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August 31, 2004

Comments

Stem cell research, especially if it is successful has disturbing implications. And this is said as someone who has seen his grandmother descend into the madness of Alzheimers before her death, is seeing his grandfather do the same, and since it is thought to have a genetic component has to look forward to the same in at least one of my parents and/or siblings (or myself).

Abortion rights aren't even close to being threatened in this country. Even though a huge majority of citizens are for a ban of almost all late-term abortions, it doesn't exist and won't. We can't even get a ban on aborting babies as they are being partially delivered. If we can't even get that, we won't get anything else. And if Republicans will at least fight for the former on occassion, that puts them miles ahead of Democrats in my mind.

On gay relationships, I disagree with the platform. Not agreeing with the whole platform is typical in today's political world on both sides.

I'm for Faith-Based community initiatives and all sorts of similar local initiatives. As for your discrimination question, they can't discriminate in who they help, but they can make hiring decisions based on religion if they are foolish enough to want to. (But you should note that most Faith-Based community groups rely on volunteers anyway.).

"Republicans know that economic prosperity is essential to environmental progress."

Absolutely.

We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.

These are the new segregationists. And again the mind reels: why are tolerant, liberal Republicans - which I know must still exist - supporting this president and this version of the Republican party? How is denying basic rights to gays any different than denying them to Jews, to blacks, to any other minority? There was a time when the laws of God and nature and the preservation of the family were invoked to defend anti-miscegenation laws. Why is the prospect of electing a bigot not a deal-breaker?

If the nation faced some life-or-death peril from which only the policies of George W. Bush could save us, maybe there'd be an excuse. But any objective accounting of Bush policy in the war on terror renders a portrait of disaster. What is it that makes four more years of hateful prejudice, fiscal irresponsibility, and ineptitude and weakness in the face of terror so appealing?

Stem cell research, especially if it is successful has disturbing implications.

Elucidate, please, Sebastian. If this just boils down to "life begins at conception," then I trust you support a ban on in-vitro fertilization?

Sebastian: Even though a huge majority of citizens are for a ban of almost all late-term abortions, it doesn't exist and won't.

That would be, as was pointed out in the last discussion we had, because late-term abortions are very, very rare, and overwhelmingly are done for medical reasons of a kind most people agree are valid reasons for wanting an abortion.

We can't even get a ban on aborting babies as they are being partially delivered.

You were unable to provide any evidence that this was happening, or ever had happened, last time we discussed this. Are you now able to provide such evidence?

And if Republicans will at least fight for the former on occassion, that puts them miles ahead of Democrats in my mind.

Actually, as far as I can see, the sole difference between Republicans and Democrats on abortion is that Republicans are on occasion willing to whip up hate-based feeling against all abortions in order to win elections - while being quite content with the status quo, where the vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester, the vast majority of the remainder in the second trimester, and the very, very few abortions that take place in the third trimester occur before the 24th week and are permitted strictly for medical/health reasons.

Stem cell research, especially if it is successful has disturbing implications.

I'm not sure I agree with you, but I'm sure you could write an interesting post on the topic if you did the research. I don't see any disturbing implications from women who go in for IVF being able to donate an unused embryo to medical science, any more than I see disturbing implications in people being able to donate blood - or indeed to donate sperm or eggs for fertility treatment.

Where people are giving something that's theirs, that money can't* buy, to help others, this is a good thing.

*I am all in favor of making it illegal, absolutely, for anyone to make money by donating blood, embryos, sperm, eggs, kidneys... etc. There are some things money shouldn't buy.


We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.

I move that they amend that sentence to read " . . . that unique and special union of one man and one woman -- at a time -- which has . . . " Either that, or move that the Republicans support a plank by which no marriage after the first one qualifies for benefits. How special can it be if you keep having to do it over?

Abortion rights aren't even close to being threatened in this country.

Famous last words, Sebastian. Remember, nothing stops this president from his plans. The entire world can change around him and his plans stay the same...the rationale changes, but the plans do not.

Think about the tax cuts. When he ran, the rationale was we have a surplus, so we should give the money back. Once that surplus was gone, the plan stayed the same, only now the rationale was the exact same plan was needed to help the economy.

Think about Iraq. When he ran, the rationale was stopping nuclear proliferation in a rogue state (and again, according to O'Neil and others, he hoped to invade from day one). But after 9/11 Iraq was suddenly the front line in the War on Terror, a stateless threat. The plan stayed exactly the same, the rhetoric evolved to suit a new reality.

Either that, or move that the Republicans support a plank by which no marriage after the first one qualifies for benefits. How special can it be if you keep having to do it over?

Hear! Hear!

That would be, as was pointed out in the last discussion we had, because late-term abortions are very, very rare, and overwhelmingly are done for medical reasons of a kind most people agree are valid reasons for wanting an abortion.

You don't know the truth of the "done for medical reasons of a kind most people agree are valid" justification because every attempt to track that has been resisted by NARAL and other pro-abortion groups. As we discussed last time, you merely assume that doctors wouldn't violate the concept--in direct contradiction to your assumptions about prison guards following the law on prisoner treatment. I remember our last discussion quite well because you wouldn't admit the parallel.

We can't even get a ban on aborting babies as they are being partially delivered.

You were unable to provide any evidence that this was happening, or ever had happened, last time we discussed this. Are you now able to provide such evidence?

That is precisely what partial-birth abortions do. You begin delivery of the baby and kill it on the way out. I use the term 'baby' because the procedure is ONLY used on very late-term fetuses where in my mind the term is quite descriptive. I don't know what evidence you think you need, and I suspect that even if I had half the AMA on my side you wouldn't agree the evidence was strong enough. Which, by the way, is an express invitation for you to do a little research on the history of the AMA and partial-birth abortion.

I'm not sure I agree with you, but I'm sure you could write an interesting post on the topic if you did the research. I don't see any disturbing implications from women who go in for IVF being able to donate an unused embryo to medical science

Today is a busy day for me so I can only offer the short version. I'm irritated by the IVF excuse, since the precise issue of unwanted human material was raised when IVF was introduced and my side of the fence was roundly derided for being idiots for worrying about such things. Entirely beside that, if the research is successful, cast-offs are not likely enough for treatment. We will have to 'manufacture' the human embryos. And once that happens the floodgates are wide wide open. Then it is just one little step if we find a therapy using a 'slightly' older embryo. Say 6 weeks. And then we are firmly in the manufacturing humans for consumption issue. And I think we might want to talk about that a bit more before we start down that path. (And that isn't even talking about the actual SALE of such therapies.)

Edward, please state for me clearly: Do you believe that an 'incompetent' Republican administration could politically pull off an abortion ban? Really? If you do, I can't imagine how you simultaneously believe that abortion has broad support in this country.

they can't discriminate in who they help, but they can make hiring decisions based on religion

In other words:

If a gay person comes to them for help, they'll be required to offer them assistance, because they'd be receiving tax dollars. If a gay person comes to them looking for a job, despite receiving tax dollars, including MINE, they're free to discriminate.

Do you believe that an 'incompetent' Republican administration could politically pull off an abortion ban? Really?

I believe that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. That unless those who support a woman's right to choose match those wanting to outlaw that right in volume and intensity, the scales will begin to tip.

The Bush Administration is nibbling away at the edges of the law as it stands now.

Incompetent doesn't mean undetermined, btw.

Abortion rights aren't even close to being threatened in this country.

The next President will certainly fill at least two SC vacancies, possibly three. Given the SC currently supports Roe v Wade by a slender 5-4 margin, it wouldn't be a stretch to say Roe would be overturned should Bush win.

I assume, Sebastian, that you're arguing here:

You don't know the truth of the "done for medical reasons of a kind most people agree are valid" justification because every attempt to track that has been resisted by NARAL and other pro-abortion groups.

...for the Justice Department to raid the files of every woman who gets a late-term abortion to see if she's getting them done for the "proper" reasons. Ah, the joys of small-government conservatism! Maybe it's slipped your mind that a woman making the hardest decision of her life wouldn't want the FBI rifling through her medical history?

Even if the SC would overturn Roe, and I think your estimation of the chances are wildly off, that isn't the same as making abortions inaccessible in any state of the Union. Every state has laws broadly in line with Roe. And remember, you say you have the people on your side on this issue. So you shouldn't have to worry unless you are lying about that.

You may have also heard of 'confirming judges' in the Senate.

JadeGold has it exactly right. The administration can be thoroughly incompetent but if they can get two new SC justices who will go against Roe then the gig is up.
Majorities in both house and senate. Hmmm. Naw, they could never find and affirm a justice who would want to overturn Roe! Of course not.

"We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage."

No hyperbole...I see these people as a direct threat to my family.


Edward,

I think it is more accurate to say that people have made a direct frontal attack on the historical institution of marriage, which I do personally find offensive. The attack that is. I would have rather them argued that no one should receive special treatment.

I can completely and totally accept that you disagree with the statement. Fine. But, I can't agree that it is a direct attack on your family.

For 35 years I didn't have the benefits that they are describing in that statement and even when I got married I didn't get a benefit I got punished by the government. But I never took it as a threat to my lifestyle. I felt screwed. I felt that it was unfair. I even felt it was wrong. But a threat? I can accept that you feel that way, but that kind of expression pushes me away from you.

"I believe that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. That unless those who support a woman's right to choose match those wanting to outlaw that right in volume and intensity, the scales will begin to tip."

Are you sure you aren't talking about gun control laws?


Just like many don't want their tax dollars going to Faith based initiatives I really don't want my tax dollars going to stem cell research. Let the private sector do it. They will do it better anyway.

I'm okay with the environment comment.

Also, I must admit that I find abortion repugnant as a method of contraception. As someone who has actual experience with abortion I have no problem saying it should be illegal except in the rarest of circumstances.

Sebastian: Confirming an anti-Roe judge wouldn't be a difficult task. Were I a GOP strategist, I'd merely have the nominee follow the Clarence Thomas example of refusing to discuss Roe and claiming that he or she had never discussed the case.

For 35 years I didn't have the benefits that they are describing in that statement and even when I got married I didn't get a benefit I got punished by the government

How utterly disingenuous. Amazing that someone can even say it with a straight face. You really don't think that married couples get legal and social benefits that unmarried couples do not?

I think it is more accurate to say that people have made a direct frontal attack on the historical institution of marriage, which I do personally find offensive.

The "historical institution of marriage." Ha!

Was this prior to the thirteenth amendment, when it was illegal in slaveholding states for any slave, freed or not, to get married? When marriage was a sacred union of one white man and one white woman?

Or was this in the fifties, when over a dozen states had laws barring marriages between mixed raced couples, defining marriage as the sacred union of one man and woman of the same race?

Or is this now, over the last forty-odd years, when marriage has been settled into the one-man-one-woman definition that Republicans seem to think has stood for the history of Western Civilization?

I would have rather them argued that no one should receive special treatment.

I don't think anyone should receive special treatment either. Why should straight couples get a whole host of special rights, priveleges, and responsibilities that other couples don't get? Why create second-class citizens? Now that is truly offensive.

I really don't want my tax dollars going to stem cell research. Let the private sector do it. They will do it better anyway.

Nope.

The private sector does do some things extremely well. But the private sector is also terribly risk-averse; that is, they are unwilling to commit vast sums of money and years of time to anything that hasn't a near certain big payoff.

That's why most of your new drugs and pharmaceuticals actually started as US Govt-funded R&D projects. Pharmaceutical companies do very little actual R&D on new products and focus instead on "me too" drugs.

Phil,

"How utterly disingenuous. Amazing that someone can even say it with a straight face. You really don't think that married couples get legal and social benefits that unmarried couples do not?"

Other than the FACT my statment was utterly correct...

Have you never heard of the marriage penalty? Getting married actually meant that I had less money than two gay people living together or even if we had chosen to live together.

I said nothing like you implied at all. I said I got punished by the government for getting married. If my wife and I have only lived together we would have been able to keep more of our money.

Before I called someone disingenuous I would either ask them to clarify or do some research on my own...

But, I can't agree that it is a direct attack on your family.

A bit of history might help clarify this for you Blue.

It is a direct threat to my family, because of my particular circumstances...details here.

But a threat? I can accept that you feel that way, but that kind of expression pushes me away from you.

A bit of credit to others before you judge them might help prevent this.

Edward,

I know you are gay. You have also stated that your partner looked to be of ME decent and gets hassled at airports. You may not remember those posts, but I do... because I was actually listening to you. (Not trying to imply that you weren't listening just that I was.)

I made that statement knowing all those details.

I stand by my original statement that I don't think it is a threat to your family.


Sebastian,

Then it is just one little step if we find a therapy using a 'slightly' older embryo.

Your slippery slope argument, in regards to embryos and stem cells, would make perfect sense if there was to be a medical value to harvesting tissue from older embryos. Fortunately, the scientific reality is completely to the contrary - the reason that an embryo is valuable is because it is that young - as in recently fertilized, merely a few cells. If you have no moral qualms about the use of embryos that young, I'd suggest you reconsider your opposition.

Other than the FACT my statment was utterly correct...

It's not. CBO conducted a study several years back that found more taxpayers actually received a marriage bonus as opposed to a penalty. The marriage penalty really only kicks in if both partners have roughly equal incomes. The tax code favors married couples where one person brings in the lion's share of income.

But you're framing the entire issue in terms of taxes which is somewhat disingenuous. You really should consider things such as healthcare insurance costs, SS benefits, inheritance, etc.

Other than the FACT my statment was utterly correct...

Of course, it was not. Do you think that tax brackets are the only legal issue affecting married couples?

I said nothing like you implied at all. I said I got punished by the government for getting married. If my wife and I have only lived together we would have been able to keep more of our money.

Oh, you did not get punished. The only people particularly affected by the so-called marriage penalty are couples where both work and make approximately the same income. It has nothing to do with "punishment," unless you're seriously going to suggest that the government has it in for married folks.

Before I called someone disingenuous I would either ask them to clarify or do some research on my own...

I just recently celebrated 13 years of marriage, so of all the people I might potentially require a lecture from regarding what is and is not true concerning marital benefits, you're so far down the list you're after Elizabeth Taylor.

Jade,

Other than the FACT it is...

Are you trying to explain my tax situation to me? I said nothing that conflicted with the CBO. As a matter fact in your own post it agrees with me:

The marriage penalty really only kicks in if both partners have roughly equal incomes.


And believe me it kicked! I was describing my exprience and I am sure that I know it better than you.

As a small business owner I am sure that I know the costs of my healthcare and what my SS benefits will be better than you.

If Edward and his partner both work at a company and they make roughly equal to what my wife and I make by the time Healthcare and SS all kick in they will probably come out ahead of us with respect to benefits from the gov't.

But, both of us are getting screwed compared to married couples with children who own a home making less money than us. And I think that is unfair.

But, that is my choice to live my life the way that I want. Just as it is Edwards.

And believe me it kicked!

Same thing happened to me, and is happening once again. Saying there's no penalty is just as false as saying there's an all-inclusive penalty.

Phil,

Why are you attacking me for sharing my tax scenario?

How can you say that it didn't happen to me?

I guess it wasn't punishement to you because it wasn't your money each year that got taken by the gov't.

You're being disingenuous, Blue, as I noted. I can assure you the marriage penalty is hurting you as much as you'd like to portray.

Taxes aren't the only issue involved in marriage. SS benefits, inheritance, reduced healthcare benefits--there's a whole list of benefits you gain by being married. Adoption is another. Immigration law favors married couples. Additionally, divorce laws afford protections available only to married couples.

Blue, quick questions: Who gets your SS benefits if you die? Who gets Edward's? Are they assignable?

I'll say this in letters that may make it easier for you to read them:

Income Taxes Are Not The Only Legal Issue Or Benefit Which Affect Married Couples.

By focusing on income taxes and income taxes alone, you're being disingenuous.

I can assure you the marriage penalty is hurting you as much as you'd like to portray.

Hmmmm...I do not think this means what you think it means.

Adoption is another.

JFTR, you don't have to be married to adopt.

JFTR, you don't have to be married to adopt.

No, but in some places, you have to be heterosexual. And I would have to surmise that married people are nearly always preferred to single people, unless the adopter is a rich celebrity.

Phil,

You and Jade are awfully generous with my money today for what I might not ever see tomorrow...

You are the one being disingenuous. I shared my experience and why I didn't think it was a frontal attack on Edward. Then you attacked. I do not think the whole marriage issue predicates on taxes. I just don't think it is a frontal attack on Edward's family.

I am trying to stay polite here, but you are making it difficult.

I have grown fond of conversing with Edward about issues on this site, but I still don't see this as a frontal assault on his family and I think that framing it that way on divides us.

Maybe you can explain to me what was confusing about this statement that I made.

"But, both of us are getting screwed compared to married couples with children who own a home making less money than us. And I think that is unfair."

Forgive me for trying to find common ground with Edward!

JFTR, you don't have to be married to adopt.

Somewhat true; however, some states do forbid gays adopting. Other states make adoption very difficult for gays. Bottomline: there exists a definite benefit/advantage to married couples in the area of adoption not generally available to same sex couples.

there exists a definite benefit/advantage to married couples in the area of adoption not generally available to same sex couples.

Odd. Gay people can't (in most places) get married, while single people can, in general, adopt (with restrictions, natch; married people also have restrictions). I'm not sure if your point is that married gay people can't adopt, of that single gay people can't adopt. It's probably true that openly gay couples can't adopt in some cases regardless of marital status.

None of which has much to do with my statement to the effect that you don't have to be married to adopt.

"Good benefits add to wedded bliss
For most middle- and upper-income people, though, there are plenty of financial benefits to marriage, regardless of their income tax situation. Among them:
Workplace health and pension benefits coverage. While some companies offer health coverage to domestic partners, this benefit is typically taxable as income. When spouses are covered, the benefit is tax-free.

Social Security retirement and survivor benefits. A husband or wife is entitled to one-half of the spouse’s Social Security benefits and to additional benefits in the event of death.

Lower insurance rates. Married people usually get a discount on auto insurance and may pay less for other types of insurance.

Automatic inheritance rights. Die without a will, and your spouse gets your stuff. In many states, the surviving spouse has a legal right to at least one-third to one-half of your estate.

Preferential estate tax treatment. The $1 million estate tax limitation doesn’t apply to married people: you can leave an unlimited amount to a spouse without owing one penny of estate tax. In certain states, this benefit is multiplied by special capital-gains tax treatment for homes and other assets held by married couples as community property."

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Taxes/P48908.asp

You and Jade are awfully generous with my money today for what I might not ever see tomorrow...

I'm not doing anything with your money, metaphorically or otherwise. Tell me, if there's a "penalty," what are you being penalized for?

You are the one being disingenuous. I shared my experience and why I didn't think it was a frontal attack on Edward. Then you attacked.

"Attacked." Please. Seriously, what is with the drama queens around here who can't handle being disagreed with?

I do not think the whole marriage issue predicates on taxes. I just don't think it is a frontal attack on Edward's family.

Let me do this one in easy-to-read letters also:

To take advantage of the myriad legal benefits that accrue to married couples, all you had to do is get married. Edward and his partner do not have that option, and if the GOP has its way, they never will.

Is that a little easier for you to understand? Inheritance laws, property ownership, adoption, dispensation of assets after death or divorce -- you and your wife (and me and my wife) have automatically thousands of benefits that Edward and his partner cannot have, or must jump through dozens of hoops to get

I have grown fond of conversing with Edward about issues on this site, but I still don't see this as a frontal assault on his family and I think that framing it that way on divides us.

I'm sorry, but I can't dredge up a great deal of sympathy for the fact that you feel divided over an Internet discussion, when this is Edward's -- and other gay peoples' -- ACTUAL LIFE we're talking about. When you close your browser, this awful, horrible, no-good, very bad divisive discussion goes away. Edward, meanwhile, will still be gay in a culture that does not allow him and his partner to take advantage of things that you apparently take so for granted that you didn't even realize -- or care -- that they exist.

"But, both of us are getting screwed compared to married couples with children who own a home making less money than us. And I think that is unfair."

Pffft. So have a kid. And buy a house.

None of which has much to do with my statement to the effect that you don't have to be married to adopt.

Reread Edward's post and follow the thread; it may deter you from strawman arguments. Perhaps not.

Perhaps you'd care to go off OT and explain to us why adoption is more difficult for married hetero couples as opposed to unmarried hetero or gay couples.

In fact, I don't need to be that wordy. Here's exactly why you're being disingenuous -- follow the conversation thread.

Point 1, from the GOP Platform: "We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage." Please note, "accompanying benefitS," plural.

Point 2, your response: "For 35 years I didn't have the benefits that they are describing in that statement and even when I got married I didn't get a benefit I got punished by the government." Are you going to tell me that when you got married you didn't get ANY of those legal benefits? Not a SINGLE ONE? If that's what you're telling me, you're not just disingenuous, you're a flat-out liar.

You decided to try to limit discussion of the "accompanying benefits" to the actuarial happenstance of the Federal income tax tables, not me. Despite the fact that "that statement" to which you referred patently covered many different benefits. That's why you're disingenuous

Now, do you care to discuss to legal benefits attendant to marriage, and why attempting to deny them a priori to gay couples, is a frontal attack, or do you prefer to persist in disingenuity?

Reread Edward's post and follow the thread; it may deter you from strawman arguments. Perhaps not.

I wasn't responding to Edward's post or any of the rest of the thread, other than your erroneous assertion that adoption is a perk that comes along with marriage. I wasn't making an argument, I was correcting yours.

Perhaps you'd care to go off OT and explain to us why adoption is more difficult for married hetero couples as opposed to unmarried hetero or gay couples.

Why would I want to do that? And what's that got to do with your earlier error?

Phil said:

"Pffft. So have a kid. And buy a house."

Why don't you direct that logic towards Edward.

(Note: Edward, I don't think it should apply to you.)


Phil,

You arrogance in assuming that one would predicate their enitre view point on one aspect of it is overwhelming. Do me a favor... find nearest lake... jump in.

I can see there is no polite discussion to be had hear.

My assertion would have been erroneous if stated only married couples could adopt. However, that's a strawman of your own creation. The laws favor married hetero couples on a whole host of fronts; conversely, lack of marriage (hetero/same sex) presents an arrray of disadvantages under the law.

Why would I want to do that?

Beats me.

I would dismiss Edward with a pithy "So get married," but he can't, which is the entire bloody point. The rest of your post isn't even in English, so whatever, although I assume you're conceding that you were wrong about the benefits you previously claimed you didn't get.

Slarti
He stated "a definite advantage" was gained. Your responding as though he were stating a black and white / yes or no conclusion.
If there is a 70% chance of rain today does that mean it is going to rain? Yes or no?

Carsick: Slart knows better. This is just his idea of foreplay.

My assertion would have been erroneous if stated only married couples could adopt
there's a whole list of benefits you gain by being married. Adoption is another.

Alrighty, then.

Beats me.

I'm sorry.

Phil
Best line I've read today:
"Pffft. So have a kid. And buy a house."

Blue
You want to have a nice discussion with someone as you tell them you believe they don't deserve the same rights as you. Boo hoo. And talk about arrogance! What makes you so special?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal."

Jonas Cord: "Fortunately, the scientific reality is completely to the contrary - the reason that an embryo is valuable is because it is that young - as in recently fertilized, merely a few cells."

You are flatly wrong. Feel free to research "fetal nerve cell transplantation" or "fetal brain tissue transplantation". See especially research into Parkinsons. You should note that 'nerve cells' and 'brain tissue' are not found in embryos.

And it isn't just a slippery slope. It is being advocated already. See University of Nebreska.

Phil,

I am only conceding that you are acting like a jerk today and I have no desire to talk to someone behaving that way.

Carsick: Slart knows better. This is just his idea of foreplay.

Ah, the indirect ad hominem. How thoughtful.

I'm sorry.

See? We can agree.

You might want to peruse the posting rules, Jade. I think you'll find them reminiscent of rules you've disregarded elsewhere.

Carsick,

"You want to have a nice discussion with someone as you tell them you believe they don't deserve the same rights as you. Boo hoo. And talk about arrogance! What makes you so special?"


Maybe, it's the fact I can read...

"I think it is more accurate to say that people have made a direct frontal attack on the historical institution of marriage, which I do personally find offensive. The attack that is. I would have rather them argued that no one should receive special treatment."

"I can completely and totally accept that you disagree with the statement. Fine. But, I can't agree that it is a direct attack on your family."

"But, both of us are getting screwed compared to married couples with children who own a home making less money than us. And I think that is unfair."

Please feel free to find one example any where at this website where I have ever said gay people don't deserve the same rights as me.

Carsick quotes:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal."

Let me see if I can pracitce the debate style here that so many implement...

Are you making a sexist comment here? Are women not equal also?

To the adoption court a two parent household implies a more stable relationship than a single person may provide and perhaps a more stable economic picture as well. So a LEGALLY RECOGNIZED union probably has a "definite advantage" in the adoption area.

Is it a sure thing? I don't think it's thought of in those terms. What is today? Something like 51% of first marriages end in divorce.

I stand by my original statement that I don't think it is a threat to your family.

Let me spell it out then. Those in the US on refugee visas have their cases reviewed every year. The further the government goes to the right (and by that, in this context, I mean anti-gay), the more risk there is that his status will be revoked. If that happens, because his life is potentially in danger in his country, this platform represents a threat. It is a decidedly anti-gay platform.

More than that, however, the decision-making process in the status review includes calculations about the likelihood of the refugee obtaining permanment status. If the FMA is not passed, and there's a chance that gay marriage will become law in New York, that encourages the State Department to anticipate a permanent status solution to his case, and that buys him more time. Events in his own country come into play as well, so it's a tricky balancing act keeping him here. The potential for marriage is another option open to him and that increases his chances of having his status extended. If doors are closed, however, and it looks as if permanent residency is less likely, that's one less rationale for extending his visa.

Now, put yourself in my shoes and tell me how you wouldn't see the GOP platform a threat to your family. Consider your partner's fate being directly influenced by increasingly anti-"you" rhetoric and plans in government. Remember, should your partner's status be revoked, your partner's life is potentially in danger.

How can you not see that as a threat?

"Today?"

BTW carsick, I'm not ignoring you. You're just not saying anything I have any sort of issue with.

You should note that 'nerve cells' and 'brain tissue' are not found in embryos.

Not the issue and I suspect you know this.

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent as opposed to multipotent (adult stem cells). This means they are able to develop, in theory, all the tissues of the embryo.

Tell us, do you also oppose IVF?

Blue
You are stating that not allowing a gay person to gain the economic benefits you enjoy with your long term partner is NOT an attack on their family? Who do you think their family is? You think their parents or something?
Their family is the one they come home to and the one they hope to be with until their final days. But you seem to think allowing them the same economic benefits you enjoy is a frontal attack on your family? Who do you mean? Your parents or something?

When you state that you would rather have it argued that no one should receive special treatment what do you mean? Are you arguing against marriage as an institution? Or are you saying our society shouldn't help promote stable relationships? Or just what are you saying?

You might want to peruse the posting rules, Jade. I think you'll find them reminiscent of rules you've disregarded elsewhere.

You've apologized. I've accepted your apology.

Jadegold...play nice.

e

"SS benefits, inheritance, reduced healthcare benefits--"

Or, more saliently (If I recall Edward's situation correctly), the immigration/visa benefits. I know I'd be sad if my wife were in Australia right now because she wasn't my wife.

Whoops. or, what Edward said.

Sebastian,

You are flatly wrong. Feel free to research "fetal nerve cell transplantation" or "fetal brain tissue transplantation". See especially research into Parkinsons. You should note that 'nerve cells' and 'brain tissue' are not found in embryos.

"Nerve cells" and "brain tissue" are not found in embryos - but stem cells, having the ability to develop into any type of human cellular tissue is precisely what makes them promising, in contrast to this assessment of fetal tissue research:

First, development of a major medical treatment that will rely on the event, or availability, of aborted human fetal donor tissue is undesirable. Second, the use of human fetal tissue may be associated with infection risks to the patients with implants. Third, techniques for coordinating and handling aborted human fetal brain tissue have proved to be difficult, and may not be provide a large enough number of surviving dopamine cells for patients to recover from the disease.

To overcome these problems, fetal cells from non-human fetuses (such as porcine) or other biotechnology derived nerve cells can likely be developed as safe and effective alternative cell sources for transplantation to patients with neurodegenerative diseases. (emphasis mine)

Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to accept that biological research can cross into incontrovertibly immoral territory, and I find such things unacceptable. But I'm just not seeing it here. It seems to me that stem cells reduce the probability of your slippery slope scenario from coming true.

Meanwhile, I can't condemn research being done with aborted fetuses that otherwise are bound for where ever it is that they go. However I'd be standing with you should the FDA be looking to approve a treatment that relies upon such tissue, have no doubt.

Blue: I think it is more accurate to say that people have made a direct frontal attack on the historical institution of marriage, which I do personally find offensive. The attack that is.

Please explain how the fight for inclusion in a legal institution constitutes an "attack". Was the Women's Suffrage movement likewise an attack on the franchise? If not, what is the distinction?

I can completely and totally accept that you disagree with the statement. Fine. But, I can't agree that it is a direct attack on your family.

I think Edward has done a fine job of explaining why this is a very real threat to his family. However, I am curious to hear specifically how you square the idea that demanding these benefits is an attack on the institution (which will remain wholly unchanged for heterosexuals, no?) and yet the Republican position is not an attack on the families of same-sex partners, who have to deal with very real legal consequences--including losing inheritance, having their medical decisions for an incapacitated partner ignored, and a long and expensive bureaucratic road to attain a mere fraction of the benefits automatically conferred on an opposite-sex couple getting an impulsive quickie wedding in Vegas. So please, how do you support this distinction?

Added in proof: I see carsick has covered much the same ground. In any case, I'm interested in the answers.

To back up Ed: Quit with the ad homs. I'm looking mostly at JadeGold, but there are others who should focus on the issues being debated rather than the intellect/reading skills/morality of their opponents.

And, yes, I'm aware that we all (including, unsurprisingly, me) occasionally violate this advice. But try harder not to.

******

BTW, good post. Although I can live with Roe v. Wade winking out (putting the issue of abortion back to the states, where it should be), I cannot support efforts to enshrine hate in the Constituion and the Platform's stem cell position is intellectually and morally indefensible. The style may be moderate, but, if we are to believe that the Platform means something, the substance ain't.

The style may be moderate, but, if we are to believe that the Platform means something, the substance ain't.

This is precisely the motivation for this post. Supporters of Bush have repeated defended (to me at least when I expressed surprise or outrage on blogs) controversial policies the adminsitration has implemented by saying essentially "Well, if you look back to this or that point in the 2000 campaign, it's all right there. They said they were going to do that."

So now I trust them when they say they'll work for something...it's not just posturing...if they say that's what they want, I'll take them at their word.

"You should note that 'nerve cells' and 'brain tissue' are not found in embryos.

Not the issue and I suspect you know this.

Not what issue? I express concerns about the future of stem cell research because a therapy based on it is likely to require the use of large numbers of human embryos. This will require the manufacture of a large number of human embryos for use in a medical therapy. I further express 'slippery slope' concern. I support the slippery slope concern in two ways. First, in this very thread, it has been suggested that it is perfectly ok to use 'excess' embryos 'left over' from IVF techniques. I know this goes way back, but one of the biggest concerns in the controversy over IVF when it was first being researched was that it would lead to the cloning and research on unused embryos which would easily lead to the manufacture of human embryos for non-life uses. This was pooh-poohed at the time, and those who worried were assured that the techniques would be used only to help infertile couples create life for them to cherish.

We aren't there anymore. Read upthread. Now we are in 'might as well use them' mode.

My second bit of support for my slippery slope fear is regarding the 'its only a clump of cells' argument. If we develop a therapy requiring the manufacture and harvesting of embryos we are very close to manufacturing and harvesting fetuses, if they should prove fruitful for therapies. And brain tissue and nerve tissue from fetuses doesn't fall under the 'clump of cells' rubric. And it IS ALREADY BEING PROPOSED, so my slippery slope fears are not allayed.

I'm not against cord-stem cell research or marrow-stem cell research, I'm against taking and destroying embryos for research.

Where did I go off point?

Seb: "I express concerns about the future of stem cell research because a therapy based on it is likely to require the use of large numbers of human embryos. This will require the manufacture of a large number of human embryos for use in a medical therapy."

any evidence? i thought the purpose of establishing stem cell lines was to eliminate the need for embryonic research. and how many embryos / blastocytes / little boys and girls are frozen every year anyway during the course of IVF?

Francis

My second bit of support for my slippery slope fear is regarding the 'its only a clump of cells' argument. If we develop a therapy requiring the manufacture and harvesting of embryos we are very close to manufacturing and harvesting fetuses, if they should prove fruitful for therapies.

The creepy fetus factory would have to involve Scientists spending decades and billions of dollars researching how to make enormously complicated artificial wombs. As I understand it, stem cell production is easy, old-fashioned cellular cultivation in a petri dish. Your slippery-slope, as far as Science is concerned, would seem to be one where we all slide into areas that are far more complicated and difficult for less reliable and effective medicinal use.

I'm not against cord-stem cell research or marrow-stem cell research, I'm against taking and destroying embryos for research.

Apart from the slippery slope, do you have any other reason to be against this?

"An ESC line is a collection of stem cells, taken from a single embryo, and multiplied in the lab while maintaining their primitive state. In this way, just tens of cells can ultimately generate millions of cells for research. However, maintaining ESCs in their unspecialised state is extremely difficult as even slight stresses can cause them to differentiate and specialise.

Verlinsky's team demonstrated that their new ESC lines were unspecialised by showing they express certain "master proteins" like Oct-4, which are indicative of embryonic stem cells."


Hmmm

"The creepy fetus factory would have to involve Scientists spending decades and billions of dollars researching how to make enormously complicated artificial wombs. As I understand it, stem cell production is easy, old-fashioned cellular cultivation in a petri dish."

Uh, no. Or we wouldn't be worried about getting new stem cell lines all the time and we wouldn't be talking about the lack of viability for relying on old stem cell lines.

And what need for artificial wombs? Are there not early term abortions now? Why should we let those fetuses go to waste? Argh.

"Please explain how the fight for inclusion in a legal institution constitutes an "attack". "

"...that demanding these benefits is an attack on the institution..."

Your very questions states the nature of how this has all gone down lately... the FIGHT... that DEMANDING...

You think I am trying to defend a position and I am discussing tactics. I started my original post by saying what I thought would have been a more successful approach to achieving their result and commented on how Edwards characterization of it pushed me away from his position.

"I would have rather them argued that no one should receive special treatment."

and this

"But a threat? I can accept that you feel that way, but that kind of expression pushes me away from you."

I still think different tactics would be far more effective. Just for starters, if I was a Gay activist strategist I would be pushing for recognition of civil unions in every state. I would be arguing that marriage and civil unions should be treated equally. (Of course, that would still discriminate against single people.)

Somehow I think they need to reach out to people in the middle, which I think are people like myself.

1) I'm all about equal treatment for everyone.
2) I have many gay friends.
3) I have dated many different races.
4) I have dated gay people. (Although, I did find it ironic how often their gay friends joked that bi-sexuals are gay people in denial.)

When I watch some of the gay activists on t.v. and hear them speak and they turn me off... how much more difficult is their path going to be?

And that is the distinction for me. When I support their cause on principle and then feel pushed away by them that is over the line for me. I said that I understood how Edward could feel threatened. There are many people that believe there are some fundamental principles that make our society "work". When those principles are changed why should we be surprised that they might feel threatened also? You don't have to accept that their feeling threatned is justified, but it would help people in Edward's position if they did.

Make of this what you want, but a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman is not the same thing as a man marrying a woman. Maybe one day in our distant distant future it will be, but not today.

Or we wouldn't be worried about getting new stem cell lines all the time and we wouldn't be talking about the lack of viability for relying on old stem cell lines.

I was rhetorically sloppy. Of course the culivation of stem cells is difficult, but it is a walk in the park in comparison to developing artifical wombs.

And what need for artificial wombs? Are there not early term abortions now? Why should we let those fetuses go to waste? Argh.

You were the one maintaining that the slippery slope led to fetus factories, here:

If we develop a therapy requiring the manufacture and harvesting of embryos we are very close to manufacturing and harvesting fetuses, if they should prove fruitful for therapies.

And all I'm arguing here is that it seems completely unlikely that harvesting fetuses would be fruitful for actual therapies. Note that does not mean it is not fruitful for research, and that this research would not necessarily lead to cures and treatments using fetal tissue. Meanwhile, stem cells have a far better chance at being effective and would likely eliminate any devilish temptation for clumsy and inefficient fetus tissue therapies.

I'll ask again: is this about the slippery slope that stem cells leads us down, or is this about a heretofore unmentioned desire on your part to protect embryos for their own sake? That's what I'm likely to guess at this point.

Blue
You are a sensitive soul. I can tell because you think no one should fight.

"Your very questions states the nature of how this has all gone down lately... the FIGHT... that DEMANDING... "

Of course everyone would have been invited to the table of freedom or the vote or equal rights if they just asked the Massa nicely for those rights. In due time, in due time, the Massa might say and of course he would be right because he is da Massa afta'all.

Of course anyone who says, "I demand the respect guaranteed me in the Constitution" deserves no such thing because they broke a cardinal rule by using the word "demand". When will folks realize that one cannot be thought of as benevolent if it looks like they are giving in to demands. Those non-landowners, those suffragettes, those non-whites - they would have been given all those things they wanted in due time without...you know...fighting for them.


It would be so much easier if black people sounded like me and gay people didn't ...you know... sound gay. Especially if they didn't sound MILITANT by demanding things when they don't sound exactly like what I want them to sound like.

Maybe if they sounded more like Sidney Poitier or that nice congressman from Virginia, Ed Schrock then they might get what they wanted a little faster without turning people like you off.

Jonas. Fetal nerve cell transplantation and fetal brain cell transplantation is about taking fetal nerve and brain cells and transplanting them as a therapy. The slippery slope is now. It isn't some undefined and improbable future.

Blue, you didn't answer my questions: How does the fight for inclusion in a legal institution like civil marriage constitute an "attack" on that institution. Was the Women's Suffrage movement, by your reasoning, an attack on the franchise? If not, why not?

Blue: And that is the distinction for me. When I support their cause on principle and then feel pushed away by them that is over the line for me.

Do you support the right of otherwise eligible same-sex couples to enjoy the full protection of state and federal marriage laws? Because, as I see it, that is the cause, not "separate but equal" state civil unions, and not gays and lesbians begging the majority heterosexual electorate to approve of their relationships, pretty please.

If you do indeed support gay marriage, but believe advocates should limit themselves to the legislative process, then you do not, in fact, support the cause of equal rights. It is the duty of the state and federal legislatures to write laws that are constitutional. Telling same-sex marriage advocates to stick to the legislative arena even as the legislatures have already failed in this duty is tantamount to telling them that the constitution is not there to protect their rights.

So what, exactly, do you support, and on what principle?

Blue: I said that I understood how Edward could feel threatened. There are many people that believe there are some fundamental principles that make our society "work". When those principles are changed why should we be surprised that they might feel threatened also? You don't have to accept that their feeling threatned is justified, but it would help people in Edward's position if they did.

So, the way for gay rights advocates to find common ground with the folks who think they are out to wreck marriage is to concede the point?

I'm dumbfounded.

Blue,

I'd be thrilled if gay marriage emerged peacefully within the fabric of US society. I can understand where those who really want to believe that the Bay Buchanan's and Gary Bauer's of this country are not deliberately using this issue to divide Americans could interpret the language in the GOP platform as a response to a "fight" they did not start, but that ignores the reactionary aspects of it. It also ignores what the opponents of gay marriage are essentially saying: "your family is inferior to ours." If those aren't fighting words, then what would be?

From my point of view, accepting gay marriage is a natural consequence of a growing acceptance of gay Americans. In a country with historically progressive attitudes toward tolerance, acceptance, and personal freedom, gay marriage truly seems inevitable. Other developed nations already have it. Resisting it (and let's face it, the right-wing religious groups are working overtime on this issue) is an unAmerican defense of the status quo, as it betrays our history of increasing freedoms for our citizens, not chiseling their second-class status into our documents.

Carsick,

"You are a sensitive soul. I can tell because you think no one should fight."

Your sarcasm adds nothing and again, you miss my point for some reaason. I think TACTICS other than fighting and demanding would be more effective in this scenario. Unlike, the South where many people were violently against integration today the country as a whole is more accepting of gay people. Edward has expressed exactly the sentiment that drives me to conclude that different tactics from gay activist and the gay community as a whole would be more succesful.

"From my point of view, accepting gay marriage is a natural consequence of a growing acceptance of gay Americans. In a country with historically progressive attitudes toward tolerance, acceptance, and personal freedom, gay marriage truly seems inevitable."


Gromit,

I didn't answer your question because it is meaningless to me. You want me to come up with an answer for a position which I don't truly support.

Edward has expressed exactly why your question is mute:

"Resisting it (and let's face it, the right-wing religious groups are working overtime on this issue)"

We are never going to find logic that these people might use that you are going to agree with. They are never going to find logic that you use acceptable either. I can't see why I should answer the question only so you can disagree. You are never going to accept that "their" feelings are justified. I said:

"There are many people that believe there are some fundamental principles that make our society "work". When those principles are changed why should we be surprised that they might feel threatened also? You don't have to accept that their feeling threatned is justified, but it would help people in Edward's position if they did."

If you sincerely want me to answer your question I will. But, if your point is to just shoot it down as illogical I have no desire to engage in that.

I got into an argument with a girl I was dating one time... it went like this...

Girl: When you said so and so it made me angry.
Blue: But, I didn't say that. Remember, I said...
Girl: You are right that isn't what you said.
Blue: So we are cool, right?
Girl: No, I still feel hurt and angry

Gromit, that's just life.

"So what, exactly, do you support, and on what principle?"

Do you really want to know what I think or do you want to argue with me?

I will answer all of your questions if you really want me to. But, I don't have the desire to engage in an argument about how differently some people view the world and how they are wrong for doing so.


Edward,

Good post.

"It also ignores what the opponents of gay marriage are essentially saying: "your family is inferior to ours." "

I think what they are saying is that your family is not the same as our family. And it's actually not.


I think what they are saying is that your family is not the same as our family. And it's actually not.

They feel my family is "inferior." Let's call it what it is. Splitting hairs on this is ridiculous.

They're not trying to deny legal protections to divorcees who marry again, despite their children's lives being seriously disrupted. They're not trying to deny legal protections to straight couples who cannot reproduce, despite "protecting our children" being the cornerstone of their argument and many, many gay American's having children.

They claim to find the rationale for their discrimination in the Bible. They ignore the aspects of the Bible that suit their contemporary lifestyles, however, like Jesus's warnings not to divorce, so we can't actually take them on their word about that being their motivation.

It boils down to their need of an "other." A scapegoat. An enemy.

It's vile and selfish and (in case you haven't noticed) makes me furious.

Edward,

All I can say is that I know many good people who don't think gay marriage is the same as marriage between a man and a woman and they are nothing like you describe.

I can't defend those on the fringes nor would I, all I can say is focusing on them won't achieve your goals.

Really screwed that last post up... it obviously wasn't Edward posting.

They also don't wear head scarves...

Many don't shake snakes at the sky... which is a direct command from Jesus...


The list could go on and on....

I'd been not saying this for quite a while, but it's long past time for saying so.

I've not been vocal either way on gay marriage, because of a couple of different factors. First, because I don't think the Federal government ought to regulate (or even have any say at all in) matters pertaining to marriage, and second, because I'm a little conflicted on religious grounds. Which is all to say that I haven't reached a yea or nay conclusion, personally, and that I'm still giving it a great deal of thought.

That aside, I have to say this: gay couples, if they meet all of the other parameters of eligibility imposed on adoptive parents, ought to be able to adopt as if they were a married couple. There are many (as in, more than a few dozen) gay couples out there that would make splendid parents. Even if people dispute that, there's no question in my mind that any pair of loving, appreciative parents is better than no parents at all.

What to do about that, and how to solve Edward's problem WRT his partner, are things I don't have an immediate answer for. FWIW, I think we're now in the concentration phase of the issue, where nothing seems to happen for a while. Until, suddenly, it does.

All I can say is that I know many good people who don't think gay marriage is the same as marriage between a man and a woman and they are nothing like you describe.

Are they the ones essentially blackmailing the President, despite his vice-president's clear disagreement, into writing discrimination into our constitution?

Blue
You send dramatically mixed signals and that is why I first responded by asking for your clear opinion and then responded with sarcasm when you did not.

What does this mean?

"You don't have to accept that their feeling threatned is justified, but it would help people in Edward's position if they did."

It would help gay people if they agreed others feel justifiably threatened? How is their sense of threat JUSTIFIED? I may acknowledge that some people feel gay-marriage threatens their marriage but I can hardly agree that their sense of threat is JUSTIFIED. Justified by what?

And then this:

"I think TACTICS other than fighting and demanding would be more effective in this scenario."

snark* Maybe the gay community should try passive aggressiveness for awhile. *snark

When people say they are going to FIGHT against the proposal of a FMA Constitutional amendment you think their wording is too strong? We're talking about the Constitution for gosh sakes. I should hope we have an open and passionate debate before we go so far as to amend our Constitution for political points with a minority voting block.
During the civil rights movement did you think minorities hurt their cause by singing "We Shall Overcome"? Afterall, "overcome" is synonymous with "vanquish" and "overthrow" and "beat".
Did you think TACTICS other than "overcoming" would be more effective in that scenario?

I can't speak for Blue, but I would be hugely more comfortable with the tactics of other gay marriage supporters if they focused on legislatures rather than courts.

Edward says: "From my point of view, accepting gay marriage is a natural consequence of a growing acceptance of gay Americans. In a country with historically progressive attitudes toward tolerance, acceptance, and personal freedom, gay marriage truly seems inevitable. Other developed nations already have it. Resisting it (and let's face it, the right-wing religious groups are working overtime on this issue) is an unAmerican defense of the status quo, as it betrays our history of increasing freedoms for our citizens, not chiseling their second-class status into our documents."

It is a natural consequence of the growing acceptance of gay Americans. And as that grows, legislatures will respond. Which is how law is supposed to change.

It is a natural consequence of the growing acceptance of gay Americans. And as that grows, legislatures will respond. Which is how law is supposed to change.

Ideally, yes.

But name another issue where the opposition is working around the clock to pass pre-emptive legislation, apparently just to make it harder for the "natural" legislation to come about?

Slartibartfast -- Whenever the issue of gay marriage comes up, I find myself wishing that whoever first drafted the civil marriage laws had used some completely different term, like, say, civil unions. That way it would be clear that there are two totally different things: religious marriage, as defined by the various different religions, and civil unions, by which the state recognizes one's choice of partners and confers on the united couple various legal benefits and costs. If this distinction were clear, then I think it would be a lot easier to see that changes to the civil institution do not concern the religious institution at all. And I think it would be clear -- it seems clear to me, at any rate -- that for the government to dictate a person's choice of partner in any way that's not required for the protection of the innocent (the way having a minimum age of marriage is) is just wrong, and wrong in ways that I would think conservatives would appreciate -- namely, interfering in people's most personal and private choices.

I mean: suppose we grant for the sake of argument that there is something non-optimal about two people of the same sex marrying one another. (NOTE: this is a hypothetical stipulation, not something I actually believe.) Surely there are worse marriages one could make. Marrying an abusive person, for instance, seems far worse, not just for the person who marries the abuser but for their children. Even marrying a coldhearted jerk who cuts people down every chance s/he gets, or an emotionally manipulative and totally unreliable con artist, seems worse, to me, than marrying a loving, decent, honorable person of the same sex. But most people don't think that we should give the state the right to ban these marriages. And one reason for that is that this is a decision we think people have the right to make for themselves. The government should not be in the business of telling us who to fall in love with, or who to decide to spend our lives together with; and if it isn't, it shouldn't be in the business of rewarding some choices and penalizing others, unless, as I said earlier, it needs to do so to protect those who are not in a position to make an informed choice about who to marry. (E.g. children, not to mention Rick Santorum's beloved pets, who cannot understand what marriage is and therefore can't voluntarily enter into it.)

If we hadn't started out using the same word, as I said, this might be much clearer. But we have, and so we have to figure out where to go from here. Personally, I'd rather change the name of the civil institution for gays and heterosexual people alike, but in reality anyone who proposed that would be instantly vilified ("hilzoy wants to do away with marriage!!!", etc.) One could use the term 'marriage' for straight people and 'civil union' for gays, but it is very hard to see why that isn't itself exclusionary (Imagine, in the '50s, trying to compromise with segregationists by saying that while blacks and whites can go to the same schools, take the same classes, and fulfill the same graduation requirements, whites can earn 'diplomas' but blacks can only earn 'high school completion certificates'. Much better than segregation, but it's hard to understand what on earth would motivate the different nomenclature other than racism.) Since neither of these works, and since I think that the most important thing is to provide the same legal opportunities to gays and straights, I end up supporting gay marriage.

"It is a natural consequence of the growing acceptance of gay Americans. And as that grows, legislatures will respond. Which is how law is supposed to change."

Civil rights were intially won in the courts. And if the republican platform's stance is enacted, the legislators will try to write laws that will make it very hard for future legislation (particularly STATE legislation) to chip away at the status quo for gays to gain even minimal civil union benefits.

I agree with nearly everything you just said, hilzoy. I do think that the "civil union" (or whatever term you prefer) wouldn't be used exclusively by gays; there are lots of conventional marriages that are NOT religious in nature, and those might find themselves more comfortable in a purely secular contract.

Edward,

No, I wouldn't say they are the same people. And I think the gay community is fighting against the wrong opponent. I think it needs to get middle America on its side. That is really my whole point.

Carsick,

You quoted me saying:
"You don't have to accept that their feeling threatned is justified, but it would help people in Edward's position if they did."

Then you said:
"It would help gay people if they agreed others feel justifiably threatened?"

No, I mean if they understood that people may feel threatened and that those people feel justified in that feeling. Not that they are right to feel that way. Obviously, that doesn't make sense or there would be no debate.

I've seen that same logic used many times at this website but applied to Moslems. Have we not all heard statements like... "we just need to understand why they are so upset with America. We need to accept that they have legitimate gripes."

That same logic also applies to other people that might be wrong in their beliefs, but yet it is more productive to try and work with them.


"When people say they are going to FIGHT against the proposal of a FMA Constitutional amendment you think their wording is too strong?"

It compeletly depends on who and how. To be blunt, the gay community has an image problem with respect to middle America. To get more support they need to do better marketing.

I don't think today's America is the same one that existed 40 years ago. It has changed alot in the last 40 years, I think the gay community has an image problem that if corrected would be a quicker path to achieving their goals

Sebastian: I suspect I am no more a fan of judicial activism than you are. I also think that these sorts of changes are more likely to be stable, in the long run, if done through the legislature than the courts. That being said, however, I think that there's a very good case to be made that barring gays from marrying is unconstitutional, under the 14th amendment (equal protection clause.) Also, while I'm normally wary of invoking the 9th amendment ("The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"), I also think that the claim that something is one of these unenumerated rights is strongest when that right concerns the freedom to choose for oneself in areas absolutely central to human life, where that choice does not harm others; and that the choice of who to marry is one of the most obviously central aspects of life that there is. I would support a 9th amendment argument against, say, state efforts to choose people's occupations for them, and for the same reasons I support it here.

If there is a decent case to be made, then the next question is, should supporters of gay marriage make it? I think that given the choice between bringing a case now and passing laws through the legislature now, one should choose the legislature. But that is not, of course, the choice we face. We should, I think, try to do both, but realistically the part of the effort that involves courts is likely to succeed first (unless Bush is elected for another term, and succeeds in populating the Federal bench with members of the Federalist Society.)

So then the last question is: is there some reason to care how quickly this gets done? Why not wait? If this were a trivial issue, or even a not too terribly important one, I'd say: OK, wait. But it's not (see Edward's description of his situation.) People are being deprived of equal treatment, and some of them are paying a real and serious price for it. And cases in which a non-activist construction of the Constitution would lead us to conclude that people are being deprived of their rights are exactly the cases that courts were put on this earth to consider.

"Civil rights were intially won in the courts."

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Civil rights were initially won in Constitutional Amendments--a Constitution changing process I wholly endorse. They were also secured by the Civil Rights Act. It is called the civil right 'Act' because it was an act of congress, which is to say legislative.

"But name another issue where the opposition is working around the clock to pass pre-emptive legislation, apparently just to make it harder for the "natural" legislation to come about?"

I presume you are talking about the Clinton administration signed and supported DOMA act?

I don't agree with your characterization of even that act (which BTW I did not support). It was not passed to make natural legislation harder. It was passed to make judicial monkeying around harder. It wouldn't have passed without the broad hints from the Hawaii judiciary that they were going to make a dramatic ruling creating new Hawaii law allowing gay marriages. Pre-emptive legislation against legislation doesn't make sense. It isn't binding on the future legislatures.

This problem is a legacy of the liberal impulse to use the court system to impose a vast array of changes. Use the legislature. It takes a bit longer but is seen as much much much more legitimate by the American people. Furthermore by taking so many crucial changes through the judiciary, you undermine the trust judges need to protect the Constitution in those areas which they really are supposed to be engaged. Judges are not meant to be the elements of change in our system. They are supposed to apply the laws that are passed by the legislatures and they are supposed to preserve the Constitution. I say 'preserve' quite intentionally. Changes in the character of the Constitution are supposed to come through the amendment process.

Gay marriage has been an issue that has had national prominence for less than eight years. It hasn't had anything like national support until maybe this year. Pick a state with high levels of support. Push it through the legislature. It will probably take one or two election cycles in that state to punish people for ignoring the will of the people. Plan on 6-8 years.

Which BTW could have been started 6-8 years ago. Instead gay marriage advocates have taken the most divisive route possible by going exclusively through the courts. And that sucks. Because I suspect that approximately the same level of waiting is involved. Gay marriage activists didn't start their court push yesterday, they have spent years on it. Legislatures are empowered to make social change. Courts are empowered to protect and preserve the changes that legislatures make (and protect and preserve the changes made through the amendment process.) Spend those years in the legislature. Spend those years in the grass roots. It is somewhat harder, but the payoff is immense.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Civil rights were initially won in Constitutional Amendments--a Constitution changing process I wholly endorse.

If you're going to wax historical, you might not want to overlook a little thing called The Civil War in there. That's where (universal) civil rights were initially "won" by any meaningful stretch of the imagination -- and I assume that such a Constitution-changing process would not meet with your approval here.

De facto, civil rights were won (back) in the courts, because they had been previously lost in the courts (see, e.g. Plessy v. Fergusson) thereby undercutting the force of the Constitutional Amendments of which you spoke. The full extent of civil rights were (more or less) secured and codified by the Civil Rights Act, yes, but there's a considerable swathe of history there you've omitted.

[All of which you know, so these omissions are more than just disingenuous, they're outright deceptive.]

Anyway, I once again ask the question I always ask at this point in the conversation: do you believe that the Civil Rights Act could have passed without Brown v. Board ten years previously? If so, how?

Sebastian
Sometimes I want to ask you to do a simple Google search before you write.

"Civil rights were intially won in the courts."

"Wrong, wrong, wrong. Civil rights were initially won in Constitutional Amendments--a Constitution changing process I wholly endorse. They were also secured by the Civil Rights Act. It is called the civil right 'Act' because it was an act of congress, which is to say legislative."

I guess Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks will be interested to know that the Supreme Court actually didn't abolish the practice of segregation on buses and in turn raise the profile of the issue of institutional racism in America. Was the Civil Rights Act around in 1955?
No. 1964.

Hmmmm

My mistake: a mild Civil Rights Act was passed in 1957 to establish a Civil Rights Section at the Justice Department and a Civil Rights Commission.
Many could argue successfully that the legislation was prompted by the actions of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the Supreme Court.

[All of which you know, so these omissions are more than just disingenuous, they're outright deceptive.]

I beg to differ; if I had been asked what was the bedrock the Civil Rights movement I would also agree that it stems directly from the Constitution. Your (very true) comment that the judiciary gave back rights that an earlier incarnation (irresponsibly) took away reinforces Sebastian's point, not contradicts it. He apparently doesn't like trusting an unelected court; frankly, neither do I.

Look, I support gay marriage, but the way it's being pursued now isn't going to be stable even if it works. The judiciary is as prone to the vagaries of custom and fad as any other branch of government; and what one person may decree another may decry - which is of some importance when those people have the power to determine the validity of laws. To trust a right to the implicit interpretation of a law is to trust in the wind; one judge on one day can overturn centuries of tradition. This is great when you disapprove of the tradition; but what happens if the pendulum swings back?

Non scriptus, non est.

When semicolons attack, it seems; this clause meaningless, except to continue the joke.

"Many could argue successfully that the legislation was prompted by the actions of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the Supreme Court."

MLK and Rosa Parks weren't all about the Supreme Court. MLK was especially about forcing change in the legislature.

None of which applies to the gay marriage debate. Gay marriage advocates haven't tried the legislative route. And you have to admit they are asking for a change in the laws. And you can't pretend that the concept of marriage over thousands of years as later codified in civil law includes gay marriage, it does not. So you are talking about a dramatic social change. Go through the proper channels. Legislatures are empowered to make dramtic social changes. If you think it is important enough, amend the Constitution. Amendments are empowered to make dramatic social change in the US.

For me this goes back to hilzoy's lament about using the word 'marriage' in civil laws. Pretending that the word automatically means 'union between two people of whatever gender' is nothing but pretending. Changing the word to include same-sex unions is fine. But when you go through the court system, you are required by the venue to pretend that marriage has always meant that. You are required to pretend that gay people are a specially protected class under the constitution. And that is a perversion of law.

Every social change desired by progressives could be couched in terms of unequal rights between people. Every single one. Therefore they are all Constitutional issues to be decided by the courts. Right?

What role does the legislature have? Purely purse strings? Or is even that threatened by cases like those found in Nevada where the Nevada Supreme Court tried to order the legislature to spend more money on education?


What is the function of the legislature?

My biggest problem with the "let's just work legislatively" crowd is that it implies new legislation appears out of thin air. It doesn't.
People fight (I know Blue doesn't like that word) everyday to convince others of the importance of an issue. Sometimes people spend a lot of time and money to fight a perceived wrong all the way to the Supreme Court.
To act as though "fighting" and the courts should keep their noses out of the legislative process is to mislead people about how our democratic republic works.

Argh, I'm all for fighting for the changes you want. I want to do it in the legislature. You can't even seem to get that for even one paragraph. You go from 'legislation doesn't appear from thin air' to 'fighting to the Supreme Court' without acknowledging that those might be two different things.

The fight for gay marriage in legislatures has not been joined. Gay marriage advocates haven't done it. They have focused for years on the court system.

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