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Tilting at Windmills

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June 15, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GAY MARRIAGE....On the same day that the Massachusetts legislature became the first in the nation to finally approve gay marriage, Michael Kinsley writes about "The Quiet Gay Revolution":

On no issue is history moving faster than on "gay rights" — an already antiquated term for full and equal participation and acceptance of gay men and women in American life....Kids grow up today with gay friends, gay parents, gay parents of friends and gay friends of parents. If only blacks and whites were as thoroughly mixed together in society as gays and straights are. Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O'Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America's sweetheart. The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because ... why?)

In the long run, it's almost impossible to keep hatred of gays stoked up among people who actually have friends and acquaintances who are openly gay. It's just too obvious that there's really nothing to be afraid of. So Dobson and his ilk can keep screaming, but they know they're losing. Sometime soon, they're going to have to find a different peril to Western civilization to keep the checks rolling in.

In the meantime, congratulations to Massachusetts, the first state in the union to enter the 21st century. Only 49 to go.

Kevin Drum 1:24 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (120)

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Comments

Next time a right-wing moron declares that "they're forcing gay marriage on us," ask him who he's being forced to marry.

Posted by: thersites on June 15, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

That's part of the problem in the screaming. When the crazies want to discriminate against gays, the people who oppose them have a difficult time because we can't figure out what to say because we don't think there's even a problem.

It's like... like... someone wanting to ban hedges or something. Nonsensical in the extreme.

Posted by: MNPundit on June 15, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Wait... haven't the legislatures in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey also legalized marriage?

Posted by: bryan on June 15, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Aiyeee! Hate crime! Civil rights violation! Librul left-wing hate-bloggers discriminating against religious freedom and expression!

What's next? Mandatory gay sex education? Requiring schoolchildren to sodomize each other with the Bible?

Aiyeee!

Posted by: bleh on June 15, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yay Gay!

Goooooo Gay!

God bless gays!!!

man, if we could just get enough gays in enough militaries maybe the world's hot spots would have a whole different kinda heat.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Read Ezekiel 23:20 for some bible fun....

Posted by: eze on June 15, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kinsley is being very naive. Which Presidential candidates are in favor of gay marriage? What are the odds that we'll have an openly gay candidate for President in 2012 or 2016? How about an openly gay Senatorial candidate anytime soon? Why was Cheney criticized for allowing his daughter to have a child? We've got a long way to go.

Posted by: reino on June 15, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK
On the same day that the Massachusetts legislature became the first in the nation to finally approve gay marriage

That's kind of misleading. The Massachussetts legislature, given the fait accompli of legal same-sex marriage, overwhelmingly voted not to do away with it. We still haven't seen the first legislature choose to switch from a mixed-sex-only marriage to allowing same-sex marriage.

So, unless other state high courts are going to follow the lead of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts, its hardly as if the Massachussetts Legislature has blazed a trail for other legislatures to follow here.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Next time a right-wing moron declares that "they're forcing gay marriage on us," ask him who he's being forced to marry.
Posted by: thersites on June 15, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK"

I think the wingnuts are complaining that they are being "forced" to accept openly gay neighbors, openly gay couples at company picnics, and (shudder) maybe even openly gay couples at church. And it's not so much the end of legal discrimination as the slow acceptance of gayness as a normal human attrbute that they need to accept that really bothers them. The more inclusive society is of gay people, the less the wingnuts can hide from them.

Posted by: coldhotel on June 15, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Next time a right-wing moron declares that "they're forcing gay marriage on us," ask him who he's being forced to marry.

My 18-year old son just got a notice from Selective Service that he has been drafted to marry a lesbian.

Posted by: Qwerty on June 15, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Bah. The Bay State is still in the 19th century in many ways. And the people around here could learn to be a little friendlier too.

Posted by: Anti-Masshole on June 15, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

"I think the wingnuts are complaining that they are being "forced" to accept openly gay neighbors, openly gay couples at company picnics, and (shudder) maybe even openly gay couples at church."
Posted by: coldhotel on June 15, 2007 at 1:42 PM

The most common paranoia I heard from Republicans (I live in a VERY red area mind you) at work after the 2004 election was being in restaurants with their kids and having openly gay couples present holding hands and KISSING! A lot of comments like that on the day of the election. That single issue (gay marriage) swung the election IMO.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 15, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK
The most common paranoia I heard from Republicans (I live in a VERY red area mind you) at work after the 2004 election was being in restaurants with their kids and having openly gay couples present holding hands and KISSING!

Because, of course, unmarried couples (same-sex or otherwise) don't hold hands or kiss in public.

The mind boggles.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

If gay marriage is somehow going to be treated as real marriage, then what is the purpose of marriage? The government then shouldn't have any role in deciding what marriage is, but instead treat it as a legal contractual agreement between individuals, or groups of individuals... and no special benefits should be afford to people who are "married".

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK
If gay marriage is somehow going to be treated as real marriage, then what is the purpose of marriage?

To provide a stable, mutual supporting, exclusive relationships that improve the health of society, form the basic building blocks of community, and provide environments for the raising of children.


but instead treat it as a legal contractual agreement between individuals, or groups of individuals... and no special benefits should be afford to people who are "married".

This is an interesting position that, if you want other people to accept, you might want to prepare an argument for. As I see it, though, marriage remains a public institution intended to produce a public benefit, and the state has every right to (consistent with its obligations of equal justice and to align policy with the public ends served) define and regulate.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

My 18-year old son just got a notice from Selective Service that he has been drafted to marry a lesbian.

That's hot.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is dead on accurate. Anyone who associates with young people, which Neanderthals like Dobson evidently don't, knows that they could care less whether someone is gay or not. In thirty years, homophobes will be a distinct minority, consistently mainly of toothless, aged cretins in the far South. Kind of like Newt Gingrich or Trent Lott. Conservatives are losing this cultural war - BIG TIME!

Further, science is getting very close to being able to prove that being gay is not a choice, but genetically-based. Specifically, a patch of DNA called Xq28. Click here for an interesting article about that.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 15, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations, Massachusetts! Throwing rice in an easterly direction...

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just when you thought liberals really meant what they've been saying about the legislature being a doormat for one of the other branches of government, along comes something they really want.

Posted by: Zathras on June 15, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderful as this is, remember that it's only effective within the state of Massachusetts.

So don't even think about getting a job transfer, or moving to a warmer climate, or whatever.

And remember, if you're married in Massachusetts, you're just two people in a car when you travel to most other states. No, let me correct that, you're just two "legal strangers."


Posted by: K on June 15, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

My 18-year old son just got a notice from Selective Service that he has been drafted to marry a lesbian.

Oh, an ex-boyfriend rented that movie for us one weekend. As I recall, it was short on plot but the production values were better than most flicks of its type.

Posted by: not shortstop, that's for sure on June 15, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fucker: "If gay marriage is somehow going to be treated as real marriage, then what is the purpose of marriage?"

Wow. Maybe you should take your deep, existential questions somewhere else. This is a political site.

Posted by: Kenji on June 15, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Just when you thought there were some honest conervatives on these boards, Zathras uses his/her/its usual drive-by posting to conflate a state legislature with Congress...

No one ought to listen to this Zathras.

Posted by: Gregory on June 15, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK
Just when you thought liberals really meant what they've been saying about the legislature being a doormat for one of the other branches of government

When have "liberals" said that? And, if they did, how would this stand as a counterexample.

along comes something they really want.

One might note that gay marriage is Massachussetts didn't come from the legislature, but from the Supreme Judicial Court. The Legislature just failed to get the small minority of votes needed to put an amendment to reverse it onto the ballot.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

it's simple:

marriage should have have one legal definition nationally that applies to any two adults that choose to contract with each other to try and live their lives together. this should be a purely legal definition and should convey the same rights and responsibilities on everyone to whom it applies, with respect to custody, ownership, taxation, insurance, visitation etc. any couple choosing to deepen the meaning of marriage for them can choose to do so through whatever ceremonies or religious or cultural traditions they want.

until such time as the social contract changes considerably, to me it makes sense to limit marriage to a dyadic relationship between consenting adult humans committed to trying to live their lives together under a uniformly applied legal status the conveys certain benefits that support the generally positive effects attributed to our species' tendency to lovingly couple.

the state shall make no law respecting the establishment of favored combinations of inies or outies within this state sponsored dyad.

you can bless or curse whatever combinations you like in the privacy of your own church or whatever.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"... what is the purpose of marriage?"

Well, to hubby and me, who decided early on not to have children, marriage has meant commitment of two individuals to each other in both legal and deeply emotional ways.

He's my next of kin now, not my aging mother or my born-again nimrod of an older brother. Hubby is the one I want to make end-of-life decisions. He's the one whose face I want to see when I come out of anesthesia. Hubby is the one I share all my income with (and vice versa). He's the one I want to inherit the other half of our house when I die, along with all my other worldly goods.

He's my best friend and the one other person in the world I want to spend all my time with.

That's the meaning of MY marriage. And if Hubby were a woman instead of a man, that would still be the meaning of my marriage to her, if I could marry her.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 15, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Can't we throw a bone to society, and let them keep the "cultural copyright" on "marriage" in name and defined majesterium, but allow the equivalent legal rights under civil law? Indeed, why not just allow anyone to designate *anyone else* as the special significant other for inheritance/legal/insurance/whatever purposes, without having to prove a "relationship" anyway? I mean, even with Gay Marriage, aren't we discriminating against couples of any sort who want special recognition? (PS - You can gripe about conservative propaganda all you want, but if gay couples marry, what indeed do we have to prevent incestuous unions or etc? The genetic issues are a matter of risk, and where does that end...)

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on June 15, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"That's the meaning of MY marriage. And if Hubby were a woman instead of a man, that would still be the meaning of my marriage to her, if I could marry her."

Sounds like marriage should be made into an individual choice/decision free from government interference. That way you can marry whoever or whatever you want.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

hey conservative deflator. i like the sentiment, but just a coupla counter points. one, newt's daughter is gay, and seemingly totally cool btw, unlike cheney joonyer.

also, as much as i'd like to hope that my above proscription is akin to natural law in political science and that the troglodytes are on their way to extinction i'm afraid the reality is we live in a world where many people are looking for ways to feel superior to, resent, hate, dispossess, dominate, torture, and kill folks (on a sliding scale) for whatever reason they can pull out of their or their neighbor's arse. gayness will long be a marker which prompts this demi-urge to be expressed. all the more reason to get some simple, clear, uniform laws on the books to check the beast. this is a small spark of light in a persistent fog of darkness. still, it's a good sign that some people are starting to think out loud that discriminating against gayness is like outlawing hedges, but at the same time, we got a long way to go.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"This is an interesting position that, if you want other people to accept, you might want to prepare an argument for. As I see it, though, marriage remains a public institution intended to produce a public benefit, and the state has every right to (consistent with its obligations of equal justice and to align policy with the public ends served) define and regulate."

Yes, the benefit is to promote the successful raising of children. It is indeed a benfit to the society at large that children are raised in a stable family and they can grow up to become productive members of society. And since you cannot procreate through homosexual activity, what is there to promote in a gay marriage?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

K:

Wonderful as this is, remember that it's only effective within the state of Massachusetts.

welcome to the next battleground. this is only because no one has tested DOMA in a Federal Court yet, because it hasn't been relevant to do so. it's coming, and there is no way that a strict constructionalist court will support DOMA, it is a blatant violation of the "full faith and credit" clause. Mass can probably mandate that only citizens of the state can get married there (unlikely to keep going, since they would then have to say you can't have a destination wedding in the Berkshires or on the Cape, but I don't really see how, say, Maine, can ignore a wedding legally performed in Massachusetts, especially if they don't ignore ALL weddings performed in Mass. welcome to the next furball.

Can any constitutional scholars brighter than I (so, most of you) out there think of how a strict constructionalist like Scalia can ignore full faith and credit and uphold DOMA?

Posted by: northzax on June 15, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
Can't we throw a bone to society, and let them keep the "cultural copyright" on "marriage" in name and defined majesterium, but allow the equivalent legal rights under civil law?

Who is "society" here? In Massachussetts, the most recent poll had 56% opposing eliminating same-sex marriage.

WTF is a "cultural copyright", and why should "they" (and who are "they", anyway?) control it?

Indeed, why not just allow anyone to designate *anyone else* as the special significant other for inheritance/legal/insurance/whatever purposes, without having to prove a "relationship" anyway?

A number of reasons. For instance, there are already existing legal default relationships associated with close kinship, so there is arguably a reduced social value in that there.

I mean, even with Gay Marriage, aren't we discriminating against couples of any sort who want special recognition?

All law is, inherently, discrimination. Whether it is discrimination that is justified and appropriate for the purpose of the law is another question.

You can gripe about conservative propaganda all you want, but if gay couples marry, what indeed do we have to prevent incestuous unions or etc?

The law.

Now, if you mean, what argument do we have to justify the prohibition, well, its a silly question. I've pointed to one argument above, but same-sex marriage is irrelevant to the issue, as it doesn't do anything to weaken any existing argument other than expressly unconstitutional promotion of the beliefs of a particular religion that is available now against incestuous unions. So, yes, you are just parroting conservative propaganda that makes no sense if examined closely—rather than waving around the "you can talk about..." line as if it were a magic talisman that insulated you against criticism, perhaps you should consider the criticism you so clearly expected.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The government, promoting the interests of society, can make all sorts of regulations involvong marriage. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for age limits, prohibitions against incest, etc. The objections to same sex marriage generally rest on biblical definitions of marriage. To adopt these biblical definitions of marriage would establish a religious basis for law, which is unconstitutional.

Posted by: coldhotel on June 15, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, the benefit is to promote the successful raising of children. It is indeed a benfit to the society at large that children are raised in a stable family and they can grow up to become productive members of society. And since you cannot procreate through homosexual activity, what is there to promote in a gay marriage?

Again, raising children.

Which, you ought to note, can happen other than where they are produced. There is no shortage of procreation, the purpose of marriage is not encourage more of that. It is (as it relates to children) to provide an environment for raising children.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Sounds like marriage should be made into an individual choice/decision free from government interference."

That's precisely what a religious ceremony is. Much of what Cal Gal describes, though requires government "interference." Most of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of marriage can only be gained with government "interference" and are necessary for the success of a society.

"That way you can marry whoever or whatever you want."

You already can. You just cannot get government recognition of it.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

And since you cannot procreate through homosexual activity, what is there to promote in a gay marriage?

Marriage. The union of two individuals who want to commit themselves to spend their lives together.

I'm assuming, by the way, you also want to forbid straight infertile couples and the elderly from marrying, not to mention straight couples who choose not to have children?

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
Can any constitutional scholars brighter than I (so, most of you) out there think of how a strict constructionalist like Scalia can ignore full faith and credit and uphold DOMA?

The boundaries of "full faith and credit" are somewhat amorphous, but I think its pretty well accepted across the spectrum of judicial philosophies not to require a state to recognize foreign marriages of people that would not be eligible to marry under the law of the state that is being asked to recognize them. I don't think making the issue into ineligibility by reason of gender is going to change a lot of minds on that.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

You can gripe about conservative propaganda all you want, but if gay couples marry, what indeed do we have to prevent incestuous unions or etc?

Um, if straight couples marry, what do we have to prevent incestuous unions or etc.? I mean, if you let men and women marry, sooner or later some guy is going to want to marry his sister, and there'll be nothing you can do to stop it!

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Please resist the urge to point out to Freedom Fighter all the things he already knows and refuses to accept in his attempt to derail the thread.

On the actual topic at hand: Those who are pointing out that we have a long way to go are absolutely right, but I think what Kinsley means about fast-moving history is this: the difference between younger people and older people in their opinions regarding homo/bisexuality is quite staggering, and bodes well for the future. The huge increase in acceptance levels in just one or two generations doesn't mirror other civil rights struggles of our history; it's moving much faster here.

So yeah, we have miles to go before we sleep, but all signs point toward this BS being resolved in a fairly short period of time. The religious right knows this, and this is why they're going all out to codify their bigotry in state constitutions--particularly in amendments that require supermajorities to overturn. They know their nasty little war's lost and they won't get another chance.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I've started referring to straight couples as "mixed-gender couples." You'd be surprised how often when people first hear the term they think it's something they should oppose....

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

yeah. you lost me here Freedom Fighter:

"And since you cannot procreate through homosexual activity, what is there to promote in a gay marriage?"

I'd say the first purpose of marriage is to raise healthy adults. Certainly not the only way, but it's a good way to free up parents who've done their bit and challenge the individual to develop profound love, tolerance, mutual responsibility, etc. Children are not definitional to marriage. And there are enough abandoned, abused, desperate and dying kids in the world that any couple wanting to love and raise some, gay or straight, well, God bless 'em. That, and I know any number of gay couples who have found innovative ways to reproduce.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have no friends, and only a few acquaintances who are openly gay. The notion that Americans will simply "feel the pain" of their gay brothers, sisters, friends, and decide to support them in their legal endeavors and that this whole issue is just a tidal-wave of social change is wrong-headed.

This argument, in fact, is a rightwing frame, designed to enrage the base of social conservatives.

The salient argument here is: No matter how much I, or any American, might oppose the idea of legalizing gay marriage - NONE OF US HAVE THE DAMN RIGHT TO BAN IT.

None of us have that right.
And I sure as hell don't WANT that right.
And I wouldn't want to live in a country where people had that right.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 15, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Again, raising children.

Which, you ought to note, can happen other than where they are produced. There is no shortage of procreation, the purpose of marriage is not encourage more of that. It is (as it relates to children) to provide an environment for raising children."

If that's your argument, then singles should qualify for marriage benefits too. Lest you are for discrimination of singles...

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

hey o_b_f, i like the sentiment that no one has the right to ban it, but the reality is it's currently an uphill fight to win the right.

but props to shortstop for highlighting the hope.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

the wingnuts know this. they know it well. hence the rapid push for amendments banning rights for parts of the population. Every day, voters who oppose marriage die, while being replaced by voters who can't think of a good reason to oppose marriage, even if they don't support it openly. Dobson, et al are fighting a losing demographic battle, and they know it. They are desperate to make it as hard as possible to overcome their bigotry as their numbers decline.

think about it. in 2012, the next time this ballot measure could conceivably be on the Mass. ballot, there will be 8 years of people realizing how dumb it is to overturn what is already 'normal' at that point.

Posted by: northzax on June 15, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

If that's your argument, then singles should qualify for marriage benefits too. Lest you are for discrimination of singles...
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

. . . as well they should.
And why the hell not?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 15, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

hey freedom fighter. single parents ought to get more support, point well taken, if that was your point. but marriage conveys rights between consenting adults, rights relating to property, inheritance, guardianship, visitation, taxation, etc., and the problem is these rights are being denied to certain consenting adults. marriage is about a dyad, not a monad. i'm not sure if your thinking there is just fuzzy, mendacious, or genuinely concerned about the welfare of single parents or what.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Charles Nelson Reilly died a couple of weeks ago, and I happened on his obit in the NYT. It was a bit of surprise to me, since all I really knew of him was game show career, to find that he was a serious actor with several Tony nominations and at least one win, but at the end of the obit was this little bit:

Mr. Reilly's openly gay persona was many years ahead of its time on television, and it had its risks. He recalled being dismissed early in his career by a network executive, who told him that ''they don't let queers on television.'' Paul Linke, who directed the one-man show, said Mr. Reilly later had the last laugh when he would page through TV Guide and count how many times he was on the air that week.


I hadn't really thought about it before, but he was sort of the Step'n Fetchit of gaydom. We've come a long way since then. I wonder what ever happened to the network exec who told him they don't let queers on tv? Are there any shows that don't have "queers" nowadays?

Posted by: majun on June 15, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the benefit is to promote the successful raising of children. It is indeed a benfit to the society at large that children are raised in a stable family and they can grow up to become productive members of society. And since you cannot procreate through homosexual activity, what is there to promote in a gay marriage?

Providing a stable environment for the raising children isn't the only purpose of marriage. Otherwise, why aren't marriage licenses denied to infertile couples, or senior couples, or couples who have no intention of starting families? Why doesn't marriage licensing include a "procreation pledge"?

Moreover, you're ignoring the many scenarios whereby a same-sex couple might have children: when one or both have biological children from a previous heterosexual relationship; when they choose to adopt; when they choose to undergo artificial insemination or utilize surrogate pregnancy. Are the children that result from such scenarios less deserving of the stability that comes from innumerable legal advantages of marriage?

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on June 15, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

". . . as well they should.
And why the hell not?"

I am asking you guys that... If nothing makes marriage special, what's the point in making special provisions for it?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, the benefit is to promote the successful raising of children."

Nowhere in the traditional marriage vows are children mentioned. Nowhere in the civil marriage license are children mentioned. Nowhere, in either the religious or civil institutions of marriage, is it required to have the intent to have and raise children. Nowhere, in either the religious or civil institutions of marriage, is it required to even be capable of having children.

Next?

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"hey freedom fighter. single parents ought to get more support, point well taken, if that was your point."

I didn't say single parents. I said singles, even non-parents. My point is: using the gay marriage argument, why should singles be denied the same benefits?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

If marriage is a religious institution isn't it discriminatory to promote it against the interest of anyone who isn't married?

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives who consider homosexuality a choice are understandably reluctant to afford those who chose wrongly the full legal benefits of marriage.

These conservatives clearly remember their own prolonged personal sexual deliberations. Equally attracted to both men and women, they sought the guidance of God and the counsel of ministers and family members. Like most moral quandaries, it wasn't easy, but these brave souls took the right path and decided to become heterosexual.

And despite their ongoing homosexual urges, these conservatives continue, by self-discipline and Grace, to choose the moral way of life. They are beacons of righteousness to us all.

Posted by: chance on June 15, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"If nothing makes marriage special, what's the point in making special provisions for it?"

To prevent the courts from being clogged with endless lawsuits over such things as inheritance, immigration, child support, power of attorney, and all of the other more than 1000 rights, responsibilities, and privileges that are associated with marriage.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Tell you what, FF, if you want to lobby for the abolition of government recognition of all marriages, go for it. We won't stop you. We'll just sit here laughing at you.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"I am asking you guys that... If nothing makes marriage special, what's the point in making special provisions for it?"

well, the benefits should extend to every adult twosome choosing to live in coupledom or none. by asking the question it would seem that you tilt towards none. that's fine, but i think taking away the right for all would be an even tougher fight than extending it to all. but it's a fair question.

though it would be fair to take away the benefits of marriage to all, i'm for extending them to all. and adding complimentary supports for single parents.

where to you stand, ff?

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"If marriage is a religious institution isn't it discriminatory to promote it against the interest of anyone who isn't married?"

Marriage is both a civil and religious institution. It is possible to be married in a religious ceremony and not have that marriage be recognized by the state, and vice versa.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

"but marriage conveys rights between consenting adults"

Something that often gets left out of these debates is that marriage also conveys responsibilities, including responsibility for care for your spouse, responsibility for debts, responsibility for child support and/or child rearing, and so on.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Tell you what, FF, if you want to lobby for the abolition of government recognition of all marriages, go for it. We won't stop you. We'll just sit here laughing at you."

If "gay marriage" becomes marriage, that is the inevitible conclusion.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"I didn't say single parents. I said singles, even non-parents. My point is: using the gay marriage argument, why should singles be denied the same benefits?"

ok, ff. was trying to be open minded, but clearly you are kinda a nimrod troll. do you really not know the difference between one and two? you can skip marrying yourself and go straight to fucking yourself. free to be you and me...

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

"where do you stand, ff?"

He doesn't, really. He's just a troll who's here to get a reaction.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

If that's your argument, then singles should qualify for marriage benefits too. Lest you are for discrimination of singles...

Uh... What benefits would those be? The legal advantages of marriage are generally those related to the relationship between the two adults. Every state is different, but a glance at the Goodridge opinion reveals few--if any--advantages that have any application to a single parent.

http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/supremejudicialcourt/goodridge.html

Massachusetts had already abolished the legal distinctions between "marital and nonmartial" children, so there's really nothing left. "Marriage benefits for single parents" is essentially meaningless.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on June 15, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"well, the benefits should extend to every adult twosome choosing to live in coupledom or none."

Why twosome? What's so special about twosome that all the other somes should be discriminated against?

"though it would be fair to take away the benefits of marriage to all, i'm for extending them to all."

Isn't that the same thing?

"where to you stand, ff?"

I am OK with either the govt setting aside special provisions for heterosexual marriage or none at all.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Massachusetts had already abolished the legal distinctions between "marital and nonmartial" children, so there's really nothing left. "Marriage benefits for single parents" is essentially meaningless."

I said singles, regardless whether they have children or not.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK
If "gay marriage" becomes marriage, that is the inevitible conclusion.

It is no more an "inevitable" conclusion of same-sex marriage being recognized then it is of, say, mixed-race marriage being legally recognized.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

He doesn't, really. He's just a troll who's here to get a reaction.

Thanks for catching up.

northzax: Exactly. Easier to watch when you know it's a vile mindset going through its death throes, isn't it?

chance at 3:44: hilarious post.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"ok, ff. was trying to be open minded, but clearly you are kinda a nimrod troll. do you really not know the difference between one and two?"

What does numbers have any importance here? If you'd like, just change 1 to 3. Can you explain why 2 gay guys should get marriage benefits, but 3 gay guys shouldn't?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK
If that's your argument, then singles should qualify for marriage benefits too.

Uh, the people who can form stable, mutually supporting dyadic relationships with legal obligations that form the kind of stable environment for raising children that recognition of marriage seeks (among other public benefits) to promote are singles. When they form that relationship and have it recognized by the state, they cease to be "singles".

That's what marriage is. If you haven't recognized that, you shouldn't be surprised when no one takes your pontificating on the issue seriously.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

http://faithoftheabomination.com/

Posted by: elmo on June 15, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:
There shouldn't be any insulation of anyone from critique, nor was I trying to arrange that. I was just throwing around Socratic challenge. That is a good thing. You didn't really explain why incestuous marriages should be prohibited in strictly logical terms, or why it is OK to prohibit them, but not gay marriages, in principle. And about legal status of relatives: Yes, there are default special relations, but of course one might one to favor one relative over another, and then what?

As for Massachusetts, etc: OK, let the localities/States decide, but then if they decide against, no federal interference should force them to accept non-traditional marriage arrangements either, don't you agree?

Posted by: Neil B. on June 15, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK
If marriage is a religious institution isn't it discriminatory to promote it against the interest of anyone who isn't married?

"Marriage" is a label for both a civil institution and a religions institution. Despite the fact that many states allow certain religious ministers to perform ceremonies which create a legal marriage simultaneously with those that produce a religious marriage between the same parties, the two institutions are completely distinct, and the law provides no special recognition to those participating in the religious institution, it only recognizes the civic one.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why twosome? What's so special about twosome that all the other somes should be discriminated against?
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is actually a good point. Of course, FF thinks he's just being silly here, but when you think about it - what business does the government have in defining marriage at all?

None.

If two people want to enter into a legal arrangement - it really isn't any of the government's business WHO those two (or three, or four, etc.) people are. As long as they're consenting adults.

Yes - the whole argument DOES threaten the concept of marriage. This is what conservatives feel, in their gut, when they open the definition up to "gay marriage" - but then again, they don't seem to want to accept the fact that it's hypocritical to begin with. They're asking for special privileges for a few. That's the heart of this matter. A very UNconservative idea.

Yes, FF, Marriage IS special. It SHOULD BE special. But it should be a RIGHT, not a privilege.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 15, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

"though it would be fair to take away the benefits of marriage to all, i'm for extending them to all."

Isn't that the same thing?
__________

hmm, i'm thinking this is a genuine question, which makes ff a stupid bigot rather than an mendacious heckling anarchist.

see gang? we do have a ways to go, despite young americans being increasingly less ignorant and unjust on this particular subject. there are still folks-a-plenty who can't tell the difference between one and two, who can't tell the difference between extending rights to all individuals in a particular class and removing those rights, who are in short incapable of categorical thinking, who nonetheless are capable of mustering the motor skills required to type and otherwise project the misguided hate arising from the fear of their own inadequacies, frailties and secret longings.

clearly, freedom fighter is himself tormented by his own unresolved bisexuality, hence his reluctance at openly betraying his own bigotry, and peculiar fascination with self-marriage.

no need for me to do anything but scoff at the pond scum henceforth.

first up against the wall when the revolution comes. and i mean comes.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

PS - Something isn't "parroted" just because you don't agree with it. That isn't the definition of not being reflected on first, which you don't have access to knowledge about anyway. In any case I did give a brief rationale, but Socratic challenge to force someone else to give rationale is an acceptable intellectual tool.
(BTW, I think you usually make good points here. There is some divergence, much less than 50% on average for the mass of commentary here, for various reasons.)

Posted by: Neil B. on June 15, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"hmm, i'm thinking this is a genuine question, which makes ff a stupid bigot rather than an mendacious heckling anarchist."

If it's the same one who's been using that handle here repeatedly over the past year or so, you'd be wrong. In any case, I'm not sure that the two categories are mutually exclusive: it is entirely possible to be both an unserious troll and a stupid bigot.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Marriage is both a civil and religious institution. It is possible to be married in a religious ceremony and not have that marriage be recognized by the state, and vice versa.


Isn't, then, permitting religious sanction of a civil institution inherently wrong, because it allows the impression that supernatural benediction makes the marriage, rather than civil authority?

It's the same thing as prayer in schools, or the Congressional party-chaplain (or whatever he's called).

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

cld: Isn't, then, permitting religious sanction of a civil institution inherently wrong, because it allows the impression that supernatural benediction makes the marriage, rather than civil authority?

I have long been of the view that religious marriage ceremonies and the act of civil marriage should be entirely separate events.

But realizing that this stance will gain little popular traction, I'm picking my battles.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK
You didn't really explain why incestuous marriages should be prohibited in strictly logical terms

No proposition that contains a "should" not qualified by an "if" can be defended in "strictly logical terms", which includes any and every policy position.

I did explain why permitting marriage between close legal kin (independently of genetic relationship) might not have the kind of social utility that allowing it for others does.

or why it is OK to prohibit them, but not gay marriages, in principle.

It is okay because the distinction between partners who are kin and partners who are not kin, unlike the distinction between same-sex pairs and opposite sex pairs, has a rational bearing on the legitimate, secular purpose of marriage. I did explain the bearing that the distinction had, though I did not articulate that criterion.

And about legal status of relatives: Yes, there are default special relations, but of course one might one to favor one relative over another, and then what?

One might prefer lots of things. There are, of course, ways of arranging for private preferences among kin. Public policy need not treat every private preference equally if those preferences are differently situated with regard to the public purpose of the policy.

As for Massachusetts, etc: OK, let the localities/States decide, but then if they decide against, no federal interference should force them to accept non-traditional marriage arrangements either, don't you agree?

Provided that their decision comports with the obligations of equal protection under the Constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment, sure, at least under the current Constitutional framework.

I could probably convinced of the merit of Constitutional reforms which would give the Federal government a broader role than its current one which might affect this question and others, but that's something of a separate debate.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

He doesn't, really. He's just a troll who's here to get a reaction.

Thanks for catching up.

northzax: Exactly. Easier to watch when you know it's a vile mindset going through its death throes, isn't it?

chance at 3:44: hilarious post.
Posted by: shortstop
_______
nice hat trick there, sortstop.

and yeah, PaulB, the potential convergence occurred to me, but i figured stupid bigotry was ascendant in this case.

Posted by: Trypticon on June 15, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK
Isn't, then, permitting religious sanction of a civil institution inherently wrong, because it allows the impression that supernatural benediction makes the marriage, rather than civil authority?

How can something be "inherently wrong" because it merely allows a particular false impression?

It's the same thing as prayer in schools

I might agree if a religious ceremony was required. I don't see how allowing the couple to choose to go that route is at all like prayer in the schools.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK
If you'd like, just change 1 to 3. Can you explain why 2 gay guys should get marriage benefits, but 3 gay guys shouldn't?

How about, instead, you explain why a pair of people that includes at least one party of each sex should be allowed to marry, but a trio that includes at least one part of each sex should not, and then explain how expanding the allowed to pairs to include same-sex partners invalidates the distinction between pairs and trios?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

We still haven't seen the first legislature choose to switch from a mixed-sex-only marriage to allowing same-sex marriage.

I thought the California legislature did, but the Gropeanator vetoed it.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on June 15, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

One more point about so-called "gay marriage" - THERE IS NO SUCH THING!

I wish people would stop conflating the sacrament of marriage, which is a religious ritual and the legal privileges that our society accords to couples who are "married".

To clarify - if two homosexuals want to be married in a religious ceremony today, they can do so. That is up to their church or the religious organization they belong to. However, the state (except Massachusetts) does not grant those individuals the same rights (e.g. health benefits, pensions, bequests) automatically now, the way they do with couples who are heterosexual and marry in a religious ritual. This is clearly discrimination, in violation of the 14th Amendment, in my estimation. Conservatives have such a poor understanding of the Constitution, generally, it isn't surprising they don't get this.

P.S. trypticon, I think I get your points and I think I agree. I think....

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 15, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

,i.Why twosome? What's so special about twosome that all the other somes should be discriminated against?
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

well, actually, a lot. contracts between three parties get much more complicated than between two parties. let's take a simple problem like the ability to make medical decisions for your partner while he/she is incapacitated. if two people have that power, what if they don't agree? who decides? how do you handle inheritance of property or power of attorney in case of incapacitation? all of this can be handled with supplemental contracts, but it makes life more difficult, of course, and, by neccesity, makes some people in the partnership more equal than others.

and then there are things like partnership benefits from employers. social security benefits, insurance, etc. would your employer be forced to subsidize TWO people as a spouse, what if you had ten? if they subisdize any marriages, they must subsidize them all (it doesn't matter if they are subsidizing a mixed-gender union or a same-gender union, that's still just one person)

so yes, you can sign a marriage contract with one person, legally, that is all that makes sense under the current system (and there is no reason at all that the genders of either person should matter) adding a third or more can be done with seperate contracts, if you'd like (you can, of course give someone besides your legally married spouse power of attorney, and someone else medical power of attorney, and someone else your property in your will)

Posted by: northzax on June 15, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

You didn't really explain why incestuous marriages should be prohibited in strictly logical terms, or why it is OK to prohibit them, but not gay marriages, in principle.

You didn't answer why it's OK to prohibit incestuoous marriages, but not straight marriages, in principle.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"This is actually a good point. Of course, FF thinks he's just being silly here, but when you think about it - what business does the government have in defining marriage at all?"

I am using the same arguments as proponents of gay marriage. If you think it's silly, it might be because gay marriage is silly.

[I tire of the trolling. If you have a point, make it. Otherwise, I will commence deleting comments I deem to be troll posts.]

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Your point is well-taken, but one state legislature has already passed gay marriage without being ordered to do so--that of California. Schwarzenegger, who was then at a low point in the polls and beholden to the Republican base, vetoed it. A lot of us wonder what he might have done had he been less unpopular at the time...

Posted by: Steve on June 15, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kinsley's scenario seems rosy to me. Gays will "have it all" in 20 years? Maybe, but I'll be surprised if gay marriages are being perfomed in Utah (among other states) in 2027. A lot of people are extraordinarily resistant in this area, e.g., a college friend of mine who went on to become an Episcopal priest. He's certainly known his share of gay folk -- we knew some of the same ones almost 40 years ago -- and in almost any area you can name, he's quite liberal. But gay clergy? Never! according to him. It's a sin, you see. With Roman Catholics, it's the same, of course -- even though a substantial segment of their priesthood is closeted. And let's not even get into the evangelicals, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and on and on . . .

Posted by: penalcolony on June 15, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I said singles, regardless whether they have children or not.

That's even more nonsensical. Name a "marriage benefit" that could possibly apply to a single person with no dependents.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on June 15, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

How can something be "inherently wrong" because it merely allows a particular false impression?

In this case, supernatural marriage provides the fundamental base upon which conservatives hang their ideas about almost everything, where divine sanction allows them to justify whatever they happen to be doing because of who they are.

The point about prayer in schools evolves from this because it's about who they are and what they're doing here.

If the civil authority accepts the religious decision about themselves it's allowing the religion as the defining criteria of their social presence, and that is why, they would say, they are justified in taking over the public school system.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe, but I'll be surprised if gay marriages are being perfomed in Utah (among other states) in 2027.

Then again, a lot of people in Virginia, say, would never have predicted in 1947 that their state would be performing mixed-race marriages in another twenty years.

Posted by: Stefan on June 15, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
I thought the California legislature did, but the Gropeanator vetoed it.

I would say the legislature hasn't done it unless it has either secured the assent of the executive or overridden a veto, if that is required for an act to become law.

But, yes, the California legislature passed such a bill and sent it to the governor, who vetoed it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Isn't, then, permitting religious sanction of a civil institution inherently wrong"

No. The two are completely separate entities. I can choose to have my civil marriage sanctioned by a religious institution or not, and the specific religious institution I choose is entirely up to me.

What would be wrong would be something like the state deciding that only marriages performed by the Catholic Church would be recognized. Or deciding that all marriages must be blessed by a religious institution. Neither of these is true in today's society. The choice is mine.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK
In this case, supernatural marriage provides the fundamental base upon which conservatives hang their ideas about almost everything

IMO, this is completely wrong. While "tradition" is the rhetorical hook on which they hang just about every argument, "supernatural marriage" isn't just one of many popular instances of that, not its central application and certainly not the fundamental base of much of anything.

where divine sanction allows them to justify whatever they happen to be doing because of who they are.

Certainly, argue any position with a religious conservative, and divine sanction and tradition are often at the root of everything, but "supernatural marriage" is only involved when the issue relates to marriage and family, and is a manifestation of the more general trend, not its base.

The point about prayer in schools evolves from this because it's about who they are and what they're doing here.

If the civil authority accepts the religious decision about themselves it's allowing the religion as the defining criteria of their social presence, and that is why, they would say, they are justified in taking over the public school system.

I don't understand what point you are trying to make here.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK
I wish people would stop conflating the sacrament of marriage, which is a religious ritual and the legal privileges that our society accords to couples who are "married".

"Marriage" is just the state of being "married". It was a legal, civic, and contractual function (to which, in Christendom, the Church assigned some religious significance but did not regulate) long before it was accepted as a "sacrament" over which the Church had a regulatory power coincident or even superior to that of the state.

So the argument you make here is based on a premise that, while popular in the debate over marriage policy, is historically inaccurate and unfortunately serves to reinforce the right-wing meme that marriage is somehow historically and traditionally within the exclusive purview of religion and more specifically their particular religious interpretation.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"and yeah, PaulB, the potential convergence occurred to me, but i figured stupid bigotry was ascendant in this case."

Impossible to be sure, of course, but FF is an old friend on this blog, whose trolling and deliberate obtuseness and baiting grew to be so offensive that his posts were actually removed for a time, a step that Kevin finds so abhorrent that it has occurred only a very few times in the past five years or so.

Posted by: PaulB on June 15, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I am using the same arguments as proponents of gay marriage. If you think it's silly, it might be because gay marriage is silly.
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 15, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'm saying that you THINK you're being silly, but it's actually a serious argument.

The state has no business defining whether a person (any consenting adult) can enter into a contractual agreement (ie. marriage) with any other consenting adult.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 15, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
The state has no business defining whether a person (any consenting adult) can enter into a contractual agreement (ie. marriage) with any other consenting adult.

Marriage is not simply a contractual arrangement, otherwise the only benefits and obligations created would be of the parties to each other. Civic marriage is a relationship between the state and a pair of people which requires a certain vaguely contract-like (some statutes call it a "contract", but a largely distinct body of law applies making the label more misleading than useful) relationship between the pair, but it is not just a contract between the two individuals. The state certainly has the power (within certain bounds) to regulate the assignment of public duties and benefits, and marriage encompasses both.

And, even with purely contractual arrangements, I think that the state clearly has some power to regulate what contracts can be formed, even between consenting adults, including defining circumstances under which even consenting adults cannot form contracts with legal force with certain particular effects.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

And, even with purely contractual arrangements, I think that the state clearly has some power to regulate what contracts can be formed, even between consenting adults, including defining circumstances under which even consenting adults cannot form contracts with legal force with certain particular effects.

Exactly. The question is whether it is constitutional for such defining circumstances to include the genders of the consenting adults. That, in a nutshell, is The Gay Marriage Question.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on June 15, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Then again, a lot of people in Virginia, say, would never have predicted in 1947 that their state would be performing mixed-race marriages in another twenty years.

I'm pretty sure George Allen is unaware that they're doing it now.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Wait... haven't the legislatures in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey also legalized marriage?"

Posted by: bryan on June 15, 2007 at 1:29 PM

'Bryan, those states have legalized civil unions, not marriage. MA is the only one for now.'

Posted by: Phil on June 15, 2007 at 2:04

Why not make every church wedding a religious ceremony which also requires a civil union down at the Justice of the Peace? (as they do in Brazil, I believe) Oh Wait!
That diminishes the powers of the ministers. They'll never let it happen. Powerful people these ministers.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 15, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

The action here is in the brains of conservatives and their relationship to society.

When they speak of tradition or traditional values, marriage is associated with 80 or 90% of what the people who vote as conservatives are hearing, and it isn't a civil service they're thinking about, it's a supernatural event.

Marriage has a centrality in the conservative mind as almost the exclusively defining characteristic of adulthood. For them it is analogous to achieving full citizenship.

So Tom Delay can justify anything he's done as being in furtherance of divinity, because it trumps any mere utilitarian idea of citizenship.

Having supernatural marriage recognized by the state as defacto civil marriage allows the religious institution to define a person's social status, giving the religious institution a secular, non-religious function.

Conservatives, seeing their place in life defined by the church, see no reason why their public school shouldn't be all about what they think they're doing here.


(I am not speaking here of the simply craven, opportunistic, or corporate conservatives, or of social conservatism as a pathology, but of the people who vote Republican cluelessly, the audience, not the preacher.)

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK
Why not make every church wedding a religious ceremony which also requires a civil union down at the Justice of the Peace?

The substantive difference between that and a church wedding being an optional ceremony which requires a marriage license from the county office and can be substituted with a justice of the peace ceremony is...what?


That diminishes the powers of the ministers.

What "powers of the ministers" that exist in the current system would be diminished? They possess neither the power to legally marry people with any legal force who could not otherwise be married, or to deny anyone legal marriage. Your explanation does not withstand even superficial scrutiny.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

The substantive difference between that and a church wedding being an optional ceremony which requires a marriage license from the county office and can be substituted with a justice of the peace ceremony is...what?

Well, one difference would be the state disinvesting the clergy of the power to perform marriages that are recognized as civil as well as religious. The clergy isn't, for example, granted the power to legally dissolve marriages.

As I commented before, I don't think this will be a particularly popular position, so it's not a rallying cry of mine. But I agree with cld to the extent that I believe the cultural intertwining of religious and civil marriage has contributed mightily to a large proportion of the population's inability to separate the two whenever the topic of extending civil marriage rights to all comes up.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK
Well, one difference would be the state disinvesting the clergy of the power to perform marriages that are recognized as civil as well as religious.

The person "performing" a marriage ceremony acts essentially as a chief witness. And its not a substantive power of the clergy, since they can neither deny access to marriage to a couple that would have it without their action, nor provide it to a couple that would not have it but for their action.

The clergy isn't, for example, granted the power to legally dissolve marriages.

Neither are retired tax court judges or members of Congress, who are among the many kinds of people who can solemnize marriages (at least in the State of California.)

As I commented before, I don't think this will be a particularly popular position, so it's not a rallying cry of mine. But I agree with cld to the extent that I believe the cultural intertwining of religious and civil marriage has contributed mightily to a large proportion of the population's inability to separate the two whenever the topic of extending civil marriage rights to all comes up.

Granting, arguendo, that this is true, I don't see the fairly trivial procedural change being recommended as doing anything to alter any cultural intertwining that is causing the problem you point to.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

So Dobson and his ilk can keep screaming, but they know they're losing. Sometime soon, they're going to have to find a different peril to Western civilization to keep the checks rolling in.

Islam should fill that bill quite nicely for decades to come...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on June 15, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Granting, arguendo, that this is true, I don't see the fairly trivial procedural change being recommended as doing anything to alter any cultural intertwining that is causing the problem you point to.


Then the move would cause little stir.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

And it's not a substantive power of the clergy, since they can neither deny access to marriage to a couple that would have it without their action, nor provide it to a couple that would not have it but for their action.

The fact that a marriage license is still required doesn't render insignificant this power of the clergy. Of course it's a substantive power. Can you marry someone? Can I? Can any other "chief witness"? Beyond certain official representatives of the state (currently employed or retired, to use your examples above), this is a power the state grants only to the clergy. (I believe captains of vessels at sea can still do it, come to think of it, but this doesn't substantially alter my point since the purpose of that power is to cover our marriage-requiring citizens at sea.)

Neither are retired tax court judges or members of Congress, who are among the many kinds of people who can solemnize marriages (at least in the State of California.)

Again, these are employees of the state acting in their official current (or emeritus) status. I think you're missing my point, which was to question why the clergy is invested with the power to legally marry but not to legally divorce. The simple answer, of course, is that this ability feeds the popular assumption that marriage is a supernatural union while divorce is a human action.

Granting, arguendo, that this is true, I don't see the fairly trivial procedural change being recommended as doing anything to alter any cultural intertwining that is causing the problem you point to.

I think this procedural change might become less trivial if the public dialogue on the civil versus the religious definition of marriage actually widens, advances and starts shaking down to actual details. As it is, stripping the clergy of this state-granted power would likely be seen as a pointless inconvenience by many (though that could be addressed in a number of ways, including the option of having a simple civil marriage at the same time a couple obtains a license) and as directly pooping on god by others.

It's a cultural habit now, and as such would be hard to break. But for the sake of the drive to extend state-recognized marriage rights, it's a shame we ever let the civil and religious versions of marriage become so tightly enmeshed.

Posted by: shortstop on June 15, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

doc,

I can see you didn't get your doctorate in science. With that reasoning you could prove people who are allergic to nuts are a race.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

A comment posted by 'doc' seems to have got the axe.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Then the move would cause little stir.

That doesn't follow; that it wouldn't have much substantive impact on perceptions doesn't mean that both sides wouldn't see it as important when it was proposed and go nuts over it.

Its a proposal designed for maximum controversy and minimum impact.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 15, 2007 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of ministers double as justices of the peace, or whatever other office they need to hold, so they can hand out a full-sized marriage on the spot.

If you try to change that they would go stark ape shit over how they were being victimized, from Vegas to the Reptile House, it wouldn't just blow over.

These people have been looking for an organizing principal that can take them to the next level, since they've gotten as far with abortion, flag burning and gay-hating as they can. They could spin this move as trying to disenfranchise their marriages (and I realize that's ironic among the people with the highest divorce rate in America), but it would place the question of how sovereignty works right on their plate.

I think it would radicalize about half of them.

We often hear Republicans today saying the George Bush administration isn't what they meant when they voted Republican, but if you divorce civil from religious marriage with a sharp and impermeable line, you'll soon be hearing a lot about how George Bush was right about everything.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with doc in that.

His comment was a product of having little interest in the matter, but a lot of opinion.

Dim, but not execrable.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

'As I commented before, I don't think this will be a particularly popular position, so it's not a rallying cry of mine. But I agree with cld to the extent that I believe the cultural intertwining of religious and civil marriage has contributed mightily to a large proportion of the population's inability to separate the two whenever the topic of extending civil marriage rights to all comes up.' - Shortstop

The power to conflate the ideas and purposes of civil and religious union (civil and religious law) is a profound and mighty power. It's exactly where church and state are not separated.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 15, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Does that church allow gay marriage?

Posted by: slanted tom on June 15, 2007 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

All of that is corruption, doc.

That's exactly as if they set up an xbox and a big screen so members could play Doom & Destroy.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I missed it, whatever it was. At a guess I'd bet it was something about the First Amendment.

The First Amendment, having to do with freedom of opinion, begins Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

In this sentence 'respecting' means 'in reference to' and 'an establishment' means 'a setting up'. This means there may be no law creating a state religion or state validated church. And that means the idea that Christianity was intended to be the basis of our country or that the US was meant to be a 'Christian' nation is specifically false, indeed, wholly corrupt.

More important though is 'or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;'.

This means that if an office holder were to evolve his policies or decisions explicitly from within his religious view, and put them into practice, he would be, as a public officer, giving a governmental sanction to his own religious interest. A person like this is unfit for duty, and impeachable for that reason alone.

If an office holder is unable to distinguish between his religious interests and the ideas pertaining to his public duty that have not been developed in reference to religious ideas, but secular and practical ideas and precedents, then he does not know what he is doing there and is unfit for public office on these grounds.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

When those dolts covered up the statues at the Justice Department they invalidated the entirety of the Bush administration in a single gesture.

Posted by: cld on June 15, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

" Sometime soon, they're going to have to find a different peril to Western civilization to keep the checks rolling in."

Or maybe the idea is to move on to more lucrative and stable sources of funding.

Posted by: Linus on June 15, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Trying to ban gay marriage is a suspicious move for an ex-male cheerleader.

Posted by: Jimmy Kimmel on June 16, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK
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