The ugliness that is Proposition 8 is struck down

By Phil Plait | August 5, 2010 12:05 pm

Yesterday, a judge ruled that California’s Proposition 8 — which banned same sex marriage — is unconstitutional. He’s quite correct.

If you think letting gay people marry is somehow a threat to your marriage, you’re quite wrong.

Do yourself a favor: go look at these pictures. They may bother you, or even disgust you. But do you know what they show? People in love.

And who are we to say they cannot express that love? I’ll tell you who: nobody.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (263)

  1. Josh

    I like your website Phil. However, I think you should avoid making political posts outside of the realm of science and astronomy. I’m not saying I disagree with you but can you imagine this turning into anything but a gigantic clustarF*@$ in the comments? I think the best thing you can do for a science blog is to keep it strictly science or you risk the chance of running off your readers for example who love astronomy and science but have issues with posts like these. Something comforting in knowing that this site is pure in that fashion. Why not make a sister blog to discuss political issues? There are plenty of blogs and sites that feature that type of content and its comforting to know you can read this blog for something removed from all that partisanship and something that despite political beliefs we can all appreciate.

    If anything I recommend keeping these type of posts to a minimal. Just a suggestion.

  2. Boomer

    Apart from the obvious rational reasons to support gay marriage, I find it hard to understand the opposition when I see how much joy this brings to so many people.

  3. Brian Schlosser

    The news literally brought tears to my eyes. Another milestone. I can only hope that it holds up down the line. My prediction is that the Federal Appeals court will uphold the descision, but that SCOTUS will say “No way are we dealing with THIS right now” and refuse to hear the case… Thats good for CA, not so good for the other states. But its a good step, a big one.

    The judges written ruling is excellent. It eviscerates all the arguments the defense made. In the end, they were left with no other argument than “Marraige is intended to make babies”… which is a pretty damn weak argument since it would seem to invalidate the millions of hetero marraiges that are childless, as well as block heteros from marrying if they are not able to conceive for any reason.

    If my gay neighbors are married and have same benefits my wife and I do, that in no way diminishes our rights. Equality is not a zero-sum game.

  4. Brian Schlosser

    Oh, also…THIS ISNT ASTRONOMY WHYS THIS ON THIS BLOG BLARGHITY BLOO BLAH BLARGH!! :D

  5. davery

    It is a great day in California. But don’t forget that this is only a step in the right direction. There is currently a stay on the ruling, which will most likely be in force throughout the appeal process. We still have to clear the 9th Circuit Court, and then most likely the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is very conservative at this time.

    This was a major victory, but the fight goes on. Call, email, and write your representatives.

  6. John Childress

    Sadly, the very people who claim the loudest that they support the Constitution are also the ones doing their damndest to dismantle any part of it they disagree with.

  7. Messier Tidy Upper

    I agree with you here BA. :-)

    People are people.

    Love is love.

    Love is good. :-)

    If you are Christian (I’m not being agnostic personally but anyhow) then you surely recall the religion’s founding Rabbi (Teacher) Jesus preached “loving thy neighbour” as his main commandment. Not hating, not judging, not condemning but forgiving and loving. Who are your neighbours? *Everybody* is, including homosexuals, incl. those who are commonly looked down upon. (Which is the real meaning of the parable of the Samaritan btw. This has been “lost in non-translation” as Isaac Asimov once described in a brilliant essay because we forget who the Samaritans were – to the Judaeans of his day they were the outcast and definitely NOT seen as “good”. In a modern retelling Jesus might use a poor hispanic lesbian or someone like that instead in retelling that lesson.) So Christians shouldn’t have any problem with gay marriage and nor do agnostics and atheists or everybody else.

    I’m perhaps a bit old fashioned as some here would no doubt see it in some respects but in this one, I’m not. ;-)

    I see absolutely no reason why same-sex marriage is any different from straight or heterosexual marriage, biological apparatus aside.

    What matters is the shared emotion,respect and bond between the individuals involved – and it is nobody elses business what a loving couple do in their own private lives.

    (Provided they’re not hurting others or whatever – you know what I mean I hope.)

    I see no reason to think gay marriage harms or diminishes the “sanctity” or dignity of straight marriage either.

    Good to hear. :-)

  8. Caterina

    Comedian/actor Hal Sparks said (paraphrasing here) that the only way gay marriage will affect heterosexual marriage is if someone in that “heterosexual” marriage is gay. I agree with him.

  9. Robert

    “Do yourself a favor: go look at these pictures. They may bother you, or even disgust you. But do you know what they show? People in love.”

    I guess marrying my mom, my sister, my brother, my aunt, my grandmother, or my dog should not bother either…we are in love.

  10. Every step forward is wonderful. And every step that acknowledges that every person has a right to live their life to their own benefit, so long as it doesn’t hurt the over all benefit, is a step in the larger direction of world tolerance on all levels.

    Peace doesn’t happen when you exclude anyone.

  11. I live in Argentina and my girlfriend and I stayed until 4:30 in the morning watching the debate online. When the law was approved we jumped and cheered; she also called and woke up some friends to tell them the good news. Is a day that we’ll never forget.
    Seeing those photos, I just can’t understand why so many people don’t want gay people to be happy.

    I liked Brian’s comment: Equality is not a zero-sum game

  12. Thank you, Phil.

    I continue to hear people bitching about how Judge Vaughn Walker ignored the will of the people. But it is not the courts’ job to uphold the precise will of the majority of the people. That’s what elections are for. The job of the courts is to uphold the Constitution, regardless of whether the necessary decisions fall in line with the will of the majority. It is up to the judges to determine, without bias from the rest of the population, what constitutes equality under the law, or equal protection. It seems more than obvious to me that to exclude Gays from the institution of marriage is a clear violation of any notion of “equality,” and I have yet to see anyone dispute that on a rational level. Therefore, it is not “activism” on the part of judges to declare that Gay and Straight couples should be treated equally under the law, rather it is an example of judges performing their rightful duty.

    While it’s true that the Constitution doesn’t define “marriage,” the federal government has complicated the issue by taking a vested interest in married couples for the purposes of tax law and Social Security (among the 1,138 legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are automatically bestowed on couples once they marry). Therefore this is not an issue that can be left up to the states to decide individually, since it wouldn’t do for a Gay couple that is legally married in Iowa, for instance, to become automatically UN-married once they decide to move somewhere else.

    Religious beliefs are irrelevant to this debate, because (1) the United States is not theocracy, and (2) churches will continue to be free to conduct or deny ceremonies to whomever they want.

    Procreation and parenting are irrelevant, since (1) couples do not have to marry to have children, and (2) the ability or even desire to have children is not a prerequisite for getting a marriage license.

    This is simply a matter of equal treatment under the law.

    The quest for marriage equality by Gay couples has absolutely nothing to do with Straight (i.e. heterosexual) couples. Nothing is changing for them. Nothing is happening to “traditional marriage.” Most people are Straight, and they will continue to date, get engaged, marry and build lives and families together as they always have. None of that will change by allowing Gay couples to do the same. This is really not any sort of a “sea change” for marriage, since the only difference between Gay and Straight couples is the gender of the two persons in the relationship.

  13. Kris

    I see absolutely no reason why same-sex marriage is any different from straight or hetero marriage, biological apparatus aside.

    Alright. Then please provide rationale why me, as an unmarried person, should fund the marriage-related tax breaks for gay couples? Such rationale is obvious in case of fertile heterosexual couples (i.e. having children). Infertile heterosexual couples are gray area, as infertility sometimes can be curable. However, it obviously does not apply to gay couples. Furthermore, it is known that gay people are statistically wealthier then the rest of the society, which renders such tax breaks not only irrational, but also counterproductive.

    I do not care what kind of contract two adult people enter and for what reason. But I do not see any reason why they should be entitled to get a cut of my hard earned money.

  14. BJN

    “Denying the will of the voters” is a weak argument. Our constitutional rights and liberties cannot be denied by popular vote. After hearing a sound clip from a disappointed Prop 8 defender that suggests “any child” knows that parents require a mother and a father, I suggest that such reductionist thinking is exactly that — childish. Human relationships are complex and we need more than childish simplicity to fairly and compassionately respect the freedoms that rightly belong to all people.

    @Kris: this is the 21st century. Gay couples can have children, so if that’s your big concern it’s time to familiarize yourself with modern reproductive science. My wife and I are childless and will remain so, do you begrudge us the tax breaks (whatever they may be) that take money out of your pocket?

  15. Alan in Upstate NY

    Great news. Bottom line: If your religious beliefs say same-sex marriages are wrong, don’t marry someone of the same sex. But don’t impose your beliefs on others either. It seems that some folks fall in love with people of the same sex. It’s part of life. Their different choice should not deprive them of the rights that others enjoy.

  16. Mister Earl

    Well said, Phil. One of the most disgusting things a person can do is deny rights to others that they themselves enjoy. As you said, a good step in the right direction.

  17. David P

    There is nothing I like to see more than bigoted ugly little people being shown that their beliefs are ugly and bigoted.

  18. I love how when you are on the side of reason so many political “hot potatoes” become clear. I don’t think its a coincidence that all of the science blogs that I follow that are at all political support this ruling.

    Those who say “they aren’t following the will of the people!” need to get a lesson in the type of democracy the United States and Canada (among others) have. Constitutions FTW!

  19. Dan I.

    @ 10. Kriss

    Forgetting those with curable infertility, why do we not ban elderly couples from being married. 90 year olds sometimes get married, but they are often incurably infertile.

    What about heterosexuals that do not want children. Should be forbid marriage until they decide to have children?

  20. @10. Kris:

    Unmarried people already “fund the tax breaks” for married folk who don’t have kids.

    Infertility is only a part of that issue. Lots of couples are quite fertile but don’t want to have children.

    Should children become part of the definition of marriage? Should we at least require the attempt to procreate? Perhaps allow two people to get married, but let them know that if they have created no children within 10 years, the marriage will be dissolved retroactively and they will owe any backtaxes related to that dissolution?

    Seriously, stop trying to pretend this is a tax issue. I bet there are more fertile hetereosexual couples who want to get married but not have children than there are homosexual couples who want to get married. Obviously, the decision to not have children is much more damaging to our poor, unmarried taxpayers than is homosexual marriage.

  21. Apparently, Kris, it would shock you to learn that many gay couples raise children together and many straight couples never have children.

  22. Pi-needles

    Excellent news. :-)

    I’d have loved to have seen Fred Phelps face when they told him about this! ;-)

    @9.Chuck Anziulewicz:

    Most people are Straight

    I think Kinsey’s famous studies show that’s not entirely true. FWIW. Most people are, in fact, somewhere on a sliding scale between entirely straight and entirely gay.

  23. Pi-needles

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_scale

    & let this ring out : http://www.sadtrombone.com/ to all the homophobes & haters out there. ;-)

  24. Brice Gilbert

    @Kris

    Really? If that is your logic why should it have anything to do with being gay? Lets look at everyones income and decide what tax breaks they should get based on that. Not to mention gay people can adopt.

  25. Ray

    I don’t like the idea of the government deciding who can and can’t get married. For benefits purposes, lets just call all instances of two people in love (except for the rather obvious incest and underage issues) getting together a civil union. Then let churches do marriage ceremonies outside of government interference. That way, if your brand of religion doesn’t like gay marriage, fine, don’t do one. But don’t deny other people their desires if they want to get married.

    I honestly don’t understand the anti-gay anything stance. Gay people vote, they pay taxes, they’re human beings. They have the same rights as us straight people. How hard is that to get? Seriously, its not rocket science.

  26. Joseph Ward

    This is a wonderful step in the right direction. I’m afraid of what will happen when it inevitably makes its’ way in front of SCOTUS.
    In the immortal words of Texas’ own Kinky Friedman.
    “I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us. “

  27. Brian

    For that matter, I have a child but I’m not married, nor do I plan to become married in the future. Tell ya what, Kris — one of those extremely happy couples in California can have my tax break.

  28. I don’t think that the history of marriage is as religious as it’s been made out to be. Religion tends to get involved in weddings, but then, it tends to get involved in most things. The tradition of marriage, in its many forms, certainly existed in Western Europe before it was Christianized.

    If we want to call all government marriages civil unions, then that’s an acceptable compromise, I guess, as long as they’re open to all. But let’s not worry that we’re talking about state interference into a sacrament: we’re talking about state recognition for an arrangement that’s always had mostly legal roots, with the religion tacked on – literally – for good luck.

    I agree that marriage is a private affair, which is why the government should limit its involvement where possible, especially into the extremely personal arena of choosing a mate. There’s definitely a compelling interest in preventing children from marrying at 11, or incest, or to ensure there’s no element of force. But I appreciate the part of the decision that focuses on the privacy elements. This is a private decision, and if the government intervenes, it’s going to have to have a damn good reason.

  29. Brice Gilbert

    @Ray

    I do wonder though if incest is “wrong”. Sure it’s weird, but should that stop people from being able to get married? People say that having children is the problem and sure that is a possibility. But

    A. They don’t have to have children.
    B. What about the average couple who has a disease in their family that could likely get passed down? Should they not have the option to choose?

    I know this is a really really controversial issue. Anytime I bring it up it’s usually answered with “What?!?!? HELL NO!!”

  30. Kris

    @17. Shadmere

    Seriously, stop trying to pretend this is a tax issue.

    Actually, this is mainly a tax issue.

    The gay marriage proponents conveniently overlook the fact that for hundreds of years an implicit assumption of marriage as an heterosexual union with the goal of procreation has been present in a legal system. It was never codified, because it was believed to be obvious, however it was there. This implicit assumption is the basis of tax breaks and many other legal rights related to marriage.

    If we are to accept gay marriage, then this assumption obviously does not hold. So the laws related to marriage need to be generally revised. Obviously, this will not happen, as the results would be financially negative to the proponents themselves.

    I’d like to note that I very much like the way the French have dealt with the problem. They have introduced a new legal instrument (for both homosexual and heterosexual couples) and separately codified what such couples are entitled to.

    If we strive for equality, then the tax breaks should be (for example) related to the number of children a person/couple has, and not the kind of contract they happen to be the parties of.

    @21 Brian:

    Tell ya what, Kris — one of those extremely happy couples in California can have my tax break.

    Having your tax break would make me extremely happy as well. Why do you want me to hook up with some other guy (or gal for that matter) just to be eligible? I posit that’s clearly discriminatory.

  31. Bouch

    @19.Ray. I live in Mass, where “Gay marriage” first became legal. I’ve been saying that ever since then.

    Get the Gov’t out of the “marriage” business.

    @22:Kris – No, its not a tax issue. Its a “rights” issue. If two adults get certain rights because they are “married”, then why can’t any two consenting adults be able to be “married” to get those rights

    I’m talking about rights like being able to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, not being able to pay less tax…

    There was a case where the family of one gay person forbid his parter of 30+ years to even go into the hospital room, and the partner had no legal standing. If they were “married”, then he would have been the one making the medical decisions. That’s the type of rights we’re talking about here.

    The thought that a married couple gets a tax break so they can have kids is bogus, otherwise there wouldn’t be additional breaks for each child…

  32. It’s interesting to see the FOX news comments on this story. People for the judge’s decision are citing civil rights, freedoms, basic civil liberties, and anti-discrimination. People against the judge’s decision are citing Bible versus. I know it was obvious before, but it kinda makes it pretty clear what’s going on. Glad we don’t live in a theocracy … too bad a large fraction of Americans think we do.

  33. Matt

    @Kris:

    What about unmarried gay people? Don’t they have to pay “a cut of [their] hard earned money” to pay for the tax breaks that straight couples who don’t want children receive, when ignorant people like you want to deny them the same privileges? How is that fair to them? If you insist on thinking of it like that, think of it as the unmarried gay people’s tax money now going to the right place, instead of married gay people taking your money. It’s stupid and illogical to think of it this way, but it seems like that will work just right for you.

  34. Timmy

    @Kris: I agree that traditionally marriage meant getting together to have kids. But, that’s what a lot of gay people want to do. Many straight people want to show their lifelong committment to each other, and not neccessarily have kids. It’s still called marriage. So, if gay people want to enter into the same committments as straight people, then aren’t they entitled to get listed on each other’s insurance policies and be legally viewed as the parents of the children they are raising? Why can’t they file their taxes jointly if they are both contributing to the household, or living off one income. Isn’t it the same thing no matter how many weiner’s are in the household?
    Can you provide any links or data on how this will really affect taxes?
    And does anyone really get married just for the tax break? What is that, like $2500/year?

  35. Ribert

    @Kris – While financial considerations are certainly part – mind you, part – of the overall debate, I think you may want to review some of the older concepts of what marriage was supposed to accomplish. If you read popular literature of the 19th and earlier centuries, many marriages were seen as a means of preserving the resources of the joined families by providing a means of transferring wealth and influence. If the two participants actually loved each other, well so much the better. Procreation was more or less an emergent condition given no effective contraception and certain economic advantages to having children in terms of labor and/or wage earning.

    Implicit assumptions are dangerous in that the implication is only valid if the parties base their reasoning on common grounds. The “oh, it’s obvious” argument without substantive, objective backing leaves one open to the rejoinder of “Prove it” which might be seen as common to skeptics in general.

  36. JC

    Kris, I see you’ve decided to “conveniently overlook” the question of whether or not couples who can not or will not have children should be allowed to marry.

    Also, you’re assuming that society should fund tax breaks for the purpose of having children. Not everyone would agree with you.

    [ edit: fixed typo's and a missing 'not' ]

  37. Grizzly

    I think that western governments have it wrong. Get out of the “marriage” business altogether. Sanction civil unions, leave it to churches to “marry” people. Grandfather everyone who has been married by the state, and leave it at that.

    Churches can decide who they want to marry – that’s their prerogative. The state will and should recognize any civil union. All people should be equal under the law.

  38. No, Kris, it’s not a tax problem. I don’t know if you’re misinformed or disingenuous, but it’s not the issue at stake here. First, to the extent taxes are involved, married people tend to pay more in taxes, because joint income tax rates tend to be slightly higher. It’s mostly gone away at this point, because “the marriage penalty” was a pretty absurd quirk in the tax code. But it’s elimination hasn’t turned into a windfall for married taxpayers, especially since it hasn’t been eliminated in all 50 states. And besides, that part of the tax code isn’t built for children. Child tax credits are for children. Tax rates for married people were different for the context of two people living together permanently.

    Second, there are a whole bunch of other benefits. Here’s a rundown: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-30190.html

    Remarkably, just about everything on there is for spouses, and not for some principle of raising children. Preferential estate tax treatment for spouses has nothing to do with children, it has to do with the idea that married people for a partnership. Ditto receiving a spouse’s old pension. Orphans don’t get that, spouses do. Making decisions for an incapacitated spouse. Family leave for a spouse’s illness. Health insurance (separate benefits for kids and spouses, gang). Hospital visitation. Privileged communications. Immigration benefits. Prison visitation rights. It goes on and on.

    Yes, there’s some stuff in there about adoption and the rights of stepparents, etc. You may notice that these are free. You may further notice that these don’t have any impact on childless gay couples, the ones that you fear are hogging all your tax money. You may also remember that gay couples can and do raise children, which moots the whole point anyway.

    So if you have some massive, expensive program that gives married folks free money because it’s assumed they’ll have kids, then present it and we’ll talk about it. But I haven’t found it.

  39. Lisa

    What are the tax breaks for being married? I sure didn’t see any when I got married. That might change when our baby is born, but currently we are still paying taxes at our single rates plus some.

    I agree with Ray on the civil union thing. Personally, it bothers me that a religious official can declare something legally binding. I think the legal portion of things should be taken away from the churches. Go get civilly joined, and if your particular flavor of religion blesses your relationship, go get your religious stuff taken care of.

  40. Timmy

    Hey, I just thought of something: A civil union and a church wedding means TWO PARTIES!!

    It’s a win/win situation!

  41. Daffy

    Has something changed? What tax breaks? Last I checked, the “marriage penalty” charged a HIGHER tax rate to married couples.

    Has this changed? It may have; I haven’t checked recently.

    In any case, and for the record: I am heterosexual, in a committed relationship, and gay people marrying doesn’t threaten us ONE TINY BIT! To all those who feel it does threaten their marriage, I can only say I am sorry yours is so weak and uncertain.

    And if your religion requires bigotry, I suggest you find another religion; yours is founded on ignorance and hatred.

  42. Utakata

    People like Kris should be tripley taxed and it’s proceeds sent straight to the homeless and recipients of welfare where it will be better served…

    …that being said, and to not to be further entertain trolling kooks who poop all over good news, I for one am glad to see this peice of bigoted legislation knocked down. Gays and lesbians in California will not be sent to the back of the bus when it comes to choosing who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Let’s hope the upper courts will agree.

  43. @ Kris:

    Monogamous relationships result in less children than situations where people just have sex with whoever they’d like. Until effective birth control came about, cultural mores relating to the sanctity of marriage (don’t procreate with someone else if you’re married, don’t procreate until you’re married) actually tended to reduce the amount of children.

    Which makes sense unless you’re in a culture with an absolutely ridiculous surplus of resources. Then you get polygamy, guys with multiple wives having as many babies as possible. (In the rare situation that a culture has a sustained and severe lack of resources, you tend to find polygyny–multiple husbands per wife. That seriously reduces the baby-rate.)

    Any tax breaks for married couples likely come from the assumption that only one of them would be working. That’s not exactly the best assumption to make, nowadays.

  44. The judgement itself makes great reading. Arguments are set out, evidence for and against is weighed up, and a result determined, based on that evidence.

    Got to love that evidence – useful for so many things!

  45. Stargazer

    Surely no one can be against this? It’s nice to see we’re moving forward, sometimes in giant leaps and sometimes just taking a tiny step.

    The haters and the bigots will have to find their values and opinions to be stuck in the past, because there will be less and less space left for them in the future. Shouldn’t bother them one bit, after all, the mythological past is where they would like to be anyway. Enjoy!

    For everyone else, let’s keep working for a better society for all.

  46. rob

    why should i support hetero marriage? all they do is have kids and drive up taxes for education!!!!!11!1!

    plus the carbon foot print of a kid is tremendous!!11!! if you burn them they release something like 8 kilos of carbon per kid!!11!!1! if you don’t burn them they pull each other’s fingers and release methane, another green house gas!1!1!!!!

    hmmm…could you sequester kids in abandoned underground oil fields?

  47. Chris

    @28 Lisa and #30 Daffy
    Look at the 1040 tax tables. $50k single you owe $8694, married it’s $6669 so a savings of $2025, then there is the number of deductibles (an extra $3650) and standard deduction from $5700 to $11,400

  48. Here in Canada, the tax benefits of marriage are fairly minimal. In fact, my wife doesn’t qualify for some tax rebates entirely because my income is too high. There are child tax credits though.

    Rather than banning marriages because gay or childless couples are getting tax benefits, how about dispensing with tax benefits for marriage and replacing them with tax benefits for having children? Or would that be too sensible?

  49. Kris

    @26 JC

    Kris, I see you’ve decided to “conveniently overlook” the question of whether or not couples who can not or will not have children should be allowed to marry.

    I have explicitly stated that certain benefits should be related only to actually having children and not being married or not. We do associate them with being married for historical reasons. I claim that today this approach is simply obsolete.

    Curiously, the whole discussion is never about how the institution of marriage should be changed to reflect the present world — it is limited to extending eligibility (and associated benefits) to a narrow group of people (i.e. homosexuals). Without even considering if the present institution of marriage actually fits the needs of homosexual couples.

    @32 Shadmere
    Then you get polygamy, guys with multiple wives having as many babies as possible.

    And, the same arguments which can be made in favor of homosexual marriage can be made in favor of polygamy. I’m sure you are aware of it. So, if we allow one, why not the other?

    On top of that, we must ask if we actually want to have population growth or not — i.e. are we interested in people having more or less children. Policy should reflect that. (The question is non-trivial by the way. Overpopulation is bad, but the present economic model cannot persist without population growth).

    Gay marriage is being painted as a rights issue, but it is only a part of much larger problem: the future shape of a human society. No amount of arguing over legal technicalities can change that.

  50. @39 – you pay less if you’re married with $50k income because that’s two incomes. Compare it to $25k: two people making $25,000 each pay $3,336, total $6672. If they get married, they pay $6669. Are we fighting over $3 here?

  51. Kris (#10):

    Furthermore, it is known that gay people are statistically wealthier then the rest of the society, which renders such tax breaks not only irrational, but also counterproductive.

    Well, I have to admit that I’ve never heard that argument before. Please cite some reliable sources. (I might agree with “irrational”, but how is it “counterproductive”?)

    So, let’s call for the abolishing of tax breaks for rich married gay couples! (Just make sure to eliminate those same breaks for rich married hetero couples.)

  52. Zucchi

    Kris, frankly, you’ve presented the stupidest argument against SSM that I’ve seen.

    By the way, I’d be fine with getting rid of any tax breaks for married couples, and for having children. Since the population explosion is likely to cause the collapse of human civilization, we should be creating disincentives to have children.

  53. Jennifer B. Phillips

    They may bother you, or even disgust you. But do you know what they show? People in love.

    Phil, those photos moved me to tears. The only thing bothering or disgusting about them is the idea that some of your readers might find them bothering and disgusting. Mind your own business, selfish bigots, and let these good people live their lives.

    Re: this case heading to SCOTUS, Ed Brayton explained in his post on the matter today that it appears Judge Walker phrased his decision in a way that seems designed to appeal to the legal sensibilities of one Anthony Kennedy, who is expected to be the deciding vote.

  54. Sok

    I’m on Kris’ side here, at least to a degree. I’m a man married to a woman, we have no kids and have no intention of having them, and yet we get these various perks because, effectively, we’ve told everyone “we’re really really going steady.” I’m happy for the benefits and protections, mind you, but I’m pretty sure they’re intended for people meaning to breed.

    As a rights issue I think couples should get legally married regardless of what’s in each party’s pants. (Polygamy is a problem simply because of the added legal complications involved in multiplying the number of relationships.) However, I do think there’s worth in examining what the heck we, as a society, really expect out of this notion of legal marriage anyhow. If it’s “You know, for kids!”, then maybe the benefits should kick in once there are children actually involved..?

    (But, yes, boo on Prop 8, and let’s hope this decision ends up sinking Measure 36 up here in Oregon.)

  55. Murff

    Question is, where do you draw the line on “rights”? I agree with allowing homosexuals to be married, and being in the military, I also agree they should be able to serve openly (surprisingly, most people I’ve known in the military over the years agree with this).

    Restrooms/dormitories. That is the problem the military faces, and the restroom problem extends to the civilian side. Homosexuals will need separate facilities, or the current facilities will have to be redone to remove all the “open” urinals.

  56. Kris (#38):

    Gay marriage is being painted as a rights issue, but it is a part of much larger issue.

    I don’t think the courts have ever ruled (and hope they never do rule) that someone’s rights can be denied because of the tax implications.

    How much does it cost “the public” to ensure that everyone has the right to attorney if they are arrested, even if they can’t afford one? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply kill anyone who couldn’t afford an attorney? (Avoids lawyer fees, court costs, costs associated with keeping someone in prison, etc. etc. etc.)

  57. @ Kris:

    Why aren’t you actually responding to the points I, and others, are raising? I give examples to show that marriage actually reduces the amount of children, and you make a tangential remark that one of my examples reminded you of? Respond to what I said if you’re going to respond.

    Some people would be for allowing polygamy. That’s not what we’re arguing about here, though. So my opinions on that, one way or the other, aren’t relevant.

  58. Murff

    @Shadmere

    So let’s argue it, do you believe Polygamy should be legal? With all the same right as any married people?

  59. @Kris

    …for hundreds of years an implicit assumption of marriage as an heterosexual union with the goal of procreation has been present in a legal system. It was never codified, because it was believed to be obvious, however it was there. This implicit assumption is the basis of tax breaks and many other legal rights related to marriage.

    You state this as plain fact, as if you have evidence for this “implicit” assumption.

    And later:

    We do associate them with being married for historical reasons.

    Where’s the historical *evidence* this is true?

  60. A blow to government sanctioned institutional bigotry. They can’t own slaves or make African-Americans sit at the back of the bus, so who will they have to hate?

    Soon it’s just us atheists that will continue to get discriminated against, and we aren’t always that easy to spot! http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheitsHated.htm

  61. Murff:

    Restrooms/dormitories. That is the problem the military faces, and the restroom problem extends to the civilian side. Homosexuals will need separate facilities, or the current facilities will have to be redone to remove all the “open” urinals.

    I believe the “restroom issue” was beaten to death many years ago when there was a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure “equal rights” for women. (I forget the exact proposal.)

    The question is whether or not separate restrooms based on gender is “discriminatory”. This is not the same as the “whites only” versus “colored” facilities, for which there was no real reason other than to discriminate.

    I don’t understand why you say that you would need separate facilities for homosexuals. (And how would you enforce it?)

  62. Michael Swanson

    Tax breaks. You know, I think it’s a little silly that any couple gets a tax break just for being married. Do you know what happens when you get married? Your rent, utilities and food bills get cut in half! Why not just worry about tax breaks for people who either birth or adopt children the tax breaks, whether they be gay or straight? Kids are expensive, marriages (ridiculously expensive weddings aside) are cost saving!

  63. #40 KenB:


    Please cite some reliable sources. (I might agree with “irrational”, but how is it “counterproductive”?)

    If you consider an LGBT magazine to be a reliable source, feel free to click my name. The full excerpt from interview quoted in the linked article:

    6. Over the past years, I’ve read quite a bit about the myth of gay affluence. Do you think that gay people have more disposable income to spend than the average straight person?
    It is definitely a myth and perhaps the most misunderstood fact about gays and lesbians. We are not wealthier. We make about the same amount of money as our non-gay counterparts. Because only about 20 percent of gay and lesbian households have children in them, we tend to have more discretionary income. What others spend on child care related costs we often spend on ourselves (or save.) In many cases we are also dual income households, which coupled with no children gives us more money to spend than the average consumer.

    So: gays don’t have children (obviously), so they don’t have to pay the enormous costs related to raising children. If they prefer to keep or spend that extra money is secondary. [I retract my statement that they are generally wealthier, as apparently they spend proportionally more money on non-essential items; the point still stands though]. Now: why would you want to give tax breaks to people who already have above average discretionary income?

    So, let’s call for the abolishing of tax breaks for rich married gay couples! (Just make sure to eliminate those same breaks for rich married hetero couples.)

    I am actually in agreement. Tax breaks should be given only to people who actually need them.

  64. JC

    @38 Kris :

    If you look at your original post, @10, you said nothing about the tax benefits being tied to actually having children. Rather,it was about the mere possibility of children (note your own statement about infertile couples “maybe” being able to be cured). And I’m pretty sure you edited your post in @22 to add the bit about tax benefits being tied to having children after I started my reply in @26.

    If you want to argue that the tax benefits should be about children and not about marriage, then why argue against gay marriage?

    Also, stop changing the argument. This is about whether or not marriage should be denied to gay folks, not about whether or not the institution should be changed or slippery slopes to polygamy or any of that stuff.

    I’ll also take a moment to point out that your claim “gay people are statistically wealthier then the rest of the society” is irrelevant. First, are you going to claim that ALL gay folks are wealthy ? Second, would you support the concept of child-related tax breaks only applying to people below a certain income threshold?

  65. Stargazer

    Separate restrooms for homosexuals? How are you going to test for that? What kind of bizarre freaks hang out here on this blog anyway?

  66. @ Murff:

    Not sure why you want to know so badly. But sure, I’ll do my best.

    I don’t know, honestly. On one hand, I feel like it shouldn’t be. Too much potential pain. I’ve never once seen a polygamous relationship where the women (or in one case, the men) weren’t severely emotionally abused by the man (or in one case, woman). The multiples seem to by default have lots of self-loathing issues, and the person who wanted multiple spouses in the first place tend to be bad people.

    On the other hand, I can’t think of why we shouldn’t allow people to destroy their lives in that way if they choose to. And perhaps the hideously unhealthy relationships I’ve seen only occur because of societal pressure. Or something. (I’ve also never met any truly healthy people in a 24/7 D/s relationship. I guess it could happen, but I’ve never seen it first hand. But it’s legal, regardless of how stupid and unhealthy it is.)

    I’m really just not sure. It feels wrong to allow it, but it also feels wrong to disallow it. Ergh.

    If I had to dictate the law, today, without any further thought? I would make it legal. I would also make sure there was lots of self-esteem help for women and men to help them understand that they’re just as worthwhile as anyone else, and that they deserve as much love and attention as anyone else, including the person they love.

    Don’t hold me to that, though. I’m really glad that I don’t have to dictate the law, today. :p

  67. DavidB

    I think the Supreme Court will find that this judge is not correct in the appeals process. It will be a 5-4 decision of course, but a correct one in my opinion. Whatever you think of gay marriage aside, lets look at the legal arguments. Does a state have the right to define marriage? Until the last few decades, there was no need to define marriage, because it has always been a heterosexual afair in western society. California decided to codify this definition into law since it has become ambiguous lately. The constitution does not define marriage or mention it at all, so per the 10th ammendment, the states may do so unless such a law violates some other part of the constitution. This judge claims it violates the equal protection clause in the 14th ammendment. I say bogus. Homosexuals do have equal access to marriage as defined by prop 8. Just because they are predisposed to not favor such an arrangement is a personal issue. What this judge has done is to take it upon himself, and not the voters of California, to redefine the entire concept of marriage. I fully acknowledge and accept that a gay couple can love each other and committ to each other. Marriage is not about love. Marriage is about providing a stable foundation with which to build a family. Love makes that possible, but it is not the purpose. A homosexual couple cannot fulfill this, so there is a legitimate non-discrimatory and secular reason to define marriage as such. Yeah I know, not all married couples ever intend to have kids, but that doesn’t change the reason the institution of marriage ever came to be. This judge has usurped power from the state and unconstitutionaly given it to the judicial branch of the federal government. I fully expect the SCOTUS to agree.

  68. Kris (#51):

    It’s interesting that your original post (#10) said:

    Furthermore, it is known that gay people are statistically wealthier then the rest of the society,

    and you back that up by quoting an article which says:

    It is definitely a myth and perhaps the most misunderstood fact about gays and lesbians. We are not wealthier

    Okay, I missed this the first time I read your #51 post:

    [I retract my statement that they are generally wealthier, as apparently they spend proportionally more money on non-essential items; the point still stands though].

    If that’s true, then fine. Why not base these “tax breaks” you refer to based on how many children a family has, rather than sexual orientation?

    Tax breaks should be given only to people who actually need them.

    On that, we agree. But need isn’t based on sexual orientation. A same-sex marriage should have the same taxes, and the same rights, as those in a heterosexual marriage.

  69. Murff

    @ Ken B.

    Women have there own restrooms which gives them their right to privacy from the opposite sex. Heterosexual men should be afforded that same right, and for that matter, homosexual men should be afforded that right as well.

    How to enforce it? No clue.

  70. Sok

    So: gays don’t have children (obviously)

    Er, adoption? Insemination? Legal guardianship over a younger sibling?

    At least 20% of the time, apparently. Perhaps more, if they were legally allowed to marry.

  71. Murff

    @ Shadmere

    Very well put :)

    I would venture to say that a lot of people feel:

    “I’m really just not sure. It feels wrong to allow it, but it also feels wrong to disallow it. Ergh.”

    about gay marriage. (Myself not included)

  72. Brice Gilbert

    @Kris

    What are you arguing? That gay people shouldn’t be able to get married because you will have to pay taxes to them? Why don’t you complain about taxes in general and the inconsistencies contained within (like that you pay for people who don’t have kids etc.) rather than come to a thread about people having the right to marry. You are making yourself sound like a homophobe.

  73. johnnyring27

    @ Kris -

    “Look at the 1040 tax tables. $50k single you owe $8694, married it’s $6669 so a savings of $2025, then there is the number of deductibles (an extra $3650) and standard deduction from $5700 to $11,400″

  74. JC

    @55 DavidB

    “Homosexuals do have equal access to marriage as defined by prop 8. Just because they are predisposed to not favor such an arrangement is a personal issue. ”

    Oh, BS. By that argument, no ban at all a violation of equal protection. If we ban A, then no-one can use A, so we all have equal rights, ta-da !

  75. johnnyring027

    @ Kris -

    “Look at the 1040 tax tables. $50k single you owe $8694, married it’s $6669 so a savings of $2025, then there is the number of deductibles (an extra $3650) and standard deduction from $5700 to $11,400″

    Go back and look at those tax tables once agian. Look up the tax liability on 25k. Multiply by 2. Compare to the married couple’s tax burden on 50k.

    I happened to have the 2008 Tax Table in front of me, and here is how it plays out:

    At $50k single tax is $8,850. $50k married tax is $6,701.

    At $25k single the tax is $3,353. Multiply that by two. (the 2 married people making $50k combined) And you get $6,706. Verses the $6,701 two single people would pay in tax.
    That looks like a savings of $5. What a tax break!

    At $35k single tax is $4,103 plus $15k single tax is $1,853. In this senerio the married couple that made $50k ($35k + $15k) paid $745 *EXTRA* in tax versus single persons.

    Your premise is flawed because you didn’t take into account the MARRIED denotes TWO people.

    Try agian.

    (edited due to poor spelling and user error)

  76. Murff

    What do homosexual couples gain by being legally joined?

  77. Kris

    @45, Shadmere:

    I give examples to show that marriage actually reduces the amount of children,

    Indeed it does. However, it also:

    1. Ensures that father actually bears the cost of supporting his child, resulting in a better educated children. This provides an optimal quantity*quality combination (neither of the extremes are good).

    2. Reduces men’s competition over women, thus greatly increasing social stability

    Gay marriage provides neither of these, so the benefit to the society is negligible, while the costs (tax breaks) remain.

    I’d like to stress that I am not opposed to giving gay couples rights related to inheritance, deciding about the partner’s treatment, etc. I am opposed to giving them unwarranted monetary advantages, which were designed for fertile couples.

  78. Nat

    @ 38 Kris

    Your argument on marriage is essentially deconstructionist: you argue that given changes in attitude towards marriage and childrearing, we should re-examine the various benefits we provide simply on the basis of marriage. I tend to disagree, but that’s fine as far as it goes.

    What the decision yesterday recognizes is that regardless of whether or not we SHOULD provide those benefits to married couples, we DO provide them. Failure to allow single sex couples the same opportunities is a violation of equal protection WITHOUT rational basis; arguing that the benefit is irrational does not affect the inequity of unequal application.

  79. Robert E

    @Murff — the suggestion of separate bathrooms only perpetuates the stereotype that homosexuals are sexual predators, and is insulting and demeaning.

    The judge did address the “will of the people”: “The considered views and opinions of even the most highly qualified scholars and experts seldom outweigh the determinations of the voters. When challenged, however, the voters’ determinations must find at least some support in evidence. This is especially so when those determinations enact into law classifications of persons. Conjecture, speculation and fears are not enough. Still less will the moral disapprobation of a group or class of citizens suffice, no matter how large the majority that shares that view.”

    He also addresses the civil nature of marriage in this country: “Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.”

    He also references Loving vs. Virginia.

  80. DavidB

    JC Says:
    ““Homosexuals do have equal access to marriage as defined by prop 8. Just because they are predisposed to not favor such an arrangement is a personal issue. ”

    Oh, BS. By that argument, no ban at all a violation of equal protection. If we ban A, then no-one can use A, so we all have equal rights, ta-da !”

    JC,
    I would agree with that last statement. There is no ban that if applied for non-discimininatory reasons would violate the equal protection clause. The clause does not say what can or can’t be banned, that is left to other parts of the constitution or to the states. It only says we get equal protection under the law.

  81. @ Kris:

    Are others also against gay marriage because of this?

    Do you (you personally and any others who agree with you) talk out against the unfairness of marriage being allowed people who are either permanently infertile or who simply choose to not have children? There are more childless heterosexual couples than childless homosexual couples. It seems the heterosexuals should be the main targets, here.

  82. Murff

    @Robert E

    So my right to privacy is forfeit because it might offend a homosexual? I have nothing against homosexuals, and doubt very seriously that my 41 year old body would even warrant a 2nd look (lol), but that does not mean that I should shut-up and color when it comes to my privacy rights.

    Most heterosexual men are not “sexual predators”, yet we don’t share facilities with women…

  83. Blake

    On occasion, I feel an unnatural desire to remind myself of how equally spectacularly idiotic secular arguments against gay rights can be when compared to their religious counterparts. And for that, I thank skeptic websites such as this, as they sadly seem to be an eternal wellspring of said stupidity.

    I am usually not taken to replying to people who are of such feeble mind as to not know the difference between the words their and there, but I’ll make an exception for Murff here. So here’s how we’ll “enforce it” Murph; grow up, get a life, and grow a pair so you don’t have to whine, shrew-like, about possibly, somewhere, sometime, potentially being looked at by another person who may conceivably (not likely) be attracted to you. Simple really.

    The blatherings of “Kris” above are so beneath contempt they do not even rise to the level of deserving a response. Suffice it to say, you are an ignorant, cretinous fool.

  84. @ Murff:

    Regardless of any marriage laws, I can’t imagine how restroom segregation could be done. You’re claiming that it’s required to protect the rights of heterosexual people, right?

    I mean, even if some people are squicked by the idea of a gay person seeing them in the bathroom, there’s literally no possible way to enforce that. (Outside of requiring “Certified Hetero” cards to be issued prior to being allowed into the restroom?)

    At a certain point, even a valid idea has to be scrapped because “There’s no conceivable way to implement that.”

  85. If Kris gets to give tax breaks to people who have children, I get to give even bigger tax breaks to people who DON’T have children. Less burden on us taxpayers, don’t you know.

    2. Reduces men’s competition over women, thus greatly increasing social stability

    Gay marriage provides neither of these, so the benefit to the society is negligible, while the costs (tax breaks) remain.

    By that logic alone, your argument is moot. Pair bonding increases social stability, regardless of the gender of the individuals. So if it’s social stability you’re after, gay marriage is the ticket.

    @ Murff:

    What do homosexual couples gain by being legally married?

    True story, which maybe will make it clear to you, because it really ISN’T about tax breaks.

    My partner of 18 years (we were married in Vancouver, BC, 5 years ago, but I’ll ignore that for now) went to the ER for an emergency appendectomy while I was away on business. His sister, whom he barely speaks to and shares little or no values with, went to the hospital and claimed to be his representative who could make medical decisions for him. By the time I got to the hospital I was denied access to him. Yet SHE was still able to be in his room, talking to his doctors giving them gods know what instructions. Bear in mind, we were registered domestic partners and everything, but I was still not allowed the basic right that was given to his sister. Domestic partnerships, whatever the intentions behind them, simply do not convey the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Had I the legal rights of a husband, the hospital would not have been able to brush me aside without serious legal consequences.

  86. Kris


    If you want to argue that the tax benefits should be about children and not about marriage, then why argue against gay marriage?

    Again: because of the way the laws are currently written, marriage implies certain tax benefits, intended to incite people to have children. My position is that gay couples should not be eligible for such benefits. That gives two options:

    1. Disallow gay marriage

    2. Allow gay marriage and change the law so these tax benefits do not apply automatically when a couple gets married, only when it has children.

    And actually, the tax breaks are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many subtleties in the law which can produce unwanted effects if gay marriage is allowed “as-is”. I argue that if gay marriage is to be accepted, then the law should be reviewed and changed in such context.


    This is about whether or not marriage should be denied to gay folks, not about whether or not the institution should be changed or slippery slopes to polygamy or any of that stuff.

    Well, if you define a marriage to be between a heterosexual couple, then allowing gay marriage actually is changing definition. So I feel that the discussion of polygamy is relevant here, but I will not go there to avoid diluting our conversation.

    First, are you going to claim that ALL gay folks are wealthy ?

    No. However, not all heterosexual folks are poor and that doesn’t stop the state from giving them tax breaks, does it?

    Second, would you support the concept of child-related tax breaks only applying to people below a certain income threshold?

    Yes!

  87. Murff

    @kuhnigget

    It’s called a “Will”. I have one, and it states that my wife is to make legal/health decisions for me if I am unable. Anyone can be given that right.

    BTW, Congratz on the marriage…18 years is an awesome success in anyone’s book, but even more so considering the obstacles you would have had!

  88. I dunno, people just love chewing this one over from all points of view, but I just can’t find a more compelling argument than this one:

    1. American citizens have certain rights under the constitution.
    2. The right to civil marriage is a right of citizens guaranteed under the constitution.
    3. It is illegal to deprive American citizens of constitutional rights based on sexual preference.

    Or am I missing something here? It’s kind of a no-brainer. Most of the rest is simply people trying to impose their religious views on all of us under the force of law. Which we are not supposed to do here in the United States.

  89. Daniel

    @ Murff:

    Are you going to require bisexual male, bisexual female, homosexual female, asexual male, asexual female, hermaphroditic, and sexless restrooms as well?

    Your wanting of a seperate bathroom from homosexual men has nothing to do with anything exception your own fears…which is not a right you have. If you’re afraid of black people, that doesn’t mean you deserve your own water fountain.

  90. Murff

    @gogblog

    …and yet polygamy is illegal, and no one seems to want to fight for that cause…

  91. @Kris

    If any assumption is made it’s because human society throughout history has been raised on this notion due to religious beliefs. Our own legal system wasn’t made to support religious beliefs. It was made on the fundamental right that the individual should be able to live how they see fit.

    And IMO I think that would apply to polygamists too. If three adults (or more) are committed to each other, why not? Tax laws can be changed, but the right of the people to pursue happiness cannot.

  92. @Kris:

    Judge Walker’s ruling

    Finding of Fact #36:
    States and the federal government channel benefits, rights and responsibilities through marital status. Marital status affects immigration and citizenship, tax policy, property and
    inheritance rules and social benefit programs.

    Please note that “tax policy” is only one point in this very long list. Reducing this question down to taxes, taxes, and nothing but taxes is highly disingenuous.

    But if you insist on making it about nothing but taxes, how about #64?
    Proposition 8 has had a negative fiscal impact on California and local governments.

    a. Tr 1330:23-25 (Badgett: “Proposition 8 has imposed some economic losses on the State of California and on counties and municipalities.”);

    b. Tr 1364:16-1369:4 (Badgett: Denying same-sex couples the right to marry imposes costs on local governments such as loss of tax revenue, higher usage of means-tested programs, higher costs for healthcare of uninsured same-sex partners and loss of skilled workers.);

    c. Tr 720:1-12 (Egan: “What we’re really talking about in the nonquantifiable impacts are the long-term advantages of marriage as an institution, and the long-term costs of discrimination as a way that weakens people’s productivity and integration into the labor force. Whether it’s weakening their education because they’re discriminated against at school, or leading them to excessive reliance on behavioral and other health services, these are impacts that are hard to quantify, but they can wind up being extremely powerful. How much healthier you are over your lifetime. How much wealth you generate because you are in a partnership.”);

    d. Tr 1367:5-1368:1 (Badgett: Denying same-sex couples the right to marry tends to reduce same-sex couples’ income, which “will make them more likely to need and be eligible
    for those means-tested programs that are paid for by the state.” Similarly, to the extent that same-sex couples cannot obtain health insurance for their partners and children, there will be more people who might need to sign up for the state’s sponsored health programs.).

    And then there’s #66:
    Proposition 8 increases costs and decreases wealth for samesex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage. Domestic partnership reduces but does not eliminate these costs.

    You keep saying that it’s all about the tax breaks and all about the procreation. (page 113)
    Never has the state inquired into procreative capacity or intent before issuing a marriage license; indeed, a marriage license is more than a license to have procreative sexual intercourse. FF 21. “[I]t would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse.” Lawrence, 539 US at 567. The Supreme Court United States District Court For the Northern District of California recognizes that, wholly apart from procreation, choice and privacy play a pivotal role in the marital relationship. See Griswold, 381 US at 485-486.

    But frankly, I think this is the most important one, mostly because it has nothing to do with the nitpicking over money when we are in fact talking about human lives and human relationships. #67:
    Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment. Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming
    long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents.

    And that’s the thing, right there. Marriage has been and always will be about much, much, MUCH more than tax breaks. People get married because they are in love. Because they don’t want to be alone. Because they want to be recognized by society as a single family unit, whether that unit includes children or not.

    I got married this year. I did not get married to my husband because he looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Hey honey, let’s get us a tax break.” Beyond the many rights and responsibilities and privileges that the government attaches to a marriage, legal recognition of one’s relationship is so much more than that. It is the tacit recognition by society that your union is strong and good and laudable. For good or ill, it has been built up within American society that marriage – a lasting, stable, legally binding relationship – should be the ultimate goal of all relationships. In the eyes of the society in which we live marriage is not a tax break. Marriage is the culmination of love and hopes and the binding of two lives together. In many ways, it is the legitimation of one’s existence in society as a productive, respectable adult.

    So to say that this should be denied to someone because of money, because of taxes? To sweep all of these other overwhelming social concerns that go along with the institution under the rug and say that all that really matters is the money? It’s insulting. Simply, purely insulting.

  93. Kris


    The blatherings of “Kris” above are so beneath contempt they do not even rise to the level of deserving a response. Suffice it to say, you are an ignorant, cretinous fool. [linking to websites on gay parenting]

    Thank you, oh fountain of wisdom, for providing me an insight into my true self.

    Anyway: thanks everyone for valuable counterpoints, I will give them a thought. I am getting out of here, before this discussion degenerates completely.

    Enjoy your victory guys :-)

  94. em

    @Murff (#70)

    Sometimes having legal documents isn’t enough. For example, this tragic case from a few years ago:

    http://cbs4.com/local/jackson.miami.lesbian.2.757090.html

  95. OtherRob

    @Murff, #60

    What do homosexual couples gain by being legally joined?

    The exact same thing as heterosexual couples.

  96. John F

    “I think that western governments have it wrong. Get out of the “marriage” business altogether. Sanction civil unions, leave it to churches to “marry” people. ”

    I agree

    With regard to taxes, it basically works like this:

    A married couple tends to pay more in taxes (the “marriage penalty”) if filing as married than they would if filing as “single” if both earn approximately the same income

    A married couple will actually pay less in taxes (the “marriage bonus”) if filing as married than if single if one earns substantially more than the other (typically when one is the “breadwinner” and the other the “housespouse”)

    Either way, filing taxes as “married filing separate” is financially a bad idea – unless:
    1: One spouse owes money/taxes/judgement and his/her tax refund is likely to be interdicted
    2: One spouse really can’t trust the other- you sign a fraudulent tax return you may have committed tax fraud- even if you didn’t know what your spouse was up to.

  97. Murff

    @OtherRob

    Exactly. Nothing except for the right to say “my government has recognized that I’m legally joined to (spouse)!” That’s why I don’t understand the arguments, there really are none.

    As far as religion goes, Christianity anyway (since it’s the largest in the U.S.), there is no homosexual marriage, Bible is pretty clear on that. But, since religion should have nothing to do with government, there’s no argument there either.

  98. John F

    “Do you know what happens when you get married? Your rent, utilities and food bills get cut in half!” I wasn’t aware that anyone still believed in that “2 (or 3 or 4) can live as cheaply as one” nonsense…

  99. Nat

    @70 Kris

    You give only the options of disallowing gay marriage or changing the benefit structure. This is a patently false choice.

    By this logic, we should also ban infertile marriages, etc.

    This whole argument about ferility feels like an attempt to find a “rational basis,” as is required under the law to make a distinction not based on a protected class. And I got a tell ya, it feels like a pretty weak construct that’s bolted on to an argument based in moral revulsion.

    FTR, and apparently because I have some latent homophobia and feel the need to point this out, I’m a straight guy that’s been happily married to a women for ten years.

    #73 Murff:

    Marriage originally came about as a way of asserting a property ownership right over a women: no one else can have her because she’s mine. Sometime in the 18th-19th century, societal norms shifted to the point where women were no longer viewed as chattel, and we got the concept of civil divorce.

    In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down bans on inter-racial marriage, becuase societal norms had moved to the point where we recognized that men and women were people regardless of race, and that forbidding them from marrying was wrong. At that time, there were popularly supported laws in more than a dozen states banning inter-racial marriage, btw.

    Just because social norms have changed to the point where we recognize a relationship between two consenting adults is valid regardless of gender, does not necessarily imply that we’ve moved to the bottom of the slippery slope; that way lies Rick Santorum and his “defense” of bestiality.

    Oh, and Murff– there are gay dudes using the same rest rooms as you and me RIGHT NOW!

  100. Murff: A will generally only applies to someone being dead. Not a lot of use in medical situations such as kuhnigget spoke of. You may be thinking “Power of Attorney” maybe? And in most cases, bigots will revert to custom over the wishes expressed in a legal document. Also, a big CYA manuver is to not to accept a POA unless it specifically states the situation. Hell, my wife wasn’t allowed to close an account I wanted closed while I was deployed and she had a specific power of attorney that said “take any financial actions required” because her name wasn’t on that old account…

    I am still mystified as to why there are all these horribly bad arguments against. And trust me, you have problaly shared a bathroom with a homosexual on more occasions than you can count. Did ANYTHING at all happen? And the idea of separating bathrooms by the sexes seems to be a very screwed up American puritanical BS story as well. I didn’t know about sexed bathrooms until I moved to the US. But the US is a very screwed up country in so many ways. http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

    Again, this is a human rights issue, just like slavery was, women’s sufferage, and even inter-racial marriage (and look at thos arguments from the 60′s and you’ll see nearly the exact same rhetoric!)

  101. Blake

    @Murff

    “It’s called a “Will”. I have one, and it states that my wife is to make legal/health decisions for me if I am unable. Anyone can be given that right.”

    Right, exactly, it’s so simple. Because when my spouse is having a coronary, I obviously have ample time to rifle through a file cabinet looking for legal documents to present to the hospital orderly, while my loved one is being inubated and defibrilated in the back of the ambulance. Oh, and if you do manage to find the papers and present them to the correct person at the hospital while your SO lays dying, IT DOESN’T MATTER AND THEY’LL PROBABLY JUST DIE WITHOUT YOU THERE ANYWAY.

    And since you’re also apparently incapable of even the simplest internet searches (Re: “What do homosexual couples gain by being legally joined?”) here’s a nice list in black and white for you to read over while you eat your embarrassing words.

  102. @ Murff:

    Well, others beat me to it.

    The point is, a straight couple can make decisions for each other without question. Gay couples, under current law, cannot. Again, it doesn’t matter what the intent of domestic partnership laws are, they don’t carry the same practical weight as marriage.

    But, since religion should have nothing to do with government, there’s no argument there either.

    Yes. And ultimately, that’s what this argument always boils down to. Some people do not understand that our laws and our constitution and our society are human inventions. They are not handed down from on high. We create the kind of society we want, and in this country, we supposedly want freedom…with restraints. Those restraints are always shifting, but the trend for over 200 years has been to evolve in the direction of more freedom, fewer restraints. That’s why Prop 8 was so odious. It was one of the few examples in which a constitutional provision was proposed that would specifically limit rights to a named group, for no reasonable reason.

  103. April

    There are two separate issues that need to be addressed here, namely the class issue of the myth of gay affluence (used to justify denying the benefits and responsibilities of marriage) and the concern of civil authorities regulating and administering marriage (and all the related issues of substituting civil marriages and domestic partnerships.)

    While I have some very personal opinions and experiences with both, I think that in light of the detailed and wonderfully reasoned decision* by Judge Walker, I will rely heavily on his words here.

    The first is actually a thorny problem perpetuated by misinformation and the stubborn continuation of inaccurate stereotypes. Gay people are not more likely to be wealthy. Wealthier gay people are more likely to be visible, and as such, make it easier for those who condemn gay people for personal moral or religious reasons to paint them as uniformly rich, elitist and “other.”

    This very point was addressed in this trial and in Judge Walker’s decision. In Finding of Fact # 76 (pg 98), Walker states, “Well-known stereotypes about gay men and lesbians include a belief that gays and lesbians are affluent, self-absorbed and incapable of forming long-term intimate relationships. … No evidence supports these stereotypes.” As a finding of fact, this determination is followed by the evidentiary basis for the conclusions.

    The very fact that the myth of gay affluence is used as a justification to denying them equal access to the same fundamental right granted to opposite-sex couples shows how important it is to ensure decisions and opinions we form are based on sound logic, reason and fact.

    The second issue relates to the nature of marriage itself. I confess I was once someone who believed that we could avoid all problems and preserve equality by simply ensuring that no one received a marriage license from a government agency. Including me. (Disclosure: I am straight and married)

    I have come to change my mind about this point, but nothing made the reasoning more poignant to me until this case. Because people do not get married simply for tax reasons, in nearly every case. Marriage means more than that. And by setting up a separate institution that grants many privileges granted to opposite-sex couples that is almost exclusively available to same-sex couples (in CA the domestic partnership is only available to heterosexual couples who are old enough to receive Social Security) a deliberate attempt was made to distinguish between these two types of couples and withhold from them the symbolic importance of a marital union.

    Much of the problem in deciding the question of who should be allowed to marry comes in how you frame the question, and how you define marriage itself. This encompasses varied and sticky questions of gender roles and equality, procreation, and stable households. These were all addressed at length in the decision, but the very first point is that marriage in the United States is a civil institution regulated by the state because the state has a vested interest in setting up contributing and stable households as a public good.

    Walker also defined marriage after hearing numerous experts, reviewing recorded testimony and reading through mountains of peer reviewed studies: (Finding of Fact # 34, page 67)

    “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and to support one another and any dependants.”

    And in Finding of Fact # 52, page 80:

    “Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment in the United States.” (I’ll come back to domestic partnerships in a bit)

    Raising children in marriages seem to be a major issue for many of you, and let me just say that gay people have been having and raising children for a very long time. Denying gay people marriage directly harms those children. Judge Walker was unpersuaded by the unsupported assertion that marriage is solely about sexual reproduction, as am I. To insist this is the only purpose served by the deeply meaningful commitment marriage symbolizes cheapens it. There has never been a fertility willingness/ability litmus test for marriage because “a marriage license is more than a license to have procreative sexual intercourse.” (p. 111)

    To get back to the insufficiency of domestic partnerships and civil unions, they are simply not equivalent recognitions. Separating recognition the commitment of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples deliberately shows same-sex couples’ unions as inferior and unworthy of equivalent recognition in society. It denies significant tangible and intangible benefit which was been consistently found in study.

    “Proposition 8 places of the force of the law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.” (Finding of Fact # 58, page 85)

    Ultimately, though, is the point that the changes to marriage over the years (removal of coverture, no-fault divorce, removal of race restrictions) the fundamental core to choice and liberty in civil marriage in the United States has not changed. Individuals have never had a change in their fundamental right to marry, no matter how the restrictions and technical definitions have changed over the years. This is no different.

    Two final quotes (p. 113)

    “The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage. … Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage.”

    “Plaintiffs seek to have the state recognize their committed relationships, and plantiffs’ relationships are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States.”

    *Seriously, if you have any time whatsoever, the 137 page decision, while lengthy truly is well worth reading, even without experience in law. He is both eloquent and clear.

  104. MadScientist

    But gawd says he hates them! They’re an abomination! Just wait until gawd makes our laws … you’ll all be sorry! Dang, now I’m sounding like mabus. Don’t forget to protect the constitution, folks. And give to commie agencies like AU and ACLU because those pinkos have always done a good job of keeping gawd from running the country.

    @shadmere: right on; I’m one of those folks who struggles and just scrapes by because I don’t have the dual income and on top of that have to fork out money to subsidize married folk. We really ought to kill all such subsidies; people need to think more before having kids rather than clawing subsidies from the government. It’s a classic case of the people voting themselves a share of the public purse. Removing the subsidies may even encourage a much needed decline in population.

  105. SLC

    Re Kris @ #51

    So: gays don’t have children (obviously), so they don’t have to pay the enormous costs related to raising children.

    Gee, I guess that Mary Cheneys’ child is a fiction perpetrated by the International Gay/Lesbian Conspiracy.

    Apparently, Mr. Kris has never heard of artificial insemination or invitro fertilization.

  106. MauiPancakeGuru

    Why make things so complicated. The Constitution says “ALL MEN are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Nuff said.
    And yes ladies I meant you too. Everyone is so touchy nowadays. Geez.

  107. Nice summary, April.

    I really do like Judge Walker’s eloquence. The proponents are going to have an interesting time appealing. It is their right, but I sure wish they’d spend their resources somewhere else, such as, oh, I don’t know, feeding the hungry or something? Haven’t enough millions of dollars been spent on this already?

  108. John F

    “I am still mystified as to why there are all these horribly bad arguments against. And trust me, you have problaly shared a bathroom with a homosexual on more occasions than you can count. Did ANYTHING at all happen?”

    I’m middle aged, bald and overweight so I don’t have to worry :-)
    Seriously, maybe because it’s because I’m older and have children, but I couldn’t care less if they let women in… (Of course if I was 18 I’d have panic attack)

    WRT privacy, they should make the damn stalls in public bathrooms with less gaps
    and they should ban the entire media, male and female, from athletes’ “locker rooms”

  109. John F

    “Apparently, Mr. Kris has never heard of artificial insemination or invitro fertilization.”
    Or adoption…

    seriously, I’m sue you are aware that there are those who think that rtificial insemination and invitro fertilization should also be banned?

    There are Priests who believe that infertile hetero couples should not be married as well?

  110. Thanks. I really hate writing tomes, but some issues really do get complicated to explain from the legal reasoning. Even for just a couple pieces of the issue.

    What I’m actually very hopeful about is some of the particulars of the verdict. The findings of fact are very, very strong (e.g. definition of marriage and various sexual orientation findings), and as they will almost certainly not be changed unless the court can find a serious problem, they will be the basis for future appeals. So even if they throw out the findings of law, I am much more hopeful than I originally dared to be.

    The problem is I fully expect that even if this case is ultimately upheld (which I suspect) that it will be narrowly written to apply only to California, which leaves me waiting to see friends recognized as equals.

    It does bother me that it is such an expensive battle to fight, but we will win eventually. I’m more bothered by the distortions that anti-equality groups are sometimes allowed to get away with.

  111. Doran

    @Kris Please tell me where I can get those monetary benefits for being part of a fertile married couple. My wife and I have a child, we both work, and because we’re married we pay over 10K MORE per year in taxes. Yes more. We both make good, similar salaries, and the IRS takes advantage to such an extent, we have seriously considered divorce. 10K MORE a year, every year, for the rest of our working lives compared to 2 single people making the same salaries.

    Learn your facts before you say anything else that’s ignorant.

  112. TheBlackCat

    So: gays don’t have children (obviously)

    Er, adoption? Insemination? Legal guardianship over a younger sibling?

    At least 20% of the time, apparently. Perhaps more, if they were legally allowed to marry.

    More if they were legally allowed to adopt in all states, too. In many states the people would rather children have no parents at all than homosexual parents. I think the evidence is strong that there is nothing wrong with having homosexual parents, but even if you don’t buy that, at the very least it must be better than having no parents of any kind, right?

  113. TheBlackCat

    @ Kris: In the end this comes down to an equality issue. If married heterosexual couples are not required to have children, then there should be nothing wrong with married homosexual couples not having children. If homosexual couples are bad without children, then heterosexual couples should be as well.

    So long as one group is not judged on whether it is raising children, another group shouldn’t either. What you are arguing is that we should apply completely different standards to homosexual and heterosexual couples.

    Let’s look at how this breaks down:

    1. Heterosexual couple / children = marriage
    2. Heterosexual couple / no children = marriage
    3. Homosexual couple / children = no marriage
    4. Homosexual couple / no children = no marriage

    So if you look at the situation you are arguing for has nothing whatsoever to do with children. You aren’t even arguing that situation 4 should be changed, so you obviously don’t really care whether there are children involved or not, you are just using that as an excuse.

    It is a simple situation. If marriage is all about children, then we should change the law to reflect that. But so long as the law does not reflect that, children have nothing whatsoever to do with it and shouldn’t factor into the discussion. Either children are part of the rules, or they aren’t. So long as they aren’t part of the rules, they aren’t part of the rules.

    So what you are arguing for is not about having children or not, because you are not arguing that homosexual couples who have children should be allowed to marry. What you are doing is using children as justification to apply different rules to different groups, rules that totally ignore the presence of absence of children. That is, by definition, discrimination.

  114. Tribeca Mike

    Bob Dylan was right, the times they are a-changin’, and in this case for the better. By the by, a couple of old pals of mine, who happen to be a lesbian couple, have a daughter who is entering the University of Chicago next semester, after graduating among the tip-top of her class at Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School (no small feat in itself). Her plan is to be a science writer, and knowing her spunky smart self she’ll be a damn fine one too.

    As for same-sex marriage, you would think the conservatives would be all for it, being that they’re so big on the right of Americans to enter into whatever contracts they wish to. Wasn’t that one of their most sacred articles of faith during the cold war? Or is it just a god-given right when a corporation is involved? Hypocrisy has a habit out of eventually biting itself in the tail.

  115. Brian Too

    So many of the arguments against gay marriage are closeted horror at the imagined goings-on in the proverbial bedroom. It’s none of my business, it’s none of your business, and it’s none of the government’s business either. You are entitled to your negative feelings but you should not change public policy based upon that.

    In time anti-gay sentiments will probably be perceived in the same category as racist sentiments. Ugly, socially unacceptable, outside the mainstream.

    Gay people who wish to marry are making a social choice. They wish to form an official family and families stabilize society. This is the core reason why societies should allow this (although the human rights argument is pretty good too).

    Take a look at countries where gay marriage is legal today. What is the social impact on those countries? Neutral to modestly positive. The truth is that there aren’t enough gay marriages to radically change a society. Gay people are a minority and gay marriages are a minority within the gay community. However the society benefits from feeling that an unjust policy (codified homophobia) has been overcome.

    Next take a look at the impact of gay marriage in those countries upon straight marriage. What is the impact? Zero. Literally none at all. If your marriage works, it makes no difference what the marriage down the street is like, gay or straight. Same goes if your marriage is breaking down. If you’re heading for divorce, someone elses happy marriage does not help you, nor does a neighbor’s failing marriage pull you down. It’s just not relevant at all. Your marriage stands or falls on it’s own merits.

    The money argument is a howler. As above, there aren’t enough to make a fuss over. Ultimately gay marriage is a moral issue though, so the money angle is irrelevant anyway.

    States rights is a somewhat better argument. However if you accept that anti-gay marriage legislation is codified homophobia, that puts the states rights argument into a different light. As I recall, the civil rights movement of the 1960′s also had to face a states rights argument. With hindsight, I’d suggest that this tactic is now conceded to have been a modesty covering for an attitude that was fundamentally racist in nature. Again, gay marriage is a moral issue and that trumps arguments about centralism versus decentralism.

    The states rights advocates would be on stronger ground if they conceded that gay marriage was both constitutional and morally just, but their only point is that the states should codify that. And not the federal government. Instead, there’s an implicit acknowledgment that the the people (and states) pursuing the states rights argument, will immediately ban gay marriage if given the chance.

    The children argument is a non-starter. Children are found in all types of relationships. Childless couples are found in all types of relationships. And I don’t mean, “one in 1,000,000 gay couples have a child.” Or, “one in 1,000,000 straight couples are childless.” All conceivable combinations are found commonly and routinely.

    Gay marriage is a moral issue, in the affirmative (as in, it’s immoral to ban it). Opponents almost always think it’s a moral issue too (regardless of their argumentation tactic), but in the negative. They think it’s immoral to support it.

  116. Tribeca Mike

    Oops, my last sentence should have read, “Hypocrisy has a habit of eventually biting itself in the tail.”

    As for the efficacy, ethics, morality, legality, or what have you about the “sanctity of marriage,” well I’ve been married for thirty years now and have never been able to made rational sense of it, and gave up trying years ago. All I know is that we’re happy, which is all one can ask for. And I do believe there’s something in the Declaration of Independence about that being an unalienable right.

  117. P. Kenny

    Gay people have always been allowed to marry, Phil. Throughout the ages homosexuals have married, for the usual reasons: to have children and continue the family name. Read some of the dialogs of Plato: his aristocratic Athenians watch the boys exercise & discuss who’s the loveliest– but never doubt their duty to their city & family, even if it means doing it with those icky women.
    Does it seem harsh to say “they can marry, but that means an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex”? Well, let’s solve that problem by redefining what marriage means and has always meant.
    No society– even ones more tolerant of homosexuality than ours– has institutionalized same-sex marriage until very very recently. A very big experiment!
    I have been married for many years. I don’t think the California judge’s innovation threatens my marriage; I won’t rush off and marry another fellow. I worry about the world being made for my grandchildren, though.
    “O brave new world, that hath such people in it!”

  118. JC

    @82 DavidB

    My apologies. My example was vague enough to be useless.

    Here’s a better way to state what I was thinking:

    Tell me, constitutionally, how is “Everyone has the same rights, they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex” different than “Everyone has the same rights, they just have to marry someone of the same race” ?

  119. The issue of gay rights and gay marriage, more than any other issue (although there are many others), is what has prompted me to no longer consider myself a conservative, but rather an independent/libertarian. The judge made the right decision for the right reasons, and this is a huge victory for liberty.

  120. Tribeca Mike

    I don’t believe the Greeks allowed gay marriages, P. Kenny. From what I’ve read, most of them would have been appalled by the concept. It was more along the lines of allowing boys to be lovers of older men, and after coming of age the boys threw that to the wayside and commenced to hanging out at the agoran soda fountain with the Sandra Dees of their time. Then again, I don’t trust much of what that great fantasist Plato has to say, so I could be wrong. Nonetheless, those Athenians sure had a sweet racket going on. Gore Vidal’s brilliant novel “Creation” has some sparkling prose about that as seen through the quizzical eye of a sardonic and worldly Persian envoy to Athens, who also has many, many other strange and wondrous tales to relate.

  121. Joe

    What’s unconstitutional is that anything voted into law using the democratic process can be dismissed by one judge who disagrees with it. What’s the point of a democracy, if the opinion of the majority doesn’t mean anything.

    As for gay marriage, the state shouldn’t be granting marriage licenses in the first place. Marriage is religious ceremony, if you want to put a title on a legal contract that allows two people to be treated as one entity, then you should call it a civil union.

  122. Steve Huntwork

    “…or you risk the chance of running off your readers for example who love astronomy and science but have issues with posts like these.”

    I gave up on Bad Astronomy a long time ago. If this is an example of “quality” science, then even some basic concepts like the Hubble constant need to be seriously questioned and evaluated.

    When this blog shares new information about current astronomy, then perhaps only Universe Today can equal it in scientific content.

    When this blog gets outside of a known knowledge base, it does tend to become nothing better than Astrology.

    And for someone who has respected this blog for so many years, that is a damn shame.

    I am an Aquarian, what is your sign?

  123. DavidB

    @102 JC

    As I said in my original post, marriage is intended as the basic structure for a family, not just government recognition of love and committement. Therefore the reason for defining marrige as between a man and woman is rooted in biology. There is no biological reason for outlawing interracial marriage. But from a strictly legal standpoint, I suppose you could argue that it does not violate the 14th ammendment for the reason you stated. In fact until the 60′s that argument was successfully used.

    One thing that I have come to realize in thinking through my case here is that marriage as I believe was intended was already dead once it became a civil matter rather than a religious one. With divorce being so easy and with no meaningful vow made before a higher authority with the belief in eternal consequences, it really doesn’t have much weight. It already is exactly what I fear this ruling cements – that marriage isn’t about family anymore, its just government recognition of love and social acceptance of the relationship. Sad but true. I’m considering shifting my position to say that the government should get completely out of marriage. Leave marriage as a religious institution with rules decided by the churches. In the government arena, establish a process where anyone can enter into social contracts with anyone else who consents for hospital visitation rights, inheritance issues, pooling of assets, immigration status (voided if the contract is broken or the partners establish seperate residences), etc. Do away completely with marital tax laws, everyone files seperately. How’s that?

  124. Daffy

    I looked it up. The marriage penalty still exists, albeit in reduced form. Although it appears it may come back.

    “In 2003 the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 reduced the impact of the marriage penalty on married couples who choose to file jointly on their income taxes. This was done by equalizing the standard deduction for singles and married couples and increasing the end point of the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples filing jointly.

    The marriage penalty still exists for some couples depending on their tax bracket.”
    http://marriage.about.com/od/finances/a/marriagepenalty.htm

  125. Blake

    Wow, judging from the last several comments it looks like the fatuous bigot brigade is out in full force again! If I weren’t a skeptic, I’d say there must be a full moon with all these lunatics about.

    It’s surprising that Phil apparently has so many slow-witted superstitious readers.

  126. OtherRob

    @John F, #110

    Seriously, maybe because it’s because I’m older and have children, but I couldn’t care less if they let women in… (Of course if I was 18 I’d have panic attack)

    I’ve been to a few rock concerts at large stadiums and when I’ve gone to the restroom between bands there were almost always a few women using the men’s room. Other than the drunk idiot who feels obliged to make some sort of “witty” comment, no one seemed bothered by it at all. I must admit that I probably wouldn’t be as casual about sharing a restroom at work as I was about sharing it with the anonymous masses at a concert. Though given time, I would probably overcome the social discomfort.

    @Doran, #113

    We both make good, similar salaries, and the IRS takes advantage to such an extent, we have seriously considered divorce.

    I’m pretty sure that getting a divorce to avoid taxes is illegal.

  127. Grisha

    @105 David B

    Your solution is the correct one, but heterosexuals are not ready to give up government-sanctioned marriage, so gays have petitioned the government to gain it rather than advocate it be taken away from straights. This is wrong-headed IMHO, but fair. The state needs to simply get out of it, everyone files singly and and we all enter into the appropriate social and business contracts to designate visitation rights, beneficiaries, etc. But until we become a more libertarian society and government retreats from these kinds of things — equal protection, under the 14th amendment, argued group by group is the way it is going to be done. Obviously, this leaves out other groups.. polygamists, brother and sisters.. but they have not made their case. If they were to, the logic of this case would likely apply. As a libertarian, I am satisfied and happy with this decision, although I still think we would all be happier if we left marriage up to our churches, synagogues, mosques, covens and humanist meetings and kept the government out of this deeply personal part of our lives.

  128. JC

    @125 DavidB:

    It doesn’t matter a squirt of spit what your opinion about the purpose of marriage is. You still have to have a legal justification why it’s not a violation of equal protection. Marriage isn’t mentioned in the US Constitution, so you’re not allowed to treat as a special case.

  129. OtherRob

    Oh, and since we’re discussing “protecting the institution of marriage”, can someone please explain to me how a long-term, committed gay or lesbian couple wanting to get married is more of a threat to this institution than Britney Spears…

  130. JC

    @125 DavidB

    I’ll also point out that my friend Wendy would be rather surprised that gay folks can’t or don’t have families. I guess those 3 kids running around don’t count?

  131. bad Jim

    I just want to say that “gay marriage” is an oxymoron. Marriage is dismal. You shouldn’t call yourself gay if you’re married.

    Divorce remains gay, of course. Where would we be without gay divorceés?

    Also, consider the consequences: sex with ducks!

  132. Dustin K

    Best.
    Astronomy.
    Blog.
    Post.
    (wait for it…)
    Ever.

    Who needs to try to look for black holes in space when we have (intellectual/emotional) black holes right here on Earth! Keep ‘em coming, Phil, and call ‘em like you see ‘em! Congrats, California. I, my wife and my daughter are really happy for you! (OK, the toddler has no idea, but you get the point…)

    To those defending a social construct on biological grounds (its for breeding?) while also declaring that marriage went downhill when it stopped being religious… bravo for the completely amazing ability to talk crap out of both sides of your mouth. Your love and respect for your fellow men/women/small-green-creatures-from-Alpha-Centauri is only mostly eclipsed by your closed-minded fear of those who you consider ‘other’ to yourself.

    To everyone else – Cheers!!

  133. t-storm

    I love the leap from gay marriage to incest and bestiality.

    And I didn’t read all the posts, but #131 has a point I’ve always wondered about. The divorce rate is approx 50% right? And that includes people in my family who have been married and divorced twice, seven times, etc. So where is marriage sacred there?

    Or the dips$#ts who get married just because they got pregnant.

    And so on. Marriage/weddings can be beautiful things, but also can lead to horrible things.

    And I gaurantee that anyone in those pictures never thought about marrying their brother, sister, cousin, horse, turtle, or unicorn.

    However, it would have been ironic if Lex Luthor’s missiles had hit right at the exact moment it was repealed.

  134. John M.

    You need to stick to astronomy, I love yor website, but every time you bring up politics you take away from what you do best. Its like how stars (Hollywood) start losing their luster when the stray in politics and preaching at us,

  135. bad Jim

    Amanda Marcotte has a good point I haven’t seen discussed before:

    The existence of actual same-sex married couples opens up a whole new social definition of what marriage can be, and that is going to influence straight marriages. Over time, you’ll see more straight couples get flexible about their roles, and this will have a cascading effect. Conservatives aren’t wrong about that. But what they’re wrong about is whether or not that’s a good thing.

  136. @Josh
    @Steve Huntwork
    @John M.

    Imagine me saying this in my best Neil Gaiman voice: Phil Plait is not your [monkey].

    See Phil? I was good. I didn’t use the swear word. :P

  137. John Sandlin

    Regarding bathrooms: Homosexual individuals already share the same facilities with you, whether we allow gay marriage has no impact on that. Think about that the next time you’re in the restroom. How does this factor into a discussion about marriage, anyway.

    Regarding tax breaks for marriage intended to encourage families with children: Homosexual couples are already raising children, by adoption, by artificial insemination, and by surrogate delivery. They are doing so, for the most part, without the benefit of that tax break. I believe some studies have showed children of same sex couples are more stable and well adjusted people, too. I think we might be encouraging the wrong people to have children.

    Regarding what do they gain from marriage: Rights! They are currently treated as second class citizens at nearly every turn, in hospitals, in government offices trying to file for survivor benefits, and in nearly every other institution that grants special benefits to a man or woman because they are married (there are too many legal rights to try to cover in a blog comment, but many have already been highlighted for you anyway).

    Here, I have a solution; remove all benefits of marriage from heterosexuals. Take away our nearly automatic power of attorney, take away survivor benefits from pensions and social security, take away all those things from the spouse that normally would only go to next of kin. Take away all the other legal benefits, require the spouses to testify against each other in court of law, and so on.

    Do you really think that there is no discrimination against the homosexual community? Then you are willfully blind.

    I am not confident that a Supreme Court decision will go in favor of gay rights. I hope that it will. We are none of us free if any of us are not free.

  138. John Sandlin

    I think I also need to comment that I do not understand the bitter tripe that same sex marriage will destroy “traditional” marriage. A traditional marriage, the one that the bible talks about, was generally an arranged marriage where the man and woman to be married often did not know each other well or even at all. That’s the tradition. Romantic marriage is a fairly recent invention.

    Over the last 60 or so years religious and so called traditional marriages have done a great deal to destroy any kind of semblance of sacredness that marriage supposedly held. Religious marriages end in divorce every bit as often as secular marriages. When divorce was not tolerated, the beating and inhumane treatment of women was. Is that what “traditionalists” would have us return to? I’ll take a society that tolerates divorce to that traditional version any day.

  139. Your Name Here

    Look, for all you religious people out there, I’d like to say one thing:

    YOU HAVE NO RIGHT OVER WHO PEOPLE CAN AND CAN’T LOVE.

    One of my best friends is a very strong Christian, and he’s gay. Alright?

  140. Pi-needles

    @131. OtherRob Says:

    Oh, and since we’re discussing “protecting the institution of marriage”, can someone please explain to me how a long-term, committed gay or lesbian couple wanting to get married is more of a threat to this institution than Britney Spears…

    Or Bristol Palin. Or John & Kate. ;-)

    Exactly.

    @87. kuhnigget Says:

    My partner of 18 years (we were married in Vancouver, BC, 5 years ago, …

    Congratulations. Well done. :-)

    … went to the ER for an emergency appendectomy while I was away on business. His sister, whom he barely speaks to and shares little or no values with, went to the hospital and claimed to be his representative who could make medical decisions for him. By the time I got to the hospital I was denied access to him. Yet SHE was still able to be in his room, talking to his doctors giving them gods know what instructions. Bear in mind, we were registered domestic partners and everything, but I was still not allowed the basic right that was given to his sister. Domestic partnerships, whatever the intentions behind them, simply do not convey the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Had I the legal rights of a husband, the hospital would not have been able to brush me aside without serious legal consequences.

    That’s terrible, sorry to hear that. Nobody should be deprived of their partner’s comfort in times of need. To argue otherwise is plain cruel. :-(

    I hope it worked out in the end and your partner gave his sister a good talking too afterwards & this has been sorted out for any future scenarios.

    I take it this was *before* your marriage or was it that they didn’t recognise the Canadian same-sex one?

    @135. t-storm Says:

    … I gaurantee that anyone in those pictures never thought about marrying their brother, sister, cousin, horse, turtle, or unicorn.

    I’d like to marry a unicorn but I haven’t been able to find the right one anywhere! ;-)

  141. DavidB

    JC,
    You are exactly right, its not in the Constitution, which is why the 10th ammendment gives California the right to define marriage as long as it is done on secular grounds, no matter my opinion or yours. I guarantee the SC agrees. And I’m sure your friend Wendy has 3 bright kids, but I’m not buying that not having a father figure in the picture is no problem. Better than state care yes, but not equal to a stable environment with a mother and father.

  142. DavidB

    @DustinK
    You want to disagree with me, fine. Then you tell me what the purpose of marriage is and why it has gone downhill rather than simply hurl insults. Is it just a government recognition of love with an only slightly binding committment? Who needs that? You think the religious role is meaningless, then you tell me why divorce rates have climbed as religion has taken a back seat in mainstream society? Maybe it’s coincidence, but I think the lack of a higher authority to answer to and the lack of a fear of being shunned by the community has played a role in degrading the seriousness of marriage. Why work through the rough patches when you can just get a divorce?

  143. DrXym

    I think there are certain legal issues concerning gay marriage especially around the issue of children but they’re not intractable. All of the opposition to the concept is simply absurd religious noise. Rational people would sit down and work through the issues, ensuring the definition of marriage applied equally regardless of the sex of the two partners.

  144. Jonathan H

    People always argue about this backwards. They talk about “allowing” people to marry whomever they wish. This is wrong, and the summary of Prop8 on the ballot explains why: “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.”

    Eliminates Rights.

    The burden of proof lies with Prop8. Nobody has to justify marriage, gay or otherwise. What has to be justified is taking this right away.

    I’ve seen a lot of rational, logical discussions about this, and I agree that reason should prevail in the court. But the real reason I want to see Prop8 go down hard, in the Supreme Court, setting a nationwide precedent, is because when I look at those photos the people in them look so very happy. If you want to take that joy away from them you’d better be ready to show serious hard evidence of harm.

    Specific harm. These vague fears of “de-institutionalizing” marriage or destroying tradition or bizarre cries of “protect the children!” just isn’t going to cut it.

  145. The obvious solution with regard to tax breaks is to make them dependent on the presence of children (assuming the state wants to encourage people to have more children) and completely independent of marital status. If the tax breaks are for children, then of course they should also apply to unmarried people who have children.

    My own view is that homo- and heterosexual couples should have the same rights. What those rights should be is another question. The trend seems to be to use traditional heterosexual marriage as the goal, but I would prefer this equality to exist such that there are less rights for all married couples. In particular, I see no reason for tax breaks for childless couples, whatever the reason for the childlessness (infertility, old age, homosexuality, not wanting children, disease, not high enough on the adoption list). The reason doesn’t matter. Yes, some should perhaps have our sympathy, but they don’t need tax breaks.

  146. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I think the lack of a higher authority to answer to and the lack of a fear of being shunned by the community has played a role in degrading the seriousness of marriage. Why work through the rough patches when you can just get a divorce?

    That’s certainly true. On the other hand, this pressure also forced many people to stay married when it would have been better for all if they had not.

  147. Joey Joe Joe

    I think *all* marriage should be illegal. ;)

    Well, to hell with the tax breaks, at least.

  148. @kuhnigget

    You should move to Oz mate. We still don’t have legal same sex marriage but as of last year same sex defacto relationships are enshrined in legislation with all the same rights as opposite sex defacto relationships. AFAIK defacto relationships in Oz have all the same rights as married people do – taxation, social security, health, inheritance rights, superannuation etc etc etc.
    The gutless government just won’t go that extra step and recognise same sex marriage. In fact we have an openly lesbian government minister (and also member of cabinet) who said earlier this week that she supported the ban because the “‘cultural, religious, and historical view” against it. Weak.
    As far as being defacto goes, in Oz now it almost the norm. In fact 30% of all babies are being born to defacto couples nowadays (hopefully my partner and I will be joining that happy club in December). BTW, I don’t think gay defacto relationships are a threat to my straight defacto relationship either. ;-)

  149. Zucchi

    Come to think of it, I’d favor tax breaks if you adopt a child, but not for reproducing. We don’t need more people, but there are a lot of kids who need parents. So, gay married couple adopt: tax break. Heterosexual couple pop out a baby: no tax break. Works for me.

    (Though you can expect a spate of new state propositions against gay couples being allowed to adopt children.)

    As for SSM, my basic legal argument is: a) in virtually every way (outside the military), male and female adults are legally identical in the U.S.; b) in virtually every contract between adults, the gender(s) of the parties involved is totally irrelevant; c) just extend that to the marriage contract. Exact same set of rights and responsibilities, with no reference to gender.

  150. onno256

    Hi there,

    I’m a long time reader of this blog, and first of all; Phil can post whatever he wants, nobody is being forced to read his blogs.

    I’m from the Netherlands, and gay people can marry here, I was a bit worried in the beginning, but apparently society hasn’t collapsed. Furthermore has heterosexual divorce not increased.

    Two very close close friends of mine are a lesbian couple, and happily married for more than 5 years now. They are raising a wonderful little girl, who is doing pretty fine. I don’t think there is the need for a father figure, every parent brings his or hers special qualities into the equation. Perhaps it is better to have two loving mothers than two fighting heterosexual parents.

    It is impossible to make simple judgments about the complex situation that a family is. You can only hope there is willingness, love and stability. Two consenting adults can bring these, for better and for worse…..

    I don’t understand this fear that allowing gay couples to marry would destroy the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, it is as if us heterosexuals are not willing to share….

    Every family unit that is stable, and shows respect for the individual rights of the participating individuals should be welcomed, it is bad enough that there are so much messed up families already. If a gay couple is capable of raising kids up to be healthy adults, they’ve got my blessing, we need as many healthy adults as we can get.

    By the way; being gay is not a choice, kids from gay couples are more likely to grow up as heterosexuals….

    Greetings

  151. We don’t need more people, but there are a lot of kids who need parents.

    Wrong on two counts. First, while the total number of people in the world is probably too large, in some individual countries there are too few children. (The absolute numbers don’t matter, but rather the ratio of old to young.) And no, important children from the third world, or young adults for that matter, is not a viable solution. Second, there are far, far more potential parents willing to adopt than there are children in need of adoptive parents.

  152. Chris B

    @123 Joe said:
    “What’s unconstitutional is that anything voted into law using the democratic process can be dismissed by one judge who disagrees with it. What’s the point of a democracy, if the opinion of the majority doesn’t mean anything.”

    Actually Joe, that is incorrect for two reasons.
    1. The US is a democratic Republic, not a “true democracy”
    2. The judicial system was created to prevent “Tyranny of the Majority” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranny_of_the_majority), which is what prop 8 is

    Thomas Jefferson said it best in the Declaration of Independence:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pusiut of Happiness”

  153. I, for one, hope that Phil keeps on throwing out these political posts, because the raging comments that are created in response are effing hysterical :D

    I think Phil could hit the acme of vitriol inducing posts if he somehow combined global warming, gay marriage, atheism, vaccines, abortion, and American imperialism into one mega-post and follow it up with “I’m done with this astronomy thing, from now on it’s all politics and socail commentary, all the time! SUCK IT, TREBEK!! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

  154. P Kenny

    to Tribeca Mike: you must have read my comment too quickly, I certainly did NOT say that the Greeks allowed same-sex marriage! I did say that gays, throughout human history, HAVE married– i.e., have contracted marriage with members of the opposite sex. What’s going on now is the REDEFINITION of marriage, to mandate that same-sex relationships be considered essentially the same as marriage between a man and a woman.
    And of course we’re leaving polygynous marriage (1 man, 2 or more women) out of the picture entirely. On what basis should that (or multiple partners of the same sex) be forbidden, by the way, if we accept the arguments for same-sex marriage? I can’t see any.

  155. TheBlackCat

    You are exactly right, its not in the Constitution, which is why the 10th ammendment gives California the right to define marriage as long as it is done on secular grounds, no matter my opinion or yours.

    3 words: “equal protection clause”. You can’t just arbitrarily treat one group radically different than another. By this logic it would be fine for California to ban interracial marriages as well.

    And this isn’t being done on secular grounds anyway, it is being done on religious grounds, generally by religious organizations and religious leaders. Even you are arguing it on religious grounds, even though there is no requirement whatsoever that people get married by a religious institution.

    And I’m sure your friend Wendy has 3 bright kids, but I’m not buying that not having a father figure in the picture is no problem. Better than state care yes, but not equal to a stable environment with a mother and father.

    Brilliant, why bother with actually checking when you can just use raw intuition, right? Screw science, lets base policy decisions on gut feeling.

    Then you tell me what the purpose of marriage is and why it has gone downhill rather than simply hurl insults.

    Did you actually read the comments here? Lots of people did that well before you asked the question. Do you really expect us to repeat it again just because you can’t be bothered to read the comments? Try 39, 94, and 101 for starters.

    You think the religious role is meaningless, then you tell me why divorce rates have climbed as religion has taken a back seat in mainstream society?

    Because women aren’t considered property anymore? As religious influence on society has dropped, so did religious rules that treated women as sub-humans with few or no rights.

    Why work through the rough patches when you can just get a divorce?

    Why deal with an abusive husband, or one who drinks away all your money, or rapes you, or one you are just not compatible with and can never be happy with, when you can just get a divorce? Back in what you consider to be the “good old days” when people weren’t allowed to divorce, women were property that husbands could do more or less what they wanted with. Look up the source of the phrase “rule of thumb”. It was not as good a time as you seem think it was. Forcing people to never leave marriages is not necessarily a good thing. There are some things you just can’t “work through”.

  156. kwoolf

    Thanks Phil,

    Keep calling them like you see them. Not that I have to tell you that.

  157. Robert E

    @Steve Huntwork — Yet you apparently still take the time to read it and post a response.

  158. John F

    “It was not as good a time as you seem think it was.” Well for crappy husbands those were the good old days

  159. And of course we’re leaving polygynous marriage (1 man, 2 or more women) out of the picture entirely. On what basis should that (or multiple partners of the same sex) be forbidden, by the way, if we accept the arguments for same-sex marriage? I can’t see any.

    Why 1 man, 2 or more women? Do I detect a prejudice here?

    Indeed. Ironically, some homosexuals in a long-term monogamous relationship can be quite shocked by polygamous folks.

    In countries where extramarital sex is not forbidden by law, of course, there is no problem with non-married polygamous relationships (or those involving one married couple). I recently saw a documentary on German television about three students in Berlin, a woman and two men, in such a relationship. The woman had 1 or 2 kids by the first guy and was pregnant with one from the second. The second guy came in after the first relationship had been going for a few years, but knew the other guy from childhood.

    I’m always surprised by these “arrested for bigamy” headlines. If it is not legal to be married to more than one person, then it is not possible. The only thing I can see is some sort of fraud, claiming more benefits than one is entitled to by having different marriages in different places (presumably in the same place it would be noticed). Folks in the USA: what is the rationale behind arresting people for bigamy? Is it only the fraud aspect?

    Again, my view is that any tax cuts etc should be based only on children, so my goal would not be to recognise more types of marriage but rather to reduce the benefits of most down to a reasonable level. However, if one is for gay marriage, then one should also support polyganous marriage. If not, why not? Don’t even start with stuff like “but it’s not natural”.

  160. (In the rare situation that a culture has a sustained and severe lack of resources, you tend to find polygyny–multiple husbands per wife. That seriously reduces the baby-rate.)

    No, polygyny is many women (think gynecologist). Polyandry is many men (think android, androgen etc). Polygamy is the generic term (think gametes).

    I don’t follow your logic, though. Yes, extreme polyandry can leave some women without the possibility of getting pregnant, but in both monogamous and polygynous societies, there is no lack of opportunity for all women to become pregnant. (Well, considering that a man can sire only a few hundred children a year, we might see some diminishing returns with 1000 or more wives).

  161. DataJack

    DavidB @69 – I’m late to the game, so it’s probably been said, but you are wrong. Marriage is NOT about raising a family. Whether it ever was can be debated, but is not now. If it were, then it should be illegal for me and my wife to be married, because we don’t have, and will never have, children.

    Also, it would be legal for our two lesbian friends to be married, because they are raising two children. And what about unmarried parents? Your logic fails, and reveals your bigotry.

    Today, in modern democracies, Marriage is entirely about love. I know hundreds of married couples, all were married because they were in love. None were married “to provide a stable environment to raise children”. None were married to cement a land deal, avert a war, provide an heir, etc. None.

    The “will of the people” is a ruse. Most people do not understand law or government enough to enact laws or to govern. That’s why we elect politicians. The CA legislative ballot system is stupid.

    Judges are supposed to strike down legislation that violates the Constitutional right of citizens (especially minorities). So, you are wrong again. Also, if this makes it past the 9th, it would be an atrocity and miscarriage of justice.

  162. Martha

    As Judge Vaughn Walker pointed out the fact that some religions don’t approve of same sex marriage is not a compelling reason for governments to outlaw same sex marriage. America is a secular nation and the beliefs of one religion, even the largest religion have no place in our laws. If they did then governments could impose dietary laws and forbid the sale of shrimp or figs.

    Don’t forget that 43 years ago some states actually had laws against interracial marriage and that some churches still think that human beings with different colors of skin should not be allowed to marry. If I were to place a bet I would put my money on there being same sex marriage in all fifty states within 10 years. In another 40 years young people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. The fundamentalists are going to lose the culture war.

  163. DataJack

    Joe @123 – You have a serious misunderstanding of how modern representative democracies work. One judge did not “overturn the will of the people”. A judge protected a minority from a law that deprived them of constitutionally protected rights.

    The will of the people does not create laws; it elects people who understand the legal system to govern them. Think about how absurd the country would be if what you believe were true:

    What if traffic fines were voted on by “the people”?
    What if speed limits were voted on by “the people”?
    What if tax rates were voted on by “the people”?

    This is as absurd as having a group of neighbors vote on how to fix a busted sewer main, instead of hiring a plumber to do it.

    “The will of the people” is expressed when the vote for their representatives, not was legislation is enacted.

  164. John F

    “What if traffic fines were voted on by “the people”?
    What if speed limits were voted on by “the people”?
    What if tax rates were voted on by “the people”?”

    and why shouldn’t they be? And if in fact I’m reasonably certain that all these are voted on directly in some areas.

    “This is as absurd as having a group of neighbors vote on how to fix a busted sewer main, instead of hiring a plumber to do it.” do the people get a say in which plumber to hire?

    ““The will of the people” is expressed when the vote for their representatives, not was legislation is enacted.” And some people disagree that is the whole point of ballot initiatives and the like.

  165. Messier Tidy Upper

    One of the strange things for me is the way the homophobic religious folks overlook the story of King David and Saul’s son Jonathon who had a famous mythological /Biblical homosexual love affair :

    “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women.”

    - King David on the death of Jonathon, 2 Samuel 1:26

    King David was very much bisexual – yet God (if you believe) didn’t seem upset with David over this bisexual Jewish monarchs homosexual affair -indeed, if the Bible (or Torah for that matter) is where you get your guidance from, then you’d have to say God showed a lot more displeasure over David’s (admittedly atrociously criminal -he had her hubby killed for pity’s sake!) heterosexual affair with Bathsheba than he did over David’s love affair with Jonathon.

    There are also good reasons to think the apostle Paul was repressed homosexual and perhaps, just possibly even Jesus himself! Hey, he never married did he – or did he? Plus that kiss business with Judas? Hmm .. ;-)

    Throughout history gay couples have provided famous examples of love and inspiration and achievement from poetess lover Sappho of Lesbos (the Greeks more usually known for male homosexuality but there is an island of Lesbos too!) and Alexander the Great and his lover Hephaistion through to the recent tragic stories of Turing and Oscar Wilde.

    Plus Michaelangelo was homosexual too – or was it Leonardo Da Vinci? Or both?

    Homosexuality is part of Human nature. Always has been, always will be & the bigots need to get over it and accept that its overdue that we stopped being cruel and discriminatory and stopped persecuting people simply for their biologically determined nature and desire for the love of .. whoever they please.

    Love is love, individuals are individual, some of us are just .. er .. more individual than others! ;-)

    Anyhow most of us, as noted already, fall between entirely hetero & homo-sexual in nature . And you know what – that’s okay. :-)

    It really is. :-)

    Its just time we faced that axiomatic reality. :-)

  166. DataJack

    John F @166 – yes, being contrary can be fun, but it adds little to the conversation. Ballot initiatives are wrong. The people who disagree with that statement are also wrong. See what I did there?

    And yes, the people DO get to pick the plumber, that’s what makes this a voting analogy. If he screws up, they pick a different one next time (next election, get it?).

    The people should not directly vote for laws, because they are not trained to understand the law. It is that simple. Letting them vote for laws directly introduces the “tyranny of the majority”, and also, some potentially stupid laws.

    In no other field would this be considered sane. Should the neighborhood decide on how to perform dental procedures?

    Should the people of the state vote to see what medicines should be available OTC?

    Should the entire nation vote on airplane safety regulations?

    A much as we love to hate them, legislators are trained to legislate. That basically means knowing what the can get away with when enacting laws. If they step on someone’s constitutionally protected rights, a judge smacks ‘em. This is a textbook example of our system _working_.

  167. Tribeca Mike

    Thanks for the correction, P Kenny. Indeed, I did read your comment too quickly.

  168. @ P. Kenny:

    I don’t think the California judge’s innovation threatens my marriage; I won’t rush off and marry another fellow. I worry about the world being made for my grandchildren, though.

    So, let’s see. You see no reason why your marriage would be threatened, but somehow you worry about your grandchildren? I don’t suppose you see the contradiction there, do you? What, exactly are you worried about?

    What’s going on now is the REDEFINITION of marriage,

    Yup. Just as it’s been redefined since it was INVENTED. Invented by human beings.

    And if, at some time in the future, we as human beings believe our society would benefit from polygamy…again…then there should be nothing stopping us from passing laws that allow it.

    That’s the great thing about a society based on human laws. Humans get to write, and re-write them.

  169. @ Pi-needles:

    I take it this was *before* your marriage or was it that they didn’t recognise the Canadian same-sex one?

    We were already married in Canada, but because California did not recognize it we were second class “partners.” And as I’ve said already, “partner” does not carry the same weight – legal or social – as “husband.”

    We filed a complaint against the doctors and the hospital, but it went nowhere. Too late anyway. Complaining was not the point, the point was to be there next to my husband when he needed me. (All is okay, BTW, healthwise.)

  170. DavidB

    @ 157 TheBlackCat:

    Why don’t YOU go back and read earlier posts, we have already debated the equal protection clause and I’ve already made my case for why it may not apply and what secular grounds this may stand on, regardless of whether or not the people behind it are “religious.” It doesn’t matter if you agree, only if the courts throughout the appeals process agree. I bet they do.

    And yes, I have read the most of the comments, none of which deal with the reasons for increasing divorce rates over the past few decades. Besides, I directed the question as JC, since I wanted his take on it. You may offer your alternative if you like.

    Your revisionist view of marriage “in the old days” is certainly not a biblical based one. Sure, you could take a few choice verses from Paul’s letters and justify treating women as property, but you’d be missing the complete picture. The Bible does acknowledge – big shocker – that men and women are different, with different emotional needs and roles to play in a successful marriage. Its a formula that worked, and the bible does allow for divorce in some of the extreme cases you mention. However, those extreme cases are a small percentage of why people divorce. Usually its because they just give up rather than work out problems, failing to grasp that they are in a give/take relationship that requires patience.

    BTW, if you are curious what a “religious marriage”, or at least a Christian one, is supposed to be like, rather than continue with your “all religion is bad all the time” atheistic misconceptions, then check out this link: http://loveandrespect.com/about-us/ and go to some of his articles in the right side column. I promise there is no gay bashing in there.

  171. @ Philip Helbig:

    First, while the total number of people in the world is probably too large, in some individual countries there are too few children. (The absolute numbers don’t matter, but rather the ratio of old to young.) And no, important children from the third world, or young adults for that matter, is not a viable solution.

    And why, exactly, is adopting kids from another country not a viable solution? Might it have something to do with…oh, I dunno, race? Can’t have any of them brownish/yellowish kids staining society, can we?

    Of course, I’m open to hearing an alternate explanation. I’ll wait.

  172. DavidB

    @ 163 DataJack
    I agree with what you say and conceded as much in 125. Marriage was once about a stable foundation for a family and it still should be, but unfortunately it has effectively become only about love and acceptance, to be done away with when love isn’t strong enough. This ruling confirms that. And to me that makes it pointless as a government institution, other than the issues I mention which would be best relegated to a simple contract.

  173. Marriage was once about a stable foundation for a family and it still should be, but unfortunately it has effectively become only about love and acceptance, to be done away with when love isn’t strong enough.

    Wow. That is one of the saddest, most pathetic statements I’ve read in a long time.

    And not for the reason you probably think, either.

  174. P Kenny

    @kuhnigget:
    In answer to me you say that marriage has been redefined many times, “by human beings” (thanks, I’m glad it wasn’t the elves that did it). Now tell me of a society where it has been defined, or redefined, to include same-sex partners — before very late in the 20th century!

  175. DavidB

    @177 kuhnigget

    Please do elaborate.

  176. TheBlackCat

    Why don’t YOU go back and read earlier posts, we have already debated the equal protection clause

    And, as I said but you ignored, by your logic then banning interracial marriage would also be legal. So would segregated schools, black/white park benches and water fountains, and many other things we did away with in the 50′s and 60′s because they were blatantly discriminatory. “But whites can’t use black water fountains either, therefore everyone is equal.”

    Actually, by that logic it would be okay to ban the birth of black babies. “Whites aren’t allowed to have black babies either, therefore it is non-discriminatory.”

    And yes, I have read the most of the comments, none of which deal with the reasons for increasing divorce rates over the past few decades.

    Post 101 does.

    Your revisionist view of marriage “in the old days” is certainly not a biblical based one.

    Irrelevant, that was how it was actually practiced in this country and many others.

    Sure, you could take a few choice verses from Paul’s letters and justify treating women as property, but you’d be missing the complete picture. The Bible does acknowledge – big shocker – that men and women are different, with different emotional needs and roles to play in a successful marriage.

    The Bible, both old and new testaments, are very consistent in treating women as both inferior to men and the property of men. You can ignore that if you want, but ignoring those bits is a very recent idea in the history of the religion, from before the religion started up until recently pretty much everyone in the Christian world treated women as property, and they used the Bible to justify it. Even the concept of women having the right to own their own property independent of her husband or father is a very new idea.

    Funny how nobody understood the “big picture” of the Bible until so recently. It is pretty strange that the people who actually wrote it didn’t even get the “big picture”.

    Its a formula that worked,

    Depends on your definition of “worked”. If you mean “kept couples together no matter what the harm it caused”, then yes it worked.

    and the bible does allow for divorce in some of the extreme cases you mention.

    No, it allows for divorce in cases of infidelity. None of the cases I mentioned are grounds for a divorce under the Bible, or were grounds for a divorce at all until very recently. And many people today still argue that they shouldn’t be grounds for a divorce, based on the very clear rules in the Bible on the issue.

    Did you do what I asked any looked up the source of the phrase “rule of thumb”?

    However, those extreme cases are a small percentage of why people divorce. Usually its because they just give up rather than work out problems, failing to grasp that they are in a give/take relationship that requires patience.

    Evidence please.

    Marriage was once about a stable foundation for a family and it still should be, but unfortunately it has effectively become only about love and acceptance, to be done away with when love isn’t strong enough.

    Oh yeah, who cares about love and acceptance right? Totally meaningless. Better that people who hate each other stick together rather than actually trying to be happy.

  177. Martha

    @179

    Before the late 20th century, 1969 to be exact gay and lesbian people and no rights at all. It was only in 1973 that the psychiatric and psychological associations realized that homosexuality is not an illness. Since that time we have secured our civil rights and marriage is just the next right that we are going to secure. In fact we should follow the lead of South Africa and add a gay rights amendment to our Constitution.

    In the bad old days marriage meant that wives had to obey their husbands and that wives were property. (I am both genetically and philosophically a non controllable woman so that would never work for me)

    Here are a couple of article about how marriage and family has changed over the decades:
    http://www.stephaniecoontz.com/articles/article25.htm

    http://www.stephaniecoontz.com/articles/article29.htm

  178. Daffy

    I am completely convinced that to be truly homophobic one must have some pretty strong leanings in that direction oneself. Recent headlines tend to support that notion. Otherwise what on Earth are these people so terrified of?

  179. @ P Kenny:

    In answer to me you say that marriage has been redefined many times, “by human beings” (thanks, I’m glad it wasn’t the elves that did it). Now tell me of a society where it has been defined, or redefined, to include same-sex partners — before very late in the 20th century!

    Redefined by humans as opposed to “God,” which is a standard argument.

    As for definitions prior to the 20th century, what does it matter? Our society is nothing like ancient ones. It matters not one whit what ancient people thought about marriage. What matters is what we think now!

    If you think differently, please explain why, and why it shouldn’t matter as well with regards to, oh, say, slavery, or human sacrifice, both of which were once common practice.

    Oh, and BTW, there is some indication that ancient Egypt didn’t have a problem with same-sex couples being recognized in a “marriage.” The same-sex couple Khnumhotep and Niankhnum have an elaborate tomb at the royal necropolis at Sakkara. Both were recognized as being valued members of the royal court. Had they been seen in a negative light, such an honor would never have been bestowed.

  180. @ davidB:

    Please do elaborate.

    Black Cat already did. Building relationships on love is a good thing. Building them on empty tradition alone is not.

  181. DavidB

    @ kuhnigget

    You aren’t paying attention. I didn’t say a good marriage is not built on love. Quite the opposite, I said as much in #66, love makes marriage possible. Love is a requirement for a successful marriage, but it is not the primary reason for marriage, at least until recently.

  182. Martha

    In his decision to strike down Prop 8 the judge simply codified into law what is already going on. That is that “marriage is a union of equals.” Back in the dark days when men called all the shots in this world marriage laws were written to enforce male domination. As patriarchy slips into our past the institution of marriage is changing to reflect that fact.

  183. TheBlackCat

    Love is a requirement for a successful marriage, but it is not the primary reason for marriage, at least until recently.

    Love was not a factor at all in marriage until recently. The idea of marrying for love is a new invention. Prior to that arranged marriage for political and/or financial reasons was the norm.

  184. DavidB

    @ blackcat

    I’ve already discussed the equal protection clause and IR marriage, and your extension of my logic to childbirth is, well, illogical. Post 101 does not deal with the subject of recently increasing divorce rates. You may do so if you wish, unless the idea that a large portion of men are abusive rapists is your theory, with which I vehemently disagree. The bible very clearly does not tolerate spousal abuse. It does not mention this explicitly as grounds for divorce, perhaps because an abusive spouse can be redeemed if they bothered to pay attnetion to the rest of what Jesus says, but infedility can never be undone. The bible places a higher value on marriage than society does today, and so puts the burden on an abusive spouse to seek help and forgiveness. If he refuses to do so, although the bible is silent on the matter, obivously the community will accept divorce in that circumstance. But again, that is only a small percentage of divorce cases. Most are just “irreconcilable differences.” There are no stats that I know of collected on this, so I can offer you no more than the anecdotal evidence of the divorces I am familiar with, my experience with the nature of most people, and my general optimism that most people are decent. Is your experience different?

    And I never said love and acceptance don’t matter in a marriage. I said they aren’t the REASON for the institution of marriage to exist. Obviously marriage is not possible without it. If you need an analogy – your car cannot remain in one piece without the bolts that hold it together, but the purpose of your car is not to hold bolts.

  185. DavidB

    Love was not a factor at all in marriage until recently. The idea of marrying for love is a new invention. Prior to that arranged marriage for political and/or financial reasons was the norm.

    BS. Love has been a factor in marriage since old testament times in western society. In SOME cultures, love has not been a factor and still isn’t a factor in marriage, not ours.

  186. @ DavidB:

    You say…

    Marriage is about providing a stable foundation with which to build a family.

    And yet, as has repeatedly been pointed out, many gay couples DO build families, and many straight couples do not.

    So…what’s your beef? If gays getting married helps the stability of their families, why is that a problem?

    Or are you saying the children of gay parents are somehow inferior to the children of straight parents? If that’s the case, I’d love to see the data on which you’re basing your point of view.

  187. Martha

    @ 190

    Take a chill pill. Same sex marriage is going to be a fact of life and you will just need to get used to it. If you oppose gay marriage your only choice is to not marry a gay person.

  188. DavidB:

    Love has been a factor in marriage since old testament times in western society.

    “Western society” and Old Testament society are two distinctly different things.

    Old Testament society condoned slavery, animal and human sacrifice, the subjugation of women, and many more repellant practices that modern society (most of it, anyway) looks upon with disgust.

    More importantly, and yet again, it matters not one whit how ancient cultures lived. What matters is how we as modern human beings want to structure our society. That is the only thing that matters, DavidB, unless what you are really hinting around at is that you want to live in a theocracy that recreates Old Testament society.

  189. Composer99

    Someone suggested that the ‘unnatural’ argument was somehow illegitimate to use against polygamy if one was a defender of gay marriage.

    I would point out that sexual orientation, as a product of genetics, is, strictly speaking, natural, whereas polygamy, as a social construct, is not (traditional marriage, as a social construct, is also, strictly speaking, not natural).

  190. DavidB

    @ kuhnigget

    This is seriously killing my productivity, so I’m going to stop after this.

    Mom and Dad > 2 moms or 2 dads or 1 mom or 1 dad >> foster care. Proof? None, just common sense, observation, and imagining what my life would be like without the influence of my dad or my mom. Not really something you can express statistacally. I’m aware of the studies that you are probably going to google right now to cite, but those have very narrow focus – such as performance in school that don’t tell the whole picture of what the optimum environment for childhood development is.

    I was not trying to condone everything in the Old Testament, only rebutting your statement that love as a part of marriage is a new invention. “Western society” is generally considered the part of the world that came to embrace Christianity, as opposed to eastern, middle eastern, and orthodox.

  191. TheBlackCat

    I’ve already discussed the equal protection clause and IR marriage, and your extension of my logic to childbirth is, well, illogical.

    Why, exactly? Am I just supposed to accept this assertion based on nothing more than your say-so?

    Post 101 does not deal with the subject of recently increasing divorce rates.

    Yes it does, and I’ve already explained why.

    The bible very clearly does not tolerate spousal abuse.

    Book, chapter, and verse please.

    It does not mention this explicitly as grounds for divorce, perhaps because an abusive spouse can be redeemed if they bothered to pay attnetion to the rest of what Jesus says, but infedility can never be undone.

    A beating cannot be undone in the same way infedilety cannot be undone. It is an action and short of time travel actions cannot be undone. Same goes for rape. Why is infidelity unique in this regard? I would say that infidelity is a lot easier to undo because it does not cause physical harm to anyone, while rape and abuse both do.

    The bible places a higher value on marriage than society does today, and so puts the burden on an abusive spouse to seek help and forgiveness. If he refuses to do so, although the bible is silent on the matter, obivously the community will accept divorce in that circumstance.

    No, the Bible is explicit that there are absolutely no other grounds for divorce. And historically, no abuse was not taken as a valid grounds for divorce, so your argument that the community would accept it is simply counterfactual. And abuse was not the only potential problem I mentioned.

    But again, that is only a small percentage of divorce cases. Most are just “irreconcilable differences.” There are no stats that I know of collected on this, so I can offer you no more than the anecdotal evidence of the divorces I am familiar with, my experience with the nature of most people, and my general optimism that most people are decent. Is your experience different?

    The plural of “anecdote” is not “evidence”. Not for your anecdotes and not for mine.

    And even if you are right, I find your dismissal of “irreconcilable differences” very disturbing, and it goes completely against your claim that love is necessary for marriage. If their differences are irreconcilable, then why should they be together? Why be in a marriage that does not make anyone happy? You are presenting marriage itself as the most important thing, but why should people who hate each other stay together? If the choice is between two people who have no possibility of getting along being married or not, why should they be married?

    In short, you haven’t actually established that the rising divorce rate is a bad thing to begin with. You start with the assumption that divorce is bad, but you haven’t actually provided any reason to conclude that.

    And I never said love and acceptance don’t matter in a marriage. I said they aren’t the REASON for the institution of marriage to exist. Obviously marriage is not possible without it. If you need an analogy – your car cannot remain in one piece without the bolts that hold it together, but the purpose of your car is not to hold bolts.

    Except that you argue people should stay together even without love and acceptance just to preserve the marriage even when there is no other reason besides the marriage itself that they should stay together.

  192. An1mal

    I think mr. phil just loves debates….heh

    People are all human…..why shouldn’t they all have the same rights?

  193. Murff

    @composer99

    If you agree that consenting adults should be allowed to be married, then you have no basis to consider polygamy wrong.

    It all boils down to predefined “norms” that people were raised with/taught. You want true equality, equal rights? Then stop fighting for one group while casting off another.

    …and did you just say that being homosexual was natural, but being heterosexual with just 1 spouse was not? Seems to me that they are both natural…

  194. scgvlmike

    Phil,
    One of the reasons I greatly appreciate your blog is that you have the courage to stand up for beliefs in it, regardless of the connection (or lack thereof) to your profession.

    It’s your intellectual honesty I hold in high regard. May you continue to always speak your mind, whether it’s on gay marriage, unexpected elements discovered through spectroscopy in a faraway nebula, or Jennie McCarthy once more speaking disingenuously on her pet project, the reintroduction of banished diseases.

  195. @ Composer99:

    (traditional marriage, as a social construct, is also, strictly speaking, not natural).

    Indeed. I suspect most biologists would point out that among pair-bonding animals, serial monogamy is more prevalent that actual monogamy. Most animals stick with a mate throughout the breeding season, then move on to the next mate for the season that follows.

  196. TheBlackCat

    @ kuhnigget: True, but strict monogamy is far from unique to humans, in fact many animals are much more monogamous even then we are.

  197. @ DavidB:

    This is seriously killing my productivity, so I’m going to stop after this.

    Of course you are going to stop, because your “arguments” are being shot down one after the other and you have nothing left except…

    Mom and Dad > 2 moms or 2 dads or 1 mom or 1 dad >> foster care. Proof? None, just common sense, observation, and imagining what my life would be like without the influence of my dad or my mom.

    OPINION!

    I was not trying to condone everything in the Old Testament, only rebutting your statement that love as a part of marriage is a new invention.

    That wasn’t my statement.

    “Western society” is generally considered the part of the world that came to embrace Christianity, as opposed to eastern, middle eastern, and orthodox.

    Only amongst people who don’t recognize the impact of the Renaissance, the Englightenment, and pretty much everything else that defined modern western society.

    Besides, Christianity hadn’t entered into your arguments. You were specifically mentioning OLD TESTAMENT society.

    I’m sure you’d clarify, were you not so busy.

  198. @ Black Cat:

    No doubt. I was just concurring with the silliness of the “unnatural” argument.

    Besides, I don’t see any of those same “natural” arguments promoting the killing of other people’s offspring, which is also a fairly common reproductive strategy, isn’t it?

  199. I agree #134, Dustin K. — although I can’t claim to have read all the comments — There are so many, and I don’t have time right now. I just wanted to write that am so glad that this topic was addressed. Although it’s not astronomy, it is about facts. Judge Walker’s ruling depended on findings of fact that cannot be reversed on appeal. This is about critical thinking, and that is very much a part of what is interesting to readers of this blog… occasional readers and avid ones, alike. It seems clear that we are not all alike about some life choices, it’s refreshing to air out the reasoning. I just don’t know what people believe that makes them think any human being deserves to be treated differently… Thanks, BA, you do good work.

  200. Ian

    Phil – with all due respect you miss the point. Where is the democracy? The people voted. And besides this IS a threat to marriage – because this isn’t marriage.

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/we-the-people-means-9/

  201. Autumn

    @DavidB
    I expect that you will ignore this, but Biblarz and Stacey, in a recent article in the Journal of Marriage and the Family vol.72, issue 1, actually ask “How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?”
    They present findings that indicate that there is a slightly better outcome for children with two lesbian parents (yes, it’s peer reviewed). The majority of their findings indicated no difference at all, of course.

  202. Randy

    I am so happy about this! How much time, energy and money is wasted trying to withhold rights
    from other people? All that could have gone to charities, volunteer work, anything.
    Plus, think how much stronger straight marriages will be if gays marry each other.

  203. DavidB

    I just can’t help myself.

    @kuhnigget, you have not “shot down” any argument of mine, only offered your alternative opinion in rather obnoxious fashion. And if you care to place a wager that my “opinion” will end up becoming the majority opinion in SC appeals, while yours will be relegated to a dissenting opinion paper, I’m in.

    It was BlackCat that claimed love as part of marriage is new. My bad, I didn’t recognize that my opponent subbed out. I don’t understand why we are arguing the “western society” thing. I guess you want to pretend Christianity never happened, but nevertheless it was the dominant influence on “western society” long before a handful of great artists and scientists came along.

    @ Autumn
    I am familiar with the study. What the conclusions that you have probably read ignore is that the same study did find significant differences in the children of lesbian couples – gender roles tend to get mixed up. Sons of lebians are more likely to be effeminate, less aggressive, and more submissive. Daughters of lesbian couples are more likely to be more sexually promiscuous and experiment with same-sex relations. See here: http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/6908.html
    I suppose whether or not this is a problem is debatable, but you can’t claim they found no difference

  204. Again, I feel there are two points to be addressed because we’re swinging wide from what is legally relevant.

    RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS TO MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES. Please note that since this is about legal marriage in the United States, it is marriage in the United States that is relevant, not unsubstantiated history from religious texts or traditions of cultures long dead on the other side the world.

    Many of you seem to conflate civil marriage with some ideal of sacred religious bonding. Religious marriages are often seen as separate from legal ones (certainly the case with the Roman Catholic church, as I learned attending Catholic school). The idea that there is some problem with civil marriage being formed without the strings and dogma associated with religious marriages is incorrectly seen as failing of law. The good news is you can have both a sacramental and legal marriage whether same-sex couples can get civil marriages or not. (see the verdict Finding of Fact # 19 on page 60).

    As for that, what about religious organizations who would recognize same-sex unions, but whose ceremonies are hollow because these couples will be discriminated against because they are not married in the eyes of the state? The fact is, being legally and civilly married itself carries a great cultural weight, as marriage is still the highest form of love and commitment in America.

    The idea that recognizing we have made societal progress toward equality by removing an outdated restriction on companionship will somehow deinstitutionalize marriage is a conclusion that largely relies on fear and conjecture. Neither of these is a suitable measure for the Constitutional standing of legislation. Numerous peer-reviewed social scientists presented evidence at trial that increases in divorce were not caused by removals of unjust restrictions on access to marriage. (Finding of Fact # 33, page 66)

    As for speculation that same-sex marriage will accelerate the divorce rate, look at Massachusetts: lowest rates since before WW II.

    ULTIMATE DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE. Not unexpectedly, we’ve gotten back to marriage as being erroneously seen not as a fundamental right consistent with American values of liberty but instead as primarily a preexisting condition for a more important status: family. WRONG.

    While marriages in religious context have their own sacramental definition, this is entirely separate from the historical civil marriage practiced in the US. While there have been religious influences in structure, when reexamined, they were and are evaluated on a rational and evidence-supported basis. When we removed coverture and instituted no-fault divorce (with its important and measured impact on reductions in domestic violence) these were reinterpretations of equality and gender, NOT marriage itself.

    I cited the quote before, but it’s appropriate again (Perry v. Schwarzenegger verdict p. 113):
    “The evidence shows that the movement away from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage.”

    Marriage, in consistent legal findings has been been found in law as unchanged (contrary to the insistence that we have in some way “redefined” marriage), as people have always had a fundamental right to marry under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

    In Loving v. Virginia, the plaintiffs did not seek the right to new right to “interracial marriage;” they sought marriage. In Turner v. Safley, incarcerated prisoners had the right to marriage for the same reasons: a fundamental right under due process. Moreover, prisoners’ right to marry was not contingent on their ability to have sex (and by extension to biologically form a family). It is a fundamental right based on mutual support and companionship under the law.

    In this ruling, it was found again that the plaintiffs did not seek a new right to same-sex marriages, but marriages just as opposite-sex couples enjoy.

  205. Dark Jaguar

    Kris, I am going to DESTROY you. You LOSE, good day sir or ma’am.

    Here are five things wrong with your argument that it’s all a MONEY issue that you’re against gay rights. I came up with these with my friend in about 5 minutes. You can too! Ask me how!

    1. Gay people CAN have children, they can adopt or get artificial insemination (in the case of lesbians).
    2. Straight people can simply OPT OUT of having children. It’s called protection. Some cases of “infertility” will NEVER be treatable, such as, say, a horrible farm accident to the male involving jumping a barbed wire fence.
    3. Your argument that the benefits are ENTIRELY about children is not true. Every time I’ve heard about such benefits, the argument revolves around one party staying at home taking care of the house while the other does work, thus incurring extra costs of living which are covered by those marriage benefits.
    4. Along those lines, there are SEPARATE tax breaks for parents, which single parents can and do get all the time, and which married parents ALSO get, thus solidifying the idea that it’s got NOTHING to do with just pumping out another person.
    5. Lastly, most damningly to your case, and this gem my friend “Hotwindex” came up with so put credit where it’s due, these benefits could, if your claim is they’re for children, ONLY come into effect when a couple has a child, straight or gay. Do that, you win, straight couples that don’t have kids right away don’t get a free ride, those parasites! Further, since you’ve said you have NO other issues with gay marriage, you’re happy now! Gays can get married if this is how it works! Yaaay!

    It looks like your head has been handed to you. Would you like to try again?

  206. Weddings make me cry. And so do those pictures. Wow. Thank you for sharing that!

    (Too many comments… gah…)

  207. JeremyS

    I’m convinced that anti-gay marriage people are simply homophobes. 200 posts of shallow ridiculous justification attempts for what is essentially homophobia. Yet another example of how the innate morality of human beings trumps the immorality and discriminatory teachings of religion. It’s ironic too considering most religious folks still believe our morality comes from religion. Quite the opposite.

  208. TheBlackCat

    @ Dark Jaguar: We already brought up all those points repeatedly, Kris just ignored them then disappeared.

  209. Dark Jaguar

    My bad. I had predicted a lot of those points would already be covered, but I was, well, just plain too lazy to read over 100 responses and just wanted to shoot out a specific response there.

  210. Dark Jaguar

    Oh yes, there’s one other thing. My friends and I share a common ailment, a complete lack of short term memory. Not literally, but within about 5 seconds after saying something, all most of us remember is the emotion we felt when it was said. There’s an embarrassing round of asking what we were just talking about, followed by shame. In other words, I had to put all that down the moment I thought of it or I would have forgotten the majority of it. In fact, in the act of writing the first few ones, I struggled to remember the last two…

  211. P Kenny

    @kuhnnigget (#184):
    You said marriage has been redefined “many times by human beings”. I asked you for a specific instance. Your response:
    “As for definitions prior to the 20th century, what does it matter? Our society is nothing like ancient ones. It matters not one whit what ancient people thought about marriage. What matters is what we think now! ”

    Oh, I see of course. You can’t find one, so it doesn’t matter. And anyhow, who cares about “what ancient people thought about marriage” — that was in ancient times, before the 20th century.

    “If you think differently, please explain why, and why it shouldn’t matter as well with regards to, oh, say, slavery, or human sacrifice, both of which were once common practice.”

    Er, I don’t see your point there. But I guess it doesn’t matter… Your arguments are very, very incoherent.

  212. DavidB

    Hmmm, I posted a comment a few hours ago that shows “still awaiting moderation”. I said I wouldn’t but I couldn’t pass it up. Let me try again with any hint of inflammatory statements removed, since I guess less will be tolerated of someone who dissents from the majority opinion on these blogs.

    I said…
    .

    @kuhnigget, you have not “shot down” any argument of mine, only offered your alternative opinion. I would bet that my “opinion” will end up becoming the majority opinion in SC appeals, while yours will be relegated to a dissenting opinion paper. You know I’m right with the SC makeup we have right now.

    It was BlackCat that claimed love as part of marriage is new. My bad, I didn’t recognize that you had taken his place in the debate. I don’t understand why we are arguing the “western society” thing. You may disdain Christianity now, but it was the dominant influence on “western society” long before a handful of great artists and scientists came along. But if you want to disagree, fine, its a tagent I have lost interest in.

    @ Autumn
    I am familiar with the study. What the conclusions that you have probably read ignore is that the same study did find significant differences in the children of lesbian couples – gender roles tend to get mixed up. Sons of lebians are more likely to be effeminate, less aggressive, and more submissive. Daughters of lesbian couples are more likely to be more sexually promiscuous and experiment with same-sex relations. See here: http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/6908.html
    I suppose whether or not this is a problem is debatable, but you can’t claim they found no difference

  213. P Kenny

    Phil,
    Somebody chided you (in one of the earliest comments) for opening a whole can of worms by posting on the Prop. 8 case at all, in a blog supposedly devoted to astronomy & science issues.

    Well, pay no attention to that person. This has been kind of fun (though I’ll try to stop now).

    Perhaps you (somebody anyway) should start a “Bad Social Science and Philosophy” blog? Lots of material for such a blog has been provided in this series of responses (about 210 at last count). Though I suppose some– maybe even most of your readers– would include my own postings among the “Bad”.

  214. @ P Kenny:

    Incoherent, how?

    You asked for an example, I gave you one from ancient Egypt. Old Kingdom, ca. 2400 BC. Same sex marriage. And the Pharoahs themselves frequently had dozens of wives. The more the merrier. Different definitions, wouldn’t you say?

    Pick up any history book of pretty much any culture known to man. Multiple wives were the norm in most hunter-gatherer cultures, and pretty damn common in most agricultural societies. Pick an era. Biblical? How about Abraham? The freaking patriarch for Yahweh’s sake had multiple wives. This wasn’t shocking. It was the norm.

    And how about age? Nowadays people would freak out if a man were to marry a teenage girl, yet that, too, was the norm for centuries. Betrothal before 10, pregnant by 12. Common throughout Europe and the rest of the world as it takes advantage of the extra child-bearing years so more kids could be pumped out.

    And let’s not get started about interracial marriage, shall we? Or are you going to conveniently overlook that “redefinition”, too?

    But my greater point still stands. I repeat, yet again: our culture has always, and will always be in flux. We redefine it every age, era, century, even year by year. Marriage is no different. It is a human invention and like all human inventions is subject to tinkering as we the inventors see fit.

    What part of that do you find “incoherent”?

  215. TheBlackCat

    Somebody chided you (in one of the earliest comments) for opening a whole can of worms by posting on the Prop. 8 case at all, in a blog supposedly devoted to astronomy & science issues.

    What makes you think this blog is “devoted to astronomy & science issues”? Please show me where Phil has ever said anything remotely similar to this. The oldest post in the “politics” category is all the way from october 2006. This is a blog dedicated to whatever Phil wants to right about, nothing more, nothing less.

  216. Brian137

    Phil’s original post was brief and, considering its brevity, rather densely packed with words connoting or denoting feelings: e.g., threat, your marriage, bother, disgust, love. A number of the comments, such as #2 by Boomer and #211 by Nicole, acknowledge some of these feelings, but many of the responses seem pretty cerebral. Are these cerebral responses mainly attempts to dress the feelings in the garb of rational discourse, or are they really the fundamental pillars of the expressed attitudes?

    Don’t mistake my drift – I am also enjoying the polemical jousting and historical claims.

  217. P Kenny

    @kuhnnigget #219: You forget about the Roman emperor Nero, who married 2 men in succession. Nero was proclaiming his divinity, his being above the common social rules (it didn’t make him popular & his rule soon ended badly). Egypt in 2400 BC? If that was same-sex marriage, did non-pharoahs get to do it too?
    You don’t seem to read very carefully, I specifically mentioned that having multiple wives– polygyny– has been accepted (as with the pharoahs & patriarchs you mention). You write as if I said that 1 man/1 woman has been the only template in history. Perhaps there’s even been an institution of same-sex marriage somewhere (not just a few rulers like Nero & your ancient Egyptian), but we have to look very hard to find it.
    Which doesn’t mean we can’t begin it now, if we accept the CA judge’s ruling. But in doing so we’re re-defining marriage, as I keep saying– gays have always had the right to marry in the usual meaning of marriage. Why the need to pretend so much about what’s really involved?
    And I’m still waiting for an answer to this: if gay marriage, how can we continue to “discriminate” against those who want multiple marriage partners of either or both sexes? I don’t see how, but we’d better prepare for that: the next step in reshaping our society!

    And Black Cat(#220): How very indignant you get on Phil’s behalf! I guess I took the “Bad Astronomy” title too literally.

  218. Brian137

    And Black Cat(#220): How very indignant you get on Phil’s behalf! I guess I took the “Bad Astronomy” title too literally.

    We have some camaraderie here, even us habitual skim-and-fly lurkers. Phil posts cute pictures of cats, owls, and spiral galaxies – sort of gets you after a while.

  219. Martha

    Article about the brilliance of Judge Walker’s decision to strike down Prop 8:

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/08/06/4616188-the-dressing-down-of-david-blankenhorn

  220. John Sandlin

    Prehistoric same sex marriage isn’t the point. Ancient SSM isn’t the point. Classical era SSM isn’t the point. Renaissance era SSM isn’t the point. Victorian SSM isn’t the point. The only SSM that matters is twenty first century. Just because it was done wrong in the past is no reason to do it wrong now. By my definition, wrong is denying the same privileges and rights to people that are different than you somehow. Different could be color of skin, eyes, or hair. Different could be religion, education, social class, or – yes – gender preference. Discrimination wrong, no matter what your religion says about it.

    As a side note, to all who decry the off topic-ness of it all, I’m sure there are gay and lesbian astronomers that would love to take part in a same sex marriage but can’t yet.

  221. TheBlackCat

    Are these cerebral responses mainly attempts to dress the feelings in the garb of rational discourse, or are they really the fundamental pillars of the expressed attitudes?

    The latter. My parents are freaked out because they think I refuse to rely on emotion for anything. I do rely on emotions for certain things, for instance equality for all people, but the conclusions I draw from those things, such as this, are based on reasoning to the best of my ability.

    And Black Cat(#220): How very indignant you get on Phil’s behalf! I guess I took the “Bad Astronomy” title too literally.

    I have been following Phil for 8 years, well before this blog even existed. I consider myself as well-versed as anyone could possibly be on what this blog is meant to be about. So I get pretty annoyed when people who aren’t familiar with it come here and presume to lecture the blog’s owner for not conforming to their own random wild guesses about what they think it should be about. Not so much because I am particularly loyal to Phil, I have no problem calling him out when I think he did or said something wrong (and I have done so on several occasions). It annoys me because I think it is extremely rude, arrogant, presumptuous, and demonstrates and absurd sense of entitlement. Those happen to be 4 pet peeves of mine.

    It is extremely arrogant to lecture someone about what they should and shouldn’t do on their own blog, but even more so to lecture them merely for discussing the same subjects he has been discussing since the very beginning. If you don’t know what the blog is supposed to be about, what it has always been about, then don’t presume to lecture anyone on what it is supposed to be about, certainly not the owner.

  222. Autumn

    @ DavidB,
    Well, I’m actually holding a copy of the study right now. Boys raised by lesbians were not “less agressive” or “effeminite”. Instead, it was found that, in the minority of studies that found any differences at all, boys rated the same on questions testing their masculinity, but they also tested higher in questions testing feminine qualities; they didn’t lose masculinity, they gained another way of addressing the world. In the authors’ words, “of the 16 significant findings, 8 represent comparative benefits and 3 modest risks from this form of ‘fatherlessness.’ The valence of the remaining 5 items rests in the eyes of the beholder”.

  223. @ PKenny:

    Egypt in 2400 BC? If that was same-sex marriage, did non-pharoahs get to do it too?

    The two men I mentioned were not pharaohs. They were commoners, attached to the royal court. One of them was that greatest of gay stereotypes, keeper of the royal hair.

    You don’t seem to read very carefully, I specifically mentioned that having multiple wives– polygyny– has been accepted (as with the pharoahs & patriarchs you mention).

    I assume you mean polygamy. And you don’t seem to be aware of the fact that you’ve just answered your own question. The definition of marriage has changed over time. It used to include multiple wives. And one wife. And a young wife. And a black/brown/white only wife. The point is, as your own example shows, the institution has repeatedly changed over time.

    Perhaps there’s even been an institution of same-sex marriage somewhere (not just a few rulers like Nero & your ancient Egyptian), but we have to look very hard to find it.

    Not very hard at all. When you open your eyes.

    But in doing so we’re re-defining marriage, as I keep saying– gays have always had the right to marry in the usual meaning of marriage. Why the need to pretend so much about what’s really involved?

    And as I keep saying, we’ve been redefining marriage throughout history. Why do you need to pretend we haven’t?

    And I’m still waiting for an answer to this: if gay marriage, how can we continue to “discriminate” against those who want multiple marriage partners of either or both sexes? I don’t see how, but we’d better prepare for that: the next step in reshaping our society!

    And as I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no reason why people who want to marry multiple partners shouldn’t stand up and protest, if that’s what they want. They will need to convince the judiciary that such marriages are in line with the rights granted by our constitution.

  224. @ John Sandlin:

    Prehistoric same sex marriage isn’t the point.

    I agree, except for when people try to use the “changeless tradition” line of reasoning. At it’s core, it is just patently false.

  225. Hmm. “polygyny” – poly (many) + gyny (woman or wife). Cool. Didn’t know that word.

    See, everyone can learn something.

  226. esurience

    Anyone notice that opponents of allowing gays and lesbians to marry are actually the biggest supporters of polygamy?

    Who keeps claiming (falsely) that allowing gays and lesbians to marry logically necessitates polygamy? Oh, the anti-marriage folks do.

    And then they go on to tell us that they can’t think of any reason to be against polygamy, and they bizarrely use their lack of reasoning skills against polygamy to tell everyone else they should be against marriage equality for gays and lesbians. How does that work?

    Allowing gays and lesbians to marry is like having left-handed scissors, or a left-handed desk or two in a classroom. Yes, most people are right-handed, but that’s no reason to not make things that work for left-handed people too.

    Most people are heterosexual, but that’s no reason to not make the institution of marriage work for gay people too.

    Restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples effectively bars gay and lesbian people from the institution of marriage. There’s no other class of people, with the exception of minors (a temporary condition), who are barred from the institution.

  227. Kris

    Dark Jaguar #210:

    You LOSE, good day sir or ma’am.

    Good day :-)

    1. Gay people CAN have children,

    A gay COUPLE can’t have children together. It’s the couple which is relevant to marriage, not individuals. But nice try.

    2. Straight people can simply OPT OUT of having children

    Indeed. However, that was not the case when the present institution of marriage was conceived (if we discount abstaining from sex, and infertility; and as for infertility — in the past, it was enough grounds for dissolution of marriage). Which brings up to…

    if your claim is they’re [tax breaks] for children, ONLY come into effect when a couple has a child, straight or gay.

    Yes, and such position would at least be consistent with their original purpose (and the original purpose of the institution of marriage while we are at it).

    Your argument that the benefits are ENTIRELY about children is not true. Every time I’ve heard about such benefits, the argument revolves around one party staying at home taking care of the house while the other does work, thus incurring extra costs of living which are covered by those marriage benefits.

    And what can be a good reason to stay at home and deprive yourself of an additional income? Well, raising children is _the_ one! There is a ton of legal clauses written with the goal of protecting the women who (used to) stay at home to raise children, but hey, don’t let the facts get in your way.

    Further, since you’ve said you have NO other issues with gay marriage, you’re happy now! Gays can get married if this is how it works! Yaaay!

    If I don’t have to finance their benefits, good luck to them :-)

  228. Kris

    @kuhnigget 228:
    And as I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no reason why people who want to marry multiple partners shouldn’t stand up and protest, if that’s what they want.

    Seconded.

    An exercise: please provide a reason why three gay men should not be allowed to marry, while two of them can? While there are arguments against gay marriage in general, they cannot be used against extending gay unions to more than 2 people. And once you accepted n-partner homosexual unions, then denying this right to mixed-sex groups is discriminatory. See? :-)


    They will need to convince the judiciary that such marriages are in line with the rights granted by our constitution.

    Which is what I have a problem with here. On the issue of gay marriage, the Constitution is no more relevant then the Bible is.

    Think about it: the Bible is not relevant, because it is a legal code (well, some parts of it, anyway) written for a community of sheep shepherds in the middle east some 5000 years ago, when homosexuality was considered an abomination. But the U.S. constitution was written 200+ years ago, when no-one in their right mind would consider gay marriage. This is one reason why the constitution does not define marriage: because the marriage definition was obvious back when it was written. The other reason, is that the aim of the constitution is to define a government system, not what contracts can be made between citizens.

    What we see now is nothing more than a legal trickery being used to overturn a popular vote. It’s akin to proving that gay marriage is natural because it does not violate laws of thermodynamics.

    The issue should be decided by the U.S. congress or nationwide referendum, in a due democratic process. Contrary to a popular misconception, this is not a “tyranny of the majority”. Last time I checked, Switzerland holds referendums on regular basis, and it still hasn’t degenerated into a tyrannical government.

  229. esurience

    Kris,

    Saying infertility is/was grounds for a divorce is not the same thing as saying infertility bars one from getting married. Nice try on slipping that one through.

    As for your claims about what the institution of marriage used to be like — they’re irrelevant. We’re not trying to join the institution of marriage as it was 50 or 100 or 1000 years ago, just the one today. Over on the pro-marriage equality side, we acknowledge the institution of marriage has undergone many changes — to the point where it no longer makes any sense to deny gay and lesbian people the ability to marry. It’s your side of the argument that is always trying to claim marriage is a never-changing institution — I think you’ve got your talking points confused.

    And I don’t know whether you know this or not, but gay people are taxpayers too. Gay people are subsidizing an institution we are barred from joining. We’re not asking for access to your tax dollars. We’re asking for access to our own.

  230. John Sandlin

    Kris,

    Do you have supporting documentation that the original intent of marriage is solely for the purpose of procreation?

    Even if it is true that that was the original intent, that intent is wrong in the 21st Century. Today we’ve learned a lot more about being human. It’s possible to suggest the original intent of the Constitution included keeping slaves and treating women as property – since in the early 1800′s that is exactly how American’s behaved. Do you honestly believe one set of humans is entitled to keep another set as slaves and property? You’re “original intent” for marriage belongs to the same mindset.

    Minor point, you’re example of Switzerland…. their civil unions are close to equal for their gay citizens. Perhaps they’re just generally better people than Americans, but in the United States, the minority certainly does need protection from the tyranny of the masses.

  231. Brian137

    BlackCat,
    Thank you for responding to my earlier post. You said,

    The latter. My parents are freaked out because they think I refuse to rely on emotion for anything. I do rely on emotions for certain things, for instance equality for all people, but the conclusions I draw from those things, such as this, are based on reasoning to the best of my ability.

  232. Pi-needles

    @ 173. kuhnigget Says: Thanks for the clarification & good to know all’s okay. :-)

    Hopefully, things will soon change so what happened to you there never happens anymore. I think the day is coming soon where homophobia – and homophobic laws – are as socially unacceptable and seen as ugly parts of history like racism and sexism are today – or even more so. :-)

    BTW. Biblical marriage has included things like brothers having to marry the wives of dead brothers (Onan’s failure to do this was his real “sin” I gather) and as having a royal or aristocratic right to multiple wives and concubines which were effectively seen as property. Marriage was seen with the wife as property for many centuries and who would argue that long established “tradition” is one worth returning to? Marriage is – and always has been – what we make of it. It is an institution that has often had (& needed) repainting & renovating.

  233. Pi-needles

    Also historically, for a long time marriage meant that a woman had to provide her male partner with sex regardless of whether she wanted to or not. It was termed “conjugal rights” or something like that – it was literally entirely legal for a woman to be raped by her husband & in such cases she had no legal power to object to being raped. None. :-(

    Was *that* “redefinition” not a major change to “traditional” marriage for the better? Does anyone really wish to go backwards on that and make wife-raping legal again? That change, I think, happened back in the 19th-20th century.

    Did the world end when wives stopped being the property of their husbands?

    Did it end when it wasn’t legal for a husband to rape his wife?

    Course not!

    It won’t when gays get the full legal equality in respect of marriage laws either.

    The only change gay marriage will make to society is our society will be that our society becomes a better and fairer and more pleasant one.

  234. Pi-needles

    @195. DavidB Says:

    “Western society” is generally considered the part of the world that came to embrace Christianity, as opposed to eastern, middle eastern, and orthodox.

    Gee, you never heard of the Russian Orthodox Church? :roll:

    I’m pretty sure they count as Christian too. (Or the Greek, Armenian and Syrian Orthodox churches, the Egyptian Coptic Christians the Ethiopian and Sudanese Christians and so on.)

    When it comes what “Western civilisation” is, I like Mahatma Gandhi’s response when asked what he thought of Western civilisation he said something like: “That sounds like a nice idea, I do hope you try it!” ;-)

  235. @ Pi-needles:

    Gee, you never heard of the Russian Orthodox Church? I’m pretty sure they count as Christian too. (Or the Greek, Armenian and Syrian Orthodox churches

    Yeah, I thought that rather humorous, too, given that my grandfather was a proud member of the Greek Orthodox church, which, last I heard, considered itself a Christian institution.

    It just goes to show that, once again, the religious argument isn’t about religion in general, it’s about the one particular brand of religion the arguer chooses for himself.

  236. @ Kris:

    An exercise: please provide a reason why three gay men should not be allowed to marry, while two of them can? While there are arguments against gay marriage in general, they cannot be used against extending gay unions to more than 2 people. And once you accepted n-partner homosexual unions, then denying this right to mixed-sex groups is discriminatory. See?

    That is not my argument to make, Kris. If you support that position, YOU make the argument. You don’t have to convince me, you have to convince the judiciary.

    But the U.S. constitution was written 200+ years ago, when no-one in their right mind would consider gay marriage. This is one reason why the constitution does not define marriage: because the marriage definition was obvious back when it was written.

    The constitution does not define most of the laws of the United States, not because they were “obvious,” but simply because that is not its purpose. The constitution primarily establishes how laws are created and who creates them, not the laws themselves.

    The issue should be decided by the U.S. congress or nationwide referendum, in a due democratic process. Contrary to a popular misconception, this is not a “tyranny of the majority”. Last time I checked, Switzerland holds referendums on regular basis, and it still hasn’t degenerated into a tyrannical government.

    It IS being decided nationwide…state by state. Those referenda, however, must be in line with the federal constitution, as Judge Walker so eloquently stated when he was doing his job as an officer of the judicial branch of our federal government…a branch that plays a different role in our form of government than it does in Switzerland. Ours is a tripartite government. The judiciary is equally as important to its function as are the congress and the executive. To deny that, or to claim that the judiciary is stepping on the will of the people, or to label it some form of “trickery” is to be ignorant of how our system works.

  237. @ David B:

    I don’t understand why we are arguing the “western society” thing. I guess you want to pretend Christianity never happened, but nevertheless it was the dominant influence on “western society” long before a handful of great artists and scientists came along.

    We are arguing the “western society thing” because you brought it up.

    I do not pretend Christianity never happened, and have never made such a claim, so kindly refrain from putting words in my keyboard.

    As to it being the dominant influence on western society, I think that is seriously questionable. More dominant than Greek ideals of democracy? Or philosophic inquiry? Or, on the practical side, the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism?

    Certainly up to and including the Middle Ages and pre-Renaissance it probably dominated, but if you look at modern western society and its predecessors, I would put more emphasis on trade and industry than Christianity.

    But it’s not an either-or situation, so any argument based on the influence of Christianity is weak at its very core. Western society was influenced by many factors, including – today – the desire for greater individual freedom for as many members of our society as is possible. That desire, BTW, is common among quite a few progressive Christian denominations.

  238. Jason

    Yeah, why should they get a free pass from the suffering the rest of us heterosexual married types must endure?

  239. TheBlackCat

    A gay COUPLE can’t have children together. It’s the couple which is relevant to marriage, not individuals. But nice try.

    Why is that? You expect us to accept that just on your say-so, but you haven’t provided any reason for this. Under your financial argument the person who conceived the child is irrelevant, all that matter is who raised it (since the idea of the financial argument is to easy the burden on the costs imposed by children and stay-at-home parents). You even argue later on that raising children is the reason on exactly the same grounds I just did, but here you say it isn’t. Please make up your mind, then justify your conclusion.

    Indeed. However, that was not the case when the present institution of marriage was conceived (if we discount abstaining from sex, and infertility; and as for infertility — in the past, it was enough grounds for dissolution of marriage).

    Sure it was. The contraceptives go way back, much farther than Christianity. So do abortions. And neither abortions nor contraceptives were illegal until the catholic church decided to control all aspects of human sexuality.

    And I should add the whole reason for the formation of the British church was that infertility was NOT grounds for divorce under Catholic doctrine.

    I don’t see how this is relevant, anyway. In modern society, child-rearing is not explicitly linked with marriage. You can rear children without being married, and you can be married without rearing children. Why should the state of society hundreds or thousands of years ago be used to discriminate against people under modern society?

    Your argument seems to be that because gays would not have been able to fit into the definition of marriage centuries ago, we should deny them the right to marry now, even though they fit perfectly with the definition or marriage in use today. You are demanding we apply a centuries-old definition of marriage to gays, but you only want to apply the modern definition of marriage to heterosexuals. You don’t seem to care that many heterosexual couples also don’t fit the definition you wish to apply to homosexuals.

    In other words, you are applying a double standard, a much stricter set of rules to one group than another. That is hypocritical and discriminatory.

    Think about it: the Bible is not relevant, because it is a legal code (well, some parts of it, anyway) written for a community of sheep shepherds in the middle east some 5000 years ago, when homosexuality was considered an abomination. But the U.S. constitution was written 200+ years ago, when no-one in their right mind would consider gay marriage.

    There is one big difference between the Bible and the Constitution. Well, actually, there are many, but one in particular that is relevant here. The Bible sets countless rules governing most aspects of everyday life. The constitution, however, was written by people who studied history and realized this approach simply didn’t work. Such a system of laws is designed under a certain social system, and rapidly becomes irrelevant as societal conditions change (which is why the rules that are almost all ignored by Christians today, even those claiming to believe the bible to be inerrant).

    So instead the, founding fathers designed a system of government that established the basic rules about how the government operates, and established a basic set of liberties that neither the government nor the citizens could deprive from other citizens.

    The reason for only making basic rules is that it allows the system to easily change with changing societal conditions. More strict and more details rules make the system harder to change and greatly increase the chances that the document will simply be ignored (as was the case with the Soviet Union, which had one of the longest and most detailed constitutions ever).

    The reason for basic protections is because, as history shows, the government can try to impose tyranny, but also that majority groups can use their control of representative government to discriminate against minority groups. That is why they established legal review of laws, because the knew that the elected representatives, who answer to the majority, would have a motive to pass laws that discriminate against minority groups. They wanted to prevent this, so they explicitly gave the courts the power to overturn laws that violate the rights of the people. It is not “legal trickery”, it is an explicit part of power vested in the courts for a very specific reason.

    Contrary to a popular misconception, this is not a “tyranny of the majority”.

    Yes it is, by definition. One group using their majority status to create laws that deny equal rights to another group is the very definition of “tyranny of the majority”. Even if it is true that those sorts of referendums have not yet resulted in discrimination in Switzerland does not mean that in this particular case it is not still discriminatory.

  240. DataJack

    Ian @205:

    “Phil – with all due respect you miss the point. Where is the democracy? The people voted. And besides this IS a threat to marriage – because this isn’t marriage.”

    Wow, way to miss the point entirely, buddy. That is not how democracies work. The will of the people does not make rules, the will of the people elects professional legislators who make rules. Judges then make sure those rules don’t violate anyone’s (but usually a minority’s) constitutionally protected rights.

    Everyone of those examples cited in that bigoted article you pointed to is an example of a GOOD THING. Removing prayer from state schools was a GOOD THING. Removing ten commandments from court houses is a GOOD THING. Removing anti-sodomy laws from a state’s laws is a GOOD THING. The fact that you can’t see that only reveals your own religiously motivated agenda.

    For example: What if the SCOTUS didn’t remove prayers (five times a day) from public schools to Mecca?

    What if the SCOTUS didn’t remove copies of the Code of Hammurabi from courtrooms (calling for the death penalty for most crimes)?

    What if the SCOTUS didn’t remove a law in Texas that said you could only have sex with your spouse once per week, Sunday after church, for purposes of reproduction only?

    These fake rules I cite are IDENTICAL to those in your bigoted article that were struck down, they just focused on non-Christian and non-homophobic bigotry.

    Courts keep thing fair and constitutional, and they are doing a fine job of it.

  241. @ DataJack:

    It’s sometimes too bad the Discovery rules postpone the appearance of comments with outside links. I’m sure Ian is long gone, having posted his screed to the door and taken off once more, satisfied that his work was done.

    BTW, one picky point: technically, that IS the way democracy works. But that is why we in the U.S. don’t have a true democracy. We have a democratic republic, guided by a strong federal constitution.

    I agree with your assessment of the courts, tho. Given the potential for tyranny and oppression our once-wealthy nation represents, I’d say overall the courts have done a damn fine job, all rabid gargleblargh aside.

  242. OtherRob

    @P Kenny, #222

    And I’m still waiting for an answer to this: if gay marriage, how can we continue to “discriminate” against those who want multiple marriage partners of either or both sexes? I don’t see how, but we’d better prepare for that: the next step in reshaping our society!

    @Kris, #233

    An exercise: please provide a reason why three gay men should not be allowed to marry, while two of them can? While there are arguments against gay marriage in general, they cannot be used against extending gay unions to more than 2 people. And once you accepted n-partner homosexual unions, then denying this right to mixed-sex groups is discriminatory. See?

    Why shouldn’t people who want to enter into a “multiple marriage” be allowed to? Personally I would never enter into one any more than than I would enter a same-sex marriage. Not because I think they’re bad or wrong or sinful or evil, but because they’re not for me. I wouldn’t choose to enter a same-sex marriage for the simple fact that I’m not gay. I’m attracted to people of the opposite sex. And I wouldn’t enter a marriage of more than one person for the simple fact that after nearly 15 years of marriage I wouldn’t want to change it one bit. I like being married to my wife and only to my wife. But who am I to make that choice for others?

    On a practical level, I really don’t see how a multiple marriage could work, but since I’m not entering in one I have no standing to object to someone else entering one.

    We’ll be celebrating our 15th anniversary later this month and I have yet to see any argument to convince me that if “Adam and Steve” get married it will somehow be a threat to my marriage.

  243. John Sandlin

    @ kuhnigget

    Ours is a tripartite government. The judiciary is equally as important to its function as are the congress and the executive. To deny that, or to claim that the judiciary is stepping on the will of the people, or to label it some form of “trickery” is to be ignorant of how our system works.

    Thanks for pointing that out. I’d taken that as given and didn’t think to say it out loud. Re-reading some of the posts, I realize a vast number of people probably don’t understand that.

  244. Blizno

    OtherRob, happy anniversary!

  245. M

    I love the astronomy and science posts, but I am going to stop visiting this blog because of the political content. I am sorry that it has come to this. I also miss visiting Randi’s blog, but that was taken over by people promoting their atheist faith and treating people of other faiths as less than intelligent. Insulting your audience does not seem like a good idea. I will miss this blog as much as I have missed Randi’s.

  246. DataJack

    kuhnigget @246
    I agree with you entirely. However, the type of democracy that gives everyone a vote has never really been used for a government. It’s more for things like picking out pizza toppings. Throughout history, the term democracy, when used for governing, has almost always meant “representative democracy”. In modern parlance, we use the term “liberal democracy”, and that usually encompasses all of today’s representative democracies, from the USA’s federal republic, to the UK’s constitutional monarchy.

    The important distinction, I think, is a “constitution” (written or unwritten), that is considered a kind of “baseline” set of rights and limitations. Someone makes laws, while someone else decides if those laws don’t violate the baseline.

    I am simply *astonished* at how today’s Americans fail to grasp this. Calls for things like denying rights to *accused* terrorists. Or impeaching the president because he signed a bill into law they don’t like (let alone understand :) . Or upholding a goofy proposition that denies rights to some California citizens because it was voted for by a slim majority of people that do not understand the constitution or how legislation works.

  247. @ Datajack:

    When it comes to pizza toppings, I confess to being in favor of enlightened dictatorship.

    Mine.

  248. OtherRob

    Thank you, Blizno. I really enjoy being married and I just can’t see denying this to anyone else just because they happen to be of the same sex.

  249. Good post, Phil. Too bad the honking anti-gay-marriage people had to come to prove that they’re honking anti-gay people.

  250. Dedalus1953

    Just to clarify the “tyranny of the majority” concept, let me share this. I once saw a slogan that said “True Democracy is four wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

  251. Bruce

    Be a civilized fellow and leave personal political opinions out of non-political forums. It is just this kind of foisting of personal politics that make liberals so unpopular with everyone else. You make NO friends for gays or gay marriage by doing this, believe me.

  252. Phil Plait

    Bruce (256): I was under the impression that, this being my blog, I can write about politics if I want to. The polite thing would be for you to not come here and tell me about what I can and cannot write.

  253. @256 Bruce:

    It is just this kind of foisting of personal politics that make liberals so unpopular with everyone else.

    Is that anything like conservative fundies foisting their religious views about marriage onto the population at large, a la Proposition 8? Because, I think you’re a wee little kettle whining about a black pot.

  254. Brian137

    256. Bruce Says:
    August 9th, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Be a civilized fellow and leave personal political opinions out of non-political forums. It is just this kind of foisting of personal politics that make liberals so unpopular with everyone else. You make NO friends for gays or gay marriage by doing this, believe me.

    Hi Bruce,
    Actually, Bruce, I was quite moved by the discussion here and by the sentiments expressed by the four plaintiffs in the case. I certainly do not consider myself a “liberal” – I think I lie pretty far off the typical political spectrum. I am convinced that some of my opinions could just as easily be different if my life experiences or, perhaps, some of my thoughts had been different. In any case, I enjoyed reading many of the comments. Maybe I am like a honey bee going from flower to flower. I gather the nectar and pass over the rest.

  255. Daffy

    “Be a civilized fellow and leave personal political opinions out of non-political forums. It is just this kind of foisting of personal politics that make liberals so unpopular with everyone else. You make NO friends for gays or gay marriage by doing this, believe me.”

    Right. Conservatives always keep their politics to themselves. Is hypocrisy an official part of the Republican party platform, or do you people just come by it naturally?

  256. Mena

    Summarized arguments:
    http://unbecominglevity.blogharbor.com/blog/_WebPages/ArgumentsAgainstGayMarriage.html
    Bruce, grow up. Whining and flapping your arms around about “liberals” is so 2002. No one is foisting any beliefs on anyone. You are trying to redefine “freedom”. You have neither the freedom to vote on who is and isn’t allowed to marry nor the freedom to tell Phil Plait what to post on his blog.

  257. Sean H.

    @Kris: Which is what I have a problem with here. On the issue of gay marriage, the Constitution is no more relevant then the Bible is.

    Actually, it’s way more relevant. The bible’s relevancy to modern law=0. The Constitution’s relevance to American Law=100. Everything in the Bible is either outdated or said in other codes before it.

    Also: The Constitution doesn’t declare anything about the rights of marriage. The constitution DOES declare the rights of man and the courts have added to that in benchmade law.

    And what can be a good reason to stay at home and deprive yourself of an additional income? Well, raising children is _the_ one! There is a ton of legal clauses written with the goal of protecting the women who (used to) stay at home to raise children, but hey, don’t let the facts get in your way.

    Marriage is a formal property arrangement designed to protect the signatories(as well as later dependents) in the bargain. There are over 1,000 rights associated with marriage and to look over that is idiotic. Legally a gay partner is basically a roommate in over 30 states. So if a couple breaks up you’d have to go to small(or large) claims court in order to divvy up property and income in the case of children. AN adopted child is only able to be adopted by one parent in such an arrangement which means one parent has NO rights whatsover. They also end up with hotly contested wills in the case of the rights to creative copyrights, etc. which often end up going to ex-spouses from when they were closeted.

    As for multiple marriage, I have friends in poly stuff and it seems to work for them. I have no clue how such a law could work though when it comes to contractual obligations between multiple parties of 3 or more. You go from the laws governing a complete separation to the laws governing a partial separation.

  258. @ Philip Helbig:

    First, while the total number of people in the world is probably too large, in some individual countries there are too few children. (The absolute numbers don’t matter, but rather the ratio of old to young.) And no, important children from the third world, or young adults for that matter, is not a viable solution.

    And why, exactly, is adopting kids from another country not a viable solution? Might it have something to do with…oh, I dunno, race? Can’t have any of them brownish/yellowish kids staining society, can we?

    Of course, I’m open to hearing an alternate explanation. I’ll wait.

    There is nothing wrong with doing so. Why the accusation of racism, by the way? My wife is from one country, I’m from another and we live in a third. Just in case you think it might be relevant.

    My point is that adoption of children from different countries is not, practically speaking, a viable solution for balancing “too many” children in one country with “too few” in another.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »