A reader writes from Australia

Hi Mark – I came across some of your writings on Patheos and read some of your columns. I am not Catholic, although I have a lot of respect for Catholicism and find myself in general philosophical agreement with it.

Anyway, I am writing about a social issue and to make a suggestion. I notice that your opinion pieces and also quite a few others by various Christian sites that are opposed to same-sex marriage. I am also conscientiously opposed to it, although I find that amongst my friends and even family, I am something of the odd man out, as it seems that most people support it.

So the idea has occured to me that it might be very useful if there were a recognizable kind of movement of people who conscientiously oppose same-sex marriage without a particularly or overtly religious or Biblical kind of image, and who were not affiliated with any particular religious group. It would enable a lot of people, like myself, to signify that we oppose the gay marriage juggernaut. The purpose would be to present conservative social arguments against same-sex marriage while recognizing individual rights.

My belief is that ‘gay rights’ basically constitute ‘the right to privacy’. When laws against sodomy were overturned in many liberal democracies, it was on the basis that the police had no right in people’s bedrooms. I agree with that, and think that the right to privacy is pretty well sacrosanct. But as we have seen, the gay rights movement have leveraged that to create a much higher level of expectation as to what constitutes gay rights. We are all now obliged to say that homosexual relations are the same as normal conjugal relations, which they are obviously not. Apart from anything else, it is an offense to truth.

Anyway, I won’t pre-empt all the various arguments. What I think is needed is a recognizable ‘opposition to gay marriage’ movement, prefereably global, non-sectarian, strictly and absolutely opposed to any form of violence or denigration, but with a recognizable set of core beliefs based on rational principles, and a logo or symbol of some kind.

I want there to be such an organization, so I can join it, so am contacting some like-minded people to see if there is any interest. I don’t have any kind of web profile or platform myself but am a tech writer and experienced debater on philosophy fora, so can work on copy, essays, and the like.

I think this is what you are looking for.

My own take is no secret: when you make “marriage” mean anything, you make it mean nothing. Gay “marriage” is a fiction, just as marriage to the Eiffel Tower, a roller coaster, and a warehouse are fictions. One does not help marriage by making the word mean anything, for words that mean anything are the same thing as words that mean nothing at all. If you are gay and want to pretend to have a wedding, nobody’s stopping you. But this is not about that. What gay “marriage” really is, is an attempt to create a legal basis for punishing those who will not pretend that homosex is not sinful and disordered. That’s what this is all about.

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  • kenofken

    Conservatives in the West have, for 40 years, failed to articulate a single reason for barring civil gay marriage which is not rooted in sectarian religion and a theocratic vision of governance. If an Aussie wants to have a crack at it, more power to him.

    • data_file_7

      Not a single reason? LOL. I guess that’s why marriage has always meant a heterosexual relationship, for thousands of years, in every culture worldwide. For no single reason except religion and theocracy. Even in countries like China where theism has been rare, which is now mostly irreligious, but only about a quarter consider homosexuality to be normal, much less accept homosexual “marriage.” Yes, that makes sense.

      If you want to stop trolling for 5 seconds and try to have an grown-up conversation, how about the fact that children come exclusively from heterosexual relationships?

      • kenofken

        Slavery, torture, rape in war, infanticide and women as chattel were also near-universal international norms for thousands of years. If ancient provenance and universality are your best arguments for maintaining a practice, you’re signing on for a lot more than hetero-only marriage.

        There are millions of children of gay parents in this country, either through previous failed hetero relationships or through adoption or IVF. That was the case before gay marriage and was not going to change by keeping it illegal.

        You seem to suggest that the state should dole out partnership rights based on their reproductive capacity. Once you empower a state to involve itself in family life that way, it will exercise that power to deny, take away, or raise those children as it, not the parents, see fit. China is an excellent example of a state that makes civil rights a condition of reproductive ability and choices.

        • data_file_7

          Reading comprehension. I certainly never said that antiquity and universality were the only reason, or even a reason that marriage is, always has been and always will be between a man and a woman. Is English not your first language or do you like to intentionally misread things to mske yourself feel better? I was pointing out that your suggestion that there are no arguments for natural procreative marriage except religious ones is plainly false, ridiculous and juvenile. Your response has only confirmed my initial impression that you are incapable of logical discussion and can only communicate through emotive sloganeering.

          • kenofken

            You have still offered no truly secular reason why gay civil marriage Should be prohibited.

            • data_file_7

              I have – for the wellbeing of children. Here are many more: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155


              • kenofken

                This is a very old tactic whereby people cut and paste Catholic or other Christian doctrine, leave off the religious label and call it “philosophy”. That doesn’t make it a secular argument, just a disingenuous one.

                • data_file_7

                  How so? To go back to my original point, if procreative marriage is a purely Christian concept, then why is it the norm for ALL societies throughout ALL history? Why is support for gay rights in China — an almost totally secular country — much lower than in Europe and North America — traditionally the most Christian countries?

                  • kenofken

                    There is fairly strong support for gay rights in China, in basic areas such as employment and basic legal rights. Marriage will take longer because the authoritarian government is very wary of social policy change of any kind, and because gay people are just becoming visible, in the way they did here in the 1970s.

                    The government recognizes the marriages of gay foreigners in a limited way, has decriminalized and stopped treating gay orientation as a mental illness. Signs are that it has no overwhelming opposition to homosexuality, just a suspicion of change. I have little doubt they will have SSM within 20 years.

                    China has only become to evolve as a modern country and society within the last 20 years or so. China under hardline communism, in the Mao and Tiananmen, was an extremely reactionary environment which severly punished non-conforming thought or action of any kind. I’m not sure modern socialist China is a good template for secular social virtue. Its one-child policy, with the accompanying forced sterilizations and abortions cast serious doubts on China’s supposed support of procreative marriage.

                    It’s also worth noting that China has a very long and complex history in all areas, including homosexuality. There is no record of China being twisted up about sexuality in general until it Westernized. There is considerable evidence that homosexuality was seen as a normal, even virtuous variation in some regions and time periods and that marriage or marriage-like SSM were recognized in some forms.

                    • data_file_7

                      “There is considerable evidence that homosexuality was seen as a normal, even virtuous variation in some regions and time periods and that marriage or marriage-like SSM were recognized in some forms.”

                      I doubt that, but assuming it’s true, it nevertheless proves my point. Even grasping at straws as you are doing, you nevertheless admit that acceptance of homosexuality was, at most, limited. Since there was little contact with Christianity, why wasn’t homosexuality accepted everywhere? Why was procreative marriage still considered the norm? Could it be because real marriage is based on the biological realities of human reproduction?

            • SteveP

              You are welcome to pay survivor benefits to Edith Winsdor. Again, why ought I be charged for the upkeep of a wealthy Manhattanite?

              • kenofken

                For the same reasons anyone ought to pay survivor benefits to to you or your spouse should the need arise. If you’re galled by the fact that Windsor is a “wealthy Manhattanite”, that’s an issue of whether Social Security ought to be means tested. It has nothing inherently to do with gay marriage.

                • SteveP

                  And yet the lawsuit was about estate tax yet “SSM” advocates are fist-pumping and shouting “equality!” Again, why ought I be supporting Edith Winsdor in her self-identified widowhood? Is she unable to support herself because she remained out of the workforce for 28 years while bearing and raising five children?

                  • kenofken

                    What does any of it have to do with gay marriage? Would you be ok with it if you were supporting a wealthy hetero widow? (You are, lots of them). You’re also supporting lots of lots of billionaires and Fortune 500 companies due to the way our tax laws are written. Gay equality has very very little to do with this problem.

                    • SteveP

                      Ah, skipped right over the meat of the lawsuit. Perhaps, someday, you admit to yourself that you’ve been duped – if there was no financial incentive for “gay marriage” no one would have done anything. Equality? Liberty? Freedom? Ha! The joke is on you I’d say.

                    • kenofken

                      The joke is on me because I’m engaging someone who refuses to come out and state the point of their argument. You’re implying that gay marriage is somehow hurting you economically.

                      The most that can be shown is that married gay couples are making a (very) marginal addition to the costs of some benefits programs (which they also paid into) by virtue of newly recognized gay marriage. You seem to be galled by public benefits accruing to someone “well off” (whatever that cutoff may be).

                      That’s fine, and there’s a good argument to be had in that, but it has very little to do with gay marriage. We’re always hearing that gay people are only 2% of the population and that most gays don’t want to get married anyway. You lose more money in couch cushions and parking lots than you pay for the maintenance of rich gay widows.

                      Your analysis also does not determine the net public cost of gay marriage. Remember that very many two-income households pay more in federal income tax than they would as singles, the so-called “marriage penalty.” There are also various studies which show that married people are, in general, healthier, more financially stable, more rooted in the community etc. by virtue of being married.

                    • SteveP

                      “Gay marriage” has nothing to do with marriage. It is a legalization of friends with benefits where those benefits are paid for by someone else’s children and for no contribution to the common good of a nation.

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Here’s one. Civil marriage, no matter which group you include in it, is inherently discriminatory and rooted in sectarian religion and a theocratic vision of governance. Therefore, it should be banned altogether.

      Let the sectarian religions have marriage- and get your government out of my church!

    • http://www.brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier
    • SteveP

      Well, except recognizing generally that women have a lower lifetime earnings than men and paying survivor benefits from the public purse is an act of justice.
      But now, as contemporary folks are so much more intelligent, we know that a gay man is the same as (equal to) the mother of many.

      • kenofken

        If you want to go down this road, let’s do an honest apples-to-apples comparison of the economic status and justice for women in countries with SSM (Western and Northern Europe, here, some of South America) versus those that don’t – Eastern Europe, most of Africa, the Middle East etc.

        • SteveP

          Let’s do! Of course we need to start with the historical perspective of the transfer of assets between spouses. You go first.
          By the way, your initial question is better phrased “Conservatives in the West have, for 40 years, failed to articulate a single reason for barring civil gay marriage [that matches my biased opinion].”

          • kenofken

            You haven’t made any case at all for how gay marriage hurts straight women economically or any other way.

            • SteveP

              I did not think I’d get an “honest apples-to-apples
              comparison of the economic status and justice for women in countries with SSM.” Just more sterile advocacy.

              • kenofken

                Even if we accept the gender wage disparity in this country at face value, 70 cents on the dollar is what is bandied about, that still puts American women at a vastly better standard of living and lifetime earnings than their counterparts in any of the regions I mentioned previously. Decimal places better than some of them. Western European and Scandinavian women are better off still than Americans, by most measure due to liberal family leave laws, subsidized day care, health care, what have you. Justice, of course, encompasses far more than money.

                The countries most hostile to gays and lesbians are, without a single exception, also the worst places on Earth for violence and legal discrimination against women. This is not to say we don’t have problems with, say, rape culture, trafficking and domestic violence here, but in the Middle East, Africa, the former Soviet republics etc., these things are off the charts. Look at where we have endemic levels of female infanticide, bride burnings, honor killings, places where women are killed for going to school or working outside of the home, punished for being rape victims, being trafficked on a vast scale with the collusion of authorities etc. Here’s a hint: It’s not in countries with SSM.