A Pleasant Bigotry

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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176 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    So if the tax benefits and legal authority accorded to partners in heterosexual marriages were restricted to het marriages with children, would you support them not being extended to same-sex marriages?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      What about same-sex marriages with children? Or are we only talking about children conceived through heterosexual sex between the married partners, and carried by the woman in the pair? I suppose that if we find out a child was conceived during an extramarital affair, they lose the tax breaks even if they remain married.Report

  2. 1) Since you already dealt with how flawed it is to link marriage and procreation, certainly in terms of our contemporary understanding of the former, then I probably don’t need to bother? Right?

    2) I hereby grant you special dispensation to use the term “spokesgay,” so long as you promise to append the word “unofficial” to the front, at least when discussing Mr. Savage.

    2a) This dispensation only applies to LoOG-related communiques. You’re on your own in the real world. Hopefully most gays of your acquaintance are of the good-humored and easy-going ilk, but some of us can get tetchy, I’m afraid.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “Northwest sockeye salmon with Washington sweet corn. Heirloom tomatoes. New-potato gnocchi. Roasted peaches with an oat-and-almond crumble. Cocktails, and then wine.”

    If there is a gayer meal than that, I don’t want to know about it.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I hear these arguments and then I get all “HULK SMASH” and start yelling and waking up downtown.

    They change what they mean by “marriage” mid-sentence without noticing. (Without either one of them noticing!) In this breath they talk about societal consensus, in that breath, they talk about two people’s decisions, in the next they talk about law.

    GRAHReport

  5. Avatar Glyph says:

    Dangit, I saw Chris’ comment in ‘Gifts of Gab’ and assumed it was about the album, and came here to emphatically agree.

    Which is not to say you shouldn’t go to what I assume is instead a restaurant; but you could at least listen to the album in the car.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      AND I screwed up ‘Reply’. Again. So this becomes even MORE nonsensical.Report

      • I fishing love ‘Loveless’ (that’s what you’re talking about, righ?).Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          If you are talking about the 1991 album by My Bloody Valentine, then yes.

          If in fact you are, did you pick up the reissue, and is it worth buying the album a third time (since I have it on CD, and also a totally crappy basically-unauthorized-bootleg vinyl copy)?Report

          • Avatar dhex says:

            reissue is pretty decent, though there’s not a whole heck of a lot of difference between both versions on the 2cd set. at least not to my ears.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              That is what I had heard too, and I tried listening to streams of each disc when some music site had them up, but you know, streams and all that. There was also a site (Analog Loyalist I think?) mentioning that on the UK issue at least, the discs were mislabeled/reversed, and that one had a transfer glitch.

              I wasn’t sure if it would sound different on a proper system. At this point is it possible that Shields is just messing with us? (‘Oh yeah, these are two different versions…*I* can hear the difference, as a godlike sonic genius, but as mere mortals, you probably can’t.’)

              That said, if I find it cheap enough somewhere, I’ll probably get it. It really is that good.Report

              • That’s exactly what I was thinking of, Glyph.

                I’ve lost my copy (I still have the CD case, but the CD is nowhere to be found); I’ll have to pick up the re-issue.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                If you pick up the vinyl ever, avoid the one that is on Plain Recordings. I got it a few years ago and was surprised by how bad it sounded. I read an interview with Shields recently when he was promoting the reissues and he specifically called that one out as basically unauthorized/illegal/badly-done, and I thought, well, there ya go.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    1a: My brother-in-law and sister-in-law couldn’t have kids, so they adopted a child.

    1b: A gay couple gets married and adopts a child.

    What is the child-rearing/biological connection difference between the two marriages?

    2a: My friend, J, married a woman with a kid, so one person in the marriage is the biological parent of the kid and the other isn’t.

    2b: A gay couple gets married, and one of them has a biological child, so one person in the marriage is the biological parent of the kid and the other isn’t.

    What is the child-rearing/biological connection difference between the two marriages?

    The only thing hetero couples can do that gay couples can’t is both be the biological parent of the same child. But since we haven’t limited* hetero marriage to that scenario, we can’t plausibly use it as a basis for limiting gay marriage.

    __________________________________
    *And as far as I can tell, heterosexual marriage has never been limited to two couples who are both the biological parents of the same child. Remarriages after spousal death are pretty common across cultures, and certainly a long-stranding tradition in the Judeo-Christian world. Indeed the Bible, both OT and NT is pretty supportive of it.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

      Indeed the Bible, both OT and NT is pretty supportive of it.

      Except where they outlaw it entirely, like deceased brother’s wife. No doubt there is some highly spiritual reason for that, perhaps because it would eventually lead to the creation of the Anglican Church.Report

    • Avatar BobbyC says:

      When people argue this issue, I always wonder what the point of view is that thinks marriage, the thing encoded in our laws, is not just a part of contract law. Once you think it is a subset of contract law, all these arguments are nonsense (well there nonsense anyway, but for me, they become really nonsense like “gay people cannot contract with each other, it will ruin society!”).

      I could understand if culturally minded folk wanted the govt to subsidize certain unions, or have things like child tax credits, or spiffy medals for mothers who have lots of kids or whatever, or all sorts of campaigns to use govt to incentivize certain social patterns and behaviors. But I don’t really understand why those campaigns would try to remove the right to contract by gay people. It just seems like a classic case of trying to raise one thing up by putting another down. Why not push to raise up your cherished unions, not restrict someone else’s liberty?? I really don’t understand it, even when I imagine myself as a god-fearing, gay-distrusting, yet brilliant faith-believer. Then again, when I do that, I always end up wondering, since bizarro-faithful-me is mega-pro-life, why I don’t emigrate to a pro-life country.Report

  7. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    So, at the risk of everyone coming down on me like a ton of bricks, I’m going to ask something in the honest hope someone can do one of those “talk to me like I’m stupid” talks with me.

    So many people I know and whose thinking I respect (Burt and Russell, for example) all tell me the same thing: Bigotry is not required to be pro-marragie and anti-SSM; many people who fall into that category are in no way bigoted against gays. Because I’m in the vast minority of smart people I’m going to assume I’m wrong, but someone needs to walk me through this.

    How do you set up two standards like this without having bigotry attached to it?

    And I don’t mean bigotry in the made-for-TV-movie “Bigots are evil and I am pure!” kind of hogwash, I mean in the actual, definitional meaning of the word bigotry – that bigotry that we all have toward some other, that we need to be on guard against in ourselves.

    How is one set of legally recognized (and indeed, sacred) privileges for one group of people a thing to be publicly celebrated, and the other set to be outlawed without bigotry?

    I’m not actually trying to argue this, I’m really looking for someone to explain it to me. Because I can’t see how you get from point A to point B without thinking gays are somehow lesser; and I don’t know how you do that and claim no bigotry. So I am clearly missing something.

    Help?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Can you provide the “actual, definition meaning of the word bigotry”? Because even that, I feel, is not agreed upon. With that, I think we can start a convo… sans bricks.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      I’m still baffled that we assume those opposed to gay marriage are anything other than bigots. So in other words, I’m with you Tod, and I’d like to know how we can define consensual relationships between consenting adults differently without there being something that motivates that desire.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      For me the distinction is one of motive rather than effect. If the motive is “I like babies” or “Jesus said so” then I distinguish that from “Gays are bad, mmmkay.”

      Doesn’t mean I think a motive like “I like babies” or “Jesus said so” is rationally related to the policy result reached. It means I think it’s a good-faith error.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I think you also have to leave room for folks who are misinformed. There are people who genuinely believe that marriage has been one and only one thing for 5000+ years. They sincerely think that marriage has always been about forming couples of loving parents who birth their own children. They’re factually wrong. But if the foundation is flawed… well, this might be a genuine time where OPRE.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          > I think you also have to leave room for folks
          > who are misinformed

          I thought this for years and I don’t anymore. In fact, I’ve gotten to the point where I think this is a much bigger failure of responsibility that should have much more opprobrium attached to it than being a bigot, really.

          Mostly because I feel like people have a goddamn ethical responsibility not to be ignorant of the implications of their policy proposals if they’re actually going to try to encode them in law. If you’re going to vote on something, sincere incorrect belief is okay, ethically. If you’ve tried to inform yourself and you’ve been misled, or you’re suffering from cognitive bias, or something of that nature. You’ve done your due diligence, you’ve just failed at it. That’s okay, people fail at stuff all the time.

          Voting on something without knowing anything about what you’re voting about? That’s irresponsible exercise of your democratic privilege. It kinda makes you a bigger asshole than a soft bigot.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I probably wouldn’t weigh so heavily on this, because I think there are a number of weighs folks can come to be misinformed and why that might be hard for them to move off (especially if they are older) and to be ignorant does not necessarily mean bigotry is not present (as bigotry can reinforce the ignorance). But, you make a good point. I was simply offering it as a rationale other than outright bigotry.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I’m with Patrick on this one. Nice answer.

            And re: Kazzy’s request for a more precise definition of “bigotry”, I’d say that it has conditions which can be defined in one of two ways at the extreme ends of what’s probably a continuum: that bigotry requires intent to harm others rather than as actions which in fact do harm others.

            Personally, I’ve never been inclined to go with the intent condition, because it’s impossible to demonstrate in any non-question-begging way, one way or the other. Instead, I go with the “harmful actions” (policies, statements, actions, whatnots) as the criterion for bigotry and infer from that back to intent-to-harm as the best explanation for the policies for precisely the reason Patrick has given: anyone who’s done the slightest due diligence wrt to the effects of a their beliefs-in-action, or a policy proposal based on a belief, cannot help but realize that those actions are harmful. But also, if the person advocating a policy or action is rational (and I think we have to presuppose that!), then intent can in effect be inferred.

            (I’m not sure this is what Patrick had in mind, so I’m not implying he agrees with this comment, of course.)Report

            • Avatar Kris says:

              bigotry requires intent to harm others rather than as actions which in fact do harm others.

              By this criterion many slave owners were not bigots. Lots of slave owners loved their slaves or thought they did. Many believed Aristotle’s claim that somepeople were naturally slaves and that they were acting kindly to these poor slaves and in accord with the laws of nature.

              The fact is, pretty much every bigot thinks he (or she) is kind and generous and loving even to the object of their bigotry. Bigotry (like Arendt’s account of evil) is banal and pleasant. It’s not yelling, swearing, and red faced like the KKK on those old episodes of Geraldo. Not very often, anyway.

              This dude is bigoted. IMO.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Bigotry (like Arendt’s account of evil) is banal and pleasant.

                I think that’s right. But because we think of bigotry as “red-faced yelling” it’s easy for the banal and pleasant folk to take offense at being called a bigot. “I’m not like that,” they say, which is true, but which misses the point of the real significance of their actions.Report

            • Avatar Murali says:

              Stillwater, so if some policy disproportionately harmed minorities, proposers of that policy would be bigots?

              What about labour regulations. The more tightly the labour market is regulated, the fewer gains from trade the worst off experience. However, the poor in America and a lot of other places are non-white. Let ust ake France which has tighter labour regs than the US. Now, it may be that the french are bigoted. Given their anti- burqa laws, it is certainly a viable possibility. But I don’t think we can infer that they are bigoted from their labour regulations even if such regulations make it harder for poor Muslim immigrants to start working towards prosperity.Report

              • It might be a case of whether that policy disproportionately harmed minorities because they’re minorities.

                Or maybe not… I’d have to think on it more.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                so if some policy disproportionately harmed minorities, proposers of that policy would be bigots?

                Yes. I think that’s pretty much what I’m saying. Consider the contrapositive of the rhetorical question you asked: if policy advocates aren’t bigoted, they won’t propose policies that disproportionately harm minorites. I’d give that yeah vote, myself.

                I think there is some wiggle room in there, some mushy ground between bigoted and non-bigoted where agnosticism might abide. But in general, I think bigotry reveals itself in effects, and from known effects, from which the sentiments are inferred.

                Eg., do you think that abject disregard (agnosticism) can be a form of bigotry?Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            Definitely, people can be better than that and they should be if they’re going to step into a polling booth.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        This. This is why I can’t consider all SSM opponents bigoted. I personally think 2 men should be able to get married, and also keep a closet full of drugs and guns in their house if they want (this is maybe more of a HST couple than a SSM one, and maybe presence of said closet should play into any adoption proceedings said couple initiates) but as Burt notes, I am willing to concede other people their own religious reasons for not going along with something.

        Asking someone to permit something in law, that their god tells them is wrong, in a democracy where they get a vote (that is, they can oppose it and thereby proclaim their conscience or beliefs without picking up arms) is asking a lot of them.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I personally think this is a burden that more of them should accept, but I agree it is asking a lot.

          The separation of Church and State is rightly to everybody’s benefit. If you’re talking about maximal freedom being a good, and that’s at least in theory the underlying principle behind most of the superstructure of the legal foundation of the country… well, you should be able to disassociate yourself from trying to get the State to do your Church work for you.

          If you think X is morally wrong for theological reasons, you have the freedom to do all sorts of things to try and stop X without resorting to, “There outta be a law!” You really ought to focus on those ways and means without tying up the government.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        So, it feels like these are really good arguments for the (very correct) claim that you can be anti-SSM but still be a good person; or that you do not have to be cruel or mean-spirited in order to be anti-SSM.

        They do not, however, seem to be arguments that even address the issue of bigotry. “I like children, and so I’d prefer they not be raised by gay people” may or may not be a justifiable position, but it seems definitionally bigoted. Similarly, “God/Jesus wants us to treat (insert subset of people) differently, so we should” may be justifiable, but – again – is not proof that no bigotry is occurring.

        And the same goes to Kazzy’s argument about being misinformed. Being wrong on the facts may be a good excuse for bigotry, but it not proof that bigotry does not exist.

        Is this possible: Anti-SSM is definitionally bigoted, but we have made that particular word so toxic that we are uncomfortable using it with people that we know are well meaning and acting in good faith?

        That at least would make sense to me.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Tod-

          It’s still unclear to me how you’re defining bigotry. I don’t mean to be a nit, but I think that is sort of important, especially given how easily some folks throw that term around. With that, I can offer a more substantive answer (which may be in full agreement with you).Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Someone who is prejudiced against a group of people; usually due to race, creed, gender or sexual preference.

            How do you define someone how is bigoted?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Well, I *could* argue that definition begs questions about prejudice… but I won’t… not right now* at least…

              Using that definition, I struggle to see a defense of SSM opposition that couldn’t be classified as bigoted, especially if we hold that some of the arguments put forth here are often built upon or entrenched with bigotry.

              * Okay, NOW I will quibble… Prejudice, in and of itself, is not an inherent evil. Not only is it an evolutionary trait, but it is almost a requirement lest we reserve judgement on everyone until we’ve known them inside and out. For instance, age-restricted voting laws are prejudiced against those under 18, because it presupposes that none of them have the necessary intellect/judgement/facility/agency/whatever to properly vote, which I assume is based on the notion that most folks under 18 seem ill equipped to properly vote so it is better to just have a general rule than subject everyone to a comprehensive screening. Is this needless hair splitting? Perhaps. But I think it is important because these words… bigot, prejudiced… have become so charged that to have them attached someone is often a death sentence for being taken seriously.

              I have a close friend who I know opposes SSM. Along so many dimensions, he is a good, laudable man. He is a good husband to his wife, a good father to his baby girl, a good brother to his siblings, a good friend to us all. He works in public service and hopes to become a Navy SEAL out of a desire to give back to his country. So, by the most basic, descriptive uses of the term “bigot” and “prejudice” would he fit the definition? Yes. Perhaps with even slightly looser ones. But I would be uncomfortable applying those terms to him because for so many, those words alone would disqualify him from being considered any of the things I consider him to be. It doesn’t excuse his positions… it doesn’t mean we don’t argue vehemently about them… it doesn’t mean I find the wrongness of those positions tempered by seeing a respectable person holding them. Just that I think those words have taken on meanings that makes it hard for me to say, “All folks opposed to SSM are prejudiced bigots.”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                There’s a difference between “holding a bigoted position” and “being a bigot”.

                The first indicates you *have* a problem. The second indicates that you *are* one.

                Part of this is based in the fact that English is a horribly inconsistent language.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I agree wholeheartedly. But how many folks make that distinction?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Explicitly? Within epsilon of zero.

                Implicitly? Happens all the time. It’s happening right now on Facebook, regarding same-sex marriage.

                People are arguing that they aren’t the problem to people who are insisting that they have a problem, and everybody is talking past each other because “bigot” has a different semantic meaning from its social one.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But it goes both ways…

                Folks hear someone say something racist/bigoted/sexist/homophobic and conclude that person IS a racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe.

                Facebook? We see that shit here. Which is why, as a general rule, I try to stay away from those words… though I don’t always do a particularly good job.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Hans the Horse Thief Didn’t Kick his Dog.

                The whole thing is an if-by-whiskey argument. The man doesn’t believe gay people should have the rights afforded to others in law. He’s a fine, upstanding, meat-eatin’ US Navy SEAL, believes in everything about this country — except equality.Report

            • Avatar Anne says:

              Don’t know if it helps but Websters online says

              Bigot : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
              injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims

              Predjudice (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledgeb : an instance of such judgment or opinionc : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristicsReport

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          > Is this possible: Anti-SSM is definitionally bigoted,
          > but we have made that particular word so toxic
          > that we are uncomfortable using it with people
          > that we know are well meaning and acting in
          > good faith?

          Pretty much. Many/most pejoratives aren’t pejoratives for the actual semantic content of the word, but the social content.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          Well, you’re asking me to offer an apology for a position I basically disagree with.

          To elaborate on “I like babies” I don’t think the next clause is “so they shouldn’t be around gays” but rather “and so there should be more of them and so the state should encourage men and women to bump uglies.” Now, I disagree that this means the state gets to privilege mixed sex unions. Last time I checked, men and women bump uglies voluntarily, frequently, and enthusiastically and lots of babies result nine months later.

          Same thing for “Jesus said so,” which is really “my minister said so” and I don’t excuse delegating one’s moral calculus to another. But doing so does not in my mind equate to malign intent. In my mind. I appreciate Pat’s point that willful ignorance of the consequences of one’s actions is equivalent to intent. I’m more cautious than he to say this line has been crossed.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            What are you, some kinda LAWYER?! 😉Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            “But doing so does not in my mind equate to malign intent”

            Is malign intent required for bigotry?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Semantically, no.

              Socially, it’s inferred enough that we’re pretty much have to assume that it’s also implied.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Imagine, if you will, a thread on immigration. Some people argue for open borders. Some people argue for a streamlined immigration process that makes things easier for everybody. Some people argue for strict immigration controls.

              Would you say that the people who argue for a streamlined immigration process are bigots? I mean, we all agree that the people who want strict immigration controls are bigots. To what extent are the people who want a streamlined process bigots? Not as much as the strict immigration people, surely, but they’re nowhere near as open-minded as the people who see borders as arbitrary lines that no one should have control over who crosses and who doesn’t cross. So maybe they’re… well… comfortable bigots. Pleasant bigots. Bigots who just aren’t quite there yet (but still worth talking to!) as opposed to the hardcore bigots who want strict controls.

              Now, looking at the above:
              Do you see “bigot” as an appropriate term for the discussion?

              For me, it seems a lot like question begging.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                This is not a good counterexample.

                You’re talking about revising the immigration policy on whole. The marriage debate is about people saying this group of people are allowed, this group of people isn’t.

                A more accurate counterexample would be someone proposing a law saying these are the steps anyone can take to immigrate – except the Irish. THey aren’t allowed to come here.

                And that would, in fact, be bigoted. Wouldn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                How about laws that said “we only want X Irish to immigrate here a year, and no more”… bigoted?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “You’re talking about revising the immigration policy on whole. The marriage debate is about people saying this group of people are allowed, this group of people isn’t.”

                Just as the middle group, in Jaybird’s example, is saying “this group of people (those who applied before the limit was hit) are allowed, this group of people (those who applied after the limit was hit) isn’t”.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              I’d say no, just ignorance, in strict definition. But in common parlance, malign intent is definitely implied. Which plays back into ‘has the word just become too loaded to be very useful’.

              Like I have said elsewhere and gotten drubbed, it is possible to be ignorant and not evil, and we are sometimes too quick to jump from a to b.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            > I appreciate Pat’s point that willful ignorance of
            > the consequences of one’s actions is equivalent
            > to intent.

            Thanks!

            > I’m more cautious than he to say this line has
            > been crossed.

            For the record, this is a judgment I’d typically abstain from calling out except in certain circumstances, myself. I mean, it happens (I’m sure) and it happens pretty often (I’m sure) and given any particular incident it’s probably a more likely explanation than bigotry-as-motive (I’m almost positive), but I’d have to talk to somebody about it pretty extensively before I’d be willing to lay that charge at their feet.

            People on the Science Committee in Congress, I’ll throw bricks at them all day. Random Joe on the Street, I’m far less interested in his moral character and I’m not really inclined to spend my time figuring out whether or not I ought to judge him. Or her.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Is this possible: Anti-SSM is definitionally bigoted, but we have made that particular word so toxic that we are uncomfortable using it with people that we know are well meaning and acting in good faith?

          I agree that being anti-SSM is a paradigmatic example of bigotry. The argument at that point seems to be to justify anti-SSM policies consisitently with not being a bigotwhich is very hard to do. Honesty would require, it seems to me, that anti-SSMers concede that their views are bigoted yet justified on religious grounds. Since that argument isn’t really gonna fly well with people who don’t agree with the religious premise, they then argue that their policy beliefs are motivated by religious principles while they maintain a principled agnosticism about the effects of those policies on gays. But that brings us back to Patrick’s argument above. How can they remain agnostic about policies who’s effects are very clearly harmful to gays?

          Anti-SSMers are in a pickle either way, it seems to me.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW says:

          Similarly, “God/Jesus wants us to treat (insert subset of people) differently, so we should” may be justifiable, but – again – is not proof that no bigotry is occurring.

          That is not, as I understand it, the religious argument.

          The Christian argument is 1) Biblically, homosexual activity is immoral; 2) we should not have laws which encourage immoral activity. It’s not that we should ban all actions the Bible considers immoral (precious few people think homosexuality should still be illegal); but gay marriage is regarded sort of the way a teetotaller would regard a government liquor subsidy. There’s the connected idea that ‘normalizing’ homosexuality by giving it social sanction through gay marriage is wrong for the same reasons. That it’s simply wrong for government to endorse the lie that homosexual relationships are a morally-neutral lifestyle choice.

          I’m not making this argument; it’s not the one that religious conservatives make in public-policy circles, because they know it won’t fly; but that’s the heart of it as I understand it.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC says:

          I’m reminded of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

          Basically, it says shouldn’t call people ‘racist’. You should call their _actions_ seem racist, or their _statements_ seem racist. Not because of any moral reason (Someone who does racist things is, by definition, racist.) but because there’s a difference between asserting something in their head, vs. something specific that they did.

          And I want to explain on what the video says, and give _another_ reason to present it that way: It gives undecided people an ‘out’, let think in their head ‘Oh, that probably did seem a little bit racist, and since I’m _not racist_, I should stop doing that’.

          As opposed to say ‘You can’t call me a racist, I’m not racist. Ergo, my actions must not have been racist.’.

          So, to apply this to anti-SSM people: The question isn’t if people _are_ bigoted. The question should be whether blocking SSM is a bigoted policy, and whether or not promoting such a policy appears inherently bigoted no matter what the justification.

          Now, there probably _are_ people it’s reasonable to call bigoted. Whose statements and actions lead you to a reasonable conclusion that they are not going to change their mind anyway, they are aware of how they present themselves, and think it’s a _good thing_. (OTOH, think about the video. Saying what is in _their_ heads gives _them_ an easy victory, as they can make a much better claim to know that.)

          But for 90% of the SSM-opposition out there, it should be: Opposing the right of people to marry who they wish _seems_ bigoted. I know you claim to have reasons it’s not, but none of them stand up to any scrutiny, and in fact some of those justifications _themselves_ seem rather bigoted, and not just towards gay people. Like the idea that adopted children are somehow ‘lesser’ and worse off, or that infertile heterosexual people have fake marriages. These are not things you _actually_ want to be saying, and sound rather hateful if you stop and think about them.Report

      • Avatar Sam says:

        -If you say, “But I like Jesus,” then the reason you’re opposed to gay marriage is that you (erroneously) believe that Jesus told you he was against gays specifically, since we know he never spoke of gay marriage. (Or, for that matter, gays, but whatever.)
        -If you say, “I like babies,” then the reason you’re opposed to gay marriage is that you (erroneously) believe that gays are bad for children.

        Both of those explanations are very nice and polite and friendly ways of speaking to the real issues: its the homosexuality that’s the problem.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Here is my best shot.

      I’d say that it’s the tension between two things: matters of taste and matters of morality.

      Up until the 1970’s, homosexuality was not only obviously a matter of morality (and obviously *WRONG*), it was also listed as a mental disorder. Whether it was right or wrong was pretty cut and dried. It was wrong according to not only the Bible, but Science.

      Arguments for a good long while argued that homosexuality was not, in fact, a matter of morality at all. It was a matter of taste. Hey, some people like oysters, some like snails, you feel me? Well, part and parcel with something being a matter of taste is that people can merely dislike something.

      Example: olives. Some people like olives. Some people dislike olives. If someone dislikes olives, we don’t call them an olive bigot. We don’t disapprove that they don’t like olives. Those that like olives usually say something like “more olives for me!” and laugh as if they weren’t talking about something as gross and vile as olives. There’s even a vodka called “Three Olives”. I’m thinking “that is the stupidest marketing ever”. The people who don’t like olives don’t care that the vodka doesn’t taste like olives. They’ll just say “EW! Olives!” and buy something that doesn’t remind them of olives. And, surely, there can’t be enough olive partisans out there who will say “ooooh! Olives! Let’s try *THAT* vodka!” to make up the difference. Seriously.

      Anyways, the assumption for a good long while was that the male/female coupling was the “moral” one. The one God Intended… and the argument on behalf of homosexuality was, hey man, the two guys living together is not immoral… it’s just a matter of taste. It’s none of your business. You shouldn’t condemn it as being wrong, it’s not wrong. It’s like olives.

      Well, now we’re trying to move from “it’s a matter of taste” to “it’s moral in its own right”. Gay marriage is now being argued that it’s something to be celebrated! Hurray! Two people making their vows! Dinner! Music! Dancing! Wine! It’s a mitzvah!

      There are people who remember when homosexuality was immoral. It wasn’t *THAT* long ago. There are people who remember when homosexuality was merely a matter of taste. It wasn’t *THAT* long ago. Now we’re involved in publically wondering why people who disapprove of gay marriage aren’t bigots… thus making gay marriage something that is not a matter of taste anymore… and pro-gay marriage partisans completely unable to comprehend how anyone could think anything but gay marriage is something that people who think correctly (that is: unbigoted people) would celebrate.

      Given that, I think it’s possible to look around and see how all of us are engaging in prejudicial behaviors that we don’t even know are bigoted (perhaps even science backs us up!) that will be condemned as backwards and prejudiced and even evil in a couple of generations when we haven’t even yet wrapped our heads around how such things could be matters of taste, let alone matters of morality where everybody except for a handful of crazy and/or immoral people (and their sympathizers) agree.

      America did this with slavery, they did this with segregation, they did this with inter-racial marriage, they’re doing it now with homosexuality, we’ll do it tomorrow with meat-eating (or something). To use the term “bigotry” is to misunderstand the whims of totems and taboos in culture and how cultures evolve… or, I suppose, it’s to understand it on a subconscious level and using it as one uses a stick on a donkey that moves too slowly.

      There. That was my best shot.Report

      • Avatar Sam says:

        Respectfully Jaybird, there’s are differences between olives and gay people, perhaps most importantly that nobody to my knowledge has proposed a ban on olives (much as it might please me to enact one). There is a difference between saying, “This is a matter of preferences between people who disagree and the solution is that olive eaters can have them and olive haters can avoid them…” and “This is a matter of preferences between people who disagree and we’re going to make laws that don’t allow for both sides to have what they want.”Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Dude, you don’t have to tell *ME* that. I’m one of those libertarian types who believes that the government has *WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY* too many fingers in *WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY* too many pies and gay marriage is something that would be trivially easy to accomplish if the government didn’t have a veritable… I don’t know what the phrase for this would be and don’t want to google it and “buttload” seems coarse given the subject matter… METRIC TONNE of fingers involved.

          But if someone wanted me to explain why I would disagree with using the term “bigot”, I would write something like what I did.Report

          • Avatar Sam says:

            But that’s my point. If the best they’ve got is, “This is like OLIVES!” then they don’t really have much, and they certainly don’t have something that shouldn’t make us wonder if maybe more is going on. By more, I mean the motivation of hatred.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            if the government didn’t have a veritable… I don’t know what the phrase for this would be and don’t want to google it and “buttload” seems coarse given the subject matter… METRIC TONNE of fingers involved.

            I don’t think it’s the subject matter that’s as problematic as just the image of a buttload of fingers.Report

    • I am between patients and don’t have sufficient time to search this out in the Intertubes, but not so long ago I read an essay by an ardent supporter of SSM explaining how one could theoretically support heterosexual-only marriage as a societal stabilizer without being bigoted against gays per se. I wish I could remember who it was or where I saw it.

      Anyhow, I think a tremendous amount of anti-SSM sentiment really is just gussied-up bigotry. (Seriously, you should have heard some of the counter testimony when I offered testimony before my state’s legislature a few years ago in support of marriage equality. It was… disheartening.) But I don’t necessarily believe that opposition to SSM is, by definition, bigoted.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I’m with the Doc. I’ve read too many earnest utilitarian and consequentialist papers against SSM to be willing to say that opposition to SSM is in of itself bigoted. The motives and justifications matter considerably.

        That said a caveat: the utilitarian and consequentialist oppositions to SSM are also by far the weakest arguments against it. As science has marched forward, studies have been done and more and more gay people have come out the utilitarian arguements against SSM have been collapsing at a very steady rate. As region after region has legalized SSM and the sky has stubbornly refused to fall the consequentialist position against SSM has faded.
        While I think it’s possible to be an informed opponent to SSM* and also not bigoted I’d say that the terrain one can inhabit to be this way is very steadily shrinking.

        *Note that it’s easy to be an uninformed opponent of SSM but really that’s a different bird entirely. Really virtually no one who you can argue with about SSM on the internet about can honestly get away with this label, at least not for long, without becoming willfully ignorant which puts them dangerously close to being a bigot in my books.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      The problem is that you have a picture in your head of what a bigot looks like, and part of that picture is “against same-sex marriage”, and you’ve become so used to arguing with the picture that you’ve forgotten it’s not a person.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        The problem with much of the social right on gay issues is that is they have a picture in their heads of what gay people looks like and part of that picture is “*insert a whole slew of ludicrously incorrect things*”, and they have become so used to arguing with the picture that they never accept that it’s a person.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Yes, part of the problem is that homosexuality was illegal and shunned and stigmatized by so many in so many (all?) parts of the world to such an extent that homosexual behavior itself became something that had a huge amount of pathological behaviors associated with it.

          If it’s not possible to be a boring couple, if it’s not possible to have even an “everybody knows” bachelors-living-together relationship without the authorities involving themselves, you end up with furtive relationships.

          Then, of course, the established culture holds up the furtive relationships as a sign of the degeneracy of the behavior rather than as the obvious outcome of the social and legal stigma.

          We saw it with prohibition and alcohol, we see it with drugs and the War On Drugs now, god only knows what we’ll prohibit tomorrow and see what black markets arise in what sordid corners to be used as examples of what “Those Carbohydrate Addicts” are like deep-down.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Sort of ‘If Gay is outlawed, only outlaws will get Gay?’

            More seriously, yes.Report

            • Avatar Plinko says:

              Sort of ‘If Gay is outlawed, only outlaws will get Gay?’

              Totally seriously, this is a real mindset – that we can’t allow gays to be ‘normal’ because that might teach kids that it’s OK to be gay.Report

    • Avatar BobbyC says:

      It’s a good question; some thoughts.

      1) Maybe people mean “hey it’s fine to be gay, but let’s not go changing society to redefine traditional contracts, words, and cultural practices” … then they say “I’m no bigot, I just like the status quo!” … so basically that’s saying that they have no argument, but they don’t FEEL bigoted. This is basically what I think is going on.

      2) See my other comment above, but basically I think many otherwise decent, acceptable human beings who oppose SSM really want to have society encourage traditional families, and due to an inertial bias, they confuse denying the right to enter into a marriage contract to gays with otherwise acceptable means to encourage traditional marriage and family structures. Tax the child tax credit – if gay civic organizations come out arguing that having a child tax credit is bigotry and homophobia, then I will disagree. I may oppose or be in favor of such tax policy depending on the circumstances, but to me it is a legitimate question of whether we as a society want to incentivize having children. On this view, people who are against SSM are really just pro-traditional marriage and have not understood that restricting the freedom to contract as a couple to gays is not an acceptable-legal-constitutional-ethical way to encourage traditional marriages and families. So they may actually not be “bigoted” except in the sense that they are failing to empathize with gays or think logically about the issue. That’s what I would call soft-bigoted.Report

  8. Avatar Glyph says:

    I think the problem is, and this applies to both right and left on all sorts of issues, it’s a lot easier to just ‘vote’ (by which I mean either, actually walk into a booth, or simply make a big enough stink that your rep fears he won’t get re-elected unless he does what you want) than doing the hard work of actually changing people’s hearts and minds one by one, in the rest of your real life.

    Didn’t we just talk about the failures of liberal democracy? This looks like one to me.

    Also, it occurs to me to clarify, that if I’d allow a hetero couple to get married, and I would, and I would let them keep a closet full of drugs and guns in the house, and I would – I am not sure I would want to encourage them adopting either. I am also not sure I want them having children ‘naturally’, but that is kinda on them, and presumably Darwin sorts that out eventually.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      sorry, this was to Patrick at 1:57, I am really having trouble with Reply today.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      > Didn’t we just talk about the failures of liberal
      > democracy? This looks like one to me.

      Yep, me too.

      Or, it’s an inevitable symptom of a low-grade fever. That doesn’t mean the patient is going to die or anything.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Disagree.
      If there was no movement on the matter despite sea changes in public opinion I’d be with you but such is not the case.

      Part of why the anti-SSM forces are so frenetic and shrill is that they’re frantically dancing around to dodge the falling debris of some huge barricades they’ve enjoyed against SSM and gay rights in general. Read much conservative thought and you can almost see them either resignedly predicting their defeat or else heading for the catacombs on the matter. Policy is moving, albeit slowly, in accordance with changing public opinion*. I’d say the system is working correctly, not failing.

      *Albeit slowly, god(ess), so slowly!Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Maybe both of you are correct – after all, a fever is part of the body’s way of healing itself.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC says:

        I thought is was cool when Obama endorsed same-sex marriage and the Republican response was “he’s just doing this due to politics!” … that’s HUGE progress over the past 20yrs … even 10yrs ago if a politician had embraced SSM, the response of social conservatives would have been “we must stop this fanatic” as opposed to “you’re just trying to be popular!” Kudos to Americans … first we elected a black guy (which I thought wouldn’t happen) and now we will let gay people get married … soon enough we’ll have a carbon tax and let brilliant students immigrate here easily!Report

  9. Avatar damon says:

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

    Let’s move beyond all this crap. Make marriage a RELIGIOUS event. Everyone not married within some faith has a “civil union”. Neither marriage or the civil union confers tax benefits/subsidies or legal benefits from the pairing. Handle the legal stuff through contracts/agreements between the two individuals. Let the churches / organized religion define their own kind of marriage and who they will perform ceremonies for.

    Then we can finally end this debate and move on to something more important, like when Half Life 2 Episode 3 will come out.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Yup, pretty sure this is how Germany does it.Report

      • Avatar Sam says:

        Damon,

        My problem: your solution is NEVER going to be implemented in the United States. So waiting for its implementation damns gay couples currently. Whereas the law can be quickly changed to include gay couples with ease and without having to convince millions that a society without government-sanctioned marriage is a good idea.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          Regarding “NEVER”… It could be. Tackle it at the state level.

          I agree that you’re talking about an extensively long time for the current injustice-sufferers, though.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I’m with Sam here. Seriously Patrick.
            “I’m campaigning on removing the public policies that privilege straight marriages. Before I get into the why’s I’d like to ask why you folks are carrying that rail in here.. wait is that a cauldron of boiling tar? Feathers… oh no wait let me explain *argh*argh*argh*!”

            In what universe do we have politicians that’d do this? Whatever one we’re getting them from we should probably save them for resolving fiscal issues.Report

        • I’m actually not so sure I’d use the word “never” on this. I agree that it’s not going to happen in the near future, but I could see it as being the outcome of a conditional surrender by the anti-SSM side. In effect, once they accept that they’re going to lose the war, I could see this being put forward as a way of trying to save face.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, I could see that, as well.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              To be perfectly honest, I think that this approach, taken unilaterally, would have worked surprisingly well.

              Two folks get married in the Unitarian Church.

              They start saying “we’re married”.

              What can you say to that? “No, you’re not”? So let’s have people say “No, you’re not.”

              Reply: Yes, we are. And the only thing you can do about that is kick down our doors and arrest us. Or refuse to honor our contracts and our Wills. Or deny us the opportunity to see each other. But… We. Are. Married.Report

          • Avatar Sam says:

            NOM doesn’t seem like a group of people prepared to surrender. And who will want to listen to their offers if full marriage has been legalized in numerous states throughout the nation?Report

            • Not now, no. In a few years, after having lost referenda in all/most blue states, with momentum having turned against them in the red states, and having to rely on either supermajority requirements or the career spans of sitting state court justices to hold on to even those strongholds? I could see it happening – it would be an acceptable compromise to enough of the pro-SSM side to pass, especially since it would assure immediate relief to gays in those states and thus would be preferable to waiting an additional 5, 10, 20 years to get the supermajority/replace enough state court justices.

              It’d be a distinction without a difference to the pro-SSM side – by that point, the marriage terminology for SSM will have become culturally accepted enough in enough of the country that legal definitions to the contrary aren’t going to be culturally relevant. But it would make at least a small difference to the anti-SSM side- they wouldn’t be required to use terminology that they didn’t like. I could see that small difference being enough to convince enough anti-SSM holdouts to switch sides that it would pass in the last remaining hold out states.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I dunno Mark. I think this would have had to have been something that was done by the anti-SSM side from a position of strength. Say, for instance, when Vermont legalized civil unions for instance. At a state level I can see anti-SSMers offering it in their strongholds and pro-SSMers accepting it but I don’t see the pro-SSM forces ever offering to cut the deal in the states that they’ve won.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Surrender requires two people Mark; one side to offer it and one to accept. I don’t see how the pro-SSM side would be willing to accept that deal when the writing on the wall is so clearly in their favor.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Wasn’t civil unions the “deal?”Report

              • Avatar North says:

                It would have been had it ever been offered but it never was. In order for civil unions to have been the “deal” it would have had to have been offered by the opponents of SSM early on; Proponents asking for marriage, opponents offer civil unions. Instead what happened was proponents asking for marriage and opponents offering nothing and then grumbling that proponents should have been asking for civil unions instead.
                I suspect, however, that opponents of SSM may have let things slide for too long for civil unions to be an option. It also bears noting that civil unions are officially opposed by conservatives and the GOP now.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Civil unions as a term would probably have been perfectly acceptable, but as offered it was the substance that was lacking, since–with the exception of Washington state–it never included all the rights that would have made it civically equal to straight marriage.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Not in North Carolina, it appears.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                By that election, Tod, Judge Vaughan Walker had declared civil unions a form of discrimination! Therefore for NC to vote them down too would be to vote down the entire slippery slope, which, if I’m recalling the details* correctly here, was the wise thing to do.

                * The Proposition 8 case, which voted down gay marriage but not civil unions.

                Mr. North, if you have something on the civil union timeline, I’d enjoy a look.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Judge Walker is on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, so his ruling has no force in North Carolina, despite the similarity of the geographic terms. Unless there is evidence that NoCar voters were thinking about the implications of a NorCal court case, making this connection seems too much of a stretch.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Tom, civil unions as they have been instituted in the U.S. were mostly half measures put into place by Democratic party majorities or liberal majorities over conservative and GOP opposition. My brief googling and wiki-searching to bolster my memory backs up that the GOP and conservative aligned forces have never offered civil unions. They have, however, repeatedly attacked civil unions and civil union like institutions once in power.

                In Hawaii civil unions (one of the earliest areas to offer them) were vetoed by Linda Lingle (Republican) and didn’t get through until she was replaced with a Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie. Subsequent GOP majorities were unable to repeal the civil unions but did strip out multiple provisions.

                In Wisconsin a civil union like institution was set up. Social conservatives launched legal action to eliminate it and Governor Scott Walker withdrew all his administrations legal defense of Wisconsin’s domestic registry.

                Of course the big enchilada, the Republican written DOMA(though signed by a triangulating Clinton) mandates anti-SSM policy on a national basis even enforcing it on states that have passed SSM or civil unions. As usual federalism is only important when used to protect conservative aims.

                On Monday the GOP platform committee resoundingly rejected a proposed amendment that would have endorsed civil unions for gay couples.

                I’d go on but it’s too depressing. Civil unions haven’t been offered by conservatives or conservative politicians anywhere that I’m aware of or can find. The only time they’ve been used has been early on when liberals were too timid or too politically weak to bring about full SSM. The only time conservatives have suggested them is when confronted by full fledged SSM being enacted (go figure) and whenever conservatives have power again they proceed to whittle civil unions down and try and pare them back or repeal them.

                Deal making implies that one side ask for something, the other side counters with something less and then both sides work out a compromise. Deal making does not mean that one side asks for something, the other side offers nothing and then the first side unilaterally enacts something the opposing side dislikes less than the first thing while getting nothing in return (and overcoming resistance from the opposing side).

                Frankly, when I look at it from this angle it’s even more apparent why social conservatives are getting so historically routed on this issue. Their position on SSM amounts to “please either turn straight or go back in the closet thanks”.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Thx, Mr. North. Since Judge Walker’s decision, I think “civil unions” are now moot. I follow his logic and it’s valid. Even if his decision does not hold if/when it goes to the Supreme Court, courts change.

                The logic is that “civil unions” are a form of separate-but-equal. Therefore, that half-a-loaf logically obliges the other half, gay marriage.

                I’m not a historian of this [that was my bleg], but anyone who argued against civil unions as the top of the slippery slope had quite a valid argument as well.

                Were the Abortion Rights League to concede that at some point in the pregnancy, the fetus is a person entitled to legal protection, same deal. How far down the slippery slope does that logic tumble?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                The fundamental point Tom was that looking at the current prospects of SSM opponents (complete and total failure within a generation at the very latest and likely stigmatization as well) a solid argument can be made that if far sighted conservatives had told their social wing to shut it and accept “mere” national civil unions back when, say, Vermont first popped the lid on such things it’s plausible that this would have nipped the SSM movement in the bud. With the practical concerns about the civil issues around their relationships addressed it would have been a lot harder to get the masses energized on gays behalf.
                I’d mark this down as another example of going for all the marbles and ending up with none (and a whopping shiner to boot).Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mebbe, Mr. North. I’d have to see the timeline. It’s moot now anyway, we may agree.

                As for the demographic/inevitability argument, could be. But nothing is inevitable.

                http://www.policymic.com/articles/9110/pro-choice-americans-at-a-record-low-but-does-it-matter-in-the-abortion-debateReport

              • Avatar North says:

                Perhaps Tom, but the fundamentals of the SSM issue simply lack the depth or divide that the abortion issue has. In SSM only one side has their lives on the line, and it isn’t the SSM-opponents.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            “but I could see it as being the outcome of a conditional surrender by the anti-SSM side. In effect, once they accept that they’re going to lose the war, I could see this being put forward as a way of trying to save face.”

            The thing is, once upon a time, ‘civil unions’ was that way the save face. However, the Republican party (on the national level at least) is now almost wholly rejecting civil unions http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/08/21/gop-votes-down-civil-unions/Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “Make marriage a RELIGIOUS event. Everyone not married within some faith has a “civil union”. ”

      A separate concept of marriage, equal to that allowed for heterosexuals?Report

  10. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Is the logo/masthead/whatever up top cut off for anyone else? It looks screwy…Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    And now I’ve got this song stuck in my head.

    Report

  12. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Many folks have an antipathy toward organized religion. We can call them bigots, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere. A certain rush of emotional satisfaction, not much more.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/dan-savages-anti-bible-rant-only-hurts-the-gay-rights-movement/Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Heh. We call them historians.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Shoulda watched the dinner Tom. Savage said early on that he regretted some of the stuff he’s said about organized religion.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        I don’t care if he’s a “bigot” or just says “bigoted” things or whatever. The word doesn’t do too much for me. You could call the late Christopher Hitchens a “bigot” against organized religion, and fairly.

        So what? I adored him, and although I didn’t agree with him, his points were entirely valid—especially if it turns out there is no God. So I’m not going after Dan Savage here either. Say what you think, bro. I prefer that to people calling each other bigots, is my point here.

        The debate topic was “Is Christianity bad for LGBT people?,” I read elsewhere. Brian Brown seems to be a professional activist*. So, for the debate topic, I’d have preferred some sort of pastor or at theologian. [Or that Regnerus guy who has everyone munching on his butt.] This seems neither fish nor fowl.

        ____________________
        *Brian S. Brown serves as President of the National Organization for Marriage. Prior to coming to NOM in 2007, Brian was the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut. During the five years he was with the Family Institute, he developed it into one of the largest statewide pro-family organizations in the Northeast. As President of NOM, Brian Brown has appeared in multiple national news outlets including the Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, FoxNews.com, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and Politico as well as numerous radio shows, Christian media outlets, and television stations around the country.

        Brian is a C. Phil. at UCLA in American History, earned his B.A./M.A. in Modern History at Oxford University, and received his B.A. in History from Whittier College. Brian and his wife Susan have seven young children.Report

  13. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Many many years ago I told my gay friends that fighting for the word ‘marriage’, which carries tons of religious baggage was a non-starter. In fact exactly like they co-opted the word Gay itself (which didn’t have the connotation it has now for much of my adult life) they needed what marketers call an ’empty-vessel’ word to describe their unions. That way it could be a win-win for all concerned.

    Unfortunately as my brother has reminded me, there are approximately 1000 LEGAL definitions associated with the word ‘marriage’ that affect everything from property rights, visitation rights, survivor benefits, IRS regulations and all points in between. So the new challenge is to come up with a term that doesn’t equal a term that is called a “blessed sacrament” in multiple denominations and still denotes all the privileges and benefits of the former term. My “easy” solution isn’t so easy although my solution of creating the new term and then ‘equating” it to the privileges and benefits of the former term at a Federal level could still solve the problem. Or we could continue to fight about it.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The Evangelical Church does not have a monopoly on Christianity, nor yet on Religious Institutions in general.

      Forgetting this is the sort of thing that a protagonist forgets at the beginning of a play. One of those “bodies strewn about in Act V” plays.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith says:

        Not sure I understand your oblique reference JB. If you’re talking about the “blessed sacrament” part, I still remember most of this from my 14 yrs at Catholic schools. So although old-school Protestant religions follow Calvin on the subject there are plenty of current Protestant organs (just wanted to type that) who indeed refer to marriage as a “sacrament”. Personally I just think Calvin was looking for more things to quibble with since he wasn’t as smart as Luther and couldn’t come up with as long a list of grievances as ole Martin did.Report

  14. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Since anyone is free to committ to others in a bond they call marriage, is the foundational goal to remove government involvement in consensual, adult relationships altogether, so that polygamists can also safely call their relationships marriage if they so choose? With children they haven’t matured mentally and emotionally to make such commitments, so coercion can come into play, but with adults is the goal to remove government involvement altogether with no incentives provided by government? Isn’t the ideal situation any consenting adults can form any relationship agreements they wish to form?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yes. Well, that’s ideal to anyone who can’t conceive of marriage outside a narrow religious context.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      We already do. Muslim immigrants get to register their polygamous relationships. Of course, they’re not going to register all their wives as such, but there’s a nod and a wink about these other “family members”. I worked with a bunch of Somali refugees, all the plural wives got in.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        As it should be for every polygamist, regardless of religion. Anyone can have such relationships now if they choose to call it such, but they can’t legally marry. Legal marriage seems to be the problem, so, in the interest of equal treatment under the law, we should remove government and legalities from the picture and then eveyone can make their own agreements and call it what they want to call it.Report

  15. Really strong post, Burt. Love it.Report

  16. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I wish I had gotten on board with this conversation early but my grass is cut before the weekend so I will take the trade off.

    I’m going to broadly address Tod’s questions/points about whether being anti-SSM makes one a ‘bigot’. The problem of course is that the term is pejorative so I think it’s fair to acknowledge that any discussion of it is a loaded one. When I was growing up here in the South the word ‘bigot’ usually meant someone that hated blacks simply because they were black. It was an irrational hatred. Moving that forward, it became clear sometime during my 20s that the term should be extended to people who irrationally hated gays. This was one was a little more gray because for many people the Bible and Nature seemed to support disapproval. But I remember a noticeable change around the time of the Matthew Shepard murder when too many memories of lynchings came back to haunt us.

    So let’s all agree that hating a group for simply being who they are is ‘bigotry’. The question is whether or not that extends to being opposed to SSM. I would contend that it depends on the motivations. I opposed gay marriage until pretty recently not because I hated gays, not because the Bible told me to, not because I believed it went against Nature. I opposed gay marriage because I was a trained anthropologist and I was skeptical that a gay couple could raise a well-balanced child. I could quote all sorts of facts which seemed to support my position. I wasn’t irrational. I was probably wrong but during that time there was a lot less evidence to the contrary.

    In 2012 I find myself unable to resist the facts as I see them. I know several gay couples and they are great parents. At 37 it’s still a little weird for me to think about how those kids will grow up, but I was also a child of divorce and the father of a child born out of wedlock so I am pretty open to non-traditional parenting. But just because I reconsidered my position doesn’t mean that other rational SSM opponents are there yet. Some skeptics are harder to convince than others and demand greater proof. Even though I have accepted gay marriage, even today I would admit I am only 90% convinced. I also don’t think we have reached the point where opposition to SSM can only be called irrational or ‘bigoted’. I still believe declaring gay marriage a success remains a subjective judgement. And if that is true, to call rational opposition ‘bigoted’ strikes me as both presumptious and smug.

    It’s 12:20am and I should have been in bed an hour ago so I hope this will still make sense in the morning.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      It’s clear to me Mike. I don’t disagree with any major part of it.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot2 says:

      “Some skeptics are harder to convince than others and demand greater proof.”

      These skeptics are also totally convinced that gaymmarriage is unnatural, leads to worse outcomes for children, against the will of God because the Bible says so.

      Why aren’t they more skeptical about their evidence that SSM is problematic.

      Sounds to me like they are very selective in their skepticism, i.e.they are more skepticl about the evidence against legalizing SSM than the evidence for it.

      Thus, we can and should ask where that selectivity comes from. I suggest it comes from a subtle, almost subconscious bigotry,

      When I was young and not convinced that SSM was a good thing, it was because I was bigotted. I didn’t go around yelling at gay people. I didn’t consciously feel hate. But there was an animosity in me, not quite full-conscious at any time, that made me favor anti-SSM arguments.

      Brown is a bigot in the exact same way. My guess is you were too, Mike.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Shazbot – I have had an ass-full of the bigot talk today so i’m going to wish you a good weekend and leave it at that.Report