Truth Without Falsification


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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153 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It’s fun to change out homosexuality for theism/atheism (insofar as either is a personal state that isn’t a reflection of the outside world much, if at all) with this essay.

    Excellent essay. Well done.Report

    • Avatar Freddie in reply to Jaybird says:

      Excellent essay. Well done


      I’ve always found its easiest to just forget about heterosexual identity or homosexual identity and focus on hetero/homosexual self-definition, and more, hetero/homosexual behavior. That the latter can sometimes seem to conflict with the former is what you’re talking about, in part.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Freddie says:

        I find it even easier not to worry about this stuff. I’m sure that all the types that Jason describes exist, but it’s their business, not mine. It doesn’t affect me directly until someone tries to define me. It doesn’t even affect my sense of right and wrong until someone tries to define someone else.Report

  2. This sort of reminds me of the conversation a week or two ago where Freddie so eloquently discussed nature verses nurture. I think obviously the reason ‘ex-gays’ get so much static from the gay comunity is because if they really existed then that sheds doubt on the claim that homosexuality is genetic. It would be nice if we could just all agree that some people are born gay, some people become gay, and some people experiment with being gay. The problem is that reality would upset the position of both sides of the aisle so it has become a black & white argument.Report

    • One thing that I think is important, when we talk about this stuff, if to remember that asserting some kind of a sexuality spectrum isn’t at all saying that people are evenly distributed along the spectrum. I can’t speak about this except on the level of anecdotal evidence, but I think most people would agree with me that the vast majority of people we interact with are found on the extremes of the spectrum– i.e., only interested in and engaging in sex with people from their own sex or from the opposite sex. Most people, it seems to us, are just straight or just gay. So it’s easy to see how we can fall into a binary on this issue. But just because we perceive it as much rarer that someone can be attracted to both sexes doesn’t mean that we should imagine that we have the authority to insist that they are self-hating, or just confused, or closeted, or whatever else.Report

      • Freddie – I agree. The problem with acknowledging the likliness of true bisexuals is that this strengthens the case for plural marriages and then the Right has a cudgel to beat gay marriage proponents with (the slippery slope argument).

        Ironically, if we further ‘liberalize’ (for lack of a better term) our notions of sexuality, the party which believes it has the most to lose are those who have only recently found a degree of acceptance themselves.Report

        • Avatar Matthew Schmitz in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          Actually, this is one argument that I don’t understand at all. How is the existence of bisexuals an argument for plural marriage? Is it because any partner could conceivably be in love with and sexually attracted to all the others?Report

          • Gay marriage proponents suggest that they are being discriminated against because the emotional manifestation of their sexual love cannot be fulfilled. Wouldn’t this be the same for bisexuals? Unless we want to argue that only monogamous forms of love are worth of marriage?Report

          • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Matthew Schmitz says:

            I’ve been reading Michael Sandel a lot recently. His argument is that (this case is a very good example) we’re running up against the contradictions between a theory of state neutrality (libertarianism I suppose) and the fact that moral values do undergird (and even override at times) the law.

            If the value is everyone should be able to marry whomever they love, then the bisexual one (or just polyamory/polygyny generally) comes into play…maybe? If the vision is marriage is a social form between two adult humans only (of whatever various sex deployments), then we could still recognize bisexuality as a really occurring phenomenon but not necessarily say someone should therefore have the potential for multiple marriages simultaneously.

            Given that this is sidebar to Jason’s discussion, I should say the original post is quite sharp imo.Report

            • Avatar Matthew Schmitz in reply to Chris Dierkes says:

              I’ve tried to dig through various archives (some of which have disappeared) to get a sense of why John Schwenkler argued in the past that there was something quite different about homosexual love that distinguishes it from straight love.

              I see how this might be convenient politically and personally for someone who seeks to articulate a position that is both orthodox and compassionate. What I don’t see is what justifies the claim philosophically . . . perhaps Freddie or one of the Gentlemen could either explain this or point me to the right place?

              Anyway, if Schwenkler is right that there is a real difference between same-sex attraction and opposite-sex attraction, that they somehow realize different goods, than I could see an argument for polyamorous relationships. After all, philosophically speaking your commitment to your two, er, partners would just be your pursuit of two different yet related goods. There would be no philosophical infidelity, so to speak. This strikes me as exceedingly unlikely, but I very well may be totally misunderstanding and misrepresenting Schwenkler’s stated views (which, of course, may also have changed). Can anyone help me out here?Report

        • I’m with Matthew, I don’t see how being attracted to both sexes inevitable leads to a requirement for plural marriage. Many straight men are attracted to Angelina Jolie. Is this an argument for plural marriage so that Angelina Jolie can be forced to marry all the men attracted to her? No, (setting aside of course what Angelina Jolie might think on the matter) because there are many other women to whom men are attracted to, maybe to lesser degrees, who they can marry. Homosexual people can marry no one that they would be inclined to marry at the moment.Report

          • So you’re saying that bisexuals have to pick one sex to marry even if they are equally atracted to both? That strikes me as similar to the argument gay marriage opponents make that gays have equal rights because they can marry a member of the opposite sex just like heteros can.

            What you are arguing is that it’s not about sexuality – it’s about monogamy. Right? Isn’t that an interjection of morals?Report

            • Monogamy isn’t necessarily involved; as our heterosexual brethren have very aptly demonstrated. That a man who’s attracted to a blond and marries her can then routinely goes out to nail a man for instance is not a basis for forbidding heterosexuals from marriage. I see no reason why a man who marries another man and then routinely goes out to nail a woman would be an argument against homosexual marriage.Report

              • You’re assuming bad faith for the marriage to begin with, so doesn’t that render the marriage pointless anyway? If monogamy isn’t an issue, gender isn’t an issue – why not allow bisexuals to marry multiple partners? And let’s not give some silly excuse regarding inheritance law.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                What kind of marriage are we talking about?

                Marriage in the eyes of God? There are polyfidelitous triples and quadrupoles out there.

                Marriage in the eyes of the State? Well, we’re back to silly excuses regarding inheritance law, hospital visitation, Social Security checks, and other manila folder crap.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                I still need someone to make the logical case for me.

                P1. Bill is attracted to both men and women.
                P2. ???
                C. Bill will not be happy unless can marry one of each.

                P1. Mike is attracted to both tall women and short women.
                P2. (same as P2 above)
                C. Mike will be fine married only to the brunette.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Logical case for what?

                For the government to represent what are, presumably, the wishes of the majority when it comes to an area that, arguably, is not anybody’s freakin’ business?

                Generally, I’m told that we live in a democracy and that I should move to Somalia if I don’t like that we have laws written by representatives when I start making such noises.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Logical case for what?

                For why equality for bisexuals implies polygamy.Report

              • Google “Nina Hartley”. From Wikipedia:

                “Hartley is openly bisexual in her private life, and had what has been described as the longest stable relationship in the adult business, living in a ménage à trois with her husband Dave (whom she met when she was 19), and “wife” Bobby Lilly for 20 years.”

                In their case I believe she met an umarried couple and they all fell in love. She was attracted to both the man and the women and they began a two-decade ‘marriage’ as equal partners. Both women were bisexual and the man was straight.

                So it’s fairly easy to see how a legalization of gay marriage, combined with an admission that bisexuality is a real thing, would mean advocacy for polygamy.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Assuming bad faith nothing Mike. You didn’t refute the point, the current system permits bisexuals of one inclination to marry, why not the other? Bisexuals are permitted to marry women now despite their predilection for both. Allowing them to marry men changes the situation not one iota. The system will be neither more inclined nor less inclined to permit polyamory if same sex couples are permitted to marry.

                I won’t make any “silly” excuses regarding inheritance law but since the only portion of the system we propose to impact is the legal one, (anyone proposing to compel religions to recognize SSM will find me as implacable a foe as you) it is a pertinent point since that legalese is what most SSM proponents are after.Report

            • It’s not necessarily about monogamy at all. There are plenty of heterosexual married swingers out there. Dan Savage as I recall even estimated that they outnumber homosexuals.

              What the legal aspects of marriage are commonly about, however, is the act of designating one person to act as your agent when facing the state or others. This one agent’s power is assumed to trump all others — your siblings’, your parents’, your minister’s, or whatever. The presumed agency powers that accompany marriage would be difficult to preserve in a situation of plural marriage. We’d still probably have to have just one agent, not for reasons of morality necessarily, but just for clarity of decisionmaking in what is often an emergency situation.Report

              • So we only allow one as a matter of logistics? Hardly a solid argument for marriage at all.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Civil marriage is almost entirely a matter of logistics. Family, religious, and personal marriage is vastly more. But that “vastly more” is not fit ground for legislation.Report

              • So explain why multiple partners don’t work… Inheritance law covers multiple beneficiaries. Custody is a moot point. It’s not as though plural marriages aren’t taking place successfully in this country every day. No on is inventing the wheel here.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                The spouse is in the emergency room. Do we try the risky, possibly very traumatic operation? Or not? Who do you ask? You need to pick someone, and time isn’t a luxury you have at the moment. Which one of the fifteen spouses will it be?

                Also, it’s pretty facile to say that “custody is a moot point.” It’s complicated enough with two spouses, isn’t it?Report

              • Why would custody involve more than two people?

                As for health decisions – I imagine the first wife would be the decision maker.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                And how do you determine the “first wife” in the absence of some sort of order. What if multiple wives claim to be the “first wife”?Report

              • Who is the first wife when two women marry?

                Who is the first wife when it’s a collective composed of ten gay men?

                What if a man and a woman take another woman? The man clearly has a first wife. But the first wife now has a first wife, who isn’t the same person.

                Now we have a group M-F-F. And a fourth is added — another woman. Who’s her first wife?

                Same group, M-F-F. Add a man. Which one is HIS first wife?

                Et cetera et cetera…Report

              • North, I would call the ‘first wife’ the first one he marries i.e. do it by seniority.Report

              • Jason – it’s all about seniority. The first spouse you marry would make any decisions like that.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Seniority doesn’t answer my questions at all. Suppose I’m unmarried and I marry into a collective of two other men at the same time. Which one is MY first husband? They’re both equally senior to me, and they’re both equally senior to each other. So I have no way of answering the question.Report

              • You could always just designate one on your marriage license. This isn’t rocket science here.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                You could always just designate one on your marriage license. This isn’t rocket science here.

                Which is just what current marriage law does.Report

              • Agreed. So if you want to marry two people at the same time, you pick one as your first wife or first husband and designate them as such. If you marry one person and then another one later, the first spouse is obvious.

                So again – if we accept the notion that some people ARE bisexual and that the gay marriage movement seeks to get legal recognition of a sexually-based relationship, then bisexuals should have the same option of getting their relationships acknowledged.

                The case for monogamy alone just isn’t compelling enough to make it the gold standard, especially when the case for sticking with procreation or moral codes about hetero-only unions has been squashed.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                I suspect that you are using the word “bisexual” in a nonstandard way. Most here — I think correctly — appear to be using it to mean someone who can be romantically involved with either gender. You are using it to mean someone who must be romantically involved with either gender. I’m not prepared personally to say that such people exist, but I’m willing to think it over.Report

              • Are you suggesting that homosexuals must be linked with the same gender? Isn’t any linkage at all a matter of choice? There are many people who choose celibacy. Or who choose adulterous affairs. Anytime we talk about romance or even sex, it’s still a choice whether or not to act.

                If I understand you correctly you are suggesting that gays, straights and bisexuals all feel a compulsion towards certain partners but only bisexuals have the luxury of being able to control that compulsion, or that only bisexuals should be asked to deny part of their sexual identity. What makes them stronger than you or me?Report

              • I am suggesting merely that you and I have sharply different ideas of what bisexuality implies. Given those different ideas, we’re not going to agree on very much else. I’d be interested to read the thoughts of an avowed bisexual here, as I’m presuming that you aren’t one either.Report

              • The last time I checked bisexuality was a sexual attraction to both sexes. What more can you read into that? Are you saying they really aren’t sexually attracted and it’s some sort of dillusional disorder?Report

              • The last time I checked bisexuality was a sexual attraction to both sexes. What more can you read into that? Are you saying they really aren’t sexually attracted and it’s some sort of dillusional disorder?

                Neither one. I explained myself at 10:21AM today, and it would be tedious to revisit it.Report

              • So then you DO consider it a choice. Again I must ask, “What makes them stronger than you or me?”Report

              • “What makes them stronger than you or me?”

                What makes you think that they have twice the sex drive, thus requiring two partners? Maybe they have the same strength of sex drive, but with a wider choice of objects. This isn’t so hard to imagine, as has been pointed out many times above.

                Really, I think there’s not a lot left to be said that hasn’t been said already. Unless a bisexual wants to come along and enlighten us, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Mike, bisexuals are commonly defined as people who can have attraction to both male and female people. Nothing in bisexuality inherently would require that a bisexual would require a partner of each sex to be fulfilled.
                -A heterosexual is interested only in people of the opposite sex. They don’t necessarily require two people of the opposite sex to be fulfilled though some doubtlessly would like to have them.
                -A homosexual is interested only in people of the same sex. Again they don’t necessarily require two people of the same sex to be fulfilled though some would love to have em.
                -A bisexual is interested in people of either sex. So while their options are broader than heterosexuals or homosexuals they still aren’t necessarily in need of multiple partners.
                I don’t know if there is a word for people who have an inherent orientation that would allow them to be satisfied only with multiple partners. Polyamorist? Polygamist? Polyandrist? I guess the question is are you dealing with orientation or fetish at that point?Report

              • Let’s remember that homosexual relationships aren’t prohibited. One could just as easily argue that homosexuals don’t need to marry a partner of the same sex to be fulfilled. What we’re talking about is emotional fulfillment. Gays argue they need the validation of the state in order to feel fulfilled i.e. “My relationship is just as real as yours.” A bisexual person could easily argue that they need a partner of both sexes to achieve that same level of fulfillment. Furthermore, a person from a faith that practices polygamy could argue that spiritual fulfillment is just a strong a need as emotional fulfillment. Who are we to argue with that when so many are lamenting the same emotional void for gays?

                I don’t understand why one void is considered important and in need of a legal intervention to heal and the other is considered a trivial matter of choice that can be written off.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                I’m sorry; I do not understand your point at all. Legal homosexual relationships of the kind like legal heterosexual relationships are expressly forbidden. Would you feel fulfilled if the only person you were legally allowed to marry was a person of the same sex despite your opposite sex attraction?

                We’re talking about issues that are separate I guess. Neither I, nor any gay couples I know, nor most gay couples that I’m aware of nor from my understanding, the majority of the allies and advocates of gay marriage need “government approval” for some kind of fulfillment or validation of our relationships. What we’d very much like is the ability to be sure that our hate filled in laws can’t swoop in and challenge our power of attorney and leave us on the sidewalk while our partners perish. We’d like people to not be able to off with our adopted kids and then challenge our custody rights. Tax us differently, prevent our partners from being able to apply for citizenship and all the other thousands of boring legal related issues that are tied up in marriage. The whole point is that our relationships are real, they’re productive and if the government is going to step up and regulate all these things on the cheap for heterosexuals then as equivalent taxpayers to heterosexuals we’d like that service too thanks much. We’re not talking about hurt feelings or feelings of emotional fulfilment, we’re talking about not having to have to jump through hoops for two months and call in the gay support groups just to get the state to release the body of our husbands into our custody for burial and similar such misery.

                For your argument to work you’d have to posit a sexual orientation that requires two people to satisfy. Bisexuality isn’t it.
                Polysexualist maybe? It’s a new category to our current three.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                (This is why I talk about MEG vs. MES… how many times are we jumping back and forth in this conversation between the two?)Report

              • Bisexuals can have all of the same legal conudrums in a three-partner relationship. Correct?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Bisexuals can have all the same legal conundrums in a three partner relationship, sure, so can homosexuals and heterosexuals. The only difference is the sexual makeup of the three partners involved. The bisexuality is not relevant; the number of partners is.Report

              • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                “Legal homosexual relationships of the kind like legal heterosexual relationships are expressly forbidden.”

                Important from a theoretical point of view to note that this is not true. Even the spate of recent constitutional amendments at the state level merely defined marriage as between two people of the opposite sex, even if their intent was obviously to exclude legislation enabling same-sex marriage.

                And why couldn’t polyamorous groups want the same things for other members of the group (bodies released, green cards granted, etc)?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to David Schaengold says:

                David, they’re welcome to want those things. They’re also welcome to advocate for it their own damn selves. Same sex marriage advocates by and large are not advocating for plural marriage. Otherwise we’d call ourselves SS&PM advocates (Same Sex and Polyamorous Marriage).
                If plural marriage advocates want to push their cause that’s fine but they don’t just get to hook their wagon onto SSM. The two issues are different.Report

              • Haven’t SSM advocates hooked their wagons to the Civil Rights movement, at least in principle? How many times have we heard the analogy between interracial marriage and homosexual marriage? I’m not necessarily saying SSM proponnets should lend their movement to bisexuals (though it would seem like the polite thing to do) but that you shouldn’t specifically oppose them because it’s more than a bit hypocritical.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                For the record, the analogy I make is not between interracial marriage and homosexual marriage, but between the people who oppose interracial marriage and the people who oppose homosexual marriage.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                Well if we want to talk over the merits of plural marriage that’s fine. But using plural marriage as an argument against same sex marriage? That doesn’t follow. If the argument is “if we change marriage for this then why not for that” well that argument was lost decades ago. Marriage has been changed over and over and over. We changed it when we chose to make marriage a union of equals and not a transfer of property (women) from one man to another. We changed it again when we changed it to allow divorce.Report

              • So if the government created something like DOMA which specifically stated monogamy was the law of the land – you would endorse?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                On top of that, we should have the government create something that states that 1,800 calories a day is the law of the land.

                For the children.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                Okay so like a law that said that people were to remain chaste until marriage and then loyal to one partner after that on pain of what, fine, imprisonment? If that’s the context then I’d say that whoever’s proposing it has lost their goddamn mind and will be defenestrated by an enraged (heterosexual) electorate momentarily.

                If we mean something less than that I guess I’d need more details. In terms of recognized civil relationships monogamy is already the current law of the land. SSM wouldn’t change that. Plural marriage would.

                If you’re asking what my position is on plural civil marriage my policy position is opposed on grounds of lack of advocacy (suggesting lack of need) and serious concerns about complexity. On principle grounds I’m squishy neutral to negative on grounds of its negative history though I admit I haven’t pondered it deeply.Report

              • But isn’t a failure to advocate for, or stand opposed (many SSM advocates are) correlate to a defacto endorsement of monogamy?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                Yes, I’d say that you could characterize my stance on monogamy (and the stance of the general pro SSM movement) as being defaultedly pro monogamy since neither I nor they typically advocate for anything other than binary marriage.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to David Schaengold says:

                Dude. Are you hoping someone will say “separate but equal”?Report

    • I agree completely (as you’ve seen in my comments down below). This seems to be a trap we’ve set with language. Around the world, there are many societies in which people engage in same-sex behavior but they don’t consider themselves “gay” in any essential sense. In fact, some of these societies encourage same-sex behavior as a path toward extreme “manhood,” as among the Sambia and Etoro people, who hold that ingesting semen is the best way for a boy to increase his masculine virility.

      Herdt, Gilbert (ed), 1993. Ritualized Homosexuality in Melanesia. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08096-3.

  3. Avatar Matthew Schmitz says:

    I doubt this is what Br. Jason means to say, but I would be disinclined to credit anyone’s internal experience “on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.” Indeed, I tend to believe people who insist that their feelings of same-sex attraction are unchosen not least because for many of those people, there are very great costs for making that admission. This is a kind of evidence that gives credibility to their testimony.

    Many claims that are not falsifiable still aren’t credible. For example, I would seriously doubt any fellow who claimed to be gay only on Tuesdays (and this despite the fact that there are many of us who are only Christians on Sunday). It would be nice if we all assumed far less knowledge about the thoughts and feelings of others — especially when it comes to an area like sexual orientation — but I don’t think we need any new epistemology, just the usual common sense combined with a certain circumspection and delicacy.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Matthew Schmitz says:

      I’m surprised no one has challenged the assumption that we have such direct access to our own experiences. Surely we can be deceived not only about what others feel but also about what we ourselves feel.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to David Schaengold says:

        Are you surprised? Or do you only think that you’re surprised and wrong about that? Aren’t you really very much unsurprised, deep down, and only your false consciousness is preventing you from noticing how surprised you’re not?

        How can you *KNOW*?

        (That’s probably why.)Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:

          Certainly we can be deceived about what we ourselves feel. But for us to notice this state, we first have to feel otherwise. There’s no escaping the subjectivism of emotion. Is there?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Whenever I have seen this argument used, it’s always used against “the other”. I don’t think I’ve ever used it as an argument regarding self-reflection… it’s always _What’s The Matter With Kansas?_

            It strikes me as far, far too easy a crutch to lean on.

            “You just don’t know what’s good for you because you’ve been deceived.”

            By Satan, surely.Report

          • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Presumably there is some process by which we can be undeceived, or at least disabused, if it is in fact the case that some people can discover that they were not really gay all along, or indeed discover that they are gay in the first place. And why should this process be unsystematic or accidental?Report

            • Well, why shouldn’t it be? People are unsystematic. What works for some does not for others. Moreover, we’ve yet to discover a systematic process that appears to work consistently, that might disabuse people of the idea that they were gay.Report

              • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I don’t think it should be, actually. I think a concern for discovering what one really feels is a pathology created by our economic system. I just meant to point out that, at least on the contemporary picture of what human beings are like, the possibility of self-deception does not plunge one into the subjectivist abyss.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to David Schaengold says:

                Oh, people *CAN* be self-deceived. They often are.

                My problem is that use of the diagnosis of self-deception ought to be limited to such things as, say, Ted Haggard. That guy was self-deceived. He provides an excellent example of self-deception.

                The second you move away from the obvious, after-the-fact, examples to people for whom it is not yet obvious nor after-the-fact (or, heaven forbid, diagnosing a *GROUP* as being self-deceived), you’re doing something that is, almost certainly, unfair… because, every time I’ve seen it used that way, it’s been used to dismiss the stated concerns of another group. Every time.

                “Oh, they don’t really care about X. Their true motivations are Y but they’re in denial.”

                Now, was Haggard self-deceived? Sure he was.

                That doesn’t make it okay for me to assume that Doctor Dobson is probably closeted as well. (Or, to really make it fun, everybody at Focus.)Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    As Shakespeare wrote:

    “Some are born gay, some achieve gayness, and some have gayness …”Report

  5. Avatar Scott says:


    Will this article be part of a campaign to get gays to accept ex-gays?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott says:

      No. It’s a way of thinking about them that I’ve arrived at myself. I don’t expect it to be popular, and I’m very surprised at the supportive comments so far.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I’m surprised at your surprise myself. The only kind of ex-gay you would tolerate; one who doesn’t project their personal experience onto the gay population and use it as a cudgel against gays who do not share their religious beliefs is exceedingly rare (or is by nature quiet and thus invisible). Your average gay person would have little to no objection to a person who is ex-gay. Their issue would be with the person who declares to the world that they are EX-GAY (Prayse Jaysussss!!!!) and all that the other gays should be too!Report

  6. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    I thought HBOs Big Love treated these subjects intelligently in it’s last episodes. For me, and it’s off the original topic, this is where self-proclaimed “libertarians” are tested — does the State have any business regulating consensual human relationships which don’t violate the rights of others? Many critics say such liberality opens the door to marrying animals, but that doesn’t fall under consensual unless it’s Mr. Ed or Miss Piggy. I wonder if a man loved a horse and wanted to marry it, if that could be called a Mr. Ed-ipus complex?Report

  7. Avatar Rufus says:

    Not sure if this makes sense, but I think part of this goes back to the Romantic idea of a more ‘genuine’ inner self in conflict with an ‘artificial’ social self. So, if you change orientation to one that is more socially acceptable, people might see it as less “genuine”, and if you went the other way, they’d see it as being “true” to yourself- naturalness being defined in opposition to social acceptance. Personally, I’ve had enough gay friends tell me about their occasional lust for or experience with the opposite sex and straight friends confess the occasional same-sex lust or experiences- usually while we’re drinking- to start thinking that Kinsey was more right than anyone.Report

  8. Avatar NG says:

    I consider ex-gays and the ex-gay movement a detriment to the advancement of equality and anyone, past and present who participated in it’s advancement should be disqualified from defending gays on any level.Report

  9. Avatar Aaron says:

    When I was in ministry and religion, we would assume that everyone felt the same way we did–except they did not know it. Same with straights, gays, and exgays–we tend to assume everything based on our internal experience. Maybe it gives comfort. I do not assume all people have the same experience or internal feelings. My partner is as gay as possible–no feelings, actions, etc. for females at all. Me–I am completely gay, but I have had relationships with women and I find some women hot. Would I have sex with them? No, probably not, but I can find women attractive. I am still as gay as one can get.Report

  10. Avatar Christopher says:

    Excellent post, and it raises an interesting question for me. If you accept that some process (gay eradication therapy of some sort) can legitimately un-gay some people, is there then some process or experience that can work the other way, thus “making” someone gay who wouldn’t have been otherwise? Is it possible for a childhood experience, or series of experiences, to imprint on a child’s psyche in such a way as to divert his or her development toward homosexuality? I ask this as a serious question. Serious responses would be most appreciated.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher says:

      It stands to reason that there might be. Given that no one has found a gene that determines homosexuality (though they have found data suggesting some congenital association), this would seem reasonable to infer.

      I’m not deeply invested in any particular explanatory model, however, and I think it’s entirely possible that more than one mechanism is at work.Report

      • Thanks for the reply, Jason. I’ve written a book about the prehistory of human sexuality, and one of the issues covered in the book is erotic plasticity, which appears to differ quite a bit between men and women. In most women, sexuality appears to remain quite flexible throughout life, whereas for most men (and other male mammals), there appears to be a period of a few years in childhood where one is open to impressions that then persist forever. This might explain why almost all fetishists are men: if the six year-old boy is simultaneously struck by his aunt’s sexiness and her red shoes, let’s say, he might grow up to have a thing about women in red shoes. No matter what, this electric charge would stay with red shoes for him forever.

        Obviously, we could substitute other turn-ons for the red shoes. Part of the mechanism appears to be that the boy’s personality is very malleable at this stage and his sexual identity is largely unformed. So, for the sake of argument, what if the boy found himself in an erotic situation with his uncle (or priest), rather than his aunt? This experience, which would presumably be pleasurable—despite the boy’s lack of understanding what was really going on—could make a strong impression on his still plastic sexuality, leaving a persisting association between older men (or priests, or churches, or frankinsense) and erotic pleasure. Now this boy, assuming the theory is correct, would grow up to be turned on by certain homoerotic situations, but he may not identify as gay, in that his attraction to men is limited to these particular scenarios. Potentially, men like this could be helped by these re-orientation therapies.

        I hate to do/write anything that gives any credence to these approaches, in that I think they’re pretty much total bunk, and motivated by a homophobic agenda . . . but if the theory of erotic plasticity is correct, it’s hard to deny that these situations do arise.

        My own sense is that some men and some women are simply born gay, but that others develop homoerotic feelings in response to environmental cues—boys being particularly vulnerable, as outlined above. It’s not a viewpoint I’m very comfortable with (think of the fuel it could add to the “gays recruiting boys” madness), but it’s where the data lead me.

        You, and your readers, appear to be very thoughtful and informed about these issues, which is why I’m tossing it out here. I haven’t written about this particular issue publicly elsewhere, as yet, though I’ll probably spell it out a bit at my own blog at Psychology Today (

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher says:

          Potentially, men like this could be helped by these re-orientation therapies.

          I was afraid this was where you were headed. Why is it you assume that homosexuals need to be “helped”? I would view this so-called help as one of the most perverse attacks imaginable on my family and intimate life. Anything that might lead me to fall out of love with my husband would be like poison to me. It would also hurt many other people around me, starting with him and with our daughter. There may be some people who want to be “cured” — obviously, in fact, there are. Not all of us want it, though.Report

          • I didn’t take Christopher’s comment to be an endorsement of that approach at all and it seemed he went to great lengths numerous times to point out how uncomfortable he was with the notion.

            I suspect the people who want to be ‘cured’ of their homosexual impulses are quite often the ones that arrived there by nurture rather than nature. I suspect that often in those cases the sexual impulses are not accompanied by an emotional attachment to the same sex. It’s strictly about sex for them and they have no interest in a gay relationship. Their sexual desires are an obstacle to the life they want, so they want to be ‘cured’ in the same way that a pedophile might want to no longer be attracted to children.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              I suspect the people who want to be ‘cured’ of their homosexual impulses are quite often the ones that arrived there by nurture rather than nature. I suspect that often in those cases the sexual impulses are not accompanied by an emotional attachment to the same sex.

              I can’t say I see the same correlation. Remember, even the base categories — that is, those who are gay by nature versus those who are gay by nurture — are conjectural. I’m not sure which one I am, I’m not sure which one my partner is, and I’m not sure how to categorize any of my gay friends.

              It seems a lot more intuitive to me to say that those who want to be cured are those who imagine they will be happier as a heterosexual. I don’t imagine this, so I don’t want to be cured.

              Even the word seems inappropriate to me, which is perhaps why I reacted as harshly as I did. We must always remember what we’re proposing to “cure,” because there is a long history of so-called cures in this area that were coerced, unwanted, and ineffective. The only thing more chilling than that would be cures coerced, unwanted — and effective.Report

              • I think we’re all using ‘cure’ as a substitute word for something more appropriate. And I suspect someone with sexual impulses they want to suppress will always have that impulse – much like an alcholic is always an alcoholic. I DO think though that there is nothing wrong with AA-type groups which are there for people trying to move past unwanted sexual impulses.Report

            • Thanks, Mike.

              Jason, please give my comment another reading, as you took it precisely as I hoped you wouldn’t. I’m on your side of this debate. To quote myself, “I hate to do/write anything that gives any credence to these approaches, in that I think they’re pretty much total bunk, and motivated by a homophobic agenda . . .”

              I certainly don’t believe that anyone needs to be helped unless they ask for it. And even then, most of the time, such help would be better directed at learning to accept one’s inner truth rather than trying to change it to fit some socially-constructed false reality. I haven’t assumed that you or anyone else needs this sort of help. Far from it.

              I’m just trying to put together a comprehensive understanding of how human sexualities develop and my reading of the research led me to these questions. I’m heterosexual, so I thought I might raise the issues here to see what insights you and your readers might have. No judgment or condemnation implied. At all.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher says:

                I did react too quickly, and I’m sorry for it. In turn, I hope you will understand why I might have been disposed to do so. Much of the overstatement probably came not specifically as a pushback against you, but against those who would eagerly use claims like yours to justify coercive treatment. I tend strongly to favor only consensual psychiatry, both for homosexuality and for other mental states. Not everyone feels the same way.Report

              • I don’t know that anyone favors forced therapy – however when it comes to pressure from one’s church, it’s just that, pressure. From this conversation I think we can all see that there is a lot of push/pull from peers concerning sexuality. Homosexuals are not immune from it, as evidenced by the reluctance of the two gay commenters remarks. It seems that there is a great reluctance within the gay community to admit bisexuality is an immutable trait.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Oh, this again. No, I don’t disagree that bisexuality might be immutable. I just disagree with your highly eccentric idea of what bisexuality entails.Report

              • The status of homosexuality as an immutable trait (i.e. sexual orientation) is the only basis for pro-SSM legislation. If you concede it for bisexuals, then marriage is a step away.

                But back to the larger topic, gays seem to be just as intent at stamping out bisexuality as an equivelant sexual orientation as some heteros are towars homosexuality. It’s a prety interesting dynamic. Someone always feels threatened by the next guy down the line.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                That’s a pretty harsh accusation to level against an entire group of people on such scanty evidence Mike ol’ boy. Especially considering how… unique… your definition of the term bisexual is. I didn’t even know that polyandrogomousexual rights were an interest of yours. You should seriously consider expanding this into a posting or something, it should make for some interesting reading and conversation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                “The status of homosexuality as an immutable trait (i.e. sexual orientation) is the only basis for pro-SSM legislation.”

                What the hell? Sex has been divorced from marriage since The Pill.Report

              • North,

                My definition of bisexuality is simple: someone who is attracted to members of both sexes. I’m not sure how I can be any more clear on the subject.Report

              • Jaybird, What separates the love someone has for their wife from the love they have for their mother or their kids?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I chose my wife. My mother just sort of was there when I showed up.

                That’s one thing.

                When it comes to “kids”, I don’t have any but I assume, from what I’ve seen of friends, you don’t get to choose those either. They just sort of show up.Report

              • Jaybird,

                Could you conceive of a situation where you would want to take legal responsibility for your mother, have her live with you, etc? The same for an adult child? What about a sibling?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                If I recall your arguements before clearly you also define a bisexual as (in addition to being attracted to people of either sex) someone who can only be fulfilled by having two partners, one partner of each sex.Report

              • I don’t say ‘only fulfilled by’ because I don’t think anyone must have sexual or romantic partners. I would say that some bisexuals would prefer two partners as a way of being sexually and emotionally satisfied.

                My understanding of the marriage vows I took and the law surrounding mariage is an assumption of both social and sexual monogamy for its partners. If sex is NOT part of the equation, as Jaybird suggests, is it your contention that marriage should be based on social monogamy alone?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Sure. (Though the trip to Michigan really made me rethink that one.)

                Hell, in any given gay marriage thread, I’m inclined to tell the story of one of my friend’s spinster aunts who lived with his grandmother all her life. After gramma was widowed, they had, for all intents and purposes, a marriage. They went shopping together, they went to church together… my bud told me that they spent weekend evenings in front of the television doing crochet work.

                If you were to ask me why they shouldn’t be eligible for a tax break or for automatic assumption of inheritance (assuming no will, of course), I wouldn’t be able to give you a reason.

                Could you give me a reason why all of gramma’s possessions ought to be held in probate if gramma passes?Report

              • Jaybird,

                I would agree with you that marriage as a social construct should and could exists between two platonic relatives or even two very close friends wbho want to be responsible for each other. This is why I have always advocated for civil unions as a way of making people more responsible for one another.

                Unless I am mistaken though, SSM proponents aren’t advocating for those kinds of unions. They are advocating for marriage based in romantic love, which as we know, has a pretty strong foundation in sexual attraction. Since I love them equally, an honest statement is that the thing that separates my love for my wife from my love for my kids is sexual / romantic attraction. So again, it comes back to sex.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Well personally Mike, after watching SSM opponents launch assault after assault against civil unions and after watching the social right move heaven and earth to hollow civil unions out into uselessness the SSM proponents generally decided that for this much fight we might as well go for marriage. Can you imagine how things would have turned out if conservatives had simply accepted civil unions in Vermont and offered some Federal version?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                See, you say “platonic” as if we were talking about diddling.

                I repeat myself: What the hell? Sex has been divorced from marriage since The Pill.Report

              • Avatar lukas in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                The status of homosexuality as an immutable trait (i.e. sexual orientation) is the only basis for pro-SSM legislation.

                No, it isn’t. There is a stronger basis in that it is none of the state’s business who you choose to marry, or for which reason. To allow you to marry a woman, but not a man is blatant discrimination.Report

              • The status of homosexuality as an immutable trait (i.e. sexual orientation) is the only basis for pro-SSM legislation

                Somewhere in this portion of the thread, the concept here got changed to a discussion of whether sexual attraction is necessary to justify marriage. But the questionable word in Mike’s statement is “immutable.” Homosexuality does not have to be immutable to justify same-sex marriage. I’m much more strongly inclined to believe sexual orientation is immutable than Jason is, but even I don’t think the immutability of it is what’s crucial in justifying same-sex marriage

                Given the Supreme Court’s suspect class jurisprudence, immutability is a valuable legal argument for the unconstitutionality of bans on SSM, but it’s got precious little to do with the actual justification of SSM itself.Report

              • Jaybird – are you saying it wasn’t platonic for those two aunts of yours?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m saying that it doesn’t *MATTER* whether it was.

                And they weren’t my aunt’s but a friend’s. And I didn’t ask because I have some sense of decorum. And since I reached the same conclusion whether they were or whether they were not, I figured that it didn’t matter.Report

              • Jaybird – if we’re cool with platonic marriages – then why not open it up to multiple parties?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                This strikes me as a variant of this particular type of argument:

                If you were really principled, you’d be crazy.
                I don’t want to agree with an unprincipled position.
                I don’t want to agree with a crazy position.

                Therefore, I don’t have to agree with either your weak assertion or your stronger one.

                How’s this? If you were really down with The State saying who could and couldn’t marry, you’d be okay with denying mixed-race marriage. Maybe not your state, but some other state, in theory, because it’s okay for society to do this sort of thing.


              • I’m down with the state controlling access to state-created institutions. As the people who give the state its power we can voice our opinions about what that criteria should be, but opening these up to a free-for-all is not in the best interest of anyone. Surely you agree that the state has a vested interest in controlling access to things like driver’s licenses or the drinking age, right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Oh, Mike…

                After all these years, it’s like you don’t know me at all.Report

              • Jaybird – so you’re position is that the state can create institutions but they shouldn’t control access? Take driving. You would open the roads up to everyone?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                “You would open the roads up to everyone?”

                Do you see how someone might see this as a completely, seriously, *COMPLETELY* different question from the question regarding The State issuing papers?Report

              • If people don’t like the state-created instiution – they always have the option of not participating.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Waa? How’d we leap to bisexuality? Also, what reluctance are you referring to Mike?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to North says:

                Mike, I’ll level with you. Sorry to pull a Marshall McLuhan/Annie Hall thing on you, but my husband is bisexual. We’ve been together for ten years. He’s still physically attracted to women, but he’s decided to turn his romantic attentions to me. The physical attraction is necessary, I’d say, to instantiate romantic love, but it’s not necessary that one’s physical attractions be fulfilled in all respects.

                By the same token, my husband isn’t Matt Damon, but I can still find Matt Damon attractive. (My husband does too.)Report

              • Re: Jason – So romance is the key? Still includes bisexuals, polygamists, etc. Is it about taking responsibility for another person? Why not offer that to close relatives or good friends? Or is the romantic promise of social monogamy with optional sexual monogamy? Or is it social monogamy and sexual monogamy, but sex really isn’t that important?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to North says:

                I’d say that the declaration of a lifelong commitment to mutual care is key, and that that commitment is clearest and most adjudicable for a relationship of two persons alone. The desire to care for someone in this way usually arises out of a sexual attraction. “Why not offer that to close relatives or good friends?” you ask. We do offer it to good friends, in case the romance part under-includes. We don’t offer it to close relatives because of the incest taboo, and because of the genuine social harm of inbreeding. I am likely going to have a blog post at some point about incest, if you’re interested. (I also think this thread is getting a little threadbare, if you’ll pardon the expression.)Report

              • When I’m talking about two relatives I’m talking about simply caring for one another. You and Jaybird both say sex has nothing to do with marriage. Then why prevent a brother and sister from marrying and taking care of one another?Report

              • “I hope you will understand why I might have been disposed to do so.”
                Understood. Thanks.Report

              • “I hope you will understand why I might have been disposed to do so. Much of the overstatement probably came not specifically as a pushback against you, but against those who would eagerly use claims like yours to justify coercive treatment.”

                Understood. And I share your trepidation concerning how this might be used for nefarious purposes, which is why I haven’t written about it as yet. You’ve got a lively crowd here.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              It doesn’t sound unreasonable to me. But the conjectures involved in this hypothesis are so specific and so personalized as to make it pretty much useless as a basis for any form of general policy.
              If an individual person who is attracted to people of the same sex does not like this chooses on his own to attempt to change this attraction and succeeds by some form of therapy or psychology that is all well and good. I know of few gays who’d deny him the right to shape his desires or to cease having them if such were within his capacity.
              But should this ex-gay then go on to found an organization that begins advocating to apply this course to homosexuals in general you rapidly end up with the fraudulent, abusive and reprehensible behavior of our modern animus driven ex-gay movements. Expanding the individual experience beyond the personal sphere, in my mind, inevitably leads to devastating damage (that often lands on the heads of helpless teens consigned to them by panicking parents).
              These movements, I’d add, are based on the foundation of relatively small and far to the right religious organizations. I shudder to imagine the kind of monster an ex-gay movement would grow into if it were being supported by a very large mainstream church or (heaven forefend) a government.Report

  11. Avatar Christopher says:

    “Sex has been divorced from marriage since The Pill.”

    Sex may have been divorced from marriage with The Pill, but it never married marriage til very late in the game. Our entire prehistory as a species was a time were sex and marriage had yet to be linked.Report

    • Our entire prehistory as a species was a time were sex and marriage had yet to be linked.

      I think a more accurate statement would be that “romantic love” and marriage had yet to be linked. Sex was involved, but not necessarily romance.Report

  12. From lucas:

    “No, it isn’t. There is a stronger basis in that it is none of the state’s business who you choose to marry, or for which reason.”

    Since legal marriage is a state-created institution the state has every right to control access. They also control access to driver’s licenses, for example. Mean old badies that they are.

    ” To allow you to marry a woman, but not a man is blatant discrimination.”

    Of course it is. It’s also discrimination to not allow 20 year-olds to drink. The state discriminates on a daily basis. The question is whether or not the discrimination is justified.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Fair enough Mike.

      Present your justification(s) for banning same sex couples from the institution of civil marriage or any equivalent or variation thereof.Report

      • Who said I was opposed? I’m just asking you guys to give justification why that shouldn’t also be extended to multiple partners or to two people who want to enter into a marriage of support but no romantic love (the two close friends example).Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          Because I, myself, would rather attend the problems that arise from polyamorous marriage/divorce than attend the problems that arise from giving The State the power to kick down doors because the wrong people are sleeping in the same bed with a piece of paper on the wall that the sheriff says “ain’t no good here”.Report

          • Jaybird – I think you and I are in agreement. My position is that if we’re going to redefine marriage, we have to be open to ALL types of relationships. My discomfort is with SSM proponents who only want the new privelage for themselves. It’s as though after Brown vs. BoE blacks had stood side by side with whites and said they supported keeping Asians and Hispanics out of public schools so long as black kids could go there.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              Why in the hell do I have to be “open” to the relationships?

              I want to point out that I can still believe that they’re completely immoral, blasphemous, and violent against nature *WITHOUT BELIEVING THAT THEY ARE ANY OF MY BUSINESS*.

              I don’t have to be open to a damn thing.

              I don’t want the cops kicking down doors and dragging people out of bed. This has nothing *NOTHING* to do with how “open” I am to Swedish people dating Danish people.Report

              • I meant ‘open’ in the legal sense…not in the condoning sense.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                So were I to paraphrase your viewpoint as “if we allow black people to marry white people, we have to be open to SSM”, is that a fair paraphrase?

                If it’s not, why isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Really? I thought it was unfair…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Because, in practice, the anti-miscegenation laws were written in such a way to prevent white people from marrying non-white people. The laws did not care if a Native American married an African-American. The laws did not care if a Chinese-American married a Japanese-American. The laws only said “white folk ought marry white folk”.

                When the cops kicked down the door of the Loving household and said that their marriage certificate wasn’t any good here, they took out Richard Loving, a white dude, and Mildred Loving, an African-American/Native American mix.

                Cops didn’t kick down doors for people like Mildred Loving’s parents. They only kicked down doors for Richard and Mildred.

                Additionally, people have been marrying outside of their skin tone since, at least, Moses.

                Indeed, “race” is a social construct that “sex” very obviously is *NOT*. An Irish guy is as different from a Russian as he is from an Egyptian… but, you know what? They’ll all be able to reproduce and have children (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) that will be able to reproduce. They are *OBVIOUSLY* of the same race… they just have different skin pigmentation. To say that this one cannot marry that one because they have different hair color is obviously nonsensical.

                And so on and so forth. There are arguments that you can make in favor of differing skin-pigmentation marriage that you cannot make in favor of SSM.

                Just like there are handfuls of arguments that you can make in favor of SSM that you cannot make in favor of plural marriage.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              Mike, as I thought we’d hashed out, the SSM movement is generally advocating for an expansion of the current single-partner monogamous institution to include individuals of the same sex. The multiple partner marriage movement of course would be advocating for dissolution of the current institution and a creation of an entirely new one capable of handling plural marriages. The difference seems obvious to me. One group is advocating for some pretty minor tinkering on the civic institution. The other would be advocating a complete overhaul.
              This of course would be to the extent that the plural marriage movement exists, frankly I’ve heard more advocacy for plural marriage from marriage traditionalists than I have from people who’s primary interest is in, ya know, plural marriage. Truly the plural marriage cause has no greater advocate than in the person of same sex marriage opponents.
              Personally I have no problem with allowing plutonic two person marriages though again this seems to be a separate topic.

              Frankly my problem is that I don’t agree with the basic line of the argument which is that in order to obtain an alteration of civil marriage to allow SSM we must necessarily also justify every other conceivable alteration to marriage as well.
              When women’s rights advocates argued for changing marriage so that women were no longer chattel property being exchanged by men (Father to Husband) did they also have to justify why there shouldn’t be plural marriage? Of course not; it’s a separate issue. When we redefined divorce to make it easier and more convenient for heterosexual couples to walk in and out of marriages did those advocates have to make the case for same sex marriage? Certainly not, again it’s a separate issue.Report

              • I’m not suggesting that SSM proponents have to advocate on behalf of pluralists, etc… what I am saying is that A) They shouldn’t actively oppose those efforts and B) They should acknowledge that each redefinition, while ‘minor’ in and of itself, adds weight to the case for the next revision and the next and so on.

                When civil rights advocates pushed for legal acceptance of interracial marriage, this obviously gave more legal credence to SSM acceptance 40 years later. Knowing that history, isn’t it responsbible to think about how this proposed revision will affect the case for the next revision, and so on…or does each legal step exist in a vaccum?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Okay, thanks for the clarification. I’d say that our current SSM movement meets the requirements of A. For B that’s a more personalized issue so I’ll address it personally. In the case of plutonic marriage and the like I’m pretty sympathetic. With the population aging we have seen a lot of marriages between elderly individuals of opposite sexes for the purpose of affection or companionship in the absence of anything we’d consider sexual. Perhaps this dilutes the idea of marriage excessively? I don’t know. The subject has been raised only in a response to SSM questions. I’ve never seen the idea of platonic marriages raised independently of SSM.
                With polyamorous marriage I don’t think that there is very much risk. Perhaps is SSM was advanced exclusively through the courts one could make an argument that the hole it left as it was forced through could be exploited by polyandry. That is not really the case anymore. Last election the SSM cause was set back a bit but for the most part the court avenues have been quiet. With SSM in America today the emphasis has been shifting to legislatures (a development I endorse). If SSM is enacted legislatively then I would put the odds of polyandrous marriage following as slim to none. It’s complicated, not particularly popular and bereft of popular support. Nor do I see potential for it to follow SSM’s path. A man/woman who wants to collect a personal harem is considerably less sympathetic than a man who simply wants to not spend their life alone. I see plural marriage as something that is receding behind us, not looming ahead.Report

              • Thanks for the honest response North. I would tend to agree with you that the SSM through the courts approach is much more likely to lead to polygamy, etc.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                No problem Mike, good luck with your volleyball coaching.Report