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Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2008

SOME OF HIS BEST FRIENDS ARE GAY.... We talked a couple of weeks ago about why pastor Rick Warren's reputation for being more reasonable and moderate than this religious right brethren may be unearned. At the time, the subject was his endorsement -- on Biblical grounds -- of Sean Hannity's assertion that the United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We got another reminder this week, when Warren sat down with Beliefnet's Steven Waldman, and the subject turned to Warren's opposition to gay rights. Warren rejected any notion that he might be homophobic, pointing to his work combating AIDS and his willingness to have dinner in "gay homes."

Sarah Posner noted how unpersuasive Warren's arguments were.

Warren dodged Waldman's question about whether he supported civil unions or domestic partnerships, answering instead, "I support full equal rights for everyone in America," adding that he only opposes a "redefinition" of marriage. He went on to say he's opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage.

Warren claimed he supported Proposition 8 because of a free-speech issue -- asserting that "any pastor could be considered doing hate speech ... if he shared his views that homosexuality wasn't the most natural way for relationships."

If Warren could come up with a principled explanation for his beliefs, fine. But this is utterly foolish. There was nothing in Prop 8 -- indeed, there's never been anything in any U.S. measure on marriage equality -- that would have permitted punishing religious leaders for espousing their beliefs on gay rights or any other issue.

I obviously can't read Warren's mind, but if he knows, as he should, that this argument is demonstrably false, his remarks were dishonest. If he was sincere and simply didn't know what he was talking about, Warren's opposition to a worthwhile ballot measure was based on ignorance.

Whether he's eaten in "gay homes" or not is of no consequence.

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

When did it become so okay for religious leaders to be so breathtakingly dishonest? I remember the expression a half truth is a whole lie, and that's the kind of expression that a moralist like Warren should be espousing rather than embodying.

Posted by: Fides on December 16, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

O ye intelligent commenters of this blog, explain to me why this particular passage is offensive: "He went on to say he's opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage. "

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different? I can see a problem with man marrying child scenario (consent), although what constitutes a "child" can certainly also be open to interpretation. Certainly, there has to an argument beyond "it's icky". What exactly would that be?

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rev. Rick Warren has refused to marry a couple, a man and a woman, who were living together prior to marriage because he considered them sinners. To me, that is the total opposite of what a true Christian would do. If someone wants to "legitimize" their relationship and asks the minister to marry them, isn't it his responsibility as a Man of God to forgive them and accept their invitation? Now, I don't know if they asked for his forgiveness, acknowledged their sins or what other factors may have been involved. But, from what I heard, Warren's refusal to marry them had to do with their "living in sin".

He is not one I would go to for spiritual advice.

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on December 16, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Rick Warren, for all his professed moderate views (better to sell books outside of the Left Behind crowd), is, when push comes to shove, an anti-gay bigot like all the rest of the fundies.

I'd love to ask one of these religious jamokes who love the Republicans so much how they can be pro-war, but also "pro-life". life is life, ain't it? or don't Iraqi children count?

Posted by: rob! on December 16, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Rick Warren is against polygamy? I thought they did that all the time in the bible.

Posted by: DR on December 16, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure he's saying here that Proposition 8 would have imposed any kind of legal punishment on pastors for stating views in opposition to homosexuality-- generally speaking, legal prohibitions on "hate speech" are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. What he seems to be saying, to the extent his argument makes any sense, is that passing Prop 8 would place the state's imprimatur on gay relationships and therefore impose a social stigma on anti-gay sentiment analogous to that imposed on hate speech. I don't think I buy that argument but it's not quite the same as suggesting that Prop 8 would have imposed some legal penalties on anti-gay religious teaching.

Posted by: JRD on December 16, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle?

Well, in many cases polygamy is basically institutionalized child abuse and sexual assault (and often it isn't consensual.) as for "consensual" incest -- if there's a large group of brothers and sisters who feel that they are denied equal rights under the law because they can't marry their siblings, I feel that they have the right to make their case, can't they?

I have yet to hear of their movement. Gays, on the other hand, well, they are here, queer, etc...

Posted by: Jay B. on December 16, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Warren's opposition to a worthwhile ballot measure..." should read "...support for a bigoted ballot measure..." as Prop 8 was anti-gay.

Posted by: David on December 16, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Leaving aside underage relations (since treating "minors" differently is a long-standing legal tradition with clear point that supervenes other considerations), I don't really see just how one can justify gay marriage and not incestuous marriage, or even perhaps polygamy. Suppose I'm sterile and want to marry my sister, so what? Can you justify one and not the other, why? (And complaining about why you think I'm asking won't make the inherent logical/ethical question go away.)

Posted by: Neil B on December 16, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Whether he's eaten in "gay homes" or not is of no consequence."

Neither is his work with AIDS. One wonders how awesome it must be to have some idiot helping you who thinks you contracted the disease from his moral equivalent to rape.

I get so angry when I see these guys hiding behind their fucken boogie man, god. They must be the luckiest people on the planet to have views that miraculously match gods.

Posted by: ScottW on December 16, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, in many cases polygamy is basically institutionalized child abuse and sexual assault "

Well, in many cases heterosexual marriage has wife abuse, child abuse, etc. Just because a large portion of marriage end in divorce, no one's denying people the right to believe in the better outcome in their case & act on that desire. Same could be true for polygamy.

I'm just saying that when conservatives cry about "slippery slope", I think we should acknowledge they have a point. As you say "I feel that they have the right to make their case, can't they?" If there are potentially groups that may want to "make their case" that currently fall under "unnatural" category, why do we get offended by the comparison? Reminds me of how some African Americans get offended by comparison of miscegenation laws vs. gay marriage laws. Inability to step away from immediacy & see things rationally is frightening to me.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle?

Which principle, religious or civil? In some "christian" (and Muslim) traditions, polygyny (multiple wives) is acceptable, provided the husband can support multiple wives and the resulting children. Woo hoo, oppressive patriarchy! Then there are polyandrous people who successfully form equitable multiple-person life bonds with no religion at all, within whatever parameters they set amongst themselves. From a civil perspective, multiple spouses present a serious problem with regards to taxes, survivorship benefits, kinship determination, probate and execution of wills, determining insurance eligibility, the list goes on and on. Our legal system is currently set up to support a two-person marital relationship-based family structure. Someday, that may change, provided the government sees an overwhelming need for it. Just more evidence that the government needs to get out of the marriage business altogether and just have individuals register their legal next of kin.

For that matter, how is consensual incest different?

Humanity's issue with incest lies in consanguinity and the high percentage of genetic defects in resulting children when the adults involved are opposite genders. From that perspective, I suppose consensual adult homosexual incest would be okay, though I personally have never wanted to sleep with my sister. But hey, if incest was good enough for the children of Adam and Eve, Abraham (Gen 20:21; wife Sarah is his half-sister, or possibly niece), Noah's kids, and Lot's daughters, I don't know what all the "christians" are complaining about!

I can see a problem with man marrying child scenario (consent)

Finally, some sense!

although what constitutes a "child" can certainly also be open to interpretation.

Talk to the FLDS and a lawyer for constitutes a child. Religiously, the definition seems to be "old enough to bleed, old enough to force into a marriage to her uncle/cousin/community elder." Under civil law, that means 18 and able to sign a contract of one's own free will, under no duress, and with informed consent.

Posted by: Keori on December 16, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Whether he's eaten in "gay homes" or not is of no consequence.

I disagree. The fact that he divides homes into "gay" and "not gay" is highly indicative of how his mind works, or fails to.

Posted by: TonyT on December 16, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

To flip Warren's comments he either has no problem with brother/sister, adult/child, several adult relationships provided they don't marry,

OR

He has no problem sitting down for dinner with morally corrupt criminals.

That's why his argument is bullshit.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on December 16, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, in many cases polygamy is basically institutionalized child abuse and sexual assault "
-----------------------
So is regular marriage.

I could care less if you want to marry ten guys maria, or Jay B, you can have ten guys as well.

Polygamists get married all the time and amazingly enough, they believe in the same mythology as 'real' christians. So how they view gay marriage is identical, how they view marriage with more then one varies, interesting.

Parent/Offspring incest can never be consensual, even at 38, my parents have this weird like influence over me. But sibling incest is an unusual situation. Never thought about it, but hey, so long as they aren't putting others in harms way (offspring), they can do whatever they want. They are the ones who have to deal with any moral issues, I don't, and if this is some sort of god sin, let him pass judgment, because if they are happy, I am happy.

You want to save marriage, head to Vegas and start with the drive-through, topless marriages performed by Elvis. Those have a better chance of failing then same couple marriages.

Posted by: ScottW on December 16, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

When Warren snorts speed and swaps blowjobs with a gay prostitute then I'll believe he isn't homophobic. uhhh well maybe not. As we seen with the powerful and influentual Pastor Ted Haggard, a leading opponent of gay marriage, who according to Mother Jones magazine spoke by phone with President Bush every Monday; one can engage in those activities and still be a homophobic bigot. Geeez, who to loathe most? These guys? The Republican party? The spineless Democrats?

Posted by: geeeez on December 16, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

To Keori:

"Which principle, religious or civil?" Obviously, civil. You can't reason with religion, but you can consider rationally the effect on the society when dealing with civil concerns.

"From a civil perspective, multiple spouses present a serious problem with regards to taxes, survivorship benefits, kinship determination, probate and execution of wills, determining insurance eligibility, the list goes on and on. Our legal system is currently set up to support a two-person marital relationship-based family structure."

Once, the legal system was set up to support the eternal, non-divorcing two-person structure, and somehow it now manages to navigate the multiple divorce, alimony, visitation rights, multiple city sprawling family, etc world that we currently inhabit. If it's a matter of supporting the human rights and changing society, I'm sure we'll manage just fine. Plus, not to pull a Godwin on you, but you could have also used the whole "society is set up that way" argument in favor of slavery.

"Talk to the FLDS and a lawyer for constitutes a child... Under civil law, that means 18 and able to sign a contract of one's own free will, under no duress, and with informed consent."

When I said "open to interpretation", I meant that the definition of a "child" has definitely been different through the ages & countries. It will certainly not be "18" forever. In fact, it's not 18 in some states for marriage anyway. Possibly, some day science will rule on the right age when a person can sensibly judge the affairs of the heart (or, most likely, probably not), but right now it certainly is "open to interpretation". Certainly, "ability to support a family" is quite wide open to interpretation.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different?

I posed the same question on the TAPPED thread and never really got a response. I support gay marriage, but I have noticed that its advocates tend to run away from this question rather than address it straight on.

The fact of the matter is, the driving principle behind gay marriage is operative when it comes to plural marriage as well. If it is discrimination to prohibit a man from getting married to the person he loves just because that person is also a man, why is it not discrimination to prohibit someone from getting married to the person they love just because that person is their sibling (it does happen; see Muth v. Frank). Or because they love two people instead of one.

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

In the 1860s, Warren would have opposed the abolition of slavery because, although he supported full equal rights for everyone in America, he opposed a "redefinition" of property.

Posted by: Mike on December 16, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

His "Purpose Driven Life" multi-million dollar book and approach apparently excludes tolerance and compassion. But it sure got him the following he wanted.

What a phony baloney "cool pastor".

Posted by: Joanne on December 16, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

What I find hilarious is that he equates homosexuality to child abuse, incest and polygamy; three things that were rampant in the Old Testament.

Were the Israelites not ordered in Numbers, chapter 31 to, "... kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." Verses 17 & 18.

Nearly all of the Patriarchs were polygamous. King David, as you may recall, even arranged for his friend and servant Uriah to be killed so that David could have his wife. David was punished by God for Uriah's murder, but not for his polygamy. And, of course, David's son Solomon had legions of wives.

Abraham claimed that Sarah was his sister (twice) and when caught in the lie, he confessed in Genesis 20:12 that,"And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."

The truth is that we do not take our definition of marriage from the Bible. And I'm glad we don't. Bronze Age ideas need to stay in the Bronze Age.

Otherwise, we might think that it's ok to wipe out nonbelievers so that their underage daughters could be our slaves, or that it's ok for therich and powerful to have dozens of wives, or that in some circumstances incest isn't just ok, but even can be the basis for 2 of the 3 Abrahamic Faith's. I say 2, because Islam venerates Ishmael, who was not the son of Sarah, instead the son of Haggar the slave.

Slavery, of course, being another thing that the Bible promotes.

I'm glad that I live in the 21st century.

Posted by: Mitch on December 16, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

When Warren snorts speed and swaps blowjobs with a gay prostitute then I'll believe he isn't homophobic.

Sometimes I wonder whether all these fundamentalist conservative activists aren't really full-blown fetishists whose kink crucially depends on the existence of severe, well-defined strictures condemning the behavior they like to engage in. Like, gay bathroom meth sex wouldn't be as hot if everybody was OK with it.

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

One legal issue with polygamy is that the legal ramifications of marriage (property, inheritance, power of attorney if something goes wrong, etc) are written in ways that only work with two people. Imagine if one person in a polygamous relationship is brain dead and on life support and one spouse wants to keep that person on life support and one spouse does not. And in divorce - if three people are all married and A and B get divorced - how does the property get divided if they are both still married to c?

Gay marriage doesn't require re-writing vast numbers of other laws, polygamy does.

Posted by: eden on December 16, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different?

Well in order to answer that question, it seems to me that we have to know what "principle" you are referring to. The principle guiding any of a society's limitation on certain rights is generally that freedom in the area in question would likely lead to an identifiable social harm.

In the case of incest, there are, of course, biological considerations that would undoubtedly create serious social problems and preventing married couples from having children is not really tenable. Indeed the prohibition against incest extends well beyond marriage to any intimate contact between siblings or close relatives at all.

Polygamy is certainly a trickier question and, in my opinion, a much less justifiable prohibition. While there are quite a few examples of the kinds of dysfunction polygamy can create within communities, it doesn't seem to me that it is necessarily the case that polygamy would lead to such problems. Nonetheless opponents of polygamous marriage can point to a number of cases where polygamy has resulted in undesirable large scale social outcomes.

But the prohibition on gay marriage has significantly less justification than even that. Gay communities with loving couples and, even in an increasing number of cases, legally married same-sex couples, function pretty much the same as heterosexual ones. There is exactly zero evidence and a growing amount of counter-evidence to the claim that gay marriage will have any measurable negative effect on society at all.

So with regard to the "principle" in question, if Warren has a case to make that homosexual marriage leads inexorably to some kind of harmful social dysfunction, he is certainly free to make it. What he is doing here is not an attempt to do so. Indeed it is just a bald assertion that could just as easily be stated with regard to interracial marriage or indeed any slightly unconventional marriage scenario - an older woman marrying a younger man for instance - with exactly as much justification.

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

To Brent: "In the case of incest, there are, of course, biological considerations that would undoubtedly create serious social problems and preventing married couples from having children is not really tenable."

What about two people with Down's Syndrome? Can they marry? To give you a real-life example, I'm a carrier of Tay-Sachs. What if my husband (also Jewish) turned out to be a carrier too? We got tested only five or so years AFTER marrying. I can't imagine anyone forbidding our relationship just because our children would have had a high possibility of the disease.

Also, funnily enough, even though you didn't mean it so, the "biological considerations" is precisely the argument the opposition uses: teh gays can't have children, therefore the civilization will die out, or some such thing.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

"What about two people with Down's Syndrome? Can they marry?"

I'm not sure about this, but quite possibly not, if their condition is so severe that they require a legal guardian. At least not without the guardian's permission. But that, of course, is based on their perceived incapacity to give consent rather than concern about passing on genetic defects.

"Also, funnily enough, even though you didn't mean it so, the "biological considerations" is precisely the argument the opposition uses: teh gays can't have children, therefore the civilization will die out, or some such thing."

It's a bit of a different argument, isn't it? The notion that gay marriage would lead everyone else to stop having children is patently absurd, but the inference that a brother and sister who want to get married are likely to reproduce, and that the child has a very high risk of inheiriting a genetic disease is a pretty reasonable inference.

Posted by: JRD on December 16, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

What about two people with Down's Syndrome? Can they marry? To give you a real-life example, I'm a carrier of Tay-Sachs. What if my husband (also Jewish) turned out to be a carrier too? We got tested only five or so years AFTER marrying. I can't imagine anyone forbidding our relationship just because our children would have had a high possibility of the disease.

If it were the case that there was a serious possibility that there would be enough incidents of people with rare genetic conditions who might marry each other and proliferate said condition in a statistically significant way, you can rest assured that no society would, for an instant, hesitate to enact such a prohibition. Indeed, one of the key points in preventing incest is to avoid exactly that sort of problem so that we won't even need to get to that question. I can't believe that escaped your consideration when you asked this question.

Also, funnily enough, even though you didn't mean it so, the "biological considerations" is precisely the argument the opposition uses: teh gays can't have children, therefore the civilization will die out, or some such thing.

The difference, of course, is that there is an actual evidentiary case that will hold up to scrutiny in the case of prohibition against incest. Gays can, of course, have children and do all the time.

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different?

Polygamy, as has been pointed out is qualitatively different, because marriage laws in this country constitute a contract between two, legally competent adults. The sex of the parties does not affect the rules of the contract. Including additional parties would require significant revision and introduce many complications.

As for how consensual incest different is different from gay marriage, how is consensual incest different than heterosexual marriage? As Maria points out, if we prohibit incest because of possible biological consequences to offspring, why do we allow people with demonstrable, significant, genetic disorders to marry? The answer is we really DON'T have a good response to that.

The "slippery slope" issue with gay marriage is not that it would encourage legalization of other sorts of couples, but that it makes clear that the rules for "regular" heterosexual marriage are in fact quite arbitrary.

Posted by: Nothing but the Ruth on December 16, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Humanity's issue with incest lies in consanguinity and the high percentage of genetic defects in resulting children when the adults involved are opposite genders.

I don't see how this would be a valid reason to prevent two people from getting married. As others have noted, we don't take the likelihood of genetic defects into account when allowing or forbidding marriages that aren't between close relatives. Presumably, if incest is to be banned on the grounds of genetic defect, then, assuming genetic testing gets sophisticated enough, we should be able to get rid of the incest rules entirely, and just have laws for marriage based on whether or not people are carriers for particular recessive genetic defects. A brother and sister who are not carriers for any defects would be allowed to marry; two unrelated people who are carriers for one would not be.

The notion that gay marriage would lead everyone else to stop having children is patently absurd, but the inference that a brother and sister who want to get married are likely to reproduce, and that the child has a very high risk of inheiriting a genetic disease is a pretty reasonable inference.

And why is this any of the state's business? If sibling marriage is to be banned on the grounds of the chance for genetic defects, the only consistent position is that it is a major state interest to make sure children aren't born with birth defects. Given modern knowledge about genetics, that ends up taking you a long way from just preventing brother/sister marriages.

If there is a valid argument against genuinely consensual incest (I'm not at all convinced there is one), it certainly has nothing to do with the possibility of genetic defects from such a marriage.

Posted by: John on December 16, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

And in divorce - if three people are all married and A and B get divorced - how does the property get divided if they are both still married to c?

I'm with you in general on the legal problems which would be created by polygamy that are not created by gay marriage (or, it must be said, incestuous marriage), but I don't think this is how it works. In places where polygamy is legal, you don't have situations where Joe is married to Laura and Melissa; Melissa is married to Joe and Laura; and Laura is married to Joe and Melissa. Rather, you have Joe being married to Laura and Melissa; Laura being married to Joe; and Melissa being married to Joe. If Melissa divorces Joe, she is not somehow still married to Laura.

I suppose one could imagine circumstances where such a thing came into effect, but it's not the classic polygamist situation.

Posted by: John on December 16, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

"How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different? I can see a problem with man marrying child scenario (consent), although what constitutes a "child" can certainly also be open to interpretation. Certainly, there has to an argument beyond "it's icky". What exactly would that be?" Maria

This type of thinking is illogical and exposes the weakness in their opposition. Just admit that you are a homophobe and we can all move on. If this really is your best argument against gay marriage then it could be argued that all marriages should be illegal for what difference is there from any of the above quoted scenarios from heterosexual marriage except that they are the only unions recognized in both religious and civil settings.
I would argue that the reason that gay marriages make sense in a civil setting is that it encourages a sense of community participation. It is only in a religious setting that marriage encourages procreation. Discouraging or encouraging children is not the role of government. Government is to protect the family whatever that family looks like. We create communities for both society and for safety. By encouraging a sense of community for everyone and by developing and enforcing laws to protect that community we create a orderly society. By disenfranchising a whole group of people for no reason only endangers that order. To suggest that incest with a high rate of birth defects, or child rape or polygamy with it's history of exploitation is discouraged because of the "ick" factor is disingenuous.
All through history marriage has evolved, from selling off your daughter/son to not allowing interfaith/interracial marriage to what is now a union of two equals of the opposite sex. Now it is time for a new view of marriage, one between two consenting adults that does not put at risk an orderly society. Like interracial marriage it is coming, it is simply a matter of rights to most of the young people I know. And as usual, the religious intolerant will be on the wrong side of the issue...again.
I second what Brent said...if there is a case to be made that this somehow harms our civil order then make that case and we can argue that one on it's merits.

Posted by: Bethie on December 16, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

If sibling marriage is to be banned on the grounds of the chance for genetic defects, the only consistent position is that it is a major state interest to make sure children aren't born with birth defects.

This is not correct. The state's interest is in preventing genetic defects from proliferating in a statistically significant way. It is not concerned with individual instances as much as with preventing wider trends. As I said in response to Maria above, if there was any real possibility of genetic conditions affecting the population to the point of being a serious large scale problem, there is no question that we would take far more drastic measures with respect to our legal code on the matter. If, for instance, some catastrophe were to happen and our population suddenly were significantly smaller, say a few million as opposed to 6 or 7 billion, the State would treat issues of childbirth and progeny in ways that we would not even consider currently. Does anyone really doubt that?

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Time to point out the obvious. Rick Warren is repeating right-wing Christianist talking points, plain and simple.

He's trying to win the argument by distracting from the question at hand: Do two people of the same gender who are in love with each other deserve the protections of marriage, the responsibilities, and the blessing of society? Or should their relationship be prohibited and remedies to their "condition" be applied?

The other right-wing Christianist point most often stated is that marriage is the bedrock of society and the only proper place for children to be raised. As I recall network TV reported on a study showing 42% of women reported being abused by their spouse (this may have included family members) at some time in their life. If we want to make an evidence based analysis of marriage and family we'd find much that needed to be corrected.

What's behind Warren's position are a number of assumptions that society has endorsed as truths.

First we need to get the logs out of many eyes.

I'd like to keep our focus on the falsehoods he endorses that do harm to a significant portion of society: LGBT people, their families, and their friends. And we need to push the question - Does this advance society?

Keep asking it will expose the weakness of their arguments and the emptiness of their hearts.

Posted by: D Pecan on December 16, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different?

How is polygamy different from mixed-gender marriage in principle? For that matter, how is consensual incest different in principle from mixed-gender marriage?

Posted by: Stefan on December 16, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

John,
I'm not a geneticist, but my limited understanding is that everybody carries a recessive allele or two in their genome that, if manifested, could cause a serious genetic disorder. The reason why they aren't expressed more often is that usually, unrelated (or sufficiently distantly related) individuals have different recessive alleles and the dominant, non-disease-causing ones are expressed in the offspring. With closely related individuals, the risk is much higher that the offspring will carry two copies of the same disease-causing allele, and therefore suffer from a genetic defect. In other words, if my understanding is correct, no screening process could distinguish "safe" brother-sister pairings from "unsafe" ones because virtually all such pairings would be unsafe.

Posted by: JRD on December 16, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really see just how one can justify gay marriage and not incestuous marriage, or even perhaps polygamy.

Again, how can you justify straight marriage and not incestuous marriage, or even perhaps polygamy?

Posted by: Stefan on December 16, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

This type of thinking is illogical and exposes the weakness in their opposition. Just admit that you are a homophobe and we can all move on.

This is the typical response: accuse the questioner of homophobia.


. To suggest that incest with a high rate of birth defects, or child rape or polygamy with it's history of exploitation is discouraged because of the "ick" factor is disingenuous.

As others have pointed out, conventional marriage has a history of exploitation as well. And no one said anything about child rape, for god's sake.

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

It never ceases to amaze me how these religious people behave in the most unchristian manner!

Posted by: Orange Refugee on December 16, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK
And in divorce - if three people are all married and A and B get divorced - how does the property get divided if they are both still married to c?

That particular problem seems to me to be a non-issue; a polygamous marriage is not a series of pair marriages between each dyad in the group, it is a single group marriage between all the partners. Divorce means separating one or more members from the group marriage, and is very much parallel to separating one or more partners from a business partnership with more than two partners. Essentially, you handle it by dissolving the whole thing and forming a new partnership with the remaining members.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 16, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I support free rights for everybody in america; I'm just against letting religious leaders be allowed to marry people. They aren't needed in order for loving couples to be married. In fact, this country would be a lot better off if religion were relegated to PRIVATE meetings, and public displays of religiosity banned on the grounds that they're bigoted and unequal.

So, remove religious buttheads from the equation, make marriage LAWS equal, and tell the fuckheads to shut the fuck up.

And, for good measure, any religious butthead who whines about it should be fined for air pollution. I'm so fricken sick and tired of these assholes shoving their questionable "morality" down people's throats. When do we get a vacation from religious assholes?

Posted by: dejah on December 16, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Exploitation of women and children, treating them as property, rape as a tool of war, incest, multiple wives (as property, of course), and slavery are all blessed by the bible. I simply can't fathom why self-described christians cite polygamy and incest as tragedies in the "slippery slope" argument. You'd think they'd be clamoring for any legislation that by their reasoning led to a more Biblical reality.

Posted by: Keori on December 16, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

That particular problem seems to me to be a non-issue; a polygamous marriage is not a series of pair marriages between each dyad in the group, it is a single group marriage between all the partners.

I would have to disagree with you on that, cmdicely, if only from a personal standpoint. I know polyandrous people who form bonds wherein a man has two wives; the wives are married to the husband, not to each other in a group. I also know a trio in which the two women were a couple, and then expanded their relationship to embrace a man they both loved, who loved each of them. In that case, it was a group marriage as you described, each person committed to the two others equally.

You do have a point in that legally, it would probably make more sense to treat group marriages as corporations for purposes of benefits, property rights, family law in case one person wants a divorce. The entire marriage would have to be legally restructured.

Gah, I'm interning at a family law office, and this situation is making my head spin. But, oh, the fascinating ways in which corporate law can apply!

Posted by: Keori on December 16, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Re Bethie: "This type of thinking is illogical and exposes the weakness in their opposition. Just admit that you are a homophobe and we can all move on."

Wow. Where exactly is my thinking illogical? Logic is _precisely_ what I'm trying to inject into the discussion by arguing that civil rules of society should have a cost/benefit analysis associated with them; where paths that have non-negative or even very slight negative impact, especially as they impact very real human rights, should not be blocked. Me homophobe? Please, be rational. I'm arguing FOR gay marriage by pointing out that "icky" is not an argument. "This is how it's always been" is not an argument. "The legal system is not set up that way" is not an argument. "Think of the children" is not necessarily an argument. Geez. And by the way, I could very well _be_ a homophobe and still support gay rights, a la Voltaire's "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Which is why ad hominem is not a valid argument.

Re Bethie: "Discouraging or encouraging children is not the role of government."

Obviously taking a detour from what I just said above, actually it's arguable that the government should not encourage production of children. It's conceivable that in order to produce a more healthy society (healthy in various aspects) that a certain childbirth/mortality ratio should be maintained. I don't think it's all that clear-cut.

Re Brent: "It is not concerned with individual instances as much as with preventing wider trends."

Well, there are plenty of Jews with Tay-Sachs. What constitutes "instances" vs. "trends"? Do you really expect there to be millions of brother-sister reproducing unions?

Also as a side note, would you be all for it if the law stated that in order for brother & sister (or another set of relatives) to be married, they would have to be sterilized? Is that your only objection?

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Re Nothing but the Ruth: "Polygamy, as has been pointed out is qualitatively different, because marriage laws in this country constitute a contract between two, legally competent adults. The sex of the parties does not affect the rules of the contract. Including additional parties would require significant revision and introduce many complications."

Could you please respond to my pointing out the entire additional legal system that had to be built up once people started divorcing (and remarrying) with alarming frequency? Is adding a few more people to mix of contracts all that _qualitatively_ different from the previous changes in that arena?

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

How is polygamy different from gay marriage in principle?

Oh, for heaven's sake-- the difference is in the scope and nature of the civil contract. Marriage is bilateral, with two generally equal partners, and its rights and obligations are fairly easy to define and enforce. Polygamy requires multiple interested parties, and as practiced there is often considerable differentiation of status, which makes it very unlike the current legal definition of marriage. It would be a family-law nightmare.

Incest is tougher to reject as it involves legal contracts, though; the public-health implications and even the likely power imbalances are not necessarily strong enough arguments to reject it. It's counter-intuitive, because the ick factor for a consensual incestuous relationship between adults is much stronger than with polygamy IMO, but it would be much simpler as a legal matter to allow it.

That said, gay marriage is no different from straight marriage as a legal institution-- it still requires full consent of both partners and the same mutual obligations-- so trying to imply that it is like either incest or polygamy is fundamentally dishonest. This is not a referendum on nontraditional sexual relationships, but a question of one adult individual choosing another as his/her next of kin. Whether they, or any other married couples, actually have sex or not is immaterial.

Posted by: latts on December 16, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Re latts: "This is not a referendum on nontraditional sexual relationships, but a question of one adult individual choosing another as his/her next of kin."

Do you NOT see the contradiction in that very statement? What is "nontraditional"? Gay is most certainly _nontraditional_ in most societies. That, by itself, is not an argument against it; I think you support that. It is precisely the question of an "individual choosing another" being to be their partner for (some part of) life because of some sort of emotional connection that the individual chooses to call "love", whether that being is another man, another woman, a black guy, an Indian, a cousin, a woman 20 years older, or even two+ people.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there are plenty of Jews with Tay-Sachs. What constitutes "instances" vs. "trends"?

Maria, honestly this is really not that complicated a question. I have stated the answer several times now. If the instances of marriage between people with rare genetic conditions were likely to produce a statistically significant effect on the population then measures would be enacted to prevent this from happening. One of the reasons for prohibiting marriages between siblings is precisely to avoid this possibility. Do you really doubt the truth of that or are you just being deliberately contrary?

Do you really expect there to be millions of brother-sister reproducing unions?

First, it wouldn't take millions to have a significant effect. That is precisely the problem with interfamilial relations. Small changes can spread through relatively large populations very quickly if the populations lack genetic diversity. Again, I am sure you know and understand this. I don't know why it is necessary for me to explain it.

Second, I don't have any idea of what to expect. I also don't particularly care. The question you posed was what makes incestuous pairings different from homosexual pairings from the standpoint of social policy other than an "ick" factor and I explained the difference in reasoning.

Also as a side note, would you be all for it if the law stated that in order for brother & sister (or another set of relatives) to be married, they would have to be sterilized? Is that your only objection?

I am not objecting to anything. I am explaining the difference "in principle" as you asked between the considerations in different kinds of decisions regarding who can and cannot get married. Frankly, I couldn't care less if people were allowed to marry their pets. If you are asking for my personal opinion, I think marriage is slowly but surely becoming an archaic and unnecessary social institution and thankfully so.

On the other hand, I would have a problem with any sort of social policy that tried to force sterilization in order to accept certain social benefits but that is because it raises a whole other set of ethical issues and getting into that would really just confuse the basic point here.

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

"One of the reasons for prohibiting marriages between siblings is precisely to avoid this possibility. Do you really doubt the truth of that or are you just being deliberately contrary?"

Well, I do love being contrary :) I do think that the reason siblings are prohibited from marrying is the "ick" factor, because if the rubber hits the road, almost any pragmatic issue can be dealt with. Changing attitudes is much harder than solving "prevent genetic mutation" problem.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, for heaven's sake-- the difference is in the scope and nature of the civil contract. Marriage is bilateral, with two generally equal partners, and its rights and obligations are fairly easy to define and enforce. Polygamy requires multiple interested parties, and as practiced there is often considerable differentiation of status, which makes it very unlike the current legal definition of marriage. It would be a family-law nightmare.

So gay people should be able to marry who they want because it won't necessitate extra paper work? And polyamorists should not be allowed to marry who they want because it would make life harder for lawyers?

You can say "oh heavens to betsy" or call people homophobes all you want. All of the arguments I've heard so far crumble at the slightest touch.

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I do think that the reason siblings are prohibited from marrying is the "ick" factor,

Certainly the "ick" factor is part of it but it is not all of it. There are other serious considerations involved and that is one reason why Rick Warren is wrong. Again, if he wished to make a cogent argument as to why homosexual marriage would cause affirmative social harm then he failed, utterly, to present it. That is the answer to the question you started this whole conversation with.

To put it another way, if for instance, there were a major social movement in place to secure the right of siblings to marry, we would need to ask these questions and it would not be enough to say that we think siblings marrying is "wrong." We would need to provide compelling reasons as to why we think it is not in our best interest as a society to allow it.

As an aside, this:

because if the rubber hits the road, almost any pragmatic issue can be dealt with.

is not even close to being true with respect to controlling genetic populations.

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

this

because if the rubber hits the road, almost any pragmatic issue can be dealt with.

is not even close to being true with respect to controlling genetic populations.

If you're right, doesn't your whole argument fall apart? If the genetic problems posed by incest cannot be dealt with, then what's the point of prohibitions on incestuous marriages? Aren't such rules doomed to fail?

If not, what makes you so sure that legal prohibition on such relationships is the most effective means of preventing whatever problems they entail, as opposed to any alternative methods?

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jeebus, Brent is merely making an argument from assertion.

S/he offers neither logic nor evidence in defense that

As an aside, this:
"...because if the rubber hits the road, almost any pragmatic issue can be dealt with."
is not even close to being true with respect to controlling genetic populations.
Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 7:39 PM
.

S/he just says it's true.


JRD is correct in that we all do carry a large number of dangerous recessive alleles and that genetically close individuals (like brothers and sisters) do have a greater chance of having those alleles expressed in any offspring.

But s/he's wrong in asserting that, "no screening process could distinguish "safe" brother-sister pairings from "unsafe" ones because virtually all such pairings would be unsafe".

We have plenty of non-human (dog and horse breeds) and human examples (European and Hawaiian royalty) of closely related individuals marrying and having offspring that don't all have some sort of genetic disease.

Now, it's true that the rate of genetic disease is very high in both of those populations, it's absolutely false that "virtually all such pairings would be unsafe", because every single child born in both those populations didn't/don't exhibit some sort of genetic disease. Obviously, even with a large number of dangerous recessive alleles in both these populations the probability is/was far short of 100%.

Now, I'm not arguing that screening for these alleles would be an easy task. Nor am I saying that we could pin-point every single risk. But as our knowledge of genetic increases we can certainly refine our tests to the point that probabilities with relatively small margins of error could be calculated for any given pair of individuals who plan to have children.

Would it approach the level that was depicted in GATTCA? I don't know, I'm an optimist when it comes to scientific advancement, so I believe so. But I don't really know for sure, of course.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 16, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

"I posed the same question on the TAPPED thread and never really got a response."

Here's a simple answer: each of those other things you refer to don't need same-sex marriage to make the case for or against them; each will stand or fall on its own merits, just as does the case for same-sex marriage.

The "slippery slope" argument began with the civil recognition of *any* relationship. It's simply false to pretend that same-sex marriage alters that equation in any way, anymore than did the recognition of mixed-race relationships.

If polygamists want their relationships formally recognized, they can petition the government and the courts for such recognition, just as do and did same-sex couples.

The whole slippery slope argument is completely bogus, which is why the Supreme Court has consistently rejected it in its rulings.

Posted by: PaulB on December 16, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I'm a little befuddled by the last paragraph of this post. Warren wasn't opposed to Prop 8, was he?

"Warren's opposition to a worthwhile ballot measure was based on ignorance..."

Prop 8 made Gay Marriage unconstitutional. It wasn't a worthwhile ballot measure, it was a study in obtuse bigotry. Gay marriage was legal, now it's not.

He didn't oppose it, he supported it, right?

I'm sorry if I'm confused... I voted No on 8

Posted by: Shantyhag on December 16, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

If you're right, doesn't your whole argument fall apart? If the genetic problems posed by incest cannot be dealt with, then what's the point of prohibitions on incestuous marriages?>

"Dealt with" is a very vague term here. I took Maria's suggestion that absent actual prohibitions, even if genetic problems are caused, we can find suitable solutions that have nothing to do with the former prohibitions. My comment, admittedly vague, meant to point out that that I don't believe that's true without getting into an entirely separate argument over what one considers to be an acceptable method for controlling genetic populations in humans. State sponsored sterilization for instance, something Maria mentioned, is not something that I would consider a reasonable control. I also don't think that Dr. Morpheus's point with respect to animal husbandry is a suitable way of thinking about human populations, not that he is suggesting otherwise. If you want to have an separate discussion on what one ought to consider a reasonable approach to preventing the proliferation of problematic genetic anomalies in populations, I am happy to do so, but that was my only point with respect to Maria's statement and whether I am right or wrong it doesn't contradict my argument in any way.

If not, what makes you so sure that legal prohibition on such relationships is the most effective means of preventing whatever problems they entail, as opposed to any alternative methods?

The discussion I am having with Maria is not over a question of how effective prohibition is. The issue is whether we can accept Rick Warren's statement that suggests that the justifications for prohibition in one case are the same as for prohibition in another. My contention, for a number of reasons that I mentioned above, is that they are not.

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Jeebus, Brent is merely making an argument from assertion.

S/he offers neither logic nor evidence in defense...

Fair enough but was my assertion wrong? I realize I didn't state my point in much detail but my question is something like: Do we have suitable methods - and by suitable I mean methods that we would would agree are ethical - of controlling problems in genetic populations absent the sort of prohibitions we have in place currently? If not, are we close to having such methods? You mention Gattaca. Do you consider the social engineering in that movie a reasonable approach to policy?

Posted by: brent on December 16, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a simple answer: each of those other things you refer to don't need same-sex marriage to make the case for or against them; each will stand or fall on its own merits, just as does the case for same-sex marriage. ... If polygamists want their relationships formally recognized, they can petition the government and the courts for such recognition, just as do and did same-sex couples.

I understand that gay rights activists are not strictly speaking under any obligation to vindicate the rights of polyamorists. But (a) it is not uncommon at all for them to expressly deny that the same arguments for gay marriage also apply to poly marriage, and (b) even if they were universally agnostic about the poly issue, this would still be IMO less than satisfactory. Let me try to explain why by using an analogy I also used at TAPPED. Imagine the following discourse taking place in the 1960s between Martin Luther King and some opponent of the Civil Rights movement:

MLK: Blacks should have the same rights as white people.

Bigot: But if we give blacks the same rights, why shouldn't we give Chinese people equal rights, too? (NOTE: if this argument seems unrealistic, read Justice Harlan's dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson.)

MLK: No, that's a slippery slope. Just because we give equal rights to blacks, doesn't mean we also have to give them to the Chinese.

Bigot: So do you think Chinese should have equal rights?

MLK: That's up to them to argue. That has nothing to do with us.


Obviously that's not what he would have said. He would have said: Damn straight you have to give equal rights to Chinese people too.

You say the slippery slope argument is bogus, and indeed it is in the sense that we could very easily legalize gay marriage without poly marriage following. I guess what I'm wondering is why advocates of gay marriage seem so eager to point this out. The implication is that poly marriage would be a bad thing, or at least that prohibition of it would be a matter of indifference to gays, because it's not their problem, in the same sense that Chinese rights weren't MLK's problem.

I guess I just wish that they would take the principle underlying their argument - that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not OK - and be willing to follow it as far as it goes, instead of insisting: "No, no, we can draw a line right here!" without really caring whether that line is justified or not.

Posted by: jeebus on December 16, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

JACOBS: I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.
BARTLET: Yes it does. Leviticus!
JACOBS: 18:22.
BARTLET: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I wanted to sell my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown Sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?
(Bartlet only waits a second for a response, then plunges on.)
BARTLET: While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGary, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Or is it okay to call the police?
(Bartlet barely pauses to take a breath.)
BARTLET: Here’s one that’s really important, because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you?

(And if you see Rick, ask him about the passages where Jesus--you know, "Son of God"--issued his ringing condemnation of homosexuality. Because, after all, it's a tenet of his Christian faith, and we all know what Jesus' last name was.)

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 16, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK
Do you NOT see the contradiction in that very statement? What is "nontraditional"? Gay is most certainly _nontraditional_ in most societies. That, by itself, is not an argument against it; I think you support that. It is precisely the question of an "individual choosing another" being to be their partner for (some part of) life because of some sort of emotional connection that the individual chooses to call "love", whether that being is another man, another woman, a black guy, an Indian, a cousin, a woman 20 years older, or even two+ people.

1. No, I don't see a contradiction. Gay marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the genders involved and the nature of their sexual practices. Period. The reason for marriage is likely to be somewhat romantic, with sexual attachment being assumed but not imperative. The benefits and obligations are, as I said, equal and reciprocal, which only works effectively in a dual relationship between relatively equal parties.

2. I already said that incestuous relationships are harder to reject on these grounds, although the likelihood of power imbalances is troubling. However, related persons are likely to already have some claim to legal standing, although obviously not one as secure as the marital claim.

3. Polyamorous relationships are too complicated to fall under the convention of marriage, yes. Dividing property and caretaking responsibilities is hard enough at the dissolution of a straightforward two-person relationship; something more refined than the shorthand contract (because that's what it is, really) of marriage would be needed to protect the interests of multiple adult participants who share resources, property, and familial links.

4. Rejecting polygamy's not about inconveniencing lawyers; I imagine many would love the complicated-- and expensive-- cases that would result. It's about the courts and the already-overstretched agencies that serve families, and how completely ill-equipped they are to deal with exponentially enlarged cases.

PS: I don't know what age or race would have to do with this discussion, except as historical examples of the bad old days. An adult can certainly marry someone twenty or fifty or eighty years older than him/her, if they're competent, or a person of any color.

Posted by: latts on December 16, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's hard to talk to someone who doesn't see the difference between variables and specific values.

Re Latts: "No, I don't see a contradiction. Gay marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the genders involved and the nature of their sexual practices. Period. "

It's as if I said "A plus B does not always equal 4", and you said "No, no, 2 plus 2 equals 4, don't you see?"

Latts 1: "Gay marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the genders involved and the nature of their sexual practices."

Latts 2: "Polygamous marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the numbers involved and the nature of their sexual practices."

Latts 3: "Marriage with a dog is only different from conventional marriage because of the species involved and the nature of their sexual practices."

Latts 4: "Interracial marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the races involved and the nature of their sexual practices."

Latts 5: "Romantic marriage is only different from conventional marriage because of the emotions involved and the nature of their sexual practices."

Just because there's an actual difference between the cases doesn't make that difference defining reason for discrimination all on its own.

Posted by: Maria on December 16, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

And this bozo is one of Obama's "All-American Pastor Praying Team."

Someone is surprised when a Southern Baptist moron publicly demonstrates that he is a Southern Baptist moron?

As Garrison Keillor has pointed out many times, if you take a Baptist fishing with you, he'll drink all your beer; but if you take two, they won't drink any.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 17, 2008 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK
It's as if I said "A plus B does not always equal 4", and you said "No, no, 2 plus 2 equals 4, don't you see?"

Using this analogy, my position is that 2+2=4-- and for that matter 1+3=4-- is basic arithmetic and would analogous to legal marriage because it's fairly straightforward and means the same thing to everyone. When you start bringing a+b=x, that's pre-algebra and not really useful in a discussion of basic arithmetic. Marriage is a particular type of contract involving a complex set of benefits that is still accessible precisely because it's fairly simple to establish and enforce. Gay marriage does not change the basic nature of the contract, while making marriage (to extend the analogy) a potentially infinite set of linear and/or quadratic equations defeats the purpose of the simpler version. And the simple, straightforward version is exactly what gay-marriage advocates are seeking, since the mishmash of variable and difficult-to-enforce contract provisions is exactly what their opponents want to offer because that's not marriage in any reasonable or meaningful sense.

Really, this is not that complicated.

Posted by: latts on December 17, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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