Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gay marriage: I'm serious, I still want to know.

After a rush of great comments on the original "I want to know" post, I thought I'd start a new one to continue the discussion.  I want to do so by directly addressing those comments as best I can, so I'll post the argument and then respond.

Original Anon:  in response to "it was legalized in Canada and the sky hasn't fallen in," states that people are being criminally "prosecuted for hate speech for publicly stating their objections to gay marriage and homosexuality in general." 

My Response:  If that's true, it's horrific.   But it's not the fault of gay marriage, it's the fault of intolerance of free speech.  In fact, with our First Amendment here in the US, one would have to assume that wouldn't happen here.  Which means that on two counts it fails as an argument against gay marriage.

Original Anon: the next claim is that in Europe and Canada "same-sex marriage has continued those nations' long slide to fewer marriages of any sort, fewer births in general, more out-of-wedlock births when there are any, and an approaching demographic winter than threatens their economic and social survival."

My Response:   Eloquently put, but I simply don't understand how same-sex marriage be responsible for fewer people being married?  Other than your opinion, how can that claim be substantiated?  It's not even logical: more marriages = fewer marriages?  Likewise, how can same-sex marriage cause more out-of-wedlock births?  Seriously, I don't see the connection.  These sound like conclusions restated as data and I'm not getting it.

Original Anon: "marriage as an institution has been weakened by the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce, etc.--so how does same-sex marriage improve that situation? That's like trying to fix a car with one flat tire by taking the air out of another tire to make both sides "even.""

My Response:  I'd say it improves the situation by having more people who love each other get married.  Maybe it'll lead to more divorces as an overall number, but also more marriages and maybe even a decline in the divorce rate.  We can't know that right now, so again any conclusions are based on ideology not data.

Original Anon: the remainder of the argument seems to be that " Marriage and the resulting biological nuclear family have been the basic building blocks of Western civilization for ages" and more govt intrusion (which you see as allowing gay marriage) will prevent a return to limited govt. 

My Response: First, I don't see how allowing gay marriage will prevent any sort of return to small government.  The argument as stated is so vague and conclusory I have a hard time following it.  Second, having the govt allow some marriages and not others (i.e. take an active hand in who can and can't marry) requires a bigger govt than one saying, "Okay, gay and straight people can marry."  Honestly, this appears to be the old "If gays can marry, the world will go to hell" argument.

Todd:  Welcome! You argue that we legislate morality all the time and people should do so based on their conscience.  As you put it:  "Bottom Line: I think people of faith should vote according to their faith (whatever religion and whatever faith.) If one doesn't like living in that community, he/she can either work to change it or move to a different location."

My response:  Your argument is, in my opinion, one of the most honest there is.  It's based on your religious views and has grounding in something definite: the Bible.  But here's the thing: people who believe what you do don't have to partake in gay marriage.  And, glibness aside, you are forgetting something that I'm pretty sure you believe in: the Constitution of the United States.  Specifically, the First Amendment.  That's the one allowing you to practice your religion without interference from atheists or Buddhists or Muslims or... anyone else.  But it's also the same one that allows other people to live by their moral codes and not to have to live by yours.  Why do you get to impose your religion on other people if they can't on you?  Explain that.  Bottom line for me: even if most religious people in the US are Christians, this is NOT a nation for Christians alone.  The Constitution makes that very clear.  If Hindu legislators tried to pass laws banning beef, or Jewish legislators to ban bacon, I'm pretty sure you would be one of the first to hold up the Constitution as a defense.  As you should. :)

You also say that we legislate morality all the time.  Well, yes, we do when there is a reason: we don't allow murder, theft, assault - because those things are immoral, maybe, but mostly because there are actual harms associated with them.  Relatedly, I would point out that your reasoning is somewhat conclusory: homosexuality isn't inherently harmful (still no one has shown me how gay marriage would harm other people) but it is to you because your God says so.  You are saying "we can ban it because it's immoral," and I'm trying to get someone to who me how it's immoral, other than a book I don't believe in saying so.  Put another way, a lot of people don't believe it to be immoral, so to say "We legislate morality all the time" doesn't answer the question for me.

Not securely anchored:  "Why don't these same arguments in favor of gay marriage apply to polygamy? That's an honest question."

My Response:  And a good one.  I start from the perspective that no one (despite me whining on and on about doing so) has shown any actual harm associated with gay marriage that doesn't exist with heterosexual marriage.  Divorce, family violence, excessive nagging... I have seen nothing to support a different between gay and straight marriage on these issues.
But that's not so with polygamy.  Historically, there have been many instances where polygamy has been the cause of very real harm.  I point to one example, Warren Jeffs, who last year was convicted of multiple sexual assaults and incest-related felony counts.  This case illustrates "how polygamy is inherently conducive to power imbalances, sexual subjugation, and other abuses that do not inherently exist in the case of same-sex marriage." Read this article, it's where the quotation comes from.
The bottom line for me is that there is a rational basis to keep polygamy illegal, but none whatsoever to outlaw gay marriage.  I would add, in fact, that if marriage is a civil right, by denying homosexuals the right to marry we're depriving a lot more people of their rights than by denying polygamists, who are much fewer in number.

Jason:  I'll take your position para by para.  First you say: "I'm an atheist, so religious arguments don't sway me. However, I can't help but notice that many of the same arguments were used during the debate over no-fault divorce. And that has been absolutely disastrous for marriage and society. It does affect children. It's even a good predictor of poverty. And it's inherited. Once children grow up with no model of marriage, it's hard for them to re-enter the institution successfully."

My response:  Another atheist, good. :)  I will start by saying I don't really know what you mean by "many of the same arguments were used during the debate over no-fault divorce" and so I can't accept it as a premise.  I believe gay people are being discriminated against right now and with no rational basis.  I don't get the no-fault divorce comparison.  Which arguments are the same? 

I would also take issue with the conclusion that no-fault divorce has been "disastrous for marriage and society."  My marriage hasn't been affected by it, nor anyone else's that I know.  Except a couple of people who got divorced and are now happy.  You last sentence is important:  "Once children grow up with no model of marriage, it's hard for them to re-enter the institution successfully."  That may be true, I can certainly see the logic in it.  But tell me this: how does denying people the right to marry help?  How does precluding two people who love each other from forming a loving marriage help?  Don't you want kids to see such a marriage exist?  Or is it your assumption that all gay people will just divorce?  If so, that seems like an unfair and unjustified conclusion.

Jason:  "That's part of the reason why gay marriage probably won't impact the institution much: it's already had a nuclear bomb dropped on it. Even if it is bad for the institution, there's really not much left to destroy. And since gays are a small minority, there's a limit to the influence they can have. However, given that example of unintended consequences, should we really be in a hurry to try to modify the institution yet again? Can we at least slow down and think about this"

My Response:  See, now you're saying it won't make a difference.  I agree!  And should we be in a hurry? I think so.  If we are denying people the right to get married, a right afforded others, then yes, we should get a move on and decide.  Do you really think it's not been thought about and debated a great deal already?  We both know that it has, and still I haven't seen one single non-religious reason to keep gay marriage illegal.  Seriously, what more do you want to think about?  What other information are you expecting to come to light to help us decide?

Jason:  "The relationship between sexes - how we bind them together, how we resolve their differences, how we protect their interests, and how we pass those skills on to the next generation - is one of the most important in any society and time. There is an ideal, and while by definition no ideal is ever fully realized, it would be a mistake to discard ideals entirely. Society has an interest in making parents work things out for the sake of the children, and it may have an interest in promoting male-female marriages as a better model for children to see than same-sex marriages."

My Response: This appears to me an eloquent variation of, "the best model for kids is the perfectly harmonious male-female marriage."  You may be right.  But if it's a justification for denying people the right to marry, I'm guessing the number of weddings this year would fall to zero.  There is simply no perfect marriage because people are imperfect.  Ergo, there is never going to be a "perfect" marriage.  Therefore, either you use this argument to prevent everyone from getting married (or having kids) or you accept it's not a good argument against gay marriage.  It's also not a good argument because some people don't get married to have kids.


Thanks to everyone for posting their opinions and arguments.  I hope that I've addressed them, and in a respectful way.  I continue to hope this is a discussion we can have on an intelligent and reasoned level and I'm grateful to those who took up my challenge and added to the conversation here.  I may not agree with you, but I do want to hear from you, I promise!



  1. Legal argument against: the government should provide equal protection and not discriminate against a segment of the population in its operations unless some great harm will result. I think this is cut and dried. And no one has shown any harm from ending discrimination against homosexuals in regards to marriage. They didn’t even try in the recent CA case—the data just isn’t there. And separate but equal doesn’t work either—so civil unions are out. Equal protection means equal protection. I don’t think this is a tough argument to win.

  2. Religious argument for: Gay sex is sinful and so we shouldn’t encourage it or sanction it by recognizing it in society, lowering the stigma and making it more likely that people will engage in this abhorrent behavior. This assumes homosexuality is a choice, and I think we are probably ready to agree as a society that most often it is not. Also, religious beliefs are fine—everyone is entitled to their own crazy/beauty—but when you try to impose them on society, you have to make a legal or moral or sociological argument. No one is arguing for legislation that would force Mormons or Catholics or Orthodox Jews or whomever to accept homosexual behavior as righteous. But it would be improper for Mormons to make everyone wear their funny underwear, Catholics to force people into the confessional, or Orthodox Jews to impose a law making it illegal for me to eat shellfish or shake hands with a menstruating woman. You have to show some harm from that which you consider sin before you impose it on others.

  3. Sociological argument against: Society will be damaged if gay marriage is allowed because people won’t get married and have babies—the family is the basis of society and if you allow same sex marriage you undermine and damage the institution upon which our civilization is based. I haven’t seen the data to support this contention, but even assuming it is true, is a general societal harm (and you have to assume that the old order is better than the new order would be—a speculative exercise itself) a valid basis for legislation curbing core individual liberties like whom a person can marry? If so, why the hell haven’t we banned smoking and soda pop and sitting on the couch watching tv? Why not mandate a certain number of children unless you get a medical waiver? It seems bizarre to ban gay marriage because you want heterosexual couples to marry and have babies. Certainly you don’t want homosexuals to hide their orientation and marry and have babies and hope they can just keep themselves repressed throughout their lives (many religious communities have tried this, including mine, to disastrous results—Mormons only recently stopped trying this tactic). I’m not persuaded the harm feared would be the result of same sex marriage being allowed, and if is it was, I’m not persuaded that such specific discrimination would be justified for such a generalized societal harm. I also note that similar sociological arguments were made in defense of banning interracial marriage. Has that argument been put to bed yet?

  4. Moral argument: This is the end of the line for me. I can't imagine any other debate that is carried on at such an intellectual and theoretical level while the participants so carefully ignore the reality on the ground—the actual impact on real people, many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our community. Denying homosexuals the right to marry is a clear way of telling them that they are not accepted and are not acceptable. This causes significant amounts of pain. Many of these isolated and confused and rejected brothers and sons and sisters and daughters end up killing themselves. My state, Utah, has the highest rate of suicide among young men in the country. Being a Mormon and being gay is unbearably difficult. A number of young men from the Mormon congregation I grew up in took their lives, unable to live in the vise any longer. Even if a religion and religious community rejects homosexually, if a kid attracted to members of their same sex knew that society recognized them as being real and acceptable and would allow them to marry someday, maybe they would be given the strength to hold on through what can seem like endless years of pain. Imagine the darkness closing in on a gay kid in a hard core evangelical family in NC this week. They might not see a way out. Every vote against allowing gay marriage is responsible for the pain thus imposed. Nowhere else do we hurt people so deeply and ignore the pain we cause on the basis of religious or vague sociological arguments. Do no harm. Choose love. The moral choice is clear to me and I think history is moving this way. I am greatly encouraged by the It Gets Better campaign. Obama’s announcement was a huge step in the right direction. NC is a set-back—the NC Gov lamented “it makes us look like Mississippi”. I thought that was funny.

  5. All the arguments fade away when you understand the pain of homosexual kids trying to find their place in the world, wandering around in pain, wondering if they are a huge cosmic mistake, if God hates them, if they will ever be able to stop hating themselves. I encourage all to step back from the legal posturing, from the religious dogma, from the sociological speculation, and just stop hurting real people. Shouldn't our first goal as humans be to not hurt others?

  6. Sorry D.A., your comments on why polygamy should not be allowed are irrational. Every crime that Warren Jeffs was convicted of would still (and should) be illegal. Sex with children, welfare fraud, sexual assault and incest are in of themselves crimes, independent of polygamy.

    According to many who favor gay marriage, the right to marry supersedes moral beliefs, especially ones based on traditional religious tenets. If so, the same standard should apply to other non-traditional relationships. Provided of course that the participants are competent, consenting adults that are committing no other crimes.

  7. Some of these arguments point out an intriguing legal question centering around the 1st and 14th Amendments. Put succinctly:

    If religious people have a 1st Amendment right to practice a religion that does not accept or recognize gay marriage, and gay people who marry have a 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, what happens when those two incompatible rights collide?

    Most Americans--and probably you and I--would be happy to find a pluralistic middle ground. Unfortunately, the bomb-throwers on both sides will not permit that. As pointed out by an Obama appointee to the EEOC (who is a noted gay rights advocate and has written many law review articles that support those bomb-throwers), *this is a zero-sum game*. For more, read this column by Rod Dreher, who has been following this issue for years:

    (seriously, this is a MUST read before replying, and it's not long.)

    So Mark, let's approach this from a different angle: You keep saying your pro-gay marriage opinion rests on the fact that (a) there is no rational basis for denying this right to LGBT people and (b) gay marriage doesn't harm anyone else. We can assume for these purposes that (a) is true, but in regard to (b), it most certainly *will* "harm" those who get sued for following their religious beliefs at work, or whose churches get sued for not allowing a gay marriage at their fellowship hall, or whose church-run child adoption agency is de-funded by the state, yada yada yada. (All of these are already occurring in gay marriage states.)

    So the question is, if gay marriage IS beneficial to people other than you (assuming you are not a gay person who wants to get married), yet gay marriage also IS harmful to people other than you (assuming you have no religious objection to gay marriage), then how do you make a decision to support the former but not the latter? What's the critical difference?

  8. Capt: You are right, those things are already illegal. That's sort of my point: polygamy fostered illegal behavior. All I'm trying to do is establish under a sort of Constitutional 'rational basis' view some reasons, any reasons, why polygamy is a bad idea (other than an abstract moral view). The first reason is that, historically, it has led to oppression and abuse of women.

    I also though of another situation in which polygamy could be a problem. One of the reasons to allow gay marriage is that spouses can make crucial, life-affecting decisions for their life partners. Straight couples can when they're married, gay couples should be allowed to. But what if a man with three wives is on death's door and the doctor wants a decision on which treatment option to pursue, or whether to pull the plug? Marriage, be it gay or heterosexual, allows two people to be secure in the knowledge those decisions can and will be made quickly and easily. Same with child-rearing decisions - those are not best made by committee. All those are, I think, rational reasons to justify keeping polygamy illegal, but none justify keep same sex marriage off the books.

  9. Weekend Warrior: I read the article you linked to, thanks for that. Ultimately, I'm far from persuaded. Let's look at some of the so-called harms you attribute to allowing same-sex marriage (hereafter "SSM"):

    "it most certainly *will* "harm" those who get sued for following their religious beliefs at work,"

    Where when and how has this happened, as it relates to SSM?

    "or whose churches get sued for not allowing a gay marriage at their fellowship hall"

    Agreed, civil lawyers will sue anyone for anything, but they will lose. The First Amendment will continue to allow those religious groups who oppose SSM to not perform those ceremonies. It's not a harm because it won't happen and hasn't happened.

    "or whose church-run child adoption agency is de-funded by the state,"

    I'm really sorry but there is NO first amendment right to funding by any govt agency. If the State gives your group money and says, "to get the money you have to follow the law" and you decide you don't like the law, that isn't and never has been a violation of your rights, or put another way, can't be spun into an actual harm.

    And, as Adam so eloquently put it, while anti-SM advocates go to tortured lengths to come up with potential difficulties they might face, good people are being denied the right to marry people they love. That's harm.

    I like what one of the commenters said, under the article you referred us to:

    "You may lose a little of the ability to do what you want (basically, to boycott same sex couples), but others gain the ability to protect their family. I guess I have to take back what I said about this not being a net plus for liberty. The right of a kid to survivors’ benefits, health insurance, visitation, and child support are far more important than your right to boycott that child’s family."

  10. The effects of divorce on marriage are well-documented by this point. As Charles Murray points out in his new book 'Coming Apart', marriage has become primarily an upper-class luxury. For many in the blue-collar culture and below, the economic and social stability offered by marriage and the nuclear family are almost a distant fantasy, not a cultural birthright, as it once was. Not so very long ago, even the poor enjoyed those benefits. This is no longer the case. Since you are rather upper-class, it doesn't surprise me that you don't see most of the fallout.

    Your repeated use of the term "the right to marry" is a bit of a fallacy. That is the point at issue. You are assuming that there is a right to marry, so it's obvious to you that this right should not be denied. But that is precisely the case you need to establish, and that is precisely how marriage will be affected if gay marriage is confirmed as a right. In my view, and in the view of most societies throughout history, marriage is not a right. It is an institution. The primary purpose is not for personal gratification. It may gratify, but in many cases, it was enforced even when it was no longer gratifying, or denied when it would have been gratifying (sibling & cousin marriage) because there were greater concerns. Once it becomes all about giving people what they want - rather than what they, their children, and society as a whole need - you have fundamentally destroyed the concept of marriage as an institution. It is a mere convenience, to be entered or discarded on a whim, based on rather ephemeral emotion and desire.

    As Murray describes, this has effects that go far beyond the feeling two people have for each other. We've already gone quite far down that road, with disastrous results. It may be a little late to draw the line at gay marriage, now that we've accepted divorce for any reason, but gay marriage does represent another milestone in the transformation of marriage from responsibility to individual right.

  11. My use of the word polygamy was intentional; if women and men had the right to multiple mates, then the parallel to same sex marriage is more apparent, and I agree with Capt. Schmoe above -- am not sure where lies the harm in either.

  12. Jason: Interesting points, although I'd like to refute the rather insulting tag that I'm "rather upper-class." Not at all. As the product of landed gentry and educated at an elite prep school, a public school, and having been raised to walk around with my (rather large) nose in the air while patting the peasantry atop their tousled heads, one can drop the "rather" modifier. Splendid, I'm glad that's cleared up.

    As to whether marriage is a right. Well, that word is nebulous. I think you know what I mean: a certain portion of the population can do it without having to qualify, and it confers great benefits. Whether it's a right or not, its denial to a portion of the population without (in my view) discernible reason is tantamount to the denial of a right.

    As for the evolution of marriage (dissolution, some might say) well, I guess if what you say is right then I see even less harm in allowing SSM. If marriage as an institution is already so altered and means so much less, and if allowing SSM will make no difference, why is there such a big fight to prevent it?

    NSA: I'm not sure I completely understand what you mean, my apologies. The only point I was trying make was that there ARE actual harms associated with polygamy. There are articulable and non-religious reasons why polygamy might be outlawed. I'm not saying they are the strongest (or that I've thought of and articulated them all) but that the do exist, whereas for SSM, they do not.

  13. The view on gay marriage will depend on which view you're looking at it. We could say that it should be legal and okay since it's a form of expressing your freedom to choose which sexuality you want. If you want to be with someone who has the same gender as you, that's your freedom. Morally speaking though, it is wrong since God created Adam and Even, not Adam and Steve.

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  14. You are of the class that, in the event of divorce, child support follows. While you may never wear a top hat, you are definitely on the "right side of the tracks" as it were. Which is wonderful. Enjoy it. But generalizations based on your experience, and the observations of your social peers are not valid for the whole.

    The argument over gay marriage comes at a rather critical turning point, because the culture of personal gratification is in the process of running headlong into economic reality. I believe the institution of marriage is on the verge of a reformation. (Literally, a re-forming.) Workforce participation rates are back to levels not seen since the recession of 1981 - levels first passed in the late 1970s as women were first entering the work force in large numbers. More people are having to survive on fewer jobs. At the same time, social safety nets the world over are showing strain. The European elections of this last week are a referendum on austerity vs. increased (and I believe unsustainable) debt. The economy cannot support small families, and governments cannot afford it either.

    As this trend intensifies, family - and marriage as an economic institution - will become increasingly important. Larger family units are again becoming the norm. We are already seeing this, as children stay home with their parents, rather than moving out on their own, as there are no jobs for them. I've already seen a number of stories about divorced couples continuing to live under one roof because they're underwater on their house and unable to sell. The mortgage is enforcing unity that the government will not. I'm sure there are couples trying to work it out who otherwise wouldn't have, simply because one of them is unemployed.

    As people begin to rely more and more on their kin for support, I believe it will change attitudes toward marriage. Those old lines about "in sickness and in health, in poverty as in wealth" will begin to ring more true, and start to override the concern with immediate personal gratification. The idea that marriage is all about making two people happy - giving them an excuse to have a big party with lavish costumes and an open bar - is being challenged. And that challenge will only grow as economies worsen.

    The debate over gay marriage is really the last hurrah of the belief in marriage-as-luxury-good. It's an ostentatious display by people who don't (yet) have other things to worry about. In a couple of years, I wouldn't be surprised if the debate will be as obsolete as gas-guzzling Hummers were after the 2008 oil shock.

  15. Ryan: morally, it's not "wrong." The most you can say is that according to your religions, it's wrong. I don't happen to believe in your god so it's incorrect to cast that as a moral certainty. Just as it's improper (in this country at least) to force others to live by your moral code. You are absolutely entitled to it, but everyone else is entitled to live without it being imposed on them.

  16. Jason: I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying that gay people want to get married because they have nothing else to worry about? I can't imagine you are... things like access to a spouse's healthcare, children, those seem like legitimate concerns. I can't imagine you're saying gay people want to get married just to have lavish weddings, that would be an unbearable stereotyping... I can't imagine you're saying that at all.

    Bottom line for me, whether this is a storm in a teacup as you suggest or not, I still haven't come across a reason why we should prevent SSM.

  17. How about this one:

    People oppose gay marriage, even in California, for the same reason they oppose incest or polygamy. They view it as icky and immoral, and rational arguments won't work. The question is how issues of public morality should be decided.

    We have plenty of laws on morality decisions, from alcohol to gambling to polygamy (all of which all have draconian criminal laws in Texas). Personally, I think these issues should be handled by state legislatures and Prop 8-type efforts. In a democracy, people can speak for themselves, and obviously those views will change over time.

  18. Prop 8: I agree in part. People do oppose it without good rational reasoning. But there ARE rational argument against polygamy and incest, so I think SSM is a little different. I also have to disagree on the Prop-8 suggestion - I believe that denying gay people the right to marry while allowing straight people is an unconstitutional inequity. Putting it up for a vote, essentially a popularity contest, doesn't wash for me.

  19. Polygamy is not a red herring. Polygamy is a Texas felony with no child brides, no Warren Jeffs, just consenting adults. It's not just a non-recognized social structure, like gay marriage, it's 2-10. Legalizing gay marriage is a different ballgame than decriminalizing sex acts, which is done. Decriminalizing is not the same thing as literally licensing society's approval. Maybe I don't want those nice TV polygamists (or Lawrence) to go to jail, but that doesn't mean I want my state to actually license that.

    So, I don't get your argument. Polygamy is both very Biblical and very documented to be associated with nastiness. Do these facts matter to what moral decisions the people of the state of Texas should be able to outlaw? Or does it matter if we are talking about the criminal part or the civil part?

  20. DAC:

    Sorry, but this debate is hopelessly circular. You've already made up your mind that nothing anti-SSM is rational, so this exercise is pointless. You may be listening to others' arguments, but you aren't really hearing them.

    Please, for your own sake: Stop being such a lawyer! By which I mean, stop cross-examining everything that doesn't already fit your pre-conceived notions. You're like the prosecutor who has already decided the defendant is guilty and therefore dismisses new, exculpatory evidence because of those blinders. You probably don't mean to do it, but you are. You've had some incredibly varied and rational ideas put forth by people who want to educate you about their positions. If you want to understand someone else's position, you have to be more of a student and less of an exam grader. You can't learn anything when you're busy exercising your red marker.

    Remember, if you truly want to understand someone else, you have to walk a MILE in their shoes, not just try them on for 100yds and then chuck them off because they don't fit you the same as your old shoes. Open your mind, expand your horizons, and delve more deeply into some of what has been said in these two posts. Be not afraid.

  21. I'm the annon who said the sky hasn't fallen in, and as far as I know nobody in Canada is being prosecuted for hate crimes for stating their views on gay marriage/homosexuality. The newspapers in my neck of the woods ( Ontario) would be having a field day right about now, with that!
    I do recall certain Justice of the Peaces being concerned about being 'made' to marry gays, but that seemed to die down in a hurry. If I recall, JPs no longer are being asked to perform marriages, if you want a civil union, I do believe that you need to go to City Hall now.
    As for the religious schools ( ie Catholic, the only religious school in Canada that gets public funding, probably because it's enshrined in the constitution ) being told what to teach, hey you take Public money, guess what you teach what the Public majority wants. Otherwise take the Catholic schools private and teach what you want. I'd like to point out, I was actually brought up Catholic, but sent to a public school ( thanks, to my mom who fought the priest for that ) I still believe in live and let live and I am certainly not a leftist. Helen

  22. Dear Helen:

    You need a better newspaper: (for one example, which is still kicking around the Canadian appellate courts).

    And it's not a public/private issue limited to religious schools that accept public funds; in Alberta, parents who home school their children may now be banned from teaching traditional religious views on homosexuality:

    The problem is not with your live-and-let-live approach, Helen; the problem is that advocates on the other side don't also subscribe to that approach, and they are going to use the full force of the Government to bring all dissenters to heel.

    "First, they came for the religious objectors, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't religious ..."

    -Orig. Anon.

  23. I would dispute your basis for dismissing the polygamy analogy.

    IMO Warren Jeffs is actually an example of what happens when polygamy is made illegal and people are persecuted for their religious beliefs. I don't believe in it myself, but there would be no Warren Jeffs - little penny-ante, in-bred "prophets" with a Napoleon complex hiding out in the hills - if Utah hadn't been required to ban polygamy in order to become a state. (FWIW, that's basically the premise of the excellent HBO series "Big Love," where the male lead eventually runs for Utah state senate and outs himself after the election, calling for legalization.)

    I don't want to exercise polygamy myself (God help me, what a nightmare!), but if branch sects of Mormons or Muslims choose to do so and don't violate family violence laws, etc., I'd rather it be legal both because IMO it should be protected under the First Amendment, but also so women's rights can be protected when they choose of their own volition to participate in plural marriage. Like homosexuality before Lawrence, making polygamy illegal didn't end the practice, it just meant it would happen in the dark, where abuses go unchallenged.

  24. It appears the intolerant Forces of Tolerance are on the march in the States, too! Hot off the presses:

    No harm, you say? Well, assuming this serves as a trespass warning, Mr. Pacquiao can be arrested and fined and/or jailed for violating it--all because he exercised his 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech and religion. Another irreconcilable "clash of rights" (vs. property rights) brought on by gay marriage.

    -Orig Anon

  25. Grits: you may be right about polygamy. I was merely saying that a rational basis exists for an argument to keep it illegal. The point wasn't that it should be, merely the contrast to gay marriage where I can't see any rational basis.

    Anon @ 1:45: no one is stopping him from expressing his 1st Amendment rights. And it's not the govt keeping him out of the mall, it's the owner. Just like the boxer has the right to spout his opinions, the private owner of the mall is entitled to say, "I don't like your opinions, stay off my property." Both parties that exercise their rights fully and completely. And I would label Pacquiao as a force for intolerance, not the mall owner. He's the one trying to make people live by his religious views.

  26. Sigh.

    Don't you see, DAC? The reality is that BOTH SIDES ARE INTOLERANT. "Rights" are not tolerant; that's why they are "rights." They exist despite the harm they may cause to another because of some pre-determined greater good protected by that right.

    Here, side A is intolerant because it cannot tolerate Side B's practices and side B is intolerant because it cannot tolerate Side A's practices. Side A has had the better of the fight for 200 years, but now Side B is flexing its new muscles and pushing back.

    Like someone above said: Both sides' believe their right to their practices and beliefs are enshrined in the constitution. But the two are mutually exclusive.

    How do you resolve that situation, and why? You still haven't answered that question. If you do, then maybe your quest to understand anti-gay marriage arguments (if genuine) can be tailored to fit where you are coming from.

    --Orig. Anon.


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