The Scapegoat Principle

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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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  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The one thing that I do see happening alongside of Gay Marriage is a cratering of birth rates. Now, I think that Gay Marriage is a symptom of the same thing that cratering birth rates is a symptom of. (Symptom is a bad word for the concept I’m trying to get across because that seems to indicate a disease of some sort… I apologize for my limited vocabulary.)

    If marriage is seen as an institution for two people who love each other and the two people are the focus and thus the center of the relationship, then this will necessarily result in these two people focusing on themselves/each other and not on having kids (excepting, of course, the inevitable “oops”es that happen between breeding pairs).

    I believe we’ve already seen such in every country that has evolved to the point where Gay Marriage is seen as socially acceptable.

    Personally, I see Gay Marriage as an outcome of this rather than a causes… but that’s probably besides the point for most Traditionalists.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      @Jaybird,

      Keep in mind, though, that countries with low birthrates tend strongly to be countries with high standards of living, high levels of education, and relatively equal treatment for women. A low birthrate is a sign of a society that has matured and that it cares about the autonomy and dignity of the individual. It is, in other words, a good thing.

      Countries with high birthrates tend to be rather dismal, particularly if you’re female, but also even for the men.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Jason Kuznicki, I’m not talking about “low”, necessarily. I’m talking about “below replacement”. “Low” is relative, after all.

        I had a co-worker back a few jobs ago who explained to me that he was one of five kids and his family was one of the smaller (!) on the block where he grew up. Well he was Protestant and he grew up in a Catholic neighborhood. Pre-pill, of course.

        When I was growing up, you could tell the difference between the Catholics and Protestants thusly: Catholics had 3 kids, Protestants had 2.

        So when I say “low”, in this particular instance, I mean, like, four grandparents, two parents, one grandchild.

        If that.Report

        • Avatar silentbeep says:

          @Jaybird, um, I think that’s what Jason was referring to as well. Those places that “low” birthrates don’t really have much of the old-school extended families going on.

          Gay people can have kids to ya know, just sayin’Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @silentbeep, well, it’s possible for a “low” birthrate to still be a “sustainable” birthrate. I don’t know how sustainable a below-replacement birthrate is and, on top of that, I wonder at the various degrees of approval of gay marriage one is to find among the different groups of fecundity.

            Here’s my theory:
            There’s a corrolation. That is to say that the most fecund tend to be the most opposed to gay marriage and the least fecund tend to be the least opposed as well as the most outright supportive.

            And I’m wondering what opinion polls look like after a couple of generations based on that assumption.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              @Jaybird,

              It is bizarre but it seems that even the children of the fecund seem to be going in the direction of the non-fecund.

              Heck there is even a Phelps kid who got out of the craziness who today has a nice family and is an Atheist activist. Never under-estimate the power of American culture over the dreams and intentions of American parents.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @ThatPirateGuy, Oh, I’m a fan of American Culture and I suspect that it’s responsible for a double buttload of all sorts of heavy lifting when it comes to cultural debates worldwide.

              But when it comes to sustainability, I don’t know how much would be able to withstand a catastrophic failure.

              The Gods of the Copybook Headings are still there… waiting for us to need them again. I fear we will need them soon. (Which is not to say that I oppose gay marriage, of course.)Report

            • Avatar Gorgias says:

              @Jaybird,
              Given the huge numbers of people chomping at the bit to be allowed to enter into our country and become legal, productive citizens thereof, this concern seems like a nonstarter. In fact, from a worldwide demography standpoint, having the affluent west’s low birth rates compensate for the larger birthrates elsewhere seems almost ideal, particularly since because of that affluence it’s not difficult at all to convince people to move from the more fecund areas of the world to places with lower birth rates.

              Further, polling data belies the notion that attitudes toward homosexuality are largely dependent on the attitudes of their parents. While the degree of such change varies, youth in every region, from every demographic, are more tolerant of homosexuality on the whole than their parents.

              Finally, there seems little correlation between legalizing gay marriage and declining birth rates. I have yet to see a satisfactory causal link between the two, aside from the non-argument presented in the precautionary principle post. It seems much more likely to me that, as gays are granted access to an institution that encourages births, they will be more likely to raise children, at least some of which will be had within the marriage (surrogates or one member of a lesbian couple having a child), or adopted.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Gorgias, when it comes to countries that have legalized gay marriage, what are they?

              Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina. (That’s from Wikipedia)

              Let’s use Wikipedia and see what the birthrates of those countries are. (I’m using the UN numbers, the CIA numbers are even smaller for these countries.)

              Denmark: 11.2
              the Netherlands: 12.5
              Belgium: 10.4
              Spain: 10.8
              Canada: 10.3
              South Africa: 22.3
              Norway: 12.0
              Sweden: 11.3
              Portugal: 10.5
              Iceland: 14.3
              Argentina: 17.5

              Now, according to the same page, the world average birthrate is 20.3

              So seeing that all of those, but one, is under average tells me that there is, in fact, a correlation.

              (Note: I ain’t saying “should” or talking about how people ought to be or attitudes they ought to have or what. I’m just noticing a correlation.)Report

            • Avatar Gorgias says:

              @Jaybird,

              That’s some pretty weak analysis. As you say in your original post, it’s indisputable that the societies that want to legalize gay marriage are generally low birthrate societies. Their birthrates were low before they legalized it, and they continued be low after gay marriage was legal. I’m not seeing a causal link between the two, aside from the plausible but unsupported hypothesis that the same factor is causing both phenomena. In any case, it’s certainly not an argument against legalization.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Gorgias, where, exactly, have I said either that there is a causal link between the two *OR* that such would be a fair argument against legalization.

              I’m just saying that there is a correlation and I suspect that both things have a similar root cause.

              This is not saying “ought”, “should”, or “therefore we, as a society, have a responsibility to do X”.

              (Seriously: I just looked up “correlation” again to make sure that I was using it correctly. They correlate. I did not, and would not, say that they have a causal link.)Report

    • Avatar Imaginary Lawyer says:

      @Jaybird, why would birth rates crater? Your what-if about children no longer being the central purpose of marriage has already happened.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Imaginary Lawyer, hey Imaginary Lawyer. Remember when I said:

        If marriage is seen as an institution for two people who love each other and the two people are the focus and thus the center of the relationship, then this will necessarily result in these two people focusing on themselves/each other and not on having kids (excepting, of course, the inevitable “oops”es that happen between breeding pairs).

        I believe we’ve already seen such in every country that has evolved to the point where Gay Marriage is seen as socially acceptable.

        Good times.Report

  2. Avatar Larry Signor says:

    I am thinking that these dismal arguments against gay marriage are
    Constitutionally repugnant to me. My personal views are very inclusive, but still irrelevant to the discussion. Current policy is not in line with the Constitutional rights enjoyed by the policy makers/supporters. Marriage is a legal contract, sponsored by the state, between two people. There is no Constitutional precedent for the state to dictate who the of age participants in a contract can be. This, like many other “important” disagreements in America, is a no-brainer.Report

  3. Avatar Will H. says:

    [T]he argument is fundamentally irresponsible.
    I disagree.
    I believe the argument is fundamentally prudent.
    I was trying to think of a few examples of this, and most of what I can come up with off the top of my head is environmental in nature; eg the chemical on paper wrappers that they’ve found in polar bear fetuses, the dwarfing of marine life due to mining runoff, species depletion upstream of hydroelectric stations, etc.
    Those are all unintended consequences.
    The position is really a product of positivism, and is accompanied by the assumption that everything worth knowing or understanding about it is already known.
    It’s subject to all of the fallacies of positivism.

    I understand that you want to say that sort of thing because you’re staking out some policy position that’s dear to to you. But I would be careful about transporting that same line of thought to other things.Report

    • Avatar Larry Signor says:

      @Will H., If I understand your argument correctly, the concern is externalities? What evil externalities could be inferred from extending equal civil rights to human beings. This is almost as spurious as the arguments decrying racial equality.
      As for positivism, it is non-existent in Jason’s post. He comments on the lack of specificity in reference to the potential externalities you make sentient claim of, which I might point out, you have done again in saying “It’s subject to all of the fallacies of positivism.” without offering any rationalizations. Of course, if you did rationalize such a claim, it might move you into that dreaded positivist area. “But I would be careful about transporting that same line of thought to other things.”Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        @Larry Signor, That might make sense if I bought into the set of assumptions.
        But I don’t.
        I don’t see marriage as being a right. Rachel or Leah?
        I don’t see it as a civil rights issue, not even slightly. To compare this to racial discrimination is either an act of gross aggrandizement or incredibly ignorant.
        This equates who people are with specific behaviors, and the two are not the same.
        And I see find incredibly ironic.Report

        • Avatar silentbeep says:

          @Will H.,

          what would you suggest gay people do in terms of family and relationships (because currently marriage is treated as right for straight people in this society)? not snarky, honest question. what place in modern society do you think gay people should have? seriously.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            @silentbeep,

            I think you’re basically right. Consider: What should I do with my so-called husband and our adopted (so-called?) daughter? Should I leave them? Pretend I don’t know them? Should I marry a woman I don’t love? (After all, plenty of gay men have done so before me, so it’s kind of a conservative move…) Under the precautionary principle, how am I supposed to live my life? In other words, at what point, if ever, do the real harms to gays and lesbians finally start to count against the hypothetical harms to straight people? Do they ever count, or not?Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              @Jason Kuznicki,

              Should I marry a woman I don’t love?

              Yes, and when you’re with her, close your eyes and think of England.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Mike —

                Thank you for reminding me.

                No amount of harm, no matter how small or hypothetical, is ever acceptable — if the harm happens to heterosexuals.

                No amount of harm, no matter how serious or real, is ever to be considered — if the harm happens to gays or lesbians.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “Consider: What should I do….?”

              I’m really not getting the relevance of this one. Let’s say that somebody took the trouble to answer you, “Yeah you should do X, Y and Z.” Would that be binding for you, or even strongly persuasive? Of course not. You should live your life as you see fit.

              The premise seems to be that because you or you and another person want to pursue your life in a certain way, that the rest of society has an obligation to make that path plausible. When you think about it this way, the whole thing is ridiculous as any number of obvious examples will bring to mind.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              @Jason Kuznicki, Ok. I was telling you that< "The members of subset A have yet to be defined, therefor subset A does not exist" is not sound reasoning.
              And you came back with this.
              So let's consider something directly analogous:
              I cohabited with my wife for four years before we were married.
              How do you suggest that I treat my step-daughters differently after the marriage than before?Report

        • Avatar Larry Signor says:

          @Will H., So it is your contention that gay people are gay by choice? Behaviors are certainly about choices. As for equating “who people are”, well, it sounds to me as if you are saying a persons race makes them “who they are”. Quite a jump.

          If you notice, I said “racial equality”, not racial discrimination. Equality can be legislated, whether racial, sexual, gender, age or income related. Discrimination is not so easily addressed. It is derivative in nature. This, I think, is Jason’s point. Inequality must be addressed legally before systemic discrimination and recrimination can be mitigated. Not addressing the legal inequality leaves the door open for the victims to become scapegoats. “And I see (sic) find incredibly ironic.”Report

        • Avatar Aaron says:

          @Will H., If it’s not a “civil rights” issue, what exactly is it? Once the government assumes the role of discriminating between who can and cannot marry, how is it anything but a civil rights issue? You can argue that certain marriages are destabilizing to society, or that certain groups aren’t deserving of equal rights, but even if you believe both of those things to be true in relation to gay marriage it remains a civil rights issue – one class of people gets a state-sanctioned privilege and another is barred from eligibility.

          I guess we could use circular reasoning, defining civil rights issues as only those issues for which the Supreme Court has found constitutional protection against discrimination, then asserting that anything that falls outside of that sphere is not a civil rights issue. In which case forced school segregation, for example, was not a “civil rights issue” until after the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Is that along the lines of what you were thinking?Report

    • Avatar Jeremiah says:

      @Will H., Arguing from the possibility of unintended consequences seems like a complete non-starter to me. Maybe we shouldn’t research cancer treatments because there might be unintended consequences that one of the treatments turns into a super-virus that wipes out humanity, or leads to chemicals in polar bear feces (to use your example) or whatever. It is basically arguing that same sex marriages are bad because it violates a rule in which you are implying the best life philosophy is total paralysis in order to avoid unintended consequences. I don’t see how that is a realistic worldview in any measure.

      If you want to examine the situation further looking for unforeseen consequences. Great. If you find some and have proof to back up that they will occur. Even better. Then we can consider them in the decision making process, but until you have done those things you are just arguing that ‘something could happen’ which is really no argument at all.Report

  4. Avatar Rob says:

    By rational court standards if one group X does B, then in order to exclude group Y from doing B you have to demonstrate some kind of adverse impact on society, or peoples’ rights, besides Y’s, in order to continue to exclude them from doing B.

    There’s never been, what I’d consider, any real evidence, beyond speculation and appeal to tradition, that gay marriage represents a danger to society at large, much less any danger to heterosexuals’ rights, also if a danger exist only for the individual then it’s immaterial as people have a right to decide their own risk level. If later some real evidence appears then it’d have to be reconsidered.

    By example, as an ATV enthusiast I’ve often railed against the fact that I can’t build and register a street legal ATV in my state, even though a court wouldn’t be able to demonstrate that my properly equiped ATV represents an undue danger to citizens above and beyond a motorcycle or an SUV, yet my preference is excluded anyway by tradition, ignorance and a lot of “what if” mostly thrown out by the ignorant. While it could be stated that a street legal ATV would be more dangerous for me to drive then a Mercedes S class, that’s completely immaterial. (Of course my risk level being immaterial is dependent on the fact that society doesn’t take care of me, hence the main point that makes socialism and personal liberty at severe odds)Report

  5. Avatar silentbeep says:

    @Koz

    Jason’s line of questioning is valid, in terms of discussion. Personally, I’m genuinely curious to know what Will H. thinks in terms of what should people like Jason do. Because right now it boils down to “no on gay marriage.” I’m curious to know if there are any “yes” options for anti-gay marriage people, just for the sake of understanding where people are coming from. I don’t think Jason’s questions are really that rhetorical.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      I’m tempted to say that Jason and his partner and their daughter should move to Duluth, Minnesota and form an alfalfa farming commune with dissident Seventh Day Adventists.

      That’s just to illustrate that I have no presumption to know what people in Jason’s life situation should do, and it’s almost certain that Jason would have no intent to heed my advice if I did.Report

      • Avatar silentbeep says:

        @Koz, for greater understanding of where people are coming from, this I think, can be useful information.Report

      • Avatar Boegiboe says:

        @Koz, that’s just an attempt to diffuse the reality of our lives. You are, in effect, trying to erase my life from this conversation. Not acceptable.

        I am married to Jason. We have a daughter. This is fact. I’ve never come across an honest person who has really thought we should break up. In fact, today we ran across yet ANOTHER total stranger who thought our daughter is in a good place, in our home. It takes some bravery for a total stranger to say something like that. That bravery has, at its source, a deep understanding of how families like mine are being punished.

        I must speak out just, and exactly, so long as people like Will throw out specious arguments about how my marriage might hurt something, somewhere, sometime in the future. When neutral people can see the right side of things without feeling some knee-jerk need to oppose it, the fight will be over.

        My Marriage Helps My Daughter. Now.

        Enough for me to fight for it.
        Now.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          “I must speak out just, and exactly, so long as people like Will throw out specious arguments about how my marriage might hurt something, somewhere, sometime in the future.”

          You should be a little more clear on who and what you’re responding to. I’m sympathetic to Will’s point of view but I have substantially different points of emphasis, because for me the most direct negative consequences of gay marriage are not at all hypothetical or future-based.

          If you are man and Jason is a man, the two of you put together can never add up to be a man and a woman and therefore you can’t be married because marriage is a particular kind of relationship between a man and a woman.

          Any effort to force gay marriage is attempt to thought-control us into believing a lie which is bad. And btw, Jason at least is perfectly capable of understanding this except in this case where he indulges in special pleading on his own behalf.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            @Koz,

            Your entire comment is mere question-begging. It’s not even an argument, so there isn’t anything for me to understand, except to recognize the fallacy, point it out, and move on.

            “Marriage is what I say it is,” you say.

            “Why is that?” we ask.

            “Because it is what I say it is!” you answer.

            The fact that I’ve been capable of regurgitating it — even sometimes using my own words — does not give your argument any outside validity. That, if you wanted to press the point, would be an argument from authority. And here the authority is weak, because I — as the authority you would cite — am telling you that the claim is bunk.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              ““Because it is what I say it is!” you answer. “

              It is true that marriage is between a man and a woman because I say it is, but frankly that’s one of the weaker supports for it. It’s also the case that marriage is between a man and a woman historically, biologically, morally, legally (except in a few jurisdictions), culturally. Marriage is between a man and a woman every possible which way except for you and subset of the judiciary hijacked by a few SWPL types who have asserted otherwise.

              And the authority business is weak because I wasn’t citing you as an authority. Your partner may not care or be able to understand the thought control parts of gay marriage, but you are perfectly capable of it and your refusal to acknowledge it here is weak sauce special pleading.

              I’m thinking of this in particular if you care:

              http://mereorthodoxy.com/?p=1420Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Someone had to be the first American to marry a Nigerian, didn’t they? But the definition of marriage had never included such things before. Obviously they must never be included in the future, either.

                As to citing me as an authority, you most certainly were. You wrote:

                Jason at least is perfectly capable of understanding this except in this case where he indulges in special pleading on his own behalf.

                But the “this” here refers to “tendentious question-begging,” which I do not claim for a moment to understand, except as a rhetorical tactic. As a statement of fact, I no more understand it than I understand the content in the sentence “The value of pi is pi.”

                Well, sure. But that doesn’t answer the question. And neither does the insistence that marriage must always be a man and a woman, without further support or explanation.

                As to thought control, I frankly have no clue what you’re talking about. I wrote that

                What we have here [i.e., the state saying what does and does not count as a marriage] is perhaps an argument for abolishing state-sanctioned marriage, not for keeping gays out of it per se.

                So unless that is what you’re arguing for, you have no business saying that I am somehow, in my heart of hearts, on your side. I really do consider the case for abolishing civil marriage far more plausible than the case for playing favorites as we do today. But it’s quite a leap from that to saying that I am inconsistent, or that I understand the force of your argument. It has none. A definition repeated in anger isn’t an argument at all.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              At the link, you wrote,

              “For example, the state most certainly forces me to accept — whether I’d like to or not — the validity of certain clearly facetious heterosexual marriages. And even if a marriage is traditional, safe, sound, and morally upright, it is still an attack on my own liberties to be forced by the state to recognize it as such. I’ll make up my own mind, thanks very much.”

              Clearly, if you are capable of understanding “attack on your liberties” by being forced by the government to recognize het marriage, you are also capable of understanding the attack on the liberties of everybody else to be forced to recognize gay marriage. And you might be inclined to defend our liberties against such attacks if it weren’t for your own special pleading interest in the matter.

              Ie, I’m not citing you as an authority at all. The coercion that the government extracts by forcing us to assent to falsehoods (or things made true by government edict) is spelled out explicitly enough right here.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                @Koz,

                You appear incapable of recognizing when a premise is accepted for the sake of argument. That’s what I did in the quoted section. The above applies only — as I wrote — “If we’re going to use Morse’s very fine moral sensibilities on this point.”

                I don’t need to do so, of course, and I do not. The government tells me all kinds of things, and I do not necessarily agree with any of them. Nor am I forced to.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Koz, Is Canada assaulting your liberties?Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              No. I’m not under Canadian jurisdiction.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Koz, so marriage is little more than a jurisdictional issue?

              So two dudes getting married in “state where Koz doesn’t live” wouldn’t be an infringement of your liberty?Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              No, it’s just like anything else.

              Oppressive taxation in France is an infringement on property rights everywhere but whose victims are mainly the French. Excessive taxation in America is an infringement on property rights that detrimentally affects me personally, therefore I’m going to be more interested in rectifying the situation.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “You appear incapable of recognizing when a premise is accepted for the sake of argument. “

              Well that’s a little odd since there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think that the other blogger should be distressed at the idea of government recognition of straight marriages so there doesn’t seem to be much reason for you to accept it arguendo. But it’s not a big point so I’ll take your word for it, at least to the extent that you believe the thought control thing is not a big deal. You can still recognize it since to accepted it for the sake of argument.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I accepted Morse’s claim — basically, thought control — for the sake of argument. I even indicated as much in the text. I then showed how silly it was. I have no control over what the other blogger thought, and no great interest in his thoughts at the moment.

                Could I “recognize” Morse’s argument? Sure, just like I can recognize a mistake in long division.

                That doesn’t give the mistake any credibility. It just means I know how to recognize it.Report

          • Avatar Boegiboe says:

            @Koz, you can continue until your dying day to think that Jason and I are not married. You can even continue to say so. There’s no thought control going on. There are those who claim that children will be exposed to more gay families if SSM is legal, and that is thought-control. The number of gay people children are exposed to, by their friend’s parents being gay or whatever, will be the same either way, because we’re not going to stop acting like we’re married just because of what the law says. (In fact, if all the anti-SSM folks just gave in suddenly and said “OK, you’re married! Whatever!” the effect would probably be to reduce children’s exposure to gay families, because we wouldn’t be in the news all the time.

            But here’s the legal landscape: Our society thinks there should be certain legal rights and responsibilities to being coparents committed to living together to raise their children. (I know all the back and forth about whether the purpose of marriage is children. They don’t matter to my points here, because Jason and I are raising children.) Most of the heavy lifting of that desire is effected by governments recognizing the legal status of marriage. Legal marriage is precisely the government’s recognition of those rights and responsibilities, no more and no less.

            Your position, whether you realize it or not, is that the only coparenting couples we really want to have any legal rights and responsibilities are one-man/one-woman couples. But, which of those rights and responsibilities of marriage would cause material harm to us or our daughter, or to anyone else, if Jason and I had them? And by material harm here, I mean something more concrete than some people feeling bad when I say that we’re married.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              The fact that you and your partner creates facts on the ground, Israeli-style. I’ve got no problems with that. And I have no problems with formalizing that relationship somehow. But it still can’t be formalized to marriage, because you and Jason are not a man and a woman.

              And even here, I don’t see any particular need for it anyway. Gay marriage or not, you and Jason are two adult males with co-legal guardianship over a minor child, which seems to me to be perfectly sufficient.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Koz,

        The fact that you make such facetious suggestions only proves how weak your side of this debate really is.

        The pro-marriage side says to gay people: Find someone you love and get married. Settle down. Have kids if you feel like it. Stay connected with your families, whatever that might mean for you. Be like ordinary Americans, because everyone has a few differences here and there anyway.

        Your side? It’s either “Gosh, I don’t know,” or ex-gay therapy… or alfalfa farming. Gotta admit that was a new one, but it’s also trying to duck the question.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          @Jason Kuznicki,
          It’s sort of like the Rousseauian idea of te general will — the minority should be quite and accept the wisdom and be glad that the majority, embodied in Great Leaders, is showing them the way. Be grateful, Jason.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          Actually I think the pro-gay-marriage side is more about the civil rights angle as opposed to the positive externalities of marriage in general.

          In any case, my point is that opposition to gay marriage is a narrow, well-defined context, and in that context there is no obligation to formulate the optimal life path for same-sex-attracted men and women.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            @Koz,

            I’m not asking for an optimal life path. I’m asking for any views of gay people in society that are even marginally above ex-gay therapy, the closet, or gay-bashing.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              I don’t think this changes anything. We can oppose gay marriage without having to answer that.

              If you think it’s important, I don’t think the closet or ex-gay therapy are horrible things. Frankly, I don’t imagine that you care very much. In fact, I would be quite a bit surprised if you did.Report

  6. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Very well put, Jason.Report

  7. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    @ Koz

    > The premise seems to be that because you or you and
    > another person want to pursue your life in a certain
    > way, that the rest of society has an obligation to
    > make that path plausible. When you think about it
    > this way, the whole thing is ridiculous as any
    > number of obvious examples will bring to mind.

    Wow, Koz, do you so need to re-read this thing that you just wrote, right here.

    Let me re-write it and make two small edits:

    The premise seems to be that because you (or you and another person) want to pursue your life in a certain way, that the rest of our society has an obligation to recognize your legal right to so do, unless they can show harm (burden of proof on everybody else).

    No one is under an obligation to recognize gay marriage within their religion. No one is under an obligation to recognize gay marriage within their social context, any more than I have a prohibition against clucking my tongue at the domestic dispute circumstances down the way and say, “That’s no real marriage”. None of that is germane to the conversation here.

    You *do* have an obligation to recognize gay marriage within the context of the law, *given that we’ve already decided to recognize “marriage” within the context of the law*. Yes, you can make an argument that the state has no business being involved with marriage in the first place, but that doesn’t wash in the current environment. Marriage already *is* a state institution.

    You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to invite married gay couples to your backyard BBQ, you can scream about the wretched state of the nation from the pulpit if you wish.

    But you can’t show that it harms anybody. Will’s whole argument actually acknowledges this; it’s entirely based upon a very odd premise that “well, something bad *might* happen”. That in and of itself is pretty damn weak sauce… but throw on top of that the somewhat compelling lack of evidence of bad stuff happening anywhere that gay marriage has actually be enshrined in law, your weak sauce is diluted to the point of homeopathy.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      ….*given that we’ve already decided to recognize “marriage” within the context of the law*….”

      No. This is an obvious question begging considering the point under consideration is whether or not gay marriage will be recognized under the law.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      “The premise seems to be that because you (or you and another person) want to pursue your life in a certain way, that the rest of our society has an obligation to recognize your legal right to so do, unless they can show harm (burden of proof on everybody else).”

      No. Among other reasons, it doesn’t follow that because you want to live your life a certain way that such a thing is possible or plausible, therefore you can never have the right to insist that such choices are legally recognized by some arm of government.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Koz, you know.

        Like Medicare Part D.

        Except that the government *DID* force that on us.

        I don’t think that the government you believe exists is the one being wielded by either party at the moment.

        They both see stuff like “gay marriage” as something that the government *SHOULD* have a say in. It’s just that the Republicans are screaming “NO GAY MARRIAGE” while the Democrats are saying “well, no gay marriage just yet”.

        But your description of how the government ought to be does not map (AT ALL) with the government as it is used by either party likely to be in power.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        @Koz,

        > Among other reasons, it doesn’t follow that
        > because you want to live your life a certain
        > way that such a thing is possible or plausible

        Dear sir, you must dispense with the casting about of logical framework arguments unless you are going to show relevance.

        By implicit warrant, you are claiming that it is either impossible or implausible… what?

        I double dog dare you to bust this one out without a tautology.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          It’s not that complicated (if I’m understanding your objection correctly).

          It’s possible (and in reality happens fairly often) that people assert or aspire to certain things which are impossible for one reason or another. Roger Evans from Paducah wants to be a sea-turtle, but he is not a sea-turtle and will never be one.

          Therefore there can never be (or to be precise, shouldn’t be) a general principle that the government recognize people solely on their declarations or aspirations because that implies that the government (and by extension us) is forced to affirm the impossible. Eg, that Roger Evans is or will be a sea-turtle.

          Btw, in one of your comments yesterday you made a stronger argument than I gave you credit for.

          However, the main reason reason why the government recognizes straight marriage but not gay marriage (or ought to) is because marriage is a relationship between and a man and woman and furthermore this cannot be finessed around since it is the essence of the relationship.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            @Koz,

            > However, the main reason reason
            > why the government recognizes
            > straight marriage but not gay
            > marriage (or ought to) is because
            > marriage is a relationship between
            > and a man and woman and
            > furthermore this cannot be finessed
            > around since it is the essence of
            > the relationship.

            Koz, “marriage” isn’t like “sea turtleness”. It isn’t even in the same ontological ballpark.

            You can claim to be a sea turtle, but if you’re not what scientists call a sea turtle you ain’t no sea turtle, you’re just crazy.

            But “married” is both a legal and a social construct, not an entity existence class. The entire point of the discussion is the question of whether or not “gay” vs. “straight” marriages are legally acceptable entities, not socially acceptable entities or organisms.

            In other words, you failed the tautology test.

            “Gay people can’t be married (legally) because my definition of marriage (socially) requires that all marriages (legally) be between a man and a woman.”Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “But “married” is both a legal and a social construct, not an entity existence class.”

              Bullshit it isn’t. Just because something is a legal and/or social construct doesn’t mean that it’s changeable at well.

              But frankly, for the purpose of your argument I don’t even need this anyway. There is not or should not be a general principle that the government (and by extension the rest of us) must recognize people on the basis of what they declare themselves to be, except for cases of tangible harm. Period, end of.

              This applies to marriage but we don’t even have to talk about marriage to see this. Sea turtles.

              No tautologies friend. I think you have to do a thousand pushups or something.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              @Koz,

              “Bullshit it isn’t. Just because something is a legal and/or social construct doesn’t mean that it’s changeable at well.”

              I didn’t say that all social or legal constructs are changeable at will.

              I don’t have to.

              I’m saying that this particular legal construct (marriage) isn’t required to be based upon your social convention about what marriage ought to be. I can write up a perfectly sane definition of marriage that includes no gender or sex references in it at all, and it covers everyone who is currently married.

              You’re saying that in this particular case it is *not* changeable *at all*, but your explanation relies upon the aforementioned tautology. It’s not changeable because an essential property of marriage is that its between one man and one woman. But…

              (1) It’s clearly not an essential property of marriage (marriage has not been limited to “one man and one woman” historically)

              (2) It is a current social convention of marriage (and, I’ll note, one that is not held by everyone for that matter).

              (3) It hasn’t even been an essential property of marriage in *almost every state* for almost the entire history of the U.S. It wasn’t until gay people started to say, “Hey, we want to get married” that Americans rushed to the polls to explicitly define marriage and tack on that property as a new bit of essentialness.

              “There is not or should not be a general principle that the government (and by extension the rest of us) must recognize people on the basis of what they declare themselves to be, except for cases of tangible harm.”

              Even if I agree with this assessment, it depends rather heavily on “what they declare themselves to be”, which is a point of contention. Gay people claim that this is part of what they are, not a choice. There is, actually, empirical scientific evidence to back up this claim, so they already have more grounds than you to stand on.

              Even were that not the case, it’s kind of disingenuous for you to claim that you get to declare what marriage *is*, but gay people don’t get to declare what *gayness* is or what marriage *is*. Why don’t they get to define marriage?

              Barring that, why doesn’t a neutral party get to define what marriage is?Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “You’re saying that in this particular case it is *not* changeable *at all*, but your explanation relies upon the aforementioned tautology.”

              No, I’m not. Various aspects of marriage change routinely, but the heterosexuality part of it has always been there. See Kay Hymowitz:

              “But beneath all the diversity, marriage has always had a fundamental, universal core that makes gay marriage a non sequitur: it has always governed property and inheritance rights; it has always been the means of establishing paternity, legitimacy, and the rights and responsibilities of parenthood; and because these goals involve bearing and raising children, it has always involved (at least one) man and woman.”

              http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_gay_marriage.html

              “(1) It’s clearly not an essential property of marriage (marriage has not been limited to “one man and one woman” historically)”

              Actually it is. Or to put it another way, where there are exceptions, it is the exclusivity part that is optional, not the man-woman thing. Like in that HBO show where the quasi-Mormon has three wives, marriage is the relationship he has with each of them, not that the women have with each other.

              “(3) It hasn’t even been an essential property of marriage in *almost every state* for almost the entire history of the U.S. It wasn’t until gay people started to say, “Hey, we want to get married” that Americans rushed to the polls to explicitly define marriage and tack on that property as a new bit of essentialness.”

              Sure it is. In no state was there ever homosexual marriage until 10 years ago or whatever. The explicit ban may or may not have been part of the state marriage statutes. For those that weren’t, it wasn’t because those states wanted to allow gay marriage but because the possibility never occurred to them in the first place. See here:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_v._Nelson

              “Even if I agree with this assessment, it depends rather heavily on “what they declare themselves to be”, ….. “

              No, it doesn’t at all. It means just what I said it does, that there’s no general principle that the government (and by extension the rest of us) must recognize people on the basis of what they declare themselves to be (finished the pushups yet?).

              This doesn’t mean (for the purpose of this argument) that we can’t have gay marriage, it means that gay marriage has to be justified for some other reason. And it hasn’t, or at least hasn’t yet.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              @Pat Cahalan,

              “It has always governed property and inheritance rights”

              There is no dependency upon male or female for this function. And, you’ll note, usually that “property” part, historically, was limited to, “all of it belongs to the man”.

              “It has always been the means of establishing paternity, legitimacy”

              It has always been *a* means of establishing paternity. There’s so many exceptions to this case just in the history of the English monarchy that there’s too many to list. In any event, “bastard” ceased being a major issue in society quite some time ago.

              “… and the rights and responsibilities of parenthood”

              Now we’re getting deeper into bullshit. If marriage is indelibly linked to the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, you’ve got some serious ‘splainin’ to do about all of the divorced couples, unmarried couples, and children of those people. What state are they in? Who’s got rights and responsibilities there?

              Their rights and responsibilities come to them as *parents*, not as a married couple. At least, here in the U.S. Children are not property of a marriage.

              “… and because these goals involve bearing and raising children, it has always involved (at least one) man and woman.”

              And there’s the big heaping steaming pile at the bottom. Her entire premise really rests upon this premise. And it’s patently false, you are not required to have children to be married. You are not required to be married to have children. And, at least here in the U.S., you are not even required to be able to bear children to have children. Children for whom you are the legally recognized parents, not the birth mother.

              “It is the exclusivity part that is optional, not the man-woman thing. ”

              No, Koz, it’s not. There are many places where the man-woman thing is currently optional. You keep ignoring the fact that other people in other places already have recognized that the man-woman thing is optional.

              Also, I find it fascinating that someone would claim that in a polygamous marriage everyone is married to one man (or one woman) and has no relationship with each other. Yes, in the historical Mormon church the man held “official” primacy as head of household, but I’m pretty sure those 5 wives had plenty of interaction.

              “For those that weren’t, it wasn’t because those states wanted to allow gay marriage but because the possibility never occurred to them in the first place.”

              Ah, I see. So rights are dependent upon our temporal recognition of them. Interracial marriage used to be unthinkable. Interfaith marriage used to be unthinkable. And as soon as somebody thought of it, everyone rushed to deny it… *because it was unthinkable*.

              “This doesn’t mean (for the purpose of this argument) that we can’t have gay marriage, it means that gay marriage has to be justified for some other reason. And it hasn’t, or at least hasn’t yet.”

              I’m getting a little tired of hitting myself with a brick, so okay, let’s try that tack instead. Seems to be a gimme to me.

              What reasons would *you* find sufficient to agree that gay marriage is justified?

              Property rights?
              Household rights?
              Legal power of attorney?
              Filing as a single financial entity?
              Maintaining a stable household for the purposes of rearing children?

              Ms. Hymowitz seems to think these are all pretty important. They’re the reason why we recognize heterosexual marriage, supposedly.

              So in what way are they not relevant to a homosexual household? If those are reasons enough for straight people to have official state recognition of their status, why aren’t they obviously good enough for gay people?Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “There is no dependency upon male or female for this function.”

              Sure there is. Before the social constructs and all the rest of it, there are fundamental realities of how people in every society interact with each other. That is, men and women have sex, conceive children and form families. Marriage codifies the default social status, expectations, and responsibilities.

              This seems to be a major thought gap for you and Jason. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be other forms of codifying paternity: unmarried parenthood, homosexual adoption, IVF, conquest for that matter. Marriage isn’t the comprehensive answer to all things child-rearing: it can’t be because the government or society in general doesn’t control all of reality. It is the default assignment of childrearing status. It ought to be pretty obvious if you can think about it straight for a minute.

              “Interracial marriage used to be unthinkable. Interfaith marriage used to be unthinkable.”

              No. Interfaith and interracial marriage has existed for centuries for in various places and has always been thinkable. Though in some circumstances and jurisdictions it has been banned, including interractial marriage in the United States for a significant part of its history. What was unthinkable until 15 years or so ago was homosexual marriage.

              “Yes, in the historical Mormon church the man held “official” primacy as head of household, but I’m pretty sure those 5 wives had plenty of interaction.”

              Well so what? People of the same sex can have all sorts of interactions. That doesn’t mean they are married. Imagine asking one of the wives from that TV show “Who are you married to?” Do you imagine she will say anything other than the name of the man?Report

  8. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Speculation about adverse effects and the environment and adverse effects and gay marriage are very different. In the case of the former there is usually good data that can be analyzed and argued over in order to come to a decision. In the case of the latter there is rarely, if ever, any factual evidence used when creating the generalizations of “what if.”

    Of course I could be wrong, and would appreciate the correction if possible. But comparing caution about the complex workings of the environment to caution about the civil condoning of apparently benign personal lifestyles hardly seems an apt comparison.Report

  9. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    @Jaybird, so correlating country’s birthrates and stance regarding gay marriage says what if anything about the connection between the two?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @E.C. Gach, my suspicion is that they are both connected to the same thing.

      Specifically, marriage moving away from a social convention to a much more individualistic (libertarian, if you will) convention.

      (Note: I still ain’t saying “should” or “ought” or “therefore we, as a society, have a responsibility to X”)

      Put another way: Gay Marriage is a pretty unsurprising result of the redefinition of the institution that we’ve been seeing since the 1940’s. (As is the significantly lower fecundity in the breeding pairs who get married.)Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        @Jaybird, do those same countries demonstrate a continual decrease in the birthrate along side a continual increase in the per capita number of gay marriages?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @E.C. Gach, dunno. Do we have enough years of gay marriage being legal to usefully explore that question?

          Denmark legalized it in 1989 (seriously? 1989? Yeah, 1989) and here is a chart with their birthrates from 2000 (going down)…

          indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=da&v=25

          You can also look up the Netherlands there (similar), Belgium (similar), Spain (markedly different due to a HUGE jump between 2002 and 2003 but going down since 2003), Canada (similar), South Africa (going down but with a large jump in 2008), Norway (similar), Sweden (markedly different from Denmark but similar to Spain only with the huge jump between 2003 and 2004), Portugal (similar), Iceland (similar), and Argentina (much like South Africa).

          In every case, however, the rightmost datapoint was lower than the leftmost and it does seem to be trending (with the exceptions I noted and, please, check out the website yourself).Report

  10. Avatar Jeremiah says:

    Definitions. Koz is defining his marriage as ‘man and woman’. Ross Douthat’s is ‘man and woman in a child-rearing partnership’. Jason’s (perhaps), and many other people define it as simply a declaration of love and companionship. Arguing about SSM is all rather pointless when we can’t even agree on what exactly marriage means. Not for individuals, but for everyone. Traditionalists usually argue that majority wins, but there are always problems with that line of thinking and it seems that recently the majority view is changing so they won’t even have that to stand on anymore.

    Anyways, I think Civil Unions are a good first step down the path we ought to be heading down. That is an examination and re-evaluation of the types of relationships people have and how society wants to respond to (or honor) them. That said I don’t think Civil Unions are enough. Maybe civil unions cover the legal aspects, like hospital visitations and estates, but what about love? Certainly love can exist outside the ‘man/woman’ definition so you would need something else to encompass that, and finally you might have people that want to recognize an institution in the capacity of Ross’s definition and so you would need yet another term for that. Bottom line is that what marriage is, what people want marriage to be, are all part of the discussion, but what we should learn from the discussion is what are the values people hold dear and in what ways society wants to recognize them. Fighting to the death over the definition of one word seems like more of a distraction to the larger issues at hand.Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      “Definitions. Koz is defining his marriage as ‘man and woman’.”

      To clarify, marriage requires a man and a woman but not every relationship between a man and a woman is marriage.Report

      • Avatar E.C.Gach says:

        @Koz, marriage is not a biological institution for starters. Historically, it’s arguable. What would your time window be for looking at relationships between people..2000 years? 4000? 10000?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Koz, Time to bust out this old chestnut again.

        “Marriage” can (and tends to) refer to two things and, more’s the point, two very different things in the same conversation. People can jump back between the two meanings in the same breath without even noticing… so let’s make them explicit.

        Marriage in the Eyes of God.
        Marriage in the Eyes of the State.

        Marriage in the Eyes of God (henceforth MEG) is tough to define, at least for me, given that I can not claim any special knowledge of the Mind of God. Moreover, it seems to me that since there isn’t really a God, the whole “MEG” thing is whatever two people can forge out for themselves (but, if I’m wrong about the God thing, it’s what two people forge out between themselves and God). In practice this entails sharing sorrows, joys, chores, maybe pets, maybe kids, and running a household. Holding hands. That sort of crap.

        Marriage in the Eyes of the State (MES) is easy to define. Hell, you just have to go to city hall and read the statute.

        I see Koz pulling shenanigans and jumping between the two definitions. He’s acting like the MES sprung out of the MEG and is thus immutable and nothing can ever change it.

        It seems to me that MES as an extension of MEG *HAS* changed (read the dicta from Virginia v. Loving).

        As for the Mind of God… well, again, I can claim no special knowledge. I’m actually pretty skeptical of folks who do.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          “Marriage in the Eyes of God.
          Marriage in the Eyes of the State.”

          Yeah, you’ve mentioned this distinction before, though you and I have never directly engaged on it, I think. Fwiw, I think it’s a useful distinction but not a comprehensive one.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @Koz, eh, it makes sense to me.

            When people yell that two folks aren’t *REALLY* married, they tend to mean “in the eyes of God!” and don’t really care about inheritance law or whether one can be compelled to testify against the other.

            The people who, instead, point to the law as if the law were somehow majestic… well, that gives away a hell of a lot of information too.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “When people yell that two folks aren’t *REALLY* married, they tend to mean “in the eyes of God!””

              Not necessarily. There’s a middle ground, where somebody might not presume to speak for God but will say something like that to describe a state of reality that’s more fundamental than the arbitrary edict of whoever’s fiat is law that day.

              It’s kinda like Erik’s theory about wars have to be either for defense or for plunder. You can’t necessarily force everything to fit in one box or the other just because it’s intuitive for you to think of it that way.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Koz, I say that because if two people are “married” in the eyes of the state, that is, they get certain assumptions with regards to inheritance, rights to not testify against each other, etc, it makes *NO* sense to say “they aren’t really married” in response to this unless we’re talking about the Eyes of God.

              You certainly aren’t saying that “they don’t have hospital visitation rights”, because, by law, they do.

              When you talk about two people being *REALLY* married under these circumstances, you pretty much must be talking about the Eyes of God.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              No, I don’t think that’s right on either count. A homosexual couple can be “married” in DC and move to Chicago where they are not married, eyes of the state or otherwise.

              Furthermore, people who say that gays aren’t really married might not be claiming to speak with the mind of God or the authority of God. It’s just as likely as anything that they are saying that homosexual couples are not married according to our observable secular understanding of marriage as we’ve known it forever.

              Just because this distinction is intuitive for you doesn’t mean that everything can be forced into it.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Koz, “or otherwise”?

              God strikes me as one of those cats who doesn’t care whether you’re in DC or Chicago if you’re married.

              If you have a different ontology, I’d *LOVE* to hear your defintion of God.

              Seriously, it seems to me that all we’re arguing about is whether (insert government authority here) recognizes the marriage or not.

              If you’d like to discuss the mind of God, I’d be completely down with that too, of course.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              God might not care whether you live in DC or Chicago, but the state might so “marriage in the eyes of the state” is more nebulous than you seem to think.

              I’m sure you know, supporters of gay marriage are attempting to use the anomalies as an impetus for the legalization of gay marriage everywhere.

              In any case, MES or MEG is imo a false dichotomy that tends to disparage our plain observable secular reality. Or to put it another way, the fiat power of the state is very powerful, but it doesn’t not control all of reality and we should never forget that.Report

  11. Avatar Jeremiah says:

    Just to clarify my point slightly, I think the problem is people get too lost in the weeds, so to speak, in arguing the details and semantics of marriage and lose sight of the the forest for the trees. We need more focus on the larger issue of defining and recognizing human relationships and when people get caught up in very narrowly defined debates we can lose perspective on what it is we are really trying to accomplish. What do people in non-traditional relationships want? How can we provide it? What do people in traditional relationships want and how do we provide that? Etc.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      @Jeremiah,

      Being in a fairly traditional relationship, I can only speak for what people in non-traditional relationships have told me.

      They *want* social acceptance. They’re perfectly willing to concede the point that they’re not going to get that through anything other than long term societal change.

      They *want* legal recognition of their household status, on the grounds that this legal recognition exists for same sex couples (with many built-in protections that they cannot assemble via other contracts or legal arrangements, and in fact, thanks to DOMA, they can’t have this across state borders anyway).

      BTW, I’m totally on board with the guvvmint getting out of the marriage business entirely and making everybody get a civil union; a contract of household. But my willingness aside, I don’t see that happening… and really, my objection to the marriage license is just a philosophical point. Practically speaking, replacing marriage across the board with civil unions will mean everybody in the country is going to have to file a metric crapton of paperwork, and a bunch of lawyers will make a lot of billable hours for little actual benefit overall. It *will* make it so that the Terry Schiavo case would never reoccur, so there’s that. Assuming everyone actually fills out all that paperwork (big if).Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @Pat Cahalan, I’ve never understood the “get the gubmint” out of marriage line. Civil marriage is a generic contract stating various rules about legal rights for the couple and how to settle it if there is a divorce. You correctly point out how getting rid of marriage, whatever that means, would just lead to lawyers making a bundle writing up marriage contract. The other possibility is people writing terrible contracts that are unenforceable in courts. And it is the evil government in the form of courts that have to settle legal disputes.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          @greginak,

          The “problem” (such as it is) with marriage being a government-sanctioned entity is that the privileges and rights attendant to the state are subject to the actions of the government, rather than the players.

          You see this in practice in several different “bad” ways. A state can decide to default to “woman gets children” in the case of divorce, barring competency challenges. A state can decide “woman gets child support” in the case of divorce, barring prenup (or, in some cases, not barring prenup). A state can decide “husband gets to pull plug unless wife has living will stating otherwise”. The state can decide, “You split everything, prenups don’t count”. But all of those rights and privileges (or responsibilities, if you like) sort of vary by state, and most people who “get married” just sort of glom into the default set of behaviors in their state instead of actually writing out what it is that they’d actually like to have happen in the event of such, or so, or the other.

          Plus, people move from one state to another.

          There’s efficiencies to be gained, on account of less paperwork, but there’s potential liberty infractions, on account of the mere absence of explicit documentation opens the door for long drawn out court challenges in the event of dispute.

          Whereas, if everyone had to settle into their civil union by declaring outright and explicitly what *they* wanted, you’d have less ambiguity.

          Essentially, by lumping everything together into “marriage”, the courts/legislature decide what implicit rights come with that contract, instead of the interested parties, who have to attach riders and whatnot (which may or may not be enforceable). This isn’t a case of the guvvmit being “evil”, it’s just a matter of edge cases.

          At any rate, it’s sort of a moot point. Although I think “marriage” is a bad case of default permissions/responsibilities, we have it anyway, and I don’t see it going away.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    A question for Koz.

    Let’s say that two dudes have the marriage ceremony in Montreal. (Canada, you may have heard, has gay marriage.)

    These two dudes go on to live in Montreal.

    Are they married?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      @Jaybird,
      Two French dudes? Like, who cares?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Mike Schilling, here’s my question fundamentally.

        If they are not, in fact, married despite Canada’s laws, then marriage is a metaphysical state upon which the law cannot have an impact.

        If, however, they *ARE* married, then my follow-up question would be whether they’d be married if they jumped the border and moved to Philly.

        Either the answer would be “they’re only married when on Canadian soil” which would indicate that marriage is a legal (and therefore mutable) state (i.e., I suspect that if Pennsylvania legalized gay marriage that the answer would change to “they’re married” (maybe even with an “again”)) in nature or that they’re still married just not in any way that the US recognizes (a pragmatic answer that acknowledges that marriage is, in fact, a metaphysical state while, also, a legal status).

        I was wondering where stuff shook out, at the end of the day.Report

        • Avatar E.C.Gach says:

          @Jaybird, Well put, which ties in to Koz’s love of sea turtles. From everything he’s indicated so far, I assume he must feel that marriage is, like sea turtleness, a metaphysical quality unalterable by social or civil beliefs.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @E.C.Gach, for what it’s worth, I’m 100% *FINE* with that take.

            We’ve got freedom of religion here (unlike Candadna!) and that means that if folks believe that they’ve spoken with God and He has let them know that He has all sorts of opinions on all sorts of stuff (e.g., lobster) then I am down with folks believing that gays cannot get married.

            Hell, I’m 100% down with those “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” flakes saying “oh, the Creator is light incarnate and as light (and when I say light I mean love) then his light shines in any love between” oh god I can’t even go on. Anyway, I’m cool with goddam hippies believing in a god like that.

            I don’t believe in a god at all and, as such, I see “marriage” as yet another social construct.

            And that’s cool too!

            My problem comes when we have to deal with stuff like Koz’s absolutely incomprehensible assertion that gay people being married is, somehow, an “infringement” of his liberty.

            That totally makes zero sense to me.

            That’s not how liberty works.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          @Jaybird,

          Well, when Laura Petrie lied about her age on the marriage license, the result was that she and Rob were only married in some states.Report