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November 14, 2006

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Roach

I would like to return to a point I made above that is essential to understanding the connection between human dignity and the traditional Christian basis for condemning homosexual activity. It is well summed up by the Catholic Church's teaching on the subject, which can be found in the 1986 statement to Bishops from then Cardinal Ratzinger:

"The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.

"To chose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

"As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one's own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood."

Stone's expression of confusion at various Biblical passages above never addresses the fundamental "telos" of sex and sex differences between men and women that is contained in Genesis and repeated throughout the Bible. In the Christian view, sex is not about self-expression, avoiding repression, or mere titilation, it is supposed to be an expression of love for another human being, complementary in nature, open to the procreation that is so central to the institution of marriage. Homosexual sex of all kinds lacks these characteristics.

The human dignity of homosexual is no more affirmed by allowing them to marry or pretending this "objectively disordered" way of life is acceptable than the dignity of alcoholics is furthered by giving them a drink or the happiness of children is affirmed by allowing them to consent to sexual activity with their parents or other adults. All of these things, while providing the simulacrum of happiness that can be found in certain kinds of stimulation, do not work to the benefit of individuals and their ultimate happiness, because that ultimate happiness can only be found in fulfilling divinely ordained purposes.

Without some notion of the purpose of sex, relationships, and marriage that goes beyond variable and subjective and ever-shifting individualized notions of pleasure, there is no way to even discuss whether a particular sexual act and relationship is moral or not. This is what is missing from LAK and others' discussion. They assume, without establishing why, that whatever two people consent is always for their benefit and happiness and, moreover, should be permitted and encouraged by law.

The whole basis of paternalistic legislation of all kind--including things like ages of consent, but also laws against drugs, usury, gambling, and any number of other self-destructive vices--is that what people want at a given moment and what even may give them a certain pleasure, may not contribute to their own or society's happiness and flourishing.

I realize of course many people in our society are not Christian or Catholic. But Catholic teaching on this matter follows what has been revealed to other cultures, including pagan ones, through nature itself. When Catholics teach that every Catholic has to go to Mass on Sunday, this is not something that can or should be enshrined in legislation; it is a purely religious obligation. But when the Church teaches slavery is wrong, or that the death penalty should be a last resort, or that civil laws on marriage must conform to and respect the natural law, this is a teaching for all men, revealed to them in nature by using their reason.

The fundamental complementarity of men and women sexually and the fundamental immorality of homosexual and certain other sexual relationships has been known to all men everwhere that have looked at this question without rigging the debate in advance by taking the issue of the "telos" or purpose of sexuality off the table as irrelevant. Sexual relationships ultimately serve an important social end, the continuation of the species. They also serve, by allowing parents to raise children, a broader and more transcendent aim in allowing people to participate in the divine and sacrifical love that comes with having and raising children and thus achieve a kind of happiness that will always be denied to those who seek in relationships "self expression."

Homosexual "marriages" no more serve the ultimate end of sex than concubinage, acquisitive polygamy, or heterosexual promiscuity for that matter.

LAK's venom above is telling. He may hate me for what I believe and what I have said. But he also in effect is saying that he hates what his Catholic and traditional Christian countrymen for what they believe too. These truths are non-negotiable and of public importance. They are not merely religious strictures that can be kept on a shelf. Stone's attempt to dismiss religiously based poltical arguments has little precedent in American life, where everything from abolition to the peace movement of the 1960s often made arguments on the basis of widely shared Christian principles. If Stone had his way, the hard-headed Darwinist beliefs of the "scientific racists" of the 1920s and the eugenecists would have had to have been given free reign, among other horrors.

Neither Stone, nor LAK, nor anyone else can censor a Christian's conscience, nor his right to express those beliefs in how he votes, or what he writes to his representatives, or ultimately in what he will accept as a legitimate government act. Just as the state's laws cannot make man who is "radically free" a slave, and a true Christian would never accept that slave is anything but a free moral agent whom the law must recognize as such. A true Christian will not recognize the union of two men, two women, or anything other than one man and women as a couple entitled to a marriage.

Marriage-Counseling-Try-and-Try-Again

Well you certainly have them talking with this post.

Your support of your daughter is admirable. Perhaps you covered it in another blog post, but I couldn't help wondering about the time when Molly told you she was gay and whether you struggled at all with that, before getting to the point you are at now. I smiled at your comment about thinking she was supportive of "others" in high school.

It's wonderful that Molly has now found someone who complements her. Molly is lucky that this means she has a larger family, instead of a choice between her old family and her new one.

Would love to hear about how you all got to this point.

curtisstrong

Roach,

You´re right. No one can tell you what to believe and no one can tell you how to vote and no one can tell you what to tell your representatives. I´m glad you´ve got the basics down.

Yet...there´s this little thing called the establishment clause that prevents you from forcing others to go along with that reasoning, at least not by way of legislation. We´re no longer in the Middle Ages in Europe. So, your dichotomy (along with your little speech) about what can and can´t be enforced by government is really based on existing law (namely, the constitution and it´s corresponding jurisprudence), and NOT on Christian values per se.

I would agree that Christian values play into the government of our country, based on culture, history, tradition and so on. I would also argue that the two have a historic interplay in which they effect and change one another. The exact details and how that all works out is obviously too complicated to treat fully here.

However, we have based our system of law on a principle that we be fair and unbiased toward all religions that can be practiced within the laws of the country and the states. We have also decided, based on that principle, that religion not be established by the government, and that all laws have a rational basis ASIDE from whatever religious implications that they might entail.

I am a Christian, Roach. I don´t personally believe that homosexuality is within God´s framework for eternal salvation. But I also recognize the importance of abiding by laws and principles that are fair. Hence, in dealing with my personal life, I live by and in accordance with my faith. However, the religious arguments do not come into bearing in the legal arena simply because there is no good reason aside from a religious belief that justifies this discrimination.

When and if I come across an argument resembling a "rational basis" upon which discrimination can be upheld, I´ll change my tune because it then becomes a political question that should be left to legislatures. Until then, it is my belief that religion should not be used to undermine the constitution and the laws of the country, no matter how deep our religious convictions.

BTW,

No, I don´t view avoiding the Armageddon as a legitimate governmental use of power.

No, I don´t view "tradition" in and of itself a rational basis upon which to make future decisions.

No, I don´t view homosexual marriage as the equivalent of "shoe-marriage."

No, I don´t view the "making babies" argument as legitimate because of all the exceptions that quickly come to the mind of any rational person...things that we have been over before.

So, until you can give me any legitimate/rational/reasoned argument as to why this question should be left to legislatures, then I will continue to view homosexual bans as illegitimate, irrational, and unreasoned. The courts should strike them all.

Cynic

"Stone's expression of confusion at various Biblical passages above never addresses the fundamental "telos" of sex and sex differences between men and women that is contained in Genesis and repeated throughout the Bible."

Again with these vague references to "sex differences"... I don't believe you ever specifically laid out what these are in response to my request in another thread that you do so, Roach.

"Without some notion of the purpose of sex, relationships, and marriage that goes beyond variable and subjective and ever-shifting individualized notions of pleasure, there is no way to even discuss whether a particular sexual act and relationship is moral or not."

What if I said the purpose of sex is recreational, rather than procreational? Or what if I said it was a means of establishing your identity? Why are these any less valid than the Catholic church's definition of sex? Why, in a pluralist society, should the Catholic church's value win out? Your assertion that other cultures somehow "naturally" flock toward Catholic law is wrong. You can't make these sweeping claims and then offer absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back them up. Let's see your evidence, then.

And speaking of the Catholic church, does this mean that anal sex and oral sex between married persons is also out of the question? Because if not, what on earth could possibly be the relevant distinction between straight couples who only ever engage in oral and/or anal sex (I'm sure you could find one if you looked hard enough), and gay couples? And if so... well, I have some Catholic ex-boyfriends who may need to brush up on their church doctrine.

"The fundamental complementarity of men and women sexually and the fundamental immorality of homosexual and certain other sexual relationships has been known to all men everwhere that have looked at this question without rigging the debate in advance by taking the issue of the "telos" or purpose of sexuality off the table as irrelevant."

huh??? Again, you're not defining what you're talking about. Vague references don't cut it in debate, Roach. If you're going to make the controversial and contentious claim that men and women are inherently and importantly different, you're going to have to back it up. Since it isn't 1950 anymore, this no longer counts as a self-evident statement.

"A true Christian will not recognize the union of two men, two women, or anything other than one man and women as a couple entitled to a marriage."

Roach, do you seriously purport to know better than another person whether that person is a Christian? It's been a while since I went to Sunday school, but I'm almost positive there are verses in the Bible about 1) not judging and 2) the fact that only GOD knows what is in another person's heart. Surely you do not claim to have co-equal knowledge to GOD about what is in another person's heart?

Frederick Hamilton

Roach of course doesn't know what is in yours or my heart. He does know fairly well the issue of same sex marriage and its disfavor throughout the nation.

On Nov 7 another eight states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin) passed ammendments banning same sex marriage. What is that now? 46 or 47 state laws banning same sex marriage?

The decision for or against same sex marriage will be decided by the people. All courts except Massachusetts have backed off judging it a "right" to a marriage. This is a societal issue not a judicial issue. The pnumbras of the U.S. Constitution don't touch on marriage and it will be hard to argue that marriage was some sort of foreign concept when the Constitution was ratified. There will not be a Roe v Wade type judicial fiat from the Supremes invalidating the legislatures and plebiscites of over 40 states anytime soon.

It is a free country and people can move to Massachusetts if they wish. Actually the people of Massachusetts will be heard soon. Their Supreme Court invalidated a ballot issue, but the people will overcome the court and get it to a vote and I suspect evem Massachusetts will go the way of the rest of the country.

With time maybe gays, and polygamists, and incestualists will get their "right" to marry one another. Some argue Sullivan legalized all of it (same sex, multiple marriage partners, et al). It doesn't seem so yet. Another Supreme decision? Nah. The Supremes can be off the wall at times, but even they understand that the people get to decided these societal issues. If they do bring down a Roe v Wade on marriage, look for a constitutional amendment to possibly pass taking it away from the Supremes as has happened in 40 some states and their courts and possibly soon to happen even in Massachusetts.

Erasmussimo

I swore off this discussion but two factors have tempted me back: the return to civility and the jaw-dropping statements of Mr. Roach. But first, I owe Mr. Hamilton an acknowledgment of the solidity of his argument. Yes, when we have overwhelming popular support of a policy, then that popular support should prevail. I'm not so sure, however, that overall opposition to gay marriage is as overwhelming as you suggest. I suspect that, with time, these laws will be removed by popular vote, but I agree with you that it is plausible that, should the SCOTUS rule that laws against gay marriage are unconstitutional, an amendment banning gay marriage might just make it through. Still, I would much prefer to see such an amendment to clarify the matter, and in the absence of such an amendment, I consider the legal situation confused.

But Mr. Roach's intellectual parochialism leaves me aghast. In the first place, his assertions that Christianity is profoundly anti-gay are undermined by church history. In the first millenium there were quite a few gay elements in the Christian church, even a pair of saints who were apparently gay partners. Given that the early Christian church sprang directly from classical culture, which was quite open to homosexuality, this is not surprising. It is true that the Church eventually condemned homosexuality, the history of the issue is nowhere near so black-and-white as Mr. Roach would have us believe.

Moreover, his references to homosexuality as a violation of natural law are completely wrong. Biologists have discovered homosexuality in a number of species, and now recognize that this behavior has some adaptive benefits for some individuals. If that weren't the case, homosexuality would long since have been scrubbed out of our genome.

There's no question that condemnation of homosexuality is a broadly held belief in this country. But Mr. Roach's extension of that belief to some sort of grand universal law reflects the parochialism of his outlook, not anything existing in reality.

LAK

Roach, I don't hate you or anyone. I find your beliefs repugnant and your posts offensive.

Well at least there we have it. Roach appeals to his particular religion to justify his stance against not just equal protection for homosexuals under the law, but against homosexuality ion general.

Again a failure of civics lessons. Like I said Roach, I'm not that differenet than you. I don't really think homosexuality is good for individuals or society, but unlike you I'm not willing to impose my beliefs on others as a matter of law. Nor am I willing to call homosexuality a brain defect or mental illness.

It is so telling that you believe in individual liberty, unless, that is, someone's exercise of that liberty conflicts with your personal religious views.

Someone should take a large copy of the first amendment and hit you over the head with it repeatedly. I know you are not much for the separation of church and state, but your willingness to impose your religious views on others, to the point where you are willing to deny people substantive due process, basic privacy and liberty, and equal protection of the laws makes me ashamed you even went to law school. So much for the establishment clause huh?

Let's all just impose irrational, faith based Christian doctrine on everyone! The world is 6000 years old! Maybe we should just confine all non-christians to internment camps.

Your lack of respect for the establishment clause is reprehensible. Your willingness to abandon the fundamental constistutioanl protections of life and liberty, to impose your particular religion on others is so so sad. You call yourself a lawyer? What shame that U of C eduacates idiot zealots like you.

David

Tom Scharbach wrote:

"The fight for equality under the law is going to be a 20-year battle -- I've just been through a year-long brawl in Wisconsin on this issue, organizing a county in opposition to the amendment, so I have a ground-level sense of how tough this is going to be -- and it is going to end up being decided by the US Supreme Court in the end."

If societal attitudes are changing as quickly as Prof. Stone believes, why not settle this at the ballot box or in the legislatures instead of in the courts?

David


Eras--

I don't see how homosexuality could have any adaptive function that would be passed down through generations of humans. It seems to me that, if homosexuality is genetic (which I do not believe it is,) it would have died out many generations ago. I cannot imagine a trait less adapted to genetic inheritance.

Frederick Hamilton

Eras,

There is no issue with more clarity than same sex marriage. It is not legal in any state save Massachusetts. Now that is pretty clear. Tough to get much more legally clear than that. Certainly as people try to file suit to challenge the laws in the other 49 states, you have judges capable of muddying up the picture I guess. Having said that, even the New York and California Supreme Courts (two pretty liberal states) have upheld the decisions of the people and legislatures to keep marriage between one man and one woman. To my observation it is pretty crystal clear. If you are gay and want to marry, move to Massachusetts for now. Pretty soon that may change also. Although if it means that much, I understand yesterday the Israeli's highest court declared same sex marriage legal, so.........many Americans have moved to Israel and they probably will accept many more, and as Prof Friedman said, people also vote with their feet.

QJM

"many Americans have moved to Israel and they probably will accept many more, and as Prof Friedman said, people also vote with their feet."

Frederick, are you trying get all the homosexuals to leave?

QJM

How do proponents of gay marriage (or opponents of it) feel about civil unions that grant all the legal benefits of marriage without actually using the term "marriage"?

Frederick Hamilton

QJM,
No no, I am open minded and tolerant of homosexuals. I don't want them to leave. Just pointed out that if they are hell bent on marriage there are places to go to accomplish their goals, ie Freidmanistic, vote with your feet.

Civil unions are fine. Any two people can invoke contractural law to give their union the force of law. But alas, why does true love (hetero or homo) require legal entanglements? If I were gay and wanted to unite, I would do it sans lawyers and the state. I wish it were that way now for all. But a significant number of lawyers need the work, so what the heck.

Roach

When legislation on a public matter like marriage or war or the death penalty or prohibition or abortion is made, and some of the folks on either side of the issue are influenced by religion, I don't see how the resulting legislation amounts to "establishment." No one is talking about requiring everyone to go to Church, believe in God, or give money to any particular denomination. What I and others like me are saying is that Christian principles can and should inform legislation on a wide variety of matters, that Christian reasons for law are as valid as any other, and that this is particularly so when the moral principles of almost every civilization and culture are in agreement on this issue. The Constitution does not permit establishment, it does not require and does not use the words "separation of Church and state" nor does it mandate, directly or implicitly, that we avoid reasoning on moral matters on the basis of widely shared Christian principles.

I do think it's funny that my pretty widely held view of the establishment clause is "reprehensible." And I find it doubly funny this kind of over-heated and merely "assertoric" rhetoric is employed by gay marriage advocates when they constantly move the goal post and demand some kind of social scientific and deracinated discourse from opponents of gay marriage. I've already put my two cents (and then some) down on that issue in another thread.

I specifically wanted to focus on this thread on the fact that Geoff Stone's rhetoric, heavy on testimonial and unnecessary if-then attacks on his opponents is itself reprehensible and does not befit the station of an educated person like him.

ctw

"if homosexuality is genetic (which I do not believe it is,) ..."

why not? as far as I know, there is negligible scientific evidence in support of either opinion.

in any event, assuming it isn't, what would you guess motivates one to opt for such a difficult life?

-charles

Chase

"If you're going to make the controversial and contentious claim that men and women are inherently and importantly different, you're going to have to back it up."

Have we really reached the point that we're so absurdly PC that the fact that men and women are different has to be spelled out, and a purportedly educated person claims to be ignorant of the evidence of those differences? Pathetic. If life experience hasn't taught you that men and women are different, you're either a recluse or willfully naive. And by the way, there are so many studies about how men and women are different in so many ways that it would be ridiculous to even begin listing them. Please, read a book or go outside - or better yet, do both.

Along that same line, if men and women are not inherently and importantly different, then why would we care about diversity in education or the workplace. Who cares if a university admits or a business employs only men or women if they're the same? Diversity only matters if there is a difference.

And there is a difference, and it does matter. Schools and offices are better where diversity is fostered and embraced. Why would the home be any different? Why not create an incentive program to encourage heterosexual homes when we have such initiatives to encourage heterogenous schools and offices?

Let's all just put on our common sense hats and think this through. When a heterosexual couple has sex, that act is immensely different than when a homosexual coule has sex (with certain obvious exceptions like infertile heterosexual couples). The potential consequences of heterosexual sex have an enormous impact on the rest of society, consequences which homosexual sex does not have. Marriage is a way of socially controlling heterosexual behavior. Criminalizing heterosexual fornication or adultery has proven futile and intrusive - so the state instead creates an incentive system, which encourages heterosexuals to have sex within a licensed program to avoid the potential negative externalities inherent in heterosexual sex - i.e., unplanned pregnancies and everything that goes along with them. There are no unplanned pregnancies in homosexual relationships, so the state has no interest in controlling them with a similar incentive. It's not worth the state's money to extend this program any further, because it's already targeted at the only ones that matter. Irresponsible sexual behavior from a heterosexual has a much worse social impact than any sexual behavior from a homosexual. Marriage is attempting to prevent dead beat dads, or worse, unknown dads, abandoned children, latch-key kids, and improve the monitoring of hereditary diseases. These interests are not invoked in homosexual relationships. All children either born or raised in homosexual homes are planned. The couple has already demonstrated forethought and careful consideration, and monitoring is built into the system of in vitro fertilization and adoption.

Yes, I realize that some heterosexuals would get married but not want to have children. That's the point! Those are the people marriage is going after. Marriage isn't trying to encourage procreation (hormones do that), it's trying to prevent irresponsible procreation. The couple who would have "married" in their church, planned on having kids together, talked it through, worked together to raise them, and died holding hands in their rocking chairs when their 80 don't need state encouragement. It's the ones who would otherwise have had irresponsible sex and accidentally had a kid were it not for the incentive of marriage.

And yes, I realize that infertile people (including old people) can't have babies. The problem is, sometimes people who think they're infertile or old end up having babies anyway, so we may as well cast a wide net. Doctors are wrong all the time. And it's cheaper and easier to just say - "all heterosexual couples."

And yes, I'm sure there are heterosexual couples who will say "but we're only planning on having anal or oral sex." Fine. But we're still encouraging all potential baby-makers to do it the state-licensed system. If you choose to not accept the benefits of that license - go ahead.

And again, this goes to show the absurdity of the "establishment clause" argument in favor of extending marriage to homosexual couples. You may not agree with the rationale I've given above, but you can't say that it's religious. It's got nothing to do with gods or angels or churches or bibles. It's got everything to do with money, public health, crime and education. So the next time you want to disagree with the policy position of another, think for a while before just jumping to the conclusion that "Well, if you don't disagree with me, it must be for some mystical, irrational religious reason, and no other."

If homosexual couples want to be "married" and have and raise children, god bless them. But the onus is on supporters of extending state-sanctioned marriage to such couples to show what's in it for the rest of us. State-sanctioned marriage is not a right - it's a state license which provides certain benefits in exchange for taking on certain obligations (just like any state license). Why should the state extend that license any further, when the purpose of that license has nothing to do with homosexual relationships?

So far, as far as I'm concerned, supporters of extending the program have not met their burden of showing why it's worth it, other than whining and saying they want in on the benefits to. Well, there is not point in giving you the benefits, because there is no point in controlling your sexual behavior in the same way. It's like me, a non-farmer, asking for a farm subsidy from the government. "Hey, I don't grow corn either, where's my money? You're discriminating against non-farmers!" Please, let's drop all the emotional heart-string pulling bull and be reasonable.

Good for Professor Stone's daughter and her partner, I hope they're very happy and congratulations to both families. But what do they care if the state gives them a little license, if not just to mooch off of the benefits that were intended, in the first place, to control the sexual behavior of heterosexual couples for reasons that have nothing to do with their relationship?

Roach

Well said, Chase. I wrote something along the same lines in an earlier debate on this site. One thing missing from your discussion, though, is that this ideal, sought after and embraced in almost every society, has fallen apart. It's fallen apart as a consequence of the pill, changes in the economy, and a deliberate campaign to destroy the remaining vestiges of traditional sexual morality. For elites, this hasn't worked out too terribly bad. THey have quite an economic cushion with which to insulate themselves from the consequences of bad behavior. But it's had enormous impacts on the lives of the working and lower classes, who have embraced the same behavior, even though their own economic prospects are tied much more closely to things like not having kids out of wedlock and only having them in committed, two-parent, two-income familes.

I wrote:

I think the "marriage is about child rearing" is perhaps imprecise. Traditional society while generally in favor of people having children was far more concerned about the problems of bastardization and sexual license. Men did not want to care for bastards; bastards tended to cause a lot of trouble, just as they do today. So it endeavored not exactly to make people have children, but to channel all socially appropriate sexual expression into lifelong, monogamous marriages for at least two reasons. [First,] this institution seemed generally to make men more responsible: more restrained, less covetous of the women of others, less alienated than they would be in a regime of polygamy (where low status men are left holding the bag). Most important, marriage provided some assurance [that any children they would be caring for] were actually their own. Men don't typically want to raise other men's children, so traditional societies were, for that reason, far more concerned with female than male chastity and, for the same reason, far more concerned with keeping men and women together at least until children reached the age of majority. Since this whole thing was a 1:1 ratio for the most part, however, that meant most people's sexuality had to be in marriage or not at all. This basic approach to marriage, which predates Christianity, was held up in high regard in Western Civilization as an aspirational standard until the 1960s.

Gay marriage is part and parcel of the broader "sexual revolution" that began in earnest in the 1960s. This entire revolution aims to undo the traditional channeling in exchange for freer, less formal, and less structured sexual relations. Far from freeing us to explore and express ourselves, I believe this sexual liberation will probably be one of the chief causes of our civilizational downfall. It will be our downfall because people won't procreate (at least at replacement levels), women will find it harder to convince a man to enter marriage as most men will find numerous sexual outlets outside of marriage (this is already visible in America's inner cities), women will still want to have children, though they won't have men around to help pay the bills and keep young boys from becoming little monsters, and people who are accustomed to lacking sexual self control will find self control harder to master in other areas of life such as education and commerce, but also including self-mastery in the realm of violence and sexual taboo. Consider the gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer or the porn-addict Ted Bundy. . . . both men's violence was predated by sexual obsession of one kind or another.

This connection between sex and violence, appetite and disorder, has long been known. Consider the story of Prometheus or Sodom and Gomorrah or Madame Bovary. Consider the parallel rise of violence (particularly violence against women) and the so-called sexual liberation of the last 30 years.

Gay marriage fits into this trend as simply another step in the same direction as liberalized divorce laws, widely available contraception and abortion, and the serial polygamy that characterizes the sex lives of most people in the form of multiple marriages or multiple sex partners outside of marriage.

It will not by itself destroy western civilization or compel otherwise straight people to become gay. But it will normalize homosexuality, normalize the homosexual practices of open relationships, anonymous sex, encourage experimentation with homosexuality, represent one more sexual option other than lifelong, monogamous heterosexual marriage, probably screw up the mental health of the children of these homosexual couples (so dominated by one sex), and, most important, it will bring into question other sexual taboos that most of us do not want to see disappear, such as the taboos against polygamy, pederasty, pedophilia, bestiality. While we don't want to see these disappear, we are becoming less and less equipped intellectually to defend them, because the taboos on which they all depend are less and less uniformly respected.

So, some kind of regulation of the sex lives of human beings is necessary for our collective well being. And channelling people, including marginal cases, bisexuals, and the like, into monogomous heterosexual marriages is the way this has been done most justly and most realistically in almost every civilization, Christian or otherwise.

LAK

Chase,

"Marriage is a way of socially controlling heterosexual behavior. Criminalizing heterosexual fornication or adultery has proven futile and intrusive - so the state instead creates an incentive system, which encourages heterosexuals to have sex within a licensed program to avoid the potential negative externalities inherent in heterosexual sex - i.e., unplanned pregnancies and everything that goes along with them. "

It's a big step to assume that marrige is some kind of government incentive for baby making heteros to avoid casual baby making. Where is your support for this idea? Surely the lastest statistics about babies born out of wedlock show that even if this is the purpose of having marriage, it doesn't work.

I'm not sure I follow your logic either. How does allowing hetero people to get married actually encourge them to have babies only in marriage? There is a huge disconnect in your reasoning. And as many a conservative will point out, getting married subjects you to a number of tax penlaties in various situations.

"it's trying to prevent irresponsible procreation"

I still don't get it. How does marriage prevent irresponsible procreation? You offer no logical connection for your premise and conclusion.

"It's the ones who would otherwise have had irresponsible sex and accidentally had a kid were it not for the incentive of marriage."

So you are actually claiming that hetero couples engage in less risky sexual behavior because marriage exists??? "No I wan't have sex with you...until we're married" Have you EVER heard of anyone saying this (other than christians who require fake costs like eternal hellfire for this equation to make any sense - and if that is the case, it ain;t marrige that keeps people from having unwanted kids, it is the fear of hell)

"If homosexual couples want to be "married" and have and raise children, god bless them. But the onus is on supporters of extending state-sanctioned marriage to such couples to show what's in it for the rest of us."

As I have noted numerous times before:
1. there are many externalities born by the rest of us in not allowing gay people to legally marry. First and foremost is the increased litiagtion and legal work that results from the reality that exists already, that there are thousands and thousands of same sex couples living functionally married lives, some with kids.
When they divorce or someone dies, there is a legal mess because the same presumtions that married heteros enjoy, like wealth succession and custody do not extend to same sex partners.

2. What is in it for the rest of us is the knowledge that there really is equal protection of the law. This issue might be different if there wer not in fact thousands and thousands of same sex families and couples living as functionally married. If a partner dies suddenly they would want their estate to pass intestate to their spouce first, just like a hetero couple would. If one of those same sex couples with children get divorced, it is a very sad thing when one of the parents is left out in the cold becasue the state does not lrgally recognize their role as a partent. Only one of the partners can have custody and it is patently unfair for the spouce who happens to adopt to gain sole custody. You see more and more of this out here in SF every day. Horror stories about bitter bre4akups in which children are not allowed to see one of tehir parnets because teh other is so bitter and has sole legal custody. This doesn;t jsut harm same sex couples, it harms children.


The onus is really on you to explain why, given the fact that same sex families exists, they shouldn't enjoy the same rights privileges and presumptions afforded to hetero couples who can file a marriage liscense with the state.

Incentive not to have unwanted children? I mean, come on! That isn't what marriage is. Not from a religious perspective, not froma legal perspective, not from a policy persepctive either. I like the attempt, but that seems to be the only argument that would pass muster, and it is so painfully wrong in practice and in theory. It might not be so if we outlawed divorce though. I'd find your "incentive not to have unwanted children" explanation a lot more plausible if people, once they were married had to stay married no matter what. Otherwise, you theory of marriage's purpose fails.

LAK

My challenge to Chase is this:

Find me just one couple who did not have risky sex or was incentivized not to have unwanted children my the mere exitence of marriage.

Ones who avoided risky sex and/or unwanted children becasue of their religious beliefs and teh religious connotations of marriage do not count.

Just find me one couple who decided not to have sex becasue marrige exists.

Incidentally, doesn't birth control kind of trump your conception of marriage? If avoiding unwanted children is marriage's only real purely hetero purpose, doesn't the existeance of birth control render marriage obsolete under you definition of marriage?


Erasmussimo

I am rushed for time but I must correct two factual errors in Mr. Roach's commentary.

First is the insinuation that all human societies have enforced what he refers to as traditional marriage arrangements. This is not correct. The most common familial structure, appearing in the great majority of societies, has an extended family as well as servants clustered in a large household. The females stay close to the house and the males operate outside the house. In many societies, females have total control of all operations inside the household, while males control external activities. American society is nothing like this at all, and so to claim tradition in support of the nuclear family is absurd. Indeed, current American family structures are not even traditional by American standards. So forget about wrapping the current family structure in the robes of tradition -- there's no factual basis for it.

The second gross factual falsehood is Mr. Roach's suggestion that all societies have always condemned both homosexuality and extramarital sexual behavior. It is true that there are lots of prudes throughout history who have condemned such things, but if you look at what societies actually DO, you get a completely different story. Throughout history, males have practised extramarital sex with very high frequency. Throughout history, homosexual behavior has been practised in a great many societies. A good example comes from Renaissance Florence, which had some ferocious laws against sodomy -- and a male society that institutionalized homosexual behavior. If you were a young man wanting to get ahead in Florentine society, you provided sexual services to a powerful male in return for his support. That's just the way things were. There are lots and lots of other examples. Mr. Roach's claims that his puritanical sexual views have the stamp of approval of tradition are completely unjustified by the facts. In terms of actual sexual behavior, American society is deviant from tradition in its prudishness.

Roach

Erasmussimo, I actually agree with you on the importance of the extended family. That said, even the extended family had as its core a network of monogomous marriages; it was hardly a David Koresh situation of multiple wives, multiple husbands, and fluid sexual relationships. It existed, no doubt, to provide support for widows, orphans, and the elderly, as well as to provide back-up for mothers who are not available 24/7 for their children. But I don't see how it's either/or with traditional marriage. As for servants, I think that was usually the province of the rich in all societies, wouldn't you agree?

I can't comment on the Florentine example, other than to say this was not exactly widely approved by the parents of the younger men, I should imagine, though it's a common dynamic in male homosexual relatinships. Just look at Oscar Wilde.

Finally, as for male promiscuity, you're absolutely right that it's been tolerated to a greater degree than female chastity. But this amounte to sacrificing the few for hte many, typically prostitutes and socially margainalized women.

I do think this kind of "prove it" skepticism is unnecessary and a bit insulting to our intelligence. LAK, for example, I have to wonder if he has grandparents and asked them how things were "back in the day." Many many more women waited 'til marriage to have sex and only had sex within marrige. Women who did not do so, or who were indiscrete, were ostracized. Their children were called bastards. The women were called whores. Men may have taken advantage of them, but no respectable man would marry a "disreputable" or "loose" women. This had an element of injustice and inequality no doubt, but it certainly compelled the great majority of women to remain chaste until marriage. In other words, it worked to do what I described above: law, culture, public opinion, and religious belief all conspired in western society to channel respectable and certainly long-term sexuality into marriage. Today, as a consequence of the sexual revolution, all women are told they can behave loosely and promiscuously, and men are supposed to accept it. But realizing that sex is easy enough to come by without marraige, men (particularly in the lower classes) are simply opting out of marriage alotgether. Read some of Ed Laumann's research on this; his office is just across the Midway there, and the serial polygamy of the ghetto figures prominently in his discussions of the changes in our collective sexual morality.

Nevermoor

I hesitate to enter this debate, however I think that the point has been entirely lost. There are two major reasons that the LGBT community wants the right to marry (or at the very least civil unions with equal legal standing).

1: In our society today marriage signifies a commitment to someone else that is itself meaningful (yes, hetero divorce rates are high but the point of the excercise remains).

2: Marriage includes a large package of legal rights which the average heterosexual gets the rights to. Some examples: hospital visitation, adoption, inheritance, property ownership.

What none of the arguments so far have touched on is why it is at all problematic for two consenting adults to (1) publicly commit to each other and (2) gain access to rights against each other which strengthen that commitment.

Perhaps the religious issue could be avoided if the government stopped marrying EVERYONE and instead certified civil unions for all comers. Religious people could then have a second ceremony in their church called a marriage which conferred no additional legal rights.

Scattered biases and observations:
1: The "heteros make better parents" argument has serious flaws. For one, a homosexual couple will never have an accidental pregnancy. Any child they get will be the result of of aggressively sought adoption.

2: I think everyone can agree that monogamous, committed relationships are a social positive (not the least to reduce STD spread). Why seek to prevent others from officially engaging in one?

3: The "sexual revolution" comment by roach is a non-starter. The point is that gay people want MORE, not LESS formally structured sexual relations. You should be behind it.

4: Refusing to recognize gay marriage is not going to turn homosexuals straight. Similarly, allowing for gay marriage is not going to turn heterosexuals gay.

5: Recognizing gay marriage would not expose a religious institution to liability for refusing to marry a gay couple.

6: There is a clear and easy distinction between a homosexual couple and a person somehow becoming attracted to an inanimate object. That particular slippery slope is willfully ignorant at best.

7: The religious argument is something of a stretch. For starters, the Sodom/Gomorrah story is about hospitality not homosexuality. Additionally, the major points of the new testament are forgiveness and tolerance.

8: I think it is entirely appropriate for professor stone to refer to his daughter for all the same reasons that politicians explain tax reform using a real person ("here are the real changes this policy would make"), or the images of 9/11 were used to justify the Afghanistan war ("these people - through no fault of their own - had something horrible happen to them"). In this case, Mollie's desire to formalize her relationship is currently thwarted, and her life serves as a good example of positive change that would arise out of reform in this area.

9: If you think Mollie is somehow an outlying example, I beg to differ. I was in San Francisco when Mayor Newsom issued marriage licenses, and the number of stories along the lines of "We've waited XX years for this day" were staggering.

LAK

Roach,

That you would need to appeal to the religion dominated social norms of our grandparent's generation is all too telling. Clearlymarriage does not have the same culturaland religous significance, thank god. They used to ship women off to "homes" who had childrenout out wedlock too. Men could beat and rape their wives with impunty too. Should we bring that back too? You simply prove my point that it is the religion factor and not marriage itself that compelled people to get married. you also demonstrate that now that marriage is more free of the dominance of religion these days, it no longer compells people to wait to have sex or children until they are married, proving my point. Thanks.

Roach, you should have lived 100 years ago amongst the ignorant and god fearing. You would have fit right in. I can only imagine how much fun you must be at dinner parties.

David

Charles--

In my view, homosexuality is not a status but a behavior-- the act of repeatedly having sex primarily or exclusively with persons of the same sex.

Sexual orientation is a continuum and very few people are on the ends of that continuum, and we are naturally unsure of our sexual orientation, as well as the rest of our place in the world. So each of us is, to a greater or lesser degree, predisposed toward homosexuality or other forms of sexuality.

The sexual act is very powerful and very habit forming. And it is much easier to continue on a course of behavior than to change it. Once initiated into a sexual act, we will tend to continue it, both because it feels so good and because we have learned that the act--whatever it is--is a good way to achieve that good feeling, and of course learn as we go on how to identity the persons and situations that will enable us to achieve that good feeling.

So that's what I regard as the genesis of homosexuality: a predisposition, an initiation into the act or acts involved, then habit. Before you all flame me, the initiation can be at the instance of someone else or the person himself. I do not believe that all homosexuality results in seduction by another of the same sex. But it can. I suspect that most sexuality of any variety results from the seduction of one person by another.

I also do not believe that the homosexual "life" is as difficult as some would paint it. Life is difficult for all of us. Sexual and other human relationships outside of marriage--or for that matter inside it-- are difficult. Some homosexuals in the past had very difficult and tragic lives as a result of their homosexuality; others not. But that goes for all of us. Mozart was not homosexual, but his life was difficult and very tragic. Leonard Bernstein was, but his life was not very tragic or difficult.

And as to why--because sex is such a powerful determinant of our behaviour. I cannot conceive of a more difficult situation than an adulterous relationship. Adultery--heterosexual or homosexual--can be (and usually but not always is) hell on earth for the three or four people involved. Yet tens of thousands of people commit adultery every day. And even those who know from bitter experience what can--will--result will often choose to enter into another adulterous relationship because of the overwhelming biological drive toward the sex act, our acquired habit of finding sexual release in a manner in which we have found it in the past, and our ability to spot likely sex partners.

David

Curtis--responding to one of your responses to Roach:

State governments have the power to pass legislation aimed at furthering public health and safety. Homosexual relationships and indeed sexual relationships of any type can and do result in the spread of diseases. Adulterous relationships can and often do result in violence.

Therefore, the regulation of sexual behaviour by the state is clearly a legitimate subject of state regulation, regardless of whether or not any particular religion supports it. And as Roach says, as a matter of fact, almost all religions and societies regard homosexuality as wrong.

As to the Establishment Clause arguments by LAK and others--you are taking a position that ain't the law. Cite me cases or shut up about your heterodox readings of the First Amendment.

And if it isn't the law, then Roach, Frederick, I and others who are arguing from what is the law, are right and you are not.


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