TAG | Gay Marriage
From a Guardian interview with Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain’s neo-Thatcherite, euroskeptic UKIP:
He won a lot of Tory support by opposing gay marriage, chiefly because it was an affront to religious values. “Tolerance is a two-way street, and the whole equality rights agenda has come to the point of head-on conflict with religious faith,” he declares, as if such a conflict must de facto discredit the equality agenda. It takes some nerve to oppose gay marriage on religious grounds – while adding, “I know the Anglican church isn’t much good, but mind you, with that idiot having run the show for the last 10 years that’s hardly surprising. Couldn’t even clip his beard for the royal wedding!” – when, on closer questioning, it transpires Farage isn’t even really a Christian. He claims never to have thought about whether he will go to heaven, or even if such a place exists. “Never.” He goes to church four or five times a year, and thinks it plays “an important role in our society”, but as for believing in God, “I think there is something there, but that’s as far as it goes.” It sounds to me as if he’s agnostic. “Well you’ll have to draw your own conclusion,” he says, looking slightly embarrassed.
While I don’t agree with Farage on same sex marriage (live and let live, say I), the rest of this section of the interview is worth noting for the (presumably leftish) interviewer’s failure to understand that it’s quite possible to oppose something as being an affront to religious faith without sharing that particular set of beliefs. Farage quite clearly sees the Church of England (however flawed) as part of the tradition that makes the country what it is, an essential element in the glue that holds it together. Whether the rather wild claims on which it was originally based—first made in some foreign country two thousand years ago—were true is, of course, an irrelevance.
Britain’s coalition government intends to legalize same-sex marriage. That a high-ranking Roman Catholic priest is opposed to these plans is neither surprise nor drama, but Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien could, I think, have used better words than these to attack them:
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic church in Scotland…accused the coalition of trying to “redefine reality”.
Those in glass houses…
The New York Times reports on a confrontational interaction between Rick Santorum and people who support same-sex marriage:
“If you’re not happy unless you’re married to five other people, is that O.K.?” he asked.
That angered the audience, which booed his answer.
“I’m happy to engage in a discussion,” he continued, saying that he wanted to “give people a chance to answer, but we’re going to have a civil discussion.”
The woman who had asked the first question then persisted, saying that the question about bigamy was “irrelevant.”
“In my personal opinion, go for it,” she said. “But when two men want to marry … ”
Mr. Santorum interrupted, “What about three men?”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” the woman said to Mr. Santorum, who spent close to an hour and a half before the crowd.
The session ended with many of the students booing Mr. Santorum as he left for his next event.
There are several issues here.
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.
The Audacious Epigone points out that though attitudes toward gay marriage shifted a great deal over the past few years for liberals and moderates, not so much for conservatives. This makes sense. I’ve looked at attitudes toward homosexuals where liberals, and to a lesser extent moderates, exhibit a great deal of age dependent difference. In contrast young conservatives tend to agree with older conservatives to a far greater extent. Younger conservatives who point out that opposition to gay marriage is less burning of an issue for more recent age cohorts on the Right are correct, but the difference is dwarfed by the radical changes you see in the Center and Left.
It looks like both Maine & New Hampshire will be taking steps toward recognizing gay marriage. If that happens only Rhode Island in New England will not recognize gay marriage. It also looks like there will be movement in New York. Clearly there’s a regional bias here; but I thought it would be nice to quantify it. The GSS has the “MARHOMO” variable for 1988, 2004, 2006 and 2008. I limited it to 2006 and 2008 as attitudes didn’t differ between these years, and split it by the Census regions. Results below.
The biggest social problem in the U.S. today is the crime and academic achievement gap between blacks and whites. The academic achievement gap (several grade levels and 200 SAT points (old system)) distorts our pedagogy, academic hiring and admissions, and employment standards in the public and private sectors (see the recent New Haven firefighters reverse discrimination case); it triggers huge and to date wholly ineffective government programs to try to close the gap (e.g., Head Start, No Child Left Behind). Black males commit homicide at ten times the rate of white males; in New York City, a representative locality, any violent crime is 13 times more likely to be committed by a black perp than by a white one. This crime gap results in depressed urban economies, huge incarceration costs, and the unjust demonization of the police as racist for merely going after criminals and of inner-city employers who worry about black thieves coming into their stores.
One overpowering cause of black social failure is the breakdown of marriage in the black community. Nationally, the black illegitimacy rate is 71%; in some inner city areas, it is closer to 90%. When boys grow up without any expectation that they will have to marry the mother of their children, they fail to learn the most basic lesson of personal responsibility. A community without the marriage norm is teetering on the edge of civilizational collapse, if it has not already fallen into the abyss. Fatherless black boys, who themselves experience no pressure to become marriageable mates as they grow up, end up joining gangs, dropping out of school, and embracing a “street” lifestyle in the absence of any male authority in the home.
If the black illegitimacy rate were not nearly three times the rate of whites’, I would have few qualms about gay marriage. Or if someone can guarantee that widespread gay marriage would not further erode the expectation among blacks that marriage is the proper context for raising children, I would also not worry. But no one can make that guarantee. (more…)
I know there are plenty of polls in regards to gay marriage, but I don’t ever see them broken out by religious attitudes. So I looked at the GSS at the MARHOMO, “Homosexuals should have right to marry,” variable for 2008. I then cross-referenced with the “GOD” variable, which asks people about their confidence in the existence of God. The trendlines are as you would expect, but there is more diversity of belief than I suspect many would have assumed. (more…)
The Audacious Epigone has a post up where the title says it all, Extramarital sex wrong? Gays and supporters of same sex marriage less likely to think so. But I was curious how MARHOMO, attitudes toward gay marriage, stacked up against other independent variables in relation to XMARSEX, attitudes toward extramarital sex. Here is what XMARSEX is representing:
What is your opinion about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner?
1 – ALWAYS WRONG
2 – ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG
3 – SOMETIMES WRONG
4 – NOT WRONG AT ALL
Here’s the logit regression from the GSS: