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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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388 Responses

  1. Avatar Rod says:

    I wonder if my (27-year) marriage would be recognized in N. C. now? We were married in a civil ceremony by a justice-of-the-peace. No religious ceremony at all.

    Good grief! Is that an “out” for me?Report

  2. Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

    Great, passionate post. So I read the article to find out what reasons he should not be considered anti-gay. Other than just asserting it over and over again, there were four. 1) He thinks gays should have positions in a Republican administration (although he draws the line, for unstated reasons, at a gay president). 2) One of his best friends is an actual gay! 3) This gay friend is a Republican fundraiser (?) and we shouldn’t forgo money raised, whatever the source. And then, 4) “Those of us who fear the consequences of redefining marriage — asking children if they hope to marry a boy or a girl when they get older, banning religious adoption agencies from placing children first with a married man and woman, denying the importance of both sexes in making families, choosing boys to be high-school prom queens and girls to be high-school prom kings, and much more — must make it clear that we regard homosexuals as fellow human beings created in God’s image just as heterosexuals are.” Interestingly, (especially at the end of a sneery, nasty paragraph) if you believe that humans are made in God’s image (I don’t), terrorists are made in His image, too. Something tells me Prager is anti-terrorist (would he really make sure to say it’s just the values they hold?)

    I’ve seen fried chicken proofs that were more convincing than this.

    Also, notice he’s exhorting his fellow Republicand to oppose the values they hold, not the people. Would they need this exhortation if they were not anti-gay?Report

  3. Dennis Prager is, from what I can tell, a Hannity wannabe. My condolences on having to experience his thought while operating under the assumption that you were engaging with anything besides a partisan apparatchik.

    That aside, a very humane and nice post. All I can add to it is to note how Barack Obama, it seems to me, is in fact validating all of those who insisted he was truly the child of Bill Ayers — although Ayers was never a Yippie, the President is indeed flashing signs of Ayers fellow traveler Jerry Rubin; he’s “heightening the contradictions.”Report

  4. Thank you, Tod. I’m incredibly grateful you’re on our side.Report

  5. Awesome post, Tod. I feel like shouting, “And my axe!!”Report

  6. Avatar MFarmer says:

    “For the past decade, the professional right has succeeded in the neat parlor trick of stoking anti-gay sentiment to turn out votes and wallets while simultaneously handing their prejudiced flock focus-group tested soundbites that allow them to hide their bigotry under the bushel of religious tolerance.”

    Of course, it’s all about bigotry on the Right– the prejudiced flock is made up of bigots pretending to be religious. Very thoughtful piece. Bravo! Ditto! Yip Yip!Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

      I’m waiting for the calls to remove Tod from posting privileges because he’s an embarrassment to the open-mindedness and diversity of thought which characterizes the League.Report

    • the prejudiced flock is made up of bigots pretending to be religious

      I wouldn’t characterize them that way. I’d go with “bigots who actually are religious.” Better?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

      Gee, Mike, I’m sorry. You’ll have to point me toward all the times the GOP has been adding those pro-GLBT panels to its platform. I seem to have mised, er… all of them. Ever.

      Seriously, enough of this debate style bullshit. Either have the cajones to say yeah, this is a real weakness of he right, or get out of the way.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        “Seriously, enough of this debate style bullshit. Either have the cajones to say yeah, this is a real weakness of he right, or get out of the way.”

        Oh my — now debate is even eliminated — it’s all on board or the axe. Got it. This is creepy.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to MFarmer says:

          Comrade Farmer, your boots don’t appear to be polished to our specifications.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          You are conflating the GOP, the Right, religion and who knows what else, and you are assuming a political party should be concerned with homosexuality. A political party should be concerned with protecting individual rights, and the GOP has failed in this area, just as the Democratic Party has failed. But to say the Right is bigoted is small minded and prejudiced.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

          Oh, I’ve.nothing against honest debate. Are you willing to have one? Or are you going to stick with pretending the GOP is pro-gay?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Tod, did I say the GOP is pro-gay? They aren’t anti-gay. This is a juvenile response. You are the one who seems incapable of debate.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I think he’s upset because you’re conflating GOP and right-wing. In fairness to you, this is much more accurate than calling everyone to the left of Michelle Bachmann a statist, but since Farmer’s been telling us for some time now that he’s a right wing libertarian and not a Republican, I can see why he’d get irked about it. I wonder if he’d be willing to avoid conflating “the Left” with Democrats.

            I don’t know what point he’s making about religion, though.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

              I would note that in the part MF quoted I was pretty careful to say professional right. And in my calling out, I was careful to call out people that were bigots, or people that defended bigots. That not you? Fine, move along, we have no beef with each other. But don’t pretend the right isn’t the side trying to capitalize on anti-gay bigotry. It’s either dishonest or dillusional.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Oh, I saw what you were doing. I was just speculating on where Farmer was coming from. I think you made a clear distinction, and he’s reacting to something that just bugs him generally (equating the right with the GOP), even if it’s not really what you did.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            >Or are you going to stick with pretending the GOP is pro-gay?

            Can you find evidence that Mike made this claim? I think it’s manifestly obvious that the GOP takes anti-gay stances whenever and wherever they can. I just think they do it out of a sincere conviction. Anyone who thinks they’re doing it just — I dunno, because — is really not thinking very carefully about the question.Report

            • But the sincerity of the beliefs does not ennoble them, Jason. I agree that many otherwise goodhearted people truly believe that people like you and me are sinful perverts, but that doesn’t make those sentiments better.

              It doesn’t redeem the beliefs of a racist if he truly believes blacks are innately inferior. It doesn’t elevate the anti-Semite who truly believes Jews are Christ-killers. How does the sincerity that underlies anti-gay hatred in any way redound to the credit of those who hold it?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Russell Saunders says:

                I’m not saying that sincerity ennobles. I am saying that calling people bigots is no proper way to argue.

                Look, if I wanted to have a serious discussion with a racist — that is, a person who certainly is a bigot — I would argue facts. I wouldn’t call him names.

                In propositional form:

                If P, then Q.
                If not-P, then Q.

                P is “The person is a bigot.”

                Q is “Calling names is no way to argue.”Report

              • As a rhetorical matter, of course I agree with you. When SSM goes before my state again this fall, I don’t plan on calling people and framing the question “You know that only bigots oppose marriage equality, right?” That would be patently idiotic.

                But I guess I just like calling things like they are once in a while. Perhaps it speaks to an intellectual failing on my part. But when you’ve done everything you can to make a sound argument, and there is no equally sound argument coming from the other side to back their persistently vociferous opposition, it seems warranted to call out the motivations of those who continue to oppose.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Russell Saunders says:

                But when you’ve done everything you can to make a sound argument, and there is no equally sound argument coming from the other side to back their persistently vociferous opposition, it seems warranted to call out the motivations of those who continue to oppose.

                I don’t agree. I’m in the argument business, and I can assure you: No debaters or arguers of any sort, whether good or bad, reflective or un-, ever change their minds during the course of a debate. Ever.

                So if it seems like you aren’t making progress, that’s because progress never gets made in the place where you are looking.

                Progress gets made in the audience. They judge harshly when you resort to ad hominem, because it indicates that you yourself aren’t confident of your case.

                So it seems fair to ask — given that you find calling names so satisfying, how sure are you that gay equality is a good idea? I mean, really. Nobody calls right triangles bigoted when they prove the Pythagorean Theorem. There isn’t any need.Report

              • Well, I’m not entirely sure that it’s fair to ask it in quite that way, Jason. I don’t really find it all that satisfying to call people names, and have already conceded that in this particular case it may not becoming from a place of intellectual integrity.

                And right triangles don’t vote. Geometry is not a political question, so I’m not sure the comparison is apt.

                Again, you are making a rhetorical case, and frankly I agree with you. Perhaps it’s best to avoid calling things out in the manner of the OP. But the frustration that underlies the point of Tod’s piece (as I understand it) isn’t less genuine just because it may not be a winning political frame.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                The weakest debater tries to reason with the unreasonable. A strong debater makes his point and stays there, defended from the facts. If the right triangle proves the Pythagorean Theorem, it is because we have agreed to the nomenclature of the right triangle and the square.

                Do not attempt to reason with evil. It will never concede to any of your positions. As you say, progress doesn’t happen where you are looking. Unless and until the good stand up to say something, evil will continually prosper.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                “You’re a bigot!” is as much of an argument as “you’re a liberal!”Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Oh, Duck. I can call myself a liberal. Try getting a bigot to call himself a bigot. A bit more rhetoric for you.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Walker Percy once wrote a passage in Thanatos Syndrome, with a black man saying he’d rather face an honest racist than someone who tried to pretend he wasn’t one.

                “Bigot” isn’t necessarily something I’d say to someone’s face. That said, it seems to sum up the problem without the unduly latinate “Homophobe” or some such appellation. Bigot can apply to many situations where a person entertains some unjustified axioms at someone else’s expense.

                At turns, the only thing to do is call someone what he truly is and leave him to explain why he’s not.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

                unduly latinate “Homophobe”

                Since both “homo” and “phobe” come from Greek, unduly indeed.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Homo is Latin. Ecce Homo.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                When you’re looking for a strong word in English, always go for the Saxon word. All the four letter words are Saxon.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                In Latin, “homo” means “man”. In Greek, it means “same” (and “hetero” means “different”.)Report

              • In which case, I might be the Latin kind of homophobe.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                @BP, you might enjoy this exercise in Saxon-only English.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Have it your way. The fact remains, Homophobia isn’t exactly in the same class of phobias with agoraphobia and arachnophobia. It’s just simple bigotry and I will cheerfully scoff at anyone not brave enough to use the word bigotry to describe the condition.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I don’t think homophobia and anti-gay bigotry are one in the same. I know many people who support gay marriage, have gay friends, and otherwise see gay people as equal. But these guys bristle when around unfamiliar gays in a gay bar. Or are viscerally repulsed by gay porn in a way completely inconsistent with their enjoyment of straight or lesbian porn. They have a general discomfort with certain aspects of homosexuality, while being otherwise fully supportive of a broader pro-gay agenda.

                But that’s just me…Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mike, that all-Germanic thing is awesome.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Kazzy, let’s not equivocate about bigotry. I know a fair number of gay people who don’t like hanging out in some gay bars. There used to be a really nasty old hole of a bar named Carol’s right down the street from me in Chicago, on Wells Street. There isn’t a prejudiced bone in my body and I wouldn’t recommend anyone go into there, man or beast.

                As for porn and suchlike, de gustibus. There’s plenty of straight porn which nauseates me.Report

            • Avatar Rtod in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              Oh, I would agree that they do not do it just ’cause. There are a variety of reasons, including political expediency.

              As I said in the OP, Jason, it’s hard for me to believe the sanctity of marriage arguments when the sights are clearly on domestic partnerships and civil unions.

              I’m not going to pretend that I know or have thought about this issue more than you have. But if there’s a good, nuanced argument for you not being allowed in a hospital room to be with Scott that isn’t bigotry or political expediency using bigotry as a lever, then someone has to lay it out for me like I’m a five year old. Because I’m not seeing it.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rtod says:

                I am not saying that the arguments are good. I think they are remarkably poor.

                I’m simply saying that whether the arguments are good or bad, you need to argue the case, not the person.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to MFarmer says:

      Do you not thing it’s possible to be both religious and a bigot, or in fact a bigot for religious reasons?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

      Of course, it’s all about bigotry on the Right

      What’s your alternative explanation?Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m not going to get into arguing with 10 people. You are smart enough to see the nuances here, James. Why you go with the group is beyond me. You don’t really think everyone on the Right or even most on the Right are bigots. The Left, with its union yahoos and minorities who don’t accept gays, are infected with bigotry, too, but let’s not blanket a half the country with bigotry — it’s silly.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

          I’m not going to get into arguing with 10 people.
          We’re all asking the same question, Mike, so just answer it.

          You are smart enough to see the nuances here, James.
          That’s a cop-out. In fact I am pretty damn smart, and I see a real lack of nuance. If you think there is some, explain it, but don’t play the game of pretending I must know what you really mean. I don’t. Full stop.

          Why you go with the group is beyond me.
          Because the denial of equality for gays is a direct harm to people I know and love. If you really think accusations of “going with the group” are going to sway me, you need to realize that the group I’m identifying with here are my gay friends. Damn right I’m going to go with them.

          You don’t really think everyone on the Right or even most on the Right are bigots.
          “Everyone?” “Most?” Where are the goalposts, Mike? Can we set them in one place and leave them there? Polls show about half of young conservatives support equality for gays. So clearly not everyone. The same polls show that a majority of older conservatives oppose equality for gays. I’ve been following this argument since 1988, and I’ve heard every argument that’s out there, and there are no good arguments against same-sex marriage–all arguments against it come down to bigotry. You think it’s more nuanced than that? Then it’s your job to present the nuance, but you seem afraid to try to do it.

          The Left, with its union yahoos and minorities who don’t accept gays, are infected with bigotry, too…
          Of course those folks are bigots. Who here has said they aren’t? But the support for same-sex marriage is much higher among liberals than conservatives, so liberals, the left, are less bigoted toward gays than are conservatives, the right.

          but let’s not blanket a half the country with bigotry — it’s silly
          It’s not silly at all if it’s true. 200 years ago when far more than half the country thought blacks were inferior and Indians a scourge on the land–is it silly to blanket our forefathers with bigotry? The facts are the facts, and only the fearful run from them.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MFarmer says:

          My two cents:

          Anti-gay bigotry cuts across all lines, political or otherwise. If one purports that everyone to the right of the line is anti-gay and everyone to the left is pro-gay, they couldn’t be more wrong. Coupled with what I believe to be a bit of a “chicken-and-egg” problem, wherein someone or some group that we wouldn’t otherwise consider to be “right” demonstrates themselves to be anti-gay suddenly gets labeled as right (e.g., my undergrad university had a Jesuit tradition which led it to be quite liberal on a number of issues; when the administration refused to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause, many in the student body started throwing around the “right-wing religious fundamentalist” label… which really made no sense looking at the entire body of the school’s work).

          So, the extent to which right/conservative/religious/Republican = anti-gay and left/liberal/areligious/Democrat = pro-gay, well… that’s nonsense. I’m not going to go back and parse every word of Todd’s post to see if he drew such lines in the sand, in part because as someone who is inclined to agree with him, I’m less likely to interpret things that MIGHT be interpetted that way in that way.

          What I would go so far as to say is that a large proportion of Republican politicians have used both an explicit and implicit anti-gay agenda to further their political ends. This has helped them to draw in the anti-gay subset of their base. The majority of Democrats in the very recent past have not engaged in this behavior. The proportion of Democrats who have engaged in explicit or implicit pro-gay agendas is greater than the proportion of Republicans who have, but both sides remain inadequately small.Report

          • Avatar Rod in reply to Kazzy says:

            “So, the extent to which right/conservative/religious/Republican = anti-gay and left/liberal/areligious/Democrat = pro-gay, well… that’s nonsense. ”

            Sure, stated that way it is. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who self-describes as left, liberal, or areligious that is anti-gay. Democrat is a different story since there are conservative Democrats (as opposed to the near-extinction of liberal Republicans). And being religious doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anti-gay — after all, there are churches and whole denominations that recognize gay marriage — but I have yet to hear someone who was anti-gay that wasn’t religious.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

            Kazzy,

            +10

            This is awesome and pretty much exactly what I am thinking. Anyone who thinks that opposition to gay marriage is a partisan issue hasn’t spent much time below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s a cultural issue that transcends party lines. Exactly like race.

            What’s really happening here is some liberals want to draw a very clear line so that 20 year from now they can club Republicans over the head with gay marriage in exactly the same way they have done with race.

            To be fair though, the Right has beaten up Democrats just as much for Cold War pacifism when that wasn’t really so black and white either.

            The whole thing is pretty gross.Report

            • You’ll have to enlighten me about the evidence that these parties support marriage equality in anything like equal measure. Even in New York, the final Senate vote on SSM included one Democrat against and only four Republicans for. I’m sure that’s just because liberals are trying to set up a cudgel for beating Republicans, though.Report

            • In case you’re curious, that’s 25/26 (96%) Democrats for, 4/4 Independent Democrats for, and 4/32 (12.5%) Republicans for. Clearly this issue transcends party lines.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Ryan – Surely you don’t believe that the voting habits of two major parties are reprentative of actual American culture, do you? I say that with no sarcasm. I have redneck family members that vote Democrat in every election and then make fag and nigger jokes at family reunions. I also happen to be a Republican that is okay with gay marriage.

                That’s the reality of American culture.Report

              • I think the parties are considerably better sorted these days than ever before. I won’t claim that actual Americans match political parties exactly, but it’s getting closer. I also cited the actual voting patterns of North Carolinians below. You can’t just wave away the fact that there is an obvious partisan difference, even if it isn’t of the form “all Democrats think X/all Republicans think Y”.Report

              • And, look, I say this not because I am interested in defending Democrats in general. I think anyone can tell you that my sympathy for the Democrat Party extends only as far as my vehement disgust with the Republican Party will take it: not far.

                I’m an avowed free trader, and I’ll freely admit that Democrats are almost certainly worse than Republicans on this issue. Granted, it doesn’t have the same moral dimension the gay marriage thing does, but there’s a clear partisan divide and one party is *wrong*.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              “Anyone who thinks that opposition to gay marriage is a partisan issue hasn’t spent much time below the Mason-Dixon line.”

              Yeah, but that ignores that one party goes to that well on a pretty consistent basis on a national level. Plus, go around to NRO, RedState, Hot Air, Pajamas Media, etc. today and see what they have to say about both Amendment One and Obama’s mini-press opp. Then go to TPM, Balloon Juice, Media Matters, Think Progress, Daily KOZ, etc. and do the same.

              To say that all liberals are non-bigoted and all conservatives are bigoted would be either disingenuous or symptomatic of a profoundly large blind spot. But frankly, so is this notion that the anti-gay moment in this country isn’t being primarily driven by the right.Report

            • More: Just to get us below the Mason-Dixon, let’s talk about NC Amendment 1. PPP’s last poll was fairly close to the final margin (predicted 55-39, with 6% undecided), and they do a good job in general on these things.

              They have support for Amendment 1 at 40-53 for Democrats, 47-46 for independents, and 80-16 for Republicans. You’re right that cultural effects account for a much higher portion of Democrats in favor of this thing than would be the case north of the Mason-Dixon, but it remains the case that there is a CLEAR partisan divide.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                You’re missing my point. I said this is a cultural issue that transcends party lines meaning that it’s not just about how elected officials vote. There’s a lot more nuance to American culture than what is represented by the two political parties. Sharing voting results doesn’t refute that point. It re-enforces it.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

      Oh Mike, and you wonder why people constantly think you’re a Republican with libertarian leanings instead of the libertarian with republical leanings I suspect you are or the pure libertarian you claim to be.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to North says:

        I hate to say it to you all, but Mike Farmer is right.

        Don’t call them bigots. They have different ideas from you, and that is all you should say.

        Believe it in your heart of hearts if you must. But at the very least, don’t say it out loud. Do you really think either (a) it helps the cause or (b) it’s true to the ideals of the League?

        I don’t.Report

        • Don’t call them bigots. They have different ideas from you, and that is all you should say.

          But what is the substance of those ideas that elevates them above bigotry? Perhaps you are right in your questions A and B, in that it is not politically helpful to call them that, and doing so may not be in keeping with the spirit hereabouts, but on the question itself, what other answer would you suggest? If the bedrock of those different ideas is that same-sex relationships are inherently unworthy of equal protection under the law, what word would you substitute for bigotry?Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Russell Saunders says:

            >But what is the substance of those ideas that elevates them above bigotry?

            The very same may be asked of every thing that you also happen to believe. It’s not a question that invites a reflective or a charitable answer.

            Let’s focus on the following:

            – truth or falsity of empirical claims
            – defensibility of ethical frameworks
            – means/ends fitness
            – measurable costs and benefits of various policy options

            If you don’t think you can win on those things alone, then you, and not they, are the one with a problem. Zeus only reaches for the thunderbolts when his reason fails him.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              Sometimes calling something bigotry is the argument. And sometimes it’s a damn good one.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Chris says:

                Would you say it’s a good argument to call someone a poopyhead?

                What is the propositional content of bigotry that makes it somehow not merely an ad hominem argument?Report

              • Avatar Sam in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                It lets us know who is arguing what. This isn’t merely a philosophical and academic argument about freedom; these are peoples lives that are getting adversely affected by populations claiming injury. Why should a plain and obvious truth be ignored?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Sam says:

                I don’t believe that I am ignoring any plain or obvious truths.

                Whenever gays and lesbians try to lead anything like a normal life, with ordinary commitments to each other and ordinary ties to their families, the Republicans get in the way. Almost without exception. This is a fact, and it is impossible to deny. As you know, I actually am one of the people they are working very hard to inconvenience (or worse).

                I also know that when people throw around the charge of bigotry, all sensible debate stops. That’s why people like Maggie Gallagher LOVE to be called bigots. (I know –I’m on her list, and every time someone calls her a bigot, I get an e-mail from her crowing about it.)

                But the sensible, no-namecalling debate is a debate that our side could win. We should be eager to have that debate, rather than giving the other side cheap sympathy points by calling them bigots.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Here’s the thing: “poopyhead” is ambiguous. I can imagine using it in an argument if its properly defined. A bigot, however, is someone who is irrationally (that is, without sufficient reason) intolerant of some group of people (be it defined by religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, or hell, politics). Sometimes, pointing out that a position is based in irrational intolerance is not only a good argument, it’s the most straightforward one.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

                I’ll note also that Tod called their position (or its source) bigotry, instead of calling them bigots. There is a difference.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Chris says:

                Good luck with that. Remember when I said I thought Bob Costas said something kind of racist?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Yeah, I’m sure people will disagree, but a.) there is actual empirical evidence that labeling people has an effect different from labeling their actions or beliefs (work I’ve contributed to, actually), and b.) it’s different on Jason’s own terms.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Chris says:

                There’s something funny about the fact that we’re discussing “love the sinner, hate the sin” in this fashion in this thread.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Chris says:

                Perhaps. Though I would suggest as a matter of observation that there is a perfect correlation between a person being thought a bigot and that same person’s ideas being thought bigoted.

                I think this thread supports the inference.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chris says:

                One man’s irrational intolerance is another man’s personal preference. Chris, I could say you are ‘bigoted’ against Louisville. I’m sure you have your reasons and they seem logical to you, but to me they seen silly and intolerant. But would me calling you that be fair?

                Or we could just agree that we have a difference of opinion and not resort to labels. That’s Jason’s point. Labels don’t accomplish anything.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

                I’m with Chris here. “Bigot” is not just a label or insult; it is a descriptor. If you don’t like it, then come up with another useful term to describe someone who is irrationally intolerant. And if the response is, “just call them irrationally intolerant,” I hope it will be accompanied by an explanation of the substantive difference between the two terms and why we should use two words when one will do.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley says:

                James,

                “Irrationally intolerant” is not a clinical description. It’s an opinion and a subjective one at that.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mike,

                I disagree. There’s plenty of evidence now about the effects of SSM, and all the evidence rebuts all the claims of harm that will result from SSM. To reject evidence and cling to disproved claims is irrational.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                There’s a bit in one of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies where Inspector Clouseau call someone in a mental institution crazy. The staff tell him “We don’t use that word here.” to which Clouseau responds “Well, what word do you use?!” They say “Now, now…” Clouseau roars out “Then that man is very now-now!”

                At some point this syndrome needs a label. What do you propose to call a bigot, if not a bigot?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley says:

                James,

                What if someone read that information and reached a different conclusion (as intelligent people often do)? What you are saying is, “Here’s this evidence that I interpret a certain way and if anyone doesn’t reach the same conclusions they are irrational and therefore a bigot.”

                Time magazine has an interesting article this week that contrasts the different ways the ‘experts’ believed mothers should parent over the last 100 years. Expert opinions change with the wind. We can’t say with certainty that gay marriage does not do long-term harm. My gut tells me it won’t but for you to suggest that your conclusions are beyond refute is a bit of a stretch.Report

              • Your refutation is that something might go wrong but nothing has so far and you have no idea what might? That’s almost the definition of irrational.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley says:

                My refutation would be much more along the lines of “Let’s see how the children of gay marriage turn out in 20 years.”

                What’s the longest gay mariage in this country? How old are their children? It’s simply not common enough to draw conclusions in 2012.Report

              • My refutation would be much more along the lines of “Let’s see how the children of gay marriage turn out in 20 years.”

                That’s a poor refutation. From an anecdotal POV, I could gesture toward the numerous adult children of same-sex parents who have stood up to testify in favor of legal protections for their parents’ relationships.

                However, if you’d prefer science you can start here.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                What if someone read that information and reached a different conclusion (as intelligent people often do)?

                So creationists who reject evolution aren’t irrational? People who believe the earth is flat aren’t irrational? If you’re going to start claiming that there are no better or worse interpretations of evidence, just different ones, where are you going to draw the line, and how are you going to justify drawing it at that particular point?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

                Wait, child adoption is a reason to hold back on marriage?

                You’re doing things in the wrong order, Mike. First comes love, *THEN* comes marriage, *THEN* comes the couple with a baby carriage.

                If anything, we need to speed things up. Have you *SEEN* the children who grow up with unmarried parents? They’re bastards!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mike, irrationally intolerant can, of course, be an empirical description, even if it’s not “clinical.” It’s not necessarily just subjective. “Irrational” has some pretty formal senses.

                Also, you can call me an anti-Louisville bigot. That’s probably true, my dislike for Louisville (not the school, the city) is pretty irrational. I admit that readily. It has no impact on anyone, though, and it certainly doesn’t result in me trying to limit the rights of Louisville or its residents.Report

              • “First comes love, *THEN* comes marriage, *THEN* comes the couple with a baby carriage”

                I thought first came kissing in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

                Tree climbing could easily result in damage to the tree and, more importantly, the city could be held liable if someone climbed a tree and fell out. Kissing should be kept on ground level when outdoors, on penalty of a fine.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

                “So creationists who reject evolution aren’t irrational? People who believe the earth is flat aren’t irrational?”

                What’s their reason for believing those things?

                “Oh come ON now EVERYONE KNOWS that THESE THINGS ARE TRUE!”

                Really. Like the ether flow, that was true. And spontaneous generation, that was true too. And Lamarckian evolution. And the fact that planets move in perfectly-circular paths. (We had to invent calculus to understand why that last one wasn’t true.)

                I’m not trying to argue that these things are true. I’m trying to argue that they can be argued on their merits. You don’t receive a “get out of logic free” pass just because you hate your opponent, or hate his beliefs.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                “Would you say it’s a good argument to call someone a poopyhead?”

                If they’re doing yoga on a cowpie, it’s good enough.Report

            • Indeed I do focus on those very things when pressing for the case of SSM. Those were the very things I referenced on behalf of my profession in my testimony to my state’s legislature when they were debating SSM. And yes, those are the reasons that in the end I believe our side will win.

              But when the other side meets with studies that show children thrive no less when raised by same-sex parents and has nothing to counter them (to refer specifically to what I had to say on the topic) with nothing, and yet continues to oppose legalization anyway, what then? Again, perhaps it’s not helpful to call it bigotry, but does that render it untrue?Report

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Jason,

          Do you genuinely believe that people who argue against hospital visitation for gay couples are doing so out of love or respect or appreciation or admiration for gay people? It is bigotry – it is the assumption that gay people are less than straight people and should be treated as such. If they believed in the equality of the thing, then they’d treat gays as equals, but we’ve seen repeatedly where that plainly isn’t the case.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Sam says:

            Do you genuinely believe that people who argue against hospital visitation for gay couples are doing so out of love or respect or appreciation or admiration for gay people?

            I believe they are doing it because they perceive a threat to heterosexual marriage, one whose harm (to them) outweighs the harm done to the gay couples.

            My response is to ask them simply to articulate this harm. It always has been. It always will be. Calling names isn’t helpful.Report

            • Avatar Sam in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              So in demanding that gay couples not get to be with one another in their dying moments, they are defending the institution of heterosexual marriage? Respectfully, I’m not willing to extend that conclusion to their opposition. It is manifestly cruel to say, “No matter how much you and this other person loved one another, you may not be together in the hospital as one of the two of you dies, because if you were, straight marriage would crumble.” It is an absurd claim with no basis in anything more than an emotional response to homosexuality.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Sam says:

                So in demanding that gay couples not get to be with one another in their dying moments, they are defending the institution of heterosexual marriage?

                It makes no sense to me, personally. I have very often pointed out that the costs and benefits of this policy appear severely unbalanced. Even absurd.

                Does it help to call anyone names? Again, no.Report

              • Avatar Rtod in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I think I get where we’re talking past one another now. I think it’s that we disagree that discussing bigotry is name calling.

                Does it make it a better discussion for me to use a phrase like “making unsubstantiated and unprovable negative statements about gays?”. Is the problem not to content of the word bigotry, but the heat that comes with it?

                (a sincere question, J)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rtod says:

                Yes! This is progress. Your quoted phrase strikes me as completely unobjectionable, provided that you reference the statements you mean and explain why they are in error.Report

              • Jason –

                OK, let me try this on you, and ask for your feedback. (Be patient, I’m thinking out loud here…) You are, as you say, in the business of arguing; but I like to think I am in the business of convincing.

                If I look at this issue as me making a pitch to potential prospects, I recognize immediately that there are four different audiences that will hear me: My competition, those that are die-hard loyalists to my competition, those that are die-hard loyalists to my company, and those that are on the fence. (Stay with me, I really am going somewhere with this.)

                Let’s call the competition the GOP professionals. They’re not really in play, because their objective isn’t really to find the best solution – it’s to win the business. Let’s call the competition loyalists the Maggie Gallaghers of the world. They’re not in play either, because no matter what arguments I make, good or bad, I will never, ever convince them they are wrong. And my company’s loyalists aren’t really in play because they’re already firmly on board.

                So my only real audience is the undecided.

                I know that people do not like making choices when they are unsure, and so will always tend to gravitate toward those sides that make the choice feel easier and less stressful. This, I would argue, is why the GOP has been so successful reaching for the Gay Stick whenever it needs some juice: Twenty years ago it was arguments that slyly said, “yeah, gays are ok… but what about the children they may be left alone with?” Ten years ago it was arguments that slyly said, “yeah, nothing wrong with gays… but you have to wonder, if they need all those activist judges, what is their *real* agenda?” And now it is “yeah, I have nothing against gays at all… but you don’t hate the first amendment, do you?” The GOP uses this strategy quite successfully, and not (I believe) because they actually believe any of the above to be true, but because are consciously trying to get people’s reptilian brain to make the choice.

                If this were a potential client and I were making a pitch for their business, I would absolutely cite all of the statistics and facts that Russell so eloquently cited when he testified. But if it were a battle I really wanted to win, I would make sure there was something to offset my competition’s play for having the reptilian brain choose. In this case, I’d make the case that making anti-gay laws are inherently bigoted. Partially because, I’m sorry, but it’s true. But also because putting it out there that plainly means that the prospect isn’t allowed an “easy” reptilian choice by ignoring the facts. His reptilian brain is given the (initial) knee-jerk choice between being anti-first amendment, or the (new) knee-jerk choice of being pro-bigotry, and so as a way to navigate this impossible choice is more apt to sit down and look at the evidence at hand. Which, I believe is all my side needs to have happen in order win the order.

                This, I would argue, is the way to win this client.

                Thoughts?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                So justifying a position by citing Constitutional amendments is now a “lizard brain” argument? Interesting. Kind of calls the entire history of Supreme Court jurisprudence into question but whatevs, Repubs bigotthink doublebad!Report

              • To be totally fair to Tod, I don’t think he’s characterizing “lizard brain” as a bad thing. There are plenty of knobs that turn in our minds without real thought behind them. Plenty of people argue that this is the entire basis of morality.Report

              • Awwww… I was hoping I’d get a “bu-bu-bu-ut… RACIST!”Report

              • Also, it’s not as if the left is immune to the charge either. I cite the 14th Amendment with respect to SSM for the same reasons conservatives turn to the 1st: it dredges up our basic notions about liberty or fairness or whatever you want to call it. The visceral reaction matters.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                This needs to be its own post.Report

              • Wait… Which needs to be it’s own post? W’re in that levelless part of the thread.Report

              • “To be totally fair to Tod, I don’t think he’s characterizing “lizard brain” as a bad thing.”

                In addition, jumping from saying “gays getting married destroys you’re first amendment rights” to “all Constitutional arguments are invalid” is kind of trying hard to miss the point.Report

              • My best friend and I do this thing where, when we say, “to be fair”, what follows is a clarification that helps the person we are “being fair” to. We also say “in [his/her] defense” to indicate that what comes next is going to be the exact opposite of the defense of the person in question.

                All that said, in Duck’s defense, he never, ever gets anyone’s point about anything.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                if it were a battle I really wanted to win, I would make sure there was something to offset my competition’s play for having the reptilian brain choose. In this case, I’d make the case that making anti-gay laws are inherently bigoted.

                If you want something for the lower-level sort of reasoning to latch onto, then just show them ordinary gay Americans. We’re not all that weird. Honestly. We’re not.

                After a while, the automatic sorter that classifies people as “out-group” or “in-group” flips from the one to the other. Simple as that.Report

              • “This needs to be its own post.”

                Seeing as I’ve been working on a post trying to say exactly what Jason is saying here in my brief moments of spare time for the last 24 hours and haven’t posted in months, I’m going to be pretty agitated if someone beats me to hitting the publish button.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Ryan, you’re right, I suppose, because I don’t understand how citing Constitutional support for a position is a “lizard-brain” thing.Report

              • Because it’s not an argument on the merits. It’s a purely visceral thing that’s meant to call up values and base notions of morality. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s something the left tends to be really bad at, to their detriment.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Rtod says:

                I also like this question, and it dovetails with some ideas about the social value of stigma. Maybe you aren’t going to win an argument in a university classroom by calling someone a bigot, but marking out a clear line may have value (not saying it does, but I’d like to discuss that). Some of what makes people not say or do horrible things about or to black people, for instance, may well be the fact that everyone around them will think they’re a morally bad person. Is that a valueless thing?Report

              • Lo and behold, Amanda Marcotte pointed me to some evidence that the stigma approach may, in fact, bear some fruit:

                http://rachelheldevans.com/win-culture-war-lose-generation-amendment-one-north-carolinaReport

              • Stigma surely has broad value. Telling someone that the stigma applies to them, however, does not. Or at least it doesn’t when there’s no shortage of people to whom the stigma might apply for precisely the same reasons.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Mark, the point is not that the stigma applies to someone else, the point is that by calling it out you’re declaring that it doesn’t apply to you. Only a Pure-Hearted American is able to spot the Damn Dirty Commies. Therefore, whoever calls out the Damn Dirty Commies is a Pure-Hearted American.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              Calling names isn’t helpful.

              So, saying that something someone is doing is bigotry is calling them a name. Okay, I can accept that. Is saying that something someone says is “the essence of fascism” also calling the person a name, or not?

              What legitimately meaningful words, which poopyhead is not but bigot is, even if it is also a “name,” ought we not use about people because we ought not to call them names, and how do we know ahead of time?Report

        • “Bigots” are a sub -set of ” Opponents of SSM.” I think we can be true to our ideals and recognize that fact.

          We ought not presume that any particular member of one group is necessarily a member of the odious sub -set. We should instead put their evidence and reasoning to the test of argument.

          That would be fulfilling our ideals, IMO.Report

          • Avatar Sam in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Can you point me toward an opponent of gay marriage equality who loves gays and thinks of them as equals?Report

            • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Sam says:

              I can think of several people who love me and my family who likely oppose SSM, and I think they would say that they think of us as “equals” if that particular question were put to them. We tend to elide the reasons behind that opposition when we spend time together, as it makes holiday dinners much less awkward.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Sam says:

              Probably not, in any manner that you will find persuasive. It appears to me that your presumption is that any opponent of SSM is necessarily a bigot, or that opposition to SSM is bigotry as a definitional matter.

              Is the Burkean argument — we must be very cautious when intentionally modifying social structures — bigoted? No, at least I don’t think so. But certainly a bigot could deploy that argument. I think the Burkean argument collapses in the face of evidence, but the point is that one can argue against SSM without necessarily being a bigot.Report

              • Is there a time variable on this? Is it still possible to argue against same-sex marriage from a Burkean perspective without either (a) ignoring the evidence (due to what, I ask, if *not* bigotry) or (b) being wholly ignorant of the evidence?

                I will grant that (b) gets you out of the bigotry problem, but I wouldn’t rush to claim that, no, I’m not a bigot, I’m just ignorant.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Is the Burkean argument — we must be very cautious when intentionally modifying social structures — bigoted? No, at least I don’t think so. But certainly a bigot could deploy that argument. I think the Burkean argument collapses in the face of evidence, but the point is that one can argue against SSM without necessarily being a bigot.

                That’s a fair enough point. The Burkean could justify denying SSM on prudential grounds. Better to be cautious than not, and that sounds quite reasonable and decidedly not bigoted. The problem with Burkean caution in general is its arbitrariness and selectivity. The Burkean often (usually? always?) finds the policies and practices he/she already supports to be the ones worthy of prudential protection. Which begs the question of why caution is warranted to begin with. To answer that, the Burkean has to get down to the specifics of the policy or practice in question and argue the merits of those institutions on their own terms – independently of an overriding concern for caution. And I don’t think they can do so – at least in the case of SSM – without making value claims that are akin if not identical to bigotry.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Or in other words, the Burkean wrt SSM can avoid the charge of bigotry only by asserting rather than arguing for prudential caution.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, now you’re getting past the point where I can be a comfortable devil’s advocate. While I’m comfortable making room for a disagreeing point of view and charitable enough to allow for that point of view to lack a malign motive, ultimately, I agree with SSM advocacy and I think the Burkean argument cannot withstand the accumulation of evidence about SSM’s non-effect on other Western societies. So I’ve set the table, but a real Burkean SSM opponent will have to step up to the plate here — and explain to me as well as Stillwater and Ryan (and the rest of the audience) why Canada’s experience of the past seven years is not a significant demonstration of the (lack of) effect of SSM on society.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

                ” So I’ve set the table, but a real Burkean SSM opponent will have to step up to the plate here…”

                You’re like kidding, right, Burt?Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I don’t think that “real Burkean SSM opponent” is you, Tom. Your opinions on the issue are well known to me, and they aren’t based in prudential caution but rather teleology. Given what is happening in other threads at the moment, maybe you might want to sit this one out.

                My goals here were to carve out the possibility that opposition to SSM is not necessarily based in bigotry, and to indicate that reliance on labeling opposition to SSM as bigotry is not a productive way to advance the SSM cause. Those missions are accomplished as much as they’re ever going to be. But I’m still an SSM advocate and I think the “prudential caution” argument cannot withstand empirical evidence.Report

              • Just to be clear about some of my earlier comments, I hasten to clarify that I think all opposition to SSM is inherently bigoted. I can see an objection along the lines of what Burt mentions.

                I just think that some opposition is based on bigotry, and question why it is beyond the pale to simply call it so.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I don’t think that “real Burkean SSM opponent” is you, Tom. Your opinions on the issue are well known to me, and they aren’t based in prudential caution but rather teleology.

                Oh, great. Over here I just said his opposition is Burkean.

                It would be pistols at dawn in front of the Bellagio if I was coming to Vegas, Mr. Likko! (Or cocktails in the evening next time I’m in L.A.)Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Burt, I’m not getting near this one but your projections of my position are likely wrong. But to say “let’s have a discussion” while reserving the right to call the other person a bigot when you start losing is why this discussion never takes place. When I asked you if you were kidding it was quite with the universal high-fiving and rumbles of the “b” word already in evidence.

                The claim that there are no valid anti-SSM arguments is a perception based on the fact that no sane person is going to play this game with the Bigot Sword of Damocles over their head.

                The actual Burkean argument at this point is that the research is thin. It may be sufficient for the sentiments of supporters, but formally cannot be argued as a closed evidentiary question.

                And since there are several persons here who have skin in this game, it has always been my custom to remain at arm’s length on the topic, citing only the formal arguments and the sketchiness of the data.

                My brother was gay, and I loved him very much. I’ve been studying the studies for many years.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’ll play any game you please, sword of PC ness be damned.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                The claim that there are no valid anti-SSM arguments is a perception based on the fact that no sane person is going to play this game with the Bigot Sword of Damocles over their head.

                My claim that there are no good arguments against SSM is based on reading argument after argument after argument for over a decade, and not finding one that was actually based on any kind of good empirical foundation. If your claim is that there is a good argument, but everybody’s too scared to make it, then you’ve got a big ol’ burden of proof.

                The actual Burkean argument at this point is that the research is thin. It may be sufficient for the sentiments of supporters, but formally cannot be argued as a closed evidentiary question.
                The actual Burkean argument is that you can’t support something until it’s “a closed evidentiary question?” Calling Nob Akimoto! No, that’s not the actual Burkean argument at all. The evidence is not only not thin (although there is still need for more), but it all points in the same direction. Remember the fiasco of the expert witness for the pro-Prop 8 side in the District Court hearing?

                My brother was gay, and I loved him very much.
                I believe you.

                I’ve been studying the studies for many years.
                I don’t believe you. You’ve repeatedly demonstrated that you have no understanding of empirical research. You may have read about studies, but it’s not possible that you could actually have studied them. You lack the requisite analytical skills.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Let’s rewrite that without the negations. The claim that there are valid arguments against SSM is based on the premise nobody gets to call anyone who holds such positions a bigot.

                What Burkean argument might be summoned to this travesty of a debate is summed up in his statement: There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

                So let’s hear the arguments against SSM, if they exist and might be defended without resorting to skeevy evasions and contortions of logic. Let us go in search of this Eldorado in which the LGBT community can be legitimately denied the rights afforded others. If the research is thin, the evidence of repression is thick. It is all around you.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

                First of all, it’s not a debate, Blaise: SSM proponents bear the complete burden of proof, since they want change. If society is on trial [it is], and the process is to be adverserial [it is], then society can stand mute and the prosecution must make its affirmative case.

                And I hope nobody confuses my courtesy to those here gathered who have skin in the game with weakness. My formal position isn’t very different from JasonK’s, a gentleman I have always admired for arguing this issue without cheating the game:

                When SSM proponents have convinced enough people, change will come. In the meantime, Two Minutes Hate directed at opponents ain’t gonna get it done.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tom’s attempting to make us believe that one possible framing of this debate is the only possible one, namely that of a trial in which society is on trial and proponents of same-sex marriage are the prosecutors. Another, equally (perhaps more) valid framing: there are people who are being denied equal rights. When equal rights are denied, upon whom does the greatest burden of arguine their position fall? Certainly not those arguing in favor of equal rights.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

                My apologies if I misstated your position, Tom; you should know that this was not my intent. My understanding of the argument I credited to you was that procreation is the biological, hence natural, object of sex; other kinds of sex might be fine for recreation but procreation is a special activity deserving of special recognition.

                …I’ll be quiet now and let you express yourself in your own words. Apologies again.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’m not clear on something you said, Doc.

                …I think all opposition to SSM is inherently bigoted. [¶]
                … I just think that some opposition is based on bigotry … .

                But is there a difference between “inherently bigoted” opposition and “opposition based on bigotry”? Is this the difference between intent and effect?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Chris,

                Are we hiding behind each other’s skirts? If so, I’ll thank you to go ankle-length, not like that micro-mini you had on last time. That left waaaayyy too little to the imagination.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tom, I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to write a variation of this essay again.

                We know how I make a distinction between “Marriage in the Eyes of God” and “Marriage in the Eyes of the State”, right (MEG vs. MES)? We also know how I do my best to make distinctions between these two types of marriage in this argument because it’s very easy to use the two things interchangeably in the same paragraph (I hope).

                As such, I’d like to say that MES is a handful of privileges extended by the state (usually in the form of small spheres of non-coercion where, otherwise, the state feels entitled to use coercive power) and, when we’re talking about “gay marriage”, we’re talking about whether we should extend these MES privileges to gay couples.

                Can we agree on that much? I need to know before I go on.Report

              • Tom, I think you’re trying to do two separate things here. I will say that, in general, I agree with Chris, but I’m going to take your position seriously and suss out why I still think it doesn’t work.

                First of all, this thing we’re having here on this blog manifestly *is* a debate. It’s what we come here for: to discuss ideas and hash out our disagreements. We don’t just come here, shout assertions, and walk away.

                Now, that said, you are correct about the rules of policy debate. It is the affirmative’s job to make their case for a change in policy. I would say the affirmative here has, more or less, done that. We can probably get Hanley (or me) to lay out all of our position point by point, if you like, but that’s only if you’re going to take the next step and respond in the negative. I don’t think you’re interested in doing that, as indicated by your “the evidence is thin” take. Why is the evidence thin? Lay it out. Assertions are not arguments.

                The rest of your post is a completely different beast. I think your framing of strategy is about half-right (there *is* social value in writing your opponents out of polite society, as any Republican polemicist like yourself must surely know), but it’s also just orthogonal to what we’re doing here. We are not voting on legislation, we’re *debating* how people ought to think about issues that might come up for a vote. This isn’t a voting booth; it’s a salon. It’s your job, I would argue, to participate in the conversation, not shut it down.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Burt Likko says:

                For a moment, I was under the mistaken belief you were asserting sane persons could hold an anti-SSM position and were only fearful of the aforementioned Sword of Damocles.

                The Sword of Damocles hung over the throne of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles, it seems, was something of an ass-kisser and wanted to know what it was like to sit upon that throne and taste for himself what being a ruler of men and maker of laws was really like. The tyrant, amused, arranged for that sword to hang above the throne and installed Damocles thereupon.

                Murali has been recently teaching us about Dworkin and the provenance of law. Does law arise from moral or social roots? Is there such a thing as Evil Law? I believe there is. The Defence of Marriage Act is just such a law. You are invited to explain yourself about these sane persons who might defend it. I promise not to call you a bigot, if that will help things along any.Report

              • But is there a difference between “inherently bigoted” opposition and “opposition based on bigotry”? Is this the difference between intent and effect?

                I do not perceive a difference. I was saying the same thing two different ways. In a nutshell, some people oppose SSM because of bigotry, with various bits of window-dressing mentioned in the OP. But I will readily concede that there are non-bigoted reasons for opposing it, such as the Burkean argument you reference.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

                “SSM proponents bear the complete burden of proof, since they want change. If society is on trial [it is], and the process is to be adverserial [it is], then society can stand mute and the prosecution must make its affirmative case.”

                I must ask, what is it exactly you believe needs to be proved?

                As best I can tell, the relevant items are:

                1. Do gay people want to get married? (At least some, yes.)

                2. Do we let other human couples marry, regardless of their motivations for doing so, or their history with marriage? (Again, yes.)

                3. There is a history of both homosexual relationships that is observable, and also a body of evidence surrounding both marriages and children raised by gay people. Does that data suggest that society will not be adversely effected by gay marriage? (Yes again.)

                4. Will the marriage of gay people effect, in any direct way, the lives of people that do not wish to marry someone of the same sex? (No, other than [perhaps] that something exists that they do not like.)

                I’m sorry for being dim, but what other proof is needed? It would help if you would explain, because I’m not getting what smoking gun is still required.Report

              • Well, or Tod could lay out the case. Either way, the affirmative case is made. If anyone wants to convince us that there are legitimate cases against SSM, argue against the affirmative case.Report

              • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I don’t entirely buy it, but I can make the Burkean argument:

                Male-female marriage has been a (perhaps the foundational institution undergirding our society in modern history (or, at least since 700 AD).

                Any undermining of the institution could potentially have many effects, both direct and indirect, on the expectations and customs with which we deal with one another (including the “sanctity” and prevalence of marriage).

                Thus, we should be extremely careful when tinkering with such a foundational institution.

                In point of fact, we have messed with marriage in much more serious ways in the last 40 or 50 years; including the virtual elimination of sanction and approbation for fornication, the rise of easy divorce, and easy acceptance of non-marital cohabitation. And all of these things have had pretty significant impacts on our culture and society. Moreover, all these social changes have taken place recently enough (the mid-60s, say) that we cannot fully appreciate the secondary impacts of these changes on our relationships and social obligations.Report

              • I appreciate the seriousness and courtesy [where it applies] here, esp in light of the recent, oh well, never mind. You know what I mean.

                First of all to Burt, the Eyes of God argument, which we can dispense with quickly. I don’t make it, either in secular fora like this or as a matter of policy. With one proviso–I think people have a right to vote their private conscience, however they form and inform it, whether it be by the Bible, a Richard Dawkins book, or discussion @ LoOG. There has been some noise from Judge Walker [Prop 8] and several other jurists that a religiously-informed vote is somehow an invalid one. I think this is a complete inversion of the First Amendment.

                Which leads to my assertion that the burden of proof lies with those who want to change the status quo, even if that status quo was formed and is preserved via religious conscience. Whether that’s fair or cosmically just or simply good consent-of-the-governed political philosophy, it’s the reality. I see no need to litigate the point any further, since change will come through consensus.

                Or court order, which is another bag of beans. This is an arm’s length argument here, keep in mind—only the “is” not the “ought”—John McCain assured conservatives that a constitutional amendment was unnecessary: the Defense of Marriage Act would suffice. We certainly see that’s false—the Obama Admin refuses to defend it, and I have little doubt that if and when the Supreme Court swings 5-4 the other way, gay marriage is in the Constitution and always has been, at least since the 14th Amendment was ratified.

                So when a North Carolina passes a constitutional amendment like they just did, it’s with the perfectly valid slippery slope fear that unless explicitly forbidden in the constitution, the state courts will one day find gay marriage in it.

                As for the rest, if and where SSM is instituted, it’s likely forever and there’s no roling back. If there are [so far unseen or proven] negative effects, it’s too late. Does it lessen the frequency of hetero marriages? I don’t know, I’ve seen the claims. As with many European innovations, I think a few decades is too soon to tell. [If ever—there are so many other factors that blaming SSM for the death of marriage would be unprovable either way.]

                As for the desirability of SSM itself as an institution, society’s only real interest in sex has always been in the type that produces children. Since there are several SSM couples in attendance @ LoOG raising children, I simply wish the best of outcomes and that any Burkean caution about the institution of SSM turns out to be needless worry. We’ll know more in a decade or two, as the experiment is already underway in eight states.

                And to anybody who’s replied like a mensch here, who’d like to clean the slate with me, I’m good with that. One of the best things about getting a bit older is forgetting who to hold grudges against, and it’s better that way.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Smith in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Nonsense BAMF (hey, Nightcrawler!).

                Male-female marriage isn’t all that much of an underpinning. For most of history it was something for the rich classes only. If you were a slave or a worker, you didn’t get married. If you were living off by yourself, you didn’t get married, though “your woman” might be living with you. If you were a sailor involved in anything beyond local fishing, you might have a woman in every port and she’d have a husband on every ship.

                Travelers would regularly set up shop locally and take on a temporary woman. The muslims actually have a whole legal framework for it.

                Now for the rich classes it was all about alliances. You cemented your alliance to a fellow richman by the gift of a daughter to merge your families. You cemented your alliance to a business partner by marrying one of his daughters, even if she was 6 years old at the time. You merged a pair of countries by having the princes wed to the princesses, ignoring the fact that by this time the european blue-bloods were crossbred to the point of it counting as brother-sister incest and giving us the Hapsburg Lip and the Tudor Hemophiliacs. As luck would have it, none of the married rich elites gave a good god-damn about faithfulness, seems every one of the men had a treasure trove of mistresses and some of them like Henry VI went through a chain of wives as well.

                Your arguments as to what we’ve already done with marriage regarding penalties for adultery, no-fault divorce and so on seem to cement the case. I’d rather see the return of fault divorce and hefty penalties for the faulting party along with letting gays take the same risk we straights do entering into a committed relationship. It’s not like banning gay marriage is suddenly going to turn them all straight in any case, though I understand that’s a popular right-wing fantasy.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

                TVD says: “There has been some noise from Judge Walker [Prop 8] and several other jurists that a religiously-informed vote is somehow an invalid one. I think this is a complete inversion of the First Amendment.”
                For once, we are in complete agreement. I had to argue this with my sister once (she was about 20 at the time… 26 now). She thought that people who voted based on religious beliefs or even broader “values” shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I had to point out that no only was this a direct violation of the 1st, but also a complete undermining of the broad goal of universal suffrage. If someone wants to vote based on the size, shape, and frequency of their dogs bowel movements*, GO FOR IT! Such is your right!

                *Probably unnecessary disclaimer but nonetheless: This is by no means an attempt to equate religion with dog poop. I used that example because it might be the silliest way to determine how to vote and how I would defend even that approach.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’d like to point out that I made no real descriptive statements about MEG, only about MES… and I was wondering if we had agreement about what I had said so far.

                I’m sure you’ll agree: one of the obligations that goes along with placing the burden of proof on another person is dealing with the arguments they give once they have accepted it.Report

              • Thx, Mr. Kazzy. Jaybird, “Eyes of the State” is whatever the people say it is. Or the courts, anyway.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                @TVD,
                There has been some noise from Judge Walker [Prop 8] and several other jurists that a religiously-informed vote is somehow an invalid one. I think this is a complete inversion of the First Amendment.
                That is incorrect, and a misinterpretation of Walker’s ruling. It is well-established constitutional law that a law who’s primary purpose is the advancement of a particular religious view–an attempt to impose a particular religious group’s doctrine–is an invalid law. The vote you cast is not invalid; the law that was passed is invalid, because it is effectively a religious establishment, turning church doctrine into law.

                Which leads to my assertion that the burden of proof lies with those who want to change the status quo, even if that status quo was formed and is preserved via religious conscience. Whether that’s fair or cosmically just or simply good consent-of-the-governed political philosophy, it’s the reality.
                This wholly ignores Chris’s point about the issue being legitimately viewed as a civil rights issue, and the argument Tod makes below. A good argument here would not simply repeat a claim, but would address a counter-claim and make some effort to explain why the counter-claim is insufficient against the first claim. We see here that no actual argument is made.

                And to anybody who’s replied like a mensch here, who’d like to clean the slate with me, I’m good with that.
                That’s very clever pretending you’re all forgiving, when you begin the sentence with an insult. And what about those to whom you replied like a mensch? And how about your oblique condemnation of me on a thread on which I wasn’t even participating? Does that count as being a mensch? I’m willing to clean the slate if you’re willing to admit that you’ve been as much a mensch as anyone else. What do you say?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                “Eyes of the State” is whatever the people say it is. Or the courts, anyway.

                This is question begging, it seems. If I am trying to describe Marriage, I am stuck describing two different phenomenon. “MEG” is one. We’ll leave it over there.

                “MES” is the other. I defined it as “is a handful of privileges extended by the state (usually in the form of small spheres of non-coercion where, otherwise, the state feels entitled to use coercive power) and, when we’re talking about “gay marriage”, we’re talking about whether we should extend these MES privileges to gay couples.”

                Can we agree on this much or do you not agree with that?Report

              • I’m playing along with your Socratic method like a good sport, JB. Basically, if I stipulate your redefinition of marriage, well, that’s what this is all about anyway, int it?

                Yes, I agree you’re begging the question, JB, with your definition.

                ;-P

                Same as I am by stipulating marriage is whatever the state says it is. I’m not disagreeing atall.

                IF we’re discussing marriage as a merely legal thing. We could call all civil marriages “unions” instead. We could call them Btfsplk.

                I’ve been a good sport about the lingo, cheerily stipulating “anti-SSM” instead of some less pejorative but clumsy formulation like “pro-traditional marriage.” But the key anti-SSM formulation is opposition to “redefining” marriage.

                Which pretty much you’re doing here by selectively dropping out the parts that don’t equally apply to SSM, like “between a man and a woman.” So although the outward appearance is that were having a Socratic dialogue, we’re actually on Square One of the same old debate, the definition of terms.

                I’ve noted why going much further is not really considerate to the actual persons @ LoOG with skin in the game. And again, I don’t see it as bare-knuckle debate. Yes, for some it’s a matter of great personal urgency. But for others, to not be in favor is not necessarily to be vociferously against.

                My friend Jonathan Rowe once pointed out that for this issue in particular, the “anti-” side is at a rhetorical disadvantage: most analogies will end up invoking something very hurtful and negative, and the discussion becomes a debate becomes a war with the ugly flying in all directions.

                So what I mean by saying the burden of proof is on the “pro-” side is that ’tis they who must convince the swingables, those without strong support or strong opposition, that painting the post offices blue is a good thing and we should do it right away. If they cannot, the post offices will remain brown.

                [Did I just find a non-pejorative analogy with the blue post offices? I hope so.]Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                But the key anti-SSM formulation is opposition to “redefining” marriage.
                Which pretty much you’re doing here by selectively dropping out the parts that don’t equally apply to SSM, like “between a man and a woman.”

                So the word marriage has always meant both MES and MEG, simultaneously and indivisibly?

                I think that claim needs to be supported by some actual evidence or at least logical argumentation. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of counter-examples. Common-law marriages, marriages of slaves in the old South, and atheists’ non-church weddings, for example.

                Unless you can demonstrate that those were in fact both MES and MEG, then Jaybird isn’t doing any redefining at all.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                And I took the burden of proof like a good sport.

                At this point, I’m just hoping to have a definition of marriage that you and I can both agree upon. If you don’t want to agree to a definition just yet, perhaps we should agree on what the definition of marriage should *DO*?

                I mean, I think that we’d want a definition that would cover my marriage to Maribou, your marriage to your wife, Liza Minelli’s marriage to David Gest, and Nancy Reagan’s marriage to Ronald Reagan, no?

                Can we agree on that much? If we can’t, could you give an example of an argument from the people with the burden of proof you’d find worth arguing against?Report

              • I wrote “erstwhile” quite purposefully, with great hope. The offer remains open.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                It seems that the burden of proof is, indeed, a heavy one if we agree that there is no one who is willing to look at what I am doing with it now that I have willingly taken it.

                We can’t agree on a definition and, apparently, can’t even agree on what we would want the definition to do.

                Do you even concede that it is theoretically possible for me to win this argument with you? If so, could you give me a hint as to what the first step of that argument would look like, if not agreeing on a definition of terms?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’m not the fucking leader of anything, TVD, erstwhile or not. There is no leader, no organization, just multiple people recognizing the same thing. The ball’s really in your court, and always has been. Stop playing your disingenuous little games and all the shit goes away.Report

              • JB, the whole controversy is the definition of marriage in the first place! He who wins the word wins the day.

                Q: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
                A: Four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.

                A gay pal o’mine told me that one, about this. [Not every gay person is an SSMer.]

                Legally, a corporation is a person. Sort of. So there you have the legal angle. Regards to Maribou, no matter what you call her. She seems really nice.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                JB, the whole controversy is the definition of marriage in the first place! He who wins the word wins the day.

                Egad Tom. Is this really what you’re reduced to? JB has been trying to get you to address issues of marriage independently of the definition. That’s why he said ‘let’s focus on what the institution does’.

                When you say stuff like this, you reveal yourself as someone who won’t argue honestly, and won’t argue on the merits. That much is obvious at this point. The less obvious thing is why you do it. Which is puzzling, to say the least. And leads to uncharitable accusations.Report

              • I’ll scratch the “erstwhile,” then. Become one of you? No.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I don’t want a controversy, Tom! I want a definition that you and I can both agree upon!

                Here! How’s this! “Marriage is a legal extension of privileges between one man and one woman”. I’m even willing to start *THERE*.

                Is that a good enough definition for us to agree upon? Can we even start *THERE*??? If that one isn’t good enough, could *YOU* provide a definition? I promise to either agree to it or to tell you why I won’t.Report

              • Then do be charitable, Mr. Stillwater. There are some persons here @ LoOG for whom this is not just grist for the mill. If you read the whole conversation, please don’t mistake kindness for weakness, or for dishonesty.

                Because you would be wrong. There are very many people here who understand every word that has been said and every word that hasn’t been said. This is not bare-knuckle debate, this is not bloodsport.

                Neither has a single one of us just dropped off the turnip truck in discussing this issue. Not a virgin in sight.

                😉Report

              • JB, a legal marriage is whatever the state says one is. A man is whatever the state says one is. A woman is whatever the state says one is. A “person” is whatever the state says one is. The state can count a tail as a leg if it wants to. What do you want from me?

                He opened his eyes. O’Brien had drawn back the lever.

                ‘How many fingers, Winston?’

                ‘Four. I suppose there are four. I would see five if I could. I am trying to see five.’

                ‘Which do you wish: to persuade me that you see five, or really to see them?’

                ‘Really to see them.’

                ‘Again,’ said O’Brien.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                If you read the whole conversation, please don’t mistake kindness for weakness, or for dishonesty.

                Tom, you’re really pushing things here, inviting me to comment on this, no? For starters, I didn’t see any kindness. Second, all I saw was weakness and dishonesty. So the suggestion that the kindness shouldn’t be interpreted as weakness or dishonesty never crossed my mind.

                What I have seen is refraining from presenting your own argument against SSM in deference to the gay people reading these virtual pages. I don’t see that as an act of kindness. I see it as an act of cowardice. If you know that people will be offended by your argument and you care enough about them to care about their reactions then you’re a coward for either not making the argument, or for not changing your views.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

                So if marriage is whatever the state says it is, what do I do with this burden of proof?

                Just get the state to say something else?Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tom’s actually right about the burden of proof. But then we need to ask, what evidence would it take to meet that burden? A progressive answer would be that simply pointing out, correctly, that we have a right – really, bundle of rights – or privileges if you don’t want to use the term rights – that is denied to a class of citizens – is enough to meet that burden. Then the burden shifts to opponents. A Burkean response – which I actually accept, by the way – is that proponents also have a burden of showing lack of harm. But that doesn’t get us far – what level of burden? Proof beyond all doubt? That would be silly. No new law would ever be passed, not a very Burkean outcome, and of course leading to absurd consequences that no one of any political stripe would endorse. I’d say proof by a preponderance of the evidence would be enough. And by that standard, does anyone doubt proponents of SSM have met the standard? There is plenty of evidence of lack of harm – not conclusive, but strong. On the other side? Not so much. You hear a lot of advocacy of Burkean caution, then a lot of hand waving. The arguments of harm that do have some level of facial validity are undercut by 50 plus years of evolution in the meaning of marriage – they apply equally to heterosexual marriage as it has evolved. Which many social conservatives concede to their dismay.

                Of course some conservatives will argue a higher burden than a preponderance of the evidence – maybe proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t agree, though I also believe a higher burden could be met. But that gets us to another interesting part of the argument. Setting aside the moral question, it seems to me that the proper Burkean position is federalism. Let the states experiment and see where the evidence takes us. But that isn’t the position taken by self described conservatives in the U.S.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Larry – What, then, was the problem with slavery in the South? Or with state Jim Crow laws? Or with state laws not allowing blacks to marry whites, or live in certain parts of cities?

                “Setting the moral question aside” and Federalism’s a fine fix with any of those issues.

                If, that is, we really want to be putting the moral question aside.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I think Tod explicated that burden nicely above. And I also think that we can look to more than federalism among the states, because the experiences not only of the New England states that have had SSM for a few years now, but also the experiences of other Western nations with cultures similar to our own, provides us with substantial data. For me, this empirical data more than anything else overcomes the prudential (I can’t call it “Burkean” anymore) objection.Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tod K – we put the moral question aside because, increasingly, most of us believe the moral question points the other way – in favor of SSM.

                This is tricky ground, because it gets into the judicial versus legislative fix. But whatever you think about the justice of what I am about to say, I think it is factually correct. The SSM side is winning because increasingly the majority of people are convinced by the moral case in favor of, not against, SSM. If that were not the case, no amount of judicial ruling would succeed in changing the status quo (ultimately the same was true of the civil rights movement as well – the movement would have not succeeded without winning hearts and minds).

                So opponents are left with making positive harm arguments – which sound bigoted because they ARE bigoted (aside from certain arguments which, as I said, ALSO apply to current norms of heterosexual marriage – and, again, deployment of those arguments selectively against SSM sounds and is bigoted) – or falling back on Burkean caution.

                Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that someone who honestly believes in the moral argument against should accept federalism. My point is that the Burkean argument specifically logically leads to a federalist solution (or, depending upon level of burden of proof and how we view the evidence, even universal adoption of SSM).Report

              • LarryM, federalism is the only “conservative” option. If you check National Review Online and the like, there was little squawking when the NY state legislature instituted gay marriage. The process was legitimate under the principle of consent of the governed: no constitutionalist had any room to kick.

                Absent an amendment to the US Constitution—which appears to be an impossibility, leaving the issue to the states is the best possible outcome.

                [So too, since a constitutional amendment to ban abortion is an electoral impossibility, overturning Roe v. Wade would result only in returning the question to the individual states. Many conservatives are familiar with the Constitution, and are aware of that legal reality.]Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                the “anti-” side is at a rhetorical disadvantage: most analogies will end up invoking something very hurtful and negative,

                This is interesting. By saying this, you’re admitting that the available arguments in support of your position in fact undermine your position. Isn’t that evidence, circumstantial of course, that your argument is wrong?

                Here’s what I like about the way you think, Tom: you make it entirely clear that no amount of evidence or argument will shake your conviction that you’re right. So you make it crystal clear that your belief that you in fact are right reduces to your conviction despite the evidence.

                I think there’s a word for that phenomenon.Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m sort of with you on this, albeit I would state it more charitably.

                First of all, even setting aside the Burkean caution thing, a religious belief that SSM is wrong is (1) not bigotry, and (2) a valid reason to personally oppose SSM. But obviously on the other hand, if I don’t share those beliefs, “respect” for those beliefs certainly does not require me to oppose SSM. And given that a minority oppose SSM on religious grounds, a decreasing minority at that, SSM opponents aren’t winning on that basis.

                Which leave bigotry, which, yes, does exist – we don’t need to look hard for it, it is right out there on the surface (insert quote from the movie Barcelona about text versus the subtext) for many (not all, not even most) SSM opponents.

                But even sincere religious beliefs plus bigotry increasingly isn’t enough – the public opinion tide is changing quickly. Hence the need to rely on arguments about Burkean caution. (Of course if there was strong positive evidence of harm, SSM opponents would rely upon it; there isn’t, and it is when SSM opponents make the positive harm argument that they end up sounding bigoted (or revealing themselves as bigots in some cases)).

                And I don’t doubt the sincerity of people making the Burkean argument. Well, the sincerity of some of them. But I think one indication of the weakness of the argument is this: how many people who are really okay with homosexuality as an acceptable life style accept the Burkean argument? Precious few. Almost everyone making the Burkean argument also happen to belief that homosexuality is immoral. The exceptions: almost entirely weaselly politicians afraid of voter wrath (and that changes as public opinion changes) (or in come cases Republican opinion makers who are painfully obviously pandering to the base). That should tell us something.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to LarryM says:

                LarryM, arguing policy [what is the best utilitarian course] is different than arguing rights. If the Constitution [14th Amendment] demands gay marriage, then whether or not it’s good for the republic is moot.

                As for the “b” word, bigotry, I cautioned at the top of this that it always pops up, and I don’t want to be in the same time zone.

                Corollary to Godwin’s Law:

                “As an online discussion of gay marriage grows longer, the probability of somebody getting called a bigot approaches 1.”

                Besides, as noted above, under the First Amendment, I don’t do motivations. If somebody’s against it because of the Bible, or for it because of Will & Grace, it’s none of my business.

                [Most people can’t fully articulate their reasons anyway, and the “anti-” side has no desire to be called bigots, see corollary above.]Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to Stillwater says:

                Todd – silly me, sometimes context matter. I misread your argument, obviously.

                To respond to what you were arguing – I was to come extent arguing hypothetically, in terms of what I believe the implications of the Burkean argument are, as opposed to necessarily my own beliefs.

                I personally, as I think I made clear elsewhere, believe that there is plenty of evidence already to overcome Burkean caution.

                There is also, though, a deeper philosophical question. Let’s assume we lived in a world where the evidence of harm was stronger (or even existent), or the evidence of lack of harm was weaker. Could that trump the civil rights issue? At least to the extent of supporting a federalist approach until more evidence is in? I think that’s a tougher question than some SSM proponents think.

                But we don’t live in that world. In the world we live in, the case for SSM is overwhelmingly strong.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to LarryM says:

                I get that, and also am somewhat relieved to discover someone other than me uses the phrase “silly me.”

                If I may digress slightly (I’ll bring it around again), part of my issue in the post-NC vote world is that is seems like the fundamental question at hand, at it’s most raw core, is this:

                Are gay people somehow lesser, and should we welcome them into our community as they are?

                That, to me, feels like the actual question we always dance around but are afraid to articulate in public because of how it will make us look. To paraphrase myself somewhere up (or down?) thread, when I was in my 20s we avoided facing this question by asking ourselves “do we really want to put defenseless children at risk by letting them get near gays?” When I was in my 30s we avoided facing it by saying, “it’s not a question of whether or not they should have rights, its a all these activist judges they use. Let’s talk about activist judges now, and we’ll get to the gay rights thing later.” Now I’m in my 40’s and we avoid the question by saying,”what about religious freedom? I know that we’re not forcing churches to marry gays, but it’s still fascinating academic question… let’s talk about it for a while, and we’ll get the actual gay rights part later.” When I’m in my fifties, we might well be saying, “have we really talked enough about federalism yet? I think we should debate it, really. We can get to the equal rights thing later.”

                The thing is, I no longer believe these arguments are being had in good faith – whether that is a conscious thing or a subconscious thing, I don’t know. (And most likely varies from person to person.) I think we have them because they allow us to avoid having the debate that makes us uncomfortable as a society to admit we’re still having. And I’m tired of it. There’s always going to be some creative way for us to avoid the real question we seem incapable of asking. So I’m just saying screw it.

                Let’s just ask the damn question.Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to LarryM says:

                Todd,

                I suppose at one level I’m saying the same thing you are in a different way – that is, okay, let’s take the Burkean argument seriously, where does it get us? It gets us, I think, to a place where we AT LEAST have to accept the Federalist approach (and let’s be honest, as a PRACTICAL matter, that’s how we are going to get SSM – one state at a time – no one really thinks that this is going to be resolved at the Federal level, whether by judicial fiat or legislative action), and ARGUABLY more. So the Burkean argument is revealed as … not so much a pretext, I think most people advancing it believe it – but as ultimately a fig leaf covering either truly held but minority religious beliefs* or, yes, bigotry. And neither one is going to prevail in the long run.

                I also think, as a practical matter, your fundamental question has already been answered (they are not, and we should). I’m not sure that the fact that we haven’t completely won the SSM fight yet negates that fact. Granted that if I had skin in the game my feelings might be different, but, as much as I wish that society would move faster on this issue, of all of the things to get outraged about in the world as it is, this is not at the top of the list. Especially since we are winning.

                *And I agree with people who suggest that, for consistency sake, sincere religion based SSM opponents needs to be pretty strong opponents of ALL of the changes in the institution of marriage over the past 50 plus years, easy divorce laws included.Report

              • Avatar LarryM in reply to LarryM says:

                I do believe that, given the fact that a truly held religious belief isn’t bigotry, not to mention the fact that calling someone a bigot rarely wins an argument, even when true, that the “you guys are bigots” position doesn’t get us very far.

                Which doesn’t stop us, of course, from challenging those who make the religious argument by asking: so, then, why aren’t you advocating for making divorce much harder to get?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LarryM says:

                They are making divorce harder to get. It’s not an option at all for homosexual couples.Report

              • given the fact that a truly held religious belief isn’t bigotry

                That’s begging the question. The premise is not valid.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to LarryM says:

                Jaybird, but if all sex outside of marriage is adultery, they’re encouraging adultery. Damned if they do…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LarryM says:

                Maybe it’s only fornication. People fornicate. Ain’t nothing to be done about that.

                Well, maybe they could get married.Report

              • Avatar Rtod in reply to LarryM says:

                Agreed with Russell.

                When we look at periods of our own history -say, when we would not let a Jew hold public office, or blacks to vote based on religious arguments for those things – the question we ask when judging whether or not those systems were inherently bigoted is not “yeah, but did they really BELIEVE ?”Report

              • Avatar Rtod in reply to LarryM says:

                Also agreed with JB. People fornicate.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Which begs the question of why caution is warranted to begin with. To answer that, the Burkean has to get down to the specifics of the policy or practice in question and argue the merits of those institutions on their own terms – independently of an overriding concern for caution.

                I don’t think that’s true. One of the elements of Burkean caution is simply that we can’t predict the future that well, that with new things we don’t know all the consequences. And since darn near every policy ever developed provides independent support for that idea, I don’t think Burkeans need to get specific about a particular policy to make a meaningful argument for caution.

                Of course it’s much better when they are able to do so.

                And I’ve been a bit of a Burkean on SSM…cautiously supporting domestic partnerships (for gays and straights) back in the late ’80s, gravitating toward support for civil unions based on that, preferring state-by-state experiment with SSM, then looking at the evidence from those states and other countries, while all along being supportive of equal treatment for gays (sometimes it takes a while to figure out what all equal treatment really requires). Based on the last quarter-century of experience, though, I’m no longer able to be Burkean on SSM except for one point–Burke urged that big changes should not be made unless the great mass of society (not just in numbers, but across different social classes, etc.) favored it, and I’m with him on that simply because the backlash from moving too fast can be so ugly.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                So, you’re saying a person can be a Burkean on SSM just so long as they aren’t aware of the relevant evidence? Aren’t we saying the same thing here?Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

                No, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that social consensus in favor of the change is a necessary precondition for the change, and that social consensus will only coalesce slowly as evidence in its favor mounts. Rationally, sufficient evidence has accumulated, but that information is still percolating its way through the body politic and perhaps we aren’t yet at a point where sufficient consensus exists for a change which those who haven’t yet bought into the desirability of the change can feel like they could at least live with it. In other words, we’ve not yet reached a critical mass of people willing to change notwithstanding the evidence.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Stillwater,

                I’ll go with what Burt said, since he said it so well. His explanation is a part of what I’m saying, when our focus is at the social/group level.

                But the focus of your question is at the group level, and I would have to say yes. It may not be admirable to remain ignorant of the evidence, but it could be that the issue isn’t sufficiently important to the person to keep up with it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                In other words, we’ve not yet reached a critical mass of people willing to change notwithstanding the evidence.

                So, the Burkean isn’t irrational, he just accepts that other people are irrational and bases his policy prescriptions around that fact? If so, then Burkean caution is still justified by irrational intolerance, no?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                So, the Burkean isn’t irrational, he just accepts that other people are irrational and bases his policy prescriptions around that fact? If so, then Burkean caution is still justified by irrational intolerance, no?

                I’m sure a Burkean can be irrational. 😉 But, yes, your conclusion is accurate. Think of the response to integration of schools. There’s no doubt it was the right thing to do, but the response was really violent in places. And the scary thing is that we did move pretty slowly and cautiously in that case (first we integrated the post-graduate professional programs, then the universities, and only then moved to K-12), and yet there was still a violent backlash. God only knows what would have happened if they’d moved faster, earlier.

                But fortunately, in the case of SSM, the folks who are irrationally opposed are dwindling. Not as fast as we might like, but a lot faster than I predicted 10 years ago. We are on the verge of the big tipping point to where support is not only the majority position on the whole, but across most demographic groups.Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I wouldn’t call the Burkean argument bigoted, but it doesn’t really support an absolute ban on SSM. It’s based on the idea that change should be approached with caution, not that radical change should never happen. One could argue on Burkean grounds for, say, a gradual, localized social experimentation of allowing SSM. One could perhaps even make the case that this has, in practice, been more or less the way the change has occurred in the US.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kyle Cupp says:

                I’d respond by asking the Burkean why gradual rather than quick? What potential disruptions, etc. justify caution in this case?

                I’ve not heard a compelling, non-question-begging answer to this question. But I’m all ears!Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp in reply to Stillwater says:

                The Burkean, taking a line from Donald Rumsfeld, might allude to the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. In other words, the long term consequences of redefining marriage to include SSM have yet to be seen. All we can do is speculate based on the short term consequences we’ve already observed. Gradual change allows for a better handle of the possible consequences of social change.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Kyle Cupp says:

                One could perhaps even make the case that this has, in practice, been more or less the way the change has occurred in the US.

                Right. Exactly. At some point, you have to stop saying “BURKEAN CAUTION” as if it’s the end of an argument. We’ve done Burkean caution, folks; get on with it.Report

              • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                All due respect, but Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004. 8 years is hardly revelatory when talking about a society.

                How long did it take us to figure out that massive public housing projects did at least as much harm as good?Report

              • Thanks for pointing this out. Look, I support SSM through-and-through. But we cannot look at 8 years and say “See?!”

                The problem is that it will take decades to know what, if any, cultural effects it might have, and I’m not willing to tell a generation of gays that they cannot marry “just in case.”Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

                And Will – isn’t this where letting the states decide comes in? Labratories of democracy and all that?Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

                Except, as others (North’s situation seems the most precarious) have mentioned, when you have marriages recognized in one state, but not another, you have the possibility of a couple visiting a state where their marriage isn’t recognized and, say a horrible accident occurs, now you have the real possibility of hospital visitation being denied, or angry and disapproving in-laws swooping in to challenge next of kin status, etc.Report

              • The United States is, we’ve recently discovered, not the only place in the universe.Report

              • Burke himself would be appalled at this abuse of his famous breaking with the Foxites. The man wanted Catholic Emancipation in Britain in the 18th century. That’s pretty much as radical as it gets short of demanding you lop off the king’s head.Report

              • To be a bit less pithy:

                Burkean logic, which was essentially a caution against radicalism would more likely argue that legalization of same-sex marriage is more likely to allow society to absorb the acceptance of same-sex family units by using the law as a cushion. In effect, it’s such a gradualist change compared to overthrowing the entire status quo (that is throwing out legal definitions of marriage entirely, say) that it would be a way for the law to help smooth the changes happening in society into a more equitable manner.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Among politicians and pundits, at least, there are several other subsets, whose opposition to SSM is in no way based on either logic or beliefs:

            * tribalists
            *opportunists
            * bullies
            * cowardsReport

        • Avatar North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Jason ol’ buddy, where on earth did I call him a bigot? I may have alluded to calling him a Republican but Republican =/= Bigot in my mind at least.Report

  7. Avatar St.John McCloskey says:

    Bravo bravo! 🙂 has anyone else seen this?

    Report

  8. Avatar Sam says:

    It is insane that we have to dance around the plain fact that the entirety of the Republican establishment hates gays. Why? What good is accomplished by pretending that this plain truth isn’t the case? These are people who routinely demand that homosexuality remain closeted at all times, in all environments, always. What else could possibly fuel that than rank hatred of people that they view to be the other?

    As for the people claiming that the GOP is anything other than a party in love with hating gays, they are doing so only because they don’t want it to be true, not because there is any available evidence pointing to that conclusion.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Sam says:

      It is insane that we have to dance around the plain fact that the entirety of the Republican establishment hates gays.

      Ted Olson and Dick Cheney aren’t part of the Republican establishment?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Sam says:

      It is also important to point out that there are probably a number of Republicans who don’t gays, and might actually like gays, but who view it as politically expedient to pursue an anti-gay agenda. I don’t know if this makes them better or worse than people who actually do hate gays, but I think the phenomenon is real. And it is not exclusive to Republicans or specific to the gay issue. I’m sure there are Democrats who hate gays or are otherwise homophobic (in my book, homophobia and hating gays are two different things) who support a pro-gay agenda because it is politically expedient. Generally speaking, it wouldn’t shock me if this was the more common manifestation of this phenomenon, with folks being uncomfortable with certain subgroups but purporting to support them because it is advantageous to. Like all those folks who supported bussing so long as it was OTHER people’s kids and schools.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Sam says:

      I don’t think the entire Republican establishment hates gays. They’re much more cynical in that they use the anti-gay sentiments of the party’s evangelical base for political advantage, much like they use the abortion issue and other cultural issues. It’s a means of divide and conquer. They’ve done the same with race. I doubt that Romney loses much sleep at night over gay marriage, but I’m sure he’ll be out touting the party line for political gain.Report

      • Avatar Rtod in reply to Michelle says:

        See, I think it’s more insidious than that. Take the last administration. I know Rove and Chaney had no problems with gays, and I’d bet my next paycheck W didn’t either. In fact, urban college educated Rs – which is what the professional part of the GOP is madeup of – skew pro-gay on issues, if I recall correctly.

        What does it say about them, then, that they are willing to throw an entire people under the bus in favor of bigotry for the purpose of political power?Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to Rtod says:

          It says that they know how to play to their audience. And that Andrew Sullivan is right–the Republican Party have become all about power and nothing else. They’re professional nihilists.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michelle says:

            “say what you will about the tenants of National Socialism…”

            But seriously, both major parties (and really every other successful one everywhere) are about power uber alles, and will compromise as much as they have to to get it and hold it. (and to the extent they won’t compromise, it’s because they think it’s a losing play).Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michelle says:

        Along those lines, pro SSM’ers were willing to give Obama a pass on opposing SSM because they “knew in their hearts” that what Obama said wasn’t really what he thought. But that subtlety of discernment goes out the window when the subject has an elephant pin instead of a donkey.

        I submit that for a lot of GOP candidates, the issue of SSM is a matter of indifference rather than opposition and like abortion, their true wish is for the controversy to evaporate.Report

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Burt,

          This is giving bigotry a free pass. If Republicans want this issue to evaporate, stop standing in lock-step against gay service, gay couples, gay visitation, gay everything. Stop opposing gays at every imaginable turn.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Sam says:

            I don’t believe that they have. I’m sure that at least a few Republicans have voted “pro-gay” on at least some issues recently. Maybe that number is small, but when i have time to look it up im sure I’ll find its greater than zero.Report

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Incidentally: Obama was given a pass because he made other decisions in his administration that were plainly seen as pro-gay, like abandoning the defense of DOMA, like working to end Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, etc.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Obama’s stated position (you can find it on whitehouse.gov, unless it’s been changed in the past day) was in favor of civil unions with all the rights and privileges of marriage. That is, the marriages in all but name that Romney said recently he couldn’t support. You can call that weaseling or pragmatism or hair-splitting, but you can’t call it bigotry.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Note that not all the pro-gay people are on board with “civil unions”, either, claiming that it’s just “separate but equal for gay people”.Report

            • Civil unions are the weird middle ground you hit when your brain says “marriage” but your gut still says “yuck”.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                Civil unions are what everyone should have. Jaybird’s MES and MEG (married in the eyes of the state and married in the eyes of god) points out this problem.

                But this maypole has already been danced around and I didn’t get a seat at the end.Report

              • I support that position. It is never going to happen, but I support it.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                I think it was a failed tactic: let’s try slipping gay marriage through by not using the m-word. Too clever by half.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                No, I mean, the state has no business saying that you’re married in the eyes of God, and it has no business saying that you’re married in love.

                All it can say is that you have contractual obligations to each other, and rights and privileges towards each other. That’s a civil union.

                I’ll note: I think that civil unions (or marriages, for that matter) are fraught with peril if they’re allowed to be decided at the state level. It is a supreme injustice for my wife and I to arrange our legal existence under the laws of the state of California, and then drive through some other state on the way to D.C. and find out that the stroke she just had the dropped her into a vegetative state doesn’t, in fact, allow me to have the power of medical decisions, I have to call her parents.

                I have no idea if that particular exception scenario is possible in this day and age. But when it comes to civil unions, or marriages, it is evident to me that there is both a state component (joined people count like *this* for inheritance or whatever) and a federal component (joined people count like *this* for federal taxes or whatever).

                This whole “the states should decide” thing is also crazy, on that basis.Report

              • Yes! I tossed out a comment about this yesterday, expecting a lot more harrumphing. Little did I know we all agreed already!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                This whole “the states should decide” thing is also crazy, on that basis.

                Conservatives have been pushing a line of reasoning for a while now that lots of things we think of as rights are in fact privileges (eg, voting). On that score, if marriage-before-the-state is a privilege, then each state could decide the matter as it sees fit. And if so, then states are justified in restricting the privilege to only certain people. Or so one line of reasoning goes.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater says:

                That makes sense as long as you’re a closed state.

                Once you’re an open state, drop dead. If I’m married – in California – and that comes with rights and privileges and responsibilities as dictated by the state of California, every other state should be required to recognize the legal rights and privileges and responsibilities that are transferable.

                That’s most of them. Not all of them, but most of them. If I move from California to Texas, and Texas doesn’t allow married persons to qualify for spousal medical benefits, okay, that’s Texas’s call, and I should know that before I move. It involves the rights and privileges and responsibilities of myself and my spouse, but it also involves the rights and privileges and responsibilities of the state and employers that operate there.

                If California, on the other hand, allows you as the spouse to make medical decisions absent a written document by your spouse detailing otherwise, Texas ought not to be able to revoke that.

                (Texas and California and their respective marriage laws are made up for the purposes of this example).

                If we cannot agree on a reasonable commonality for what it means “to be married”, we’re doing it wrong. If your position is such that a logical conclusion on your policy position is that we will have no reasonable commonality, your policy position sucks and lacks nuance.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Yes, that ‘s why I included “weaseling” as a choice.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Civil unions are separate but not at all equal. I just wish everyone could finally admit this. Even NPR got it wrong this morning.

              Don’t believe me? Try filing joint federal income taxes with a civil union. Try sponsoring a civil-union-partner for immigration. Try to claim a civil-union-partner’s Social Security benefits. Try getting on his federal employee health insurance.

              Note that even if we repealed DOMA, civil unions still wouldn’t help with any of these things.Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    “As an opponent of the most radical redefinition of marriage in history (more radical than outlawing polygamy)…” This I never get. It would seem, at least, to be less radical than the development of the love marriage in the West, although probably not unrelated.

    As for Obama winning in November, I’m not so sure this will clinch it for him. It’s clear that the younger generation will cheer him in this, but it’s not so clear to me that they’ll venture into the Outernet and vote.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I’m with you on the first part. Marrying for love seems like the most radical thing that’s ever happened to marriage, and it’s weird that conservatives want to talk about the timeless institution of marriage and its thousands of years of history, but only if we pretend it was always 1950.

      As for the second, I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter either way. It seems really implausible to me that Obama is in any danger of losing this election.Report

      • Avatar Rod in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        “As for the second, I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter either way. It seems really implausible to me that Obama is in any danger of losing this election.”

        I’ve been pondering this. Only seven years after Islamic Fundamentalists committed what is likely to go down in history as the most successful and spectacular act of terrorism in history, while we were at war in the Middle East, a man named Barack Hussein Obama, with a fairly thin resume, managed to be elected as our first African-American President. Say what else you want to about him, he’s a hell of a politician.

        I think it’s safe to assume that Mr. Obama and his advisers have concluded that this announcement will help him or at least not hurt him. And I don’t mean that cynically at all. To NOT make such a calculation would be political malpractice. After all, you can’t accomplish much if you don’t hold office.Report

    • Avatar Rtod in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Oh, I’m not saying that this issue cinches it for Obama. It might well make it tighter, though I would be surprised if it did so by much. (Seriously, was anyone whose pet issue is the Great Gay Threat going to have voted Obama anyway?)

      But he’s still going to win. And the trajectory of the GLBT movemement will continue on the same curve it has been for the past 30 years, and by the time my kids are my agent this will be a long dead issue.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Rtod says:

        Well, we’ll see- certainly every liberal I know is extremely confident that he’ll win. With the Americans, I wonder how many of them will be confident enough to skip voting, given that it’s a sure thing. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but it’s hard for me to tell how far, “This thing is all over- Obama’s surely going to win,” is from James Dean’s famous, “That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.”Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Not me. I think it’s going to be very close, and the disaster of all three branches being controlled by the closed loop that’s the modern Republican party is quite possible.Report

          • Romney’s got a lot of work to do to close the 9-point gap in Ohio, then.

            Which is not to say he can’t. There’s a lot of time left.Report

          • Avatar Michelle in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I agree that it could be close and that the decisive factor will be the economy.Report

          • Avatar Rod in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Putting on my Karnak hat and pressing the envelope to my forehead…

            I see the GOP losing seats in the House but retaining the majority. Things look bad for Dems in the Senate because of which seats are up for election this year; they may lose the Senate but the Repubs won’t get anything like a filibuster-proof majority. The White House is still a toss-up this far out.

            If Romney wins and they take the Senate, it will be interesting to see if they are willing to nuke the Senate rules.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Rod says:

              it will be interesting to see if they are willing to nuke the Senate rules.

              Will they be willing to maximize their power while ignoring any long-term consequences? Yeah, that’s a real puzzler.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                You can do a lot of damage in four years, yes.

                If you break off the last couple of governors to do so, enjoy trying to re-create them for the next 20 when you’re in the minority.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                They’ll also start appoint law school students to the Supreme Court. Or, what the hell, the unborn.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Let’s say four justices retire, and we get four right-wing conservatives who make the Pope look like a progressive, and the court is now 7-2.

                Didn’t we play this game before? What happened? Should we have reason to expect it will work out any differently this time?

                If 1930-1994 replays itself, you’d be looking at a largely Liberal majoritarian emphasis for 64 years in the legislative and executive branches. The Great Society v.2 somewhere in the middle, there.

                The GOP winning the next election in a sweep is the worst thing that could possibly happen to the GOP in the long term. They’d be a minority party until after I die. It would be horrible for honest conservativism as well. Guys like me who get ranty about civil liberties would probably be served about as well as we are now (not much). But the Democratic party would have one hell of a long run.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Rufus F. says:

          not extremely confident. 20% or less chance that Romney wins it. but that’s not my bet — that’s someone who’s far wiser (and more connected) than I.
          Romney was done in by Christie and Rubio & companyReport

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The biggest thing that has to be overcome is the sheer amount of cultural momentum up to this point. In the 80’s, the idea of two guys getting married was a punchline. It’s a script for a sitcom. Two characters were going to get married but wait! The witness signed in the wrong place! The groom and his bride didn’t get married… the groom and his best friend did! Hilarity ensues.

    And, for a lot of folks, this is exactly as much thought as they put into the idea of two guys getting married. Just like that one episode of that one sitcom.

    Now, when it comes to changing things, I have a thing that I hope and a thing that I fear.

    My hope: most of the people who oppose gay marriage are people who oppose it but don’t really care. “We’ve never done it this way.” “Two guys getting married is new and different!” “You mean like that one episode of that one sitcom?”

    When they go into the ballot box, they vote against gay marriage or for “protecting traditional marriage” because, well, they’re opposed. That’s what opposed people do.

    The upside is that these people’s minds can be changed fairly easily. A friend who comes out. Finding out that one’s “bachelor” uncle and his “roommate” are, in fact, gay. A president who says “I support gay marriage.”

    They’re opposed to gay marriage for no reason other than “I’ve always been opposed to gay marriage”. They’re not, pardon the pun, married to the opinion.

    The fear I have is that there is a huge chunk of those folks who are, in fact, married to their opinion. Despite their parents’, friends’, and their own divorces, they still believe that marriage is under attack from gay marriage and thus a defense of marriage entails opposition to gay marriage… and their parents’, friends’, and their own divorces are evidence for the need to oppose gay marriage.

    The scary thing is that these two very different kinds of folks look a lot alike on the surface.

    It seems to me that the best course of action is to fight as if the majority of folks out there are the former “we’ve always done it this way” type… but I’m a married, white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, dude. It’s probably easy for me to say that as I will never have as much skin in the game as my dear friends who are being assailed by the latter bigoted types.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      “I’m a white straight male” is a cop-out.

      If you don’t have an opinion? Fine! Just don’t have an opinion. You don’t have to invent a justification for not having an opinion. Don’t try to claim that you don’t have to go to the effort of forming or defending an opinion because you aren’t (insert category here).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

        There is a difference between having skin in the game and having an opinion. I have the latter, not the former.

        The fact that I don’t have the former doesn’t mean that I don’t have the latter.

        I mean, seriously, if someone showed up in the thread to argue the pro-Protecting Our Children And Protecting Traditional Marriage Because Our Children And Traditional Marriage Are Important argument and, somehow, it came out that they were white, male, and straight… would you believe them if they said that they had skin in the game?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      They’re opposed to gay marriage for no reason other than “I’ve always been opposed to gay marriage”. They’re not, pardon the pun, married to the opinion.

      One reason I took the time to rail against automatically labelling SSM opponents as definitionally bigots is that when you confront a person such as Jaybird describes here, and call them “bigots,” the reaction you should predict is entrenchment and polarization of opinion, not self-critical thought and ideological flexibility resulting in an ultimate change of opinion. If you called me a “bigot,” my first response would be to justify myself, not to change my poisition. And it wouldn’t matter how convincing the balance of your argument was.Report

  11. Avatar Koz says:

    I find this subject in general to be horrendously tiresome, but I do want to mention that I am more impressed what Jason has written in this thread and his willingness to get on the other side of this groupthink than anything else he has ever written on this site, especially considering his personal interest in the matter.Report

  12. Avatar Sam says:

    Romney’s going to aggressively run on the Federal Marriage Amendment: http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/05/10/481772/romney-adviser-gillespie-constitutional-marriage-ba/ Worth considering.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam says:

      Can you think of 13 states that won’t sign such a critter? I think that it’s possible to do that now.

      As such, I’m wondering if that announcement isn’t a finger in the wind.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Sam says:

      I think it would be a huge mistake for Romney to back such an amendment and wonder how Mr. “I’m more pro-gay than Teddy Kennedy” is going to make that turn about look genuine. Besides, like the constitutional amendment to ban abortion, it’s pretty much of a non-starter. Candidates may promise to back it as a symbolic gesture to the base, but it won’t go anywhere. The Republican establishment has been playing its base for years.Report

  13. Avatar Scott says:

    Sadly I think the those fighting the NC amendment were hamstrung by the recent allegations against the exec dir of the NC Dem party, Jay Parmley.Report

  14. Avatar Scott says:

    He stepped down after reports that he sexually harassed a male staffer and gave his now ex girlfriend HIV.Report

  15. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    James,

    “So creationists who reject evolution aren’t irrational?”

    Young earth creationists? Yes. But there are a lot of ID folks who are simply attributing God as the catalyst for evolutionary change rather than natural forces. That’s not irrational. That’s a spiritual belief. Because science cannot actually prove them wrong, that means calling them irrational would be a stretch. We could say that science seems to indicate that natural forces, not the supernatural, were the driving force behind evolution and we’re probably right but there is always room for the unknown.

    I am totally comfortable with saying that the preliminary data seems to indicate the children of these relationships turn out fine. But, as the source that Russell shared notes: “Research exploring the diversity of parental relationships among gay and lesbian parents is just beginning.” If you will notice it primarily focuses on the children of lesbians because up until recently few homosexual men were able to raise children (it’s much easier for a lesbian to get pregnant than for a gay man to locate a willing surrogate). Given that monogamy seems to still be less common among gay men I think there is reason to remain agnostic on the results of their parenting. And that’s not irrational or bigoted. It’s a simple acknowledgement of new social dynamics that have barely been explored.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      So monogamy is not common among groups for whom marriage is illegal, you say?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jaybird, I think you meant to say legal….correct?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

        Actually no. Monogamy IS common among lesbians.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Should we allow lesbian marriage then while forbidding homosexual male marriage until they demonstrate monogamous habits?Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

            You’re reading into my comment. What I am suggesting is that you have the least monogamous group among our population (gay men) just now starting to adopt children in significant numbers. I’d like to see if that affects the way their children grow up as opposed to (mostly) monogamous lesbian women.Report

            • This comment implies that the same subset of gay men who enjoy the lower-than-average monogamy rates also choose to get married and raise children. It does not seem to admit the possibility/likelihood that that subset of gay men who would choose to marry and raise children might also have monogamy rates commensurate with other married couples.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Given that marriage is illegal for homosexual men (with a handful of exceptions), I’m not particularly surprised that many homosexual men are not acting married.

              I’d be interested in seeing if homosexual men living in states where their marriages are recognized by the state actually start getting (and staying) married.

              The position that says that we should hold off on allowing marriage until we see how unmarried lifepartnerships *WITH CHILDREN* do is one that is topsy-turvy. Hell, I could understand (note: understand does not necessarily imply agreement with) the argument that said that gays shouldn’t be allowed to adopt until they could demonstrate heterosexual levels of restraint when it came to adultery, spousal abuse, and divorce in their marriages… but to deny marriage because you want to see how the kids turn out?

              They have kids together. This is one of the definitions of being married (in one of the important senses of the term, anyway).Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                Given that marriage is illegal for homosexual men (with a handful of exceptions), I’m not particularly surprised that many homosexual men are not acting married.

                Then how come lesbian women are?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                because women are simultaneously less monogamous than men (see studies showing preferences changing based on ovulation cycle),a nd more accepting of societal pressure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                “A suitcase.”
                “A moving van.”

                I have a handful of evolutionary psychology answers, if you’d like. Would you prefer I open them with “Chicks are totally always…” or “Women have an evolutionary predisposition to…”? I can work with either.

                (Also: Should we recognize lesbian marriages on a different timeline than homosexual male marriages or on the same one?)Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              The least monogamous group in our population are the prostitutes, who can both get married and have kids.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              ahh, hello mr. skeptic. I feel like most people misread what you said — you’re deliberately leaving it open to revision with more data.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kimmi says:

                Exactly. Like I said, my gut tells me that gay couples won’t ruin their kids. In fact I am so sure of that I’m not going to use it as an excuse to oppose gay mariage. But I’m also willing to say this is still a relatively new phenomenon and I’d like to see what the data shows us in a decade or two.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                and I’d like to see what the data shows us in a decade or two.

                Well, we’re all for that, but there’s only way to get that data.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to James Hanley says:

                are we? would people really be willing to revise their stance on gay marriage or adoption because of this? What if there was just a small statistical effect, better explained by something else?Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          in an atmosphere where more than 50% of the population has cheated, do we really care if some people are less monogamous than others?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      But there are a lot of ID folks who are simply attributing God as the catalyst for evolutionary change rather than natural forces.

      If they’re simply doing that, they’re theistic evolutionists. It’s the point at which they say “There is no way to get from A to B by the normal paths of evolution; Something must have broken the rules and performed a miracle” that they become IDists.Report

    • I’m not arguing that there isn’t room for more research, Mike (though if you look through the references to the paper you’ll see papers about gay male parents that are nearly two decades old). However, there’s enough of a body of evidence to make opposition on those grounds shaky, at best. In addition, the paper I linked is a decade old, so you have to account for that phraseology in the text. More data have emerged since then, which is why the AAP reaffirmed its stance on the issue two years ago.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Less common among gay men than whom? It seems there are too many other variables in play that would make comparisons of monogamy rates between gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals really hard to make useful.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Young earth creationists? Yes.
      Good, then we’re agreed on the issue of evidence. Theistic evolutionists don’t reject evolutionary theory–I wasn’t talking about them.

      I am totally comfortable with saying that the preliminary data seems to indicate the children of these relationships turn out fine. But, as the source that Russell shared notes: “Research exploring the diversity of parental relationships among gay and lesbian parents is just beginning.”
      But it’s not only how much evidence, but the direction of the evidence. And so far all the evidence points in the same direction. There’s also the fact that the arguments for the harms of SSM lack a coherent empirical logic. You need to both demonstrate findings and provide a coherent logical explanation of them (or if you’re still in the theoretical stage, provide a logically coherent hypothesis). Opponents of SSM cannot do either of those. It’s not the case that the claims of no harm from SSM have only a small lead on the claim of harm–it’s that the claims of harm haven’t even left the stable to get to the starting gate.

      Given that monogamy seems to still be less common among gay men I think there is reason to remain agnostic on the results of their parenting.
      If you think there’s any way we can prevent becoming parents by preventing marriage, I think you’re not looking closely–not just at gays but at American society as a whole. And if you want to take this track, then you’re going to put yourself in the position of having to be more approving of SSM for lesbians than for heterosexual marriage. If you’re willing to seriously consider that path, then let’s discuss it, but I don’t think that’s what you intended.

      And, seriously, gay men are not especially non-monogamous–men are. The non-monogamous behavior of many heterosexual men is constrained primarily by lack of opportunity, because their preferred mating partners tend to be a little more selective than the guys are. But when it’s guys looking for guys, that constraint is gone. (And when it’s girls looking for girls, the constraint is doubled.)Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to James Hanley says:

        “Given that monogamy seems to still be less common among gay men I think there is reason to remain agnostic on the results of their parenting.”
        I don’t take this sentence as saying we should prevent SSM or really feel one way or the other about it as of yet, but some of you seem to be reading it that way. Is that correct?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I am not gay and therefore lack any meaningful insights to offer anyone. Yet I sense part of the problem we face as a society, learning to adapt to single sex families, is that we’ve never seen them in public before. While the LGBT community was forced into the shadows, it was warped into the old stereotypes we are just now overcoming as a society. Being old enough to remember the old stereotypes about race and gender, how did our society overcome those stereotypes? By simple exposure. I am old enough to remember when the accusation, not proof, but mere accusation of homosexuality was enough to end a career. If the gay and lesbian communities were not exactly paragons of domestic and monogamous bliss , there were consequences to establishing such relationships.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Smith in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Monogamy amongst gay men less common?

      Stereotype and hogwash. Monogamy amongst straights was never that common either, else prostitution would be an infeasible career choice and penalties for adultery wouldn’t have been necessary. Societies generally deal with it in one of two ways, either they legalize it or they get all righteous trying to burn the “temptresses.”

      How many wives have Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, and Rush Limbaugh gone through again? How many politicians of either side been caught in an affair? What’s the divorce rate amongst straights? What percentage of straights are actually monogamist and how many of them trade in a marriage or significant other every year or two?

      Insisting that gay men are promiscuous and leering at any man on the street is not dissimilar to the arguments made about black men “lusting after white women” during the days of Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws.Report

  16. Avatar Damon says:

    Most of the comments were tl/dr so I expect few will comment on my comments, still…

    I always been curious over this debate and I’ve had some discussions about this from time to time. I think the discussion has gone the wrong way. Here’s how I see it.
    Gays want marriage or civil union (I see marriage as a civil union with a religious component) because of the tax and various legal benefits of the union. I imagine that gays don’t care what other people think of their marriages, so the reasons to have marriage can only be about what additional benefits you gain by the change in your legal status to “married”. All the effort has been to get the state to allow this benefit for those not currently getting. Let me repeat that.

    You petition the state to grant you a favor.

    Screw that. Get rid of the legal and tax benefits (i.e. subsidies) that are conveyed by the state for this union; hell get rid of all the state involvement if you like, and the problem goes away. If no one gets any benefits, the only folks that will care about gay marriage will be the religious folks, but there are quite a number of religious organizations that support gay folks and allow gay marriage.

    Instead of fighting to gain a benefit, fight to destroy the benefit for all of us. We’ll all be better off. I’d happy support that.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Damon says:

      “Gays want marriage or civil union (I see marriage as a civil union with a religious component) because of the tax and various legal benefits of the union. I imagine that gays don’t care what other people think of their marriages, so the reasons to have marriage can only be about what additional benefits you gain by the change in your legal status to “married”. ”

      I will leave it up to any gays reading to answer for themselves, but in my experience the gay people I know want to be allowed to get married first and foremost because they want to fully be part of the community, and because they want to be seen and treated as equals. I think everything else, like tax status, is pretty secondary.

      Again, I’ll let someone with firsthand experience correct me if need be.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Smith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I’ll speak on behalf of a few gay friends here and say that it depends on the person, couple, and circumstances.

        For many of them you are correct, it is a matter of full membership in the community and equality. However, that phrase “equality” involves certain rights.

        One “right” is the right to participate in the adoption process. “Marriages” are given preference over “Civil Unions” in the adoption process in many states, and even single heterosexuals given preference over those in civil unions in a few. So that’s an abridged right that means unequal treatment.

        One “right” is the right to take care of their partner/spouse when ill and make medical decisions if necessary. Even with a civil union certificate in hand, many states won’t recognize it; better be extra careful about choosing where to take a skiing vacation in case someone has an accident, winds up in intensive care, and all of a sudden the in-laws are pounding the door with legal paperwork demanding you be removed from the decision process. Since New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming don’t recognize even out-of-state civil unions you’re better off getting your passport updated and heading for somewhere in the Alps.

        Then there’s the “right” to domestic benefits for your spouse if you take a federal position. Which doesn’t exist.

        Then there’s the right to designate your spouse as beneficiary on life insurance, 401(k), savings, and other property in case something goes horribly, horribly wrong one day. You want them taken care of. Again, in states where there’s a difference between “Marriage” and “Civil Unions” or even worse, states like North Carolina where your out of state marriage or civil union won’t be recognized, all it takes is one set of in-laws to cause all sorts of hell.

        The right to adopt your partner/spouse’s children as yours in name? Might not exist, might not be recognized by other states or by the feds again, depending on how strict a judge is being about DOMA on that particular day.

        “Being seen and treated as equals” means something. It means equal rights and equal protection under the law. You can’t separate the two.

        Completely offtopic, is there something strange with the commenting on the site? About half the time I post I see buttons for things like bold and italic and about half the time I don’t. I’m also not entirely sure one or two of my comments went up because I got an error page asking me to enter text.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Damon says:

      Damon setting aside your simplification of what gay people desire which of course varies I find your proposed alternative (which I affectionately refer to as the Libertarian cop-out) wanting.

      The reaction of the great masses to news that the gay minority is seeking to take away their marriage privledges from them would land somewhere on the spectrum between “what the fish!??” and “break out the torches and ropes”. It’s politically absolutely impossible.

      Certainly in theory it could work to level a mountain to bring everyone down to the same level. On the other hand it’s a lot easier to simply climb up the mountain.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to North says:

        North, and et al replies..

        Thanks for the very insightful comments and replies.

        Yep, I agree that removing the legal benefits from marriage isn’t going to happen. What Patrick said is true, all these laws and guidelines about adoption, benefits, etc. follow as a result of the marriage, i.e. state sanction. More the pity too since the people don’t see this as a way to segregate them and keep them divided. The difficulties that Patrick describes are problems with the State itself, not with gays or straights. The state shouldn’t have any input into my private life, or yours, or anyone’s, or at least, a whole hell of a lot less than it currently has. Frankly, it outrages me that someone else has the hubris to tell me what I and cannot do with my life.
        Now, as to North’s comments about it being easier to climb the mountain; yes, it is easier now, sadly. It is easier to fight for a scrap off the table than to break the chains of bondage. I’d much rather have the pitch forks and torches. Everyone talks about equality, but really, gays getting the right to “marriage” isn’t “equality”, they are just joining the “in group” that’s getting a benefit or subsidy. Some other group is still on the outs. By successfully joining the “in group”, the power of the state increases, as it forces more rules and regulations and control onto the population for this incremental improvement. True equality is where all are viewed/treated equally—and that means no special benefits for anyone.
        Addendum: My comments about what gays want were purely related to the marriage issue. The bigger question of “what gays want” was not part of my comments and I’m not qualified to comment on what that might be, but I expect, it’s similar to what most folk want.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Damon says:

          Libertarians talk about Liberty, Damon, but what would truly maximize liberty would be if the Libertarians of this country all selected and relocated en masse to a small state where they would have the electoral clout to enact their preferred policies and demonstrate the superiority of the libertarian governing philosophy.

          In general libertarians have not done so which means they put other practical and personal considerations against the pure interests of libertarianism. Gays on the other hand are not generally libertarian (though certainly some libertarians are gay); they have no obligation to sacrifice their interests and social progress on the altar of libertarian ideals by pursuing a politically impossible and poisonous goal. This, advocacy for same sex marriage instead of advocacy against opposite sex marriage.Report

          • Avatar damon in reply to North says:

            “Libertarians talk about Liberty, Damon, but what would truly maximize liberty would be if the Libertarians of this country all selected and relocated en masse to a small state where they would have the electoral clout to enact their preferred policies and demonstrate the superiority of the libertarian governing philosophy.” True indeed. That may indeed happen in the future. To date, things have not quite worked out, primarily becuase there is no frontier to start new in. Perhaps if we survive long enough for another frontier to open up. When it does, I’m certainly going to be looking into it, if I’m still around.

            And my comments were not saying that gay folk should focus their desire on an “impossible” goal vs their current marriage goal, but that WE ALL should be focusing on that goal. We, as a society won’t because most have come to believe that the State is the solution, that a law changes reality. More’s the pity.Report

    • Avatar Rod in reply to Damon says:

      I don’t recall getting married (hetero) for the purpose of the legal or tax bennies.Report

  17. Avatar Will H. says:

    Just wondering…
    How do you feel about divorced people not being able to marry in the Catholic church?
    What kind of anti-divorcee nonsense is that?Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Will H. says:

      I have no problem with it. At all.

      There is a huge gulf between saying, “In my church, we’re not going to allow marriages under these circumstances [including SSM],” and saying “we’re not going to let this particular minority be married under any circumstance by any church, even if that church is OK with it – and what’s more, if it looks like those people have been granted some legal rights through secular mechanisms like civil union or domestic partnership, we’re going to work to have those stripped way as well.”

      Seriously, how is that difference so hard to see?Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to RTod says:

        That looks like three steps in there to me, rather than just two.
        I’m not down with the idea of government requiring any faith, denomination, or congregation to perform any ceremonies, whether marriage, funereal rites, christenings and the like, etc., or making any modifications to those ceremonies.
        And likewise, I’m not down with the idea of a church being politically active or a tool of political activism.
        Strict separation.
        I don’t see what’s so difficult to understand about that.
        No bigotry involved. I don’t even need to be a member of the church to defend their rights.
        And likewise, if I thought some gay person was being discriminated against for employment or educational purposes, I wouldn’t stand for that either.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will H. says:

          But as I said in the OP, the problem is that secular solutions are being fought as well.

          Look, if you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish” I have zero problems with that. I don’t see it as bigoted (though I suppose it might be).

          If you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish, and I don’t want them to happen in any other faith’s place of worship,” then I have a problem and think you’re carrying your faith into places it does not belong. At this point I’m suspicious of bigotry, but I’ll take you at your (I believe misguided) word if you say you’re not saying it out of bigotry.

          If you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish, and I don’t want them to happen in any other faith’s place of worship, and what’s more I want to strip any secular rights these people have as well just to show them,” then not only do I have a problem with what you advocate, but I no longer find you credible when you say “but I’m not anti-gay.” And making public policy that governs gays based on your anti-gay feelings is – I’m sorry – bigoted by definition, even if that label is over used.

          Agree, disagree, but that’s my case and I’m sticking to it.Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            There are two separate issues here. One involves the government, and the other involves the churches.

            If you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish, and I don’t want them to happen in any other faith’s place of worship, and what’s more I want to strip any secular rights these people have as well just to show them,”

            I was raised in the Church of Christ Disciples, the kind that doesn’t allow any musical instruments. In fact, I remember a two-part serial of a sermon with handout notes as to why we should never, ever, ever allow musical instruments into our church.
            Right across the parking lot and over the street there was a Baptist church. They were over there with musical instrumentsinside of their church!
            Not once did we go over there and smash them up.Report

            • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Will H. says:

              Can I also assume you did not vote on actual legislation that would prohibit them from playing musical instruments, all the while allowing yourselves to play instruments if you so chose? ‘Cause that seems to be the rub.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to mark boggs says:

                Which underscores my point.
                If some (and it really is only some) churches behave badly, then what?
                Impose government mandates on them?
                Sometimes the actions of government are less than desirable, and sometimes the actions of churches are not what we would wish for. Does that negate their validity?

                For the record, we never tried to stop other churches from playing musical instruments, and we didn’t pursue legislation to that effect.
                That conforms neatly to my ideas on the role of the church.Report

  18. Avatar Tim Kowal says:

    I’m disappointed by your post, Tod, for the same reasons I was disappointed by your response in our discussion about atheism and theism. https://ordinary-times.com/timkowal/2011/11/21/towards-mending-a-total-disconnect/. You had said that you have “always been somewhat suspicious of the entire business of capital “P” Philosophy, and at different times in my life have found it pretentious, distracting, purposefully exclusionary, and a linguistic tool to reshape reality when your belief system is proven to be wrong.” This line of reasoning says to me that you’re only willing to consider the sorts of arguments that score points for your side—the sorts of arguments that make the other side’s case are “pretentious” and “distracting.” That’s no way to argue. Given the high quality of your work generally, I figured this was just a one-off, which is forgivable given the subject matter (the existence of God).

    But now you’ve doubled down on it with the SSM debate. It seems like “capital ‘P’ Philosophy” is not all you regard as inadmissible evidence. Capital “R” Religion and capital “M” morality also seem to be off the table. As Jason said above, I think this goes against the spirit of this site.

    The sentiment expressed in your post, and held by other writers here, is why, as a personal rule, I no longer discuss the topic of SSM.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      I hope, indeed that this was not your intention, but this sort of self-pitying victim speak from those who seek to impose their values on others to the detriment of those others is frankly worthy of whatever scorn and derision that come from it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      I get where you’re coming from, Tim; what’s more I’ve come to respect you enough that saying you’re disappointed stings more than is seemly.

      But here’s the thing…

      There are two different ways to discuss this topic. (That’s a lie, of course, there are plenty. But for the sake of this discussion, I’m going to say there are two.) There is what I might call the academic discussion, where we might have a long and no doubt satisfying talk about the various intellectual merits of SSM. I might include Tom’s post above on this as a pretty quality example of such. The other way to discuss this would be to discuss it in a more more “real world” guttural fashion. It would not be nearly as interesting a discussion, and would by it’s very definition be more base. So on one hand, that academic conversation might be the one to have, if not for one thing:

      You can’t convince me that those people in North Carolina that hit the polls on Tuesday had had that academic discussion, or had even thought that much about it. They didn’t sit down and wonder aloud with their friends how civil unions and domestic partnerships might effect their desired Burkean best-vision of a potential world. And if you think that’s what they did, you’re fooling yourself.

      They went out and voted their fears and their prejudices. And to pretend otherwise is, I would argue, allowing ignorance to win the day.

      I know that we will not agree, but I will say to you I said to WillH:

      “Look, if you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish” I have zero problems with that. I don’t see it as bigoted (though I suppose it might be).

      If you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish, and I don’t want them to happen in any other faith’s place of worship,” then I have a problem and think you’re carrying your faith into places it does not belong. At this point I’m suspicious of bigotry, but I’ll take you at your (I believe misguided) word if you say you’re not saying it out of bigotry.

      If you say, “I believe X and so I don’t want these things happening in my parish, and I don’t want them to happen in any other faith’s place of worship, and what’s more I want to strip any secular rights these people have as well just to show them,” then not only do I have a problem with what you advocate, but I no longer find you credible when you say “but I’m not anti-gay.” And making public policy that governs gays based on your anti-gay feelings is – I’m sorry – bigoted by definition, even if that label is over used.”

      For the gays and lesbians I know and love, everything else is just noise.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Tod,

        In observance of my own rule, I’ll try to refrain from argument and respond simply with my personal view on the matter.

        Like the President, like Dennis Prager, like lots of others, I have people close to me who are gay. For their sake, I want to be pro-SSM. But I am a Christian and a sincere believer of the Bible and its moral teachings. Personally, I believe that the Bible’s moral teachings have our best interests in mind. I frequently cite the injunction to leave fields fallow on the seventh year, which must have seemed cruel before the empirical success of crop rotation was demonstrated much later. Nonetheless, I have never attempted to make the case that SSM will harm society. Whether it does or doesn’t is irrelevant since, for me, the Bible’s teachings are conclusive. I understand some Christians believe what the Bible has to say about sexual morality can be diminished or otherwise set aside, but my own faith and reflection have not led me there.

        My faith constitutes my entire basis for how I have voted on SSM and would vote in the future. (Note this is entirely separate from my views and arguments about why the courts should not decide this issue.) I have Burkean tendencies, but my affection for my gay friends would override them if that were the only basis. I would not vote to change the definition of marriage in my parish or in the society of which the parish is a part. In fact, there are probably lots of programs that benefit lifestyles, including heterosexual ones that involve no “yuck” factor, that disagree with my religious beliefs and that I would not vote for on those grounds. (Note that I believe there is an important difference, politically and religiously, between negative and positive rights. I won’t go into a full treatment here, but I have thought through why both my faith and reason sustain the view that cohabitation, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, should be legally permitted, though deserving of endorsement only in the context of traditional marriage.)

        I have to assume others are likewise voting the dictates of a sincere conscience until proven bigoted. The maxim “better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer” is well loved, perhaps exceptionally so by the left. I would urge a modified version to the effect it is better that some bigots go unimpeached than to heap verbal abuse on a sincere fellow.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          Just because your beliefs are sincerely held doesn’t mean they’re not bigoted.

          Out of curiosity…

          Do you avoid all shellfish, wear nothing but pure fabric clothing and believe people who curse their parents should be put to death?Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Put another way, I could sincerely believe that black people are marked by trangressions in another life and should therefore be denied the ability to run for political office. I don’t hate black people, I have many friends that are black, and I don’t blame them for their past lives, but still my conscience tells me I should vote to keep restrictions on them holding office in place.

            Am I or am I not a bigot?Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Just because your beliefs are sincerely held doesn’t mean they’re not bigoted.

            Right.

            This was my point somewhere else in this thread. In fact, most of the bigots I’ve known (and I was raised in a small southern town, so I’ve known more than a few) have been sincere in their beliefs that gays, women, black people, immigrants, etc., are inferior. And both historically and today, many use religious arguments to justify their bigotry.

            I understand that, in a sense, this amounts to suggesting that religion can never provide a rational reason to discriminate against an individual or group. I’m fine with that.Report

        • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          You miss the part about removing the plank from your own eye first? About whether or not you are your brother’s keeper? A biblical warning is a good reason to refrain from doing something yourself. Rather a worse one to ask the government to forbid others from doing so.

          Yes, yes, positive and negative rights. But would you REALLY like the government to get in the business of denying positive rights on religious grounds? Should the government decide to deny priest-penitent privilege, based on religious disapproval for practices of the priest? Should it consult the bible when deciding whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status?Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          My faith constitutes my entire basis for how I have voted on SSM and would vote in the future.

          Tim, as a former Christian, I have a real problem with this statement. What does Jesus have to say about the state? Where in the NT does Jesus advocate bringing the state’s laws in line with Christian morality?

          This is my sole problem with American Christianity; that the faith has become perverted by its involvement in politics. Banning secular recognition of homosexual relationships has nothing to do with either your own life and relationship with God, nor does it have anything to do with caring for the poor and needy. It is demanding that a secular institution apply your faith’s moral standards on those who don’t share your faith/theology/doctrine, and that cannot be based in anything Jesus said.Report

          • James, I take your point. This was why I mentioned that I have thought through the difference between where faith should be silent in politics with respect to negative liberties (e.g., cohabitation, though the Bible would forbid it) but cause me to believe that the definition of marriage should not be changed. Generally speaking, I’m ok with domestic partnerships, i.e., the recognition that people are going to do what they’re going to do. Then again, maybe I’m ok with it because it was never something that I had to vote on. If they didn’t exist in California and it was on a ballot tomorrow, it carries some of the same issues as the SSM question. But it also carries many classic health/safety/welfare factors. So while there is also a values component that I disagree with as a Christian, I would still vote for it as a citizen. That is, I believe a vote in favor of it would not mean I was in favor of the secular value that gender doesn’t matter in a relationship; it would just mean that efficient state operations necessitate recognizing those relationships regardless. In contrast, the SSM question, for me, is about the value question only. The secular value is directly at odds with my Christian values.

            Again, I take your point generally that this is not a theocracy. It is a difficult analysis for the religious to discern which of their religious values should guide their actions in the political arena.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              Tim,

              Not to be rude, but you talked around the question. You never explained why banning SSSM (secular same-sex marriage) is a legitimate expression of faith. Saying, “the definition of marriage should not be changed” does not answer that question. It’s problematic for at least two reasons.

              First, you’re precommitting yourself to voting for a ban on divorce, if such an initiative appears on the ballot, because divorce changed the definition of marriage from a permanent, indissolvable, commitment, to one that is dissolvable at will. Perhaps you’d go there–if so, then I recognize your consistency.

              Second, it means you are treating the secular and the religious elements of marriage as indivisible, which seems to me to be deeply illogical. Obviously the secular recognition of marriage cannot by itself create a spiritual recognition of marriage. For one thing, the First Amendment bars that kind of state intrusion into religion. But on a much more fundamental level, the state cannot impose mandates on God. But it’s also true that a spiritual recognition of marriage cannot bind the state, at least not in U.S.

              Of course you are under no obligation to provide the more complete religious explanation, but I truly would like to hear a sincere Christian provide it, without leaving it at “not change the definition,” for which I cannot see a Biblical basis.Report

              • James,

                I can no longer pretend I haven’t blown my own rule against discussing the issue, but I will continue to limit my comments to defending my own beliefs. Indeed, the reason I was chafing against my rule in the first place is because I want very much to do everything I reasonably can to get the right answer.

                Your formulation of the question parted some clouds for me, especially juxtaposed with the divorce question: “You never explained why banning SSSM (secular same-sex marriage) is a legitimate expression of faith.” I think formulating the issue as “banning” an already existing institution changes the analysis. In fact, I believe this was the way Judge Reinhardt came to the holding that Prop 8 was invalid – SSM already existed (for a matter of months), and it was the taking away of that institution that was improper. (I read reports of the opinion but not the opinion itself, so my formulation might be imprecise.) Again, I’m not interested here in debating the legal reasoning. For the sake of my personal analysis, it would indeed seem like something different if SSM had been around for a long time and that Prop 8 was eliminating it.

                The divorce issue illuminates this. Indeed, Jesus was very clear that divorce is unacceptable. And yet, many Christians believe it’s ok. I don’t know why, but perhaps it was a divisive issue that led to one of the many fragmentations among the Protestant denominations. The Catholic church, it is my understanding, still tries to strictly adhere to Christ’s teachings on divorce. Did the state play any role in changing Christians’ attitudes? It seems possible that states may have adopted more liberal policies on divorce, which in turn influenced the attitudes of even the devoutly religious.

                For my part, I think my views on divorce are probably like most Christians: I find it deeply troubling, but I would not now vote to outlaw it. It has become too ingrained in our beliefs. For better or worse, it is now part of what it means to be married – both to the unbelievers and to many devoutly religious people. (As an aside, this hindsight observation might be an argument against allowing divorce in the first place, or even against state-recognized marriage in the first place.)

                I think I would take the same view on SSM. If it had been part of our culture for generations, as divorce has, I think I would find it deeply troubling given my religious beliefs, but I would not vote to outlaw it.

                Similarly, I might take the same view on divorce as I do with SSM if divorce had NOT been part of our culture for so long.

                But I am of two minds. On the one hand, there is this argument: Marriage is a religious institution that carries certain rules, and most nonbelievers will not assent to all the accompanying religious rules. Though there needs to be an institution that recognizes their long-term committed relationships, it would be improvident to carry on two separate institutions with two separate sets of rules and yet give them the same name. On the other hand, there is this argument: We are a pluralistic society, an e pluribus unum society. Marriage is too important a part of our social fabric to allow it to become so fragmented that we lose the important connection it gives us with our friends, neighbors, and loved ones who might adopt different rules. The long-term loving commitment is the most socially important part of marriage. For believers, the commitment to God is paramount, but that part is not terribly relevant with respect to how our relationship connects us to society at large. So, thinking out loud here, maybe it is more important to “live and let live” with respect to nonbelievers taking license with divorce and the like, since concerns mostly the spiritual part of their relationship, not the social.

                To put it into a slogan, the dichotomy is one of big-tent marriage versus small-tent marriage. Jonah Goldberg made an argument a year or so ago that SSM was positive because it was more or less domesticating same-sex couples, molding them into something that more closely resembles a traditional family structure, which should appeal to conservatives. I like the argument. And if it were not for my religious beliefs, it would probably make me pro-SSM. As things stand, it would be more precise to say that I am not pro-SSM, but I am not anti-SSM. Again, I might not vote to reverse SSM had it already been around, but I cannot bring myself to take an affirmative act to usher in its existence.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                I think I would take the same view on SSM. If it had been part of our culture for generations, as divorce has, I think I would find it deeply troubling given my religious beliefs, but I would not vote to outlaw it.

                Respectfully, Tim, this leads me to believe you actually voted your conservatism, rather than your faith. You’ve presented a tradition-based argument, not a theologically or doctrinally meaningful one.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              Tim, I respect your courage to put forward your own personal beliefs. This isn’t one of those bullpen compliments to be followed by a beanball thrown at your head. But just bear with me for a paragraph or two, I’d like to think I’m a Christian, too. A further caveat / stipulation. It would be unfair to ask you to put your Christian identity below your American identity.

              I can only speak for myself: the church wedding and the marriage certificate are two separate entities. When I got married, we had forgotten to bring the marriage certificate along and the church required it. My mom had to rush back to the house to pick it up off the dining room table where we’d left it.

              If you’re willing to go as far as civil unions, you’ve already crossed the philosophical border required to support SSM. I think of it this way: my church won’t perform marriages for couples who aren’t members or family of members and the couple have to be professing Christians. Sadly, my church wouldn’t perform a same sex marriage. But I’m not the pastor or on the board of elders: this is a small town, for all its shortcomings, it’s about as good as I’m going to get in terms of spiritual fellowship.

              Civil marriage is governed by civil law. Religious marriage is governed by religious edict. Nobody’s forcing these little churches to marry people. But to say “marriage is” without a prefacing adjective to distinguish between civil and religious is to conflate the two, to the detriment of both.Report

              • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise,

                Thanks for your comments. I had them in mind in my response to James, above. Please consider it also a response to your observation about there being a distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                Much respect, Tim. Takes cojones to get out front with a personally-held position of this sort.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Re: the distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage. My wife and I were living together prior to our marriage. At a point when we had been engaged for months and considered ourselves already fully committed to each other before God, family, and friends, our pastor came to talk to us about it, because he was disturbed by our living situation. After much talk I came to realize that if we had a marriage license from the state, but no religious ceremony, he’d be ok with us living together, but if we had a religious ceremony with no state-issued marriage license, he wouldn’t be ok with it. I hadn’t liked him much before that, but I had no respect at all for him after that.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                As I said above, the church where I was married demanded a state marriage license before the ceremony could proceed. The church also wanted us to attend marriage counselling and take a compatibility test.

                I can’t speak for every state but I think Illinois won’t recognise a religious marriage without a marriage license.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise,

                That church wouldn’t have performed the ceremony without the state license (and also required counseling, which was fine), but that’s not quite my point. My point is that if we had only one of either a secular marriage or a religious marriage, he preferred the secular marriage. The secular one had more religious significance, in terms of giving a spiritual OK to our marriage, than the religious one had.

                That’s very very weird, from a Christian theology POV.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          Do you also agitate for the outlawing of divorce? The very words of Christ forbid it. Why should our laws allow it?

          Do you support a law that would forbid people from taking oaths? Again, Christ said that you should not swear at all, but only let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Shouldn’t there be a law?

          If not, why do you use the words of Paul to impose something on the state that is, if anything, of far less consequence than either divorce or swearing?

          And while we’re at it, Paul also commanded women to be silent in churches. Why shouldn’t there be a law?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Or a return of blue laws, to keep the sabbath holy, which would directly benefit Christians by reducing the pressure their employers put on them to work on the sabbath.

            This is a serious question that I’d like to see addressed seriously. And while I don’t pretend to make any demands on Tim, I’d love it if he pondered this for a while, then just wrote a response on his personal thoughts, where pondering took him. But that may be asking him to step into a minefield.Report

          • Not to change the subject too much, but I’m really fascinated by the question of divorce. I was actually surprised at how blunt Christ’s condemnation of divorce is. I think the stuff about mixed fabrics or shellfish can be pretty easily written off as Old Testament instead of New, but I don’t know how you could accept divorce or how churches manage to permit them. Christ is pretty clear about it. On that note, I once read that Martin Scorsese is convinced that he will go to hell after death because of his divorce, which struck me as a very sincere expression of his faith.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rufus F. says:

              There is virtually no one who really bases their moral beliefs on the text of the Bible. If such person exists, I’ve never met him.

              Even taking into account the idea of a separate dispensation in the New Testament, which overthrew the Old, the point still stands. Everyone picks and chooses the parts that they like, then adds a bunch of other stuff that they believe with equal fervor, even when it didn’t come from the Bible at all. Both the choosiness and the added stuff suggest that there is another, more fundamental source than the Bible. (Its name, incidentally, is “I believe it to be so.”)

              Now some of the added stuff is very important and very good — like our current abhorrence of slavery, a practice which Paul most certainly tolerated.

              Some of the thrown-out stuff is astonishing in its importance — like the idea that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than… something something.

              So anyway, the Bible isn’t the foundation of Christian social morality at all. It appears to be a useful thing to point at as a debate-stopper. No more and no less.Report

              • Oh, we used to argue this stuff all the time, didn’t we? Mmmm.

                Anyway, back in the day, there were a couple of threads that are just as fresh today as when they were written. Here’s the setup , here’s the followup.

                I’ll quote one of my comments, because that’s what I do:

                You know me, I’m a big fan of debating scripture. One of the pieces of scripture I debated once was on the topic of the Wedding at Cana and the whole “turning water into wine” thingamabob. The debate was *NOT* whether such a thing “really” happened as it was when we debated with Brother Chris, but whether Jesus would really have turned water into wine when he could have turned water into non-alcoholic grape juice or a tasty raisin paste.

                Have you had this particular debate? Witnessed it?

                Anyway, I quoted John 2:10 as evidence that, yes, people back then were familiar with drinking wine and they sure as hell knew the difference between wine and grape juice.

                I received the answer: “I know in my heart that Jesus wouldn’t turn water into wine.”

                Now I look at the Christian attitude towards Levitical “sin” and, once again, we see this pop up. How does God feel about the surf and turf? Well, you have to understand, we live under a new covenant now… How does God feel about mixed fabrics? Well, you have to understand, we live under a new covenant now… How does God feel about exile for couples that make the beast with two backs whilst the wife has her muse? Well, you have to understand, we live under a new covenant now…

                And how does the Christian know these things?

                Of course he knows them in his heart.

                Which brings us back to homosexuality.

                The christian knows in his heart that God, seriously, totally still means *THAT* one. But!, they point out magnanimously, they no longer believe that homosexuals ought to be put to death!

                And how do they know that?

                Well, they know it in their heart.

                Gotta say, Bob… the codification of “sin” into law strikes me as a whole lot of people throwing rocks for stuff they know in their heart.

                I ain’t a fan.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimmi says:

                Easier done with only the Hebrew scriptures. But do modern Karaites think slavery is okay?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                The question doesn’t exactly fit. Karaism is more than a thousand years old, and thus represents, not a rejection of modernity, but a rejection of the Talmud as the authoritattive interpretation of the Bible. (In that sense, it’s similar to the Protestant rejection of the Magisterium.) Since the Talmud doesn’t outlaw slavery, Karaism per se has nothing to say about it other than (in principle) rejecting the additional rules the Talmud impose on slaves’ masters. The biggest Karaite communities are in the US and Israel, where slavery is of course forbidden. What a nation organized solely on Karaite laws would look like, I doubt anyone knows.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                yes, probably — along with a Jubilee year, if memory serves.
                (also, I agree with Mike — nobody’s seriously talking enslaving people.)Report

          • Jason,

            I have not had occasion to reflect on these matters, but as an attorney, I understand the need for witnesses to take oaths in order to lay the foundation for a legitimate charge of perjury and thus the prima facie credibility of the testimony. The courts cannot presume that all witnesses adhere to Christ’s teachings on oaths, because in fact they do not. I also do not see the basis for a law regulating the conduct of church services.

            Divorce is indeed a more interesting issue, which I discussed in my comment above.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              I have not had occasion to reflect on these matters, but as an attorney, I understand the need for witnesses to take oaths in order to lay the foundation for a legitimate charge of perjury and thus the prima facie credibility of the testimony.

              Jesus disagreed very emphatically. So I repeat my question: Do you or don’t you accept the ultimate moral authority of the Bible?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          Tim –

          I’m sorry, but if this argument is meant to make me see that your position isn’t really an anti-gay one, I am sorely missing some key piece.

          Yes, I understand that your reasoning on this issue is religious, and that so is the reasoning of many others. Where my confusion lies is how, when voting to give a group of legal citizens any measure of second-class citizen status, citing religious text makes it a non-bigoted choice. Is this one of those instances you’re using a different definition of bigotry than I am?

          I could point out all of the things that are in the Bible that you are meant to eschew that you’re not looking to make illegal, or point out all of the other bigoted systems in our country’s history that the observant man of faith used the Bible to justify, but I can’t believe there’s any I’d say that you haven’t heard a thousand times before. You’re a smart and philosophical guy, and I have no doubt you have already thought those things out, and have pre-made arguments about whatever “X is okay but Y is not to be tolerated” softballs I could throw at you. So instead, let me take the more base argument:

          Tough noogies.

          I get that you don’t approve of gay people getting married. I know Jews that don’t approve of Christians being allowed to evangelize to any of the chosen people. All of the Muslims I know drink, but I am aware that there are many that don’t approve of the sale of alcohol. I, personally, feel if there is a God he wouldn’t want us to be having with Yankee fans.

          Tough noogies on all of us.

          We live in a society that says (in our framework document, no less) just because one of us has religious dictates, the rest of us don’t have to be forced to adhere to them. You don’t think Jason should be able to visit Scott in the hospital if he’s sick? (Because remember, we’re not just talking religious marriage, you’re arguing against civil unions and domestic partnerships.) Awesome. Fine for you. What you personally feel about their lives, I could give a rip. But to legally make it so that he doesn’t have the right to do so when you would never, ever concede that same right for yourself or your wife is the very definition of bigotry. Like, not in a “if you look at it from this particular angle” kind of way – it’s the actual frakin’ definition of bigotry. Any arguments to the contrary are just using semantics to redefine reality in a way that makes you look better.Report

          • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Tod,

            Your OP gave fair warning that I would be called a bigot if I disagreed with you, so I won’t take further issue. I’ll just clarify for the record that, in my response to James above, I explained that I favor domestic partnerships/civil unions. My religious beliefs in this regard do not lead me to “deny” rights to anyone. They merely lead me to oppose the secular value underlying SSM.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              If that is the case, then I withdraw the “B” word. And offer apologies.

              I thought I was pretty clear in my OP, and in my reply to you above, that my it is when we say “Oh, and not civil unions and domestic partnerships either” that I cease to find the “but I’m not a bigot” line passes my sniff test.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              My religious beliefs in this regard do not lead me to “deny” rights to anyone. They merely lead me to oppose the secular value underlying SSM.

              This is a very dangerous way to approach things. It’s essentially a justification of “separate but equal.” We know how well that works.

              Also, I don’t think Tod is suggesting that if you disagree with him on this issue, you are necessarily bigoted. However, if your reason for disagreeing with him involves nothing but discrimination against people for being gay, then you are bigoted, pretty much by definition.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Chris says:

                It’s not separate but equal if civil unions are for everybody, and we let the churches and polite society argue over who gets to claim ownership of the word “marriage”.

                Because really, I can rattle off a bunch of people right now who are legally married, and who are married in the eyes of their church, but if you wanted me to say that their state of being was equivalent to the state of being between myself and my wife, I’d get a chuckle. They ain’t married, they don’t even like each other.

                Just get the state out of the business of marriage. It only got *into* the business of marriage because you had large entailed estates anyway. Nowadays, anybody with large entailed estates has a battery of lawyers to work out the inheritance situation anyway.

                I’m curious if Tim thinks that this is an acceptable middle ground.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’m cool with that. I’d be interested in whether Tim is as well.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Pat, the day heterosexual America accepts having their marriages “demoted” will probably be day that the blessed Libertopia falls across the land from sea to shining sea. I mean honestly can’t you hear the polemics already? “Those libertarians and gays want to take away YOUR marriage!”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to North says:

                Granted; I already admitted I lost the seat at that dance.

                But if we can’t have a political solution (and hey, this isn’t an uncommon result of these sorts of conversations), I am still curious if we can have one that the people here will accept as an outcome that aligns with their own sense of justice.

                If conservatives, liberals, libertarians, socialists (if one ever shows up again) and me can all agree, then at least we know the real solution is out there.

                Dragging the rest of the nation there kicking and screaming is less important to me, in the context of this blog community, anyway… than knowing it exists. I’m always looking to cross things off of my irreconcilable differences list.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’m too much of a cynic I fear. Marriage performs far too much useful, near indispensible, secular work for us to easily remove the government from it. If we did we’d end up simply replacing it with something else (and if gays are included then you’d end up with SSM and if excluded then we’d be back at the status quos). Marriage is built into the constitution too isn’t it (I may be misremembering, aren’t spouses protected from testifying against spouses)?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Clarification to your last question:
                If the status quos was no government in marriage then yes, I feel that SSM advocates would have no case.
                Since the status quos is government in marriage and since I see no remotely realistic way that status can be expected to change I don’t consider the “government should not be in the business of marriage” an answer that is adequate to answer the advocacy of SSM supporters.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Pat,

                I’m totally in with that. I’d be quite happy to let marriage remain a religious sacrament, but with no more legal meaning than the sacrament of communion. The legal analog would be civil unions, open equally to opposite-sex and same-sex couples, with whatever legal rights, responsibilities, and privileges attend to the civil union accruing equally to each civilly unified couple. Individual churches would be free to use or not use the word marriage for couples who are same-sex, interfaith, etc., as the individual church wished. They could argue among themselves about what was or was not theologically legitimate, but it would have no legal impact of any kind.Report

              • Guys –

                That’s all well as an academic talkin point. But if conservative voters are against civil unions AND SSM, why is having both but seperate solve anything?

                I hate to sound like a broken record, but neither marriage nor the State is the sticking point for people here. It’s that people are gay. If you make it seperate, you think no ones going to push for laws that make MES and MEG same sex only?

                The relevant issue is do we embrace or even allow gays on mainstream culture. If the answer to that is no, MEG or MES isn’t relevant. If the answe is yes, the question is moot.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Tod,

                I agree with you, but Pat asked if others agreed with his ideal, and I do. He admitted himself he didn’t see it as a practical political solution, so that’s not what this particular sub-sub-thread is about.Report

              • Patrick,

                My response to the “get the state out of it” line of argument has always been that marriage is too important and pervasive for the state to pretend it doesn’t exist, and that it would have to make up some rules in dealing with it anyway. But in my comment to James above, I touched on some reasons why I’m at least warmer to the idea than I used to be. The religious rules and the civil rules re marriage wind up influencing each other, for better and for worse. At this point, I’m reluctant to take any affirmative positions. Based on my secular/political views, I’m not for restoring religious rules that would outlaw divorce. Based on my religious views, I’m not for advancing secular rules that would establish SSM.

                So maybe getting the state out of it is sounding better all the time.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                So, this missionary travels to the deepest, darkest part of the jungle, and finds a tribe that’s never even heard of civilization. He teaches them about sanitation, and crop rotation, and killing the animals they hunt humanely, and of course about law and God and Jesus. When he thinks the time is right, he explains about chastity and monogamy, and tells each adult man to pick one woman. He marries them all in one big, joyous ceremony.

                Some time later, when he realizes his work is done, he prepares to leave, and the Chief comes by to say goodbye.

                “You’ve done so much for us. We are really going to miss you.”

                “I’m going to miss all of you too. Tell me, of all the things we’ve done together here, which do you think was the best?”

                “No question, it was the weddings.”

                “Really?”

                “Sure. We all got new wives!”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                Get state out of it — as much as practical.
                State doesn’t get to certify who can marry — civil contract, with witnesses, only (quaker marriage).
                Codify the “becoming a family” into inheritance/visitation rights/and anything else that’s just something the government can’t get out of. (NOT taxes, folks).Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp in reply to Chris says:

                However, if your reason for disagreeing with him involves nothing but discrimination against people for being gay, then you are bigoted, pretty much by definition.

                Not necessarily. In my religiously-informed view, fecundity is an end of marriage, even though in practice it’s not always realized. That teleology by definition rules out the possibility of same sex marriage. You could say the teleology discriminates against gay people, but that doesn’t make it or my belief in it bigoted.

                Where I part ways with Tim is in my position that, because my understanding of marriage is not the meaning of marriage defined in law, which is the convention in which same sex couples are seeking to participate, I really have no basis on which to justify excluding same sex couples from legal marriage, which, as defined, means pretty much whatever couples want it to mean. Allowing same sex couples to marry involves no redefinition of marriage. That redefinition took place the moment fecundity ceased to be a stated end of marriage. The legalization of contraception, among other things, sealed the divorce papers.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kyle Cupp says:

                But you’re going way off the rails, Kyle. Look:

                “I don’t find Asians attractive. I’d never ask one out.”

                “I don’t really care for Asians. Id never allow them to vote.”

                There’s a difference between having personal preferences and making sweeping public policy for people that aren’t you. Saying what you said is closer to the first of the above statements, and I find it in no way bigoted. NCA1 is similar to the latter statement above, and is a completely different animal.

                Saying no gays should ever be allowed to get married, that if they have been they are no longer recognized as such, and that any rights those couples might have had the CU or any similar secular mechanism is hereby void even though I’m not one of them and I would never tolerate people like me having to be saddled with such legislation (and that’s what we’re talking about with NC A1) is bigoted. Period. Cme up with all the flowery worded arguments you want about why it’s really not bigoted you want, it won’t change that fact.Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod – I wouldn’t describe my understanding of marriage as a personal preference as I believe it’s true, and not just for me. The issue, as I see it, is whether my understanding of marriage gives me sufficient grounds to vote to exclude same sex couples from legally marrying when the legal meaning of marriage leads logically to their inclusion. I say, no, it doesn’t, which is why you won’t find me voting for things like NC a1. As I said over at my place, my understanding of marriage is largely irrelevant to the debate because, when we talk about whether gays can marry, we’re not talking about my understanding of marriage. We’re talking about marriage as defined in law. As a society, we some time ago (and arguably for good reason) decided not to include in the legal meaning of marriage the theological/ontological foundations that would logically preclude gays from participating.

                As to your observations of bigotry, I sense you are largely right. Bigotry and hatred motivate a lot of people’s opposition. The idea that children might learn that someone has two dads or two moms horrifies not a few people. I get the feeling that a lot of people who vote to deny gays rights under the law are just being mean. I conclude this because people’s minds are changed not largely due to arguments, but from getting to know people who are gay and realizing their abhorrence was stupid and wrong. Additionally, when opponents of gay rights make their arguments, not a few refuse to apply the same standards to themselves. “Gays are destroying marriage, but we serial adulterers are not!” Yeah, that’s bigotry.Report

              • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Kyle Cupp says:

                Kyle,

                I don’t disagree with you. I think you and Blase above are making similar points: that we really have at least two definitions of marriage already, a civil one and a religious one. That schism occurred long ago, and the ships have been drifting further apart ever since, perhaps. Do they really no longer bear any relationship to each other, though? Such that Citizen Tim should believe and act one way about marriage and Christian Tim should believe and act a different way? As Blaise charitably acknowledged, I should not have have to put my Christian identity below my American identity.

                Perhaps it is the case that the two sides of the debate are really drawn as (1) those who want autonomy over the rules of civil marriage as separate from religious marriage, and (2) those who believe the marriage recognized by the state is religious marriage, or at least a remnant thereof, and want to preserve/restore the religious rules regarding marriage. I find myself stuck in between these two positions. I can imagine one way to become unstuck would be if the first camp formalized its position that the institution its seeking autonomy over is really not religious marriage by changing the name altogether, i.e., by “getting the state out of the marriage business.” I’m not pushing anything, but that’s the only way out of it that I see. Other than, of course, continuing to go down this road of using a word that no one understands any longer.Report

              • Avatar Kyle Cupp in reply to Tim Kowal says:

                Do they bear any relationship to each other? Nominally, but I’m not seeing much relation beyond that. To repeat what I wrote elsewhere: engaged couples can obtain a marriage license without any belief in the sacred, with no intention of staying true to one another, with every intention to prevent pregnancy, and with a signed prenuptial agreement just in case things don’t work out. Their good needn’t be an end of their marriage. They don’t even have to love one another. Marriage means to each couple whatever they want it to mean. Once joined, they are legally united and receive the legal rights associated with the institution, but the rest is up to them. As practiced overall, the convention of marriage is little more than a shell. Same-sex couples want to participate in this institution, and given the logic of the legal meaning, they have every right to do so. I don’t see much point in quibbling over whether to call this “marriage” or “civil union” or something else. It is what it is. Or, more accurately, they are what they are. I suppose taking the state out of the marriage business might clear up some confusion, but I don’t see that it substantially changes anything. People will still want the civil rights associated with it.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Tim this comes off slightly, well, off. Of the three items you noted the question of SSM can pretty much be fought to a draw in philosophy (but only by ignoring the history of actual marriage) and the moral argument of course varies wildly depending on who’s morality one is discussing. As for religion it’s established in this country that laws based only on religious doctrine are undesirable. Why should your religions rules trample the rules of other religions or the nonreligious?Report

  19. Avatar Chris says:

    This is slightly different from, but I think similar to Jaybird’s exercise (which is getting nowhere, but we all have our own ways of wasting our time here, right Jay?). In many ways, every right or privilege extended to openly gay people redefines something. So:

    Should gay people be able to serve in public office?
    Should gay people be able to adopt children?
    Should gay people be able to teach children (in public schools, e.g.)?
    Should gay people be able to serve in the military?
    Should gay people be able to have sex with their same sex partners in the privacy of their own homes?
    Should gay people be able to marry?

    The first through fifth things were all outlawed at some point in the recent past (I just read the Regeneration trilogy last week, so this is something I’ve been thinking about). All but the last one is now legal. What makes it different from the others? And how do those differences make legalizing it more problematic?Report

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