Smart people saying smart things

Jean Ann Esselink: “Tiffany Bredeck — The Stork Who Delivered”

The group convened in front of the Wausau Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) Wednesday afternoon. It is an odd place to go to renounce abortion, since FPHS in Wausau not only doesn’t perform them, its workers are forbidden by the terms of their state grants to so much as make a call to help a woman find a clinic where she might exercise that legal option. But in the Lifers defense, it is 100 miles from Wausau to the nearest actual abortion provider. I would imagine it’s hard to persuade many of the elderly participants, prone to prostate trouble and bladder issues, to travel two hours in order to confront the genuine article, especially when there are so many local sexually active women they can shame and still be home for an early supper. So, even though it’s a little like marching to reinstate Glass-Steagall in front of a sperm bank, this group of Catholics from the 40 Days for Life campaign, has chosen to make their stand, twice a year, on the sidewalk in front of a place pregnant women of modest means come, not to end their pregnancies, but to get prenatal care, and healthy food through the WIC program, because they want healthy babies. I think this is known in Catholic theology as the transitive property of interchangeable vaginas.

Libby Anne: “Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Abortion Wars”

Another car pulls in, and then another. Some cars park closer to the protesters than others, and some of the cars have crosses hanging from their rear view mirrors. Ashley and I take turns walking women in, studiously ignoring the yells of the protesters. Sometimes women arrive alone, but more often they have someone with them: a significant other, a friend, a parent. Their reaction to the protesters varies.

Jeff Dunn: “Quitting Christians”

So why does Smokey, an adamant non-Christian, “get it” when it comes to love, but most every Christian I know doesn’t? Why is it that when I am struggling, like I am right now, I can’t get my brothers and sisters in Christ to show love without a court order, but those like Smokey and other employees and customers I work with will show love in their words and deeds? How is it that those in whom Love Himself lives bottle up love and refuse to give it while those who do not know Love are very free with their love? I really don’t get it. I am ready to quit Christians, or at least quit hoping Christians will do what Jesus commanded and love each other. Christians don’t get it. Agnostics and atheists do. Something is really screwy here.

Rob Tsinai: “Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away”

See, Gracie, those of us who believe in same-sex marriage also think if you’re lucky enough to have two parents who love you, then you have every right to say you need them both. In fact, I wish every child were lucky enough to grow up in a safe, stable home with loving parents. And Gracie, that’s why I support same-sex marriage.

Kristen Rosser: “‘But That’s What the Bible Says'”

And this is the sad thing. That we’d rather live with cognitive dissonance, believing that women are somehow equal but yet somehow lesser — or that they are to be restricted for no reason, but that God is still just — than to believe it’s possible we’re misreading our Bibles.

We’d rather restrict women and have the Bible be “clear” than admit that we just might be wrong.

Certainty is more important than female humanity.

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  • Carstonio

    Only one point of disagreement with Rosser:

    They don’t believe women are inferior, and they don’t believe God is
    arbitrary. “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it,” is
    enough for them.

    That may be true for some, but I suspect that many others, particularly men, don’t want to give up their position at the top of the religion’s gender hierarchy, and all their talk about biblical authority is merely rationalization.

  • Kristen Rosser

    That is a good point, and I think you’re right, but I was trying for a non-confrontational post that said “hey, this is wrong!” without judging anyone’s motives, but as far as was possible to give my opponents the benefit of the doubt.

  • Jim Roberts

    Why can’t it be both? You’re raised to believe that you’re the dominant gender because the Bible says “x.” Winning, being dominant, is kind of awesome. You just have to never question what you’ve always known.

  • Carstonio

    That obviously wouldn’t apply to women who believe in a Bible-directed gender hierarchy, because they wouldn’t have that specific privilege to rationalize.

  • Carstonio

    The sight of those old men in the KofC uniforms angers me for reasons I don’t fully understand, and not just because they’re protesting at a clinic that doesn’t even perform abortions. It’s a stronger version of the feeling I had when I saw the pro-life table at a college event many years ago, staffed by several men and one woman. I imagine myself telling the Knights, “Go home! This doesn’t concern you!” Bad enough when other women presume to decide what an individual woman with an unwanted pregnancy should do. But when the same presumption is made by men, people who have never faced the possibility of becoming pregnant, intended or otherwise, the arrogance is especially infuriating.

  • AnonaMiss

    The saddest thing to me is that their getup was identified as pirate regalia. I had a fleeting hope that there was a troupe of Pastafarians on the pro-choice side.

  • Grey Seer

    Man, that bit about being an escort at a PP clinic is rather chilling. The fact that it’s even necessary always surprises me, and I find myself doubting… right up until I actually read the descriptions of what happens. Sheesh.

    That said, I admit to a great deal of admiration for the people willing to publicly stand there and willingly put themselves in line for such abuse, solely so that they can provide emotional support for those women.

    (I’m British, and over here abortions can be obtained in Hospitals via the National Health Service, so I always have something of a disconnect when I read about these sorts of things. There are clinics and private options available here as well, but that tends to be for those who don’t want to face the waiting lists that inevitably come with going through the NHS.)

  • FearlessSon

    (I’m British, and over here abortions can be obtained in Hospitals via the National Health Service, so I always have something of a disconnect when I read about these sorts of things. There are clinics and private options available here as well, but that tends to be for those who don’t want to face the waiting lists that inevitably come with going through the NHS.)


    There is an abortion clinic (so I am told) in my town, just south of Seattle. I see some protesters on the road near by it sometimes. However, the protests are usually one old guy in a priest’s collar and a couple of old ladies. I doubt that the clinic here (if it even does perform abortions) has much to worry about.

  • alfgifu

    I’m also British, and have encountered protests near to home.
    However, I grew up round the corner from a private clinic in a massive old Victorian house. It is quite discreet, but I have heard (not sure how reliable this information is) that it is one of the largest private abortion clinics in the UK, in terms of numbers of people seen.
    Given that reputation, it’s not surprising that it attracts the occasional protest. In all my years of walking to school past the door, I only saw protesters there twice. One of those times, it was only one woman. Running interference was as simple as talking to her while walking down the street – she had to follow me to keep the conversation going, so it got her and her disgusting little plastic model out of line-of-sight from the clinic door for a good half an hour or so. I didn’t manage to convince her to leave, unfortunately.
    Which goes to show, I suppose, that callous religiosity is not unique to any one country. I think Grey Seer is right that the NHS is a deciding factor in keeping this sort of thing at bay.

  • Lancelot Link

    Those KofC guys sure do love to pray standing on the streetcorners so people can see them. I guess they find it rewarding.

  • Ann Unemori

    I keep thinking it was kFc guys, and imaging angry Colonel Sanders figures haranguing people eating hamburgers….

  • The_L1985

    And stuff like that is also probably why Dad never told me about what the Knights actually do…the only thing I was really aware of was the Tootsie Roll drive.

  • Jessica_R

    Tiffany Bredeck is my BAMF of the week, rock on and I look forward to you being Dr. BAMF.

  • FearlessSon

    I salute Tiffany Bredeck and the organization that she represents!

    Seriously, they are doing more to reduce abortion than any amount of clinic protests, and they do it without any shaming or pretensions about controlling behavior. Those pro-life groups ought to be celebrating clinics like this, not condemning them.

  • stardreamer42

    Back in the day, there was an annual Abortion Protest March in Nashville, which drew about a thousand people. Then one year, NOW decided to hold a Pledge-a-Picket campaign, in which people could sign up to pay anywhere from $.01 on up per person in the protest march (and they had someone taking a count so that the numbers would be at least approximately accurate, not relying on what the forced-birthers claimed), to be donated to the local branch of Planned Parenthood. NOW also did quite a bit of PR about the campaign — press releases, etc.

    In just TWO YEARS, that big annual protest march completely disintegrated. They couldn’t stand knowing that they were, in effect, raising money for Planned Parenthood, and they just sort of faded away.

    I am convinced that doing something similar on a nationwide scale could break the back of the Forty Days of Terrorism in only a few years, for the same reasons.

  • banancat

    I also like doing that for anti-abortion trolls, especially the persistent ones.

  • Kristen Rosser

    I’m really honored to have my post included in this list. Thanks!

  • Invisible Neutrino
  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m getting really tired of hearing christians claim that only they are capable of real, true love; that somehow people who don’t know their special version of God aren’t capable of having deep, intimate feelings and acting on those feelings. I heard quite a lot about 1 Corinthians 13 when I was still in a church; there’s not anything there that requires a deity to live out. The entire idea is offensive and completely counter to reality.

    Maybe if Mr. Dunn let go of this idea, he would be less confused.

  • Lori

    Dunn is pretty clearly not arguing that only Christians are capable of love. Quite the opposite actually. That’s sort of his whole point. If he needs to let go of any idea it’s expecting people to not be raging hypocrites. While that’s obviously an expectation that’s tends to lead to disappointment, I’m hesitant to say that he should let go of it because people shouldn’t be raging hypocrites and when they are the fault is theirs, not the person who expected better.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It looks to me like it could be read either way, what with his use of “love” as a synonym for God, and that implying that somehow people who know God know actual Love, whereas people who don’t get an inferior, little L version.

    I could be wrong, though. I am far from perfect. >.>

  • Lori

    The notion that God is love doesn’t mean that only self-proclaimed Christians are capable of love. I know that there are people who claim that. I don’t see that Dunn can really be counted among their number since the whole point of his article is that his Christian brothers and sister don’t love him and his non-Christian coworker does.

  • chris the cynic

    This is my biblical argument for same sex marriage, against homophobia and trans*phobia, and probably a few other things:

    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

    Make an argument against same sex marriage, for homophobia, or for trans*phobia without using the idea of either male or female. I dare you. If you can’t then your argument is unbiblical, and since “Biblical” is the only arena in which you [hypothetical person who would make that argument sincerely rather than on a dare] ever stood a chance, you lose.

    My biblical pro choice argument draws on more sections of the bible and is harder to pull up and state quickly.

  • SisterCoyote

    Wow. Well said, Chris.

  • AnonymousSam

    So, I’m currently having an argument with someone and he utters the following argument:

    “These arguments are like the ones you used when your party supported slavery. It shouldn’t surprise me that you’re pro-abortion too. I’m German and you’re not, so you wouldn’t understand the value of human life like I do. After all, the United States was the country who took a scientific concept like eugenics and turned it into a national program. Your socialistic party obviously has a long ways to go.”

    I’m now searching for nice things to bury myself in before something vital to health mental functioning breaks.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I spent most of the day having a quite frustrating argument with my boyfriend about exactly what consent means when it comes to rape, so I understand wanting to pound one’s head against a wall. *sympathy hugs*

  • AnonymousSam

    Oof, that’s actually somewhat alarming. I hope you get it into his head exactly what it means and why it’s so important.

  • Baby_Raptor

    At the moment, I’ve lost. He doesn’t accept that consent given under coercion isn’t valid consent, is the short of it. I’ve dropped it for the time being, and am hoping that the argument will at least make him think on it further.

  • AnonymousSam

    Perhaps highlight the difference between uttering consenting words and meaning what it is that’s being said. A bank robber can’t claim that the money he just took from a bank was a gift because the teller “voluntarily” handed him the cash (under threat of a gun).

  • Invisible Neutrino

    O.o Boggle. You may want to refer him to actual legal decisions like a recent Canadian Supreme Court decision that established that consent must be given and continuing through all phases of sex.

    Furthermore, one party falling asleep or otherwise becoming unconscious during sex automatically cancels consent.

  • Ross

    So just to be clear here, if I tell my partner, “Don’t be offended if I nod off. Just keep going without me,” they still have to stop?

    (If that’s the rule, that’s fine, but I’m going to need to have a private talk to someone if we decide to go to canada)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Veeeerry technically, your consent is withdrawn as soon as you nod off. In practice, given that you and your partner already have all the ground rules set out, it is one of those cases where unless it becomes a problem it will not be a problem.

  • Ross

    See, this falls into that category of “We don’t care what you think you consented to, you can not give consent to this sexual activity” that makes me broadly uncomfortable (Along with “Close relatives can not meaningfully consent to sex with each other” etc), because it’s still a form of some outside party making the choice for me about what kind of sex I can and can’t consent to.

    I’ve listened to homophobes argue “A man can not give meaningful consent to have sex with another man, nor can a woman give meaningful consent to have sex with another woman”, and while I know that their basis for suggesting that meaningful consent is impossible in those cases is different, I’m not sure what it is that makes the basis more valid when it’s an anti-sonambulophiliac making the claim.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    The objections were raised and discussed here in the comments.

  • Ross

    Yeah, and it sounds like the place where the discussion ends is basically “Who cares about that minority, it’s more important that we protect rape victims.” Which is maybe true, but I don’t see why that has to be accomplished with “unconsciousness always withdraws consent” and not “The consent of an unconscious person is no more presumed than the consent of a conscious one.” It seems like it would already be rape to have sex with a sleeping person who didn’t consent (And yes, I know that courts are notorious for finding excuses to convict rapists, but that’s the problem you should try to solve, rather than trying to create some kind of triangulation of technicalities to “trick” the court into doing the right thing), so the only thing this law actually adds is that it restricts the consensual activities of people who are into that sort of thing.

    Basically, I don’t know how to build up a sensible framework for consent where a court can tell a person that they are mistaken or deluded about whether or not they consented. (Either way. If a person says they didn’t consent, they didn’t. They may be mistaken about the facts of what activities happened, but not about their lack of consent)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Ever have anal sex with a man prior to about 2003/4?
    Ever smoke pot/do other drugs?

    Ever go over the speed limit?
    Ever rip that stupid tag off a mattress?
    Ever jaywalked at like 3 AM?

    You’ve probably privately broken the law a hundred times or more in your life. What matters is that in most of these cases the ethics of doing so in a manner that doesn’t hurt anyone has already been worked out between you and yourself or you and the other person(s) involved.

    Like srsly do you think the RCMP in Canada is gonna camp outside your door while you and your partner do whatever up here? They’ve got other things to do.

    The legal standard is designed to create a more effective vehicle to punish harm to women who’ve been raped to which the accused would have been able to credibly offer the defence that she consented at first.

    The ethical standard is a different ball of wax.

  • David Policar

    Just to confirm: the technicalities you refer to here are specifically technicalities referring to sexual consent, yes? That is, you’re not claiming that in general I can’t consent to being acted on in various ways while I sleep, merely that I can’t consent to being acted on in various sexual ways while I sleep?

  • AnonymousSam

    The law errs on the side of prudence to narrow the usable window for rapists. There are common practices in BDSM which possibly would legally count as “acting without consent” because the law wouldn’t count certain forms of non-verbal, or even contrary to verbal consent, due to the possibility that a woman saying “stop” could be argued as “but what she really meant was ‘don’t stop.’ ” It’s up to the partners to hash out these rules so that they know what is and isn’t consensual, but the law will err on the side of prudence so that no one can abuse the concept of consent by claiming their partner’s signals belied what they really wanted (when that’s not actually the case).

    If you’re concerned about it, talk to your sexual partner and get confirmation that it is, in fact, all right. Try to communicate often whenever there’s a possibility of doubt. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re that considerate of your partner’s feelings and wishes, regardless of what the law says.

  • David Policar

    Yes, I understand the principle of making the law broad enough that we can ensure that bad acts can be prosecuted, and implicitly counting on the good judgment of law enforcement and of participants in technically illegal acts to ensure that good acts are not prosecuted.

    I’m not challenging that principle here, nor am I concerned with being prosecuted for my sexual acts with my partner. Those days are thankfully behind us.

    Regardless, I certainly endorse your advice. Actually, I endorse it for activities other than sex, too… e.g., before making large joint purchases, or extending invitations to long-term houseguests, or redecorating our living room. Which is not to say that these are (or aren’t) equivalently important to sex. Merely to say that communicating, explicitly addressing doubts, and being considerate of my partner’s feelings and wishes is also a good idea for activities other than sex.

    What I asked, though, was whether you were stating a principle that applied narrowly to sexual consent, or generally to consent. Given that your response was focused on laws surrounding rape rather than laws surrounding assault, battery, theft, etc., I take that as confirmation.


  • Ross

    Thing is, pretty much every other time someone says “Well technically it’s against the law, but we all know what the real intention is here,” it’s turned out to be an invitation to harass people the majority doesn’t like through selective enforcement.

  • AnonymousSam

    WRT rape and consent, I think the very idea that Canada’s Supreme Court has a ruling on the concept of consent and how unconsciousness automatically renders any consent given to be invalid indicates that they don’t have nearly as bad a rape culture as the United States and thus selective enforcement (and thus protection of rapists) isn’t liable to be as much an issue.

  • Ross

    Really? I think Canada’s rape culture probably isn’t as bad as the US’s, but I can’t see how this law demonstrates it. If anything, the fact that they felt the need to assert in law that, regardless of how the participants feel, consent is withdrawn in this case, as if in the absence of this law, the consent of an unconsious person could be assumed demonstrates something else. That law only makes sense if you think “What, I still need consent even if the person is unconscious?” is a vaguely sensible thing to say. If a culture wasn’t heavily invested in the protection of rapists, “the other person has to consent” would be enough, you wouldn’t need to specify that “Yes, even if they’re unconscious” any more than you need to specify in law that ‘Yes, consent is still required even if it’s Tuesday’

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I… thought that was kind of the point of the court decision.

  • FearlessSon

    I share a bit of Ross’ discomfort due to personal experience. I have been in a situation where the woman I was dating at the time asked me for sex, but then fell asleep halfway through (I guess the bed was comfy and she was more tied than she thought.) I stopped and woke her up when I realized she had fallen asleep and did not just have her eyes closed, but still, technically

    I think that the only harm done there was to my self-esteem, since I would hope that I am not such a bore in bed that my partner literally starts snoring. :p

    Still, I agree that protecting any potential victims should be given legal priority, and that a competent court would understand certain circumstances were not meant to apply.

  • reynard61

    I’m thinking that it’s *his* head that needs to be introduced to said wall — many, many times…

  • Baby_Raptor

    There were a couple points where, were he actually here with me (It’s a long distance relationship), I probably would have. This argument was had over Skype, so he got spared that.

  • reynard61

    “I’m German and you’re not, so you would not understand the value of human life like I do. After all, the United States was the country who took a scientific concept like eugenics and turned it into a national program. Your socialistic party obviously has a long ways to go.”

    Oh…wow…my irony-meter just threw a spring…

    Did you show her pictures of the various Death Camps set up by those Germans who “understand the value of human life” like she does? How about the piles of corpses or ovens full of ashes and bones built by those Germans? She is right, however, that our “socialistic party” has a long ways to go. Her country’s “socialistic party” went *ALL* the way and it pretty much destroyed them.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    It depends on which “socialistic party”, considering the Nazis didn’t bother much with it, while the SED spent a lot of time trashing Nazis in the GDR’s educational system and trumpeting that they were the real inheritors of the right to claim moral victory of resistance against Nazidom and not that degenerate bourgeois republic over there.

    As such I doubt the SED had much truck with eugenics.

  • Marc Mielke

    You know that you get special dispensation to go Godwin in this circumstance, right? And I’m pretty sure that guy used to post here. Couldn’t write a sentence without asserting German superiority. And you know who else asserted German superiority, right?

  • AnonymousSam

    No, it wasn’t Münchner Kindl. I checked. :p

  • Lori

    There are two of them? That’s depressing.

  • Daughter

    I read an interesting article yesterday. The author made the point that he didn’t think, if SCOTUS rules in favor of marriage equality, that it would generate the backlash that Roe v. Wade has. This is primarily because the arguments that marriage equality causes harm are so weak and easily disproven.

    In contrast, abortion is so controversial in part because of the unprovable concept of when life begins, and as a result, the question of “is it murder” (and therefore a cause of major harm) is always in the picture. But anti-marriage equality arguments basically come down to protecting tradition, and that just won’t generate the same passion as the idea of protecting babies.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Given that some people can get upset over changing from incandescent to CFL or LED light bulbs, you may be optimistic about the attachment to tradition.

  • Ross

    Some of us are just annoyed at this being the second “ZOMG you MUST transition to the new technology NOW or you are DESTROYING the EARTH and besides it will pay for itself because these bulbs last 20 YEARS!” in the past decade

  • AnonymousSam

    Fox News is trying to whip up that backlash right now. Their contributors of choice are breathlessly insisting that if same-sex marriage is legalized, Christianity will soon be, I quote, “in for persecution like we have never seen it.”

  • Rakka

    Depends on the “we” and “seen”. Sure, if your worst personal experience in persecution was someone saying “happy holidays” and you studiously avoided paying any attention to history and world events EVER, maybe yeah… but that’s like from paper cuts to hangnails.

  • reynard61

    “Bring in the Comfy Chair!”

    And after that we can drag in the fainting couch and clutching pearls…

  • Omnicrom

    Dunn’s consideration is a pretty important one. It ties back to what this blog used to have as a heading a while ago, “It’s usually more complicated than that”. Being religious is not a surefire guarantee that someone is a good person. In fact sometimes it’s a sign that someone is a bad person: can you think of any public figure in America who is actively working to make the country worse that doesn’t publicly speak platitudes about their religiosity? But of course it’s usually more complicated than that, there are plenty of scummy atheists, being in on the liberal side of that movement for the past couple of years has introduced me to more bigoted sexists than I ever wanted to know.

    In the end the sooner people like Jeff Dunn learn to stop associated “religious” with “good” and recognize that it’s usually more complicated than that the better for everyone.

  • Carstonio

    Here’s a question for anyone here who knows more than I do about Catholic theology:

    The procreative “purpose of traditional marriage,” they wrote,” is not “undermined by marriages among the infertile, the elderly, or those who simply choose not to have children. Opposite-sex couples without children who are married model the optimal, socially expected behavior for other opposite-sex couples whose sexual intercourse may well produce children.”

    “even an obviously infertile couple” can “live out the features of true marriage, and so contribute to a strong marriage culture. This makes couples who might conceive more likely to form a marriage and abide by its norms. … The more spouses (including infertile ones) reflect by their lives the truth about what marriage requires, the more saturated we will all be in those truths, so that more families with children will stay intact.”

    “Even couples who neither have nor rear children set an important example for those that may. Married infertile couples still support the norm that sexual relationships between men and women should take place within marriage. Their observance of vows of faithfulness reinforces the social norm that children should ideally enjoy the security, nurture, and love of their father and mother and not be subject to the turbulence of impermanent couplings that lead to motherless or fatherless families.”

    These seem to resemble Catholic teachings on reproduction and marriage roles, clumsily translated into pseudo-secular terms. Does anyone else here agree?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that looks quite Catholic to me, though as an anti-gay-marriage screed it leaves something to be desired, namely, what distinguishes a f/f or m/m pair from an elderly, infertile, or childless-by-choice f/m pair with regards to reproduction, and what distinguishes an f/f or m/m pair with children from an f/m pair with children.

  • Carstonio

    And I appreciate Kagan for raising that exact question this week. I’m still not sure what point Scalia was trying to make with his Strom Thurmond joke. Sure, the old segregationist and serial inseminator was no longer in the Senate when Kagan was confirmed, but so what?

  • Lunch Meat

    Was I the only person who noticed that a child in a poly family could ask the exact same question about “mom, dad, or uncle”?

  • Lunch Meat

    Just realized saying “uncle” could be misinterpreted to mean that the third parent is not a true parent. Since I’m not familiar with what kids in poly families call their parents, I just said the first thing that came to mind to differentiate between three adults, which I shouldn’t have done. Unfortunately, I can’t edit.

  • Tapetum

    I’m pretty sure our priest’s daughter (Episcopal priest, not RC) would be just as quick to ask them which Dad they thought she could do without.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    The Strom Thurmond joke referred to Thurmond marrying a 22 year old woman at the age of 66, then fathering children beginning at age 68.* It was an oblique joke in response to Kagan’s question regarding older couples getting married.

    *He fathered a mixed race daughter much earlier.

  • Carstonio

    I knew about Thurmond’s marital history, I just don’t understand what it has to do with when Kagan was confirmed.

  • Lunch Meat

    That definitely sounds Catholic. It also makes very little sense as reasoning for why the “procreative purpose of traditional marriage” is “undermined” by same-sex marriage.

    “Even same-sex couples who neither have nor rear children set an important
    example for those that may. Married same-sex couples still support the
    norm that sexual relationships between men and women should take place
    within marriage. Their observance of vows of faithfulness reinforces the
    social norm that children should ideally enjoy the security, nurture,
    and love of their father and mother parents and not be subject to the turbulence
    of impermanent couplings that lead to motherless or fatherless single-parent

    Unless all you mean by “features of true marriage” is “man+woman” (in which case you’re begging the question), same-sex couples can live out all the same “features.”

  • AnonymousSam

    I think what they mean by “model the optimal” is basically “We know you can’t or won’t have children, but at least you’re still going through the motions, whereas same-sex couples aren’t even doing that.”

    It’s condescending.

  • Lunch Meat

    In that case, they should be just fined with a transwoman marrying a man.

  • Lunch Meat

    *fine. Stupid allergies making the screen blurry.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    In Iran, the punishment for homosexuality includes death. However, sex reassignment surgery is totally legal, and the government will even front up to half the cost in cases of financial need.

    Reactionaries can have some bizarre and contradictory sexual ethics, is I guess what I’m saying.

  • FearlessSon

    I understand that many homosexual people in Iran undergo gender reassignment surgery, even if they do not identify as the gender they are being assigned to, as the only way that they can actually legally be with their beloved.

    I think that the Iranian government uses this kind of encouragement just so they can say, “We don’t have homosexuals here.”

  • Tapetum

    Well, yes – except that the same sorts of Catholics who say things like the above also tend to disbelieve in the existence of transpeople. As in, they view it as a straight up mental disorder, which should never be accommodated in any way, shape, or form.

    I conducted a very unscientific, but fascinating experiment with the commentariat of a very conservative Catholic blog. I brought up the existence of people with extreme Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). Some sufferers feel strongly that one or another of their limbs is not theirs, doesn’t belong there, should be removed, and they want it gone to the point of doing themselves damage in the effort to force an amputation. Now, obviously actual amputation is a last resort, never a first, but there was a trial some years back (In Scotland, if I remember correctly) where they did amputate the otherwise healthy limb of some BIID sufferers who were otherwise to the point of needing 24/7 in-patient surveillance to prevent them from mutilating themselves. The surgeries were highly successful. The patients adjusted to their new amputee status much faster than normal amputees, were happy with their altered bodies, and were able to resume life outside the mental hospital.

    When I put this forth to the conservative Catholics, they were horrified. To the very last one, they agreed that it would be better to have those people involuntarily committed and live out their lives in a mental institution under tight self-mutilation watch, than to give them a medical amputation. And as far as I can tell, that’s pretty much exactly their view on transitioning as well. A weird sort of “We care about you so much, we’d rather lock you up forever than let you do something we define as harm that lets you live your life.” I don’t get it at all, but it was very consistent.

  • P J Evans

    What bothers me about their view is that their assumption that they know what’s best for *other* people.

  • Lori

    Strictly speaking they think that God knows what’s best for other people and that they know exactly what God thinks on the matter. Which is worse. I think it’s easier to convince someone that he doesn’t actually know what best for you than it is to convince someone who is invested in believing that he knows God’s opinion that he doesn’t and it’s not his place any way.

  • Tapetum

    When this was pointed out to them, the answer was invariably “It’s not what I think is best. It’s what God thinks is best.” That other people didn’t believe in their God, or did believe but not in the same way was also not worthy of consideration.

    I have found that somebody’s reaction to the extreme BIID sufferers tracks nearly exactly with their reaction to transgendered people, without getting into the politics of the whole thing. Useful on occasion when I want to scope out someone’s probable reaction without letting them know something might be up.

  • syfr

    I myself am wondering when my parents will be forced to divorce. I mean, my brother and I are in our thirties, there are only us two, so my parents aren’t raising children anymore and have no reason to stay married.