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Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously.

08.05.10

Equal Rights is an American ValueCalifornia’s Proposition 8 has just been overturned.

While a huge victory for marriage equality, with many in favor of equality rejoicing in this, the opponents of gay marriage continue their failed arguments that make sense to their personal beliefs but don’t reconcile with the Constitution.

Even after logic, reason, and the law showed that their arguments held no legal water, gay marriage opponents continue with the same tired rationale:

Most people think of marriage as an institution which indicates the strong feelings which two people have for one another. But the state doesn’t have any interest in privileging strong feelings. Rather, the state is interested in the perpetuation of society, which — to again state the obvious — requires procreation.

So what about sterile couples who want to marry?  Should they be banned as well?  Or how about elderly couples who already have kids and don’t plan on (or are too old) to have any more?

But the bigger issue I have for this argument is: since when does the state have any business in my procreative inclinations? Where in the California or U.S. Constitution does it say anything about requiring married couples to have children?  I would like to see some evidence to this strong claim that our government has a vested, legal interest in whether or not its citizens procreate and that this interest is directly tied to the civil institution of marriage.

I believe this blogger at The American Catholic, along with many others who oppose gay marriage rights, is confusing state with church.  When it comes to secular law, (no, we are not a Catholic nation) the Constitution trumps any religious text.

The American Catholic continues:

The ease with which they [gay marriage supporters] threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage.

1. I question just how real those objections are when the person making them lacks the intellectual honesty to avoid snark by putting quotes around the word “marriage” in order to marginalize it and make it seem that its inferior or not even worthy of the word, making it hard to even have an honest discussion on a logical, rational level and not an emotional-only argument.  And when that person raises objections, offers no legal support for said claims (see above re: marriage being a device of the state to insure the procreation of its citizens.)

2. Given that Americans are a group of widely diverse people with all sorts of beliefs, heritages, and customs, to lump them all together as if there’s some universal consensus on something as personal and varied as marriage shows a very closed-minded, narrow, and narcissistic worldview that believes that one’s own views on marriage are the right way and the only way to think.

The reality is that there are religious rules and there are secular laws.  They don’t always match up because we live in a society that allows for the practicing of all faiths.  But our laws are based on equality and fairness.

Change is difficult. Fighting for equal rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution is extremely tough to secure.  But the fight is worthwhile.

Equality will prevail. This is just another step forward.

Photo courtesy of stevebott’s Flickr photostream

88 comments

  1. [...] Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously. [...]


  2. But the bigger issue I have for this argument is: since when does the state have any business in my procreative inclinations?

    Well, come to that, why does the state have any interest in who has a loving and committed relationship?

    Why should there be a state license issued in order to document whom one has a romantic attachment to? Is love a state controlled commodity?

    From an anthropological point of view, the reason why cultures have traditionally acknowledged marriages in a public fashion is because marriages formed a basic social institution for perpetuation through reproduction and inheritance.


    • Hi DarwinCatholic —

      I touched on this in my response to Chris’ comment, but the main point was this:

      In the eyes of the state, a marriage has nothing to do with love or romance. It’s simply a legally binding contract between two consenting adults — and even that is relatively lenient since children can get married legally as long as they have the consent from their parents. In California, to get married you need a legal ID, the city and state of where your parents were born, the names of both of your parents including your mother’s maiden name, and 45 to 85 bucks (depending on the county).

      That’s it. It’s a legal contract in the eyes of the state whereby two people enter into a union of shared assets that comes with a number of rights and responsibilities.

      Also — there are plenty of reasons why people enter into marriages. One doesn’t need to be married to procreate and never has. The reasons for marriage are varied and have evolved and changed over time depending on the culture you’re speaking about.


  3. From an anthropological point of view, the reason why cultures have traditionally acknowledged marriages in a public fashion is because marriages formed a basic social institution for perpetuation through reproduction and inheritance.

    Even the ancient Greeks and Romans acknowledged this.

    Never in recorded history has any society, government, nor culture condoned, promoted, nor accepted same sex marriage.

    Why is that?

    Because marriage is the building block of society. It ensures a stable environment where children are nurtured by one man and one woman to be raised as contributing members of said society.

    Only one man and one woman can produce children. That is one of the precepts of Natural Law.


    • Never in recorded history has any society, government, nor culture condoned, promoted, nor accepted same sex marriage.

      I’m sorry, Tito, but this is a patently false statement. Same sex marriage is legal in a number of countries with varying societies around the world, including a number of states here in the United States.

      And while one man and one woman is definitely the predominant way to procreate, conception does not require marriage to occur. And vice versa.


      • Ryan,

        You know exactly what I meant.

        Only in the last 30 years has “same sex marriage” been “legalized”.

        In all of human history it has never been allowed.


        • Never in all of human history (before the past 30 years)? Really? Not ancient China or the early Roman empire? There are documented cases of it throughout history and in many different cultures.

          Also – since when does the “it never happened before so it can’t happen now” argument work in defense of anything? Black people couldn’t marry white people ever in the recorded history of America before 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. Should they not have done so because, well, it hadn’t be done ever before?


        • Ryan,

          I would like to see the “evidence”. Could you cite them?

          “it didn’t happen before” statement is a straw man with no relation to the point I am making.


          • I’ve just responded similarly to Darwin about the evidence. I concede that I’m no expert on history. Same sex unions are recorded throughout human history; same sex marriage hasn’t necessarily. Sometimes the unions have been accepted, sometimes not. Either way, I don’t see how that makes a difference, however, because the status quo doesn’t make something right simply by being the status quo.

            I didn’t set up any straw man. I was responding to your claim that it’s never been done before in human history. As if that means that it never should going forward. So I was merely saying what I just argued above.


        • Ryan,

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

          Probably would be a good post to study the history of SSA unions.

          I’ll just read the dialogues between you and the others.

          Thank you for being civil and charitable in our exchange!

          In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

          Tito


          • Tito —

            I think the history of who has or hasn’t been traditionally allowed to legally marry has less relevance to this debate than examining whether or not denying the right to marry, which has been constitutionally granted to all Americans, to a minority group of citizens based on the sex of the person they wish to marry is legal under the U.S. Constitution. I believe that one will find that it’s not.

            And, likewise on the civil debate in our exchange.


  4. When it comes to secular law, (no, we are not a Catholic nation) the Constitution trumps any religious text.

    And most, including gay marriage proponents, believe yesterday’s decision will be reversed. Besides why does America have to accept your religious view that marriage has nothing to do with children? We would have no objections if the state stopped recognizing all marriage, gay and straight. But the state has chosen to recognize a religious institution so this is necessarily a religious debate.


  5. Thanks for the reaction, Steve. We obviously disagree, but I appreciate the manner & tone with which you expressed your disagreement with my post. Just a couple quick comments…

    I understand why you might interpret my use of quotation marks around marriage as snark, but it was sincerely not meant as such. I, obviously, see same sex marriage as a contradiction in terms, and hence I used quotes to indicate as much.

    If the ultimate rationale for granting marriage the status of a privileged public institution is *not* procreation, what is it? Do you think it’s strong feelings, or something else? In either case, why is that of relevance to the state?

    I’d agree with you that I didn’t make an extended argument in defense of my position… it was much more of a sketch than anything. I offered something more like that in a post from last fall, here:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/11/06/you-keep-using-that-word-i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means/

    Finally, regarding the question of whether or not mine is a closed-minded, narrow, and narcissistic worldview… might not your own views on equality fall under the same indictment?


    • Hi, Chris. Actually, this is Ryan, the author of this blog. I think you may have gotten the name, Steve, from the owner of the photo that I used. No biggie.

      Also – I appreciate your comment here and the continued, civil conversation that is frequently lacking in these types of discussions. So, for that, that’s for bringing that up and also for your respectful manner and tone, as well.

      I have a personal beef with the incorrect use of quotation marks around words in order to marginalize them. Words have can have many different meanings; so while you might not consider it possible for two men to be married, it doesn’t negate the validity of the word. Especially since what is being argued is exactly same sex marriage, not same sex domestic partnerships, or even same sex unions, you end up making it a semantic issue when the real issue lies much deeper — so why start off in that direction to begin with?

      The argument over whether or not the government should be involved in recognizing relationships of any kind is a different argument. You argued that it’s for procreation and inheritance, yet you still haven’t shown where in the Constitution or anywhere within the legal definition of civil marriage this is stated. I don’t need to make a counter argument in order to show that your argument doesn’t hold up.

      However, my rebuttal would be that, in the eyes of the state, a marriage has nothing to do with love or romance. It’s a legally binding contract between two consenting adults — and even that is relatively lenient since children can get married legally as long as they have the consent from their parents. In California, to get married you need a legal ID, the city and state of where your parents were born, the names of both of your parents including your mother’s maiden name, and 45 to 85 bucks (depending on the county).

      That’s it. It’s a legal contract in the eyes of the state whereby two people enter into a union of shared assets that comes with a number of rights and responsibilities.

      Of course, many people see marriage is something much, much more than merely a legal contract. But everyone is different and their views on marriage may differ greatly. And this gets into matters of faith and religion and why those rules are a separate realm from secular law.

      And regarding your final question, I find it difficult to understand how I can hold a closed-minded, narcissistic, narrow view on advancing equality. I am championing the rights for people to freely have their own beliefs, while you do the opposite.

      Yes, we are each entitled to have differing opinions; but, while your stance on same sex marriage imposes your personal feelings and beliefs on marriage onto everyone else regardless of their own personal beliefs, my stance doesn’t matter what my beliefs are or your beliefs are, and allows each of us to live according to our own personal opinions legally and fairly.


      • Hi Ryan (you were right about where I got Steve… sorry about that!).

        You are of course right that neither the Constitution nor civil law address the reasons for marriage, nor the state’s interest therein. But not all of our societal norms or institutions find their rationale expressed in those loci; I presume that we are in agreement that our nation & society was born out of a particular cultural context, that it carried that cultural antecedent into its own history, and that at least a portion of that antecedent remains in our contemporary cultural makeup. Marriage is one of those particular institutions; whatever it might mean in other places, marriage in the US carries a specific & particular cultural significance stretching back centuries, if not millenia. And in that content was included the centrality of procreation, something which was generally recognized and acknowledged in American culture until only a few decades ago.

        You state that marriage is nothing more than a legally-binding contract. But it’s a privileged one… the married get tax benefits, etc. *Why?* Why is this contract worth privileging in a particular way? What is the state’s interest in privileging it?

        With regard to who is imposing upon whom, I recognize that you don’t see your beliefs as an imposition, but they certainly are, in that you are seeking to have a cultural & legal novum enshrined in law. I am merely trying to maintain the institution and its legal status as it has always been… your side is the one trying to change the law to reflect your own particular vision. Your side is the one trying to impose a new understanding of marriage upon all of American society; I am merely trying to maintain the understanding which has always been present. *Every* law is an imposition of someone’s morality. The question is, how to we determine which morality?


        • You act as if marriage has been some static institution since the beginning of our country — which certainly has not been around for millennia, as America is not even 300 years old yet.

          At the time of our founding, interracial marriage was illegal, married women couldn’t own property in their own names, and in fact, there was nothing specifically indicating that marriage was only between one man and one woman until Maryland defined it as such in 1973.

          My point being that America is a diverse land, with different societal norms and institutions throughout. Our society is based on the notion that we can be full of different peoples with their varied beliefs and customs, and that they are accepted here under the freedom of religion. Whether or not the Founding Fathers (which is a very broad claim that you haven’t proven) had the notion that marriage was intended to be for the sake of procreation, then they must not have felt nearly as strongly about that as you do because they neglected to put that definition in any of the legal documents they created when founding our nation.

          Again, you’re bringing up a separate argument on the validity of government being involved in any marriage at all, which is interesting but different from our current discussion.

          The fallacy you make is in believing that the institution has always been the same under civil law. It’s readily apparent that this is not the case; it’s been through dozens of changes and continues to go through changes. It may be the exact same with regard to certain belief systems, but again, that is separate from secular law. It’s not imposing a new view of marriage onto people when it’s coming from the people themselves. It might not be coming from you, but what makes you the authority on all things American? What makes you the authority on the definition of marriage? Allowing same sex marriage does not impose anything upon you other than the reality that there are Americans that don’t share all of your beliefs. And that, is not an imposition: it’s what happens when you live in a secular, democratic society that adheres to no singular faith system.


        • But it’s not coming from the people, Ryan… SSM always loses when it comes up for a vote. The only way it gets anywhere is by judicial opinion, not the explicit will of the people.

          I’m not saying that I am personally an authority on marriage… I’m saying that let’s *have* the debate, but SSM proponents often seem to want to avoid debate and have their views imposed by judicial ruling against the expressed & explicit will of the vast majority of the populace.


          • And would slavery have been abolished had it been left to a vote? Or for women’s right to vote, if it had been left to a vote?

            We don’t live in a direct democracy. And you’re completely wrong that SSM always loses when put to a vote. SSM won in Vermont through the legislature, when the elected government voted and passed a bill that legalized same sex marriage.

            Majority doesn’t rule in America. The Constitution is the law of the land. And if the majority of people vote on something, if it contradicts the rights set in the Constitution, then it’s null and void. Banning same sex marriage infringes upon the rights of a minority group of Americans and is therefore unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter how many people voted for it. The majority can be wrong.

            And it’s not as if the courts are just coming up with this out of nowhere to impose their beliefs upon the masses. Americans are voicing their opinions and fighting for their rights protected to them in our constitution.

            And please show me where the debate has been avoided. I believe there’s been plenty of conversation on this issue in many venues by many people. It only gets to the courts after so much discussion and debate has been had to the point where a proposition or other declaration has been ratified and then put to the real test: whether or not it’s constitutional.

            And please: 52% of California voters who voted is not even close to a vast majority. If it had been poll results showing 52% in favor, people would consider it pretty much even.


        • It’s not imposing a new view of marriage onto people when it’s coming from the people themselves. It might not be coming from you, but what makes you the authority on all things American? What makes you the authority on the definition of marriage? Allowing same sex marriage does not impose anything upon you other than the reality that there are Americans that don’t share all of your beliefs.

          But in this case, it’s the other way round: The people of California (and every other state to date that has actually held a referendum on the issue) did affirm marriage to be only between one man and one woman — it’s those who didn’t like this referendup who are attempting to reverse the vote of the majority through appeals via the courts.


        • Stepping back broadly, I think part of the problem that you’re running into here, Ryan, is what’s sometimes called “legal positivism”, which is basically the idea that all implications of a law must be clearly spelled out in the law. Thus, for instance, you argue that if the Founders had intended marriage to be only between people of the opposite sex, they would have said so. And that given that they didn’t say so, even if they may have assumed it, they clearly didn’t care about it as much as Chris and I do.

          However, this is not necessarily the case at all. There are a host of things which are not mentioned in the law simply because we don’t tend to address things that we assume. That men should marry men or that women should marry women was unimaginable in the late 18th century, so it’s hardly surprising that they didn’t mention it. (They also didn’t mention that people with red hair are human just like people with brown hair — because no one had suggested otherwise.)

          Also, if I can return to the procreation point a bit, there are actually a lot of hints in the law of California and other states which point towards procreation as being somehow related to marriage — and not incidentally so.

          For instance, in many jurisdictions medical tests relating to inheritable diseases (not STDs, but specifically inheritable diseases) are required before marriage. That these are so required clearly suggest an assumption that procreation is related to marriage.

          Similarly, in all states, any children born to a married women are automatically considered to be the legal offspring of her husband. Indeed, thoughout most of US history, children born out of wedlock had very limitted legal claims and priviliges in regards to inheritance, support, etc. This again clearly suggests a widely held understanding that procreation is expected in marriage that that procreation outside of marriage is in some sense unlicensed or off the record.

          Finally, I think you’re failing to fully grasp the point that Chris is bringing up in asking why it is that society privileges marriage as a relationship in the first place. There are, after all, a host of relationships of both blood relatives and friendship that we have. Only one of these is entered into as a “legal contract”, the rest have social force only. And that one is marriage. It’s worth asking: Why? Why have states traditionally seen the need to regulate marriage in a way that it does not see fit to regulate relationships between siblings, cousins, best friends, housemates, etc.? I don’t think it works to argue that it’s because marital relationships are closer than any other relationships. Obviously, that’s an ideal, but in real life we find that many marital relationships are not nearly as close as one might wish. Nor is the closeness of the relationship considered to affect its validity unless one of the parties seeks a divorce. I’d put it to you that the only reason society priviliges marriage to this degree is because marriage is the relationship with the recognized purpose of perpetuating society through reproduction. And, indeed, that even in modern society many of the characteristics of legal marriage are designed to fit that purpose. (community property, automatic legitimacy of children, etc.)


        • Ryan, I wasn’t sufficiently clear: whenever SSM is a referendum, it loses.

          You claim that we don’t live in a direct democracy… you’re right. But you are the one who claimed that the clamor to adopt SSM is coming from the people… I’m simply pointing out that this is obviously not the case, because when it’s a ballot initiative, it always loses.

          So, advocate for SSM and for changing the definition of marriage, but don’t claim that it’s an action of the majority and hence that you aren’t imposing anything on anyone.


  6. Or why should marriage be limited to two people? What if I love two men and one woman? Why can’t marriage be the four of us?

    Why even limit it to people? It is about our feeling of love after all.


    • Agreed: if marriage is merely a contract between consenting adults (with no state’s interest), then of what relevance is the number of parties in the contract? What is the rational basis for limiting the number of parties to two? Plenty of other contracts are multiparty… why not marriage?


      • Hard to know where to reply. But will do so here. Per Ryan’s link to Wikipedia he should accept such arrangements. At least bigamy as bigamy was at least tolerated for a period of time (though it seems not apart from the Mormon Church per his link.) Once you have one man and several wives why not multiple combinations? But again the general norm in American civil law was marriage between one man and one woman.

        There are other changes that are mentioned in the link Ryan provides. But those are always incidental to the acepted norm in American law (until recently) that marriage was always between a man and a woman. Laws may have not allowed women to have property or have prohibted interracial marriage, but marriages were always between a man and a woman.

        Perhaps the reason that the Founding Fathers did not need to enshrine this in the Constitution etc. is this was the norm. One man and one woman. It would not have been conceived of otherwise. And the laws that prohibited polygamy were an extension of that understanding and were imposed on Mormons when Utah entered the Union.

        The bottom line is that civil marriage in the US always accepted this norm until the past decade.


        • So much to respond to. Enjoying the conversation, so much appreciated.

          In response to Philip’s first response: the allusion to legalizing bestiality really has no bearing on this conversation. The case in point is two consenting adults being able to marry regardless of their sex. No one is saying that people should be allowed to marry animals. Argue that with people who want to marry animals — that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

          And as for bigamy, Chris — same response. The case isn’t for bigamy, it’s for same sex marriage. The two are not the same, nor does one being allowed mean the other does as well. I’ll leave it to the polygamists to fight their own fight if they so choose.

          The point of my bringing up the changes in marriage is merely to refute the previous claims that marriage has remained a constant for as far back as anyone can remember, which is just wrong.

          I’m sure that people were making similar defenses to marriage when the movement came up to allow miscegenation — it’s always been like this, it’s the way it always should be.

          Even if it had never been done before (and it has been done before, going back to ancient China and the early Roman Empire), how is that automatically a reason for it to not happen now or ever? As a culturally defined term, and America being a culture of many peoples, races, and faiths, then why can’t the definition change to better reflect all Americans?


        • I’m not asking you to fight the polyamorists battle for them, Ryan, I’m asking you to provide some rationale basis for marriage which permits SSM but excludes polyamorous marriages. That, or acknowledge that you have no such rationale if such is the case. The point here is it seems to us that SSM proponents have a completely arbitrary conception of marriage, infinitely plastic, with one exception: consent of the parties. Such a view is completely foreign to the institution of marriage in this country and its antecedents.

          What do you have in mind when you claim that SSM existed in the early Roman Empire? Does a particular source come to mind?


          • Why do you go down the slippery slope of “infinitely plastic”? Demanding that gay Americans receive the same rights as straight Americans doesn’t mean that the definition of marriage is infinitely plastic. It doesn’t open the door to anything else except gay marriage. Because it’s about equality — equal rights for all Americans. Polygamy is illegal in America, so it’s not as if this argument for legalizing SSM is trying to obtain some brand new right that no one else has. The right is already there! Straight, consenting adults can marry whomever they choose just so long as it’s a person of the opposite sex. Gay, consenting adults are banned by the government from marrying. Now, if one group of Americans enjoys a right that is denied to another group of Americans, that is discrimination, that is inequality, that is unconstitutional.

            There are records of same-sex unions in many ancient civilizations — Rome, Greece, China. That is not to say that there weren’t those opposing it as well. Some areas condoned it, some didn’t. Once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, this all ended.


        • Ryan, this is how I see it:

          Marriage is a legally-privileged union of a man and a woman. That’s what it is.

          SSM proponents claim that marriage does not essentially entail persons of the opposite sexes, that the sex of the persons is irrelevant to the nature of marriage.

          Fine. If the sex of the persons is irrelevant, why isn’t the number of participants irrelevant too?

          Your reply to Phillip seems to reinforce Darwin’s point about legal positivism, but — as Phillip noted — you want it both ways: if the fact that polygamy is illegal means it isn’t marriage, then so does the fact that SSM is illegal mean it isn’t marriage. Polyamorists — and they really exist — simply want the same thing others want: to be able to marry whomever they wish.

          Again, to us it appears that SSM proponents have no non-arbitrary understanding of marriage. 1 man + 1 woman is *the* nature of marriage because it is the “unit” best served to bring the spouse together and… bear & raise children. But if marriage isn’t somehow intrinsically structured towards kids, then who cares what kind of configuration it entails? *Why* can’t it be 3+ people?


          • I understand your reasoning, Chris. But it’s based on your personal definition of marriage. Not all others share this view, so I still disagree.

            1) You haven’t proven that civil marriage exists so that a man and woman can bear and raise children. You’ve inferred all of this. I’ve asked you to provide where this rationale exists in any state marriage law, but you yourself have said it doesn’t exist. Because it doesn’t exist, then state law does not in fact demand marriage be about procreation. And we’re dealing with state law here; not culture norms or society’s status quo, which it seems is what you’re arguing, and is a different argument altogether.

            2) You and Philip both misunderstand my argument. I’m not saying that because polygamy is already illegal that it must then remain so; I’m not making some special exception for SSM. Polygamy is illegal for everyone — no one, no matter what their sex, race, creed, or hair style is allowed to marry multiple people here in the United States. But marriage between two, consenting adults is legal already for everyoneexcept for gay Americans. In the law as it stands in California, all you need to be to get married is be 18 or over (or have legal parental consent), have a valid ID, provide the names of your parents and where they were born, and 45-85 bucks depending on the county. That’s it. Nothing about needing to provide proof that you intend to have kids and raise a family. But the one stipulation is this: you cannot both be of the same sex.

            It’s not at all a matter of legal positivism — it’s about discrimination. One group of Americans is specifically outlawed from doing what all other Americans can legally do based solely on their sexual orientation. It’s that simple. There’s nothing arbitrary about it. It’s institutionalized discrimination and it’s unconstitutional.

            3) “But if marriage isn’t somehow intrinsically structured towards kids, then who cares what kind of configuration it entails? *Why* can’t it be 3+ people?” Now you’re getting into the personal meaning of marriage, which is separate from the legal definition of marriage. I’m sure many people have different reasons for getting married and I’m not about to speak for them as to what they might be. I know that I have my own feelings on it; I assume you have your own; Phillip his own; etc. But my own personal decisions have no bearing on this conversation. It’s strictly about state law. A state law that is unconstitutional.

            If you believe that marriage is important in building a family, then that’s what you bring to the table when you get married — that’s what marriage means to you. But if you believe that marriage is a partnership that doesn’t require procreation, or maybe you can’t have kids but you still want a spouse, or maybe you simply intend on adopting, your definition of what a marriage is changes. And the beauty of our country is that the law allows that by not setting in stone through state or federal law any requirements based on personal feelings for the definition of marriage for getting married. That’s left to the freedom of the American people to decide for themselves.


        • It’s not at all a matter of legal positivism — it’s about discrimination. One group of Americans is specifically outlawed from doing what all other Americans can legally do based solely on their sexual orientation. It’s that simple. There’s nothing arbitrary about it. It’s institutionalized discrimination and it’s unconstitutional.

          No, it’s clearly not a matter of discrimination — gay and straight Americans are treated identically in regards to marriage. You can marry a person of the opposite sex, of your choice, for any reason, regardless of whether you are gay or straight.

          If a straight guy wants to enact a legal marriage with another man for reasons of finance or convenience — he’s not allowed to.

          If a lesbian wants to marry a man, because she finds it convenient to do so, she is allowed do.

          There is currently no difference in how gays and straights are treated in regards to marriage. One person (at a time) of the opposite sex is a rule that applies to everyone. How is that descrimation?


          • Please see my response to Chris for my response to your similar rebuttal.


        • Also, as a trained Classicist, I really have to touch on this one:

          There are records of same-sex unions in many ancient civilizations — Rome, Greece, China. That is not to say that there weren’t those opposing it as well. Some areas condoned it, some didn’t. Once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, this all ended.

          This is simply and blatantly false, at least as regards Greece and Rome — I’m not an expert on Ancient China by any means, and the attempts to justify it have been incredibly weak scholarship which have gained no acceptance despite the openness of the Classics field on gay issues.

          Many ancient civilizations were certainly accepting of homosexual activity, and very open about homosexual partnerships. However, same sex marriage was never a norm. Indeed, often men who had long term same sex partners (usually a younger man or boy) also had wives. (The emperors Trajan and Hadrian were famous examples of this.) Comically enough, many trying to justify the claim of ancient same sex marriage point to the emperor Nero, whom Suetonius describes as having gone through a marriage ceremony with another man. This completely loses the cultural context of Suetonius’ complaint. Suetonius despised Nero and described him as going through a marriage ceremony with a man as an example of Nero making a mockery of cultural norms, and thus lacking “pietas”.

          What makes the claim doubly ironic is that Roman law did explicitly list procreation and the perpetuation of family linneage as the purpose of marriage — and indeed failure to provide children was a legitimate legal cause for divorce in Rome. The Augustuan “family code” also attempted to mandate that noble Romans marry by a certain age and produce children. (Augustus was worried that the nobles weren’t reproducing enough.)


          • It’s true that this is not a very strong line of argument for either of us. I am not remotely qualified to be talking about any ancient civilizations — I took history years ago and I’m definitely no expert.

            But it doesn’t really matter to either of our side of the argument because the issue at hand doesn’t matter what the ancient Romans did. It’s about the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Americans in the Constitution and our current codes of law. So I will concede that while same sex unions have a long record throughout human history, same sex marriage has not. I don’t see how that makes a difference either way, however, because the status quo doesn’t make something right simply by being the status quo.


        • I echo Darwin’s point, Ryan; homosexuals have the same rights heterosexuals have: to marry someone, i.e. to enter into a contractual relationship with someone of the opposite sex.

          This isn’t about equality, then, because homosexuals can marry as well. SSM proponents say they can’t, but that’s because their personal definition of marriage differs from the standard one.

          As to the legal basis… Ryan, not every law provides the entire rationale for itself… *much* is presumed in law. The legal definition of marriage in ~48 states and according to DOMA is a contractual relationship between a man and a woman (that’s obviously a rough paraphrase, not a precise legal definition). Legally, *that’s* what marriage is. It isn’t merely a contract; it’s a contract between a man & a woman. To legalize SSM is to replace the content of the term marriage with new content, i.e. to redefine it.


          • Ugh – I had a whole response and then lost it.

            Okay…

            This isn’t about equality, then, because homosexuals can marry as well.
            “This isn’t about equality, then, because black people can marry as well.” It sure sounds like the failed argument that people made when fighting against the end of anti-miscegenation laws in the 1960s. Black people could get married… as long as it was to each other and not white people. Well what if they happened to want to marry a white person? Being told by the government that they arbitrarily couldn’t marry someone was discrimination. It’s not really a free choice when you’re not allowed to choose the one thing that you want.

            This is the exact same thing: the government is telling homosexuals that they arbitrarily can’t marry someone. Before it was due to the other person’s race. Now it’s due to the other person’s sex. It was discrimination then. It’s discrimination now. And institutionalized discrimination is unconstitutional and those laws must be stricken from the books.

            I don’t know how else to explain it.


        • This is the exact same thing: the government is telling homosexuals that they arbitrarily can’t marry someone. Before it was due to the other person’s race. Now it’s due to the other person’s sex.

          See, the problem is that this approach involves assuming your conclusion.

          In supporting same sex marriage, you need to show that sex is a characteristic which is non-essential to the question of marriage just as race is. We all agree that there are some characteristics that are essential to whether someone is a valid marriage opportunity. You can’t marry someone under the legal age of consent. You can’t marry someone who is already married to someone else. You can’t marry someone who is not a member of your species, etc.

          Now, the people who opposed inter-racial marriage were wrong because they insisted that race was a characteristic which was essential to marriage. They were wrong because one’s race is not essential to who one is — one is human, not “white” or “black” or “brown”.

          In regards to same sex marraige — you seem to be insisting that sex is not essential to marriage, that it makes no difference is the person one wants to marry is of the same or the opposite sex, the only important thing is whether one wants to marry that person.

          However, you clearly don’t think that nothing is essential to marriage. You do not claim that someone has the right to marry their parent, or their sibling, or someone of another species or a child or two people, etc. So the argument you need to make has to center around why sex doesn’t matter in regards to marriage while all these other things do. You can’t just assert that it’s discrination that people can’t marry whom they choose, because obviously some choices aren’t acceptable.


          • Okay, I’ll bite.

            If I’m wrong, then why is your partner’s gender essential to marriage? Legally. Not historically or normally. Legally.


  7. I’d also like to add, and agree with Mr. Burgwald, for the manner and tone you have written your post.

    It’s greatly appreciated when these issues can be discussed in a civilized manner.


  8. Why is it that people that are for gay marriage are allowed to have their opinion and I am not mad at them for it, but they get so mad at people that are against gay marriage. I listen to points on both sides of the story. Gay people do have equal rights, they have the same rights as you or I. We have not taken any right away from them nor do I have a right that they dont have. I am not allowed to marry a man. That is fine with me, I am sorry for the people who want to marry a man. We are not telling them to not spend time with a man if that is what they choose to do with their life. What is next? Are we going to legalize it for a 40 year old to marry a 14 year old in utah because they think it is right. Where does the line stop? There are a lot of poeple in this country with a lot of different values and views. The majority of people in the state of california decided that gay marriage was not a line that we needed to cross at this time. Then for some reason the decision was left up to one judge. This country was built around people voting for what they believed in. One last point on people having the right to choose for themselves and not that I am completely against this but it does raise a valid argument to a lot of your points. Does a child that is adopted have a choice to be raised by a homosexual couple? I am not saying that it will happen in all cases and it is sad if it happens at all, but does that child have to choice to be ridiculed and harrassed for a decision he didnt make? I hope this would never happen but you know how cruel children can be to other children. I know that homosexual couples are doing a great thing when they give a child love and a good home, but I am just saying, if that kid grows up and gets harrassed it is for a decision they didnt make but was made for them.


    • The reason that people get mad at you for your stance on gay marriage, Steve, is because you are saying that your beliefs are better than other peoples’ beliefs and that they should live by your rules, and not their own.

      The rest of your argument sounds like it was lifted directly out of the early 1960s in opposition to interracial marriage. Think of the children! They’ll be ridiculed by both whites and blacks because they’ll be neither and both! What about the short, fat kid who didn’t choose to be born to short, fat parents? Should we pity them and not allow them to marry and have kids? I could offer countless other reasons that kids get ridiculed in school for reasons out of their control, but I assume you get my point. The problem is people ridiculing other people simply for being different, not the reasons why people are different. We’re all different! For plenty of reasons. And here you are singling out one — where a person stands on the continuum of sexual preference — and blaming that as being worthy of ridicule instead of condemning the prejudice. That’s what’s truly sad.

      Are we going to legalize it for a 40 year old to marry a 14 year old in utah because they think it is right. Where does the line stop?

      No one is fighting for the right for pedophiles to marry children, Steve, and to equate gays with pedophiles is extremely offensive. (Another reason why people get so mad at your for your views.) There is no slippery slope here. The only item on the table is same sex marriage.

      Gay people do have equal rights, they have the same rights as you or I. We have not taken any right away from them nor do I have a right that they dont have. I am not allowed to marry a man. That is fine with me, I am sorry for the people who want to marry a man.

      You assume that “you” is another straight person, just like yourself. Do you realize that not everyone in this country is like you? Not everyone in this country is a straight male. You have such an ignorant worldview that everyone should be like you and if not, too bad, deal with it because the way I live my life and the way that I am is the way everyone should be.

      It’s great that it’s fine for you. No one is asking you to marry a man. And now that same sex marriage is legal again, you still don’t have to marry a man. You are still happy regardless! But you know who isn’t happy at all when same sex marriage isn’t legal? Gay people. It’s not at all fine for them. And here you are saying, too bad, it’s good for me so deal with it. That’s not a democracy. That’s not equality. That’s the dictatorship of Steve. How convenient for you that the current laws are so accommodating for you that you don’t have to fight for any rights that others enjoy but are denied to you.


  9. This is in response to DarwinCatholic’s earlier comment:

    Stepping back broadly, I think part of the problem that you’re running into here, Ryan, is what’s sometimes called “legal positivism”, which is basically the idea that all implications of a law must be clearly spelled out in the law.

    I’m not saying that all implication in the law must be clearly spelled out, only that the assumptions that clearly they meant something that isn’t written there doesn’t prove those assumptions right. I’m not saying that the Founding Fathers would’ve allowed same sex marriage when they created the country. Far from it — they didn’t bother to include a marriage definition in the Constitution and left it up to states to decide. (And even if they had, since at that time it was customary and the norm to not allow people of different races to intermarry, I highly doubt they would’ve allowed people of the same sex to do so.) Regardless, using it your argument holds no water — you can’t point to what isn’t there and say that’s proof that it is.

    For instance, in many jurisdictions medical tests relating to inheritable diseases (not STDs, but specifically inheritable diseases) are required before marriage. That these are so required clearly suggest an assumption that procreation is related to marriage.

    Procreation is clearly related to marriage. I’m not saying it’s not. But, it’s by no means a requirement nor the purpose of marriage.

    Similarly, in all states, any children born to a married women are automatically considered to be the legal offspring of her husband. Indeed, thoughout most of US history, children born out of wedlock had very limitted legal claims and priviliges in regards to inheritance, support, etc. This again clearly suggests a widely held understanding that procreation is expected in marriage that that procreation outside of marriage is in some sense unlicensed or off the record.

    Again, this understanding isn’t based on law. It’s based on personal beliefs. Nothing in any of the state laws require having children. If you do, they have a lot of rights under the law protected by marriage. That’s one of the perks married couples have that I’m sure same sex couples would love to have as well. (Yes, same sex couples do have children.) Also — you don’t have to have a license to have a child. There is a clear record in the form of the birth certificate and that goes to the child regardless of whether or not the father is present or if the father is married to the mother.

    I’d put it to you that the only reason society priviliges marriage to this degree is because marriage is the relationship with the recognized purpose of perpetuating society through reproduction.

    Many married people have children. Many unmarried people have children. You don’t need to be married to have children and you don’t need to plan to have children to get married. These are facts. You can put to me your personal reason for marriage; but again, until you can provide legal basis for your claim in any of the states’ laws, then it’s simply that: your personal feelings.


  10. “Because it’s about equality — equal rights for all Americans. Polygamy is illegal in America, so it’s not as if this argument for legalizing SSM is trying to obtain some brand new right that no one else has. The right is already there! Straight, consenting adults can marry whomever they choose just so long as it’s a person of the opposite sex. Gay, consenting adults are banned by the government from marrying. Now, if one group of Americans enjoys a right that is denied to another group of Americans, that is discrimination, that is inequality, that is unconstitutional.”

    But SSM has been illegal in America even if your assertion that it has been legal in other civilizations in the past is true. You claim that this is just a matter of equality. But what about polygamy? It has clearly been legal throughout history and is so in Muslim cultures today. So why should there not be polygamous marriage in the US. You have no rationale to limit equality to only those who think that marriage should be between two people. You have no basis to limit marriage in any way.


    • Hi Phillip — I addressed your comment in my most recent response to Chris because you brought up similar responses.


      • I think Darwin then addresses your response to Chris. But to reiterate his point. There is no discrimination as two consenting adults of different sexes may marry each other regardless of their sexual preference. The law just prohibits same sex marriage. As it also prohibits polygamy.

        Your only argument against polygamy or any other marital arrangement is 1) That it does not discriminate and 2) that it is illegal. But 2 is true of SSM until the recent past in America. 1 is not true as noted above as there is no discrimination against homosexuals in marriage. At least no more discrimination than there is against those who wish to marry more than one partner.

        A third argument of yours also seems to be that there is a history of such marriage. But there is also of polygamy. So this one will not work either.


        • My response to Chris covers the first part of your response.

          A third argument of yours also seems to be that there is a history of such marriage. But there is also of polygamy. So this one will not work either.
          I was merely using this to argue against the previous claim that there was no history of same sex marriage. It was a rebuttal to quash the previous argument. I am not giving any value to the fact that there has been a history of same sex marriage as reason for legalizing it now. It’s just a way of debate — you pose Claim A, I refute Claim A. Don’t confuse this with being a claim of my own.


  11. Let me see if an analogy might in anyway be helpful here…

    Think of a local walking path. Imagine someone drives their Smart Car down the path, and when they are stopped by law enforcement, they claim that they *are* walking, and that it’s discrimination to prevent them from walking on the path in the manner they see fit.

    That’s what the SSM movement is doing with regard to marriage. The very nature of marriage is that it is between a man and a woman. A relationship between two men or two women cannot be a marriage anymore than someone driving a car is walking. The anti-miscegenation laws aren’t parallel, because those laws didn’t claim — as we supporters of marriage do — that interracial unions weren’t actually marriages… they simply didn’t want them to happen. We are not “preventing” gays or lesbians from marrying… we are pointing out that it is impossible for them to do so, as it is impossible for someone driving a car to claim that they are walking.


    • The very nature of marriage is that it is between a man and a woman.
      That may be the case for you; but when the government is involved in the business of marriage, it needs to be equal. The civil definition of marriage is wrong if it excludes two Americans specifically because of who they are. That’s discrimination, regardless of whether or not it falls in line with your definition. The civil marriage law has been changed before, and it will be changed again.

      There is no “nature” when it comes to civil law — it’s just what’s in the law. That’s it. And that needs to adhere to the Constitution. If it doesn’t, then it needs to be changed to protect the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans.

      The anti-miscegenation laws aren’t parallel, because those laws didn’t claim — as we supporters of marriage do — that interracial unions weren’t actually marriages… they simply didn’t want them to happen.
      The sentiment behind it doesn’t matter. It’s what’s written in law that matters. Anti-miscegenation laws outlawed marriages between white people and non-white people. The law didn’t state that it’s because people were bigots and just didn’t want interracial marriages to happen. The law was plain and simple – no interracial marriages. Period. You’re superimposing feelings and the nature of the laws onto the black-and-white facts of the laws themselves without any support.

      Same sex marriage is not a marriage to you. But your values don’t dictate how the rest of us should live, they don’t define things to rule the country by your views. Your analogy isn’t remotely parallel because the notion of marriage isn’t a fixed construct. It varies from culture to culture, society to society, era to era. It’s dynamic. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t make it impossible.

      I get your argument. You believe that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. That’s it. You’re entitled to that belief; but we’re not arguing belief here. We’re arguing law. And there’s no nature of marriage, no notions, no inherent understandings somewhere in the Constitution that assumes that the marriage is exactly how you define it. The Constitution declares all people created equal – free to life, liberty, and property. The proposition in California that outlawed two Americans from getting a civil marriage was found to be unconstitutional because it discriminated against a group of Americans based on their sexual orientation, everything else the same. I think if we stop saying that the law is “defining” marriage and merely refer to the “civil marriage law states that” instead, we might be able to come to at least a point of understanding.

      I don’t feel that any civil marriage law defines anything for me. For something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone. It’s a cold, sterile law — it is just a contract in the eyes of the government. Everything else – the emotions, the feelings, the notions — we bring to our own personal marriages, especially if those civil marriages are also accompanied by a religious marriage. But those are two separate unions. And the same protections and freedoms the Constitution gives you in being able to bring all of those emotions and feelings and notions you wish to your marriage (or concept of marriage) are what allow others to do the same. If Prop 8 were to be upheld, it would arbitrarily prevent a group of Americans from being able to do that, to do what you’re freely able to do.

      I’m not sure how much more we can go on with this topic at the moment. I have enjoyed this conversation, and I’m glad that you started a conversation here, Chris. Whatever our differences of opinion, I appreciate your civil tone throughout — I know how easy to can be to get snarky and rude and just down right mean and offense on comment threads when people are on different sides of a debate. All too often, comment threads end up being dominated by one side that just attacks the few opposing comments that pop up from time to time and no actual, intellectual debate can happen. I can’t stand that. Thanks for offering your points of view.


  12. Three brief comments, Ryan.

    Law is little more than the manifestation of (some of) the beliefs of the people. You are creating an artificial chasm between law & belief which simply isn’t real. Laws codify how people are to act, based precisely on how the people believe they ought to act.

    Second, you claim here that marriage isn’t a fixed construct, but when I noted that your view of marriage was infinitely plastic, you disagreed. I take it you’ve changed your mind on that. :-)

    Finally, I’d hope that despite the fact that we continue to disagree, you can see that there is at least some *plausibility* to the arguments which proponents of traditional marriage offer; I certainly see the plausibility of SSM arguments, even though in the end I disagree.

    And a concluding general comment: I think this conversation demonstrates that the debate on this issue (and frankly, other culturally-explosive issues) must go deeper, as I think our conversation has done at points. There are considerably divergent worldviews at play in many of these issues, and if we want to be able to continue to speak of American society in anyway in the singular, then those deep & substantial differences need to be surfaced and brought into dialogue. Frankly, I find most discourse on these matters to be ridiculously superficial, but our conversation reaffirms my belief that we *can* go deeper.

    Thanks for your conversation, Ryan. I can’t guarantee that I’ll give you the last word, but I’ll try darned hard. ;-)


    • Ha, well there’s rarely a last word in these cases. Unless we just concede that we must agree to disagree.

      Brief, brief response:

      It’s one thing to be malleable; and quite another to be infinitely plastic. Although, I’m sure the beliefs surrounding marriage will evolve as human culture and society changes, as well. I haven’t changed my mind at all on this.

      Law allows us to be free in having our own personal beliefs. They are separate. Law can be influenced by some beliefs, to be sure, and now you’re getting into political philosophy and the origin of ethics and morality that I think it’s beyond the scope of this thread. American law allows us the freedom to our beliefs, which may vary greatly from person to person. In this sense, law and belief are vastly different — they aim to achieve similar things but in different realms.

      The conversation is deep-rooted in beliefs, but I’ve tried hard to continually steer the discussion toward the case of civil law. What I’ve gleaned the most from this conversation and others is that people seem to be conflating civil law with deeper meanings. It’s civil law that allows us all to have our own beliefs, and denying that to others because it doesn’t jive with our own is unconstitutional. It might not be illegal to have those feelings, but it can’t be codified into law. It’s that inability to see that separation that I find the biggest issue with SSM opponents; because while I don’t agree, I understand your notions of marriage and how it relates to the family unit and can see the validity in that belief. But, I see it as your belief, to which you’re certainly entitled, as one that I, and others, don’t necessarily agree with. And the legalization of SSM only allows both sides to enjoy their own beliefs on what marriage is all about.

      (So much for brief!) Hopefully we’ll have another conversation again in the future, Chris.


      • “It’s civil law that allows us all to have our own beliefs, and denying that to others because it doesn’t jive with our own is unconstitutional. It might not be illegal to have those feelings, but it can’t be codified into law.”

        But civil law will eventually has to side with the feelings (thoughts) of one group. Otherwise again, you have no ability to deny polygamy. None whatsoever.

        And allowing SSM denies the thoughts of those who find it wrong as denying polygamy denies the right to multiple wives of those who think that is right.


        • Philip —

          Again, we’re not arguing about polygamy here. It has no bearing on the argument for marriage equality. Also: civil law has to side with the Constitution, not any one group’s beliefs.

          And allowing SSM denies the thoughts of those who find it wrong as denying polygamy denies the right to multiple wives of those who think that is right.

          Denies the thoughts? Really? Now that Prop 8 has been overturned, the government is now denying you the right to think that gays can’t marry? Please prove this. Please provide evidence that this is occurring right now for you and you’ll have a basis for your argument.


  13. Sure we are talkig about polygamy. Just because you say it doesn’t, doesn’t make it so. You argue that equality demands same sex marriage. But equality also demands whatever marital arrangement a couple or group feels. Also, the Constitution has for over two hundred years accepted marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Nothing else.

    I refer to thoughts as opposed to feelings. Reason vs. emotion. That’s all.


    • But equality also demands whatever marital arrangement a couple or group feels.
      You interjected that last part: or group. Again, it doesn’t involve polygamy because the current decision with regards to Prop 8 doesn’t seek to redefine marriage – it seeks to ensure that all Californians, regardless of their gender, can enjoy the same rights. In this case, that’s the right to marry, of which only homosexual California citizens are excluded. The right already exists: heterosexuals can pick and marry whomever they chose; homosexuals cannot. That’s why Prop 8 was found to be unconstitutional.

      Again, please prove that Prop 8 being overturned has denied the feelings/thoughts/notions of anti-SSMers. Since you can still voice these feelings/thoughts/notions, I’d say allowing SSM hasn’t infringed upon a single aspect of your life.

      UPDATE: Also – please point out the exact place in the Constitution where it has defined marriage as being a union of a man and a woman for over 200 years.


  14. I haven’t followed all of the above, so point out where you have prove that there is discrimination. Any homosexual person can marry a person of the opposite sex. Please restate your argument.

    Overturning Prop 8 violated the voting rights of those who voted for it. This is not true only if there was discrimination but as noted above this is far from established.

    Show me where the Constitution provides for marriage between same sex couples. As noted above by Darwin, no Western culture has accepted this, not even in ancient times.

    But again you distract from the point that you assert. Back to it again:

    “It’s civil law that allows us all to have our own beliefs, and denying that to others because it doesn’t jive with our own is unconstitutional.”

    If civil law allows us to have beliefs, then civil law allowing a certain activity neessarily gives state sanction to given activities. In turn by prohibiting certain activities that others have there is discrimination. In regards to marriage, those that are in favor of marriage as defined for at least the past two thousand years can still have their own forms and thoughts. They just can’t see them enforced in civil law. That is not discrimination for you as one can still think and feel that way, just not impose it upon another.

    But the polygamist is stuck by all of this as he is excluded by those who feel that marriage is only between two people. This as result denies them the right to their beliefs and imposes on them the conception of marriage as only between two people. The reduction of marriage to only a man and a woman marginalizes the polygamist who has real support in legal and religious traditions in ancient and modern cultures. Nor is there any wording in the Constitution that limits marriage to two people. Allowing the polygamist to believe this but not act on it, even if it doesn’t jive with our conception of marriage, is discrimination.


    • Overturning Prop 8 violated the voting rights of those who voted for it.
      This is patently false. This is the way that our government works — checks and balances between the legislative (the vote for Prop 8) and the judicial (the constitutionality of Prop 8). We live in a republic, not a direct democracy – majority rule is not the law of the land. The Constitution is.

      Show me where the Constitution provides for marriage between same sex couples.
      You still didn’t show me where the Constitution proves your claim that it has defined marriage as being between a man and woman for over 200 years. That’s because you’ll find no definition of marriage whatsoever in the Constitution. However, there are Supreme Court decisions that establish the right to marry as a fundamental right for all Americans – namely, Loving v. Virginia. Once that fundamental right has been established – which it has – then to deny that right to a group of citizens based on a prejudice is discrimination, therefore is unconstitutional. (Boies and Olson did a much more in depth job with their argument against Prop 8, so I encourage you to examine their case.)

      then civil law allowing a certain activity neessarily gives state sanction to given activities.
      This doesn’t even make sense. Every law has to adhere to the Constitution. Just because one thing is legal doesn’t mean that any extrapolation from that, no matter how far-fetched, is therefore legal as well.

      In regards to marriage, those that are in favor of marriage as defined for at least the past two thousand years can still have their own forms and thoughts. They just can’t see them enforced in civil law. That is not discrimination for you as one can still think and feel that way, just not impose it upon another.
      Look – there’s a distinct difference here. By outlawing SSM, a group of citizens are legally unable to marry the person they wish to marry. By legalizing SSM, absolutely nothing has been deprived of you. Nothing. Please, again, tell me if I’m wrong. You are still entitled to your beliefs, your thoughts, your feelings and express them as such through the freedom of press and speech. You can marry whomever you wish, still, as well, and your own marriage (if you have one) has not changed one iota.

      Allowing the polygamist to believe this but not act on it, even if it doesn’t jive with our conception of marriage, is discrimination.
      The big difference, Phillip, which I’ve stated at least a couple times before is that there is no legal basis anywhere for the legalization of polygamy. Not a single person in America can marry more than one person, regardless of their race, creed, religion, hair color, brand of toothpaste preference, or sexual orientation. That right doesn’t exist for any American, so to legalize polygamy would be to create a brand new right. I don’t even know how that would come about but I’ll leave that to the polygamists to fight for on their own, because it’s a totally separate issue. The fact is that one American can marry another American at their discretion with no imposition aside from being 18 years old, having an ID, and some cash. That right is established by the Supreme Court, based on the right to life and liberty as set in stone by the US Constitution. EXCEPT in the case of Americans who happen to be homosexual. That is discrimination. Not allowing people to marry ten people is not discrimination because it’s not discriminating against any one group of people. It’s not discrimination if no one can do it.


  15. “The big difference, Phillip, which I’ve stated at least a couple times before is that there is no legal basis anywhere for the legalization of polygamy. Not a single person in America can marry more than one person, regardless of their race, creed, religion, hair color, brand of toothpaste preference, or sexual orientation.”

    Of course that is contradicted by this:

    “I don’t feel that any civil marriage law defines anything for me. For something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone. It’s a cold, sterile law — it is just a contract in the eyes of the government. Everything else – the emotions, the feelings, the notions — we bring to our own personal marriages, especially if those civil marriages are also accompanied by a religious marriage. But those are two separate unions. And the same protections and freedoms the Constitution gives you in being able to bring all of those emotions and feelings and notions you wish to your marriage (or concept of marriage) are what allow others to do the same.”

    A polygamist can bring his notions and emotions into civil marriage per this understanding. This is furthered by this argument:

    “We’re arguing law. And there’s no nature of marriage, no notions, no inherent understandings somewhere in the Constitution that assumes that the marriage is exactly how you define it. The Constitution declares all people created equal – free to life, liberty, and property.”

    If there is “no nature of marriage” then there is no reason to deny marriage to polygamists. None whatsoever.


    • Phillip —

      Nothing contradicts that top statement. There are two separate realms here: beliefs, and the law. A polygamist can bring his or her beliefs into marriage all he/she wants but it doesn’t change the fact that not a single American can marry multiple people.

      Look — the case in point here is Prop 8, not the overarching argument in favor of different types of marriages. We’re talking about the current laws regarding marriage – specifically that it’s a Constitutionally protected, fundamental RIGHT for all Americans. I’m done arguing polygamy. It’s a separate issue that you can argue when/if polygamists seek to legalize polygamy. The issue at stake here is discrimination, for which I’ve outlined numerous times.


  16. “…but it doesn’t change the fact that not a single American can marry multiple people.”

    Where in the Constitution does it say that?


    • Okay, a couple things because this is getting off the rails.

      1) The Constitution itself doesn’t have any definition of marriage; they left that up to the states.
      2) The Supreme Court rulings, including Loving v. Virginia, establish the right to marriage as a fundamental right for all Americans.
      3) Polygamy is outlawed in every single state in the union.

      In order for there to be discrimination, one group of people must be deprived of the rights enjoyed by everyone else. In this case, marriage is being deprived of people based on the sex of the partner of their choosing, while everyone else is allowed to choose their own partners. That’s discrimination. It’s not discrimination to polygamists who say that they’re being discriminated against because no one is allowed to marry multiple people. No one else enjoys that right so they aren’t being deprived of anything.


  17. Of course they are being deprived. The Constitution doesn’t limit marriage to just two people if “…there’s no nature of marriage, no notions, no inherent understandings somewhere in the Constitution that assumes that the marriage is exactly how you define it.”

    The laws just haven’t caught up with “…something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone.”

    Just because the current laws prohibit marriage doesn’t mean we can’t correct them to end all discrimination. After all Loving vs. Virgina allows marriage regardless of race but says nothing about same sex marriage. It only allows marriage between opposite sexes of any race. So we can change this law to allow polygamy. Right?


    • The decision from Loving vs. Virginia:

      “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

      The ruling allows that marriage is a fundamental right that cannot be abriged because of racial differences but does not appear to say that SSM is also allowed. Perhaps you can find for me in the decision where marriage is allowed for same sex couples.


      • Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man.” I think that just about covers it. It doesn’t say “basic civil rights of man, except for those who are gay.”


    • Phillip —

      You don’t understand the definition of discrimination. Nor do you really understand law, which means that you aren’t arguing this in terms of ways that are applicable to this case or discussion. Nor do you get that Prop 8 is about marriage equality, not the fight for polygamy. I’m not going to go around and around this because you don’t get the difference between civil law and the right to one’s personal beliefs. You don’t get that the law already has caught up with: “…something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone” — because the law is not about codifying any one moral view. It’s about making sure that the various moral views can be expressed freely under the law. You don’t seem to get that polygamy is illegal across the board so they’re not being discriminated against. You don’t get that the definition of marriage is nowhere to be found in the Constitution so there’s no point in pointing to the lack of it as evidence to the support of something else. Until you do, there’s no point in going in circles with this.


  18. No, it says marriage, which at the time meant a man and a women, should not be restricted by “racial discrimination.” No mention of sexual identity.

    But if you will argue that there is no denial of such in the decision, will you point out where there is the denial of the possibility of polygamous marriages.


  19. I do in fact understand discrimination. The problem is you argue that a right exists where none is expressed. You then argue that to deny that a right exists where none is expressed is discrimination. You then argue that polygamy is outlawed so there is no discrimination, though the law is not supposed to infringe upon “…something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone.” Even though if the law is not to define the meaning for anyone why should it define it for polygamists.


    • To the point:

      “…because the law is not about codifying any one moral view. It’s about making sure that the various moral views can be expressed freely under the law.”

      You then go on to say:

      “You don’t seem to get that polygamy is illegal across the board so they’re not being discriminated against.”

      But polygamy is a moral view. The law should allow it to be expressed freely. The fact that all should be allowed to express their moral view and that the law currently proclaims polygamy illegal is discrimination.


      • I said: “under the law.” And there is no fundamental right to marry as many people as you want simultaneously. There is a fundamental right to marry one person of your choosing.

        If you think that the anti-polygamy laws are unconstitutional based on the freedom of religion then by all means, go for it. It’s been tried and it failed.

        Again, that has no bearing on current law as it stands right now with regard to same sex marriage.


        • So then some moral views can be Illegal? Why polygamy then?

          But again what I have been saying is that laws like Loving vs. Virginia that you point to do not clearly prohibit polygamy.


          • I mean that’s a whole different argument. I don’t know that much about polygamy, but I believe the main argument against it that caused it to be outlawed was that it was shown that those relationships harm people. It was labeled as a crime, therefore it wasn’t allowed under the freedom of religion since you can’t break the law simply because your religion allows you to. Where marriage between two people is an equal union, polygamy is not equal and in many instances is a way to control women and keep them subservient.

            But again what I have been saying is that laws like Loving vs. Virginia that you point to do not clearly prohibit polygamy.
            They don’t have to. All 50 states have laws on the books that outlaw polygamy.


    • The problem is you argue that a right exists where none is expressed.
      It’s well established that the right to marry is a fundamental American right. Loving v. Virginia is one such case – a Supreme Court decision. Arguing against that in a court of law would be futile.

      You then argue that to deny that a right exists where none is expressed is discrimination.
      There doesn’t need to be an explicit law legalizing same sex marriage in order for that right to exist. It’s very clear: 1) The right to marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. 2) Homosexuals are Americans. 3) Therefore, they have the right to marry a person of their choosing, same as all citizens. Proposition 8 violated this right by expressing forbidding them from marrying the person of their choosing. Hence, Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

      You then argue that polygamy is outlawed so there is no discrimination, though the law is not supposed to infringe upon “…something as personal as marriage, something into which people enter for a countless number of reasons and feelings, the law doesn’t try to define that meaning for anyone.”
      I made that claim in a response to a different line of conversation entirely that has no bearing on our current conversation. I said that with regard to the law not bearing some moral definition of marriage that all Americans must follow, that the law allows for people of differing beliefs to bring their own personal values of what marriage is to their own marriages free of government intrusion, in terms of whether or not marriage is required for procreation, or whether it’s main purpose is for creating a family with children, etc. You’re completely taking it out of context. Also – polygamists aren’t discriminated against because it is outlawed for all people. You clearly do not understand discrimination because you keep bringing this up. I’m not going to re-explain it yet again.

      Even though if the law is not to define the meaning for anyone why should it define it for polygamists.
      The meaning of marriage is separate from what the laws state. This is the essential disconnect that we’re having and what many anti-SSM people have, too. It’s not about some moral meaning. It’s just law. Supreme Court rulings have found marriage to be a fundamental right, where people are free to choose their own partner. Denying people that right to choose who they wish to marry goes against current law. If you want to fight the polygamists fight for them, go for it, but it’s not at all the same process.


      • But Loving vs. Virginia does not explicitly state that marriage applies to same sex couple as it does not deny the possibility of polygamous relations.

        And how can the meaning of marriage be different than what the law states. Is there is no nature of marriage?

        “You clearly do not understand discrimination because you keep bringing this up. I’m not going to re-explain it yet again.”

        See my post immediate to yours.


        • Loving v. Virginia doesn’t need to explicitly state that marriage applies to same sex couples. It provides the validity of the first premise in the argument: that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. That’s all we need that ruling to do in this case against Prop 8.

          The meaning of marriage is what you bring to your own marriage. The personal meaning of marriage is different than the law because the law simply guarantees Americans the right to get married. It doesn’t dictate the reasons or spiritual purposes for getting married. There is no nature of marriage in the eyes of civil law. Just the law that grants the freedom to get married.


  20. It would seem to as the case was about interracial marriage and not same sex marriage. And is there is no nature of marriage in civil law, and marriage is about the right to marry, again polygamy should be fine. The law should grant that freedom as it is not about a nature (a couple vs. a group) just about the right to express one’s conception of what marriage is.


    • Phillip — you truly do not understand how law works, so this makes this conversation relatively pointless.

      Yes, Loving v. Virgina was about interracial marriage in that people were being discriminated against based solely on the color of their skin, which the government found to be unconstitutional. The key part to glean from this case is that it helped to establish that marriage is a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all Americans. Marriage in this sense is between two people.

      And is there is no nature of marriage in civil law
      What do you even mean by “nature”? I used it previously for an entirely different argument regarding the fact that law doesn’t imply morality or meaning; it only establishes what is and is not legal.

      and marriage is about the right to marry
      This makes no sense. I think what you mean is that Americans have the right to marriage. Yes, two citizens have the fundamental right to be married, regardless of who they are.

      Your logic doesn’t stand up because marriage is recognized by law as two people, not multiple people. Marriage amongst multiple people has no legality in any court cases or in any state laws. The marriage laws that are on the books involve two people, so the right to polygamy doesn’t exist. It’s outlawed across the board.

      The law should grant that freedom as it is not about a nature (a couple vs. a group) just about the right to express one’s conception of what marriage is.
      People aren’t free to express every conception of what marriage is. People can’t marry rocks, or marry multiple people, or marry their pets. The right to marriage that exists based on state laws and court cases involves two consenting adults. Once that right, that specific right to marry a person of your choice exists for all Americans, it can’t be denied based on prejudice, whether that be due to your race or due to your sexual orientation, because that’s discrimination, which is unconstitutional.

      I feel like we have exhausted this topic, Phillip and I’m tired of typing the same thing over and over and over again because it won’t change. Your argument that polygamy should be legal because of discrimination doesn’t exist; it’s not the same fight as what went on over Prop 8.


      • “Your logic doesn’t stand up because marriage is recognized by law as two people, not multiple people. Marriage amongst multiple people has no legality in any court cases or in any state laws. The marriage laws that are on the books involve two people…”

        You like to say “…where does it say.” So where does it explicitly say that marriage between two people equals marriage between same sexes? Nowhere will it be found of course as nowhere does it say that marriage is to be limited to different sexes. That is the point of the court cases. To determine what is the right interpretation of the wording. The final decision on this point will be up to the Supreme Court. That is my understanding of how the law will work.

        As we are discussing the meaning of the written words, one can also discuss the meaning of “between two people.” You are right that that is what the case says. But note, the case does not say that marriage is “only” this. It is thus ambiguous. It could mean that it is only about two people. But it could be open to more than one as it does not explicitly deny that more than one can be involved. Just as Loving vs. Virginia does not clearly state same sex couples or not, it does not clearly state only two people.

        If we chose to discuss the wording in the first way, we must be open to the second.


        • Polygamy is illegal. In every state. That’s where it says that marriage is only between two people because if it’s not with any more than two, then it has to be only between two.

          And Loving v. Virginia doesn’t say anything about same sex couples, that’s correct. But it establishes the precedent that the right to marry is a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all Americans. It’s merely providing one premise in the argument in favor of same sex marriage. No one is saying that Loving. v Virginia itself legalizes same sex marriage.

          Where was the law that explicitly said that marriages between two people equals marriage between two people of different races (prior to Loving. v. Virginia)? By your logic, interracial should never have been legalized because it wasn’t already specified in existing law.


  21. “‘But again what I have been saying is that laws like Loving vs. Virginia that you point to do not clearly prohibit polygamy.’

    They don’t have to. All 50 states have laws on the books that outlaw polygamy.”

    But if civil law is not to dictate what moral choices are brought to the meaning of marriage and there is no nature to marriage, then those 50 state laws appear to be discrimination. Perhaps the “harm” that you note above is not so for those in polygamous relationships. Who are you to say?

    But you seem to be saying that the state can limit marriage under certain circumstances.


    • Phillip — you keep going back to this argument based on a false understanding of discrimination. In order to be discriminated against, one must be denied rights that others enjoy. No one enjoys the right to marry multiple people, therefore polygamists aren’t discriminated against. You can argue the validity of the laws in every state that make polygamy illegal, but you can’t say that it’s discrimination.

      Also – I’m not saying that there necessarily is harm, only that that was one of the reasons for striking it down; but, I’m no expert. And if you want to bring that case to court, you could probably find a lawyer who will take it on. I imagine there are plenty of social studies that show the effects of polygamy on a family and on a community, but I have no idea what those findings would be.

      I’m only pointing out that there already is the right to marry between two American citizens. That right exists. To discriminate against two people based solely on their sexual orientation is discrimination. Hence, Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Polygamy is an entirely different argument. And, I think we really have exhausted this topic.


  22. “…you keep going back to this argument based on a false understanding of discrimination. In order to be discriminated against, one must be denied rights that others enjoy.”

    Again a false premise as noted above.


    • You didn’t disprove this premise at all in your previous response. Please show me where this was refuted by providing your own definition of discrimination.


  23. This is somewhat a repetition of what I wrote in the sub-thread above (not good at threaded comments), but I think the basic breakdown between you two is pretty clear:

    Ryan is taking it as an assumption that marriage is neutral as regards to sex — that it doesn’t matter whether one marries someone of the same or the opposite sex. By this theory, I as a staight man have the right to marry “whoever I want” but someone else who is gay does not. Of course, this seems to fall down on that point that if, as a straight man, decided I wanted to marry another man rather than a woman, I would be denied this right despite my orientation. Being straight does not give one the ability to marry people of the same sex if one so chooses, so what seems to be the case here is the enforcement of a definition of what marriage is rather than a case of discrimination.

    Philip is taking it as an assumption that marriage is specifically between a man and a woman — in this regard there is no case of discrimination against homosexuals.

    The issue is, given that California has voted that marriage is specifically between members of the opposite sex, and given that this has been the traditional understanding of American society (I don’t think Ryan can really deny this, even if he seeks to come to a less discriminatory place now through evolution) this means that adopting same sex marriage will be experienced as a change in the nature of marriage by the majority of Americans — even if SSM supports don’t see it as such.


    • Philip is taking it as an assumption that marriage is specifically between a man and a woman — in this regard there is no case of discrimination against homosexuals.

      My argument isn’t based on an assumption: it is a fundamental American right to be able to marry the partner of your choosing. Once that is established, which it is, then the rest follows. If the majority group can choose whomever they wish to marry (within the limits of the law, regarding incest, animals, and minors which are all separate issues), then it’s discrimination if a minority party is denied these rights. Those who wish to marry a partner of the same sex are forbidden, by law, to do so.

      That is discrimination.

      And that relates to straight men who wish to marry each other as well — no idea why that would happen, but then again, there are all sorts of heterosexual marriages of convenience, too, so who am I do judge?

      The issue is, given that California has voted that marriage is specifically between members of the opposite sex, and given that this has been the traditional understanding of American society (I don’t think Ryan can really deny this, even if he seeks to come to a less discriminatory place now through evolution) this means that adopting same sex marriage will be experienced as a change in the nature of marriage by the majority of Americans — even if SSM supports don’t see it as such.

      The Constitution and the legality of the Proposition trumps the legislature voting on the definition of marriage. Checks and balances. Sure 7 million Californians voted in favor of that definition. But don’t forget that was only 52% of the vote. That means that roughly 6 million voters voted against it. We live in a republic, not a direct democracy; the courts make sure that laws voted upon are in fact constitutional.

      It has been the traditional understanding of marriage, sure. But that doesn’t mean that it gets a get-out-of-jail-free card with regards to the Constitution. Many traditional customs were the “norm” for ages but don’t hold up to the law of the land — slavery, black people not being able to vote, women being considered property, no interracial marriage, etc. etc. etc.

      Nothing changes in terms of the “nature” of marriage. The nature of marriage is whatever you ascribe to marriage for yourself. The law doesn’t change anyone’s marriages or any of their validity — legalizing SSM only allows for everyone to be able to enjoy the fundamental right that already exists.


    • But see, this is where your assumption comes in — surely you can at least see that you’re making an assumption?

      You are assuming that marriage can be either between people of the opposite or of the same sex, and thus concluding that current law discriminates against those desiring a marriage with someone of the same sex. If marriage can only exist between people of the opposite sex, if asking for a same sex marriage is like asking for a circle with four corners, then the demand is nonsensical.

      Now, you clearly admit that some desires can be reasonably ruled out. For instance, you have no problem with the law stating that you can marry the person of your choosing so long as that person is not your parent or sibling or so long as that person is not already married.

      It’s just that you have chosen, based on your own preferences, to see these other restrictions as reasonable but to see the restriction so long as that person is of the opposite sex as unreasonable.

      Why other people should be required to agree with your assumptions is unclear to me. You’ve already shown that you have no problem saying that people who desire to marry their siblings do not have a fundamental right to do so.


      • Why other people should be required to agree with your assumptions is unclear to me.

        How is the legalization of SSM at all forcing you to agree with me? SSM is legal, right now, in California and five other states plus the District of Columbia. Yet here you are disagree with me with zero persecution. Zero repercussions from the government. You’re more than free to exercise your right to disagree with my assumptions.

        But when you outlaw marriage to a minority group based simply on their genders, you are forcing them to agree with you.

        And if I’m doing the same thing to those people who want to marry their parents – which you imply is wrong and denying them their right to marriage – why should other people be required to agree with your assumptions, then? Why are your assumptions better than mine? (See how your argument just goes round and round and round?)

        If there is no definition of marriage in the Constitution and the states are left to determine their own laws, those laws must then abide by the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. And if we can agree that some Americans are homosexuals. Then they have the right to marry, which is the freedom to choose their own partner.

        At this point you’ll want to interject about being denied the right to marry your sister or marry someone who is already married. And those are different arguments for different people. It has less to do with the marriage than it does the laws against incest, for example. Since it’s a crime in nearly all 50 states to have sexual relations with a blood relative, then that pretty much rules out marriage. Just like you can’t marry a minor because adults having sexual relations with children is a crime. Same with polygamy — it’s illegal in every single state. Those rights don’t exist for anyone. No one is being discriminated against. Not having the right to do something is not the same as being discriminated against. I don’t have the right to kill someone for no reason, but that doesn’t mean that I’m being discriminated against because no one has the right to kill someone for no reason.

        And, regardless, being gay isn’t a crime. Being gay isn’t illegal. I’m not making assumptions about any of this — it’s all there in the law.

        So, then how can you deny rights to Americans based simply on their sexual orientation?


      • I recognize that you’re not trying to force people to agree with you — but in marking an argument that people are being denied the right to marry whom they wish because of their orientation, you’re making an argument which can only be correct if people accept your assumption that gender is irrelevant to marriage. If people don’t accept that argument (as I don’t) then your argument has no validity. You might as well be demanding the right to a circle with four corners, or the right of a man to give birth, etc.

        Your explanations on how the demand for SSM is different from a demand for incestuous marriage or a demand for polygamous marriage is similarly based on assumption and personal preference. You reject the consensus of 40+ years ago that same sex relations are unhealthy, wrong or illegal, but you accept the still-in-place consensus that these other sexual arrangements are unhealthy, wrong or illegal.

        But the problem is, you seem unable to recognize that the only difference between your acceptance of the one and the rejection of the other is that accept a social convention that the one is okay and the other isn’t.

        This is why your argument is deeply unpersuasive. It’s formulated around a claim that people have the right to marry whomever they want — but you don’t actually want to make that absolute. You aren’t even willing to make an absolute claim of “People have a right to marry whomever they want so long as those other people are adults over the age of consent and they do in fact all consent” primarily, so far as I can tell, because you don’t want to be seen as allying yourself with ideas which most people find morally objectionable.

        But this means that you are left on the one hand insisting that marriage is, legally, nothing more than a legal contract between consenting adults which they have the right to make with whomever they choose — that it can be restricted by no other purpose or social custom beyond that — and yet at the same time asserting that this only applies to certain instances and not to others.

        I realize that it’s hard for people to work outside their set of assumptions, or even see that they’re making assumptions at times, but this really is getting pretty stark.


        • you’re making an argument which can only be correct if people accept your assumption that gender is irrelevant to marriage
          It’s not irrelevant to marriage. It surely changes the dynamic of the relationship, but it doesn’t make it any less valid, nor should it make it any less legal. I’m not assuming anything as to the value of this, and that’s where this discussion keeps going off the rails. I have no interest in determining the definition of marriage — I just want the existing right, the fundamental right that exists currently (which includes all of the current stipulations with regard to incest, etc.) to be extended to all people that are eligible (because, yes, there are stipulations), because right now it is not.

          demand for SSM is different from a demand for incestuous marriage or a demand for polygamous marriage is similarly based on assumption and personal preference.
          It’s based on the law. What’s stark is how many times I’ve had to explain this yet you seem to have no interest in it: the right to incest and the right to polygamy doesn’t exist. Not one single American can do this. If they want to fight for that right, then they are more than welcome. But the right to marry a person of your choice (given the stipulations that already exist) is there already – yet people are being denied this who are otherwise completely able and eligible to be married based on their gender and the gender of the person that they choose.

          But the problem is, you seem unable to recognize that the only difference between your acceptance of the one and the rejection of the other is that accept a social convention that the one is okay and the other isn’t.
          I’m not rejecting the others. That’s not my argument nor my fight. My current battle is to ensure that everyone who can enjoy the fundamental right to marriage are allowed to. And Prop 8 prevented that. Your argument is that since marriage already leaves people out, it should also leave out homosexuals because that’s just the way it’s been so that’s the way it has to be. At least I’m making an argument — saying that the status quo should remain simply because it’s the status quo isn’t an argument. You falsely assume that “the way things always have been” to mean “the way it should be,” when in fact, how long an institution has been in place doesn’t necessarily mean that it should remain so going forward.

          It’s formulated around a claim that people have the right to marry whomever they want — but you don’t actually want to make that absolute.

          Who said I wanted to make that absolute? And who says that it needs to be absolute to end discrimination? I am seeking to end the discrimination currently in place in many states and which was occurring in California with the passing of Prop 8. That’s it. And I’m not making some random claim or assumption — the right to marry is a fundamental right established by the law, by the courts, by numerous rulings. This isn’t assumption, and the fact that you don’t even bother to recognize that shows how little you are interested in arguing the civil law ramifications versus this desire to define marriage. They are not necessarily the same thing.

          But this means that you are left on the one hand insisting that marriage is, legally, nothing more than a legal contract between consenting adults which they have the right to make with whomever they choose — that it can be restricted by no other purpose or social custom beyond that — and yet at the same time asserting that this only applies to certain instances and not to others.

          When did I say that it can’t be restricted at all? I wish I could explain to you how I’m arguing existing law, not assumptions. Marriage IS a legal contract. It’s also a spiritual bond for those who enter into sacred matrimony by a holy institution. But we’re talking about civil marriage. And when you sign that marriage license — it’s called a license, much like a driver’s license, or a boating license — it’s a legal contract.

          The issue is that marriage exists in both the legal realm and in the non-secular realm. The non-secular realm can define marriage however it wishes. But civil law must adhere to the Constitution. That’s why it’s not my assumption that incest is wrong that makes me argue that it should remain illegal — it’s because there are separate laws that define incest and outlaw it. Therefore, you can’t marry your sister because incest itself is illegal. If ever one of us were trying to say a circle had four corners, it’d be you in conflating these two separate arenas of law, as if there is some long definition of marriage that says “one can marry another person of his/her choice as long as it’s not 1) of the same gender, 2) of blood relation, 3) married to another person, ..etc.” It’s a matter of crime. And in order to change that, one wouldn’t need to worry about changing some grand definition of marriage as much as have to change the law to make those specific acts legal.

          Note that you haven’t refuted the following:

          Being gay isn’t a crime.
          There is no definition of marriage in the Constitution.
          While SSM is now legal in California, your ability to be married is not affected at all, while if vice versa, homosexual couples lives would be greatly and adversely affected.

          But I think the problem is that we’re arguing different things. You’re arguing the status quo, the generally accepted cultural definition of marriage; while I’m arguing the existing law — which you have yet to refute.

          If anyone’s having trouble working outside their set of assumptions, it’s you.


        • Things are getting hopelessly repetitive at this point, so I think I’ll almost certainly leave this as my last and give you the last word.

          I have no interest in determining the definition of marriage — I just want the existing right, the fundamental right that exists currently (which includes all of the current stipulations with regard to incest, etc.) to be extended to all people that are eligible (because, yes, there are stipulations), because right now it is not.

          The section I bolded is essentially the problem here — you say you have no interest in determining the definition of marriage, but in demanding that people be able to marry others of the same sex, you implicitly define marriage as being something which can be either same sex or opposite sex. You are attempting to define marriage, though you seem reluctant to admit it, and it’s the disagreement over definition that’s at issue here. After all, if marriage is definitionally something which is only available between members of the opposite sex, then there is not discrimination against homosexuals in its availability since they have exactly the same right to marry people of the opposite sex that straight people do.

          When you say that people have the right to marry someone of the same sex if they want to, you are defining marriage.

          the right to incest and the right to polygamy doesn’t exist. Not one single American can do this.

          The right to sex and living together among consenting adults is legal and does exist for all Americans. If a man and three women or a brother and sister decide to share a house and and bed, that is not illegal so long as they are doing so through mutual consent. They are, however, denied the benefits of legal marriage, despite having formed a sexual relationship and a household, for the reason that we as a society choose (rightly I believe) to define such relationships an ineligable for marriage.

          However, your rationale does not seem to provide any explanation as to why these should not be considered marriage other than that you don’t have any interest in the topic.

          Heck, there’s much stronger historical precedent globally for polygamy and incestuous marriage than there is for same sex marriage.

          Your argument is that since marriage already leaves people out, it should also leave out homosexuals because that’s just the way it’s been so that’s the way it has to be.

          No, my argument is that marriage exists to provide a legal framework for human mate pairs, but the purpose of providing a stable context for the reproduction of society. Given that, I think it should definitionally only be provided to opposite sex relationships — and for cultural and moral reasons I think it should only be provided to monogamous relationships (rather than polygamous ones) and should exclude incest and other practices which cause genetic defects and which I also believe are socially and morally dysfunctional.

          The reason for excluding same sex relationships from marriage is very simply: they don’t fit its purpose. Anyone with a basic understanding of biology is aware that reproduction can only function between members of the opposite sex.

          Historically, societies have tolerated and even praised many other sorts of sexual or remantic relationships or partnerships – including those between members of the same sex. However, these have not historically been defined as marriage and I don’t think they need to be.

          I am seeking to end the discrimination currently in place in many states and which was occurring in California with the passing of Prop 8. That’s it. And I’m not making some random claim or assumption — the right to marry is a fundamental right established by the law, by the courts, by numerous rulings. This isn’t assumption, and the fact that you don’t even bother to recognize that shows how little you are interested in arguing the civil law ramifications versus this desire to define marriage. They are not necessarily the same thing.

          Yes, you are making the assumption that marriage is something which admits of same sex relationships — that it is gender agnostic. In order to even contemplate the question one must either assume that marriage is gender sensitive or gender neutral — you can’t move on to arguing for or against same sex marriage without making one of those assumptions. It’s inescapable.

          That’s why it’s not my assumption that incest is wrong that makes me argue that it should remain illegal — it’s because there are separate laws that define incest and outlaw it.

          There were “sodomy laws” in some states until relatively recently — at that time would you have opposed same sex marriage as impossible?

          Also, as I pointed out, sexual relations between consenting adult relatives are not illegal, not those between polyamorous groups. It’s marriage of such groups that is illegal — just like same sex marriage under Prop 8.

          Note that you haven’t refuted the following:

          1) Being gay isn’t a crime.
          2) There is no definition of marriage in the Constitution.
          3) While SSM is now legal in California, your ability to be married is not affected at all, while if vice versa, homosexual couples lives would be greatly and adversely affected.

          I have expressed no interest in refuting either for the first two.

          On point three, I have not asserted that SSM would in any way restrict the ability of people to marry those of the opposite sex — though I don’t agree that homosexual couples would be greatly and adversely affected by a lack of SSM. California already provides legal structures for dealing with community property, wills, visitation rights, etc. without re-defining marriage as SSM advocates seek to do. Let’s be clear: the fight for SSM is a fight for cultural and social recognition and legitimacy — the only legal difference that it will make is that it will be slightly harder for same sex couples to legally separate than it was using contracts and/or civil unions.


          • Yes, I do believe we’ve gone round and round enough. Probably time to just agree to disagree.

            That said, I understand your personal definition of marriage and I understand that value both to those who feel that way and to the community for those who enter into marriage with that mindset. But until you can prove that the state has defined definition as being primarily for procreation and nuclear family construction – which you admit doesn’t exist by not having any interest in refuting that the Constitution doesn’t define marriage – and that the state’s interests in family building of one man, one woman, both entering into marriage with the expressed understanding that they will have children if they’re biologically able to, is so important and vital so as to justify the discrimination of a minority group of Americans, I’d say that you don’t have a legal argument for that definition of marriage. You just have your personal opinion. To which you’re completely entitled, but not for imposing that belief onto everyone else.



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