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June 30, 2005

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The motto of the Evangelical Right is more like 'Freedom stops here!'. It's amazing what this administration and the GOP has done to this country;
I shudder to think what it will do.

Yeah, let's tear down all walls. No walls. No walls. We're all high minded, best intended adults. We don't need any walls. It'll all turn out OK in the end. Right on, Edward, right on!!

Civil partnerships - virtually identical to civil marriage - will be available to all same-sex couples who want them in the UK, from December 5 this year.

Have been engaging in a couple of threads with some massively irrational opponents of same-sex marriage over at Alas, A Blog. (Not linking: the bandwidth has already crashed twice this week.) Among other things, they are clearly very, very unhappy that gay marriage exists - and this makes me terribly happy. I like to watch irrationally-minded bigots suffer.

You demonstrate the basic irrationality of the opposition on this blogbudsman. No one is talking about "all" walls. There's one very specific wall which is ripe for demolition.

I still believe that the best first step is to take the religion out of marriage first. In the Netherlands everybody always has to do civil marriage first and afterwards they can have any kind of religious marriage if they want to. Our Royal churchweddings were always preceded by civil marriages, usually by the mayor.

Jes: we started out with civil unions too ;-)

dutchmarbel: Jes: we started out with civil unions too ;-)

Yes: but in the Netherlands, civil partnerships were open to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples, whereas the UK is going for the "separate but equal" route. To be fair, GLBT activists in the UK couldn't all agree to same-sex marriage, but everyone could agree that same-sex civil partnership was a good idea.

From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4636133.stm

"The Roman Catholic Church wields great influence in Spain, but the BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says that since the Madrid bomb attacks in March 2004, Spaniards want unity among their people more than anything."

if only Americans still felt that way post Sept. 11th.

Yeah, blogbudsman, let's defend all walls. Keep the walls. Keep the walls. We're all high minded, best intended adults. Those walls must be there for a reason, because they are there. Disaster will inevitably follow if any of them fall. Right on, blogbudsman, right on!!

Dutchmarbel: I still believe that the best first step is to take the religion out of marriage first.

Here in the U.S. there's no need, since the religious component of marriage is strictly optional. My marriage is a purely secular civil and social union which is legally recognized in all 50 states.

We just need to get the religious extremists to accept that they don't have the right to force their religious views on the rest of us.

Anyway, good for the people of Spain and Canada!

Grommit--Here in the U.S. there's no need, since the religious component of marriage is strictly optional. My marriage is a purely secular civil and social union which is legally recognized in all 50 states.

Mine too, though there is certainly something to be said for making a sharp division between the legal/social sanction of a domestic union and the religious sanction of marriage. If the US government were to distance itself entirely from the word 'marriage' and instead opt to recognize only a legal domestic union, then the 'defense of marriage' bunch would lose all of their rhetorical steam. No 'separate but equal', but rather a disavowal of any say over marriage and a solid assertion of the government's right to recognize legal unions.

Gromit: "We just need to get the religious extremists to accept that they don't have the right to force their religious views on the rest of us."

Buena suerte. Muy buena suerte.

"let's tear down all walls. No walls. No walls. "

Yes, imagine what would happen to all those strawmen with no walls to protect them! The crows would peck out their little button eyes! Unconscionable!

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down.

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Using blogbudsman logic, it's safe to say that BlogBudsman was against the toppling of the Berlin wall. Blogbudmsman = objectively pro-communism! Dirty commie.

For me, the best moment of all regarding this issue was when I told my fourteen-year-old the news that the legislation had passed the House of Commons with a 158 - 133 vote.

Him: "What, some MPs voted against it?"

Me: "Yup."

Him: (outraged) "What kind of a moron would vote against it? Why would they care if two people want to get married?"

Good question.

I sometimes think that the word "marriage" should be abandoned by the state as having too many nasty historical connotations. Perhaps an equable solution would be for marriage to be a purely religious ceremony carrying none of the rights or responsibilities of the civil partner bonding ceremony, which might be called domestic partnership or civil unions or fred. Then each religious or social entity could decide that they didn't want to marry people on the basis of their gender, race, color of socks, or whatever else struck their fancy, but no one would be without recognition of their partnership simply because both partners were of the same gender or they were of different races or religions or were in some other way people who various groups don't want to allow to marry.

instead of "fred", i prefer "hose"

as in, "my partner and I have been hosed 11 years now"

if i were in a better mood, i'd swap "snuggle" for "hose"

but i'm not, so i won't.

hat tip to the Spanish govt and the hardworking civil rights workers there for their great success.

as in, "my partner and I have been hosed 11 years now"

As opposed to, "my partner and I have been fredded 11 years now"? Isn't that taking that bloody neckerchief joke a little too far?

d-p-g, double that fourteen-year-old's allowance. And give yourself a raise while you're at it. You're raising a very human child there.

Thanks, Edward. He's a good kid.

And when he asked who voted against it, I had to tell him that it was The Conservative Party of Canada. They've lost his future vote, I can tell you that. Busy-body wankers...

Edward: Yay!

I sometimes think that the word "marriage" should be abandoned by the state as having too many nasty historical connotations. Perhaps an equable solution would be for marriage to be a purely religious ceremony carrying none of the rights or responsibilities of the civil partner bonding ceremony, which might be called domestic partnership or civil unions or fred. Then each religious or social entity could decide that they didn't want to marry people on the basis of their gender, race, color of socks, or whatever else struck their fancy, but no one would be without recognition of their partnership simply because both partners were of the same gender or they were of different races or religions or were in some other way people who various groups don't want to allow to marry.

See, I think this is exactly the wrong approach.

First, it would lend credence to the false claim that same-sex-marriage advocates are out to diminish marriage somehow.

Second, my wife and I don't just want to be in a civil union, or a domestic partnership. We want to be (and thus are) married. If we redefine marriage as a wholly religious institution, that becomes impossible. I find such an outcome unacceptable.

Third, churches can already decline to marry anyone they choose, and will still be able to do so if same-sex-marriage becomes legal. The First Amendment guarantees this. So your suggestion wouldn't even have this supposed benefit.

Well, the anti-gay marriage crowd can't complain about "activist judges," can they?

I bet we'll soon be hearing about Canadian legislators who "cater to special interests" rather than representing the will of the people.

Also, this reminds me of those Canadian elections long ago when everyone, including major American media, were ranking up the Libs and NDP on one side and the Cons and the BQ on the other side to see if 'conservatives' might take the House. And, ignorant non-Canadian that I am, I literally spent hours on the blogosphere trying to explain to people that if you actually look at the issues, the BQ are not in the slightest bit conservative. It was very weird.

Totally off thread, but this explains EVERYTHING. Rove's bookmark to his boss's blog (let it load).

"First, it would lend credence to the false claim that same-sex-marriage advocates are out to diminish marriage somehow."

They'll claim that regardless. There are some people who will never be convinced to release their prejudices and there's no point in trying to appease them.

"Second, my wife and I don't just want to be in a civil union, or a domestic partnership. We want to be (and thus are) married. If we redefine marriage as a wholly religious institution, that becomes impossible. I find such an outcome unacceptable."

Perhaps the Ethical Culture Society would start performing marriages. Personally, I think marriage has way too creepy a history (not to mention too creepy a present: marital rape isn't wholy illegal in some states) to continue. However, I understand that many people feel differently. I'm willing to compromise: how about going with the Dutch solution: make both "marriage" and "civil unions" (where both contracts hold similar benefits and responsibilities) available to all couples and let people chose which contract they prefer?

"Third, churches can already decline to marry anyone they choose, and will still be able to do so if same-sex-marriage becomes legal."

Of course they would. Churches are private institutions not government institutions. They are free to discriminate as much as they please. However, I would claim that if they do decide to discriminate they should lose any government benefits they receive, as they are not open to all people. For example, they shouldn't be allowed to perform ceremonies with legal meaning, such as marriage. If they want to continue to perform a ceremony with purely symbolic meaning (ie make religious marriage similar to baptism), that is fine. But they shouldn't be put in charge of deciding who can and can't enter a contract with legal benefits, such as civil marriage.

So what shall it be - all walls, no walls, some walls, your walls, my walls, their walls, this wall, that wall. Wow, I'm wollowing in it now. I know I don't need any wall, because I make thoughtful, intelligent decisions. Do you trust me?

Grommit--Second, my wife and I don't just want to be in a civil union, or a domestic partnership. We want to be (and thus are) married. If we redefine marriage as a wholly religious institution, that becomes impossible. I find such an outcome unacceptable.

I can see why this is an important symbolic stance, but at the same time, why would government have to go so far as to define marriage as a wholly religious institution? The middle ground would be to have government recognize civil unions and domestic partnerships for everyone as the legal designation, and leave definitions of 'marriage' to the private sphere. It leaves the arguments over marriage in place, but leaves government free to avoid all of this nonsense over a word which is being used to legitimate a social practice by its association with government sanction.

Otherwise this is all just looking for some sort of universal and authentic definition for 'marriage' which is never going to come and just leads to more identity politics.

how about going with the Dutch solution: make both "marriage" and "civil unions" (where both contracts hold similar benefits and responsibilities) available to all couples and let people chose which contract they prefer?

We are more complicated than that ;-). We have "registred partnerships" (civil unions), "civil marriage" and "religious marriage", but the latter can only be performed after the civil ceremony has taken place. Ususally these are two seperate occasions, on different days, with different outfits. But my spouse and I were married in a "civil marriage" by the civil servant, in a church and could have asked a religious person to perform a religious ceremony afterwards. That is more the exception than the rule though, and we only wanted "civil marriage". Marriage for me has no special religious connotations, but it *is* different from registred partnerships in a mainly emotional meaning (mainly, there still are some laws that distinguish between the two but not many)

I really strongly dislike the idea of "leaving marriage to religion" because it implies that only religious people can get really married, really irrevocably commit to each other. I am not validly married according to the laws of any religion except maybe Unitarian Universalism--but that's not the religion I belong to; I'm sort of between religions right now, and even after I convert my marriage would not be valid at the time it occurred according to Reform and Conservative Judaism, and I don't know if it works retroactively. (Orthodox Judaism won't recognize the validity of my conversion.) But, you know, I'm as married as anyone else, according to the laws of the state of New York, and I have the certificate to prove it, and I have no wish at all to give it up, or deny the possibility of being really married to atheists and others belonging to no religion at all.

I agree that it's unacceptable to call what I and my husband have "marriage" and to refuse to give that name to a gay couple whose made the exact same commitment. But why is it okay to give the name of "marriage" only to those who are in perfect conformity with whatever religion's concept of marriage, and deny it to those who are not, for one reason or another? (I'm talking about as a matter of linguistics--I obviously see why it's different as a matter of equal protection law, since granting people "marriage" or not would no longer be a state action.) This is especially true because the clear motivation for this change would be to appease those who don't want gay people in the same club. (by the way--it also won't appease them; it will only make matters worse. More on this below)

There are already perfectly clear words that explain the difference between married according to the laws of New York, Massachusetts, or wherever, and being married according to the laws of the Catholic Church, Moses and Israel, etc.: civil marriage and sacramental, or religious marriage. It would be perfectly clear to people that their church could not be forced to recongize gay marriages if it did not wish to do so, if only Democratic politicians would stop dodging the issue long enough to clearly explain it.

Also: as far as this appeasing the James Dobson crowd--are you kidding me? Here is what the response would be: "see, we told you they were trying to destroy your marriage."

hmm. I see Gromit made the exact same arguments in fewer words.

The "abolish marriage" thing creates all sorts of new problems, and solves absolutely nothing that could not be solved by a clear definition of civil v. religious marriage, and a clear explanation that the First Amendment absolutely prohibits the government from telling churches who they can marry or must marry. (It might be useful to drive home the point that one day you might find the Constitution and the judges who uphold it protecting YOU, and maybe you should think twice before amending the Constitution and impeaching the judges.)

Also, hooray for Canada. That is all.

Well, blogs, let's just decide on a wall-by-wall basis, whaddyasay?

Oh, and by the way, I don't need to trust you in order to think you deserve equal treatment under the law.

All this led me to google and find this, though I'm not sure who to recommend it to.

"I really strongly dislike the idea of "leaving marriage to religion" because it implies that only religious people can get really married, really irrevocably commit to each other."

Why can't a civil union or domestic partnership or whatever you want to call it also represent a declaration of deep committment between two people? The word "marriage" has a lot more history behind it, of course, but that is, IMO, one of the problems with it. I'm not married to one particular person primarily because I want to be his partner (which I am, and am recognized as such by the state of New York), not his property, which I traditionally would be if I were married to him. Yeah, I know a lot of it has changed: women are no longer required to vow to obey their husbands or give up their names and they are allowed to continue to own their own property after marriage, but the old wrongs still resonate to me. Also, there are still some strange laws connected with marriage. For example, it is legal for a 40 year old man to sleep with a 15 year old girl if he marries her first. Finally, I don't see marriage as any guarentee that a relationship will last. Half of marriages end in divorce. All of which leads me to say "marriage, heh, who needs it."*

* I know, of course, that our society is not really going to give up marriage as an institution any time in the near future. And I do respect people's desire to be married, to join in the positive side of the long history of marriage. The one argument I don't have any respect for is the argument that only members of a select group (ie heterosexuals) are good enough for marriage and everyone else should make due with a bonding ceremony somehow defined as lesser.

Blogbudsman -- G K Chesterton had a much better and more elegant defense of walls in his book Orthodoxy, and it didn't sound like he was on drugs at all when he wrote it. Unfortunately, it was a defense in the context of Catholicism, not Liberal Democracy.

You may have all the walls you want in your religion, but you may only have those walls which are deemed good and solid by the electorate in a liberal democracy. These change over time -- witness, for example, the walls of slavery and misogyny that have been attacked and dismantled in your own country. In time, the wall on which is scrawled "no two men shall live together" will be as laughable as the wall which used to read "a woman's place is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen."

I'm sorry if you can't deal with that kind of change, but in all honesty, that's your problem, not ours. I'm sure you'll survive.

Here in New Zealand, we have both civil unions and marriage. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can have civil unions. At the moment only opposite-sex couples can have marriage.

I am hoping that eventually we can get over the whole "no, marriage is too precious and special to let those people near it!" thing.

In the meantime, I am happy that people I know can have a civil union, including one opposite-sex couple who didn't want marriage.

So far the sky has not fallen.

So far the sky has not fallen.

Just you wait. First you let homosexuals marry, next thing you know, we're all boffing box turtles.

How will you prevent catching the gay? Who but a herpetologist will be able to discern the difference between a male and female turtle?

Civilization is doomed. I blame Nietzsche.

All this led me to google and find this, though I'm not sure who to recommend it to.

I wasn't aware of the attempt to resurrect the Wallbanger, but my friend and I did our own little mini-revival a few years back. He'd just written a paper for a business class on the Galliano advertising campaign of the late 60s and he was eager to try out the various recipes they'd suggested. Turns out that a Wallbanger is ok, but a Galliano sour is even better: cleaner and crisper on the palate.

I'm sorry if you can't deal with that kind of change, but in all honesty, that's your problem, not ours. I'm sure you'll survive.

Allow me to toss out a few thoughts. I should first note that I strongly believe that not permitting same sex marriages is not only wrong, but deeply abhorrent, but I'd like to try to suggest some points from the other side.

One aspect of gay liberation is the notion of 'Hey, we're here, get used to it.' I'm sure it is very liberating and I understand why people are drawn to it. But on another level, rubbing people's noses in it (as it were) leads to the kind of reaction that we see with bbm. I think this is why you also get the counter proposals like 'ok, we'll define marriage as only religious' (I disagree with this for the same reasons that some have given above)

The observation I would make would be that there is some sort of line there and perhaps, if it could be found and followed, things wouldn't be so bad. This is pure conjecture, and one could argue that compromise on the issue of how people choose to live their lives and express their personality is odious. Again, I don't know, but I throw it out there for general consideration.

There is a comedy variety show here that has a recurring sketch called 'hard gay man', which consists of a man running around in downtown Tokyo, dressed in leather briefs, chains, etc. acting sort of like a super hero/boy scout on speed, getting in front of people and thrusting his hips around, screaming 'Ha-do gay man desu! Wooo-woooo!' before imparting his point about public manners. The last one I saw was him telling people not to toss their trash away, but put it in a garbage container. I had to stop watching it when our 6 year old started running around the house imitating it.

Now, if you are sympathetic, the sketch is hilarious, but if you aren't, well, it's like a sharp stick in the eye. (I should note that there is a niche for really camp gay men on Japanese TV, but I don't think it is very acceptable in your company or government office, which is another story) I'm not really sure how we bridge that gap, but I think that it will have to be at some point.

lj--

Wow--that's fascinating.

I mean about the comedy sketch. It does not fit my (hopelessly ignorant) stereotypes about Japanese TV.

Also fascinating that I turn out to know several words of Japanese, e.g. "ha-do", "gay", and "wooo-wooo!".

(This last being the Japanese word for "wooo-wooo!", I assume.)

lj: But on another level, rubbing people's noses in it (as it were) leads to the kind of reaction that we see with bbm.

FOR THE STRAIGHT FOLKS WHO DON'T MIND GAYS BUT WISH THEY WEREN'T SO BLATANT

You know, some people got a lot of nerve. Sometimes I don't believe the things I see and hear.

Have you met the woman who's shocked by two women kissing and, in the same breath, tells you she is pregnant? But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Or this straight couple sits next to you in a movie and you can't hear the dialogue because of the sound effects. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

And the woman in your office spends an entire lunch hour talking about her new bikini drawers and how much her husband likes them. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Or the "hip" chick in your class rattling like a mile a minute, while you're trying to get stoned in the john, about the camping trip she took with her musician boyfriend. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

You go into a public bathroom and all over the walls there's John loves Mary, Janice digs Richard, Pepe loves Delores, etc., etc. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Or your go to an amusement park and there's a tunnel of love with pictures of straights painted on the front and grinning couples are coming in and out. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place. Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television every day and night, every place--even in gay bars--and they want gay men and woman to go and hide in the closet.

So to you straight folks I say, "Sure, I'll go if you go too. But, I'm polite. So, after you.
-Pat Parker


Here are some screen captures of 'HGM' from one of his first appearance. A quick translation for meaning goes something like 'What? There are some children crying over there. This looks like a job for..... H G M!' (runs over to cheer the kids up) Really is a scream.

Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place. Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television every day and night, every place--even in gay bars--and they want gay men and woman to go and hide in the closet.

I suppose, but it's not that I want gay men and women to go hide in the closet, it's that I don't want to see them parade on the street in leather and chains. I feel the same way about heterosexuals parading in similar garb. I think that the HGM sketch is hilarious, but at the same time, there is a certain squemishness on my part (which is why it is so funny) Trying to figure out that squemishness is the main reason behind my comment and you can argue that because I feel squemish, I therefore have some problems with homosexuality, but I think that's done by not stopping to consider what I am trying to point out.

Perhaps this is the measure of discrimination, that gays can't behave the same way as straights. Yet if I see a straight couple locked in a passionate embrace in front of me at McDonalds and I give a disgusted look, that's not a problem, but if I make the same face when a gay couple does it, I'm expressing some deep discriminatory impulse? I don't think so.

Perhaps I'm in the closet. My wife and I don't kiss in public, don't whisper sweet nothings when we are sitting on park benches, don't gaze longingly into each others eyes when we sit down to a meal in a restaurant. Affection is not something we have to wave like a red flag so that everyone knows we are in love. Perhaps this is unfair, because the fact that we don't is a sign that discrimination exists. Well, to paraphrase, it's always been there, you might as well get used to it. I realize that is not a very helpful comment, but I don't know why when the comment is referring to the presence of homosexuals, it somehow becomes a phrase of enlightenment.

I also think arguing that the kind of behavior one sees at an amusement park in the tunnel of love is the norm of behavior we want to see everywhere is precisely and example of the problem that I am trying to get at.

Perhaps society makes some homosexuals feel so unsure of themselves that they are compelled to behave in a manner that is particularly confrontational so I should be complaining about society rather than merely noting the dynamic. But, like the boot camp for gay children thread, if you fail to understand why holding someone's discomfort up as proof that they have failed in moral decency, I don't know if you will understand why people aren't rushing to embrace your positions.

Perhaps I'm in the closet. My wife and I don't kiss in public, don't whisper sweet nothings when we are sitting on park benches, don't gaze longingly into each others eyes when we sit down to a meal in a restaurant.

No, LJ, you are not in the closet.

You would be in the closet if you worried for months - even years - about mentioning to anyone that your partner was a woman, let alone that you considered her your wife, because after all, "straight marriage" is just an imitation of the real thing, and indeed, for you to use the word "marriage" about your relationship with her is considered confrontational - it's a stick in the eye to all those who don't think straight people deserve marriage.

You would be in the closet if you thought twice every time you mentioned that the person you live with has a child whom you consider to be your son, because - since you are a man - that means you could only have had a child by having a heterosexual relationship with some woman, and you wouldn't want to be public about that.

You would be in the closet if you used careful circumlocutions to avoid referring to the gender of your partner, hoping that - without your actually lying - people would think that your partner was a man, because mentioning she's a woman would reveal you were heterosexual.

You might be out of the closet on the Internet, under your pseud, but still careful at work not to have a photo of your partner on your desk, to talk about "the person I share an apartment with", or as "someone" (as in "I went to the movies with someone on Friday night", or "I went out to dinner with someone on Saturday" or "someone I was talking with the other day") because, if you mentioned you were living with a woman whom you think of as your wife (perhaps you got "married" in one of those countries where mixed-sex marriage has been legalized) you might lose your job, or get harassed by your co-workers or your boss, or they'd start making "straight jokes" about you when you were out of earshot.

You might be out of the closet at work, on the Internet, to your close friends, and still not ever have told your parents and family (or hers) why you still live with a woman, that you consider her child to be your child too, that she and you are a couple, and ought to be treated by your family as part of the family - because you are afraid that if you stop lying to your parents about who you are and who you love, they will feel like failures as parents, they will wonder where they went wrong, and you will be excluded from any family gathering that includes children for the next decade in case you molest them. Your "wife" will never be included in any invitations, of course.

No, LJ, you are not in the closet. You've never had to be in the closet. You have no idea what being in the closet means.

And finally: if you fail to understand why holding someone's discomfort up as proof that they have failed in moral decency,

LJ, I like you. I really do. But yes: when someone decides their own comfort is far more important to them than other people's personal freedom, I do think they have failed in moral decency. And what is merely exasperating when it comes from a stranger, or threatening when it comes from a manager, is outrageous when it comes from a parent to a child. Which is why I got more upset on the boot camp thread, where you put parental comfort above everything else, and am merely exasperated/amused here.

But yes: when someone decides their own comfort is far more important to them than other people's personal freedom, I do think they have failed in moral decency.

I don't care about the gay bit, but I don't like people fondling in public no matter wether they fondle the same sex or not (Handholding is ok, french kissing is not done in public). My spouse is more tactile than I am and we had some trouble agreeing to a behavioural standard in public that we both feel comfortable with :)

I read LJ's comment more as if he had a general dislike for some kind of behaviour/clothing, but I might be wrong. I don't really like people dressing in lots of leather/latex and chains unless there is a special occassion (gay parades are usually funny, people intend to overdo), but that is taste I think.

In "my circles" (sports, friends, work) there is not really much difference between the people who are gay and the people who are not to be honest.

Katherine,

But, you know, I'm as married as anyone else, according to the laws of the state of New York, and I have the certificate to prove it, and I have no wish at all to give it up, or deny the possibility of being really married to atheists and others belonging to no religion at all.

Nothing plays more into the paranoia of Christian Fundamentalists than statements like these.

This is a tacit acknowledgement that the Government is somehow obligated to take on the roles typically served by Religion in the lives of athiests and the non-religious. That's nuts, and I say that as a completely non-religious person.

In the same way my Christian friends believe people are not truly married unless the marriage is administered by the Church and vows given before God, do you believe people cannot be "really married" unless the State signs off?

Gromit,

Second, my wife and I don't just want to be in a civil union, or a domestic partnership. We want to be (and thus are) married. If we redefine marriage as a wholly religious institution, that becomes impossible. I find such an outcome unacceptable.

If the Government stops giving out marriages,it does not become redefined as a wholly religious institution, but rather a completely non-political one, which sounds kind of nice to me.

If the Government stops giving out marriages,it does not become redefined as a wholly religious institution, but rather a completely non-political one, which sounds kind of nice to me.

They can't, because there are a lot of laws and rights involved (family law, inheritance, taxes, etc.)

They can't, because there are a lot of laws and rights involved (family law, inheritance, taxes, etc.)

I meant in the context of the Government gives out civil unions or recognized partnerships or whatever, but does not give out marriages.

Although I'm not convinced most of the issues you refer to couldn't be addressed within existing contract law just fine, were the Government to completely give it all up.

But yes: when someone decides their own comfort is far more important to them than other people's personal freedom, I do think they have failed in moral decency. And what is merely exasperating when it comes from a stranger, or threatening when it comes from a manager, is outrageous when it comes from a parent to a child. Which is why I got more upset on the boot camp thread, where you put parental comfort above everything else, and am merely exasperated/amused here.

Jes, you probably know me as well as anyone can know someone else through anonymous comments in a blog. And if you do, I think you might realize that to suggest that this is something I am doing because I enjoy my own comfort or because I am amused (exasperated is a bit difficult because it's not really clear what the agent of the exasperation is) is not really fair. Do you believe that Edward was taking the position that he did because he was concerned about his comfort?

I thought that I was pretty clear that I was talking about societal trends and how we as a society deal with this, specifically, dealing the notion of 'we're here, get used to it'. How I personally deal with it in individual situations depends on those situations.

Let me try and draw a parallel, though this is not to claim the same degree of discrimination by any means. Here in Japan, you basically have two poles as a foreigner, which is to try to out-Japanese the Japanese or to take the Japanese at their word and become the stereotypical foreigner. Neither of those two poles is very satisfactory, and if you map that to the gay experience, you have the two poles of being deeply buried in the closet and being in the face of everyone.

I believe that though the civil rights movement of the 60's was a success, that success set many of the conditions that we find ourselves in today. This is not to claim that the civil rights activists were wrong in what they did or that they were unjustified. I also believe, very deeply, that civil rights for gays is the next frontier, and how we resolve that will dictate the world that my children live in. It is tempting to suggest that it is the next battlefield, but with any battlefield, someone has to be defeated and within any defeat lies the seeds of further conflict.

I am confident that the side of good will win and in this case, I have no doubt which side is good. But how we manage change is going to be vital. If you want to adduce from that that I am amused by all this or that I value parent-child relations above all else, that is your privilege, but I think that you are wrong. We simply cannot have a zero sum game, because all it takes is a small group or even just one person who is disaffected to wreak havoc on our society. There is a parallel to be drawn to the situation in Iraq, but I will leave that for another time ;^)

Jonas Cord: In the same way my Christian friends believe people are not truly married unless the marriage is administered by the Church and vows given before God, do you believe people cannot be "really married" unless the State signs off?

Not in the least "in the same way", Jonas. For religious people, marriage may have religious connotations. They may believe they are not "truly" married in the sight of God unless they undergo a specific ceremony with a specific priest. This ceremony may or may not constitute legal marriage: a couple may consider themselves married in the sight of God without being legally wed.

Legal marriage is a function of the state. Period. You do not need to have faith in the state in the same way as a religious person has faith in their God: the legal mechanism of marriage exists as a fact, with or without faith, and a couple who have not followed (or are unable to follow) the legal requirements of the state in which they live are not legally married.

If the Government stops giving out marriages,it does not become redefined as a wholly religious institution, but rather a completely non-political one, which sounds kind of nice to me.

The decision to ban legal marriage would in itself be a political one, and a political decision to appease religionists, moreover.

And why should people have to stop calling marriage "marriage" just because a bunch of religionists object to it?

LJ

I understand the kind of reaction you mean, but in all honesty I have no truck with it. Whether it happens next year or in ten years time, Gay Marriage is happening in the States as inexorably as the freeing of the slaves and giving the vote to women. People may get pissed off that Teh Gheys are comparing their own issues to these things, but that is genuinely their problem, just as it was the problem of the racists who had to deal with the fact that black people suddenly turned into human beings. They can make it our problem for years and years but still, they'll die eventually. Not that it will take that long, but it really is inevitable.

My suggestion is that they work out some way of dealing with it, possibly by taking a chill pill and thinking long and hard about all the ways in which two men having sex have failed to affect their lives up to now. Of course, if they'd rather have an aneurism or just be grumpy, miserable old coots, that also remains their problem.

Racist, sexist, whatever kind of bigot you are: fact is that the liberal agenda on this thing wins in democracies where the white-haired grumps eventually have to give way to sheer force of public opinion. Public Opinion is already changing on this thing. It'll be changed fully in a decade. The only option for the bigots is to deal with it, or move to Saudi Arabia.

LJ: Do you believe that Edward was taking the position that he did because he was concerned about his comfort?

I decline to answer questions about my opinion of Edward's position unless you clarify which position of Edward's you meant. Sorry, I just think that guessing what you meant and then answering on that basis about someone who is actually here on this blog is likely to cause more trouble and heartache than it's worth. (Also, it would be preferable for Edward to indicate that he has no objection to you and me discussing what we think of his position, whatever position we're talking about.)

That said: I think you might realize that to suggest that this is something I am doing because I enjoy my own comfort

Um - what else? You seem to object to being made uncomfortable, and you were arguing on the boot camp thread that a parent's feelings about their child being gay take vast priority over their offspring's feelings about their parent's rejection of who and what they are.

Neither of those two poles is very satisfactory, and if you map that to the gay experience, you have the two poles of being deeply buried in the closet and being in the face of everyone.

And being "in the face of everyone" - that is, behaving just like a heterosexual takes for granted they can at any time - is the right course. It's the hardest - most LGBT people (including me!) will admit there are times when we just get scared and keep silent.

I know that every time I am faced with the choice of keeping silent or being out (I do not lie) I am always, always tempted to keep silent, when I don't know whether the person I am speaking to will turn out to be homophobic - even if it doesn't matter if they are, even if they have no power over me but to mutter a few nasty words. It's always hard, even though it's got easier over the 20+ years I've been doing it, to say something in a friendly, casual way when there is always a risk that the person I say it to may at that point turn hostile. Not because of anything I've done to them, but because they hate queers, and they have no qualms about showing it, because they have never encountered any social disapproval of that hatred.

Open hostility hasn't happened to me very often (not in real life: I find it's very hard for them to be openly hostile to a nice polite lady who is smiling at them in a friendly way as if I've just told them something they ought to be pleased about), but I've had nasty messages passed on to me, I've lost a couple of friends who wouldn't accept that I wasn't ever prepared to lie about this, and some other things have happened that I don't really want to talk about, even now.

But I still do it. And I do it because one of the most certain ways of promoting change is for straight people who think they've never met a gay person to find out that yes, they have. Their bank clerk. Their bank manager. The person they asked for directions. The technical writer in the next cube. The English teacher at their son's school. The headteacher of their daughter's school. Their next-door neighbor. Just ordinary normal people just like themselves who happen to be gay.

Jesurgislac,

Not in the least "in the same way", Jonas. For religious people, marriage may have religious connotations. They may believe they are not "truly" married in the sight of God unless they undergo a specific ceremony with a specific priest. This ceremony may or may not constitute legal marriage: a couple may consider themselves married in the sight of God without being legally wed.

You missed my point. There are people that derive satisfaction from having their marriage legitimatized by their church, as they see the church as having the authority to bestow legitimacy. Katherine seems to do precisely the same thing, but with the State in place of the church and God.

Legal marriage is a function of the state. Period.

That's an inherently conservative position, as it was not always the case, and I don't think there exists much reason for it to persist other than preserving an arbitrary tradition. Being an honest Devil's advocate here, I don't see any aspect of marriage that could not be handled by consentual and binding contracts between the concerned parties.

You do not need to have faith in the state in the same way as a religious person has faith in their God: the legal mechanism of marriage exists as a fact, with or without faith, and a couple who have not followed (or are unable to follow) the legal requirements of the state in which they live are not legally married.

As I've said, the legal aspects can be handled by contract. If someone is unhappy with that solution, I tend to think that occurs for varying moral reasons. But I don't think the fact that one is legally married has any bearing on the morality of a marriage at all. Are my friends who are gay not actually married? They are to me, regardless of what the Government says.

If you think that the law has the power to grant moral authority, the secular is becoming rather religious. Although to be fair, the existence of the Government is not a fact, but rather a matter of consent and faith to an extent.

The decision to ban legal marriage would in itself be a political one, and a political decision to appease religionists, moreover.

Of course it would be a political decision to do so. But you're not banning anything, just saying the Government has nothing to say in terms of defining people's marriage arrangements, taking the politics out of this argument once and for all. I'm not a religionist, and I wouldn't mind this happening, so I don't think you're being fair.

And why should people have to stop calling marriage "marriage" just because a bunch of religionists object to it?

Anybody can call anything they want anything, of course. I think you enjoy having this argument too much to let me abolish the premise ;)

You seem to object to being made uncomfortable, and you were arguing on the boot camp thread that a parent's feelings about their child being gay take vast priority over their offspring's feelings about their parent's rejection of who and what they are.

I just told you that it wasn't that this was a question of being uncomfortable and the notion that I was arguing for a 'vast' priority is a misrepresentation of what I wrote. I also noted that I was responding to the following statement.
I'm sorry if you can't deal with that kind of change, but in all honesty, that's your problem, not ours.

I'm sorry, but I've found that other people's problems tend to become my problems, if not in a specific way, often in a general way.

I certainly don't want to drag Edward into this, but anyone interested can look at the thread and decide for themselves.

As for "being "in the face of everyone"" being the best route, does that mean that you are going to be like MLK or Malcolm X?

You seem to suggest that somehow, I don't know gay people and I don't think they are normal. With all due respect, that's an mistaken assumption, but I would prefer not to go into detail about my experiences on that front in order to convince you.

And given your assumptions, you might think that this is ironic, but I would suggest that this means that gay marriage is more of an imperative rather than less. Because, though you may meet a lot of gay people, if we (by that, I mean people in society) don't see them forming meaningful family units and interacting on that level of parent and child, they are always going to be peripheral. If gays choose to make themselves into something apart from everyone else (cf. you can never understand what it is like meme of 'you have no idea what it means to be in the closet'), well, you will be successful. I don't think it is a good thing, but I feel certain you will succeed.

Sartre said something to the effect that calling a Jew intelligent is just as racist as saying they are all greedy. The question is how does one show people that gays are normal, just like everyone else. This is unfair because it demands that you behave more normally than others. While I agree that this is unfair, I'm not sure what can be done. However, you seem to be certain that the way to prove you are normal is to shout louder. I do think your mileage may vary.

Jonas, there are attributes of marriage that have impacts on thrid parties, like spousal privilege and tenancy-by-the-entireties, that private parties do not have to power to confer upon themselves. Or visitation privileges in a hospital. You and your SO can agree that one can always visit the other in any hospital, but that doesn't mean that a hospital can't enforce a legally-married-SO-only policy.

The libertarian answer is 'change hospitals.' The practicalities of doing this are going to vary from situation to situation.

Thought of another: the presumption that during the term of a marriage, any children born are the issue of the father. Again you can agree with your SO that such a presumption should apply, but after you're gone, that agreement wouldn't bind one of your children from contesting the parentage of another.

(Yes, that sounds pretty ugly. Fact is, we have a legal system because people can get pretty ugly).

CharleyCarp,

Jonas, there are attributes of marriage that have impacts on thrid parties, like spousal privilege and tenancy-by-the-entireties, that private parties do not have to power to confer upon themselves. Or visitation privileges in a hospital.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here, and you make good points. Tenancy-by-the-entireties and hospital visitation, through revision of contract law and hospital regulation, I think could be reasonably approximated. Spousal privileged communication, however, could not.

Again you can agree with your SO that such a presumption should apply, but after you're gone, that agreement wouldn't bind one of your children from contesting the parentage of another.

You mean contesting an inheritance, for instance? Sure, but again, if inheritances were exclusively governed by wills and contracts, then I don't think it matters.

(Yes, that sounds pretty ugly. Fact is, we have a legal system because people can get pretty ugly).

I'm only arguing that maybe it's not necessary for all marriages and families to get ugly under exactly the same rules ;-)

Charlie--...there are attributes of marriage that have impacts on thrid parties, like spousal privilege and tenancy-by-the-entireties, that private parties do not have to power to confer upon themselves. Or visitation privileges in a hospital. You and your SO can agree that one can always visit the other in any hospital, but that doesn't mean that a hospital can't enforce a legally-married-SO-only policy.

I think that most of the responses to my, Jonas', and Dianne's arguments are doing the same thing that the 'defense of marriage' people are doing: they are conflating civil and religious marriage and arguing over who gets to control the institution. (Thanks to Katherine for at least making the distinction between the two). What I am arguing here is that all of the legal rights recognized by the state which are now associated with 'marriage' be transferred to something like a 'civil union' or 'domestic corporation' status. This does not in any way abolish marriage, it just separates marital status from legal privilege and makes it so that the government is not in the business of arbitrating cultural distinctions. It would also mean that two (or more) people living in a totally non-sexual cooperative relationship could also share these benefits--say, a brother and sister who live in the same house with a child in the household. Why should they not receive the same benefits that these other groups receive by being legally associated?

If atheists or gays or straights or mimes wish to get married, then they can find some public official--either religious or secular--to marry them and they can go on having the same culture wars and identity politics they have been involved in for the last umpteen years (fights I am up for, but would rather see the rights conferred sooner than the fight will end). In the mean time, they all get the benefits of insurance and visitation and power of attorney that used to come with 'marriage' as part of this new legal category and we can stop using the law to legislate culture.

No abolition, just a shifting of legal privilege from one status to another. I get that the fight itself has importance, but I don't believe that benefits should be held hostage in that fight.

Again, peripherally related:

Sandra Day O'Connor just retired.

lj: As for "being "in the face of everyone"" being the best route, does that mean that you are going to be like MLK or Malcolm X?

You obviously didn't read what I wrote.

I do my best to behave as if I had the heterosexual privilege you take for granted. I don't, of course, but behaving as if I did - as if all gay people do - means that I'm "in the face of everyone" - just like straight people take for granted that they can be "in the face of everyone". Now, how you get from that to "being like Malcolm X or MLK" I do not know.

You seem to suggest that somehow, I don't know gay people and I don't think they are normal.

I have no idea how many gay people you know, and almost certainly, neither do you. But from what you're saying, whether or not you think gay people are normal, you certainly don't believe we should be allowed the same privileges you take for granted, since you appear to have just told me that for a gay person to be as open about their sexual orientation as any straight person expects to be is "shouting louder" and is "being like Malcolm X or MLK".

nous: What I am arguing here is that all of the legal rights recognized by the state which are now associated with 'marriage' be transferred to something like a 'civil union' or 'domestic corporation' status.

Yes, but why? Why not instead declare marriage to be a legally-recognized state only. If religionists wish to go through an additional religious ceremony, their union can be referred to as "religious union" or "religious corporation". It's the religionists (some of them!) who are making all the fuss about refusing to share the term "marriage": well, if they don't want to share it, if they think that marriage doesn't exist once same-sex couples can be married, let's take tme at their word: they can have a "religious union", and everyone else can be married.

Jess--Why not instead declare marriage to be a legally-recognized state only.

Because, as stated above, I think that the privileges which accrue to marriage should not be limited to couples in some sort of governmentally recognized romantic pair-bonding. I cannot see why a brother and sister, or two or more unmarried women with children, etc. should not be able to decide that they wish to form a domestic corporation with the same rights as currently accrue to marriage in order to gain access to insurance and other rights which would benefit them. The rights which accrue to marriage are all property and power-of-attorney related and have next to nothing to do with romance or sexuality, and yet the affect of the word itself is always invoked in precisely the latter terms. Remove that link and suddenly we have new ways to empower people and give them access to health care and ways to protect their property and probate, etc. That is the crux of this.

Jes, I think you're mistaking a strategic argument for a normative one. I've no doubt that LJ would be most happy with a world that was entirely neutral wrt sexual orientation. The question that LJ is addressing (AFAICT) is how best to get there. You may disagree with him as far as what methods would be best and what interim compromises are reasonable, but that's no reason to accuse him of having a different goal.

nous: Because, as stated above, I think that the privileges which accrue to marriage should not be limited to couples in some sort of governmentally recognized romantic pair-bonding.

So you feel that any two or more people ought to have the right to form a "domestic corporation" with the rights (for example) to testify against each other in court, to inherit from each other without paying inheritence taxes, to have "partner rights" to each other's pensions, to have spousal rights to employment health insurance, to acquire immigration rights into the US?

It's an interesting idea, nous, but you really won't get anywhere with it with the world as it is. For starters, if any group of people could suddenly acquire the right to refuse to testify against each other in court just by signing up to a domestic partnership, I think that the Family would take on a whole new meaning in organized crime court cases. ;-)

For starters, if any group of people could suddenly acquire the right to refuse to testify against each other in court just by signing up to a domestic partnership, I think that the Family would take on a whole new meaning in organized crime court cases. ;-)

True, but then this is the sort of thing that should be a matter of debate, rather than the unreflexive rhetorical excesses of the 'romance legitimators' on either side. So defend each right on its merits. This particular right has historical legitimacy, but what purpose does it serve? To preserve the corporation in the face of one member's crimes. I'm sure there is a rework possible here.

Besides, how many abuses have the incorporation laws spawned. Why not give domestic arrangements some counter-punch?

Maybe a bit of a stray from the original topic, but an interesting thought experiment. I can't help it. I'm a science fiction critic. I gotta stretch those paradigms. :)

nous: Maybe a bit of a stray from the original topic, but an interesting thought experiment. I can't help it. I'm a science fiction critic. I gotta stretch those paradigms. :)

It is a fascinating stretch of the paradigms, and if you were a science-fiction writer, I'd be telling you to write it!

This discussion offers an interesting view of entropy in action.

We start with the basic issue of legally-recognized same-sex marriage. Opposition to same-sex marriage is obdurate, intransigent, and wholely based on religious attitudes.

(Yes, wholely. Because there are simply no other arguments that hold up to the slightest objective analysis. "Traditional values" are just religious attitudes trying to pass themselves off as eternal truths.)

And what happens?

One proposition is to bifurcate "marriage" into two separate categories: a commonweal "civil union" open to anyone and legally recognized, and a religious one, the terms and conditions of which are set by whatever religious institution you belong to, and which is not legally recognized.

Another proposition is to "allow" same-sex couples to enter into a mountain of contracts that more-or-less duplicates the terms and conditions of matrimony. Each contract would be sui generis, entail many hours of legal work, and cost thousands of dollars. And that doesn't even include the legal mess which will result if the Contract Marriage doesn't work out.

So, in order to get around opposition to same-sex marriage that has no standing outside its own theology (and therefore is not a legitimate factor in determining public policy), we come up with proposals that upheave the idea of "marriage" far more complicatedly than just legalizing same-sex marriage, with far more unanticipated consequences than just legalizing same-sex marriage, and that is far more burdensome to families than just legalizing same-sex marriage.

It's like you need to cross a tiny stream but don't want to get your feet wet, so you reclassify the stream as a "river," bring in huge industrial machines to widen it into one, solicit competing bids to build a bridge over the now-raging torrent, and wind up building an enormous complicated suspension drawbridge over what used to be an inoffensive little stream.

Hey, I've got an idea! Why not just legalize same-sex marriage?

CaseyL,

We start with the basic issue of legally-recognized same-sex marriage. Opposition to same-sex marriage is obdurate, intransigent, and wholely based on religious attitudes.

It's a moral question: who may be married and who may not be. I think that once same-sex marriage is widespread, that will likely be the end of it's inclusionary expansion. While Polygamists may come knocking at the door, the vast majority of people, left and right, will be completely uninterested in letting them in. Why? Moral Disapproval.

In the meantime, we have those who morally disapprove of gay marriage. I don't think they're on the winning side of history, but I don't begrudge them the right to hold that moral opinion and attempt to codify it into law. If that's wrong, than we'd better have State-sanctioned marriage as loosey-goosey as Nous' marriage-corporation plan. People aren't interested in what the rational way to structure marriage is, they're interested in the moral way. Those of us who support gay marriage do so because we morally approve of it. Saying it's rational is a bit disingenous - I'm not sure the idea of marriage is rational to begin with, but I'm not knocking it.

One proposition is to bifurcate "marriage" into two separate categories: a commonweal "civil union" open to anyone and legally recognized, and a religious one, the terms and conditions of which are set by whatever religious institution you belong to, and which is not legally recognized.

Which is a rather sound, sensible proposal.

Another proposition is to "allow" same-sex couples to enter into a mountain of contracts that more-or-less duplicates the terms and conditions of matrimony. Each contract would be sui generis, entail many hours of legal work, and cost thousands of dollars. And that doesn't even include the legal mess which will result if the Contract Marriage doesn't work out.

I'm playing the devil's advocate on that one, just because I think opposition to the notion is way too reflexive. Meanwhile, I'm sure churches and secular organizations alike would be drafting those contracts to make available freely to those who share their beliefs.

So, in order to get around opposition to same-sex marriage that has no standing outside its own theology (and therefore is not a legitimate factor in determining public policy)

By this standard, say hello to your new companions in the institution of marriage: the polygamists and the incestuous.

...we come up with proposals that upheave the idea of "marriage" far more complicatedly than just legalizing same-sex marriage, with far more unanticipated consequences than just legalizing same-sex marriage, and that is far more burdensome to families than just legalizing same-sex marriage.

I don't think that the idea of marriage is upheaved by having it's definition at the discretion of those involved. The civil union proposal makes a great deal of sense, what are the unanticipated consequences of that, precisely? That we won't have to argue on political blogs anymore about this, perhaps?

I was writing a comment somewhat like Casey's and am glad I ditched it, because it's well put.

Libertarians like to think that contract will work, but they're living in a science fiction world with holes. The only way that hospitals, airlines, and everyone else can be compelled to honor the contracts with which you would replace marriage is by the power of the state.

The only way any contracts have any meaning is because they are enforceable with the power of the state.

Now I'm not saying that I object to a comprehensive re-thinking of the privileges and responbilities that inhere in marriage -- but then I'm not the one going batshit about 'judges redefining marriage.' (I don't think they are, if that's not obvious).

We all know where this is going to end: 100 years from now, the thought that people were upset about allowing same-sex couples to marry will be incomprehensible. Somes places will make the change legislatively, some judicially (just as Massachusetts abolished slavery judicially). Eventually, a federal court is going to find that the 14th amendment requires that states extend the benefits that inhere in marriage to similarly committed same-sex couples. The only question is how much blood is going to get spilled between now and then.

I'm guessing that with the upcoming nomination fight, the answer is 'plenty.'

Jonas: The civil union proposal makes a great deal of sense, what are the unanticipated consequences of that, precisely?

Why remove the right to be married from everyone just because a few religionists object to it? Why should the minority who feel that their religious beliefs should be the law of the land get to dictate to everyone else?

You missed my point. There are people that derive satisfaction from having their marriage legitimatized by their church, as they see the church as having the authority to bestow legitimacy. Katherine seems to do precisely the same thing, but with the State in place of the church and God.

No, I got your point: you tried to equate the reality of legal recognition with the (no offense intended) unreality of religious faith. I pointed out to you that this is an unreal equation. You ignored my point, and I'd like you to answer it: why are you equating the reality of legal recognition with the unconcreteness of religious faith?

Jonas--In the meantime, we have those who morally disapprove of gay marriage. I don't think they're on the winning side of history, but I don't begrudge them the right to hold that moral opinion and attempt to codify it into law. If that's wrong, than we'd better have State-sanctioned marriage as loosey-goosey as Nous' marriage-corporation plan.

Exactly. Every argument for or against is contingent and full of inconsistencies. Moral certitude just makes some of those inconsistencies less important than others.

nous: Every argument for or against is contingent and full of inconsistencies.

What are the "inconsistencies" you think you've spotted in legalizing same-sex marriage?

Jesurgislac,

Why remove the right to be married from everyone just because a few religionists object to it? Why should the minority who feel that their religious beliefs should be the law of the land get to dictate to everyone else?

Because I haven't seen an philosophically consistant way one can administer Marriage through the Government with out resorting to one sort or another of good old-fashioned subjective, moral preferences. It's either that, or the free-for-all, which next to no one wants.

You ignored my point, and I'd like you to answer it: why are you equating the reality of legal recognition with the unconcreteness of religious faith?

Reality? Are you kidding? Legal recognition does not make reality. A couple weeks ago, it was the Puerto Rican Day Parade here in NYC. The Mayor issued a proclamation, as is tradition that everyone in NYC was, in their honor, "Puerto Rican for the day." A nice sentiment, to be certain. But it's not reality, not in any meaningful sense.

I'm being a bit silly, but the central point is true. The US Government did not recognize Blacks as human beings for quite some time. Did that make it the reality? In the way they were treated under law, yes. In reality? Absolutely not. They were human beings, irrespective of legal recognition of it.

This reminds me of any argument once I had online with someone who seemed to believe that minors, since they are not legally considered able to consent to sex, are in reality incapable of consent. The consent concept is merely a way the law has at looking at an issue, and does not define reality.

If my ridiculous abolish-marriage plan were be adopted, that does not mean that millions of people would suddenly not be "really married." Nothing, other than legal issues, would change. There would still be the same people, with the same problems, and the (hopefully) same love they had before.

Governments do not make reality - weren't Bush Admin officials rightly berated for saying something to that effect a while back?

Jonas already pointed these out. It lies in a moral argument (equality for all couples in committed relationships) coupled with a denial of the legitimacy of religious objections to that moral stance and a legitimation of the areligious position while not addressing the question of why, if we are to allow same-sex marriage, the polygamists and incest promoters are not to be allowed to share in it as well.

I'm arguing for an anti-foundational position which allows both the atheist and the theist their own moral positions without inscribing either as the default mode for the law-of-the-land. It acknowledges both the Burkeian cry to preserve historical tradition and the Mill plea to allow space for social experimentation.

Not that I have any illusion that this position has any hope of ever being adopted. People like inflicting their certitude on others too much.

Jonas: Because I haven't seen an philosophically consistant way one can administer Marriage through the Government with out resorting to one sort or another of good old-fashioned subjective, moral preferences.

Indeed. I have a moral preference for equal civil rights without discrimination between gay and straight.

ChristianA might argue that s/he has a moral preference for preventing Edward and his partner, and all other same-sex couples, from getting equal civil rights.

You want to equate the two - the moral preference for equal civil rights and the moral preference against equal civil rights - and say "Since they're both moral preferences, the state has no business choosing between them."

My feeling is that, where civil rights are concerned, when one side claims a moral preference for discrimination, and the other side claims a moral preference against it, the state really does have a right to choose between them - and to come down in favor of equal civil rights.

Your argument could (indeed, has) been used to justify slavery.

If my ridiculous abolish-marriage plan were be adopted, that does not mean that millions of people would suddenly not be "really married."

By that argument, if a plan were adopted to declare black people slaves, it would not "really" mean that black people would "really" be slaves - it would just be legal to buy and sell them. That's all.


Jonas already pointed these out.

Not as articulately and forcefully as you just did, however. Nice job!

nous: while not addressing the question of why, if we are to allow same-sex marriage, the polygamists and incest promoters are not to be allowed to share in it as well.

Ah. The old invented bugbear: If you're calling for equal civil rights for same-sex couples, you are being inconsistent if you're not also calling for polygamy and incestuous marriage.

By that argument, those who claim marriage means only one man and one woman are being inconsistent: they're not calling for polygamy and incestuous marriage either.

It's absurd, Nous. Equal civil rights for gay and straight couples does not equate to promoting incest any more than it equates to promoting bestiality (another argument I've seen invoked).

You are merely accepting the Christian bigot's framing of the argument, that since they find homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and polygamy all abhorrent, it follows that someone who thinks gay marriage should be legalized must accept everything else the Christian bigot finds abhorrent or be judged "inconsistent".

Since I do not accept that Christian bigots have any particular right to frame the argument for everybody, I do not see any inconsistency.

You are merely accepting the Christian bigot's framing of the argument...

Please explain, then, why gay marriage should be legalized while incest -- by which I mean adult, consensual incest -- or polygamy should not without making a moral argument.

Jes--By that argument, those who claim marriage means only one man and one woman are being inconsistent: they're not calling for polygamy and incestuous marriage either.

Exactly! That's part of my point. All delineations of who can or cannot be allowed to marry are arbitrary decisions because matrimony is a societal construction with no natural basis. It is entirely conventional.

Equal civil rights for gay and straight couples does not equate to promoting incest any more than it equates to promoting bestiality (another argument I've seen invoked).

I would argue that marriage is not a civil right and that this is why the whole problem exists. Marriage is a state supported privilege, and a convention for which several rights, most of which have to do with the right to enter into contracts, get applied or which exist due to the precedents set under common law. But marriage itself is not a civil right. It is a convention.

As for bestiality, that is not a simple extension of rights, since no one can enter into contract with an animal not of our own species, so this one is both specist and specious ;).

Jesurgislac,

Indeed. I have a moral preference for equal civil rights without discrimination between gay and straight.

Me too, in case that isn't perfectly clear. And I've managed to persude those, who while morally are disapproving of homosexuality in general, that this is the most wise and just course of action for the government to take.

My feeling is that, where civil rights are concerned, when one side claims a moral preference for discrimination, and the other side claims a moral preference against it, the state really does have a right to choose between them - and to come down in favor of equal civil rights.

I will ask you point-blank as this is the elephant in the room: do you support the expansion of marriage to any possible configuration of adult human beings? That you may not discriminate, and that's it to be open to anyone for any reason?

And I'll snip this from your response to Nous:

You are merely accepting the Christian bigot's framing of the argument, that since they find homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and polygamy all abhorrent, it follows that someone who thinks gay marriage should be legalized must accept everything else the Christian bigot finds abhorrent or be judged "inconsistent".

No, because you explicitly said that you believe civil rights trump discrimination based on moral grounds, that is impossible to reconcile with the fact that you do the opposite when confronted with incest and polygamy. I'd say gay marriage deserves a sounder philosophical foundation to rest on that that.

By that argument, if a plan were adopted to declare black people slaves, it would not "really" mean that black people would "really" be slaves - it would just be legal to buy and sell them. That's all.

The legal definition of marriage is not the totality of the experience and institution that is marriage for the vast majority of people. The legal frameworks are generally considered peripherally beneficial to, and not at all central to, why people get married in the first place.

As for slavery, it's absurd. No ones rights are being violated if the Government decides not to hand out marriage certificates to anyone - period. Rights are very obviously violated under slavery.

But as usual, I'm outclassed by Nous again in this argument...

Jonas--But as usual, I'm outclassed by Nous again in this argument...

Nah, we're a tag-team.

"Please explain, then, why gay marriage should be legalized while incest -- by which I mean adult, consensual incest -- or polygamy should not without making a moral argument.

Well, Anarch, I'll take a stab at answering that one.

Incest: Genetic issues - which may be obviated by a genetic screen, or by verifiable, nonreversable sterilization. Also: inequity in relationship, which means parents can't marry their kids (grandkids, whatever) because of the inherent imbalance of power involved (same reason there are anti-fraternization rules in the military, and why boss-employee romances are frowned on).

Polygamy: Gender inequities; potential statutory rape issues; potential genetics issues (who is whose parent?); potential property ownership issues.

A good moral code - by which I mean, "one that makes objective sense, and doesn't need a deity to back it up" - is a pragmatic moral code. There are pragmatic reasons to prohibit incestuous and polygamous marriages. There are no pragmatic reasons to prohibit same-sex marriage; at least, none that wouldn't also apply to heterosexual marriage.

nous: I would argue that marriage is not a civil right and that this is why the whole problem exists.

You could argue that, but you would be arguing against centuries of legal agreement, and indeed a fairly recent judgement in the US (Loving vs. Virginia) which has determined that marriage is a civil right.

Jonas: do you support the expansion of marriage to any possible configuration of adult human beings?

I neither support nor oppose such a radical reconfiguration of the marriage laws. No one has ever seriously asked me to consider it.

However, as I've already pointed out to Nous (and CaseyL has further detailed), there are considerable pragmatic difficulties with the notion of expanding marriage so that anyone can marry anyone in any quantity or kind: as we already know from practical experience, these pragmatic difficulties simply do not exist with the simple equality of same-sex and mixed-sex civil marriage.

No, because you explicitly said that you believe civil rights trump discrimination based on moral grounds, that is impossible to reconcile with the fact that you do the opposite when confronted with incest and polygamy.

Again, you are simply accepting the framing of Christian bigotry. What does incest or polygamy have to do with same-sex marriage? Nothing, except that Christian bigots would like to equate all three. You might as well argue that I am inconsistent because I do not support animal liberationists.

The legal frameworks are generally considered peripherally beneficial to, and not at all central to, why people get married in the first place.

That depends who you ask. ;-)

As for slavery, it's absurd. No ones rights are being violated if the Government decides not to hand out marriage certificates to anyone - period. Rights are very obviously violated under slavery.

I'm sorry, you misunderstood me. I was not proposing to equate marriage to slavery. I was pointing out that the same argument - that the government has no right to decide between moral preferences - had been used to argue that the government had no right to decide between the moral preferences of those who wished to abolish slavery and those who wished to retain it.


Jes--You could argue that, but you would be arguing against centuries of legal agreement, and indeed a fairly recent judgement in the US (Loving vs. Virginia) which has determined that marriage is a civil right.

You may be correct about Loving v. Virginia. As for marriage being a civil right for centuries, it depends a lot on what you mean, and that would take a book just to explore. Either way, it makes no systematic sense and it's anti-foundational and conventional, but that is true of most all laws. But if marriage is indeed a civil right it is going to be difficult to control its boundaries.

Well, this has been sitting on my desktop all weekend waiting for Typepad to get fixed.

Jes, I think you're mistaking a strategic argument for a normative one. I've no doubt that LJ would be most happy with a world that was entirely neutral wrt sexual orientation. The question that LJ is addressing (AFAICT) is how best to get there. You may disagree with him as far as what methods would be best and what interim compromises are reasonable, but that's no reason to accuse him of having a different goal.

Thanks, kenb, how best to get there is precisely what I'm interested in talking about. And, while it is tempting to go ballistic (something along the lines of how dare you try to read my mind, etc. etc.) I totally understand Jes' passion. But Jes, I'd ask you to consider for a moment the possibility that you are taking a position that is structurally the same as those people who feel that terrorism must be 'defeated' without addressing the root causes of that terrorism. As I said, I think that gay civil rights is the 'right' side. But your argumentation is precisely the same as those who refuse to consider that the motivations of those who oppose them and declaring those that try to understand those motivations have different goals from you. 'If you aren't with us, you are against us' Like that kind of argument, it is designed less how to create a better future and more to show everyone who is right and who is wrong.

Please realize that this observation does not mean that I disagree with your position nor does it mean that I don't respect you or your passion.

Typepad being down, I get a chance to add to this, and an interview with Andrew Horvat, a journalist who writes about Japan and he said this, which I think is applicable here.

As a reporter, I recall becoming very passionate about the sufferings of Koreans under Japanese rule. I remember making a visit to Korea and hearing stories of appalling atrocities committed by Japanese marines after the uprising of March 1, 1919, only to find out virtually the same day that the brother-in-law of my Korean teacher had been invited to Hiroshima to take part in a high school reunion. His trip was being arranged by his former classmates, all of whom were Japanese.

-snip-

Yes, visceral writing can lead to inaccuracies because when you write you really hope that your adversary is truly wicked. Unfortunately for the visceral writer, it is rather rare that we come across people who are thoroughly evil. Usually, they contain all the human failings including arrogance and hubris, faults for which Japanese are now paying a very high price.

Thanks, kenb, how best to get there is precisely what I'm interested in talking about

Thanks, Liberal: I didn't particularly want to comment to kenB, because I'm trying not to reply to other people's guesses as to what someone on the blog might think as if I were responding to that someone directly. If that made sense. ;-)

But Jes, I'd ask you to consider for a moment the possibility that you are taking a position that is structurally the same as those people who feel that terrorism must be 'defeated' without addressing the root causes of that terrorism.

Okay, I'll take some time to consider that possibility, if you'll take some time to consider the possibility that you are in fact the one who's doing that, not me.

But your argumentation is precisely the same as those who refuse to consider that the motivations of those who oppose them and declaring those that try to understand those motivations have different goals from you.

Thus far your argument appears to be that gay people should try not to make straight people uncomfortable, and that homophobic parents should have their feelings about having a gay child supported, and definitely not interfering with their abuse of their child, because doing so might hurt the parents' feelings, and the child's feelings can be safely ignored. Am I right? Would you care to redefine your position?

Your position, it appears to me, is very like that of a comfortable American, looking at the angry crowds on TV in Baghdad or in Nablus, and asking "Why do they have to behave like this? If they'd just be reasonable and quiet and polite, we'd be more inclined to listen to what they want."

Well, no, you wouldn't: they'd be ignored.

If you're presuming, as a straight man, to advise a lesbian on how gay people ought to behave in order to get equal civil rights, I think I would like to know what your history of involvement in the gay liberation movement is. How do you justify to yourself lecturing me on how you think I ought to behave in order to get equal civil rights?

Just wondering.

Thus far your argument appears to be that gay people should try not to make straight people uncomfortable, and that homophobic parents should have their feelings about having a gay child supported, and definitely not interfering with their abuse of their child, because doing so might hurt the parents' feelings, and the child's feelings can be safely ignored. Am I right? Would you care to redefine your position?

Given that you are defining my position, are you asking me to redefine your definition/ ;^)

There is a place for making people uncomfortable with their assumptions, yet it doesn't strike me as a constant moral imperative. In the context of this conversation, I identified a particular idea and explored it. You seem to be expanding this discussion into questions of what I do or do not feel comfortable with.

I do not believe that I suggested that people stop protesting. I did suggest that being reasonable and polite is more advantageous in this case. You seem to think that it is not, seemingly because gay rights activists are equivalent to Iraqis living under a 'military dictatorship' (your definition of the current situation in Iraq, I believe)

You also now demand my bonafides and history of advocacy rather than addressing my points. If Charles Bird suggested that your lack of advocacy for a particular group negated your ability to make observations in blog comments about that situation, I have a suspicion that your answer would not be as temperate as mine is to you. Also, given not only the fact that I was addressing someone else's comment, I find it odd that you assume that I am lecturing you on how to behave in order to get civil rights. Finally, given the fact that I live in a different society with different norms, (as do you, since the majority of commenters here are from the US), I wonder why you feel that this struggle should be automatically done the same way everywhere. If you would like to give us some information about how civil rights for gays was achieved in the UK and your role in such an accomplishment, I would be happy to read it. But what you have done is question me and what I believe, based on a comment made to another commenter. I'm not mad, but I really think your passion is overtaking your rationality in this case.

liberal japonicus: I did suggest that being reasonable and polite is more advantageous in this case. You seem to think that it is not

Actually, I never said anything of the kind. What I have said consistently is that I think the best grassroots way of changing things is for gay people to behave as openly, as "in your face" about our sexual orientation, as straights do - and take for granted that they can. Now, if you feel that your talking about your wife is somehow neither reasonable nor polite, I'd disagree, but I'd admit you were being consistent.

You also now demand my bonafides and history of advocacy rather than addressing my points.

What points have you made that I have not addressed?

Of course you don't have to provide bona fides/history of advocacy within the LGBT community. But, equally, if you fail to do so, I can assume that your ideas about how gay people should achieve equal civil rights come from a total lack of experience in working with LGBT people to achieve equal civil rights - because, as far as I know, you have no experience, not even the basic experience that any out LGBT person acquires.

Same sex marriage, incest, polygamy.

I'll take a crack from a constitutional perspective. It is not required that distinctions government makes be perfect, or perfectly consistent on any particular logical plane. Depending on what kind of distinction they are, they need only be 'reasonable' -- that is an objective person can see the rationale -- or, in the case of a narrow class of distinctions, 'narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.'

There's no consensus on which standard applies to same sex marriage, but I think that given the irrationality and length of the prejudice against gays, strict scrutiny is appropriate for government actions that are anti-gay -- either facially or 'as applied.' (The Mass Sup Ct said that it didn't matter what standard you use, the preclusion of gays from marrying fails). To put it another way, it's not about 'them,' it's about 'us.' We've behaved very badly for centuries, and our conduct -- as a society -- should legitimately be viewed with suspicion where we are restricting or denying rights to citizens of a long-despised minority.

In my view, the longstanding taboo about incest is not nearly so irrational. Consequently, I'd be comfortable with rational basis as the test, and I think most statutes are going to end up meeting that.

Polygamy is more complicated. I think actually that because it is actively practiced in much of the world, and is a matter of religious practice, that I would think strict scrutiny warranted. I would find that blanket bans on it are unconstitutional -- this bars me from ever serving on the bench, I know -- but I think the right to marry again could be "burdened" with age, health, wealth, and notification requirements to meet particular compelling interests.

Actually, I never said anything of the kind.

Actually, you said:
But yes: when someone decides their own comfort is far more important to them than other people's personal freedom, I do think they have failed in moral decency.

From this, one would assume that you feel that being reasonable and polite is far less important than other people's personal freedom to express their sexuality, given that this is a failing in moral decency.

What points have you made that I have not addressed?

You have done a healthy bit of assuming what my attitudes and comforts are and I see no straight forward acknowledgement that you were be wrong. But more importantly, is the notion that 'we're here, get used to it' a strategy that is globally applicable as it applies to gay rights? As I said, I understand why you have so much passion on this, but you are aware enough to know that the sort of elbows you are throwing are more to score points than to discuss. Perhaps it comes down to differing definitions of 'in your face', but it seems to me that you have cranked up your sensitivity to offense to such a high degree that if you saw a straight couple standing close together, this would constitute them being 'in your face'.

This article, while rather jargony, addresses the same point that I am interested in talking about.

Essentialism is both challenged and incorporated within sexually marginalized groups and politics.[1] Closed communities that seek political reform and the extension of human rights to all groups,will tend to rely on essentialist or ethnic[2] notions of identity. The rationale is that by claiming an identity politic, in the form of distinct group membership, a united and unified front can be established in order to build communities, challenge marginalization, fight oppression and produce change (Highleyman 74-75; Rust "Politics of Sexual Identity" 366-367; Paul 28). Essentialist explanations, in this case, provide the basis for naturalizing the group's identity, suggesting that change is not an option because the behaviour is rooted in part in human essence (i.e. sexuality is not a preference, choice or vice that needs to be corrected), and therefore this community needs to be extended the rights and protections that comes with being a unique peoples. Yet accompanying an essentialist identity politic are assumptions of universalism and fixity that can function to exclude and deny access to the identity and community based on definitional and behavioural disparities. This aspect of essentialism makes it possible for some people to become displaced through the tightening of the definition for the group's membership, identity, and community.

Later, Pell points out that:

As Hemmings warns, "Unless transgression actually disrupts the underlying forms of the discourse being challenged, the attempt runs the risk of becoming yet another partner in the endless spiral of binary oppositions"

which certainly seems to be an apt description of our exchanges, despite my continued attempts to avoid it.

There is a short story by Camus called 'The Artist at Work', where an poor artist dies and his best friend finds his last canvas has only one word that can be read as 'solitaire' or 'solidaire'. While Camus is discussing the role of the artist, I think that same idea is illuminating here. I would argue that the notion 'hey, we are here, get used to it' springs from a notion of solitary, where the group sets itself off from the rest of society. I can understand that it can be successful, f'rex in things like attempting to reappropriate perjorative terms such as 'queer'. But historically, groups that have been on the outside (for example Irish and Italian immigrants at the turn of the century) have moved into the group. As I said, civil rights for the LGBT community is the next frontier and how it will happen will determine the world that my children live in. I'm sorry you think that your assumptions of what my personal experiences have been permit you to dismiss what I say, but it's your loss, not mine.

Perhaps it comes down to differing definitions of 'in your face', but it seems to me that you have cranked up your sensitivity to offense to such a high degree that if you saw a straight couple standing close together, this would constitute them being 'in your face'.

I would imagine that Jes is more concerned that the opposite is true -- that, to many straights, something as innocuous as a gay person holding hands with his or her partner in public, or having photos of the two on the desk at work, or showing up at a party together, is supposed to constitute the sort of "in your face" behavior that's to be seen as negative. (As in, "I don't mind gay people, but I don't like when they're all in-your-face about it," wherein "in your face" is taken to mean any and all uncloseted behavior.)

liberal japonicus: From this, one would assume that you feel that being reasonable and polite is far less important than other people's personal freedom to express their sexuality, given that this is a failing in moral decency.

That's an interesting way to take what I said and interpret it, yes. What I said was "when someone decides their own comfort is far more important to them than other people's personal freedom, I do think they have failed in moral decency".

You appear to feel that personal freedom is incompatible with politeness. I'm not sure why. You appear to feel that if a same-sex couple are making a straight person feel uncomfortable, it must be because the same-sex couple are being impolite: not because the straight person is sufficiently uncomfortable with people being gay that the presence of an open gay couple will make them uncomfortable. (You may wish to consider Abigail Van Buren's response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood.)

You have done a healthy bit of assuming what my attitudes and comforts are and I see no straight forward acknowledgement that you were be wrong.

Am I wrong? Do you in fact not feel what I've attributed to you? Nothing you've said so far has suggested otherwise. I've asked you questions, trying to get you to explain more clearly what you actually feel: you've fairly consistently not answered them.

but it seems to me that you have cranked up your sensitivity to offense to such a high degree that if you saw a straight couple standing close together, this would constitute them being 'in your face'.

Is that your definition of "in your face" when it comes to gay couples? Is this another question you're just not going to answer?

But historically, groups that have been on the outside (for example Irish and Italian immigrants at the turn of the century) have moved into the group.

Yes. And, as we see - both here and in other Western countries and in the US (I will admit I don't know a great deal about the situation in Japan) - "we're here, get used to it" is and has been a highly successful strategy in moving gay people from the ghetto in the mainstream.

What doesn't and hasn't worked is the strategy you appear to be proposing, of staying politely in the closet in order to avoid making straight people feel uncomfortable.

Phil: that, to many straights, something as innocuous as a gay person holding hands with his or her partner in public, or having photos of the two on the desk at work, or showing up at a party together, is supposed to constitute the sort of "in your face" behavior that's to be seen as negative

Quite.

You appear to feel that personal freedom is incompatible with politeness.

If you could tell me where I said that, or where I implied that it was an either/or choice, I would be interested to know.
Do you in fact not feel what I've attributed to you? Nothing you've said so far has suggested otherwise. I've asked you questions, trying to get you to explain more clearly what you actually feel: you've fairly consistently not answered them.

Here are two questions you have asked me (I'm assuming that they are marked with a question mark)

-Um - what else?
-How do you justify to yourself lecturing me on how you think I ought to behave in order to get equal civil rights?

For the first, it seemed rhetorical, for the second, I tried to explain that this I am interested in how we move towards social justice, so it shouldn't be taken as lecturing you as to what you should do. You haven't asked me any other questions that I can see. As far as what you hae attributed to me, let's review what I actually said:

-I should first note that I strongly believe that not permitting same sex marriages is not only wrong, but deeply abhorrent, but I'd like to try to suggest some points from the other side.
-I suppose, but it's not that I want gay men and women to go hide in the closet, it's that I don't want to see them parade on the street in leather and chains. I feel the same way about heterosexuals parading in similar garb. I think that the HGM sketch is hilarious, but at the same time, there is a certain squemishness on my part (which is why it is so funny) Trying to figure out that squemishness is the main reason behind my comment and you can argue that because I feel squemish, I therefore have some problems with homosexuality, but I think that's done by not stopping to consider what I am trying to point out.
-I thought that I was pretty clear that I was talking about societal trends and how we as a society deal with this, specifically, dealing the notion of 'we're here, get used to it'. How I personally deal with it in individual situations depends on those situations.
I would suggest that this means that gay marriage is more of an imperative rather than less. Because, though you may meet a lot of gay people, if we (by that, I mean people in society) don't see them forming meaningful family units and interacting on that level of parent and child, they are always going to be peripheral.

I could talk about my gay friends, and how I've gotten to know what they deal with on a daily basis. I could also point out that the idea of 'coming out' here in Japan is not really common, because people prefer to compartmentalize different parts of their lives, which is a cultural/societal choice, so, of the gay people that I know here, the opportunity to talk about the struggles of the gay community here in Japan never has come up.

Is that your definition of "in your face" when it comes to gay couples? Is this another question you're just not going to answer?

Well, a 3rd question, better late than never, I suppose. No, it's not, but it seems to be yours. For example, you quoted Pat Parker, so I assume that
-telling someone you are (or your wife?) pregnant is being in your face
-talking about the camping trip with a heterosexual partner is being in your face
-a Tunnel of Love amusement park ride is being in your face

I don't have any problems with these, and if a homosexual told me any of these things (or if a homosexual couple decided to take a ride on a tunnel of love ride) I wouldn't class these as in your face. I tend to think that one must judge the context, so it is difficult to take an isolated incident shorn of context. Wearing leather and chains in a bar, not in my face, wearing them in a parade down the street on a public holiday, yeah, a bit. I certainly admit that it is not simply a gay problem, as sex sells and it is the nature of advertising to try and sell things in that way. Perhaps one of the reasons I moved to a country where there was a little more reticence (or at least different ideas of reticence) was precisely because of that. If you want to infer that I'm a homophobe because of that, I can't stop you, but please stop trying to suggest that I'm ducking questions that you haven't asked.

You say that 'we're here, get used to it' is a successful strategy, but I would appreciate it if you would define your metrics of success. If it means create a permanent minority of people who can't stand gays and attribute all of the evils of society to them, what will that success lead to? It seems to me that the portrayal of 'normal' gay characters is much more successful in moving gay people from the ghetto to the mainstream. Perhaps the difference in the portrayal of the bad guys in the 007 movie Diamonds Are Forever to something like Will and Grace is a result rather than a cause, but I tend to disagree. If you would like to have this conversation without all the insults, I'd certainly be interested, but as it stands, you are just throwing mud and I do think it is beneath you.


At the risk of committing a Karnak, I think Jesurgislac and Liberal Japonicus are arguing past each other.

From LJ's earliest comment, I got the impression that he feels that blatant public displays of affection are inappropriate for both straights and gays, but that what he meant by "in your face" was more public making out, than say, bringing one's same-sex partner to a party and introducing him/her as such.

I think it's important to distinguish between actions that refer to blatantly, or are, sexual acts - I think, for example, that most people would be offended if my boyfriend and I showed up at, say, a party thrown by the bank I work for, with me stark naked and him wearing nothing but a condom. In the same way, I can see that people would be uncomfortable if a gay couple showed up at the same company party in leather kilts and harness.

Kissing, holding hands, cuddling, etc. are a different story - personally I see nothing wrong with this sort of public display of affection, from anyone, but I do know people who find it uncomfortable to see people, and yes, even straight people, kissing in public - because they see it as a sexual act that should be private.

I think this may be the root of where Jes and LJ disagree - I get the impression from LJ's comments that he seems to think that this sort of act is private, and should be kept so, and because homosexuality doesn't have total mainstream acceptance, it's an even greater setback for gays and lesbians to engage in public sexual behaviours.

For Jes, I get the impression that she doesn't think these are sexual behaviours that should be kept private, but normal public expressions of affection between people (and to be fair, I agree much more with Jes on this score than with LJ), and to insist that gays and lesbians should hide their affection when straights don't have to is bigoted and prevents straights from coming to understand that homosexuality is normal, acceptable, and mainstream (or should be), by continuing to treat it as something to be hidden.

Anyway, I apologize for trying to read both your minds here, and hope I haven't offended either of you - it just strikes me that you may both be misunderstanding each other about what is meant by being "in your face" for gay people, and there really is not so much conflict between you, as just a disagreement about strategy and what is acceptable public behaviour for everyone.

Or I could just let LJ speak for himself, of course. :P

Polygamy: not a problem as marriage is a binary contract between two parties. It should be said, however, that "poly marriages" take place quite a bit in many "alternative lifestyle" communities and I don't really see any special need to legislate against them. They'd just need an entirely different approach to normal two-party marriage contracts, so would require addressing in separate legislation.

Interestingly, such a debate would probably see Pagans and atheist siding with crazy-ass Mormons in Utah. That'd be a fun circus to watch.


Incest: not a problem as this is not a direct corellation to marriage. Incest is a sexual act, not a legal relationship. Since allowing gays to shag each other did not lead to a glut of laws allowing you to bone your sister, the point is entirely moot.

Have a nice day.

Polygamy: not a problem as marriage is a binary contract between two parties. It should be said, however, that "poly marriages" take place quite a bit in many "alternative lifestyle" communities and I don't really see any special need to legislate against them. They'd just need an entirely different approach to normal two-party marriage contracts, so would require addressing in separate legislation.

Interestingly, such a debate would probably see Pagans and atheist siding with crazy-ass Mormons in Utah. That'd be a fun circus to watch.


Incest: not a problem as this is not a direct corellation to marriage. Incest is a sexual act, not a legal relationship. Since allowing gays to shag each other did not lead to a glut of laws allowing you to bone your sister, the point is entirely moot.

Have a nice day.

This double posting lark gets old quick.

Or I could just let LJ speak for himself, of course. :P

I dunno, you are able to say what I want to say, only more succinctly. I guess what I am worried about is the notion that when one complains about public behavior, one gets attacked for being a homophobe. I do agree with Phil that there are some people who are going to take any act by a same sex couple as being in your face, but there seems to be a difference between hiding one's affection towards a specific person and hiding one's sexuality, though where exactly that line is, I don't know. I also agree that there is a systematic bias in portraying straight affection as something that is normal and same sex affection as something that is bizarre. But I don't know if the answer is to simply add an equivalent amount of portrayals of same sex relationships, so that if there is one heterosexual relationship in an episode of Days of Our Lives, there needs to be a homosexual one (one wonders if there are enough hours in a day). Certainly presenting homosexuality as a valid lifestyle is important and I have no problems with that. But, as a debating tactic, what exactly does "get used to us, we aren't going away" mean? That the other side's points don't matter, because they are going to be outnumbered anyway? Regardless how much I agree that discrimination against LGBT is not only present, but fundamentally wrong (and I do believe that), I believe that the argument itself is not valid, unless you want to claim that the majority always trumps the rights of the minority.

gwendolyn, you seem to have done an excellent job in summarising both sides: thank you.

liberal japonicus: But, as a debating tactic, what exactly does "get used to us, we aren't going away" mean?

I don't see why you're redefining this as a debating tactic.

I've advocated it here as a realworld strategy for bringing LGBT people out of the closet/ghetto into the mainstream and achieving equal civil rights, where it works just fine, as we see.

That the other side's points don't matter, because they are going to be outnumbered anyway?

If you are attempting now to show that this doesn't work by treating it as a wideranging statement of principle, showing that it wouldn't work in all cases, and therefore shouldn't be used in the specific instance I have outlined above, well... I'm just not going to play.

I believe that the argument itself is not valid, unless you want to claim that the majority always trumps the rights of the minority.

How exactly is this relevant? In achieving LGBT civil rights are concerned, no minority civil rights are being removed or even threatened.

On the other hand, various Christian groups have argued that their God-given right to persecute and torment and of course feel superior to gay people, is being taken away from them. See Orson Scott Card's lying piece of bigotry on why he feels his rights are threatened if gays are allowed to get married.

Are you arguing on their behalf? Perhaps Gwendolyn could manage to summarise your views inoffensively again.

I don't see why you're redefining this as a debating tactic.

I am not 'redefining' it. Look at my first comment about this. It is you that are doing the redefining, the restating. You haven't quoted anything that I have actually written. I don't know what your problem is, but clearly, you've got some issues here.

How exactly is this relevant? In achieving LGBT civil rights are concerned, no minority civil rights are being removed or even threatened.

I have no idea what you are trying to say here. When we look at the evolution of minority groups getting civil rights, we see what the separatist argument gets, which is notions of setting up colonies in Liberia, and a Nation of Islam philosophy. It strikes me that this is not how success in civil rights has been achieved.

Are you arguing on their behalf? Perhaps Gwendolyn could manage to summarise your views inoffensively again.

Jes, you've crossed the line. I'm not arguing on anyone's behalf and this is a BS tactic. You've just proved that you can be as close minded as the people you try to tar me with.

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Whatnot


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