Bigots deserve same sex marriage!

The above statement does not mean that all people who oppose same sex marriage are bigots. (It's just my way of opining that anti-gay bigots deserve same sex marriage in pretty much the same way that the Republican Party deserves to lose the election.)

Daily Pundit's Bill Quick (a longtime favorite of mine) disagrees with my earlier statement that it is "illogical to claim that opposition to same sex marriage constitutes bigotry":

There is no logical support for this statement whatsoever.
I probably should have explained that what I meant by bigotry is that degree of intolerance of other people which falls into the category we'd call hatred. The Merriam Webster definition of "bigot" is pretty close to mine:
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
Standing alone, I don't think that opposition to legally redefining marriage to include members of the same sex is necessarily grounded in hatred or intolerance. Nor is it necessarily indicative of a heterosexual preference. As I have maintained since the earliest days of this blog, I think a case can be made against same sex marriage from a gay perspective, because a "right" to marry can easily morph into a duty to pay alimony or palimony, and family court jurisdiction might be applied where it was never wanted, bringing the government into the private lives of people who never wanted the same kind of "protection" that marriage is supposed to offer. By April of last year, I was feeling burned out on this issue:
I have to admit that I'm more than a little burned out on the subject, and over the years I've had so many pointless arguments that I just don't enjoy talking about it anymore. Megan McArdle is right: ideologues on both sides have long since made up their generally narrow minds.

All I can say is I'm just glad gay marriage wasn't there when I was young and having fun. As I have said many times in this blog, the gay lifestyle, while it isn't always a bohemian one, it often is. Certainly in my case, I loved the fact that if I was in a gay relationship, no one could tell me what to do. And culturally, who would? Certainly not the families of lovers. (Whether you call them "virtual in laws" or whatever.) All I ever asked was tolerance of the "leave me alone" variety.

The idea of being hauled into "Family Court" is outrageous in itself to anyone who wants to live his life outside the radar. And make no mistake about it: once there is gay marriage, there will be gay alimony, gay palimony and above all, legal jurisdiction of family courts over the lives of many people who didn't want that and don't need it. Blackmail could take on new dimensions.

There really isn't anything I could add to this essay, which pretty well covers my thinking on the subject.

I'll stop there -- before I end up quoting my own self quoting quote!

(Yes, you know you're really having blog burnout when you find yourself quoting yourself quoting yourself! And you can quote me on that!)

Returning to the issue, after three years of blogging I still am not convinced that existing marriage laws are intolerant of homosexuals per se. Any man (heterosexual or homosexual) has the right to marry any woman, just as any woman has the right to marry any man. People are prohibited from obtaining marriage licenses for a variety of reasons including minority, lack of capacity, degrees of consanguinity, and pre-existing marital status, but their inability to obtain marriage licenses is not bigotry, and I don't think the simple opposition to changing these laws is necessarily that.

This is far from saying that people who oppose same sex marriage are not bigoted, as some of them clearly are. Those who oppose same sex marriage because they hate homosexuals are bigots.

Bill also equates opposition to same sex marriage with opposition to equal rights for blacks, but I don't see the right to a marriage license as falling into quite the same category as basic civil rights such as the right to vote or own firearms. As to the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South, they were written with the specific intent of discriminating against black citizens, and as such, were grounded in bigotry.

By contrast, my understanding of marriage is that it's an ancient custom grounded in the idea that opposite sex couples are in need of some sort of formal stabilization and legal protection lest the man run off and leave a woman stranded with a bunch of kids to raise and no recourse. I don't think that marriage laws were specifically drafted in order to exclude homosexuals, and while it is arguable whether marriage laws are needed at all, I am not entirely convinced that same sex couples are in need of the same type of protection. I may be wrong, but again, I don't think being wrong about this rises to the level of bigotry.

Marriage laws are silent about sexual preference, and a change in the law would create no new "right" only for homosexuals; heterosexuals would be have just as much right to marry members of the same sex as would homosexuals.

I agree with Bill that "percentages do not constitute logical refutation," and I did not mean to imply that just because 70% of the public disfavors same sex marriage, that this means they are not bigoted. However, if opposition to same sex marriage is defined as bigotry, then it flows that they (and most of the leaders of both parties) are. I just don't think that, considering all the circumstances, opposition to same sex marriage constitutes bigotry, and I'd say that even if only 20% of the country opposed it. I try to reserve the "bigot" label for people who want to do things like call me names, beat me up, put me in prison, or kill me.

Bill concludes that he "usually expect[s] better from Classical Values."

(That's OK. I always expect better from Classical Values, but I rarely deliver on my expectations! Especially when they're based on explanations of definitions...)

UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for the link, the kind words in my defense, and for more words of wisdom:

...things really have moved on in the intervening decade or so. Skeptics began discussing how a legal change in the definition of marriage could affect the choices of straight couples who planned to have children. The most sound thinkers among gay advocates (Dale Carpenter and Jonathan Rauch, notably) deliberated over the same issues and often made good counter-arguments; but at the same time, the pro-gay side was frequently stuck in a "we DO TOO love our partners!" mode that the debate had moved beyond. And "self-esteem," that all but infallible indicator that malarkey is on the menu, was frequently invoked.

I realize that I haven't proved that, say, Maggie Gallagher and Stanley Kurtz aren't bigoted against homosexuals. But even if we could prove they were, does that mean much in policy terms? We're still left with the fact that they've taken the time to research and construct arguments for their positions, and that those arguments have to be answered on their own terms. I'd much rather see gays and those who sympathize with us keep at that than prolong the (already seemingly interminable) back-and-forth over who's a bigot.

That's certainly true. The word "bigot" is, after all, another label, which doesn't do much to address the arguments of the person being labeled.

(I'm reminded of Henry Kissinger's "Just because a man is paranoid does not mean he is not right.")

posted by Eric on 10.23.06 at 04:42 PM










Comments

Notice that the definition of "bigot", as befits proper usage, includes "hatred and intolerance". So often the charge of bigotry is raised at the onset of mere intolerance, and intolerance is redefined as a failure to agree.


Socrates   ·  October 23, 2006 7:33 PM

Well, I could certainly say I expect better of Quick then the risible equation of valid questions about SSM with "80% of Southerners used to see blacks as less than human."

If government were to get out of family law all together (probably impossible, but hang with me a moment)..then the comment that it makes no difference who, or how many, are "married" would be valid. No one is stopping any number of private individual households. We don't inquire about the "Three's Company" roomies next door, whether it's platonic or not, because it's none of our business unless we hear screaming or see blood.

But once the state is asked to arbitrate any number of contractual issues, then the state may (or should) evaluate what is/is not in the Public Good.

If someone is against SSM because they are anti-gay, then they are bigots. If someone is against it because they don't believe it is in the best interest of the Public Good (and can argue substantially and persuasively on the subject) then there is no evidence that they may be bigots based solely on their opposition.

It is akin to arguments over Affirmative Action.

I have yet to see someone who supports SSM as a "right" via judicial fiat explain why SSM should be granted, but not polygamy.

Maybe Mr. Quick could enlighten me.

(BTW, I'm in favor of SSM...as soon as it comes from The People - because I'm very anti-polygamy and SSM under the current arguments is more than half the camel into the polygamy tent)

Darleen   ·  October 23, 2006 7:33 PM
I have yet to see someone who supports SSM as a "right" via judicial fiat explain why SSM should be granted, but not polygamy.

Maybe Mr. Quick could enlighten me.

(BTW, I'm in favor of SSM...as soon as it comes from The People - because I'm very anti-polygamy and SSM under the current arguments is more than half the camel into the polygamy tent)

Well, Darleen, I'm not going to fancy-dance around your issue. If SSM is legal (I certainly believe it should be, and I continue to maintain that, but for widespread homophobia whether open, or concealed to greater or lesser extent, it would be) then of course polygamy is also legal. And bestiality might be, although I can advance some mildly libertarian arguments against that, at least.

The greater issue is whether marriage (the religious bond) should be discriminated against with benefits from the state. I say no. I'd be willing to go the other way, too. Offer no special benefits from the state for straight marriage or gay marriage, and I would find that entirely acceptable.

Bill Quick   ·  October 23, 2006 8:43 PM

then of course polygamy is also legal. And bestiality might be,

Well, at least you're consistent, Bill.

And it demonstrates why I left the Libertarian party... principle above all other consideration, even unto ad absurdum.

Darleen   ·  October 24, 2006 9:27 AM

I don't think this debate will ever be resolved. But I still consider myself a libertarian, if a crummy one!

Bill, thanks for coming -- and for fueling my latest post!

Eric Scheie   ·  October 24, 2006 11:35 AM

I ahve yet to have someone explain to me -- whether it be logically or as a matter of 14th amendment equal protection clause jurisprudence -- how a society can justify legal recognition of same-sex marriage and not polygamy. (And, to be real, it IS "same sex marriage," not "gay marriage," as the state certainly should not require proof of homosexual attraction as a condition of receiving a marriage license.)

Either marriage is just simply a contract or it's not. And if it's just a contract, why can't you have multi-party marriage contracts? (Polygamy will be imported into the west via "tolerance" for Islamic polygamy. Thank you multiculturalism.)

Instead, when you raise this point to an activist, the response is: "Oh you're such a bigot." Sometimes, if they're really intellectually, they'll add a reference to Rick Santorum and bestiality. Oh such wit and insight! That's persuasive. Actually, sadly, for some people, it is persuasive.

In actuality, what it is, when you label your opponent as a "bigot," is simply the act of hurling an epithet to stop debate on a subject you're ill-prepared (either emotionally or intellectually) to discuss. So the user of the epithet "bigot" has revealed himself/herself as merely stupid or childish, 99 times out of 100. Either one is grounds for stopping the dialogue.

Rhodium Heart   ·  October 24, 2006 4:13 PM

RH

if it's just a contract, why can't you have multi-party marriage contracts?

Because "we" (Western society) have concluded the costs outweigh the benefits of allowing polygamy.

The whole body of contract law is filled with restrictions. We no longer have bond slaves. Minors cannot be party to a contract. We cannot contract for our children (arrainged marriage of minors). Look at the body of statutes covering landlord/tenant contracts arising out of the assumption of an imbalance of power, so the need to spell out the rights and obligations in that relationship.

In promotion of America's "general welfare", the institution of marriage is restricted to what a majority of The People have determined to be in the best interest of the society.

Unless I meet the requirements to become a Veteran, I'm barred from the benefits of being a Veteran. I'm not penalized for not being part of the institution of the military. Indeed, I derive some benefit from there even being a military.

Marriage, as a public institution, is not much different.

Darleen   ·  October 25, 2006 12:47 PM

So much misinformation, so little time.

First, an opinion. As far as I'm concerned, someone is a bigot if he

(i) Opposes state recognition of relationships of same-sex couples (so-called "gay marriage") on the same basis that he favors state recognition of relationships of opposite-sex couples (so-called "marriage") without having at least a rational basis for the opposition. Those who are familiar with the US constitution's 14th amendment "equal protection" jurisprudence and jurisprudence under some states' "equality" provisions will recognize the "rational basis" as the minimum standard that will allow for a discriminatory practice. I have posed the question asking for a "rational basis" on more than a few blogs and web sites over the past ten or so years, and have never received responses that are anything close to a "rational basis." I have received responses that basically amounted to

(a) "I don't want to allow it," which is hardly a rational basis;

(b) "My religion opposes it, again, hardly a rational basis--bigotry based on religion is still bigotry--and also, it ignores the fact that at least some establishments of religion support it, so why should their religion receive precedence? ";

(c) "Same-sex couples can't reproduce, again, hardly a rational basis. No marriage law requires that the couple, whether same- or opposite-sex, be capable of reproducing--my widowed and elderly mother-in-law can marry someone of the opposite sex, even though she is incapable of bearing children; and

(d) "Marriage is for providing a stable environment for raising children," which ignores two things. One, that more than a few same-sex couples are raising children--some of which are children of at least one member of the couple, and some of which are adopted. And, two, that more than a few opposite-sex couples have no intention of having children, yet they are able to marry.

No rational basis. Bigotry.

It is the case that some gay people oppose same-sex marriage. I classify them generally as being, not necessarily bigoted, but selfish. If they don't marry, there is nothing requiring them to do so. But query why they would oppose allowing those of us who want to marry to do so?

(ii) Someone is also a bigot if he opposes addition of "sexual orientation" to existing anti-discrimination laws, which normally include race, national origin, religion, sex, and sometimes a few other categories, but usually not sexual orientation. In the current regime, it would be illegal for a gay person to fire--or refuse to hire--a conservative christian because he is a conservative christian, but it would be perfectly legal for a conservative christian to fire--or refuse to hire--a gay person because he is gay. And the people in the forefront of opposing addition of "sexual orientation" to existing anti-discrimination laws are--surprise! surprise!--conservative christians. As far as I'm concerned, that is hypocrisy, a primary form of bigotry. And

(iii) Someone is also a bigot if he opposes addition of "sexual orientation" to existing hate/bias crimes laws, which normally also include race, national origin, religion, sex, and sometimes a few other categories, but usually not sexual orientation. In the current regime, it would be a hate crime in the unlikely event that a gay person were to commit a crime against a conservative christian because he is a conservative christian, but it would not be a hate crime in the far more likely event that a conservative christian commit a crime against a gay person because he is gay. And the people in the forefront of opposing addition of "sexual orientation" to existing hate crimes laws are--surprise! surprise!--conservative christians. As far as I'm concerned, that is also hypocrisy, again a primary form of bigotry.

Now, some might suggest that the state should get out of marriage, anti-discrimination laws and hate/bias crime laws, but, the sad fact for them is that it isn't going to happen any time soon. So, query--why should gay people be disadvantaged until that occurs--if ever?

Bigotry? Most decidedly, yes.

Now to the misinformation.

(iv) This "change of the definition of marriage" mantra is pure clap-trap. The "definition of marriage" has been changed many times over history. The ancient near-east peoples (including ancient Jews--remember the "Judeo" part of the "Judeo-Christian tradition?) practiced polygamy, and the people there still can. Even in the western tradition, the "definition of marriage" has changed since Greek and Roman times to allow for significantly more freedom for women and for relatively easy divorce. Moreover, aside from that, just what is your proposed rational basis for... (see (i) above)

(v) Re my understanding of marriage is that it's an ancient custom grounded in the idea that opposite sex couples are in need of some sort of formal stabilization and legal protection lest the man run off and leave a woman stranded with a bunch of kids to raise and no recourse

Oh, please, give me a break. In ancient times, a man could easily run off and leave a woman stranded with a bunch of kids, and, in ancient times, most men would not have had much of a pot to pee in to make it worth the woman's while to try to chase him. Understand something: "marriage" was used primarily to define lines of inheritance. Aside from the wife, the primary heir to her husband's estate, children born within the marriage were deemed "legitimate heirs" to an estate, whereas children who were fathered outside of a marriage were deemed "illegitimate heirs." Marriage was also used to define financial responsibility for the household, but that would only make sense among the upper classes in Greece and Rome--i.e., those who had the financial wherewithall to provide for the household.

(vi) Re Marriage laws are silent about sexual preference..., as should be evident from (i) above, sexual preference has nothing to do with it. The issue is the sexes of the members of the couples, whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex.

(vi) Polygamous marriage, like incestuous marriage and bestiality, is a red herring. First, under the equal protection's "rational basis" jurisprudence, each has to be considered on its own merits. Given the issue as I stated above in (i), "state recognition of relationships of same-sex couples (so-called "gay marriage") on the same basis that he favors state recognition of relationships of opposite-sex couples (so-called "marriage"), it is difficult to figure out how there is even discrimination against polygamous marriages. Polygamous marriage of necessity is not marriage among couples, so it is difficult to see where the discrimination lies.

Second, even if there is discrimination against state recognition of recognition of polygamous (3+ members) groupings on the same basis that states recognize relationships of couples (2 members), it is far from clear that there is no "rational basis" for the discrimination. The US Supreme Court, in the 1878 opinion in the case of Reynolds vs. United States articulated one:

In fact, according as monogamous or polygamous marriages are allowed, do we find the principles on which the government of [98 U.S. 145, 166] the people, to a greater or less extent, rests. Professor, Lieber says, polygamy leads to the patriarchal principle, and which, when applied to large communities, fetters the people in stationary despotism, while that principle cannot long exist in connection with monogamy. Chancellor Kent observes that this remark is equally striking and profound. 2 Kent, Com. 81, note (e). An exceptional colony of polygamists under an exceptional leadership may sometimes exist for a time without appearing to disturb the social condition of the people who surround it; but there cannot be a doubt that, unless restricted by some form of constitution, it is within the legitimate scope of the power of every civil government to determine whether polygamy or monogamy shall be the law of social life under its dominion.

You may not agree with that. But, given the history of polygamy throughout the world--most if not all of which is one male and multiple females--it would be difficult to contend with. Moreever, although it would be possible to present new evidence suggesting that the court's basis in Reynolds was not rational, someone advocating state recognition of polygamous relationships would clearly have this court case to contend with.

Finally, it is difficult to see why, if one suggests that state recognition of relationships of same-sex couples (so-called "gay marriage") would logically necessitate state recognition of relationships of polygamous groups, state recognition of opposite-sex couples (so-called "marriage") would not also logically necessitate state recognition of relationships of polygamous groups. In other words, if state-recognized "gay marriage" logically necessitates state-recognized polygamous marriage, state-recognized "marriage" itself logically necessitates state-recognized polygamous marriage as well. State-recognized "gay marriage" doesn't even enter into the issue of whether states should be required to recognize polygamous marriage.

raj   ·  October 25, 2006 2:20 PM

Raj, you define bigotry one way, and other people have different ways of defining it. I don't think calling people bigoted is especially helpful in this debate, and in any event, it is overbroad to say that they are bigoted against all gays, because not all gays think the state should have any role in their relationships. You argue that the latter are "selfish"; they'd probably disagree and resent being spoken for as if they are part of some monolithic group which must think and want the same things.

Again, I think it's important that people have the right to disagree in as impersonal a manner as possible.

Eric Scheie   ·  October 25, 2006 3:28 PM

I don't think calling people bigoted is especially helpful in this debate...

Thank you for your opinion, but this is a different issue than the one that I responded to. You said nothing about whether calling someone bigoted is helpful in any discussion. You quibbled over whether someone was a bigot based on his opposition to same sex marriage, and that is what I was responding to.

I notice that you have no response to the other issues that I raised. Is there a reason?

Anonymous   ·  October 25, 2006 4:22 PM

The comment "Anonymous October 25, 2006 04:22 PM" was mine.

raj   ·  October 25, 2006 4:23 PM

raj

re: your point iv

Please cite any major culture/society that has state-sanctioned same sex marriage prior to the last couple of decades.

While many of your points of arguing for SSM are valid, the fact remains that this is the realm of The People and its representatives in the legislature.

Not of the courts.

Given current bows to "multiculturalism", I don't believe Reynolds would hold to scrutiny in the courts.

Darleen   ·  October 25, 2006 8:05 PM

Raj, I have no duty to even allow your essay length comment -- much less read it or respond to it.

(But your comment raises an issue worth a post on the subject of comments.)

I think all people have a say in this, and again, I don't think it is helpful to call them bigoted.

I also don't think it is reasonable to demand that I answer you, or tell me that my reply "is a different issue than the one that I responded to."

This is not your blog, and I don't have to follow rules laid down by others.

Eric Scheie   ·  October 26, 2006 10:00 AM

It does seem to me to be silly to call it "selfish" for some gays to want to avoid being pushed into the domain of family law. They just want to not have someone else pass laws restricting their actions and regulating them, or, in other words, they just want to be left alone.

That's an admirable quality in an American.

Also, to some extent, I can't see why anyone even cares enough to argue the point for ten years. Whatever the law is, people are going to have relationships, and the benefits/costs of not being allowed to be married are really pretty minor, so who can really muster enough energy to care about it that much?

Jon Thompson   ·  October 26, 2006 11:17 AM

Darleen said it perfectly, but maybe not as blatantly as need be said:

You do not have a right to get married.

If you had a right to married, then marriage would not be restricted to adults or that you can't be married to more than one household at a time. Marriage, like obtaining a driver's license or a passport, is a privilege that SOCIETY grants to other members of society. Privileges can have as many restrictions and litmus tests as the society decides to add to them.

Why? Because we're talking about money. The ONLY difference between marriage and "living together" is money. Society gets to decide how it hands out ITS money, and to whom, based on criteria it decides is in its best interests. This isn't government money (because the government has no money), it is OUR money.

You can cohabitate with whomever you want, but the entitlements that come with marriage come with restrictions established by society, THROUGH government, not government all by itself as an arbiter and protector of rights.

The other confusion, that Darleen also addressed (quite nicely), is that the regulation of marriage is not under government purview such as a criminal matter would be, but as a CIVIL matter. In other words, the government doesn't decide what marriage is in some la la land of principles, requiring equality to all, etc. Government regulates marriage the way The People say they should.

There are all sorts of perfectly legal and legitimate restrictions/tests on the benefits society hands out. For example, you don't get to decide at age 50 that you want the same Social Security benefits as someone who is 67. That would be EQUAL, but it would defeat the purpose of Social Security, as society has defined it. We are EQUAL under the law, but we are NOT EQUAL when it comes to entitlements.

Society decides how much you get and when, through our representatives. There are thousands of entitlements that come with tests, such as tax exemptions/deductions based on age, veteran benefits requiring that you BE a veteran, etc.

You can argue that there shouldn't be entitlements/Social Security, but that's a DIFFERENT argument. Just as some people say 'government shouldn't be involved in marriage'.

Finally, there are all sorts of legitimate reasons to restrict marriage to couples who are biologically predisposed to child bearing, similar to requiring that recipients of veterans benefits be veterans. Sexual preference has nothing to do with it. Two straight men are prevented (equally) from being obtaining a marriage license as two gay men are. A straight man and a lesbian woman could obtain a marriage license, so again, sexual preference has nothing to do with it.

There are also bigoted reasons for being against the idea of SSM.

The cool thing about a free society is that people are free to use whatever criteria (bigoted or not) they want to use as the basis for deciding the matter.

You don't have to agree with the bigot's opinion, but they do have a right to hold the opinion, and vote accordingly.

The Mrs   ·  October 28, 2006 10:01 AM

Darleen October 25, 2006 08:05 PM

Please cite any major culture/society that has state-sanctioned same sex marriage prior to the last couple of decades.

I'll take that as an admission on your part that the definition of marriage has changed over time. Your objection is that it hasn't changed in one particular direction--which may or may not be true--but that is pretty much irrelevant to the fact that the definition has changed. No?

raj   ·  October 29, 2006 9:27 AM

The Mrs October 28, 2006 10:01 AM

You do not have a right to get married.

That is an irrelevant argument. The issue is not whether a couple has a right to be married. The issue is whether, if the state allows some couples to get married, whether it (the state) can deny other couples the right to get married.

I'm sure that you can understand the difference.

raj   ·  October 29, 2006 9:27 AM

Post a comment


April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

ANCIENT (AND MODERN)
WORLD-WIDE CALENDAR


Search the Site


E-mail



Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link



Archives



Recent Entries



Links



Site Credits