Repost: Same Sex Marriage and the Religious Liberty Red Herring

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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169 Responses

  1. E.C. Gach says:

    Great piece mark!

    “She fails to distinguish – nor does she even attempt to distinguish – how anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation present a greater or materially different conflict for religious liberties than other anti-discrimination laws such as laws that prohibit discrimination based on marital status or military status or based on race or religion. It is impossible to conceive how a law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the private sector is a greater or materially different burden on religious liberty than a law prohibiting religious discrimination!”

    Red herring indeed.Report

  2. Bill Kilgore says:

    As a threshold matter, given the stated preferences of the author of the quoted section, the idea that said language is “self-serving” is without merit. Mr. Rauch is a SSM proponent who is not served by the emphasized admission. You may criticize his analysis if you wish, but to suggest his comment is self-serving (which I believe you are doing) does not withstand scrutiny. If I am in error as to your intent- I apologize for the misread.

    As to the ministerial exception, both cited cases deal with a church and how it relates to its own parishioners or members, while that concern is implicated in the SSM context, it is not the primary concern. More importantly, in all of the instances we can discuss, we are addressing a period prior to a Constitutional right to marriage being found. Comparing such a right with a statutory claim (As has been the case) is a rather poor way of addressing the concern of what will happen once a right is found.

    Rather than get sidetracked on case law, the basic issue is this, do you believe that after receiving their SSM right that no holders of that right will use it to go after the Catholic or Mormon church? If so, what is that belief based on (particularly in view of SF’s tax attack on the Catholic church, Mass’s adoption attack on the Catholic church, the various violent and vandalism efforts directed towards churches after prop 8, and cases like the New Mexico photographer? And, how would members of those churches (or any church) come to trust you on that point? Keep in mind, whatever authority you cite on the trust point, it must be viewed in the context of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing a SSM right, but the 2nd Amendment not guaranteeing a personal right to bear arms. Which is to say, if all you have for them to base their trust on is some text, after you announce the right to SSM- you really don’t have much for them to count on.Report

    • Gorgias in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      My belief is that in the most closely analogous case, that of interracial marriage, no such attempt was made.Report

    • I apologize for taking so long to get to this comment, as I was not expecting this thread to blow up as it did, and I’ve been busy attending to other matters.

      As a threshold matter, given the stated preferences of the author of the quoted section, the idea that said language is “self-serving” is without merit. Mr. Rauch is a SSM proponent who is not served by the emphasized admission. You may criticize his analysis if you wish, but to suggest his comment is self-serving (which I believe you are doing) does not withstand scrutiny. If I am in error as to your intent- I apologize for the misread.

      The quoted text makes clear that this is an argument that is being advanced or will be advanced by opponents of SSM, specifically Gerson and Wehner. Although Rauch is (wrongly) saying that their slippery-slope claim happens to be true, he is not himself making the claim. This may be a distinction without a difference, but I don’t think so. Indeed, one of the great problems with the “self-serving” slippery slope argument is that it’s a quite powerful tool of argument.

      Rather than get sidetracked on case law, the basic issue is this, do you believe that after receiving their SSM right that no holders of that right will use it to go after the Catholic or Mormon church?

      I do not see how this is the basic issue. People can and will sue over just about anything, no matter how frivolous the claim; I would not be surprised at all, in fact, to find that precisely this type of action has already been pursued by some persons. But I have a hard time imagining any circumstances under which an action such as this would be supported by more than a tiny fraction of even the gay community, much less the population at large. Regardless of its support, though, fears of such an action make little sense since there’s no real consequence to it unless it succeeds. I do not think that many opponents of SSM would argue that fear of frivolous litigation that would certainly be dismissed at an early stage is a useful argument against anything.

      As to the ministerial exception, both cited cases deal with a church and how it relates to its own parishioners or members, while that concern is implicated in the SSM context, it is not the primary concern. More importantly, in all of the instances we can discuss, we are addressing a period prior to a Constitutional right to marriage being found. Comparing such a right with a statutory claim (As has been the case) is a rather poor way of addressing the concern of what will happen once a right is found.

      This misunderstands the nature of what’s at issue here, I think. I am unaware of any precedent which holds that the existence of a constitutional right (exclusive of anti-discrimination laws that are explicitly codified in state constitutions, and which are not at issue here, and which in any event will specifically name the classes that are protected from discrimination) grants one an anti-discrimination right vis-a-vis a purely private actor. Constitutional rights, and particularly the Constitutional rights at issue here, are rights held against the government, not against purely private actors. So a holding that prohibitions or restrictions on SSM are a violation of equal protection would not inherently grant gays any new rights as against private actors, and certainly not in the absence of legitimate state action.

      Think of it this way: freedom of speech is a clear Constitutional right in this country, but if my private employer wishes to fire me for my speech, I have no Constitutional recourse against my employer. My sole recourse would likely be under something akin to a Whistleblower Protection Act (for which the legal standards are largely the same as the legal standards under discrimination laws). In other words, even though I have a clear Constitutional right to freedom of speech, that right would offer me no protection against my purely private employer, even as the Whistleblower statute might.

      Similarly, while establishment of SSM might well have some implications for religious institutions, those implications will exist only as carried out through various anti-discrimination laws. In other words, it will be the interplay between preexisting statutory definitions and the new establishment of SSM that is to blame, not the right itself. To the extent the result is that religious-based actions with respect to gays and same-sex couples are further restricted, it will not be in any new way, but will instead simply be a (relatively minor) extension of existing infringements and conflicts resulting from those statutes. The problem would not be SSM, it would be the anti-discrimination statutes.

      The point is that this is not an objection to SSM, it’s an objection to anti-discrimination laws. And even that objection is severely limited since the ministerial exception means that the First Amendment protects against any inquiry into the validity of religious doctrine.Report

  3. Boonton says:

    On both counts, Rod misunderstands the nature of the conflict and the role of the legislature and courts in creating (or potentially alleviating) that conflict.

    Does he really misunderstand? I’m not so sure. There’s a lot of evidence of bad faith on the part of the anti-SSM crowd. For example, if this was really what it was about then where’s the grand Obama-style compromise where anti-SSM advocates opt to accept a SSM bill that has iron clad protections for religious organizations? Why do anti-SSM advocates almost always, when they can, craft their bills and amendments in such a way as to not only make SSM impossible but even alternatives like civil unions or even private contracts? From my POV a lot of the argument has a ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ flavor to it where arguments are tossed against SSM without even bothering to analyze if they make sense or address counter arguments.

    Isn’t this really about trying to stop the social acceptance of gays and gay couples by any means necessary?Report

  4. Will H. says:

    I’m not even going to respond to the argument directly, but I want to highlight a few things here.
    No. 1 is that you’re not likely to convince anyone by telling them that their concerns are not valid. So this is entirely preaching to the choir.
    Now then, that you rationalize away the validity of the concerns for a significant number of people in the process of attempting to prove the non-validity of perceptions of oppression is something that you’re going to have to come to terms with yourself.
    Yes, gays are people too– but they’re not any more people than any other people.
    Which leads us back to where we started.

    But this ostrich-like dynamic is one I see over and over again; and so it would be well worth examining.
    Really, I think the gay rights movement is something of a victim of its own successes.
    They’ve hit a resistance point now, and that’s usually a healthy sign.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

      “Yes, gays are people too– but they’re not any more people than any other people.
      Which leads us back to where we started.”

      This is a funny phrase to use when advocating to keep denying people their rights.

      Perhaps if people who are worried about allowing gay marriage didn’t make things up and lie about so many things they wouldn’t be so dismissed as liers who can’t be trusted to report the details or legal ramifications of the incidents of non-oppression they cling too.Report

      • Will H. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

        I don’t believe that any person has a right to be married.
        I don’t recall right off-hand any blatant lies on the part of the SSM supporters.
        What concerns me more is that all of the horror stories I hear about terrible, terrible things that gay couples have to go through because they’re not married could apply equally to straight couples that aren’t married.
        By culling out gay couples from unmarried couples, this alienates a natural constituency.
        And yes, there are issues that it would be proper to address, but for all.
        On a larger scale, the issue is really one of the predominant level of decency in our society.
        For the most part, we don’t separate what might be allowable under extraordinary circumstances from what is allowable generally. We do individually, and everyone is aware of it.
        We should be willing to say that not every circumstance is extraordinary.

        SSM is a done deal 20 years from now. Or sometime between now and then.
        So the question is, really, under what conditions do you want it to arrive?
        “Hastily, and hastily only” is rarely a prudent answer when given such a question.

        And what if “gay marriage” was set up as a contemporaneous counterpart to “marriage?”
        That is, when you go to the courthouse to apply for the license, you have to tell them if you’re applying for the “marriage license” or the “gay marriage license.”
        Would that make everybody happy?

        What is it that both parties agree on?
        I want to hear more about that.
        That should shed some light on why the bargaining positions are the way they are.Report

        • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

          “What concerns me more is that all of the horror stories I hear about terrible, terrible things that gay couples have to go through because they’re not married could apply equally to straight couples that aren’t married.
          By culling out gay couples from unmarried couples, this alienates a natural constituency.
          And yes, there are issues that it would be proper to address, but for all.”

          This is probably because straight couples CAN ALREADY GET MARRIED IF THEY WANT, while gay couples cannot.

          The problem is that what the SSM supporters want is equality and what the opponents want is for gay people to disappear and stop being something they might ever be aware of. I don’t see much room for compromise other than the bigots look away as everyone gets equal rights.Report

          • Will H. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

            True enough.
            But gay couples can always go straight and get married, but unmarried straight couples, if they decide to go gay, are still in the same boat.
            And I find it to be entirely appropriate to suggest such a thing to someone with such a comic-book caricaturization as a substitute for a view on the matter.
            So, all that the bigots want is for gays to disappear. Really?
            So why haven’t they hunted them down and eradicated them already?
            Maybe if you could come up with a list of bigots and send out notices stating that you’re aware of their intentions, and they are certain to be thwarted, this might resolve the issue entirely.
            I think there’s a certain level of bigotry in being unable to understand another’s position, and then assigning derisive labels on account of it.Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              I understand the position os SSM opponents just fine. Just like I *understand* the views of the KKK. Doesn’t make them any less deplorable. Being able to understand that someone thinks gays are sinful and a threat to society is one thing. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary and insisting that we codify this disdain into discriminatory legislation seems a bit bigoted to me. Yes…bigoted. And if that makes me intolerant of intolerance, well…tough shit.Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                Step away from the ledge.
                Apparently you don’t, or you wouldn’t be comparing them to the KKK.
                That’s not really a winning strategy, and I doubt you’ll get the results you’re looking for with that one.
                I’ve said it a number of times already, but I think you’re still overlooking the obvious part.

                I’m going to need to tell you a little story to make this more plain.
                There’s not really much good in the story, but it’s kind of short.

                Something like 20 years ago, I was sitting around in my little peace-of-mind spot, and there was a car that came up. I thought it was a security guard to run me out of the place. But it was two guys that got out of the car. They were talking among themselves.
                The one fellow started talking to me. This was a gay couple. They had been together for five years, and the one had just found out that night that the other had been seeing someone else for the past year. He was still fairly upset about it, which is why he chose to strike up a conversation with me. He was mad enough at his partner that he didn’t want to talk for awhile.
                But I had just left my wife of three years because she wanted to sleep around. That’s why I was in that town in the first place. I had left.
                But there was a commonality between us. I was able to speak frankly about that relationship with someone who understood, and he was able to get a few things off of his chest. And it did us both some good.
                Because people are still people, and there are no ‘gay feelings’ which separate them from other people. We’re all the same.

                You don’t get that level of understanding talking to bigots about why they’re so much like the KKK.
                When you’re able to start talking to people about things, you might get somewhere.
                In the meantime, any positive change will take place in spite of your efforts rather than because of them.

                But I want you to look at this again, just to underscore the point.
                That one man in his whirlpool of heartbreak was able to do more than you are with your calculated replies.
                That’s real.

                There’s a reason that people don’t use shotguns to cut birthday cakes, but it seems as if you haven’t figured that one out yet.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

                Then give your really reasonable reason that hasn’t already been shot down by a hundred other people here as to why we should continue to deny rights. Plain and simple. And I don’t think wringing your hands and saying, “But people just aren’t ready” is going to cut it.

                And I like how the burden is on me to plead nicely with the rest of the world that we treat people equally under the law.Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                There is no right to be married.
                The same as having no right to become a freemason.
                And there is no right to a specific accommodation.
                I have no right to eat eggs for breakfast.
                If I come by some eggs, then I can eat them.
                But I have no right to them, just on account that others might be having eggs.
                Simple as that.

                And I’m thinking that maybe that 100 other people might believe that doesn’t necessarily make me a bigot that’s just like the KKK.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will H. says:

                The problem is not whether X and Y have a right to be married but whether you (YES! YOU! WILL H!!!!) have a right to prevent X and Y from being married.

                From where I sit, their right to marry is far, far, far more defensible than your right to prevent their marriage.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

                But that isn’t the situation is it.

                There are eggs available for all, but some people are not allowed to eat them. They have the eggs in their hands but because some people find the way they cook their eggs icky they are banned from eating eggs.

                And yes there is a right to become a freemason! It is called the freedom of association. If you can find a mason lodge that will have you, then no law can stop you from becoming a freemason.

                Stop telling me that people don’t have rights because they have a different gender than other people.

                It is gender discrimination to tell Sarah that she can’t marry Sally but Steve can solely on the basis of her gender.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                That’s the sort of thing that needs to be discussed.
                From my perspective, it’s more important that marriage as an institution should become more valued in our society after we dissect it in order to discover its essence than in any particular outcome one way or the other.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                No, that’s not quite correct.
                And that is the sort of thing that needs to be discussed.
                It would be gender discrimination to tell Sarah that she can’t marry Sally because of Sarah’s sex, but to tell Sarah that she can’t marry Sally because of Sally’s sex is not.
                So this isn’t an issue of gender discrimination.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will H. says:

                it’s more important that marriage as an institution should become more valued in our society after we dissect it in order to discover its essence than in any particular outcome one way or the other.

                For the children?Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                No, for society as a whole.
                The stability it produces is beneficial for the unmarried as well, in much the same manner than non-union workers benefit from strong unions.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will H. says:

                That exact argument could be given as to why we *NEED* gay marriage.

                It’s for society as a whole! It will strengthen the institution! It will protect unmarried folks! SOCIETY!!!!!

                This makes its use as an argument against gay marriage suspect.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                And it’s likely we will see it used more and more often in that capacity.
                Co-opting the view of the opposing party can be a winning strategy.
                Clinton was pretty good at that.Report

              • North in reply to Will H. says:

                Will H. if the only secular arguments SSM opponents have left are vague and un-falsifiable concerns about the integrity of the institution (concerns that become laughable when considering the serial polygamy that many heterosexuals have made of the same revered institution) then wouldn’t you agree that the best thing to do would be to step aside and allow SSM to happen so as to minimize the genuine concrete and documented harm that being barred from marriage is doing to same sex couples (and the children they raise)? Or at the very bare minimum, suggesting an alternative that doesn’t involve vanishing into an exodus re-conditioning camp or turning straight?Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                That might well be, if you can find someone that would use that argument in that capacity.
                I was just noting a preference for a specific condition.
                And I don’t see any progress in that area.
                And what I think might be best doesn’t matter. Whatever is ‘best’ doesn’t invalidate the concerns of the people that don’t agree with me, regardless of what their views might be based on.
                I can go up to them and say, “Your concerns are not legitimate,” but I don’t think they’re going to appreciate it too much.
                I could be wrong on that though.
                I think a big part of the problem with this whole thing is that there’s too many activists when inactivists might get the job done better.
                Odd how we seem to fail to properly value inactivity. Just generally.
                At any rate, any healthy progression is intermittent.
                A bull market with no pull-back is a warning sign that it’s unstable.
                A trench where the workers never bothered to stop digging long enough to shore it up is not a desirable condition.

                I have to wonder why gay people these days want to think that they invented something new.
                Those body parts have been around a long time, and they’ve already been put together in every possible combination.
                But really, at this point, about the only way I would see such a to-do about it as necessary would be if there was a bill introduced against gay shacking.
                Let me see the bill against gay shacking, and I will be the most ardent supporter of SSM that this world has known.Report

              • North in reply to Will H. says:

                Will, I’m sorry, I must be missing something here with your point. So the only reason you’d support SSM would be if the alternative was banning gays from marrying altogether?

                Now I can certainly understand the conservative impulse to go and certainly the especially strong conservative impulse to go slow or ideally backwards when it comes to the comfort and happiness of homosexual people. But in order to avoid accusations of malevolence one usually has to have a reason for it that isn’t grounded in, well, animus. Yes?

                I don’t think accusations of bigotry are any use in these discussions, heat, light etcetera. But in reasoned discussions one needs to shore up one’s position with reasoning.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                Maybe I want to preserve the sanctity of shacking.
                From this great shoring up of reason that you refer to, how might you have come to such a certainty of understanding?
                There’s a few leaps there that I’m missing.
                Maybe it’s because I don’t already buy into the bs.
                I don’t know.
                But there seems to be some mistaken notion that the comfort and happiness of homosexual people might actually be of concern to conservative folk on some vague terms, if only to work actively against it.
                And I have to wonder about this source of aggrandizement.
                Just wondering.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

                Just as long as you’re willing to get the state to cease in issuing the licenses to heterosexuals, I’m all with you. So long as they continue to provide this to heterosexuals only, you lose me.Report

              • North in reply to Will H. says:

                Yeah I goofed up that first sentence. Should have read: only way you’d support SSM was if there was a law to prevent gays from living together at all. My bad there.

                As for animus, I don’t think that anti SSM groups get to start with a clean slate here. The historical record of their religious and morally based interest in making homosexuals miserable is pretty clear cut.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

                That is a good story, yet we should not forget about Focus on the Family, The American family association, NOM and other hate groups.

                The argument need both approaches. You have to remind people that gay people are people and that they deserve everything that straight people do. But you can’t give these organizations a pass.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:


                As someone who lives in Colorado Springs and, yes, has worked for Focus on the Family (seriously! ask me about it in an open thread sometime!), let me just say that Focus on the Family ain’t a hate group.

                Now if you were doing the “comparing to Hitler” thing that I do let me just apologize for not having a sense of humor… but if you were serious, let me just say that, dude, banality ain’t the same thing as evil.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                You can bet I will ask you in an open thread. I would love to hear all about that.

                But alas I do think of them as a hate group for realsies. They certainly have a lot of hate for me, or at least for the idea of people like me not being treated like second class citizens(Atheist, not gay). They also support the patriarchy to the hilt and as a feminist I really hate that.Report

              • Bill in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                You must not live on the other side of their hatred and bigotry.Report

            • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

              “So why haven’t they hunted them down and eradicated them already?”

              Because thankfully this country has better laws than Iran and Uganda and they would be arrested enough of the time that hunting gay people down is discouraged. Not that this doesn’t happen, sometimes they even get away with it by using the gay panic defense. God help you if you are transgendered, people can break your jaw and rip out your teeth and the police won’t give a damn.

              Other pastimes they still manage to get into is hounding gay teens to the point of suicide, blocking their ability to adopt(by making it illegal), running camps to try to pray away the gay and doing massive damage to people.

              Interestingly you say they can go straight and get married which is telling them to go away and shut up as they don’t matter.Report

              • Bill in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                What is ‘going straight,’ exactly?

                Giving up broadway shows in favor of chasing a ball out in a field?

                Oy vey, Will.

                Oy. Vey.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Bill says:

                If you really don’t know what, “That looks so gay,” means, then you’re not being real.
                I have nieces in high school I hear saying such things.
                But I suppose someone as sophisticated as you couldn’t possibly figure out something blatantly obvious.
                Which is basically restating the problem.

                But I wasn’t using it in that sense.
                Strictly in the sense of sexual acts.
                Not preferences.

                Do you really need a list of homosexual sex acts to assist you in understanding something that a high school kid would know?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Will H. says:

                If you really don’t know what, “That looks so gay,” means, then you’re not being real.

                It means “I don’t like that”. Nothing more specific. Honestly.Report

              • Bucky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Actually, Mike, “that’s so gay” is more than just “I don’t like that.”

                It implies something inherently wrong with the person/behavior/thing that is being described as “gay.”

                There is a huge difference between saying “I don’t like mac and Cheese” and “mac and cheese is so gay.”

                The first is just an expression of personal preference. The gay reference implies that something is inherently bad and everyone else should hold it in disregard as well.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I was thinking something more along the lines of “effeminate,” but you might well be right.
                What occurred to me is whether they’re talking about the Freddie Mercury kind of gay, or the Rob Halford kind of gay.
                Which one looks more gay?
                But I believe “flaming” is the term that gays use among themselves.Report

              • Bucky in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                You still don’t get it Will.

                Calling something “so gay” has absolutely NOTHING to do with any perception of homosexuality of the offending object.

                The word “gay” is a substitute for any derogatory word.

                If I say to a group of friends “let’s go to Club Straight Sex” for a drink and someone replies, “that place is so gay” they aren’t trying to imply that Club Straight Sex is some homo bar.

                What they are saying is that Club Straight Sex is lame. Bad. Unfashionable. Uncool. Not hip or hep or down or bad or anything is is considered good.

                Calling something “so gay” has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality, homo or otherwise. It is just a coded way of saying that something really, really sucks.

                Which is why it is so offensive to all of us homos.

                It is the equation of gay = bad that is the problem.Report

              • Bucky in reply to Will H. says:

                Sorry, Will H., but “that looks so gay” has absolutely nothing to do with a reference to some specific sex act. The phrase isn’t just used in reference to same sex intimacy, or “acts” as you describe it.

                It has everything to do with social disapproval of something.

                In fact, the object of the hateful phrase is usually something inanimate. As in “OMG, that outfit is so gay!”

                Perhaps you need to spend more time with your nieces.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Bucky says:

                Exactly. In fact, when I reprimanded my teenager for using “That’s so gay”, he insisted that wasn’t offensive because it has nothing to do with gay people. (I still dislike the expression and forbid him from using it in front of me, but he was quite sincere about it not being a slur.)Report

              • Will H. in reply to Bucky says:

                I just want to say that this exchange was well worth it, if only for providing a majority of SSM supporters upholding an original meaning interpretation of a statement.
                And literalism from an entirely secular view to boot.
                After all, it is for such unusual sights that I come to this place.Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              FWIW, Will H., I also understand the arguments for gun control and sympathize with many of them to a degree. However, in light of what the Constitution says, I’m not ready to allow my sympathy or uneasiness with the prevalence of guns to limit other people’s ability to exercise those rights.Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                I think I understand where you’re coming from.
                I believe that, if you think of a pistol when you hear the word ‘gun,’ you’re probably not safe with a gun; but if you think of a rifle, you’re probably safe.
                But there’s really no reliable method of sorting out the two.

                I’m glad we were able to connect as people.
                I knew there was an area of agreement in there somewhere.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

                Without the privilege of foresight, the Founders made no attempt to sort out handhelds vs. Blunderbusses vs. AK-47’s. So we live within that, I guess?

                I’m not sure what your point is about pistols v. rifles.Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                If you’re not sure, then I probably wouldn’t want you walking around with one.
                We live with it for now.
                We already know that the ‘right to bear arms’ doesn’t cover switchblades and dynamite caps.
                But for some reason, everything with a firing pin looks the same to some people.
                I don’t get it.
                But if the past is any indicator, they will deny that there’s a difference right up until the point where there’s a difference that they can’t deny that is so integral to the issue that they have to determine otherwise.
                Unfortunately, that’s what we call ‘progress.’
                But that’s the working of the mechanism without the detail drawings.Report

              • Boegiboe in reply to Will H. says:

                Both rifles and pistols have their safe uses. Shooting a deer with a rifle isn’t necessarily going to kill it–sometimes you miss the heart–so having a pistol on hand to put the animal down cleanly isn’t crazy. (I’ve never gone hunting, but I’ve been told that this is what some people do.)

                But I think what you’re saying is that people who think of pistols first are likely in an environment in which they either never see guns except on cop shows or else the guns that people seem to be carrying around everywhere are pistols. Which you (and I, as it happens) think is not safe.Report

        • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

          Cynically speaking, most SSM opponents wish gay people would go away and not exist at all that way they wouldn’t be confronted with two men doing things with each other’s pee-pees. Compromise from opponents? Sure. And why does there have to be compromise? And is this like blacks being willing to compromise at 3/5ths?

          Some might say, “Hastily, and hastily only.” Others may say, “Justice delayed, is justice denied…regardless of our *requirement* to be sensitive to other people’s fee-fees.”Report

          • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

            Not buying it.
            Were it simply a matter of fighting against injustice, there are much, much greater injustices to fight against.
            Maybe for people that want to fight against injustice, but not really all that much.Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              Unless it’s your rights being denied. That’s where you come off missing the whole thing. Ask Heidegger about sitting around talking about something hypothetically and actually confronting it in your own life. You wanted to make sure I understood that you and the gay man shared a real life tender moment about romantic loss but then you ignore the fact that these a *real* people being denied the rights with their loved ones to do exactly what I do with my wife in terms of visitation, inheritance, benefits, etc.

              So you’ll have to pardon me if I’m not buying your Hallmark retelling of your anecdote about how much you try to “understand” another when you so easily dismiss that same “another.”Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                That’s where you need to lay your suspicion aside.
                To say that there are more concerns that one and only one is not a dismissal.
                I already told you that it will be a done deal within twenty years.
                But you already knew that.
                It will probably be within ten.
                But again, the issue is one of I want what I want and I want it now.

                But no, I really do understand your concern.
                Please stop reading things in to what I say.Report

        • Boonton in reply to Will H. says:

          SSM is a done deal 20 years from now. Or sometime between now and then.
          So the question is, really, under what conditions do you want it to arrive?
          “Hastily, and hastily only” is rarely a prudent answer when given such a question.

          If you wanted to marry someone today would 20 years be a trivial amount of time to wait? What exactly are we likely to gain by ‘taking it slow’ and waiting 20 years? WHy not 40 years? Why not ten? If you agree on the end point what’s the purpose of just adding time inbetween the present and tomorrow?Report

          • Will H. in reply to Boonton says:

            The issue is one of what state of change is preferable.
            It’s not necessary that change should be tumultuous, regardless of what might be who’s pet project.
            Change is a very natural occurrence.

            As the wringing of the nose brings forth blood, so the forcing of wrath brings forth strife.
            That’s simply restating the recipe that everybody wants to follow.
            That’s the gameplan for success that everybody insists is necessary.

            And I’m saying it’s going to have some consequences if you follow that path.Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              Your use of the term “pet project” seems to indicate that you are lucky enough not to be affected by it. I’m sure that BobN above thinks of his and his partner’s struggle for legal recognition as a “pet project.”Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                I use the term as a generalization, to indicate that the dynamic is not particular to this single issue.

                There seems to be a distrust in the naturalness of change.
                Even as wintertime comes upon us.
                But the spring will come, surely.
                The earth is just trying to teach you an important lesson, the same one it’s been trying to teach you for all these years.
                It even sent me to you over the internet to tell you that an important lesson is at hand.
                Wisdom is yours for the taking, if you would have it.

                The universe never creates a need without creating a resource to fill that need.Report

            • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Will H. says:

              Change will only be as tumultuous as the opponents make it.

              Seriously nothing other than happier gay people will happen. Why do we need to delay?Report

              • Will H. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                You know, I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there that like to think, “Well, if so-and-so doesn’t get in my way, there won’t be any trouble,” and I would wager that’s most often said right before the speaker imposes on so-and-so in some substantial way.
                Really, that’s the sort of thing that people that are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions cling to, and it really is unseemly.

                There’s something that I thought of, and it’s sort of bad, but sort of good.
                You don’t usually see the level of vitriol in discussions here at the League.
                It really is unusual.
                The people are generally centrist and open to reasonable debate.
                I think this thread shows what happens when too many people are in agreement without having their views seriously challenged.
                And to differentiate, let’s say that anything that it might be possible to discuss on the Glenn Beck show is not a serious challenge.
                But those are the sort of arguments which are being challenged, even though they’re not even in the room. (They wouldn’t be appropriate in this place.)
                But those are the arguments that SSM supporters have gotten comfortable with answering.
                You see, I’m basically a RINO.
                And I don’t mind saying that I would rather have a RINO party that I could vote for. I might vote straight ticket then.
                But those arguments that you used for the Beck crowd aren’t going to work so well with the RINOs.
                Forget the people that are a lost cause, and put your efforts where they count.
                Because, you see, while people might be supporters or opponents of this one thing, that doesn’t mean that they’re each others opponents inherently in all things.
                It’s just a thing.
                It’s still the people that matter.
                People are greater than things.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                And just to be clear here, I understand perfectly the dynamic at play.
                You have been hurt, and you felt that no one cared about it. And now you believe that it’s ok to hurt others.
                It’s not.
                I’m sorry that you were hurt.
                I really am.
                And I’m sorry that you felt alone in that.
                But you never really were as alone as you felt.
                That was just a feeling.

                You were supposed to learn compassion from that.
                It’s not ok to hurt others, even if the harm to you was unjust.
                You need to open your heart.
                I know it’s scary, but it’s just people on the other side there.

                I’m not as dumb as some people might think.Report

        • BobN in reply to Will H. says:

          I’m 52. My partner of 31 years is 54. Trust me, the word “hasty” does not apply to this fight.Report

          • Will H. in reply to BobN says:

            That’s a hard predicament.
            All I can tell you is that all living things grow, and people are no different.
            A great many other people need more time to grow in order to be ready for what we are to become.
            How we deal with adversity demonstrates our character more vividly than when everything is going right.
            And only you can choose your character.
            You get to decide whether to assist in the growth which is necessary or to impede that growth.
            But you’re dealing with people, and not things; so go gently.
            And choose wisely.
            I wish you well on your journey.Report

    • Bill in reply to Will H. says:

      That is the dumbest post EVER.

      Seriously, Will.


      • Will H. in reply to Bill says:

        And you are so seriously dishonest about things that you are not even a real person.
        When you grow up a little bit come back to me.

        If that’s really the limit of your understanding, that people that disagree with you are necessarily dumb, then you’re a lost cause.
        It doesn’t matter what you think.
        You’ve lost enough of your humanity that I don’t even consider you to be a man the same as me.Report

        • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

          And you’re the one asking us to consider that applying the laws equally to everyone might be too tumultous for the adults to handle? But you’re telling others about their lack of humanity? OK.Report

          • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

            Get real.
            This isn’t about applying laws.
            You know, someone was telling me not long ago about an appellate court decision in the State of Missouri that said that the primary issue in a finding of guilt in a criminal case must be whether or not the defendant actually committed the acts in question.
            The amazing thing to me is that this is a decision that came down from an appellate court.
            It seems like this would be one of the first topics in Law 101.
            No telling how many people were found guilty without being connected to a crime until this case law came about.
            But finally, someone said we ought to make sure that the defendant was actually connected to the crime before we find them guilty.

            So, where’s the outcry?
            Where’s all this concern about the law?

            This has nothing to do with the law.
            It’s all about achieving a specific outcome immediately, and damn the consequences.
            And frankly, a lot of that has to do with a certain amount of black-heartedness.
            For some reason, it’s become not only acceptable but routine to remove the personhood of another, simply as a matter airing opinions.
            But like most other things, if you can’t deal with the people necessary to make things happen, then things won’t get done.
            Like it or not, those bigots that are so like the KKK are the ones you need to sway.
            And you have to accept them as people to do that.
            When people come together, things happen.
            When people come together and strip each other of their humanity, bad things happen.

            Again, rationalizing away the concerns of a great many people is nothing more than a mental exercise and preaching to the choir.
            You’re not likely to make much progress if you just go around telling people that their concerns are not legitimate.
            They’re not going to believe you.
            You’re demonstrating to them right off the bat that you’re not trustworthy.
            Your concerns are legitimate, but theirs are not.
            That’s not a bargaining position.
            I think it’s a loser from the get-go.

            If being able to assess things rationally makes me dumb, fine.
            I’m happy to be dumb.
            I wouldn’t want to be the kind of smart where I can’t see people as people anymore.
            What value is that?Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              So anybody with a concern, no matter how bankrupt and disingenuous, must be catered to and have their hand held, and even deferred to because “that’s just the way it needs to be done and all living things grow and change, so just sit back and be inactive and all things will come your way.”

              Sorry, but that doesn’t work. There are already states that allow gay marriage and they have not broken off the continent and sunk into the sea and they still have active and thriving churches that perform heterosexual marriages and schools still function without all the children becoming gay, etc. All this concern trolling about “all in due time” seems like a very Deepak Chopra approach to discrimination.

              And to act like those who disagree with you about allowing all people to enjoy the benefits of marriage, the people who want all consenting adults to be able to enjoy the same freedom and liberty that you and I enjoy with our marriages are the ones who don’t understand people or see them as people is rich.

              And as far as vitriol goes, I apologize if you’re accustomed to people listening to you talk reasonably about why discrimination is necessary (because “some” people just aren’t ready to be faced with the idea of two men or two women enjoying a contractual relationship with each other that has no impact on anyone else other than the hypothetical horrors dreamed up by people who see something more ominous behind the desire of two people to marry) without being a bit horrified by the ease and nonchalance with which you deem that discrimination necessary.Report

              • Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                Nothing of the sort.
                To be negligent or to squander resources isn’t going to resolve anything.
                You’re engaging in logical fallacies here, and it isn’t going anywhere.
                I’m not going to sit down and work out a strategy for you.
                But I can darned sure tell a winning strategy from a bad one.
                If you don’t believe me, that’s fine.
                Go on out and try it, and we can talk about what went wrong later.
                It reminds me of one of those top ten lists from the Letterman show years and years ago. It was the “Top Ten Signs You Might Be Suicidal.”
                One of those was: You walk into a meeting of the Hell’s Angels and yell, ‘All you pussy bikers suck.’
                It just seems like you’re pursuing much the same strategy.
                Something like me going in to the group of Tea Partiers and telling them I would rather vote for the RINO candidate, but a bit worse.
                You guys are lightweights.
                I’ve been roughed up by some people that are really good at it.Report

              • Bucky in reply to Will H. says:


                “I’ve been roughed up by some people that are really good at it.”

                I’m starting to think that you enjoy that. You must be smarter than your clumsy comments suggest.

                I suspect that you are one of those people that just enjoys and argument for argument’s sake.

                It would be interesting to know what you actually believe. If you do actually believe in anything beyond confrontation.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Bucky says:

                I’ve already stated what I believe.
                And no, I prefer civil discourse.
                I’ve never been afraid to speak the truth.
                Because of that, I understand fully that it is unwelcome a great portion of the time.
                But what we have here is people who insist that no progress is being made unless there’s some visible form of progress, and those who can see that progress is not obligated to be visible.
                And I can’t help but think that if those people were really being honest with themselves, then they would see that this, “I’m not trustworthy. Let’s make a deal,” position isn’t going to work so well.
                If you were buying a big-ticket item, and the seller announced to you before the price negotiations that he was untrustworthy, do you continue negotiations, yes or no?
                But it’s often the case, even among trained technicians, that when someone gets too personally involved with a matter, their judgment starts to wane.
                If your in a boat, and you’re trying to get somewhere, you need to know two things: 1) where you’re at currently, and 2) where it is that you want to go.
                I don’t think those two things have been properly established in this case.
                There’s a huge problem with people coming to terms with No. 1, and things don’t add up on No. 2.
                The good news is that progress will continue in spite of their efforts.
                It’s not going to be the kind of progress they’ve been holding their breath for, but it’s a necessary stage before moving forward again.
                It’s called “consolidation of gains,” and it’s an important part of the process.
                Again, any healthy progression is intermittent. Consider the alternative.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

                Well, congratulations. I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re Colonel Nathan R. Jessop and everyone who tries to argue (rightly, I believe) that SSM is an issue of equality and civil rights gets met with this reply from you: “You have to ask me nicely.” As if that’s really what this is all about. Bowing in fealty to your and other folks “sensitivities” about gays. The real irony is that you sit on your high horse and condemn the tone of everyone else’s argument without making much of one yourself. Well played.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                Will H.’s comments about good vs. bad strategies and the need to be patient bring to mind MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He directly responded to the white ministers’ complaints that his tactics weren’t appropriate and that negroes just needed to be patient.

                I recommend it to all,but especially to Will H.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                The cry for patience, to me, has always implied that those being asked to be patient are being GIVEN something. Like when a child asks for a cookie, he is beholdent tot he giver, since the cookie is not his rightful entitlement. As such, he must ask nicely and behave in a way that makes the cookie-giver want to give it to him. But that is not the case. Freedom or equity is not someone’s to give. It is a right inherent to all.

                Think of it this way… what if, one day, your boss said he wasn’t going to pay you. You throw a fit and he says, “Now I’m DEFINITELY not going to pay you.” You threaten to sue and he says, “Tsk, tsk… ask nicely, sir!” I highly doubt that would fly. That is your money that you earned and it is your right to have. Freedom works the same way.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’d be willing to bet Will thinks we moved too fast on that one, too. Since those were handled through political and judicial methods. And it’s a shame really, ’cause those racists just needed a few more years to come around to the idea that “all men are created equal.” That’s probably why we still have racism today, you know. We moved too fast for those feet-draggers and this is how they sulk.Report

              • Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

                Not even close.
                Show me where gays are kept in low-income slums.
                Show me where gays are imprisoned at a rate of over 5 times the general population.
                But it that sort of extreme language that leads to the false equivalences (such as this) that cloud the view.
                I think it’s pretty dumb to say that sexual orientation might be a distinction of persons arising to the level as that of race.
                It’s false on its face.
                But go on.
                I’m waiting to hear these stories about the poor inner-city gay kids going to their all-gay school where they have no hope of bettering themselves because gays are discriminated against in employment and wages.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                To be sure, I’m not suggesting Will H. is a racist.

                But while he insists we focus on slums and imprisonment rates, supporters of gay rights in general will point out the high rate of assaults against homosexuals, particularly high school age gay males, and the substantial difficulties homosexual couples face in cases of hospitalization and death–problems that my wife and I will never face.

                False equivalencies? No, not false at all. Just because the situation for southern blacks was even worse than the situation for homosexuals is, we can’t conclude that there are no equivalencies, or that the cases are too dissimilar to compare.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                That people have difficulties is no evidence of discrimination.
                People being assaulted is already against the law.
                High schools have problems with kids that aren’t gay being bullied.
                You do have a good point there. Well done.
                But my point stands: That this is simply not the same thing as Selma.
                That seems to be a derivative of other assertions.
                When those assertions are questioned, it falls apart.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                That people have difficulties is no evidence of discrimination.

                How disingenuous. You use a generalized statement to carefully evade what actually happens in specific cases.

                If I’m in the hospital, my wife can pretty much waltz in and out of my room at will (in fact, that’s what she did when I actually was in the hospital). Precisely because she’s my wife, nobody in the hospital will try to stop her.

                But for a gay couple, even if they’ve been together longer than my wife and I have, that’s not at all a given. The partner may very well be kept out of the room on the basis of not being (legally) family.

                When I die, my estate will pass to my spouse even if I die intestate. That’s not true for a gay couple.

                If I die leaving everything to my spouse in my will, it is comparatively difficult to challenge that will. If the gay person dies leaving everything to his/her partner in a will, that will is comparatively easier for “real” family members to challenge.

                But I’m sure you’ll come up with some other justification for why homosexuals should be content with their lot.

                (By the way, ditto what BSK said above. Wish I’d said it.)Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                I’m not evading what happens in specific cases.
                I’m just saying that, taken together, they still don’t arise to the level you claim.
                For example:
                If there is an issue with probate law, why not focus on correcting the probate law?
                Instead, matters of probate law are held to be entirely a matter of sexual orientation.

                As for that other comment, our concept of freedom evolves.
                I served in the military under Reagan.
                Not once did it occur to me that they might ever repeal DADT.
                Wasn’t even in place then.
                But now, what once was progress is now a ball and chain.

                I never said sit on your hands and do nothing.
                You have to be ready to move when the time is right.
                The time isn’t right.
                That simple.Report

              • North in reply to Will H. says:

                “The time isn’t right.”

                Do you have any basis for this naked assertion? Support? Reason? On what grounds do you feel that the time isn’t right?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Will H. says:

                Two things:

                1. SSM is legally about gender discrimination. A man can marry a woman but can’t marry a man. No state actually has a law on the books that says a gay man cannot marry (even if he wants to marry a woman). This is important because while its not given as much scrutiny as racial discrimination, gender discrimination is scrutinized by the courts and requires justification from the gov’t.*

                2. You’re cherry picking your examples. Blacks have suffered a lot of legal and social discrimination, but what about Swedes? How about a state that passed a law saying people of Swedish descent have to pay a special tax for being ‘annoying’ to the majority. This law wouldn’t stand even though there’s no history of US anti-Swede discrimination.

                * Here it’s helpful to look at what equal protection means. Taken literally, all laws violate equal protection since almost all laws treat people differently. A law against murder treats murders differently from non-murders, for example. So clearly that ‘plain reading’ isn’t very sensible.

                What has generally evolved is the idea that the gov’t can treat people unequally when there’s a legitimate state interest in doing so but otherwise must treat everyone equally. Hence murders can be treated differently but people with brown eyes not so.

                In order to judge this the courts have an escalating system of scrutiny. Some categories are subjected to the strictest scrutiny which means that if the gov’t treats people differently based on this category they not only have to show a compelling interest but must show that there literally is no other way to meet this interest without using the category. Not surprisingly race, because of US history and the context of the 14th amendment, is one such category.

                In the middle is scrutiny where the gov’t must simply show it has a compelling interest and the policy does less harm than good. There might be alternative policies but if it passes that test its ok. Gender is in this category.

                At the bottom is basically everything else. There the gov’t simply has to show a compelling interest, not that the policy is necessarily wise or good. A totally arbitrary policy that seems devoid of any legit. gov’t interest may fail this test. But policies that are stupid but nontheless advance a compelling interest are OK. If you don’t like those write your legislator, not your judge.

                The idea behind the stricter scrutiny categories is that when you find a gov’t using things like gender or race to treat people differently, there’s a higher chance the gov’t is up to no good and the interest of liberty is to say the gov’t can’t do that. It’s not that its impossible for the gov’t to meet this test. A law school example is a prison warden dividing prisoners by race during a race riot. During the riot the easiest and probably only way for the state to restore safety in the prison (a legit. state interest) is to divide the population by race hence the policy is not an equal protection violation. It probably would be, though, if the that policy was carried on during peaceful times.

                The idea here is NOT that the gov’t gets to treat a group badly first and THEN the courts can stop it with equal protection arguments. Just because the US hasn’t treated Swedes as badly as African Americans doesn’t mean the US gets to enslave and then Jim Crow Swedes for 200 years or so. Likewise just because the problems gays have may not be as bad as the problems African Americans face or faced doesn’t mean the gov’t gets a ‘pass’ to violate their freedom for a while.

                The test IMO isn’t so much history but liberty. If we see the gov’t using some category to treat people unequally, I think the method of analysis is to ask is this novel category likely tied to the gov’t ‘normally’ acting to advance its legitimate interests or is it likely that gov’t is using this category to advance illegitimate interests. If its the latter then the category should be subjected to stricter scrutiny. That doesn’t mean the gov’t can’t use it, only that the gov’t must show its acting in a compellingly legitimate manner.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                Everyone already knows it’s going to go through, but no one is sure exactly when.
                But the manner of resistance encountered there indicates repeal.
                And there are more weighty items on the table there.

                I’ve already been through this, that this is not an issue of gender discrimination.
                Discrimination is based upon the characteristics of the victim, and not the characteristics of the victim’s associates.
                What you’re advocating there is a very dangerous re-writing of existing law.

                But again to the probate example– and I want to go through this because of the number of times I’ve been wrongly accused of being disingenuous here.
                Why is it that the concerns of gays the only valid concerns in the adjudication of probate law?
                What of these other couples that are faced with the same thing?
                You can say, “Well, they already have relief available to them by simply marrying.”
                Which completely ignores the fact that the sole manner of relief available might well be unpalatable.
                Now, were you also advocating wiping out unemployment compensation because the jobless can well go into military service, I might accept this as being a valid view.
                But if there’s no consistency, I begin to question.
                No, the probate example demonstrates that this is really not about rights under the law.
                It’s about giving gays a premium of consideration.
                And though I’m all for gays having equal rights, I’m definitely opposed to gays having special rights.

                Meanwhile, those who prefer to studiously ignore other affected parties might like to claim that I am disingenuous.
                Which is disingenuous.

                Again, the whole of the gay rights movement does indeed have valid concerns; however, these are not the only concerns which should be held as valid.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                You can say, “Well, they already have relief available to them by simply marrying.”
                Which completely ignores the fact that the sole manner of relief available might well be unpalatable.

                But they do actually have a route to resolve the problem that isn’t prohibited by laws. Homosexuals in the same situation do not. Hence, discrimination.

                Anyway, you haven’t yet given a persuasive reason why gays should be treated any different from straights. Your insistence on arguing that “things aren’t really that bad, and life isn’t perfect for others, either,” appears to be nothing more than an effort to gloss over your inability to justify treating gays and straights differently.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Will H. says:

                Will H.

                Discrimination is based upon the characteristics of the victim, and not the characteristics of the victim’s associates. What you’re advocating there is a very dangerous re-writing of existing law.

                1. Ditching the bans on interracial marriage followed exactly the argument you say is a ‘rewriting’. The ‘victim’ and ‘associate’ blur here. The man who wants to marry a man is told no because he is a man. If he was a woman he would be told yes. Likewise in the past the white who wanted to marry a black was told no because he was white.

                What of these other couples that are faced with the same thing? You can say, “Well, they already have relief available to them by simply marrying.” Which completely ignores the fact that the sole manner of relief available might well be unpalatable.

                Yes but so what? If you have SSM you still may have a gay couple that may not want to marry (just as some straight couples do not want to marry) that have to therefore contend with probate law should one die. How are gays then afforded a ‘premium of rights’? They would appear to have the same options as straights.

                Straight couples – Choose marriage and its associated probate laws, or choose being single and its associated probate laws.

                Gay couples – ditto.

                (And let’s note again that while the motivation here is about gay v straight the law is basing its different treatment of people based on GENDER.)

                Maybe people would like more choices but I’m not seeing how either group is getting more or fewer choices

                I’m not seeing an equal protection argument there that really carries weight. Unless you mean that the law treats married couples differently from unmarried ones. Keeping in mind equal protection DOES NOT mean everyone is treated exactly the same by the law, I’m seeing an argument about something that may easily survive a modest scrutiny test by the courts. I’m seeing that maybe people would like probate options other than marriage, which is fine but that’s something for the democratic process to hash out.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Will H. says:

      No. 1 is that you’re not likely to convince anyone by telling them that their concerns are not valid. So this is entirely preaching to the choir.

      I am responding to an argument that a rational basis for opposing SSM is that SSM will lead to state-sponsored religious discrimination. It is not at all difficult for me to concede that, if in fact SSM will inherently lead to state-sponsored religious discrimination – or even if there is a reasonable argument to be made that it will – such a fear is an entirely rational basis for opposing SSM. So in order for me to refute the argument, I have to show that this fear is completely unjustified. I don’t see how I can do this without stating that it is baseless or without validity. That does not mean the fear is not real; it just means that the fear is without basis in fact. I have no idea in the world how to convince someone that they are wrong without in fact saying that they’re wrong, and providing evidence thereof.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I see the predicament.
        Difficult subject matter to approach.
        Maybe suggesting safeguards would be more persuasive.
        It would not invalidate the legitimate concerns of the opposing party while moving the dialogue forward.
        Just wondering, right off the top of your head, could you name two or three safeguards that could be put in place to ensure that the oppositions concerns will be recognized after the deal has gone through?Report

        • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

          Here’s an example that I’ve already thought through.
          DADT and combat troops.
          A valid concern, one that I hold myself.
          The way to go would be to institute the rule for all non-combat troops.
          That’s all it takes.
          Any new combat troops deployed would then be under the rule, and existing combat troops wold not come under the rule until they are rotated out.
          The whole thing is said and done within a year.

          If you’re the one drawing up the battle plans for the opposition, you have a better chance of winning.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to Will H. says:

          I do not view this particular argument as difficult to approach – it is no different from how one must refute any argument advanced by an opposing party in any dispute.

          Maybe suggesting safeguards would be more persuasive.

          The point is that there’s really nothing that additional safeguards would do, since those safeguards are already in place and are a matter of constitutional law. Were we talking about a Constitutional amendment permitting SSM, I don’t think there would be much objection to inserting a provision in a hypothetical constitutional amendment that nothing in the amendment should be construed as restricting or permitting the restriction of religious liberty – but we’re not talking about such a constitutional amendment. Instead, we’re talking about whether the existing constitution requires a finding that prohibitions on SSM are equal protection violations and/or state legislatures altering their marriage statutes to permit SSM regardless of equal protection concerns.

          In the former case, there’s no deal to be made – either SSM is permitted under the existing language, or it’s not, and the judge will probably not be in a position to rule at that time on the question of whether there is a conflict between the First Amendment and SSM as a constitutional right; even if they were in such a position, though, the whole point here is that they would have to rule no such conflict exists.

          In the latter case, the only potential safeguard would be a statutory caveat putting forth the rule of construction I jut described – and again, I don’t envision that being a particularly controversial provision. But even then, the statutory caveat would be particularly meaningless, since a purely legislative act would not need to even reach the equal protection issue, and would not have any direct effect on the Constitutional interpretation on either the Equal Protection clause (on which it could conceivably have an indirect effect) or the First Amendment.

          The only real safeguard that would affect the entirely statutory question of the interplay between SSM and anti-discrimination law would be either eliminate or severely restrict anti-discrimination laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. But if that’s the safeguard one wishes to pursue, then it must be understood that the problem one is addressing is not whether anti-discrimination laws should be applicable to same-sex couple, but rather whether anti-discrimination laws should protect against sexual orientation discrimination at all.

          Put it this way: if, hypothetically speaking, SSM were legalized or deemed mandatory under a state constitution in one of the several states that do not include sexual orientation (nor, for sake of argument only, marital status discrimination) within the rubric of their anti-discrimination laws, then SSM would have no conceivable effect whatsoever. I cannot conceive of a single safeguard in such an instance that would be remotely relevant.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            If your meaning is that it is allowable under the Constitution that is to be regulated by the states, then that’s the way I take it to stand.
            And that’s very rational and everything, but that’s really its fault at this point.
            I’m not even sure what it is really, but whatever consideration that the other side needs to feel comfortable with that should be negotiated, regardless of whether it has to do with the matter at hand or not.
            If they need for religious organizations to be exempt from labor laws, why not give it to them?
            Why not even offer to extend it to all non-profits?
            They might have more of a knowledge for a need for such a thing.
            I can’t shake the principle of mutual consideration.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Will H. says:

              1. To the extent we are talking about whether SSM is required under the Equal Protection Clause, there is no negotiation to be had – either it is or is not, but the contours of that right will not be determined by anyone other than the judiciary. The point is that, whatever those contours may be, they cannot and will not extend to infringements on religious liberty. Judges have to deal with the cases actually before them, and it is not their job (or at least it’s not supposed to be) to worry about whether someone may wrongly think that their decision will have a unique impact on something else that is not before them in the least.
              2. To the extent we are talking about statues recognizing SSM independent of whether it is required under the Constitution, there’s really not anyone standing in the way of adding language (however meaningless) acknowledging that the granting of SSM does not impose any new obligations on private citizens or religious institutions. Indeed, the one locale that actually passed SSM by statute, Washington, DC, put precisely these types of safeguards into place in the process. But SSM opponents for the most part don’t seem terribly focused on demanding such exceptions, and except for DC, the national debate is almost entirely centered on the battle in the courts.
              3. If they need for religious organizations to be exempt from labor laws, why not give it to them? Again, in DC, they basically did exactly this, except that, IIRC, the exemption was limited to preventing changes that might otherwise occur to existing discrimination law. In other words, if a religious organization would have been liable for discrimination prior to SSM, it would continue to be liable for it after SSM; but if SSM would otherwise be the immediate cause of liability for discrimination, the religious organization would not be liable. But regardless of one’s own personal views on discrimination laws, the fact is that it would be ludicrous to expect supporters of SSM to roll those laws backwards for the mere purpose of making SSM opponents a little more comfortable about a problem that would not actually exist anyhow, especially given the belief amongst many of those supporters that anti-discrimination laws have been and continue to be invaluable. You’re just not going to get a rollback of perhaps the greatest achievement of the civil rights movement in exchange for alleviating the ill-founded fears of SSM opponents.Report

  5. Heidegger says:

    Not surprisingly, SSM is quite the rage and probably will be, forever more-or at least until the SCOTUS delivers an opinion on the Prop 8 case. I feel somewhat acquitted in that the issue of SSM and how churches will be required to respond, seem to be the number one issue that is fueling the most recent firestorm. When I say, “ac quited” I don’t mean I’m right, just that it is a very hot issue and probably the one of most concern to the populace at large. All 0f you certainly must understand that once this passes–it will only be passed by legislative and judicial intervention, never at the ballot box–all hell is going to break out. Every possible sexual variant will be tested and argued before a court of law. Walker’s own words–“Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.”–will be used to sanction any relationships in which couples have, “happy”, “satisfying”, “deep emotional bonds”, strong commitments”. Why not best friends, brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters, mother and son, etc.? I’m well aware that this frequently gets thrown in the SSM debate soup, but it should be an aspect of this debate that gets legitimate attention and concern. For that matter, what would happen if Siamese twins wanted to marry? Or how about, if one Siamese twin is gay and the other is heterosexual–would or should a church allow the heterosexual to marry and deny marriage rights to gay twin? And I don’t even want to think of what the honeymoon would look like…Report

    • North in reply to Heidegger says:

      “–it will only be passed by legislative and judicial intervention, never at the ballot box–”
      That’s some strong assertion there Heidegger, and I’d suggest you may want to walk it back. Have you seen the margins of victory in the various ballot box initiatives you’re referring to? Have you considered the increasingly frantic and desperate appeals that SSM opponents have had to break out to gain those increasingly slender majorities? The age breakdown of support/opposition for SSM?

      Perhaps you’ll recall that a couple years ago the social right was growling about how SSM would only ever “be imposed judicially from the bench, never by the proper legislative means…” That was a bit of an oops moment there don’tcha think?Report

      • Heidegger in reply to North says:

        North, without question, the gap is narrowing. I certainly could be wrong, but I just don’t see it narrowing to the point that proponents of same-sex marriage outnumber those those who oppose. But what do I know? It’s just a feeling, for whatever worth that has.Report

    • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

      I’m going to try my thought experiment and call a local priest–will identify myself as the heterosexual half of a Siamese twin, to see if marriage rights would extend to the “better” half . Not sure how the other half will respond when the priest asks, “If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now, or else for ever hold your peace.” This could be a serious problem.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

        I would certainly hope that people from entirely different states would show up and arrest the conjoined twins.

        SSM will lead to polygamy!, they could say.

        Then, when challenged, the traditional marriage protectors could express regret that Lawrence v. Texas doesn’t allow them to arrest conjoined twins for sharing a bed.


      • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

        I keep forgetting–where does NAMBLA fit into this debate?
        That is, the North American Man Boy Love Association. Should men be allowed to marry boys? Even it can strongly be demonstrated that they meet Judge Walker’s standards of,
        “happy”, “satisfying”, “deep emotional bonds”, “strong commitments”. Just wondering.Report

        • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

          Would quantum mechanics dictate that we’re ALL homosexual AND heterosexual, at the very same time? Maybe this can be entered into the argument before the SCOTUS.Report

        • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Heidegger says:

          NAMBLA fits into the mouths of bigots who love to tar gay people with charges of pedophilia.Report

          • Heidegger in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

            Pedophilia and homosexuality are two entirely indifferent situations, I thought. Certainly from a clinical standpoint/definition.Report

            • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Heidegger says:

              Then why the hell did you bring it up? To brighten the mood?

              Everyone reading this knows damned well what you meant when you posted that. What you said is the equivalent of using a racial slur.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                I didn’t take Heidegger’s NAMBLA comment that way. I didn’t think it was a great argument, but I took it more along the lines of, “If people can marry the same sex, which was once socially unaccepted, maybe tomorrow they’ll want to marry their furniture/ pets/ relatives, etc. etc.” rather than a suggestion that gays want to marry kids. I could be wrong.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Rufus F. says:

                OK say they can’t marry people of the same sex. What’s stopping people tomorrow from saying they want to marry furniture?Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Boonton says:

                Hey, I’m not saying it’s a good argument; it’s just one people keep making. I’ve always thought the, “What if someone wants to marry his cat?” argument as being roughly as silly as, “But if you allow people to have driver’s licenses, how will you be able to say that cats can’t drive cars? Huh???”Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

                And I think the main barrier to man/furniture marriage is that nobody could be expected to know what sort of gift to bring to a Man/Chaise lounge wedding. It’s just impossible.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                They can say whatever they want.

                Who are you to say that a man and his couch ought not share a bed?Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Pics or it didn’t happen.

                (mostly because I don’t know how you could get the couch to fit on the bed without falling off.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is the furniture version of an 8 year old asking “how can two guys have sex?”, I just want you to know.

                I don’t consider it bigotry on your part, just ignorance.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Jaybird says:

                Pirate Guy,

                You lay on the couch, missionary style, while it is on the bed. You can get a bit kinkier than this. Like with a sectional. I’ve been accused of some homosectional tendencies.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                It is ignorance indeed, ignorance and curiosity.

                BTW, if the condom breaks and it is IKEA furniture how screwed is Julian Assange?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ew. You guys are both perverted.

                I was thinking of a hide-a-bed.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Rufus–I did not in any way try and equate homosexuality with pedophilia. That would be contemptible and highly offensive. Sorry it came across that way. I was really tossing it out there because I’ve never seen it (NAMBLA) enter into the general debate about SSM.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Heidegger says:


                I think a throw pillow would be appropriate.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Here’s why it doesn’t fit into the debate.

                People can’t marry kids because kids are believed to lack the ability to make informed consent to marriage.

                This is NOT the reason people of the same sex cannot marry. Might someone in the future mount an argument that:
                1. Marriage shouldn’t be based on consent.
                2. Kids can make informed consent to marriage.


                Sure but neither #1 or #2 appear to have anything to do with SSM. If today we adopt SSM or today we forever reject SSM it doesn’t seem to have any bearing on #1 or #2.Report

        • mark boggs in reply to Heidegger says:

          H, I understand the line gets blurry about consent re: voting, driving, drinking, etc. But if NAMBLA is a concern, I would imagine we’re also worried about Cougars preying on young boys and hoping to marry them, too? If not, why not?Report

          • Heidegger in reply to mark boggs says:

            Hey Mark, if it has a pulse, it’s marriable. And maybe that’s just a bit too inclusive. That lady actually did fall in love with the Eiffel Tower. Considering this debate is about same-sex marriage, Siamese twins (no ,not cats) and NAMBLA deserve to be menti0ned. But, maybe not. I expect the inflamed crossbow arrows to soon be flying, frenziedly, in my direction, and once and for all, deliver the deserved, mortal blow that should have happened a long time ago!Report

            • mark boggs in reply to Heidegger says:

              not if it can’t consent. therein lies the difference.Report

            • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Heidegger says:

              Lets waste more time.

              To get married the involved parties must consent. Let us recognize that as marriage is a contract that can’t be changed.

              So once you find an animal or national monument that can meaningfully consent to a contract then we can try to figure out if nuptials are in their future. Children can’t meaningfully consent to sex or marriage that is why NAMBLA is nothing more than an insulting shibolith in this discussion.

              Hell the only thing that involves consent at any level is your Siamese twins. That is an incest discussion and frankly they could try to get married without SSM(unless they are the same gender) or with it. The decisions are completely unrelated. Strangely all of the arguments against incest that actually have merit don’t touch gay marriage in the slightest.Report

              • Boegiboe in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Conjoined twins are always of the same gender. They are usually (perhaps always) allowed to get married to members of the opposite sex. I would guess same-sex marriages would be allowed in jurisdictions that allow it. Incidentally, Chang and Eng, the first so-called Siamese twins, lived most of their long lives in my old stomping grounds of northwest N.C.Report

            • Boonton in reply to Heidegger says:

              I’m still not getting the relationship here.

              There are places where the age of consent is much lower than in the US. Likewise there has been historical periods where the age of consent was much lower too. During those time periods there wasn’t SSM. So there’s nothing special about not having SSM that somehow prevents sex with very young adults or even children from not being legal.

              What’s left then is just this vague feeling that if something can change, then something else can change as well. If we can change X, then maybe Y can change in a way we don’t like. But there’s no reason to think that ‘locking down’ X magically prevents Y from changing. Rejecting gay marriage today doesn’t magically make it impossible for people 500 years from now to start marrying the Eiffel Tower or furniture or children. You might as well argue that the Bush tax cuts have to be extended because if that can be left to expire so could all of Western civilization!Report

      • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

        It didn’t work. The priest hung up on me. Will try a few more.Report

    • BobN in reply to Heidegger says:

      Before launching on your oh-so-witty excursion into the mocking of conjoined twins, maybe you should have done some research into whether they can and do legally marry in this country.

      Hint to you: they can and do.Report

  6. Rufus F. says:

    It seems to me that the right answer to the question “What if gay rights groups try to force churches to marry gays against their doctrine?” isn’t “Well, they’re not going to try that”, which probably isn’t true- after all, someone will eventually try nearly everything; but, instead, “Someone might try, but legally they won’t be able to accomplish it”. Then, if the person asks, “How can you be sure they won’t accomplish it?”, you can say, “I’ll make you a deal: you support me on this legally-recognized gay marriage thing, and I’ll support you on defending the right of churches not to perform them if they don’t want to”. Then everyone’s happy.Report

  7. Heidegger says:

    To whom? I didn’t just make up, NAMBLA. And why shouldn’t it be addressed in this forum? I have never accused any homosexual male of being a pedophile. That these two issues are incorrectly and frequently fused together, I would think it would be a very good opportunity to show how profoundly different they are. Whether you like it or not, NAMBLA does exist and would also very much like to have marriage extended to them. I suggest you read David Thorstad and Richard Mohr. You think my question about NAMBLA is inappropriate, just wait till you see the freaks, sexual deviants, and oddballs that will be marching to courthouses across America demanding marriage rights once SSM becomes legal.Report

    • mark boggs in reply to Heidegger says:


      The NAMBLA/pedophilia – homosexuality zombie is one that has been trotted out a million times in the slippery slope argument against gay marriage. “Cept that neither is related in the fact that two consenting adults asking to arrange a contract with each other recognized by the state is in no way related to an adult man or woman taking advantage of a young child (who may not consent) and sexually molesting them. This is why people get a bit bristled when it is brought up.Report

      • Heidegger in reply to mark boggs says:


        And to think just yesterday, a girl told me I have an “incurable, Sagittarian foot-in-mouth disease.” I don’t know anything about astrology, but can I blame the stars for my occasional intemperate remarks?Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Heidegger says:

      They can march to all the courthouses they want to, even now, and still not get what they want. We’ve had SSM here in Canuckistan for five years and, sure, probably someone has demanded the right to marry their kids or pets or Wayne Gretsky; but those simply aren’t equivalent issues and so they’ve been unsuccessful.

      Look, both gay relationships and pedophilia have been taboo, but not for the same reasons. Pedophilia retains its taboo status because society believes, rightly, that a prepubescent child simply lacks the life experience, not to mention the neural development to be able to make the same quality of decisions that an adult can. In fact, the more understanding we have of how the brain works, the more support we have for age-of-consent laws that, through much of human history, wouldn’t have been in place. At one time, it was quite normal for very young girls to be married off to much older men, for example. But not now. As our knowledge increases, we feel more, not less, comfortable in our belief that it’s very easy for an adult to manipulate a child in ways that, in general, it’s not as easy to manipulate another adult. Certainly, there are exceptions in terms of adults being manipulated. But the reason we have age-of-consent laws is based on how we understand what it means to give consent and who is capable of doing so, which is really quite different from the social taboo about homosexuality. As far as I know, nobody is arguing that gay adults are unable to consent to marry.Report

    • Boonton in reply to Heidegger says:

      To whom? I didn’t just make up, NAMBLA. And why shouldn’t it be addressed in this forum?

      I’ll address it for you.

      The argument for SSM is based on gender discrimination. A man cannot marry a man, but a woman can marry a man (and vice versa). This is of the same form of the old bans on interracial marriage (a white could marry a white, but not a black and vice versa). Gender discrimination is a suspect category which means that the gov’t must demonstrate a compelling reason to engage in it. Racial discrimination is likewise a suspect category but it’s at the top of the suspect categories given the US’s history. That is why you have men and women’s bathrooms but not white and black bathrooms.

      The argument against kids getting married is based on the idea that kids cannot make informed consent to marriage. I suppose NAMBLA could argue that:

      1. Kids can make informed consent.


      2. Marriage shouldn’t be based on consent.

      But that doesn’t tie into the gender based argument for SSM. To put it more plainly, if society decided today that gender discrimination in marriage law was fine and should stand forever, that doesn’t preclude a NAMBLA person making argument 1 or 2. Or if society decided the reverse and banned gender discrimination in marriage that doesn’t make arguments 1 or 2 easier for a NAMBLA person. Hence its irrelevant to the issue of SSM.

      There, now its been covered for you.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Heidegger says:

      I didn’t just make up, NAMBLA.

      You might as well have. The organization has been little more than a name and a post office box for decades. Oh, and I guess they have a website, too.Report

  8. Jim51 says:


    “I keep forgetting–where does NAMBLA fit into this debate? … Should men be allowed to marry boys? Even if … they meet Judge Walker’s standards of, “happy”, “satisfying”, “deep emotional bonds”, “strong commitments”. Just wondering.”

    You cannot possibly imagine that others don’t see the disingenuousness of that. ‘Boys’ are not of the age of consent. And the men in those situations should be dealt with just like any other case of an adult initiating a sexual relationship with someone not of the age of consent, otherwise known as ‘children.’
    You are not stupid enough to be unaware of this, so I’m with ThatPirateGuy on this one. The only reason to mention this is to tar gay people as pedophiles, your follow-on comment to the contrary notwithstanding.
    And Judge Walker’s standards would also include being of the legal age of consent.


    • Heidegger in reply to Jim51 says:

      Jim51, if that’s what you want to read into my words, then that’s the way it goes. There’s nothing I can say to persuade you differently. It would certainly be a very poor argument on my behalf , since the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual men. And at the center of this debate is same-sex marriage regardless of the ages of those who want same-sex marriage rights. As I had said before, you can’t be surprised at what’s coming down the pike to challenge this ruling when it does occur.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Heidegger says:


        If you think SSM is a slippy slope to pedophiles marrying pre-teens, siamese twins marrying each other, and spinsters marrying their cats, then I’ve got news for you…hetero marriage was the slippery slope to SSM, so it’s ultimately responsible for all those other evils. Let’s be honest here, if you’re worried about NAMBLAites demanding marriage rights, then you’d better just outlaw marriage altogether.Report

  9. Jim51 says:


    “Jim51, if that’s what you want to read into my words, then that’s the way it goes.”

    Then you tell me what to read into your words.
    You brought up NAMBLA. You know that they advocate and engage in sex with children. You know that no one has argued for gay people being allowed to marry children. You also claim to know that most pedophiles are heterosexual. And then you claim to ‘keep forgetting’ where NAMBLA fits in this debate.
    You have been involved in other discussions on this topic. You cannot realistically claim to have not heard this before. Your feigning that you are ‘just wondering’ is simply not credible and it deserves the scorn that you are receiving.
    Now the question is will you ‘keep forgetting’ sufficiently to raise this point again in another venue? Or will you man up and try to argue your case without such.
    Quite clearly you think that there is some rhetorical advantage, at least with certain audiences, to muddy the water with irrelevant smear tactics.
    So, you tell me what I should draw from your raising this irrelevant argument.

    PS. You might also consider responding to what many here have said regarding NAMBLA with something like…”You’re right, NAMBLA is not really relevant to a discussion of SSM.”Report

  10. Boonton says:

    Actually NAMBLA is a good example of the slipperly slope here being an illustration of how the anti-SSM isn’t really listening.

    If you’re argument for SSM is “anything goes” or “whatever two people say makes them happy should be allowed” then indeed NAMBLA is a concern since they would seem to be able to use those arguments for their agenda. But few if any who support SSM base their support on those arguments, at best they are side arguments for SSM. Yet the anti-SSM often doesn’t listen to those they oppose. They have in their head an imaginary SSM advocate whose only argument consists of easily refuted reasons like those above.

    This is rather frustrating because it feels like the SSM side has examined these anti-arguments over and over again, giving the anti-SSM side the respect of actually looking at the arguments they present. The SSM side *could*, if they wanted, behave as bad and simply start pretending that the only anti-SSM argument consisted of “the Nazis were right, all gays should be gassed, so SSM should never be legal!”Report

  11. J. Peron says:

    I really don’t think that anyone trying to defend a “Catholic” viewpoint ought to bring up the irrelevant issue of men marrying boys—certainly not given the tendency of the Catholic hierarchy to ignore, then cover up, for priests engaged in something similar, albeit without the marriage ritual.Report

  12. Jim51 says:


    “If you’re argument for SSM is “anything goes” or “whatever two people say makes them happy should be allowed” then indeed NAMBLA is a concern since they would seem to be able to use those arguments for their agenda. ”

    The first part of this, (‘anything goes’) I can go along with and you quite correctly point out the strawman nature of that argument. Supporters of marriage equality do not use such argument, at least not that I have heard. Even NAMBLA doesn’t try to make use of such an argument as far as I know.
    The second part, (‘whatever two people say makes them happy’) is not an argument that NAMBLA can legitimately use. One of those ‘two people’ is not of age and we do not allow them to make such decisions.
    NAMBLA is a concern, but not because of efforts for, nor arguments for, marriage equality.

    • Boonton in reply to Jim51 says:

      Fair point but a hypothetical future NAMBLA type might argue that the child is ‘of age’ enough to know what makes him happy. If the only argument for SSM was just ‘two people should do whatever they say makes them happy’ then this argument would seem to work for NAMBLA too. Another argument I hear a lot from libertarians is that gov’t should just ‘get out’ of the marriage business and let two or more people write whatever contract they want. This too does lead to a NAMBLA type argument. Your counter about consent is valid, but I’d imagine our hypothetical NAMBLA person would say if you can try 12 yr olds as adults for murder your ability to claim a total inability to consent is stretched.

      This is a caution against single minded arguments. They do indeed lead to ‘slippery slopes’. This shouldn’t be surprising, though, because no culture is built on a single argument but multiple arguments. IMO SSM is pretty secure in that it appears to have multiple strong arguments going for it that so far have stood up pretty well IMO against opponents. Can’t quite say the same on the reverse.Report

  13. BobN says:

    If an employee of Catholic Charities gets a divorce, the organization recognizes that change in legal status and changes the employee’s health insurance, etc. If the employee enters into a civil marriage, they do likewise. ONLY in cases of educational or pastoral positions is the organization given enhanced rights to hire and fire.

    The Catholic Church is terrified of having SSM being covered under the same rules as divorce, not because the theological objection is more important, but because the number of its employees who will seek SSM dwarfs the number who get divorced.Report

    • Boonton in reply to BobN says:

      I seriously doubt that. Gays are about 5% of the population, if half of them go into a SSM that’s 2.5%. In comparison the divorce rate is something like 50% of all non-SSM marriages. A Catholic hospital or large organization almost certainly is covering a lot of spouses who are 2nd or 3rd husbands and wives. I don’t really find it plausible that the more business like operations of the Catholic Church attracts an exceptional number of gay employees.

      Likewise the costs can’t be all that great either. After all, if an organization offers spousal coverage now there’s nothing legally stopping gay men and gay women from marrying each other to score benefits… fact one would think someone would have an internet matching service just for this purpose if the value was all that great.Report

  14. Jim51 says:

    OK, I understand your point about a hypothetical future NAMBLA person. Certainly we have seen enough specious arguments in defense of many things to allow the possibility of what you mention. I just don’t wish to give any purchase to those who would raise such an issue in the context of SSM and then walk away from it with the innocence of ‘just wondering.’ This is pure Glenn Beck. “I’m just asking questions…”
    Sadly, many “questions” are not really questions. They are baseless accusations disguised with a question mark. The question mark is about as effective a disguise as a pair of Groucho glasses with eyebrows.
    And by the way, I agree with you regarding simple minded arguments.

    • Boonton in reply to Jim51 says:

      “just don’t wish to give any purchase to those who would raise such an issue in the context of SSM and then walk away from it with the innocence of ‘just wondering.'”

      And I think ‘walking away’ demonstrates that a person is arguing in bad faith. I was once in a ‘barroom’ style discussion with someone over SSM. He raised the issue that if we had SSM how would two men who marry know ‘who the woman was’. I pointed out that the law doesn’t have specific roles for men and women in marriage so in legal terms this isn’t an issue. His argument would have been dismissed as ignorant here but he was serious about it and conceded the point.

      In contrast, I think there are others who oppose SSM for ‘other reasons’ but either can’t really articulate them or don’t quite want to articulate them. Hence they reach for a grab bag of arguments. What’s interesting about them is that they either ignore potent counter arguments entirely or ‘walk away’. One day a person is rambling all ’bout NAMBLA, after twenty people post dissertations demonstrating the flaws in his argument he returns the next day talking about Churches being sued for not performing gay marriages. The next day its about children, then its about public schools teaching SSM is ‘good’. If at some point the pro-SSM gets fed up with him and kicks him off the thread or declares they are going to ignore him he cries that he is being censored because he isn’t PC. The pro-SSM side gets quite an education, running off to Google and wikipedia reading up on social sciences, case laws, and so on. At a certain point, though, they realize they are just being toyed with. The anti-SSM person learns nothing, does no work, does no thinking. He is fighting a war of attrition, hoping to exhaust more honest debaters out of the argument.

      To me this sort of thing indicates a person who is arguing in bad faith. SSM seems to bring some of this out on the right. I think creationism and evolution does an even better job at drawing the bad faith types like a mothes to a flame.Report

      • North in reply to Boonton says:

        Boonton seems like an apt description and in a closed system where only you and your opponent are conversing I’d say walking away or maybe even giving them a good tongue lashing is advisable. But on the wild internets all the conversations are public and while the anti-SSMer him/herself may be intractable it’s entirely possible that others who read the comment threads are not. If they see rude or vacuous challenges engaged politely (or even good humouredly) with facts and reason then that may well sway them to the pro-SSM side.

        So the moral in general (not at you specifically), is to advocate for SSM and try to choose one’s tone sagely. Cheerfulness, humor, wit and measured vehemence will win out over fury, anger or slinging the XXX-phobe or bigot labels. Sure it’s a frustrating subject and the repeated appeals to un-provable hypothesis or blind faith can be aggravating but we’re stuck playing the long game here.

        Plus refusing to loose one’s cool really torcs off the other side.Report

        • Boonton in reply to North says:

          Agreed, in some ways we should be grateful. I learned a lot about science arguing with purposefully stupid creationists. Arguing over SSM has allowed me to learn a lot about the law, the 14th amendment and the concept of equal protection as it has evolved in US history. The ‘war of attrition’ debator is losing something in his never ending dance of shape shifting silliness.

          But I think we should ask here what is really going on? When you have someone who is against SSM but seems to not care very much about the quality of their arguments, in fact seems to neglect the quality of his arguments in favor of quantity, then maybe something more fundamental is afoot.

          There is a general conservative idea or feeling of ‘not upsetting the status quo’. This may be the ‘real argument’ behind some of the opposition. If so it is an idea with some merit that should be taken out into the open and seriously examined rather than hiding behind a dozen dubious arguments.

          Another ‘hidden argument’ is a simple dislike and distrust of gays. There’s the older idea that gays aren’t really gays, that this is a ‘lifestyle choice’ and one that shouldn’t be encouraged etc. This argument was more or less over in the 80’s and early 90’s but it’s still out there and some on the right want to exploit it by giving ‘winks’ that they are in some type of ‘secret solidarity’. The bogus arguments then are a signal to this ‘underground’ (and the right does like to fetishise themselves as an oppressed minority living in a hostile culture). It’s a way of saying “look, I can’t say directly I’m with you but you know I am because I toss out all these silly and illogical arguments. I wouldn’t embarass myself publically if I wasn’t with you in solidarity”. This, of course, is direspectful of the pro-SSM side which is trying to argue in good faith. But since this mindset casts the anti-SSM as a type of nobel rebel against an evil elite respect for the opposition ceases to be expected.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to Boonton says:

            I’ve often gotten the feeling that some opponents of SSM just don’t believe that homosexuals love each other in the same way that heterosexuals do, so that getting married isn’t really an expression of a relationship as much as an attempt to stick it to the larger society. And, certainly, if you see gays as being really straights who are just rebelling against the natural order, that might make sense I suppose.Report

          • North in reply to Boonton says:

            Yeah agreed, but again that’s something that further conversation eventually draws out and exposes. There isn’t an infinite supply of dogwhistle objections to draw on.Report