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Virginia's Other Election Result

On the road again, so posting just a brief item for your contemplation:

Last week Virginians amended their Bill of Rights to ban gay marriage or civil unions. By email I received this reaction to the vote from Michael Thorne-Begland, who was featured in a Post story last year on gay men using egg donors and gestational surrogates to have children:

"The law of the commonwealth has not changed with the passage of the amendment. The state does not recognize same sex marriages performed in or out of the state. (My partner and I were married 7 years ago in an Episcpol church here in Richmond. A sacred and pretty spectacular service -- to be immodest -- sans the 1,500 or so rights that come with a straight marriage.) Nor does the state recognize civil unions or anything close. So the law of the land has not changed per se.

"But what troubles me, is the message that the amendment sends and the protection it now provides to bigots in the commonwealth. Now, to the extent that a hospital administrator decides they are going to deny me
access to my partner should he be injured or incapacitated, should an insurer decide that they won't provide coverage, should an employer decide they can not now provide domestic partnership benefits, should a disgruntled
relative challenge my right to the property that my partner and I own together - the bill of rights of the constitution of Virginia will be the foundation upon which they deny me, my partner and our children, what are basic human, civic rights. The constitution now supports the denial of these rights, not because we aren't married, but because we have attempted to do everything we can to protect the life and family that we have built in a state that doesn't recognize our family."

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 13, 2006; 12:31 PM ET
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I'll never understand how our commonwealth actually used the Bill of Rights to DENY rights to people.

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The amendment also bans hetero nonmarriage unions, doesn't it?

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, TBG. It does.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 13, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks for the heads-up.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 13, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I will be interested to hear what Ivansmom and SonofCarl have to say about the legality of the amendment. Didn't someone say last week that it could be overturned at the federal level?

Posted by: slyness | November 13, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, it's the restrictions on unmarried straight couples that will be the thin edge of the wedge for this issue. One of the big arguments for domestic partner benefits for gay couples, but not straight couples, is that straight couples CAN get married and have all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereunto.

We need to return to the common-law concept that your spouse is whoever you say it is. Marriage is not a religious institution, it is an economic one. It is meant to protect the income and property of two people that have a common interest.

I've been in favor of gay marriage for a long time because why should straight two-income couples be the only people that pay higher taxes.

/remove tongue from cheek.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

This is one of those issues that I really find hard to get my brain around. Weingarten has posted a couple of letters at his chat suggesting that there is a legitimate theological issue here, yet I honestly don't see the threat to me or my family in letting anybody who wants to get hitched do so.

If anything, it seems to me, that a greater threat to marriage are those highly-visible disposable celebrity unions I've heard tell about.

And, given the many legitimate problems out there, all the energy being spent fighting this alleged threat seems misplaced.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 13, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe it is a civic or government decision, but a religious one, under the guise of the above. I believe in a lot of the Southern states, and perhaps others, one will find that the thinking is, if legalized, such unions will become opposite of what Scriptures declare them to be. It will give them stamp of approval?

My thinking is that, we have to love the sinner, not the sin. Biblical teachings contradict such marriages. I believe most people perhaps don't have a problem with such unions, it's just standing before man and God, and invoking God in such unions, when the Scriptures is plainly against such unions.

This is a touchy subject, and people have strong feelings about this. We know that gay people exist, and have for centuries. We have love ones that are gay. We cannot profess to be God fearing and Christian people, and treat our relations inhuman, no matter their sexual orientation. I just try real hard to treat people like they're human, and let God take care of the rest. I am not fit to judge, only God can do that. All I'm call to do is love you.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 13, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Well said Cassandra.

In Joel-spotting news, Wonkette has a picture of Barbara Bush (the young not gray one) tailgating heavily at the Princeton-Yale game.

Joel, we request, no demand, a full report on all Bush twin hijinks that may have occurred.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

My concern is that the wording (which I haven't seen) may be illegal under the constitution (Article IV)

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

-- What THIS means is that civil unions and common-law marriage enacted in other states and recognized as valid in those states shouldn't be considered null and void the minute anybody goes into Virginia or any other state.

The legal contract is binding even if not permissible under the laws of Virginia as long as they have been recognized in a state where that is valid.

That means if you got married at age 14 in Utah (where it's legal), your spouse shouldn't be held for statuatory rape the minute you go into another state. That Utah has such laws is an issue for Congress and state politics, not Virginian politics.

This whole point is why Utah HAD to outlaw polygamy to be admitted to the Union.

I may be confused on the legalities of this, but generally if it's legal where you live, you don't become a criminal the minute you step in a new state.

We extend the same courtesy to foreign diplomats who may have a couple of wives even though bigamy is illegal in all 50 states. We simply prohibit them from entering into a new marriage contract here.

I look forward to a constitutional challenge of this law pretty quickly.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

//Weingarten has posted a couple of letters at his chat suggesting that there is a legitimate theological issue //
Who cares? Marriage is a civil contract. Ever notice that right after the vows the victims retire from the Holy of Holies to sign a piece of paper? That is the marriage the state recognizes. Otherwise you'd have to go to church to get divorced.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Pat, the sky report is on the Mar's kit. I don't know how to put the comment on this kit. I don't know anything about computers. Someone has put a porn site on my computer, and I just discovered it. I don't do porn. I looked at the favorites thingy at the top, and oh my, I don't know how it got there. I didn't put it there. Maybe there is someone watching what I do? I tried to clean it up, I don't know if I did or not.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 13, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

And the bible mentions polygamy and slavery. Does that mean we need to enact laws permitting such?

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I know, we should make men work 7 years before they can marry, just like Jacob did for Rachel and Leah.

That'll go over really well. Back to the classic moral values, no more getting married on a whim anymore.
And fathers get the final say on whether their daughters marry too.

How different will Virginia be from Afghanistan, then?

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I am going to go way, way out on a limb here and guess that no one has any interest whatsoever in considering that there may actually be two sides to this argument. How much more fun instead to ridicule!

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

And for something completely different:

Scroll down for doggies in costumes:

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

It can be both civil and religious. Sometimes you do have to go to church to be divorced. Sometimes, a la Latka, you have to turn around three times while saying I divorce you. That's what's unique about the topic. Sort of a S. Dali take on a Venn diagram.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 13, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I have never felt any particular prejudice against gays. I will admit that when our Supreme Judicial Court legalized gay marriage 1 1/2 years ago, I had a hard time getting my head around the word "marriage" being associated with their unions. However, as time has gone by, and MA didn't suffer destruction by fire, pestilence and famine, I have gotten used to the whole idea and now don't understand what all the fuss is about. To me, it comes down to their constitutional right not to be discriminated against. We just had a constitutional convention here last Friday at which the legislature put off any vote to put the question of gay marriage on the ballot in 2008. They have one more chance on Jan. 2nd to vote on it and I hope it fails to pass. I don't believe this is something that should be put to a vote. It's a matter of freedom of choice. The radio ads that have been run here opposing gay marriage remind me of all the Republican fear mongering that was done against the Democrats. And, in my opinion, all the fuss about gays boils down to fear.

As a person who is "living in sin," I'm glad I don't live in Virginia. We may decide to marry at some point but it won't be until my alimony runs out (I am going to get every last penny I can, I earned it). I forget precisely what I read about the history of marriage, but wasn't it more a tool for property rights than some sort of "holy" thing until recently?

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | November 13, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I don't do porn either, but I will go back and do your sky report.

Then I must go to the gym and break a sweat, or I'll get depressed.

Posted by: Pat | November 13, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I have discussed this topic at length and have determined that we don't feel our own personal marriage is threatened or harmed by same-sex marriage. So we're for it. However, since we chose to not have children, there are those who would challenge the legitimacy of our union.

From the numbers, it seems like we at least live in the most gay-friendly locality in the state (Arlington), where ~74% of us voted "no" to amending the constitution to deny civil rights to people.

It was nice to see everyone on Friday at the BPH --- you have no idea how much I needed that diversion! Likewise, the PixelCats had hours of fun decrypting WilbrodDog's secret messages on my jeans ;-)

Posted by: Pixel | November 13, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Boko999 - I agree with you. My point is just that there clearly exist some people who feel that the situation is more complex than that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 13, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

annie, I didn't see any ridicule. If there is an argument to be made, make it.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The Bible tells us every sin man has committed, and then some. What may I ask, has the Most Holy God not seen when it comes to man? What sin did Christ not die for?

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 13, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Annie, Virginia had miscegnation laws until 1967. You may enjoy reading this.

Loving v. Virginia:

There are only two sides to this. Now, you can disagree with gay marriage and all, that's fine. But I don't think this VA law is going to fly very well.

We've had this issue in the past. The constitution was partly written to ensure that slaveowners could take their slaves to a free state and not risk their slaves declaring they are now free, bye-bye. Nor does it mean you can simply skip to another state to get out of a legal contract.

John Locke believed no church should use compulsive force, since its main concern is to be "a voluntary society" aiming at salvation of souls.

At most a specific church may discipline its own members with admonition or even expulsion from a congregation, but no church authority should touch the "civil interests" of such persons.

No church can claim jurisdiction of those not willingly members, and churches must practice "mutual toleration" of each other, not seeking to use the state to become the monopoly religion.

And Locke said: "Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like."

Civil marriage law deals with the inheritance, disposal of property, and yes, health concerns of people.

You may disagree with Locke, but his views influenced how we wrote our constitution to separate church and state.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt- Please remember that mentioning a story about a "heavily tailgating" Barbara Bush followed by link with "triplefisting" in it may cause a cardiac incident among the less sturdy of us.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I take your point, annie, that there may be two sides to the question, and I would invite you to present that second view. But I'd probably agree that most of us on the boodle wouldn't take said point of view too seriously if your argument depending, in whole or in part on the resort to religious authority, i.e., "the Bible says that..." The usual non-relgious argument is that somehow or other "marriage" (hetero) needs to be protected in some way. The questions in my mind would be "why?" and secondarily, "how?" Also, to my mind I think the "burden of proof" belongs on the side that needs to show how society would be damaged by allowing gay marriage, not on the other side to show why it should be allowed.

But I'd be interested in hearing your point of view on it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

A friend of mine in Virginia sent this to me ages ago -- I think it's quite apt for this discussion. You think?

Subject: Draft of a Constitutional Amendment to Defend Biblical
> > Marriage
> >
> > As certain politicians work diligently to prevent marriage between
> > two people of the same sex, others of us have been busy drafting a
> > Constitutional Amendment codifying all marriages entirely on
> > Biblical
> > principles. After all, God wouldn't want us to "pick and choose"
> > which of the Scriptures we elevate to civil law and which we
> > choose
> > to ignore:
> > Draft of a Constitutional Amendment to Defend Biblical
> > Marriage: * Marriage in the United States of America shall consist
> > of
> > a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II
> > Sam
> > 3:2-5.) * Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take
> > concubines
> > in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II
> > Chron 11:21) * A marriage shall be considered valid only if the
> > wife
> > is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed.
> > (Deut 22:13-21) * Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall
> > be
> > forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30, 2Cor 6:14)
> > *
> > Since marriage is for life, neither the US Constitution nor any
> > state
> > law shall permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9-12) * If a
> > married
> > man dies without children, his brother must marry the widow. If
> > the
> > brother refuses to marry the widow, or deliberately does not give
> > her
> > children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise
> > punished
> > in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
> > *
> > In lieu of marriage (if there are no acceptable men to be found),
> > a
> > woman shall get her father drunk and have sex with him. (Gen
> > 19:31-36) I hope this helps to clarify the finer details of the
> > Government's righteous struggle against the infidels and heathens
> > among us.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 13, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Out here in Colorado there has, obviously, been a major focus on Ted Haggard. I believe what happened to him heightens the theory that genetics play a major role in one's sexual orientation. He is the ultimate example of someone who tried everything he could to be heterosexual and failed spectacularly.

Posted by: Random Commenter | November 13, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse


I resent you making those sort of allegations, particularly to this group. If you notice, I complimented Cassandra on the elegance of her argument even though I don't agree with it. The gay marriage issue is a bit of red herring since I think the percentage of gay or lesbians that want to get married is smaller than that of the general population. The real issue is equal rights, not special privileges. Twenty years ago, when I had a gay college roommate, gay marriage wasn't on the radar screen. Just keeping your job if accidentally outed was an issue.

Maryland still hasn't codified sexual orientation as non-bias employment issue. You can't ask a prospective employeee if they are married, but you can ask them if they are gay, and not hire them because of it.

Conventional wisdom on this issue is evolving faster than perhaps any other civil rights issue ever. In a generation we will look at anti-gay marriage laws the same way we now view miscegenation statutes.

I respect the views of people that oppose gay marriage because it is easily viewed as an assault on traditional marriage and sexual morality. While I understand that position, and in someways agree with it, I look at allowing gay marriage/civil-union/whatever as the logical extension of the acceptance that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

In today's age where premarital cohabitation has become the norm in all but the most conservative communities, it's quaint that people fight for the right to get married. It's also shocking the abuses heaped on people when they have no legal ability to help or care for their loved ones.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Yoki: From the majority opinion of New York's highest court (oh bluest of blue states) which reads in relevant part:

"We conclude, however, that there are at least two grounds that rationally support the limitation on marriage that the Legislature has enacted. . . .

"First, the Legislature could rationally decide that, for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships. Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not. Despite the advances of science, it remains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, and the Legislature could find that this will continue to be true. The Legislature could also find that such relationships are all too often casual or temporary. It could find that an important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. It thus could choose to offer an inducement -- in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits -- to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other.

"The Legislature could find that this rationale for marriage does not apply with comparable force to same-sex couples. These couples can become parents by adoption, or by artificial insemination or other technological marvels, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse. . . This is one reason why the Legislature could rationally offer the benefits of marriage to opposite-sex couples only.

"There is a second reason: The Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father. Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like. It is obvious that there are exceptions to this general rule -- some children who never know their fathers, or their mothers, do far better than some who grow up with parents of both sexes -- but the Legislature could find that the general rule will usually hold.

"Plaintiffs, and amici supporting them, argue that the proposition asserted is simply untrue: that a home with two parents of different sexes has no advantage, from the point of view of raising children, over a home with two parents of the same sex. Perhaps they are right, but the Legislature could rationally think otherwise.

"To support their argument, plaintiffs and amici supporting them refer to social science literature reporting studies of same-sex parents and their children. Some opponents of same-sex marriage criticize these studies, but we need not consider the criticism, for the studies on their face do not establish beyond doubt that children fare equally well in same- sex and opposite-sex households. What they show, at most, is that rather limited observation has detected no marked differences. More definitive results could hardly be expected, for until recently few children have been raised in same-sex households, and there has not been enough time to study the long- term results of such child-rearing.

"Plaintiffs seem to assume that they have demonstrated the irrationality of the view that opposite-sex marriages offer advantages to children by showing there is no scientific evidence to support it. Even assuming no such evidence exists, this reasoning is flawed. In the absence of conclusive scientific evidence, the Legislature could rationally proceed on the common- sense premise that children will do best with a mother and father in the home. (See Goodridge, 798 NE2d at 979-980 [Sosman, J., dissenting].) And a legislature proceeding on that premise could rationally decide to offer a special inducement, the legal recognition of marriage, to encourage the formation of opposite- sex households. . ."

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

My concern is that the constitutional rights would be damaged by dissent among the states as to this. Virginia's law is simply unconstitutional, even if I would applaud it.

If we passed a law recognizing that nobody under 18 can be legally married in the State of virginia and refusing to recognize unions committed when the person was under 18 in other states where that is legal-- FOREVER... that would get a burst of applause, heck I'd be tempted to vote for it myself, but hold on. Let's visualize a situation where a married 17 year-old is travelling through VA and gets injured, is pregnant, and the doctors need crucial information now.

The spouse cannot go to the hospital nor act as next of kin, and so on, the health insurance is refused and all, because of the law. This is an legal nightmare that would take lots of lawyers to fix, but it has to be done NOW so medical treatments and decisions can be authorized to save both lives.

And then think that 4 miles away in Maryland, things would have gone just fine, as normal and everything gets done as usual for a married couple.

Now, how can we say we are in the UNITED STATES of America when such inequality in civil rights exist?

Of course, if all states banned gay unions, there would be no issue. But there is, and there is a good reason why many consider gay unions to be a valid need.

Unless that is fully addressed, I don't think any state has rights putting its laws above the constitutional rights of all american citizens to enter into legal contracts concerning property, households, sharing their lives and so on.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm not either gay or raising children, so I have no real comment to make about marriage as an institution for raising children only.

However I do know of women who married men and had children with them, only to find out their spouses actually WANT to be women. They undergo gender reassignation surgery, get their names and gender identities legally changed. Now, the woman may choose to file for divorce.

Should the marriage now be considered null and void because the man is now a "woman", and the woman lose all alimony and other rights arising out of a normal divorce?

There's just too many ways such a law could be abused to deprive innocent people who are not even gay of their civil rights, and that includes the family of gay people.

Disabled people also have had to contend with laws that deprived them of the right to have children, to raise them, for me to really agree with any restrictions on marriage that is not clearly worded or has not undergone a strict constitutional scrutiny.

Common sense is not enough and it is often wrong.

I can hear "it's common sense she can't have kids, how can she hear babies crying, run to help a kid that has skinned a knee" right now in my head. So can Pat, who worries about the state taking his kids away.

There needs to be alternative legal arrangements. This VA law would prohibit civil unions or any kind of legal arrangement to protect a family that happens to have a same-sex relationship in it. That's wrong.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Ohio passed a constitutional ammendment last year to ban gay marriage -- and while at it trampled the rights of unmarried hetero couples like me and Mrs. Martooni.

Assinine barely comes close to describing this invented issue that is solely intended to force one group's sense of morality on another, with absolute disregard for equality under the law.

You know, it used to be that blacks and whites couldn't marry. Would we stand for that kind of bigotry on the law books today?

And whatever happened to separation of church and state anyway?

Marriage is a RELIGIOUS institution.

Civil unions are NOT.

What's the difference between a civil union and a business partnership? The only one I can think of is that people in a civil union kiss each other on the mouth and make love, while those in business parterships just screw each other.

Sure, Mrs. Martooni and I *could* get married. But why should we have to if we don't want to? We've both been married before and both of us ended up in divorce court. We've been "living in sin" together longer than both of our ex-marriages combined. We have a child together. We own a home together. Yet if one of us ends up in the hospital -- as the anecdote in Joel's kit posits -- a hospital administrator with a disdain for unwed couples could easily prevent the other from visiting or having any say in treatment.

To me, these ammendments are nothing more than legalized bigotry designed by small-minded politicians to get small-minded voters out to the polls.

Posted by: martooni | November 13, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

And how do we meet the question of those people who are born hermaphroidites?

Shall they be considered unable to marry because they are neither man or woman?

And what about androgen insensitivity disorders? Those XY-chromosomal men look very female and generally identify as completely heterosexual female.

However research with stallion-headed mares who act like stallions do indicate that there is a possibility that some may well look and think like men in a woman's body-- "butch lesbians" who may well have testicles instead of ovaries, but look completely female.

Common sense would say such a lesbian couple involving an XY female are two women and can't marry. Medical examination would prove them wrong.

A psychosocial examination would make the picture much less clear about male vs femaleness of the people involved.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Martooni's point answers it well. Those laws always have unintended consequences.

But I just get bothered by any legal definitions of men and women.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

In reading the citation from the NY Supreme Court, it seems that it is written based not on research or law but on intuition and supposition.

How anyone can really think that a child is better reared by two opposite-sex parents who happened to make a baby "as a result of accident or impulse" and who perhaps don't really want to be married than by two same-sex parents who have to actually work to create or adopt a baby is beyond me.

Marriage has nothing to do with children and arguments against gay marriage should leave children and child-rearing out of it. If the legislature believes that it's better for children to be raised seeing a mother and father every day, they would do better to outlaw divorce than to outlaw gay marriage.

I think it's shameful that people with so-called family values will work so hard to keep others from enjoying those same values.

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wiki-- not perfect, but a good overview of androgen insensitivity syndrome.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Thank you TBG. You've just saved me a bunch of typing to say the same things.

Wilbrod, I think you are throwing a bunch of herrings into the pot. Hard enough to deal with the issues at hand without bringing in every else that could ever possibly be affected by the law. I take this is a sympton of your strong feelings on the issue of a) same-sex marriage and b) restricting the rights of unmarried couples.

Annie, if you look critically at the NY judgment, there is absolutely no evidence to support the "common-sense premise" that children are the crux of the matter. Just because that judge or panel of judges *believes* the ability to accidentally conceive is somehow superior for children and society than the requirement to carefully think and work at building a family with children, is just as poor an argument than the one they cite against same-sex marriage. No evidence!

Fundamentally, when the talk is of the notional welfare of notional children, why should same-sex couples be any different than any other role of the couples-dice? It must come down to the deeply held belief by some people that gay sex is just plain wrong, sick, unnatural. And we know, rationally, that that isn't be true.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I think the "good of the children" argument is a stop-gap whistling past the graveyard secularization of the religious argument.

People today do not marry expressly to start families with children, unless the repeal of reproductive rights is part and parcel of the marriage protection issue, and for some people it is.

In Florida, the "must think of the kids" logic is currently preventing willing same-sex couples from adopting children that are currently in foster homes. I don't think you can argue that a foster home is preferential to ANY properly vetted permanent adoptive situation.

We may not have a lot of long-term studies of same-sex families, but we have generations of single parent data, good and bad. Again, a two parent family can't possible, on average, be worse. Family structures today are astoundingly fluid and flexible, and while we may want a return to Cleaver-ish "tradition" (which arguably only existed for a generation or two), it isn't going to restabilize anytime soon, even among the straight population.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Most of the Canadian discussion on this topic is specific to Canada and the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms], so I am reluctant to go down this road, given the notorious sleep inducing properties of Canadian constitutional studies.

In defence of annie, I think there is one reasonable conservative argument that doesn't involve fire and/or brimstone. The very short version is all the arguments in favour of gay marriage (which come down to live and let live) can also be made in favour of polygamy. Allowing one without the other is a logical sham that comes down to not believing that a woman can truly "consent" to such an arrangement.

To my mind (and this might appear a technicality), this argument has enough merit that where gay marriage is allowed, it should be a statutory creation (civil marriage), not a right recognized by a court. I was glad to see that our Supreme Court (which had been making decisions going towards this point for years) came close but did not quite step over that line. What they did say was that the old common law (judge-made) rule of marriage being a man-woman union should be changed. They left open (by a tiny margin by not specifically addressing it) the possible constitutionaliy of a
statutory law mandating man-woman marriage.

Anyway, here's the text of the new Civil Marriage Act.

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 13, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Or from the Court of Appeals of California, another true-blue state:

In the Court of Appeal of the State of California
First Appellate District
Division Three

"The legal issue presented in these appeals is straightforward. Did the trial court err when it concluded Family Code statutes defining civil marriage as the union between a man and a woman are unconstitutional? Appellants assert legal error; responded reiterate their arguments that excluding same-sex couples from marriage violates due process and equal protection and is not supported by a compelling state interest. Our dissenting colleague advances theories and arguments not made by the parties or relied on by the trial court and concludes a constitutionally protected privacy interest compels expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

"California has long sought to eliminate discrimination against gays and lesbians. Our Legislature has passed landmark legislation providing substantially all the rights, responsibilities, benefits, and protections of marriage to same-sex couples who register as domestic partners. We must now decide whether the state's definition of marriage, which historically has precluded same-sex partners from marrying, is constitutional. Obviously, the question is one of great significance, and it requires us to venture into the storm of a fierce national debate. Both sides believe passionately in their positions. One side argues the time has come for lesbian and gay relationships to enjoy full social equality, and it is fundamentally unfair for the state to continue to reserve marriage as an institution for heterosexual couples only. The other side stresses the need for judicial restraint and the importance of preserving the traditional understanding of marriage - which is very important to many Californians, who fear such a fundamental change will destroy or seriously weaken the institution at the heart of family life.

"While we have considered all arguments raised on both sides of the issue, our task as an appellate court is not to decide who has the most compelling vision of what marriage is, or what it should be. We are called upon the decide only whether the statutory definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman - which has existed, explicitly or implicitly, since the founding of our state - is unconstitutional because it does not permit gays and lesbians to marry persons of their choice.

"All can agree that California has not deprived is gay and lesbian citizens of a right they previously enjoyed; same-sex couples have never before had the right to enter a civil marriage. It is also beyond dispute that our society has historically understood "marriage" to refer to the union of a man and a woman. These facts do not mean the opposite-sex nature of marriage can never change, or should never change, but they do limit our ability as a court to effect such change. The respondents in these appeals are asking the court to recognize a new right. Courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental an institution as marriage. . . .

"The dissent delivers what is essentially an impassioned policy lecture on why marriage should be extended to same-sex couples. Lacking controlling precedent, it misconstrues case law and mischaracterizes the parties' claims and our analysis to reach this result. But the court's role is not to define social policy; it is only to decide legal issues based on precedent and the appellate record. The six cases before us ultimately distill to the question of who gets to define marriage in a democratic society. We believe this power rests in the people and their elected representatives, and courts may not appropriate to themselves the power to change to definition of such a basic social institution. Our dissenting colleague's views, while well intentioned, disregard this delicate balance. Moreover, his unfortunate rhetoric suggesting our opinion is an exercise in discrimination rather than a legitimate attempt to follow the law does nothing to advance the serious subject matter of these appeals.

"We conclude California's historical definition of marriage does not deprive individuals of a vested fundamental right or discriminate against a suspect class, and thus we analyze the marriage statutes to determine whether the opposite-sex requirement is rationally related to a legitimate government interest. According the Legislature the extreme deference that rational basis review requires, we conclude that the marriage statutes are constitutional. The time may come when California chooses to expand the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex unions. That change must come from democratic process, however, not by judicial fiat."

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Unintended consequences pop up at the weirdest times. I'm not married (too many reasons to go into). When my 3 year old was born (in MD), I was 'asked' to allow paternity testing even though SO signed that he was the father (especially funny if you just looked at the two of them). I asked if paternity testing was standard in all cases, or just unmarried ones. I think my less-than-congenial tone kept them from pursuing it.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 13, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I have an open question to which I have been searching for a reasonable answer. This appears in almost every argument against granting rights to same-sex marriage, and is here from the California judgment cited by annie, "who fear such a fundamental change will destroy or seriously weaken the institution at the heart of family life"

I have never had it explained to me in what way extending marriage to same-sex couples threatens or weakens marriage as it is defined in the law under consideration.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Martooni -- you are sooo right! I loved your analogy between marriage and business. Still yukking. Thanks for a wonderful moment on an overcast, drizzly Monday.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | November 13, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

The argument that same-sex unions should be legislatively allowed rather than imposed by judiicial fiat is compelling. However, politicians have a long history of forcing issues on the judicial branch as cover. It's craven and cowardly, but typical.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, I've never heard a good explanation of that either. And on the topic of polygamy, who among us wouldn't *love* to go home to June Cleaver or Donna Reed? Sign me up!

Posted by: Pixel | November 13, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

OK, fair points for debate, annie. To summarize, the NY court holds two "possible" or "reasonable" notions, both having to do not with the union itself but with the related issue of children. The first premise is that the rationale for marriage exists as the primary means for having and rearing biological children. Since, by definition, a gay couple can't have biological children (a lesbian couple would need a sperm from a third party), childbrearing is therefore impossible; hence there is no need for the marriage in the first place.

The logic here is impeccable, legally and otherwise, but of course it requirtes the absolute linkage between marriage and childbearing (note: not child-rearing, but childbearing). Everything else derives from that. And the court is not saying it agrees with the premise; it is saying only that it is quite possible the legislature might "reasonably" view things that way.

Of course, Weingarten and others have gone ballistic over the linkage between marriage and children, and I agree with them. But if the NY court's logic is impeccable, it also has other consequences. If you DO hold that marriage exists ONLY as a means to promote childbearing, then it stands to reason an infertile (heterosexual) person should not be allowed to marry, on the same grounds. So if you've had a hysterectomy, you shouldn't be allowed to marry,, since yopu can't produce children. By extension, one assumes that 70-year-old people in nursing homes shouldn't be allowed to marry, etc. And the list of other kinds of marriage that "should" be prohibited for the same childbearing reason grows and grows.

The court's second reason basically says, OK, let's acknowledge that there's other ways to have kids besides "pure" biology: in vitro fertilization, donors, adoption, etc. This being so, there's no proof that a homosexual couple can do as good a job as a heterosexual couple in raising said kid. Once again, I don't think the court is saying this; the court seems to be saying that the NY legislature might "reasonably" adopt such an opnion, and can then enforce it through legislation (in this case, NOT permitting said marriage).

And of course the debate then moves into the whole area of whether the premise is true that a G/L couple can't do as good a job as a hetero couple. And then you've got other people (like me) who say, "Wait a minute," if childrearing PERFORMANCE is the question, what about prohibiting people from having children simply because we think/know they'll make lousy parents?

The whole thing is just an awful mess, and it is so because it mixes religious ideas with social ideas, and then tries to insert them into legal and governmental regulations: that's just a recipe for trouble no matter what the subject matter: sex education, pledge of allegiance, creationism, whatever. It's a bad mix.

Personally, I agree with whoever it was who said that the whole question is in a state of flux, and that 40 years from now we'll (well, you younger whippersnappers) will look back on this debate and laugh about how archaic it was. I'd view it as being similar to the civil rights debates of the early 1960s; we howl nowadays about some of the outlandish ideas that were seriously floating around back then about blacks and whites being "allowed" to marry, and what awful things that would do to childrearing (can you imagine? babies who are half white and half black!!!). And of course a VERY great deal of that debate was religiously based, too. So part of me says, yeah, yeah, this too shall pass, and in 20 years it'll all be OK.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Me neither, Yoki. I can see why allowing in some states and banning in other states WOULD weaken the union of the United States of America. That's the only legal point I can see.

Yeah, a lot of herrings-- but that's how I feel about this issue.

1) There are some people out there who yes, can have their gender identity called in question.
2) I already think it is criminal how health insurance coverage is already allowed to be restricted to an arbitrary definition of family. This is a major concern in America since we don't have universal health coverage and employers pay for health insurance.

An employer who generously decided to cover same-sex or unmarried couples in a state that does not require this could be hit by higher premimums based on "oh, gay and unmarried people are at higher risk of AIDS and so on."

Therefore such an decision DOES impact more than the people directly involved. Those people need protection of their civil rights because of discrimination, not legalized discrimination.

What's next? "Oh, your wife has a male-sounding name, you sure you're married to a woman? Health insurance denied."

Don't kid me. I know those guys, they'll make all paperwork errors that fall to their advantage and take forever to fix the mistakes.

When I was working, I could only get health insurance for myself, period, because I have no family relatives that fall within the umbrella of "permissible relations." And I am from a large family.

So basically, there are a lot of people who WILL use such laws to weasel out and emend contractual obligations. That is a bigger threat to the fabric of society as I see it, not gay marriage.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

>yet I honestly don't see the threat to me or my family in letting anybody who wants to get hitched do so

I think I finally figured out how it harms marriages: All the gay in-the-closet speed-freak Rebublican "real America" Ted Haggard types might run off with their escort for a quickie divorce/remarriage in Reno if it's legal, thus breaking up the marriage. And then the kids convert!


Posted by: Error Flynn | November 13, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse


That argument from California only states that the courts have no right to change the law, only the legislature can do that. And that technically, the right of gays to marry hasn't been taken away because it was never granted in the first place.

I see nothing in that decision to argue for or against gay marriage on anything but a technical basis.

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Holy cow! Did you see that?! Hello Error Flynn!

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see you back, Error Flynn! Yeah, that IS the danger!

"Respectably married Baptist Preacher wants job." Interview, and he's in. Then...

"Uh, you didn't say that you were married to a MAN."

"He's cute in an apron, no?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Can you imagine if you substituted "voting by minorities" for "same-sex marriage" in the California judgment? Well, slaves didn't have the right to vote, so by not granting them the legislative power to do so, we're not really discriminating against them, we're just not adding something that they don't have anyway."

Or "women have not been considered 'persons' under the law up until now, so it's not a problem is we don't change the definition.

Give me a break!

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Whether or not children are better off in a home with two parents of the opposite sex, gay couples have children now. Not allowing some type of legal protection for the couple's relationship actually results in less stability for those children.

Posted by: OK | November 13, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that the entire institution of marriage be abolished as a legally-recognized nicety, and be replaced by civil union and civil union only, without sexual litmus-testing. Marriage would thenceforth be the province of religious institutions only, to be applied or withheld at the discretion of the religious community, and having no legal force whatsoever. It would purely be a big party to make your parents happy. Thus, you can get a civil union if you want to legally join with each other. And, you could also have a marriage ceremony if you want to make a big deal out of it. But you don't have to have both. You could also have a religious or social marriage between persons whose union is unrecognized by the state -- this might be the case in the Martooni household.

Advantages: logically, socially, consistent. Everyone's civil rights are respected. Gets government out of religion's business, and vice-versa.

Disadvantage: complete upheaval of existing concepts of marriage as a legally sanctioned union. Persons who are married but not civilly-unionized have no special rights or privileges with respect to each other. Nonunionized partners have no more right to make decisions on medical care than any other random dope off the street.

Posted by: Tim | November 13, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Hello All! Just wandered by and had to comment, because this has been confusing me for quite some time. Until Haggard, then it all made sense. We just believe all that BS about those folks being all square heteros.

Of course since NJ is now on the path to civil unions or *something* I'm trying to figure out what I do if I get hired for a wedding video and can't figure out which one is the bride...

Posted by: Error Flynn | November 13, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with polygamy or polyandry? Sane adults should be able to enter into any arrangement they want unless the state has an over riding and sane, non-religious interest.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

annie, the California ruling wasn't on the merits of the case; it was on the right of the legislature to make the rules.

Generally, on the boodle we're more interested in the merits of the case, not legal standing.

("But the court's role is not to define social policy; it is only to decide legal issues based on precedent and the appellate record. The six cases before us ultimately distill to the question of who gets to define marriage in a democratic society. We believe this power rests in the people and their elected representatives, and courts may not ..."

and later: "The time may come when California chooses to expand the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex unions. That change must come from democratic process, however, not by judicial fiat."

They're saying, "hey, go ahead and sanction gay marriage if you want to. Just don't make us do it; it ain't our job."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Plenty, Boko.

It's an unequal contract and the co-spouses of the person involved have no actual binding legal contract with each other, which can cause considerable problems.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Error, keep wandering in, OK? You've been missed.

The married same-sex couples I know refer to each other as either husbands or wives; my husband and my husband, and my wife and my wife. Very cool. No semantic torture.
I think you'd do fine photographing such a wedding (look for the ones with the biggest smiles on their faces).

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see you Error, enjoying reading the comments on this topic, but I have to go pick up my daughter from school so can't add anything.

Suffice to say, we have gay marriage here, common law relationships are considered marriage in terms of tax law after (I think) 1 or two years, if there is a child it is automatic if you live together.

The world still spins on its axis. None of it affects my marriage.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

What Mudge says. 20 years the issue will be moot.

Here in Canada, SoC please correct me if I am wrong, but benefits are not restricted to only married parties. Benefits and all obligations generally considered under marriage, come into force once a couple has cohabited for 6 months.

Considering our laws, the question, in my view, is why get married in any case.

Posted by: dr | November 13, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Tim, until this issue came up I thought we kinda did have that kind of system. You go get a marriage license and then you either have the court marry you or a church marry you.

What if Virginia decided that a Catholic and a Jew shouldn't marry? Isn't that the same thing? What about the kids? Isn't it better for Jewish kids to have a Jewish mother and a Jewish father?

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

This might be on topic. I can see some problems ie. group selection.
Moral Minds
How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong
by Marc Hauser
As a classic text in moral philosophy concludes, "Morality is, first and foremost, a matter of consulting reason. The morally right thing to do, in any circumstance, is whatever there are the best reasons for doing."2

This dominant perspective falls prey to an illusion: Just because we can consciously reason from explicit principles--handed down from parents, teachers, lawyers, or religious leaders--to judgments of right and wrong doesn't mean that these principles are the source of our moral decisions. On the contrary, I argue that moral judgments are mediated by an unconscious process, a hidden moral grammar that evaluates the causes and consequences of our own and others' actions. This account shifts the burden of evidence from a philosophy of morality to a science of morality.

This book describes how our moral intuitions work and why they evolved. It also explains how we can anticipate what lies ahead for our species. I show that by looking at our moral psychology as an instinct--an evolved capacity of all human minds that unconsciously and automatically generates judgments of right and wrong--that we can better understand why some of our behaviors and decisions will always be construed as unfair, permissible, or punishable, and why some situations will tempt us to sin in the face of sensibility handed down from law, religion, and education. Our evolved moral instincts do not make moral judgments inevitable. Rather, they color our perceptions, constrain our moral options, and leave us dumbfounded because the guiding principles are inaccessible, tucked away in the mind's library of unconscious knowledge.
Here's the rest:

Posted by: Anonymous | November 13, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry the above is an extract from Mr. hauser's book.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

TBG, the system we have now is that the state marries you and the religious component is simply a party. The legal paper-signing is the real moment of marriage, and the minister/pastor/shaman/whatever is merely a legally-empowered witness to that sort of contract. However, the current state law is, really, a religiously-defined contract. My proposal is to eliminate the designation "marriage" from whatever it is that the state does, and reserve that word for a religious (social) sanction of a union.

As someone said up above (I forget who), you go to church to get married, but you go to court to get divorced. You don't have to ask the church's permission. Catholics, in principal, cannot get divorced, only annulled; however, the only available sanctions are purely social, such as an injunction that the Catholic church will not perform a marriage ceremony for a divorced but non-annulled person. Thus, there are separate realsm for the secular civil union and the religious union of marriage.

Posted by: Tim | November 13, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, 'mudge. Except the elected politicians will never do what they can trick the appointed ones into doing for them. One of Wilbrod's points reminded me of something funny.

My wife has a fine Irishman's first name. With my Irish last name, she is always getting gender mis-identified junk mail. It also makes it easy for me to impersonate her on unsolicited telemarketer calls. I've only been caught a few times.

In college, the nearest bakery was in a gay neighborhood. I went there to get a birthday cake for our joint birthday and had put on the cake "Happy Birthday to {Me} and {Her}". At this point the clerk started flirting with me shamelessly because he must have concluded we were a same-sex couple. Rather than stammer and explain, I just paid and left.

Way back in the 80s when my wife worked in retail banking she would regularly get same-sex couples making joint mortgage applications. Some insisted one was the husband and the other the wife, others just wanted to be treated as a couple. Is that really that wrong?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

YOKI -- My crystal ball is in the shop, alas. I don't *know* what the effects of same-sex marriage will be on the institution of marriage itself. I struggle with that question especially since (as you might imagine, living in Washington) I have a lot of gay friends and acquaintances who passionately want it.

But societies are made up of all sorts of people who want all sorts of things very much. In the end, our judgment is all we have. And mine compels me, reluctantly, to believe that SSM would far more likely be a negative than a positive.

Here's why:

To begin with, "expanding marriage to include same-sex couples" is impossible by definition. Marriage always and everywhere in every society we know about has been a matter between opposite sexes. Granted, there have been differences over time and across cultures about whether a man may have one wife or four, whether or under what circumstances divorce is permissible, what the age of consent should be, whether the wife has any rights independent of her husband, and so forth. These are important differences and they have been in continual flux. The *one* constant in the thing we call "marriage" is that it is between the opposite sexes. That's how we *define* it. So if we decide that that very definition no longer holds, we have, as a practical matter,redefined "marriage" out of existence, regardless of whether we retain the name for convenience's sake.

I am sure most would agree that destroying something is an odd way to strengthen it. The question I think is really being asked might be phrased: "Why wouldn't extending benefits and privileges to *any* people based on their love and commitment for each other strengthen those bonds? And why wouldn't those strengthened bonds benefit the larger society?"

Well, for starters, it would set up the state as the recognizer of love and commitment. I happen to think that is Orwellian and creepy. As marriage is currently defined, the state's interest in marriage is in promoting stability in those relationships from which children are able to result, and in increasing the likelihood for a good outcome for those children by increasing the odds they will be raised by both a mother and a father. Society privileges marriage, in other words, in order to advance society's own interests, *not* for the well-being of individual married people. (That is undeniably a side effect, but it is not the purpose.) Yes, it's better for society that people love each other. But people mean all sorts of different things when they talk about love. And we don't privilege any other love relationships. Why should romantic love be the exception? If the link to procreation and sexual complementarity is severed, what societal interest is served by privileging any and all romantic love? So my first reason for believing that SSM will be harmful is that it will of necessity insert the state into an area where I believe it has no business to be.

Second, if it becomes about the feelings that individual adults have for each other, rather than about what advances society's interests, on what rational will we deny plural marriage? Same-sex marriage advocates ridicule this argument as a slippery-slope scare tactic that SSM opponents merely trot out to terrify people. But they seldom actually answer the question, because they can't. Rare is the exception who accepts the logic of the argument and admits that if bisexual triads, or groups of five or 20 or 200 people want to marry each other, they should be able to. Also the polyamory advocates themselves have explicitly, publicly stated that gay marriage victory is crucial to their own.

I think such arrangements would make for serious societal instability.

Third, I suspect that the consequences would be negative rather than positive because of the eerie parallels between the arguments SSM advocates are using to advance their cause and the rhetoric of earlier marriage-reform advocates whose "compassion" turned out to sow widespread disaster.

"The lack of a marriage privilege hurts gay people and it's discriminatory! I can't imagine not getting married just because marriage is expanded to include gay people, therefore the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted."

Earlier reformers noted, with compassion, that some marriages were terribly unhappy, even where there was no abuse, abandonment, or adultery. Why not make divorce easier to get? And why shun and stigmatize those who divorce? "Because if you make divorce easier and more acceptable, you will get much more of it, and that would be bad for society." "Don't be ridiculous! Marriage is a bedrock of our society! The only people who will divorce are those with terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!"

Oops. Not only do we now have a divorce rate approaching 50%, which is hugely destabilizing in itself, we also have much more cohabitation as people conclude that marriage must not be worth bothering about in the first place.

Other reformers noticed, with compassion, the pain of unwed mothers. Why shouldn't welfare benefits, which historically had been limited to poor *families* be extended to unwed mothers, too? "Because if you do that, you will get more unwed mothers and that would be bad for society." "Don't be ridiculous! Being an unwed mother is brutal! What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state gave her a paltry sum of money every month?" "People do all sorts of idiotic things. When you subsidize something, you usually get more of it." "Nonsense! No one will be harmed, and people who really need help will be helped. It's ridiculous and bigoted to think that there will be any increase in illegitimacy."


So despite the fact that the 1960s brought us a huge breakthrough in birth control, the illegitimacy rate exploded. The reformers genuinely didn't believe that making it financially possible and less shameful to have a baby without a husband would lead more and more women to do just that. They also failed to predict what this would do to the larger societal marriage culture. Women who wanted to get married found themselves in competition for eligible men with women who were willing to have sex and bear children without forcing the men to take any responsibility. That's a pretty attractive prospect for a lot of men. The reformers failed to predict that women who were willing to skip marriage would become unwelcome competition for women who weren't, and that as the numbers changed, the distortions this dynamic would work in the marriage market would have seriously negative consequences.

All the reformers saw was the real pain of the unwed mother and the miserably married. They looked only at individuals and took institutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to get married and stay married, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new reforms. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn't a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to get and stay married, legal and financial freedom not to, arrayed against each other. Those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

So does this mean that I believe no one should be allowed to reform anything because others have been wrong in the past? No. But the question was why I assume that the changes in this case will be for the worse. One key reason is that the arguments, and indeed the rhetoric, being advanced now by SSM advocates echo past disasters nearly identically.

Another reason I believe the change will be for the worse is that monogamy is a hard road to walk for most men. It is hard for women too, but the evidence suggests it is much harder for men: the greatest degree of fidelity is found among lesbian relationships, then among married couples, with gay male couples more often than not agreeing that fidelity is not part of the deal. Indeed, Andrew Sullivan, whom I consider one of the most honest SSM advocates writing today, admits this, saying that one of the advantages he sees is that gay marriage will help straight people have a more "realistic" idea of marriage by removing the expectation of fidelity.

Society really has no interest in whether homosexuals are promiscuous or not. No homosexual act is ever going to result in a child. The consequences of heterosexual male promiscuity are another story. The average heterosexual man may see the comforts and prestige that marriage currently offers yet still struggle with it as something alien and limiting. What's his incentive to form a pair bond with one woman, limit himself to her, and stick around to raise any children that might result, if there is no particular societal pressure -- or prestige -- attached to doing so?

If everything is marriage, nothing is.

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd sooner believe in game theory.

There is no universal sense of right and wrong, except that which naturally arises from our psychology, culture, environment, social relations.

Humans are an adaptable species, and there are societies where polyandry works (generally a group of brothers marry ONE wife), such as in Tibet for very specific reasons. Once those reasons are removed, the impetus for polyandry is not as good.

Many younger brothers in Tibet in fact go off to become monks because they're not too thrilled about the marriage situation at home.

Polygamy historically works in societies where women have no rights to inheritance and the law often dictates they must be in the custody of a husband and male relative. IN that case, a woman must be married. If there is provison for nunhood, then that will also be an outlet for women.
Ironically, you don't see nunhood as a career option in polygamous religions, or maybe you'd see that polygamy isn't so attractive after all as a religious imperative.

Today, I have career options that involve supporting myself without the need for a husband or family. 600 years ago, I might have found becoming a nun a very attractive option. Not so today.

Besides, shilling a book anoymously isn't really welcome here.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Error Flynn, nice to see you!

Don't have much to add to this discussion - civil unions would be fine by me, since the term "gay marriage" gets such an emotional response. I don't see how it affects heterosexual marriage. Polygamy, on the other hand, seems inherently unfair - maybe I've just read too many horror stories about it, from the woman's point of view. And there aren't many cases of a woman with many husbands, are there, outside of the insect world? Gee, I wonder why...In any case, I don't follow how same-sex civil unions would lead to polygamy or bestiality, or anything else (other than same-sex divorce!).

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 13, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Yes dr, you are right concerning common law arrangements, not sure of the timing, may differ for federal and provicial requirements, as well I think Ontario has included provisions that you cannot discriminate due to sexual preference, in terms of employment, benefits etc.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod- I didn't ask what possible legal problems polygamy\polyandry might cause under current legislation. I asked what is "wrong" with it.
If I confused what is legal with what is moral I wouldn't be able to function.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

dr- unless it has otherwise been altered in the past two years I think the timing involved in common-law is one year, or six months if children are resultant of the pairing.

To be perfectly honest, the legality issues of marriage and common-law status are a major factor in many of my generation not getting involved in long term live-in relationships.

Posted by: Kerric | November 13, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

annie, I must take issue with your assumption that marriage exists for the creation and rearing of children. That is simply not true.

And, what "disaster" will result from gay marriage? If we make these unions possible for gays, then too many of them will partake?

And if the state didn't care about why heterosexual people get married vis a vis love and commitment, then this story wouldn't be on the front page of the Post today:

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse


Very nicely stated and I agree with you. But what about civil unions for gays so that they may have spousal-type benefits? That has been a big issue here, especially medical benefits--voted in then out. I work for a city hospital system. I am grateful I personally do not need to deal with the issue--happily hetero and married. But I don't want to turn my back on those who must grapple with the laws.

Posted by: Random Commenter | November 13, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Re: Common law marriage--That concept, like marriage itself, is regulated state-by-state. Some states require living together for a short time, others maybe like 7 years. Maryland, last I looked, has no provision for common-law marriage. The fundamental problem is that while we like to say we honor the wall between church and state, more often that not we honor it in the breach. Marriage is as much a religious institution as it is a civil contract.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 13, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

*applauding annie.* I don't agree with all you say, but I think you said it clearly and beautifully and passionately.

You said "The *one* constant in the thing we call "marriage" is that it is between the opposite sexes. That's how we *define* it. So if we decide that that very definition no longer holds, we have, as a practical matter,redefined "marriage" out of existence, regardless of whether we retain the name for convenience's sake.

I am sure most would agree that destroying something is an odd way to strengthen it."

I reply that definitional boundaries have been the intellectual foundation of discrimination and oppression in all of the significant social struggles of our time. And yet words are redefined and definitions extended all the time; we only notice when the redefinition threatens our foundational beliefs.

Building something larger on an old foundation does not necessary threaten, weaken or destroy the original structure.

Even if marriage had been heterosexual-only since time immemorial, one of the purposes of human rights philosophy and law is to evaluate and challenge long-standing, often commonly accepted, definitions and practices (see my two examples above).

"If everything is marriage, nothing is." This is what the Supreme Court of Canada had to say to that:

"[I]t is in society's interest to improve conditions to enable families to function as best they can, free from discrimination. ... It is not anti-family to support protection for non-traditional families. The traditional family is not the only family form, and non-traditional family forms may equally advance true family values."

anne, I think your monogamy argument is as experimental as you accuse equal marriage advocates as being. Saying (and I haven't see the studies, so am taking your word for it) that gay men *are* not as monogamous as married men (and I have seen studies saying that married men are not very) is not to say that with the support and sanction of society they *could* not be. Limiting the definition of marriage to couples of the opposite sex reinforces the stereotype that gay and lesbian people cannot and do not form loving, lasting, caring, mutually supportive relationships in the same manner as heterosexual couples. One of the points on which many discriminate against homosexuals is that the discriminator perceives the "gay lifestyle" as loose and dangerous (and way too much fun).

OK, I now concede that there is probably no argument that could make me believe that withholding equal legal marriage from same-sex couples is in any way moral or correct. It's an article of secular faith.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to take a leap here and assume that the same conservative folks who are against gay marriage (or unions, or whatever) also take the "stay at home parent" side of *that* issue.

They should realize that without spousal employment benefits, there likely cannot be one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. The cost the health insurance would probably prohibit that.

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Someone mentioned above about why not restrictions on who can have children. That is another whole complex issue, but I will say that there are instances where there should at least be a mandatory waiting period before you may legally raise children. The most recent example of this are named Brittany and Kevin.

Children should never be held to ransom for any reason, and that these two twits are doing it shows just why they should have been legally required to wait.

Posted by: dr | November 13, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I think the california ruling, tossing the decision back to the legislature, has a lot of merit. But I'm a process kind of person.

I am FOR civil unions and/or marriage between two consenting adults regardless of their sexual orientation. I'm personally against the Virginia amendment. (I also live in Maryland, so my opinion of the Virginia amendment is moot). But, the only proper response is to work for the repeal of the amendment, not to go running to the courts to overturn the clear decision of a majority of a state's voters.

Now, someone is going to point out (indeed, I think someone did point out) that civil rights for minorities was advanced by court action. I agree with that, but I believe that the legislative history was far more mature on that issue. The national consensus for civil rights was well established, and the courts and federal government took action against a bigoted minority. I don't see anywhere near the same majority consensus on same-sex marriages.

I believe that we can win this battle for equal rights through the legislative process on a state-by-state basis. And I believe that, if we follow a legislative process, that in twenty years we will all look back on the argument and say - so what? However, if we resort to the courts and establish same-sex rights by judicial fiat, we will simply create yet another issue where two sides locked into uncompromising positions battle forever in time.

Posted by: Steve-2 | November 13, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Argh, I've been busy today.

Given that there's a lack of data on one side of the same-sex marriage argument or the other (and I'd suggest that there won't be until there are real same-sex marriages to generate data), folks are going to continue to favor their own biases in this area.

My own bias is in support of gay marriage or at the very minimum some sort of civil union.

Both the marriage and the divorce rates per capita are declining, if I read that correctly, more people are simply *opting out of marriage*. Presumably cohabitation is rising, and I suspect an increasing number are bringing children into *that*.

I'd be stunned if cohabitant (sorry) relationships didn't break up more often than marriages, particularly when the relationship involves dependent children.

For those that want to preserve marriage in our culture for its own sake, for the stability of some sort of "family" structure and/or for the sakes of any dependent children, it seems to me that in the face of declining formal unions (but little decrease in the rate of childbirth, IIRC) you'd *want* to encourage marriage and formal union of *any kind*, including same-sex marriage.

Instead of marriage being utterly uncool and a complete pain in the tuchis, make it interesting and relevant again.

On a note that some may consider related, and others not, I note that the last anti-miscegenation law in the US was struck down in the Supreme Court not quite 40 years ago:

Loving vs. (the Commonwealth of) Virginia.

Just a thought.


Posted by: bc | November 13, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Error, Error, come back!!!



I understand your points of debate, and respect you for advocating so strongly for them. I do not agree with them. As has already been said, would the semantic tool of "civil union" or "sanctioned pairing," etc. lead to an acceptable resolution for you?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 13, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The ancient Greeks, and the Romans, too, had lifelong publicly-acknowledged sexual/personal relationships between men. They did quite well for themselves, as a society. Technology of the time, and social ideals of gender roles, argued against same-sex parenting. The fact that they didn't have same-sex couples with children is no argument that we should not have such arrangements.

Julius Caesar adopted his nephew. Social adoptions of young men by powerful mentors, sometimes unmarried, were a common occurrence in ancient Rome, a way to openly acknowledge an heir and successor. It was a necessity, since women had no legally-recognized property rights, thus a daughter could inherit neither wealth nor social status from her father. Marriage was not a relationship between a man and a woman; it was a relationship between a man and his wife's father. An alliance of men, mediated by a woman. Our modern social and legal arrangements are descended in many ways from Greek and Roman civilization. Yet somehow, no one is arguing that the institution of property ownership is threatened by extending this right to "the weaker sex." Nor does anyone argue that boys are unable to grow properly into men, because they lack sufficient sexual initiation by older men. Thus, it is clear that we are quite comfortable with ignoring ancient law and tradition, when it suits us.

The argument that marriage is exclusively a heterosexual arrangement is based on the assumption that we know, each of us individually, about a representative sample of humanity. It is highly unlikely, I think, that we know about all, or even most, of the social arrangements of past civilizations. What we know about, in truth, are only those relationships that involved property rights, and heirs who argued about those property rights in ways that resulted in the writing of historical texts (e.g., war). Physiological, technological, and legal limitations of the past constrained the relationships in which the disposition of an estate was in question. That is no longer the case.

There are lots of practices and definitions that never existed before in human history, but were brought into existence because it made sense. Corporate ownership of property, for example. Bankruptcy, as a legal alternative to debtors' prison. The elimination of witchcraft as a statutory crime ("A Threat to the Very Foundationf of Society! Men will Be Tempted to Fornicate With Owlf, Imagining the Bird to Be his Wife!"). The right of habeas corpus. The creation of statutory rape as a crime, rather than merely being ungentlemanly. At one time, all these were radical new notions.

Posted by: Tim | November 13, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I didn't get to fully air my thoughts in my previous post--work has a way of getting in the way of other things. I think the bottom line is that the majority of people believe that homosexuality is a perversion, and should not be supported or encouraged in any way. Let's face it, there are still laws on the books of many states outlawing the "crime against nature". Much of this bigotry is based in religious traditions across most major faiths, and has become imbued in society over centuries. In some places the penalty for being gay is as harsh as it gets. And there is a whole cottage industry that has grown up in recent years to "intervene" with gays and "set them straight". "Mother must have dressed you funny as a kid, and you got a little screwed up, but we can fix it". Folks, you can't "fix" it if it wasn't broke to begin with. It is going to take a long time and a lot of discussion, cajoling, fact-finding, etc. to get the public's head turned around on this issue.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 13, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

There is no logical validity to argue against same-sex-marriage on the grounds that we've never recognized it before. The argument must be based on what consequences we can reasonably predict based on present evidence. Seems to me, marriage is already an institution in crisis, and possibly on its way out. Extending the sanction of marriage to more people seems hardly likely to make marriage less desirable, and may make it more of a socially-recognized good.

Ultimately, what is the harm of eliminating marriage altogether? If marriage is a good thing, then it will persist despite our efforts to "destroy" it by extending it to more persons; if it is an unnecessary extravagance, then it will die out, regardless of how it makes traditionalists feel.

I suspect the main good thing about marriage, from the standpoint of the state's interest, is that it deputizes persons to care for each other on the individual level, serving the social good of providing for the needs of citizens without having to construct a bureaucracy to fill that role. People who fall ill or die thus have someone available to notice the problem and tend to the need, rather than leaving it to the state. It also leaves interested parties to attend to the deceased's property rights and estate. This is a service to the entire state, afforded by the institution of marriage, without involving reproduction, reproductive rights, or the gender of the married (civilly-unionized) persons. Marriage provides for a special relationship and responsibility between persons of the same generation. Persons who do not have surviving descendants, and whose parents are deceased, need someone in their own generation. This is in the interest of the state, regardless of wehther the persons are in love, or feel otherwise committed, or have children together.

Posted by: Tim | November 13, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Two short points.

I mentioned that I think this issue is ideally handled by the legislature not by the courts, but I add that I agree with yellojkt that sometimes that can only get you so far. See "States' Rights".

Second, as annie notes, solving problems by legislation is sometimes problematic. I don't think it applies in this discussion, but I think it's fair to say that sometimes the most compassionate response is to make a clear rule for people to adapt to. The messy status of common law marriage is an example. For dr and kerric, here's Alberta's Adult Interdependent Relationships Act:

A final point. What we call "common law marriage" is actually, according to my Family Law prof, just being "shacked up". True common law marriage refers to going through the formalities of marriage and holding each other out as spouses, but a defect in the process.

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 13, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I, too, would have to disagree with annie's view (was that correctly stated, annie?) that marriage exists for the purpose of childrearing. But I can see how someone could reasonably hold that view, and that other views would necessarily have to flow from it.

Overall, I think the whole gay marriage issue is faintly ridiculous anyway, purely from a statistical point of view: only a small per cent of the population is gay, and only some of those people whould be "married" at any given time, so we are only talking about what? 2%? 3%? of the population?Even if you inflate the numbers to their absolute maximum estimates, I still don't think what 3, 4, 5 percent of the population do (ESPECIALLY if what they want to do is mimic what the 95% straight population does) could have much effect on the overall society. It's not like they want to do something wildly different; what they want to do is BEHAVE PRECISELY THE SAME as the rest of society. How can that be harmful? It's not like they want to do something really bizarre or marry goats or whatever. What they want is to be JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. How destabilizing can that be? (Not that wanting to be like the rest of us is necessarily such a good thing, but still...)

I'm also a bit uncomfortable with some of the prevalent claims about what the "historical norm" was for heterosexual marriage: that it was "always" about "love and commitmtnet," and children, yadda yadda. First off, sociologists tell us that the notion of romantic love is only a couple of hundred years old. Second, we know from all our reading how many marriages in the "good old days" were political, or arranged, or purchased, etc. And goodness knows, the role of women back in the "good old days" was basically that of chattle, so let's not get too carried away with our notions of the "historical" nature of marriage. And third, let's not get too carried away with what we perceive were the "biblical" roles of marriage. How many biblical marriages will stand up to modern scrutiny? Let's see...Jacob wants to marry Rachel, whom he loves, so her dear ol' dad makes Jake work for him for seven years, then tricks him and makes him marry Leah instead. Jacob winds up having children from Leah, from Rachel, and Rachel "gives him her maid, Bilhah, who bears him two sons. And Leah gives him HER maid, Zilpah, who bears him two sons.

OK, shall we move on to other biblical role models? King David only had eight wives, though I have no recollection of what the simultaneity factor was. And of course he had kids by who knows how many women.

Solomon, who was alleged to be wise, had 700 wives-- a contradiction in terms if I ever heard one. What a dumb thing to do, for a wise guy. Think of the kvetching! And just think when all 700 are on the same monthly cycle...Oy.

I seem to recollect a number of people who were required by law to marry their deceased brother's widows. (I'm fond of my sister-in-law, but...well, yanno....)

And let us not forget good ol' Deuteronomy 22, verses 28-29, which requires a virgin who has been raped to marry her attacker, which I think pretty much kills off the romance of the thing.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Never underestimate the power of prejudice. Despite being unconstitutional and unenforcable, Alabama kept its anti-miscegenation laws on the books until 2000 when their repeal only passed by a 60-40 referendum vote.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Annie, I appreciate your perspective, but the "it's always been so" logic is not a logical argument -- it's historical precedent and nothing more.

History does not predetermine or control the future. Just because something has always been so does not mean it is right or just or ethical.

Posted by: martooni | November 13, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

One more short point, then I'm off (for sure, this time).

Tim, the state can't completely get away from marriage since it comes up in many circumstances (most importantly, those income taxes we have to pay until WW I is over).

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 13, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, best estimates put the homosexual population at 10% of the whole.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, there you go, yellojkt.

That's surprising *and* depressing.


Posted by: bc | November 13, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

TBG, Curmudgeon, et al: I agree with you, in fact, that at the core of the disagreement is disagreement about the fundamental nature and purpose of marriage. There are actually two competing versions: the "conjugal model" and the "close relationship" model.

Of course, it is true that not all marriages, or heterosexual couplings for that matter, create children. That is objectively true. It is also objectively true, however, that each child is in fact born of the union of man and woman. Facts, as someone once noted, are stubborn things.

Marriage, until very recently, *was* primarily about what we as a society do to address the fact that sex between men and women makes children.

Coming up next: the executive summary from a 2005 that lays out a conceptual framework of the conjugal vs. close relationship model.

Make no mistake: I am not making a religious argument. If a majority of the American people decide that conjugal marriage is an idea who's time has come and gone, then so be it. But I strongly believe that we should have a clear understanding of what we are destroying, and why, before we get out the wrecking ball.

(on which note, after the Council on Family Law post, will post what I call "The Chesterton Challenge." Sorry to take up so much air time, justifying it to myself on the principle that i am the only one making any counterargument. And of course, the scroll button works quickly :-)

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I've seen that number, too, Yoki, and I'll accept it as the outside max. (I don't think the actual "true" number, if anyone knew it makes a speck of difference--10%, 8 % 6%, whatever--the percentage is basically meaningless.) So what fraction of the 10% would get married in a perfect world? Half? A third? It really doesn't matter if it's a half of 6% or a third of 10% or whatever.

And what percentage of that percentage would get divorced? 50% like heterosexual marriages? 30%? 70%? And what possible difference would that make on anything? Zip. Zero. Zilch.

The only things we know about the numbers are two: they are "small," and they are basically irrelevant. Beyond that, they aren't worth playing with.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

//Assinine barely comes close to describing this invented issue that is solely intended to force one group's sense of morality on another, with absolute disregard for equality under the law.//

Another reason for the issue is to encourage its supporters to vote, at which time they will vote in a like-minded way on other issues and candidates. To me the classic example was putting a gun control initiative on the ballot in 1982 when Jerry Brown was running for Senate.

"Requires that all concealable firearms (handguns) be registered by November 2, 1983. Makes registration information confidential. Specifies procedures concerning sale and transfer of handguns by dealers and private parties....Limits number of handguns to number in circulation in California on April 30, 1983. Specifies violation penalties, including imprisonment for certain violations...." Guess what that did to voter turnout.

Posted by: LTL-CA | November 13, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm firmly in the camp of allowing same sex marriage, but I also think the best way through these thickets is to separate church and state, in the manner of the French: civil ceremony, then religious if you wish. How hard does it have to be? And I say that as a person of faith.

Of course, my church expects to be expelled from the state convention this week, although it has made no stand on homosexuality but is a part of an organization of churches, some of whom have come down on the side of allowing gay members. (Yes, we have gay members but we certainly don't single them out.) The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Posted by: Slyness | November 13, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The "conjugal" vs "close companion" models:

From The Council on Family Law
Mary Ann Glendon (Harvard Law School), chair

Family law is on the front pages of our newspapers and is implicated in some of our deepest cultural conflicts, from no-fault divorce, to the status of cohabitation to, most recently, same-sex marriage.

At their core, these ongoing disputes are fueled by competing visions of marriage and of the role of the state in making family law.

This report on the current state of family law holds up for clear public view the underlying, dramatically different models of marriage that are contributing to deep public clashes over the law of marriage, cohabitation, and parenthood. Obtaining conceptual clarity about marriage and its meanings will allow family law experts, scholars from other disciplines, judges, legislators, and the general public to make more informed choices among competing legal proposals now being advanced in the United States and Canada.

Two Recent Reports

Recently, two highly influential reports have been published by legal scholars, one in the United States and one in Canada. Both reports are deeply influenced by a new vision of marriage. Both reports have potentially profound and far-reaching consequences for social attitudes and practices concerning marriage, parenthood, and children.

The first report is the "Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution," published in 2002 bu the American Law Institute (ALI). This report moves away from the idea that there can be public standards guiding marriage and parenthood. Instead, it says that the central purpose of family law should be to protect and promote family diversity. The report sidelines what it calls "traditional marriage," viewing marriage as merely one of many possible and equally valid family forms. In the process, the report denies the central place of biological parenthood in family law and focuses instead on the newer idea of "functional parenthood."

The second report is "Beyond Conjugality: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Adult Relationships," published in 2001 by the Law Commission of Canada. The report proposes a fundamental reconstitution of contemporary family law. It argues that the law must go "beyond conjugality" and focus on the "substance of relationships" rather than giving legal recognition to any specific arrangements such as marriage. It recommends that the traditional conjugal idea of marriage be put on a level playing field with all other kinds of relationships. It also argues for redefinition of marriage and its extension to same-sex couples.

The Current Directions of Family Law

These recent reports indicate that family law is headed in one or more of at least four troubling directions. Some of these changes have already been implemented in some jurisdictions in the United States and Canada.

1. Equivalence Between Cohabitation and Marriage
Many now argue that marriage and cohabitation should be treated equally under the law. This approach denies that some couples might intentionally choose not to marry.

2. Redefining Marriage as a Couple-Centered Bond
In order to accommodate same-sex couples, this approach redefines marriage as a gender-neutral union of two persons. By doing so, it neutralizes the law's ability to say that children need their mothers and fathers, and reifies a new conception of marriage that is centered on the couple rather than children.

3. Disestablishment, or the Separation of Marriage and State
Given serious and seemingly irresolvable cultural and political clashes between competing visions of marriage, increasing numbers of advocates on the left and the right are calling for disestablishment of marriage, or "getting the state out of the marriage business." This approach denies the state's legitimate and serious interest in marriage as our most important child-protecting social institution and as an institution that helps protect and sustain liberal democracy.

4. Why Just Two?
The gendered definition of marriage has already met serious challenges (and been defeated) in some U.S. and Canadian courts. Challenges to the two-person definition of marriage are only a matter of time. Legal scholars are now publishing articles that make this case.

Children: The Missing Piece.

What is missing in new proposals in family law is any real understanding of the central role of marriage as a social institution in protecting the well-being of children.

Marriage organizes and helps to secure the basic birthright of children, when possible, to know and be raised by their own mother and father. It attempts to forge a strong connection between men and women and the children resulting from those bonds. These new marriage proposals call for a fundamental reevaluation of the relationships between children and their parents. These new reports make clear that eliminating the notion of biology as the basis of parenthood, and allowing parenthood to fragment into its plural and varied forms, is necessary if courts are to make family diversity a legal and cultural reality.

The vision outlined in these two reports frees adults to live as they choose. But social science data strong suggests that not all adult constructions of parenthood are equally child-friendly. Further fragmentation of parenthood means further fragmented lives for a new generation of children who will be jostled around by increasingly complex adult claims. This vision also requires more systematic intrusion into the family and adjudication of its internal life by the state and its courts.

Clashing Models of Marriage

What are the completing models of marriage that are at odds in today's family law debates?

1. The Conjugal View
The model of marriage broadly reflected in law and culture until quite recently can be called the "conjugal model." Marriage in this view is a sexual union of husband and wife who promise each other sexual fidelity, mutual caretaking, and the joint parenting of any children they may have. Conjugal marriage is fundamentally child-centered. Theorists of liberal democracy from John Locke to John Rawls have underlined the important, generative work that conjugal marriage does for society. This normative model of marriage is the one under attack in these recent reports.

2. The Close Relationship Model
This competing vision of marriage has emerged in recent decades. In it, marriage is a private relationship between two people created primarily to satisfy the needs of adults. If children arise from the union, so be it, but marriage and children are not seen as intrinsically connected.

This second and new version has been fueled by a new discipline called close relationship theory. For close relationship theorists, marriage is simply one kind of close personal relationship. The structures of the discipline tend to strip marriage of the features that reflect its importance as a social institution. Marriage is examined primarily as a relationship created by the couple for the satisfaction of the two individuals who enter it.

This view of marriage radically sidelines the main feature that makes marriage unique and important as a social institution - that is, the attempt to bridge sex differences and struggle with the generative power of opposite-sex unions, including the reality that children often arise (intentionally and not) from heterosexual unions.


Family law today appears to be embracing a big new idea. The idea is that marriage is only a close personal relationship between adults, and no longer a pro-child social institution. This idea is fundamentally flawed. It will hurt children and weaken our civil society. For this reason, there is an urgent need for those outside the legal discipline to understand and critique the new understanding of marriage and family life that are driving current legal trends. Marriage and family are too important as institutions, affecting too many people, for basic decisions about their legal underpinnings to remain the province of legal experts alone.

If the proposed changes are put into place, there are likely to be important negative impacts on the lives of everyday people. A "close relationship" culture fails to acknowledge fundamental facets of human life: the fact of sexual different; the enormous tide of heterosexual desire in human life; the procreativity of male-femal bonding; the unique social ecology of parenting which offers children bonds with their biological parents; and the rich genealogical nature of family ties and the web of intergenerational supports for family members that they provide.

These core dimensions of conjugal life are not small issues. Yet at this crucial moment for marriage and parenthood in North America, there is no serious intellectual platform from which to launch a meaningful discussion about these elemental features of human existence. This report on the state of family law seeks to open that debate.

The Future of Family Law: Law and the Marriage Crisis in North America
Copyright 2005, Council on Family Law

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

You should at least get props for keeping the boodle on topic for once!

Oh, but I've got to mention that I got an email from Paul McCartney today! No phone number, though. And ok, it was just an announcement that he's going to be signing CD's in London, but still...I'll save it along with the one from Bono...

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 13, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

annie, you are indefatigable (I mean that as a compliment).

But here again:

The idea is that marriage is only a close personal relationship between adults, and no longer a pro-child social institution. This idea is fundamentally flawed. It will hurt children and weaken our civil society. For this reason..."

What reason??! Saying the idea is flawed but not saying why, is just the same old treadmill. Nothing in the article answers the basic question, "what is harmful about it?"

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

annie, I appreciate your arguments, even though I don't agree with you in this case. I tip my hat to you.

I would also add that if - heck, my money's on *when* - human genome engineering and/or cloning ever happens, it'll take some of the wind out of the "born of man and woman" thing.


Posted by: bc | November 13, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I too appreciate the "it's always been so" logic. Laws and mores built up over time usually have some basis. In the past, childbirth was dangerous and lead to many women's deaths, leaving children that must somehow be looked after. Most women did not have independent means of supporting the family. For these (and other reasons) the state had a legitimate interest in sanctioning and promoting marriage between a man and a woman as a means of assuring the children would be cared for.

However, things have changed. Women don't die in childbirth at the rate they used to, and are no longer dependent on the male for economic support. It may be *desireable* for children to be raised in a man-woman household (that's open to valid arguments on either side), but it is no longer the overwhelming advantage that it once was.

Times have changed. The historical reasons for promotiong heterosexual marriages to the exclusion of SSM no longer apply.

Posted by: Steve-2 | November 13, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Gay marriage: Okay, what's it going to cost me?

Lets see, there are Social Security survivor benefits, military spousal benefits, Federal and State health-care benefits, some marginal income tax situations that will decrease receipts.

So I thought about it and decided: what the heck. May as well.

I don't know if the courts ought to be in the business of forcing private companies to equalize benefits for straight and gay unions. I sympathize with small business and all that. But again I say: what the heck. It's fair, after all.

Some libertarian types think that if you are talking about "fair," then single employees ought to be offered a deal identical to a married employee, in that if you're unmarried, you get one relative or individual of your choice to extend the same benefits umbrella to that the married employee extends to the spouse. I'm sure they would repeat my comment about letting the business owner decide.

I can chew on it all some more. I do dislike the dearth of public discussion about the abovementioned costs.

The other arguments about community property could be solved by gay couples incorporating their assets (start a non-profit corporation) which probably IS legal. Official designation of next-of-kin status should be available in a "living will," and if that's NOT available, it sure should be. So some of these problems might already be solvable.

Posted by: Jumper | November 13, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

And finally, from my man G.K. Chesterton (who of course wrote this long before anyone dreamed of same-sex marriage), to the point that people who don't see any use to an institution are the *last* people who should reform it:

"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'

"This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion."

If a person thinks that marriage always and everywhere in every society about which we have any information has been between the opposite sexes because those couplings can lead to new human life, and that that has changed because of all the ways technology has changed lately, then I believe he is in a good position to make an argument.

Similarly, the laws banning interracial marriage, for example, I think yield pretty readily to The Chesterton Challenge: their purpose was demonstrably to keep one race superior to another, a bad purpose.

But if someone were to argue that the fact that marriage has always and everywhere been between the opposite sexes is just some huge bizarre historical coincidence, and that he knows better, I suggest that position needs reexamining.

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow! We've got a live one here! Achenbach, do you have a bet with your colleagues that the citizens of your boodle can handle such a hot topic with civility?

I think we can do it. So far so good. Let's not let him down folks.

*whispering* Anybody seen SF?

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 13, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

//Similarly, the laws banning interracial marriage, for example, I think yield pretty readily to The Chesterton Challenge: their purpose was demonstrably to keep one race superior to another, a bad purpose.//

I don't see how this is any different. Keeping a gay couple from having the same rights my husband and I have is keeping us superior to them in that respect.

Allowing men but not women to own property: same thing.

Even the Family Medical Leave Act was careful not to call itself the Maternity Leave Act to avoid discrimination, but for the most part that's what it's used for.

Why is this one bit of discrimination OK?

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

What makes a person gay? Is it an ideal, a mind-set, a feeling, some sort of personal code, some past action, .... What makes a person gay?

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 13, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

A simple way to get past all this argy bargy is to cancel benefits accruing to all married people. As a single person these have always ticked me off anyway. Child tax credits may be awarded to caregivers to promote child welfare.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

If you want to defend traditional marriage, outlaw divorce. If you want to ensure "families" force shotgun marriages. Anyone up for that in the interest of the state?

My parents were divorced in 1967 and I'm quite happy about it, so I'd say I've had a different view of marriage and norms for awhile now.

My neighbors aren't married but have a daughter and have been together for 16 years. I don't see anything about them that's tearing down the neighborhood. In fact, they even work together - how many marriages would survive that?

Philosophically speaking, I don't much give a hoot about what people think the "state's interest" is. I'd rather see the state get out of the business of trying to legislate morality, social relationships (now they're trying to encourage abstinence among 19-29 yr olds!), and constantly messing with business by shifting tax policy.

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This country exists so we can pursue our own interests, and the state's interest should follow suit.

"The revolution will not be televised."

Posted by: Error Flynn | November 13, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

And I don't think that a Living Will or other document will work in granting rights to any domestic partner -- gay or not -- thanks to the wording of the new Virginia amendment...

"This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.  Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

TBG that wording is quite scary, and I would think lead to a lot of messy situations, but I could be mixing up some of things that could happen here with there. What would happen in custody cases where a couple was common law and had a child? Just one example.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

We occasionally go nuts but mostly, civility ensues.

I'm just shocked, amazed and in awe that for once we have stuck to the main boodle topic. I even tried to sway it with a Brittany Spears comment and had no takers which only skirted the issue.

What if the boss starts expecting us to stick to the topic?

Posted by: dr | November 13, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I heard somebody mention the word "black" earlier. What is black? Is that a person? The context makes it seem similar to "gay." How is it similar? What makes a person "black?" Is it similar to being gay?

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 13, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Coming late to the party here. I think the basic pro & con positions have been very well articulated. Special props to Annie, because her very reasoned arguments are not based on religion.

On a personal level, this issue never has made any sense to me. However, on a policy level I understand it can't be ignored. My problems with the amendments, as I understand them (imperfectly) boil down to process, confusion of intent, and what I hope are unintended consequences.

Process: as the California decision said, this kind of case makes lousy law. However, a state constitutional amendment isn't any better. It is difficult to un-amend a constitution, and this is the sort of thing best not spelled out in constitutions anyway -- ideally, they are big-picture documents. Trust me, Oklahoma has one of the nation's worst, and I know. The best way to achieve this kind of result is over time, through the legislative process. Besides, this did not change existing Virginia law, to the extent that it did not recognize same-sex marriage. It was more prophylactic, as it were, proclaiming that never could such a thing occur.

Confusion: As has been mentioned, marriage as it is commonly thought of is a religious institution, and a civil institution as well. Many people are revolted or at least disturbed by the thought of same-sex marriage in a religious context. I don't understand it, but I don't condemn that reaction either. Religious marriage has no civil connotations (ooh, no pun intended). However, civil marriage is all about legal rights and responsibilities. Annie has articulated very well an argument that these rights and responsibilities should not be extended to same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, it isn't an argument we've often heard. Usually the statement boils down to "man and woman." As others here have said, merely stating that a certain term has been traditionally defined in a certain way doesn't get us far today (civil rights? voting rights? ability to own property?). The argument that marriage is primarily an institution focused on child-rearing, while common, fails on two fronts: we allow childless marriages (the facile answer) and (legally more relevant) marriage as an institution began to protect property rights and rights of inheritance. In addition, all of this is to some extent beside the point, as the amendment doesn't merely prohibit same-sex civil marriages. It also refuses to allow any benefits of the institution of marriage under any other name for unmarried persons living as a family, man or woman. I find this completely baffling from a legal standpoint, and it takes me to:

Unintended (I hope) consequences: What were they thinking? Retirees who choose not to marry because they want to preserve benefits, younger couples who choose not to marry, couples who hold themselves out as common-law married (this definition varies from state to state but there are a surprising number of people in this category) -- all are suddenly denied hospital visitation, insurance, child or grandchild custody, right of inheritance, etc.? As I read the excerpted portion of the amendment, a power of attorney in these circumstances might very well be disregarded as against the state constitution. This seems just mean-spirited, and I can't think how Annie's policy arguments apply here.

Whew. Done now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

//What if the boss starts expecting us to stick to the topic?//

dr -- again, with the crazy talk :-)

Thanks for the rodeo thing, by the way, from this morning. It was really REALLY slow to load for some reason, so I only got to read the first page. But I gather the Yanks invaded and won a bunch of the prizes. Sorry about all that. (And had not known they had cowboys in New Zealand, but it makes sense, I guess.)

Going home now to see Dog One and Dog Two and attend to a few of their needs.

May check in after dinner.

Guessing it will stay civil. Nothing like breaking bread (OK, crab dip, but still) and hoisting a pint together occasionally to humanize people you don't agree with on every single issue, even the big ones.

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, I Do have to agree with Chesteron: "People who don't see any use to an institution are the *last* people who should reform it." That's why the GOP should keep its hands off the Dept. of Education and EPA, and Social Security, and Welfare Reform, and Medicare/Medicaid...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

And HOWDY Error Flynn! Welcome back! Congratulations on your great showing in the elections -- oh wait, we didn't vote for President, did we? Ah, well, I'm looking forward to 2008. How's the campaign? In your absence the Canuckistani have begun to let slip various elements of Canada's secret plan to take over the U.S. You could be on the forefront of prevention or, contrariwise, you could get in on the ground floor.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Error Flynn, it was so good to hear from you. I hope you will drop by and visit again. Are things going well with you? If you lurk, you know I say hello a lot of the times. Truly miss you.

Annie, I got to say, "you go girl". And it certainly has been a nice conversation here on the boodle, and I mean the tone is good. You folks are just something else.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 13, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I really liked your summation, explained clearly what I had in mind.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

About the thorniest questions of what constitutes the "good" and what shall we do, I always appreciate Bruce Ackerman's linked ideas of the

ORIGINAL POSITION and (get ready for metaphor)

He suggests that we design a liberal democracy (classically liberal,not politically liberal) where we imagine our self is vulnerable this way.

We don't know WHAT we will be in this state. We are in the ORIGINAL POSITION, like planes stacked up in the clouds waiting to land. Where? We don't know. We could be born as a white rich male in NYC or find ourserleves
*poor Somali female or
*brain-damaged and abandoned in China
*gay and Christian in Afghanistan
*brilliant and blind in Sitka, AL
*ordinary but quirky Republican in DC
*Catholic and divorced
Latino in Tijuana without clean H20
*Practically perfect in Peoria but paralyzed in a motorcyle accident on 21st b-day.

Since we do not know our attributes, behind this VEIL of IGNORANCE, we may want to develop a social contract and related norms that would be "thinly" just for the most vulnerable.

See his 1980 book, Social Justice in the Liberal State.

I am also thinking of John Rawls's Theory of Justice, which I read about the same time.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 13, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Good stuff all around. Yet at least the mainstream debate has moved to questions of inclusion regarding gay people, and not whether or not they should even be allowed to exist. Remember, it wasn't that long ago when being gay was considered a mental disease.

Anybody ever hear the story of Alan Turing?

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 13, 2006 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Annie, I think you're right that a person should reform something only if they deign to understand and appreciate it. However, noone here has really argued that marriage is intrinsically bad and should be abolished (maybe Boko and martooni, but those guys is weird, y'know). We're all arguing that marriage rights should be extended to gay persons because we think that marriage is a good thing. What we are trying to destroy is the designation of a special denigrated status for gay persons, one that picks out certain social (as opposed to physiological) opportunities that are widely available to others and declares them off-limits to gay persons.

Boko999, you argue that it's unfair and wrong for married persons to get special social and tax advantages relative to unmarried persons. Martooni argues that he sees no reason to acccept the greater tax burden of being married. Um, which is it guys -- are married people unfairly abused, or unfairly advantaged? If both are true, then neither is true. One of you has to be incorrect, or both of you. You can't both be correct.

Posted by: Tim | November 13, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

annie, just call me valiant. When the boodle presumes to stay on topic, I will gladly step in and post something umm...dumb.

Road report. We are having a really nice snowfall today. Soft fluffy piles of very fine flakes have been accumulating into lush blankets. It would be nice if I were sitting at home, by the fire, with a good book. I am at the office, though and am debating what time I will get to see home tonite.

Posted by: dr | November 13, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes. I meant to say that Ackerman's theory and many sustained examples in the form of dialog (cheers to the peanuts in the gallery here for CIVIL and passionate engagement) is the best way for me to peel back layers of attributes and experiences that make me my SELF and color my world view.

I would never suggest to 1) live without those layers or 2) keep me or anyone out of the marketplace or forum or electronic agoura based on an attribute.

But, civility requires a kind of humility to see the self and others as having equal value and standing.

Ackerman's books was key in upping my HQ: humanity quotient.

Posted by: College Parkian | November 13, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Tim, if I may the difference between Martooni and Boko could be in the differences in tax laws between our two nations.

dr, have you had an unusual amount of snow this year? Sounds nice after all our grey wet weather, some snow or even cold would be nice, I am sick of mud - we ripped out a hedge and it has been too cold to seed but not cold enough to freeze the ground, as months of rain and you get non stop mud.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

You know, Tim, the scary thing is that given differing state tax policies, it is possible that Boko99 and Martooni are both correct. And family law (marriage, estates, children) is almost exclusively, for practical purposes, made at the state level.

Ain't the federal/state system grand?

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 13, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

//Um, which is it guys -- are married people unfairly abused, or unfairly advantaged? If both are true, then neither is true. One of you has to be incorrect, or both of you. You can't both be correct.//

We could live in different jurisdictions.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse

In _Political Liberalism_, John Rawls defined
OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS--agreement on justice as fairness between citizens who hold different religious and philosophical views

(Hard to sustain the civil conversation to develop the venn diagram where policy options DO exist, but overlapping consensus does make possible laws that are reasonable, just, and "assentable" .)

Posted by: College Parkian | November 13, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

The best part, Ivansmom, is that we can choose where we live and move if we have to, to find the law that best suits our needs.

Historians, help me here. When did marriage become more than a civil issue? Pretty late, wasn't it? Don't I recall that the Wife of Bath spoke of having husbands at the church door because marriage wasn't a sacrament? Or am I crazy?

Hey, Error! Good to hear from you! We've missed you and hope you'll stay with us now.

Posted by: Slyness | November 13, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

What they said.
Or Martooni may be mad.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Not an abnormal amount, just that its a little earlier than usual. The first snow came Ocober 4 or so, and I had one small patch that did not melt from that point on. Mid Ocotber the rest came, and so it goes. There have been years where my husband was biking right up to New Years day.

Posted by: dr | November 13, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

In spite of my passionate anger against the VA law, for the reasons Jumper and Ivansmom indicated, I personally grew up Catholic and would like a marriage like that, and I am disgusted with what passes for marriage just because a paper says so, and the fact that Utah has basically developed a tourism industry based on quick and easy marriage (and you only have to be 14!!)

Annie has extended a good, nonreligious argument that is interesting, but doesn't really address my beef with the VA law-- which is it unreasonably restricts civil liberties just because these civil liberties MAY exist as associated with marriage.

The key is "associated". Mexico has no civil laws about marriage.
Catholic men can, due to poor recordkeeping marry and have 2 separate wives and families in different cities. I've heard such instances. The men give the women what money they can to raise the kids, and the women put up with it because they have no legal way to kick the guy out and get the money for their kids too.

In that context, what gay marriage proponents want really doesn't exist under the law for married people in Mexico.

Secondly, in India marriages remain arranged in a majority of cases. Dowry-- asking for money to marry a woman is illegal but "dowry deaths" still occur by the husband, inlaws, murdering the bride, who by custom lives with the husband's family and is pretty much at their mercy. If the families are great and everybody gets along, great. If not, it is an extremely dangerous position.

Divorces are difficult to get in India. Arranged child marriages are illegal in India, though, and that is an out. But the parents have considerable power to enforce this concept they are married. Many of those children suicide as teens or young adults.

Now, some areas are now so scarce of women thanks to sex-based abortion (again illegal but still done), people are actually buying wives for their sons. But they treat the women the same. Same household set-up.

Now, this is the dark side, due to low respect of women in the rural areas. There are many arranged marriages that turn out very well, because the families were very careful in interviewing each other and building trust and picked correctly. The new spouses have strong family support and customs to help them adjust, and this is true in other cultures as well.

There is this in their favor: arranged marriages are not one-night stand quick marriages done while drunk, unlike in Las Vegas.

Does marriage give these people status? Yes. Does it mean they are the only ones who can benefit from insurance?

Um, what's the word for health insurance in those religions?

If I wanted to make one simple religious argument..

I would say that the tale of the Good Samatarian is about a reviled person who does everything to help an hurt person in need to recover, including paying for a doctor and so on, even though this traveller was not "my kind of folks".

That's why voting to restrict legal (civil) rights associated with marriage, especially healthcare payment issues, is very repugnant to me.

I am also concerned about the argument that men refuse to marry because they can because there are so many loose women out there. That I find specious.

The fact is such women have always existed and they are in this situation for various reasons. Marriage has persisted anyway.

If anything, married women who cheat are much more attractive as partners for men who want no commitment or part of the childrearing.
Ironically, that's what marrying for love tends to reduce. Mark Twain observed certain attitudes about marriage in Europe vs America and one of the points was about different expectations in the fidelity of new brides.

It is also true the more people marry out of wedlock and the more expected this is, the higher the odds are that a young woman will settle for a crappy relationship instead of a stable relationship that can lead to a good marriage. This has always been true, though.
The difference between young women that do and don't is NOT rooted in law: it's rooted in family support, father figure, economic opportunities, and other valuable sources of self-esteem.

Yes, economic independence makes it easier for women to decide not to follow marriage customs. But then, not all marriage customs are in the woman's best interest, anyway.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I am extremely suspicious of any argument that "rests on the most elementary common sense". That's definitely in the eye of the beholder.

What Decartes said about common sense --

"Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have."

Posted by: LTL-CA | November 13, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

>If you lurk, you know I say hello a lot of the times.
Thanks Slyness, and Scotty ever'body, and a big hello to Cassandra.

Funny thing to me about all this talk of marriage is that few if any of the women I date are in anyway interested in marriage. They've had their kids and divorce(s), they have a house and the last thing they want is another marriage.

Of course it could just be me. :-)

Posted by: Error Flynn | November 13, 2006 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Probably not just you, Error-- although it could be your age bracket.

From what I've read, women initate divorce more often than men by a bit, and they can indeed be loath to risk their independence again, and marriage comes with a lot of financial paperwork.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's another perspective on Jane Fernandes ex-pres of Gallaudet. Thanks to Wilbrod and others for bringing the deaf community issues to my attention.

And thanks to Yoki and Willbrod for their comments on dog training. I printed out 10 pages of them. I hope that my next dog won't be as neurotic and spoiled as all my other dogs as a result of their knowledge.

Posted by: maggieo'd | November 13, 2006 7:11 PM | Report abuse

And may I add that in my opinion all Americans must have the same rights as any other. Isn't it just a matter of equal rights?

Posted by: maggieo'd | November 13, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

maggieo'd said: "And may I add that in my opinion all Americans must have the same rights as any other. Isn't it just a matter of equal rights?" The bottom line here is that it appears the majority of people (at least those voting in Virgina) don't believe gays deserve the same rights. It's the worst kind of bigotry--shunning and demeaning people just becuase of their choice of lifestyle.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 13, 2006 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, will you put my name on your Rolex, and allow me to retain you for whatever. Your explaination was understandable for even someone like me. Slow. I'll bet you are one great lawyer.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 13, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The nice thing is to enroll your dog in a puppy kindergarten or other basic classes so the dog gets socialized. Or just walk the dog daily in and around the town center so the dog meets and sees a lot of people. Be patient with fearfulness as a puppy and let the puppy back off and learn how to calm down, and then let the puppy explore the feared object.

Wilbrodog was pretty overwhelmed going from the shelter to an urban lifestyle; I must have walked him daily for 2-3 hours after work for him to get used to everything and develop his confidence. He was skittish of people sweeping in the street at first. He was still coming out of a fear phase, I think.

Puppies, like kids have stages where they are more fearful than others, and when a single negative experience can lead to lifetime phobia.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

RD Padouk- I didn't know anything about Alan Turings private life. What a waste.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Wilbrod and Bob S for the links to the free libraries. I also enjoyed the doggie posts.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 13, 2006 7:32 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I was reading "This is True"-- turns out there was another Cheney Incident last week, this time in Colorado.

Hmm, first we wondered about his right to bear arms; now we wonder about his belief in the right to freedom of speech.

It'll be interesting to see what next happens.


The act is "The John Warner Defense Reauthorization Act of 2007"

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This is highly speculative, but I suspect a lot of the animus against gay marriage comes from people who think of gays less as perverts than as shirkers of duty (and perhaps they think the same about straight couples who are childless by choice). People who work and work and work to support and rear children, and who possibly have a certain inner doubt about the worth of it all...

It's just a thought, probably with some projection in it ;-)

Anyway, I've found that a lot of people are really jealous of where moral energy and attention are directed. It's not enough that you leave people alone while pursuing your own values. They want you to pursue -their- values as well.

Posted by: Woofin | November 13, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Saw this joke:

A seven-year-old boy was at the center of a D.C. courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.

The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Redskins Football Team.

"Why them?" the judge asked.

"Because," the kid said, "they can't beat anyone."

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Yessss! What maggieo'd said. That is exactly what I mean by my passionately held conviction! If I look around a room (at work, at home, at an art gallery, at a pub), I don't know who is gay/les and who is not. But they are all my brothers and sisters, and fellow citizens. How could I possibly believe that they do not deserve, as I do, to step into the light and make a solemn commitment to a significant other, and to society? And if our homosexual colleagues are not to have that privilege, then who is next? Blue-eyed blonds? Short people? Fat people? Talk about a thin end of a wedge.

The argument that anyone could get married to anything, and the argument that polygamy/polyandry would also be caught in the law, is laughable. We could, for instance, specify that marriage is a solemn commitment between two human beings of majority. (Max 4, I should think, or the tax/relational exponents would get out of hand).

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 8:06 PM | Report abuse

If Borat became president, would we be knowing it?

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Wilbrod that socializing dogs is one of the primary responsibilities we take on as companions (along with good nutrition, positive obedience training, excellent veterinary care, and better-than-adequate exercise, workmanlike grooming, and a loving heart. Piece of cake!). My training guru one said that if you take a pup from a breeder at 8 weeks of age, that pup should meet 100 different people by the time you celebrate it's three-month-iversary. I extrapolated that to mean that my one breeder-purchased pup should also meet 100 other dogs, 6 cats and 100 different social situations. This was no problem with mine, because I had young children at the time, and they naturally throw you into at least 100 different situations a week.

With older shelter/rescue dogs, I up the ante. An older rescue with *issues* should, in the first 6 weeks (and forever after) meet (in a controlled way) 100 different people and dogs, and be in at least 50 different social environments, every three months. If you can assure the safety of both the dog and the innocent bystander (aka the expendable crew-member) rescues should be socialized each day and every day.

Fear periods are real, and wise owners are wise to them, but they can be overcome. Heavens! If a dog could be ruined for life by one experience at 5 months, I wouldn't rescue. I'd be the Kervorkian of the dog world. Of course they can overcome it, but it takes knowledge and sensitivity and skill.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

That's why socialization is so important.

Wilbrodog has only one fear I've ever been able to find from his past before me, and it took me a while to find it-- he's scared of the sound of broken glass. I assume he broke a mirror or something by nosing it and it fell down. (Would explain his bad luck, right?).

He just startles now, though, and it's not a very frequent sound for him. If it was worth trying I'd desensitivize him to it.

It's a very, very specific fear triggered by the sound of the unexpected clatter of broken glass out of his sight.

He's not fearful of glass itself, and he's seen me break glasses and not been scared.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

hahahahaha. Error Flynn said: Funny thing to me about all this talk of marriage is that few if any of the women I date are in anyway interested in marriage. They've had their kids and divorce(s), they have a house and the last thing they want is another marriage.

Of course it could just be me. :-)

Yoki replies:

It is definitely not you Error. I'm sure you are, as my Irish relatives would say, "a darlin' man." Women at my stage of life (including me) (and younger, if they've done all you say) really mean it when they say they do not ever want to be married again. I've been married to Himself (happily, for the most part) for 25 years. I will be married to him as long as we both shall live. We have two grown children. It's been great, and I love him dearly, as do the daughters.

At the same time, I've *done for* everybody to the point of exhaustion. If I found myself alone (because #1 and #2 are moving out [slooooowly]) and if Himself left or died), I would not marry again. I would adore to have a lover and companion, but I wouldn't live with a man again. I'd have my own place, eat what I like when I like, decorate to please myself, do only my own laundry, and have all the time I now spend doing-for to read, or entertain friends, or nap...

None of this would have anything to do with the general wonderfulness of my lover/companion. It would have everything to do with me.

Oh, and I'd have a Bernese Mountain Dog as well, probably a rescue.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I also need to add that even a minimally socialized dogs is not necessarily going to be traumatized by people forever due to one bad incident, or anything like that.

Some dogs are just scared of everything because they are extremely fearful, generally.
Socialization, counterconditioning, training, and all can go a long way towards giving them the confidence.

They just won't be the same personality as a fearless labrador retriever that would run into a brick wall any day, for instance.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 8:34 PM | Report abuse

GOOD EVENING, TEAM -- a quick little post before the houseguest returns, but after the dogs have been worn out (which alas requires wearing myself out):

TBG://I don't see how this is any different. Keeping a gay couple from having the same rights my husband and I have is keeping us superior to them in that respect. Even the Family Medical Leave Act was careful not to call itself the Maternity Leave Act to avoid discrimination, but for the most part that's what it's used for. Why is this one bit of discrimination (against gays/lesbians) OK?//

A fair question -- unless you take The Chesterton Challenge. Until you do -- and ask why marriage is privileged in the first place -- then it's equally valid to argue that my "rights" as a single person are violated. Some of my coworkers get to disappear for months at a time, under the Family Leave Act. Their jobs are guaranteed to be there for them when they return. Do you think their work just does itself, when they're gone?

I may wish to disappear from my job for some form of personal self-fulfillment (some Outward Bound type experience or whatever). Why is my agenda less important than those covered under the Family Leave Act?

The question answers itself, of course. But it's becoming inadmissible, in our public discourse: Some agendas are more important than others. Not just different. Actually more important.

It is interesting to me to note just how radical this idea has become.

And to others on the boodle who have said that government shouldn't regulate private choices: Sure, it should. It does all the time. To take just one example, we decided long ago that we wanted the United States to be a nation of homeowners, not renters. We constructed an entire elaborate apparatus of financial incentives, in the form of tax breaks, low-down-payment mortgage instruments, banking regulations and so forth to make that happen.

YOu want to rent anyway? OK, no one has a gun to your head, rent away. But we are not going to privilege it, because it serves no defined societal purpose.

Does this policy have the effect of "discriminating" against renters? Undoubtedly. Does the relative lack of privilege that renters experience invalidate the goals of an ownership society?

Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. You can get a temperamentally sharp/shy dog from a breeder or shelter, and they are never going to be that confident Lab (or even a spaniel/retriever mix who would eat anything [including soap, a full box of kleenex and dry rice], take on a bear in the back yard, and then give gentle hugs when requested (another shelter dog named Tod).

When we figured out Tod's heritage, we called him part spaniel and part under-achiever. He was a great dog who lived with us for 14 years.

Sharp/shy needs especially careful handling, and can become a great dog, once you know what to watch out for, and how to build self-confidence and self-discipline in a dog without them.

Oh Wilbrod, I do like you so. (mangled EE Milne reference).

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Off topic a little.
I wonder what happened to the Monarch butterfly I saw around our front yard a few weeks ago. We are North of the Siskiyou range here in the banana belt of Southern Oregon. The rain and fog has desended here and snow has fallen on the Siskiyous. Did that Monarch make it back over into Califorina? Was it here to seek a unconventional marriage? It's illigal here since the last election.
As far as I can tell there are no milkweed plants here to support milkweed caterpillers. (I grew up in Northern Califorina during WW2 and there were milkweed plants growing along the roads as lots of folks were into growing milkweed for the goverment's efforts to grow milkweed for the flower's 'kapok' for the sailor's life vests. I used to bring home the beautiful white with black and yellow stripped caterpillers and they would make such nice light green chrysalis with a gold bead ring around the top that would stick on my bedroom ceiling that hatched into beautiful butterflys in the Spring.)
Anyway, how did the Monarch butterfly get over the Siskiyous this summer and did he/her get back to Califorina before the snow fly? Or maybe he/she it was looking for a civil union in Oregon?
Loomis, did you ever see any Monarchs around Humbolt State?

Posted by: bh | November 13, 2006 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd just say that wages enough to buy a house for everybody would be nice.

By the way, family leave act does cover spouses, parents, and children. That's a lot more than health insurance does.

It's not perfect; it doesn't for instance cover disabled siblings or other familial relationship that may make the person the primary caretaker, or does it cover unmarried people.

And in my case, I was laid off the moment I even hinted I might need it. I know somebody who was fired soon after she took the FLMA and short-term leave for her own health problems.

Babies? Not a problem? Actual medical problems? That scares employers, because of our problems with health care insurance and delivery system.

So yes, I will disagree with you on this.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 8:46 PM | Report abuse


Yes, you may want to take leave to pursue some personal fulfillment, but so might those folks who are taking time off to care for a sick family member. To say that taking six weeks off to care for a newborn or a sick mother is the same kind of "personal fulfillment" as Outward Bound is not correct.

You have the same rights under the Family Medical Leave Act as your married co-workers--to take care of your mother, father, siblings or other family members. But not your boyfriend. Or your best friend. Or your "domestic partner."

But what if your partner were another woman? And she was pregnant? You wouldn't be able to take advantage of the Familly Medical Leave Act in Virginia, would you?

And the difference between the extra "privileges" afforded to homeowners is a great example: would it be OK with you if the right to purchase a home were only granted to certain citizens? Should gay people also be restricted from owning property? Why not?

Not too long ago women weren't allowed to own property of their own. Should that still be the case?

What's the difference?

[By the way.. this has been a great discussion. Thanks!]

Posted by: TBG | November 13, 2006 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't see that creating financial disincentives for unpopular behavior, or rather, giving incentives for alternative behavior, is in any sense equivalent public policy to taking away the rights of people who engage in the unpopular behavior.

Posted by: LTL-CA | November 13, 2006 9:01 PM | Report abuse

One of the reasons that family-leave is different than personal-fulfillment leave is that when we are all extremely old (and it looks more and more likely we will be) your personal fullfillment will not be paying taxes or giving health care or picking up the garbage or teaching the next generation or doing research or cutting lawns or laying pipe, or administering the cities or giving nursing care, or picking the fruit and vegetables you eat, or driving the ambulance, or sitting on the bench, or growing trees, or breeding companion animals, or fabricating machine parts, or extracting vaccines, or oil and gas or electricity from alternative sources, or playing sports, or...

These children and their children will be doing all those things. Unless you plan to use no services at all (which means you will be dead in your own lifetime), then you should support to some degree the raising and education of children.

Of *course* in a workplace leave should be equal as between child-burdened and child-free people. Of *course* your child-burdened colleagues should pick up for you when you need to go to an appointment or take a walk because you just can't take it anymore, or look after a relative. Do that! Take your leave! You don't even have to justify it, except to the extent that you are a human being with a life.

But don't despise the child bearers as suckers on your tax dollars. Your time will come to suck, and you will be lucky to have the services you now think negligible.

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 9:10 PM | Report abuse

*waving to bh in the same time zone!*

I don't think I've ever seen a Monarch butterfly in the 20 years I've lived in Seattle. I tried planting milkweed a few years ago, but if it germinated, I didn't see it - may have to try that again, under better controlled conditions. When I was looking for a supplier of praying mantises yesterday, I was hoping they'd have Monarchs, but alas, no. (A-1 Unique Insect Control in Citrus Heights, CA has the mantises - at least it's not Acme - ha!)One of my favorite memories from grade school was watching a Monarch hatch from its cocoon.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 13, 2006 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Assuming of course by the time Annie retires, retirement hasn't been painted as a time of "personal filfullment-- old geezers cavorting and gambling with your tax dollars" as part of a campaign to wipe out social security altogether.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 9:34 PM | Report abuse

What LTL-CA said. I find my thoughts on this subject so clotted together that I can't debate properly. But I feel passionately that my gay neighbors shouldn't be denied the advantages in caring for one another as partners that my wife and I have just because somebody wants to promote a particular vision of a "procreative society." People as individuals--and as participants in self-chosen relationships of any kind--need formal rights in order to defend themselves under adversity. I grew up in a place where gays got run out of town. Nobody should have to depend on the gentleness of the prevailing cultural winds to be allowed to dwell in peace and engage in the relationships and friendships they choose.

Posted by: Woofin | November 13, 2006 9:42 PM | Report abuse

One fun way to improve heart health (hint, it's not debating all the legal baggage that comes with marriage).

Too bad they didn't check out the salsa, belly dancing, etc.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I just love to dance. Especially the Polka!

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

To me that gay marriage issue seems more like an electioneering device than a real problem. The problem is; this type of law/constitutional text is going to financially/materially hurt real people. Once it is a law or even a constitutional statement that only married man-woman couple (married before the church only or civil marriage still allowed?) may benefit from "spousal" benefits genuine couples of all kinds will be denied monies and benefits. This is a simple business case any young enterprising manager will easily make. I could hear the young dynamic manager telling is CEO, let me show you how to save xx millions a years in disbursement by denying all those heathen living in sin the health/retirement/death benefits we thought they had. I have been living in sin for 22 years (yikes!), being moderately successful as a parent (2/3 ain't bad and the 19 yo fungi can still turn around, you never know) and I have seen the laws come and go on civil unions. This is for Canada only of course, the US constitution doesn't provide on sexual orientation, that wasn't a hot subject in the 18th century. For kid no. 1, the fungi formally known as the Booby, the hospital denied me the special parking rate for fathers, as I wasn't married to Mrs. Denizen. It is nasty, small minded but they have done it even though my name was on the birth certificate as the father. The social service elderly harpy suggested that I would have to adopt my kid that was pure BS of course as my name was on the birth certificate. My employer initially refused the 1 day "paternity" leave, I protested and got it. This paternity leave is up to 6 months now under certain circumstances! Things got much better with kid no.2 and 3. I think there are more kids born out of wedlock (what a word! Locked in wedding!) in this province that "proper" births, so people got used to it. When religious groups protested that unmarried couples with dissimilar incomes had fiscal privileges over married couple (we didn't, because our incomes are usually within the same tax bracket, i.e. way too high) the gubmint killed the whole married/income sharing scheme: everyone lost.
People get small minded when it gets to money & benefits, those laws and constitutional text will just empower corporations to screw people out of perfectly reasonable benefits.

Warning: Very High Haute Mainian Content, it may be harmful to your US soul
BTW, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom includes sexual orientation as one of the 6-7 named status that should not be cause for discrimination (along with gender, race, age, religion, etc) so any law barring gay marriage must invoke the dreaded "notwithstanding" clause to be any kind of help. And the Supreme Court take on the Notwith clause is clear: it's got to beneficial the society as a whole if it is invoked.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 13, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Apparently salt makes you crave soda pop and thus pop out of your pants. I detect a little lapse in writing logic here. What's wrong with water?

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

//A fair question -- unless you take The Chesterton Challenge. Until you do -- and ask why marriage is privileged in the first place -- then it's equally valid to argue that my "rights" as a single person are violated.//
No, it's equally valid afterwards, as long as I know how it arose, what it serves, and that there are *other purposes which serve it equally well.* Chesterton's original challenge didn't account for new insight and development. The purpose may still be served, but evolution cannot
discounted.We'd still be using Windows 95 if we followed his logic. I call this the Transmogrification Amendment to The Chesterton Challenge, in honor of Calvin & Hobbes.

//I may wish to disappear from my job for some form of personal self-fulfillment
(some Outward Bound type experience or whatever). Why is my agenda less important
than those covered under the Family Leave Act?//
It shouldn't be. I had partial responsibility for my elderly aunt, who died recently (*waves*, Aunt Emma). FMLA was out of the question. But I took time off anyway because it was important to me. What's unimportant about personal self-fulfillment? Would people who understood why I took time for my aunt not understand about me taking time for myself because I'm doing it for myself and not for someone else? How much sense does that make unless you believe nothing counts unless we do it for another? Self fulfillment can be a profound act of self love (okay, I can hear the snickers out there!).

//Some agendas are more important than others. Not just different. Actually
more important.//
All in the eye of the beholder. Just like puppies, we're all socialized differently. :-)

Woofin, your 9:42 says it. People need and deserve rights.

Posted by: dbG | November 13, 2006 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Water, " this dubious liquid clouding up pastis " as a Frenchman said. I wouldn't drink that.
(My bad translation of : l'eau, ce liquide qui trouble le Ricard)
The old lab is getting up there Wilbrod(10.5 yo), the vet saw some clouded cataracts developing today. Time to look around for a younger pup I guess.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 13, 2006 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking said: I think there are more kids born out of wedlock (what a word! Locked in wedding!) in this province that "proper" births,"

Did you notice the use of "illegitimate" today? How can a child be illegitimate?

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Anybody wanna guess what the main theme of this week's episode of Studio 60 is all about?


Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 13, 2006 10:17 PM | Report abuse

The way I read that article, the problem is not the water in soda pop but the sugar -- or, more likely, high-fructose corn syrup.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled 'boodling.

Posted by: Tom fan | November 13, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Today the contractors took their tools and left. They've been here, on and off, since last January. I want a few more things done, but decided last weekend that even if they worked for *free* I just couldn't take it anymore. I think they felt the same way, so now we're officially on a break. Perhaps it's time to give the new plumber a key. It's like house-anorexia. The state of the house is the only thing I can control.

Surely you didn't think I'd stay on-topic the whole time.

Posted by: dbG | November 13, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Make that *my reaction to the state of the house is the only thing I can control.* The house doesn't listen to me.

Posted by: dbG | November 13, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Haven't the television commercials for "freedom 55" already painted it that way?

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 10:28 PM | Report abuse

[Actually, strike that. Maybe you meant, What's wrong with water to satisfy one's salt-induced thirst rather than reach for the sugary soda.]

Carry on.

Posted by: Tom fan | November 13, 2006 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm speed reading because Little Bean wants her night-night story and I'm pooped from working my day job plus the remodeling job afterwards, but I think it was Jumper who brought up the additional potential costs to society if same-sex marriage were legalized...

This might be a valid point if gays/lesbians didn't pay taxes and didn't own property or businesses or do their part to fight our wars or spend their hard-earned money to support our economy or volunteer or otherwise participate in their communities.

Nobody complains when a married veteran's spouse gets military benefits (except the Republicans when it comes to VA budget approvals). So why should anyone complain if a committed gay/lesbian soldier who risked his/her life just the same as a straight soldier has the audacity to expect the same benefits for his/her partner? Why should anyone complain if a committed hetero soldier wants the same for his/her non-married partner?

I was single and childless once, and yes, I used to get ticked off that my married-with-children co-workers got more benefits, more sick days, more leeway, and weren't forced to work overtime. Now I have a child, am in a committed relationship (sans "official" blessing of meaningless paperwork), own a home with my partner, and guess what? My "family unit" -- call it anything else and I'll pop you in the nose -- gets NO benefits from the state or my employer.

In other words, we PAY and PAY and PAY and don't even get GUANO back.

If you want to keep gays/lesbians from getting benefits that they've EARNED by doing the same damn job you do, you're not just screwing them -- you're screwing people like me and Mrs. Martooni who are married in every sense of the word (and probably more committed to our relationship, family and community than many "married" couples) but are lacking a stupid piece of paper that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

If I pay my taxes, if I go to work every day and pay into an insurance plan, why should I NOT be entitled to receive benefits for my family? Here in "enlightened" Ohio, the state that approved an amendment to its constitution to make it clear that marriage is a "union between a man and a woman" and at the same time struck down any possibility of the state recognizing civil unions... my taxes pay for trailer trash newlyweds who poop babies out left and right, yet Mrs. Martooni cannot be added to my company's insurance policy because we lack a certain piece of paper (but our daughter can be covered -- go freaking figure).

The people who deny rights to gays/lesbians need to know they are also denying rights to heteros who don't buy into the "institution" of marriage, but are just as (if not more) committed to the concepts behind it than many of those who have.

As I said -- I have a FAMILY. I pay my taxes and I work my butt off to support them. And we don't receive anywhere NEAR the benefits that "legal" families receive. Why not? Are we not a family? Again -- I'll pop you in the nose if you don't think we are -- is a freaking piece of paper all it takes to make a family? Is that what families have been reduced to? A narrow definition? A piece of friggin paper?

This just sickens me.

I think it's time for "non-traditional" families to pull a Tea Party -- let's see how the country fares without all the tax and insurance money paid into the system by families who don't qualify to receive family benefits because people with very small brains and very small hearts don't think they're really families because they have very narrow definitions of what families and committed relationships are.

I also think it's time for all the homophobes and self-righteous idiots who think "marriage" is a sacred institution that will disintegrate if same-sex unions are allowed must not have much faith in that institution. If the institution of marriage can't survive the addition of loving/committed couples who happen to be of the same sex or are of different sexes but don't buy the church line, then I'm afraid it's already dead and probably isn't worth saving.

And if I ticked anyone off with this post, good.

Welcome to my world.

Because I live with this guano every day and let me tell you -- it ticks me off every single day.

Posted by: martooni | November 13, 2006 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, the freedom 55 commercials make me laugh, as someone who had children late, 55 will be far from free. I do not regret it, I couldn't choose when my children were born and quite literally they were both miracles.

I also like your question about illegitamacy, one of my grandfathers was illigitimate in the days when it mattered to people, it was a terrible stigma that carried on in the next generation I am so glad that today that is gone. Hopefully as Mudge stated earlier today in 20 years people will accept gay people. I do not believe someone makes a choice to be gay and believe that you are born either hetro or homosexual. If you can't change it why should you deny it or be treated as less as an equal.

Shrieking shhhh on the notwithstanding clause we don't want to give anyone any ideas, no good will come from it.

Posted by: dmd | November 13, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

House-anorexia. Hmmm. Like cutting the grass because it, at least, is controllable. The rest of the yard seems to set its own agenda. I just play servant. This evening, I rescued a big bromeliad (at least 3 feet across and nearly as high) from a thicket of heliconias, plopping it under a laurel oak. Hope it likes the new spot, at least until the new cycad gets bigger. After that, I've sort of invited a guy over to help thin the heliconias (the bait was to offer pups), then removing grass, planting more heliconias, figuring out what to do with the Brazilian walking irises, etc.

At least tomorrow night is a break--the Sao Paulo Symphony is in town.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | November 13, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Studio 60 Recap Episode 8 - Redneck Justice

Spoilers Below

In the second part of the John Goodman episode, the theme is bad publicity. DorkBoy in the GoatSuit is under arrest in Nevada for a speeding ticket. Amanda Peet is ironically battling charges that she never wants children. JesusGirl gets her concerts cancelled because she is accused of gay bashing but is not intolerant enough for her fanbase.

Matt and Harriet spend some snappy patter arguing about gay marriage. Harriet plays Annie and Cassandra and Matt plays the rest of the Boodle. Matt gets the last word in, but spends the rest of the episode behaving uncomfortably heterosexual. This drives him into advancing the romance storyline nobody wants or believes.

The rest of the episode is filled with odd accents: John Goodman's redneck judge, John Laroquette's paintball aficionado, a British writer on a bad break-up, the Chinese girl and her mogul dad, and a cringe-inducing "no tickee, no laundee" sketch about over-priced socks.

Thanks to NBC picking up the back 9 order, we get 14 more episodes this year of Hollywood moralizing about not being patronizing to the flyover people.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 13, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

arhghghgh! Triffids!

Posted by: Yoki | November 13, 2006 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I've never heard of Brazilian walking irises, and I used to be quite the iris aficianado. I'll have to look for them - maybe I can try them in a pot. You could take some to the symphony, maybe! I have some Siberian iris that have gotten too thick - I need to do something with them.

This says Monarch butterflies aren't found in the Pacific NW. *sigh*

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 13, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

IMHO, gay couples should be afforded the same rights as hetero couples. Along with many of the boodlers, I think that gay marriage is considered creepy by the general public, largely through mental imaging. Heteros engage in equally creepy things as evidenced by the burgeoning business in pornography, something that is too often overlooked. As for the arguement that hetero marriage provides a foundation for modelling good relationships with respect to children's future relationships, ANY stable, respectful, functional relationship would provide such a foundation. I'd like to see the evidence that gay couples end up raising gay children. I know of too many examples where hetero couples have gay children. Our form of government is based on extending equal rights to all. We should be so good to respect that.

Posted by: jack | November 13, 2006 11:43 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm gonna be a good boy tonight! I've read carefully through the 'boodle, and have had (and made note of) a dozen careful thoughts. It seems to me that few of them are life-changing, so I'll keep them mostly to myself. Instead, I'll share a small selection of the less-careful thoughts!

"Assinine..." - Posted by: martooni | November 13, 2006 02:23 PM

That really IS how it ought to be spelled. I submit that we should make it the official Achenblog spelling! I'll bet it'll be hitting the dictionaries soon.

Nomination #1 for quote of the day to
(Posted by: annie | November 13, 2006 05:23 PM)
for the Chesterton: "In the matter of reforming things..."

Agree, disagree, whatever. Still a great quote!

Nomination #2 for quote of the day to
(Posted by: Wilbrod | November 13, 2006 08:02 PM)
for the painful, sophomoric, but nevertheless delicious child abuse/Redskins joke!

I'm holding back rambling observations about Mr. Turing, the proper eligibility of various marriage partners, and my heartfelt believe that the state of Virginia has just taken the first step down the road to getting out of the "marriage" business entirely. (As a teaser, I think that an uncloseable can of worms was just opened.)
I'm glad that I could introduce the Gutenberg Project to a couple of folks who hadn't checked it out before. It's an amazing resource, ain't it?
G'night, y'all!

Posted by: Bob S. | November 13, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Error, a warm welcome back.

Posted by: jack | November 13, 2006 11:53 PM | Report abuse

SD, the Charter doesn't name sexual orientation specifically. It was decided in Egan v. Canada that it was "analogous" to the enumerated provisions:

Error, welcome back!

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 14, 2006 12:24 AM | Report abuse

thanks for the recap, which I carefully avoided reading before the show aired here. Then I got called from work, missed the middle part with Goodman and Laroquette, which I choose to believe must have been the best part - so I would be totally lost without you. I really enjoyed last week's episode, this one, not so much, even before I got the call from work.

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 14, 2006 2:17 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, boodle. I'm feeling especially curmudgeonly this morning with the news that 80, yes, eight zero, bad guys managed to steal Iraqi police commando uniforms and kidnap 150 people from a govt. facility in the heart of Bahgdad in an obviously well-planned and well-executed raid. 150 hostages are now presumably being held somewhere, and our military appears to be completely ineffectual. Nice going, Donald Rumsfeld. You're doing a heckuva job over there.

And my wife reports two local DJs had the following joke this morning:

DJ#1: Bush is going to Vietnam today.
DJ#2: What, his father couldn't get him out of it again?

Grump, grump, grump.

Good Gene Robinson column this morning.

Will be off today, running errands and working from home -- and going up against the dreaded DMV.

'Morning, Cassandra. Welcome back, Error.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 14, 2006 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, I'm with you, but the difference is that chances are, barring some unknown reason, you and your partner could go to the courthouse at any time and get that piece of paper.

Your gay neighbor and his partner cannot.

Posted by: TBG | November 14, 2006 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I could not read everything, there is so much. And so much of it I don't understand. Yet a really nice way to talk about stuff. Without the dramatics.

We're up and into everything. Little people don't sleep long. We may walk, but it looks like rain outside. Will check, and if weather is good, off we go.

Have much work to do today. G-girl has house in not so good condition. Plus we must head to the laundry room if we want to continue to wear clean clothes.

Good morning, Slyness, Error Flynn, and Nani. *waving*

Mudge, your response to Annie's points was quite good. There is a lot to be said I suppose under the legal aspect, and of course, the religious part too. For me it all comes down to loving the sinner, but not the sin. For me, and I suspect for many others, that can be hard. The thing that kind of clears the air for me though is, Christ died for this person, as well as for me. I cannot judge.

Have a good day, folks. And no matter your thoughts on this subject or any of them that we feel so strongly about, remember that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Ivansmom, again, your explaination was very good, and so was yours, Annie. Scripture states in the book of Proverbs, that we should always get understanding. And even better, love one another.

Posted by: Cassandra S | November 14, 2006 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! *wave*

Sky report: Mr. Blue Sky took a peek at the world as I started down I-270, but he seemed to hit the snooze alarm and closed his eye before I got to the Metro. Rumor has it he'll be back later today.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2006 7:55 AM | Report abuse

After my initiial comment about gay marriage yesterday, I just lurked. Great comments and good civilized debate. I didn't see anyone else bring up the situation here in MA. We have the oldest, still viable constitution in the world. Below are quotes from the decision of the state's Supreme Judicial Court back in 2003.

"We declare that barring an individual from the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts constitution," Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote in the 4-3 decision.

The SJC ruling held that the Massachusetts constitution "forbids the creation of second-class citizens." The state Attorney General's office, which argued to the court that state law doesn't allow gay couples to marry, "has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marraige to same-sex couples," Marshall wrote.

"The court rejected the claim of a lower court judge that the primary purpose of marriage was procreation."

This decision pretty much sums up my feelings. Notice that they used the term "civil marriage." The last I heard, we still had the lowest divorce rate in the country and I haven't heard of anyone getting divorced here soley because we now allow gays to marry. I think Mudge is correct that 20-30 years from now we'll look back and wonder what the fuss was about.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | November 14, 2006 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodlers. It was a battle to reach work today through the 8 inches of snow on the roads, but I did perservere.

Todays hat of the day: The Toque of General Malaise

Posted by: Kerric | November 14, 2006 8:17 AM | Report abuse

An WaPo article about Achen, er, Internet addiction:

Something the article fails to note is that sometimes Internet Interactivity isn't a *replacement* for personal relationships, they *are* personal relationships.

At least to one person in the relationship, anyway.


Posted by: bc | November 14, 2006 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Boy is it dreary here today. Light rain is falling and the sky is a dirty white. It being November, I think I'll just copy this post and use it over and over until April.

Good to see you Error! dbG, I understand how you feel. As much as I liked the guys who worked on my kitchen, I am very glad to have my "space" back.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | November 14, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Brazilian walking iris (Neomarica) is very iris-looking and seems well adapted to our area. I need to check which species I have--it's a bit of an oddball from a Broward County nursery that works pretty hard at finding things that should be in gardens, but aren't. Not to mention that they have an unbelievable assortment of palms.

Here's a walking iris blurb from the local paper.,2544,TCP_1039_5010944,00.html

I have a distinct problem with wanting to check the news regularly. As if we don't know soon enough when something nasty happens. Thinking of nastiness, the NY Times has a science story on coastal deposits laid down by rather recent mega-tsunamis. Is earth pelted by more crater-forming objects than we think? Yikes!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | November 14, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"The Toque of General Malaise"

I like it. Say, does that toque have an Ottawa Renegades logo on it?

Ottawa Renegades - is that supposed to be some sort of postmodern irony or something?

Next: The John Deere Cap o' Ennui.


Posted by: bc | November 14, 2006 9:05 AM | Report abuse

GOOD MORNING, COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS. It has been interesting, catching up with the traffic. I am hereby signing off Achenblog, which I rather suspect was part of the goal. I have to think that I can find better uses for my time than to be branded "small-minded and small-hearted" and a "bigot" or to be compared to a character in some lame TV show. My final words re the topic of the kit are these:

The key traps that the pro SSM advocates fall into, I believe, are two. First, they look only at individual circumstances, individual marriages that they personally know, but not the cultural institution as a whole, or the roles and purposes of cultural institutions. Second, they think only of themselves, and not of the marginal case.

Economists see this all the time. "I would never start working less just because my taxes went up. That's ridiculous!" Well, you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some rich consultant who just can't justify giving up precious leisure time to take on another client if he's only going to be keeping 50 cents on the dollar. Nevertheless, the result is the same: Less economic activity.

As I wrote yesterday, the fact that this very argument is the one being used in this debate is one (but only one) of the reasons I think SSM would probably be much more likely a negative than a positive change. Quick recap of the other well-intentioned marriage reforms:

"It's RIDICULOUS to think that someone would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state gave her benefits! You'd have to be an idiot!"

Well, the first marginal cases probably *were* idiots. But each marginal out-of-wedlock birth slightly destigmatized the next. Out-of-wedlock birth, which used to be the province of only the outcasts and the marginals, is now routine, and indeed is the norm (more than 80% among inner-city blacks) in some communities.

"It's RIDICULOUS to think that divorce will become commonplace if it's made more available. It's cruel to limit it to abuse, adultery, or abandonment. The only people who will divorce are those with terrible problems!"

Well, the first marginal cases probably *did* have terrible problems: financial irresponsibility that was ruining the life of the innocent spouse, alcoholism, whatever. But the first marginal divorces made the next ones easier, and so on. Now it's gone from "abuse adultery abandonment" to "terrible problems" to "I'm just not feeling the love anymore."

"It's RIDICULOUS to say that straight people won't get married if marriage is neutered to include gays.(Can we sing it all together now?) I can't IMAGINE not getting married because gay people are getting married."

Well, the limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality.
You -- Washington Post-reading, well-educated, middle-class, firmly socialized YOU -- may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may some high-school drop-out from Tuscaloosa. But it's foolish to think that the institution of marriage will not be affected. And -- given the track record of past marriage reforms -- affected dramatically.

It's amusing to make fun of the hypothetical marginal case. In fact, that was the basis of that pathetic, outrageous, SO-NOT-FUNNY NoVa/RoVa piece a few weeks ago.

Have at it! Just remember that the margins have an uncanny way of creeping to the center. I am glad that everyone so enjoys ridiculing Britney and Kevin, because my experience tells me we're going to get a lot more of them.

Posted by: annie | November 14, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd say the Ottawa Renegades is true irony bc, since the team folded!

Bad Sneakers love the comment about the weather from now till spring, it has been one of the greyest falls I can remember, and now we are in November - generally a very grey month in Ontario - thanks your post made me laugh at the situation.

Posted by: dmd | November 14, 2006 9:18 AM | Report abuse

wow, something like 200 comments on topic...

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Well Annie I am sorry you are leaving, I may not agree with you but that doesn't mean I don't want to hear your opinions.

That said as a descentdant of, in your words,

"Well, the first marginal cases probably *were* idiots. But each marginal out-of-wedlock birth slightly destigmatized the next. Out-of-wedlock birth, which used to be the province of only the outcasts and the marginals",

I can say that is truly offensive.

Posted by: dmd | November 14, 2006 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Sky report.
The sky is very low this morning; the tall buildings' tops disappear in the grey puree. Just another bleak, dreary, wet day but the misery is somewhat mitigated by mild temperature.

Right SoC, not being one of the "named" cause of discrimination.
I'm getting stupider and stupider by the minute. If I may quote the singer Jacques Brel :
les bourgeois c'est comme les cochons, plus ça devient vieux plus ça devient bête
les bourgeois c'est comme les cochons, plus ça devient vieux plus ça devient con
(The well-to-do are like pigs, the older they get the more blockheaded they get,
The well-to-do are like pigs, the older they get the dumber they get)

I even remember the old guys. They had been living together for 40-50 years at the time IIRC and yet were denied some spousal benefits (old age pension or something).

The Alouettes are heading for the Grey cup in Winnipeg for a fifth time in 7 years, yoohoo! Sorry for your Riders dr but their QB lost it a bit in the noisy BC stadium. That will not be a problem in the frozen steppes of Manitoba next week.

The Ottawa Renegades were a pretty sorry football club owned by the Glieberman father/son team. They bankrupted two football tems as they were the undertakers of the Ottawa Roughriders. Now this was irony, two teams called the Roughriders in an 8 teams league.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 14, 2006 9:31 AM | Report abuse

annie- You shouldn't leave. Your beliefs are valuable, yea even to those who disagree. We need a little disagreement from time to time. It keeps us grounded.

Posted by: Kerric | November 14, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Moving sharply off topic...

What's that you say? You want a web site where you can learn more about where you can take kids to learn about the solar system? You need go no further than:

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 14, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

in other news I count current membership in the SSAO-15 to be somewhere around 82. Some are frequent posters, some are occosional posters, and some are rare posters. Some use multiple handles and some have changed handles.

This a list of all I can remember (I forget some of the earliest posters who have left the boodle):

a bea c
ac in sj
Achenfan/Tom fan/Dreamer
american in siam
Bad Sneakers
Bay Self
bdl (nee Boondocklurker)
Bob S.
Caged Rabbit
Cassandra S
College Parkian
Cowtown (aka a bunch of other Cows*)
Curmudgeon (aka Cmmrbnd (I think))
Dave of the Coonties
Dolphin Michael
Error Flynn (nee (I forget))
far from the beltway
L.A. lurker
LongTimeLurker-CA (aka LTL-CA)
Loomis (aka Linda Loomis)
omni (aka omnigood, omnibad, and omnigoof)
Random Commenter
RD Padouk
Shrieking Denizen
superfrenchie (aka super[censored])
Wilbrod (and Wilbrodog)
Yoki (nee Stampede)

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Ah, but don't forget one was the Rough Riders and one was the Roughriders.

Posted by: dr | November 14, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I *knew* I should have actually caught up on the boodling from last night before posting this AM.

annie, I'm sorry that you're feeling persecuted and the need to sign off the A-blog. I, for one, will miss you.


Posted by: bc | November 14, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What a list Omni. As I was reading it, I was thinking, hey right, where is Omni these days and then there you were.

Annie, I'm sad that you felt badly about the postings on the topic but I hope you do stay. We may have different opinions, but we can talk. Talking is always good, even if in the end we choose to disagree.

Posted by: dr | November 14, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. I recall some sharply worded opening salvos yesterday, but once annie joined on the opposing side in the single-sex marriage debate, I recall only respectful disagreement and reasoned debate. I'm guessing things may have gotten ugly last night.

I do wish you would stay, annie. I disagree with you about a lot of stuff, but at least we can actually talk about it and each side in the discussion find out what the other(s) is(are) thinking. I may have stepped over a line myself, for which I apologize. We should be able to disagree without getting nasty.

Posted by: Tim | November 14, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry you feel the way you do, Annie. I thought we had a well-behaved discussion, but I might not have read every post thoroughly. It would be sad to lose your input on things.

Omni, amazing list, but where's Lone Mule?

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | November 14, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

annie said: "Out-of-wedlock birth, which used to be the province of only the outcasts and the marginals, is now routine, and indeed is the norm (more than 80% among inner-city blacks) in some communities."

As the father of a much-loved illegitimate child, all I can say is that us "outcasts" are quite happy with our "marginal" lifestyle, thank-you-very-much.

martooni & family <-- proud members of the second class citizenry

Posted by: martooni | November 14, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

annie... you can't leave... you're part of the TEAM.

We need you here and I'm pretty sure no one thinks you're bigoted, small-minded or small-hearted. In fact, we know that the opposite is true.

Posted by: TBG | November 14, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Annie, I hope if you're still lurking you don't leave. I think a couple of folks misunderstood your post about family vs. single leave reasons and concluded something that you didn't intend -- in fact I was startled at those reactions. As I read your entire argument, you are in favor of legal privileges for marriages, children, homeowning, etc., all of which you see as a sign of social stability. The question of definition of marriage is separate from this issue; I don't think you ever indicated you would not support a basic social services safety net, which also promotes social stability. I think this was just a misreading. I don't blame you for being irked. However, I think that not only is your voice valuable to the Boodle, but you represent some of the views of other people who may not be as articulate or confident. We're all complex creatures.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 14, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm such a maroon. How could I forget jw and TA. And of course 'The Lone Mule'... so that brings us to SSAO-85!!!

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse


I very much want you to stick with the Boodle. I will be very sad if you leave and will consider your departure a great loss. Yes, we disagree on at least one issue where our various reasonings will never coincide, but does that preclude discussions in the areas where we share common ground? I don't think so. Yes, some Boodlers used ridiculously inflammatory language. I believe that was aimed at other people, those who cannot express their views as coherently and politely as you have. Yes, Martooni violently disagrees with you, his passion is intensely personal.

I'm not asking you to change your views. I am asking you to remain and continue being a positive contributor to our wacky little corner of the Internet.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Wave to Annie and others:

I hope you stay. This blog is one corner of civility in the grand US. experience with liberal democracy.

Annie, I expect we share some view. I disagree with some of what you say about same sex marriage. But I understand your views. You views, interestingly, push me closer to marriage rather than civil unions because of the specialness argument.

I would like your company here, since many fine people here would not agree with some of mine. I trust, however, they would be civil and respectful in the mix.

For example, I am a pro-life feminist. And a card-carrying pro-life Democrat. I am not, however, a one-issue voter at any leve.

I've also been active in pro-life/anti death penalty seamless garment work for years. Talk about strange bedfellows!

Interesting things happen when people commit to stay engaged in dialog. We might find the contours of OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS, which is one way that democracies can enshrine rights realistically.

For example, I was party to fascinating discussions between a small group of "Gays and Lesbians for Life" and a rural, simple, interfaith pro life group. For years these two groups wanted to work together, including march together in January.

Now they work together regularly, naturally. The overlapping consensus about the value of (what term do I put here, since the terms tip positions and complicate dialog)

unborn children
immature fetuses

creates a space for them to work together.

BTW, they do not lobby at clinics. They march once a year --- under a banner naming their town AND saying G&L for Life -- but mostly they are busy with

social work


Posted by: College Parkian | November 14, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh sorry dr, I forgot that critcal details.
The victory of the Rough Riders against the Roughriders at the Grey cup in 1976 was a classic. Tom Clements' touchdown pass to Tony Gabriel with no time left won the game. Peter DellaRiva was my man but Gabriel was no slouch.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 14, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

In the dearly departed category: nani

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 14, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Annie - I am sorry to see you go, for I strongly believe that people of fundamentally different points of view can still manage to get along peacefully.

Indeed, I assert that fostering a culture in which every disagreement inevitably ends up with someone stalking off in anger does grave damage to both marriage and children.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 14, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Yes, and Nani...see, I told you I'm a maroon. Make that maroon-squared (or maybe even cubed).

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I've forgotten to say *hey* to Error Flynn!
And omni, too.

Nice to see you back, gentlemen.

annie, I hope you reconsider, ma'am.


Posted by: bc | November 14, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Annie, I was off work yesterday and mostly lurked as I was at home looking after a sick child. Just realized the irony of that statment, and to be honest with you I do have guilt at what I am entitled to as a parent, unfortunately it is necessitated, I believe in equality for all as much as is possible at the same time keeping in mind the world will never be a perfect place.

I didn't say much yesterday as when I read the comments I saw that the situation where I live is quite different in terms of spousal rights, maternity leave etc.

Nor did I read any animosity specifically towards you, I was amazed at how civil the conversations were, when you consider that the subject was something that affects how people live or may affect loved ones I thought it was very civilized.

Your comments upset me this morning as I saw it as a broad generalization, in your view you decided why people would have children out of wedlock, in the past and present. It is an issue close to me on several levels, I thank god that the stigma is removed so that children will not have to feel they are less worthy simply due to the nature of their conception.

Posted by: dmd | November 14, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Good Day
There's a stigma associated with being born out of wedlock?
I like to warn people who tick me off to be very careful, I'm a "real" b*st*rd.

Omni-Did you pull that list right out of your ear? I'm impressed.
I wonder what happened to that Welsh git.

Annie- Take a break, then come back if you wish. This is the most civilized place on the internet that I've found and you fit in very well. Just don't post limericks.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 14, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Bad limericks.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 14, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I did about half of it from memory, then reviewed the previous two boodles for the rest. Which would explain the lapses...

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I want to restress my earlier point about the importance of tolerating different points of view.

In my opinion, the greatest threat to marriage is the notion that it is only acceptable to be around people who think as you do.

My wife and I disagree on many things, but we do not argue over them heatedly unless there is some concrete action to be taken as a result of the disagreement. We recognize that it is natural and even desirable that two people should see the world in different ways. This philosophy helps us focus our key goal of building a life together and raisng two non-standard children.

Plus, I always lose anyway.

Posted by: RD Padouk | November 14, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

There are obviously quite a few people in the world who believe that our society is worse off due to the growing acceptance of unwed mothers, divorce, etc.

My questions to those who share that opinion:

Do we go back to the time when good girls who have "accidents" are compelled to have back alley abortions because society would shun them for having a child out of wedlock?

Do we go back to the time when a woman would rather put up with an abusive husband than face the stigmatism of divorce?

Do we go back to the time when illegitimate children could legally be excluded from inheriting their share of a parent's estate?

Slippery slopes can go both ways.

And yes, Scotty, I do feel passionately about this issue because it *does* affect me personally.

I'm sorry if some of my ranting went over the top, but I stand by the gist of what I posted: anyone who would deny a couple (same-sex or otherwise) the right to affirm their commitment to one another (whether by marriage, civil union or common law) or would deny these "marginal" couples the same rights "normal" couples are entitled to is acting out of fear or ignorance or bigotry (or all three).

Posted by: martooni | November 14, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Most African-American slaves who had to "jump the broom" instead of getting their marriage civilly recognized-- heck, themselves recognized as full citizens.

Marginal: Our president, Andrew Jackson.

Marginal: All the people who fell in love and had to shack up because of miscegnation laws prohibiting their marriages.

As I made the point-- in Mexico and India, marriage is still a matter of custom, not law. Customs can be stronger than law. Because of the large population and limited recordkeeping, people may simply have to swear they are married and find some kind of proof they've been considered married by others. Family, whatever.

For most of the epoch of Christianity, it was the Catholic church that recorded marriages, not the rulers.

Marriage is NOT exclusively a matter of secular law.

Recognizing marriage by law allows the laws to confer benefits to the married couple. That's good.

Denying benefits to any kind of legal arrangement simply because it mimicks certain arrangement the law has already set up for the benefit of family and married couples (survivor's benefits, etc)...

Which is what the VA law is about, really-- not just banning gay marriage-- that's wrong.

Had MD simply voted on whether gay marriage should be passed, I'd probably cast a ballot for "no". If they voted on civil unions, I'd read the law carefully before deciding and still be skeptical.

If, like VA they voted on a resolution that could ban willing roperty to unwed lovers, and as Ivansmom said, even making power of attorney a potential point of dispute, and the other ramifications of VA law, I'd vote no.

You are making a good point about gay marriage that we'll be sitting around thinking for a while.

Also please note the VA law was about restricting peoples' ability to enter into legal and contractual agreements that have nothing to do with romance.

Power of attorney is a very common arrangement for people to use, not necessarily for their lovers. A specific child may be given this in case of the widowed or divorced parent being ill.

That's fine if the child is grown up and can decide. What about while the child is still young? If the parent is in hospital, who can be deputized to pick up the kid and care for the kid? Pay bills and so forth?

That is not a marginal case, nor is it a point of "being married".

More and more our school system and overall state system requires that people be clearly labelled as the people permitted to take care of kids, or the kids can go into foster care; the school won't release kids to anybody else but who is recorded on their list becuase they're worried (and rightfully so) of child molestors and parental kidnapping/

This has nothing to do with the sacred institution of marriage. It has a lot to do with how we have set up our laws.

That is a very, very important difference.

I think the VA law actively harms the ability of people to entrust other people with precious responsibilities under the law.

That's why I don't like this law. Not because it bans gay marriage.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 14, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Virginia's policies are a reflection of the thinking of Virginians -- perhaps imperfectly, but a reflection nonetheless. I have friends who talked about immigrating to Canada when Bush was first elected, because they didn't want to be part of a country that would elect him. So there is a sense of ownership in this country and in one's locality when you participate in it and pay taxes to it. I'm all for "live and let live," because freedom of choice is fundamental to our existence. But "live and let live" is a personal policy. "Live and let live" is too simplistic when it comes to public policy, because public policies tend to directly and indirectly affect everyone.

On an individual level, I agree with (and live out) the views expressed by Cassandra: love the sinner, hate the sin. The Bible is the guide for my life. As Cassandra has stated, the Bible is very clear and repetitive in its view of homosexuality. Too often, Christians have become hyper-focused on that issue and sought to condemn gays and lesbians. Such actions are sinful, as they betray many repeated commands of the Bible: love your neighbor, leave judgment to God, focus on your own sins rather than those of your neighbor -- to name a few.

Of course, many people don't see the Bible as a guide at all. And many people see it as a partial guide, with some good ideas and some that are erroneous or outdated. I see it as 100% truth. I know that seems like silly talk in today's society, but I have many friends of various levels of education and societal participation who agree with me.

The Bible is a raw, unflinching view into the lives of many men and women and God's interactions with them. Every single man and woman that God chose to further His plans were tragically flawed. Those flaws are not condoned, so they certainly aren't there to encourage us to do likewise. It's actually an encouragement to us that God loves us in spite of our flaws, and we should have a similar love for each other. Many of the patriarchs had wives and concubines, but that does not mean that polygamy is okay. Those instances where God is telling us how to have a family, it is clear that it is one man and one woman. It's reflected in the way God presents Eve to Adam -- which is the origin of the father giving away the bride in traditional Christian marriages. It's reflected in the Song of Solomon, which is a long love poem between husband and wife, not husband and wives. And it is reflected in the metaphor of Christ as the groom and the Church as His bride. There are many other examples.

Okay, okay, many people don't agree with the Bible. That's fine. I don't agree with homosexuality. That's fine. What people do behind closed doors is their business. That, to me, is freedom in our society. Let's avoid and remove any laws that tell people what they can do behind closed doors, as long as no harm is being done. Those private activities are inevitably pulled into focus when you debate a public policy about them.

In our discussion so far, we have avoided focusing on *who* we're talking about, as if we're discussing some sort of abstract concept. I have no intention of debasing this discussion with crassness; and I applaud everyone for the respect that they've shown each other. I just want to draw in this very real aspect of the debate that has so far been avoided.

Is a man gay when he lives with another man? No. I've lived with another man but wasn't gay. Is a man gay when he kisses another man? No. I've kissed many men but am not gay. Is a man gay when he has a deep and intense love for another man? No. I have a deep and intense love for many men and am not gay. So what is it that makes a man gay? Is there an outward reflection of his genetic makeup?

Being gay isn't the same as being black. As far as I know, scientists haven't isolated any gay gene(s). But there are many genes that make a person black that have nothing to do with personal actions.

And that is where many of my black friends take exception to this debate being compared to the black civil rights struggle. That a person has brown skin, kinky hair, thick lips, and a dark irises should never be grounds for debating the level of that person's participation in society.

Homosexuality is vastly different. We're talking about romantic love between two people of the same sex. The origin of that desire is still without an answer. Some might say that the answer is irrelevant. The relevance is introduced by those who compare homosexuality to ethnicity, because they introduce the question: how is homosexuality like ethnicity? Ethnicity -- at least as far as the African ethnic origin is concerned -- is obvious. Homosexuality is not.

And there are other questions that are raised by this comparison. Is a person born homosexual the way a person is born black? If a person is born homosexual is it impossible by thought or action to stop being homosexual the way it's impossible through thought or action to stop being black. Does a black person think or feel a certain way that makes him black?

There are so many questions that, in my opinion, need answers before we enact any sort of policy one way or another. We need to figure out who the policy is for before we create the policy.

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 14, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

annie: If you're lurking, stay. I second what everyone else has said. Plus, you're the only boodler that still has a rotary phone.

Posted by: jack | November 14, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This just in from CNN:

South Africa bill would legalize same-sex marriage

I particularly liked this quote:

"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly.

Posted by: martooni | November 14, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

At, which is admittedly biased, here is the quote:

"On the history of cohabitation:

"In its variant forms, cohabitation has been practised in many, if not all, human societies."
- Zheng Wu, sociologist at the University of Victoria, in Cohabitation: An Alternative Form of Family Living, Oxford University Press (2000)

"Cohabitation may originally have been the normative form of family living. Even after marriage became the norm, informal cohabitation continued to coexist with formal marriage and the line between the two family forms was blurred for a long period of time. For example, in England the distinction between marriage and cohabitation remained unclear until the passage of Lord Hardwicke's Act in 1754, which stipulated more stringent requirements for formal marriage."
- Zheng Wu, sociologist at the University of Victoria, in Cohabitation: An Alternative Form of Family Living, Oxford University Press (2000)"

Adam and Eve had no priest or laws to marry them. Just God.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 14, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This is completely tangential to the discussion at hand, but how many of us would NOT be here if someone hadn't had an 'out-of-wedlock' moment in the past 100 years?

My great-grandparents apparently got themselves in the 'family way', which led to a quick wedding and ultimately, to divorce (sometime in the 1915 timeframe). My grandfather, an only child, was raised by his grandparents. He and my grandma had 5 children, were married for nearly 60 years; my parents are getting close to 50 years of marriage.

This great-grandma wasn't poor or just off the boat- this is the side of the family that can trace back to the Revolution. I have less insight on my father's side but I'm pretty sure that none of us would be here if "mistakes" weren't made.

Posted by: Pixel | November 14, 2006 11:21 AM | Report abuse

haha, mistakes were made, and it was a good thing. Hi Pixel *waving*

Posted by: omni | November 14, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I second what Annie said.

And, by the way, Annie, being salt is never a waste of time.

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 14, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Good contribution, TTT. There's nothing with regarding the bible as 100% truth, as long as you read it properly-- which is the hard part.

As for homosexuality, there are studies in animals that offer some hints. Male mice have a specific olfactory receptor that permits them to smell the repulsion pheromone male mice have for each other. This turns them off mating with male mice.
Male mice that have this olfactory receptor deactivated are bisexual-- they will attempt to mate with both male and female.
All our original body plans start out female in the womb-- a bit ironic given the story of Genesis, but true. It takes a sequence of hormonal releases to masculinize the brain. Disruption in that can alter sexual preferences.
It is also somewhat known that the later-born a son is, it is also a little more likely the son will be gay. So it's thought the mother's hormones play a role as well.

Dogs will mount same-sex partners freely as part of establishing pack order as well as show same-sex orientation but that doesn't mean a dog is exactly bisexual.

Female cows do the same thing. However a cow that shows male behavior is definitely different from a normal cow; it will be much more aggressive and not tolerate being mounted in turn. Some of them are freemartins.

They get their characteristics from having been twinned with a bull calf.

This would not happen the same way in dogs, cats, human, etc. because we seemingly separate out the hormonal flows better.

So you are right-- there may be 100 ways to become "gay". It is just a failure to synchronize and match the brain's gender identity to the body.

As I like to say, evolution is as nothing compared to the miracle that everytime, a single cell starts the path to becoming a full-grown, distinct human being. So many mistakes can happen on the way, that it is indeed a miracle.

We shouldn't be asking WHY people are gay, we should be asking why people are not gay, or whatever.

The oldest brother on Joan of Arcadia said: "Look, who you think about in the shower-- that's the gender you're attracted to." Men tend to be very unconfused about who they are attracted to in that way.

Women are different about sex. So their sexual self-identity can evolve; in rare cases it does seem that hormonal disorders as adults can in fact change their sexual preferences while the disorder lasts.

The same never seems to occur for gay men, though.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 14, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Annie represents probably millions who are not part of this blog. I also thought the discussion very civilized. Regardless of what some of you may think about illegimate or out of wedlock children I believe it is better for children to be raised in a two-parent home with married spouses for financial/security reasons and reassurance to the children. There is still a bit of a stigma that will never go away and shouldn't (and I know firsthand). I was alone when my unplanned first child was born having made the decision that abortion was not an option nor a shot-gun marriage to the wrong man. Yes, I greatly appreciate that homes for unwed mothers were no longer in vogue and I was riding the wave of female liberation and I could support the child. But it was never my plan nor my goal to remain alone without a marriage partner. Nor did I ever flaunt my situation or think it A-OK. Only now, 22 years later can I openly discuss it without shaking inside. I believe my child (and later children) has benefitted greatly from having a married mother (female role-model) and father(male role-model). There is much research supporting this view. I applaud Annie for her thoughtful words on a very emotional subject. I also appreciate reading opposite opinions. We are a civil group. Now I must go back to work. I think we need a new boodle...Joel?

Posted by: Random Commenter | November 14, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

This is out of topic, again, but this topic has ripened well beyond its optimum taste and texture.

Oh man, the Achenbachs are in trouble.
"Carnivorous women at greater risk of breast cancer: study"

Father of 3 (not so) little ba$tards.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | November 14, 2006 11:46 AM | Report abuse

RC, your command. Hang on. Let me tack together a few sentences.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 14, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

annie made a point yesterday, quoting G. K. Chesterton, to the effect that you shouldn't mess with changing some human institution until you understand it. Her point is that she thinks we are advocating destroying marriage without understanding it or its history.

I note the following:
(1) One of my hobbies is archaeology and ancient history, so as a matter of fact, yes, I do know a good bit about the history of marriage as an institution and the purposes and attitudes behind its foundation. The roots of heterosexual marriage only coincidentally resemble modern conceptions about its purpose, its "holiness", and its divine character. A lot of the modern argument against reconstruing the concept of marriage boils down to circular logic: "God meant it to be this way, because this is the way it is." The secular version is to replace "God" in that sentence with Nature, or evolution, or cultural Darwinism. The gis is the same: "This is what I'm familiar with, so this is the way it is supposed to be."

(2) The majority of posters here are married or have been married at some time. We know something about this subject as it applies to current society.

(3) We are not arguing to destroy or abolish marriage (even at my most intemperate, I have only argued that the word "marriage" should be reserved for religious sanction, and "civil union" should be used for legally-enforceable relationships). We are arguing that it is such a good thing, that more people should be permitted to partake of its wonders.

(4) Looked at another way: the institution we are arguing should be reformed is not the institution of marriage, which simply is available to all fully-enfranchised citizens. We are arguing that we should reform the institution of anti-gay discrimination, in the same way that the institution of racial discrimination was reformed to allow African-Americans freedom to choose whoever they wanted as spouse (within gender limits, so far).

And so, I finally get to a point: are there any gay boodlers? Are we all just flapping our gums without the contribution of the persons most affected? Or are our gay Boodlers simply reticent, on the theory that their own orientation is not relevant to the quality of the argument? That's true; but it's also true that arguments must be based on evidence and the only persons here who are likely to have serious evidence of discrimination against gays are gay persons.

Is anyone willing to come forward and identify him/herself? omni has identified a minimum of 85 unique Boodle identities (forgot kurosawaguy). Assuming an unbiased sample, there should be about 8-9 gay persons among our number. Is anyone willing to come out?

Posted by: Tim | November 14, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, TEAM! Annie, don't go. The common denominator of the Achenblog is science, humour and observations or something like that and we can't even get a consensus going on those.

You put a lot of time and effort into arguing the anti-SSM position in a mostly liberal crowd, so at least some hard reaction was likely. It was just as likely that someone would have went after Cassandra for "love the sinner, not the sin".

I note in passing that the proposition in part of my original comment yesterday [the same arguments can be made for polygamy as for SSM] was called "laughable". I could very well be wrong in terms of a result, but I don't think it would be because the arguments don't apply.

Reference re: Same Sex Marriage

"21 Several interveners say that the Constitution Act, 1867 effectively entrenches the common law definition of "marriage" as it stood in 1867. That definition was most notably articulated in Hyde v. Hyde (1866), L.R. 1 P. & D. 130, at p. 133:

'What, then, is the nature of this institution as understood in Christendom? Its incidents may vary in different countries, but what are its essential elements and invariable features? If it be of common acceptance and existence, it must needs (however varied in different countries in its minor incidents) have some pervading identity and universal basis. I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others.'

22 The reference to "Christendom" is telling. Hyde spoke to a society of shared social values where marriage and religion were thought to be inseparable. This is no longer the case. Canada is a pluralistic society. Marriage, from the perspective of the state, is a civil institution. The "frozen concepts" reasoning runs contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation: that our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life."

For the record, I'm for the current Canadian legislation.

Posted by: SonofCarl | November 14, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

//Homosexuality is vastly different. We're talking about romantic love between two people of the same sex. The origin of that desire is still without an answer//
I don't think "romantic love" has much to do with it. We seem to have little control over who we sexually attracted to. Gay men are attracted to men the way I'm attracted to women. I know I don't want marry every woman I've "lusted in my heart" after. This is a pair bonding and commitment issue, the sex is tangental in my view.
I once watched a gay video and was suprised at my reaction. All the various gyrations and permutations were interesting in an abstract way but left me unmoved. My only visceral reation was to the images of men kissing. It gave me what Grandad would call the "willies". But this is MY problem, not theirs. I don't think we should discriminate against people just because we don't understand or even if we disapprove of their consensual behaviour.
Free thought.
Free love.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 14, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Random, I agree with your comments, and appreciate your honesty. I think the best case scenario is a two parent home (married or not I do not see as particularly relevant).

Even when couples are not together, I believe it is incumbant on both biological parents to work to ensure the child/children continue to benefit from both parents, as much as is reasonably possible.

Posted by: dmd | November 14, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

SoC, thanks for posting that, I like the description of our constitution as a living tree.

Posted by: dmd | November 14, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The book I mentioned on my blog-- it says that boars have pheromones on their breath that turns sows on. (Presumably doesn't do the same for other boars).

Which gives a new meaning to open-mouth kissing in humans, and perhaps why you found watching two men kiss so off-putting. It's that dang boar breath.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 14, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't go annie. If I said something that made you feel personally attacked, I apologize from my heart. I love to argue, but don't take it personally and try to make it clear (and must have failed) that I am rebutting an argument, not insulting a person.

I'll miss you if you leave.

Posted by: Yoki | November 14, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

My breath's pretty damn boring, I'll tell you that.

Except when I have lobster, I guess.

Or a really good chili.

Or ceviche.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Ryan wuz ROBBED!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

i have only skimmed, so please excuse me if i booo.

annie, i hope and assume you meant just signing off this particular kit/boodle.

martooni, this is mostly in response to your post of last night. not treating marriage as a civil institution and getting your "piece of paper" in no way helps you or non-traditional families. in fact, perpetuating religious significance and being proud of your non-traditionality are totally counter-productive, imho.

pragmatically speaking, and all religious traditions aside, you have to have some legally-recognized stable union for tax, insurance and other purposes - that is, you have to have a "piece of paper." it's unrealistic to expect government and employers to give benefits to domestic partners sheerly out of good will and without some definition and threshold of commitment. i think you'd actually help non-traditional and non-hetero families more if you treated marriage purely as a civil contract.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | November 14, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

be back in a bit to read the boodle and catch up. this article in NYTimes today, while not "new" is still cause for concern.

Posted by: nelson | November 14, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Does it really matter how a person turns out to be gay? Either it's a choice, or there is no choice in the matter. So what? As someone else posted in the past couple weeks, being gay may or may not be a choice -- but religion is most definitely available to choice. While most people who remain religious may remain within the religion of their upbringing, they don't have to. If it's okay to discriminate against gays because it is merely a choice and not an innate property, like race, then surely it is okay to discriminate on the basis of religion (I do not recall who made this point. I am merely bringing it back for a re-run).

The idea of religious tolerance is crazy talk in many of the world's nations right now. In Afghanistan, it is a capital crime to choose a new religion. I am sure you all find this notion repugnant. Let's open our eyes, and we may see an echo of this attitude in the treatment of gays in our own society.

Posted by: Tim | November 14, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

NEW KIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 14, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Louis Brandeis: Sort of on topic.

Posted by: Boko999 | November 14, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Where? Where?

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 14, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you seem to be supporting my point. I first want clarity on what makes a person homosexual. You gave examples that seem to imply a genetic origin to homosexual behavior.

But what you describe still has little in common with ethnicity. From what I know, one common benefit of our genetic differences is protection from our environment.

I had an Indian friend from southern India who was puzzled when she saw lotion in U.S. grocery stores. She never heard of lotion before. Here genetic makeup was perfect for her environment. But after experiencing a Virginia winter, she quickly learned the purpose of lotion.

When I visited Ghana with a dozen friends, everybody was so careful to put on sunblock everyday. Not I. Didn't need it. Was in the sun for hours at a time for 2 weeks and never got burned. Nor did my Filipino friend.

Because of these physical differences (which were designed to protect us from the environment) societies at different times have sought to marginalize us.

But homosexuality is not similar to ethnicity at all. It's simply a lifestyle choice that someone makes.

Boko, that some people are attracted to the same sex is tangential to my points. Freedom, though I'm a strong proponent of it, is also tangential to my points.

I only think that we should understand clearly what we're talking about with gay rights before we codify it. In particular, we need to clearly understand what "gay" is. "Gay" isn't as simple as "black." And they're completely unrelated to each other anyways.

Posted by: ticklishturtletoe | November 14, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

If only our culture didn't have such a silly puritan obsession with sex.
What about love and sharing, the spiritual union, the meeting of minds, companionship, etc?
The anti-gay public seems mostly focused on (upset about) what the married couple might do on their wedding night, in the privacy of the bedroom. Someone should tell them it's really rude and unnecessary to focus on another couple's sex life.
This focus reduces marriage to the physical experience; they make it seem either filthy or trite.
And then they accuse gay people of trivializing the institution.

Posted by: Grace | November 14, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of family values, I think the parent-child relationship is far more fundamental to the constitution of a "family," than marriage.

Both parents and children may be gay.

Therefore marriage can also be gay.

Posted by: Poéthique | November 14, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Note that the full faith and credit clause allows Congress to regulate the manner in which states recognize the laws of other states. Thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, passed during the Clinton Administration (unfortunately), Congress can rule that states do not have to give full faith and credit to the marriage laws of other states:

1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex, even if the marriage was concluded or recognized in another state.
2. The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

Unfortunately the supreme Court sees disinclined to review the issue at this time.

And yes, it is ironic that the voters chose to enhance bigotry and discrimination in the land of the free.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 14, 2006 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This is my first (and possibly last) time posting here. I have read this thread for almost a year now, and I am consistently impressed by the intelligence and thoughtfulness demonstrated by the contributors to this board.

My background - I currently cohabitate with my partner of over 12 years. Together we have lived in California, Texas and Virginia. We moved back to Virginia to be closer to my siblings after my mother died unexpectedly 8 years ago. My partner and I are both north of 40, have no children, and have no interest in getting married in the traditional sense. In my immediate family, we are batting 1,000 when it comes to the institution of marriage. 5 marriages, 5 divorces. I also have a gay sister living in California with her partner of 6 years. My two other siblings are straight and divorced, but both currently living "in sin". We were all raised in an agnostic household and my parents were married and faithful to one another for 19 years. After they divorced 28 years ago, neither of my parents remarried. They were staunch Republicans, my father a Naval officer.

A few more pertinent facts -. I don't stand out for discrimination because I happen to be blond-haired and blue eyed and I don't look like a "stereotypical lesbian". I worked in the corporate world for 15 years and never came out. I have been self-employed for a little over 4 years now. My partner is also in the corporate world and is currently in the closet. It's just easier that way.

I feel compelled to add my .02 today, because I am a lesbian living in Virginia and this issue affects me personally. Also, because the following quote irritates me to no end -

"But homosexuality is not similar to ethnicity at all. It's simply a lifestyle choice that someone makes" TTT

I was born gay. I knew it from the age of 7, and although I didn't know what "it" was called, I knew that I needed to keep "it" a secret. Even now, unless I know a person well, the topic will never come up. I will also venture a guess that I know more gays and lesbians personally than anyone on this boodle. I have had conversations about our "orientation" (oh how I loathe that word, along with proclivity and lifestyle), with many of my fellow gays. Never once have I heard anyone confess that being gay was a lifestyle "choice". Unless all of my friends are either liars or self-deluded, my personal experience tells me that being gay is most certainly not a choice.

Now that that's out of the way...

I am out to many people in my life. Some by choice - some by proximity. My family and friends know, since I "came out" in my personal relationships in 1982. My neighbors know, since my partner and I have lived along side them for many years and they can't all be ignorant, or ostriches.

The fact of the matter is that gays and lesbians have been a certain percentage of the human population since humans started roaming the earth. Most people accept that fact, and if you do, you should be appalled that the state of Virginia has codified discrimination against a currently unpopular and politically expedient minority into law. It wasn't enough that we already had two laws on the books against gay marriage - no, we had to take that extra step and write this particular discrimination into the constitution of my state.

I'm not asking for special consideration here. I'm not a Pollyanna. I don't demand or even expect that most people will approve of me, or my relationship. What I do expect, and think I'm entitled to, is for my wishes, if they are expressed in an otherwise legal document, to be respected, regardless of who the power of attorney I designate might be.

Posted by: GybeHo | November 14, 2006 8:12 PM | Report abuse

No need to make this your only post, GybeHo. Welcome. Please don't hesitate to drop by again.

The same goes for you, annie. The same goes for you.

Posted by: pj | November 14, 2006 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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