Archive for the 'Gay Marriage' Category

On Overturning Prop 8

The judge — who is gay and should have recused himself — justified his ruling in part by noting that no “demonstrated harm as a result” of same-sex marriage could be shown, which could have made blocking it justified. This is undoubtedly true but also astonishingly irrelevant. The law could conceivably require that everyone wear a wizard’s hat every Saturday at 6 PM; the point is not that it is “good” or can be demonstrated to be “harmful,” but whether it violates any existing protections.

The more serious argument, then, is that Proposition 8 violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment — which has been abused to justify everything from affirmative action to tax increases. The judge wrote that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage” and that it is not a component of it that can be taken into account when defining it under the law. I happen to agree with him, but that’s something to tell to a legislature or the citizenry, not to a judge, who is there only to decide whether everything is being enacted according to an enumerated process. Californians are entitled to decide for themselves what’s essential to marriage.

And that’s what’s at the bottom of this: justice, properly understood, is a process, not a result. The law is not there to bend and bash until you get what you want from it. In a free and ordered society, we simply have to resign ourselves to the fact that the legislature is sometimes wrong and that the culture is sometimes a bit off. If your interpretation of the Constitution just so happens to align with all of your political views, you’re probably interpreting it wrongly. I want to see same-sex marriage enacted in the United States. But I want it to be done lawfully and orderly, not by judges who think it’s their job to save the world rather than to follow the law.

More here.

Gay Marriage And Civil Liberties

I’ve made the argument that gay marriage could in fact threaten religious liberties, Maggie Gallagher gives an example of how it could threaten civil liberties:

Case in point: Don Mendell, a school guidance counselor at Nokomis Regional High School in Maine, now faces ethics complaints for his decision to appear in a TV ad for the Yes on One campaign in the closing days of the contest. If substantiated, the ethics complaint could lead the government to yank his license as a social worker and, therefore, threaten his livelihood. What kind of movement spurs people to act like this? Meanwhile, a teacher of the year who campaigned for gay marriage faces no such threat to her livelihood. Is gay marriage really about love and tolerance for all?

Her full post, on the Maine election results denying gay marriage, can be found here.

The Cultural Argument Against Gay Marriage

Of all the arguments against gay marriage, the religious liberties argument, the reductio absurdum argument, the better safe than sorry argument, and others, the one people have the most difficulty understanding, atleast from my experience in discussing it, is the cultural argument against gay marriage, yet it is one of the ones I find most persuasive. So here I try to give a better explanation of what I see as the cultural argument against gay marriage.

It starts with the assumption that laws shape peoples cultural mores and beliefs. It does not have to be consciously, many times it is subconsciously. Abortion is more acceptable, for example, because it is legal. Making it legal, to alot of people, gives it a stamp of approval, a cultural acceptance. The cultural argument states that if gay marriage is legalized, because gay unions are inherently unable to produce children, it will send a cultural signal that marriage and children are not tied together.

This is how Maggie Gallagher explains it:

The argument is that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would not just give rights to a small subset of the population, but would radically transform what marriage is. So long as only opposite-sex couples can marry, the thinking goes, marriage is linked to procreation; if same-sex couples can marry, too, then marriage is transformed into something else entirely. Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution and create a new one, and the new institution would not longer retain a focus on having and raising children. Viewed in that light, same sex marriage is a threat to society: by redefining the institution, it will kill off its most important feature…

Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need fathers as well as mothers. That’s the heart of marriage as a universal human institution.

Please note: Procreation is not the definition of marriage. It is the reason for marriage’s existence as a public (and yes legal) institution. People who don’t have children can still really be married (just as people who aren’t married can and do have babies).

But if sex between men and women did not make babies, then marriage would not be a universal human institution, or a legal status in America.

In other words, people raised in a society where gay marriage is legal will view marriage differently than people raised in a society where gay marriage is banned. The former will see the link between marriage and procreation weak at best, whereas the latter will see a stronger connection between procreation and marriage (Btw, preliminary data suggests this is already happening, see here).

This is especially troubling when you consider what this cultural change would do to areas where marriage is already in a precarious position.  Poor inner city neighborhoods, for example, will see a weakening of their already weak cultural mores regarding marriage and if there is one thing they need less of, it is that.

This is what Heather Mac Donald writing at the SecularRight blog referred to, though few understood her connection,  when she blogged this:

The biggest social problem in the U.S. today is the crime and academic achievement gap between blacks and whites…One overpowering cause of black social failure is the breakdown of marriage in the black community. Nationally, the black illegitimacy rate is 71%; in some inner city areas, it is closer to 90%. When boys grow up without any expectation that they will have to marry the mother of their children, they fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility. A community without the marriage norm is teetering on the edge of civilizational collapse, if it has not already fallen into the abyss. Fatherless black boys, who themselves experience no pressure to become marriageable mates as they grow up, end up joining gangs, dropping out of school, and embracing a “street” lifestyle in the absence of any male authority in the home.

If the black illegitimacy rate were not nearly three times the rate of whites’, I would have few qualms about gay marriage. Or if someone can guarantee that widespread gay marriage would not further erode the expectation among blacks that marriage is the proper context for raising children, I would also not worry. But no one can make that guarantee.

In other words, gay marriage is a social experiment with an institution that has been around in every culture at almost every time period for as long as recorded history can go back, where the costs of the social experiment are borne mostly by those at the bottom of the economic ladder. This helps explain why so many of the black community, especially the inner city black community(and minority community in general), is adamantly opposed to gay marriage – gay marriage primarily hurts them!

I grant that this argument is not powerful enough to ban gay marriage – it’s ultimately a cost/benefit analysis. There may very well be scenarios where gay marriage, seen as a right issue, may outweigh the costs of further marriage breakdown in the inner cities of the United States. My point here is not to give the complete argument against gay marriage, only to show that there are trade-offs involved. Very real and important ones.

Gay Marriage And Religious Liberties

National Public Radio reports:

As states have legalized same-sex partnerships, the rights of gay couples have consistently trumped the rights of religious groups. Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress, says that does not mean that a pastor can be sued for preaching against same-sex marriage. But, he says, that may be just about the only religious activity that will be protected.

“What if a church offers marriage counseling? Will they be able to say ‘No, we’re not going to help gay couples get along because it violates our religious principles to do so? What about summer camps? Will they be able to insist that gay couples not serve as staff because they’re a bad example?” Stern asks.

Stern says if the early cases are any guide, the outlook is grim for religious groups.

A few cases: Yeshiva University was ordered to allow same-sex couples in its married dormitory. A Christian school has been sued for expelling two allegedly lesbian students. Catholic Charities abandoned its adoption service in Massachusetts after it was told to place children with same-sex couples. The same happened with a private company operating in California.

A psychologist in Mississippi who refused to counsel a lesbian couple lost her case, and legal experts believe that a doctor who refused to provide IVF services to a lesbian woman is about to lose his pending case before the California Supreme Court.

More stories at the link above. This is precisely what Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law At Harvard University, referred to when she wrote:

Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.

The NPR article can be found here. My thoughts on this can be found in a 2005 post here.

Is Polygamy A Civil Right Too?

I came back from my vacation Sunday and while catching up with all of the politics, especially as a resident of California, I kept coming across pictures of proposition 8 (making marriage between man and woman only – constitutional) protests. Many of the protesters had signs that claim gay marriage is about equality, family values, and civil rights. One question I’ve wanted to ask when I am faced with such claims is: Is Polygamy also about equality, family values, and civil rights too? If not, why gay marriage but not polygamy?

After all, every argument you can make in support of gay marriage you can also make in support of polygamy. Remember, polygamists can love each other too. The practice of polygamy, like homosexuality, has also been around since the beginning of man. Also, like homosexuality, the desire is innate: most people would agree that men desire more than one woman. So I ask my fellow opponents of proposition 8 (the bill passed…but assuming it was still being debated), why is gay marriage a civil right but not polygamy? The only difference, IMHO, is gay marriage has political support, whereas polygamy does not. A tactical difference, not one in nature.

I, as an opponent of gay marriage, don’t make such pompous accusations. I believe that changing a fundamental unit of society is dangerous and could have cultural repercussions far into the future that we are not ready for. Given that the poor tend to bear the burden of societies experiments and is where marriage is the most fragile, this is a gamble I am not willing to take.

But I could be wrong. Which is why I am ready to leave it up to the wisdom of the citizenry. If the majority of my fellow citizens decide gay marriage is acceptable – thats fine with me. Just as if the majority of my fellow citizens decided polygamy is acceptable. I may disagree, but I don’t consider myself so right that I would deny them the ability to make that decision themselves.

Of course the opposite is true with many liberals. Their morals, their belief in gay marriage, “choice” in abortion, and the death penalty, are soo correct, so right, that they must force their views on a citizenry that does not agree with them. And of course those of us that disagree with them are not just wrong, we are evil. We are no different than those who denied interracial marriages. They are the chosen ones, you and I are just sheep.

Equal Rights For Polygamists Too

Polygamists demand they, like gay couples, be given their ‘equal treatment’ as well:

Youth from polygamous communities spoke of family, friendships, faith and their hopes for the future in a historic gathering Saturday in Salt Lake City in defense of the banned life-style.

They offered one another encouragement, provided glimpses into their lives and appealed to the public to stop fearing their families.

“We are not brainwashed, mistreated, neglected, malnourished, illiterate, defective or dysfunctional,” said Jessica, 17. “We are useful, responsible, productive members of society.”

About 300 people from four fundamentalist Mormon communities attended the rally held at the Salt Lake City-County Building.

“I was so proud of them. I had no idea what to expect. They wrote all their own stuff,” said Joe, a Salt Lake City polygamist whose children were among the 15 speakers. “It was inspiring. There is something about seeing young people being actively involved and speaking up for their rights and constitutional freedoms.”

Of course if you are against allowing polygamists to marry you are no different than someone who would deny interracial marriages, are a ‘heterophobe’, oh and of course, your probably a religious bigot who wants to impose your views on the rest of us. The full article can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“the problem with gay marriage isn’t that it harms my marriage, or yours, but that it changes the institution of marriage – for my children, my grandchildren, and all future generations. It downplays the essential, irrevocable nature of gender differences – and serves to undermine the crucial importance of gender specific roles in all relationships. A gay couple might claim that they fill distinctive roles in their relationship – with one woman working hard to support the family, for instance, while the other cooks and decorates and nourishes the kids. But choosing complementary roles for the sake of convenience or preference isn’t the same as recognizing that these contrasting approaches arise from your very essence as a man or a woman. There’s something arbitrary, synthetic and, indeed, temporary about a same sex couple attempting to imitate a heterosexual marriage by fulfilling distinct responsibilities in the relationship”. –Michael Medved

Quote Of The Day

“To me, the only argument against gay marriage worth taking seriously is simply this: we have an institution which is vital enough to appear in almost all known human societies, and while the forms can differ greatly, it seems to always and everywhere take the form of a contract between a man and a woman. Assuming that social structures go through some pretty hefty darwinian selection, that’s important data. We could be in the position of a mad scientist who thinks that if two arms are good, eight would be better . . . only to find that his top-heavy creature cannot stand on its own feet”. –Jane Galt, arguing that justification for gay marriage can be justification for polygamy

Quote Of The Day

“Equal treatment of individuals does not mean equal treatment of behavior. That is why a polygamist is on the FBI’s “most wanted” list. He is not allowed to redefine marriage to suit himself any more than the advocates of “gay marriage” are.” –Thomas Sowell, listing his random thoughts

Quote Of The Day

“As for dividing Americans, who came up with the idea of radically altering the most ancient of all social institutions in the first place? Until the last few years, every civilization known to man has defined marriage as between people of opposite sex. To charge with “divisiveness” those who would do nothing more than resist a radical overturning of that norm is a sign of either gross partisanship or serious dimwittedness”. –Charles Krauthammer

Our Public Schools

This is the latest fad of the California public school system:

Everyday there’s a new reason for parents of modest means to wish they had more choices in educating their children. The latest is the seemingly relentless drive to turn public education into a form of social engineering even as schools fail in their primary mission of teaching basic skills.

Exhibit A is a bill that just passed the California State Senate on a 22 to 15 vote. The bill would impose a statewide mandate requiring all schools to create a “bias-free” curriculum that recognizes the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (known as LGBT for short). Written by Senator Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica and backed by the California Federation of Teachers, the bill envisions such things as identifying historical figures as gay when they are discussed in class. A closer reading makes it clear there is also an intent to discourage any disparaging references to anyone who’s gay, even if the comments are unrelated to the subject’s sexuality.

Ms. Kuehl’s backstory has inevitably become part of the debate. She played Zelda in the 50s sitcom “Dobie Gillis,” but rumors about her sexuality allegedly prevented her from having a bigger run in Hollywood, launching her on a career as an activist and politician. As for the specifics of what might be taught in future California textbooks, Democratic Senator Gloria Romero said she hoped they included mention of Sen. Kuehl’s pioneering role in advancing gay rights. “I don’t see how we’re going to understand what she’s accomplished without knowing who she is,” Ms. Romero told fellow senators.

It used to be that legislators were satisfied to have a public building named after themselves. We may now be entering a brave new world where some of them expect also to be immortalized in the curriculum.

Ms. Kuehl says her bill merely builds on current efforts to have public schools foster the acceptance of women and minorities. But many public schools have instead turned into bastions of political correctness in which homage to “diversity” has become a type of secular religion. I suspect backers of Ms. Kuehl’s bill are hoping it squelches any opposition to same-sex marriage or public financing of sex-change operations from being expressed in class. Senator Kuehl says the goal merely is to instill a sense of pride in gay students. Randy Thomasson, a spokesman for parents opposed to the change, was skeptical: “I seriously doubt California students will excel from learning about our leaders based on who they slept with.” He also noted the national implications of rewriting California textbooks to be gay-friendly, given that the state represents 12% of the nation’s textbook market.

The Gay Marriage Slippery Slope

Apparently, the slippery slope from gay marriage to polygamy is not too far fetched for countries that have already legalized gay marriage:

Study recommends repealing polygamy ban in Canada

OTTAWA — A new study for the federal Justice Department says Canada should get rid of its law banning polygamy, and change other legislation to help women and children living in such multiple-spouse relationships.

“Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women,” says the report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“The report therefore recommends that this provision be repealed.”

The research paper is part of a controversial $150,000 polygamy project, launched a year ago and paid for by the Justice Department and Status of Women Canada.

The paper by three law professors at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., argues that Sec. 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy serves no useful purpose and in any case is rarely prosecuted.

Instead, Canadian laws should be changed to better accommodate the problems of women in polygamous marriages, providing them clearer spousal support and inheritance rights.

The slippery slope just got steeper.

The full article can be found here.

More On The Gay Marriage Debate

For those of you interested in the Gay Marriage debate, The Volokh Conspiracy blog, a blog of mainly law professors and academics, sponsored a discussion where one week the pro-Traditional Marriage point of view was presented, and another week the pro-Gay Marriage point of view was presented. Giving the traditional marriage defense was Maggie Gallagher, a widely respected defender of traditional marriage, and giving the pro-Gay Marriage side was Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and a prominent proponent of same-sex marriage.

The pro-traditional marriage side can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The pro-gay marriage side can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Here are some of the core points,

The argument is that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would not just give rights to a small subset of the population, but would radically transform what marriage is. So long as only opposite-sex couples can marry, the thinking goes, marriage is linked to procreation; if same-sex couples can marry, too, then marriage is transformed into something else entirely. Adding same-sex marriage would ruin the old institution and create a new one, and the new institution would not longer retain a focus on having and raising children. Viewed in that light, same sex marriage is a threat to society: by redefining the institution, it will kill off its most important feature.

And,

Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need fathers as well as mothers. That’s the heart of marriage as a universal human institution.

Please note: Procreation is not the definition of marriage. It is the reason for marriage’s existence as a public (and yes legal) institution. People who don’t have children can still really be married (just as people who aren’t married can and do have babies).

But if sex between men and women did not make babies, then marriage would not be a universal human institution, or a legal status in America.

As a bonus, there is also another debate between Maggie Gallagher and Andrew Koppelman in the U. of St. Thomas Law Review, “(How)Will Same-Sex Marriage Weaken Marriage as an Institution?“.

Enjoy!!!

Quote Of The Day

“A brother and sister could theoretically have a long and joyous married life. Yet we forbid them to wed, and deny them that chance at happiness. Why? Forget religion; forget constitutionality. It is a decision that society has made in order to enforce a certain social order. In fact, we limit marriage to non-kin largely because of procreative and health issues, which is the chief reason many oppose gay marriage”. –Joe, at Joes Dartblog responding to a response to one of my gay marriage posts

Gay Marriage Is Not About Equal Rights For Gays

…it is special rights for gays.

Currently everybody already has the same rights with regard to marriage. You, homosexuals, heterosexuals, and me are all legally allowed to marry any person of the opposite sex of our choice who is distant from us in terms of kinship and who is not already married. Homosexuals have that very same right.

In other words, homosexuals as citizens of the United States have the same rights as I do. If a homosexual man wanted to marry a female who he is not related to, he could do so just as easily as I can. Homosexuals, as a group, are treated equally with regard to marriage as any other group.

“But gays are not allowed to marry the person they love”, you say. But that is the case with everybody. If I, as a male citizen of the United States fell in love with my sister, I would not be allowed to marry her. If I, as a male citizen of the United States fell in love with multiple women, I would be restricted to only marrying one. And just like gays, if I, as a citizen of the United States fell in love with another man, I too would be restricted in marrying him. In other words, gays, as citizens of the United States, have the same rights, and the same limitations, as everyone else.

Where the special rights come in is in the fact that gays want the exception to be given to them and only them. They want marriage to be tweaked in their favor, and to create special circumstances for them. What about other unions that also desire to be included in the marriage definition? What about people who fall in love with their siblings, should they be allowed to marry also? What about polygamists, should we now include marriage to include multiple wives? What about multiple husbands? Do these other groups not get ‘equal rights’ too? No, of course not, only gays get them, and not these other groups.

So what gays want are not equal rights, they want special rights.

Conservative And Liberal Dialogue Is Good

Oso And HPFor those of you that don’t know, shortly after the 2004 election, I was asked to be a guest on a liberal blog. The owner of the blog, Oso, was disappointed by the results of the election and felt more dialogue between the two sides was needed. The idea was to open up communication between liberals and conservatives, and hopefully help reduce the misunderstandings that are so common in liberal/conservative discussions.

The plan was simple, I was to give my side of a conservative belief, and in the comments section, answer any questions or disagreements any of his readers (mostly liberals) might have. Than, after that post died down a bit, Oso would present his side and give me a chance to address it. That way both sides are presented in their own words, and hopefully some agreement or at least understanding would follow.

I must admit, I have learned a lot from my participation there, and more importantly, I have made a lot of new friends. I comment so regularly on that blog now that I don’t consider myself to be the ‘Republican guest blogger‘ anymore but an accepted member of that blog community. In addition, because Oso lives in the same city as I do, we have been able to go out for drinks and have thoughtful discussions in person, as well as online (he also happened to be in Monterrey, Mexico when I visited, so we met up and he helped me (actually, he did all the work) upgrade my website while I was there).

So back to my main point, I wanted to give readers of my blog a chance to see how liberals react to conservative beliefs, and to see how conservatives (mostly myself, but there is the occasional conservative blogger as well) react to liberal beliefs. What better topic to do that on, than our (somewhat) recently finished discussion on gay marriage. If you’re interested, take a look at how (my version) of the conservative side against gay marriage was presented and defended, and his version of the liberal case for gay marriage was also presented and defended.

My Case Against Gay Marriage

The Liberal Response In Support Of Gay Marriage

In addition, if you are also interested, you might want to check out our previous topic, on abortion.

My Case Against Abortion

A Liberal Case For Choice

Oh yeah, one more thing, Oso has also written about minority conservatives that generated some interesting comments. You might want to check those out as well.

Understanding Minority Conservatives Part One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

Enjoy!!