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November 14, 2006


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Frederick Hamilton

Professor Stone,

Yours and Mollie's situation is a true dilemma. A poignant one to be sure. Clearly Mollie and Andrea can marry and you will certainly be in attendance and as proud as a Dad can be.

The dilemma of course is that there is presently only one state in the nation that will legally recognize their marriage. A few will recognize a civil union.

It appears, sadly for Mollie and Andrea, that the change in legal status of same sex marriage will be a long drawn out situation unless the Supreme Court intervenes to legalize it nationwide, a la Roe v Wade. Given the constant schism that Roe v Wade has perpetuated nationally, it is unlikely any future Supreme Court will go down that road and take it out of the realm of individual state control.

Mollie and Andrea I suspect will appropriately use their legally unrecognized marriage (to them certainly as valid and correct as any other "recognized" marriage) as an opportunity to try to make the changes necessary. They certainly will have some pretty talented legal help in the process.

Good luck and God Bless Mollie and Andrea and in the eyes of our maker, their union may be as sanctified as any other. Changes on mortal earth don't I am sure always comport with the love and warmth of the Heavens. I suspect the strength and depth of the relationship between Mollie and Andrea is not dependent on the will of the people.


But their tax returns will be.


Geoff, thanks for adding a personal touch to this topic, and congratulations on your daughter's engagement. You sound very proud and Mollie is very fortunate to have such loving parents.

I truly hope that people realize sooner rather than later that allowing your daughter to marry her fiancee will not lead to the collapse of Western civilization as we know it. (And, really, I'd think that the Rapture-beliving folks would welcome these sorts of changes, as they are surely habingers of the Apocalypse and the Second Coming, no?).

Frederick, my understanding of the state of the law in Massachussetts is that only Mass residents may take advantage of its same-sex marriage laws. This is extremely unfortunate.


habingers = harbingers


Congratulations on your daughter. I'm sure it is an exciting time for everyone involved.

At the same time, I am confused by some of your arguments. You stated,

In plain truth, it is immoral for the government to discriminate against Mollie and Andrea in this manner.

But why is this? Certainly not all discrimination is immoral (eg minimum age for President), so why is this?

It also seems odd that, other than the rather modern vision of Jesus as nothing other than an apocalyptic leader (one that many theologians, both today and yesteryear, would find rather limiting considering the scope of Scripture), your reasoning seems largely based secular assumptions (or at the very least, put them center stage). Though I'm in no way rejecting that reasoning (at the moment), I have to wonder why theology does not take a more prominent role in this discussion (particularly in an article talking about the role religion should take in the discussion).

Also, without discussion, you use the analogy to former abuses (assuming the analogy to be a good one) without discussing any other use of 'tradition, natural law, and Scripture.' To toss out these three concepts on the basis of historical abuse without looking at other effects of these concepts would undoubtedly create a dangerous precedent.

Finally, your mention that certain religious precepts should not be legal precepts (eg pork, yarmulke, same-sex marriage) skips over the most important question: are these examples alike in nature? Obviously we do not wish to extract all religious precepts from law (oops, there goes 'thou shalt not murder'). At the same time, few to no Christians would suggest mandatory baptisms for all. If you're going to discuss the question, at least mention it, don't just beg it.

Joan A. Conway

Things happen!

When you have your health and a friend you are very fortunate. Other issues really take a back seat to these facts of life. Congratulations. May your daughter continue to love, honor and respect her attributes, as well as the attributes of her family. It is not the end of your relationship with her. She really needs you in new ways. Stay supportive and hopefully it is reciprocol.


Some people are just uncomfortable with homosexuality. They always have been and that's reflected throughout history with, of course, notable exceptions a la the greeks and romans.

There is no logic to it in an equal protection secular context; ie. logical. For people who claim to be proud to live in a land guaranteeing liberty and justice for all this homophobia is certainly a test. One to which I think we will eventually rise.


Last May Human Rights Watch drew attention to the problem of lesbian and gay Americans in relationships with foreign nationals. I am in such a relationship. Since April of 1989 we have been waiting to come home. I vote; I pay taxes; I am a homeowner in California. But I am forced either to live abroad or to abandon the love of my life. We live abroad. We both are getting on in years. Justice delayed is justice denied, it sometimes is remarked. Now even formerly apartheid South Africa has moved ahead of the United States in recognizing the civil rights of gays and lesbians. We continue to hope.


Which again demonstrates the need for equal protection of the laws. All the love and celebration and acceptance in the world does not equate into being able to bring your loved one into this country, having presumptive power of attorney over your loved one in the event of incapacity, having presumptive custody rights of the children your loved one adopted in the event of divorce or death, taking advantage of joint tax filing (in the few uinstances filing jointly actually makes sense), having a presumptive right to community property upon divorce or death etc.

This is exactly what the 14th amendment was all about, except that it is gay people we are denying equal protection of the law to, not black people. It is very real here in SF where you have familes with same sex parents all over the place.


"Frederick, my understanding of the state of the law in Massachussetts is that only Mass residents may take advantage of its same-sex marriage laws. This is extremely unfortunate."

Any resident of a state that does not clearly outlaw same-sex marriages may be married in Massachusetts. Thus far, one trial court judge has ruled that same-sex marriage is prohibited in NY (which wasn't a difficult decision) but not prohibited in RI. Thus, RI residents may be married in MA. (Or, anyone can just go to one of the few well known clerk's offices where they don't ask what state you come from...)


j, thanks for the clarification. Guess I need to read up on my Mass law! :)

The Blind Sheik

I love testimonials. They really add a lot to the debate.


As does sarcasm.

Pro Gress

Ah, testimonials. So meaningful.

Ah, Professor Stone's philosophy -- so deep. Live and let live. No such thing as a fabric of society to experience any tearing or tugging. Just individuals smoking peyote or sodomizing one another.

The fact that what Stone says passes for reason in this world shows just how low the world of public intellectuals has sunk.

Tom Scharbach

Geoff, congratulations to Mollie.

I understand your impatience. All of us who are gay or lesbian, or who have gay and lesbian family members, know that impatience.

But patience is what we will need. 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.

You are in a unique position to influence the legal community and the help lay the legal groundwork for that decision. For Mollie and for all of us, don't let the opportunity pass.


Modern Marriage has been practiced for only 250 years, and only in the West. It is in no way a hoary tradition and is even far from universal today. Its touted elements of “intimacy and commitment” are neither certain nor unique. It is even far from biblical: I challenge you to cite a biblical passage that describes, much less extols, anything resembling marriage American-style. The only passage that even comes close is that of the short Book of Ruth.

Adam of the bible did not marry or even choose his mate out of love. His son Abel and his daughters practiced incest, Lot slept with his daughters, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David were polygamous, David screwed around with Bathsheba, Solomon wrote dirty poetry to his lover, and Jesus and Paul were lifelong bachelors. When Paul said it was “better to marry than to burn,” what model of marriage was he thinking of? One in which you serve the wedding guests the cheapest wine?


I for one appreciate testimoniasl becasue they humanize the issue, especially fopr those living in Red States or rural areas in which there are no openly gay people.

Testimonials are what is needed to show why this is a equal protection issue. Same sex couples with chilren who have had legal nightmares related to their families becaseu they are not recognized as a family by the state. The couple downstairs from me has had to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer to approximate and approach the legal reality of marriage. Then you have the stories of the same sex couples who separate and have protracted legal battles over custody because the law only allows one of them to be the adoptive parent and have custody. Testimonials humanize, testimonials add emotion or at least let us take measure of the emotional impact of arguments. This is very valuable to debate, contraryto the snide suggestions otherwise.

I wish I had the courage and patience and level-headedness to be a public intellectual of the sort that Professor Stone is.


Testimonials expose people for the cowards that they are. The bottom line is, when you are talking about something as deeply personal as equal marriage rights for gays, you are necessarily directly talking about how other people should live. If that's not personal, I don't know what is.

But then the anti-fay folks try to backtrack and say, "hey, I'm not judging anyone. I'm not telling you how to live your life. Stop clouding the issue," etc., this is pure cowardice. If you're unable to argue your ideals in the face of a legitimate, human element, then you don't really hold those ideals. Ideals and policy do not existed in free-floating space where they don't have an impact on real people's real lives. If you think gay people should be denied equal marriage rights, you damn well better be willing to say it to their faces. Otherwise, kindly shut up and go away.

Disgruntled Research Assistant

If you're unable to argue your ideals in the face of a legitimate, human element, then you don't really hold those ideals.

That's not really true. We have voting in private booths, not in public, because we want public policy to be based on sincere convictions in what is best, not cowardly kowtowing to the social expectations of others who guilt-trip you with weepy-eyed testimonials.


DRA, might that not, rather, be a policy decision made in light of the fact that most voters are cowards, but we want them voting nonetheless?

Frederick Hamilton

Hopefully ALL voters are citizens. Private voting is not intended to make voters cowards and unwilling or incapable of standing up for their views. The privacy of the voting both is to keep others who would coerce voting patterns away from the franchise. Cowards and cowardly are not part of electoral America as designed by our founders. It is OK to be a cynic, Cynic but don't take your cynical opinions and stretch them into real absolutes regarding Americans. Your cynical inclinations are just that, yours and cynical. Not necessarily truthful.


The use of personal anecdotes can be misused but is nevertheless a crucial element in political discourse. The classic example of this is the "Red Badge of Courage" story in which the soldier marches off to glory and discovers that war is merely carnage. Despite having these stories repeated for every war we experience (Civil War: Red Badge of Courage; WWI: All Quiet on the Western Front; WWII: too numerous to list but my favorite is The Forgotten Soldier; Korean War: MASH; Vietnam: Apocalypse Now) we just keep on making the same mistake. I recall a friend of mine, after watching Saving Private Ryan, remarked that he could not understand how anybody could ever want to go to war after seeing that movie. And it is certainly true that the warmongers among us tend to shield their eyes from such material. They don't like to see the video of wailing Iraqi mothers and demolished Lebanese residences; they prefer to dismiss them as staged, as if wars don't kill mothers' sons and destroy peoples' homes.

The argument against personal anecdotes is that they can distract us from the entire picture. After a big forest fire they interview the tearful burnt-out residents who are devastated, and it tugs at your heart to see their loss -- but the reporter never asks, "What steps had you taken to clear fuels away from the area around your home?" When we see pictures of the victims of some tragedy, we want to intervene and offer them assistance -- but such assistance can sometimes create moral hazard when the tragedy was in some manner preventable.

In this case, however, the issue is not debatable. The tragedy we read of here was not in any way preventable by its victims; it was visited upon them by cruel people who resent being reminded of the consequences of their cruelty. Those who attempt to dismiss this anecdote as "weepy-eyed" are heartless monsters who refuse to face up to the real implications of their vicious attitudes.


Right, it is the egg-headed ivory-towered nerd cowards who fear personal testimonial, becasue it injects emotional costs into the equation, csts they spend much of tehir psychic energy desperately avoiding. It is the ones who advocate for violence and hate that are usually averse to emotional consequences. The coward is the comfortable research assistant who advocates for bigotry and violence and turns their head from the weeping mothers, the pctures of the dead children, the personal stories about the hardships and joys of samesex couples.

Alienated nerdlings have a vested interest in keeping humanity out of their cold deliberative cost benefits analysis. Emotion is hard to wauntify and even harder to control, and there is a reason conservative dickheads spend theior lives in emotional avoidance.

Look at Karl Rove. Look at him.

For you war mongerers, have a little courage and gaze your bellicose eyes at these:

[warning graphic]



Frederick Hamilton

Eras and Lak, if only the world were as you wish it to be. Who in their right mind "wants to go to war"? How about pictures of the people jumping to their deaths from WTC? The dead bodies of sailors at Pearle Harbor? The carnage of Saddam with the rape rooms, heads on spikes, Kurds (men,women and yes children) gassed to death, human shredding machines? Could you show us pictures of the dead bodies of the concentration camps of Germany? How about the mass graves of 8000 of Srebrenica? What about the deaths and injuries in London and Madrid? Possibly the bombings of the Khobar Towers, Beirut or African American Embassy's?

This world we live in isn't as nice and tidy as Eras and LAK seem to see. And of course all the above situations, depravity, death, pain and cruelty are because of us. We infidels. We the evil ones.

Our dead at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Normandy, Beirut, Baghdad, Kandahar, Kabul are deserved to be sure.

The Jews also deserve their deaths, pain and bombings. Israel is a focus of evil and a pocket of pus in the world to be sure. Agreed? Iran is right of course, destroy them. Wipe them off the face of the earth. Hitler didn't do it, Iran will.

Sorry guys, America is a force for good in the world. If we are not a force for good, where do we want to indiscriminantly kill and destroy? Iraq? Our soldiers would spit in your eye if you told them that. Yeah yeah you'll come up with a sicko soldier who wanted to rape and kill. That soldier should be executed. Eisehnower ordered his commanders to execute any American soldier in WWII caught raping, pillaging or burning.

This is a difficult time in the world. I am comforted to know that with Congress now in control of Democrats that all the problems of evil America will be corrected and the world of Eras and LAK will come to pass. Nirvana is close. Can't wait.


"Hopefully ALL voters are citizens. Private voting is not intended to make voters cowards and unwilling or incapable of standing up for their views. The privacy of the voting both is to keep others who would coerce voting patterns away from the franchise. Cowards and cowardly are not part of electoral America as designed by our founders. It is OK to be a cynic, Cynic but don't take your cynical opinions and stretch them into real absolutes regarding Americans. Your cynical inclinations are just that, yours and cynical. Not necessarily truthful."

LOL, Frederick. Touched a nerve, did I? I did not mean to say that all Americans are cowards but rather that IF they are cowards, we may want them voting nonetheless as a simple matter of policy. I could have phrased it better, but there you have it.

I don't know where you got the notion that I was saying that private voting turns people into cowards. Private campaigning may SIGNIFY cowardice, and I stand by my assertion that it is cowardly to turn your face away from the consequences of your beliefs. You want to talk about war? The ONLY people courageous enough to stand up to war's bitter, disgusting horror are the men and women at the front lines. Not the cowards who send them there and comfortably sit in their cushy, taxpayer-funded offices back home, and go home to their families every night, and sit by a warm fire when it's cold out, and drink fine wine and eat Grade A steaks and live happy, oblivious lives. The soldiers are the courageous ones. The people who refuse to acknowledge the sheer terror of artillery combat in a foreign land, far from the comforts of home, are cowards. The people who talk about sending "more troops," as though troops are nameless, faceless figures who make the world safer at no real cost, are cowards.

Prove me wrong, Frederick: what is courageous, what is brave about making bold proclamations about how others should live their lives, and then asking them not to talk about the impact YOUR WORDS and YOUR DECISIONS have on them? How is that courageous? How is that HONEST?

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