Being married in California anywhere

By Phil Plait | June 18, 2008 9:20 am

Note: As I mentioned in my last post, I accidentally posted this entry before it was done being written. I still had a few half-formed thoughts in it, but this is the final version.

Y’know, what with TAM coming up, my running around trying to get stuff done, and my in-laws having just moved into the next town over, I totally forgot that Monday was the first day gays could be legally married in California.

That rocks. The marriage part, I mean, not the forgetting part.

I’ve had several gay friends over time, and many seemed happy (about what you’d expect proportionally). Two are essentially, if not legally, married, and they seem really happy. They have a kid, they love each other, they do, y’know, stuff that human beings do.

I’m not sure I understand love, since I’m neither a poet nor a philosopher. So I figure it’s probably not best for me to say who can fall in love with each other and who can’t. Marriage is mostly a civic thing now, with legal and tax ramifications, so for that it shouldn’t matter who’s the bride and who’s the groom, or who’s the brides, or who’s the grooms.

Some people are against this whole thing. They think marriage should be restricted, limited. I don’t get that. Sometimes they argue that we already restrict marriage; for example, we don’t let kids marry each other. But then, kids aren’t of legal age and therefore may not be able to make a fully adult decision*. But two adults? Of sound mind and so on? Seems like it’s a good idea to let them decide if they should get married or not.

I mean, we all want the government to be as small as possible, right, to do things only a government should or can do? Trying to stop two adults making personal decisions will only make the government bigger, having to write new laws and all that. That sounds to me like a government too big to drown in a bathtub, don’t you agree?

Maybe there’s more to it. I’d hate to not have all the information out there. So let’s see.

Some people don’t like gays. I figure that’s OK. I mean, it’s OK that they get to have their own opinions, even if I think some of those opinions are silly or wrong or ill-informed. Some people think that being gay is really wrong, and that I’m the one who’s silly. But I never seem to get a good answer from folks like that when I ask, why is homosexuality wrong? What do they mean by "wrong"? Homosexuality occurs in the animal kingdom, for example, so I’m thinking it’s natural. Some people think it’s a sickness, but I don’t see that either. It’s not caused by a bacterium, or a virus, or some sort of damage to the brain, or a chemical imbalance. How are they being sick?

Maybe some people don’t hate it, they’re just uncomfortable with it, like seeing something icky. Well, sure! That’s probably because they’re not used to it, and so seeing it makes them feel odd, like having Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent. It just seems wrong. But that’s just a temporary reaction. In a while you get used to it, and when you see it you say, "Eh. Seen it".

People are amazingly resilient.

But the one thing that really confuses me, that really doesn’t make sense to me — and I like to think I’m a fairly smart guy, so someone help me out here — is when people say that allowing gay marriage somehow threatens the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

I mean, I don’t get it. How can two men or two women getting hitched hurt one man and one woman doing the same thing? Certainly, with a 50% divorce rate among heterosexual marriages, this sanctity I hear so much about is already pining for the fjords. Seems like that’s a mighty thin razor’s edge to be dancing on.

I have a pretty good marriage. There isn’t one woman in ten [Ed.: oops, typo] a billion who would marry me at all, let along stay with me and my cosmic obsession for 13 years now. And you know what? We’re pretty happy! Oh, we have our issues (evidently, it’s irritating that I bite my fork when I eat), but still and all, I did pretty well.

If my two gay friends got married, I don’t really see how that hurts me. In fact, it would make my life even better. Just think! I would bring them flowers to celebrate, and Mrs. BA would bake her incredible cookies. Those make everyone happy. And even better than that, I would know my friends are happy. They would have been happy before, of course, but there is something special about telling someone you want to spend the rest of your life with them, and have it be recognized by everyone. There’s a bit of a sense of permanence about that, I suspect, of import, since everyone is figuratively watching you make that promise. My friends would get to experience that.

And, of course, they would know that they finally have their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to be seen equally under the law.

That would be pretty cool, too.

Don’t you think?

This essay was inspired, obviously, by the new California law, and my friends, but also by John Scalzi’s essay on marriage. And by A Real Girl for sending me the link to it, and reminding me why I liked it.



*Of course, you can argue over the specific age and even if there should be one, but that’s not apropos of this particular discussion.

Comments (174)

  1. “That’s probably because they’re not used to it, and so seeing it makes them feel odd, like having Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent.”

    I LOL’d

  2. Robbie
  3. There isn’t one woman in ten [Ed.: oops, typo] a billion who would marry me at all

    that still leaves at least two more beyond Mrs. BA. Now she’s gonna smack you for that.

  4. IBY

    I don’t get the Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent joke, though.

  5. Well put, Phil. I, too, find it odd that people seem so obsessed with how others choose to live their lives when it affects no one else. Gays have been marrying here in Ontario, Canada, for some time now and not one thing has changed. God has not smote us and the earth continues to spin. I am confident the same will be true for California, though with their record of fires, quakes, mudslides etc., it might be harder to say god has not smote them.

  6. tito

    This is a difficult issue. I have to say that I do not care much for the “animals do it” defense. We see all types of behavior in animals ranging from polygamy to a few males with many females to monogamous relationships. We also see situations where the females kill the males after sex or parents killing children. Are those behaviors justified?

    Now I am not sure how I feel about gay marriage. I am a conservative and a Christian and I really do not believe that being gay is “right”, but at the same time I really don’t care what people do. I have no problem with civil unions or the government granting the same rights to gay couples as straight ones, but marriage between gay people, especially in the church does bother me. So with that said I’m sympathize with both sides and I am not sure exactly where I stand on the issue

  7. Celtic_Evolution

    An incredibly touchy subject handled exceptionally well, Phil. Excellent post!

    The government has no right to keep gay folks from being as miserable as the rest of us. :)

  8. Robbie

    Celtic_Evolution, you have it right. In 10 years gays will be demanding they re-ban gay marriage.

  9. Celtic_Evolution

    @ tito

    I have to say that I do not care much for the “animals do it” defense. We see all types of behavior in animals ranging from polygamy to a few males with many females to monogamous relationships. We also see situations where the females kill the males after sex or parents killing children. Are those behaviors justified?

    I hear this counter argument alot, and the problem is with the premise of your question. The “animals do it” defense is not meant as a defense for the “morality” of homosexuality, but with the notion that homosexuality is a disease, or aberrant behavior in the natural world. Used as a defense against this argument, the statement is true enough and the comparison is relevant.

  10. I mean, I don’t get it. How can two men or two women getting hitched hurt one man and one woman doing the same thing?

    As I said in the previous thread, it’s not about the ritual of marriage. If all marriage entailed was n-people getting together to declare their mutual love/lust/whatever, then really, it would never pop up on the radar. Truly, nobody would care.

    But marriage in our countries carries with it legal baggage, the most important of which – from a “who should be allowed to marry” point of view – is that married people get certain benefits afforded to them. Those benefits were, in general, devised when a “family” was a working man, a woman at home, and a brood of their yard-apes being tended by mom. What are these benefits? Well, to name a few:

    - child-related tax credits
    - access to spousal benefits such as pensions
    - access to spousal benefits such as health insurance
    - access to the other person’s assets should the marriage go south

    By expanding the definition of marriage in law, there is a definite financial cost to society as a whole as the payment scope of those benefits increases. Whether or not that matters, is debatable of course, and I am not making a judgement on it beyond that it exists. This is what gays were after, and it’s what the polys are starting to go after in Canada now.

    In fact, by recognizing marriage in law, single people are at some disadvantage. As a childless person, for example, I can’t help support my brother’s child and claim benefits that he might claim (for example – as far as I know, I cannot set up a tax-sheltered education savings plan in Canada for someone else’s child as I could set one up for a child of my own).

    It’s a two-edged sword too. If you’re married but don’t have children, in many cases, they’ll make you do things like combine income for taxation purposes (pushing your taxes up, or denying other benefits due to combined income). Of course, you can breed your way out of those disadvantages – but there is demonstrable discrimination against married, childless people in the Canadian (and I would guess, American as well) tax system.

    It really boils down to it being mostly about money. There are other factors, but money is the primary motivator for the issue (though not necessarily for any individual).

    What governments have to decide is what the PURPOSE of government recognition of marriage is. Once that is decided, then marriage should be defined to accommodate that. As I have stated previously, it is my opinion that there is no longer a realistic purpose for government recognition of marriage and that it should be done away with. In that way, people who want to be married can do so according to whatever rituals they see fit.

    People who want to pool assets and function as some kind of combined financial unit can do so under corporate law. There might be some tweaking required, but not lots and lots I suspect, and I can’t see how it would create any more grief than current marriage laws.

  11. Phil, I agree with you on every point. but I want you to think about something. The basic problem most people have with Gay Marriage, is that it is against their religion. They believe in an absolute morality that is defined by a higher power. For the most part. We believe that there is no absolute morality.

    So we agree that any two adults should be able to get married, right? Or do we? This thought occurred to me several months ago. I was listening to the radio and the DJ, who has often spoke out in favor of gay marriage, was talking about a couple who had gotten married. They were both adults, which is fine, the only problem is, one of the Adults was the other adult’s father. So for her, gay marriage was totally fine, but Marrying one’s father was wrong. She went on and on about how gross it was. But really, what’s the difference. These are two adults, they made a decision to love and live together. It also happens in the animal kingdom. What if it’s my sister, or my brother? Is that ok? What if I was adopted and I didn’t know I was marrying my mother, or sister, does that make a difference?

    And while we’re at it, why should we stop at 2? what makes 2 the magic number? Why not 3 or 4, I mean they say it takes a village to raise a child, so why not let the entire village get married to each other?

    And speaking of consenting adults, what makes one an adult? As you mentioned, most 18 year olds really aren’t old enough to make life long decisions. in fact I really didn’t consider myself an adult until I was almost 30. You really don’t stop growing until your in your mid 20s. and your brain doesn’t stop growing until your around 25. So why 18? Why is it if I sleep with a girl on her 18th birthday I’m ok, but if I sleep with her a day earlier, I’m a sex offender?

    Without a higher power to lay down the law. It’s up to society to decide what the rules are. But how can you draw the line? Any argument made to move the line an inch by one group, can also be used to move the line a mile by the other. Do we put each case up for a vote, or do we just decide that there are no rules and anyone can marry, or sleep with, anyone else.

  12. qwints

    You obviously haven’t read Rick Santorum’s book [u] It Takes a Family [/u] where he reveals to us that the nuclear family is the only correct way to raise a family.

  13. Carlton

    @tito: How is this a “difficult issue”? It’s very simple: does the government have the right to regulate people’s behavior when it doesn’t physically hurt anyone else? The answer: no, not in the same America that made the Constitution.

    The argument about animals doing it is in response to the argument that no one is naturally gay — not whether or not it is moral. (For the record, I find any sexual behavior between willing partners able to consent is morally fine.)

    If a church doesn’t want to allow gays to marry, that is their right, they are not a government institution (nor should they be) — let them be as archaic as they want to, as long as they aren’t physically harming another person. But stopping gays from getting the same government benefits as heterosexuals, or just stopping them from getting married at all, treating them different from heterosexuals, is strictly unconstitutional.

  14. Ty

    Phil: Please run for President!

  15. Darth Robo

    tito

    >>>”I have no problem with civil unions or the government granting the same rights to gay couples as straight ones, but marriage between gay people, especially in the church does bother me.”

    Doesn’t bother me. Doesn’t the Bible say “Love thy fellow man”? Of course they should be able to get married in church. They could do it naked, like Adam and Eve, if they want. Like the Betazoids in Star Trek. And just think of the party afterwards!
    :)

  16. Nails67

    Be careful with the oft-quoted 50% divorce rate. In actuality, no statistics are available to accurately compute this. The only actual number known is a .38% per capita divorce rate (in other words, .76% of the population gets divorced each year – .76 and not .38 because each divorce involves two people). Even that number suffers because several states don’t track divorce statistics.

    The 50% is a projection number that is frequently revised. The National Center for Health Statistics says 43%, a recent NY Times article puts it at 40, and the Census Bureau is sticking at 50. The numbers are pretty significantly demographically skewed by age, for instance marriages that begin when the partners are in their 30s have much lower projected failure rate (3-5 percent, according to some sources).

  17. nighstalker160

    I see the situation as this: I believe “marriage” is a sacrament restricted to a man and a woman.

    However, homosexual couples are entitled to all the rights and civil privileges that are afforded to married hetereosexual couples.

    IMO, the government should not be MARRYING anyone. Marriage is a religious term that was used by the governments at a time where religion in the public sector was more tolerated.

    What needs to happen is that the states should simply grant EVERYONE (hetero and homosexual) “civil unions” or “domestic unions” or whatever you want to call it. Stop using the term “marriage.”

    No one can force the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church, or the Baptist Church, or a Mosque, or a Synagouge to “marry” anyone. But the state should stop using the term.

  18. Doc

    Ok, I have a bias here – my Quaker meeting has performed several same-sex marriages (and the Religious Society of Friends is nominally Christian). That being said, to me it all comes down to the separation of church and state, and to legal definitions.

    “Marriage” in the religious sense varies widely across cultures – and if you think polygamy is weird then you need to take some Anthropology courses that cover marriage.

    “Marriage” in the legal sense is a form of social and financial contract between two legal, consenting adults. I can see an argument for making such a contract “exclusive” (i.e. not allowing polygamy), but even that is somewhat iffy.

    The separation issue is the easiest argument to make: The US government is not supposed to pass laws favoring one religion over another. Why should the evangelical Christian form of religion be favored with legal status, while the same-sex marriages sanctioned by other religions is denied the same status?

    It’s the legal definitions that really get funky. If you define marriage as being a contract between “one man and one woman” then you’ve got a problem. There is no legal definition of “man” or “woman” that won’t run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Seriously. There are thousands of children born every year in the US with “gender abnormalities”. These range from having slightly abnormal genitalia to situations where the child’s gender can not be determined at all. In many cases the physically apparent gender does not match the biological gender.

    So here’s the problem: if you define gender by physical characteristics then are those who are born with indeterminate gender forbidden to marry? What about people who undergo gender reassignment surgery? Add to that the question of who is going to check when someone fills out their marriage license application and says, “I’m a guy.”

    If you define gender by chromosomal makup then what about those who’s physical appearance does not match their chromosomes (either naturally or surgically)? There are also people who have chromosomal abnormalities (e.g. XXY, XXX) – can they get married at all?

    If you define gender by behavior and how a person is perceived socially then .. well then you’re in for all sorts of confusion and trouble.

    So I can not see any way that gender can be legally defined that won’t unintentionally exclude a small part of the US population from marrying because of how they were born – even in cases where though those pushing for “one man and one woman” would be happy to allow the marriage.

    The simple solution of course is to have the Government stay out of the whole marriage issue. They can recognize “civil unions” between two people (regardless of the gender combination) and leave “marriage” to churches – and if your church won’t let you marry the person of your choice then it’s up to you to cope or find one that will.

  19. Doug Little

    tito said,

    but marriage between gay people, especially in the church does bother me

    Surely it is up to the church to decide whether to marry gay people or not, I don’t understand why this would bother you, if your church decided to marry gay people wouldn’t you be on board with it. I am assuming that you blindly agree with everything else your church jams down your throat. After all churches aren’t places for thinking they are for places for following.

  20. The question I’ve always wondered about, when I see the religious arguing against gay marriage is, or against the abomination of homosexuality, etc…

    … if I scanned their computer hard drives, how much girl-on-girl porn would I find?

    I’m pretty certain the answer isn’t “zero”.

  21. Doc

    On homosexual behavior in nature:

    There have been arguments made that in some cases homosexual behavior may benefit a culture in that it adds non-breeding workers. Assuming a stable population and limited resources, someone who’s work benefits the community but who doesn’t add to the population burden is a substantial benefit to that community as a whole – and thereby improves that community’s chances for survival.

  22. and thereby improves that community’s chances for survival.

    Like it did for the Greeks and Romans :)

  23. yumenoko

    Phil, thanks so much for putting into words my summary thoughts on this, too. With so, so, soooooo much going wrong in the world right now (am I the only one who still reads the daily reports about the strife in the Middle East??) do people really have the time and energy and hubris to point fingers and declare who can be joined together by law as a couple? It’s exactly as you put it — and has always been my response to the issue — if letting my committed gay friends legally marry makes them happier, then how is that possible wrong on any planet, in any dimension? How does this affect me one iota? That’s right, I forgot, we’re supposed to continue to forge unhappiness and ill will towards mankind, because dammit, what we’ve got already apparently isn’t enough. Pfft. I’m all for passing around good karma and best wishes to my gay friends who are getting married here in California, because the alternative is just too wrong.

  24. I am always hoping to hear the loudmouths in the MSM try to tell us why gay marriage must be illegal without

    1. claiming that the true purpose of marriage is breeding. They do this without proposing legislation mandating that married couples produce children to keep their marriage licenses valid.

    2. claiming that children must be raised by one man and one woman married to one another. They do this without proposing legislation to outlaw divorce. They claim gay marriage makes a mockery of the institution but fall silent on celebrity cycles of marriage and divorce.

    3. sounding as if legalizing gay marriage would ban heterosexual marriage. They make it sound like heteros are gonna have to divorce and take up with someone of their own gender.

    The good news this time is that the struggling California economy is getting a shot in the arm with marriage money coming in. Turns out “gay money” spends just like straight money. And business is business. Voters might think twice about voting their hate over their pocketbooks when the right-wingers try to re-ban gay marriage in November.

  25. Michelle

    My claim for ages as been pretty easy…

    Give ‘em what they want and let’s get on with important things, shall we? If they wanna get divorced like us I think it’s their fair right.

  26. Doc

    @Doug Little

    “… churches aren’t places for thinking they are for places for following.”

    Maybe at your church it’s that way, but at mine it’s the exact opposite (then again, we don’t call it a “church”).

  27. Melusine

    Good post, Phil, I totally agree with you. If people have religious objections to homosexuality, that’s fine, but then it goes back to cherry-picking the Bible if that’s their authority espoused by their religious leader.

    Matt said: And while we’re at it, why should we stop at 2? what makes 2 the magic number? Why not 3 or 4, I mean they say it takes a village to raise a child, so why not let the entire village get married to each other?

    I think there’s a case for financial, legal problems with more than two people. If a spouse can make a medical decision and there are several spouses, what if two of the spouses disagree, say about taking the person off life support? And that would really mess up the tax code. I think pragmatism

    Evolving Squid said:
    - child-related tax credits
    - access to spousal benefits such as pensions
    - access to spousal benefits such as health insurance
    - access to the other person’s assets should the marriage go south

    By expanding the definition of marriage in law, there is a definite financial cost to society as a whole as the payment scope of those benefits increases.

    What is the exact cost? With a child they are creating another consumer to society. Pensions go to someone – what difference does it make if I leave my pension 401K to my sister or spouse? Couples pay more of a premium for health insurance. If they get sick, what difference does an operation cost whether I’m single or married? Division of divorce assets: if a person is not married they can leave those assets to anyone in a will. I don’t see much cost to society in your examples.

    (for example – as far as I know, I cannot set up a tax-sheltered education savings plan in Canada for someone else’s child as I could set one up for a child of my own).

    Off-topic, but in the US anyone can contribute to another person’s child’s education fund: Coverdell Education Savings, 529 plans, IRAs, savings bonds, etc. Since Toronto Dominion and Royal Bank are buying all these US banks, they may adopt US type products for Canada.

  28. Melusine

    Oh, and if gay couples do get divorced, divorce lawyers will make more money. But really, there are gay couples who have been together for over 10 years and just want to solidify their marriage for the same reasons heterosexuals do. A recent (and decent) poll showed a significant percent of women who said they would marry for money. I see the same motives for both.

  29. Doc

    @Evolving Squid

    “Like it did for the Greeks and Romans”

    Last time I checked, the Greeks were still around. ;-)

    The Romans would have done better if they’d stopped using lead for pipes and eating utensils. As it is, the people are still around (now called Italians) – it was their political system that went south in wicker.

  30. Kingthorin

    “Homosexuality occurs in the animal kingdom, for example, so I’m thinking it’s natural. Some people think it’s a sickness, but I don’t see that either. It’s not caused by a bacterium, or a virus, or some sort of damage to the brain, or a chemical imbalance.”Are you sure? I thought it was more that we hadn’t yet identified exactly what causes homosexuality.

  31. KC

    While there are strong religious arguments against this, oddly enough a secular one comes to mind: The traditional family is the principle means for transferring values to the next generation. In Europe, where marriage has already been on the ropes, allowing gay couples to wed seems to have greased the rails on the decline of marriage (although it could be argued that the decay of the former has brought about the latter rather than the reverse). The decline in marriage has had detrimental effects on the family unit. There have even been scientific studies on this – Google for studies on inner city families where the father is absent.

    Obviously there are exceptions – there are dysfunctional traditional families and stable non-traditional ones. But by and large, the studies indicate that there’s value in traditional families.

    Thus what is at stake is nothing short than the survival of Western Civilization – and I don’t think that’s a grandiose claim. Parts of Western Europe are already well along this road, and seem more Middle Eastern than Western. Evolution is applicable to more than biology, and a culture that successfully transfers it’s values will supplant one that doesn’t.

    Thus ultimately it affects us all, in a way far more reaching than teaching ID in schools. Yet oddly enough none have taken the “let them decide” or “it doesn’t hurt me” attitude where ID is concerned.

    Most likely this is the minority opinion here. So be it. I will point out that Europe is already running this experiment, and we should give them a long hard look before being so keen on doing the same thing here.

  32. Mus

    I’d like to reply to a few people, but I can’t. Comments in blogs are not very convenient places to have real discussions about this IMO.

    Therefore, I’ll just say that I FULLY support the legalization of same-sex marriage. The issue here isn’t about what non-human animals do or not, it’s not about economics, it’s not about anyone’s ability or willingness to bear biological children, and it’s not about what the bible says.

    The real issue here is whether two lovers, of able mind, who want their love recognized by society as being equal to other couples’ love have that right or not.

    The way I see it, the only reason why anyone would not want same-sex marriage to be legal is they’re homophobic bigots who see relationships between two people whose genitals look the same as being inferior to the relationships of people whose genitals look different. When it comes down to it, that is the only difference between same-sex and different-sex relationships. Both types involve love, both CAN have a family, neither has to have a family, etc. To say that on average same-sex couples don’t have as many children (or whatever) as any other type of marriage between people, therefore they shouldn’t be legal is logically equivalent to saying that poor people are more likely to abuse their children, therefore marriages between poor people should be illegal.

    Until someone produces some evidence showing that homosexuals (like me) can’t possibly love, or that same-sex marriages bring about more (rightfully placed) pain/suffering/anguish than they relieve, I shall continue to hold my position. There are thousands of criteria one can use to discriminate against people, and the shape of their genitals is not even close to being among the better ones. If your beef is against couples who cannot have biological children, or whose children would be severely deformed or whatever, or whatever, fine… but don’t pretend that the problem is same-sex marriage.

  33. joemono

    @tito: Does marriage between athiests bother you?

  34. So far, I’ve only seen nighstalker160 here with the right idea — the government shouldn’t be “marrying” ANYONE.

    All the government should be doing is passing out civil union certificates for tax and social security purposes, and it shouldn’t be discriminating as to who it passes them out to, as long as the parties involved are all consenting adults.

    If you want to get “married,” go to a damn church — they can issue you whatever form or certificate (only binding in regards to that particular church) you need to feel happy.

    But please remove your religion from my government.

  35. John Kusters

    What’s amusing to me is how many people claim that “marriage” is a religious institution and the state should have nothing to do with it. What these people don’t seem to understand is that historically, marriage was a state institution used to clearly define inheritance rights and other property distribution questions. It far pre-dates recorded history, existing before Christianity, Judaism, or any other existing organized religion. In time, churches began to “bless” these unions, but they recognized them as state-originated legal arrangements. It’s only relatively recently that marriage has been seen more of a religious sacrament than a legal arrangement.

  36. madge

    Here is my tuppence worth….Between CONSENTING adults ANYTHING goes. It ain’t no-one’s business how anyone wants to live their lives as long as they aren’t harming anyone else in the process. If two (or three or four….etc) consenting people LOVE each other and wish to make a COMMITMENT to each other in the eyes of the law or their church (or the flying spaghetti monster) I think they should be given the support and respect they deserve. There is too little love in the world and too many folk looking for too many reasons to hate. That this world has such diversity is what makes it so interesting and wonderful.
    Good post Phil. Well said :)

  37. JR

    In my view, some things are simply right and wrong. I think some may be offended by this, but in a non-absolute moral view, you can rationalize almost anything. When transitioning from absolute to non-absolute or situational morality, you can start down a slippery slope. When people make the argument that gay marriage hurts the institution of marriage, this is what I believe they are referring to. It becomes almost meaningless as it is diluted. Today, gays are allowed to marry. Next could be age limits done away with, so could biological restictions (father-daughter, sibling), etc. Some will say, but we’re not talking about that…but now that the door is opened to changing the meaning of long held concepts, no one can really predict where things may end. In the larger context of society, I see gay marriage as part of a larger debate on what is morality and where does it come from and absolute vs non-absolute views.

    Well, thats my attempt to explain my view in a few words. Maybe not well. No doubt against the views of the posters here. I’m not a philosopher, I come here for the astronomy.

  38. QuasarTimes

    I totally agree Phil. There’s nothing wrong with gay marriage, it’s exactly the same as regular marriage. I really don’t understand these crazy people (republicans) who think they can tell people how they live.

    BTW, Phil for President!!

  39. Jeremy

    (I acknowledge the irony of the following post.) You know what really pisses me off? Not so much the gay marriage, I might be slightly for it…or slightly against it (haven’t really made up my mind.) It is the fact that this has dominated the news for the last week. With all the real problems we have in this country (health care, mortgage crisis, Iraq, energy prices…) we are allowing something as trivial as a personal relationship to run our national discourse. And that is just wrong.

  40. Brango

    It all started with an interpretation of the so-called absolute word of a deity… which pretty much sums up how everything stupid in the world started!

    Religion… it can’t hold back the tides, but it can sure hold you back from understanding them!

  41. Ugh. You bite your fork when you eat? Sheesh! The woman is a saint! ;)

  42. madge

    addendum to my last post

    “The eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not inflict unnecessary pain.”

    and

    “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

    (The late and sorely missed Kurt Vonnegut)

  43. The last time this country seriously took up the discussion of same-sex marriage was right before the 2004 presidential election.

    I had heard that Carl Rove and other right-wing planners used the issue to alarm the conservative base so they would be more likely to vote for their republican presidential candidate while attempting to vote for same-sex marriage bans.

    Is this what is happening now?

  44. Doc

    @John Kusters

    “…marriage was a state institution used to clearly define inheritance rights and other property distribution questions.”

    In western Europe since the middle-ages, yes. In other parts of the world and other times (including Europe before the middle-ages) your statement is either not correct or not provable.

    Way back when I was in college, we spent a semester discussing the various forms that marriage could take outside of modern western European culture. Trying to find common aspects to all of them was nearly impossible. The only definition that consistently worked across cultures was: “Marriage is an arrangement that confers legitimacy on children.”

    There was one culture I recall in which a couple would get married when the woman came of age. From that point on, all the children she had were considered to be his – even though they may never have any contact whatsoever. There was no inheritance, property rights, or sexual activity involved – just status. Further, if a woman in that society had children before being married (which was unlikely) they (and she) were socially stigmatized.

    Jusrt because a majority(?) of Christians in the US assign their own particular meaning to the word “marriage” doesn’t mean that’s how it is understood everywhere else.

  45. Quiet_Desperation

    I’m not sure I understand love, since I’m neither a poet nor a philosopher.

    Not sure why that matters.

    Put seven poets and eight philosophers in a room and ask them to define love, and you’ll get fifteen different answers and at least six fist fights.

    My view if anyone cares:

    On the issue of gay marriage, I am utterly ambivalent. They wanna get married? Have at it. I don’t care. They can’t possibly screw it up more then we heteros (>50% divorce rate). Or maybe they can. I don’t know. Not my business.

    On the issue of banning it via the Constitution, I am violently opposed to that.

    One fundamental American concept (and if you don’t believe me, compare the US Constitution to the EU Constitution) that a constitution should not LIMIT the rights of citizens, but rather it should limit the powers of government to restrict a citizen’s rights.

  46. @IBY

    The two Dicks (York and Sargent) were Samantha’s husband(s) on Bewitched. One of the Dicks was also gay. (Sargent?)
    KP

  47. Chris CII

    The big problem with marriage is that it covers at least four different aspects :
    1) The pledge to raise children together.
    2) The combining of estates.
    3) Political and social alliances.
    4) A religious sacrament.

    The fourth aspect can validly be dealt only inside the denomination of the spouses and cannot be regulated by civil powers.

    The third aspect is far less important these days than it was when dynasties wielded legitimacy and power, but in any case it can only be solved socially, and cannot be regulated.

    The second aspect is the one the states regulates and that could ideally be done by some form of corporation, like the french PACS, which entitles to some benefits and responsibilities of marriage but can be taken between most anybody without any sexual references.

    The first aspect is the one where I see a problem with homosexual marriages, I’d rather see children brought up by a father and a mother (whatever their true chromosomal gender) it is mostly the social aspects that bother me. AFAIK (but I’m no expert) children from single-parent families tend to have more psychological and development problems than children raised by both parents, and I would like to see a good study of children brought up by same-sex couples.

    On another key it is this aspect also on which a minimum genetic distance can be imposed (forbidding incest) to limit the risk of inbreeding, which can demonstrably do bad things to a genome.

    One can notice that none of the four aspects involve any sexual relationship. Sexual exclusivity (or the lack thereof) has nothing to do with western marriage, as the institution of royal mistresses will readily show.

    The one reason for limiting sexual relations between related people of different generations would be the problem of authority, it can be too easy for a parent to impose incest upon a sibling (even adult) and thus some kind of protection can be needed, like the rules that forbid officers to sleep with their soldiers, or executives with subordinates…

  48. Kaptain K

    Bravo Phil! Well said. I can remember when the marriage of a man of one skin color and a woman whose skin was a different color was also illegal!

  49. Sili

    It’s a lot easier to just keep “marriage” at governmental concept and applying that to everyone equally than it is to change the wording of all the laws that concern the taxation &c benefits relating to ‘sanctioned cohabitations’.

    We went with civil unions here (DK) and gays are still not allowed to adopt, for instance. It’s a mess and I hope we can get an effective socialist government the next time round (and to think I used to be a liberalist – just goes to show how ineffective those are).

    So if churches have a problem with the word “marriage” being instended to be inclusive, they can go ahead and make up their own word for whatever it is they do. “Blessing”, “affirmation”, “consecration”, “wowing”. I don’t see why bigots should impose a completely unnecessary expense on the administration in the form of extensive rewording of the laws. Or are they willing to finance such a move out of their tithes?

  50. Doc

    @KC

    Just what values do you feel can be transferred to children in a traditional family that can’t be transferred to children in a non-traditional family?

    Love thy neighbor? The golden rule? The work ethic? Fairness? Charity?

    About the only ones I can think of relate to valuing a traditional family. Circular reasoning at its best.

  51. Beth

    Thank you for the Dick York/Dick Sargent reference. I also can not figure our how I am affected by people I don’t even know getting married. I guess if we can vote on gay marriage we should be able to vote on all marriages. Kind of like a nation wide reality show.

  52. themadlolscientist

    @ IBY:

    I don’t get the Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent joke

    It’s from the old TV sitcom Bewitched, in which Dick Sargent took over from Dick York in the role of the witch’s husband a little over halfway through the series run. Believe it or not the silly thing ran for 8 seasons. (The first 3 or 4 weren’t bad, but after that the joke started wearing a bit thin.)

    I know it’s been asked before, but I can’t resist dusting the question off one………. more………. time…………….:

    If Dick Sargent and Dick York got married, would they hyphenate their name to Sargent-York?
    :-P

  53. Quiet_Desperation

    If two women marry, who pays the dowry?

    When two men marry, are there two best men? Two bachelor parties?

    In either case, who buys the engagement ring?

    These are important questions!!!!!!!!

    For the humor impared: :-)

  54. Doc

    @Chris CII

    “… children from single-parent families tend to have more psychological and development problems than children raised by both parents …”

    Until I see a study that shows this to be true – with a correction for income and psychological problems caused by divorce – I think this statement is total bunk.

    I’ve known several people who were raised in single-parent homes. Some turned out well, others didn’t, but from what I saw it was usually a function of how dysfunctional the family was instead of how many parents lived in the house. In fact, the same thing goes for two-parent families.

  55. Quiet_Desperation

    “”The California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage. Man, you thought it was bad for single women before. All the good ones are either gay or married. Now they’re gay *AND* married.” –Jay Leno

    “The anti-gay marriage amendment: The president endorsed it. The Senate discussed it. I’m pretty sure Jerry Falwell masturbated to it.” –Jon Stewart

    “…which means that on June 15, after years of struggles, California’s gay population will finally have the opportunity to make the biggest mistake of their lives, too.” –Jimmy Kimmel

  56. GoGuy

    “…that I bite my fork when I eat…”

    That does it! I’m never reading this blog again!!!
    :-)

  57. Jeffersonian

    Amazing how people misunderstand the concept of marriage. The word “marriage” defines a legal concept. It simply defines the legal aspect of a relationship and is not interchangeable with the word “wedding”. You are married when the state you reside in says you are. It has nothing to do with any ceremony or situation other than that as defined by the state. In Colorado, a common law state, you are legally married upon cohabitation. There’s no time limit and you don’t need a certificate, though you can go that route. It has nothing to do with religion. Nothing.

    “when people say that allowing gay marriage somehow threatens the sanctity of heterosexual marriage”
    What you miss, then, Phil, is that it’s a subterfuge akin to creationist~ID. It’s one of the many loopholes in xtianity that makes hate perfectly acceptable.

    The people that bark the loudest against gay marriage seem to be the same people that don’t understand that marriage is simply a legal concept in the first place; that, with separation of church/state, their supernatural beliefs have zilch to do with legal situations in a free democracy. Ask them why they want to strip legal rights from gay couples and they often give you an answer having nothing to do with legality.

    Personally, I’m neutral on the issue because
    a) I’m a strong advocate for state rights
    b)I don’t agree with the concept of marriage, period – for anybody (special rights for couples? Absurd*). It’s antiquated
    c)it’s not my fight. Most states already have the law on the books stating that marriage is a legal union between a male and female That’s fine with me, that’s the law (outmoded though it may be) on the books. If gay-marriage advocates want to change that law, fine by me – doesn’t effect me one way or the other, so, more power to their democratic exercise.

    As for the “animals do it” defense..feh. WE do it. WE are nature. Occurs in nature = natural. Homosexual coupling is likely as old as man. Blame some ancient jews for demonizing it – though they had their reasons, culturally and I totally agree with the idea of a strong family unit.

    Also, though it’s obviously humor, I don’t buy the “The government has no right to keep gay folks from being as miserable as the rest of us” adage either. The issue isn’t gay coupling, it’s on-paper legal rights. Miserableness occurs aside from the legal aspect.

    *and stated better by evolved squid

    MAtt, you confuscated the issue with straw men.
    nighstalker160, why not just stop using the legal term when you mean ‘wedding’?
    JR, the slippery slope adage is bullpuck. If I let you eat a hamburger you’ll eat an elephant whole tomorrow. Really?

  58. Well said, as usual, Phil! When I was reading the news yesterday I couldn’t help but smile. I’m glad that California has stepped up and recognized equal rights for all. I also don’t get why some folks are so up in arms about this. Love knows no boundaries and if 2 adult humans want to show the world their commitment, I’m all for it.

  59. OtherRob

    Tito, JR, and others:

    According to the newspapers, the first gay marriage performed in CA was between two elderly ladies who had been together for 50 years. How is their marriage more of a threat to the “institution of marriage” than Britney Spears?

    How does their marriage threaten mine of nearly 13 years? (I mentioned 13 since Phil said that’s how long he’s been married. :-) )

    If the purpose of marriage is for propagation, should we force infertile couples to divorce?

    And to those who suggest that gay marriage or polygamous marriage would make certain “contractural” matters more difficult (inheritance, taxation, etc.) harder, please tell me why we should order our lives for the government’s convenience.

  60. The AntiChick

    Phil, you rock. I mean, you always rock, but this post rocks more/harder/better than even your normal fare. And Mrs. BA needs to make you cookies just because you rock. Whether or not you bite your fork. :-)

  61. Doc

    Ok, I have to agree that the fork-biting thing is pretty nasty.

  62. @Chris CII — Your aspects 1 & 4 don’t apply to my own marriage. So, by your thinking, my husband and I should not be married? That’s absurd.

    Also, as far as raising children goes, any stable, loving environment is a good environment. Having a man and a woman raising a child is certainly no guarantee of either.

  63. wb

    Frankly, I also don’t understand why polygamous marriages are ILLEGAL. If it’s legal to live with and have sex with more than one person, why is it illegal to marry them? Certainly there should be age limits, as with any marriage or age-of-consent laws. But if I, a mature woman, wanted to add a second husband, why is that illegal? It seems like simple reverse discrimination against certain religions, including fundamentalist Mormons, Islam, and tribal religions.

    Oddly enough, the people I’ve found who practice polygamous lifestyles are secular science fiction fans. I’m not saying it’s a stable lifestyle, but it is traditional in cultures worldwide and was standard in early Judeo-Christian commuities. Why it’s illegal is beyond me.

    As for gay marriage, I am personally a very traditional person who plans to stay married to my only husband until death do us part. I don’t know why I would deny that commitment and stability to any other couple. I was moved to happy tears when a co-worker married her partner of 12 years. It’s a beautiful thing. And I suspect they have a better chance of a lifelong marriage than most of the hetero couples I know. I think we can all learn a lot from stable couples of any preference.

  64. Ann

    This is for JR:

    Yes, it is about right and wrong. But where does your sense of right and wrong originate. What makes something right or wrong. Just because it is in the Bible or I’m-a-Dinner-Jacket from Iran thinks so, don’t make it so. If you subscribe to the Eleventh commandmant which states, “Love thy neighbor as thy self”, the ultimate test of right and wrong has to be “Who is it hurting”. You claim it is hurting society because it devalues heterosexual marriage. How? The law has a tradition of recognizing common law marriage where the people dispensed with the ceremony and just presented themselves as married after shacking up together. As part of the common law, these marriages were recognized by the state. In this case the state looked past the formaility of the ceremony to the true nature of the relationship. The nature of the relationship is what is sacred, not the outward form. You also make the argument about the ‘slippery slope’. Law, which is after all what we are talking about, is in the business of drawing lines. This far and no further. There really are very few absolutes and it is always evolving and changing. But justs because it must evolve and change along with society. that does not mean that it cannot draw distinctions and lines between what is acceptable and what is not. And of all the absolute wrongs I can think of to campaign against, gay marriage is not even in the ballpark. How about the business of child prostitution. That one is a pretty clear absolute evil. Why not be against that. Well, I’m sure you are against that, but you see my point. It is a little like George Bush breaking off his vacation to rush back to Washington to sign some piece of legislative idiocy relating to the Terry Schiavo case and not breaking off his vacation while dead children were flooting in the water in New Orleans.

  65. Could everyone puhleeeese stop mentioning Dicks in this post!? ;)

  66. Tom Marking

    Dang, I promised myself that wouldn’t post anything anymore on the social/political subjects but I can’t help myself. I wonder if BA’s tolerance extends to other forms of marriage. Based on stuff I’ve seen on Pharyngula I somehow doubt it:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/why_are_little_girls_always_th.php

    I wonder how people would feel about BA’s viewpoint if we replace one class of people with another:

    Some people don’t like polygamists. I figure that’s OK. I mean, it’s OK that they get to have their own opinions, even if I think some of those opinions are silly or wrong or ill-informed. Some people think that being a polygamist is really wrong, and that I’m the one who’s silly. But I never seem to get a good answer from folks like that when I ask, why is polygamy wrong? What do they mean by “wrong”? Polygamy occurs in the animal kingdom, for example, so I’m thinking it’s natural. Some people think it’s a sickness, but I don’t see that either. It’s not caused by a bacterium, or a virus, or some sort of damage to the brain, or a chemical imbalance. How are they being sick?

  67. Jason

    Phil, will you marry me? ;)

  68. wb

    Tom Marking -
    Exactly my point. What happens girls in a certain religion/cult should not be addressed by laws that affect mature women who freely choose a different lifestyle. The fundamentalist Mormon abuses can be addressed with age-of-consent laws and anti-incest laws that are applicable to the general population. Instead, the US long ago thought to address the “Mormon problem” with anti-polygamy laws that affect mature adults of any or no religion.

    The simple solution is that the government should not be issuing marriage licenses, period. It should simply be in the private sphere, not addressed by laws.

    I do have a horse in this race, my ancestors were Mormon pioneers, including a polyandrous great-great-great grandmother. My family is not now Mormon of any stripe, but I think these leftover laws are ridiculous. If my husband and I decided our lives would be better by adding a 3rd or 4th mature adult to the mix, that should be our mistake to make! I don’t need a law to arrest me for it. (This is completely unlikely, but it irks me that it is illegal).

  69. Irishman

    Phil, excellent column.

    IBY said:
    > I don’t get the Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent joke, though.

    From the TV show Bewitched. Dick Sargent played the husband, Darren. One day Darren looked completely different. Dick York had taken on the role. Everybody on the show pretended he was exactly the same guy, but all the TV audience were confused.

    Evolving Squid said:
    > There isn’t one woman in ten [Ed.: oops, typo] a billion who would marry me at all

    > that still leaves at least two more beyond Mrs. BA. Now she’s gonna smack you for that.

    He said would marry him, not that wants to marry him or he wants to marry.

    tito said:
    > Now I am not sure how I feel about gay marriage. I am a conservative and a Christian and I really do not believe that being gay is “right”, but at the same time I really don’t care what people do. I have no problem with civil unions or the government granting the same rights to gay couples as straight ones, but marriage between gay people, especially in the church does bother me. So with that said I’m sympathize with both sides and I am not sure exactly where I stand on the issue

    Let me get this straight (no pun intended), you don’t have a problem with civil unions or getting the same rights, and the living together thing is their choice, but you just have an issue with them calling it marriage.

    Well, sorry to disappoint you, but that’s the word. Part of the problem is the word doing double duty to mean a social pairing and a religious ceremony, but that’s the situation we’re in. Now maybe you can convince the U.S. to get the government out of the marriage business by referring to all legal social pairings as civil unions and treating them all the same, and treating marriage as a religious ceremony and standing that is not annotated on any forms or anything. Hey, more power to you. Or, you could just accept that the word refers to a certain kind of relationship, the social pairing.

    As for their getting married in a church, who are you to tell God what is okay? If their church is okay with it, why do you get a vote?

    Evolving Squid said:
    > As I said in the previous thread, it’s not about the ritual of marriage. If all marriage entailed was n-people getting together to declare their mutual love/lust/whatever, then really, it would never pop up on the radar. Truly, nobody would care.

    I dispute that. There are plenty of people who are morally offended by the concept of gay/lesbian marriage, or polyandrous marriages. They care because it is “wrong”. Now, how much they’re willing to allow legally is a varying factor, but they still take note of the condition. Just look at tito above, who doesn’t care that they choose to pair up or get legally recognized status, but is disturbed because they want to call it “marriage” and get married in a church.

    Still, you do have some valid points. Specifically, some of the resistance is the financial and legal elements.

    > In fact, by recognizing marriage in law, single people are at some disadvantage. As a childless person, for example, I can’t help support my brother’s child and claim benefits that he might claim (for example – as far as I know, I cannot set up a tax-sheltered education savings plan in Canada for someone else’s child as I could set one up for a child of my own).

    But is that a function of being single, or is that a function of not being the person’s parent? You could set up that kind of account for your own children even if they were born out of wedlock, or you divorced their mother and live separately. The issue is not rated by married status, but by parenthood.

    > If you’re married but don’t have children, in many cases, they’ll make you do things like combine income for taxation purposes (pushing your taxes up, or denying other benefits due to combined income). Of course, you can breed your way out of those disadvantages – but there is demonstrable discrimination against married, childless people in the Canadian (and I would guess, American as well) tax system.

    Okay, I’ve heard about the “marriage penalty”, but never really had it explained. As far as I can tell, the complaint is that if you file as a married couple (married filing jointly), then the lumped income number can bump your tax bracket and tinker with cutoffs for certain allowances and things. Okay, but is there not a way to file married filing individually? Also, you say “breed your way out of those disadvantages”. By that I think you mean that if you have children, you can file additional deductions. Again, those are conditions of parenthood and caring for dependents, not aspects of married vs. single.

    > What governments have to decide is what the PURPOSE of government recognition of marriage is. Once that is decided, then marriage should be defined to accommodate that.

    Hmm, while I agree that the government’s role in recognizing marriage is somewhat murky, I think the definition is based upon a historical contingency rather than a government fiat. If the government is going to be creating definitions, it ought to create new terms to go with them, and then not use the old terms at all. In other words, don’t have a separate category of “married” for heterosexuals and “joined/civil unioned/whatever language concoction you wish to derive” for homosexual couples, just have the category “joined” for legal purposes.

    I think the root of the problem is the historical intertwining social structures with religion and government. Essentially, their are two types of power structure – religion and “government”, where government could be a tribal chieftan, a town council, a collective of all the male adults, whatever. Social structures inherently drew upon one or both of those power structures for their authority. So a marriage was a communal recognition of a pairing that was “sanctified” by either the government, the religious leader, or both.

    Of course our Western secular approach was to separate the roles of religion and government, which put traditional social structures in a bind. How much are they a function of the religious structure (the sanctification) and how much a function of the government (legal status for tracking, dispensing benefits and responsibilities, etc)? When we as a society do not have 1 unified religion, we can’t count on religion to be the one source of sanctification, but having government step into that role (Justice of the Peace weddings) is an awkward fit. This is where traditional social structures are having to be reevaluated by contemporary mindset. Maybe marriage is obsolete. Maybe marriage should be replaced by goverment legal joinings, and split the function of the social recongition/sanctification from the legal bindings. That’s the current state of the situation, resistance to change on one side, and a lack of direction on the other. Some don’t know what they want, others want different things from each other.

  70. NoFace

    @Tom Marking – are you serious? You think a compound where underage girls are routinely raped and forced to live and raise their daughters, who will eventually be raped, is analogous to all forms of polygamy? And you think it’s fair to imply that by supporting gay marriage Phil is somehow tacitly endorsing what went on at that Texas compound? Here’s a tip – type up your comment, wait 15 minutes until your emotions have settled down, then come back and reread it to make sure it doesn’t make you sound ridiculous. That’s what I just did, and I’m pretty sure I’m right on the money here.

  71. Guinness

    First and foremost, I am taking no position on this issue here. I too am conflicted about what my final opinion is. And I too have known a few gay people over the years, including my older sister who I love dearly.

    I guess I’m posting this (I’m sure others will too) to discuss a few things about the article that in my opinion, didn’t really make the point.

    Knowing happy people who are gay is great and all, but what does that have to do with the issue? I assume the intent is to say that gay people can feel OK about themselves and therefore can be as happy with their sexual orientation as anyone else. And while I don’t doubt that for a second, it doesn’t really lend anything to the argument.

    Love is a powerful emotion. You don’t have to be a poet or a philosopher to understand that. But the debate is not about being allowed to love the person of your choosing. The debate is about re-defining marriage, which is a government endorsed legal contract between the parties involved, the government, and society. Being in love is not a legal requirement of marriage.

    You don’t understand why some people feel marriage should be limited or restricted? I would be willing to bet that you actually do understand. You gave the example of children being a correct restriction because of their limited legal rights and not being able to make adult decisions. The claim is made that two adults should have the ability to make their own decisions concerning marriage. But why restrict the number to two? There is a much longer history of polygamy than same-sex marriage which has only been around for a decade or less. Incestuous marriage has also been done before. But how many people are saying that you can’t judge an incestuous or polygamist marriage? You can bet that someone will one of these days because after all, if love is the only determining factor, than any right-minded sane adults should be free to marry. So maybe it turns out that love is not enough when determining where the restrictions are made.

    The whole…”nature” does it, so it must be “normal”…is a really strange argument here. And it is off the point because animals in the natural world don’t enter into government endorsed legal contracts either. You can teach a bear to drive a motorcycle but that doesn’t mean we should start giving out driver’s licenses to bears. Cannibalism and forced sexual contact also occur in nature but that doesn’t mean that they are things we should endorse in our human society.

    The section of the Constitution that was sited is a fundamental cornerstone of American society. Reading same-sex marriage into the purpose for which it was written though involves a bit of effort. It was just clearly did not written with that intent. If advocates of same-sex marriage really want to use the Constitution as a defense for changing the law, they should push for a Constitutional amendment to support that view. The other side is pushing for a Constitutional amendment to prohibit this change of law. With 70% of the country against the this change, the speed and manner in which it done (after the citizens of the states in question had overwhelmingly voted against it), I really don’t think this is even close to being settled.

    And one last thing. I am very close to people on both sides of this issue and I understand some of the points being made by both sides. In the end, everyone needs to remember that both sides are working from a perspective of doing what the feel is right for the country.

  72. Zar

    Gay marriage will destroy the family, for as we know the nuclear family (one woman, one man, one daughter, one brother, one dog and one cat, with no extended family or extended social network involved in passing cultural values on to the children) is the only type of family unit that has ever existed. The nature of the family unit has never changed according to social or economic factors.

    Gay marriage will result in fathers marrying daughters, daughters marrying pigs, cats marrying dogs, etc. This happens because whenever someone new is granted a civil right accorded to others, then every animate thing will suddenly gain that right. Just as when biracial couples were finally permitted to marry, it suddenly became legal for men to marry dyslexic sheep. Or how after the 19th Amendment was ratified it became legal for certain types of lichen to vote.

    Homosexual marriage will eliminate heterosexual marriage. This is because the vast majority of the population is homosexual, and once homosexuals can have a legally-sanctioned bond that actually counts for something all the men and women of the world will finally give up their charade of heterosexuality and join in homosexual unions.

    Homosexual marriage is wrong because I personally am not sexually aroused by the idea of two men engaging it coitus. I find it unpleasant. That is why the elderly, overweight and/or unattractive are not permitted to marry.

  73. Daffy

    To all sexual bigots:

    A) Sexual orientation is NOT a choice. If it is, please tell me what age you were when you decided to become heterosexual.

    B) The Bible says a LOT of crazy stuff. For example, in Leviticus we are told that it is a mortal sin to wear garments woven from 2 different fabrics (look it up); I’ll bet every one of you has some clothes in your closet (pun intentional) that are a cotton/polyester blend. Shall we stone you to death?

    So let’s stop pretending that the Bible justifies your bigotry, shall we? It was written thousands of years ago by a bunch of tribal leaders barely out of the stone age.

    Gay marriage is no threat whatsoever to my family or marriage. Why do you think it would be? Is yours so fragile that you need to be frightened about what gays do?

  74. Matherly

    quiet_desperation said: “When two men marry, are there two best men?”

    Apparently not. George “Mr. Sulu” Takai has/will be getting married soon and he and his partner have asked Walter “Mr. Chekov” Koenig to be best man and Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nicholes to be matron of honor.

    I’m starting to think that the people who are really opposed to this are the ettiquite gurus and wedding planners who now have to figure out a who new set a traditions :)

    (P.S. apparenlty Bill Shatner’s not invited >:) )

  75. Kid Cool

    This is a little off topic Phil, but I totally agree with you.

    nighstalker160 and mdmadph have it right. The government should get out of the marriage business and everyone (homo and hetro) should have domestic partnerships, civil unions, whatever the govt wants to call them. Let marriage return to the religions.

    As a CPA, I think the next challenge needs to be the Tax code. A married hetrosexual couple with a single income will pay less than a married homosexual couple with a single income, because the IRS doesn’t recognize same sex marriages.

  76. Mus

    JR said: Well, thats my attempt to explain my view in a few words.

    Oh no, you did a fine job… although I can do it in fewer: “It’s wrong cuz it’s wrong cuz it’s wrong cuz it’s wrong!”

    Well, you also committed the slippery slope fallacy. Instead of arguing against same-sex marriage like you should, you simply go on in random tangents which have nothing to do with the actual issue at hand, and pretend that they do.

  77. TOm Marking: Wow. Just wow.

    Are you kidding me? You equate more than two adults getting married with child abuse by religious fundamentalists?

    Wow.

    First: surprise! I have no issues with polyamory/polyandry/polygamy. It’s fine by me, as long as everyone involved understands the issues (which can be quite complex, of course).

    For that, the same rules apply as in my post. No kids involved, and everyone can make an adult decision.

    Equating this with the cults/sects/religious fringe is so far off the mark that it’s ridiculous. Those groups who want multiple marriages involving 13 year old girls are — surprise again! — wrong. Why? Because the kids are too young. That’s simply wrong.

    The issue of the enslavement of the women is tougher. A lot of religious extremists enslave women. Now, if the women walk into this of sound mind and body, well then, that’s up to them. But I have no problems saying a religion that debases, degrades, and enslaves half their population is a religion that is morally wrong. Adult humans have the basic inalienable right to be free.

    So let’s be clear: marrying more than one person = OK by me. Marrying kids, enslaving women, brainwashing everyone = wrong.

    I hope that simple enough for everyone to figure out.

  78. William Mattsson

    The polygamists in the sect of the Mormon church have since been cleared of the “child rape” and other charges and have had their children returned to them by a Texas court. A Texas-sized lawsuit will surely follow this state-intervention attempt to manage the lives of law-abiding citizens merely upon a suspicion of wrongdoing.

    As for us in California: I certainly hope the state-sanctioned change in the marriage laws will confer ALL legal rights upon the newly-wedded/joined/united/married or whatever word of choice is appropriate. If the state sanctions the union AND confers upon those united the full legal status that the rest of us enjoy, then what the various churches via their doctrines of tolerance or prejudice decide is irrelevant. I don’t think that any church doctrine is the sole arbiter of moral or ethical behavior anyway, given their historical performances. And don’t I think the state has the lock on said behavior, given that slavery was once sanctioned in this country and as a nation we still execution to punish crime.

    As we change and adapt our mores and ethics, so we change our laws to reflect the changes. The confusion engendered by the conflicts between our moral choices will be resolved, however slowly; we will eventually come to consensus about our notions of what is moral and how, as a nation, we should reflect those notions
    within the framework of our legal system.

  79. Robbie

    Daffy: “To all sexual bigots:

    A) Sexual orientation is NOT a choice. If it is, please tell me what age you were when you decided to become heterosexual.”

    There are obviously some people that disagree with you, and while your statement about sexual orientation makes sense and I think it is probably the truth, is there evidence of it? Can you just say it’s NOT a choice as it applies to other people? If a man claims to be straight and has sex with other men is he still straight because he was born straight? I don’t think the matter is that simple, unfortunately.

  80. Great comment, there, Phil. I support the Hell out of gay marriage, because allowing same-sex marriages is the only way I’ll ever be able to marry the people I want to be with (completely aside from the fact that I support it on its own merits as well). I’ve run into a lot of people equating all multiple marriages with fundy enslavement of women, and it never fails to make me sick. Forced marriage = wrong. Marriage between any willing adults = Awesome.

  81. Daffy

    Robbie,

    There is extensive research being done on brain structure that makes it increasingly clear that sexual orientation is genetic. Most such research is rejected out of hand by bigots who desperately need such orientation to be a choice.

    I am not suggesting that individuals cannot make the choice to have sex with anyone they please…however, one’s natural disposition seems to be a matter of make up. The evidence is mounting (another intentional pun) every day.

    As I say, if it’s a choice, ask ANY hetero when he or she made their choice.

  82. Rob

    I agree with Evolving Squid’s comments above, about this whole issue being primarily an economic one. Insurance companies don’t want to have to pay benefits to gay spouses of policyholders, and they make damn sure their GOP congresspuppets and their astroturf organizations know about it. The whole morality thing is a wrapper around this icky reality, to get the religious folk all worked up on their side.

  83. Cory

    I’ve found that most people who are worried about gay marriage should actually be worrying more about the state of their own marriage…

  84. Murff

    [quote]It just seems wrong. But that’s just a temporary reaction. In a while you get used to it, and when you see it you say, “Eh. Seen it”.[/quote]

    How far do we go with society just getting to the “Eh, Seen it” part, before we take a real look at what’s going on?

  85. C Murdock

    You bite your fork when you eat? Cool, me too!

  86. jotrry

    @ Jeffersonian:
    Just being a bit picky here, but ‘wedding’ and ‘marriage’ are 2 separate concepts. Wedding is the act of joining something, generally referred to as the ceremony that takes place when a marriage is performed. The marriage is the ongoing commintement that takes place after the wedding.

    My opinion, any two consenting adults that aren’t slosely related should be afforded all the right of the traditional heterosexual couples. I can’t really see where the issue is.

  87. Irishman

    Crap, delay in posting and so much is said.

    nighstalker160 said:
    > Marriage is a religious term that was used by the governments at a time where religion in the public sector was more tolerated.

    I would argue that marriage is a social term that has roots to the two power structures of human society – “religion” and “government”. Marriage is a term for a particular type of social structure, a mutual joining of livelihoods. The purpose and structures of marriage have differed across human experience by different cultures and their needs. Polygamies and polyandries have existed, as well as marriage for economic standing. Our current Western ideal is marriage for love, but there’s no inherent or naturally occuring justification for that over other models.

    Dean Baird said:
    > 3. sounding as if legalizing gay marriage would ban heterosexual marriage. They make it sound like heteros are gonna have to divorce and take up with someone of their own gender.

    Excellent point, which goes back to

    But the one thing that really confuses me, that really doesn’t make sense to me — and I like to think I’m a fairly smart guy, so someone help me out here — is when people say that allowing gay marriage somehow threatens the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

    The complaint seems to be that if homosexual marriage is allowed, we will suddenly have a bunch of people who would otherwise have heterosexual marriages deciding to be gay. That’s the only argument I can see them making. Basically, it is rooted in the feeling that homosexuality is “evil” and not God-sanctioned or natural, and thus any societal acceptance of homosexuality is encouraging it, making it a valid “choice”. But that position makes it seem that orientation is a choice. I don’t recall deciding to like women. Are they saying they would like their own gender but don’t have that option? If they wouldn’t change their own orientation just because they had the option, why do they think anyone else would?

    Melusine said:
    > [regarding multiple marriages] I think there’s a case for financial, legal problems with more than two people. If a spouse can make a medical decision and there are several spouses, what if two of the spouses disagree, say about taking the person off life support? And that would really mess up the tax code. I think pragmatism

    But those problems already exist. Consider the case when the family consists of several adult children of the patient, and they disagree. That is part of what our legal system is built to address. New social structures may need new laws to accommodate them, but that’s a weak justification.

    Kingthorin said:
    > “Homosexuality occurs in the animal kingdom, for example, so I’m thinking it’s natural. Some people think it’s a sickness, but I don’t see that either. It’s not caused by a bacterium, or a virus, or some sort of damage to the brain, or a chemical imbalance.” Are you sure? I thought it was more that we hadn’t yet identified exactly what causes homosexuality.

    “Causes” homosexuality is politically loaded terminology. Some people read in a judgment of homosexuality. Not being judgmental about it, but still trying to understand how it arises, I am willing to use the word “cause”. There is some evidence of a correlation of brain structure to homosexual orientation. However, I don’t know of any definitive conclusion of cause. However, there is no evidence even suggesting of a bacterial or viral cause. There is no identifiable brain damage or identifiable chemical imbalance. There is probably a neurochemical connection, of only because that is the root of all brain activity, but the complexity of that may be as complex as, say, political party choice. And frankly, sexual orientation may even be a mixed trait, some of it biochemically determined and some of it chosen. Of course that is another political minefield, becuase of the arguments over the acceptability of homosexuality.

    Jewel said:
    > @Chris CII — Your aspects 1 & 4 don’t apply to my own marriage. So, by your thinking, my husband and I should not be married? That’s absurd.

    No, that’s a misapplication of Chris CII’s comment. Chris CII was describing the aspects of the social practice of marriage – what roles in plays. It is not requisite that all factors be involved to make any particular marriage valid.

    Tom Marking, regarding polygamy (and polyandry), you are oversimplifying. Just because one form of polygamy is atrocious does not mean all forms of polygamy share those traits. The particular form in the news is that of the Mormon church offshoots, which relies on forcing underage girls (as young as 12) into polygamous marriages through intimidation, dominance, and ignorance. That is a very different situation than allowing fully educated and informed adults choose whom to form social partnerships.

    (I bet there’s more I missed.)

  88. Tom Marking

    @Tom Marking – are you serious? You think a compound where underage girls are routinely raped and forced to live and raise their daughters, who will eventually be raped, is analogous to all forms of polygamy?

    NoFace, apparently you have not been keeping up with current events. The entire Texas CPS case against the FLDS has fallen apart and was tossed out by the Texas Supreme Court. All of the allegations that CPS made against FLDS about underage girls being pregnant have not been substantiated. So when you say “underage girls routinely raped” you are mistaken. Where is your evidence for this?

    According to recent news accounts one of the alleged “underage girls” was actually 27 years old. That should tell you something about CPS’s credibility not to mention their intelligence.

    http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/05/21/1049578.aspx

    Officials from Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) said at least 31 of the mothers, or pregnant “girls,” in state custody were underage. That number, they conceded, included 26 women/girls whose ages were “in dispute.” The women told CPS officials they were adults, and claimed they had documentation to prove it, but investigators insisted that they “looked like minors,” so they were kept in custody.
    .
    .
    .
    Turns out, many of the “disputed” minors are adults after all, a point CPS hasn’t conceded until now. One of the “girls” is actually 27 years old.

  89. Kid Cool

    I want to comment that I think polygamy should not be sanctioned by the govt.

    I think it is in the govt’s interest to promote monogamous family units. Please note, I did not limit the sexual orientation.

    Having said that, if a group of adults want to live together and call themselves married, go for it. Not my concern.

  90. Thomas Siefert

    George “Mr. Sulu” Takai has/will be getting married soon and he and his partner have asked Walter “Mr. Chekov” Koenig to be best man and Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nicholes to be matron of honor.

    (P.S. apparenlty Bill Shatner’s not invited >:) )

    Of course he’s not invited, he always steal the best lines so when they get to the “I do” part, he would end up being the one getting married and stealing the limelight. :-)

  91. KC

    Doc:

    Google and read the studies on single-parent inner city homes. Or, if you’d like food for thought, consider what what President Ahmadinejad of Iran said about gays in his country – and consider that Iran isn’t a Western country.

    As I said, Europe is running this experiment for us. We have only to watch for a generation or two to see what happens.

  92. Michelle

    @Chris CII: Which do you prefer, orphan kids being raised by gays, kids being left in an orphanage or kids being dumped with two idiotic different sex parents. I think that it’s better for kids to be with two same sex parents than for them to have no parents at all. But I have to say they have to make this clear:

    Guy + guy != baby. You need a girl in the lot. Same goes with lesbians. But then again, I’m sure they’ll learn THAT off Discovery Channel young enough.

    The massive problem with kids raised by just one parent is… well, the job’s tough for just one person really. With two you can at least share the job. But frankly a lot of single parents do a very fine job… I know my best friend does, she’s raising a darling little girl practically by herself (The father’s a… well you know the drill, that’s the part where I bash on the no good dad.)

    So one parent can be pretty swell, two is better, three is good, four is awesome, five is… wow. Imagine the christmas presents!!!!!!!!!

  93. OtherRob

    Zar, you scared me there for a minute, then you made me laugh. :-)

    @Guinness:

    But how many people are saying that you can’t judge an incestuous or polygamist marriage?

    If the participants are all consenting adults, then I’m saying that, among others here. While I would not choose either of those options — yes, given the choice of any marriage option in the world I would choose the “traditional” marriage that I am in — who am I to decide that for anyone else?

  94. Doc

    KC,

    “Google and read the studies on single-parent inner city homes.”

    As I said, obviously such a study does not control for socioeconomic status. It could be (probably is) the case that being in an inner-city home is what’s causing the problem.

    What Ahmadinejad has to say about gays in his country is irrelevant – in order to keep his position he is required to say all sorts of stuff.

    Considering that many other countries and cultures have been running the same “experiment” (and have nice, stable and moral families), I think you have no basis in fact to support your beliefs on the matter.

  95. Doc

    @Michelle

    “The massive problem with kids raised by just one parent is… well, the job’s tough for just one person really.”

    It’s a tough job for two people as well.

    In most cultures on the planet, polygamy is the preferred form of marriage (note that monogamy is the most common). Polygamy provides better support for the family in the event of the loss of a parent.

  96. Speaking as a Gay amateur astronomer, my hat is off to you for this post, Phil.

    That Gay couples seek to marry is not an attack on marriage. If anything it is an ENDORSEMENT of marriage, an acknowledgment that it far better to encourage couples toward monogamy and commitment, rather than relegating them to lives of loneliness and promiscuity.

    Ask any Straight couple why they choose to marry. Their answer will not be, “We want to get married so that we can have sex and make babies!” That would be absurd, since couples do not need to marry to make babies, nor is the desire to make babies a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.

    No, the reason couples choose to marry is to make a solemn declaration, before friends and family members, that they wish to make a commitment to one another’s happiness, health, and well-being, to the exclusion of all others. Those friends and family members will subsequently act as a force of encouragement for that couple to hold fast to their vows.

    THAT’S what makes marriage a good thing. Gay couples recognize that and support that. And those that want to prohibit Gay couples from marrying do so only because they don’t want to allow Gay couples the opportunity to PROVE that they are up to the task.

    For those who suggest that the issue of marriage is best left up to the states, it’s important to remember that the federal government has a vested interest in married couples for the purposes of income taxes and Social Security benefits. From the fed’s point of view, it wouldn’t do for a couple to be considered married in one state, then magically “UN-married” once they decide to move somewhere else.

    The fact remains that the term “marriage” does not occur in the Constitution of the United States. There is technically no “right” for any couple, Gay or Straight, to get married, at least from the federal government’s standpoint. And that is why, ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to address the issue of what constitutes a marriage, much as I’m sure they would prefer NOT to.

  97. Michelle

    …Incestuous marriages have a massive problem: genes. The illnesses in resulting offsprings are very real. I have interests in birds and know lots of budgerigar breeders, and I saw it in a few accidents. Mom mates with son and you get a batch of sick birds that die young, or most are infertile. In fact, my aunt has two of my budgie offsprings, and they are breeding… Thought I had given her two males but it was a boy and girl. It’s terrible, they keep breeding and the babies are so weak. First one already died. (And she doesn’t do anything about it. EEEEEEEEEGH!)

    You can never make that legal.

  98. Tom Marking

    Are you kidding me? You equate more than two adults getting married with child abuse by religious fundamentalists?

    Again, BA, like I responded to NoFace not one single charge of child rape has been brought by the state of Texas against FLDS nor are any pending. Not one single case of child abuse has been filed against FLDS. The case has been thrown out by the Texas Supreme Court and all of the FLDS children have been returned to their parents. That would not be the case if there was any inkling of real child abuse.

    I notice a lot of people are making comments on the story based on some news item they heard back in April, and they are unaware of subsequent events. I guess that’s mainly the news media’s problem. A raid on the FLDS compound is front page news. The fact that the entire CPS case is bogus is buried on page 30.

    So to recap, there is NO evidence of underage girls who were pregnant at FLDS (underage in Texas in under the age of 16) and there is NO evidence of child abuse.

  99. Michelle

    @Doc: Never said the contrary. But generally it’s simpler when you’re at least two. And like I said… if you can be five that’s great.

  100. Doc

    Oh, also in regard to Ahmadinejad’s comments: there is a large amount of seld-deception going on in some mideast and far-east countries. I had an Indian cow-orker tell me that there aren’t any gays in India, and that if you saw two guys walking down the street holding hands, they were just friends. From everything I’ve seen and heard about Indian culture, this is patently not true.

  101. OK then Tom, accepting that, then what was your point?

  102. OtherRob

    Michelle, would you require genetic testing of unrelated couples prior to marriage? What if their gene charts showed a heightened tendency toward certain genetic abnormalities that would harm their offspring? Should we forbid them to marry or just sterilize them before the ceremony? Hey, maybe we could make it a part of the ceremony.

    Yeah, I’ve probably read too much Heinlein. Nah……..

  103. hale_bopp

    Good post, but I am getting really tired of hearing about your wife’s cookies and never getting any!

  104. Michelle

    @OtherRob: The heck are you talking about? Direct offsprings don’t require testing. Like two sibblings or mom and son and stuff like that. And I think that first cousins are too close too. (Like your son hitting on your sister’s daughter.)

    How can you even say that? It doesn’t require much thinking. It’s not even a matter of morals here. It’s a matter of close genetics = high possibility of MASSIVE ILLNESSES

  105. Tom Marking

    OK then Tom, accepting that, then what was your point?

    The purpose was to elicit opinions concerning polygamy, polyandry, etc. which was not clear in the original post. It turns out that you are in favor of legalizing these if they involve consenting adults. Not everyone who support legalizing gay marriage would support these other forms of marriage. It would be interesting to know what the percentage is.

    BTW, in the last election cycle 11 states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6383353

    IMHO, this subject is being used as a prop in the so called “culture war” causing people on both sides to take sides on an issue which otherwise would generate little interest. It’s similar to flag burning with conservatives wanting to pass laws protecting the flag while at the same time there is little evidence that anyone is actually burning the U.S. flag.

    The conservatives are doing the same thing here – Oh my God!, we’ve got to protect marriage from the queers. Meanwhile the liberals in California have made it legal deliberately to enrage the conservatives and prove their moral superiority to the rest of the nation. So the whole thing is nothing but a two-bit morality play with cynical motives on both sides. That’s my two cents on it.

  106. Doug Little

    The whole homosexual animals thing pretty much puts the good ole’ homosexuality is a choice canard to bed. Last time I checked very, very few animals are capable of making choices but instead operate on instinct. Like Daffy said there is more and more evidence that homosexuality is natural and is actually beneficial to the formation of stronger social bounds within a population. I read an article by a researcher a while back that was looking at distinctly different pheromones being secreted by gay vs straight people.

  107. OtherRob

    Michelle, my point was that it’s not for us to decide what risks consenting adults choose to take with each other — and, yes, with their potential offspring as well. Parents and potential parents take risks all the time. For example, having children after a certain age raises the risk that the child will develop Down’s Syndrome. Do you propose the we cap the age at which woman can legally have children?

    Another question for you: If you’re concern is truly about the genetic risk that such unions carry, would you withdraw your objection to such unions if the prospective couple were, indeed, infertile?

  108. Pisces

    Government has no business meddling in people’s love lives. I believe this comes under the heading of “pursuit of happiness”. I’ve known a number of gay people in my life….ALL nice people. I’d like to see them be happy!

  109. Joe Meils

    Generally, you might apply a simple test to whatever “culture war” battle you wish to think about, to determine if it’s something that should be allowed:

    #1: is it safe? Will the behavior, or human relational structure casue anyone harm?

    #2: Is it sane? Does the proposed behavior seem to be a product of being irrational? (This one’s kinds slippery… love itself is pretty irrational.)

    #3: is it consentual? Are both parties adults, and capable of making INFORMED decisions about what is best for them?

    It’s not a perfect system, by any means, but it does seem to work a lot of the time.

  110. JR

    Ann,

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree. I just don’t buy into this statement:

    “If you subscribe to the Eleventh commandmant which states, “Love thy neighbor as thy self”, the ultimate test of right and wrong has to be “Who is it hurting”. ”

    I’ve always interpeted “Love thy neighbor as thyself” to mean that I treat everyone with respect and fairly. I don’t call them names when I disagree with them or attack them. But it doesn’t mean I have to or will agree with them. Or agree to things I don’t believe in. If someone wants to live a different lifestyle than me, have at it. But don’t expect me to endorse it when asked.

    I would agree that its not the biggest problem confronting the world. (When I clicked on this website today, it certainly wasn’t on my mind).

    As for talking about the slippery slope, my point was an attempt to explain why some people (I can’t speak for all) think its an attack on marriage (to answer Phil’s question, Why? I don’t get it). Basing morality on “who does it hurt?” or “anything goes if consenting” or other very-negotiable conditions, creates situations, in my opinion, that can cause more trouble later. Perhaps polgamy is the next evolution for marriage. Maybe its already been decided in the courts, but I’m half-expecting polygamists to challenge laws against polygamy next. There were good social reasons for banning it. But those reasons may be out the window now. The lines that are drawn do move. Its a matter of how fast or how far that people think they should move are a big part of this issue as well as other social issues.

    Sometimes people just disagree on what is right and wrong.

  111. Michelle

    @OtherRob: Are you kidding? The risks are WAY higher for offsprings out of incestual relationships. Think of it as a social problem here, a problem of race. The reason why it’s not allowed is because it’s a matter of survival and genetical strength. The problem of down syndrome with parents that are older are not as massive.

    Consenting adults or not, it’s wrong. It’s not a matter of sexual orientation here.

  112. ARP1234

    As a comedian said about one man marrying another man – COWARDS!

    :^)

  113. Martin Smith

    Small comment on the whole think about gay’s being “icky”.

    I have several gay friends now on account of my wife. I use to be homophobic, but after a few lengthy conversations (imagine that, talking!) with the people that are now my friends, I learned really quickly that we were not very different at all, except of course in the obvious way. Even though I love all my gay friends, I am still getting use to them. My wife and I know a couple that that have been together for a while, practically married, and I still get a little grossed out when they kiss. But, I’d still rather they be happy, because that makes them more fun do be around. I don’t have a problem forgoing some comfort to let other people be happy.

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to limit the amount of love in the world. More gay couples means less lonely people, and I will always be in favor of that!

  114. ARP1234

    Just remember, all those macho Spartan warriors in the film
    300 were actually pairs of lovers.

    Something the film left out – whoops!

    But all those oiled muscular bodies posing – oh my!

  115. KC

    Doc:

    You come so close. Try Googling Sharia Law and consider the freedoms we all enjoy stem from centuries of Western culture – the way we think about things and the world around us. Strip away that culture and don’t be surprised if the freedoms go with it.

  116. someone help me out here — is when people say that allowing gay marriage somehow threatens the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

    I’ve been thinking pretty much along the same lines as you have. In this particular case, I think the “gay marriage would undermine the sanctity of marriage” is identical to the following hypothetical one:

    “When I joined the Good Old Boys club, they didn’t allow Jews. If we start allowing Jews to join, it’ll change the character of the organization (or: it’ll make membership less desirable), therefore we shouldn’t allow Jews to join.”

    In both cases, the unstated assumption is that the group in question (gays in one case, Jews in the other) are bad people, and the rest of us should keep away from them.

    Of course, you couldn’t make my hypothetical argument today: the antisemitism, though veiled, is both obvious and repugnant to a majority of people. But we as a society haven’t gotten that far with homophobia yet: we’ve progressed to the point where overt homophobia isn’t acceptable (at least in public figures like politicians), but veiled homophobia still is.

  117. JAckC

    Great post – ALMOST as good as PZ’s on Father’s day.

    I too have gay friends and others I know of and I am cheering for them. I also knew a wonderful woman who happened to be rather severaly disfigured – and a husband who was blind. Some of the best people I have ever known. My fiance at the time was a Mormon and very happy to have them attend the wedding – until she saw the woman. Probably one of many reasons that wedding was finally called off. Of course, me being an Atheist didn’t help either….

    There is so much here, and much has been covered. No need to rehash. It is very cool and I am all for it.

    JC

  118. Dick Dawkins

    Shouldn’t you be say you have friends that are gay, rather than calling them your “gay friends”.

    Anyhow, I am glad you accept gay sex.

  119. OtherRob

    Michelle, no, I’m not kidding. And, yes, I understand that incestuous relationships have a greater risk of transmitting genetic defects. I’m just saying that it’s not up to you or to me to decide whether two people can take that risk or not.

    Again I ask, if the genetic risk is your only concern here, would you withdrawn your objection to such a union if the people involved were physically incapable of producing offspring?

  120. Rik

    I just saw this post. This issue hits so close to my heart due to family members and women I grew up with wishing they were my aunts but couldn’t be. I just have to say that your argument is so well said and I appreciate it.

  121. Craig

    Boy – Girl, Boy – Boy, Girl – Girl, it matters not. John and Sir Paul got it right many many years ago when they said:

    Love, love me do.
    You know I love you,
    I’ll always be true,
    So please, love me do.
    Whoa, love me do.

    It isn’t a bit more complex than that.

  122. Mena

    Evolving Squid wrote:

    The question Iâ??ve always wondered about, when I see the religious arguing against gay marriage is, or against the abomination of homosexuality, etcâ?¦
    â?¦ if I scanned their computer hard drives, how much girl-on-girl porn would I find?
    Iâ??m pretty certain the answer isnâ??t â??zeroâ??.

    I’m pretty certain that with more than quite a few of them if you scanned their hard drives the answer wouldn’t be zero if you wanted to see how much man-on-man porn you would find. A lot of them are obsessed with gay sex to the point of that being all that they think about and that they find it to be the most pressing issue facing this country. They whine about needing less government control while wailing about needing a constitutional amendment to protect them against sodomy. Don’t take “self-loathing” as a small reason that they do what they do. There’s also the money aspect, and the media attention, but sometimes the closet doors are just to tight. This idiot is so bad that he even attends fetish events (scroll down at that link) year after year so that he can report back about what goes on at them. He routinely goes to International Mr. Leather, and last year went to the Folsom street fair. What could possibly be different each year? He also reportedly has quite the porn collection which made one of his (male) employees quit in disgust. There are plenty more like him out there.

    KC, why does every argument against anything progressive have to have someone claiming that Europe is going down the toilet? It’s not, no matter what the pundits tell you. Have you seen a graph about the dollar vs the euro in the past few years? Literacy, infant mortality rates, longevity statistics? We’re the ones that are having a rough time of it. Maybe it’s time to stop doing things the same way over and over while hoping for a different outcome.

    ChrisCII, the children are already there, already being raised by two people of the same gender. What isn’t there are insurance benefits, custody rights, and basic rights like being able to make health decisions for a partner who would want you to be the one making those decisions when they can’t. Imagine what it would be like to have no right to visit your spouse in a hospital, and sometimes the families do try and sometimes succeed in taking everything that the couple worked for together, including cars and houses.

    Robbie, the word that you are thinking of is “bisexual”.

    As for the polygamy thing, I find it amusing that people who shout loud and long about how this is a christian country and we should all go by everything in the bible forget about Solomon, David, et al. Biblical marriages were one men, lotsa wives, and some concubines. One man and one woman indeed.

  123. JackC

    Dick

    It is hard to write a quick post and get it all right. I even screwed up my name and at least one word. Not to mention the entire part after the “gay friends” part is entirely a non-sequitor.

    Sue me.

    JC

  124. All I want to say is: Wow! I’ve never seen such a huge response to one of Phil’s posts before. I guess this really gets to some people.

    Lots of ignorance and lots of smart (and some not-so-smart) rebuttals too.

  125. @ Irishman:

    I believe the Dick-switch on “Bewitched’ was the other way around. Elizabeth’s first Dick was York, and, her new Dick was Sargent. It was a little disconcerting (as an avid viewer), as no one seemed to acknowledge there was a new Dick.

    @ARP 1234

    I think you’re confusing ‘the 300′ with the Sacred Band of Thebes who were 150 gay couples, fierce and feared. They refused to surrender to Alexander the Great and died to a man in battle.
    KP

  126. wb

    Having watched “The Complete Jane Austen” on PBS, it is amazing how much our view of marriage in western society has changed in just a couple hundred years. And it is changing rapidly throughout the world.

    Arranged marriages were common in many cultures, including western cultures. Other marriages were often made to cement social relationships between families rather than the couple themselves selecting each other. Marrying outside your social circle was unthinkable and would likely result in being shunned.

    Today, Americans would see such a system as highly abusive. How dare anyone marry for any reason but love (or a bun in the oven). But yet a segment is in horror of same sex unions based on that ideal of romantic love.

    Marriage for love rather than family arrangement is spreading to eastern cultures as well (India, China, etc.) But I have Indian friends whose marriages were arranged the traditional way.

    About homosexuality: I’ve been reading the trashy, trashy book “Hollywood Babylon 2.” It seems that vast numbers of our favorite stars from yesteryear were bisexual – they had sex with both men and women. If we are programmed to be attracted to only one gender (homo or hetero) it really leaves out the wide spectrum of those who are bisexual. This is where the whole debate of genetic vs. choice to be homosexual breaks down. I’m much more of an adherant to the Kinsey view that we all fall somewhere on a scale between 100% hetero-attracted and 100% homo-attracted. And behavior can certainly be in discordance with your natural attractions. But that’s what makes us human – we do have a choice in our behavior. And that is what laws, societal norms, and religious dictums seek to influence – what we choose to do vs. what we feel like doing. I feel like killing a lot of folks, but I choose not..to kill..today (James T. Kirk)

  127. wb

    Edited to add: Not that I equate desire to kill with homosexuality. I do equate it with wanting to boink any cute guy I see vs. actually cheating on my husband. Yes, I desire other men. But I refrain from seducing them channel my sexual behavior into my marriage relationship. That’s what societal norms sanction.

  128. wb

    Edited to add more: As St. Paul said, “it is better to marry than to burn.” (the original language implied to burn with unspent passion, not to burn in Hell). I’m not saying that people who are homo-attracted should change their behavior to be hetero. I think if they fall in love with someone of the same sex, they should be able to marry them. But all behavior is ultimately a choice. You have to take responsibility for your choices. If I were to cheat on my husband, this isn’t “Swingtown,” there would be consequences. We aren’t powerless over our passions. But, as Paul noted, there does come a point where you are ruining your life by not acting on those passions. Living in the closet must be horrible.

  129. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I absolutely agree that fork biting is unnatural.

    But restricting it? No, let those who bites forks together do that.

    As regards gays OTOH, it has a real old and strong tradition in nature, possibly as old as sex itself, so we are talking many hundreds of millions of years here. And gay marriages will probably shore up the lousy marriage statistics at first. (I don’t expect gays will be long term any more successful than others – but who knows.) So how can people who wants to protect marriages be against it? It doesn’t make sense.

  130. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oh, and when I say “gays” I should have said “gay behavior” – many of those displayed traits are actually flexible, so it is a fuzzy concept.

  131. Sailor

    I have no arguments with gay marriage, but Phil goes further:
    “First: surprise! I have no issues with polyamory/polyandry/polygamy. It’s fine by me.”

    People can and should be able to live with more than one person if they wish, no argument, but to allow such unions to be marriages and make them the social norm. I think there could be serious consequences there.

    The only one of these that for various evolutionary reasons is likely is Polygamy, and if it was legal, it could spread quite fast. Muslims in some countries can do it, and in USA some mormon sects would love it. The social consequences should this become popular are obvious. The rich and the powerful males would have many wives, leaving many disaffected males who can find none. Once it is encoded by law women also will end up being debased by it. So if you want to step backward a few thousand years, be my guest.

  132. Jeffersonian

    @jotrry

    That was my point, actually (which I maybe didn’t make clear); that people use the word “marriage” when they mean “wedding” and vice versa. When speaking about this issue, “marriage” is a legal term and “wedding” is a private/ceremonial/religious term. Except, you say “takes place when a marriage is performed”. That doesn’t fly, because it’s a “wedding” that’s performed, not a “marriage”. “Marriage” is defined by the state and is not performed. The issue would be entirely less obfuscated if people understood that “marriage” is strictly a legal term, and that it is a states issues, not a federal issue. 50 states have had 50 different definitions of marriage and that’s how it’s going to remain in our lifetimes.

    “As others have pointed out, why is the government a third party to the private relationship of a couple in the first place? The only explanations are economic and adopted euro-tradition.

    @Chuck Anz
    it wouldn’t do for a couple to be considered married in one state, then magically “UN-married” once they decide to move somewhere else”
    Actually, a state does NOT have to recognize a marriage/divorce from another state. It’s always been that way. It already is a state issue, not a federal.

    @michelle (and OtherRob)
    “Incestuous marriages have a massive problem: genes”
    Then you may like to read this

    @Tom Marking
    How is demanding equal rights a morality play? Couldn’t the same be said about freedom of speech , etc.?

    Martin Smith, you are brave in your admission of social evolution.

  133. Jeff

    Very well and logically stated. I don’t see all the fuss either. I have gay friends, a couple have been living together for decades. Maybe it will be legal in Florida someday too.

    Jeff

  134. antaresrichard

    We “uppity” liberals and LGBT’s in California, how dare we agitate!

  135. Tom Marking

    How is demanding equal rights a morality play?

    The issue itself is not a morality play, but it’s being used that way by both sides of the political debate. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that California legalized gay marriage in an election year? It’s all been thought out and planned in advance. The liberals will use the issue to paint opponents of gay marriage as tobacco-chewing, red neck, homophobic bigots. The conservatives will use the issue to paint proponents as drug-using, immoral, low-lifes. Both political extremes absolutely love this issue and want it to continue because it helps them mobilize their base of support.

  136. CameltToe

    hey marriage is supposed to be a good thing dude!! stop spamming this awesome forum! ahahaha

  137. Mus

    Last time I checked very, very few animals are capable of making choices but instead operate on instinct.

    Check again, unless you’re being very literal and are including arthropods, worms, sponges, cnidarians, etc. Animals (mostly but not exclusively mammals and birds) make choices all the time. Definitely not about their sexual orientation, because the evidence is VERY strong that it is not a choice, but about many other things.

  138. Kimpatsu

    @Nightstalker160:
    If marriage is a religious term, I guess all those people who have the sinvere bad taste not to be born in a country where Xianity is the norm are not married, right…?
    All those Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Polynesian, Ugandan, Kenyan, and other peoples…
    Wow!

  139. RawheaD

    @ Michelle

    Wait, so you’re arguing that incestuous marriages should remain banned because of the risks involved in them producing genetically defective offsprings? How then can you support marriage between gay couples, who can’t even produce offsprings to begin with?

    Socially and economically, I understand there are risks, especially if society/government are expected to support the offsprings of incestuous couples as they would offsprings of “normal” couples. So, what if they vow not to have offspring? Then would you accept incestuous marriages?

  140. Tom Marking said

    Meanwhile the liberals in California have made it legal deliberately to enrage the conservatives and prove their moral superiority to the rest of the nation

    Not to give equal rights to a discriminated against minority. Not to do the right thing. No it was a cynical exercise in political grandstanding. Remind me not to look for support from you the next time an immoral, unethical or unfair law needs changing.

    BTW, your earlier post was just a classic bait-and-switch. It wasn’t about eliciting comments about polygamy. It was about pointing to an article saying one thing (little girls were raped), waiting for the outrage and then saying well that article is wrong (no they weren’t), it didn’t happen that way, I was talking about polygamy. You’re all stupid and I am morally superior.

    That’s the way I read it. Too cynical?

  141. @melu
    Pensions go to someone – what difference does it make if I leave my pension 401K to my sister or spouse?

    I think a 401k is what we’d call an RRSP here, and for that it makes no difference. However, if you worked for a place that gives a pension – like the government, or General Motors, your spouse gets it (or some portion of it) when you die, but you can’t leave it to a sister or a random other person.

    So what is the cost (for that item)? The cost is this: more people become eligible for pensions with gays being married than would otherwise be eligible.

    For division of divorce assets, if me and some guy share a house for 20 years and part ways, he’s not entitled to half our combined assets. If we’re married, he is. That may not be a cost to society, but it certainly changes some dynamics.

    For a child tax credit, if you have a child and I, as your friend, decided to help you out, I can’t claim a tax credit. If we’re married, I can. If homosexuals marry, the scope of people who can claim these sorts of credits increases.

    Someone (I lost it in the cutting and pasting along this long thread) mentioned insurance benefits too. Not every type of insurance permits the naming of an arbitrary benefactor other than your spouse. Increasing the number of people with spouses therefore has a cost.

    Please note: I’m not making a judgement whether this is good or bad. I’m merely stating a fact – there ARE demonstrable costs when homosexuals are allowed to marry that are not there when they aren’t allowed to marry simply by virtue of the fact that less people are eligible to be married. I’m also stating that it is my opinion that this is a goodly part of the reason homosexual marriage is an issue.

    If there was no advantage in law to being married, nobody would really care if homosexuals got married, or if whole armies of people got married together, except for some religious zealots who care if anyone has any fun.

    @doc
    Last time I checked, the Greeks were still around.

    But they’re certainly not the world power they once were.

    @someone_I_didn’t_copy
    Frankly, I also don’t understand why polygamous marriages are ILLEGAL.

    Historically, the origin of such laws were to prevent the kind of abuse of women that many people believe is going on with the FDLS.

    @irishman
    I dispute that. There are plenty of people who are morally offended by the concept of gay/lesbian marriage, or polyandrous marriages. They care because it is “wrong”.

    You’re correct, and in retrospect, I wasn’t really being clear. People would care, but they’d only get as much attention as anything else that religious people whinge about. They’d bitch, they’d moan, and most people would just ignore them.

  142. biology 505

    This issue has been addressed from, religous, moral, finnacial and political aspect. How about a biological perspective?

    The real question about legalizing gay marriage is the notion that if it is legal it is socially and moraly acceptable. Frankly, I could’nt care less what folks do in their private lives, I dont have a religous dog in this fight, but I am concerned about the implication that gay life style is an acceptable alternative to straight. Does anyone know what percentage of the population that is gay? Has that number changed with more open acceptance? I question if there will be more people becoming gay because its more acceptable. For discussion, here’s a scientific question; What happens if a larger percentage of population is gay than straight? What affect, if any, would this have on genetic diversity and population dynamics. How, in the long term, would this effect the human population?

    I believe Joe Haldeman wrote about the human population becoming primarily homosexual in his book Future War. It occurred over a long period of time but became the norm. Natural child birth was no longer the norm. Such a future may seem implausiable to us, but I suspect the the founding fathers would be little taken back by the current culture.

    We are still a population of animals no matter how advanced we may think of ourselves, and as such we are subject to the same evolutionary influences. On Earth at least, the loss of sexual/genetic diversity is usually an ill omen for animal populations. Of course in a Brave New World we can farm our children for our genetic preferences. Ask any biologist about our success at controlling ecosystems and animal populations and they will regale you in stories of horror. From a purely biological view point I find it worrisome, assuming of course that were all concerned with the long term survival of the species. I realize people will consider my post “not politically correct” but it does in fact pose legitimate scientific questions.

  143. @ Biology505

    I am reserving the right for the moment to call you a concern troll later on, but I admit I am always sympathetic to a devil’s advocate argument.

    I don’t think evolution will select for non-breeding behaviors in a population without significant technological intervention geared towards that end. I think that with a consistent social pressure to make gays conform to a straight lifestyle (marry heterosexually and have children) we have allowed homosexuality to perpetuate itself more than expected. That said, the more open it becomes, the less likely it will pass itself on with exclusive homosexuality.

    I don’t know of course, it’s just a thought experiment and there may be complicating factors. I wrote about at least one of them. I don’t claim any special knowledge I’m just spitballin’.

  144. Quiet Desperation

    Amazing how people misunderstand the concept of marriage. The word “marriage” defines a legal concept.

    And that’s how to counter the morons who predict people will be marrying animals next. An animal cannot enter into a legal contract…

    …no matter *what* PETA claims about them. ;-)

  145. Ragutis

    biology 505

    The percentage of homosexuals in a population is pretty tricky to pin down for several reasons. People may not answer truthfully for fear of some type of repercussion or stigma, people may be confused IRT their orientation, people may fall somewhere between “gay” and “straight”, people may be repressing their sexuality… you get the idea. Anyway, most estimates fall between 10 and 15%. Not really any danger of humanity running out of a breeding population with those kinds of numbers. And you seem to ignore the miracles of science. They can do all sorts of neat things with gametes and stuff in the lab these days.

    KC, Europe is in no danger of instituting Sharia law. You need to stop reading The Daily Mail. Most of Europe is beating the pants off of the U.S. in a number of important factors such as economy, education, health, poverty reduction, literacy, happiness. I’m as keen on Islam as I am any other religion (which is “not very”), but I see no reason for my distaste of a faith to lead me to xenophobia.

    Quality post, Phil.

  146. Chris CII

    Jewel wrote : — Your aspects 1 & 4 don’t apply to my own marriage. So, by your thinking, my husband and I should not be married? That’s absurd.

    Absolutely not, I just think that in your case the confusion of issues is less, you have only two instead of the usual four or five.
    My point is not that a marriage *needs* to address all points, but that it *can* address all points and thus the issue is totally muddled.
    For example if someone speaks of sexual mores to someone who is interested mostly in tax breaks they will never understand one another.

    My thought is that civil marriage as we know it should be abolished, and each point treated separately, instead of lumping everything together.

    Jewel wrote : Also, as far as raising children goes, any stable, loving environment is a good environment. Having a man and a woman raising a child is certainly no guarantee of either.

    Totally agreed.

    Michelle wrote : Which do you prefer, orphan kids being raised by gays, kids being left in an orphanage or kids being dumped with two idiotic different sex parents. I think that it’s better for kids to be with two same sex parents than for them to have no parents at all.

    I prefer orphan kids being raised by caring different sex parents. I also prefer kids having parents but in most of the western world the problem is not that kids linger in orphanages, but that there is a market for adoption of children from developing countries, and so one can afford to be choosy about what family to pair with the children.

  147. Sue Mitchell

    ::stands up and cheers!::

    Mind, I’d expect a scientist to be unblinkered by carefully cherry-picked quotes from the Bible. :-)

    But fighting fire^W^quotes with quotes:

    I Samuel Ch 18 – “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David [...] Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”

    Marriage is a covenant, right?

    II Samuel Ch 1 – “Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

    Doesn’t sound particularly hetero, does it? :-D

    Live and let live; love and let love.

  148. Laurens de Jong

    Nails67 has already pointed it out but because nobody else repeated it and it’s really important, I also want to lament your quoting “a 50% divorce rate among heterosexual marriages.” I don’t think you ever let anyone else get away with that, and rightly so.

    The way you talk about the divorce rate sounds as if you’re talking about the “divorce expectancy” — how likely is it that a couple that is now married will be divorced before they die.

    Nails introduces some of the concepts that go into determining divorce rates. I don’t know if you simply don’t consider demographics to be scientific at all (a common enough attitude) but there is a lot of scientific thought put into the methods to determine the “divorce expectancy.” I consider it perfectly good science, considering that it is not different from the way life expectancy is determined.

    The US Bureau of Census has themselves reported a possibility of a 50% divorce rate: if the divorce rate returns to the pattern of that between 1975-1980, first marriages could suffer a 50% divorce rate. First marriages, not all marriages.

    Fifty percent is wrong, although it’s not as wrong as some uninformed claim it to be; but that number has no place in your blog.

  149. Angel

    Phil, I just want to think you for this post.

  150. Doc

    @KC

    “Try Googling Sharia Law and consider the freedoms we all enjoy stem from centuries of Western culture – the way we think about things and the world around us. Strip away that culture and don’t be surprised if the freedoms go with it.”

    You seem to have a very skewed view of world cultures and history. Most of the freedoms we enjoy were wrestled away from religion and monarchy over the past several hundred years, and this is just one more freedom that religion is trying to keep suppressed.

    You’re using circular reasoning here, and not proving anything. Yes, the freedoms we enjoy are the products of Western culture, but the oppressions we suffer are also the products of Western culture, and the foods we eat … and so on. This is because the US stemmed from Western culture. This however does not prove that no other set of mores can produce a more-free and better society. Neither does it prove (or even suggest) that any changes to our culture would be detrimental. Non sequitur – it doesn’t flow.

    Take a look at other cultures, especially those without an oppressive or strong religion (south Pacific islanders come to mind off hand, as well as modern Scandinavia – which shares elements of European culture but has many notable differences at its core). I suspect that if you read up a bit you’ll find that the difference between extremist Islam and extremist Christianity isn’t that much, and that humans elsewhere live a lot differently than you do and are still happy.

  151. Disinfo Agent

    >While there are strong religious arguments against this, oddly enough a secular one comes to mind: The traditional family is the principle means for transferring values to the next generation. In Europe, where marriage has already been on the ropes, allowing gay couples to wed seems to have greased the rails on the decline of marriage (although it could be argued that the decay of the former has brought about the latter rather than the reverse). The decline in marriage has had detrimental effects on the family unit. There have even been scientific studies on this – Google for studies on inner city families where the father is absent.

    What a bizarre claim!

    I have no idea what you mean by “marriage being in the ropes” in Europe, but you definitely lost me when you mentioned studies on “inner city families”. Dude, in Europe the inner city is the wealthy part of town!

    Since I don’t know you, I won’t accuse you of being ignorant, or of lying deliberately. I will just say that your argument is too confused to follow.

    D.A.

  152. Disinfo Agent

    @doc
    >Last time I checked, the Greeks were still around.

    Evolving Squid
    >But they’re certainly not the world power they once were.

    Being a world power was never what made the Greeks great.

    And for those of you who might love power anyway, here’s a thought: the greatest Greek military victories were won by Alexander the Great, well known to prefer boys to girls.

    D.A.

  153. TR

    Chris CII wrote:

    “…I would like to see a good study of children brought up by same-sex couples”

    Check out “Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents” by Ellen C. Perrin, MD and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health.(http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/programs/downloads/Rothblum.doc)

    In it, you’ll read:

    “Several studies comparing children who have a lesbian mother with children who have a heterosexual mother have failed to document any differences between such groups on personality measures, measures of peer group relationships, self-esteem, behavioral difficulties, academic success, or warmth and quality of family relationships. Children’s self-esteem has been shown to be higher among adolescents whose mothers (of any sexual orientation) were in a new partnered relationship after divorce, compared with those whose mothers remained single, and among those who found out at a younger age that their parent was homosexual, compared with those who found out when they were older.”

    [So, as a society committed to the well-being of its young, it is incumbent on all of us to encourage all homosexual parents to settle down into a stable, same-sex marriage right away.]

    “Prevalent heterosexism and stigmatization might lead to teasing and embarrassment for children about their parent’s sexual orientation or their family constellation and restrict their ability to form and maintain friendships.”

    [Therefore, we must all raise our children to be accepting and tolerant of alternative life-styles.]

    “Children born to and raised by lesbian couples also seem to develop normally in every way. Ratings by their mothers and teachers have demonstrated children’s social competence and the prevalence of behavioral difficulties to be comparable with population norms. In fact, growing up with parents who are lesbian or gay may confer some advantages to children. They have been described as more tolerant of diversity and more nurturing toward younger children than children whose parents are heterosexual.”

    [If follows, therefore, that the government must step in and remove children from heterosexual households so that they can be raised by a loving, caring same-sex couple - its for the children!]

    OK – that last may be a step too far. But that’s the problem trying to argue this issue from a standpoint of social engineering. Why don’t we have a government that will just let adults make their own decisions about their private lives so that it can focus its attention on things like ending wars, improving global health, and managing our planet’s dwindling resources?

  154. Scott in MN

    That’s about as eloquent and well said as can be. Bravo. And I like your take on the “smaller government” idea. It’s no skin off my back as a married heterosexual that homosexuals can also get married. Marriage is a great institution and my marriage is undiminished by allowing same-sex couples the same access.

  155. TR

    My Bad -

    The link to “Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents” by Ellen C. Perrin, MD and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health is actually:
    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;109/2/341

    The other is the link to a meta-study that references this one – sorry!

  156. I totally agree with you. However, I wouldn’t include the argument about homosexuality appearing in nature. Incest also appears in nature, and that doesn’t make it “natural” — i.e., right for us to do it.

  157. Doug Little

    Mus,

    You’re saying that most mammals and birds have the ability to reason??

    Got any links? I would be interested is reading ’bout that.

  158. Others have already tackled the “children of same-sex families do just fine” and “a small but relatively constant fraction of any given population are homosexual to some degree” but I wanted to mention a recent article related to the “gay gene”:

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/618/1

    Looks like there may be a fertility advantage to women who have gay male children.

  159. Peter B

    qwints said: “You obviously haven’t read Rick Santorum’s book [u] It Takes a Family [/u] where he reveals to us that the nuclear family is the only correct way to raise a family.”

    Does this mean widowed parents should be required to remarry? After all, this is another way in which single-parent families are created.

  160. Melusine

    Evolving Squid, first I hate being so clinical about costs, but you said a “cost to society.” To belabor:

    @melu
    Pensions go to someone – what difference does it make if I leave my pension 401K to my sister or spouse?

    I think a 401k is what we’d call an RRSP here, and for that it makes no difference. However, if you worked for a place that gives a pension – like the government, or General Motors, your spouse gets it (or some portion of it) when you die, but you can’t leave it to a sister or a random other person.

    That’s not a cost to society, that’s a cost to the company that doesn’t have to pay out money that was invested for the employee. In the US, pensions have been rapidly disappearing and it’s 401Ks, which can be left to anybody. So, you’re saying huge companies like General Motors wouldn’t get to save some money. But then I’d also wonder what the percentage of gay couples work for GM and if it would really hurt GM. State governments here offer pensions too, at least in some departments and that might make some difference in their ability to save money, but again, unless all the pension-giving companies are flooded with gay couples, I’m not sure it would be a some big cost.

    For division of divorce assets, if me and some guy share a house for 20 years and part ways, he’s not entitled to half our combined assets. If we’re married, he is. That may not be a cost to society, but it certainly changes some dynamics.

    The dynamics don’t change much because those assets go to somebody – usually – and if not, to their estate. Same lawyers, CPAs, estate planners, and it’s between them. If it’s heavily contested it might go to court and take up docket time, but I’m sure lawyers would like this! Right now an unmarried gay couple can just leave all their assets to their partner. Unmarried gay couples have taken out loans together – being legally married adds one more positive tick to approval. Good for loan business.

    For a child tax credit, if you have a child and I, as your friend, decided to help you out, I can’t claim a tax credit. If we’re married, I can. If homosexuals marry, the scope of people who can claim these sorts of credits increases.

    Yes, but parents get child tax credits for a reason to begin with. It was created to reduce the financial burden of raising children who are investments to the future. After 18, the child will (usually) become a taxpayer, consumer, etc. Some have argued that there shouldn’t be a CTC because it’s one’s choice to have children and take on that burden. Right now there are a lot of foster children costing state funds…children from straight couples. Or parents that use social services, which are costs to society. If a parent can afford to raise their children without assistance or don’t abuse them, then I think the CTC works out in the end. Are gay couples going to create more children that are a cost in these ways? Time will tell. Studies will be done.

    Someone (I lost it in the cutting and pasting along this long thread) mentioned insurance benefits too. Not every type of insurance permits the naming of an arbitrary benefactor other than your spouse. Increasing the number of people with spouses therefore has a cost.

    It has a cost to the employer, insurance company, though the couple pay higher premiums. But uninsured people are a cost too. End up in the emergency room, can’t pay bills, claim bankruptcy, credit reports have lots of medical collection items, can’t pay other creditors, lose house, use state insurance pools, social services, unhealthy people, etc. That poster above said insurance companies don’t want to insure gays – why? Private insurance already discriminates is risk averse to a huge list of medical pre-conditions.

    I’m not trying to be right, I’m just looking at other sides to the financial cost to the society. I mostly hear complaints about the SOCIAL COST to society, of which I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing. Those who say children are better off with a heterosexual marriage – I’m not so convinced. What did my mother or father do that two same-sex parents couldn’t do? Don’t see it. Values are values regardless of sex. Seems like some people are caught in gender roles that we are familiar with.

    Does a man in the house impart to his children something about maleness that’s needed and vice versa? I really can’t think of anything specific, but rather each parent brought their experience, personality, values and so on to my upbringing. School filled in much of the opposite sex experience. I’d like to hear a good argument for why heterosexual couples are better for kids.

  161. Doug Little

    John Parejko,

    Interesting article and just more proof that being gay in not a choice.

  162. Chris CII

    TR wrote (cut and the good link reinstated)

    Check out “Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents” by Ellen C. Perrin, MD and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health.(http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;109/2/341)

    * Ok, this is the first good study I find, thanks.

    [So, as a society committed to the well-being of its young, it is incumbent on all of us to encourage all homosexual parents to settle down into a stable, same-sex marriage right away.]

    * it is perhaps a little too strong language, but indeed, for the children’s sake homosexual marriage is a good thing.

    [Therefore, we must all raise our children to be accepting and tolerant of alternative life-styles.]

    * Ab-so-lu-tely agreed !

    [If follows, therefore, that the government must step in and remove children from heterosexual households so that they can be raised by a loving, caring same-sex couple - its for the children!]

    OK – that last may be a step too far. But that’s the problem trying to argue this issue from a standpoint of social engineering.

    * Ok, as others stated, heterosexuality is no guarantee of a stable relationship, so there seems to be no major difference between homo- and heterosexual parents, so my (weak) objection falls.

    The rest of my post about the confusion of issues is still valid and I still think marriage should be split in different realities that adress one issue at a time.
    - A religious ceremony (for those who are religious)
    - A corporate arrangement (for the combining of estates and the tax and pension issues.)
    - A social function (which in our current world can be very informal).
    - A covenant for procreation and rearing of children
    - A covenant of sexual exclusivity

    And in my view anyone should be able to take any one of those without entering the others, and the government should only regulate the second.

  163. Radwaste

    This should let you show anyone gender identity is not a choice: Androgen Insensitivity

    You don’t have retinal patterns, fingerprints or any other tiny detail in common with anyone else. Don’t be confused by speaking the same language, reacting to aspirin similarly or being able to accept a blood transfusion with being “the same as everyone else”. You’re not.

    Sexuality and gender identity are not counted in binary code.

  164. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ biology 505:

    How about a biological perspective?

    Well, that was mentioned in the post – for whatever reason (and there seems to be many), homosexual behavior are common among animals.

    The reason why that is near neutral or adaptive isn’t clear I think, considering that the reason for why sexuality exists in the first place isn’t really solidly researched yet. I think models such as that homosexuals help parenting et cetera are proposed.

    That homosexuality would increase to make a population lesser fit is ludicrous, as humans evolution has speed up two order of magnitude the last 40 ky (due to increased effective population size), see John Hawks et al research. All of that is due to increased selection, and it seems that most of that selection pressure would be on immune system and sexual characteristics based on earlier research. (Umm, I feel lazy, you have to google.)

    So any ill effects would be weeded out soon enough, if it is caused by mainly biology. And if it isn’t, social pressures can change it even faster.

  165. Johan

    @ Tom Marking:

    “Meanwhile the liberals in California have made it legal deliberately to enrage the conservatives and prove their moral superiority to the rest of the nation. So the whole thing is nothing but a two-bit morality play with cynical motives on both sides. That’s my two cents on it.”

    That’s a pretty warped take on California’s motive for legalizing gay marriage.

    I think they just realized that gays were being denied the same rights as heteros. And please don’t spew the nonsense that they have the same rights to marry people of the opposite sex.

    It’s 2008, it’s about time people are treated equally.

  166. Irishman

    Tom Marking said:
    > The conservatives are doing the same thing here – Oh my God!, weâ??ve got to protect marriage from the queers. Meanwhile the liberals in California have made it legal deliberately to enrage the conservatives and prove their moral superiority to the rest of the nation. So the whole thing is nothing but a two-bit morality play with cynical motives on both sides. Thatâ??s my two cents on it.

    While there are probably players on both sides playing the cynical politics game, there are also sincere people on both sides. Conservatives who feel allowing homosexual marriages is advocating them, and liberals who wish to support active steps to address what they feel are weaknesses in the current laws.

    KC said:
    > Or, if youâ??d like food for thought, consider what what President Ahmadinejad of Iran said about gays in his country – and consider that Iran isnâ??t a Western country.

    What does President Ahmadinejad of Iran say about gays in his country?

    KC said:
    > You come so close. Try Googling Sharia Law and consider the freedoms we all enjoy stem from centuries of Western culture – the way we think about things and the world around us. Strip away that culture and donâ??t be surprised if the freedoms go with it.

    Now I’m confused. What are you trying to say? Your first comment sounds like you’re trying to criticize Western culture, but now you’re lauding it for the very same thing. I can’t figure out your point.

    Dick Dawkins said:
    > Shouldnâ??t you be say you have friends that are gay, rather than calling them your â??gay friendsâ??.

    What’s the distinction?

    Mena said:
    > Robbie, the word that you are thinking of is â??bisexualâ??.

    Actually, the work I think he’s thinking of is “denial”.

    Kim Poor said:
    >I believe the Dick-switch on â??Bewitchedâ?? was the other way around. Elizabethâ??s first Dick was York, and, her new Dick was Sargent. It was a little disconcerting (as an avid viewer), as no one seemed to acknowledge there was a new Dick.

    According to IMDB, Dick Sargent (1969-1972) replaced Dick York (1964-1969). Apparently I misread what everybody else was saying. Oops.

    >I think youâ??re confusing ‘the 30′ with the Sacred Band of Thebes who were 150 gay couples, fierce and feared. They refused to surrender to Alexander the Great and died to a man in battle.

    Maybe, but Greek pederasty is also fairly well established, including the Spartans.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartan_pederasty

    The Spartans believed that the love of an older, accomplished aristocrat for an adolescent boy was essential to his formation as a free citizen. The education of the ruling class was thus founded on pederastic relationships, required of each citizen.

    Sailor said:
    > People can and should be able to live with more than one person if they wish, no argument, but to allow such unions to be marriages and make them the social norm. I think there could be serious consequences there.

    There can be serious consequences to any societal change: allowing Blacks to vote, interracial marriages, inventing airplanes, creating the Internet, allowing 18 year olds to vote, creating a secular democratic republic. Generic “serious consequences” is not justification to preventing making changes.

    > The only one of these that for various evolutionary reasons is likely is Polygamy, and if it was legal, it could spread quite fast. Muslims in some countries can do it, and in USA some mormon sects would love it. The social consequences should this become popular are obvious. The rich and the powerful males would have many wives, leaving many disaffected males who can find none. Once it is encoded by law women also will end up being debased by it. So if you want to step backward a few thousand years, be my guest.

    I believe you are making assumptions. First off, rich and powerful men already have more women, leaving the disaffected males. Money may not buy love, but it sure can buy company. Second, you’re assuming a social structure that encourages an unequal relationship, rather than looking at all partners as equal. Mormon and muslim polygamies are built on the premise of subservience of women to men. With a cultural attitude of sexual equality, actual implementation of polygamies could be different.

    biology 505 said:
    >The real question about legalizing gay marriage is the notion that if it is legal it is socially and moraly acceptable. Frankly, I couldâ??nt care less what folks do in their private lives, I dont have a religous dog in this fight, but I am concerned about the implication that gay life style is an acceptable alternative to straight. Does anyone know what percentage of the population that is gay? Has that number changed with more open acceptance? I question if there will be more people becoming gay because its more acceptable.

    For someone who doesn’t care what folks do in their private lives, you sure sound concerned when you worry about making gay lifestyle acceptable. If you don’t care, then it is acceptable. You accept it – maybe not for yourself, but for others. Otherwise, you would care.

    > For discussion, hereâ??s a scientific question; What happens if a larger percentage of population is gay than straight? What affect, if any, would this have on genetic diversity and population dynamics. How, in the long term, would this effect the human population?

    You are assuming homosexuals would not reproduce. There are plenty of options – from sperm banks and surrogate mothers to social relationships between mutual gay couples.

    TR, great stuff!

    Chris CII said:
    > The rest of my post about the confusion of issues is still valid and I still think marriage should be split in different realities that adress one issue at a time.
    - A religious ceremony (for those who are religious)
    - A corporate arrangement (for the combining of estates and the tax and pension issues.)
    - A social function (which in our current world can be very informal).
    - A covenant for procreation and rearing of children
    - A covenant of sexual exclusivity

    > And in my view anyone should be able to take any one of those without entering the others, and the government should only regulate the second.

    Agreed!

  167. Colin

    There have been a few comments here (well, one throw away line and a few responses) suggesting that the decline of ancient Greek & Roman civilisation could somehow be blamed on them “getting gay”. The timing of that might be a bit hard to establish. You could just as easily argue that homosexuality drove them to greatness.

    About the only thing you can say for sure is that the Romans were doing pretty well until they became Christians…

  168. Kingthorin

    @Irishman

    ““Causes” homosexuality is politically loaded terminology. Some people read in a judgment of homosexuality. Not being judgmental about it, but still trying to understand how it arises, I am willing to use the word “cause”.”

    You’re right, my use of “cause” was a poor choice.

    “There is some evidence of a correlation of brain structure to homosexual orientation. However, I don’t know of any definitive conclusion of cause.”

    That’s what I thought. Though the original article seems to state this as fact.

    “However, there is no evidence even suggesting of a bacterial or viral cause. There is no identifiable brain damage or identifiable chemical imbalance.”

    I’m assuming you mean “There is not YET evidence even suggesting….” Unless you know of some medical research that actually states this as fact. If so please provide some links or references for us.

    “There is probably a neurochemical connection, of only because that is the root of all brain activity, but the complexity of that may be as complex as, say, political party choice. And frankly, sexual orientation may even be a mixed trait, some of it biochemically determined and some of it chosen. Of course that is another political minefield, becuase of the arguments over the acceptability of homosexuality.”

    Agreed.

  169. Love the ‘slippery slope’ arguments here (ie. beastiality, statutory rape, polygamy).

    It’s never a good sign when you start you argument by completely changing the subject.

    Try doing that in a scientific paper.

  170. Irishman

    You know John, if you care so much, why do you bother reading this blog?

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