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  • Marriage of Minds

    Posted by James R. Rummel on November 7th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m in favor of gay marriage. But then they also know that I’m in favor of it for hard-headed, realistic reasons. Marriage confers various financial benefits that shouldn’t be exclusive to heterosexual couples.

    Unfortunately, many people want to talk about “rights” when it comes to marriage, gay or otherwise. This is self-defeating, since marriage and the benefits attached to the institution are hardly rights as we understand them. If they were, then every unmarried person could demand that someone marry them. After all, if marriage is a right then being single when you don’t want to be is a violation of those rights.

    The voters are smart enough to understand that marriage isn’t a right. That’s one of the reasons why they’re completely put off by the heated rhetoric being flung about by the people who support gay marriage.

    Just about every credible opinion poll I’ve read shows a very strong opposition to gay marriage. The number of people who oppose civil unions aren’t as high, and some polls actually show that a majority of people support some sort of way to insure the same legal advantages to gay couples just as long as it’s not called marriage. (I’m talking about civil unions.) This is understandable to me, even if I don’t agree with it.

    Jeff at Alphecca has a post where he discusses the major issues that were in play during the recent election. He briefly mentions gay marriage.

    Several states have just passed bans on “gay marriage”. A long time ago I had said that if the “gay lobby” as it were, were to take small steps — start with simple equal rights, win over the hearts of their opponents by showing that they are just normal hardworking people, they would get them. Then another step towards “domestic partnerships” or civil-unions or what-have-you. They would get them: Two-thirds of Americans — including many who oppose gay “marriage” — support the legal rights (wills, visitations, taxes) of gays and lesbians. Exit polls suggest that they WOULD go for something “not called marriage”. If they had followed that strategy, I’d be willing to bet good money that within twenty years they would actually have gay marriage in name.

    But activists wanted it all at once and whenever you introduce such a sudden social change, especially via the courts, well, “every action causes an opposite and equal reaction”. Or something like that. It doesn’t help when hundreds of thousands of gays march in parades every June dressed in nothing but thongs, or S&M paraphernalia, or as giant condoms, and then wonder in amazement that “middle America” doesn’t rush to embrace them. I get embarrassed over such antics and I’m gay.

    I have to say that I agree with this. It would appear that a goodly portion of the opposition to gay marriage is due to the liberal elite trying to force it down America’s throat. It certainly doesn’t help when they claim that anyone who is opposed to GM is slime under the feet of a reasonable person’s feet. Bitter name calling is certain to rally people to the other side, not cause them to slink off in shame.

    Persnickety at Ordinary Galoot decided to blog about some post-election issues while drunk. This means that her prose is somewhat sharp, but she has a point that those who support gay marriage are putting the cart before the horse.

    You say you want gay marriage made legal, and you don’t even know what gay marriage is. You won’t sit down and figure it out, you just whine and look for judges willing to piss on the constitution and the concept of balance of power. Are you really so stupid that you don’t see the potential consequences? Because if you are truly that DUMB STUPID BLIND, you deserve to be locked in a room with sun-emus forever and ever and ever, with nothing to eat but 3-day old fish and nothing to drink but Coors light. It would serve you right.

    Quit fucking up the English language. Marriage means the union of a man and a woman, always has, always will. Deal with it.

    If you want marriage, grab yourself someone of the opposite sex and go to it.

    If you want something other – work towards it in a logical manner, within the framework of the laws in place. What you actually want, although you are apparently too daft or too whiney to realize it, is a shortcut way to contract for a union between two members of the same sex. You’ve no business calling this contract ‘marriage.’ Have a contest, come up with a different name. I like ‘homonogomy’ myself – to me, it has a cozy, homey sound, as opposed to civil union (too cold) or carnal union (too decadent). But it’s your union, up to you. Have a contest, take a poll. Whatever. But don’t steal a word that doesn’t belong to you.

    And decide, among yourselves, exactly what you want that word to mean. Does a homonogomous union mean that each partner is the other’s next of kin? Fine. Automatic step-parent in the case of kids? Fine. Domestic partner, for those companies that provide for such things? Fine. Whatever. But dammit, decide. Come to consensus amongst yourselves, work out the legal paperwork, then present a bill to your state legislature. Ask for homonogamy to be considered a contract, similar to but not the same as, marriage or whatever. Don’t forget to deal with divorce while you’re at it, suckers.

    This is also something that I agree with. Marriage never did include same sex couples, so we’re talking about a fundamental change in one of the most emotionally laden traditions in our society. (Or any society that ever existed, for that matter.) It’s astounding how inept those who are trying to effect this change have been.

    Mindless Dreck at Asymmetrical Information was inspired to write this post in rebuttal to something that Andrew Sullivan wrote. He suggests that the quickest way to get support for gay marriage is to abolish the benefits that traditional marriages bestow.

    This is, obviously, completely unworkable. You’d never be able to get any support from the voters for something like this, and anyone who suggested it in order to generate support for gay marriage would be run out of office so fast that they’d be lucky to leave town in front of the impeachment proceedings.

    In my lifetime I’ve seen civil liberties advance light years. It appears to me that the recent attempts to secure legal recognition of same sex marriage has done nothing but damage the cause. The main reason for this is due to the arrogance of the people at the forefront of the movement to bring about this change. Considering the rhetoric that I’ve heard since the election, they haven’t learned a thing by their defeat at the polls. It’s now extremely unlikely that we’ll see any meaningful improvement for the next ten years.

    This is a pity.

     

    14 Responses to “Marriage of Minds”

    1. incognito Says:

      I had a harsh introduction to the SF gay pride parade. It was during my first year out of college and working on a Saturday I went out to get lunch. What a mistake that was. Even if you take out the gay factor, it’s basically one big pervert-a-thon. This dichotomy of wholesome gay couples wanting marriage and wall to wall perversion on the other is something the gay lobby has to figure out before pushing it on middle America. As dumb as the left would like to think the right is, people tend to see through the smoke & mirrors.

    2. Marcin Says:

      What about the gays that are against same sex marraige. I know they’re out there, but what are their arguements. Why would they be against it?

    3. malaclypse the tertiary Says:

      It seems clear to me that what is being asserted is not that there is a “right to BE married,” but rather a “right to SEEK marriage.” I am free to seek the witness and recognition of the state of my marriage provided my spouse-to-be and I are not of the same sex. It would seem obvious that the right to seek a spouse not tantamount the right to have one.

      Personally, I have no moral objection to homosexual marriage. However, I do recognize that we have an entire edifice of law that surrounds marriage which was created with the heterosexual marriage model in mind and the mind boggles at the implications. Given the web of causative and lateral interrelation within our legal system, one can easily see how altering the definition of marriage might have all kinds of both foreseeable and unintended consequences some (many) of which would be very painful or expensive or even impossible to ameliorate.

      Im reminded of an article I read recently in a local free-press rag in which my states disbursement of some medically-related assistance program was being described as requiring that beneficiaries go bankrupt before they get help. It seems that the requirement in this rather aged legislation creating and regulating this disbursement stipulated that recipients have less than (if memory serves) $8,000 cash in the bank was too much for this pundit – no doubt a result of a compromise between legislators. This reporter was spinning this now antiquarian compromise into a modern governmental malady a ridiculous mischaracterization and more importantly a brickbat to the groin of the context within which the legislation was created and even the system of compromise that produced it.

      The social compromises upon which marriage is based and to whose existence marriage is owed are even more metastasized into the fabric of the human experience than the effects of social welfare, because heterosexual marriage is VERY OLD. I am not personally prepared to say for certain that we are collectively capable of internalizing the legal, contractual, structural, civil and psychological costs of experimenting with this perhaps oldest of human institutions without breaking the bank.

    4. malaclypse the tertiary Says:

      re: my last post

      I didn’t proof the thing (it’s late) and it’s full of weirdness. I’m hoping y’all can parse it without any assistance other than my apology.

    5. chel Says:

      Seriously though…

      How bout if the thing the government gives a couple is “civil union.” That’s what all straight *and* gay couples get when they go to city hall. (No more “marriage”)

      If you want something called a “marriage” you get that at a ceremony with your church/mosque/synogogue/temple etc. This way it would be up to each religious community to decide their own rules for dispensing “marriages.”

    6. Paul Bixby Says:

      Chel, I’ve heard that before, but what no one ever takes into account is that what will be de jure civil union will still be de facto marriage. My wife and I are completely areligious. We both support Same Sex Marriage, but I still want my marriage called a marriage. Therefore, if Congress changes the term to civil union, I will still call it my marriage, as will any gay couple who bond in this fashion. This is the same semantic word-play that ascribes more power to words than they have (and less power to other words than they have) that gave us political correct-speak and all of its attendent bullshit. There is a difference in power and connotation between the n-word and black, but there is no difference in connotation between black and African-American (as evidenced by the consternation our American brains feel at realizing that Charlize Theron is also an African-American, by definition). Therefore, why must I use African-American rather than black? Why would I call my “contract” with my wife my civil union rather than my marriage. We wouldn’t go see a Civil Union Counselor if we were having problems, we would see a Marriage Counselor. By the same token, regardless of what the government calls the MIEBNO (Marriage in Everything But Name Only), everyone involved in and encountering the relationship will call it marriage. I think that is the sticking point. Middle (Red) America isn’t fooled by word-games like this. If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, even if you call it a Mallardian WaterFowl, its still a duck and Elmer Fudd is going to shoot it.

      The Gay Rights Movement needs to make cogent coherent and logical arguments that by conferring the rights, privileges and name of marriage on their unions that straight marriages will not actually be harmed AND (this is VERY important) that gays will treat the institution of marriage with the respect that it deserves, even if some straights don’t. The people they need to convince will hold gays to a higher standard in order to earn the right; they need to see that they can trust gays with marriage. Its not fair, but, like so many things in life, it is true regardless.

    7. chel Says:

      But this thing is that the way I suggested it, you still could call it and actually have it be a marriage. People would just get their paperwork all fixed up at City Hall and then have their marriage ceremony with any group or tradition you see fit. Even for “completely areligious” people they could have their marriage take place with their Humanist Society, or just plan their own ceremont that fits the couple.

      This is actually what my husband and I did. We wanted a Jewish ceremony and we wanted our friend to officiate. In Judiaism a marriage performed by a knowledgable Jew is totally kosher, the officiater doesn’t need to be a rabbi. But Minnesota says that marriage officiaters have to be either a judge or some religion’s ordained clergy. So, we went to city hall, had a judge do our paperwork (we liken this to having a drivers liscense renewed — it was just legal stuff even though Minnesota sees it as our wedding) and then had our friend officiate the wedding a few days later that was real to us.

    8. Paul Bixby Says:

      The whole point of the Same Sex Marriage debate is not whether or not a SS couple can get married, it is to have that marriage recognized as such. I am sure that they could have a ceremony and have a contract drawn up that states they will divide assets equally from time-stamp T forward. Thus they get the personal benefits of marriage. The most important thing in my marriage to my wife is my relationship with her. Even if I got no tax benefits, visitation rights, etc, I would still marry her, and I would still be married to her in my heart. There is nothing stopping a gay couple from having a wedding ceremony and declaring themselves married (such is the purpose of the “commitment ceremony”). As long as they live as husband and husband or wife and wife, they ARE husband and husband or wife and wife.

      Its the recognition by society at large that is at stake. I don’t really think that gay couples are all that concerned with the financial benefits of marriage, and most large companies (and many small ones) now recognize “domestic partnerships” for benefit and insurance purposes, so that battle is almost won, and the number of hospitals that restrict visitation between partners is rapidly dwindling. What the SSM movement wants is to force Dick and Jane Jones next door to recognize their relationship as a marriage whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter what Dick and Jane want, Adam and Steve are the victims because their love doesn’t have the county registrar’s stamp on it. If Judge Activ Ist rules that there should be a different, but equal relationship for gays, then the county will create “civil unions.” The county now says, “We’ll give Adam and Steve a ‘civil union’ that has all the benefits of marriage, but has a different name.” However, Adam and Steve will call themselves married (rather than unionized?) and Dick and Jane will see the situation as the county having married Adam and Steve, regardless of the name they put on it. There is no difference between marriage and a relationship that has all the properties of marriage with a different name.

      I don’t care what Adam and Steve do and whether they register at Crate and Barrel or Cracker Barrel, but I know Dick and Jane do, and there are more Dicks and Janes than Adams and Steves. According to democracy, their opinion matters and should have bearing on what happens in the society. Not in Judge Ist’s opinion of course. Such a judicial fiat will only make Dick and Jane resent the changes and thereby the people who wanted and take advantage of the changes. I think that as long as SSM advocates refrain from explaining their position in a way that everyday people can understand (without making them being called bigots for not understand or agreeing immediately) then when SSM becomes a reality it will only make things harder on those in gay relationships. They need to have the same respect for their fellow citizens that they want their fellow citizens to have for them, and that means treating them like adults and making an effort to understand their opinion.

      A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (and it would still be a rose).

    9. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      I do not recognize the state’s authority to ‘sanctify’ this marriage over that one anymore than I want to see churches making laws. Churches and mosques are free to define as sacred whatever they wish. Bush’s authority – or Kerry’s for that matter – in defining what should or should not be sacred is, and should be, exactly nil.

      Let government and states recognize and certify civil unions and the benefits thereof – in terms of taxes, inheritance, immigration etc – and let churches decide which marriage they want to sanctify. Gays get the equal rights they demand – and, in my opinion, are entitled to – and churches remain to include and excluse as they damn well see fit.

    10. aaron Says:

      What about adoption? One partner adopts the other.

    11. aaron Says:

      I agree with Sylain. Since when did churches rely so heavily on the state to sanctify marriages?

    12. Lex Says:

      “The main reason for this is due to the arrogance of the people at the forefront of the movement to bring about this change.”

      Maybe not arrogance. Most people try to repeat what worked in the past. The USA keeps trying to refight WWII against increasingly inappropriate foes. A primary liberal model for everything they have done in recent decades is the civil rights movement. That was the last truly massive liberal success story. The antiwar movement soon thereafter tried to replicate it in terms of tactics, imagery, etc. And the whole business of street theatre, marching with signs, even civil disobedience is still a major part of Left politics. By trying to treat gay people as if they were blacks under Jim Crow, the proponents of gay marriage were just stuck in the same rut that most “progressives” have been in for years. The model worked so well in the initial case because it was appropriate for the change that was being sought. But it seems to be working less and less well over time.

      Plus, the other liberal methodology, after their proposed programs stopped being able to command democratic majorities, sometime circa 1968, has been to get courts to concoct “rights” which no one had noticed were in the Constitution before. The great “victory” here was of course Roe v. Wade. This victory turned out to have a strong taste of ashes, since it created the Pro Life Movement and kept the abortion issue alive and well in a way that a compromised, democratic resolution never would have. Anyway, this model of getting some pliable Federal Judge to handcraft a new “right” is also working less well in recent years, though gay marriage advocates have gained some ground recently with this approach, it is creating a backlash which may outweight the gains.

      For gay activists, the difficult task ahead will be to go one person, one community at a time, and try to get democratic majorities to support changes in the law which they favor. Such changes will necessarily start out incrementally. This will not be a fun or fast process. For example, telling your opponents that they are fascist bigots will not likely gain their vote, no matter how satisfying it otherwise may be, and more importantly, being shrill will lose the person in the middle whose mind might be subject to change.

      I, for one, and many others, will oppose moves toward “gay marriage”. On this issue I am well aware that I am an outlier on this blog. But that too is OK. The fact that any proposed major change in the law will have permanent adversaries does not mean the proposed change cannot be adopted eventually. Democracy does not mean unanimity.

      So, while I cannot wish proponents of gay marriage “good luck”, I can at least hope that they try to play the game more wisely, since that will help preserve civil peace.

    13. Paul Bixby Says:

      I blogged this at my own blog. This will be the great debate of our age socio-culturally while the Bush Doctrine will be the great debate politico-culturally.

      This should make life… interesting.

    14. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Its too late to write a long comment.

      1. until the 19th century marriage was a sacred not civil function. making it civil was a 19th century reform.

      2. Memory grows hazy, but IIRC, no greek philosopher, as open as they were about the preferability of carnal relations with other men (actualy boys) ever suggested marrying a male.

      3. Constructs such as love and marriage and sex and marriage are historically (and perhaps realisticaly) meaningless. Everyone who discusses marriage should read Austin and Trollope first. Tolstoy and Flaubert would be good. A few bits of medieval romance might help.

      3. Did you know that the wording of the wedding ceremony from the classic Book of Common prayer was taken from the basic form of property Deed. Marriage was about uniting people to create new families. Mostly people with property.

      4. Getting rid of the progressive income tax, the Social security ponzi scheme, and and a few other socially destructive remnants of the New Deal would remove much of the practical social problem behind the gay marriage campaign.