Observations

June 29, 2011

I believe my nightmare can be expressed as a sociological principle: People who professionally dislike marriage almost always favor gay marriage. Here is the corollary: Ideas that have long been used to attack marriage are now commonly used to support same-sex marriage.

David Blankenhorn – The Future of Marriage


Sanity Briefly Returns to California

August 16, 2010

Court temporarily blocks California same-sex couples from marrying

A federal appeals court in San Francisco, California, has blocked same-sex marriages in that state from resuming immediately, until the three-judge panel hears broader questions over the constitutionality of such marriages.


Observations: Addendum

August 9, 2010

I hadn’t read this before I wrote the post below, but Ross Douthat echoes many of the themes I mentioned in his excellent post in the NYTs today. An excerpt:

[Traditional marriage] is a particularly Western understanding, derived from Jewish and Christian beliefs about the order of creation, and supplemented by later ideas about romantic love, the rights of children, and the equality of the sexes.

Or at least, it was the Western understanding. Lately, it has come to co-exist with a less idealistic, more accommodating approach, defined by no-fault divorce, frequent out-of-wedlock births, and serial monogamy.

In this landscape, gay-marriage critics who fret about a slippery slope to polygamy miss the point. Americans already have a kind of postmodern polygamy available to them. It’s just spread over the course of a lifetime, rather than concentrated in a “Big Love”-style menage.

Definitely worth a read.


Observations

August 9, 2010

The problem with the argument ‘same-sex marriage will harm the institution of marriage’ isn’t that it isn’t true, it’s just that so many other factors have already damaged the institution of marriage (easy divorce, out-of-wedlock births, the welfare state) that the additional harm caused by same-sex marriage seems minor by comparison.

It’s like saying the flu won’t harm a person because they are already riddled with cancer.


A Lesbian Argues Against Gay Marriage

June 13, 2010

The chances of me agreeing with a Catholic lesbian blogger on any issue is roughly equivalent to me being a Catholic lesbian blogger – nonetheless, here we are.

Eve Tushnet is a former philosophy major from Yale, an open and celibate lesbian conservative Catholic whom has what I think is an extremely insightful view of what ‘gay marriage’ really would mean in our culture. From the recent NYT’s article about her:

But same-sex marriage, she wrote in The New York Post in 2007, “can bring one of three outcomes: A two-tiered marriage culture, where heterosexual couples are asked to do the hard things (sex only within marriage, marriage for life in most circumstances) and homosexual couples work out their own marriage norms; reshape marriage into an optional, individualized institution, ignoring the creative and destructive potentials of ‘straight’ sex; or encourage all couples to restrict sex to marriage and marry for life, and hope that gay couples accept norms designed to meet heterosexual needs.”

It’s an interesting argument, one I have touched on in certain ways in the past. Heterosexual marriage isn’t an institution created merely for the pleasure of the participants, or to impart certain property right (indeed marriage existed long before any notion of property rights) but rather marriage exists as a critically essential institution to aid the raising of children that result from the procreative process. Society cannot exist apart from this function of marriage – in fact, in places where children are born with significant frequency outside of this marriage (for example in many of our inner cities) the results are devastating in terms of poverty, violence, and hopelessness. As much as this is true, it is in the interest of the state to promote and protect heterosexual marriage.

Gay marriage on the other hand isn’t necessary to the well being of a society at all – it advances none of the child rearing benefits of heterosexual marriage, and doesn’t emanate in any way from the procreative process. While arguments can be made that it advances the property rights of individuals who participate, this doesn’t particularly benefit society as a whole, and is a completely separate basis for the existence of marriage than that which underpins the heterosexual variety. Tushnet rightly comprehends that the existence of gay marriage will essentially create a two tiered society which caters in a very specific way to participants in gay marriage for their benefit, and supports heterosexual marriages for completely different reasons. In short, homosexuals will never actually have the same marriages that heterosexuals have, because their reasons for marrying are wholly different to begin with.

It is refreshing to see that Tushnet, a lesbian herself, sees this. Of course opponents will see her as merely a ‘bigot’ which is perhaps one of the richest ironies of all.


No Precedent for Same-Sex Marriage

June 12, 2010

Frequently, when seeking a legal precedent for same-sex marriage, advocates will cite the Supreme Court’s rulings against anti-miscegenation laws. Those laws, which existed in a number of states in the early half of the 20th century, prevented people of different races from marrying. The primary Supreme Court ruling in question was Loving v. Virginia which effectively rendered unconstitutional all laws against interracial marriage. Interestingly the specific law it dealt with, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, wasn’t based on ‘racism’ per se, but on scientific ideas of eugenics, an idea derived from Darwin’s evolutionary theory, a product of the scientific and legal consensus in the 20’s and 30’s.

Francis Beckwith, a a Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University, and a favorite philosopher of mine, has written an insightful essay in the journal Public Discourse on the faulty comparison made between interracial marriage laws and laws against same-sex marriage. He writes:

“It is clear then that the miscegenation/same-sex analogy does not work. For if the purpose of anti-miscegenation laws was racial purity, such a purpose only makes sense if people of different races have the ability by nature to marry each other. And given the fact that such marriages were a common law liberty, the anti-miscegenation laws presuppose this truth. But opponents of same-sex marriage ground their viewpoint in precisely the opposite belief: people of the same gender do not have the ability by nature to marry each other since gender complementarity is a necessary condition for marriage. Supporters of anti-miscegenation laws believed in their cause precisely because they understood that when male and female are joined in matrimony they may beget racially-mixed progeny, and these children, along with their parents, will participate in civil society and influence its cultural trajectory.

In other words, the fact that a man and a woman from different races were biologically and metaphysically capable of marrying each other, building families, and living among the general population is precisely why the race purists wanted to forbid such unions by the force of law. And because this view of marriage and its gender-complementary nature was firmly in place and the only understanding found in common law, the Supreme Court in Loving knew that racial identity was not relevant to what marriage requires of its two opposite-gender members. By injecting race into the equation, anti-miscegenation supporters were very much like contemporary same-sex marriage proponents, for in both cases they introduced a criterion other than male-female complementarity in order to promote the goals of a utopian social movement: race purity or sexual egalitarianism.”

In short, the purpose of laws against the interracial marriage were to prevent the racially mixed children, anathema to the eugenics proponents. There is no such basis in laws against gay marriage, as gay marriages produces no children – so the comparison is invalid. In fact, the Supreme Court ruling re-enforces the basis for marriage, that being that it exists as a means of joining together potential mates for the purpose of producing children, which is the basis for the common law liberty of right to marry.

Homosexual marriage of course can provide no such basis – in fact the basis for homosexual marriage, as much as it exists, is almost wholly based on the notion of imparting legal rights of property and legal guardianship, and this bears no real semblance to heterosexual marriage – and equating them diminishes the institution of marriage itself.