Argument for Gay Marriage

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Gay Americans say that without marriage they are, like the slaves of yesteryear, only half-a-person. Let us remove all impediments to their assuming of whole-person-hood, so that at least half of them can learn that special feeling of being a whole person with half your previous net worth.
American Digest

[posted with ecto]

26 comments:

flenser said...

Gay Americans say that without marriage they are, like the slaves of yesteryear, only half-a-person.

This makes it sounds as if gay Americans are not very bright, doesn't it?

Or perhaps they are bright and it's merely this article which is ignorant.

David Thomson said...

I am adamantly against gay marriage. Society must reserve this honor exclusively for those bringing children into the world. And no, I am not speaking as a Judeo-Christian adherent. Even an atheistic evolutionist should realize that child raising is of supreme importance to sustaining a viable society. I do, however, support gays celebrating their commitment to each other. Also, their civil rights should not be violated.

Seneca the Younger said...

Or maybe you've got to tune your irony meter, Flenser.

Seneca the Younger said...

David, that would seem to be an argument for (a) forced annulments for childless couples, and (b) in favor of polygamy, since polygamous marriages tend to produce lots of children.

brylun said...

Charles Krauthammer published "Polygamy, Gay Marriage and Values."

Prof. Ann Althouse posted her rebuttal to Krauthammer titled "Distinguishing gay marriage and polygamy".

In Althouse comments Bruce Hayden cited Prof. Eugene Volokh's "Same Sex Marriage and Slippery Slopes."

Section II on page 3 of Volokh's article discusses the "slippery past." Here he starts with Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) where the Supreme Court struck down a ban on the use of contraceptives by married couples.

He then cites Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) striking down a ban on the use of contraceptives by unmarried couples.

From there he cites a string of statutes involving expanding gay rights by decriminalizing same sex sexual conduct, anti-discrimination in housing, employment, education and public accommodations, and adoption.

Then he states that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court used the anti-discrimination legislation as a basis for the judicial imposition of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Although he cites a persuasive slippery slope history, in his conclusion he is unconvinced that polygamy will inevitably follow gay marriage.

flenser said...

After re-reading, I'm not sure the arcticle is not making fun of gays. If so my apoligies to all the sensible gay people for thinking it might reflect their position.

David Thomson said...

"...since polygamous marriages tend to produce lots of children."

Producing "lots of children" is not sufficient. The children from polygamous marriages are mostly losers. The much derided nuclear family is still our best option.

truepeers said...

I rather suspect that a lot of Gay Americans think "Gay Marriage" is not what being "gay" was supposed to be all about, when that word was first colonized back in the swinging sixties. But few of those who aren't interested in being married will publicly criticize the erosion of the traditional definition of marriage (i.e. the license to procreate and raise children) because who wants to get involved in a tiresome debate about what this debate is really about: victimary politics? This is not a debate about rights to spousal benefits - which have already been widely won - or about recognizing partners socially - ditto, in most cases. It is about a need to be seen as a victim of mainstream society as a way of understanding one's experience in the world. It is this need we should be debating for it has deleterious effects on society in so many arenas beyond the merely sexual. Most notably it gives us the problem of surviving as a people, since many of our number consider it a mark of pride to ritualistically blame America and western man for all the problems out there. And given this civilizational despair, not only do many do things like make excuses for those who would kill them, but many among us are not procreating even when they have a partner with whom they can.

Seneca the Younger said...

David, considering that polygamy is probably more common world-wide than monogamous marriage, and certainly very common, I think you're going to have to support that a little more strongly.

In the mean time, what about childless marriages? Are the infertile ineligable for marriage?

truepeers said...

Polygamy is not more common worldwide than officially monogamous marriage. A minority of Muslims along with some traditional tribal societies, a few radical Mormons, and now one legally sanctioned Dutch family, still practice it, but who else? Now you might quibble with my saying a minority of Muslims, since perhaps more would practice it if they could afford to, and so you might say they have a polygamous worldview, even when they can barely scrape together the money to buy one wife, but...

And I don't see how one can make a case for polygamy if one cares about women, children, and men enjoying a relative social equality and participating effectively in a society where recognition of some such fundamental human equality is required. But Seneca, i would be genuinely curious to see what argument you could come up with in defense of polygamy.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Marriage isn't just about children. It's about support and commitment. It's about sticking with things when the going gets rough. These are social values we should strongly encourage. I am adamantly in favor of gay marriage.

truepeers said...

MHA, no doubt what you say is true. But making a committment, and performing a ceremony to do it, can take many forms. Why do you think there is today this insistence among some (a minority, a majority?) of homosexuals to have "exactly the same status" as everyone else? Traditionally, sameness was not the ideal of gay culture.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Truepeers,

I agree with your statement above (victimary status, etc.) as it applies to some gay people. For the vast majority, though, I think it's fundamentally nothing more than a desire to be normal, to be fully accepted for what they are. A futile desire, in my opinion, but I believe that allowing them full rights of marriage (but not adoption) is a reasonable position which we can bestow on them.

There's sometimes an ineffable sadness in being gay which explains the origins of the word--from Australian slang of the 20's--as people who are in general far from being "gay".

truepeers said...

Australian slang of the 20s? You are teaching me something new. i;d love a reference.

Anyway, if you'd stop short of adoption rights, then i think what you are doing, MHA, is redefining marriage for everyone - i.e. changing the definition of normal marriage. Marriage has been fundamentally an institution to control the potentially socially destructive results of unbound heterosexuality - contested or unwanted children, competing claims to inheritance rights, etc.

If we give up the traditional concept of marriage as a license to procreate - and it does seem a little archaic to most people today - then we will deny the state the means to legislate to support or regulate families with children via our new definition of normal marriage. Other means of supporting or regulating family life will have to be developed, and given our low fertility rates and the difficulty of reproducing human capital today, this may soon become a big issue. Redefining tax laws, given the changing status of "spouse", etc., may or may not pose a big problem in future, but i think the more general disregard for tradition and the anthropological basis for our institutions, suggests a desire to forget and escape our past to which we have developed and unhealthy, combattive relationship.

And if there is some inherent sadness in homosexuality, it is not yet clear to me why treating all the same as "normal" does more to mediate despair than the gay idea of celebrating difference. WHich is not to say you might not have a good point here...

ex-democrat said...

i'm definitely for gay marriage - there's no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to suffer like the rest of us. ;-)

Seneca the Younger said...

Well, true, I'm not making any positive assertions about the desirability of polygamy, I'm noting that the negative assertions don't seem to stand up to scrutiny.

As far as the incidence, we have to think about what the right measure is. I doubt there are many places, if any, that have polygyny as the most common marriage. On the other hand, given that polygyny is legal and acceptable in India (1.1 billion people), Indonesia (240 million), Pakistan (162 million), Bangladesh (144 million), Nigeria (129 million), Ethiopia (73 million), and Congo (61 million) --- that would be just short of two billion people out of six billion right there, and the only cutoff was I got tired of googling numbers but I've not even looked at most of Africa, or any of the other middle eastern countries (Lebanon doesn't have it I know, but Yemen does). Add to that that polygamy wasn't even forbidden in Israel until 1950, and I think the evidence for the commonality of polygamy is looking pretty firm.

Seneca the Younger said...

Ex-dem, when I posted this it was because I saw it as a more detailed version of that joke.

Seneca the Younger said...

MHA, no doubt what you say is true. But making a committment, and performing a ceremony to do it, can take many forms. Why do you think there is today this insistence among some (a minority, a majority?) of homosexuals to have "exactly the same status" as everyone else? Traditionally, sameness was not the ideal of gay culture.

I'd wonder if generations of being called "queer" might not have something to do with that, either way.

But in any case, if we are going to argue that monogamomous committment to one's heterosexual spouse is "better" than other relationships, doesn't it seem a little odd that we now are arguing that wanting to adopt this better model shouldn't be what gays want?

terrye said...

Gay people have made such strides in regards to social acceptance in recent years that I think they have gotten ahead of themselves here.

I don't care that much myself. But I do think that a lot of other people do. If the gay community had waited a few more years before making this an issue here in the US they might have had an easier time.

truepeers said...

Seneca, on the polygamy count, i don't want to get into a Google fest either; but as I understand it, polygamy is only legal in India in deference to fundamentalist Muslims. The vast majority of Indians don't practice it. TO some degree, i can imagine the same can be said for many countries where it is legal. I don't think you would get anywhere near a count of two billion (including all family members), keeping in mind that polygyny means a lot of men don't get married unless we count only the survivors in a warring world where a lot of the men get killed. I don't know why the negative assertions don't impress you. The relatively bleak condition - in terms of freedom, equality, etc., of women and children and poor men under polygamous orders - seems pretty evident to me, i've never honed arguments against the institution. Polygamy means effectively that women are bought and sold by their families. They're essentially slaves, however many will defend the only system they know.

Seneca the Younger said...

Actually, true, the figures I've seen say that Hindus have slightly more polygyny than Muslims (about 5 percent vs 4.5 percent.) But that was my point about measures --- I didn't intend to i9mply that there are more polygynous families than monogynous, but rather that a very large number of people, possibly the majority of the general population of the world, live in places where polygamy is acceptable.

Let me include the last 150 years and I'd win that one for sure, because China has only officially eliminated polygyny pretty recently.

I suspect tthat if you looked carefully at the data, something I'm not going to do tonight, you'd find that the male/female ratio in marriage maps pretty closely to periods of relatively higher mortality of one side or the other: polygyny when male mortality is high, like in tribal cultures in Africa and in warlike groups like the arabs; polyandry in places like Tibet where death in childbirth is very common.

If so, we might very well see a return of polyandry in China, where brith ratios are turning out to be very skewed to males.

Is polygamy, especially polygyny, a Good Thing? I dunno. But claiming that it's not widely acceptable throughout the world is just provincial.

Seneca the Younger said...

Uh, one other thing: w.r.t. polygyny mewaning women are bought and sold by their families, look up dowry and the rate of "accidental" death among essentially monogamous Hindu families in India. I don't think you can make a good claim that the connection is causal. (Hell, read Sholem Aleichem: shtetl life seems to have a good bit of that same dynamic.)

truepeers said...

But in any case, if we are going to argue that monogamomous committment to one's heterosexual spouse is "better" than other relationships, doesn't it seem a little odd that we now are arguing that wanting to adopt this better model shouldn't be what gays want?

-again, why the assumption that support for monogamy - something i think is generally for the best - must mean treating everyone the same in terms of the legal definition of marriage (and hence the state's ability to make certain distictions in family and tax law)? Actually, I'm not sure there is a particularly strong argument against gay marriage if gay people really want it; if they really feel oppressed on this question, it's tearing htem apart, then it is best to give them what they want. I would just ask people to question our more general modern western indulgence in themes of oppression and victimization, for reasons i won't go into now.

People might also ask how important is sameness, given that "gay marriage" effectively nullifies the institution of marriage for everyone or anyone, since it is an institution which can only really exist as a form of discrimination, as a special license. Recent calls to allow polygamy, "spousal" rights for single people (i.e. the right to name a beneficiary) or for people living with their mother, etc., suggest less the universalization of marriage than that the concept has now become meaningless, a dying symbol that eveyone wants to get a last piece of.

If we give up means for the state to discriminate in favour of families, on the basis of heterosexual marriage, then I'm sure we will have to develop other means of state support for children and families, given the problems we have reproducing ourselves in this age of high investment in human capital. But in effectively nullifying the institution of marriage, we may be creating more future obstacles than need be, for what is essentially a symbolic issue, not that symbols aren't important.

truepeers said...

I suspect tthat if you looked carefully at the data, something I'm not going to do tonight, you'd find that the male/female ratio in marriage maps pretty closely to periods of relatively higher mortality of one side or the other: polygyny when male mortality is high, like in tribal cultures in Africa and in warlike groups like the arabs; polyandry in places like Tibet where death in childbirth is very common.

-Well, death in childbirth was pretty common everywhere until recently, but not polyandry, which is no to say the latter is not one possible response to the former. As for the cause and effect between warlike groups and polygyny, don't you think perhaps the competition for sexual partners might have had a lot to do with the warring? Monogamy is, among other things, an egalitarian strategy for pacifying people, which is why it was banned in China.

As for oppression of women, yes it too was the norm everywhere until very recently in a few places. but freedom, oppression, etc., exist in degrees, and I'm not sure women in monogamous arranged marriages don' have a bit more of one and the less of the other, on average. It is what i would expect.

As for who is being provincial, let's wait until Chinese and Indian urbanization is a little more firmly entrenched and then we can see how acceptable polygamy is among the middle classes in the metropolitan centres. I don't think it will ever be widely championed, or even tolerated because i can't see how it will ever serve the needs of urban middle classes for whom a certain equality and modularity is important.

truepeers said...

Monogamy is, among other things, an egalitarian strategy for pacifying people, which is why it was banned in China

should be: which is why polygamy was banned...

Seneca the Younger said...

People might also ask how important is sameness, given that "gay marriage" effectively nullifies the institution of marriage for everyone or anyone, since it is an institution which can only really exist as a form of discrimination, as a special license.

Say what? Aren't you effectively arguing that the very existence of other forms of marriage than tranditional heterosexual monogamy eliminate, obviate, the traditional model?

If so, since we know that there are currently plenty of people -- whatever the proportion is, it's still fair to say "plenty" -- living in places where plural marriage of one sort or another is practiced, I'd think the whole argument was already lost. Traditional marriage must have already disappeared.

Recent calls to allow polygamy, "spousal" rights for single people (i.e. the right to name a beneficiary) or for people living with their mother, etc., suggest less the universalization of marriage than that the concept has now become meaningless, a dying symbol that eveyone wants to get a last piece of.

Well, it certainly does if we presume that any widening of the rules is inherently going to lead to the "death" of marriage.

But again, there are billions of people living in places with polygamy. If the numbers I read are corrrect, only about five percent of those marriages actually are polygamous.

Somehow the other 95 percent seem to have managed to continue to marry.

I know I've said it a thousand times, but my grandfather always told me "if the bird book and the bird disagree, believe the bird."

You tell me that accepting polygamy will inevitably lead to the collapse and disappearance of marriage. I look around and see that our marriage customs aren't uniformly followed, and in fact billions of people have, for thousands of years, managed to get along following other customs, including polygamy.

Me, I believe the bird.