Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Feb/10

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Fathers and the fertility revolution

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I consider here whether there are any arguments left that one might make regarding absent fathers’ obligation to their biological children once the fertility revolution that enables gay procreation is moved to the center of the marriage institution.  I am very sympathetic to the compelling interest in marriage, but anyone who claims that gay marriage will not have a huge, unforeseeable effect on society is either deluded or in bad faith.  One could well decide that the demand for marriage participation rightly trumps any countervailing considerations.  I tend more and more in that direction myself.  But let’s at least be honest about the massiveness of this change and our own ignorance regarding its fallout:

The facile libertarian argument that gay marriage is a trivial matter that affects only the parties involved is astoundingly blind to the complexity of human institutions and to the web of sometimes imperceptible meanings and practices that compose them. Equally specious is the central theme in attorney Theodore Olson’s legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8: that only religious belief or animus towards gays could explain someone’s hesitation regarding gay marriage. Anyone with the slightest appreciation for the Burkean understanding of tradition will feel the disquieting burden of his ignorance in this massive act of social reengineering, even if he ultimately decides that the benefits to gays from gay marriage outweigh the risks of the unknown.

37 comments

  • kurt9 · February 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    This is the one single credible argument against SSM. This is the argument that SSM will CAUSALLY (key word here) result in more single parent families and, as such, more single parent families on public assistance. No one likes paying tax money to support other people’s kids. I believe the social conservatives would get far more traction for their position if they were to come out and assert directly that SSM marriage will lead to more “welfare mothers” and to show the relevant supporting data to back up this assertion.

  • John · February 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I think the real answer to the marriage debate is privatization.

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1657

    One of the reasons social conservatives are against gay marriage is that allowing it will cause people to reassess what marriage is about. That is precisely one of the reasons why I’m in favor of it.

    We don’t get married to have children. We have sex to have children. I absolutely believe that fathers are responsible for their children, but marriage is a relationship between adults.

  • Steel Phoenix · February 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I don’t see it.

    Marriage is just a silly ceremony and some paperwork. It will do little to change the lifestyle of gay couples.

    I think the majority of absent fathers didn’t want to have kids in the first place. In the near future, the kind of procreation you are talking about will be both expensive and deliberate.

    I also don’t see this as being common enough or different enough from conventional wedlock to have a large impact on society. In modern society the lines between men’s work and women’s work have blurred. Stay at home dads would seem to me to have a similar impact to that of gay marriage. The impact is there, but hardly panic-worthy.

    If I had to give a child up for adoption and my choices were gay or orthodox, the decision would be easy. Better unusual than delusional.

  • Susan · February 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    @kurt9

    Given that there’s no longer any social or religious stigma attached to having children outside marriage, the financial argument is the only one that will work. But I wouldn’t depend on the stone social conservatives to make it. They appear to be far more concerned with what happens to the child before he or she is born than what happens to the child after he or she is born.

    As for me–I don’t really care what people do, as long as they don’t frighten the horses and, much more importantly, don’t make me pay for it. As a single person, I already pay higher taxes than those who have legally conjoined and spawned, or those who’ve forgone the legal conjoining and just spawned. I can’t afford to subsidize an infinite number of concatenations on the marriage theme.

  • Mike H · February 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Oh it is a dramatic change. It’s pretty obvious that the cultural elites in the academy, the media and entertainment industry have been pushing society towards a social “anything goes” atmosphere the last four decades. It is a classic case of reaping what you sowed as well, if you let radical ideas take over mainstream education, you shouldn’t be surprised if kids going through that education completely internalize these ideas.

    Gay marriage is just one item on an agenda that is clearly designed to “deconstruct” the norms and traditions of society as they have grown over centuries. It’s not a conspiracy per se, it doesn’t require secret meetings or anything as shared ideological roots can do the same job and it’s an ideological push that is broadly attractive in its permissiveness. Permissiveness is of course tempting, it requires discipline and intellectual hardness to look beyond the easy promise of “everyone just doing what makes them happy”. Not quite coincidentally those two characteristics are progressively purged from the education process and parenting.

    No matter what you think of gays, the reality is that in the rush towards GLBT “rights” there is a hidden yet fundamental re-design of society’s most basic structures and a realignment of values and understandings that have been held as essential for many generations. And nothing less is envisioned by the New Left mandarins, make no mistake. The dismantling of family structures, biological roles and parenthood is not merely a vision of a “tolerant” future as some libertarians may think, it’s a leftist poison pill. Weakening traditional structures and values is just another step towards realization of their leftist dreams, same goes for their crusade against national sovereignty and patriotism.

    Libertarians who embrace these leftist crusades are ironically digging their own graves. In the absence of traditional mores people don’t turn into free-wheeling roughnecks who don’t require protection or forms of social cohesion, but it is the state who becomes the parent of every citizen. It’s often forgotten that wealth and free markets go hand in hand with moral, self-reliant citizens in functioning families. Private bonds, both self-imposed and imposed by peers, private loyalties forged to your elders, siblings, children, neighbors are a precondition for public liberty. In the absence of such private responsibilities, order and loyalty can only be maintained by a larger entity, the state. The smaller the power of private social relationships and their social control function is, the bigger is the need for the state to act as regulator and arbiter, the louder the ultimate call for state intervention will become. Reagan and Thatcher were swept into power partially as a result of a backlash against this, yet even they couldn’t do much about it except slow down the process.

    The idea that a world of moral free agents without any of the old “baggage” will be the freest of worlds is a mirage, it’s an invitation to tyranny. Chaos seeks order and whatever order would be sought by the amoral inhabitants of that world is excessively unlikely to be better than what we already had.

  • kurt9 · February 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    @Mike H

    Are you trying to tell us that SSM marriage will lead to more “welfare moms”? What evidence can you provide us with to support this assertion?

  • Lorenzo · February 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I look forward to reading your article. But a couple of points. Many societies have had recognised same-sex relationships, including same-sex marriages. It should be possible to consult the anthropological data on this.

    Moreover, the exclusion of same-sex couples from, well, just about everything was established by violence and maintained by violence. It was not some passive “normality” that just happened. It was, however traditional, a war against people as they are (sexually diverse) in the name of people-as-they-were-deemed-to-ought-to-be, with the brutality that goes with all such wars. But it was a violently established and maintained tradition.

    Given the reality that humans are sexually diverse, societies have a range of possible responses from “they should not exist, kill them” to “that is how people are, incorporate them”. Societies tend to cluster at either end of the spectrum due to the lack of any stable resting point in the middle. Hence the Anglosphere moving from “capital crime” to “equal protection of the law” in about 150 years.

    The release of procreation from biological constraints, yes I can see that has huge implications regardless of the issue of granting the same-sex attracted equal protection of the law. Developing an entirely female-controlled form of contraception (the pill) certainly had major implications. Same-sex marriage on its own: not so convinced.

  • John · February 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    @Mike H

    Libertarians are not advocating the end of the family. I myself live a lifestyle that would fit right into Ozzie and Harriet’s neighborhood. I just think that the state should get out of the family business.

    If the left thinks that allowing people more choice in their personal relationships will strengthen the state, they are simply wrong. Part of the reason why religion is healthier in America than in Europe is precisely because the state didn’t take sides and establish a religion. I don’t think that the state should establish marriage either. Let people do as they choose, and they’ll need the state less, not more. Allowing gays to marry will likely strengthen the institution, not weaken it.

  • MPL · February 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    It’s hard to see gay marriage having more of an effect on the state of families than the rise of heterosexual divorce, if only because the numbers of gay marriages will be small. Reproductive technologies don’t account for a very large share of conceptions either, just a few percent.

    Compared to the divorce story, gay marriage and technological reproduction is irrelevant, a sideshow.

  • Lorenzo · February 1, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Well, I enjoyed your article. However, you could have written it and made all the same substantive points without mentioning same-sex marriage once. (Connecting same-sex marriage to absent fathers seemed especially weak: why not absent mothers?) Talking about same-sex marriage certainly made the piece “juicier” but otherwise seemed to be another case (if much better than most) of using a minority as a vehicle to express much larger concerns and worries.

    I still think Jon Rauch is correct: bringing the same-sex attracted within marriage is better for marriage than having a culturally lively group “doing their thing” outside it. That is without simple equal protection of the law considerations (which are enough on their own).

    As for divorce, that has actually operated to improve marriage (giving people choice making something work better, what a novel notion). Divorce statistics are misleading. Most people who marry, their marriages end with death. A small proportion are bad at marriage and marry lots, driving up the averages.

  • Mike H · February 2, 2010 at 9:17 am

    kurt9 :
    @Mike H
    Are you trying to tell us that SSM marriage will lead to more “welfare moms”? What evidence can you provide us with to support this assertion?

    It’s a broader point on the social unraveling of the traditional family centered around a man and a woman. SSM hasn’t been around long enough to get much of a take on broader, long-term effects of it. There is evidence however of a consistently expanding government and an ever-increasing public bill for social services that correlates with the decline of the traditional family.

    One can talk about divorce rates and all that but I’m sorry the complete restructuring of what men and women are (the division of gender and sexual orientation/personality from biology), their relations with each other, the role they play in families and society (procreation, parenting) is a revolution and nothing less. It’s obvious that it would affect all aspects of life. Mostly in my mind it’s an Icarian attempt for man to divorce his personal desires from nature, to transcend it i.e. it’s selfish hubris. As a result it would create people without allegiances beyond themselves and their desires, a society without an anchor. That causes social instability and a social vacuum that has been increasingly filled by the welfare state (the state is the non-judging support network the new human who is only concerned with self-realization needs) As far as I’m concerned this has been observable within our lifetime as a process and SSM is just one part in the further deterioration of the situation.

    With regards to John, in a minarchist state I’d be inclined to agree with you but with the amount of services the state provides and the taxation it claims there are obviously family-related issues the state has to deal with and where traditionally the married couple with children was seen as the ideal to emulate, something that has shifted in recent decades. As long as there are government-controlled resources unfortunately the state is involved in the issue. The SSM movement doesn’t want the state to disappear from the scene obviously, the SSM movement just wants the state to share the spoils beyond the traditional ideal. It’s all about equivalence and forcing the state and thus society to accept and finance and enforce that equivalence which goes back to what I said about the “non-judging” welfare state that doesn’t play favorites when it comes to lifestyle.

  • kurt9 · February 2, 2010 at 9:25 am

    @Mike H

    I assume then that you favor civil unions for same sex couples, thus preserving marriage as the domain of heterosexuals.

    Privatization is another alternative:

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1657

  • bystander · February 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

    The NRO author is running around in circles tying himself in knots tying to come up with a coherent argument. First he’s trying to argue that separating genetic parentage from legal parentage is bad, but he has enough sense to know he won’t gain any points with readers as soon as they realize that hes attacking infertile couples and adoptive parents at the same time. So he tries to convolute his premise with some ridiculous semantics: infertile couples and adoptive parents are the exception to the heterosexual rule but homosexuals violate it altogether. I could just as easily say that infertile couples and adoptive parents are a violation, but the rule is ridiculous to begin with….. DNA doesn’t make families; love, commitment, and self sacrifice does…

    His real argument appears to revolve around the notion that men and women are predisposed to certain personality characteristics, and somehow balancing these predispositions is important when trying to legislate the right family. Even if there were virtues possessed by one sex in greater quantities than another, i can only imagine the differences would appear as two offset bell curves on a graph with considerable overlap. This would likely result in (god forbid) aggressive women marrying passive men, or even worse a passive man and women. The true diversity of family structures in even “conventional” heterosexual families makes any notion that a majority or plurality of families fit in his leave-it-to-beaver notion of family ridiculous.

    His finishes his article by continuing to complain about the effects on the children…. (when you know your arguments can be defeated with first grade logic you resolve yourself to “oh, the children arguments”) The degradation of the family is certainly a cause for concern in our Country…only exacerbated by jack-asses who want to deny recognition to perfectly loving committed families because he doesn’t think their gentiles match….

  • Le Mur · February 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    John and Kurt9:
    Privatization: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1657
    From that article:
    Does anyone want to get into the business of determining who is really gay and who isn’t?
    IIRC, a US university was recently doing just that, something along the lines of making people sign a statement that they were having sex.

    And once gays can get married in same-sex unions, why can’t heterosexuals? And if my friend can marry her friend to get spousal benefits, why can’t I do the same thing for my widowed mother? Or my sick, unemployed brother?

    I agree very much with the privatization idea, but disagree that a contract between individuals should place any burdens (“spousal benefits”) on third parties. As far as medical information and decisions, or who might legally look after one’s estate upon death, why not just make some contracts with willing people that you trust? (e.g. a co-parent makes medical decisions, a trusted brother who’s good with finances does the estate) Why should they be the same person? People who want them to be the same person could use a contract that would emulate current marriage (except for the fact that the contract in current marriage typically isn’t known, much less signed, until the contract is broken!)
    People who want to profess their undying love in front of a priest would be free to do so, but it wouldn’t have any legal weight.

  • trajan23 · February 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    @Lorenzo
    The logic of Lorenzo:
    I am, by nature, polyamorous. Society, by declaring plural marriage a crime, is waging a brutal war against my very essence.Plural marriage is a perfectly natural thing, as evidenced by the numerous societies which have practiced it.
    I am, by nature, a zoophile. Society, by declaring zoophilia a crime, is waging a brutal war against my very essence. Zoophilia is a perfectly natural thing, as evidenced by the fact that people in all times and places haVe practiced it.
    I am, by nature, a pedophile. Society, by declaring pedophilia a crime, is waging a brutal war against my very essence. Pedophilia is a perfectly natural thing, as evidenced by the numerous societies which have practiced it.
    Same sex marriage is a slippery slope indeed.

  • kurt9 · February 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    @Mike H

    If you want to convince the rest of us that SSM marriage is bad, you need to present the specific economic argument that SSM will lead to more dysfunctional families on public assistance with the result that the rest of us will be paying more taxes to support these people. You need to present concrete evidence to support this argument. This is the ONLY argument against SSM that has any credibility, whatsoever, with the rest of us. The rambling religious/cultural psycho-babble that you write here is so garbled that it is incomprehensible.

  • Mike H · February 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    kurt9 :
    @Mike H
    If you want to convince the rest of us that SSM marriage is bad, you need to present the specific economic argument that SSM will lead to more dysfunctional families on public assistance with the result that the rest of us will be paying more taxes to support these people. You need to present concrete evidence to support this argument. This is the ONLY argument against SSM that has any credibility, whatsoever, with the rest of us. The rambling religious/cultural psycho-babble that you write here is so garbled that it is incomprehensible.

    How could there be a specific economic argument if I discuss long-term cultural effects of a social phenomenon. Welfare moms and gay marriage are two separate issues which however both are strongly affected by the dominant social climate – hence my discussion is about that.

    Now if you wish to dismiss any discussion of culture and society as “psycho-babble” then we don’t have much to discuss indeed. Religious is funny though, I’m about as atheist as they come.

  • kurt9 · February 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    @Mike H

    You must understand that the only way that social conservatives can win this kind of argument is to appeal to people’s pocketbooks. You’re not going to win any other way and it is sheer delusion to believe otherwise. The problem with using any other argument against SSM (or anything else for that matter) is that it comes across to the rest of us as “people should not be allowed to..blah, blah, blah. This is authoritarian and paternalistic and is instinctively repellent to most people, including myself. If someone, particularly someone I do not know personally, tells me that I cannot do a particular thing or that I have to do a particular thing, my instinctive emotional response is that they can go fuck themselves. I think this response is instinctive to most people. Authoritarianism and paternalism is simply offensive to most people, including myself.

    I think the social conservatives are loosing the arguments on a great many issues because of this mind set. They assume that the default condition of the individual is that of un-freedom. That any freedom that an individual may claim must be justified against this default condition of un-freedom. I, like most other people, have always assumed that the default condition is that of freedom and that any restrictions on my freedom of action have to be justified against this default condition of freedom.

    Now there are very good reasons to restrict certain freedoms of action. For eample, anti-social acts like robbery, rape, and murder are considered unacceptable for very good reason. However, in any such case, the philosophical burden of argument must ALWAY lie upon those who want to restrict a certain freedom of action. It should NEVER be the other way around. To assume the reverse is the road to tyranny.

    In my opinion (and that of our host, Heather Mac Donald), the single legitimate argument against SSM is that it will causally result in more single parenthood, with the corollary effects of more kids being on public assistance and more kids growing up with single mothers without fathers. If I believed this, I would be as opposed to SSM as yourself.

    However, having read Heather’s piece, I feel she has not made a strong enough case demonstrating that such a CAUSAL link between SSM marriage and these results exists. In my opinion, you have made an even weaker argument than she has.

    Gay men make up, at most, 3% of the male population. Lesbians make up about 1/3 the number of gay men. It stretches my imagination to believe that any actions by such a tiny percentage of the total population can have such a dramatic effect on the rest of us that you claim. The burden of argument rests on those who oppose SSM, not on those who support it.

  • trajan23 · February 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    @kurt9
    Kurt9, your statements are far too self-referential to take seriously. E.g., your belief that “most people” believe that “freedom” is the default condition of Mankind simply will not withstand scrutiny.If freedom is the default position of Mankind, why have the bulk of human societies been authoritarian in nature?From an empirical standpoint, the belief that “un- freedom”is the default human position is much better supported by the historical evidence.

  • kurt9 · February 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    @trajan23

    Most people in America today consider themselves to be inherently free and require that some explanation be made if they are to give up a certain measure of freedom. I cannot speak for the rest of the world, except for East Asia, where they tend to be more conformist. However, I will tell you that personal and economic freedom is increasing over the long term (except for North Korea). Chinese people are certainly freer than they were, say, 30 years ago. In any case, my point is with regards to the debate about SSM in the U.S. The situation with non-U.S. cultures is irrelevant to this discussion.

    If freedom is the default position of Mankind, why have the bulk of human societies been authoritarian in nature?

    Because most people have been suckers and kiss-asses through out history. Whats your point here?

  • trajan23 · February 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    @kurt9
    Your argument in favor of same sex marriage was based on a two fundamental assertions:economics and human nature. Leaving aside your economic assertions (that same sex marriage would not entail a fiscal burden upon society as a whole), you argued that same sex marriage should be legal because humans have an innate desire to be free. Since this assertion is, from an empirical standpoint, perfectly ludicrous, you are only left with the rather thin reed of economics as support. My point, then, is that I have reduced the effectiveness of your arguments by 50%.

  • trajan23 · February 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    @kurt9
    Furthermore, you have not even attempted to define the nature of this essential freedom. Many socialists, for example, would argue that political freedom is meaningless under a system of free enterprise (a system which you seem to favor), that capitalism itself is a form of “un-freedom.” Freedom is not the uncomplicated thing that you would have it be.

  • Lorenzo · February 3, 2010 at 3:34 am

    @trajan23
    Yes, if you declare things a crime, people are criminalised. Really, that is my point since the entire argument is over whether same-sex attracted people are legitimate manifestations of the human or not. (Look it up, the Vatican’s position is that homosexuals are metaphysically deformed, so not fully legitimate manifestations of the human so not entitled to equal protection of the law.) Clearly, you do not think we are legitimate manifestations of the human, since two adults of the same sex having sex is on the same moral plane as sex with animals, plants, etc.

    On the polyamory point, heterosexual polyamorists can at least marry one person they want to. And burning alive was not normally the morally concerned Church response in such matters.

  • drew · February 3, 2010 at 5:53 am

    ” huge, unforeseeable effect on society”
    “massive act of social reengineering”

    Um, really? On the high end, only about 10% of the US population is homosexual (and some studies put this number as low as 2%). Moreover, the current marriage rate in the US is only about 7.1 in 1000 (or, 14.2 people in every 1000 are married). Even assuming that homosexuals might marry at a higher rate than those already married, we’re still talking about numbers WAY less than 1% of the population that would be both homosexual and married…

    Let’s all settle down with the sky-will-fall hyperbole, shall we?

  • kurt9 · February 3, 2010 at 9:53 am

    @trajan23

    No. I’m saying that you have to convince me that allowing SSM is going to adversely affect my financial status in the future. If you cannot convince me of this, you will never get me to oppose SSM. I am also saying that no other argument will work for me for the reasons I cited previously. No amount of hand-waving by you or Mike H is going to change my mind about this one iota. I suspect that most Americans, at least the ones here in the Pacific Northwest, agree with me with regards to this.

  • Mike H · February 3, 2010 at 9:56 am

    SSM has little to do with freedom. Marriage is hardly a liberating institution, I’m married and I can’t say it’s made me feel freer than I was before. SSM is about gays claiming access to an institution which the state has equipped with certain privileges and responsibilities as a result of marriage being seen as a preferred instrument to create stable homes with stable children.

    Naturally this institution was envisioned for a man and a woman as that is the combination which actually produces offspring, we all have moms and dads and with any luck were raised by them. This has been the natural standard and the social ideal. Marriage as first a religious then public institution was a recognition of both these statements. SSM aims to change that.

    SSM isn’t about freedom or criminality or even equality, marriage is certainly not a “natural right”, not being able to marry a dude doesn’t make a gay guy a criminal nor does it make him a victim of discrimination by any reasonably narrow definition of the term.

  • kurt9 · February 3, 2010 at 9:56 am

    My state, Washington State, has been through this. We have made SSM illegal, but we have allowed civil unions for same sex couples that are identical to marriage in every respect, except for the name itself. I suspect this is how this issue will play itself out over the next decade or so through out the rest of the U.S. Somehow, I think even this reasonable compromise will not satisfy the social conservatives.

  • kurt9 · February 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @Mike H

    You can say this all you want and some of the people will relate to it and many others (like myself) will not. I think the trend towards SSM or at least civil unions will ultimately prevail. As I said before and will say again, if you don’t want this, appeal to our pocketbooks and just say straight out that SSM will lead to more kids dependent on the tax payers (and be prepared to back this argument up with supporting facts), because, at the end of the day, this is the only argument that is going to get you the traction that you want. The reality is that you will not win any other way.

    You actually wrong about marriage in another way as well. Through out much of history, marriage has indeed been viewed as an economic contract between partners and families. This remains the case for the Chinese and South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, etc.). Gays can form contracts just as much as straights can.

  • A-Bax · February 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Mike H is owning Kurt9. Bam!

  • trajan23 · February 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    @Lorenzo
    Lorenzo, you believe that same sex marriage must be allowed because it is an expression of a given individual’s homosexual essence. Many polyamorists proclaim that plural love is an essential part of their nature. Do you believe that we must recognize plural marriage?Many pedophiles assert that pedophilia is an essential part of their nature. Do you believe that we must remove age of consent laws? Do you truly believe that something as ill-defined as “essentialism” should be used as the standard for defining what is legal?

    As I am an atheist, I am completely unconcerned with what the RC Church has to say on any topic. Why do you care what the RC Church thinks? They also belive that atheists, like myself, are doomed to Hell.

  • trajan23 · February 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    @kurt9
    Your position, then, is that only economic factors are worth considering when one contemplates ssm. Folowing this logic, are you in favor of legalizing plural marriage?Or do you have an economic rationale for opposing it?Do you favor legalizing pedophilia? Or do you have an economic rationale for opposing it?

  • trajan23 · February 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    @Lorenzo
    Incidentally, Lorenzo, you seem to be rather fixated on Homosexuals being burned at the stake. Are you attempting to make a homosexual version of the “Yale or Jail” line, perhaps same sex marriage or the stake? It all seems a tad hyperbolic to me.

    I just checked out your site. Please be more careful in selecting your literary maryrs. Radclyffe Hall’s WELL should have been banned on aesthetic grounds, as there is no greater crime than bad art (I speak as someone who recently had to endure three hours of turgid graduate seminar discussion on Radclyffe Hall).

  • trajan23 · February 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    @Lorenzo
    By the way, Lorenzo, your statement that hetersexual polyamorists can at least marry one person that they desire is very condescending. Do you not understand the deep, spiritual pain that a polyamorist suffers when he/she is denied the right to wed all the people that he/she loves?What of bisexual polyamorists, allowed only to marry a lover of the opposite sex? Think of the pain and suffering that the bisexual polyamorist endures, unable to marry his/her same sex lover.

  • John · February 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    The socially conservative opponents of gay marriage and I agree on one thing: the changes that will occur will be large, and not completely forseeable. The difference is, I welcome the changes. How can I welcome changes I can’t even predict? It’s easy. Society has already experienced changes as a result of the internet, most of them good. I’m sure the internet revolution isn’t over, but I am looking forward to what’s coming next, not fearing it.

    It is true that in the past people got married for many reasons, romantic love being low on the list. In modern times, we now see marriage as something that only people who love each other should do. It was a major change of outlook, and I think a very good one. In the past, the purpose of marriage was to get your kids to marry someone of a high social rank so that the grandkids would enjoy a better life. There wasn’t much point in gays marrying. Now that marriage is mainly an expression of love (and this is a GOOD thing!), there is a reason for it.

    Is marriage a “right”? I think any two adults have the right to live together, put rings on, and swear their devotion, but the government isn’t stopping that. What about the privileges of marriage, like mandatory health insurance for spouses? In this case, I don’t think anyone has the rights to this stuff, gay or straight. This is why I favor privatization of marriage.

    I would be in favor of legalizing polyamory. “But wait, companies shouldn’t be forced to provide insurance for five spouses!”, some will say. Well, then why is it OK to force them to pay for one? It is this type of hard thinking about marriage and government policy that I hope opens up as the result of gay marriage.

  • Asher · February 4, 2010 at 6:16 am

    @bystander

    “DNA doesn’t make families; love, commitment, and self sacrifice does.”

    DNA is objectively measurable, whereas the others are completely subjective, which is a piss-poor basis for law. Consider the following scenario: the state mandates a new law where every pregnant woman entering a hospital is enrolled in a “cohort” with all other prenant women entering the same hospital during a 24-hour period. Upon discharge, all children born to that cohort are randomly assigned to each woman in the cohort. Do you think that would affect the number of people interested in bringing a child to term?

    No, DNA is clearly an overwhelmingly important concern to procreation.

    I’d also point out that you are conflating two very different things in infertile couples and adoptive parents. Many (most?) adoptive parents also have their own biological offspring, and are not infertile. And infertile couples have been looked down upon in many societies for the fact that they do less to contribute to the future.

    What’s lost in all this is the original point of modern, non-polygamous marriage, which is to redistribute female sexuality to male sexuality. The biologically natural distribution of female sexuality probably looks like 20 percent of the males having sex with 100 percent of the women. Of course, a modern, advanced civilization would collapse under this state of affairs, as 80 percent of the men would no longer have any vested interest in society. Making marriage about children sunders marriage from it’s real social benefit, and simply makes it a mechanism for managing procreaton in the context of the welfare state.

    “I would be in favor of legalizing polyamory … Well, then why is it OK to force them to pay for one? It is this type of hard thinking about marriage and government policy that I hope opens up as the result of gay marriage.”

    This type of thinking is precisely why only a small fraction of individuals will ever be libertarians, and this, from me, is coming from someone who self-identified as a libertarian from the end of high school to his late 20s. It ignores the brute facts of human instincts and how those instincts fit into, or hinder, the functioning of advanced civilization. Human beings use force, it’s a brute fact of our nature, and people are naturally comfortable with advocating the use of proactive force to achieve social ends. Libertarianism is a weird, stilted construct of a “nerd” personality, sort of an intellectual version of Dungeons and Dragons.

    While I personally suspect that SSM will have little causal impact on social direction, barring legal enforcement of “sameness” in things like public schools, hearing comments like this from supporters just makes me want to fight it out of malice. SSM needs to rid itself of the taint of this anti-social type of reasoning if it wants to succeed.

  • kurt9 · February 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @A-Bax

    That is your chosen delusion.

  • Derek Scruggs · February 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    An exercise:

    1. Pick a random town of, say, 20,000 people off a map
    2. Survey the area for the incident rate of divorce and single motherhood
    3. Survey the area for the incident rate of commited homosexual relationships
    4. Marvel at how the rate in #2 is orders of magnitude higher than in #3
    5. Ask yourself how therefore #3 can so “massively” affect #2

    Explain to me again how something that in the “worst” case afftects 5-10% of the population is such a “massive” change?

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