I think i need to establish what i see as the purpose of marriage since arguments in the conservative section seem to focus not so much on the legitimacy of same-sex relationships in and of themselves but rather on what same-sex marriage would do to marriage as an institution.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment to a person. To be that person’s primary person. To be there when no one else is. Love, honor, cherish, protect... for better and for worse... in sickness and in health. And there’s usually sex involved. And often children. Government being involved in marriage means that there’s a framework for such things as divorce, child support, division of property after death, inclusion in health insurance, being able to visit partner in a hospital and being authorized to make life-and-death decisions. I expect most if not all of these things can be accomplished outside of marriage with enough time, money, energy, and legal knowledge. I think it is perfectly legitimate to automatically include them in marriage.
Quick note on the polyamory slippery slope argument. We are merely asking for the right for everyone to marry a single life partner regardless of the sex or gender of either partner. This relates to transgender issues, but i’m not gonna get into that. I have yet to be convinced that polyamory can work long-term. I’m not opposed to it and i wish anyone the best in it, but i just don’t believe it is possible to have more than one person as your primary person. Hence i’m not arguing for poly-marriages. I know this gets into weird territory as far as sharing health insurance and such and i don’t have good solid answers for why it’s fair for your health insurance to automatically cover a “spouse” but not someone else about whom you may care equally but who is not recognized by the legal system.
Radley Balko says:
If leftists were smart, they’d point out the hypocrisy of conservatives on the issue of marriage incentives. They’d ask why conservatives trust people to make smart decisions without state intervention about how they spend and invest their money, but can’t muster a similar trust when it comes to how people live their personal lives. They’d ask why conservatives -- who claim to be skeptical of government and its power of coercion -- insist on bringing that same state and those same powers of coercion into the most personal, intimate and important decision we make in our lives -- the decision to commit to another person.Jonah Goldberg mentions:
Earlier this month, Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly tried to cancel a scheduled Gay Pride Month celebration at the Department of Justice for lesbian and gay employees. He failed. Despite pressure from social conservative activists, DOJ reversed course in the face of protests from gay groups and a sympathetic media (and, probably, pressure from the White House).I am pleased to know that Ashcroft’s attempt was thwarted. I hope he’s right that the conservatives have lost and it’s only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legalized in this country, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
When the most famous and powerful member of the Religious Right in the U.S. government can't stop a gay pride event in his own office building, held by his own employees, you know that social conservatives are losing this fight.
I would just like to mention that i dislike John Derbyshire. I had the barest familiarity with hin from Andrew Sullivan’s page, but i started reading the gay marriage debate on the NRO Corner, and he makes me want to throw things. (His statement that "Lots of other readers want me to run for President." terrifies me.) I think i can deal with everyone else, but he’s just too much.
This whole “it’s the civilizing influence of women, not marriage as an institution, that keeps married men from promiscuity” makes me wanna cry. I’m an essentialist when it comes to sexual orientation (i don’t think anyone can ever help who they do or do not fall in love with, and Queer by Choice has yet to convince me that they are doing anything other than acknowledging their own inherent queerness) but the idea that men are inherently promiscuous and women inherently not, or that men are inherently warlike and women inherently peaceful, or anything else, drives me crazy.
Jonathan Rauch concedes that women, and children (a crucial addition to my mind), do domesticate men, but that they are not the only thing that does. He argues that
marriage is not a piece of paper ratifying a pre-existing relationship. It is a caregiving contract that two people make not just with each other but with society, and it's enforced with a whole bundle of rituals and expectations, from public gestures like weddings and rings and anniversary banquets to in-laws and shared finances and joint party invitations addressed to both spouses. Far from being a rubber stamp, marriage is a culture that actively binds people together.and goes on to say that
When homosexual couples can legally commit to each other for a lifetime, they, too, will be able to say to each other: "If you really care about me, as opposed to just wanting to have sex with me, you'll marry me." Many, probably most, homosexual men want to get off the market and settle down, but it's hard to sort out the serious partners if marriage isn't an option. Allow gays to marry, you don't wreck proper courtship — you allow it to begin. I'm not saying that male-male or female-female courtship is identical to male-female courtship (not that any two are alike anyway). But it doesn't need to be. It only needs to work better than, "If you really care about me, you'll move in with me."Andrew Sullivan said something similar, but i can’t find it.
Stanley Kurtz says:
But gay marriage is a surpassingly radical attack on the very foundations of marriage itself. It detaches marriage from the distinctive dynamics of heterosexual sexuality, divorces marriage from its intimate connection to the rearing of children, and opens the way to the replacement of marriage by a series of infinitely flexible contractual arrangementsThis brings us back to WST articles and chosen family and such. I think the ideal for raising a child is more than one parent. I don’t thing single parenthood is ideal. Everyone needs a break. On a more minor point, seeing conflict resolution modeled in close relationships and seeing that people can argue without hating each other, all that stuff is important to a child’s development (much moreso than seeing male-female interaction modeled or whatever it is that people claim children gain from having a male-female dyad as a model) but of course it’s (sadly) not something that all parents do. Some parents are terrible models, some parents are actively horrific forces in their children’s lives. But of course society can only get involved in “allowing” people to have children in the case of adoption (and foster parenting -- and maybe childbearing technologies, but i doubt it).
Later, Kurtz seems to backtrack on his idea that marriage is so heavily about the complementarity of the sexes and says:
If someone were to say to me, "Even if gay marriage further weakens marriage itself — maybe even substantially so — it's still worth it. The practical and emotional costs of the failure to recognize gay partnerships are just too great for us not to make the change," I would take that to be a very powerful argument (and far more accurate than the claim that gay marriage will actually strengthen marriage).He continues:
In reply, I would say that, at one level, it's a judgement call, with no clear answer. We have here an exceedingly painful case in which the interests of approximately 3 percent of the population cut against the interests of the other 97 percent, and in a way that matters tremendously to both groups. Yet I also believe that marriage won't really work the wonders for the gay community that Rauch thinks it will, but will instead simply end up losing its power as an institution for all segments of society. And the real source of gay alienation will not disappear. It is the experience of growing up gay in a world in which 97 percent of those around you are heterosexual that creates the alienation — even if no-one ever had a harsh word to say. Gay marriage is a false solution to the problem of gay alienation.
Rauch points out that:
I grant that to some extent "marriage lite" will spread anyway, because some states that bar gay marriage will offer alternatives. But a constitutional ban on gay marriage will force all states that want to do anything for homosexuals to create alternatives to marriage. Employers, too, will create multifarious partnership programs that would be unnecessary if homosexuals could just get married. Is all this good for marriage? Kurtz worries about "the dissolution of marriage and its replacement by an infinitely flexible series of relationship contracts." But that is exactly what he guarantees by withholding the template of marriage!David Frum brings up the issue of the fact that religious institutions receive federal funding. I don’t know enough about religious institutions receiving federal funding to say anything about that itself or how that relates to allowing churches to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. I don’t think government has any right to compel religious institutions to recognize any kind of marriage. Neither do i think any religious institution has the right to compel the government to recognize (polyamory) or not recognize (remarriage after divorce, same-sex unions) any kind of marriage. Civil marriage and religious marriage are two different things, though both can usually be accomplished in the same service.
I think i’ve mentioned this before:
Iraqi doctors now say what our intellectuals and our reporters should have felt in their bones. Iraq's children were dying not because of us, but because of Saddam. And even the parades of dead children were part of a monstrous hoax.Have i mentioned that the reports of the mass looting of Baghdad museum were incredibly exaggerated? (InstaPundit has more.)
Dr Amer Abdul a-Jalil, the deputy resident at Baghdad's Ibn al-Baladi Hospital, has told the London Telegraph that "sanctions did not kill these children -- Saddam killed them".
"Over the past 10 years, the government in Iraq poured money into the military and the construction of palaces for Saddam to the detriment of the health sector," he said.
"Those babies or small children who died because they could not access the right drugs, died because Saddam's government failed to distribute the drugs."
As the hospital's chief resident, Dr Hussein Shihab, confirmed to Newsday: "We had the ability to get all the drugs we needed. Instead of that, Saddam Hussein spent all the money on his military force and put all the fault on the USA. I am one of the doctors who was forced to tell something wrong -- that these children died from the fault of the UN."
Dr Azhar Abdul Khadem, a resident at Baghdad's Al-Alwiya maternity hospital agreed: "Saddam Hussein, he's the murderer, not the UN."
In fact, Dr Oasem al-Taye, who now runs the Baghdad Children's Hospital, said last week that after Saddam's fall he'd found plenty of medical supplies and equipment at a hospital once reserved for leaders of Saddam's regime.
"They were willing to sacrifice the children for the sake of propaganda," he said bitterly.
THE parades of dead children were part of that same propaganda.
Doctors say hospitals were forced to keep the bodies of babies who had died prematurely or of natural causes for up to two months until Saddam had enough to stage a parade of the little corpses, with women bussed in to act as "mourners", screaming insults at the US in front of television cameras.
"All 10 hospitals in Baghdad were involved in this and the quota for the parade was between 25 and 30 babies a month, which they would say had died in one day," Dr Hussein al-Douri, deputy director of the Ibn al-Baladi hospital, told the Telegraph.
Muslims traditionally bury their dead immediately, so keeping the bodies of the babies added to the grief of their parents.
"The mothers would be hysterical and sometimes threaten to kill us," said al-Douri, "but we knew that the real threat was from the government. They would have killed our families."
Oh, and Guantanamo?
Remember that New York Times sob story we noted yesterday about the illegal enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay? Here's the last sentence in the Times article: "Hospital officials said that about 5 percent of the inmates were suffering from depression and that they were being treated with antidepressants, typically Zoloft."*giggle*
Today's Times carries a story titled "More Americans Seeking Help for Depression," according to which "more than 16 percent of Americans--as many as 35 million people--suffer from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at some time in their lives." That means the Guantanamo inmates are much happier than Americans are! If that's so, could it be that they're being treated too humanely?
- from the WSJ Opinion Page (June 18)
- detainees talk (March 26)
(Glenn Reynolds says “It's not beer-and-skittles, but it's hardly inhuman, either.”)
- Guantanamo prisoners actually gained weight (May 29)
- Eugene Volokh tackles the Guantanamo (suicide, etc.) issue (May 30)
- Castro’s prisons and Guantanamo - which gets the attention? (June 5)
My dad wrote an e-mail to the DNC after viewing the “Bushenstein” film on their website (Bush builds his perfect Supreme Court Justice). He said something like, “I disagree with some of the things Bush has done, and I might vote against him in 2004, but then you guys go and do stuff like this...” 2nd sentence of the e-mail he gets in reply: “It’s Democrats like you who help us to make a difference.” I have established that my father is a “Republican with a heart,” no? More seriously, a WSJ reader says of the ad:
I see two white males, one white female, one Hispanic male, and one African-American male being used to make "the perfect Supreme Court justice, a right-wing extremist the likes of which have never been seen before." And what parts of which does the DNC use? The vision and brains of the white males, the teeth of the white female, the sneakiness of the Hispanic male and the arms of the African-American male. Isn't this extremely racist and sexist? And don't let them say they're trying to depict what goes on in Bush's mind. No Republican wrote that garbage. Bush is actively supporting women, Hispanics and African-Americans based on their conservative principles. This trash comes from the same party that recently tried to fire about 10 African-Americans so that their party could be more competitive in future races, and that refused to give sufficient support to Carl McCall's candidacy for New York governor.
Political leader slash? Beat this.
Mouse, not keyboard, use causes carpal tunnel syndrome?