A gay Scandinavian war on marriage?
I hate it when Americans use Scandinavia for their utopic or dystopic scenarios. One moment we're a social democratic paradise, the next a socialist hellhole, and somehow neither image seems to fit reality. Nor is that perhaps the purpose - the stereotype is more than sufficient for the intended rhetorical effect.
I wasn't going to write about the American debate on gay marriage, for the same reason I don't write about other internal American issues - I'm not all that interested, nor unusually qualified. In short: Opposition to gay marriage or civil union makes no sense except from a religious point of view, which is odd considering we all prefer religion to stay out of politics. Not much more to say than that. But when Stanley Kurtz at the Weekly Standard blames gay marriage for causing the end of marriage in Scandinavia, I think a reply is warranted:
Marriage is slowly dying in Scandinavia. A majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of first-born children in Denmark have unmarried parents. Not coincidentally, these countries have had something close to full gay marriage for a decade or more. .. Scandinavian family dissolution has only been worsening. Between 1990 and 2000, Norway's out-of-wedlock birthrate rose from 39 to 50 percent, while Sweden's rose from 47 to 55 percent. ..
What we have here is a lot of statistical mumbo jumbo, which combined with an undefended moral assumption proves a point which at is best is a distraction. I'm sure the numbers are correct: Less marriage, more children out of marriage. And if you agree with the assumption that American family values are important you'll find that worrisome. I don't, but none of this is relevant as it says nothing about any connection between gay marriage (or partnership as it's known here) and these trends. There is a correlation, but correlation is not causation. More likely both trends are caused the liberalization of sexual values that began in the 70's. This tells us that where people abandon traditional sexual values, they are more likely to have children out of marriage and to support gay marriage. It does not tell us that by preventing legal recognition of gay marriage you can make people return to traditional sexual values. So when Kurtz writes ..
It follows that once marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, that change cannot help but lock in and reinforce the very cultural separation between marriage and parenthood that makes gay marriage conceivable to begin with.
.. his use of "it follows" and "cannot help but" is deceptive. Perhaps there is such a connection, but correlation does not prove it.
Kurtz goes on to paint Norway as a formerly relatively conservative society where the fight over homosexuality has been used by elites to push liberal values. I don't remember much of the 91-93 debate that lead up to the introduction of gay unions, but his summary of a decade of cultural change doesn't ring true. He seems to think that the state church still has moral authority over Norwegians on sexual issues, so that when the clergy shifted towards toleration of homosexuality and cohabitation during the 90's, "the message was not lost on ordinary Norwegians". No? It seems rather to me that it was the people that dragged along the state church, which through its connection with the government and explicit purpose as a "people's church" was more vulnerable to liberal ideas than the independent churches. Norway's state church represents a sort of half-way Christianity which makes few demands of believers and therefore lacks the strengths that give independent and more conservative / evangelical churches their moral authority. Its only remaining authority over the half-believers and non-believers that make up most of Norway's population is as a supportive authority: If the church tells you what you already believe, then you appreciate the support. If it contradicts your views, you shrug, (or complain about how backwards the church is). That's not real authority, and I find it hard to imagine the effect Kurtz writes about here.
Kurtz continues with more examples from Norway, all anecdotal. A feminist sociologist points to gays to explain why marriage is meaningless. The royal prince moves in with a divorced mother. A bisexual sports celebrity breaks up with her female partner to become pregnant with a snowboarder. The two last examples are, apparently, intended to shock. (If you find that it works, you need to read more Heinlein.)
Even if you agree with Kurtz that gay marriage has destroyed marriage and family values in Scandinavia, (which he at no points attempts seriously to show), his conclusion that ..
Scandinavia has run our experiment for us. The results are in.
.. does not follow. Scandinavia and the US are different cultures. Norway ten years ago was not like America today, "with religiosity relatively strong". There are many, many differences. And what experiment? The wording implies actual experimental science, ie. testing of testable hypothesises, which sociology mostly isn't. Where is the control group, the one that is just like Scandinavia but without gay marriage? Or in the absense of a controlled experiment, which highly advanced computer model able to simulate such a cultural change has he made use of? This is bogus. If Americans want to stand athwart history and all that that's their business, but stop dragging us into your internal religious feuds. Opposition to homosexuality is a religious issue. It should be framed in religious terms, not with pseudo-scientific sociology.
Jeff Logan, Birmingham-AL,USA | 2004-02-29 05:32 | Link
I am certainly ignorant of the history of Norwegian sexual and familial mores, but it is hard to disagree with most of your criticisms of his article. Kurts was certainly careless with his causality arguments regarding homosexual marriage and family breakdown.
His point regarding the necessary delinking of marriage and childrearing once homosexual marriage is recognized seems to be a valid point. Whatever the causality, the state sanctioning of gay marriage is defacto recognition that the marriage "right" is not primarily for the benefit of childrearing but is in fact just a contractural arrangement between adults.
Personally, I am conflicted on the issue. My only concern with the debate in the US, is my belief that the issue should be settled democratically and not in the courts.
BTW, Give up your day job. You have the most consistantly interesting content - just not enough!!
Mike Perry, Seattle | 2004-02-29 08:48 | Link
I read his article and I didn't see what you seem to see there. I read him as saying that homosexual marriage was simply the next stage in a process that began with devaluing life-long traditional marriage. Others in the U.S. are stressing that the logic for homosexual marriage also applies to various combinations of multiple wives and husbands. It's called a slippery slope. Generally, advocates at one stage deny the next is coming. The clever ones know that's a lie. The naive don't.
Your claim that the only opposing arguments are religious isn't true. That are more than a few studies that show children do best in stable father/mother homes (particularly boys need fathers). Any resources, from social approval to economic, that get diverted from that sort of family to others of less long-term value for society come at the expense of something a society needs, healthy children for the next generation. And I would think someone living in Scandanavia would be quite aware that the cost of social services can't keep on expanding indefinitely.
For an example of this, imagine in the U.S. a marginally profitable business that has trouble paying health insurance for its employees, particularly for the spouse and children. Now imagine that same business getting hit with the medical costs of a homosexual employee 'married' to someone with AIDS. (Perhaps even paired just to get the insurance.) One AIDS case will suck up money that could provide good medicine for dozens of kids. That, my friend, is a very, very non-religious argument against homosexual marriage here in the U.S. In the real world, the equation is quite simple: Gay marriage=Dead kids. I know. I worked in a hospital with kids being treated for cancer. If their parents' insurance couldn't pay large sums, the children did not get a very expensive and effective treatment. They simply died.
My fix for that AIDS guy? The homosexual community is disproportionately wealthy and doesn't have to rear children. Let them self-fund their insurance and not steal money (through marriage benefits) from little kids who die because their parents couldn't afford to get them the care they need fast enough.
You could, of course, avoid that by disallowing any tax, employment and retirement benefits to homosexuals pairs, but that would be branded as "hateful" and "discriminatory." That won't happen. It's all or nothing. Either put all your resources into creating stable, long-term hetrosexual marrages or start a long downward spiral.
The reality is that Western Europe is headed for history's dustbin by the standard ho-hum, here-we-go-again decadence route. It's difficult to come up with any scenario that will save it. Europe is not having enough kids to support even a U.S. level welfare state, much less the Swedish variety. And Europe is getting all too many of its immigrants from parts of the world that do not mesh well with its cultural traditions.
Here in the U.S. things are somewhat different. Our native birthrates aren't as low and we're drawing our immigrants mostly from parts of the world (Asian and Latin) that enrich our culture.
We also have a stronger religious foundation and that helps to resist the "me" culture of decadence. Unfortunately, our religious culture is also heavily pietistic and personalistic, so its typically dreadful at engaging with the wider society. It would rather say, with Billy Graham, "The Bible says...." that come up with persuasive arguments that the old fashion way is often the best.
There is one phenomena that is happening to some extent here and might happen in Europe. When parents screw up badly enough, as the baby-boom generation did, their children often learn a lesson and get sensible. Here feminists are shrieking because young women increasingly oppose and refuse to resort to abortion. In a few years we're likely to see a bizarre situation where the most strident supporters of legalized abortion are aging women who can no longer get pregnant.
There's certainly hope in that. Maybe there's also hope for marriage.
Michael Brazier | 2004-02-29 10:09 | Link
The reason why Stanley Kurtz chose to write about Scandinavia's experience with gay marriages is that, a little while ago, Andrew Sullivan was claiming that said experience shows that allowing gay marriage would bring straights back to marriage. If you resent Norway's being dragged into America's debate, blame Sullivan for it, not Kurtz.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-02-29 10:19 | Link
Mike: " I read him as saying that homosexual marriage was simply the next stage in a process that began with devaluing life-long traditional marriage."
No he claimed that it would cause it: "Will same-sex marriage undermine the institution of marriage? It already has."
"Others in the U.S. are stressing that the logic for homosexual marriage also applies to various combinations of multiple wives and husbands. It's called a slippery slope. Generally, advocates at one stage deny the next is coming. The clever ones know that's a lie. The naive don't."
Slippery slope arguments are a slippery slope, so I prefer to stay away from them alltogether. Why do you believe that polygamy will be next, ie. why do you believe that the American people will demand a right to have many wives/husbands next? Based on what emerging pattern of group cohabitation do you believe that this will be next? It won't, of course, in the same way that approval of homosexuality didn't lead to approval of pedophily. Because monogamy is, if not entirely required by our psychology, preferred by it and required by our culture. As for me, I'll evaluate such a demand when it arises. If the form of polygamy in question is the traditional male one, one man many wives, then I'm against it, because this tends to make marriage a privilege of the rich and powerful. If it involves a more equal number of men and women I won't mind. But I doubt any of these are truly compatible with our Western culture, and the second probably not with out psychology.
"One AIDS case will suck up money that could provide good medicine for dozens of kids. That, my friend, is a very, very non-religious argument against homosexual marriage here in the U.S. In the real world, the equation is quite simple: Gay marriage=Dead kids."
That's a very emotional example, but you leave out all the details that would impress me: How realistic is this scenario? Easy to imagine, yes, but there's nothing more deceptive than a scenario that's easy to imagine. How many gays have partners with AIDS? How many heterosexuals have spouses with AIDS and other expensive diseases? At what various levels of these two values would gay marriage become ok? How many companies are so marginally profitable that high insurance costs start killing their employers' kids? Is spousal insurance legally required / grounds for dismissal? And these are just the questions that pop up on a second's reflection. I'm sure you've thought this through, though, and have something of substance to back you up. Even so, I'm left wondering whether you're arguing against gay marriage or the American health system.
"The reality is that Western Europe is headed for history's dustbin by the standard ho-hum, here-we-go-again decadence route."
I've written about that before: http://www.bearstrong.net/warblog/000556.html
I think I answer most of your points there. In short, I don't buy it.
Michael: "Andrew Sullivan was claiming that said experience shows that allowing gay marriage would bring straights back to marriage"
Yes, I noticed Kurtz wrote that, but I forgot to mention it in the entry. That too is bogus, of course, so as an attempt to knock down Sullivan's theory the article's ok (unless he's using a straw man - where did Sullivan claim this?). But Kurtz goes further than showing that Sullivan is wrong - he also claims that the opposite is true.
David Elson, Australia | 2004-02-29 10:49 | Link
It has been socially acceptable for a long time now, for couples living in de facto relationships to have children (indeed in Australia they recieve many of the same rights that married couples do), where's the proof that gay marriages will increase this already growing trend?
Its the greater freedom of the individual which has led to the increase in divorces, and defacto's with offspring, as much of the stigma associated with such behaviour has steadily diminished over time. If people have the freedom to divorce their wife and find another, or have children before being married, or even marry their gay lover, then they will, especially if they won't be ocastrised, as in a society were the individual has the freedom to do as they please (within certain expanding limits).
Leif Knutsen, New York | 2004-02-29 13:14 | Link
I don't think that the solution to the rising cost of treating AIDS is to ban same-sex marriages. And if we accepted this as a practical argument, we'd have to dismiss it for marriages between women.
I think the main difference between my (mostly libertarian) world view and Mike Perry's (presumably conservative) world view is that I don't think homosexuality is a moral choice but a largely fixed sexual orientation. I realize that all the facts aren't whether it's hereditary, but it seems to me that it's unfair to ask gays to suppress instincts that are as natural to them as my attraction to women is to me.
As you'll read in my very sporadically-updated English blog:
I think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. At first I was queasy about the "slippery slope" to polygamy and polyandry, but then I thought: "why not?" If consenting adults want to combine their futures in any number of combinations, who are we to say they can't?
I realize there are problems with job-related benefits, but these are solveable.
Reid of Americ | 2004-02-29 15:29 | Link
"I hate it when Americans use Scandinavia for their utopic or dystopic scenarios."
Like it or not, Scandanavia is the only socialist experiment that can even remotely be considered an overall success. The left will always use Scandanavia as their model for marketing their politics.
One thing that Scandanavians and Jews have in common is that their success has led to scrutiny. The difference is that those who are in total disagreement with Scandanavian socialism don't hate Scandanavians.
Morten Myhrvold, Oslo, Norway | 2004-02-29 20:19 | Link
I think the debate about homosexual marriage is focusing on the wrong things. The question is whether you think homosexuals are equal to heterosexual? Are they just as human as your are, are they worth as much as you are? Of course they are! If you think otherwise, give me an overview of your life, and i will find a factor that will demote you to half a man/woman.
Mike Kerry, you say "Gay marriage=Dead kids". Since homosexual marriage as today are not legal in most states in the US, maybe there are other factors that play in the american health care system? The line of reasoning are weak and the money can hardly be traced to the gay community of america more than it can be traced to heterosexual people.
Johan | 2004-02-29 23:31 | Link
Bjørn, you wrote:
I have to diagree.
First of all, the institution of marriage is arguably the cornerstone of our civilization, regardless of religious attachments. There are many valid arguments on both sides of this issue, many of which are completey void of religion.
Secondly, there is a distinct difference between marriage and civil union. Most of us who strongly oppose gay marriage, are in favor of civil unions.
Regardless, the cause-and-effect of deterioating family structures in Scandinavia and the introduction of de-facto gay marriage is a valid point to raise in this debate.
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-02-29 23:48 | Link
Very well said. As you will have noticed, I have written more extensively on gay rights in my blog for a long time, since I think it is the civil rights issue for our times. I think history will judge the opponents of gay rights no less harshly than it now judges those who earlier fought against racial oppression or gender oppression.
Whether or not the "institution of marriage" is a cornerstone or not, it is simply flawed to pretend it has not gone through massive changes already. Up to the mid 1800s, marriage was essentially a slave contract where females went from being the property of their fathers to become the slave of their husbands.
If we go further back, we'll notice that there was no Christian ceremony involved in marriage a thousand years ago. The church refused to wed, and considered marriage a secular, profane institution. It only reluctantly entered the marriage business (some eastern-orthodox churches have kept this distance until our days).
This is just two major recorded changes to marriage in our civilisation. There are countless others. Surely, allowing gays to marry - not at all affecting those living in straight marriage - is less of a change than changing the meaning of "wife" from "slave" to "partner."
It must be noted that Norway doesn't have gay marriage, just civil union ("partnership"). Denmark has gay marriage, and I can't remember to have heard that Sweden has neither (hmm, sounds odd).
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-01 02:44 | Link
To Morten Myhrvold:
I'll paraphrase an argument of Donald Sensing's. Suppose a movement arose to grant medical licenses to anybody who wanted one, without asking whether they knew anything about medicine, on the grounds that practicing medicine is a civil right, that the untrained are just as human, and worth just as much, as the trained. Would you support such a movement?
The original civil rights movement argued that the difference between African ancestry and European ancestry is irrelevant to the purposes of the vote. The analogous argument for gay marriage is that the difference between gay sex and straight sex is irrelevant to the purposes of marriage. The original argument was valid, but the analogy isn't. Denying the vote to black people was a statement that their desires and opinions should have no influence on public policy; the insult to black people in that is clear. Denying marriage to gay people is a statement that their relationships, unlike those of straight people, cannot have consequences of interest to the public. Where is an insult to gay people in that?
sandy P. | 2004-03-01 06:59 | Link
--Why do you believe that polygamy will be next, ie. why do you believe that the American people will demand a right to have many wives/husbands next?--
Because some person in Utah, IIRC, is already suing for the right. They had to give it up to become a state.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-01 07:02 | Link
And Jan, just so you know, there are many, many blacks in America who don't like it that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. No comparison what they and blacks went thru as far as they're concerned.
Just thought you'd like to know.
David Elson, Australia | 2004-03-01 08:42 | Link
If you don't undestand, denying black people voting priviliges was a statement that they had no place in determining public policy (as they were considered inferior); clearly insulting to black people is clear. Denying marringiage to gay people is a statement that their relationships, are inferior to those of straight people; the insult here is clear.
This is an issue of equality in re: sexual orientation. Should we devalue the bond of love between two people and deny them the right to marriage just because they are gay??
David Elson, Australia | 2004-03-01 08:50 | Link
And Sand, just so you know, if someone is black or of any other ethnic persuasion doesn't that they can't hold beliefs that are discriminatory in relation to race, gender or sexual orientation. Gays have been ostracized (often times violently) throughout the known world for centuries now, so it damm well better be considered a civil rights issue!
Just thought you'd like to know.
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-01 09:21 | Link
"Denying marringiage to gay people is a statement that their relationships, are inferior to those of straight people": no, it is not. It states that such relationships are not the same as those of straight people, and that the difference is relevant to the purposes of marriage. Saying that apples are not oranges is no slight to apples (or to oranges.)
"Gays have been ostracized (often times violently) throughout the known world for centuries now": so now we're to believe that not being allowed to marry is "ostracism"? Let's not be absurd. To ostracise is to eject from the community entirely, and nobody is proposing that for homosexuals.
"Should we devalue the bond of love between two people and deny them the right to marriage just because they are gay??" Who told you that the bond of love was the chief purpose of marriage, to which all others must bow? For that matter, why should anyone other than the principals care whether people feel the bonds of love? If romance were the central goal of marriage, laws to define and govern it would be a gross invasion of privacy. Why else are there people who now propose to abolish marriage law completely?
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-01 12:34 | Link
Johan: "First of all, the institution of marriage is arguably the cornerstone of our civilization, regardless of religious attachments. There are many valid arguments on both sides of this issue, many of which are completey void of religion."
Michael: "such relationships are not the same as those of straight people, and that the difference is relevant to the purposes of marriage."
There's a lot of talk about the purpose of marriage here. We should remember that marriage is first a tradition, and traditions are just stable patterns of social behavior. That marriage has usually been between one man and one woman tells us that this is a stable way to do things. It does not tell us that the purpose of marriage is to join a man and a woman, that this "cornerstone" was put there to keep our civilization together. Purpose is intention, and nobody "invented" marriage with such a purpose in mind. Marriage arose, and it took on a particular form, which was socially stable. There's no higher plan at work we must stick to. The only purpose of marriage is the purpose of the couple that gets married, the community that encourages it, and the society that defines what it is. That purpose is our purpose, and we can change it if that is the right thing to do. Traditions are inherently stable, not inherently right.
Second, marriage is a ritual that formalizes the social ties that make up the family, the most important of which (today) is love (spouse-to-spouse, parent-to-child). Men and women have moved in together and raised families since forever. Like all changes that affect people's social ties to the rest of their community, (birth, growing older, coming of age, death), this has inspired a lot of rituals. The rituals are there because something important has changed, but it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what without a tangible symbol of it, ie. a ritual (ceremony + ring). The ritual is not directly about the relationship of the couple, (psychology takes care of that), it's about the relationship of the couple to the community. People grow up with or without coming of age rituals, but the ritual symbolizes the change of social status in a tangible way. Much the same with marriage. It also has the indirect effect of binding the couple closer together, because making the relationship tangible and public also makes a breakup tangible and public, and that raises the barrier somewhat (depending on customs). If there's a reason why marriage is better than living together, it's just that - that it makes it more difficult to break up. That's good for the kids, of course, to a point.
The problem with the argument that gay marriage undermines marriage is that marriage is not dependent on kids. They're not required. Married couples live for years or their whole lives without having kids, and nobody (today) treat them as any less married. Marriage formalizes _relationships_. The question is what the purpose of relationships is, ie. what does the couple themselves and the community expect a relationship to accomplish? That depends on the culture. Traditionally it has always been about having kids, of course, to the extent that love was a luxury and a childless marriage was grounds for divorce - was _expected_ to lead to divorce. Today, in our culture, relationships are primarily about love, and children are a voluntary but common extra. There's some disappointment if no children arrives, but nowhere near the social pressure that used to be.
But now if the main benefit of marriage is to formalize relationships, and the purpose of relationships is love, allowing gays to marry doesn't change any of that. It is a consequence of our current way of looking at relationships, but that social change took place long ago, and is almost universally accepted in our culture, including by most of those who oppose gay marriage. Excluding gay relationships from this formal recognition does not affect our cultural focus on love as the purpose of relationships.
"Secondly, there is a distinct difference between marriage and civil union. Most of us who strongly oppose gay marriage, are in favor of civil unions."
You are? Then Kurtz's argument becomes even more meaningless. As Jan explained, Norway does not have gay _marriage_, but something closer to civil unions. I should perhaps have focused more on this in the entry, but I didn't think the difference was important. There are only a few more legal benefits to a real marriage - so perhaps what you oppose is the word itself, and all its cultural implications? That makes sense, sort of. Civil unions are practically marriages, but they don't _feel_ (socially and psychologically) as marriages, which is why gays want the word as well. And perhaps that's why you and others want to deny it from them?
Sandy: "Because some person in Utah, IIRC, is already suing for the right [to polygamy]"
Some person, yes. Of course there is. I'm not talking about some person here, but a significant section of the population. Gays are a significant section of the population, and those who tolerate them much more so. If not, this wouldn't be an issue.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-01 18:54 | Link
David then you should call in to some talk shows here and explain that to them.
Generally speaking, they don't see it that way.
And if you're white, I really don't think they'll take kindly to your reasoning.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-01 19:08 | Link
Found this on the net, if anyone's interested, but didn't confirm - there is a Katz at Yale, tho, and involved w/gay and lesbian issues:
Statement by Jonathan Katz, executive coordinator of gay and lesbian studies at Yale U on 2/16:
"I'm Pollyanish enough to believe that we may, in fact, help move the state perspective on marriage by virtue of our inclusion towards a much broader, much more capacious view. I'm thinking even of the fact of monogamy, which is both one of the pillars of heterosexual marriage and perhaps its key source of trauma(?). Could it be that the inclusion of lesbian and gay same-sex marriage may, in fact, sort of de-center the notion of monogamy and allow the prospect that marriage need not be an exclusive sexual relationship among people? I think it's possible....I would never five years ago have defined myself as an advocate of marriage. In fact, the very institution smacked of precisely that which I lived my life in opposition to. But because it has cohered as perhaps the litmus test of civil rights now, because it carries real social benefits, and because I think it perhaps furthers the uncoupling of the state and the church in this country, which I thought was promised in our Constitution, then I'm all for it.
Is it true there are studies out there showing lesbians are more monogamous than gays?
Monogamy is a trauma?
What does this guy want, all the social bennies and allowed to cat around on the side w/no consequences?
I also understand there're studies about children w/gay and lesbian parents and how they fare.
So, what's the real agenda?
Larry, San Francisco | 2004-03-01 20:59 | Link
I wouuld like to add a San Francisco perspective.
Zathras, Atlanta | 2004-03-01 22:41 | Link
With all respect to the arguments here about the merits of gay marriage, at issue in the United States is not just whether a change in the definition of marriage shall be made but how it shall be made.
Whether this aspect of the issue is of interest to Europeans I do not know. My impression is that the determination of people on that continent to make their own decisions and resist those imposed on them by arbitrary authority is rather limited. In any event, the debate over gay marriages in the United States is taking place in the context of a remarkable ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in which four out of seven justices decided that centuries of practice restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated the state constitution and must be changed forthwith.
In the United States, contracts (including marriage contracts) entered into in one state are recognized as valid in all the rest. This practice has never been challenged in quite that way before -- that is, by a decision of one state to substantially change its definition of an important contractual relationship, that decision not even having been made by the state's elected legislature. What the advocates of gay marriage are asking us to do in this country is to accept the Massachusetts Court's decision, and agree to impose on the whole country the revised definition of marriage the Court has imposed on Massachusetts.
It is of course always tempting to take shortcuts if one really wants something, and in this case what the backers of gay marriage want to take a shortcut around is democracy. Behind all the talk of human rights and the raw historical ignorance of analogies between gay marriage and the emancipation of the slaves is the reality that no legislature in the country would approve gay marriage; its supporters have therefore decided that they should not have a voice. I don't think it is going too far to call this attitude un-American, though once again it's not clear whether many Europeans have any interest in that.
One can see easily why the "slippery slope" from recognition of same-sex marriages to recognition of all other kinds looks so slippery. The people will not get a voice in where to stop. It's easy enough to argue that gay marriages, polygamous marriages, and arranged marriages between people one or both of whom are yet children are not the same. But both the latter type of marriages are widely practiced in different cultures around the world; under the precedent set by the Massachusetts Court, that or any other state court could decide that individuals' right to equal treatment under the law was being denied by the refusal of the state to recognize their preferred form of union, and every other state would have to abide by its decision.
Advocates of gay marriage, who were mostly silent on this issue only five years ago, swear this will not happen. There is no reason whatever to trust them.
Shelby, Marin, California | 2004-03-02 05:24 | Link
"neither image seems to fit reality. Nor is that perhaps the purpose - the stereotype is more than sufficient for the intended rhetorical effect."
Thanks for noting that so gracefully. Exactly.
I was singularly unpersuaded by Kurtz's essay; I hope others feel the same, as it was a really poor example from someone who's usually more competent. Your analysis of his errors is spot-on.
I'm sorry Kurtz felt the need to drag Scandinavia into this. As someone who supports gay marriage I suppose I should be gratified by weak arguments against it, but I just hate seeing them made anyway, especially when there are more plausible ones.
"The two last examples are, apparently, intended to shock. (If you find that it works, you need to read more Heinlein.)"
Hee-hee. Later Heinlein, anyway.
Shelby, Marin, California | 2004-03-02 05:29 | Link
Reid: "The difference is that those who are in total disagreement with Scandanavian socialism don't hate Scandanavians."
Too funny not to be true.
Sandy P. | 2004-03-02 07:40 | Link
As an additional point to Zathras, 30 years ago abortion was forced upon this country by an imperialistic court.
We've been at each others' throats ever since. It should have been a states' rights issue. Abortion is the litmust test for federal judges. Add this to the mix.....
At this point in time, Californians don't want it, voted it down in 2002. W put it in the proper place, fight it out in the Peoples' House.
There's nothing he can do except use the bully pulpit.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-02 09:44 | Link
Shelby: "Later Heinlein, anyway."
Not very late. The Puppet Masters (1951) ended with the introduction of mandatory nudism. (For a good and noble reason! Brain-controlling aliens from outer space etc.) But by later standards that's not very remarkable. Perhaps we can talk about a slippery slope in his case.
Zathras: "One can see easily why the "slippery slope" from recognition of same-sex marriages to recognition of all other kinds looks so slippery. The people will not get a voice in where to stop."
We are talking about the same people that now has the opportunity to consider a constitutional ban on gay marriage? I agree that this should be solved with legislation not court rulings, but there's a limit to how undemocratic a court ruling can be. It can tip the balance, but it can't be used to do anything really unpopular.
Alene | 2004-03-02 14:50 | Link
Just an observation or two.
Back in the '80s, when legislatures were expanding and adopting lists of classes of people against whom discrimination was illegal (which in turn shifted the burden of proof in lawsuits to favor the "protected classes"), one of the issues raised by opponents of including sex and sexual orientation in the list was that doing so might have unlooked for results. Some of the examples sound silly--required same-sex bathrooms, for example. When opponents suggested that these classifications would result in same-sex marriage on civil rights grounds, their arguments were poo-poohed, dismissed as hysterical overreaction. Yet that is precisely the path followed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Marriage has taken many forms over millenia. We find it even among isolated tribes in Brazil and Peru. It seems always to be associated with some ritual by which the society gives it recognition and support; the ritual frequently incorporates reference to fertility. Romantic love as a basis for this arrangement is a relatively modern phenomenon. This universality might give us pause in blithely changing the rules of the game. In our post-industrial society, one might ask what stake society generally has in supporting the marriage bond. If having and nurturing offspring is the goal, we should bring that idea out of the shadows and institute changes that support families (yes, even same-sex adoptive parents). If If, on the other hand, there is general agreement that child-rearing is not the core function and purpose, it is difficult to see why government should be other than neutral wrt who chooses to bond with whom.
Zathras | 2004-03-02 19:01 | Link
Bjorn, there is a reason why the United States has averaged less than one Constitutional amendment every ten years since the First Congress passed the Bill of Rights. The Constitutional amendment process was designed to permit correction of deficiencies in the Constitution -- either deficiencies in the original document (such as the absence of a proscription against unreasonable search and seizure or a provision for the event that the President became incapacitated) or deficiencies that became such as changing circumstances required to government to do things (like raise revenue through an income tax) that the Constitution as first written did not allow it to do.
The amendment process was not designed as a substitute for the normal operation of state legislatures. It is foolish to so regard it. As to whether a arbitrary court ruling should be considered "undemocratic" if it is popular (or at least not too unpopular), undemocratic is exactly what it is. Democracy consists in the exercise of the people's voice, not an unaccountable authority guessing right about what it can get away with.
Stein, Sorumsand, Norway | 2004-03-02 22:23 | Link
To my generation (I am born in 1965) it makes little difference whether people get married or just move in together, as long as they love each other and raise any kids in an athmosphere of mutual love and respect.
I am a Norwegian married (to an American lady :-), and I intend to stay married to her for as long as we both live.
But I would have been just as happy just living with her - it would not have changed our feelingsfor each other, or our committment to providing a stable home for our kids.
We have both American and Norwegian friends and family. Some married (most of the Americans get married), some just living together (most of the Norwegians just move in together).
Heck, we even have a couple of friends that live in a lesbian marriage in the Netherlands.
We see no great difference in the number of relationships that break up among our American
Our two lesbian friends have stayed together for 7 or 8 years by now, and show no sign of breaking up.
Which is more than you can say for our hetero friends in the states and over here. In the states we have seen - umm - I think six hetero marriages terminated by divorce these last seven years.
In Norway, we have seen umm - five, I believe - longterm cohabitations break up during the same seven years.
It seems like the number of hetero relation-ships that break up is not significantly influenced by whether lesbians or gsys can get "married" (or register a civil union.
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-03 07:14 | Link
"We should remember that marriage is first a tradition, and traditions are just stable patterns of social behavior."
Traditions are not _just_ stable patterns of behavior; they do not simply exist and sustain themselves in a void. Marriage, for instance, is an adaptation to and reflection of certain facts of human biology and psychology, and changing marriage without regard to these facts is an invitation to disaster. In that sense, marriage serves a purpose, even if it didn't have a designer; and it's not necessary to assume a designer, to ask what that purpose is.
"The [marriage] ritual is not directly about the relationship of the couple ... it's about the relationship of the couple to the community."
To any rational enquirer, this raises a question: in what way has the spouses' new relations with each other changed their relations with their community? Why should the community care? The coming-of-age rituals you spoke of signify the fact that their subject is no longer a child, under someone else's authority, but has become an adult, equal to all other adults, and a member in full of the community. What then does a marriage ritual signify?
Both historically, and in principle, the community cares about marriages because the spouses' new relation can be expected to cause new members of the community to appear, and these new persons must be cared for and taught, so that in time they will be fit for membership. "Gay marriages", however, cannot have this effect; the community has no reason to be interested in them. Of course a meddlesome, intrusive community may _take_ an interest in them, but what true liberal could endorse such communal conduct?
"The problem with the argument that gay marriage undermines marriage is that marriage is not dependent on kids."
Well, the problem with the argument that gay marriage is a civil right is that marriage is not dependent on romance. Even today, people get married for wholly prosaic reasons, and their marriages are not thought defective for it.
The question is not, do all marriages serve the purpose of child-bearing, or of romance; but rather, is child-bearing, or romance, properly the concern of the community -- and, therefore, is properly to be solemnized by a public ritual? My belief will be clear by now: child-bearing is a matter of considerable importance to the community, and romance is not. So, if marriage has, in the opinion of Norway, become a sign of romance, then Norway has no business recognizing marriage in a public ritual at all (a judgement in which many Norwegians concur, as proved by their actions.)
One does wonder, though, what Norway plans to do about child-bearing, if marriage no longer serves that purpose there. What is the birth rate in your country, Mr. Staerk?
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-03-03 13:06 | Link
Norway has one of the highest birth rates in Europe. In 2002 it was 1.75, but that was a low.
In 2003, Norway had a birth surplus of 13.700, resulting in the highest number of inhabitants ever: 4.577.200 people.
Check out http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/02/02/10/fodte_en/
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-03-03 13:18 | Link
Michael: "Traditions are not _just_ stable patterns of behavior; they do not simply exist and sustain themselves in a void."
No, they're not always just that. I think I wrote somewhere above that we're biologically disposed towards monogamy or something close. But we're also open for male polygamy, and many cultures have chosen that instead. So why aren't we polygamists? Because we've landed ourselves in one of (at least) two stable patterns of behavior, official monogamy with polygamy (ie. cheating) done in hiding and discouraged, instead of official polygamy. And I believe it's the most stable of the two. Male polygamy always favors the rich and powerful, and that leaves poor men without a chance to form families, which is wrong but also socially unstable. In some cultures this was a real problem.
But monogamy is a form of relationship, and marriage is the ritual surrounding it. That's actually two independent traditions. The fact that we have rituals for relationships isn't coincidental, but their current form and meaning in terms of social status and legal rights are just stable patterns of behavior. (This is the problem with conservatism in general. There are always many stable patterns to choose from, and we have no guarantee that history has decided on the optimal one.)
"Marriage, for instance, is an adaptation to and reflection of certain facts of human biology and psychology, and changing marriage without regard to these facts is an invitation to disaster."
No - forming _relationships_ are a reflection of human biology. Marriage is what you get when relationships are formed in a community. In our case, the nature of relationships has changed, from being mostly about having children to being largely about love as well. Gay relationships are a consequence of this.
"Both historically, and in principle, the community cares about marriages because the spouses' new relation can be expected to cause new members of the community to appear"
Again I would talk about relationships instead of marriage. The community traditionally cared about relationships because they produced children, and children were more important than anything else. Marriage is the ritual you go through to make the change from one state to another tangible and public. One minute there are these two people who belong to their families, and the next moment they start living together, and that's something completely different. There are a lot of hard to define feelings at work here which we even now haven't fully understood. So we _make_ something we can define. In our culture it's a ceremony in front of everyone they care about, and a ring displayed to everyone they ever meet. Relationships are the core, marriage is what you put on top of that.
""Gay marriages", however, cannot have this effect; the community has no reason to be interested in them."
"Of course a meddlesome, intrusive community may _take_ an interest in them, but what true liberal could endorse such communal conduct?"
With community I don't mean the government or your nosy neighbours, but the people you care about. Entering a permanent relationship changes your relationship to everyone you care about, (and gives you some more people to care about as well), so it's natural to have a ritual for that change. You are right that as relationships has ceased to be primarily about children, there's also now less demand for rituals surrounding them. People just move in together, and skip the commitment of rituals for a while. They also have children outside marriage. I think that's a bad idea, because children should ideally grow up with two parents, and going through a marriage ceremony is a good sign that you at least intend to stick together for a while. But that has nothing to do with gays. The fact is that people do want to go through this ritual, in order to make their relationship and commitment to each other public. It feels right, somehow, in a near-magical way all rituals have in common. The purpose is the same whether you're straight or gay. So why deny it?
"Even today, people get married for wholly prosaic reasons, and their marriages are not thought defective for it."
In our culture? That'll take some convincing. Don't forget how far the distance is between marriage in cultures where the focus is on children and where it is on love. Along with children comes a lot of other practical considerations. A good wife is one who gives birth to and raises your children, takes care of your home and obeys you. A good man provides you with food or income, and protects the household. This is a sane arrangement with some biological justification, and of course we see traces of most of this today. But the focus has shifted towards love to a degree that only the most closed off parts of Western culture can have withstood. I don't think there are many people left in our culture who would recommend a friend to marry someone they don't love or at least don't like a lot.
"One does wonder, though, what Norway plans to do about child-bearing, if marriage no longer serves that purpose there. What is the birth rate in your country, Mr. Staerk?"
Careful with the ironic mister's. This is a distraction from gay marriage, which is simply about acknowledging a change that has already taken place, (or rather two changes: relationships have become primarily about love, and homosexual relationships have become accepted). In fact, gay marriage would seem to be completely irrelevant to this - I understand that Italy and Spain have some of the lowest birth rates in Europe, and both are in the group Kurtz classified as most resistant to cohabitation, family dissolution, out of wedlock births and gay marriage.
As for Norway, it too has somewhat too low birth rates, but as Jan points out they're high by European standards. I think there are subtler factors at work here, such as how people prioritize between career, family and hobbies, how long they wait to establish stable relationships, how many children they feel are "right" to have. It's not a direct effect of relationships now being about love. (Since this has happened everywhere, it wouldn't explain national differences.) People who enter stable relationships are always going to want children, that's biological. The cure to low birth rates could be as simple as increasing people's optimism for the future, and creating conditions they feel like raising children in, (economic conditions, good neighbourhoods, good public services, etc.) I'll bet you potential parents think a lot more about those things than about some gay neighbour couple's stamp on a paper when they make their decision.
Susan | 2004-03-03 19:36 | Link
Polygamy will inevitably result in a decline in women's social and political influence. Women in Muslim countries fight tooth and nail to keep it out of their households -- often by very underhanded means (i.e. blackmail) which is the only weapon at their disposal.
It's a lie to say that polygamy will only influence or impact those practicing it. Women AT LARGE will lose status and influence, same as is true in any polygamous society.
On another tack, practically speaking, legalizing polygamy will simply be the death of the West. Imagine Western "family reunification policies" that allow immigrants from extreme patriarchical cultures (such as Islamic ones)where women have low status to import four brides instead of one from say, Lahore or Mogadishu or Khartoum. What hope for women's rights in a society dominated by such people?
Europe is already facing extreme demographic change -- and colonialization -- caused by mainly Islamic immigrants sourcing their spouses from the "old country" rather than from their new communities. And that is just with one spouse allowed to be brought in, not four.
How long will gay marriage last in such a society? How long will civil liberties last? How long will women's rights last?
Liberals and libertarians are pushing the envelope so far on social issues that they may find what they actually are doing is enabling a very illiberal society to take root in the West.
Polygamy is a feminist issue. If gay marriage can open the door for polygamy, then I am against it. Nothing against gays, but I'm looking to save myself and my daughter from cultural, economic and political death.
Stein, Sorumsand, Norway | 2004-03-04 22:29 | Link
The main purpose of marriage wasn't historically to have *children* - there has always been plenty of kids born out of wedlock. Both in the USA and in Europe.
Historically, the importance of marriage was mainly about regulating the ownership of land and other valuables in an orderly way, by establishing both the concept of "default official heirs" and the concept of "in-laws" - ie allies tied to your family by marriage.
The church initially viewed marriage as a secular thing, and initially even refused to perfom the marriage ceremony.
Shelby, California | 2004-03-04 22:34 | Link
Susan: How about polyandry?
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-04 23:55 | Link
I addressed you as "Mr. Staerk" not as irony, but as formality; I dislike using familiar forms of address to someone I disagree with.
"With community I don't mean the government or your nosy neighbours, but the people you care about."
The push for gay marriage is concerned precisely with the government and the nosy neighbors. Two gay men who love each other can, as things now stand, announce their mutual love to all their friends, live together, own property jointly, and so forth, and all the people they care about will react accordingly. None of that requires any changes in the law. The point of gay marriage is to ensure that people these two men _don't_ care about, but have to deal with anyway (their neighbors, their employers, the state) will take the same view of their relations as they do.
That is, the point of gay marriage is to change the meaning of the public ritual called marriage, and to announce that the public _is_ concerned with promoting romantic love, and is _not_ concerned with bearing and educating children. Hence my opposition. Gay relationships are none of my business as a citizen; but the meaning of public rituals is very much my business.
"Relationships are the core, marriage is what you put on top of that." ... "Relationships are no longer primarily about having children." ... "In societies where relationships are about children, a barren wife is a bad wife, and a marriage without children is a bad marriage."
I question whether "relationships" ever were about having children. As I understand, when a man and a woman are in a "relationship" and the woman became pregnant, it is not unknown for the man to drop the "relationship" entirely, along with the woman's acquaintance. (And this has happened somewhat more frequently since the shift in attitudes that has also made gay marriage seem reasonable.)
In societies where relationships are about romance, a fertile lover is a dangerous lover, and children are a burden to relationships. If I had to choose between that, and a society where a barren marriage is a misfortune, I'll take the latter with thanks.
Noah Millman has written on this theme, far better than I can manage:
jonathan, US | 2004-03-05 01:40 | Link
I think the relationship, love/emotion, and religious discussions around gay unions are purely a distraction.
Because gay marriage already exists in the US in virtually every (I think every actually) State. They are called civil unions. Civil unions are a state recognition of a couple bond. For any gay couple that desires a secular recognition the civil union is identical to marriage in all but one respect (which I will get to momentarily).
Gay couples desiring a religious recognition of their union can find a variety of churches to do so.
Net-net, any gay couple can be recognized both secularly and religiously TODAY. No new rulings required or amendments passed. Corporate benefits in almost all cases recognize civil union as equivalent to marriage as does contract law, again in almost all cases.
All of the back and forth about damage to society, discrimination, like or dislike of the gay lifestyle, etc makes no sense if you are aware of the above. Civil union or marriage, the name difference just denotes the ability of the couple to bear children (at a macro level) but otherwise is meaningless.
There is only ONE practical difference between the civil union and marriage... Tax treatment (Federal, State, and Local).
The activity to amend the definition of marriage is purely about money. Proponents of gay marriage are (somewhat successfully) using a wide range of emotional but non-related issues in an attempt to move the discussion away from this core fact.
The tax treatment of a married couple results (in most cases) in a married couple paying less in taxes. The intent behind this reduced tax rate is solely for the purpose of encouraging child rearing. Not the *having* of children, but the rearing of children. A gay couple until only a few years ago would have no need of a tax reak because they could not have children. Contrarily, a hetero couple could be expected to rear one or more children, usually more than one (the cliche of 2.3 is apt), to the benfit of society.
In my view all of the prior rhetoric is wasted air.
Marriage is a heterosexual pair bond. Civil unions are other pair bonds.
That's not to say that there should not be debate. I would suggest slightly different topics though...
1) Should pair bond contracts have special names for commonly executed arrangements? e.g. Marriage, Gay Union, Lesbian Union or similar for ease of reference in conversation and contract law.
For the record, hopefully it is clear above, I am not at all opposed to gay couples. I am opposed to co-opting the label "marriage" for gay couples however. I feel that redefining the term is a disingenuous money grab that obscures issues that probably do need serious discussion.
Nils, Bergen | 2004-03-07 09:57 | Link
1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.
2. Heterosexual marriages are valid becasue they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can't legally get married because the world needs more children.
3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful, since Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.
5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; just like women are property, blacks can't marry whites, and divorce is illegal.
6. Gay marriage should be decided by people not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.
7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire counrty. That's why we have only one religion in America.
8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
10. Children can never suceed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children.
11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven't adapted to cars or longer lifespans.
12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a "seperate but equal" institution is always constitutional. Seperate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as seperate marriages for gays and lesbians will.
John Anderson, RI USA | 2004-03-10 05:42 | Link
"jonathan, US | 2004-03-05 01:40" said the states already have civil unions and gays could use them.
Michael Brazier | 2004-03-10 23:55 | Link
"An example of what gets me angry is that if one person of a relationship is in the Intensive Care Unit dying (of anything; cancer, gunshot, cirrhosis...) another cannot visit unless able to show a state "marriage" license."
That's hardly fair, I grant you, but isn't it a problem with the ICU? Is it rational to make an unprecedented change to marriage laws, just to force a hospital to allow visits to the patients?
Matt | 2004-03-13 04:31 | Link
"In a few years we're likely to see a bizarre situation where the most strident supporters of legalized abortion are aging women who can no longer get pregnant."
We're already there.
Wm Whitelaw - Massachusetts | 2004-03-14 10:33 | Link
"Opposition to gay marriage or civil union makes no sense except from a religious point of view, which is odd considering we all prefer religion to stay out of politics ...."
Oops, howler right there. The political structure of the US is much too complicated to be dismissed so cavalierly. The problem is that marriage is controlled by state laws, not federal laws. The forms to be filled out, the medical tests to be conducted, the fees to be paid, etc etc are determined by the states, all 50 of them. All is not total chaos, though, as they are all pretty much the same. The minimum ages at which persons can marry vary quite a bit - it's scandalously low for the women, in some states - but otherwise marriage in Maine is much like marriage in Florida, and the states all recognize marriages performed in other states. The federal government recognizes all state marriages as well, so that couples don't find that they are married for the purposes of state taxation, but not married for the purposes of federal taxation. That this convenient arrangement would happen automatically is not at all obvious - generally, licenses granted by one state are not automatically recognized by others. This can have serious consequences - such as jail time - if, say, you are silly enough to think that your New Hamshire firearms license is recognized by New York. But the states do recognize each other's marriages. That means that all the states would be expected to recognize as a legitimate marriage any marriage which conforms to the laws of the most liberal state - or, for that matter, the most outright wacko state. For example, if New Jersey decides that a man can marry a sheep, then (since we expect other states to recognize the marriage) Louisiana, Idaho, and Wyoming have to recognize that a man and his sheep can be married, no matter how repellant - or merely impractical - the voting populations of those states may find such an idea. Or Oregon can decide that a woman can marry an entire football team, and Georgia, Montana, and South Dakota are then stuck recognizing that as a legitimate marriage. I don't think you need to invoke religious intolerance to realize that this all this might not lead to an improvement in American civil life. The idea behind the Constitutional ammendment, it seems to me - and I can't be at all certain as the proposed text keeps morphing - is that federal law would define what all states *must* recognize as marriage - and, rather sensibly, the amendment would define that as the traditional sort of marriage which all the states recognize now. But the amendment would not by itself make any particular form of marriage illegal (although it might affect its recognition under, say, federal tax law). If any individual state feels like recognizing additional forms of relationship as marriage, that can be implemented in the usual democratic way, through the state legislature. But it can (and should) be done by a state's own legislature, not by that of another state (or by another state's court system).
Now for the obligatory disclaimer - I'm not gay (I'm not even married), and regard all organized religions as the work of the devil (metaphorically, of course). So I'm not automatically in either the pro- or anti- camps. Personally, I don't think any government should have anything at all to say about intimate domestic arrangements such as marriage. Tax policy, the fate of common property in case of divorce, child custody, whether or not a spouse can be compelled to testify against the other in a court of law, etc etc are problems of contractual, criminal, and tax law, and need not be tied intimately to marriage per se. But I'm pretty certain that the federal system, the overly-intricate balancing act between the states, commonwealths, territories, and districts vs. the federal government, is not something to be overhauled casually. An "anti-gay marriage" amendment would help to preserve the federal system in the form we now know it. Of course, meritorious or not, it won't happen - amendments almost never do.
Jan Egil Kristiansen, Hoyvík | 2004-04-07 15:17 | Link
Mike Perry worries about marriage, AIDS and life insurance.
Terminally ill customers that get life insurance--buying it or getting it by employment or marriage--is a problem for the insurance business. The problem is not specific for HIV and same-sex marriage. (Indeed, a woman is probably more exposed to HIV in a heterosexual marriage.)
One-night-stands do not require sanction from society. But live-in relationships do. Accepting homosexuality--formally or otherwise--will generally reduce the spread of HIV; I will have to make an exception for the manic gay culture of the 80ies in San Fransisco and New York, though.
V.L. Carey, San Diego | 2004-09-28 05:40 | Link
Regarding the Bible and homosexuality being a sin, and thus opposing gay marriage, the "Christian" right has it wrong.
I invite you to read: "Connecting the Biblical Dots: Why Jesus Is For Same-sex Marriage." It's a biblically grounded paper that gives a convincing argument why homosexuality is not a sin to God and why marriage, including same-sex marriage, is the acceptable standard. You may read it here: www.purplepew.org/biblical_dots.html
Frank | 2005-04-19 07:14 | Link
First of all mister Bjørn Stærk, (thank god for Copy paste :D)
I can only say if it was good enough for the people who helped build the world as we know it, it should certainly be good enough for the people who are going to destroy the world as we know it.
And just in case you are still on your high horse, don't forget that more than 80% (if not more) of all present day caucasian Americans decent from European scum who were deported or fled to try to save their hides.
kim sook-im | 2006-01-21 17:39 | Link
I know this is an old thread. But i just need to put in my 2 cents worth. Gays and lesbians marrying or shacking together has no impact on straights sex life. Come on who are all those religious idiots out there and what are they thinking. If jack and joe were to move into my neighbourhood and commit to each other , fine with me. How can Mary Jane blame jack and joe for their commitment and friendship to each other for life if her husband runs off with the hussy next door and abandons her and her 4 children....that is what many heterosexual men do ! and they will do it to ruin the institution of marriage independent of what the miniscule minority of gays and lesbian folks do. We are talking apples and oranges. There will nver be any shortage of red blood, sexually active males and females in the general population.
There are a gajillion other factors, ex. increased education of females and job availability , economic independcence of women, industrialization, work force, education, mobility, economics, poverty etc. that may contribute to the 'supposed' decline in institutionalized marriage. Many heteros for eggsample may just 'shack up', and forego the traditional form of marriage. Also there is a redefinition of what constitutes a nuclear family. Societies that practise draconian controls of female ex. Islam always boast of how intact their institution of marriatge is etc.... what they do not tell you is that the females in thier societies are merely chattels available for pleasure of the males...in essence a walking 'incubator' to reproduce more 'jihadic zombies' !
Sister Prasad Meenachi Bhagavatam.
Trackback URL: http://bearstrong.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/620
Scandinavia's Cross: Stærk takes on Kurtz, March 3, 2004 04:53 AM
Bjørn takes Stanley Kurtz to task today for dragging Scandinavia into the American debate on gay marriage. As usual, he concisely picks apart much of Kurtz's argument. (And does it in a much better fashion than did Andrew Sullivan.) Pay particul...
Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing: The Gay Divorce', March 11, 2004 03:43 AM
I don't care too much about gay marriage, since I really want to see gay divorces. Most of the ones I see are quite bitter, and they also make for good TV, especially if good ole' Judge Mablean Ephraim is presiding. Perhaps if more marriages...
Post a comment
Comments on posts from the old Movable Type blog has been disabled.