Whaddya Wanna Get Married For?

Sorry this is late, but what could be better on Valentine’s Day than pouring kerosene on a fight about marriage? This post is part of a debate on gay marriage.  In the last installment, my friend Matt argued that endorsing gay marriage means endorsing the foundations of divorce culture.  So now it’s my turn to be prescriptive about marriage.  To start with a recap of what kind of marriage Matt opposed, let’s go to the videotape (John Barrowman in Company):

YouTube Preview Image

We’ll look not too deep,
We’ll go not too far.
We won’t have to give up a thing,
We’ll stay who we are.
Right?

We’ll build a cocoon
Of love and respect.
You promise whatever you like,
I’ll never collect.

Before I narrow down my argument to focus on gay marriage, I want to say a little about why people enter into marriages in the first place.  One much talked about facet of marriage is the over 1000 rights and privileges allotted to married people by the government.  This is the visiting each other in the hospital, joint custody of children, use of pension kinda stuff. All of which is important (and much of which, in a perfect world, you would be able to share with people just by private contract).

By *voluntary* private contract, Count Olaf!

But all of these rights and laws exist for a reason beyond our desire to be able to order our own affairs in some libertarian way.  They exist because the law is trying to make adjustments for the fact that some non-blood relative is now your family.  In fact, all the legal protections and ties people like me agitate for make it very hard to disentangle yourself from this person, even if the emotional bond is gone.  So why would you choose to let yoke yourself so tightly to someone else?

It has to be something more than present pleasure, or even an expectation of pleasure in the future.  Marriage puts a major constraint on your future self.  You’ve entangled your finances, your feelings, your friends, and possibly children.  Usually, when I try and limit my options in the future, I don’t do it just because I happen to particularly like the options currently on the table, I do it because I’m trying to stack the cards in favor of character development.

In the most mundane example, a student might have a friend change their facebook password during exam week, so she won’t be tempted to procrastinate.  The student limits her choices for her own good and trusts her friend to side with her past self, even if her present self begs for just five minutes on the site.

So what kind of partner do you want, if s/he’s going to be the major, constant constraint on your character for the foreseeable future?  It’s not enough that s/he makes you happy, s/he needs to make you good.  And vice versa.  So good conversation and good physical chemistry aren’t enough; on top of that you want someone who makes it feel easy and natural to be the person you ought to be.

And if you’ve gotten that right, you don’t want to let future you weasel out of the plan you’ve made.  Just like the girl giving up facebook, you want to be sure that past you’s decision is going to stay binding on future you.  Divorce or separation shouldn’t be impossible (it’s possible you seriously miscalculated), but it should be a very costly and slow-moving option.

Not all of these ideas are baked into secular marriage the way they’re embedded in sacramental marriage, but they’re not incompatible with most worldviews.  Because atheism is just a negation of one class of metaphysics, it doesn’t preclude signing on to this idea of marriage.  Of course, it doesn’t preclude signing on the impoverished idea of marriage that Matt was railing against and John Barrowman’s character so perfectly illustrates at the beginning of this post, either.

Marriage isn’t under attack, but it is in flux.  It wasn’t so long ago that gay marriage was opposed by a lot of people in the gay rights movement because they didn’t see any reason to cleave to the traditions of heterosexuals.  Plenty of my straight secular friends aren’t sold on traditional, for life at least, marriage, either.  The old ways have lost their authority with us, since they’ve had a terrible track record on most questions to do with gender.  Luckily, a marriage that goes beyond mere gratification and contentment can be pitched on it’s merits.

To sell us on sacramental marriage, Matt would have to make us all Catholics, and gay marriage may very well be impossible inside that framework.  But if his goal is to stand athwart mainstream divorce culture yelling STOP! he should stand with most of me and endorse gay marriage in the model I’ve outlined.  He’s welcome to join me in going even further and recommending people consider gay covenant marriage.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

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  • Jeff

    Mind your business, if YOU don’t want to be married, DON’T! Why do you want everyone else to be forcibly divorced? You’re just as bad as a ring-wing conservative denying gay rights.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      Marriage is directed towards the propogation of children as one necessary if not sufficient aspect is necessary for the human species to survive. Done well, even if we do not participate, we thrive. This necessarily makes all members of the human species stakeholders.

      This is not itself a case against SSM but a case for anyone having any right to argue it. All humanity, and anyone else invested in humanity, has a stake in marriage being what it pretty much has been in every major culture of the world.

      • keddaw

        I hate this ignorant argument. The vast, vast majority of known human cultures have been polygamous (usually one male multiple females as resources allow).

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

          Far as I’ve read, the vast majority of marriages have been male-female, and I understate.

          (For clarity, this is my definition of “what it pretty much has been,” itself also an understatement.)

          • keddaw

            TU, I apologize, I read into your statement that it was a “one man-one woman” arrangement however on reading it back you don’t make this clear.

            So, even though I reckon that is what you meant, I retract the ‘ignorant’ part about your comment.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            While I’ll admit that monogamy was in my mind’s eye, me not being sure of myself did pre-emptively throw in the weasel word in on purpose. It did pay off, eh?

            I recognize now and then, however, that monogamy is at best the shell of the issue rather than the nut.

      • keddaw

        And that’s where there is enough property to even have any official marriage, since it was usually a linking of resources between families or a way to stop feuds, as often the proles (i.e. majority) simply had local arrangements.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

          So any two could be married regardless of sex? Please show me a male king consort, and then show him the pattern rather than the outlier.

          • keddaw

            The point, poorly made, was that marriage has massively changed. I was about the sharing of resources of the wealthy, the avoidance of conflicts and the entrenchment of power. The poor may have gotten married for love, but the vast majority didn’t get ‘official’ since they had no need to as they had no resources to protect (the point of marriage).

            Of course when people say marriage is based on love they have a temporal myopia and cultural blinkers. You say it’s based on kids, in many cultures it’s based on status. Kids are the inevitable byproduct.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            What a thing is used for is not necessarily what it is most useful for, and not why it is necessary.

            Marriage can be understood as a necessary institution for the survival of the species. Same-sex marriage cannot. To elevate same-sex couples to parity with marriage unqualified undermines what makes marriage unqualified most useful.

          • keddaw

            Marriage can be understood as a necessary institution for the survival of the species.

            Makes you wonder how we made it to become bipeds…

            Seriously, the birth rate before the institution of marriage was even conceived of was much higher than it is now. The species is not in danger and marriage, if anything, reduces birth rates.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Well, survival for humans qua humans, that social-rational animal, but I’ll take your point.

            If marriage distracts you, remove it, and replace it with male-female coupling. I’ll connect the two:

            Proof for there can be no parity between marriage and SSM: Marriage, from what it is, can enhance male-female coupling. SSM cannot. Given that male-female coupling is necessary for the survival of the species, QED.

            To wit, our floor might be below your ceiling, but our ceiling is necessarily higher.

          • keddaw

            If marriage distracts you, remove it, and replace it with male-female coupling

            Indeed, but no-one is arguing that – the title of the post is: Whaddya Wanna Get Married For?

            Not that ‘same sex coupling’ has ANY effect on birth rates or the survival of the species, unless you think heterosexuals can become gay simply by being aware of gay people? Or you want to force gays to have straight sex to procreate in case we run out of straight people willing to do it?

            No, this tangent is so fundamentally flawed that not only is your floor below my ceiling, your neolithic, mud brick house is in the shadow of my 21st century skyscraper.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Exactly my point. From common ground:

            I have no direct connection to SSM. However, as a member of the human species, I do have a direct connection to MU. SSM, by claiming parity with MU, damages the right understanding of what MU is and is for. Therefore, I speak out against SSM.

  • Brandon

    It takes a serious twist of thinking to decide that an endorsement of marriage is actually an endorsement of divorce…

  • Lukas Halim

    “But all of these rights and laws exist for a reason beyond our desire to be able to order our own affairs in some libertarian way. They exist because the law is trying to make adjustments for the fact that some non-blood relative is now your family. ”
    The same can be said for adoption. A spouse is obviously part of your family, but a spouse is not just family – your spouse is actually your next of kin.

    Anyway, I’m not really sure how your piece is a rebuttal. It seems to me that Matt’s claim is that although it is possible to imagine imagine gay marriage contributing to a culture of marital stability, practially it just wouldn’t work out that way. See, for example, the Onions, “Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance Of Gays Back 50 Years.” Obviously the gay-pride parade is not all there is to gay culture. But if the spirit of gay culture is more promiscious than straight culture, it seems you run a risk that including gays in marriage will further normalize divorce and infidelity.

    “It’s not enough that s/he makes you happy, s/he needs to make you good. ”
    Very true. But this could also be said for friendship (particularly vowed friendship) or living in a religious community or a philosophical debating society.

    • Brandon

      But if the spirit of gay culture is more promiscious than straight culture

      Surely you’re aware that female-female couples are more likely to maintain long term monogamous pairings than are male-female couples, right?

      • River Tam

        I note that you didn’t mention male-male couples. Maybe we should only allow gay marriage for lesbians.

        • Brandon

          The point that anyone reading for comprehension would arrive at is surely not that I’m advocating a discriminatory policy – it’s that discrimination based on likelihood of monogamy would lead to us giving favored status to female-female couples. Surely, almost everyone would regard that as silly.

          • Lukas Halim

            I think this is one case where the miscegenation analogy might actually work – even if it is true that interracial couples are much more likely to get divorced, it does not follow that that means we should outlaw interracial marriages.

        • deiseach

          Alas, that is no panacea either, because the lesbian couple who got married in California (in the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal) have just filed for divorce after three years of marriage (after cohabiting for eighteen years or so).

          The moral of the story would appear to be: if you want to stay in a relationship, don’t get married!

          No, that’s not the moral. But Leah, I can’t see gay and lesbian people agreeing to trade legalisation of same-sex marriage for stricter standards of monogamy. They would say – with justification – why should they be held to higher standards than heterosexual marriage, and that by putting constraints on same-sex marriage, it still is not equality with heterosexuals.

          I don’t think gay marriages are necessarily more promiscuous or liable to be open marriages than straight marriages, but I think that the political philosophies about being gay/queer/however one wants to describe oneself, which are a hangover from the 70s like certain strands of feminist theory, do militate against the kind of stand on marriage you describe.

          As I get older and more cynical, I think that there should be a form of civil marriage or domestic partnership or civil union for everyone which does have certain rights and does permit the divorce rights which our society apparently thinks it absolutely needs – maybe just a civil contract where the state says “Okay, you’ve been cohabiting a while, you maybe even have kids, why bother getting married, just sign one of these and have the visitiation and property rights and so forth that your divorce lawyers can argue about in court” – but I also think that there should exist ‘marriage’ marriage, where it’s not easy to get a divorce and where it does make a difference to how one lives.

          I’m not married, nor ever wanted to be, but I do understand that when you marry, you have to change – you can’t live like you’re still single, you have to compromise, you have to think about the effects on another person (or persons, when you have children).

    • anodognosic

      “But if the spirit of gay culture is more promiscious than straight culture, it seems you run a risk that including gays in marriage will further normalize divorce and infidelity.”

      But isn’t the whole point that culture is fluid and changeable? The gay community wants marriage. They want the constraints of marriage. That means that they want to change the predominant culture, or that the predominant culture has already changed. There’s a strong conservatism in the push for gay marriage, and if anything, it’s brought renewed vigor into an institution that was seriously called into question for much of the past century.

      There’s another point to be made. Gay culture, historically, has largely been about liberation, and the Pride parades are an expression of that. That liberation has been taken to extremes in a lot of circles. But liberation doesn’t need to be full and total. Sometimes it might seem like they are to some social conservatives, because some rules seem so basic that breaking them tosses out even the possibility for rules (“Men marrying men? What’s next? Dogs? Children?”). But, to take one example I’m very familiar with, Dan Savage, along with being an agent of fairly radical liberation (which you might call promiscuity) on the one hand, has also articulated a sophisticated and pragmatic ethics for strengthening marital bonds. More generally, and as I have already stated, the campaign for gay marriage walks hand-in-hand not with a debasement of marriage, but with an exaltation.

      • Lukas Halim

        Right. I think this is where the response to Matt needs to go – will acceptance of gay marriage encourage monogamy for gays, or will it further denorm the idea of marital permanance?

        • Lukas Halim

          “A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.”

          http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html

          • anodognosic

            I’m not sure if this is the point that you were making, but monogamy is not the same as marital permanence. I for one care far more about the latter than the former.

            I’d like to make a few points related to this:

            1. This pretty much shows that gay marriage is not about sexual fulfillment (which strikes me more and more as nastily slanderous), but rather about something else–if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say companionship.

            2. The collection of traditional characteristics of marriage don’t necessarily come as a package deal, and not all characteristics are necessarily mutually reinforcing. It is at least arguable that relaxing standards of monogamy may increase stability–this is the argument Dan Savage puts forth. If this is true, you may have to weigh the harm of divorce against that of sexual promiscuity.

            3. Historically, sexual monogamy has been enforced far, far more for women than for men. To some extent, it is a matter of honesty over hypocrisy.

            4. The best thing to do is not always the one that requires the most personal discipline.

          • deiseach

            But there are other reasons for a marriage to break down other than sexual incompatibility; so Joe can, with the full agreement of Jane or Bill (depending on who his spouse is) have flings? Does that help matters when Jane or Bill or Joe is resentful about meanness with money, or drinking too much, or making jokes at the other’s expense in company of friends, or the stresses and problems when unemployment and trying to pay the mortgage and the long hours commuting and having kids/not having kids are all being argued about? I don’t see how Joe or Bill or Jane going out and having a consensually-agreed one night stand with some cutie they met in a bar is going to solve the problems of ‘you never do your fair share around the house, you always come up with some excuse to leave me with the responsibility for fixing any repairs or making sure the bills are paid on time’.

        • Brandon

          Is this even a remotely relevant argument from a legal standpoint? If we can demonstrate that one group is less likely than another to stay married, does anyone really, truly want to use that as a basis to deny them marriage?

          • Lukas

            “If we can demonstrate that one group is less likely than another to stay married, does anyone really, truly want to use that as a basis to deny them marriage?” Exactly – that’s why I don’t think this argument works, although I don’t believe in gay marriage.

      • deiseach

        I would disagree quite vehemently and strongly with Dan Savage; in this interview, he seems to be advocating optional monogamy (with, if I not reading into what he’s saying what is not there, the implication that monogamy is a fetter and not a pledge).

        I was angry when I read this paragraph:

        “In their own marriage, Savage and Miller practice being what he calls “monogamish,” allowing occasional infidelities, which they are honest about. Miller was initially opposed to the idea. “You assume as a younger person that all relationships are monogamous and between two people, that love means nothing can come between you,” said Miller, who met Savage at a club in 1995, when he was 23 and Savage was 30. “Dan has taught me to be more realistic about that kind of stuff. ”

        I wondered why I was angry (after all, what skin is it off my nose if he’s talked his husband into permitting flings while either or both of them are on the road or whatever?) and I suppose it’s because it feels to me like a kind of contempt for the very person he is supposed to be valuing most; Savage, after all, is the one who persuaded his spouse into permitting this openness (and I get the impression that as an agony uncle/advice columnist/journalist, he is the one who has more likelihood of people wanting to sleep with him when he’s doing lecture tours or what have you), against what the other expected from marriage.

        Me, I would have said (in a hypothetical situation like that) “Fine, you want someone who’ll permit you to have your cake and eat it too? Go find them, and good luck to you both. But I’m either your wife or I’m not, and if you don’t want that, this marriage isn’t a marriage and you can walk out that door and not come back.”

        I also wanted to smack him in the chops and call him ‘idiot!’ for these remarks:

        ““The mistake that straight people made,” Savage told me, “was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey.” In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”

        He may know all about being a gay man in America, but he has damn-all notion about being any kind of woman anywhere. I don’t think matters would be improved if women had the same kind of access to prostitutes as men have had, particularly with the kinds of human trafficking to feed the sex industry – I don’t see that brothels filled with twelve to seventeen year old males for women to pay for a night’s use is any improvement in sexual liberation. And I damn well don’t appreciate, as a woman, an airy comment about men always having had access to prostitutes until mean ol’ feminists forced them to keep their marriage vows (by educating women to be uppity and demand rights, not be content to be treated as property?)

        • anodognosic

          I think you are really straining to misunderstand him on that last point. There is obviously a possible state of affairs where married people have sexual latitude and coerced prostitution is not the main mechanism by which this latitude is exercised, and only a warped reading of his writing could possibly lead you to the conclusion that he was talking about male prostitution as the answer. Furthermore, criticizing one particular point in how feminism unfolded as a historical movement is a far, far cry from opposing feminism generally, which he most definitely doesn’t. You might notice that what he proposes is in principle egalitarian–to extend the same latitude to both sexes. You may argue that it is not egalitarian in practice, but you can hardly call him antifeminist for it.

          Also, you present the choice of being “monogamish” as ultimately unfair, but what if both partners want to “have their cake and eat it too”? You read the story, and all you can see is a partner imposing his will on the other unilaterally (perhaps because that is the only way you can imagine this happening in your own life), which, yes, would be wrong, and Savage himself would agree. And in a couple where this mismatch does occur, one partner has to bite the bullet, or they need to split up, much as you described. But what if the partner actually just plain came around? It happens. (By the way, if you see his picture and know anything about the gay community, you’ll know that Savage’s husband would have no trouble at all getting laid any day of the week.) It might just as easily happen in a heterosexual couple as well. And much as you might want to moralistically huff about it, a lot of us consider sexual fidelity to be far less important than companionship, mutual support and the joint enterprise of couplehood.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      But this could also be said for friendship (particularly vowed friendship) or living in a religious community or a philosophical debating society.

      That’s a clever way of putting it. Wish more people paid attention to this point.

  • FCCG

    In regards to the rights issue. I think it is a red herring. For example, considering DOMA has been in place, the legal rights and responsibilities available to gays in CA has not changed during the back and forth of Prop 8. Nor will it if the injunction lifts. Of course, these facts do not comfort those who oppose prop 8. They are looking for something symbolic. Besides, most of the legal rights that are mentioned in these discussions are available to anyone with a good will and power of attorney agreement.

    Leah, I am a person who senses a fundamental unfairness in the current situation, but I am reluctant to want to change such an old institution which has been so integral to society. As one of the more eloquent and even headed of gay marriage supporters I’ve read, how would you respond to the following: Given that when I was in high school (’03), it seems like the majority position among gay activists was to reject “hetero-normative” modes of culture, I think there is a good possibility that this is a mere fad for the gay rights movement. It might take a few decades, but eventually when the west has accepted gay marriage, I see marriage rates among gays falling dramatically within a few years, as the community of fashion reverts to a more “separatist” philosophy we have seen in the past. Additionally, I do not see a limiting principle in the logic behind gay marriage. While the cries of “dogs and children will be next” are silly, I think the arguments for gay marriage make it very difficult to continue to prohibit polygamy. Additionally, all states currently prohibit marriage for people within a certain degree of consanguinity. Those for all but the closest relations will have to go too. Is there an argument that cuts this bridge I’m missing, or are you willing to accept these further steps?

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      With predictable qualifications, but tentatively: Hear hear!

    • Kogo

      What is the quote and who said it? “Change cannot wait for every conceivable objection to be met.”

      It isn’t actually incumbent on gay or lesbian people to answer any of your questions. There were lots of very thoughtful pedants who wondered how–HOW they asked–the black man was expected to survive in America after the ending of slavery. Lots of their objections made very good syntactic and formal-logic sense, too.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        Change, I think, can wait for the passing of a fad, which was what this guy actually said.

        • Kogo

          “While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work…”

          …”We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights…Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, “Wait.”

          –Letter from a Birmingham Jail
          MLK

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            How long have gay rights advocates waited? I seem to remember “heteronormal” as a slur, and that’s just in my lifetime. The movement as a whole seems very mercurial. It has hardly the credibility to make this comparison.

    • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

      This has always struck me as a ridiculous argument, and here’s why: If there are genuinely good reasons for prohibiting, say, polygamy, then those reasons will remain good ones regardless of whether or not same-sex marriage is permitted. The only reason we might believe that one would lead to the other is if there are no good reasons against polygamy, and once we depart from tradition in any way at all, then anything goes. I’m not necessarily saying I believe this, but obviously, if there are no good reasons against something, then we should permit it!

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        Consider this common case:

        Consenting adults!

        Polygamy, from this principle, is a fair question. Especially given that it is proposed as not just a principle but an overriding principle, it is a necessary question.

        What principles do you have to prevent polygamy? Are there other constraints you would place on this principle? If it is overriding in some but not others, why?

        It would be nice to hear this question ever answered by anyone, but rather than declare things from first principles I hear things merely declared. This is profoundly dissatisfying. I hear a lot about rights but not much about the origin of rights.

        Leah, et al.: If you’re serious about this truth thing, declare not just what you believe and why you believe it, but a Bill of Rights, so to speak, of clear first principles you accept and why you accept them, from which you deduce the rest.

        (If this has been done, I will accept correction.)

        • anodognosic

          A lot of people do seem to claim that meaningful mutual consent is sufficient to allow gay marriage. And it’s true that the argument for that as a principle has not been satisfactorily made in society at large, and that it would necessarily entail the inclusion of polygamy and the marriage of close relatives along with gay marriage.

          But to meet these reasonable challenges, the debate has long moved past mutual consent. To be clear: meaningful mutual consent is necessary, which is why comparing gay marriage to child rape or dog fucking is an insulting and incendiary straw man. Right now, however, the discussion is focusing far more as gay marriage as a form of stable pair-bond that can serve at least most of the relevant purposes of marriage, which include but are not limited to child-rearing, and which is ultimately a great good for those who participate in it.

          Polygamy is not a pair-bond, which makes it sufficiently different that it will not simply sneak past the law along with gay marriage. Though I am not in principle opposed to it, here are some potential issues that would need a thorough public airing, as gay marriage has been having:

          Polygamy can create a meaningful gender imbalance in the number of single people, almost definitely being a surplus of men. Historically, this tends to be bad news for crime rates. It also significantly worsens inequality, because the people who tend to concentrate more spouses (let’s be honest: wives) are rich men, and marriage becomes that much more scarce for poor men. It may be that polygamous marriages are inherently less stable, as the potential for jealousy and infighting increases exponentially with the number of partners. Finally, it may cause a commodification of marriage and push society towards treating women as chattel.

          Note that these can all be easily formulated as predictions (that is, they can be proven wrong), they are arguable regarding rights, and are all particular to polygamy.

          • deiseach

            You don’t think that polygamy would encompass polyandry? There are some societies where that is the custom, after all, and if polygyny is going to be the preserve of rich, older men, I see no reason to argue that the surplus population of young, unmarried males would not be absorbed by multiple marriages with rich, older women.

            And at least there are and have been societies which have practiced and continue to practice polygamy, so we have a better idea of the virtues and pitfalls of the practice, than gay marriage.

          • anodognosic

            My potential objections to polygamy are merely that. I predict that polygyny would be far more common than polyandry in modern Western society, but that is a prediction that is wholly subject to verification, and it very well may be as you said.

            On your second point, I put to you that gay marriage is far more like what we have now than polygamy is, and the virtues and pitfalls far more similar. Furthermore, gay marriage has been legal in several states for some years now. The data’s already pouring in, and the sky hasn’t fallen yet.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Sidebar: If this effect — treating women as chattel — makes a thing bad, then surely you stand with the feminists of the 19th century against the feminists of the 20th. This is to say you are against abortion, contraception et al., and you stand with Paul VI.

            Or does contraceptive mindset not create a boy’s market for sex, disincentivizing them to grow up to be men?

          • Katie

            Oh please. The idea that men need to be incentivized by the withholding of sex is ridiculous and offensive to both men and women. If anything, contraception frees women from the constraints of child-bearing to pursue any sex they want. Or are we still thinking of women as the sexually passive gatekeepers of their own vaginas, limiting access to said vaginas to men who can provide certain resources in return? Because that sounds a lot more like treating women as chattel to me. Though I personally prefer the formulation, “Yo mama’s a whore?”

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            I do not believe what you accuse me of. Please be more careful in the future.

            My attitude towards women qua women has more to do with envy than wrath or pride, and with joy and wonder even more than envy. To see them throw away that birthright which is literally the birth right does not so much liberate as demean them.

            My attitude is not treating women as chattel — as ever- sexually-enlightened Greeks did, so goes the scuttlebutt — but rather the opposite. It is an exaltation. If this also rankles you please understand that I do not mean by this The Doll’s House, that rich man’s vice.

            Perhaps both of us would react similarly to a mantilla, the lace head covering the girls wear at my Mass community. But I enjoy them because because all sacred things, from the tabernacle on down, are veiled.

            This is the highest compliment I know.

        • keddaw

          This is really simple – have, as part of your legal contract of marriage (any gender(s)), a clause that states that ALL parties must agree to the entering of a new partner into the arrangement. This means that polygamy is only allowed with the full consent of everyone already in the marriage (of however many) i.e. everyone has a veto.

          It should also be noted that almost all instances of polyamory that are harmful are in religious communities where women are not equal and they tend to be culturally or physically separate from the wider community.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            That’s discrimination! cry polygamy advocates.

            (And circular! And does not answer the question! say I.)

            What principle backs you up? For all the talk of injustice, why not talk about what is just?

          • keddaw

            TU “What principle backs you up? For all the talk of injustice, why not talk about what is just?”

            The principles of freedom, autonomy, choice, individuality.

            “I hear a lot about rights but not much about the origin of rights.”

            The origin of rights is common social acceptance of said rights. We only have the rights that our fellow man allows us to have. Such is the sad state of affairs for a materialist but with no objective law giver there is also no objective rights giver. We are alone and have to make the best of what we have.

            PS. Does that mean you are in favor of (allowing) polygamy in its various forms?

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

            Is this a fair summation? If so, there is a fair talk on the subject, a standard hurdle to test such views of ethics.

            Does that mean you are in favor of (allowing) polygamy in its various forms?

            I cannot be counted as a supporter, no. I have no ethics of my own.

            To clarify, I do not emote truth but gather truths, because if truth is emoting is as worthless as a fart.

            Then, when I find enough truths, I see who agrees with most of what I’ve found, and trust the authority to be right where we differ. Should enough favorite truths be debunked, I am honor-bound to reconsider the authority.

            But the authority for discerning truth does not rest in my choosing but in the solidity of the truth itself, which is always the goal.

          • keddaw

            That paper you linked to makes two fundamental mistakes in the opening to the introduction so I’ll probably skip it:

            1. The assumption that freedom is a goal worth having in and of itself (I agree, but I have to accept it is simply my opinion and cannot objectively, or universally, be said to be so).
            2. The “spirit” is free. Don’t point a materialist to someone attacking a materialist worldview using “spirits”.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Well, his introduction is tailored to his audience. CTRL F only shows one “spirit” after the introduction, and that was in quoting a parallel thought.

            Really, the meat of it is founded on common ground.

            (If you’re a materialist, you might enjoy some of the arguments Dr. Andreassen has with John C. Wright over on the latter’s blog.)

        • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

          It’s a fair question. I’ve written about my views on polyamory, but to summarize briefly:

          Legalizing same-sex marriage doesn’t fundamentally change the institution in any way (since ability to bear children is not now, nor has it ever been, a general requirement for marriage). All it’s doing is removing a discriminatory restriction on an already existing institution, much like removing the restriction on interracial marriage.

          However, there’s no such straightforward anti-discrimination argument for polygamous marriage. The many rights and privileges that come with a two-person marriage simply can’t be extended to arbitrarily large unions without causing societal chaos. (Think of the right to confer citizenship on someone by marrying them, for example.) Even if we were ever to permit polygamous marriage, it would have to be a very different kind of institution than marriage as it exists now, and I think that alone is a sufficiently important consideration to defer the issue until there’s been a lot more societal discussion and consensus on what that new kind of relationship would entail.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            It is not a question of individual ability to procreate but of a mass ability to procreate, even if there is only the slimmest likelihood in individual cases. It is a mass institution, writ large, and as a mass institution it suffices.

            More to the point, opposition to SSM is one way or another about the mass and irrefutable impossibility for same-sex couples to procreate qua same-sex couples. This condemns the institution, absolutely and and definitionally rather than in outlier cases.

            Does anyone on the other side see this difference? Surely our hostess must.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            More specifically, what this quality condemns is the pretense of parity between SSM and marriage unqualified.

      • FCCG

        This is precisely the problem. This whole argument is about what type of arguments are allowed in the first place. Most people who support or oppose this issue do so for different types of reasons. Proponents largely support gay marriage because they believe that individuals should have legal support/recognition of their personal preferences. Almost always a laudable goal. Opponents on the other hand have a general belief that traditional moral codes developed over thousands of years are best suited to a thiriving society and most individuals. I know that there are some gay marriage supporters who think that claims like “it’s best for children to be raised by both their biological parents,” or “marriage is best way for people to have a social safety net in their later years”. However, it seems just true that most supporters have a feeling that it is not valid to fall back on traditional, organic, social arguments (whether or not theologically based). Most arguments against polygamy fall into the same catagory as do the arguments against gay marriage. If we say the sorts arguments against gay marriage are not valid in today’s society, we cannot resurrect that classification for the fight against polygamy.

        As an aside, I sometimes wonder why I wade into this debate. I not particularly opposed to gay marriage, nor would I be opposed to polygamy or loosening incest laws…after all William and Mary were first cousins. I agree with Matt that this is just one more stop on the road that began with no fault divorce, and ultimately I tend to think that this is a fad that will pass in coming decades or centuries (no fault is by far the more upsetting foe and one that is less likely to fade into history). However, this more than any other current public debate shows how people don’t understand the consequences of their thoughts. I might even be inclined to support gay marriage if its supporters didn’t insist on ignoring the fact that their ideas put less popular one of the table of legitimate possibility.

        • Patrick

          Well, critics of organic society arguments tend to think that our current social norms are NOT developed over thousands of years. They think our current social norms are, in large part, a rejection of thousands of years of history as morally bankrupt. And on the face of things, they have an awfully good point, what with the whole slavery, women’s rights, institutionalized racial supremacy, oppressive religious institutions, monarchy, abuse of women as socially accepted, forcible sex with women as normalized to the point that it wasn’t even considered rape, and so on.

          I mean, in all seriousness? Even if you leave out issues of technology and medicine, every single century of human existence was morally utter trash in comparison to the past 15 years. If you had to choose a time period to live in, but you were told that your gender and race would be randomized and you wouldn’t be guaranteed to be male and part of the dominant social class, you’d be crazy to pick any time period except, you know, now. Its almost difficult to fully express what utter contempt we would have for the cultural groups of our past if we were to judge them by modern standards, because the comparison are so extreme as to be cartoonish. Go past 250 years, and our forbear’s closest modern analogues are, at present, machete wielding rapists committing genocide in third world nations.

          So it isn’t just that organic society arguments are considered inappropriate evidence, its that evidentially, they either suck, or else they lead to the conclusion that thousands of years of human history have contributed to the evolution of our modern moral codes by operating as a blood drenched example of how not to be.

  • Brian S

    I think everyone is making a lot of value judgments here. Even Leah, who is supposed to be the “liberal” one on this side, seems kind of conservative in her beliefs marital permanence. She notes that she’d be OK with a similar commitment to polyamorous relationships (are you endorsing polygamy?), but she just can’t get off the whole “I think it is really important for people to commit to each other in ways they can’t break” train, which is basically aligned with part of Matt’s shtick rather than a counter to it.

    A few people have brought up sexual monogamy. Why is sexual monogamy important? I don’t mean why is it germane to this discussion; I mean why is it valuable in the first place (aside from the fact that society tells us it is)?

    And why is marital permanence important? So what if I want to get divorced and remarried? Why is that a bad thing? I’m not saying we should immediately jump to divorce at the slightest problem with a marriage, instead of working through it, but some marriages are just fundamentally bad decisions. Unless you’re like Leah and want to bind your hands in the hopes that it will offer some bizarre aid in a quest for self-betterment…why not get divorced and move on to greener pastures?

    Sure, some will say that you have to stay together for your children, but I don’t necessarily buy that. For one thing, we can’t get good data – there’s a stigma involved here, and in any event we’d have to compare children growing up with divorced parents to children growing up with…very unhappily married parents? Somehow I don’t think the results are going to be better with the latter, although if anyone has data on this I’d like to see it. And in any event, this would only apply to couples with children.

    TL;DR – There are too many value judgments and flawed assumptions being made, as usual.

  • Kogo

    (Cribbed from elsewhere, so don’t credit me personally)

    We’re all watching DVDs now. But liberals like me suggest we trade up to Blu-Ray or even just online streaming: Easier, better picture, you can see more of what you want.

    Conservatives were sorta kinda okay with DVDs as a stopgap, but now are militantly opposed to Blu-Ray or online streaming because that will only serve to delay the day when we all go back to watching VHS, then Betamax, and, eventually, silent Super-8 reels.

    Leah, as near as I can tell, is weird cinephile who thinks Betamax was really the superior format: Had a sharper picture, less machine noise, etc. She’s not opposed to DVDs or Blu-Ray existing, but thinks people should watch at LEAST a 20 or 30 films–preferably Fellini, Almodovar and/or Bergman–on Betamax before deciding against it.

    • Kogo

      Oh and also: Any time I visit a conservative’s house, I never actually see any VCRs or Betamax around. It sure *looks* like they’re watching DVDs like everyone else.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.

      — G.K. Chesterton

      • Kogo

        Like most of Chesterton’s “great” quotes, this one looks like it made the most sense to it’s author.

        • deiseach

          You don’t have a sense of chronological snobbery, Kogo? If our century is – as Patrick claims – the absolutest bestest in the entire history of the human race (funny how we still have inequality, poverty, murder and all the other ills flesh is heir to), then the next century must be going to be even betterer – merely because it is the next century, and progress is on an inevitable upward trend.

          Thursday, not Wednesday.

          • Kogo

            *…then the next century must be going to be even betterer – merely because it is the next century, and progress is on an inevitable upward trend.*

            Yeah, I don’t think that’s what he actually said. Heck, I don’t think that’s what YOU think that’s what he said.

          • Kogo

            But okay, I’ll bite:

            I’d rather live now than any other time. Maybe because it’s the devil I know. Maybe it’s because I really do like being alive now (I like the ubiquitous Internet better than palm-leaf manuscripts and I’ll *certainly* take polio vaccines and antibiotics over the alternative, thanks).

            Or maybe your caricature of what Patrick said is, in fact, *exactly right*: Now is good, later will be better.

            You talk about inequality, poverty and murder. Fair cops. Let’s have a look:

            1.) Inequality – Worse than it’s been in maybe 100 years. But, as is noted widely by conservatives, a ‘poor’ person now has access to goods and services (i.e. treated water to take one) that could not be had for any price as recently as the 1930′s or 40′s. Inequality, at least in the U.S., now mostly falls along lines of education rather than inherited wealth, title, or even race:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html

            …which strikes me as progress of some kind at least. Inequality due to education seems to me like something 100 times more solvable than inequality due to, say, the Hindu caste system as it existed in the 4th century, A.D.

            2.) Poverty: On the wane, planetwide. The world is on track to meet the 1990 Millennium Goal of halving the poverty rate in 1990. So that’s good to hear.

            3.) Murder: Also going down, both in terms of crime (when I was born in the late 70′s, it would have scared my parents witless to know the 20-30 years hence, I would regularly walk alone at night in NYC or Chicago) and war (see Steven Pinker’s work).

            Among the main theories for the former, by the way, is the reduction in lead poisoning: Every country that has banned lead gasoline has seen a reduction in violent crime 15 years later. Lead poisoning has a known neurological disinhibiting affect, making young people more prone to impulsive action and violence.

            So, there we go.

            Let’s see what else:
            -India just eradicated polio
            -Washington state just allowed gay marriage
            -The U.S. is out of Iraq
            -Michigan just ran a large budget surplus
            -The Taliban and Al Qaeda both seem to be running on fumes now
            -The Playstation Vita comes out this month

            So yeah, fine: I think the present is good and future will be better. I would *love* to see next century. It boggles the mind to imagine what life will be like in 2112.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

          Under the assumption that you are not a troll, here’s some food for thought. From The Well and the Shallows:

          The world is what the saints and the prophets saw it was; it is not merely getting better or merely getting worse; there is one thing that the world does; it wobbles. Left to itself, it does not get anywhere; though if helped by real reformers of the right religion and philosophy, it may get better in many respects, and sometimes for considerable periods. But in itself it is not a progress; it is not even a process; it is the fashion of this world that passeth away. Life in itself is not a ladder; it is a see-saw.

          — G.K. Chesterton

          It is, of course, best read in context, for very soon he illustrates it more deeply:

          We must not hate humanity, or despise humanity, or refuse to help humanity; but we must not trust humanity; in the sense of trusting a trend in human nature which cannot turn back to bad things. “Put not your trust in princes; nor in any child of man.” That is the precise point of this very practical sort of politics.

          Be a Royalist if you like (and there is a vast amount to be said, and a vast amount being said, just now, for more personal and responsible rule); try a Monarchy if you think it will be better; but do not trust a Monarchy, in the sense of expecting that a monarch will be anything but a man. Be a Democrat if you like (and I shall always think it the most generous and the most fundamentally Christian ideal in politics); express your sense of human dignity in manhood suffrage or any other form of equality; but put not your trust in manhood suffrage or in any child of man.

          There is one little defect about Man, the image of God, the wonder of the world and the paragon of animals; that he is not to be trusted. If you identify him with some ideal, which you choose to think is his inmost nature or his only goal, the day will come when he will suddenly seem to you a traitor.

          • Kogo

            Junk food for thought, maybe.

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

    Leah:Regarding the limited and specific challenge to Matt at the end of the piece — you were taking exploratory instruction through something like RCIA, right? Blame the reader if his is the blame, but, knowing this, your last paragraph reads rather sarcastically. You know he would do no such thing.

    • leahlibresco

      Covenant marriage is a form of secular marriage that exists outside the Church. Insofar as Catholics endorse state recognition of marriage for atheists like me because they produce salutary effects, I think they can endorse other civil partnerships. The question is how best to structure them.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        However, there are harmful effects as a direct and a if not the primary effect, and so proximate occasion of sin comes to mind.

        Cropping out of context a similar reasoning, the best Catholic case that could exist:

        There may be a basis in the case of some individuals … where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil …

        … and yet, this is far from a case for covenant gay marriage. It would be at best an admission of a less wrong, but this does not entail admitting it is a good.

        • Kogo

          *However, there are harmful effects as a direct and a if not the primary effect…*

          No but there actually aren’t.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            From a Catholic qua Catholic perspective, there is. (This is axiomatically relevant in this subthread and not here a point of dispute.)

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

    It wasn’t so long ago that gay marriage was opposed by a lot of people in the gay rights movement because they didn’t see any reason to cleave to the traditions of heterosexuals.

    Which is hardly evidence in their favor.

    So what kind of partner do you want, if s/he’s going to be the major, constant constraint on your character for the foreseeable future? It’s not enough that s/he makes you happy, s/he needs to make you good. And vice versa. So good conversation and good physical chemistry aren’t enough; on top of that you want someone who makes it feel easy and natural to be the person you ought to be.

    What is good?

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

      If only we had any way to know what was good, some huge, clear, cross-cultural authority with ancient ties and a reputation for lasting despite the folly of man even within itself. If only we didn’t have to keep starting from scratch.

      Too bad it would still take an act of will to follow through on accepting that authority. Even more bad that when we are wrong, accepting correction is often an insurmountable obstacle on top of any others.

      The old ways have lost their authority with us, since they’ve had a terrible track record on most questions to do with gender.

      Due to the ways or due to the wayward? To wit, due to the track or due to the record-holders?

      … and by whose authority do you say this, and how do you know that authority is right?

      • Kogo

        Due to the ways.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

          Your reasoning, as always: impeccable.

      • Kogo

        *If only we had any way to know what was good, some huge, clear, cross-cultural authority with ancient ties and a reputation for lasting despite the folly of man even within itself. If only we didn’t have to keep starting from scratch.*

        What luck! As it happens we DO have such a way. Several, in fact:

        -Elections
        -Courts
        -Constitutions

        *Too bad it would still take an act of will to follow through on accepting that authority.*

        Indeed. Witness the Mississippi state legislature: Although it’s citizens roundly rejected the ‘personhood amendment’, the legislature itself seems unable to take correction and is now considering passing a substantively similar law anyway.

        Or witness New Jersey where the opposite is occurring: Despite the legislature passing a bill permitting gay marriage, the governor wants to submit it to a plebiscite instead.

        So yes, exactly as you say: accepting correction is often an insurmountable obstacle on top of any others.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

          More on topic, when have voters approved same-sex marriage?

          • Kogo

            They’re about to in New Jersey: Early polls indicate that a public referendum will uphold the legislature’s action.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Even presuming the tea leaves were read correctly, how many tries did it take?

  • keddaw

    Leah, why limit tying yourself to one person on all issues to make you ‘better’?

    Surely some of my friends would be better than my spouse at forcing me to be better at some things so tying myself to them would be better e.g. my gym partner would be infinitely better at keeping me fit than my wife so surely I should have a mutual bond with him that incurrs a cost to break?

    Perhaps of the 1,000 benefits most should reside with a spouse, but if my spouse becomes a member of the CLDS, a SDA, or a homeopathist I may still want to be married but I do NOT want them medical decisions on my behalf. Surely I can transfer that power to someone I trust without having to get a divorce?

  • deiseach

    Have we a clear idea of what marriage is for? We seem to have currently arrived at a notion of emotional and personal fufilment, which if not forthcoming, or no longer forthcoming as it was formerly, then we should leave that marriage and be free to embark on another – or another, or another.

    That, and the idea that if group A are not permitted this, they want all the legal rights that go with it – which seems to hark back to the older notion of marriage as property transfer/alliance, rather than romantic love – and as a status marker.

    But I don’t see why that makes marriage qua marriage a prize. Cohabitation has lost its stigma (or can anyone instance me an example of where disapproval was shown on grounds other than religious to Mark and Sally living together ‘in sin’ as we used to say back in the quaint old days?), illegitimacy has lost its stigma – at least, I don’t know about America, but in Ireland “Status of Children Act 1987: abolished status of illegitimacy and amended law on maintenance and succession for non-marital children. Allowed unmarried fathers to apply for guardianship of their children. Provided for blood tests to establish paternity” – and if you can be assured certain legal rights and privileges by law, then how is the status of marriage anything desirable? What status does it command?

    • Kogo

      *…then how is the status of marriage anything desirable?*

      If you don’t know, then certainly there’s no reason to belabor the issue through fretful inquiry. We’ll simply agree: the status of marriage isn’t anything desirable at all. Thus, with it being so valueless, I’m sure you have no problem extending it willy-nilly to all groups who ask for it.

      Whew! Problem solved! After all that fussing and fighting, we can just agree the issue wasn’t important, grant it to all interested parties, and get on with our lives. What a relief.

      In the sometimes rude and impersonal internet where mutual misunderstanding is so often the rule rather than the exception, I am so pleased that we have arrived at this entirely satisfactory accomodation.

      We are truly blessed to have shared this moment.

      • deiseach

        Oh, wow, I am completely overcome and overthrown by your incisive demolition of all my queries!

        Yes, now I see that permitting women to marrydolphins and buildings, and zoos having marriage ceremonies for deer and sheep, are all part of the one tapestry of love and life!

        So if marriage has no status and is the equivalent of getting your car taxed (or even less serious, because you can get hauled into court and have to pay fines for not having your car taxed), what’s the big idea about celebrating “Washington state just allowed gay marriage”?

        I want to see from all sides a serious and genuine proposal of the utility and value of marriage, not just “if we tick off this box, it means that we’ve advanced another step in being not just tolerated but accepted”.

        “I just want to spend my life with the person I love!” You can do that already, as I pointed out, cohabitation is no longer a stigma, and I’m old enough to remember when people protested for the right not to marry – “we don’t need a piece of paper to be faithful and loving!”

        “We want the same benefits as married people do!” And I’m living with a family member and it’d be great if our tax credits could be counted as a couple, not two single persons, because the expenses of a house and all the charges for waste, water, etc. etc. etc. cost just the same for us as for two married people, but we don’t get the breaks either – and we’re blood family!

        “It’s my natural human right!” I don’t agree that anyone has a right to be married; we all may have the capacity to marry, but there’s no guarantee that there is Mr. or Ms. Right out there waiting to be our soul mate. A lot of people are going to end up alone, whether gay, straight, bi or gender-fluid, because they’re poor or ugly or socially awkward or in bad circumstances or just could not get anyone to agree to marry them.

        The words of Bishop Gene Robinson in a sermon at a church service in Charlotte, calling on the congregants “to work harder to integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into their spiritual lives”:

        “It’s not bad as far as it goes. Tolerance is better than intolerance, but it’s not near enough,” he said. “It’s not near as good as affirmation, respect and embrace. It stops short of where we need to be, where we need to go.”

        Tolerance may be as much as you can get. You can’t force people to like you, affirm, respect and embrace you, particularly if they think your attitudes, beliefs or practices are wrong for moral, ethical or social reasons. Trying to force affirmation from someone who is willing to tolerate but no more, is not going to achieve anything more than making one of the parties a hypocrite. I’m sure Kogo does not wish to embrace those whose views he finds unenlightened, mediaeval, unjust and just plain wrong, nor can I see him affirming and respecting them. I’d be happy to know I’m wrong and his/her heart is just brimming over with love for me and my foolishness, but I don’t think so.

        Look, Kogo, if I disapprove of gay marriage (and as I said, I have no objection to civil unions as a matter of natural justice), then making it legal isn’t going to change my attitude; it just makes me a hypocrite when I keep my mouth shut but still think “These guys are not really married and their relationship is a sham”. I want to know why or if same-sex marriage is a value worth anything more than as a status marker that, once achieved, will then be cast aside because Tom and Dick and Jill and Meggie don’t really want to get married after all, they just want legal benefits or to annoy their spinster aunt or stick it to ‘the Man’.

        Signed, A Spinster Aunt

        • Kogo

          *Yes, now I see that permitting women to marrydolphins and buildings, and zoos having marriage ceremonies for deer and sheep, are all part of the one tapestry of love and life!*

          I win. I officially win.

          *I want to see from all sides a serious and genuine proposal of the utility and value of marriage*

          Actually, I suspect you don’t actually want that. Just a feeling I’m getting.

          *And I’m living with a family member and it’d be great if our tax credits could be counted as a couple…but we don’t get the breaks either – and we’re blood family!*

          Not seeing the relevance here. But I think you probably should qualify for something. There either is a way or *should* be a way in which family members sharing a household should get a break.

          *I don’t agree that anyone has a right to be married*

          Yeah, I sort of picked up on that.

          *… but there’s no guarantee that there is Mr. or Ms. Right out there waiting to be our soul mate.*

          Are we speaking from personal experience here?

          *A lot of people are going to end up alone, whether gay, straight, bi or gender-fluid, because they’re poor or ugly or socially awkward or in bad circumstances or just could not get anyone to agree to marry them.*

          Not seeing any relevance here.

          *Tolerance may be as much as you can get.*

          I’ll take it.

          *You can’t force people to like you, affirm, respect and embrace you*

          Indubitably.

          *Trying to force affirmation from someone who is willing to tolerate but no more, is not going to achieve anything more than making one of the parties a hypocrite.*

          We are in perfect agreement.

          *Look, Kogo, if I disapprove of gay marriage (and as I said, I have no objection to civil unions as a matter of natural justice), then making it legal isn’t going to change my attitude*

          *…it just makes me a hypocrite when I keep my mouth shut but still think “These guys are not really married and their relationship is a sham”.*

          You consider hypocrisy to consist of “keeping your mouth shut and not complaining about things you find personally distasteful.” Got it.

          *I want to know why or if same-sex marriage is a value worth anything more than as a status marker that, once achieved, will then be cast aside because Tom and Dick and Jill and Meggie don’t really want to get married after all, they just want legal benefits or to annoy their spinster aunt or stick it to ‘the Man’.*

          I’m just going to leave this one out here for all to admire. It requires nothing from me.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            It requires nothing from me.

            But posing!

        • Patrick

          “I want to know why or if same-sex marriage is a value worth anything more than as a status marker that, once achieved, will then be cast aside because Tom and Dick and Jill and Meggie don’t really want to get married after all, they just want legal benefits or to annoy their spinster aunt or stick it to ‘the Man’.”

          Other than bigotry, why would you think that about gay people?

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

            Gay Rights has been a mercurial movement which even within the last decade widely — nay, all but unanimously — denounced “heteronormality,” and is typified still by Dan Savage’s approach to and rejection of monogamy.

            I came by this broad observation independent of our Irish friend, back when I was a regular reader of Dan Savage.

  • Kogo

    Or wait, let ME be hypocritical and actually answer that last bit:

    *I want to know why or if same-sex marriage is a value worth anything more than as a status marker that, once achieved, will then be cast aside because Tom and Dick and Jill and Meggie don’t really want to get married after all, they just want legal benefits or to annoy their spinster aunt or stick it to ‘the Man’.*

    Um, that’s a real long, compound inquiry, but let me take a stab at answering it stepwise:

    1.) Yes it has a value
    2.) …because it will not be cast aside
    3.) Because Tom/Dick/Jill/Meggie DO really want to get married; they wouldn’t be going through with all this if they didn’t
    4.) the legal benefits are important but they aren’t the whole deal
    5.) annoying spinster aunts or sticking it to the man are not the goal

    Now, IF your curiosity and question-askery are sincere, these answers will settle the matter. But I suspect otherwise.

  • Pingback: Covenant Marriage Index | Unequally Yoked

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

    Leah: Good? What is good? Why? How do you know? By what authority?

    Such terms are guns: Always, always loaded.

    • Kogo

      Let’s skip the beginning and middle of that particular argument go directly to the end. Save us all some time, y’know?

      Ahem: Is there any answer whatsoever that you would be willing to accept other than “the one church, holy and apostolic”?

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        Skipping the argument? I deference to your rationality, I’ll ignore all handwaving and never again ask someone to define their terms, because truth is a fart insubstantial, emoted not discerned and blown away by the nearest breeze.

        Is there any answer whatsoever that you would be willing to accept other than “the one church, holy and apostolic”?

        Is there any other answer I would accept? That is a good question even I don’t know the answer to.

        But I sure wouldn’t accept any answer we got to by skipping the argument.


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