Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Dobson on the New Jersey Ruling

Agape Press reports:

Dobson is also convinced that a specific objective is lurking behind Wednesday’s decision. “Nothing less than the future of the American family hangs in the balance if we allow one-man, one-woman marriage to be redefined out of existence,” he says in a press release. “And make no mistake — that is precisely the outcome the New Jersey Supreme Court is aiming for with this decision.”


There’s that stupid argument again – gay marriage is going to destroy the family! What family, Jimmy Boy? Yours? Mine? Anyone else’s? Tell me one family that will be destroyed by gay marriage. If you can’t point to an actual family that will be harmed by this, then you certainly can’t claim that the family will be destroyed. This is idiotic rhetoric, totally devoid of any substantive content. And yes, I’m sure the New Jersey Supreme Court did this because they want to destroy “the family”. I mean, it’s not like they have families of their own.

Bear in mind that this is the same cretin who, in 2004, gave a speech at Olkahoma Christian University where he said, “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage.” And further, “It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.” I think it’s time for your medication again, Mr. Dobson. You’re going batshit crazy.

Comments

  1. #1 Kate
    October 27, 2006

    out of existence?? wtf? I think I missed the memo, allowing Gay Marriage means eliminating forever the possibility of straight marriage?

    That makes no sense to me. Is it that heterosexual men and women will be staying away in droves from sheer disgust? Will there be a run on getting the Gay so that you can marry? Is the fact that Gay marriage is not currently legally condoned the only thing keeping these men in denial? (wait, I think I slipped from sarcasm to truth there… hmmm)

  2. #2 SharonB
    October 27, 2006

    I was going to raise the “destruction of the planet” hyperbole, but you beat me to it. Odd that he hasn’t changed course to devote an program to it on his radio show yet. It is as if they haven’t gotten their talking points together yet, “Did we win or did we lose?”

    And how can they harness the spin to gay-bash in time for maximum impact on the midterm election.

  3. #3 decrepitoldfool
    October 27, 2006

    Why would it bother him to destroy the Earth? Isn’t that what all those millennialdweebists want?

  4. #4 Scott Belyea
    October 27, 2006

    I think it’s time for your medication again,

    This blog is far from the only offender, but I do wish that folks would find a new all-purpose knee-jerk insult other than something like, “Off your meds?” … “Time to go take that medication” and the like.

    As the father of a daughter who does indeed need to take her medication in order to function at a high level, I find the “insult” use of that image to be offensive. Certainly, it’s been overused. There must be more creativity out there to devise new and better insults!

    I have no idea if I’m alone in this reaction, but I don’t like it.

  5. #5 Ramsey Wilson
    October 27, 2006

    Ed wrote:

    There’s that stupid argument again – gay marriage is going to destroy the family! What family, Jimmy Boy? Yours? Mine? Anyone else’s?

    I’ve neither read nor heard any explanation by Dobson of how gay marriage threatens marriage (let alone the Earth).

    One of the sensible explanations I’ve read is by Jane Galt. I agree with at least three points in the explanation offered there: (1) people who focus on the fact that they would marry even if gay people marry are ignoring that they may not be the marginal case; (2) changes at the margin can result in dramatic unforeseen changes to the core of an institution; and (3) let’s make sure that would-be reformers have a thorough understanding of an institution before allowing them to remake it.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    October 27, 2006

    And you think this is an explanation for how gay marriage will “destroy marriage”? At absolute most, you’ve got a completely illogical argument that a few people – those “at the margin”, whatever that means in this context – will decide not to get married because gay people are allowed to do so. Is there a shred of evidence to support that contention? None. Is there even some sort of coherent definition of who qualifies as “at the margin” in this context and some reason why being bothered by gay marriage would cause them not to get married? None. Is there any sane reason to believe that, with the exceedingly large set of privileges and benefits that comes with marriage (financial, legal, social), not to mention the very strong, virtually universal human desire to couple, that this issue would outweigh all those things? None. More importantly, virtually the only people who care at all about whether gays can and can’t get married are those who fancy themselves deeply religious, people who think that gay marriage violates “God’s law”. Does it really make sense that any of those people are going to decide not to get married because of this? Of course not. Appeal to an unspecified group of marginal people who might hypothetically be affected, without any specific logical argument whatsoever leading from A to B, is the equivalent of saying, “Something bad’s gonna happen. I can’t tell you how or why, I just know it.” It’s an empty argument from the start.

  7. #7 Zarquon
    October 27, 2006

    All of Galt’s arguments can equally be applied to interracial marriage and they were. Simply accepting those arguments means ignoring much of the history of marriage as a social institution.

  8. #8 DuWayne
    October 27, 2006

    Ramsey Wilson -

    Dobson does not use that kind of logic – which I will address in a minute. He can’t get away with that kind of an argument because it ultimately fails to support his over all rhetoric. For Dobson, it is purely an argument that if we allow gays to marry it “mainstreams” the gay lifestyle even more. The more acceptable it seems the more likely it is that good, Christian children will be sucked into that lifestyle. The other problem, as he sees it, is that it waters down the whole institution, making everyones marriage meaningless.

    Now, what Galt is saying may well be correct to a certain extent. The problem with where she is going with that is, marriage as an institution is already headed down that road. In fact, I would argue that allowing gays to marry would breath some new life into marriage. I doubt she would entirely dissagree. The problem faced by marriage right now, is not it’s “usurption” by homosexuals, it is the bitterness that a lot of people in my generation (I’m thirty), about all the broken, shitty marriages we witnessed growing up. Its the people who are already allowed to marry, deciding that they want to have the sex, but thinking they should be married first – no matter how week the foundation of that relationship might be. People who were born in the sixties and after, tend to be rather jaded, when it comes to marriage.

    I just become more and more convinced that the answer to preserving the institution of marriage, is to abolish it as a civil institution. And that is not just for it’s prevervation for the religious. I know quite a few non-religious people who would like their marriage to mean a lot more than it does in post-modern society. I think that if people had the choice to simply get a civil union to provide legal protection to their relationships, a lot less people would go further and actually get married. I imagine that most people who still decided to get married would be a lot less likely to get divorced.

  9. #9 RickD
    October 27, 2006

    Here’s why allowing gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage: nobody really wants to be in a heterosexual marriage. Doesn’t that make sense? People who are pretending to be happily married in a heterosexual marriage will rush off and seek homosexual partnerships at the moment the opportunity presents itself.

    Well, at least this explanation is internally consistent and coherent. (That it’s divorced from reality seems to be a flaw, but I still think it’s a better explanation than anything Dobson has offered.)

    Do you ever wonder just how many of the people in the leadership of the “values” crowd are closet gays or gays in denial? I think the touchiness of the various gay rights issues has to be related to these problems. I just don’t see who gets hurt by treating “out” gays as human beings otherwise.

  10. #10 Ramsey Wilson
    October 27, 2006

    Ed wrote:

    And you think this is an explanation for how gay marriage will “destroy marriage”?

    No, I wouldn’t and didn’t intend to put it that strongly. I think Galt provides a plausible explanation, relying largely on analogy to recent historical examples, of how gay marriage conceivably could undermine the existing institution of marriage.

    Is there even some sort of coherent definition of who qualifies as “at the margin” in this context and some reason why being bothered by gay marriage would cause them not to get married? None.

    I think your assertion rightly (implicitly) recognizes that a key to the analysis involves identifying, numbering and predicting the behavior of the marginal would-be male-female marriage partners. I don’t know how one would go about identifying such people in demographic terms or otherwise. I have no basis for speculating. Your speculation, later in your comment, may be correct. You seem to suggest that the group of marginal marriage partners is (1) comprised entirely of “deeply religious” people, and (2) extremely unlikely to choose not to marry irrespective of others’ marriage practices. I am referring to where you wrote:

    virtually the only people who care at all about whether gays can and can’t get married are those who fancy themselves deeply religious, people who think that gay marriage violates “God’s law”. Does it really make sense that any of those people are going to decide not to get married because of this? Of course not.

    If you are correct, Galt’s explanation is inapplicable; the existing institution would remain unscathed. Finally:

    Is there any sane reason to believe that, with the exceedingly large set of privileges and benefits that comes with marriage (financial, legal, social), not to mention the very strong, virtually universal human desire to couple, that this issue would outweigh all those things? None.

    If you look again at the Galt post, you’ll see that you’re making essentially the same logical and compelling argument that welfare advocates made when opponents claimed that providing benefits to unwed mothers would result in more children born out of wedlock. While the argument is logical and compelling, it has turned out to be terribly wrong in the welfare case. You certainly can argue that welfare for unwed mothers is a poor analogy to the issue at hand, but I think Galt’s advice is sound: people ought to “try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes”.

  11. #11 Ramsey Wilson
    October 27, 2006

    DuWayne, I appreciate your thoughts. In particular, you wrote:

    The problem faced by marriage right now, is not it’s “usurption” by homosexuals, it is the bitterness that a lot of people in my generation (I’m thirty), about all the broken, shitty marriages we witnessed growing up.

    I can agree wholeheartedly that the health of the traditional institution of marriage faces far greater obstacles than the so-called radical homosexual agenda.

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    October 27, 2006

    Ramsey Wilson wrote:

    I think your assertion rightly (implicitly) recognizes that a key to the analysis involves identifying, numbering and predicting the behavior of the marginal would-be male-female marriage partners. I don’t know how one would go about identifying such people in demographic terms or otherwise. I have no basis for speculating.

    Without such a basis, one that actually makes sense, there simply is no argument here other than “you never know, something bad might happen.” Galt does not identify who the “at the margin” people might be who would be influenced by this, nor does she give any logical argument for who might hypothetically be so influenced.

    Your speculation, later in your comment, may be correct. You seem to suggest that the group of marginal marriage partners is (1) comprised entirely of “deeply religious” people, and (2) extremely unlikely to choose not to marry irrespective of others’ marriage practices.

    No, I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying that the only people one could make any sort of plausible argument in terms of how this would affect their view of marriage – religious people – are not at the margin at all in this regard. They will continue to get married regardless of whether gays are allowed to get married or not, because they believe marriage is ordained and ordered by God himself. For some reason, they seem to have what I regard as a pathological need to distinguish themselves from gays, so once gay marriage becomes a reality, they’ll probably start calling it something else like “covenant marriage”. But it doesn’t change reality. If gays can get married, there simply is no rational reason to believe that straight people are going to stop getting married.

    And frankly, if what determines whether they want to get married is whether gays can marry, they have no business being married in the first place. How committed are they to being married, how seriously do they take the institution, if out of the thousand powerful reasons they could have for being married, the one thing that determines whether they do is whether people they disapprove of can get married?

    If you look again at the Galt post, you’ll see that you’re making essentially the same logical and compelling argument that welfare advocates made when opponents claimed that providing benefits to unwed mothers would result in more children born out of wedlock. While the argument is logical and compelling, it has turned out to be terribly wrong in the welfare case. You certainly can argue that welfare for unwed mothers is a poor analogy to the issue at hand, but I think Galt’s advice is sound: people ought to “try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes”.

    It’s not only a bad analogy, it’s a positively ridiculous analogy. The two situations have, quite literally, nothing to do with one another other than that one side said nothing bad would happen and the other side said it would. One could just as easily come up with dozens of situations where one side said something bad would result and it didn’t happen. It would be equally analogous. Now, you want a real analogy, look at the arguments offered against interracial marriage. They were identical in virtually every respect to the arguments against gay marriage (even down to the absurd claim, actually repeated in court rulings, that people of different races could not produce fertile offspring), including the argument that allowing different races to marry would “undermine” real marriage.

    This whole argument is completely devoid of substance. All it really means is “I just know something bad is gonna happen, I can feel it.”

  13. #13 Tree
    October 27, 2006

    “But there is another answer to the question of why radical religious groups are so homophobic: a loss of control. As Kerry Noble said, homosexuals have been scapegoats for a perceived systemic problem in society. When men have perceived their roles as diminished in a socioeconomic system that denies a sense of agency to individuals, either by being incompetent or overly competent-a faceless mechanical bureaucracy-this challenge has led to a defense of traditional roles. Because men have so frequently held the reins of public order as their gendered responsibility in society in the past, they have felt particularly vulnerable when the public world has fallen apart or has seemed beyond control. In this case, they have seen active women and gays not just as competition, but as symptoms of a world gone awry.

    This is a deeper fear, and there is not much that men can do about it. If the problem were just one of competition, they could hope to better themselves, and at least some would be able to succeed on an individual basis. If the problem is more systemic, then it is a matter of social disorder or worse: a sinister hand controlling and disrupting the world. This perception has led naturally to the satanization of enemies and to theories of cosmic war. It has also led naturally to a kind of tribal instinct that encourages members of such cultures of violence to band together and fight.

    The point I have been making is that the homophobic
    male-dominant language of right-wing religious movements indicates not only a crisis of sexuality but a clash of world views, not just a moral or psychological problem but a political and religious one. It is political in that it relates to the crisis of confidence in public institutions that is characteristic of postmodern societies in the post-Cold War world. It is religious in that it is linked with a perception of the loss of spiritual bearings that a more certain public order provided.”

    Why Guys Throw Bombs
    from Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, Third Edition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003

    “Whether any act (of sex or magic) is considered shameful depends on the status of those with whom it is typically associated in that society. If women are defined by a culture as submissive, and if one considers women inferior, then it becomes shameful for a person of socially superior status (a male) to submit sexually.

    As Williams puts it, “It may be accurate to suggest that the status of berdaches in a society is directly related to the status of women. In societies which ascribe low status to women, a male who would want to give up his dominant position would be seen as crazy. But where women have high status, there is no lowering of social role for a male to move in a feminine direction.” (p. 66)”

    http://www.seidh.org/articles/sex-status-seidh.html

    Tree: It’s not that allowing men to marry other men is so threatening. It’s men acting like =women= that makes reactionary heads spin. These authoritarian suck-ups gave up all hope of marrying Mommy to appease Daddy. Reject all that is feminine, and Daddy will think you are a good boy, with no designs on Mommy. (Ever notice how those polygamist cultists drive off the young male competition as soon as possible? Better to say that girls are icky, than to be exiled from home.) It’s a short, irrational jump from ‘girls are icky’ to ‘girls like boys’ to ‘boys who like boys are really girls’…you’ve heard this BS before? It’s not rocket science.

    In my opinion, if you want to address homophobia, you need to tackle misogny first. When a culture values women, it generally doesn’t make much of a fuss about male homosexuality.

    Tree, still waiting for the Lesbian Mafia Manual

  14. #14 Skemono
    October 27, 2006

    Now, you want a real analogy, look at the arguments offered against interracial marriage. They were identical in virtually every respect to the arguments against gay marriage (even down to the absurd claim, actually repeated in court rulings, that people of different races could not produce fertile offspring), including the argument that allowing different races to marry would “undermine” real marriage.

    I’d argue that some claims made against gay marriage weren’t made against interracial marriages, but Mr. Brayton’s point is valid.

    Interestingly, I think the claim that allowing different races to marry would allow for fewer “proper” marriages came not from white supremacists, but from black women worried that too many black men were marrying white women:

    In the future there aren’t going to be enough nice black men around for us [black women] to marry.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that national intermarriage will make it harder to get husbands. A girl has a hard time enough getting a husband, but methinks ’twill be worse.

    The white man is marrying the white woman…. The black man is marrying the white woman. [W]ho’s gonna marry me?

    All quotes taken from Interracial Intimacies, by Randall Kennedy.

  15. I did not understand the Dobson quote you ended with. If homosexuals are not monogamous, then gay marriage will not really happen (whether it is legal or not), right? The whole point of gays wanting to get married is if they have a monogamous relationship.

    If gays want to get married, that means they are monogamous, right? And people like him think monogamy is better than casual sex, right? So why does it make them so mad that gays want to be more like they think things should be anyhow?

  16. #16 Prup aka Jim Benton
    October 28, 2006

    One reason we fail to understand why Dobson and other Radical Christians are so opposed to gay marriage and why they see it as destroying ‘the traditional marriage’ is that we fail to understand what he means by ‘traditional marriage.’ As so often, we focus on what the Dobsons are against and fail to look at what they are for.

    A ‘traditional marriage, in the eyes of this sort of Christian, is not jus one ‘between a man and a woman’ but one in which the wife is subject to the husband, and the children are subject to the parents ‘as man is subject to God,’ one ruled by authority and discipline (frequently backed with physical force), one in which obedience is expected automatically, whether the obedient one agrees with the command or not. (Some of you should read Dobson’s THE NEW DARE TO DISCIPLINE and THE NEW STRONG-WILLED CHILD — in both cases ‘new’ refers to a new edition of a previously published work. These are a major part of his teaching and his income — to quote “dogemperor’ of Talk2Action “Over $25 million dollars of Focus on the Family’s income yearly is from royalties from Dr. Dobson’s “child-training” manuals, all of which are used to fund dominionism and printing of more of his books.”)

    Perhaps the best description of the type of family that this type of Christian considers proper comes not from Dobson but from another writer of Christian child-rearing books, Tedd Tripp, in SHEPHERDING A CHILD’S HEART. (Btw, for more on the topic, and for how obedience is to be enforced, you might check out my article in Salto Sobrius:
    http://saltosobrius.blogspot.com/2006/10/jim-benton-on-bible-based-baby-beating.html
    but warning, it takes a strong stomach.)
    According to Tripp:
    “You must provide examples of submission for your children. Dads can do this through biblical authority over their wives, and Moms through biblical submission to their husbands.” p. 142

    “Don’t waste time trying to sugarcoat submission to make it palatable. Obeying when you see the sense in it is not submission; it is agreement. Submission necessarily means doing what you do not wish to do. It is never easy or painless.” p. 145

    “Your children must understand that when you speak for the first time, you have spoken for the last time.” p. 151

    It is obvious, once you understand this, why radical Christians see gay marriage as a threat. Heterosexual marriages may not — thankfully — live up to this ideal, but it is at least possible that through prayer and teaching, they can be brought to understand the ‘proper’ roles of husband and wife, of parent.

    But a gay relationship cannot be, because there is no woman to be subject to the man, no possibility of the “God-desired” heirarchical structure. Even the question of ‘parent’ is not clear enough in such a structure.

    No wonder they have to fight gay marriage.

  17. #17 LoneStarLimey
    October 28, 2006

    I have a question

    Do conservatives have two issues here or only one issue?

    1) Same sex couples should not be allowed to call themselves married or get married in a ceremony (meaning, they should not allowed to participate in a religious ceremony in a church and should not be able to use the term ‘married’ when they refer to their union)
    2) Same sex couples should not be afforded the same protections (legal etc) that heterosexual couples are afforded under the “institution of marriage”

    My understanding is that “Dobsonian” conservatives consider this a single issue (they do not separate the two), “reasonable” conservatives see this as two separate issues – not wanting same sex couples to call themselves ‘married’ but believing they should be offered the same protections under the law as every other committed couple, but in an institution that has a different name than ‘marriage’.

    But, when this issue is discussed, what is the ‘prevailing’ opinion of conservatives?

  18. #18 kehrsam
    October 28, 2006

    The problem with the Jane Galt arguments is not the analogy — that fits as closely as you care to push it and no better — it is with her argument itself, of unintended consequences. I think Jane is one of the better (and more open-minded) folks arguing on the conservative-libertarian side of culture issues, but the support for her arguments is lacking.

    Let’s take her best-known argument, that liberal child welfare policies have had the unintended “consequence” of increasing the problems faced by dysfunctional inner-city families. She then proceeds to show a correlation of the two over time, coupled with a fairly simplistic economic model showing that dysfunctional behavior is “rational,” and thereby proving that the policies have caused the dysfunction. Poppycock.

    The world is more complicated than that, and in any case, she has the causation backward. Almost all family policy is a reaction to changes that have already happened, and generally 20-30 years behind the times. At the time of the Moynihan Report, the social welfare net paid much less compared to today, yet Moynihan identified the trends perfectly.

    So will homosexual marriage have results that have not yet been predicted? Almost certainly. So will heterosexual marriage. I just don’t see how that makes a solid public policy talking point.

    By the way, if my interpretation is correct and policy follows reality, the debate over gay marriage in 30 years will be identical to the “argument” today over no-fault divorce: There will be folks who don’t like it, but it will be generally accepted by society.

  19. #19 dev
    October 29, 2006

    My sympathies are with DuWayne, Prup and Tree on this one: It’s not about same-sex marriage “destroying marriage” in the sense of destroying people’s motivations to marry, it’s about same-sex marriage destroying the systems of control underlying the increased sense of internal cohesion associated with fundamentalist groups, a cohesion that provides benefits for their members, especially those favored in the internal hierarchy (most notably, male heads of households).

    (That such benefits of increased cohesion exist is made clear by the fact that fundamentalist groups are parasitized by “cheaters” who take advantage of intra-group trust and good feelings to exploit fellow group members without reciprocation; as anyone can tell you who’s had fundamentalist friends and/or family members, stereotypical “sleazy televangelists” are only the tip of the iceberg of this problem.)

    As I noted in a comment on a previous post (on the TMLC reaction to the NJ decision), my pet theory (following Pascal Boyer) is that fundamentalist animus against homosexuals is a defense against potential defectors from the fundamentalist ranks, be they homosexual or otherwise. (Any dissatisfied fundamentalist is a potential defector, of course, but homosexuals constitute a guaranteed supply of them.) As DuWayne put it, in James Dobson’s view “The more acceptable [homosexuality] seems the more likely it is that good, Christian children will be sucked into that lifestyle.” Here again we see the classic obsession with supposed homosexual “recruitment” and the “homosexual agenda”, which is consistent with the view that the primary underlying concern is about inducement to defect.

  20. #20 Ronaldo
    October 29, 2006

    I think this whole can of worms (maybe a six-pack of worms might be more appropriate) will not go away just because there are a few arguments about same-sex marriages. I see it as several issues, legal and moral, that have to be addressed before we can come up with a plan that resolves most of the problems. First, what causes “gayness”? Is it a choice, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a “gay” gene, or something else? If it is an inborn imbalance or a genetic thing, we cannot discriminate against it any more than we can for race, sex, or ethnic background. If it is a choice, then we owe them nothing more than any other member of society.

    Second can of worms: Marriage. Do these same sex couples want a church marriage? If so, I cannot imagine any truly Christian church marrying a same-sex couple (at least men) as the Bible states that the act of any man laying with a man as with a woman is an abomination. Not being a theologian, I’m not certain where on the sin scale abomination falls, but I doubt it is a good thing.

    Third can: Adoption. Should we allow same-sex couples to adopt children? I’ll reserve my views on that one, but I disagree with the idea of singles, even ones with lots of money, adopting children.

    Fourth can: Legal standing. Should an unmarried couple that is co-habiting be allowed the same considerations as a married couple when it comes to such things as property sharing, insurance, etc.? Should the sex of the parties involved be a consideration? If my employer creates a plan to cover the insurance of a co-habitee, rather than a spouse, could I have both a co-habitee and a spouse? Could I include several persons in a like fashion?

    Fifth can: Tolerance. Should society and its members embrace homosexuality as a valid sifestyle? That is an individual preference. I know many people, gay and straight, that have a real issue with embracing a Christian lifestyle. They think it is “intolerant” when I choose not to wiew certain programs and movies, or listen to certain music because I find it offensive. Fortunately, most of those I know personally, both gay and straight, realize that I do not “force my beliefs down their throats”, nor do I speak out against their specific causes. I won’t lie to them, but I don’t tirade, either. I have gay colleagues and friends that have no issue with my beliefs. I don’t put them down and they don’t flaunt it in front of me. They have good quailities, so we find that a mutual respect attitude seems to work for us. I will not tolerate, however, someone telling me I have to believe in a certain way.

    As you can see, this is not a single issue, no matter how you slice it.

  21. #21 Ed Brayton
    October 29, 2006

    Ronaldo wrote:

    First, what causes “gayness”? Is it a choice, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a “gay” gene, or something else? If it is an inborn imbalance or a genetic thing, we cannot discriminate against it any more than we can for race, sex, or ethnic background. If it is a choice, then we owe them nothing more than any other member of society.

    This is pretty much all nonsense. We have very good evidence for a genetic/biological link to violence (higher levels of testosterone correlate very strongly with violent tendencies); that doesn’t mean we can’t “discriminate” by making such violence illegal, even if it turns out that it’s entirely involuntary. And as far as choices go, we outlaw discrimination on the basis of religion, which we know has no biological basis at all and is entirely a matter of choice or will. So whether a given trait is inborn or a matter of choice is not a measure of how it should be treated as a matter of law.

    Second can of worms: Marriage. Do these same sex couples want a church marriage? If so, I cannot imagine any truly Christian church marrying a same-sex couple (at least men) as the Bible states that the act of any man laying with a man as with a woman is an abomination. Not being a theologian, I’m not certain where on the sin scale abomination falls, but I doubt it is a good thing.

    Some churches are fine with gay marriage, some are not. Whether that’s consistent with their theology is entirely up to them. Regardless, no church will ever be forced to perform such marriages in this country. So this is a non-issue.

    Third can: Adoption. Should we allow same-sex couples to adopt children? I’ll reserve my views on that one, but I disagree with the idea of singles, even ones with lots of money, adopting children.

    Every single child welfare group endorses allowing gays to adopt children. Dozens of studies have shown that the children of gay parents are no different from children of straight parents. And given that we have hundreds of thousands more kids waiting to be adopted than we have people to adopt them, it’s not just unwise but unconscionable to deny them loving homes on the basis of this completely irrelevant trait.

    Fourth can: Legal standing. Should an unmarried couple that is co-habiting be allowed the same considerations as a married couple when it comes to such things as property sharing, insurance, etc.? Should the sex of the parties involved be a consideration? If my employer creates a plan to cover the insurance of a co-habitee, rather than a spouse, could I have both a co-habitee and a spouse? Could I include several persons in a like fashion?

    What your employer chooses to do is entirely up to them, that has nothing to do with gay marriage. Same with private insurance companies.

    Fifth can: Tolerance. Should society and its members embrace homosexuality as a valid sifestyle? That is an individual preference.

    I could not care less, nor could most gay people, whether you or anyone else “embraces” homosexuality. That’s up to you. This is a question of legal equality and it has nothing to dowith your subjective feelings.

  22. #22 dev
    October 29, 2006

    In reply to Ronaldo:

    1. I trust the testimony of gays and lesbians that sexual orientation is mostly innate; however even if it weren’t it isn’t clear that that would matter from a public policy perspective. You could make a similar argument against favorable treatment of religious organizations (e.g., tax-exempt status): presumably those who belong to a church or other body do so as a matter of voluntary choice, so by your argument “we owe them nothing more than any other member of society”.

    2. Re church marriages of same-sex couples: Civil marriage and church marriage are two different things. Religions are perfectly free to define their own criteria for what constitutes a valid marriage according to a particular sect. (For example, they could require bride and groom to both be co-religionists, to both be members of a particular religious caste, and so on.) Same-sex couples who belong to a religion will have to reconcile their sexual orientation and behavior with their religious beliefs.

    3. Re adoption by same-sex couples: If same-sex couples could enter into civil marriage then by definition having done so they would no longer be singles, with “lots of money” or otherwise. One could envision legislatures requiring that prospective adopters be married couples (whether of different sexes or the same sex); that may or may not be a good idea from a public policy standpoint, but at least it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

    4. Re legal standing, again, if same-sex couples could enter into civil marriage then legislatures and/or employees would be perfectly free to deny certain benefits to unmarried couples (again, whether same-sex or otherwise) without engaging in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Indeed as I understand it this is exactly what some employers in Massachusetts have done: discontinued benefits for unmarried same-sex couples and required them to get married in order to receive benefits.

    5. Tolerance is not the same as approval. A person may have many things of which they disapprove: homosexuality, religious fundamentalism, gun ownership, “political correctness”, meat-eating, pornography, etc. Civil society does not require that such a person find any or all of such activities to be “valid”; people are perfectly free to express their disgust with anything their fellow citizens happen to do. Civil society requires only that people be free to engage in such activities absent some rational basis for prohibiting them.

    In many cases governments find rationales for supporting such activities (or at least regulating them as opposed to banning them). Thus, for example, governments establish hunting seasons (to the disgust of animal rights advocates), inspect and license slaughterhouses (to the disgust of vegans and vegetarians), provide tax-exempt status for churches (to the disgust of atheists), zone particular areas for adult book stores (to the disgust of anti-pornography activists), and so on. Likewise it would be perfectly possible for legislatures to establish civil marriage for same-sex couple without thereby implying that everyone is expect to approve of the concept. People would continue to be perfectly free to be disgusted by the very thought.

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