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November 04, 2009

Comments

russell: "The significant distinction here is that unmarried straight people can get married."

No, it's not the significant distinction if you're taking about the civil rights of same-sex couples being abrogated. If those abrogated rights are made available to all domestic partnerships, no matter what the sexual combinations of those partnerships, gays in domestic partnerships would receive them along with everyone else.

And if gays are receiving all the specific rights they say they're being denied, what civil rights are they being deprived of? Aside from the ceremonial recognition, what other legal rights are in question?

Jay, would you have used that argument in opposition to legalizing interracial marriage? If not, why not? Would not the same logic apply?

The RI case looks to me like a law built on an event. There are countless of these in the US (like the ones about throwing moose out of aeroplanes, banning Robin Hood stories for propagating communism, fining people for showering naked, allowing to shoot at Indians from behind canvas...)

No, it's not the significant distinction if you're taking about the civil rights of same-sex couples being abrogated.

Actually, it's precisely the significant distinction.

If those abrogated rights are made available to all domestic partnerships, no matter what the sexual combinations of those partnerships, gays in domestic partnerships would receive them along with everyone else.

All heterosexual domestic partners can gain access to all of the benefits that accrue to marriage by *getting married*.

Nobody's saying they have to get married, but they can if they wish to.

That is not available to gays in almost all jurisdictions.

And I can guarantee you that, were the law to be changed so that any "registered domestic partnership", however that is construed, was granted the benefits currently given only to married couples, we would immediately see an effort to deny "registered domestic partnership" status to gays.

Why? Because a significant number of people think homosexuality is plain old wrong, and they will resist to the last fiber of their being any public sanction of what they consider to be bad, sinful behavior. Period.

Trust me on this.

Lots of folks just don't like homosexuality, for any of a variety of reasons. Fine, whatever. That's their problem, it's not my hash to settle. We can all talk until we're blue in the face, but some minds are just not open to persuasion. Unfortunately.

However, that's *not a good enough reason to deny gays access to civic and legal institutions that are readily available to anyone who isn't gay*.

We shouldn't tolerate it for employment, we shouldn't tolerate it for housing, we shouldn't tolerate it for legal marriage. We shouldn't tolerate it for any aspect of public, civil life.

Marriage, for good or ill, confers civic and legal privileges. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does.

Straights can have them, gays can't. That's what makes it a civil rights issue.

Oh. Wow. No sense in showering with your clothes on, is there?

Obviously that last wasn't in response to russell; it was in response to Hartmut.

Hopefully, obviously.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-gay-wed-dc12-2009nov12,0,3335491.story>What ever happened to rendering unto Caesar?

Or: When did they decide to try to be Caesar instead of just rendering? Yeah, I know, probably a week or two after what's his name, the guy who gave that instruction, left the scene.

russell, you are more correct than you may suspect. The very same people that fought the gay marriage law in Maine pretending to be just against 'marriage' for gays (but being no way anti-gay*) fought against civil unions in Washington without that pretense**.
The same tactic is used by those that want to make both abortion and contraception illegal. They keep silent about the latter until they have achieved the former.

*even asking their most rabid allies to stay away or shut up in order not to destroy the illusion
**and internally stating that that too is only one step on the way. Next goal: get back the sodomy laws.

"Why? Because a significant number of people think homosexuality is plain old wrong, and they will resist to the last fiber of their being any public sanction of what they consider to be bad, sinful behavior. Period."

There is also that inconvenient fact that the laws as written referenced "married" and "spouse" in establishing the benefits because there was a common understnding that it meant heterosexual partners. So the shortest way to get those benefits to be incurred by same sex partners is to redefine the common meaning.

That is, of course, also taking an end around redefining which of those benefits would or would not be granted if the meaning was changed and the laws reviewed.

This is not a constitutional issue, it is a bunch of laws that provide primarily financial benefits on a very specific group in society, to which same sex couples do not belong, but they want those financial benefits.

Other groups would like some of those benefits, but it is a harder task to review all of the benefits and assign them to people they should apply to.

So the answer is "get married and let everyone who wants to get married" no matter what the original intent of the law was.

but they want those financial benefits

Among other things.

See my comment earlier about the shorthand of having one readily and universally recognized set of roles, relationships, rights, etc. It goes far, far beyond the financial.

Slartibartfast:
No sense in showering with your clothes on, is there?

Ever see Charade?

"See my comment earlier about the shorthand of having one readily and universally recognized set of roles, relationships, rights, etc. It goes far, far beyond the financial."

The challenge is that if the benefits are reviewed in isolation some would be easy (most medical related ones), some more difficult(inheritance), some almost impossible(coadoption).

So the attempt is to tie them together so they aren't evaluated individually to avoid the case by case review of the intent of the lawmakers and public.

So instead of fighting for the specifics it turns into a "civil rights" fight, which it isn't.

Marty: So the shortest way to get those benefits to be incurred by same sex partners is to redefine the common meaning.

It's an odd little thing, that homophobic conviction that if married couple is applied to same-sex couples, it changes the "common meaning" of marriage.

Because for the people who maintain that the common meaning of marriage can't include same-sex couples without redefining, they just put on public, open display the fact that for them, marriage does not mean two people pledging to love, honor, and cherish each other lifelong: for them, marriage is not to do with love, loyalty, caring for children, mutual support through thick and thin, sickness and health.

The amount of meanings these people must exclude from what they earnestly assure us is "the common meaning" of marriage in their view, mean that for all normal and loving understanding of marriage, they themselves are redefining marriage, in order to be able to exclude a category of people they don't like from it.

They don't want gay people to be able to get married, because in their bigoted view, sharing marriage with gay people will spoil marriage. For them, marriage isn't about love and commitment to your chosen partner, it's a privilege from which people must be excluded in order to know that it's valuable.

I feel slightly sorry for their wives/husbands, if they have them, being so very publicly slighted.

Sounds great Jes, I agree, until you start getting the government to define the benefits assigned to that loving, supportive relationship.

This is just a bunch of nice rhetoric that flies in the face of the actual discussion here. None of the things in your comment are government endowed or approved and any couple can have them any time they like.

And I am sure you don't mean that the accepted usage of the term historically was homophobic, just that it's a great accusation to throw out at anyone who doesn't agree with you. Which is tiresome.

Sounds great Jes, I agree, until you start getting the government to define the benefits assigned to that loving, supportive relationship.

They're already defined, Marty, hadn't you noticed? Over a thousand benefits are defined and attached to civil marriage by the US federal government, and about 500 by the state governments. No one seems to have a difficulty with that, aside from homophobic bigots who don't think gay people should have the same rights as straight people do.

None of the things in your comment are government endowed or approved and any couple can have them any time they like.

Precisely: the common meaning of marriage does in fact include same-sex couples. Glad you agree.

And I am sure you don't mean that the accepted usage of the term historically was homophobic

I mean exactly what I say: people who claim that the "accepted usage" of marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with two people pledging to love, honor, and cherish each other, are foolish. People who claim that in order to argue that same-sex couples can't get married, are homophobic.

just that it's a great accusation to throw out at anyone who doesn't agree with you

Oh, come off it. I do not point out that Von is being homophobic when he argues that Republicans have a great healthcare plan, though I disagree with him, because his support for the Republican healthcare plan does not make him homophobic, it makes him conservative. Your claim that I call anyone who doesn't agree with me "homophobic" is truly foolish.

But as we have already established on this thread and on other discussions, there are no reasons other than homophobia to argue that same-sex couples can't be allowed to get married.

There is also that inconvenient fact that the laws as written referenced "married" and "spouse" in establishing the benefits because there was a common understnding that it meant heterosexual partners.

Yes, and for quite a long time in this country the common understanding of the word "person" for many if not most legal and civic purposes was "free white man".

And, that common understanding changed. Common understandings often do, but equally often not without a kick in the pants.

"Precisely: the common meaning of marriage does in fact include same-sex couples. Glad you agree."

Yes, the common meaning, but not the commonly accepted legal meaning when laws were being passed.

"But as we have already established on this thread and on other discussions, there are no reasons other than homophobia to argue that same-sex couples can't be allowed to get married."

"We" haven't established that, and you asserting it over and over doesn't make it true.

Yes, the common meaning, but not the commonly accepted legal meaning when laws were being passed.

Exactly. Just as, once, the commonly accepted legal meaning of "voter" was "white man over 21". Lift the legal ban on voting for black people, or women, or people aged 18-21, and the commonly accepted legal meaning of the word "voter" changes. There is no reason to continue to ban black people (or women) from voting just because "voters" had historically been held to mean "white men". So with the legal meaning of marriage.

"We" haven't established that

You may not have accepted that, but it has been established by argument on this and other threads, nonetheless.

you asserting it over and over doesn't make it true.

I assert it over and over because it is true - no one has yet, has ever, come up with a reason why same-sex couples should be banned from marriage that isn't homophobic.

Marty, what was the "commonly accepted legal meaning" of "arms" when the 2nd Amendment was passed? Or for that matter, of "the press" when the 1st Amendment was?

Did the "commonly accepted legal meaning" encompass only those forms of "arms" or "the press" which were known (or even imagined) at the time?

--TP

"Marty, what was the "commonly accepted legal meaning" of "arms" when the 2nd Amendment was passed? Or for that matter, of "the press" when the 1st Amendment was?

Did the "commonly accepted legal meaning" encompass only those forms of "arms" or "the press" which were known (or even imagined) at the time?"

Interesting, but not on point. We are not talking about constitutional rights or protections, we are talking about benefits defined inadequately, mostly in state law, by using the words "married" and "spouse". Adequate and clear descriptions when initially used, inadequate obviously today.

Gromit: "Jay, would you have used that argument in opposition to legalizing interracial marriage? If not, why not? Would not the same logic apply?"

The same logic doesn't apply because race is different then gender, it's like comparing apples and orange-crates. Those interracial prohibitions were against MEN and WOMEN of different races marrying. It wasn't about males marrying males of different races or females marrying females of different races. Gender is THE primary identifying characteristic of our species; and if it isn't a more important distinction for determining who should be allowed to marry then interracial marriage was, why is such a significant percentage of the Black community against it? If same-sex marriage is so plainly equivalent to the prohibitions against interracial marriage, why are so many African Americans against it?

It's also interesting to note that Denmark, the first Western nation in the world to legalize same-sex relationships, the nation with the highest support for same-sex marriage (around 70%) hasn't legalized gay marriage. Nor has England, with a high percentage in favor.

But some cold-climate nations have legalized it, like Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the appropriately named Isle of Man, which has a fairly temperate climate, but lots of rain: so if you're gay and want to get married immediately and don't mind freezing your ass off or having it soaked to the bone, you may want to keep those destinations in mind.

The debate in Europe over same-sex marriage is as diverse and contentious as it is here. Among the 27 member European Union countries opinion is split: 8 countries overall favoring it; the rest against it). The Central European nations are uniformly against it. Same for all the Southern European nations, except Spain, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.

Overall, five or six European nations have have legalized same-sex marriage. Another 7 or 8 nations recognize same-sex domestic partnerships and cohabitation. France, historically a liberal same-sex country (as early as 1985 they prohibited discrimination based on gay lifestyle in employment) allows 'a civil pact of solidarity' between same sex or opposite sex couples, a form of civil union that provides many of the rights and benefits of marriage (filing joint tax returns, etc) but not direct property rights (a separate will is required), or absolute adoption rights (both partners in a same-sex relationship can have parental rights over one partner's biological child; but if a child's biological parent want's the child, that parent has preference).

That's like the system I proposed earlier in the thread: a way to provide most of the benefits of marriage to any couple, no matter their sex, without calling it 'marriage' and thereby blurring its meaning.

So if it's good enough for the French, why not enact a similar law here?
Vive le France!!: Mariage pour hétérosexuels; Cérémonies civiles pour les gays!!

Russell: "All heterosexual domestic partners can gain access to all of the benefits that accrue to marriage by *getting married*."

Wrong. A 60 year old father, living with his divorced 30 year old daughter, and her two minor children. They can't get married. A middle-aged brother and his sister, neither involved in outside relationships or wanting to be, sharing an apartment for the past decade because they value each others company, they can't get married. A widow and a widower in their 60s (there's about a million plus of them cohabiting per the 2000 Census) who would lose their former partners pensions/insurance/social-security benefits if they remarry, really can't marry without severe economic hardship. Cohabiting heterosexual Catholics, separated from their original spouses, who can't get divorced because of their religious beliefs, therefore can't marry each other in a civil marriage.

"And I can guarantee you that, were the law to be changed so that any "registered domestic partnership", however that is construed, was granted the benefits currently given only to married couples, we would immediately see an effort to deny "registered domestic partnership" status to gays."

So what. It would be a much weaker effort then the one against same-sex marriage. You'd have an easy time getting those domestic partner changes passed with 5.5 million cohabiting couples in the US, who would mostly be in favor of voting for it because they'd benefit from it.

Cohabiting heterosexual Catholics, separated from their original spouses, who can't get divorced because of their religious beliefs, therefore can't marry each other in a civil marriage.

There is no law against it. They can in fact get married. They choose not to. That's an enormous, huge difference though.

A 60 year old father, living with his divorced 30 year old daughter, and her two minor children. They can't get married. A middle-aged brother and his sister, neither involved in outside relationships or wanting to be, sharing an apartment for the past decade because they value each others company, they can't get married.

What on earth does this have to do with anything?

A widow and a widower in their 60s (there's about a million plus of them cohabiting per the 2000 Census) who would lose their former partners pensions/insurance/social-security benefits if they remarry, really can't marry without severe economic hardship.

There is no law against it. They can in fact get married. They choose may not to. That's an enormous, huge difference though.

For example, there is (or was) also a marriage penatly in some tax scenarios. However, this did not equal a legal prohibition on marriage.

hartmut: "The very same people that fought the gay marriage law in Maine pretending to be just against 'marriage' for gays (but being no way anti-gay*) fought against civil unions in Washington without that pretense**.

Senators, I have here in my hands a list of all the Communists presently employed in the U.S. State Department, take my word for it, the names are here, the VERY same people who are undermining our nation, although I'm not going to tell you if they're very much or almost very much or partially very much of the same people because bottom line they're all very very much the same.

Yours truly, the WideBrush Commentator

Interesting, but not on point.

Way to move goalposts, Marty. Tou are the one claiming that the historical usage of a word at the time legislation was written overrides current usage.

We are not talking about constitutional rights or protections

Yes, we are. "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof."

Jesurgislac: "For them, marriage isn't about love and commitment to your chosen partner, it's a privilege from which people must be excluded in order to know that it's valuable. "

Sob sob, sigh sigh (get me a tissue, this is a real tearjerker!!).

What's Love Got To Do With It?
Love Is Just a 2nd Hand Same-Sex Distraction

You certainly don't need a marriage license to show your love and commitment to a partner. Or are you suggesting that same-sex love is so perishable that a Partnership Certificate instead of a Marriage License will make their love melt away faster than a Slurpy on a hot day?

Has that happened in the UK? Are gays who enter into legal civil partnerships in your country breaking up faster than married heterosexuals? Or faster than heterosexuals in civil partnerships?

Are those civil partnerships working or not? If they are, why aren't you in favor of us initiating a similar option here in the US?

And, that common understanding changed.

Nuh-uh: TRADITION!

Wanted: Thread or Undead

Still going strong, I see.

Jay, why, seemingly, can't you understand that same-sex couples don't want to wait around for some magical, all-encompassing domestic-partnership movement to spring up and sweep them in along with the father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister regime you have in mind? And how is it that one cannot advocate for same-sex marriage without somehow squashing your proposed domestic partnerships?

I guess I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with these other marriage-like arrangements, which might include same-sex couples, but they don't seem to be on the horizon or to have significant advocacy. Same-sex marriage, on the other hand, does. I don't see how your issue should be compelling to those seeking same-sex marriage.

I could start discussing a movement for abolishing all legal recognition of gender, rendering the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages moot, thus solving the marriage problem for same-sex couples. Why wouldn't homosexuals be happy with that? And, really, they should stop trying to get same-sex marriage, since it's going to hurt, or at least not help, my cause.

Marty: So instead of fighting for the specifics it turns into a "civil rights" fight, which it isn't.

The Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia: Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man..."

Ah, but JanieM, he said "man" ;)

Cohabiting heterosexual Catholics, separated from their original spouses, who can't get divorced because of their religious beliefs, therefore can't marry each other in a civil marriage.

There is no law against it. They can in fact get married. They choose not to. That's an enormous, huge difference though.

There is no law against their getting divorced, for that matter. There is no law against skipping Mass on Sunday or eating meat on Friday; Catholics choose to do these things. Just like Marty's son and his girlfriend choose not to exercise a right that is unquestionably theirs (presuming they're not married to other people etc. etc.).

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/what-marriage-is.html>Dan Savage, cutting to the chase.

Eric, ha. ;)

The same logic doesn't apply because race is different then gender, it's like comparing apples and orange-crates... Gender is THE primary identifying characteristic of our species

Shorter Jay: gay marriage raises different issues than interracial marriage does, because homosexuality is unnatural.

russell: "Shorter Jay: gay marriage raises different issues than interracial marriage does, because homosexuality is unnatural."

you disappoint me, russell, making that 'unnatural' assertion. I never stated or implied anywhere that homosexuality is unnatural. shame on you for that disparaging characterization.

"Jay, why, seemingly, can't you understand that same-sex couples don't want to wait around for some magical, all-encompassing domestic-partnership movement to spring up and sweep them in along with the father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister regime you have in mind?"

How long do you think it's going to take to pass same-sex marriage laws in all the states? A century?

eric martin: "What on earth does this have to do with anything? "

You're kidding, right? I was responding to the assertion that any cohabiting heterosexuals could get married if they wanted to: I gave examples of heterosexuals living together who can't get married: what part of that escapes you?

Then you come up with this peculiar observation about the million plus elderly cohabiting in the US unable to marry because of the severe economic hardship it would entail:

"There is no law against it. They can in fact get married. They choose may not to. That's an enormous, huge difference though."

That's like saying there was no law against voting in states with high poll taxes -- if the disincentives are significant it becomes a defacto prohibition. If you're an elderly person barely surviving on your deceased spouse's pension, and have to give it up if you remarry, telling them they can "in fact get married" is an uninformed distortion of fact. I can't believe you're actually making that argument; the problem of the elderly living together because they can't afford to live on their own is widespread. In 2006 1.8 million American aged 50 and older lived in heterosexual unmarried-partner households. That demographic is almost a million more than same-sex cohibitation. There are numerous financial disincentives for seniors to remarry, from loss of military and pension benefits and health insurance and social security survivor benefits, to a slew of personal reasons for not wanting to be FORCED to marry to maintain their present relationships.

As stated above, numerous European nations have initiated civil or domestic partnership laws to provide gays and others many of the significant benefits of marriage. That's what we should do here.

JanieM: "There is no law against skipping Mass on Sunday or eating meat on Friday; Catholics choose to do these things."

And there's no law against executing a Durable Power of Attorney, or a Will, or a Contract to mutually own Property -- (all cheaper and faster than procuring a marriage license) which Gays can chose to do if they want those benefits.

Jay Jerome: The same logic doesn't apply because race is different then gender, it's like comparing apples and orange-crates. Those interracial prohibitions were against MEN and WOMEN of different races marrying. It wasn't about males marrying males of different races or females marrying females of different races. Gender is THE primary identifying characteristic of our species; and if it isn't a more important distinction for determining who should be allowed to marry then interracial marriage was, why is such a significant percentage of the Black community against it?

Jay, you wrote earlier:

No, it's not the significant distinction if you're taking about the civil rights of same-sex couples being abrogated. If those abrogated rights are made available to all domestic partnerships, no matter what the sexual combinations of those partnerships, gays in domestic partnerships would receive them along with everyone else.

Your reasoning, as I understand it, is that extending domestic partnership rights to all couples is a sufficient remedy for same sex couples because it is the rights that matter, not the label. You have not explained why it would not then have been a sufficient remedy for interracial couples. Pointing out that legalizing interracial marriage benefitted heterosexuals and not homosexuals doesn't really support your case the way you might think. Is equal treatment under the law a civil right or is it not? The answer doesn't change depending on whether you are talking about race or gender.

If same-sex marriage is so plainly equivalent to the prohibitions against interracial marriage, why are so many African Americans against it?

Because African-Americans are just as capable of having prejudices as every one else. Surely this isn't news to you.

I never stated or implied anywhere that homosexuality is unnatural.

Here was your statement:

Those interracial prohibitions were against MEN and WOMEN of different races marrying. It wasn't about males marrying males of different races or females marrying females of different races. Gender is THE primary identifying characteristic of our species; and if it isn't a more important distinction for determining who should be allowed to marry then interracial marriage was, why is such a significant percentage of the Black community against it?

Unless I'm mistaken, your argument here is that there is a stronger case to be made for denying access to marriage based on whether you are straight or gay than there is for denying access to marriage based on race.

Further, you seem to be arguing that the reason the case against homosexual marriage is stronger is because "gender" is a more fundamental aspect of human nature than race is.

For "gender" I'm reading "gender preference", because it's the only reading that is remotely coherent in the context of the overall discussion. Nobody is talking about denying access to marriage to either men or women as a whole.

I don't care if you find my reading disappointing or not. I'm just unpacking your language, dude. If you'd like to take another swing at it and explain what your real intent was, feel free.

According to russell, my comments on this open thread are "off the table", but I'd like to suggest that people refresh their memory about the struggles of alternative families. The United States Supreme Court, in its better days, in Moore v. City of East Cleveland, was willing to think about problems with the nuclear family considered as a preferred model. The rhetoric that suggests marriage somehow transforms a "second class" relationship into a "first-class" one is not "helpful" to a lot of people.

Jay, why, seemingly, can't you understand that same-sex couples don't want to wait around for some magical, all-encompassing domestic-partnership movement to spring up and sweep them in along with the father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister regime you have in mind?

I was thinking about this, and something occurred to me. Getting people who are currently fighting to make marriage gender-indiscriminate to turn around and argue for civil unions on the grounds Jay is presenting here... ouch. He's arguing that homosexual couples should rhetorically equate themselves with brother/sister or parent/child "couples". From a detached standpoint that's not an unreasonable tact to take, but anyone going out and earnestly arguing it would have a lot of people wobbly on the issue coming down against it hard because the advocates would be equating same-sex marriage with relationships our society still views as very taboo. Yes, I know he stipulated these are not meant as "couple" couples. Rhetorically it wouldn't matter.

Why do I get the feeling Jay's chuckling to himself over this idea?

@Jay:
Assertion 1:

If you're an elderly person barely surviving on your deceased spouse's pension, and have to give it up if you remarry, telling them they can "in fact get married" is an uninformed distortion of fact. I can't believe you're actually making that argument; the problem of the elderly living together because they can't afford to live on their own is widespread. In 2006 1.8 million American aged 50 and older lived in heterosexual unmarried-partner households. That demographic is almost a million more than same-sex cohibitation. There are numerous financial disincentives for seniors to remarry, from loss of military and pension benefits and health insurance and social security survivor benefits, to a slew of personal reasons for not wanting to be FORCED to marry to maintain their present relationships.

Assertion 2:

As stated above, numerous European nations have initiated civil or domestic partnership laws to provide gays and others many of the significant benefits of marriage.

The first assertion has nothing to do with the second. NOTHING.

Jay, you're getting lazy. Seriously. Give this point up.

I mean, really, do you honestly think the above can be construed as an argument in favor of giving same-sex couples civil unions? You know, those "just-like-a-marriage-except-the-name" things you were claiming they'd be?

Seriously?

Jay, even for you this is weak.

If elderly pensioners can't remarry without losing benefits, they couldn't legally-marry-in-all-but-name either. If civil unions are supposed to be the separate-but-equal equivalent of marriage, then they'd lose their pension benefits when they entered a civil union.

This isn't that hard to understand. If you're arguing that civil unions would afford a viable legal alternative to marriage, you should not be presenting it as being so weak as to not have the same legal standing as marriage in terms of e.g. eligibility for survivor benefits.

Make up your mind. First you're arguing for civil unions in the sense they exist abroad. Then you turn around and start offering examples like this which makes it seem like you want... what? Non-binding declarations of love entered into the public record? Decide on what you're arguing for, please. That, or admit you're not arguing for anything, but rather simply against same-sex marriage.

And there's no law against executing a Durable Power of Attorney, or a Will, or a Contract to mutually own Property -- (all cheaper and faster than procuring a marriage license) which Gays can chose to do if they want those benefits.

Not in Virginia, they can't.

Also, in Ohio you can a marriage license in a week, and it will currently cost you $44.

If not Jay, who will speak for the married-but-separated Catholics who happily disregard Church doctrine on cohabitation but scrupulously adhere to Church doctrine on divorce?

I think you are on to something, Nombrilisme Vide.

Phil, do you have a citation to whatever you're basing your statement on regarding Virginia law? I'm not suggesting that Virginia's laws don't attempt to bar gay people from exercising those ordinary rights, but I don't think they succeed.

Jay Jerome:Yours truly, the WideBrush Commentator

If you want specifics, take a few hours to read through http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/subjects/anti-gay>this
There you can find (anomg other things) the details about the persons that tailor their anti-gay arguments to the intended audience and try to keep people from noticing their forked tongues (my apology to all decent snakes and lizards).

To save Phil the bother:

http://www.agla.org/news.phtml?item_id=65>Here's one link, http://www.equalityloudoun.org/?p=217>here's another, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36314-2004Jun12.html>another.

Has it been repealed or declared unconstitutional? Has it been shown not to do what it was supposed to do?

http://www.cultureandfamily.org/articledisplay.asp?id=5559&department=CFI&categoryid=family>And another.

JanieM, I was aware of the MMA, which is truly the most horrifyingly discriminatory law in the country. However, I don't think that it's ever been interpreted (yet) to bar: people from executing a durable power of attorney, a will, or a contract to mutually own property. If these documents are drafted in a neutral manner, the law can't possibly prohibit their enforcement. At least, I know of no cases in which that has happened.

That said, I totally agree that the law is disgusting in its intent and effect. I don't know whether it's been challenged or not.

I don't think that it's ever been interpreted (yet)...

I doubt that's a great comfort to couples who, having invested time, trouble, and $ into cobbling together a few basic protections that straight couples take for granted, would now face the prospect of having to invest more time, trouble, and $ in what would likely be an expensive and protracted lawsuit to determine whether their contracts are void.

At least I'm glad you find it disgusting.

How long do you think it's going to take to pass same-sex marriage laws in all the states? A century?

I don't know. But I do think it will happen far sooner than what you're talking about, Jay. And I think it can happen in a decent number of states fairly soon, a lot sooner in far more states than your broader domestic-partnership proposal.

I should add that same-sex marriage will happen a lot sooner if people concentrate on getting it than if, instead, they were to entertain your proposals.

At least I'm glad you find it disgusting. Thanks!

Yes, it is disgusting, and you're absolutely right that people shouldn't have to have their rights tested. But since there are a whole lot of people (including old straight white men) in Virginia giving powers of attorneys, etc., to people of the same gender, and entering into business partnership agreements with people of the same gender, it's extremely unlikely that this atrocity could be enforced. In other words, the law is not only disgusting, but it's absurd, which is why you haven't been reading about it much.

I've seen it referenced in three cases. In one case, Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins, a Virginia court gave full faith and credit to the custody jurisdiction of a Vermont court to decide the issues involved in a custody case between two same-sex partners whose civil union was dissolved. (The biological mother of their child was attempting to use the law against her former partner's parental rights, and failed.)

In another, Stroud v. Stroud, a woman cohabiting with her same-sex partner was trying to use the law to say that her living arrangement wasn't "cohabitation" barring her from spousal support from her former husband.

Then there is one case (Damon v. York) where the statute was cited to deny the existence of a legal relationship between a same sex couple who had been married in Canada (but then split up). In that case, one of the women claimed the right to visit the child of her former partner, against the wishes of the biological parents and the child. The child had been born during the marriage of the biological parents who divorced when the child was 4. The relationship of the plaintiff with the child was very brief. So, although the law was cited to deny the plaintiff rights (which is bad), her rights were pretty slim in the first place.

I'm not defending the law at all, but if the understanding among same-sex couples in Virginia is that they can't execute routine documents like the ones described, I think they're misguided, and should still use those legal instruments to make their wishes known. (This isn't really "cobbling". Everyone should draft their own wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives if they want to be comfortable about what will actually happen.)

(For example, Terri Schiavo's husband might be surprised to know that marriage guarantees that a spouse has no trouble at all ...)

According to russell, my comments on this open thread are "off the table"

???!?

russell, I think Sapient is referring to this comment:

The significant distinction here is that unmarried straight people can get married.

It's the denial of legal, civic, public recognition of gay marriage that is the issue.

You, along with Sapient, may *also* like to argue that the legal benefits accruing to marriage should also be granted to non-marrieds.

But interesting a topic though that may be, it's not the question on the table.

Capisce?

I don't have time to respond to everyone who made specific comments directed to me: so let me summarize what I see as a fair and equatable solution to the same-sex marriage conundrum:

Keep marriage exclusively between one man and one woman, but offer same-sex couples, or any couple that includes a person sixty-two or older, the right to register as a domestic partnership that provides all the rights, responsibilities and obligations granted by state law to married couples and their families.

All those in favor, say aye.

Is it that you don't have time, or that you don't have answers, Jay?

And what about all those fathers and daughters out there who want chaste marriages? Have you forsaken them?

it's fight nite, gromit...
pacquiao vrs cotto--

what could be more fun then two welterweight hispanics beating the crap out of each other on hbo?

of course, you can see tattooed hispanics beating the crap out of each other for free any nite of the week if you cruse the Ramparts district here in CA, but it's more fun to watch a ritualized pugilistic contest with half-naked girls strutting across the ring between rounds, with a lot less exhuberent bullets fired into the air between punches...

soon as the fight's over i'll try to respond with more detail -- till then, are you in favor of the bill i proposed or not?

Pacquiao is Filipino. Not sure if that's considered hispanic.

It's not, but hey, they all look alike, am I right?

Jay, I don't get the sense that even you understand what effects your proposal would have. If domestic partnerships are legally indistinguishable from marriages, your unmarried pensioners would almost certainly still lose their benefits.

Civil unions, domestic partnerships, whatever you call them, more rights would certainly be better than the status quo, just as segregated institutions were no doubt better than no institutions. But we've already seen that "separate but equal" is a farce, your appeals to international precedent notwithstanding.

russell, I think Sapient is referring to this comment:

OK, I get it.

Sapient, my apologies. "not on the table" wasn't mean to mean "Sapient should not raise this issue", it meant only "that doesn't really address the original question".

Which is maybe not true either. Extending the civil benefits that come with marriage to all domestic arrangements might include gay marriages.

But if I may speak for gay people, I think what they're after is being treated the same as straight people. Not by virtue of having the definition of institutions like marriage broadened to extraordinary lengths, but by being included in their current, normal meaning.

Not saying the other issues aren't worthy of discussion.

I'm still waiting for an objection to gay marriage that doesn't boil down to "it bugs me" or "it never included gays before". Both of those things are no doubt true, but it's hard for me to see them as being sufficient reason to deny access to marriage to gay people.

Gay people get married now. In all senses other than public, legal recognition, they have always gotten married. If I'm not mistaken, what they're asking for is to be accorded the basic human respect of having that recognized.

"If I'm not mistaken, what they're asking for is to be accorded the basic human respect of having that recognized."

Well russell, this is certainly not what they are asking for. What they are asking for are financial benefits (among other things} designated by lawmakers and the public for heterosexual nuclear families.

These things go beyond (and in some cases are tangential to) "basic human respect". Basic human respect isn't the issue here.

Well russell, this is certainly not what they are asking for. What they are asking for are financial benefits (among other things} designated by lawmakers and the public for heterosexual nuclear families.

And since there is no other reason but homophobic discrimination to argue that homosexual nuclear families should be denied the same financial benefits, what is your problem here, Marty?

Surely you can see that fundamentally, it is an issue of basic human respect when people are arguing that a nuclear family deserves less financial support when it's headed by a same-sex couple than when it's headed by a mixed-sex couple.

"If I'm not mistaken, what they're asking for is to be accorded the basic human respect of having that recognized."

Well russell, this is certainly not what they are asking for.... Basic human respect isn't the issue here.

Basic human respect most certainly is the issue here, and is what we're asking for.

Being second-class citizens is absolutely an issue of human respect. Just because the question is directly framed as one of equality under the law (which includes financial rights and protections among other kinds) doesn't mean it isn't a question of human respect. These things are not mutually exclusive.

Marty, how many times are you going to come here and inform us all what gay people are really asking for, in flat contradiction to what the gay people here are actually telling you we're asking for?

Or, what Jes said.

Thanks for the acknowledgment, russell. Just to be clear (if I haven't been), I'm in favor of gay partners receiving exactly the same treatment (including whatever the name of the arrangement, be it marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, registered household, whatever) that heterosexual partners have. I'm not in favor of an apartheid system.

Even though this began as an open thread, excuse me for going OT for a moment: I can't recall a better example of hubris causing one's downfall -- or, in this case, to simply lose a football game -- than what I just saw in the Patriots-Colts game. Bill Belichick showed you certainly can be too smart for your own good when he decided to go for it on fourth down and 2 from his own 28 at the 2-minute warning LEADING BY 6 POINTS! And that opened the door for what would be Peyton Manning-directed Colts' win.

Dumb.

(Speaking of hubris, I recently saw "Nixon-Frost" on cable and marveled at the performance by Frank Langella, who looks nothing like Nixon but nevertheless inhabited his body and was haunting.)

Basic human respect isn't the issue here.

Actually Marty, I think it is.

I don't hear gay people saying "We want the money". I do hear gay people saying "We want our relationships recognized for what they are".

"Recognized for what they are" happens to include some financial (and other) advantages. It also includes financial (and other) responsibilities. Which the gay folks I know are more than happy to assume, and in fact which they assume today even in the absence of whatever societal upside is denied them.

There are social and financial benefits that accrue to marriage because, as a society, we think it's a good idea to encourage marriage. But those benefits are not what marriage is.

Gay people, every day, live out the reality of marriage, and have done so wherever and whenever they've been able to.

They would like that to be recognized. They are tired of being treated as if there is something wrong with them, as if there is something fundamentally bad or unacceptable about their being gay.

With that, I'm done speaking for gay people in this thread because I have nothing to add to what they themselves have already said, repeatedly. I think they deserve to be considered credible witnesses as regards their own wishes and desires.

"Marty, how many times are you going to come here and inform us all what gay people are really asking for, in flat contradiction to what the gay people here are actually telling you we're asking for?"

As my last note on this thread, I will stop coming here and providing a view of what others think gays are after, it seems to be mostly about the money to many who aren't gay.

So perhaps it is, indeed, a problem with how it is communicated. Might be something to take note of if one is going to continue to attempt to sway majorities.

it seems to be mostly about the money to many who aren't gay

What a mad and random claim, Marty. For which I am prepared to bet you could find no supporting evidence whatsodamnever.

So perhaps it is, indeed, a problem with how it is communicated.

I think it's probably more a problem that it's way difficult to communicate the need for equality and human rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to homophobic and transphobic bigots who are determined that they will not perceive any discrimination or injustice.

"I think it's probably more a problem that it's way difficult to communicate the need for equality and human rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to homophobic and transphobic bigots who are determined that they will not perceive any discrimination or injustice."

Sorry, once more.

Or maybe it is a problem communicating with anyone who has an alternate view by calling them pretty vile names. My side of this discussion has gotten less flexible every time Jes has managed to state or insuate that I am a homophobic bigot.

And only one side of this discussion isn't listening, and I can assure you it isn't me.

"There are social and financial benefits that accrue to marriage because, as a society, we think it's a good idea to encourage marriage. But those benefits are not what marriage is."

And just because Jes irritated me.

russell, society didn't decide it was a good idea to enourage marriage, society decided it was a good idea to encourage heterosexual marriage and heterosexual nuclear families.

Society didn't decide on gay marriage because it wasn't a question.

Now society is trying to decide what it thinks of gay marriage, what encouragement or benefits are warranted, if any, etc. Yet, gay marriage proponents don't want a full discussion of that by society, they want to get all those benefits grandfathered by changing the definition without the discussion.

All I propose is that society has a right to have the full discussion.

Marty, I think the problem is that you haven't stated your justification for treating same-sex couples differently (really, worse) under the law than opposite-sex couples. I'm not sure I've seen the phrase "equal treatment" very often on this thread, but that's largely what this is about.

If homosexuals are looking for financial and other benefits that you (I guess?) don't think they deserve (as much), why is it that heterosexuals deserve those benefits (more)? Or is it, for you, not so much that homosexuals don't deserve them as it is that those benefits aren't matters of human rights, respect or dignity?

In a sense, the benefits themselves aren't matters of human rights, respect or dignity. It's that one group gets them and another doesn't. If heterosexuals weren't afforded the benefits of marriage, homosexuals would be asking for some new, unafforded benefit not related to basic human rights or respect. The slight here, the disrespect and lack of recognition, is in the differential in treatment, not the absolute treatment.

I don't think you're a bigot, but you could be doing more to make me more certain of that. (Without googling, the word "bigot" appears to me, because of the "bi," to be about having two standards. And that's what we're talking about here. Different standards are okay in so far as they can be justified, so what's the justification?)

russell, society didn't decide it was a good idea to enourage marriage, society decided it was a good idea to encourage heterosexual marriage and heterosexual nuclear families.

Society didn't decide on gay marriage because it wasn't a question.

This just sounds like more of the "it wasn't that way before" argument.

Now society is trying to decide what it thinks of gay marriage, what encouragement or benefits are warranted, if any, etc. Yet, gay marriage proponents don't want a full discussion of that by society, they want to get all those benefits grandfathered by changing the definition without the discussion.

All I propose is that society has a right to have the full discussion.

Really? I think gay-marriage proponents absolutely want a discussion, have had lengthy discussions and have won on the merits if evaluated in good faith. Further, it appears that the efforts of forcing same-sex marriage down the throats of an unwilling society by bypassing the law and government have thus far fallen short. (What, exactly, are you talking about, my good man?)

HSH, I think in my 11:12 am I set the foundation you are looking for. There are may benefits in our laws that are pretty obviously there to encourage and support societal preferences. There are some basic benefits I feel strongly should be provided to all, there are a bunch more that I feel society has the right to decide who should get them.

Most important, I believe that society has the right to discuss the details.

Marty, every time you argue that gay people don't deserve equal treatment and that when same-sex couples get married it's somehow "changing the definition", you define yourself as a homophobic bigot.

If you don't like being identified as a bigot, I suggest you quit being one.

"Further, it appears that the efforts of forcing same-sex marriage down the throats of an unwilling society by bypassing the law and government have thus far fallen short. (What, exactly, are you talking about, my good man?)"

Funny, what I started out this thread looking for was a discussion on how to have the discussion better, to help equal marriage proponents understand why they haven't been able to force this down peoples throats and offer some opinions on how to expand the discussion to accomplish much of what they want to accomplish.

Long way from there.

Now society is trying to decide what it thinks of gay marriage, what encouragement or benefits are warranted, if any, etc. Yet, gay marriage proponents don't want a full discussion of that by society, they want to get all those benefits grandfathered by changing the definition without the discussion. [Emphasis added]

This is an interesting choice of euphemism.

No, really. What do you mean by this? What does it mean for society to "have the full discussion" in this context, and how (and by who) can it be judged to be done? What happens when one side argues that the other is avoiding have the "full discussion", and the second argues that the "full discussion" has been had, and the first side is now claiming it hasn't in order to stall indefinitely?

Shall we know the "full discussion" has been had when a preordained conclusion is reached? When a self-appointed moderator decides the matter has been finally discussed in every possible way by "enough" of society? When everyone in the nation shakes hands with everyone else and says "jolly good full discussion we had"?

Seriously, Marty. You do yourself few favors by laying out a vague and fungible accusation like this. It looks very much like you are claiming the right to arbitrate when it will be acceptable for your opponents to seek equality with you before the law, and it also looks rather a lot like you're not really willing to even define a clear standard of what they must do to earn your by-your-leave. Neither does much to inspire confidence in you as a good-faith arbiter.

Now society is trying to decide what it thinks of gay marriage, what encouragement or benefits are warranted, if any, etc. ..... All I propose is that society has a right to have the full discussion.

Society - that part of it affected by the ban on same-sex marriage - has had the full discussion, and the response has been overwhelmingly that Society wants to end the ban and let same-sex couples have the same freedom to marry as mixed-sex couples do.

What you're arguing for is that people for whom the ban on same-sex marriage has no effect ought to have the right to "discuss" whether they want their fellow citizens to have the same rights, responsibilities, and respect as they themselves do. There is no justification for that but bigotry - the belief that the majority has the right to rule on equality for a minority.

And while no doubt the Founders shared the common prejudices of the time when they drafted the Constitution, they were absolutely clear about what they thought of a majority "democratically" voting rights away from a minority. They were against it.

"If you don't like being identified as a bigot, I suggest you quit being one."

Done now.

Marty: Done now.

That was quick. I wish I could think you meant it and would no longer be bigoted against gay people.

Additionally, how do you propose we differentiate (and treat) demands that marriage equality be delayed so that society can "discuss it fully" (because the demander doesn't feel it has been adequately explored) from demands that marriage equality be delayed so that society can "discuss it fully" (because the demander wants to make sure it never comes to pass)?

All I propose is that society has a right to have the full discussion.

I think that's reasonable.

More to the point, it's both necessary and inevitable. A full and lengthy discussion, civil rancorous or otherwise, is certainly going to happen, and in fact is happening.

As always, I'm looking for the thoughtful, good faith objection to gay marriage that doesn't boil down to "I don't like it" or "we never did that before".

Neither of those objections are surprising or even that hard to understand. Folks think and believe a certain way about things, and find it hard to change their point of view.

Neither of these objections, however, amounts IMV and sincerely HO to a sufficient reason to deny gay people the simple, basic, human respect of recognizing their marriages.

For a very long time -- hundreds of years -- it was common to believe that women were inferior to men. It was common to believe that blacks, Asians, American Indians, and pretty much anyone other than northern Europeans were inferior to northern European whites.

These beliefs were buttressed by science, appeals to natural law, proof texts from the Bible, and anything else you can think of. It was beyond the pale to think otherwise.

Most folks don't believe those things anymore. In general, they don't believe them because, either willingly or kicking and screaming, they had to confront the reality that those "inferior" people were human beings just like themselves.

It's time for that to happen for gay people.

If you think otherwise, those of us who disagree need to know why.

It is odd that in a discussion about why we should or should not allow same-sex marriage, the argument against it is that proponents aren't willing to discuss it. Proponents put forth their reasoning and ask for counter arguments not based directly or indirectly on bigotry. There are no good counter arguments put forth that are not based directly or indirectly on bigotry, so the answer is that we need to discuss it more before making a decision.

Okay, so let's discuss it:

Why shouldn't we have same-sex marriage?

Well...because we haven't discussed it.

Okay, so let's discuss it:

Why shouldn't we have same-sex marriage?

Well...because we haven't discussed it.

dot dot dot

russell, society didn't decide it was a good idea to enourage marriage, society decided it was a good idea to encourage heterosexual marriage and heterosexual nuclear families.

For "society" here, you can substitute "straight white men," because that's pretty much who has, historically, made those decisions, certainly at the legal and policy levels.

Meanwhile, you keep making reference to what conversations "society" should have, and what "society" should and should not accept and encourage, as if GLBT people are not part of "society."

Do you see how those two things -- letting all the decisions be made by straight white men, and excluding GLBT people from the category "society" -- might lead to certain parties getting a little put out by your advice?

I mean, if I were repeatedly being told, "You wait quietly there while 'society' discusses this, and meantime I'll give you advice on how to convince 'society,'" my response might be pretty much what Jes's has been.

this seems apropos

243 -- it's an interesting addition to the conversation. And....

Last spring, after 12 hours of testimony from both sides, the minister on the "no marriage" side of the auditorium, who waited to be the last speaker, and who was one of a couple of top spokespeople for the campaign this fall, got up and said to the committee, "You've heard religious leaders on both sides, so there's no clear answer from religion. In the end you have to do what's best for children and what's best for society." (There's that word again.)

I wrote a letter of testimony to the committee observing that we weren't any more likely to come to a clear answer by looking to warring sociologists than by looking to warring theologians.

It's nice to know that studies show that children do fine with same-sex couples as parents. But the welfare of children isn't considered in the slightest in deciding whether straight couples can get married, so again in the light of equality under the law, it shouldn't be particularly relevant to the question of whether gay couples can get married.

Or in other words, straight people don't have to prove that they're going to do what's best for society and best for children before they can get married; why should we?

I wrote to the local paper about this just before the election. The letter they published was a much-chopped up version of what I had intended as an op-ed piece. I'll put it in a separate comment.

To the editor:

Getting a driver's license is hard, getting a marriage license is easy.
Why? Because we treat marriage as a human right so fundamental that restricting the freedom to marry is rightly seen as an evil greater than any consequences.

In Maine, therefore, you can get married...

* On a whim.

* No matter how many times you've been married before.

* Even if you're under 16, if you have your guardians' and a judge's permission.

* To your first cousin, if you've had genetic counseling.

* Without going near a church.

* Though your marriage has about a 50 percent chance of ending in divorce.

* Without proving you're going to do what's "best for children and best for society" (in the words of a certain ongoing political campaign).

* Even if you've abused your children, a previous spouse, or the person you're now marrying, or are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

* Even if you're a convicted felon, no matter how heinous your crimes.

* Whether you intend to have children or not.

* Without asking several hundred thousand other citizens for approval.

There is almost nothing you can do or be (except already married) that would stand in the way of your right to marry -- unless you attempt to marry someone of the same sex as yourself.

There is an ongoing campaign to convince Mainers that something awful will happen if same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Exactly what is never made clear -- it's bad because it's bad, apparently.

What is clear is that we allow heterosexuals to marry no matter what the consequences might be. Since equality before the law is one of the bedrock principles of our nation, it's time to end that double standard.

Please vote "no" on Question 1.

243: this seems apropos

For those of us following research on same-sex parents, this isn't new news - researchers had been noticing for some time that if you simply take the children of same-sex parents as a group, and compare to the children of mixed-sex parents, the children of same-sex parents tend to be healthier, happier, do better in school, etc.

But, this appears to be because same-sex couples do not have children by accident. Same-sex couples tend to decide to have children in the context of a secure and settled relationship, where both parents want a child very much, and both parents feel they are now economically and emotionally ready for the responsibilities of parenthood.

If you compare like with like - same-sex couples and mixed-sex couples in the same economic situation and stable long-term relationship - the apparent statistical advantage that the children of same-sex couples have mostly disappears, except for one: the British adoption agency BAAF noted that the children of same-sex couples tend to be more tolerant than the children of mixed-sex couples.

To Phil's point:

Meanwhile, you keep making reference to what conversations "society" should have, and what "society" should and should not accept and encourage, as if GLBT people are not part of "society."

The nauseating use of "children" as a talisman of the anti-marriage crowd's fear-mongering does the same thing to two groups of children: children of gay couples who can't get married; and children who, whether or not they have discovered this fact yet, are gay themselves.

Those children don't matter, apparently.

The Portland and Augusta papers did a nice editorial before the election. It spoke to this issue in an explicit way that I wish had been more widespread:

The most prominent has been the charge that children would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage in school. All it takes is a quick reading of the law to see, however, that there is no mention of education in it. Curriculum in Maine is approved by local school boards, and those elected officials would be under no obligation to add lessons on marriage law to their areas of study.

But that's not to say that children would be kept in the dark.

They are smart, and they should be expected to notice that some of their classmates have two moms or two dads instead of one of each. This is not a function of the law, however, it is a reflection of reality. A "yes" vote won't make those couples go away. It would only make their lives more difficult.

At some point, all children recognize that everyone's home is not like their own, that different people have different values and that all families are not the same. Parents should not be afraid that what children see in school will eclipse the values that are taught at home.

(Added emphasis mine.)

Referring to this wonderful paragraph again:

Meanwhile, you keep making reference to what conversations "society" should have, and what "society" should and should not accept and encourage, as if GLBT people are not part of "society."

The marriage campaign just one strand of a much broader campaign that arose because in most places and most eras -- certainly in the US until very recently -- "GLBT people" were expected and forced to pretend we didn't exist.

To end this situation, to bring the rest of "society" around to taking for granted the fact of our existence as part of society, is the whole point.

Or as I said a couple of weeks ago:

It's our world too.

Notice the too. We (most of us; I really don't speak for anyone but myself but this is the attitude of every gay person I know) are willing to share. But we won't go back into hiding. So if people are uncomfortable knowing we exist and having to share the world, the recognition of our government, equality under the law, and the park down the road, they will just have to get over it.

As many voices in this thread keep pointing out, a huge motivation -- not the only one, maybe, but a common and still often quite explicit one -- in the opposition to same-sex marriage is precisely that many people do not want to be forced to accept that it is our world too.

This point of view was well-represented in the Maine House debate last spring, the transcript of which is http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/records/124hrec/20090505.doc>here. Representative Burns of Whiting is pretty typical of the anti-marriage side. He was by no means alone, but he did make extra specially clear his wish to entirely exclude families where the parents are gay from any consideration as simply part of the world like everyone else.

Representative Sirois of Turner was my favorite. He said, in effect, “I’ve got enough sins of my own to worry about.” I've been waiting a long time for someone to say that. ;)

All of the same-sex couples I know who have children are excellent parents.

That said, I think it can be pretty ugly to do studies on how well children do with parents in various demographics in order to argue for one thing or another. There are simply too many variables. Factors that can produce negative results include poverty, effects of discord between parents (whether living together or not), cultural isolation, etc. Factors that can produce positive results include wealth, health, cultural enrichment (such as a bilingual household), etc.

It's legitimate, I suppose, for gay couples to produce this evidence to ward off accusations by ignorant people who proclaim that children are traumatized by living in households run by same-sex couples. But, again, the whole prejudice against single parents comes into play here. I don't really want to go on to defend single parenting other than to say that, obviously, a child is better off if well cared for by loving people, and given an enriched environment. This can happen in any demographic.

Sapient: That said, I think it can be pretty ugly to do studies on how well children do with parents in various demographics in order to argue for one thing or another.

Well, that depends. Certainly I think research done on one area should not then be used to argue for another area. But taken as a blanket assertion, your statement would suggest it's pretty ugly to use research that shows that children from the demographic of families who are barely able to buy food do worse at school than children from families who are well-fed, to argue for providing every child with a good breakfast and lunch at school, so that no child is handicapped in their studies by hunger or malnourishment.

But the interesting thing (for me) is that all of the researchers who initially were doing this work - studying how groups of children with lesbian or gay parents (or same-sex couples as parents - it depends when the research was done and what the other criteria were) were beginning their research, as they will (as honest researchers) admit, with the presumption that they were going to discover that children being reared by same-sex couples, by lesbians or by gay men, were disadvantaged in some way. This had been the prevailing "common sense" assummption, and still is, from the people who attend the University of It Stands To Reason. Their interest, as researchers, was to discover how such children were disadvantaged, with the children of mixed-sex couples used as a control group. It was very surprising for these researchers to discover there was no evidence of disadvantage either in youth or in later life, and in fact children of same-sex couples tended to do better.

It's legitimate, I suppose, for gay couples to produce this evidence to ward off accusations by ignorant people who proclaim that children are traumatized by living in households run by same-sex couples.

You say that as if it were a rare occurrance. It's really not. When legislators make law based on this ignorant prejudice, it's legitimate for any concerned citizen to point out that it's just plain not true - regardless of their sexual orientation.

I don't really want to go on to defend single parenting other than to say that, obviously, a child is better off if well cared for by loving people, and given an enriched environment. This can happen in any demographic.

Obviously. It's just statistically more likely to happen to children with same-sex parents than with mixed-sex parents. The evidence is also an argument for solidly promoting birth control so that heterosexuals tend to have fewer unexpected, unplanned children (however welcome they are when they arrive: as I've said to pro-lifers on occasion, the blessing of having a mother who is pro-choice is that you know you were a wanted baby).

certainly in the US until very recently -- "GLBT people" were expected and forced to pretend we didn't exist.

Nowadays, Janie, the tide seems to be turning: it's homophobes, rather than homosexuals, who are too embarassed to acknowledge what they are. Gay men used to have to pass themselves off as "confirmed bachelors". Now, anti-gay bigots have to pass themselves off as "traditionalists". I call that progress;)

--TP

Tony -- I call it progress too.

Maybe also a smidgen of poetic justice. ;)

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