Non Sequiturs Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

The DOMA cases are about issues of equal treatment under the law, not about stopping some utopia where all kids have a traditional household.

Ralph Reed on today’s MTP:

What I said was the verdict of social science is overwhelming and irrefutable. And that is, without regard to straight or gay, in other words this applies to one-parent households, it applies to foster homes, it applies to the whole panoply, they’ve looked at them all, that the enduring, loving, intact biological mother and father is best for children. And it’s not even a close call. And the only issue before the Court is, is there a social good to that? And does the government have a legitimate interest in protecting and strengthening it?

Even if we stipulate for the sake of discussion that this assertion about families is ironclad, the issue of same-sex marriage is not about choice A being all kids having traditional nuclear families, and choice B meaning that they will not.  The fact is that the children who currently have gay parents before SCOTUS hears the cases and rules will have gay parents no matter what the Court decides.   The notion that what is being addressed here is whether society is going to have more or less traditional nuclear families is an utter non sequitur.  As such, this nothing has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what the Court is going to be deciding.

Gary Bauer made a similar assertion  on Fox News Sunday:

You touched on the key issue here — if it was so obvious that the American public wants to try a radical social experiment that results in children in those households, definitely, definitely, not having a mother and a father, that’s what makes marriage a special institution. It guarantees that women — that children have mothers and fathers.

Again:  regardless of what the Court rules about DOMA the distribution of children in various types of familial configurations will remain the same.  Bauer makes it sounds as if a certain ruling by SCOTUS on DOMA will lead to some number of children being redistributed from heterosexual couples to homosexual ones.

Of course, Bauer’s assertion that “that’s what makes marriage a special institution” is a tired one, because it wholly ignores that not all marriages produce offspring, and that even those who do can persist in a stretch of time in which children are not the focal point.  My wife and I did not have children until we had been married for about eight years, yet we were married during that stretch of time.  My grandparents have not had children living with them for going on fifty years, yet they remain married.  I have friends who are childless, some of whom have been married for decades—are they no married.  Clearly this is rather obvious (or, at least, should be).

The bottom line  is this:  there are really only two foundational arguments against same-sex marriage:  one based on tradition, the second based on religion. I have dealt, at least in part, with the tradition argument here.  But, really, it falls down to religion.  The most significant opposition to same-sex marriage, and acceptance of homosexuality in general, is based in that fact that the religious teachings of key sectors of the Christian church (and others as well, but I am addressing US politics here) is that homosexuality is a sin.  However, as an argument in a secular context, this is not a very powerful one especially when the societal attitudes on this question are shifting (and shifting quickly).  Yes, a conservative Christian can discuss this topic with another conservative Christian and cite any number of Biblical passages and think that the argument both over and ironclad.  However, once the frame of reference does not contain a shared belief in Biblical (and/or Papal) inerrancy, the argument falls apart because there is no longer an argument save that homosexuals simply should not be treated the same as heterosexuals.  Once the argument moves from supposed eternal truths to having to construct an argument that treats different classes of people differently in the context of a democratic society, the justifications become hard to come by.

Ultimately, I suppose what strikes me most is that Reed and Bauer are really not making an actual argument of any relevance to the cases before the Court.  Indeed, it feels as if they are just going through the motions at this stage.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. The most significant opposition to same-sex marriage, and acceptance of homosexuality in general, is based in that fact that the religious teachings of key sectors of the Christian church (and others as well, but I am addressing US politics here) is that homosexuality is a sin.

    Good point. Interesting that this particular sin gets the “let’s make a law” treatment when other sins do not.

    Why not try to ban adultery? Or disrespecting your parents? Or taking the name of the Lord in vain? They were at least commandments.

    Oh wait….this was “Indian Casino” Ralph Reed? Well, that explains it…

  2. @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): In fact, there used to be laws on the books against adultery (some may still exist).

  3. Stonetools says:

    Nothing to add. Agree completely. Frankly, I think Reed and Bauer know they have lost the argument with the US public. But they have to represent their constituents, who fervently believe they are standing for Biblical truth.

  4. @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, I remember hearing something about those laws during l’affair Petraeus, especially in the context of the UCMJ.

    I wonder what Ralph Reed thinks about those laws.*

    (*Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t care what Ralph Reed thinks.)

  5. Mikey says:

    These guys don’t care about the children. Given the choice between having them in a single-parent home or in a two-parent home where both parents are the same sex, they’d rather the kids be in a single-parent home.

    @Stonetools:

    Frankly, I think Reed and Bauer know they have lost the argument with the US public.

    Agreed. In 20 years, 90% of people between the ages of 18 and 50 will approve of same-sex marriage (which will, I have no doubt, be legal in every state). There’s nothing Reed, Bauer, or their organizations can do.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): If you read Leviticus you will find it spends more time talking about the evils of eating pork and shellfish and even wearing clothes made of more than one fabric than it does on homosexuality. Is it time for someone to ask Reed and Bauer if they eat pork and shellfish? Is it time to check their wardrobe?

  7. Brett says:

    Well, plus the social science they cite to attack same-sex parents use logic that reads just like the bunk science used to show that races shouldn’t mix in marriage because it would be bad for their children. All of the credible studies show that, if anything, same-sex couples often provide a more nurturing home.

  8. Tony W says:

    I just don’t understand why they care so deeply about denying equality under the law? What is in it for the bigots? At least with slavery there was an economic argument to keeping folks in bondage.

  9. @Brett: Indeed–the evidence in question does not match the assertions being made.

  10. swbarnes2 says:

    @Tony W:

    I just don’t understand why they care so deeply about denying equality under the law? What is in it for the bigots?

    A couple of things: the simplest, they want to believe that they are better than other people.

    Also, anything that undermines strict gender roles is bad for these guys. They don’t want that.

  11. @Tony W:

    Religion is like a sweater with a loose string hanging out. You start pulling at that one loose strand and pretty soon the entire thing is unraveling.

  12. HelloWorld! says:

    If the supreme court allows DOMA to stand, then they have essentially legislated a specific interpretation of Christianity into our government. They will be more like Mullah’s than judges.

  13. HelloWorld! says:

    @Ron Beasley: Also, people who site Leviticus forget that “the levites were a special tribe of Isrial tasked with building temples, so they had to live by a special set of rules (Numbers, Ch 2 and 22).

    If you ignore certain “facts” in the bible than you can justify:

    Women should be slaves – Ex 21:7
    Anyone who works on Sunday should die – Ex 35:2
    Its ok to buy slaves – Lev 25:44
    Eat only things with fins and scales or die – Lev 11:9
    Handicaped people are disgusting – Lev 21:18
    Stone people for curse words – Lev 24:10 – 16

    …and since I work for a bank, its OK to kill auditors – Duet 23:01.

    Gotta love that literal interpretation of the bible!

  14. jd says:

    Love is love and family is family. The Prop 8 challenge is about being able to marry whomever you love, and the DOMA challenge is about having those families recognized by the Federal Government. I sure do hope they do the right thing.

  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I just saw on Yahoo News that Karl Rove has chimed in with the observation that he “could see” a GOP Presidential candidate supporting gay marriage in 2016. Which means:
    Karl Rove is about to be run off the reservation
    Karl Rove is just another RINO
    Since Karl Rove has okayed it, support of gay marriage will be an approved position for GOP candidates
    The GOP has changed (at least in their own minds) the definition of gay marriage is some way that causes it to no longer mean same-gender marriages

    Which will it be?

  16. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The bottom line is this: there are really only two foundational arguments against same-sex marriage: one based on tradition, the second based on religion.

    That’s an ironic statement, given the headline of this blog post. That statement itself is a non-sequitur. Plus it’s a straw man. All wrapped into a legally uneducated and ignorant false conclusion.

    Back in the mid-1990’s, when Clinton unfortunately signed DOMA, the argument against same-sex marriages was that the Feds didn’t want the federal government serving as the platform from which the social experiment of same-sex marriages could be launched. Of course technically speaking, back then, there was no such thing as same-sex marriages. Quite literally they didn’t exist. Certainly not legislatively. Not even judicially. Nowhere.

    DOMA was a mistake, but not for the reasons the left believes. It was a mistake because marriage is the epitome of a state law issue, not a federal one. DOMA is a federalism problem, not so much an equal rights issue. Now that several states legally have sanctioned same-sex marriages that mistake has become all the more glaring.

    At this stage of the game the secular, legal arguments against same-sex marriages are that around 40 states have laws against them, the overwhelming majority of which by state constitutional voter referendums, and in connection with the obvious equal protection question that governments have compelling interests (population growth) in promoting heterosexual marriages over homosexual marriages. Legally speaking religion is a red herring. So too is “tradition.”

    In any event, if I were made sole justice of the SCOTUS, with plenary powers to rule by my own fiat, I would strike down DOMA in its entirety, thereby making federal benefits and tax laws subject to state law marital definitions. But I would uphold Prop. 8 and by extension all the state laws which have banned same-sex marriages, and then for good measure, since the issue is bound soon to arise in other contexts, I would hold that the full faith and credit clause does not apply to sister state definitions of marriage. Because as stated above marriage is the epitome of a state law issue, not a federal one. If New York for example wants legal same-sex marriages that’s New York’s prerogative. More power to them. But New York should not be able to dictate to scores of its sister states how the latter define their own domestic relations laws.

  17. Tony W says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Religion is like a sweater with a loose string hanging out. You start pulling at that one loose strand and pretty soon the entire thing is unraveling.

    Which is why draconian rules are in place to protect that loose strand from its vulnerability.

  18. Tony W says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: In other words “separate but equal” for you. Got it, you’re still in the 1950s.

  19. @Tsar Nicholas:

    That’s an ironic statement, given the headline of this blog post. That statement itself is a non-sequitur. Plus it’s a straw man. All wrapped into a legally uneducated and ignorant false conclusion

    Methinks you are not using any of those terms appropriately. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that none of your response provides any support for your assertion. For example: none of what you address is an argument against same-sex marriage.

  20. (You are arguing for a particular view of federalism, but not for, or for that matter against, gay marriage.)

  21. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Oh, Steven, don’t you realize that you’re part of the liberal-academe-media cabal designed to ignore irony in all its many forms?

  22. Stonetools says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    If Karl Rove is saying that, it means he sees the writing on the wall. Rove got his start with whisper campaigns insinuating that the political opponents of the candidates he worked for were gay. His execrable 2004 anti-gay marriage campaign was just an extension of that.
    He now understands that an explicit anti- gay rights stance is a negative, outside of the Confederacy. I expect that he will counsel candidates running outside the Deep South to go silent on gay rights issues. We already see this approach in the gubernatorial electiion for Virginia, where Republican candidate Ken Cuchinelli is scrubbing anti-gay rights references from his website.
    In a few elections, the Republican message is going to be that “some Republicans were always in favor of gay rights” and that the Democrtic Party was the party of opposition to gay rights, citing Sam Nunn.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I seem to remember that the State of Virginia tried that defending its laws against interracial marriages. There was a SCOTUS case that decided the matter: Loving vs. Virginia. Maybe you’ve heard of it? There were some pretty important things written in that decision.

  24. Kylopod says:

    In a few elections, the Republican message is going to be that “some Republicans were always in favor of gay rights” and that the Democrtic Party was the party of opposition to gay rights, citing Sam Nunn

    That is probably a more accurate prediction than even you might realize. It’s a recurring pattern on the right: as soon as a cause they fought to stop becomes so ingrained in society that their views become taboo, they try to co-opt that cause to their own ends and attribute its opposition to the left.

    In 1957, Bill Buckley describes Francisco Franco as “an authentic national hero.” In 2008, Jonah Goldberg writes a book claiming it is liberals who are the true fascists.

    In the 1960s, conservatives oppose the civil rights movement and call Martin Luther King a communist. In later decades, they attack affirmative action as racism and cite King as their inspiration.

    In the 1990s, Rush Limbaugh refers to feminists as “feminazis” and asserts that feminism “was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” In the 2000s, Kathryn Jean Lopez praises Mel Gibson as a true feminist, and Sarah Palin supports a group called Feminists for Life.

    It should be quite obvious that before long they’ll be claiming to have always been the true champions of gay rights.

  25. dennis says:

    I was going to dive into a long, well-thought out rant to address Tsar Nic’s inaccurate use of federalism as an example; his inference of states’ rights having bearing on the case; and complete failure to admit that Steven’s premise about tradition and religion are accurate.

    But I think I’ll just exercise a bit of lazy thinking and call him an i.d.iot.

  26. socraticsilence says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Are you really trying to re-litigate Loving?

  27. matt bernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    In the 1960s, conservatives oppose the civil rights movement and call Martin Luther King a communist. In later decades, they attack affirmative action as racism and cite King as their inspiration.

    Not to mention a claim, often repeated in the comments here, that it was really the Dem’s that opposed the civil rights movement, the voting rights act, and most civil rights legislation.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @matt bernius: There’s no question that the core of segregationists came from the Southern wing of the Democratic Party. Of course the Dems lost that entire region to the GOP in 1964, the year of the passage of the Civil Rights Act under President Lyndon Johnson. But I guess that’s just a coincidence….

    Anyway, I wasn’t talking about Democrats vs. Republicans per se; I was talking about the left vs. the right. The Dixiecrats were always right-wing, even when they were Democrats.

  29. Mikey says:

    @matt bernius: That claim is partially correct. Southern Democrats opposed all of those with great vehemence. The error committed by many who make the claim isn’t in the claim itself, it’s in equating 1960s Southern Democrats with today’s Democratic Party. Northern Democrats supported the civil rights movement overwhelmingly.

    But Republicans are also correct when they claim the GOP supported civil rights legislation at that time. In fact, Republican support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was as overwhelming as that of Northern Democrats. Had Republicans sided with Southern Democrats in opposition, it would never have passed.

  30. John D'Geek says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Religion is like a sweater with a loose string hanging out. You start pulling at that one loose strand and pretty soon the entire thing is unraveling.

    Repeat after me: Religion is not the same thing as Abrahamic Religion.

    Go ahead. Try to “unravel” Buddhism. Start with the Four Noble Truths. Good luck.

    @Steven L. Taylor: Try this as an argument:

    For 10,000 years of human existence (or 50,000 depending on how you count) Marriage has existed as the “traditionalists” define it. Including in societies that not only accepted homosexual behavior, but considered it superior (c.f. Ancient Greece; Ancient Japan). There must be something to it. What could it be?

    Well, to quote an Indian (as in “from India”) I met: “What does Love have to do with Marriage?”

  31. matt bernius says:

    @Mikey:

    Southern Democrats opposed all of those with great vehemence. The error committed by many who make the claim isn’t in the claim itself, it’s in equating 1960s Southern Democrats with today’s Democratic Party.

    Or, to your point, even the Democratic Party of their day (as a whole). If one tries to make that argument, then one also has to face the fact that ALL Southern republicans voted against the bill.

    And that’s why It’s far more correct to say that Southern Politicians, regardless of party, opposed all of those with great vehemence (and in the case of the voting rights act, continue to).

    As I often reproduce, here’s the breakdown from Wikipedia of the votes:

    By party

    The original House version:[16]

    Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)
    Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

    Cloture in the Senate:[17]

    Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)
    Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

    The Senate version:[16]

    Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
    Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

    The Senate version, voted on by the House:[16]

    Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
    Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

    By party and region

    Note: “Southern”, as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. “Northern” refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.

    The original House version:

    Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)

    Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)
    Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)

    The Senate version:

    Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%)
    Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%)
    Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%)
    Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

    Again, opposition to the act was clearly regional versus political (in some respects it’s amazing that it did get *one* vote from any Southern politicians).

    And you are right that members of both parties outside of the South overwhemingly supported the bills. That said, a higher percentage of Northern Repulicans opposed the measure (though some of them might have done so for ideological rather than racial reasons).

    My point wasn’t to suggest that Republicans opposed the legislation, but rather to attack the rewriting of history that “Democrats were against it.”

  32. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Nice powertrip there.

    DOMA was a mistake, but not for the reasons the left believes. It was a mistake because marriage is the epitome of a state law issue, not a federal one. DOMA is a federalism problem, not so much an equal rights issue. Now that several states legally have sanctioned same-sex marriages that mistake has become all the more glaring.

    It would still be an equal rights problem even if it weren’t a federalism problem. And both are not mutually exclusive anyway. Honestly sometimes I wonder how you ever passed the bar.

  33. matt bernius says:

    @John D’Geek:

    For 10,000 years of human existence (or 50,000 depending on how you count) [many cultures, but not all, an institution similar to] Marriage has existed as the “traditionalists” define it.

    Fixed that rather overly broad claim. Especially considering what we mean by “traditional marriage”, beyond an intersex unions of men and women.

    If fidelity is considered part of a “traditional” definition, then you need to cut out most of that history. If we’re restricting it to one man, one woman, then you need to cut out a lot of alternative “marriage structures” (including those where men, ceremonially “became” women, in order to be married.

    Also, what about many traditional forms of marriage where, while it might be one man and one woman, the entire union is more about an economic transfer of possession (i.e. the woman, from daughter to wife)?

    Despite claims of a great “tradition”, if one looks at marriage through a 10,000, let alone 50,000 year perspective, what we claim as “traditional” is quite modern.

  34. Mikey says:

    @John D’Geek:

    Well, to quote an Indian (as in “from India”) I met: “What does Love have to do with Marriage?”

    Until the 20th century? Not nearly as much as it has since.

  35. Mikey says:

    @matt bernius:

    My point wasn’t to suggest that Republicans opposed the legislation, but rather to attack the rewriting of history that “Democrats were against it.”

    I was sure that’s what you were getting at. I wanted to show how the “Democrats were against it” statement is one that is “technically” true, while also being tremendously misleading.

    And, while it’s true the overwhelming majority of GOP elected officials supported it at the time, it’s equally misleading to paint the modern GOP as a model of support.

  36. wr says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb): “I wonder what Ralph Reed thinks about those laws.* ”

    Makes me think of the only good line from any Chuck Norris movie: “If I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you.”

  37. @John D’Geek: On a simplistic level you are making my point: you are arguing from tradition.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @John D’Geek:Let us follow your “logic” to another “logical” conclusion.

    For 10,000 years of human existence (or 50,000 depending on how you count) people kept their feet firmly on the ground and never once took to the skies. It was a mistake a hundred years ago it is a mistake now. We should also get rid of electricity, the internal combustion engine, domestic cows, horses pigs, sheep and chickens…. Why, the list is endless!

  39. wr says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: “Honestly sometimes I wonder how you ever passed the bar. ”

    Judging from his commentary, he’s never passed a bar. Every time he passes one, he goes right in…

  40. JKB says:

    I remember a post over at Volokh Conspiracy where they’d submitted Amicus brief arguing not from sexual orientation discrimination but from sex discrimination. A man can marry a woman and a woman can marry a man but not the other way around, why is the state permitted to discriminate against the sexes in this way? If I remember correctly.

    What I am not up on is why same sex partners are dissatisfied with civil unions and consider marriage better. Is there a big difference?

    But I do find it interesting that although framed as a cultural debate, this is really a matter of tax policy (along with a few other state benefit policies). Those “married” are afforded benefits to retain much of their assets and facilitate default transfer in the event of death and also benefits in taxation while living although some point to detrimental tax policy in some marriage configurations. Marriage is no longer necessary to confer legitimacy on offspring. Marriage is no longer required to provide for asset retention by women due to their subordinate status as daughter and wife. So we really must ask are the state benefits provided upon “marriage” still valid? And if so, is there some argument they should favor male/female unions and preclude expansion into same sex unions? Do we as tax policy want to afford the tax benefits of marriage to a greater pool of individuals? Is there a societal benefit to giving these tax benefits for the legal merging of assets and income anymore?

  41. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    What I am not up on is why same sex partners are dissatisfied with civil unions and consider marriage better. Is there a big difference?

    The reason it matters is because creating a parallel framework of “civil unions” basically says this:

    “Oh, it’s OK, we’ll just create this thing called ‘civil union’ that confers all the legal trappings of marriage but we won’t call it ‘marriage’ because you’re icky gay people.”

    Same-sex partners are dissatisfied with civil unions and consider marriage better because ANYONE would be dissatisfied with civil unions and consider marriage better.

  42. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @John D’Geek: On a simplistic level you are making my point: you are arguing from tradition.

    But it’s worth noting that it also a somewhat imagined tradition. Or rather a selective/anachronistic imagining of tradition that back projects the features what the speaker thinks of as “good” (i.e. one man/one woman) and largely ignores the aspects we think of as “bad” (i.e. that in a truly traditional marriage the wife was the property, in many cases multiple wives were allowed, there was no pledge of fidelity, etc.).

  43. matt bernius says:

    @JKB:

    What I am not up on is why same sex partners are dissatisfied with civil unions and consider marriage better. Is there a big difference?

    Before this issue could even be seriously debated, it must be reminded that (a) same sex civil unions are not yet legal/recognized in most states, and (b) currently same sex unions do not confer the same rights in most states as marriage. So trying to pretend that the two are equal, even in the eyes of the law, isn’t correct.

    Then everything @Mikey wrote.

    @JKB:

    this is really a matter of tax policy (along with a few other state benefit policies)

    But those “few other state benefit policies” are all pretty important, considering that they include everything from HIPA clearance and Hospital Visitation rights to the ability for a couple to adopt.

  44. @matt bernius: Absolutely. I almost started down that path, but since all he offered was tradition, I figured that was enough to fit my point and left it at that.

  45. JKB says:

    @Mikey:

    That’s a bit circular, but no matter, the issue will be decided.

    You didn’t really explain why marriage is different from a civil union, foregoing the religious aspect of marriage and only considering it from a state perspective.

    I return to my issue that perhaps, expanding marriage beyond the traditional male/female relationship, we should revisit the reasoning behind providing “married individuals” tax and benefit preference. Not that that would preclude deciding the preferences would satisfy some state goal regardless of the adult sexes in the “marriage”.

    BTW, do you have to have sex to be married in the eyes of the law? Could two same sex heterosexuals be married? Could Jay and Bob, two hetero-life partners, marry?

  46. JKB says:

    @matt bernius:

    Well, if they don’t confer the same rights, then yes, I see the difference. Whether civil unions are legal in all states is a different issue. Although I did read, the SCOTUS could go full bore and rule same-sex marriage legal across the board. But I understand they could make more pointed decisions on the specific matters as well.

  47. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    You didn’t really explain why marriage is different from a civil union, foregoing the religious aspect of marriage and only considering it from a state perspective.

    If one would make both cases legally equivalent then it would be mostly a psychological point. But even then an important one. To get the proper impression try pitching converting all existing marriages to civil unions (with equal rights of course) and see how many takers you get.

    As long as the emotional attachment is that great there is little reason to withhold the accompanying satisfaction of “marriage” from same-sex couples.

  48. Mikey says:

    @JKB: If a marriage is no different from a civil union, why have a civil union? Why not call all such unions “marriage,” or all “civil union?”

    Obviously, if you even have to ask, you are conceding the difference exists, and that it’s significant enough that some people are uncomfortable with calling all such unions “marriage” even if the “civil union” confers exactly the same thing legally.

    Do we really want to create an institution of “separate but equal” marriages?

    BTW, do you have to have sex to be married in the eyes of the law?

    Not according to my ex-wife…

  49. matt bernius says:

    @JKB:

    Whether civil unions are legal in all states is a different issue.

    No, that is fundamental to the issue — as part of the value of “Marriage” is that it is — at least for the moment for heterosexuals — a set of rights that travel with them wherever they go within the US States (and typically abroad). If Civil Unions don’t function across state borders then they cannot be considered equal to marriage.

    And all of that gets to @Mikey’s point — why invent an entirely new category of interpersonal union, when an existing one does everything that you want the first one to do.

    It seems to me that, given how your are against government bloat and an increase in bureaucracy JKB, it’s hard to understand why you would want to add to it with separate-but-equal civil unions.

    And, to Steven’s bigger point, is there any compelling reason, other than “tradition” to do so? And should “tradition” be enough by itself?

  50. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I almost started down that path, but since all he offered was tradition, I figured that was enough to fit my point and left it at that.

    Understood. The anthropologist in me just couldn’t let that couldn’t let that go.

  51. JKB says:

    @Mikey: @matt bernius:

    You misapprehend me. I don’t oppose ssm. In fact, I’m coming round to everyone being able to marry everyone else. Perhaps limited to humans and one person-one person at any one time. Anything that permits people to keep more of their cash from from the greedy government. Plus, if it helps avoid the nightmare of paperwork when ill, a bonus.

    I do think it would interesting and useful to revisit all the laws enacted using “marriage” to see if the rational and benefit still applies when marriage means any legal commingling of assets whether or not children are a potential issue.

    I’d say the best outcome of all would be to find same sex marriage constitutional on sex discrimination grounds meaning anyone can marry anyone else regardless of whether they share the same bed. Which Mikey points out doesn’t always happen in the current lawful marriages anyway….at least eventually.

  52. matt bernius says:

    @JKB:

    I’m coming round to everyone being able to marry everyone else. Perhaps limited to humans and one person-one person at any one time.

    As I continue to think my way through this issue, I am having a harder and harder time coming up with a logically consistent argument against polygamy. Ultimately, the only retreat I have is “tradition” and that’s problematic.

    As far as limiting it to humans, that I see no issues with. Nor is there any issue with restricting marriage to adults. The concept of all parties being able to legally consent to the union is well established law.

    Likewise, I see no issue — even if for unions where there is no intention of procreation — with enforcing anti-incest provisions. Again the law is pretty well established there and I don’t see any compelling argument for changing it.

  53. JKB says:

    @matt bernius:

    I think with polygamy you’d have to look at issues that would arise upon dissolution in whole or part of the marriage. Since government-wise, marriage laws are basically a default pre-nuptial agreement imposing rights and duties on the parties as well as defining interests in property held by the parties upon divorce or death. If a married couple bring a third party into the marriage, when does that third party vest in the joint assets? Do both of the original parties have to marry the third party? If not, how are claims adjudicated if one of the original parties does not enter into the new marriage contract. How is inheritance resolved in the absence of a will? Is a home to be divide among surviving spouses, perhaps leaving all without functional control or the ability to remain in the home?

  54. anjin-san says:

    Anything that permits people to keep more of their cash from from the greedy government. Plus, if it helps avoid the nightmare of paperwork when ill, a bonus.

    Well, there is also that whole “equal protection under the law” thing – but what is that compared to your need to whine about taxes?

  55. anjin-san says:

    @ John D’Geek

    Try to “unravel” Buddhism. Start with the Four Noble Truths. Good luck.

    Buddhism is not a religion. That is one of the reasons it does not unravel easily.

  56. anjin-san says:

    In a few elections, the Republican message is going to be that “some Republicans were always in favor of gay rights” and that the Democrtic Party was the party of opposition to gay rights, citing Sam Nunn.

    And Jenos will repeat it, (and repeat it, and repeat it) as if it were a truth handed down from a burning bush…

  57. Barry says:

    Steven Taylor: “Even if we stipulate for the sake of discussion that this assertion about families is ironclad, the issue of same-sex marriage is not about choice A being all kids having traditional nuclear families, and choice B meaning that they will not. ”

    I will not stipulate one thing that Reed and his ilk assert.