Some Observations on Gay Marriage

I have been kind of neutral on the whole gay marriage issue. I think it began as an artifact of the AIDS epidemic and an attempt to curb the promiscuity of male gay life. In the early days of the epidemic, I had to inform a very nice nuclear engineer that he was HIV positive. This was well before treatment had developed and it was a death sentence. He told me it was impossible because he had been in a monogamous relationship with his partner for ten years. What could I say ? I once had to inform a nice lady who was a Christian Scientist that she had breast cancer. Her response was that she was losing her breast and her religion at the same time.

It has been taken over by activists who are determined to validate their life style and to force conventional society to accept it as equivalent to heterosexual family life, which it is not. It is surprising the success they have had with the young who seem to accept the argument that it is a “civil rights” issue, which is, of course, nonsense. Mark Steyn usually has something worthwhile to say on most subjects and this time is no exception.

Gays will now be as drearily suburban as the rest of us. A couple of years back, I saw a picture in the paper of two chubby old queens tying the knot at City Hall in Vancouver, and the thought occurred that Western liberalism had finally succeeded in boring all the fun out of homosexuality.

He does have a sense of humor amid reflections on a dying culture.

In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Scrupulously nonjudgmental about everything except traditional Christian morality, they nevertheless lead lives in which, as Charles Murray documents in his book Coming Apart, marriage is still expected to be a lifelong commitment. It is easy to see moneyed gay newlyweds moving into such enclaves, and making a go of it. As the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said just before his enthronement the other day, “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.” “Stunning”: What a fabulous endorsement! But, amongst the type of gay couple that gets to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’s probably right.

The problem, as pointed out years ago by Vice President Dan Quayle, is that the elites set the pattern for those whose lives cannot succeed without the structures of traditional society. They set the pattern, unfortunately, by what they say, not what they do.

If the Right’s case has been disfigured by delusion, the Left’s has been marked by a pitiful parochialism. At the Supreme Court this week, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, was one of many to invoke comparisons with Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But such laws were never more than a localized American perversion of marriage. In almost all other common-law jurisdictions, from the British West Indies to Australia, there was no such prohibition. Indeed, under the Raj, it’s estimated that one in three British men in the Indian subcontinent took a local wife. “Miscegenation” is a 19th-century American neologism. When the Supreme Court struck down laws on interracial marriage, it was not embarking on a wild unprecedented experiment but merely restoring the United States to the community of civilized nations within its own legal tradition. Ted Olson is a smart guy, but he sounded like Mary-Kate and Ashley’s third twin in his happy-face banalities last week. The famous actress, Merle Oberon, was the product of one of those Indian-British marriages.

These facts are never mentioned in the debate, swiftly being lost by those trying to preserve traditions. I have no credibility here, as I have been divorced twice. The issue for me is not the religious status of marriage but the dissolution of traditional morality as a utilitarian mechanism of civilization. My older son, who considers me hopelessly out of date, was married in the Catholic Church and will mostly likely lead a life of conservative virtues while he attacks those who try to defend them. I know he resents the fact that his mother and I are divorced and I don’t blame him. Had I recognized the terrible damage done to children by divorce, I might have reconsidered. However, I have children born of another marriage and would not wish them away for anything. The dilemma is insoluble but I could afford to take care of everyone, even though it has left me somewhat strapped in my old age.

The reality that no one wants to confront is as follows:

Meanwhile, social mobility declines: Doctors who once married their nurses now marry their fellow doctors; lawyers who once married their secretaries now contract with fellow super-lawyers, like dynastic unions in medieval Europe. Underneath the self-insulating elite, millions of Americans are downwardly mobile: The family farmers and mill workers, the pioneers who hacked their way into the wilderness and built a township, could afford marriage and children; indeed, it was an economic benefit. For their descendants doing minimum-wage service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, functioning families are a tougher act, and children an economic burden. The gays looked at contemporary marriage and called the traditionalists’ bluff.

There is the rub. We did not appreciate how important traditional values were for a civil society, Black activists blame slavery for the collapse of the black family. In fact, the black family was in good shape until the Great Society devastated the role of the black father. It was often non-traditional, as illustrated in Clarence Thomas’s book My Grandfather’s Son, in which he describes how his old fashioned grand father raised him and his brother in spite of the hopelessly disorganized life of his mother.

“Cultural Norms” are under attack as the gay activists insist that homosexuality is a perfectly normal life style. They are “born that way.” This, of course, does not explain the “BT” in “LGBT” or even the latest development of non-identity, also referred to as LGBTQIA.

The “learned behavior” types who think man is a “blank slate” at birth and all behavior is cultural are already striking back in the NY Times. In their view, differences in mating behavior between males and females are all learned from cultural “norms.” As one recent paper by a female professor states:

the gender differences in acceptance of casual-sex proposals evaporated nearly to zero.

Therefore women = men in all respects. The old theory that women are more likely to be monogamous because they invest more in children than men do, is old fashioned patriarchal nonsense. The argument heads right to the blank slate debate.

“a leading voice among hard-line Darwinians” You see, if you disagree with the Times, you are “hard line.”

“But the fact that some gender differences can be manipulated, if not eliminated, by controlling for cultural norms suggests that the explanatory power of evolution can’t sustain itself when applied to mating behavior.”

Therefore gay marriage has to be good because women = men.

Some years ago, I was on a trip with my middle daughter who has a degree in Anthropology from UCLA. I had been reading Stephen Pinker’s book, The Blank Slate. He makes a pretty good argument, from identical twin studies among other evidence, that behavior is genetic. She refused to read it and told me I needed to read the apostle of behavioral theory, Stephen Jay Gould, whose book, The Mismeasure of Man is the bible of behaviorists. I told her that I owned the book and had already read it. She still refused to read Pinker’s book, one of about ten he has written on behavior and language. Gould, of course, is a favorite of the left. Among other points, he dismisses IQ testing of any kind. That is handy for the Humanities types who hate the STEM majors.

I was raised, along with my sister, by a black nursemaid who instilled in us the traditions of family life. Her own family in Georgia owned property and she had been raised to value traditional virtues. She was strict and once when I called her the hated “n word” she chased me under the dining room table with a broom. She had chosen a life of celibacy to raise other people’s children. We were not her first family but we were her last. She was 40 when she came to live with us when my sister was born in 1941. She lived a long life and even saw my youngest daughter, born in 1990. She was in a Catholic nursing home at the time but we brought Annie for her approval.

What is coming I fear but I am relieved that I shall not have to deal with it. I am too old and my health is not good. I do worry about my children but three of them voted for Obama and can take what comes as best they are able. They have the advantages I have been able to provide. They are educated and, while my behavior has not been exemplary in some ways, they have seen the world and they know I love them. When I started out, I had none of the advantages they have had. My father did not respect education, although he did send me to Catholic school. I began college on a scholarship but it was not the college of my choice. I did succeed in gaining admittance to medical school but would have preferred other sources of training. All in all though, I can’t really complain.

The future will be what it will be. I hope for the best but fear the worst. In the coming hurricane, gay marriage will seem, and be, a minor distraction.

15 thoughts on “Some Observations on Gay Marriage”

  1. Thank you for a deeply personal statement about some of the uncertainties that should concern all citizens in these complex times.

    I, too, am in my twilight years, and I am grateful I will not have to live through the turmoil that is peeking over the horizon, like a red sky in the morning.

  2. Why is homosexual marriage a political issue?

    The answer is that the popular acceptance of homosexuality as a respectable and valid mode of existence is a long term goal of the left. The promotion of homosexual marriage is a Gramscian attack on the idea of what they call heteronormativity — i.e. that heterosexuality is biologically normal, and socially normative, and that the social policy of encouraging heterosexual marriage is grounded in “nature”.

    In analyzing the left, we must remember that the commitment that unifies it is the ideal of the state as the sole institution of society, the sole source of all security, comfort, and joy. In the words of Mussolini: “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State). One of the institutions that gets in the way of this commitment is private property, which socialism, at least in its full blooded communist form, dispenses with. But, although that condition is necessary, another ancient institution stands in the way of complete undiluted loyalty to the State — the family.

    Therefore all leftist programs have included steps to dismantle the family. The advocacy of “free love” and abortion are pillars in that platform. One socialist experiment was the Kibbutz, where all children were supposed to be raised in a common nursery.

    But, even those steps are not enough. Heterosexual eroticism will always threaten to reintroduce the family. In order to limit that possibility, leftists must advocate homosexuality.

    All of this was understood in ancient times, and explained by Plato in “The Republic”. The model for Plato’s ideal society was Sparta. Their system of military training for boys institutionalized pederasty.

    Homosexuality is a political issue because socialism has become a laugh line. Homosexuality and anti-Semitism are all they have left.

  3. I also recommend the essay quoted below, RTWT:

    The Deconstruction of Marriage
    Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog
    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    There are two ways to destroy a thing. You can either run it at while swinging a hammer with both hands or you can attack its structure until it no longer means anything.

    * * *

    The same goes for marriage or any other institution. You can destroy it by outlawing it or by eliminating its meaningfulness until it becomes so open that it is absurd.

    Every aspect of marriage is deconstructed and then eliminated until it no longer means anything.

    * * *

    Gay marriage was never the issue. It was always marriage.

    * * *

    The deconstruction of marriage is only a subset of the deconstruction of gender from a state of being to a state of mind.

    * * *

    Destroying gender roles was a prerequisite to destroying gender. Each deconstruction leads naturally to the next deconstruction with no final destination except total deconstruction.

    * * *

    The left’s deconstruction of social institutions is not a quest for equality, but for destruction. As long as the institutions that preceded it exist, it will go on deconstructing them until there is nothing left but a blank canvas, an unthinking anarchy, on which it can impose its perfect and ideal conception of how everyone should live.

    * * *

    The deconstruction of marriage is part of the deconstruction of gender and family and those are part of the long program of deconstructing man. Once each basic value has been rendered null and void, inverted and revealed to be random and meaningless, then man is likewise revealed to be a random and meaningless creature whose existence requires shaping by those who know better.

    * * *

    To deconstruct man, you deconstruct his beliefs and then his way of living. You deconstruct freedom until it means slavery. You deconstruct peace until it means war. You deconstruct property until it means theft. And you deconstruct marriage until it means a physical relationship between any group of people for any duration.

    * * *

    The final deconstruction eliminates nation, religion, family and even gender to reduce the soul of man to a blank slate waiting to be written on.

    * * *

    The question on the table is whether the institutions that give us meaning will be allowed to retain that meaning. And that question is a matter of survival. Societies cannot survive without definitions. Peoples do not go on existing through the act of occupying space. The deconstruction of identity is also the destruction of identity.

    And that is what we are truly fighting against.

  4. There are an enormous series of assumptions and interpolations behind the whole idea of same sex marriage and the claim that the historic marriage laws discriminate against homosexuals, whatever that term may mean.

    I need to make a distinction between two kinds of laws — regulatory laws and enabling laws. The laws on automobile operation are regulatory, they tell you how fast you are allowed drive, forbid you from going through red stop lights, and warn you to keep an assured clear distance behind the car in front of you.

    The marriage laws are enabling. The allow people meeting certain criteria to contract a marriage with each other. In this they are like the laws about forming corporations. They tell you that if you file certain documents in certain state offices you will have formed a corporation, and what that entails.

    Marriage laws in the US represent a secularization of what was in pre-Revolutionary times an ecclesiastical institution. But, they are not regulatory. There are marital regulations in the penal codes of most states, that forbid bigamy, incest, and (less commonly now) adultery. But, and this is very important, no state makes it an offense for a homosexual to marry.

    The claim that the enabling statute discriminates against homosexuals cannot therefore hold up. The analogy with the anti-miscegenation laws is misplaced. Those laws were regulatory, and they made otherwise valid marriages crimes. In the leading case, Loving v. Virginia, the couple had married in a place where it was legal for them to marry, and moved to Virginia where a penal statute made it a crime for a white person to marry, or be married to a “colored person”.

    Again, no state, makes homosexual cohabitation, whether purportedly married or not, a crime.

    There is no law, anywhere, that makes marriage between a “heterosexual” and a “homosexual” or between two “homosexuals” (of the opposite sex) invalid or criminal. Nor is there a classification scheme that sorts homosexuals from heterosexuals. Indeed, I am not sure that there is any universally accepted definition of either of those terms, read this article to see how difficult the question is:

    There have been many marriages between heterosexuals and homosexuals. King James, Cole Porter, and Malcolm Forbes come to mind quickly. I know of at least 3 such marriages in my little neighborhood, all of which resulted in children.

    The real complaint about marriage seems to be that the legal form does not allow some people to do what they want to do. But, I know of no reason why legislatures are required to provide for everything everybody wants.

    The claim that homosexuals are unable to marry the person they love, while heterosexuals may, is also not well framed. Marriage as a legal institution, and for that matter as a historical fact has nothing to do with love. Frank Sinatra was tuneful, but wrong. Read Jane Austin if you want to know what marriage is about. If, as Freud claimed, every boy wants to marry his mother, that primal urge is also not honored by the law. There are also many people who say they love their dogs, but none of them may marry Fido.

    Americans need to learn that marriage has nothing to do with love, sex or romance. Marriage is certain death to those emotions.

    To go back to my analogy to corporation laws, corporation laws enable persons to form corporations for various purposes, including profit making and non-profit corporations. If there were no laws enabling non-profit corporations, persons who wanted to organize charities might be forced to do so without the limited liability afforded corporations. They might complain of the laws failure to make a simple rational provision for them, but I do not think they could complain that they were being discriminated against.

    Similarly, marriage laws do not enable men to marry their mothers, even though she may be the only person they ever loved. Nor, do they allow a man to marry his dog, even though a canine bitch is a far superior companion to a human one. Further, they do not allow for polygyny, which is a far older and more recognized institution that same sex marriage. [Although as an aside it strikes me as simply destructive and societies that permit it are impoverished by it.]

    What the advocates of same sex marriage want is for the courts to re-write, or to order the legislatures to re-write, existing marriage laws to enable same sex marriages. I am unconvinced that this is something the US constitution requires. After all, a state could take the position that it will do noting to involve itself in the private lives of its citizens. Marriage could be left to private contract, and devil take the hindmost. Why a state is required by the constitution to adopt any type of enabling law is quite beyond me.

    Further, allowing same sex marriage gives an open field to using the device for purposes that were not intended: see, e.g. “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” (2007) where two firemen marry in order to get cheap healthcare coverage. Same sex marriage could become a popular method of avoiding the estate tax, or for obtaining green cards.

  5. Young people see much through the prism of rights; they want causes as they’ve seen stands on such issues in the past define virtue in their history books.

    More importantly, however, they see marriage differently than we did. My parents were fairly unhappy but they stuck it out – in speaking of others (and I suspect thinking of herself) my mother would say she/he made their bed, now they can lie in it. Neither she nor my father saw commitments as superficial or transitory. That’s a lesson this generation can not have been taught.

    They have a romanticized, Hollywood version of romantic love and its expression is in marriage. There’s some precedent, of course, for that – but it was never the purpose or what got you through the rough spots. Still what normal person wouldn’t want such an expression for the homosexuals among their friends and relatives. When we aren’t replacing ourselves demographically, aren’t our children likely to define marriage differently?

    I have gay friends who’ve been paired for close to half a century. I have friends who read the Bible literally (and have a sense of natural law): they have been divorced (sometimes more than once) and are against gay marriage. Well, okay – but I’m pretty sure that gay marriage is considered seriously because marriage and its principle responsibility – raising the next generation – is not.

    And my Marxist colleague is obsessed with preaching to his students about gay marriage. They can romanticize, I guess, failed definitions of relationships and of economics in his rhetoric classes; it’s a chance to deny reality & history & biology.

  6. “….gay marriage is considered seriously because marriage and its principle responsibility – raising the next generation – is not.”

    Yes, the “useful idiots” (UI) of the gay marriage movement certainly don’t have the maintenance and perpetuation of what was our Western Civilization in mind. Some of us (baby boomers, particularly) have been living in “fat times” for 60 some years and, stupidly, have swallowed the line that “discrimination between culturally beneficial and culturally detrimental things doesn’t matter much” if an individual’s desires are thwarted. There is no consciousness for these types that things may not go on as they are forever.

    As I think Robert Schwartz very ably pointed out in detail, the cynical activists with political/cultural agenda grasp any concept that gains traction with the UI that can be found to deconstruct the status quo and give them power and influence.

  7. The entire SSM controversy would go away if the gummint stopped granting special privileges (tax, inheritance, visitation, insurance, immigration, etc) based on marriage, all of whom work to the detriment of gays and singles. Conferring the 1100 OSM special rights on SSM couples will only tax singles even more.

    What we need is a Constitutional amendment that bans any and all references to sex of a person in all laws of the land. That would have the beneficial effect, as well, of ending sexual mutilation of little atheist boys, since nobody seems ready to sexually mutilate little girls.

    Both SSM and OSM could continue apace in religious ceremonies that would grant no special privileges and singles and other types of couples, even those in polygamous relationships, would not be disadvantaged as they are now.

  8. Marriage is a religious matter. Regulation of marriage defines a religion. Every religion has rules concerning who can marry and how they should behave.

    Passing a law which takes the rules established by one religion and imposing them on all people (no matter what their religion teaches) is unconstitutional because it establishes certain religions as the only religions acceptable by the State.

    Under our constitution no government may establish a religion and therefore any law regulating marriage and divorce should be unconstitutional.

    Thousands of Mormons were murdered because the believe in polygamy. Thousands of gays were murdered for their religious beliefs.

    And remember atheism is a religion.

  9. ” Thousands of gays were murdered for their religious beliefs.”

    Where ? Iran ?

    My concern is not with SSM per se but with the decline of culture that this movement represents. I don’t think western culture had much argument about who got married until now. Your point about Mormons is valid and I fully expect it to come back. How about the guy being prosecuted for polygamy now ? If he appeals…?

  10. Gay marriage has become the current go to litmus test for tribal politics. The press and popular culture machine has gone into overdeive pushing this down America’s throat and with respect to those under 40 its been welcomed with an open mouth. Make no mistake, this wedge issue will be used to marginalize and divide conservatives for at least the next generation.

  11. Mike,


    Many of the Roman Emperors had sex with men and young boys. This was accepted as normal in ancient times. The practice has continued into the present. Christian religions forbid it. Many pagan and ancient religions are silent on same sex sex. However, given that the emperors were gods, we must conclude that the gods approved of same sex sex.

    If a gay person feels morally justified for same sex sex, then his religion accepts gay deeds. If he is killed for being gay, then he has been killed because of his religious beliefs.

  12. I always find fascination in reading posts such as Michael Kennedy’s, and especially in the comments. There are elements of many strains of thinking displayed, political and personal, from the thoughtful to the paranoiac and visceral. Some of the generalizations are quite overstated.

    For example, I am socially and politically conservative, churchgoing and gainfully employed. So is my partner. Neither of us chose to be gay, we found ourselves facing one of the most difficult mysteries of the self, and had to determine how to live our lives. We chose to not be the monk-like self-deniers some would like us to be in theory, and we have a happy and fulfilling life together. We take care of our families, when my father was dying we were there for him, and now when my partner’s brother is facing premature death from cancer. We are as much a family unit as our divorced/remarried and widowed siblings, and as our parents were in their day.

    In our state we have minimal rights should either be hospitalized with a serious issue, the power of attorney does not have to be enforced if the hospital so chooses. Taxes and survivor benefits do not follow the rules of married couples, but even an estranged spouse cannot be denied critical medical decision rights in this state.

    OK, I get it that many of you are repulsed by the more flamboyant and deviant types, and lefties, who you see as driving this social change. I’m not comfortable with rocking the boat of marriage, it’s an institution in deep, deep trouble, especially among the less fortunate and less successful. I’m not so selfish as to want more favorable income and estate tax and Social Security benefits, but that health care provider being legally able to deny our long term stable relationship any emergency rights, even to claim the body if one of us should die? That is an unfairness even the most self-righteous should ponder.

  13. I would agree with you Rob.

    I think much of the disagreement comes from marriage – as defined by the religions, and “legal unions”, which should be the only thing the government should be involved in.

    Legal unions should have the same rights as marriage.

    Let the churches all define marriages in whatever way they deem correct.

    Of course with divorces running about 50% some wag suggested that gays should be just as miserable as straights.

  14. I’d vote for gay marriage; I’d vote to keep abortion legal but with plenty of hedges and dates. But I recognize that the fact that I would means I, too, have passed a place and entered uncharted territories: when we don’t reproduce, when we not only don’t defend our beliefs but don’t defend our lives (look at the response to 9/11 in some quarters and how at Fort Hood diversity was considered as a greater casualty than the bodies at the morgue), when we don’t honor those who defend not only themselves but us (the commercials for Wounded Warrior are aimed at private donations, the news that they surround describe VA hospital problems, editoriaists who want to pull back on honor guards for funerals, etc.) we are seem barbarous.

    We have traditionally valued marriage because we have traditionally seen that as the best incubator for the next generation. We can still argue that such a marriage offers benefits, but it is not necessary in the same way it was in the times of subsistence agriculture and wood-burnng stoves. We have disconnected sex from procreation, procreation from sex – and once we did that, marriage in its traditional form was less central. We have built lives in which most work can be done at least fairly well by either sex – my husband may have a strength I don’t, but it is mainly spent guiding our rolling luggage around, opening cans, and helping carry in the groceries. This isn’t the world that people knew a couple of generations ago.

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