It’s much , much worse than we feared…

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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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94 Responses

  1. Avatar Guy
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    says:

    …your hero-sexual marriage…

    Whether or not this is intentional, it must be preserved.Report

  2. Avatar j r
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    says:

    This is the best part of that article:

    Jeff Shafer serves as senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.

    Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    Oh, and apparently thanks to gay marriage there is also no longer any such thing as a child, so those of you with toddlers better go tell them to get off their asses, go find a job, and start pulling their weight.

    http://joshblackman.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ayn-rand-school-tots.pngReport

  4. Avatar Dave
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    says:

    I don’t know about you all, especially those of you living in states where SSM is legal, but for me, ever since SSM was legalized in NJ, all I get is fan mail, flowers and marriage proposals. Every. Single. Gosh. Darn. Day.

    My poor wife. She used to be a kind soul until all the gays tried to steal me away. Now she’s out touring the country with Maggie Gallagher.Report

  5. Avatar zic
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    says:

    I don’t usually comment on people’s appearances, so forgive. But . . . Garth

    Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I’m working on an essay discussing how X -> Y is false but W -> (X&Y) might not be and discussing what W is and what it means.

    But I don’t have a title yet.

    I’m also worried about the assumption that I’m making prescriptions when, really, I’m trying to look and describe what I think I’m seeing.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    I did not expect a torture parallel in Shafer’s piece, but then again, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition either.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Kolohe
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      says:

      That torture parallel is pure artistry. Note how Shafer doesn’t actually come out and explicitly say that gay marriage is like torture, but he still manages to plant the idea. When someone calls him out on it, he will correctly point out that he was merely using torture to illustrate his point about, umm…, what was it? Oh, right! Legal archetypes. So anyone who complains about his bringing torture into this is either illiterate or disingenuous, and Shafer is the real victim here. That there is some high-grade weaseling. Kudos!Report

  8. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    And yet another reason why I posted ideology exists and that is okay last week. There is something completely unaware (and in quite an amazing way) when the Federalist accuses the Left of being dogmatic and then posts stuff like this.Report

  9. Avatar Joe Sal
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    says:

    Firewall and hammer, just sayin’.Report

  10. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    When I read the article, I mistakenly read the blog title as The Defeatist, which actually suited it pretty well.Report

  11. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Yawn.

    Can we please NOT talk about this? It seems it’s a constant 24/7 thing here. Besides…in my best Chris Tucker from the movie Friday voice “you KNOW this”Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Yeah, right after I paid for the last quarter of my daughter’s senior year. Goddam story of my life.Report

  13. Avatar Will H.
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    says:

    The guy does have a valid point, and, as usual, it is lost to the need to mock an opposing policy position.

    SSM out of it, modern reproductive techniques are, in fact, redefining personhood at the margins; particularly in the area of fetal personhood.
    Now, before getting all-too-ready to dismiss the concept of fetal personhood, try, if you will, consoling a woman having just suffered a miscarriage.
    Consider the Dominican immigrant speaking in broken English, having been pulled over for speeding (on her way to the emergency room), being handcuffed and arrested for an outstanding warrant, trying to tell the arresting officer (a woman) that she was suffering a miscarriage, saying, “My baby! My Baby!” over and over again, while the cop is telling her that it’s just her period. Consider what manner of redress is appropriate in such a situation.

    It is undeniable that more and more American women are delaying marriage and childbirth until later and later.
    Over half of all population growth since the 1960’s has been through immigration.
    So, the view that the American family is in something of a decline has sufficient factual support, anecdotal evidence (even en masse) notwithstanding.
    As for what exactly the implications are for this phenomenon, the one thing for sure is that it will be easier to analyze in retrospect. Anything else is essentially staking out an unjustified claim. The only honest answer is that we just don’t know what the hell it is quite yet.

    As far as SSM is concerned, generational shifts ensure it as an inevitability. Under just what terms remains to be seen, and any debate properly consists of more clearly defining this one point.
    The generational shifts I refer to are two in number: 1) the fact that the younger generation is more accepting of the notion than the boomers, and 2) the aging of the boomers will bring into focus the numerous abuses rampant in elder law, particularly in the area of guardianships; because boomers love them some estate almost (but not quite) as much as any plantation owner of the antebellum South.
    The foregoing occurs in an environment of an overall trend of federalization of rights, and notably in the exceptions to the domestic relations exception noted by a growing number of federal Circuits. Those exceptions will become ever more important to the boomers as more of them are placed in guardianships.
    My personal preference would be for far-reaching reform in probate law at the state level, with only a moderate degree of enforceable rights federalized. I think the very issue of reform on the table creates a sense of accommodation, whereas the federalization of rights will always be met with contention; i.e., I think that rights could be delivered to the people sooner.

    Maybe if we could get over disregarding people who disagree with us, more would be able to consider these points.
    Too often, literalism is the enemy of truth; while it is often conducive to understanding to attend to the message rather than its means of transmission.Report

    • Avatar Zane in reply to Will H.
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      says:

      @will-h The valid point you describe isn’t made by the author of the linked essay, it’s made by you. Could the author have made the point you have? Sure, but he didn’t.

      His entire thesis is that it is precisely “same-sex ideology” that destroys the biological links between parents and children. The replacement of biological parenthood with technological parenthood is the result of “same-sex ideology”. No matter the problems of chronological sequence that we might see, the author argues this. (Certainly artificial means of addressing infertility pre-existed gay marriage and were endorsed and eagerly used by married heterosexuals even as lesbians were denied access to those services).

      The legal threat to the biological link between parents and children is based precisely at same-sex ideology, not at some other source. If you believe that the author raises important issues and wish to discuss them setting aside the issue of same sex marriage, that’s great. But you do so by dismissing the element that the author defines as the central and necessary factor in the problem.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Zane
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        says:

        No, I don’t dismiss it at all. I see it as a subjective argument subordinate to the objective argument.
        The argument the author is making (to my understanding) is one against fungibility.
        I too believe the argument could be better made, but I have too much else on my plate to consider it.

        I will add, however, that the intrusiveness of the state into the family unit has arced a trend wholly unjustifiable. I believe the dynamic at play is similar to that of interest group politics; that the people who want to change the world and put everything in its place are the primary sort who are drawn to such occupations.

        Doe v. Heck.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will H.
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          says:

          @will-h

          I largely agree with @zane but as one of the resident and sometime squishy liberals (I lack the implaccable radicalism of the farther left), I do think that sometimes my side can advance arguments too quickly and without thinking about the full changes or assumptions that they are making.

          That being said, I don’t think society can advance at a speed that makes the most conservative (but still forward moving) members of society at ease. There are many times when you can only advance and achieve equality through a “Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!” kind of argument. Otherwise caution merely becomes a reason to preserve a potentially or actually unjust status quo. Or a means of not trying something new and interesting as a solution for a policy issue or problem.

          There are always going to be people who say slow down and you can’t always listen because then nothing will ever change. The question is when do you listen though?Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to Saul Degraw
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            says:

            @saul-degraw :
            I understand your position, and frankly, I agree with you.
            But then, I’ve read enough of your writing to understand a bit of where you’re coming from (and I consider you to be one of the more thoughtful, introspective type of Leftists), whereas you are likely much more unfamiliar with my own views.
            I am a conservative, yes; unabashedly so. However, I am not one to abhor progress. I believe progress is both useful and necessary to achieve a more just and benevolent society. Nor am I opposed to exercise of the the full power and authority of the state where ti is justified.

            The conservatives around here tend to be of a different stripe.
            You may not have come to this conclusion as of yet, and that is perfectly understandable. After all, there are so few of them.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Zane
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        says:

        Regarding the “chronological problems,” Shafer quotes an essay that he identifies as being from ten years ago, then explicitly identifies the phenomenon described as “same-sex marriage.” Is he claiming that same-sex marriage existed ten years ago? He does not seem to be making this claim, which is good as it would be remarkable. But what does this leave? Is he making the even more remarkable claim that same-sex marriage ideologues have built a time machine and implanted the idea in the culture of ten years previous? (Perhaps they first planted Obama’s birth notice in that Honolulu newspaper.) The kindest interpretation is that he inadvertently posted a preliminary draft of his essay. Or perhaps he is a bullshitter or a total loon.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Richard Hershberger
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          says:

          I believe the rational inference would be that he is stating that the ideology pre-existed the movement, and certainly the realization of its aim.

          But truly, I have so little time to spare for those wholly invested in retaining an air of misunderstanding.

          But thank you for your time.
          I only wish it had been put to better use.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will H.
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      says:

      @will-h

      I agree with much of your comment, and find it interesting, even if saying so requires contradicting my earlier reply to Damon. You take the question in a different direction than I would, as I’m less interested in the legal particulars, but they do point the discussion or potential discussion to the area of unintended consequences – and not just under some generalized conservative precept.

      I think the core of his libertarian argument – which is, in my view unfortunately, made polemically enough to fulfill what appear to be professional and political obligations – is in this statement:

      Replacing the law’s acknowledgement of the essential significance of kinship and man-woman complementarity with contingent preference and egalitarian artifice means the government denies the pre-political and natural dimension of the family that until now authorized its substantial immunity from statist interventions.

      He begins, however, in a different place, with the “biotechnical revolution” whose existence, even if the procedures involved will likely remain something for only a very small minority, points to an ongoing transformation in the very concept of the human that is not merely (as if it ever could be) an idea, but concrete – being realized as we speak and whether or not we choose to speak about it.

      He also begins with a claim that same sex marriage, rather than a phenomenon, is an “ideology”: “The ideology denying the meaningfulness of biological ties for human identity is called same-sex marriage.” He’s indulging in some polemical license here to make a point, but I think it obscures the issue even as it may make it more attractive to the politically engaged, and also shields his friends at the Federalist from a problem they may not wish to confront: The ideology whose end point is the denial of the meaning of biological ties would go by other names. Once upon a time it would have been called “liberalism,” but “individualism,” “modernism,” and for that matter “capitalism,” as well as “statism,” all share that same horizon.

      I think he is right, however, that “same sex marriage” pursued as a definitional and exclusionary concept, an ideal of absolute equality, or practical non-differentiability or in other words legal and civil indifference regarding biological (or genetic) vs. all other bonds, which many proponents of marriage equality insist on without recognizing they are doing so, would implicitly deny or demote biological kinship. We could discuss whether or not this ideal is an ideal we really want to embrace, and whether there are in fact multiple alternatives to doing so, but it often seems both too late and too early for dialogue. We may be more in the busy eating the cake we still have phase.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        As JB is fond of saying, there are already same-sex marriages, an any state you want to name. People decide to get married, buy rings, have ceremonies in front of their friends and family, live together, and try to be good spouse to each other. And then they call themselves married, and mostly people are fine with that. The ones that go out of their way to say that they aren’t are like the ones who go out of their way to say that people married outside their idea of the One True Church are living in sin. [1]

        So the issue isn’t deep questions about biology, religion, and what it means to be human, it’s about whether these people who are married whether you like it or not should get the same legal protections as those people who are married whether you like it or not. And, you know, they should.

        1, Marchmaine will get that one.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Mike Schilling
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          says:

          Legal protections are significantly different than marriage.
          The one is a means, and the other an aim.
          It is only the means of achieving the aim which I question, and not the aim itself.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
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            says:

            While you may indeed have the power to prevent, say, a person’s name from going on the “Surviving Spouse” line of a death certificate, I question whether you have the competence to say that they were not “really” married.

            Since I am unable to conclude that you have the competence to do that, I sure as heck cannot conclude that the gummint has it.Report

            • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              @jaybird :
              I agree with the first part fully. I don’t even care to ask, “You two been fishing?”
              But marriage is a matter subject to regulation by the state. It’s a cold, simple fact, whether I trust them or not.

              There was, not too long ago, a woman I was considering marrying. She died last year of liver failure related to colon cancer. But I went through a lot of changes wondering if we should get married or not. Marriage for two people pushing fifty seems a lot different than two people in their twenties.
              I had plenty of time to consider: What is the purpose of marriage, if any?
              Is it all about romantic love? Building a nest together? Estate, and property? Or maybe something else?
              The answer is that it is all these things and more– it is only a framework within which people define for themselves that relationship, and inevitably evolves over time.

              That said, the salient question is one of: What other frameworks might exist, and what do they look like?

              And, since you brought it up, are any of those frameworks to be found subject to regulation by the state?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
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                says:

                And, since you brought it up, are any of those frameworks to be found subject to regulation by the state?

                As I say ad nauseum, the state only has power over Marriage In The Eyes Of The State. Manila folder stuff. Stuff like probate, inheritance, visitation, signatures, legal testimony, so on and so forth.

                God may, in fact, be a Levitical God who has opinions on sexual mechanics. I don’t know that he is, but he might be. He doesn’t seem to have conclusively manifested himself as such, though.

                God may, in fact, not exist. This takes a handful of deontological moral judgments off of the table.

                There are other options for God as well. The touchy-feely Unitarian God. Zeus. Gnon. All kinds of deities out there. All of whom have different opinions about things.

                I don’t think that we have the competence to say “okay, this God. That’s the one who has defined marriage for us. That’s the definition we’re going to use.”

                In the absence of that, we’re stuck with either marriage being an emergent behavior of “society” or marriage being something not entirely unlike a promise that two people make between each other.

                If it’s the former, we’re stuck with saying that this particular emergent behavior is an emergent behavior we want nipped in the bud. If it’s the latter, it’s none of our business.

                So, in the absence of someone capable of telling us whether these people are or are not “really” married, we’re stuck trying to hammer out if this is something that we want to nip in the bud or if it’s none of our business.

                I’m a “none of my business” guy. That’s how I roll.

                If you’re a “nip it in the bud” guy, you’re telling me that it *IS* my business… and that puts the burden of proof on you. Why in the hell is it my business whose name appears in the “surviving spouse” line on a death certificate? Why is it my business who visits whom in the hospital? Why is it my business whether there is 100% assumed inheritance between two dudes who lived together for years?

                I’m sure you agree that we don’t have the right to prevent two dudes from being roommates, sharing a bed, and arguing over what kind of hamburger helper they’re going to be making tomorrow night.

                All we can do is argue over whether we, as a society, ought to extend the privilege of a little bit of shelter from these intrusive laws to two dudes who say “we’re married too”.

                Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the argument that says “hey, this particular emergent property demonstrates that something went wrong at some point in the past and to embrace this emergent property is to say that we’re cool with whatever thing that is that went wrong!”

                But the argument is never about fixing that thing that went wrong. It’s about stamping down this particular emergent property.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m with you up to a point.
                the state only has power over Marriage In The Eyes Of The State. Manila folder stuff. Stuff like probate, inheritance, visitation, signatures, legal testimony, so on and so forth.
                That’s exactly where I’m coming from.
                The aside about choice of deities is irrelevant (immaterial, and lacking in probative value).

                This is where you lose me:
                If it’s the former, we’re stuck with saying that this particular emergent behavior is an emergent behavior we want nipped in the bud. If it’s the latter, it’s none of our business.
                I understand your position, and for the most part, I share it in a number of ways.
                But I’m also a pragmatist.
                As such, I see no reason “nip it” necessarily follows the emergent behavior view.
                I’m a reasonable accommodation kind of guy.
                And I understand that the state is an entirely different entity than myself, with an entirely different set of interests (or things would be a lot different by now– Will H. for benevolent dictator!– that’s my slogan).
                And though I generally hold that the benefit of the doubt should fall toward individual liberty, I believe the distinction between permissibility and enforceability is a wide chasm.

                I don’t think the state is going away any time soon, and I don’t care to pretend that it is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
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                says:

                So, assuming the state, and assuming that whether or not those two cohabitating dudes who want to get married is my business, I will now tell you “Oh, if it’s my business, then I think that they should be able to get married. They should buy a house.”

                Now what?Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                As long as you insist on self-identification as the state, I’m afraid there can be no productive dialogue.
                Sorry about that.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will H.
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                says:

                But if we take as a given that democracy is the only legitimate way to manage the State, you are a stakeholder in the State. So you can have a preference and a small part of influence in how you want the State to run things.

                One could even go further and say that you have a *responsibility* to have a definite preference in how the state should run things, but that’s ironically, a more conservative argument.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kolohe
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                says:

                I’ve made the same arguments myself in the past, but they don’t hold up to scrutiny.
                It’s essentially an argument toward popular democracy, when in fact, our political system was designed as a representative democracy.
                Our nation was founded on the principles of liberal republicanism; not democracy.

                It sounds good; and granted, I am a sucker for populist appeals.
                But things just don’t work like that.
                In fact, it is poor management practice to expect that they might.

                I am a stakeholder in the state, but to a lesser extent than I am a stakeholder in a Canadian mining company. We’ll get back to that.
                Granted, the notion of a responsibility to the nation, indeed, of civic duties generally, is one of the main principles of small “R” republicanism. I have every reason to believe that the Left shares in these ideals of small “R” republicanism; after all, it’s really only a matter of degrees.

                From a pragmatists view, the role of a cognitive miser, a free rider, makes so much more sense.
                I could instead spend my time on so much more productive pursuits.

                And then I realized how much I sound like Hanley at times, which scared me a bit, and now I don’t care to go on.
                Back to the mines.

                Sure I have a bit of influence over the course the company takes.
                Su-u-u-ure I do.
                I could try to organize a voting block of small shareholders to try to get a preferred candidate on the board, or some such.
                But I’m not about to go out and say, “Dig here.”
                And heaven forbid if I should pick up a shovel.
                There is only a very limited extent to which I care to embrace mining.

                Really, as much as I was enjoying this, it has wandered out into the weeds, and notably not that of the preferred type.
                Did I mention my cough? This glaucoma has really been acting up in my spinal cord lately . . .

                At any rate, I am not opposed to the aim of SSM, if indeed there is one beyond the Goldilocks variety.
                I question the wisdom of the means, from a big picture type of view, fully aware that it is not the only means available; a bit more process-oriented, I suppose.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
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                says:

                I only self-identify with the state when I see myself saying “No, I’m going to prevent you from doing that.”

                As I am not doing that, I assure you, I am not self-identifying with the state.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                But we grew out of the articles of confederation so long ago.

                I really don’t see shoving a cue ball up every woman in America’s ass as a means to prevent any manner of “slut-shaming.”
                And though some may think this is rather misogynistic of me, not once have I personally shoved a cue ball up a woman’s ass, refusing to advance the glorious cause, wholly embracing the implicity of implicitness in which I revel in the rapture of wondrous patriarchy; except that I’m not really all that attached to the notion of patriarchy.
                I’m more opposed to intrusiveness.

                What exactly is it that gives the state the right to impose its will on gay couples, proclaiming them married?
                Is it not our property interests wrenched from us with each thrusting hump, male and female alike they were taxed, and saw that it was good?
                Who says Scott Thorsen is not a role model?
                Such tragedy that only the matrimoniously-minded might cure!

                And now that I’ve had a bit of time to think about it: yeah, I think I might bang my mother-in-law.
                It’s the USA, dammit!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m more opposed to intrusiveness.

                As am I.

                The question is whether two chicks (Maribou pointed out to me that I always say “two dudes”) getting married is more intrusive than me telling two chicks that they cannot get married.

                The Obergefell case provides another example. Is it more intrusive to put his name on the “surviving spouse” line on the death certificate than it is to tell him that, no, he cannot put his name on the “surviving spouse” line?

                What exactly is it that gives the state the right to impose its will on gay couples, proclaiming them married?

                Maybe I got married the wrong way but this isn’t how I remember the ceremony working.

                Is it not our property interests wrenched from us with each thrusting hump, male and female alike they were taxed, and saw that it was good?

                My viewpoint is that marriage provides a bit of shelter for a couple of pies from the legions of fingers of the government. It depends on who you see the pies as truly belonging to, I suppose. If the pies belong to us all, then, of course, the government can insert its fingers at will. If you see the pies as belonging to the happy couple, being able to say “no, not these pies” to the government is a good thing.

                Who says Scott Thorsen is not a role model?

                For what it’s worth, I see Liberace’s sad relationships as being part of the baggage of the stigma against homosexuality in the same way that Al Capone happened due to Prohibition. Saying that Prohibition is justified due to Al Capone is to put the cart before the horse. Al Capone would not have happened without Prohibition.

                Liberace would not have had half the bad incentives to stay with Scott Thorsen had SSM been seen as a reasonable option back then.

                Poor Liberace. I love his Ave Maria.

                Anyway, to bring us back to intrusiveness, if two people want to get together, consent to getting together, and then proceed to get together, it’s intrusive to insert yourself into that (if you are not one of those two people, of course).

                One question I’ve never had satisfactorily answered involves Canadian marriages. If we, as a society, have a responsibility to curtail SSM, should we do what we can to try to convince Canada to turn their policies around or do we agree that Canadian marriages are not our business?

                If it’s the latter, I don’t understand how marriages another state over are my business.

                And if marriages another state over are not our business, I don’t understand how marriages another town over are my business.

                And if marriages another town over are not our business, I don’t understand how marriages another block over are my business.

                And then next door.

                (Barring evidence of harm, of course.)

                And I don’t see how telling these people “I have this opinion of your marriage!” would be anything but intrusive. Even if it’s a positive opinion. (“I just wanted you to know that I don’t think that you gals are an abomination.”)Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It isn’t my business. I agree on that point, fully.
                It is the state’s business, however.
                Regulate things is what the state does.
                The question is, why is it that marriage is all that different that it should be subject to no regulation whatever?
                I don’t think it’s that different from anything else.

                This is the part that really grabbed me:
                Is it more intrusive to put his name on the “surviving spouse” line on the death certificate than it is to tell him that, no, he cannot put his name on the “surviving spouse” line?
                Definitely it is, from my view, if it imposes a limitation on desired action.
                But who is it regulating this one line on a form?
                Surely there’s a regulation for it.
                Or is it just the decision of some paper-pusher?
                I’ve learned that an awful lot of clerks will be quite happy to do things which are actually unlawful, if they feel there is no chance of repercussions against them; from tampering with public documents to falsifying reports– seen it with my own eyes.
                So is there some regulation if a letter looks like an “n,” but it could be an “r?”
                And if not, how are they supposed to work like that?
                Who is this regulating authority if it looks like an “n,” but it could be an “r?”
                Was this published in the Federal Register and subject to public comment?

                As for intrusion, it occurred to me: Isn’t it just as intrusive for me to tell the state what to do as it is to tell some gay couple what to do?
                “Try their eggplant parmisiana,” or words to that effect?
                What if half the state is lactose intolerant and actively avoids all parmesan?Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will H.
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t accept this framing of the “intrusiveness” question at all.

                From the point of view of marriage conservatives, there is or was a pre-existing civil institution of marriage that, for all of the irregularities and inconsistencies of interpretation and application across millions upon millions of participants, closely enough reflected a common denominator of the acceptable. The figure “husband and wife” may have meant something different for a free-thinking couple with little connection to the traditions of their foreparents than it did for a more religiously conservative couple, but the shared public meaning reflected in the law and a vast range of cultural-customary assumptions overlapped enough so that both and all could get on with their lives: Enough people thought they knew well enough, enough of the time, what the figure meant.

                If people, in private or for their own purposes among the like-minded, chose to pursue their own peculiar preferred interpretations, and call themselves “married” on that basis, in their own minds or in their own conversation, or among a circle of the like-minded, it wouldn’t yet become a problem for anyone else. If you believe you can marry your computer, and have a pet name for it, too, I don’t care. I can’t care if I don’t even know about it.

                Even at the point I see on the news that a trend has developed of people (saying that they’ve) married their machines, I might find the news disturbing and pathetic, but it doesn’t matter to me, really, until and unless someone insists that I modify my own behavior, until that definition has “intruded” upon my life world – until I am compelled in some way to “recognize” the marriage of Mr. Jones and his beloved iMac, or teach my children that the marriage of Mr. Jones and his iMac deserves their respect, as I send them to a public school where it is taught that assuming that marriage is between two human beings is hurtful to the children of man-machine marriages, as I am expected to accept without question the decision of my father Mr. Jones to leave his estate to his iMac rather than to me; or to accept the decision of my ex-husband Mr. Jones to let his iMac take care of our children; or on the day my uncle Mr. Jones, in intensive care and unable to speak for himself, must either undergo heroic and violent efforts to preserve his life or simply be allowed to die peacefully and with dignity, accept that the iMac should be empowered to make the critical decision or have a deciding vote in it.

                These would all be “intrusions,” from my point of view, on a regime that previously to the acceptance of man-machine marriages I found tolerable even if I didn’t find it to be perfect. Now, the simple fact that I find the practice intrusive doesn’t make it wrong. Maybe the new generation of iMacs make for great parents. Maybe their decisions on matters of life and death are more thoughtful and caring decisions than my decisions. Maybe the iMacs are altogether better people than I am, and the recognition of Man-iMac love will make for better lives for all. Maybe our very lives depend on it, or maybe it’s simply wonderful that we have now progressed to the point where this harmful prejudice against machines has been removed. Maybe we can look forward to the day when the remnant prejudice against two-machine/no-flesh and for that matter multiple-machine marriages is eliminated, or that the state just gets out of the business of adjudicating differences between fleshy and not-so-fleshy life forms.

                But it would be a change, and pretending that no change has been required of me, which is what the claim of non-intrusion says, is false. Society is a shared enterprise. What changes society, or its inherited traditions and assumptions, affects me. Go have an affair with your iMac and call it marriage, fine, but don’t pretend that it has no effect on me, that it is not an “intrusion” on my life, if you require society in general, including me when I enter into society, to affirm your union not just in the abstract, as a matter of sentiment, but in the broad range of affairs – eventually every realm of life and every possibility of expression – affected by such a change.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
                Ignored
                says:

                CK MacLeod:
                I don’t accept this framing of the “intrusiveness” question at all.

                From the point of view of marriage conservatives, there is or was a pre-existing civil institution of marriage that, for all of the irregularities and inconsistencies of interpretation and application across millions upon millions of participants, closely enough reflected a common denominator of the acceptable. The figure “husband and wife” may have meant something different for a free-thinking couple with little connection to the traditions of their foreparents than it did for a more religiously conservative couple, but the shared public meaning reflected in the law and a vast range of cultural-customary assumptions overlapped enough so that both and all could get on with their lives: Enough people thought they knew well enough, enough of the time, what the figure meant.

                But it would be a change, and pretending that no change has been required of me, which is what the claim of non-intrusion says, is false. Society is a shared enterprise. What changes society, or its inherited traditions and assumptions, affects me. Go have an affair with your iMac and call it marriage, fine, but don’t pretend that it has no effect on me, that it is not an “intrusion” on my life, if you require society in general, including me when I enter into society, to affirm your union not just in the abstract, as a matter of sentiment, but in the broad range of affairs – eventually every realm of life and every possibility of expression – affected by such a change.

                Well, the pre-existing institution was changed to one that focused on individuals and their relationship to each other rather than on their relationship to society by the time that I got here.

                When I was old enough to look around and notice stuff, everybody was already using birth control and getting divorces and junk. I mean, in the late 80’s, it felt like every month had yet another of my classmates announce their parents getting a divorce. For years it did this. Among the churched and the unchurched.

                Some of them cried about it, some were stoic, some were pissed, some were relieved.

                Anyway, they all grew up in the same environment. One in which it had always been like this.

                Your discussion of the institution as having always been a certain way is not my experience of the institution. My experience of it was that I was rebuilding what was torn down in front of me. Instead of the bullshit of my parents’ generation, I decided to have a particular relationship with a particular person and we would be particularly married and it was going to be something that we wouldn’t get divorced from (no matter how tempting the thought sometimes) but a covenant, if you will.

                This is something that I see that should be made available to any two moral agents who decide to do it.

                Making comparisons to machines doesn’t pass the turing test of understanding how marriage is viewed from over here. It’s not one person getting married to whatever. It’s two people getting married to each other.

                My generation is used to stuff like changes being required of us. It happened when our parents told us “we’re getting a divorce.”

                To be honest, you saying that you don’t want marriage changed is something that we’ve already gone through. I can give you a great deal of sympathy because, yeah, it is painful when something like that is taken away. But sometimes it’s what’s best for the two people that is most important.

                If society didn’t want us to learn that lesson, it shouldn’t have taught it.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird: To be honest, you saying that you don’t want marriage changed is something that we’ve already gone through. I can give you a great deal of sympathy because, yeah, it is painful when something like that is taken away.

                Don’t need your sympathy, and don’t have any particular interest in whether “marriage [is] changed.” I have my doubts as to whether the last is a sensible way of putting the question, but, to the present point and your unjustified assumptions, I’m not married and don’t expect ever to get married and have never been married. In that respect, I have no skin in this game other than as a participant in discussion who finds the topic interesting, since it touches on so many aspects of what it means to be a human being, and features so many people constantly contradicting themselves or talking out of both sides of their mouth, or out of multiple facets of their multi-faceted mouths.

                So, please stop putting words in my mouth and operating according to presumptions about what I (must) believe or where I’m (must be) coming from.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
                Ignored
                says:

                don’t have any particular interest in whether “marriage [is] changed.”

                It’s kinda relevant to the discussion if we want to bring up such things as, lemme cut and paste this, “a pre-existing civil institution of marriage that, for all of the irregularities and inconsistencies of interpretation and application across millions upon millions of participants, closely enough reflected a common denominator of the acceptable.”

                If uncommon and common switch places, the fact that they switched places is seriously relevant to the discussion.

                We’ve got a new common denominator now.

                features so many people constantly contradicting themselves or talking out of both sides of their mouth, or out of multiple facets of their multi-faceted mouths

                I prefer to use quotations of people when I argue that they’re contradicting themselves, or talking out of both sides of their mouths, or what have you.

                I mean, that’s a rhetorical slam dunk right there. “Here you said P… AND HERE YOU SAID ~P!!!!!”

                If someone does that, you should seriously quote them. I think it will help your argument considerably.

                So, please stop putting words in my mouth and operating according to presumptions about what I (must) believe or where I’m (must be) coming from.

                I’m not trying to do that, dude. I’m trying to deal with your arguments as you present them without judging.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re still doing it, Jaybird. I describe how I think marriage conservatives might see the matter, and you presume that I am describing how I see the matter, or, perhaps, presume that if I see that particular question as they do, that I must share their general perspective, or a third different thing, that I must share their position on whatever current forms the marriage question is being argued or decided in the courts or legislatures. I say that many people speak out of both sides of their mouths – for instance the ones who treat SSM as a great advance and at the same time want it to be treated as not a big deal – and you presume that I am speaking about you or must be interested in achieving a “slam dunk” against you. My problems with your approach to the discussion are different, and most center on just this tendency to speak to your presumptions about me or what you think I think or have said rather than with what I actually say. You put me in the position of resorting to repeating the simplest logical statements, for instance on the difference between insisting that someone else behave a certain way and rejecting someone else’s insistence that I treat their behavior as they see fit. Kill spiders if you want, but I’ll keep on rescuing them, and I’m not inclined to tell the world to kill them just because you say I should. It shouldn’t be hard to understand, but because you seem to presume that I must be arguing against anyone ever killing spiders, because that’s how those anti-spider-killing people are, you keep on saying over and over all spiders must die and that’s just the way it is. It’s tiresome. You don’t have to feel one way or the other about killing spiders to recognize the difference between the two attitudes, but you do need to be able to recognize the difference before you can move on to any more complex considerations, including of the morally difficult situations where the difference between refusing to intervene against and effectively encouraging are less clear.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
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                says:

                Dude, I am seriously trying to argue against the position you’re putting out there rather than against you personally. If you say “Conservatives say X” and I respond “There are serious issues with X, Dude”, this is talking about X and not talking about you. Even if I call you “Dude”.

                Perhaps I should Instead ask for how I ought to phrase my disagreements with the positions you’re putting out there in such a way that will result in counter-counter-arguments against me rather than criticism of how I’m arguing. Could I ask for that?

                As for killing spiders, again, I see a difference between killing spiders and two adults entering into a commitment with each other.

                If I were to assume that someone who was making an analogy to gay marriage decided to choose something about a person harming animals, I would reach the conclusion that that person would have failed the turing test of what was being discussed by his or her hypothetical use of that particular example.

                including of the morally difficult situations where the difference between refusing to intervene against and effectively encouraging are less clear

                I think that marriage, defined as two people trying to have a stable long-term relationship (probably monogamous?) and live life together as if they were running a small non-profit is a positive good that will benefit society as a whole the more people who intentionally enter into it (kids or not). It’s in that light that I see SSM.

                If people argue that marriage is something else, that’s totally cool. It’s at that point that I can explain why I think what I think.

                (Dude, instead of complaining about me putting words in someone else’s mouth, I’d have thought that the perfect counter-argument would be something like “Quit talking about your damn bellybutton and get back on topic.”)Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird, I’m sorry to say that I don’t find you to be arguing against my position, and certainly not seriously. If you were arguing against my position seriously, you wouldn’t be calling me “Dude,” you would avoid the second person except when specifically addressing me, and you would pay closer attention to what I actually write.

                Otherwise, when I read the following paragraph, it looks very much like you are attributing feelings, intentions, thoughts, and statements to me personally:

                To be honest, you saying that you don’t want marriage changed is something that we’ve already gone through. I can give you a great deal of sympathy because, yeah, it is painful when something like that is taken away. But sometimes it’s what’s best for the two people that is most important.

                I still don’t know how I was supposed to take that paragraph. It reads like a condescending personal statement to someone who has said something and has expressed pain. Even if it wasn’t meant to be addressed to me personally, I don’t see what it has to do with the argument that I have presented anywhere on this subthread, or seems to me at best a very oblique way of approaching it.

                I intruded on your intrusiveness colloquy with will h because it touched on the same territory we were discussing previously, and featured you repeating the same argument you keep on making. As for psychoanalyzing the examples I am forced by your obstinacy to reach for, we could play that game all we wanted, just as we could also testify about our personal life experiences or subjective impressions of generational experiences for pages. Some people find that kind of stuff very interesting, but it doesn’t answer any argument except for one about personal life experiences or subjective impressions of generational experiences.

                Now, if all you can say in response to the argument on the meaning of SSM in relation to larger social-historical and philosophical questions, as presented in that Federalist essay, is another version of your eggplant comparison, I’d rather just drop this discussion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
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                says:

                I have no problem with someone saying “Try the eggplant parmisiana.” I have no problem with someone saying “I’m lactose intolerant. I will only have the eggplant.”

                I have a problem with “I’m lactose intolerant so you shouldn’t have the eggplant parmisiana.”Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to CK MacLeod
        Ignored
        says:

        @ck-macleod :
        That strikes me as very much on-target.
        On the one hand, I understand what the author is referring to in referencing SSM as an “ideology,” though to name it as SSM is somewhat disingenuous, if not profoundly so. Nonetheless, I found his use of the term to be needlessly intrusive. The notion that this was included for the purpose of targeting a specific publication (after all, the editor is the first audience) rings true to me.
        Similarly, to lead with reproductive technology took the whole piece in an odd direction, especially coupled (pardon the pun) with the language of “ideology.”

        Still, most all pro-SSM arguments that resonate boil down to probate law. Due to the domestic relations exception, much of probate law has been shielded from federal review beyond living memory, and the courts have, by and large, proceeded to conduct business as one might expect when the prospect of judicial review is removed. (In fact, I would argue that the bulk of today’s judicial review is not a meaningful review, and much of my concern is directed toward personal accountability in government.)
        The other salient argument is that from dignity; that somehow civil unions do not confer the proper amount of dignity on same-sex couples; aka “Goldilocksing.” I don’t believe this argument holds water, as it is too premature to even accurately determine what manner of dignity may be bestowed by society’s changing attitudes toward civil unions.
        It seems very similar to me to the predicament of a paratrooper trained to jump on hearing, “Geronimo!” . . . and then one day, a couple of guys just a bit up front of him just so happened to be discussing the historical Geronimo at take-off . . .
        Ends with a “Splat!”

        I think you have the money quote nailed (no pun here, even though the quote itself was reproduced . . . ) . Which is to say, in a dominate climate of deterioration of the family (or its fading, if you will), where interference from the state has begum to be acknowledged as functionally intrusive (as the primary characteristics of child protective services remain 1) single-parent households, and 2) racial minorities), is further separation of the biological ties on which families are traditionally founded fully justified, in light of all available facts?

        Sadly, even asking the obvious question is itself taboo.

        FWIW, were biological ties not so important in determining family, I could have chosen a better brother. Two of them, actually.
        The oppression of biology continues . . .Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will H.
          Ignored
          says:

          Sadly, even asking the obvious question is itself taboo.

          I’m not trying to assign stigma rather than argue. I hate the whole “I don’t have to argue with people who have bad opinions!” thing that shows up in various corners.

          It is important to hammer out what it is we’re talking about when we talk about marriage and what it means when we’re talking about when we talk about societal acceptance of gay marriage.

          The definition of marriage changed before homosexuality was removed from the DSM, let alone before same-sex marriage ceased to be a sitcom subplot. If same-sex marriage is indicative of a problem, we need to talk about the problem, not the same-sex marriage.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will H.
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          says:

          @Will H.: “most all pro-SSM arguments that resonate boil down to probate law.”

          Most all that resonate with you. I find it trivially easy to come up with additional arguments that resonate with me.

          My brain-dead body has just been hauled by an ambulance into the ER. A hard decision has to be made. Who makes this decision? Is it the person I chose beforehand? If my choice is not also the legal default, the absolute best case scenario is that, assuming I executed the proper paperwork, and after this paperwork has been fished out from wherever it was filed, and after the hospital’s legal department has reviewed and signed off on it, then my choice will make that decision. But this is the best case scenario. The various states’ ‘protection of marriage’ acts often include provisions preventing me from assigning any of the appurtenances of marriage to someone of the same sex as me.

          As it happens, I have a wife and two kids and a lawn to mow, so the legal and social defaults work just fine for me. (Or at least a fine as they can: my wife is actually a bad person to make that decision, as she is unlikely to pull the plug under any circumstances. But there is no one better I can choose.)

          The thing is, I have friends who don’t fit so well within the defaults, for whom this is a legitimate concern. This is pretty damned resonant, if you ask me.Report

          • Avatar Will H. in reply to Richard Hershberger
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            says:

            A single person can change their designated power of attorney at any time.
            A married person is more limited in that regard. That right has to be reserved through pre-nuptial agreement.

            I fail to see your point, unless it is simply that executing a document is an undue hardship; in which case, I invite you to write to your secretary of state and demand that all notaries have their seals revoked.
            We can start there.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will H.
              Ignored
              says:

              My point was contained in the extensive portions of my comment that you apparently failed to read.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Richard Hershberger
                Ignored
                says:

                I read it alright.
                It’s just that I find it to be based entirely on a fundamental misunderstanding of property and estate.

                There are overrides for defaults.
                Now, if you say those overrides pose an undue burden, that the default itself is required to be changed, then offer an example that would be equally applicable to unmarried persons.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to CK MacLeod
        Ignored
        says:

        @ck-macleod

        I think he is right, however, that “same sex marriage” pursued as a definitional and exclusionary concept, an ideal of absolute equality, or practical non-differentiability or in other words legal and civil indifference regarding biological (or genetic) vs. all other bonds, which many proponents of marriage equality insist on without recognizing they are doing so, would implicitly deny or demote biological kinship.

        I am tempted to push back on the idea that romantic homosexual relationships are at odds with “biological” kinship. I won’t, though, because I realize that we would in many ways be having a semantic argument.

        So I will grant that this is a true statement, but it is a true statement in the same sense that saying legal and civil indifference regarding sex and ethnicity would implicitly deny or demote white supremacy and institutional misogyny. That’s the whole damn point.

        Further, you really have to make a decision here, because in your current position you are trying to have your cake and eat it as well. Are you an authoritarian whose view on the law is that it ought to fully ascribe and delimit the length and breadth of most human relationships and interactions? Or are you someone who thinks that the purpose of the law is to set broad boundaries within which individuals can investigate and discover their own conception of the good life?

        If your answer is the former, then I have not much other than to say other than good luck with that. Have fun fighting the perpetual culture war with those who hold the opposite progressive authoritarian view. I could also add that you are not likely to win this one.

        If your answer is the latter, however, then I urge you to affirm that the role of the law with regards to marriage ought to be purely administrative. That is, the law exists to recognize the choices that individuals make with regards to household and family formation and to enforce a regime of contract rights and responsibilities. The question of which sorts of relationships and arrangements gain social acceptance ought to be deliberated and decided largely outside of the law as a function of individual choices.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to j r
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          says:

          +1Report

        • Avatar CK in reply to j r
          Ignored
          says:

          @j-r

          Your comment deserves a careful reply of the sort that I don’t have time to write and that from past experience I’ve come to expect is likely to encourage mystified (also often remonstrative) further replies leading to long sometimes fruitful but rarely mutually satisfying discussions.

          I consider the last part normal, and neither fortunate nor unfortunate in itself. My position and my belief is that the “conception of conception” is fundamental and could not be anything else other than fundamental – or foundational – which means not only that it is or is about an “origin” or moment of origination, perhaps undertaken furtively and under cover of darkness, but that, like but also as the interpenetration of genetic material that we reference as “conception” in relation to physical biology (some will consider “physical biology” a redundancy, but at this level of abstraction it isn’t, just as “genetics” may not refer restrictively to questions of re-combination of DNA), what makes a fundamental or foundational or originary fact or condition fundamental, foundational, or originary is that it is never “no longer with us.” It pervades the existence that would not be at all if it had never taken place, just as those genes, we are informed, as they also inform us to be informable, continue to do their work and make themselves available for new work long after their particular stations, and not other ones, have been set aside for them.

          That is what the poet meant when he said that all things are in sex.

          For now I’ll just speak to the choice you say I have before me rather than to all things, even if, as I’ve been saying and as the poet says, all things are in what those choices also concern. If, for whatever reasons, perhaps just because all things being equal or at least tolerable I’d prefer to be left alone, I opted for your second choice, I see no reason why I am led inevitably to follow your urging “to affirm that the role of the law with regards to marriage ought to be purely administrative.” Didn’t I just get through accepting that the law has some further purpose other than the “purely administrative,” specifically “to set broad boundaries within which individuals can investigate and discover their own conception of the good life”?

          I’m not sure what you mean by “purely administrative,” but to me the term suggests a bit of checking over documents for properly dotted “i”‘s, not a setting of broad boundaries related to the investigation and discovery of the good life. I’m leaving out the possibly prejudicial language regarding “individuals,” because it seems to me prejudicial to assume that “individuals” are the only possible subject of the law or consideration for the actual state, which latter may also be something more than or different from the offices where sworn deputies look over documents for properly dotted “i”‘s. Such questions also arise, naturally, as does the question of what it means to “arise naturally,” when we presume to address the concept of conception, whether in discussion, or in policy.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK
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            says:

            Dude, the root of this issue isn’t SSM. It’s The Pill. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation without 99% effective birth control.

            Divorce conception from sex and, suddenly, all you’ve got is two people engaging in mutual masturbation. Why should mutual masturbation between a guy and gal be granted special consideration? Well, it was grandfathered in.

            Why shouldn’t we extend these protections to two people engaging in mutual masturbation to any two people who want to engage in mutual masturbation?

            If it’s because mutual masturbation is bad, then it seems odd that we only care when two dudes do it. I mean, I understand that it’s none of our freakin’ business when two modular people marry whether they’re going to have kids. “Hey, are you two really going to have sex and have kids or are you just going to have fun together without producing life?”

            That is seriously an intrusive question. I hope that we agree that it would be an inappropriate question to ask even if we knew FOR A FACT that the answer would “we’re just going to have fun together without producing life.”

            If we can, then we may be able to agree on how it ain’t no bigs for two dudes to have fun together without producing life.

            If we can’t, then we’ve found at least one of the root places where we seriously disagree. And that’s useful.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              @jaybird

              I didn’t mention SSM in the comment to which you are replying.

              SSM becomes an issue only when it and accompanying issues are pressed in such a way that the rites and practices of your Cult of Mutual Masturbation interfere with and are insisted on as comprehensive replacements for the rites and practices of someone else’s Cult of Procreation.

              And your “intrusive question” is a question presumed of great significance, that at critical moments must be asked, by those who are responsible, who deem themselves to be responsible and throughout law and custom are still deemed responsible, for the welfare of a family and its members.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
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                says:

                “My” Cult of Mutual Masturbation has damn near completed its interference with and has become a comprehensive replacement for someone else’s Cult of Procreation.

                It’s all over but the crying.

                that at critical moments must be asked, by those who are responsible, who deem themselves to be responsible and throughout law and custom are still deemed responsible, for the welfare of a family and its members

                And I say to that: “nunya”.

                (Now, I’m one of those folks who think that the argument of “we all have responsibilities to each other” can lead to some seriously ugly “what have you done for me lately?” questions and it has done that demonstrably since The New Deal. But I don’t want to get into some weird digression on that (again) here unless it’s particularly relevant… but I will say that two people acting as individuals and treating each other as such hoping to engage in a marriage between themselves as individuals will tend to be a lot less likely to be receptive to the “we all have responsibilities to each other” until they’re old.)Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird: “My” Cult of Mutual Masturbation has damn near completed its interference with and has become a comprehensive replacement for someone else’s Cult of Procreation.

                Only in our imagination, under a refusal to observe the many ways that genetic or biological or “blood ties” organize and pervade our lives and aspirations as “self-conceptions,” or all human lives or all lives. That you do not want to think about them or do not acknowledge them or want to put other types of ties or webs or systems or organizing principles in the foreground doesn’t make them go away. The force of gravity continues to position your body though you may dream you’re flying.

                “nunya” is an appropriately adolescent response to the kind of question that often comes up when parents are confronted by adolescents and their plans.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
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                says:

                It’s not my imagination, dude. The whole birth control thing is really taking off in other countries. You know what another huge thing was (at least in South America)?

                Soap operas.

                “nunya” is an appropriately adolescent response to the kind of question that often comes up when parents are confronted by adolescents and their plans.

                You aren’t my real dad.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The whole birth control thing is very significant. The people continue to get born thing, and make a big deal about it, and wouldn’t otherwise be able or around to make any size deal about anything else, and not just on your uncontrolled-day, matters more, if anything matters at all.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
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                says:

                Well, that will have several outcomes that are worth exploring.

                The whole “sex selection abortion” thing.
                The whole “Catholics have lots of babies” thing.
                The whole “Muslims have lots of babies” thing.
                The whole “Europeans have pretty much stopped having babies” thing.
                There are probably a few more.

                What isn’t the case is, under the paradigm we’ve already adopted, how we’re going to put the toothpaste back in the tube and, without that plan pretty explicitly stated, why we should prevent two dudes from getting married.

                The paradigm is here and it has shifted.

                The people who will be banning SSM will be the Muslims who take over from the Proddies who stopped having children (and over the objections of said Proddies).

                The Chinese and Indians, of course, will at the same time be pushing for SSM to relieve pressure from the sex selection abortion policies from decades prior.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will H.
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      says:

      @will-h What CK Macleod said. The reason Shafer’s piece is being mocked is that its eminently mockable. There’s a whole bunch of “What the [FISH] does anything have to do with Vietnam, Walter?!”

      Brave New World warnings are sorta legitimate, in that there is a (narrow) socio-technical path to them. However, as Huxley’s work is now old enough to spur mandatory IRA withdrawals, those warnings are not at all new. Same sex marriage is the least credible tipping point for a world where children are grown in vats and raised in collective creches. Not when things like sex selection abortions are already seen as nunyas by a decent percentage of (western) society.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Agreed.
        It doesn’t even make for mid-grade sci-fi.
        The author does have a point, but the article is maladroitly executed.
        That’s what this is all about:
        Too often, literalism is the enemy of truth; while it is often conducive to understanding to attend to the message rather than its means of transmission.
        Tongue-tied and stupid are two very different things.

        This part here is more about chronology of events:
        Maybe if we could get over disregarding people who disagree with us, more would be able to consider these points.
        Because I believe the decision to mock came prior to attempts at understanding; as Tod himself has written about so eloquently on a great many occasion.

        As a matter of taste, I prefer the nugget which is of use.Report

  14. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    The ideology denying the meaningfulness of biological ties for human identity is called same-sex marriage.

    You just know the guy has a brother he hasn’t talked to in 20 years.Report

  15. Avatar Richard Hershberger
    Ignored
    says:

    I think it was Fred Clark at Slactivist who observed that not that many years ago same-sex marriage was unthinkable, but now that people have thought about it, it turns out that the arguments against it really suck. Jeff Shafer has done nothing to change this.Report

  16. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I just saw this, sorry for the delayed response.

    My wife and I are childless. Although we’re an opposite-sex couple, we chose to not have children before we married, and have taken care to avoid conception since then. Thanks to judicious application of a scalpel to my nether regions, it is physically impossible for our sexplay to result in even inadvertent conception, just as it would be physically impossible for a same-sex couple’s sexplay to produce such a result.

    So does that mean she and I are honorarily gay-married?Report

    • Avatar Zane in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      @burt-likko (Shhh. You’re undermining Anti-Same Sex Marriage Argument version 5.8. You’re going to force them to come up with ASSMA v6.0 and there are fewer and fewer options left.)Report

  17. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Down here.

    So I ought to change how I address you. Fair enough.

    And it looks like if someone in an argument says something like “But it would be a change, and pretending that no change has been required of me, which is what the claim of non-intrusion says, is false”, then I should avoid talking about them, but talk about the argument.

    Fair enough, I’ll try to do that too.

    Now, if all you can say in response to the argument on the meaning of SSM in relation to larger social-historical and philosophical questions, as presented in that Federalist essay, is another version of your eggplant comparison, I’d rather just drop this discussion.

    I do think that it is appropriate to discuss more local social-historical and philosophical questions when we are discussing the larger social-historical ones.

    If someone argues “The institution has always been like this” and I, in response, argue “Not in my experience. Not in the experience of my peers either. Our experience is that the institution was completely different than that”, then I will have to have explained to me why I should pay more deference to this thing that I’ve never seen than this thing that I have directly experienced.

    And it just dawned on me: We’re having a religious argument.

    The argument from the text and the argument from revelation is an old one. As old as writing.

    And we’re back to arguing whether we live under a New Covenant now.Report

    • Avatar Zane in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Thank you for writing this, Jaybird:

      If someone argues “The institution has always been like this” and I, in response, argue “Not in my experience. Not in the experience of my peers either. Our experience is that the institution was completely different than that”, then I will have to have explained to me why I should pay more deference to this thing that I’ve never seen than this thing that I have directly experienced.

      When people opposed to SSM argue that marriage is X (defined as a thing that same sex couples don’t meet the criteria for by definition), I never knew what to say, other than “is not!”

      But you are exactly right. SSM opponents are describing something that doesn’t match the lived experience of marriage for anyone I know. And as public opinion has shifted, SSM opponents have continued to narrow their definition of marriage to *only* those things that exclude same sex couples. This leaves such an impoverished view of marriage that no one would want to marry except out of a sense of obligation. If marriage ever was that, it certainly isnt for most now.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Jaybird: If someone argues “The institution has always been like this” and I, in response, argue “Not in my experience. Not in the experience of my peers either. Our experience is that the institution was completely different than that”, then I will have to have explained to me why I should pay more deference to this thing that I’ve never seen than this thing that I have directly experienced.

      That might be an issue for someone who is trying to persuade you to “pay more deference to this thing,” but I’m not trying to persuade you to pay more deference to anything. I also have my doubts that you and I are speaking about the same things, even when we marginally narrow the definition of “marriage” by referring to the “institution.” I am cognizant of the fact that you do not pay deference (or, perhaps, that you do not recognize the ways that you still do defer to the institution in its second-natural manifestations), I am acknowledging that the view is representative in its way, and I am suggesting that it tends to reinforce, not contradict, Shafer’s stronger point or the general justification for Shafer’s argument, which, in my view, goes well beyond the political focus on SSM.

      The problem with Shafer’s argument, and with his politicization of it, is that he identifies a long-term trend, pointing to an alteration in the human concept or self-concept, with what would be only its latest manifestation in law and politics. It was Dostoevsky who suggested, via the Man from Underground, 150 years ago, that soon we would “contrive to be born of an idea” rather than of parents of flesh and blood. As for when that moment occurred, it might have occurred before the Man from Underground. In your view of marriage (which I think you exaggerate or simply for effect) as an institution for the protection of mutual masturbatory exclusivity – or perhaps Burt would say exclusivity in “sexplay” – you point to the early 1960s, with the advent of reliable birth control as the key moment when the detachment from a biological-procreative concept of marriage took place. Others would point to easy divorce and abortion on demand, alongside social-economic changes in the composition of the work force under mid-20th century conditions. Others would point to the substantial eradication of childbirth mortality and reduction of medical complications of childbirth, both for infants and mothers, once a leading causes of death and debilitation overall and all the more for young, otherwise healthy women. Others would point to consumer-technological advances of different types freeing those traditionally designated to perform “domestic labor” to other tasks (or to no tasks at all). Still others would point to the exponential increase in the sheer numbers of living human beings: No one can say that a specific number of living human beings at any time is the correct number, or a better number than any other number, but an approximate tripling since the point of inflection reached in the middle of the last century at least puts in doubt the placement of going forth and multiplying at or near the top of the human agenda – a major problem, but also an opportunity, for religious traditions in which it remains there.

      Taken from one point of view, the above would represent tremendous human progress, a set of advances whose attractiveness only very few of us are even minimally inclined, must less able, to resist. Yet just as all of those technological advances also facilitate the extinction of species and cultures, the manufacture and deployment of omnicidal weapons, and the potential catastrophic destabilization of the environment, the alteration of the human concept, the pure transactionalization of human relations, the conversion of a web of affiliations organized by blood ties across the generations into a system of human atoms exposed to a massified state may also produce unique dangers or even the worst dangers.

      I am hardly the first to point this out, but I don’t happen to think that same sex marriage is in any sense a major source of danger in itself. I think it might even reasonably be viewed as a resource, under the right conditions. I think that many of the people involved in one way or another in that movement or supporting it are our best people or typical of the best in us, and that goes for some of the people with whom I regularly disagree about the subject, but I think that even our best people are as subject to those larger, two-sided trends, and that the tendency of the movement, in the arguments and attitudes of its supporters, reflects that fact.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod
        Ignored
        says:

        I also have my doubts that you and I are speaking about the same things, even when we marginally narrow the definition of “marriage” by referring to the “institution.”

        Perhaps we are, perhaps we are not. I am pretty sure that we both have the same concepts in mind when we’re talking about not extending automatic legal protections to same-sex couples under the umbrella of marriage, though.

        We very well could be two ships in the night when we try to hammer down what we mean by marriage.

        But Obergefell is a case about whether a name can be left on the “surviving spouse” line on a death certificate.

        If we’re willing to go back and keep going back, this dates back to the Enlightenment where the emphasis is on the individual rather than on the institution. Heck, this is where the Reformation got us. Every man a priest, no intermediary necessary.

        Given this existential focus above and over the social focus, marriage is merely falling into place in the same way as everything else did. Once procreation was divorced from sex, it was possible to think of marriage in the exact same terms of the individual rather than the institution in the same way that Protestantism allows us to think about the individual rather than the institution.

        So, technically, this is Gutenberg’s fault.

        In any case, when it comes to stuff like “the potential catastrophic destabilization of the environment, the alteration of the human concept, the pure transactionalization of human relations, the conversion of a web of affiliations organized by blood ties across the generations into a system of human atoms”, this is why I see Same-Sex Marriage as a *GOOD* thing.

        If we agree that the system of human atoms is a problem, a good solution (it seems to me) is to not only allow the atoms that want to become a molecule to do so but provide incentives for them to do so. Let’s make it a social norm! “Hey, you two. When are you going to get married? You should quit acting like adolescents and start acting like grown-ups. Then buy a house. The neighborhood needs some more long-term residents.”

        Same-Sex marriage is a *SOLUTION* to this whole existential shattering of society into nothing but a bunch of individuals.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Same-Sex marriage is a *SOLUTION* to this whole existential shattering of society into nothing but a bunch of individuals.

          I agree. Except maybe more a ‘counter’ than a ‘solution’, and I wouldn’t call it a ‘shattering’.

          Society needs both groups *and* individuals. It is good that people can choose to be individuals, just like it is good that a lot of people will choose to be groups. Being able to choose to be an individual, especially for women, is an advance in human rights.

          The problem is that barring gay marriage for so long not only hindered certain people from forming groups, but created a world where people weren’t expected to form groups that we’d sorta always expected them to form.

          This even, I have argued, slopped over to straight people. Marriage, at some point, stopped being the ideal outcome of relationships. This is blamable on a lot of things, but, frankly, I can’t *not* attribute at least a little of the blame on us *barring that outcome by law* to entire groups of people.

          We don’t need to solve this problem in the sense of getting *everyone* into a group, but we do need to make sure the groups work and are an option. (And these groups don’t even have to look like marriage, but that, currently, seems to be the only real paradigm that actually exist.)Report

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