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Why the Right Can’t Win the Gay Marriage Fight

With the war in Afghanistan not yet over and the economy still reeling from the Great Recession, who would have predicted that 2012 would be the year of social issues? But so it is proving to be, between Rick Santorum’s surprisingly strong performance in the Republican primaries, the Obama administration’s mandate for employer-provided health insurance to cover contraception, and—in a series of battles in legislatures from New Jersey to Maryland—the ongoing struggle over same-sex marriage. Where the last is concerned, polls indicate that while more Americans still oppose gay marriage, the majority that does so is dwindling rapidly.

Rod Dreher has made the case [1] that advocates of same-sex marriage are the aggressors on this front of the culture war. But they have presented their argument as a defensive one—a matter of equal rights being unfairly violated—and this has been a masterstroke of propaganda, winning much sympathy for their cause. The thing against which supporters of same-sex marriage have committed their aggression is tradition, specifically the West’s traditional understanding of marriage dating back a thousand years and more.

“Same-sex marriage has only been on the national radar since 1993, when a Hawaii court ruled that the state had to demonstrate just cause for why marriage ought to be denied to same-sex couples,” Dreher wrote on his blog at The American Conservative’s website. “That was fewer than 20 years ago, and in that time, support for same-sex marriage has increased at a pace that is nothing short of revolutionary. According to the trajectory of polling, at some point in the next few years, what had been the settled view of the nature of marriage for millennia will have been rejected by a majority of the American people.”

How has this happened? The gradual triumph of gay marriage is not merely due to a legal change that began 20 years ago or even to the sexual revolution of a half-century past; rather it is a consequence of a shift in the foundations of Western civilization that has been taking place over centuries—a shift from Christian to liberal foundations. So profound is this transformation that even the opponents of same-sex marriage are not exactly fighting to recover the old way of life.

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To understand how marriage has changed, and not changed, over the course of Western history one can hardly do better than turn to Harvard sociologist Carle Zimmerman’s Family and Civilization [2] as a primer. First published in 1947, it remains an invaluable, indeed prophetic, guide to the marriage debate and wider culture wars. While same-sex marriage may be an absolute novelty, there have been pitched battles over the definition of marriage before, as when the Catholic Church told the barbarians who had overtaken the Roman Empire that they could not continue their practices of cousin marriage—a tradition from time immemorial—if they wished to be Christians.

Indeed, as Zimmerman writes, “in the course of seven or eight centuries the family system of Europe had twice completely reversed its trend” thanks to the Church, which first reformed the socially atomistic conjugal practices of the late Romans before tackling the blood-bound “trustee” families of the invading tribes. “This struggle, one of the most interesting in the history of the Western family, is relatively unknown to us today,” though it was a matter of civilization-shaping importance at the beginning of European Christendom.

The balance between the social extremes of atomism and tribalism could only be maintained as long as the Church was the primary authority responsible for marriage—which it was for over a thousand years. “The barbarian family had to be broken away from clan influences and brought under that of the church,” writes Zimmerman, but “if temporal forces and strong states could take from the church its power, rule, and regulation of the family, then the atomistic type could reappear. Actually, this is what happened.”

Even Zimmerman could not have anticipated same-sex marriage, but he might not have been surprised by it. As Christianity has lost its power in public life, so too have the forms of marriage and family that it established given way to new configurations shaped by the institutions and ideologies that hold power today—specifically, liberalism and the modern state. But did liberalism, with its bedrock principle of legal equality for all individuals, have to lead to gay marriage?

change_me

Same-sex marriage is a radically new notion; its apologists have to stretch exiguous evidence to find any foreshadowing in past societies. This should not be surprising, since homosexuality itself, as a thing parallel to heterosexuality, is a recent invention. Homosexual activity may be as old as civilization, but the idea of a category of person whose sexual identity is primarily defined by same-sex attraction, yet who is otherwise quite like the mainstream of society, is of recent vintage. That people in this group are not negligible in numbers—amounting to perhaps 5 percent of the general population—has also been a slowly dawning realization.

Once society was widely conscious of this population, and had an inkling of its extent, there was no question of reverting to the status quo ante. The knowledge itself had changed the political question. Not only were homosexuals not going back into the closet, but the rest of society could not forget that they exist. And there had been little in the way of a “traditional” approach to something that was beyond the margin of public consciousness. So now the question arose of how to think about—and act toward—this alarming new population. Should it be included in or excluded from the body politic, and on what terms?

At first, exclusion won out: more laws against sodomy were added to the books in the early part of the 20th century. In many jurisdictions, statutes had to be revised to criminalize what before had not even been known. Politicians passed laws; doctors pronounced the condition a disease. There was from the beginning little thought to equal protection under the law.

But in the latter half of the 20th century two things steadily eroded the cultural and legal taboos against homosexuality. The first was that it had come to be seen as an innate desire about which individuals have little choice. The second was that as these strange new beings emerged from their hiding places they didn’t look so frightening—indeed, they looked a lot like everybody else. The great public-relations victory won by the gay-rights movement that hastened the advent of gay marriage was the shift in the 1990s away from a radical, anti-bourgeois image toward one more in keeping with societal norms, from the militancy of ACT-UP to the banality of “Will and Grace.”

The gay-marriage effort has been a cause as well as an effect in this change: while same-sex marriage is disturbing to many Americans, it is reassuring to others, suggesting as it does loyalty to a middle-class ideal. Those homosexuals who remember more radical days are often dismissive of bourgeois aspirations of the younger set. As the gay libertarian Justin Raimondo has written in these pages [3]: “The modern gay-rights movement is all about securing the symbols of societal acceptance. … But if ‘gay pride’ means anything, it means not wanting, needing, or seeking any sort of acceptance but self-acceptance. Marriage is a social institution designed by heterosexuals for heterosexuals: why should gay people settle for their cast-off hand-me-downs?”

But this radical approach, aiming at neither official approval nor persecution but the preservation of “otherness,” lost out to the power of cultural assimilation. Americans are highly conformist, even the homosexuals among them. Meanwhile the repressive approach favored by almost all Americans before the 1960s—it was hardly a distinctively conservative position—has collapsed in the face of reality. Medicalizing or criminalizing homosexuals away was never going to work: what would be achieved after all that effort—the therapy programs, the prison terms, the tax dollars to pay for everything?

Yet if homosexuals were not going to be under legal or therapeutic penalty, what would become of them? This is the question to which few conservatives can supply a satisfactory answer because the principles that conservatives affirm point toward policies that conflict with their wishes.

If a conservative continues to endorse the pre-1960s mentality—itself a modern mentality, quite different from that of, say, the 1760s—then opposing gay marriage and banning homosexuals from serving in the military is not nearly enough. How can such people be too corrupting to be trusted in the barracks or on the battlefield yet be deemed safe for schools? Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was guileless enough to express this logic in a 2004 election debate: “We need the folks that are teaching in schools to represent our values,” he said, agreeing that this definition did not include homosexuals. (He later added, in a spirit of fairness, that it also did not include “a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend.”)

Consistently applied, this perspective leads to the conclusion that anti-sodomy laws are of some importance, thus Lawrence v. Texas was not merely a moot exercise in judicial activism but a substantive blow to virtue and justice, and at a minimum homosexuals should be discriminated against in public and private employment. Yet this is more than many social conservatives are willing to contemplate, and it most certainly is not something that Republican politicians more discreet than DeMint are willing to voice.

The second consistent position that conservatives can embrace, however reluctantly, would be that of providing full legal equality. This could be seen as a capitulation to liberalism; it could also be seen as an acknowledgement of reality. The trouble with this position is that it doesn’t stop where most conservatives would like it to stop: the logic of legal equality certainly demands that homosexuals be allowed to serve in government, including in the military, and prima facie it demands that they be afforded equal access to the institution of marriage. Conservatives can try to draw the line before that point, but doing so requires making an exception to the principle of legal equality, and exceptions are, by their very nature, more difficult to establish than arguments that go along with general rules.

There is an argument that can be made against same-sex marriage on grounds that have nothing to do unequal treatment of homosexuals. Namely, the benefits to society that arise from the institution of marriage—the reasons we keep the institution around after a few thousand years—do not apply with much force to same-sex unions. Historically, marriage was the institution that conferred legitimacy, giving wives legal privileges above mistresses and concubines and according legitimate children rights to property and higher status than illegitimate ones. Vestiges of this ancient household basis for marriage still remain. But they aren’t much of an issue with same-sex marriage since children only arise in such contexts from very deliberate plans—which cannot be said about the appearance of children in heterosexual relationships.

The broader social interest in limiting promiscuity and encouraging bourgeois life doesn’t apply to gay marriage for reasons having to do with the differences between the sexes themselves, not differences in sexual orientation. Men, heterosexual or homosexual, are generally promiscuous. Women, heterosexual or homosexual, tend to be less so. Heterosexual marriage reduces promiscuity precisely because it applies the less promiscuous nature of the wife to limiting the promiscuity of the husband. Two men cannot on average be relied upon to check one another’s promiscuity. Many notable homosexuals are quite honest about this; the writer and activist Dan Savage, for example, who wishes to make monogamy less essential to marriage for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, last year told the New York Times [4], “The mistake that straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous.”

Two women, by contrast, do not need the legal force of marriage to maintain a monogamous relationship: lesbians are already more monogamous than heterosexual couples. In practical terms, so far as checking promiscuity is concerned, marriage is superfluous for lesbians and not very effective for homosexual men. To the extent that marriage serves as a brake on promiscuity at all, this is owing to the sex differences of the spouses.

The weakness of this argument is that it’s still exceptional: does it present a strong enough case for making an exception to legal equality? Probably not for most Americans, who cherish the sentimental side of marriage—the individualistic and emotive side—over its institutional and biological basis.

Social conservatives are caught between two worldviews, each of which they are reluctant to endorse fully. And with good reason: neither is a genuinely traditional because the traditional world—the Christian civilization to which social conservatives look as their ideal—has already given way to something radically new, leaving traditionalists with a choice between modern alternatives of left and right, neither of which is wholly in accord with the old values.

Are the stakes as high as they think? Same-sex marriage will not lead to civilizational collapse; the social atomism of which it is a symptom is more likely to do that. But there are tough questions about how nondiscrimination and public-accommodations laws will be applied against religiously affiliated institutions, even if churches themselves are exempt from having to participate in the public status of same-sex marriage. Traditionalists are right to be worried: religious liberty too is treated as an exception to liberalism, one for which powerful arguments must be made and which always faces an uphill battle. But the key problem here may not be whether or not there’s gay marriage, but the reach of non-discrimination and public-accommodations law.

Social conservatives have a hard time tackling those concerns, however, because of the inherited guilt they feel over the retrograde views that many past conservatives held about legal equality for racial minorities. Social conservatives are also fearful of being demonized as racist in the way that the libertarian Congressman Ron Paul and his son Sen. Rand Paul have been when they have made arguments against nondiscrimination laws. (Barry Goldwater once made much the same arguments.) This is a difficult knot, since conservatives who are not comfortable taking the Goldwater-Paul position against all nondiscrimination law must again make an exception to argue that it shouldn’t apply where homosexuals and their marriages are concerned.

[5]But that’s the pot in which social conservatives are being boiled. They have made enough concessions to the reality of political life in 21st-century America—to the principle of legal equality and the need for some nondiscrimination law—that they’re left making largely unsympathetic and unconvincing arguments for exceptions. Over time they may feel compelled throw their full electoral weight behind the libertarian principle of tolerance even for intolerance as the only viable alternative to a futile authoritarianism or outright surrender to liberalism. From libertarians they might also take the lesson that just because something is enshrined in law does not mean it has thereby acquired a higher moral status.

For the better part of 2,000 years the meaning of marriage was stable because the authority of Christianity was constant. In an age when the Church no longer supplies the institutional framework for family life, the definition of marriage has become radically uncertain. Into this fluid environment—in which individualism or atomism is once again rising to the fore, as in the Roman Empire—the new fact of homosexuality was gradually introduced. The result, same-sex marriage, has shocked conservatives. But this innovation has moved so far so quickly only because it is not at all out of step with the institutions and ideas of our time.

Daniel McCarthy is editor of The American Conservative.

134 Comments (Open | Close)

134 Comments To "Why the Right Can’t Win the Gay Marriage Fight"

#1 Comment By Leon Berton On April 30, 2012 @ 7:31 am

I, for one, can say that my friends who are gay have themselves argued in favor of distinguishing ‘marriages’ from ‘civil unions’. But I am sure others would disagree, and that’s only anecdotal evidence anyway.

In my discussions with them, we have always agreed that somehow the issue ought to be resolved in a way that respects the choices of persons and the bonds they establish, which result in promisory relations that are contractual; that uses distinct terms to acknowledge not only the personal, but also the biological relations that are distinct; and that is coherent.

The greater or lesser vulnerability of the ‘marriage’ bond in different eras is not central, nor are the variations on how it was enacted (polygamy, polyandry, etc.)

A homo-gendered domestic familial society, however, differs from a hetero-gendered one.

Some argue, quite astutely, that the term ‘marriage’ should merely be extended from its original (and retained root meaning) implying biological heterogeneity.

The examples of ‘white chocolate’, ‘turkey ham’, ‘cutting an album’, etc. are relevant. However, these coinages don’t seem to refer to any essential factors. That chocolate be visibly almost white does not change the fact that we have choclate. On the other hand, that what appears to be ham is really made of turkey is not really pork ham. And a musician readily knows s/he is not ‘cutting a record’ when using the newest technology.

But the biologial physical relations between hetero-gendered and homo-gendered humans are really distinct.

I grant that personal relations, in specific instances, in both may be equal or similar regarding many human qualities: concern, caring, respect, loyalty. Indeed, certain homo-gendered couples may well be better at parenting or raising a child than specific hetero-gendered couples.

But nonetheless, there is an enduring and fundamental difference in the biologically-physically mediating personal bonding in those relationships, and there also may well be psychologial ones as well.

And fundamental differences merit distinct terms, especially when articulating matters that codify (for better or worse) societal and legal issues.

Surely, there is a way of expanding the realm of respect for persons and their choices without trying to ignore or eradicate valid distinctions that are rooted in reality.

#2 Comment By Bill R On April 30, 2012 @ 10:52 am

Not sure if someone in the gay activist community put out an all-points, call, but of the 101 responses above are representative of the typical readership of the American Conservative – I would be amazed. Amazed, indeed. Frankly, the moralizing admonitions being levied against orthodox Christians, accusing us all of uncharity and worse, do not strike me as typical of even the anarcho-libertarian point of view sometimed espoused in these pages. So, while the discussion has had some interesting features, it is largely a non-sequitor – unless the advocates of same sex marriage wished to demonstrate, but the extreme volume and invective of their comments, why the authors thesis that “we can’t win” is true. Noted.

Some cited the now-eight states that permit same sex marriage, either by legislation or judicial fiat. This, of course, is the driving force that converts what was once considered unacceptable and just plain wrong into an unchallengeable moral truth. We don’t like to admit it, but the Tories “argument of force” (in this case, the force of law) has that effect on people. It is not a very comforting situation, and it will be resolved, one way or the other, in time. And the manner in which it is resolved has both practical and specific consequences associated with it…again, because the how the law defines the marriage contract has all sorts of implications for child custody, inheritance, and the responsibilty of parents to support their children. I find it difficult accept the whopper of a lie that such things don’t matter, than from the standpoint of justice, they are nought by comparison with the unimpeded will of two adults to join themselves in matrimony, irrespective of the consequences to others. But real life has a way of entangling such relationships in ways that we cannot even now conceive. It is a social experiment that this conservative does not wish to launch, but as the trends go, we may not be able to prevent.

For those who express outrage at such sentiments, I ask: do you want honesty, or don’t you ? If you expect the rest of the world to bend its reality to make you feel a little better about yourself, I beg forgiveness. You’re not that special.

#3 Comment By Rev. Donald Sensing On April 30, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

What about the effect of the Pill on the decline of traditional marriage? I invite readers to see my Wall Street Journal op-ed on how the [6]. Once childbearing became technologically separated from marriage, all bets were off.

Yet if gay “marriage” does become popularly and legally endorsed within a decade or two, all bets will be even further off. Why not polygamy?

As a Methodist minister, I can tell you that religious arguments against gay marriage or, more broadly, homosexuality lose in society generally and more and more within churches, too.

Here in Tennessee, the Baptists and the Methodists combined couldn’t stop state and interstate lotteries from being authorized in a 2002 voter referendum. Enormous numbers of church people voted in favor.

That’s exactly where we are headed on gay marriage/rights.

#4 Comment By Rev. Donald Sensing On April 30, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

Sorry, i meant to include in my prior comment a link to my own essay on why gay “marriage” inherently cannot be actual marriage; I argue against it conceptually. [7].

#5 Comment By JD Curtis On April 30, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

Gay marriage is the cause of our lifetime people. No doubt.

Just a few short years ago, the majority of Americans identified themselves as pro-choice and after alot of hard work, now the majority are pro-life.

We can win this debate for hearts and minds as well. We just have to stick to our guns and utilize the arguments that work best.

#6 Comment By Brandon On April 30, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

For a minute there I thought I heard a true, principled conservative out there. From reading the comments in response I am comforted to know the full throated hate and bigotry of the republican right is alive and well. Whew! I thought for a moment I was in topsy turvy land and had lost my footing. Nice try though, Dan. I respect you for standing for the future, not the past.

#7 Comment By Matt V On April 30, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

One thing that never enter into these articles as I’ve read them. Marriage, if using the definition of the union of one man and one woman, does not discriminate against homosexuals. That is to say, if a gay man wants to marry a woman, he can. He probably doesn’t, but he can. The only way it becomes an issue of “equal treatment” under the law is if the definition is changed first to mean the union of any two consenting adults. If the narrative is based off the second definition, of COURSE it will be difficult to defend prohibition of same sex marriage. Why start the argument off on that wrong, left, (and liberal) foot?

#8 Comment By John Howard On May 1, 2012 @ 9:48 am

@Rev. Donald Sensing Your argument doesn’t work because it assumes that same-sex procreation is impossible. The fact is, researchers are working on ways to make sperm for females and eggs for males, to enable “Postgenderism” and allow people to make offspring with someone of the same sex, or as the other sex. They don’t have to be able to do it, they just have to clam a right to try some day in the future, and as long as it is legal to try to make offspring then we should let them marry first, even if it might never happen.

But we should prohibit it, because it is obvious it will be unethical and expensive and there is no medical need, it is not unhealthy that people are one sex or the other. There is no right to reproduce with the same sex, or change sex and reproduce as the other sex. We just need to prohibit it, and then your argument works again.

#9 Comment By Chris On May 1, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

@ 108. John Howard
“Postgenderism” and allow people to make offspring with someone of the same sex, or as the other sex. They don’t have to be able to do it, they just have to clam a right to try some day in the future, and as long as it is legal to try to make offspring then we should let them marry first, even if it might never happen.

Ok, I get the whole debate to why we should allow, so called things that once weren’t allowed, the ethics is mind blowing. The moral of the story is?

But without science same-sex couples would not be able to procreate, is that not simple enough? Science can make everything doable, though doesn’t make it right.

Plus, if our economies are falling apart at the seams now, what happens when same-sex married couples demand “fertilization treatment to procreate” because they are married? The cost is going to be huge, so who’s going to fork out then? It appears, the logical argument of allowing people what they want, because they want it, is going to entangle us all in a drain, not only on our souls, but our wallets too.

Who said money isn’t everything?

#10 Comment By Nat G. On May 1, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

“A homo-gendered domestic familial society, however, differs from a hetero-gendered one.”

If you want to discuss social treatment, perhaps. However, you have yet to put forth a reason what government interest is served by legislating the distinction.

(And FYI, the thing that distinguishes “white chocolate” is not the color; that’s a side effect from the real difference, which is the lack of cocoa solids… an ingredient that could otherwise be seen as key to the definition of “chocolate”.)

As for the claim of some that this is a social experiment: we are faced with a genuinely new situation, with gay couples being visible and seeking social recognition. As such, any response – attempting to suppress the couples back into the closet; the acceptance of such public couples but creating a significant frustration and treating them as a lesser class; the inclusion of these couples in the institution of marriage; or the invention of a second institution to integrate into our culture – is equally an experiment. Attempting to bring people into social institutions that promote stability, as well as avoiding having the government create a new institution, can certainly be seen as the conservative path.

#11 Comment By Bob S On May 1, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

Matt V,
It’s worse than that. McCarthy’s article at least recognizes that the argument for same sex marriage is propaganda, but unfortunately leaves it at that and predicts defeat.

Whatever. The argument is erroneous in the extreme, however much it is rooted in the Jacobin French Revolutionary idea of equality aka the radical French Enlightenment vs. traditional western Christianity and arguably the more conservative Scotch Enlightenment.

That is homosexuals supposedly don’t have equal rights to marry anybody they want to just like heterosexuals.

Yeah, right. Heterosexual males for example can’t marry their mom, sister, aunt, a girl under 12 or more than one woman at a time, before we even start talking about marrying their brother or some other guy.
IOW if the samesexers want to talk about discrimination, they need to go to the back of the line.

To be sure, though, the usual suspects are crying up the standard smear terms that replace a reasonable argument these days when ever a liberal progressive jacobinite is losing the same: homophobia/ bigotry/sexism,antisemite/white supremacist/radical.

Yeah, I know it won’t happen right away, but if same sex unions can be called marriage, there is no principled reason to forbid incest and polygamy, both of which have the prior claim to that magic martyr cachet of being the subject of discrimination – in part no doubt because they both have the basic biological plumbing figured out and they will be legalized as will bestiality, S&M and necrophilia. After all, if anything goes, anything will eventually. Cause it is all equal. Just keep humming that Lennon tune, Imagine . . . that above us is empty sky, there ain’t no heaven or hell, that we can do whatever we like.

But in the up and coming brave new world of anything goes/is equal to everything/nothing and same sex unions can produce offspring, well maybe can pigs can fly too – just as long as it is on United and the TSA has been notified.

cheers.

And don’t get me started on DADT. From time immemorial the military has discriminated/segregated/profiled the sexes in separating them when it comes to the barracks and bathrooms. Why? Because usually sexual desire follows gender lines.

But if homosexuals can sh*t, shower, shave and sleep with their boyfriends, then heterosexuals should have the same chance when it comes to their girlfriend and if there was any justice in the world, we would graduate from DADT to a unisex military.

IOW the homosexuals aren’t interested in a live and let live situation, they want to force everybody into their mold.
Surprisingly, some of us are neither interested or persuaded by the one sided arguments.

#12 Comment By Leon Berton On May 2, 2012 @ 6:59 am

Nag G, I admit I have not paid much attention in life to the incredible implications of the nature of ‘white chocolate’.

Indeed, you are correct, it is not technically ‘chocolate’ since it does not contain cocoa liquor (although, expensive white chocolate might contain cacao butter).

So, ‘white chocolate’ is inauthentic, and hence it has a distinct designation.

Surely, though, you are not proposing that this is an exact parallel with justifying the designation ‘homosexual marriage’, are you?

I should think that ‘non-real’ chocolate does not stand in the same order of importance as marriage, which is, and remains (even though the institution fluctuates in distinct eras in terms of its quality and duration in specific instances) the proto-biological bond of human societies.

If you want to argue your case on the parallel with ‘white chocolate’, then homo-gendered ‘marriages’ are, ‘ipso facto’, NON-REAL marriages.

Does this truly support coherence in understanding and social institutions, when what your supposedly aim for is MUTUAL respect, regard, for persons and their differences and institutions?

Real differences or distinctions in reality lead to distinct notions signified by distinct terms.

‘Civil unions’ might work, if you can implement them through due process. But it doesn’t help the case to try to undermine what is already soundly and reasonably known, defined and acknowledged.

#13 Comment By Bob S On May 2, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

[OK, I cleaned it up so it won’t get rejected as s(h)am]
Matt V,
It’s worse than that. McCarthy’s article at least recognizes that the argument for same sex marriage is propaganda, but unfortunately leaves it at that and predicts defeat.

Whatever. The argument is erroneous in the extreme, however much it is rooted in the Jacobin French Revolutionary idea of equality aka the radical French Enlightenment vs. traditional western Christianity and arguably the more conservative Scotch Enlightenment.

That is homosexuals supposedly don’t have equal rights to marry anybody they want to “just like heterosexuals”.

Yeah, right. Heterosexual males for example can’t marry their mom, sister, aunt, a girl under 12 or more than one woman at a time, before we even start talking about marrying their brother or some other guy.
IOW if the samesexers want to talk about discrimination, they need to go to the back of the line.

To be sure, though, the usual suspects are crying up the standard smear terms that replace a reasonable argument these days when ever a liberal progressive jacobinite is losing the same: homophobia/ bigotry/sexism,antisemite/white supremacist/radical.

Yeah, I know it won’t happen right away, but if same sex unions can be called marriage, there is no principled reason to forbid incest and polygamy, both of which have the prior claim to that magic martyr cachet of being the subject of discrimination – in part no doubt because they both have the basic biological plumbing figured out and they will be legalized as will bestiality, S&M and necrophilia. After all, if anything goes, anything will eventually. Cause it is all equal. Just keep humming that Lennon tune, Imagine . . . that above us is empty sky, there ain’t no heaven or hell, that we can do whatever we like.

But in the up and coming brave new world of anything goes/is equal to everything/nothing and same sex unions can produce offspring, well maybe can pigs can fly too – just as long as it is on United and the TSA has been notified.

cheers.

And don’t get me started on DADT. From time immemorial the military has discriminated/segregated/profiled the sexes in separating them when it comes to the barracks and bathrooms. Why? Because usually sexual desire follows gender lines.

But if homosexuals can defecate, shower, shave and sleep with their boyfriends, then heterosexuals should have the same chance when it comes to their girlfriend and if there was any justice in the world, we would graduate from DADT to a unisex military.

IOW the homosexuals aren’t interested in a live and let live situation, they want to force everybody into their mold.
Surprisingly, some of us are neither interested or persuaded by the one sided arguments.

#14 Comment By John Howard On May 17, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

What happened to all the comments?

#15 Comment By ossicle On May 21, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

Indeed, what the heck?  That was a very valuable collection of comments, I hope they’re brought back.

#16 Comment By Sur Veilled On May 26, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

The comment censorship process on TAC is capricious, undignified, and undocumented as far as any prior guidelines or after-the-fact explanations are concerned.  
Too bad.

#17 Comment By Sur Veilled On May 26, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

 The comment censorship process on TAC is capricious, undignified, and undocumented as far as any prior guidelines or after-the-fact explanations are concerned.  
Too bad. 

#18 Comment By kurt9 On May 27, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

There is a solution to this issue. Get the government out of the marriage business completely. The states would have something called civil unions and the religious people would then be free to define marriage as they want it.

#19 Comment By Major914 On May 31, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

What we need is to get government, at all levels, out of the direct provision and/or control of education and educational content. Then, at some subsequesnt point in time, it would at least be possible that a conservative Judeo-Christian viewpoint could again sustainedly prevail on specific social issues, such as marriage.No-fault divorce is wrong. Homosexual marriage is an impossibility.

If homosexuality is legislatively normalized in this country, to the point of full marriage and adoption ‘equality’, we will necessarily end up with the same hate speech laws that have put Canadian pastors in jail for preaching the Bible, with its unambiguous proscription against the evil of homosexuality

#20 Comment By OldKingBlog On June 17, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

Well stated, JDCurtis! And dead-on accurate. We real conservatives will win this battle, just as we are winning the abortion battle. I’ve always suspected that writers like McCarthy are really CINOs: conservatives in name only, and their task is to demoralize us by predicting defeat. In other words, leftists…

#21 Comment By Jojo On July 30, 2012 @ 10:19 am

Religious people are also against gay marriage after they read Romans 1:26-27, 32 that declares gay acts a sin and Matthew 19:4-5 that has marriage as between a man and a woman that become one flesh through putting oppose sex organs into each other. We have a fighting chance because many people are Christians in the USA.

#22 Comment By makinps On January 10, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

As a gay man, I cannot understand why any gay men would want same sex marriage. Why should we want to live in some pale imitation of this traditional heterosexual institution? A relationship between two people of the same sex is definately not the same as between two people of the opposite sex, especially when the relationship is a romantic one.
Marriage, the priviledge of a man and a woman to come together in covenant, supported by law and faith, to bear and raise children in a stable and nurturing family structure, is under dire enough of a threat without us wanting to get in on it.
Gay people have always been around, and society has variously accepted that, denied that, persecuted that, ignored that, and frequently just tittled at it. We as a society are learning that ‘the gay in our midst’ is simply a part of the way things are.
All I ask (and all, I think, gay people are entitled to ask) are two things: the freedom so to live our lives in peace; and the ability to make our significant others our legal heirs and next of kin, if and when we choose to do so. If we choose to have our commitments sacralized, we’ll go to our pastors or rabbis. Mine likes that kind of thing.

#23 Comment By MikeS On March 26, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

“There is no Platonic Ideal of marriage”. Exactly. Marriage is whatever we as a modern society say it is. There is no Central Command that defines what it is. People who think there is, are disconnected from reality and weird and that is why they are losing.

#24 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 26, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

“Same-sex marriage will not lead to civilizational collapse; the social atomism of which it is a symptom is more likely to do that.”

Both modern conservatism and liberalism have absorbed this same defective point of view, so that there is a pushing against responsibility and resisting selfish choices across the board, with different emphases. Driven by the idea that fulfillment for the individual consists of no limitations to where desire leads, war, finance and sexual mores are now only limited by what can be done, will be done, with responsibility to others completely abandoned. This is a kind of absolutely selfish imperative, in which there is no sense of responsibility for anything except slaking one’s own desires. Others, as they are perceived to exist, valued in highly utilitarian fashion, of importance only in what can be harvested from them.

Indeed, this is the diagnosis of social atomization, which masquerades as social progress, where in actuality it is contrary to progress, say, as it was understood by Martin Luther King, for whom progress involved reconciliation and community.

Would Dr. King consider it moral progress for the armed forces to celebrate homosexuality, so that the result is to make drone assassinations a fully LGBT integrated activity, when he so clearly condemned war as an immoral activity, which he predicted could destroy America’s soul?

With all the dire problems the society faces that are grievously unaddressed, just as in the summer before 911, the nation’s capital is again totally consumed with the trivial banality of “gay” “marriage,” as if the consideration of expanding concepts of sexual fulfillment is of paramount centrality.

Christianity, such as it is, hewed to by limp adherents who have compromised it for their own purposes as suited them, isn’t of much effect as it exists. That shouldn’t be any surprise when the same practitioners now professing to be shocked, shocked at its inefficacy at resisting what they themselves don’t favor as their own protected sins, already compromised the core of Christian theology – against war, violence, domination, economic exploitation, revenge and any other panoply of evils they liked. What’s left to stand against? Just the other guy’s indulgence?

So, the right can’t “win” the “gay” “marriage” debate, justly so, even if it adds up to more injustice. The war was already lost, the outcome of these battles just the playing out of evacuating from the embassy roof in Saigon, circa 1975.

The object isn’t to win, anyhow, in the sense of dominating as per Muggeridge’s axiom of history mostly consisting of “Who, whom” – who gets to control whom. The answer really is found in what Niebuhr summed up as a scripture that best embodied Christian truth – universal truth, not sectarian:

“Ephesians 4:32, ‘And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’

If that could pervade our culture all else will follow, without coercion, through enlightened individual self-control.

#25 Comment By Annek On March 27, 2013 @ 9:56 am

makinps said:

“All I ask (and all, I think, gay people are entitled to ask) are two things: the freedom so to live our lives in peace; and the ability to make our significant others our legal heirs and next of kin, if and when we choose to do so.”

I wish as a society we could come to agree on this. I agree with makinps’ other comments, as well.

#26 Comment By KC On March 27, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

Dan Savage is a very bright man but I wouldn’t read his views as gospel. People like Savage who are not monogamous have self interests in promoting monogamy as “not natural”.

Is honesty natural? Drinking alcohol?

I’m suspicious of claims about male natures, female natures, Irish natures, Swedish natures, black natures determining behavior particularly when the behavior isn’t universal.

How do we know how much is cultural?

There are differences between young & old, married or single, celibate or sexually active, happy or unhappy. All these have effects on monogamy too.

#27 Comment By tz On March 27, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

Divorce implies it is a rather uncivil union. As I suggested in JR’s post, we need a remake of “The Gay Divorcee”.

The optimal solution is libertarian ju-jitsu:

Why do you refuse to recognize in law Roman Catholic marriages? Indissoluble. Bans artificial contraception. Divorce more difficult than remitting student loan debt. This can all be written into a pre-nup, but you bigoted idiots want to shove your definition of a sterile, amorphous, impermanent relationship down the throats of Catholics! Why do you bigots discriminate against Catholic charities that want to place adoptees only in famliles that meet their definition of marriage.

Side note: Read JP2’s Theology of the Body, then any of the recent popular protestant books on “christian marriage” that tries to assemble the puzzle of family without half the pieces. “I want to try to become a father” is different from “I need to satisfy my urges”.

#28 Comment By Keith On March 23, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

“…a shift from Christian to Liberal values,”?

Daniel, someone needs to explain to you that Christ WAS a Liberal.

A RADICAL Liberal, at that.

#29 Comment By Delirium On May 17, 2014 @ 7:58 am

“Daniel, someone needs to explain to you that Christ WAS a Liberal.”

Christ believed people must be viewed as sexless legal abstractions expressing content- and consequence-free preferences? Really?

#30 Comment By Barbara Saunders On July 17, 2014 @ 9:09 am

You have left something out, whether you would credit or blame it: feminism. The traditional “biological” view of men and women in complementary marital roles gave way, long before same-sex marriage came into the picture, to an ideal of marriage as consisting of two parties with fundamentally equal status.

#31 Comment By Nancy D. On August 5, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

Every element of truth complements the truth. Truth cannot contradict truth.Those who claim that in order to be married, it is no longer necessary to exist in relationship as husband and wife, are not condoning marriage, they are, in essence, condoning marriage fraud.

#32 Comment By Mason Dodd On April 15, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

I’ll preface this comment by admitting that I’m one of “the gays”, apart of the “fringe group” or “loudmouth minority”. I/ we’ve been referred to as so many things now that I’m losing track, but anyway..

Straight people will degrade and ultimately destroy the institution of marriage before us gays even have the chance if divorce rates are anything to go by. Because, as it is, it isn’t really suited to everyone, gay or straight. Women find themselves caught up in the romance, the belief that life will be bliss once they’ve walked down the aisle, usually before they even realize they first need to find themselves a man they can actually cohabite with. “Till death” is a long time in many cases, and whether people like it or not, people change over time. Motivations, desires, goals, they all morph/ shift through the passing decades, and it can have devastating consequences for relationships. But in these modern times, people can survive on their own—women can survive on their own. So when a marriage becomes loveless, why stay? Divorce is liberating, and it sure is enough to tempt even the most conservative of traditionalists.

Anyway, the vibe I get from this article is that of resignation, because most of the intellectual conservatives accept homosexuality even if they don’t want to for the very fact it is innate and unchangeable. There is no choice. I sure as hell never made one, and if I did, I’d be straight and not bothering with this article right now.

I was about eleven when it first occurred to me, and I knew it was the case when I was thirteen. It was a very scary and lonely time. My father, a relatively conservative man often said homophobic remarks, and although not extremist, did give me the impression he wouldn’t accept me. And my mother? She’s a sweet, caring woman, who did accept gay people, but made it very clear she didn’t want me to be gay. So I felt trapped like so many gay people do.

I’m now 24, and have accepted myself, but what annoys me most is the issue of homosexuality being cast as a morality debate. Because it isn’t one, plain and simple. I only feel attraction for the same sex, not only when it comes to sexual attraction but love as well. And this doesn’t have to be a problem because there are others that share these exact same feelings. I don’t have to rape someone or persuade someone into reciprocating these feelings of love, affection and attraction because there are millions of people that share them. It’s how homosexuality differs from pedophilia. We don’t have to rape, molest, manipulate, coerce or demand someone gratify our desires, because as with heterosexuals, we can easily find someone to share and reciprocate these same feelings in equal collaboration. And when it comes to incest, well, us gays want to be equal, so that means no having sex with family members. This isn’t a problem, because again, there are so, so many other people out there. We DO need to be with someone of the same sex, but we DONT have to be with someone of our own family. It’s no different to straight people.

As for the Christian influences, well, the separation of church and state means butt out. Not everyone is a Christian, so Christians need to stop imposing their personal beliefs on other people. Imagine if Muslims tried imposing their belief on you? In fact, Christians are severely under attack by Muslims right now in certain parts of the world, so I’d hope Christians might learn a thing or two about religious persecution. A gay’s fight for equality is no imposition, because we’re not fighting to impose, we’re fighting for our rights as human beings. The West is highly democratic, and a democracy is a representation of all peoples. It’s to support all citizens, not only a group of religious subscribers who falsely believe they have the moral high ground, who assume themselves the authority on moral affairs. If you want to live by the bible and support the suppression and execution of gays, move to Uganda.

Personally, I’m agnostic, but if “God” thinks I’m wrong, he can do one of two things: 1) tell me himself. I don’t want a game of Chinese whispers, he can damn well tell me himself so I have the absolute authority on the matter instead of people that clam they have it despite all the other religions claiming it for themselves; 2) he can change me. If I’m broken, God, you have my blessings to go ahead and fix me, because I refuse to live my life in a perpetual state of loneliness and I REFUSE to lie to a woman. No woman wants a liar for a partner. No woman wants to wed a man who feels no attraction for her, who will never love her in the way that she wants.

Conservatives need to stop making our fight for equality a morality battle with their religion. There are many gay Christians, so take the fight up with them while leaving the rest of us out of it. We’re not fighting to have every straight man forced into wedding another male, we’re fighting to be recognized by the government who is meant to represent us – its people. Marriage isn’t a Christian institution, it’s society’s. If you want traditional marriage, keep yours traditional.

I share a few conservative ideals, e.g. that abortion should be reserved for women whose lives are in danger due to medical conditions and those who’ve been raped, or at least, for women in the VERY early stages of pregnancy. But in a way, pro-life isn’t that far removed from same-sex marriage. It’s about valuing human life, not disregarding it. It’s about protecting the rights and lives of other human beings. Because God or no God, our lives matter, everyone’s lives matter. And if there is a God, I doubt he wants thirteen year old, gay youths killing themselves for something they can’t change.

#33 Comment By Mike On April 29, 2015 @ 10:50 pm

A lot of homosexuals and Bi-sexuals like myself are similar to Leon Bertons friends:
The problem is the people talking for use have the money and they have their own agenda.
Straight people swept up by propaganda do seem to care what gay people actually want……(civil unions are still favored 2 to 1 and twice as popular among gay men than same-sex marriage.) The people have decied for most of us against are will and against our desires. I wish we got a chance to speak for once and actually let it be known the truth about how MOST gay people feel about SSM which is largely neutral to slightly opposed. We really would rather have our own thing …. or at least the 700 or so gay and bi-people i know.

#34 Comment By Howard On January 26, 2017 @ 1:36 pm

Actually I just take the view that Obergefell just busted all our civil marriages down to “civil unions” and we Christians and other faiths will continue to follow our Canon Law on “holy Matrimony,” which is different from the government. Not happy, but I can live with this.