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May 25, 2004

A Response « Social Issues »

Stumpjumper tries to seize the moral high ground on Same-Sex Marriage here.

Here's his argument:

Gay marriage has been an important topic for me for several years. I have talked it to death both in realtime and here on the blog. Last night, while discussing it with a gay friend, I realized that the entire debate can be reduced to one word. It is in this one, little, four-letter word that the opponents of same-sex marriage will find themselves on the losing side of history. Proponents and supporters of gay marriage use this word every time that they discuss the issue. They consider it to be a cornerstone of the debate. They feel that the debate cannot exist without it. More importantly, it is the reason why this is a civil rights issue. It is the reason why homosexuals do not have the same rights as heterosexuals. The truth of this lies in the fact that opponents of gay marriage avoid the word. They explain their position and espouse their message of doom-and-gloom while specifically refusing to utter it. They talk around it, they neglect it, and they often deny its obvious relevance and importance to the debate. The word, quite simply, is love.

Normally I'd just leave a comment. But since my response is rather inflammatory, it's probably best if I post it on my site rather than venting my irritation on their blog.

I disagree.
SJ's point might be more valid if:
1) Love were definitive: too many people cannot tell the difference between "loving someone" (putting the needs of the other person ahead of your own) and being "in love" (thinking the other person is great and wanting to have sex with them and be with them all the time)
2) People who love each other automatically got married (thousands of co-habitating couples demonstrate that fallacy)
3) Love was permanent (Check the divorce statistics)

There is absolutely nothing about "love" being denied to homosexuals. They can already commit to each other forever. They can already have a ceremony expressing their union. They can already arrange legal responsibilities for visitation, inheritance, etc. The few remaining legal problems are improving all the time, and marriage rights to try to clear up the last few difficulties (when they even still exist) is like using tactical nuclear weapons on your house to eliminate a rodent problem.

Marriage is not about love.

It's about Responsibility. Duty. Commitment. Partnership. Giving when you don't want to give anymore. Love is only a factor because when you actually love someone (not just "in love", but actually committed to wanting the best for your partner), it makes it easier to keep giving when you are at your lowest and convinced you are never going to get half of it back.

Yeah, many heterosexual couples don't recognize that. That's why we have a high divorce rate. But the ones who do are the ones who have successful, lasting marriages.

I see no acknowledgement of that reality coming from the pro-SSM lobby. Instead, I see the portion of the movement exemplified by SJ's argument trying to insist that Hollywood's view of love and marriage is the real one: Two hot people want to have sex, so the aggressive one makes a great speech about love and they live happily ever after, and get married mainly for the tax breaks.

Using SJ's argument, opposition to racial integration was about a "love": white folks loved their children too much to let them be corrupted by black folks.
Or another example: Hitler loved Germany so much he didn't want to see it ruined by Jews.
Or another example: Osama bin Ladin loves his culture and religion too much to see it destroyed by the Great Satan of western infidels.

"Love" is too general. The protion of the homosexual marriage lobby exemplified by SJ's argument is proclaiming love while spewing anger and rage, proclaiming love while demonstrating selfishness and childishness.

Posted by Nathan at 10:16 AM | Comments (18)

I'm at the point where I didn't comment because I absolutely don't want to deal with this topic any more, but I have to admit that the first thing that came to my mind was: what the heck does love have to do with setting public policy?

Posted by: Deb at May 25, 2004 11:39 AM

What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me no more.

Posted by: Nathan at May 25, 2004 11:40 AM

So well said, Nathan. I attempted to point a few things out concerning absolute truth and what's this whole "I am an American before I am a (insert religous afiliation here)"? Very strange logic. I can't help but think that those who aren't married under the "I am committed to God first and because I am, I will keep my committment to you whether I 'feel' like I love you or not" don't truly comprehend it. I think that lesson is learned after a few years (and waaaay past the honeymoon) and a few fights with your spouse. Love is a committment, not a feeling and certainly doesn't dictate policy in other arena, why this one?

Posted by: Rae at May 25, 2004 01:11 PM

Sadly, legal "arrangements", though drawn up by attorneys and apparently concrete, are still thrown out the window when push comes to shove. On one blog, I read of a struggle of a partner dying, the family of the deceased appealing to a judge, judge allowing family (who had not spoken to the deceased in many years) to STAY IN DECEASED'S HOME THAT WAS SHARED WITH PARTNER, at which time partner was forced to leave because deceased's family felt "threatened", and then deceased's family proceeded to empty contents of the house.

It's easy to say "love has no bearing on public policy" when your opportunity to marry is not up for debate.

Posted by: Jo at May 25, 2004 01:52 PM

And I've seen the same thing happen when someone contests a will even in heterosexual relationships.

A good will will overcome all such problems.

I don't know. The argument seems to be that homosexuals have the market cornered on tragedy and pain.

I don't believe that for a second.

Posted by: nathan at May 25, 2004 02:04 PM

That's all very nice, Nathan, but the idea that all gay marriage proponents spontaneously haul out the Sleepless in Seattle view of love as their ultimate argument is ridiculous. If anything, love has been used as a tar baby to keep gays constantly re-justifying our relationships: a decade ago, people said that we had sex all the time but didn't know how to fall in love. Then it was, "Well, okay, maybe you experience romance, but you don't actually know how to devote yourselves to each other." Then it was, "Uh, okay, fine, a lot of you do form lasting partnerships in which you sacrifice your own profit to take care of each other, but you don't have children to stay together for, see?" This isn't to say that the arguments (or at least some of them) against extending marriage aren't legitimate, and heaven knows you won't see me denying that a lot of gay activists are shallow, one-note hacks. Nevertheless, it often is the case that people on my team have had to argue their position in response to the ways people have challenged it--meaning that if they use love as a criterion, it may not be because they define marriage in those terms themselves.

Posted by: Sean Kinsell at May 25, 2004 02:48 PM

No, Jo, it isn't easy. But that doesn't change the fact that the government is under no obligation to give me what I think will make me happy, and that trying to make everybody happy is no way to run a country. It's a specious argument designed to make people who think it isn't good policy feel guilty.

Posted by: Deb at May 25, 2004 02:54 PM

I admit I can be as guilty of overreaction as anyone else. Perhaps this post was just such an overreaction.
But it wasn't a post to slam SSM-advocates written out of whole cloth on its own merits, it was in reaction to a specific post that tried to seize the moral high ground by arguing that this is only about love, so if you oppose homosexual marriage you must oppose "love".
I don't accept that premise. I don't accept it because marriage is not about love, it is about responsibility and commitment and duty. I don't accept it because it is a childish and selfish argument. I don't accept it because it is a Hollywood vision of marriage.
There are other merits to argue for homosexual marriage. This doesn't even begin to approach one of them.
Unfortunately, you rarely see any of the other merits. When you do, if you point out any flaw or raise any question, you are immediately labeled a homophobe. The states' rights argument so vilified in the Lawrence vs. Texas case is now the hero for Massachussetts...and once it is in place there, suddenly states' rights will become passe again when the 14th Amendment is used to impose SSM on all states. Clerks are openly defying orders from Governers to break the law and record marriages. Mayors are defying governers and Congress. State Supreme Courts are writing legislature. And when anyone mentions introducing an amendment to the Constitution in a Constitutionally-prescribed manner, they are accused of trying to rip up the Constitution.
These are all childish, immature, damaging methods to go about obtaining the responsibility of marriage.
Heck, look at the idea of the Constitutional Amendment again: 3/4 of the states would have to ratify it by popularly elected representatives! What could be more democratic than that? A court only needs a simple majority, and a 2/3 majority is considered beyond veto...yet we would need 3/4 of the nation to support an amendment banning gay marriage.
Since I've heard SSM-advocates say that approximately 50% of the nation supports SSM marriage rights, what are they afraid of? Why resort to such blatantly extra-legal methods?

And SJ tells me the answer is "love"?

No. That doesn't pass the smell test.

I've said it before, and I'll repeat it again for clarity, and for the record:
I don't oppose SSM on its merits, in fact I was originally neutral. I oppose SSM on the character and methods of the bulk of its proponents.

Posted by: Nathan at May 25, 2004 03:22 PM

But you know what? I reread the post yet again, and maybe you're right: in the last three paragraphs I went beyond merely responding to SJ and into tarring the whole movement with the same brush.

I admit that's more than a trifle inaccurate. So modify the last few paragraphs from "the SSM movement" to say: "the portion of the movement exemplified by SJ's argument". In fact, I'll make that change

Posted by: nathan at May 25, 2004 03:27 PM

Perhaps, Deb, but the government IS under the obligation to treat all people the same under the law. And yet....we still think anything involving the "G" word just doesn't apply. I hope I am still alive the day we stop treating homosexuals like second class citizens.

Posted by: Jo at May 25, 2004 03:29 PM

Jo, I'm sorry to hear you haven't stopped yet. [evil grin]

Posted by: Nathan at May 25, 2004 03:35 PM

Nathan, you're bad. :)

Jo, I hear you. This particular way of approaching the issue is just one that drives me a little nuttier than I already am.

Posted by: Deb at May 25, 2004 03:42 PM

But in all seriousness, you assume homosexuals are being treated like second-class citizens. That's hardly beyond debate.

I find it ironic that you can even utter such words as the government IS under the obligation to treat all people the same under the law., considering the Democrat platform regarding such things as abortion rights (men don't have a choice, women do), taxation (rich people should pay more), affirmative action (discrimination for a limited time is okay).

In fact, your argument is absolutely incorrect. The government is supposed to not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, etc. Note: the government freely and happily discriminates on the basis of age with voting and statutory rape laws. Your statement sounds nice, but...

Posted by: Nathan at May 25, 2004 03:42 PM

I say "we" because I like to remind myself that I am not some innocent bystander in society, I am a member like the rest of y'all.

I feel that in not allowing SSM, the government IS discriminating on the base of sexual orientation. That's all.

Posted by: Jo at May 25, 2004 03:46 PM

I have far less problem with you saying that you feel it is treating them like second-class citizens than the automatic assumption that it is.
In the first phrasing, we can discuss what, exactly, is going on. In the second phrasing, since I don't agree, you demonize me before I even say a thing.

It just strikes me this way: if you want to discuss, then you have to leave some opening for your opponent's view. Just now I didn't leave any, Sean called me on it, and I acknowledged and partially retracted.

I don't know. I'm probably just grumpy, but the whole argument just seems to be endless variations of "have you stopped beating your wife yet?", i.e., people are arguing off the basis of assumptions that simply aren't shared, so everyone just gets pissed off way too easy. Me included.

Posted by: Nathan at May 25, 2004 04:01 PM

Nathan, did you read my comment over there? When I then later asked SJ to try to answer some of the questions I pose (because I really haven't ever had any of them sufficently addressed by the pro-abortion movement) he says that he wouldn't answer them because it doesn't fit the title of the subject-"Being Pro-abortion and A Good Catholic." I see from your comments above, that you and I have very similar beliefs.

Let me just say that weeks after the Supreme Court found in favor of Lawrence (Lawrence vs. texas) that a man and a woman presented themselves to obtain a marriage license in Salt Lake City. The were denied one thougha s th eman was legally married to another woman. They sued using the Supreme Courts decision as basis for the legality of their own suit. The polygynists (that's what they really are: one man and many wives) here are watching very closely because they very much believe that if the U.S. allows homosexual marriage, then it will have to allow polygynous marriages, as well. I hear it everyday that the government has no right to govern people's decisions on who or how many to marry (at one time). What say the SSM supporters to that?

N*A*M*B*L*A is also watching very carefully because they believe it a pathway into freeing of their rights to enjoy themselves and to pursue their form of "happiness." Most states only outlaw or punish non-consensual relationships, but they also cap the ages at 16- much to the delight and hope of the above mentioned organization.

*no time to edit for spelling

Posted by: Rae at May 25, 2004 04:58 PM

"What say the SSM supporters to that?"

I don't know whether I qualify as an SSM supporter, Rae, but I do know that even allowing civil unions in Vermont was supposedly going to open the floodgates for everyone and his grandmother to claim entitlements based on all kinds of improbably-contorted relationships with multiple partners, and it didn't happen, though people may have tried.

Also, unless I'm wrong, most states that do allow marriage to those who haven't attained their majority require permission from parents if you're below 18 or so. The only exception, I think, is if one of the couple is pregnant, in which case, parental permission isn't needed above a certain age that's lower than 18. Forgive me for pointing out that, while I'm no fan of NAMBLA, that's one complication, at least, that's unlikely to arise in a union pursued by two of its members.

Posted by: Sean Kinsell at May 25, 2004 10:37 PM

Incredibly, and I only know this because I live in Utah, my 13 year old can be married with my consent and can choose to be married on her own volition at 16.

Posted by: Rae at May 26, 2004 02:11 AM
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