as an excuse.

    the transsexual hypothetical is just a fun mind game. except it isn’t just a game, it’s real too. for real fun, imagine it’s a gay marriage (in Massachusetts, it’d have to be) and one partner is transitioning to make it a straight marriage. now ponder how federal law (and other states’ law) would handle that situation!

  30. m kennedy,

    Let’s see if I have your argument down.

    Your 1st Point: Marriage is about having kids. If you’re a straight couple and CAN’T have kids, then you should still be able to get married, just because some other random male-female couple CAN have kids. Meanwhile if you’re a gay couple who DOES have kids, your children should be deprived of the benefits of having married parents on the basis that their parents can’t biologically create a child together. (Speaking of the biological impossibility of having a child, do you believe virgin birth is possible? Just askin’)

    Your 2nd Point: You acknowledge that you know of no study indicating that it is harmful for a child to be raised (and I’ll add that there’s been a few studies, such as this one that show no difference between children raised in same-sex headed households and opposite-sex headed households) by a same-sex couple, yet because you “suspect” that such an arrangement could be harmful, you find it completely reasonable to deny equal rights to same-sex couples. Much the way it would have been completely reasonable to deny Christopher Columbus his expedition because most people of his time suspected that the world was flat.

    Your 3rd Point: If we change the arbitrary gender requirement of civil marriage in the United States, then we must change non-arbitrary requirements such as number. Pay no mind to the fact that many of the legal contractual rights of marriage (power of attorney being the most obvious) self limit themselves to two parties (I can’t give two people equal power to decide to pull the plug for me, what if they disagree?).

    Your 4th Point: We don’t know what will happen if we allow gay people to marry, because there’s no way we could possibly look at other countries which have legal same-sex marriage (some have for years) and note that the sky indeed is not falling there. Besides, we should never take any action that we can’t exactly predict the outcome. All change is bad.

    Does that pretty much cover them?

  31. Ooh, Dolphin, this: it would have been completely reasonable to deny Christopher Columbus his expedition because most people of his time suspected that the world was flat
    is based on a misunderstanding. (Actually, it’s based on a deliberate fabrication by Washington Irving, but let’s not get into that.) Most people of the time of Columbus, including but not limited to all sailors, all scientists, and educated people generally, were aware that the earth is spherical. The reason Columbus had trouble getting his expedition going is that he thought the world was about 16,000 miles in circumference, and the folks with the money, who were mostly aware that it was about 25,000 miles, were unwilling to bankroll someone so fundamentally wrong.

    Wait a minute, let’s do get into the Washington Irving thing. It’s actually relevant to the subject under discussion here, in a way. Schoolchildren in the US are sure that the reason Columbus had trouble getting ships was because everyone thought the earth was flat (so you couldn’t get to Asia by sailing west from Europe) and sailors were afraid of sailing off the edge. This was not the popular belief, and certainly not the educated belief; the real story is that Columbus was perceived to have miscalculated in important ways (he had), and that although it was agreed that you could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, you couldn’t carry enough supplies and fresh water to keep a crew alive for a voyage 1.5 times as long as he was claiming it would be. But this makes Columbus look a trifle dorky, and it shows that he and his crew would have died if the Americas (which no one in Europe knew about at the time) hadn’t been in the way to relieve them, and generally makes the European discovery that the Americas existed kind of the punch line to a bad joke. And if one was Washington Irving, writing in the very early 19th century, trying to create a literature and a history for a brand-spanking-new country, and to create an inspiring foundational myth, one wouldn’t want to include that story in one’s biography of Columbus. But one would want to keep the story of Columbus hanging around royal courts for years trying to get funding for his expedition and finally succeeding, because that brings perseverance and persistance against great odds into the foundational story of the national character. So one needs a reason that Columbus was made to hang around for so long that makes him look good, and those silly Europeans look bad. Aha! Invent the idea of the flat earth. So what if it was false? One’s readers won’t know the difference. And that, children, is how we got our story of Columbus.

    And that is also how Martin is arguing: ignore logic, ignore the facts, ignore the implications of the positions one stakes out, just write whatever makes one’s readers feel good about themselves.

  32. nm, bless you. I just taught this in my intro US survey class this morning and my students looked discomfited in the extreme. This is one of those pieces of the American story that everyone “knows” and that elementary school teachers pass on because it makes a nationally satisfying story that seems easy enough for kids to relate to — who doesn’t like it when adults are stupid? — but it’s utterly untrue.

  33. Only history geeks should be allowed to marry, Kat.

    Bridgett, you can get your students to believe you when you tell them that things they “know” are wrong? What’s your secret? When I taught modern history I found that nothing I could do or say would erase the “knowledge” that the Great Depression was caused by the U.S. stock market crashing.

  34. We already have fairly large “groups” of sexually frustrated men. They are called “golfers”, and typically come in “gangs” of four…

  35. Wow, nm, I didn’t know that. As much as I enjoy all the superhistorical conversations y’all get into, my own grasp of history is pretty shaky. Okay, really shaky.

  36. Mag, but doesn’t it just stretch your brain in such pleasant ways? I love my commenters, and not just the bare-chested fireman ones.

    Here’s what, at the end of the day, I don’t get. I honestly believe that Martin has the right to believe that gay people should not be married and he has the right to advocate for that. But, and Martin, forgive me if you don’t intend it, there seems to be an element of “I and others like me have decided that this is the best for America and therefore it is” to your argument that I find baffling.

    Are we really going to run a democracy with one group feeling like they have the last word at all times?

  37. m kennedy is using the patented and field-tested right-wing debating method of “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks; if it doesn’t, throw it again (harder, if necessary).” This technique has come to work handily in electoral politics, given the prevalence of the Right Wing Noise Machine in our mass media and the success of the GOP at gerrymandering electoral districts in their favor. In other words, a healthy plurality of people– but nowhere near a majority– buys into the sort of bullshit legal contortions that Kennedy is peddling, and that’s often enough to push many GOPers over the top.

    If you want to see more of this dynamic in action, Pam Spaulding demonstrates how the right wing Morality Police are backpedaling fiercely and triangulating like Democrats over the Larry Craig brouhaha.

    As it is with the Morality Police, Kennedy’s real bogeyman is Teh Gay. It isn’t about the health of the nation or the teachings of Jesus or anything else. It’s all about maintaining fear and hatred of The Other whenever possible, and doing so in service of maintaining a desired social order (i.e. the white male patriarchy). Similar arguments (of the legal, pseudoscientific, and religious nature) were once widely spouted regarding the kind of marriage that my wife and I now share (miscegenation, they called it).

    People tend to be more thoughtful and open-minded in spaces like Tiny Cat Pants, though, and Kennedy winds up chasing his verbose tail.

  38. Hee. It does indeed stretch my mind. I love it! I just wish I could have some sort of mail-order history teacher service (with a time machine). I mean, my high school history teachers were okay (well, one of them was ohmigodsuperawesome, and one of them was a nice person, but not the bestest teacher ever, which averages out to “okay” in my book), and college was interesting (but extremely specific; I took “Gender and the Family” and stuff like that)… but the foundation they were working over was abysmal.

    Mmmm, fireman-y goodness. And I’m not usually one for men in uniform!

  39. Ha, okay, I’m done oogling the Church Secretary and insisting that others oogle him, too. At least until the calendar is officially for sale and then I’m going to be pushing that thing like it’s the next best thing to sliced bread.

  40. Well, see, I don’t think Martin sees himself as taking the position that you say he does, B. And no disrespect, CS, but I don’t think he’s being as deliberately crass as you’re saying he is, either. The problem is that he hasn’t worked out in his own head why teh gay seems so wrong, so naturally he hasn’t taken the further step of working out why gay marriage is wrong. Not having worked it out, just going on gut instinct, he has no way to be aware that others might disagree with him based on anything more than their guts. So he doesn’t have a logically worked out position (Dolphin, before I started the thread derailment, really had the best analysis of his ideas), but because it works for his instinct he doesn’t see that more logical cohesion and a clearer statement of first principles is necessary. That’s kind of what I mean by comparing him to Irving: he really doesn’t see why facts matter in this situation if it feels right to him. And he can’t imagine, B, that anything different really feels right to anyone else, if he could just remind them how he feels.

  41. NN,

    … if procreation is so principally important, then let’s make law out of that principle. people known to be infertile (due to age, known medical sterilization — hey, we already need a medical exam to get a marriage license, right? — or other similarly general cause) cannot get married.

    Doesn’t follow. The universal principle of procreation is the thing. Those who are infertile incidentally can still raise children and are, in that sense, not undesirable marriages.

    The transgender hypothetical might be a fun mind game but it is problematic to use extreme examples as a basis for developing general laws and policies.

  42. Dolphin,

    … Your 1st Point: Marriage is about having kids. If you’re a straight couple and CAN’T have kids, then you should still be able to get married, just because some other random male-female couple CAN have kids. Meanwhile if you’re a gay couple who DOES have kids, your children should be deprived of the benefits of having married parents on the basis that their parents can’t biologically create a child together. (Speaking of the biological impossibility of having a child, do you believe virgin birth is possible? Just askin’)

    Not quite dolphin. It is not that “some other random male-female couple can have kids.” As a rule such couples can have kids. Indeed it requires a male and female to have kids.
    With respect to depriving a child from having married parents, how did the same sex couple get kids? Does one have a right to have kids?

  43. Dolphin:
    … Your 2nd Point: You acknowledge that you know of no study indicating that it is harmful for a child to be raised by a same-sex couple, yet because you “suspect” that such an arrangement could be harmful, you find it completely reasonable to deny equal rights to same-sex couples.

    And? If one suspects that something can be harmful one should hardly embrace it unless there is some benefit to be realized. I don’t see the benefit.

  44. … Your 3rd Point: If we change the arbitrary gender requirement of civil marriage in the United States, then we must change non-arbitrary requirements such as number. Pay no mind to the fact that many of the legal contractual rights of marriage (power of attorney being the most obvious) self limit themselves to two parties (I can’t give two people equal power to decide to pull the plug for me, what if they disagree?).

    I don’t think the gender requirement is arbitrary (see above posts). Neither did I say that we MUST change the “number” requirement. However, I wonder how one would argue against imposing a “number” requirement. If it just about “rights” then I would have no ground to stand on to attack someone’s right to enter a two-male, five-female marriage.

  45. … Your 4th Point: We don’t know what will happen if we allow gay people to marry, because there’s no way we could possibly look at other countries which have legal same-sex marriage and note that the sky indeed is not falling there. Besides, we should never take any action that we can’t exactly predict the outcome. All change is bad.

    I never said or implied any of this.

  46. If it just about “rights” then I would have no ground to stand on to attack someone’s right to enter a two-male, five-female marriage.

    Some clarity on the rights thing – please separate inherent/philosophical rights (which come sequentially before laws, and are generally up for much debate as to their provenance, enforceability, and general existence) and enumerated rights (which come after the laws, being laid out therein). They’re two different issues, lending themselves to two different types of discussion, and it does no one any good to conflate the two.

  47. B,

    … I honestly believe that Martin has the right to believe that gay people should not be married and he has the right to advocate for that.

    Great. We agree on that and I appreciate your recognition of my right. You have the right to advocate for same sex marriage. I don’t think others agree with us.

    … But, and Martin, forgive me if you don’t intend it, there seems to be an element of “I and others like me have decided that this is the best for America and therefore it is” to your argument that I find baffling.

    I think I’ve laid out the basics of the thinking why many, not all, who are opposed to gay marriage take that position. If you, and others like you, win the policy war then we’ll have gay marriage. That policy will be imposed on me and others who think like me. I’m not sure why it baffles.

  48. The universal principle of procreation is the thing. Those who are infertile incidentally can still raise children and are, in that sense, not undesirable marriages.

    if the “universal principle of procreation” were really the thing, you’d be wanting to make it the law. others have already noted that not only can gay couples raise kids, they can (and do) do so perfectly well, and you yourself have not seriously contested it.

    hence, you have no legs left to stand on. were you honest to yourself, you’d admit as much and fold. since you’re not doing that, i conclude you’re trying to deceive somebody — either yourself, or us, or both. we’re not falling for it; are you?

  49. Mag,

    At the risk of adding no clarity at all, I’d say, in this particular case, that a gay person has no inherent right to marry someone of the same gender. They may win, via the policy market, an enumerated right.

  50. NN,

    …. others have already noted that not only can gay couples raise kids, they can (and do) do so perfectly well, and you yourself have not seriously contested it.

    No. It is a difficult thing to contest from the data; there is limited data. “Raising children well” is an elastic concept. By implication I have contested it throughout. Why would I, or anyone else, give a flying rip about who has a right to get married? It is about promoting the best model with respect to the rearing of children.

  51. At the risk of adding no clarity at all, I’d say, in this particular case, that a gay person has no inherent right to marry someone of the same gender. They may win, via the policy market, an enumerated right.

    That’s fine. I don’t agree, of course, but still. I just wanted that to be clear, because this conversation is wobbling about all over the place.

    I, personally, don’t think anyone has an inherent right to marriage-as-defined-by-the-state. That’s a contract thing, and a more-constructed-than-a-lot-of-other-things-we-deal-with one at that. Sure, the right to procreate together might seem to fit, but the other thousand or so things attached? Constructed. Wholly constructed. And because it’s constructed by a system that we buy into and sustain, all of the rights to it are, as far as I’m concerned, enumerated. (Or enumerable; clearly we haven’t quite gotten around to all the enumerating we need)

    I separate this from the inherent rights to love whoever you want, to raise children if you can, and all that jazz, which I think absolutely accrues to everyone, regardless of gender, composition of their chosen partner’s genetalia, or anything else of the sort.

    Then again, I know I’m probably the furthest out on this subject (except maybe Kat, though I think we come so far out on each side we meet again in the middle). I’m all for expanding these contractual obligations (the state-sanctioned things we bundle together to make legal marriage, and a handful of other ties as well) in ways that quite transcend the borders of the conversation as we have it set up. I think that there should be a quick, bundled form that creates/sanctions/conveys the usual type of relationship, and which can be entered into by romantically involved partners of whatever gender/sex mix… but I also think that other combinations, overlapping the same sets of rights, should be available to consenting adults in different types of relationships.

    I think that, say, Aunt B and the Butcher should be able to raise a kid together, with co-guardianship and all of the rest of the rules-as-set-out-for-married-couples-with-kids, but without the sexual stuff, for obvious reasons (including taking that entirely out of the mix and making divorce, as it would pertain to that kind of relationship, entirely kid-centric.).

    And yes, I want to legalize multiple marriages (within numerical reason; say, no more than 10-20 people… ideally, I would put it at five or so) in whatever combination of genders/sexes that felt like doing so. Contractually, my only stipulation would be that all arrangements had to be worked out to the satisfaction of all parties before the arrangement could become final, and that they would have to cover all of the bases that are ordinarily entailed in marriage. So you’d need to have written out, signed-by-everyone contracts detailing who had power of attorney for whom, what childcare and guardianship rights looked like, who gets claimed on who else’s taxes, etc.

    Religious acknowledgement, or lack thereof, is up to the practitioners. Everyone’s still under our same laws about childcare and the bounds of normal activity; you don’t suddenly get to starve your kid just because one of his four mommies walked out. But that’s just me, and I know I’m not likely to get my way anytime soon.

  52. if you can’t present a more solid, better supported case against homosexuals raising children than such nebulous, unspecific worries, then no, you are not seriously contesting the matter. you are, to put this politely but frankly, bellyaching about it.

    homosexual couples have been raising kids for decades, both in and out of wedlock, all over the planet; if there were real reason to question such arrangements, you’d be able to pummel us with data by now. instead you’re spreading FUD. that’s not impressive.

    but hey, if it’s really all about providing the optimum environment for raising kids and nothing more, then i have an equitable suggestion. gay couples may get married if at least one of the partners is provably sterile. that way, there’s no concern about how kids might be raised, just as in a sterile heterosexual couple — and you’re allowing them to marry, after all.

  53. It is about promoting the best model with respect to the rearing of children.

    Then I think we need to go back to Kat’s point that for logical consistency you need to advocate forced divorce for alcoholics.

  54. You may have contested it throughout, but you haven’t argued it. A thesis needs data. The general consensus among developmental psychologists and sociologists is that children needs love and emotional security, moderate and appropriate discipline, moral and ethical guidance, intellectual engagement, adult involvement in academic and social development, economic sufficiency, and physical security in their person and possessions. “Best practices” are not “elastic” or “unknowable.” That’s what the current research says kids need — whether they get it from a grandma, whether they get it from a single mother, whether they get it from an extended family network of fifteen, a two-parent nuclear household, or a set of daddies. No researcher (save those in the employ of groups like Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian political lobbying organization that produces “studies” designed to support an anti-gay legislative agendas) has yet concluded that children will not thrive unless they have two caregivers, one with a vagina and one with a penis, bound together in a civil relationship protected by the Comity Clause.

    This *is* a well-studied question — perhaps the central question in developmental psychology. You either don’t know very much about the state of the field or you don’t like the conclusions that the majority of researchers have reached. You’re not on the evidentiary high ground here.

  55. NN,

    Where to start? I am not bellyaching about anything. I don’t believe it is wise to extend marriage to gays, simple as that. I’ve endeavored to put forth my thinking. You are free to disagree. Mag. did (above your post) and lay out your position and your thinking (again see Mag).

    I’d be able to pummel you with data? I am not a student of this particular question. I have no great interest, for the sake of argument, of engaging in quantitative research about gay child rearing.

    I do have anecdotal evidence (too often dismissed by people) and abundant personal observation.

    I’m spreading FUD? I stated an observation with respect to others’ accusations regarding Sen Craig’s hypocrisy; I don’t know if he is by hypocritical. I don’t think he is. I responded to questions regarding my policy preferences in the area of marriage. I don’t think, based on what I know, what I have observed, and what I understand about human nature, that same sex couples are as well equipped to raise children as hetero couples. For that I get accused of various things, of various motivations. I’ve tried to be civil and respectful.

    I’ll add that I don’t get your last paragraph… “as long as one is provably sterile.”

  56. Bridgett,

    What is possible is not the same thing as what is optimal. A single mother can do a good job raising children. Is it optimal? Policy, it seems to me, should promote what is optimal. A child does not NEED a mom and dad. OK. What is the point? Other things equal, a child with a mom and dad tends to do better than one with only one parent.

    Look, I could lead an NFL team to the Superbowl. Peyton Manning is better equipped to do that.

  57. > Look, I could lead an NFL team to the Superbowl. Peyton Manning is better equipped to do that.

    I’ve seen no evidence of that. In the absence of evidence, I *feel* that you are a better coach. My feeling is sufficiently strong that I advocate that we pass a law that Peyton Manning not be allowed to coach football. The fact that you are a better coach is not ‘arbitrary’.

    Won’t somebody think of the children, and get those inferior role models (like Peyton Manning) off the field?

  58. The plural of anecdote is bullshit. This is not a crowd in which bleating “but what about the BAY-BEEZ?” is going to cut it. If you’re not interested in informed critical debate, you might be in the wrong place.

    Where to start? All children already do have a mom and dad, Martin. You have many children yourself. You know how all that biological stuff works, I presume.

    You’ve yet to produce your evidence of that a *mixed-sex partnership* (which is something different than a two-income household — an economist ought to know that) and the *marital status of that partnership* is a significant (much less determinative) co-determinant of child welfare outcomes. When you do, we’ll talk about your data, who funded the research, the method the researchers used to arrive at their conclusions, and employ other generally accepted methods of assessing the validity of social science research. Otherwise, we’re only talking about your received prejudices. If I wanted to do that, I’d talk to my first-year students about what they “know” about colonial America.

  59. The state has a keen interest in the state of the family.
    Why? Doesn’t this scare anyone else?
    Why should the state have a “keen interest” in the condition of anything private?

    Precisely why Mr. Kennedy is a dangerous man who should be discredited at every turn. He seems to think that human beings are his personal lab rats perfectly suited for whatever feats of social engineering he sees fit for the government to perform in order to create a society more to his liking. That he masks this mentality in the rubric of shallow libertarianism makes it all the worse.

  60. It is not that “some other random male-female couple can have kids.” As a rule such couples can have kids. Indeed it requires a male and female to have kids.

    One correction, it requires a sperm and an egg to produce a child. It does not require a male and a female to “have kids,” as having kids entails quite a bit more than conception. On to the point, marriage is not granted to opposite sex couples as a group. It is granted to individual couples. It doesn’t matter whether is “some other random male-female couple” that can have a kid or “many other random male-female couples” that can have a kid, if the purpose of marriage is procreation, then you have no grounds on which to support an individual male-female couple that CANNOT have kids. If marriage isn’t (only) about procreation, then you no longer have an argument against gay marriage?

    With respect to depriving a child from having married parents, how did the same sex couple get kids? Does one have a right to have kids?

    Artifical insemination, previous relationships, adoption, fostering. There are many ways that gay couples end up with children.

    And? If one suspects that something can be harmful one should hardly embrace it unless there is some benefit to be realized. I don’t see the benefit.

    Well we shouldn’t be making policy on your (or my) personal opinions, should we? You “suspect” that a gay couple raising children is harmful, I “suspect” that it is not. Science is currently backing me up. Should we make policy on fact (science) or unfounded opinion?

    Secondly, this entire line of argument depends on the notion that marriage is all about child-rearing, yet we’ve shown that is is not while discussing your first point.

    I don’t think the gender requirement is arbitrary

    Do you have any reason for this thought? Can you provide an example in which a right granted to a heterosexual couple through marriage couldn’t be as easily granted to a homosexual couple? I have given one example of why marriage rights CANNOT be granted to a polyamorous relationship as they stand right now based exclusively on the fundamental structure of the contracts entailed, rather than on arbitrary qualifiers.

    However, I wonder how one would argue against imposing a “number” requirement.

    Ok, let me try explaining it again. Contracts can be limited in several different ways. Some limitations are arbitrary (I sign a contract stating I will deliver red cups to you every Wed, but there’s no fundamental reason inherent in the contract that the cups have to be red other than you just like that color). Some are inherent (I sign a contract stating I will deliver red cups to you every Wed, but I do not have red cups and you do not need/want red cups. Therefore this particular contract simply CANNOT apply to our situation).

    The clearest example in the case of marriage is right-to-die cases. Power-of-attorney is a contract that limits itself to exactly two parties (no more, no less). If we try to establish power-of-attorney among three parties (A,B, and C), and Party A ends up in the hospital with a decision to be made (let’s say whether or not to pull the plug), but Parties B and C disagree on what to do, you’ve established a legal paradox. Civil marriage as it exists in the United States today does not apply to polyamorous relationships not because it “shouldn’t” but because it “can’t.”

    I never said or implied any of this.

    Check comment 13.

    I think I’ve laid out the basics of the thinking why many, not all, who are opposed to gay marriage take that position.

    But the many contradictions in your way of thinking have been repeatedly pointed out to you. It makes no sense to continue to think in an illogical manner once you have seen that it is illogical.

    I don’t believe it is wise to extend marriage to gays, simple as that.

    I think we all clearly understand that. What we’re TRYING to find out is WHY. If you simply don’t believe it’s wise for no reason, then say just so, but you’ve yet to provide a valid reason for your believe so that’s why we persist.

    I am not a student of this particular question. I have no great interest, for the sake of argument, of engaging in quantitative research about gay child rearing.

    Well perhaps as one who is not a student of this particular question you might acknowledge that you don’t know enough on this topic to have an informed opinion. I AM a student of this particular question in that I read anything and everything I can find on it. I think that before one sets out to deny a large segment of the population “one of the fundamental rights of man” (SCOTUS, Lovings v Virginia, 1967), you ought to take the time to research it some. It’s not a game, it’s real people who can be either helped or hurt by this policy discussion.

  61. he may be dangerous politically, but i’m beginning to lose sight of why.

    i mean, here’s a man who goes on at length about how he wants to ban this thing because it’s so very bad, but whenever you try to make him explain just how very bad his bogeyman is and how he knows it, it’s like nailing jello to the wall. the best we seem to have been able to do is get him to admit (comment #60) that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about here and isn’t very interested in finding out — yet he still seems very interested indeed in making public policy.

    what is crooked in this country, that anybody would ever take such a person the least bit seriously?

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