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Debating Marriage

As same-sex marriage becomes commonplace, will conservative Christians and
religious institutions face discrimination? E.J. Graff of The American [1]
Prospect [1] and Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage [2] discuss:

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#1 Comment By tz On November 13, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Between contraception (which all Protestants condemned before 1930), and no-fault Divorce (even the Bishop in Maine forgot to add “indissoluble”), Marriage has long been redefined.

So tell me why a sterile exchange of pleasure between adults that has no other purpose be denied to two of the same sex. Or multiple. Thomas More lost his head over Hank8, but he married a woman each of 6 times and the state only recognized one man, one woman, one year or so, as the definition.

Of course a contract that actually enforce “till death do us part” is illegal or at least unenforceable in all 50 states. Instead of trying to make “gay marriage” illegal, maybe we should make Catholic marriage legal.

I’m waiting for the remake of “The Gay Divorcee”.

#2 Comment By JonF On November 13, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

Re: maybe we should make Catholic marriage legal.

Huh? Catholics are free to marry and remain married until death– and to follow all other teachings of their Church in their marriage. How can you claim that Catholic marriage is “illegal” When was the last time someone went to jail for not divorcing? It’s this kind of silliness that renders social conservatism ludicrous even in the eyes of sincere Christians.

#3 Comment By Sharculese On November 13, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

So tell me why a sterile exchange of pleasure between adults that has no other purpose

It of course being impossible that two people of the same sex could y’know, love each other.

#4 Comment By geronimo On November 13, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

By illegal, it was meant the ‘valid until death or papal decision’ being enforceable? Religion in the civil law, like in the Islam?

And you still can’t undestand why the young are leaving the conservative movement: why are the (neo)conservatives hostile to islam when they are the same?

#5 Comment By Lord Karth On November 13, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

Short answer: yes.

Socially speaking, such people already do. I speak from personal knowledge and experience on this point.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#6 Comment By Eric Read On November 13, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

“As same-sex marriage becomes commonplace, will conservative Christians and religious institutions face discrimination?”

The premise of the question is incorrect.

“As same-sex marriage becomes commonplace” should be “as same-sex marriage becomes viewed as a civil rights issue”

“will conservative Christians and religious institutions face discrimination” should be “will conservative Christians continue to deny human rights to same sex couples”

#7 Comment By Angsgar On November 13, 2012 @ 10:41 pm


Ha! If only neo-conservatives were more like Muslims!

Don’t worry about the youth either, Muslims and Trad Catholics are outbreeding your group anyway. You who would rather pursue Phds in Art History than have kids.

#8 Comment By Carl On November 14, 2012 @ 4:38 am

The legal framing of this issue is unhelpful. Let’s take it seriously when the Left promises to treat SSM as a civil rights issue.

Is racism/bigotry illegal today? In some respects yes (Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, and in some places “hate crimes” laws), but in the most important respect no (the Klan is not outlawed, free speech, etc.).

However, the legal aspect of the issue is only one side of it. The more important issue with respect to those who, for example, interpreted Genesis to mean that the “descendants of Ham” are cursed (something that I learned at a elementary fundamentalist school in the 1990s!) is that this belief is considered odious by the vast majority of Americans and cannot be promoted in public without extreme (but not legally binding) condemnation by society. Even Bob Jones University eventually caved on the question of interracial marriage—not because of the government withdrawing its funding but because they were condemned by civil society.

So, in 20 or 30 years will being in the Catholic church (if it remains committed to its current view of sexuality) be viewed by the public at large as the equivalent of being in a racist church? Will it be mocked by society as hopeless backwards and wrongheaded? That is the challenge that Gallagher is up against, but it’s not primarily a legal challenge. There will be some minor legal issues, to be sure, just as a committed racist today faces various legal issues, but the more important question is whether your view of the world is considered one where reasonable people disagree (like abortion continues to be) or one where only troglodytes go against the majority (like racism).

This is not a battle that can be won through the legislature. In fact, legal action is counterproductive. An anti-SSM amendment would just look like an anachronism like the Prohibition amendment to the eventual pro-SSM majority. The best bet for keeping anti-SSM thought respectable is to get as far away from homophobia and the law as possible and to try to articulate your opposition to SSM in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re against love but in a way that makes it seem like you have a reasonable disagreement about the nature of the good life.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 14, 2012 @ 5:29 am

Marriage viewd via it’s histroical social and biological construct is between men and women. And Nature’s design (actually God designed) is very practical as a biological and social construct.

As a social construct history has demonstrated that the family unit as comprised by a man and a woman are best suited to raising children and maintaining societies. Now as a social structure I would admit that those who practice this behavior are entitled to make a case that society allow them to marry. But that same social construct entitles those who practice a heterosexual lifestyle are are no less entitled to challenge a marriage construct between people of the same sex. One’s sexual choices are afterall a matter of choice. Since to date there s so evidence that supports homosexuality as a biological state, it remains a matter of choice and outside of the normal acceptable practices the world over.

The founders did not for a minute envision or intend that behaviors antithetical to nature and societal traditions woud be contended. But contending against marriage between same sex individuals does not make one a hater of those who practice homosexuality.

For those who believe in the paradigm of evolution: homosexuality is a practice absolutely antithetical to human reproduction and maintenance.

#10 Comment By JonF On November 14, 2012 @ 5:59 am


As has been pointed out many times whenever that point is made religion is not hereditary. How do you think we got where we are today– because people do not replicate their parents’ religious and political opinions.

#11 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On November 14, 2012 @ 8:50 am

are we talking about the Petraeus definition of marriage? interesting that adultery is grounds for court martial. talk about DADT.

#12 Comment By John Howard On November 14, 2012 @ 9:55 am

Marriage has not yet been redefined, it still always means the couple is allowed and approved to conceive offspring using the couple’s own genes. We don’t allow marriage to siblings, for example, or any relationship type that is prohibited from having sex and procreating offspring. Marriages aren’t required to procreate of course. They are allowed to.

We should not allow same-sex couples to conceive offspring, because it would require use of experimental lab-created genetically modified gametes probably derived from stem cells. It would be too risky and weird for the child being created and cannot be justified, there is no medical need to create offspring for a same-sex couple and no right to attempt it. Same-sex couples should be prohibited from conceiving offspring by a federal Egg and Sperm law that would also prohibit cloning and genetic engineering of human-animal hybrids and designer children. All of those things would be bad public policy, unethical, be very expensive, use too much energy, and destroy the basis of equality and human rights. All people should be created equal: as the union of a man and a woman.

And we should not change marriage by allowing states to declare married couples that are prohibited from conceiving offspring together, or to prohibit married couples from conceiving offspring together. Marriage should always approve and allow the couple to conceive offspring together.

Civil Unions should be defined as “marriage minus conception rights” so that couples that are prohibited from procreating offspring together, like same-sex couples and siblings, can enter into legal relationships with all the other protections and benefits of marriage.

#13 Comment By orchidmantis On November 14, 2012 @ 10:25 am

The opening says it all: Gallagher asserts that people are being fired for politely stating their opposition to gay marriage, Graff tries to get an actual instance, and well, you know it’s totally happening, of if it’s not happening it *feels* like it’s happening and that’s what matters.

Suddenly it’s not young Joe with his gay friends who’s expected to keep a polite lid on things at Thanksgiving dinner, but Aunt Maggie who’s expected to tone it down and not express contempt for everyone’s friends.

#14 Comment By conativejj On November 14, 2012 @ 10:25 am

I believe the hypocrisy of the “traditional marriage” crowd is plainly seen when they refuse to word their various state amendments in this way:

“Marriage shall consist of a PERMANENT union between one man and one woman”

And since they are basing it on the New Testament (since that’s more important to them than the Constitution) they could even include the three exceptions: adultery, abuse, and abandonment. Otherwise, divorce should be illegal in all other cases if we are supposedly following the New Testament format of marriage.

If we are following the Old Testament version, however, then polygamy should also be legit, women would be property to be bought and sold by their fathers, etc. If we’re being intellectually honest, THIS is the orignal form of “traditional” marriage for the Judeo-Christians.

Or we could just accept, especially as conservatives, that the government has zero role in the institution of marriage, and that any combination that a church will recognize should be permitted and recognized by that church. The state should confer no benefits, advantages, or other special status because two or more people of same or opposite genders decide to form a domestic corporation with or without the blessings of a church of some sort.

In the end, a marriage is only a corporation, and private contracts between consenting adults should be free of government interference, regulation, or subsidy.

#15 Comment By EliteComm On November 14, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

In response to the comments by orchidmantisand conative:

The basis for marriage between men and women is rooted in the very nature of our biology. The religious and social constructs are in line with that practice and it is by and large a consistent paradigm since man’s existence on the planet world wide.

The social management of that model was designed to promote and discourage what is according the natural biological constant the choice by human beings to stray from that model, or at the very least contend that such practices are normal.

In most states, if not all, you will also find that social management practice and policy were designed to dissuade: adultery, abandonment, and abuse. Since the Constitution is primarily designed to limit and define the power and the entities that comprise government, no believer who advocates for a social contract that marriage is solely between men and women is out of line with the constitution and furthermore their arguments are completely in line with the natural science.

While not an advocate of polygamy, the old testament practice and that of polygamy around the globe reflects the natural design of male female unions. Again, the construct of marriage reflects how the human body was designed — men with women and vice versa. And it is not the original form of Judeo-Christian marriages. If anything, the OT is replete with just how complicated and damaging polygamist marriages are: From Abraham to King Solomon, the complexity of having more than one wife or husband is a case for one wife and one husband.

Divorce until, the modern and post-modern era were by and large frowned upon and discouraged. Your understanding of the marriage in the Old Testament is not supported by any “OT” references, that I am aware. Since these comments stray from the matter at hand, I would only note that there are few if any instances in which parents arranged marriages between same sex individuals – always between a man and a woman.

And while I understand the contention that marriage can be sanitized to the definitions that outline a corporation, the fact remains that such descriptions defy a sound understanding of the complex nature of male female dynamics via the exchange of blood, biology, emotions, intellect, child rearing, societal maintenance and spiritual communication.

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On November 14, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

Assuming that most or all states pass laws recognizing, licensing and taxing same-sex couples as marriages, churches that believe homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord will still have the same rights as churches that teach drinking alcohol is a sin did, after Prohibition was repealed.

It seems unlikely that the sloppily reasoned cases making their way through the federal courts will be sustained by the Supreme Court. Same sex couples are not similarly situated to heterosexual couples. In fact, their identity as a group is premised on their difference, not their sameness.

#17 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On November 14, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

Re: And since they are basing it on the New Testament (since that’s more important to them than the Constitution) they could even include the three exceptions: adultery, abuse, and abandonment

I’m pretty sure there are no exceptions given for divorce in the New Testament. Paul’s discussion of abuse and abandonment was in regard to marriages undertaken outside the church, in which one party later became a Christian, and isn’t a template for *Christian marriage*. (Also, Paul acknowledged he was just making that up, not speaking with divine authority). The adultery exception attributed to Jesus may have been added by a later glossator, and may not even have to do with divorce anyway (it’s highly ambiguous). And the earliest extrabiblical evidence we have indicates that for at least several centuries after Christ, there was no recorded evidence of Christians allowing divorce.

That aside, you’re right that once you’ve thrown out the rest of Christian teaching regarding marriage (that it be oriented towards childrearing, that it include defined roles, that it be permanent) it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anymore to maintain the one requirement that it be between a man and a woman.

#18 Comment By cka2nd On November 14, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

EliteCommInc. says: “Since to date there s so [sic] evidence that supports homosexuality as a biological state, it remains a matter of choice…”

I don’t believe this is true, and very much doubt that this is the consensus of the scientific community.

“For those who believe in the paradigm of evolution: homosexuality is a practice absolutely antithetical to human reproduction and maintenance.”

And yet homosexuality is found in nature as a product of evolution in a number of species, not just humans, which is probably as good an argument for evolution as you can find against creationism. Creationists (Big C and little c) see reality as some kind of magnificently complicated clock that could have been made only by some great Swiss watchmaker in the sky, when in fact it is messy, imperfect and, from an evolutionary perspective, often contradictory and at cross-purposes with itself.

#19 Comment By conativejj On November 14, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

OK, let’s go down the slippery slope then, shall we?

Since we are legislating not morality as some of the recent posters suggest, but rather biology, then let’s go further and move on to eugenics.

Should people who are genetically deformed, intellectually substandard, or otherwise not up to biological snuff (as science defines it) be allowed to procreate? Shouldn’t we then, for the greater biological good, support a vast and comprehensive eugenics program that encourages biologically superior people to procreate and discourages or even penalizes biologically inferior people from procreation?

The net benefit to society for such a program would be immense. In a generation or two, the need for welfare would all but disappear as only those whom the State defines as being biologically superior and capable of raising children (as well as providing subsidies to them to do so) will be allowed to procreate while all inferior genetic lines gradually die out due to sterilization, imprisonment for violating procreative prohibition, and other penalties to eliminate these genetic lines from the gene pool.

But then, at that point, are we “conservatives” really much different than the liberal/progressives who seek to bring about Utopia through legislative fiat?

This is the biggest issue I have with so-called conservatives when it comes to this marriage issue. The state has no legitimate role in private transactions between consenting adults provided these transactions impose no limitations or restrictions on the rights of other consenting adults to do the same.

Two dudes getting married prevents not a single heterosexual couple from getting married. There is not a finite amount of marriages to go around. There is not a fixed supply of marriages each year that the State will allow to be recognized, nor should there be (as the state should have no ability to recognize or deny these transactions anymore than it should be able to prohibit you from selling a used car online).

What it comes down to is this, the GOP lost and lost big this year BECAUSE of the over emphasis on social “conservative” issues. The question true conservatives need to ask themselves are the following:

1. If what I want requires that the State regulate some behavior, encouraging one action and/or discouraging another, am I really all that different from liberals who seek to do the same for their causes?

2. How badly do I want our movement to survive over the next few decades? Is it more important that we pander to the 24% Evangelicals who want abortion and “traditional” marriage at the top of the issues list, or that we consider that in the general elections the majority of Americans, especially the next generation, would rather the GOP focus on providing a real alternative to the Democrats in the form of smaller government and fiscal rather than social conservatism?

In short, homosexuality, promiscuity, libertine-ism or any other perceived social ill won’t destroy our nation or our species. But what will cause significant damage to our nation, and perhaps our entire civilization is the idea that the government should solve all of these perceived social ills through legislative means and grow the bureaucracy and budget to do so.

As Dr. Paul pointed out, there is a difference between the government and society. Most of these issues should be dealt with at the society level as government should be focused on protecting our rights and our economic strength into the future. And if society is moving in a direction you dislike, you are more than welcome to fight back socially, but don’t get the government involved – it’s already involved in too many things and can’t do most of them right anyway, so why do you think it’d get socially “conservative” issues right?

#20 Comment By EDliteCommInc. On November 14, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

Response to cka2nd,

to date one of the most startling finds amongst homosexual reserachers has been that no study and I mean no study suggests a biological trait for homosexual behavior. In fact, the evidence points in the other direction. Most interesting to me are the studies that acknowledge that as homosexual males age they turn from homosexual relations for more traditional – heterosexual dynamics. A biological trait would run against such behavior. Even researchers who advocate that this choice should codified as normal will admit that to date no such trait exists.

The discoveries of the biological anamolies in the natural world do not reflect that such behavior is normal — but rather anamolous — unnatural. I have heard these arguments. They often point to those rare chimpanzee observations which are not the result of creation, but rather that rare anamoly with the natural sphere. But to argue that the survival of any species is the result of sexual unions of same sex relations just does not exist.

Now I do appreciate the attempts to point to simple life forms and organisms with dual sexual characteristics that create life – but that is a far cry from and biological support for a steady stable state biological trait in human beings.

What is most distressing is how all of this came about. Not the result of scientific rigor, a physically forceful protest which started in about 1968 and culminated with the DSM change at the 1973 APA Conference and reference to a study which violated the protocols of scientific rigor created by the APA and scientific community – because the change is based not on hard science but a phenonological argument. It was and should be an embarrassment to any psycholoical or scientific professional.

It was bad science then and it remains bad science today.

#21 Comment By EliteComm On November 15, 2012 @ 3:22 am

The scientific community has yet to have established a single steady stable biological trait that explains homosexuality as a behavior which is involuntary. Even proponents of this choice have found that male homosexuals revert to heterosexual relations ships. Such behavior would certainly contradict that a trait common to homosexuals behavior exists. The studies which claim to have found some suggestive evidence (I use suggestive loosely) have fallen on the following: data manipulation, conclusions not supported by the data, sample sizes that are far too small to render even a suggestion, falsified data. Studies regarding brain tissue, pancreatic tissue, and genetic markers have all fallen flat. If such a marker exists it has yet to be found. Try as they might, to date: no such evidence has been identified.
Even the study which was cited as the main thrust for DSM change at the APA Conference in 1973 in which the declassification was a study designed to find said traits as biologically based completely contradicted the research question of the same. Not only was the sample and filled with tainted subjects, the conclusions that such a condition of biology exists was repudiated by the internal data. Aside from research findings contradicting any such steady stable traits – no study has been replicable — a sure sign the ‘jig is up’ as it were.
I have heard these evolutionary speculations. Yet at no time has any evolutionary process has developed a schema of homosexual heredity. Such evidence is not derived from a same sex dynamics. Acknowledging the possibility via plant life and other’ referenced lower; non-animal life forms that develop via some asexual or bisexual dynamic is a far cry from evidence that evolution produces homosexual traits of behaviors in humans. Even the contention that some apes have rare anomalous instances of said behavior does not support homosexual biology in the evolutionary record. The attempts to identify evolutionary genetic codes require so many imaginary leaps the fill the gaps that a homosexual genetic sequence is just unsupportable to date. Given those gaps and given the lengthy imaginary complex speculations to arrive at that conclusion – the idea is implausible at best. The entire biologic development of animals requires a sexual dynamic between male and female. Now some peculiar species contain both organs to that end – but the production requires male and female reproduction.
The use of imagination to help understand phenomenon is an important tool. But until the concrete evidence supports such conclusions any conclusions from such imaginary ‘gap filling’ does not scientific discovery make. It remains an elusive possibility – not evidence.

#22 Comment By EliteComm On November 15, 2012 @ 3:29 am

An evolutionary contention that is at cross purposes to itself is more andication that imaginary leaps made to support the premise are unsupportable by the facts on the ground. I appreciated that observation. Because the idea that two species of the same sex can produce as a biologic selfsustaining, self replicating means of survival and maintenance flies in the face of the evolutionary argument. And as such remains at odds as a case for marriage.