Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Gay Marriage = Rational?

Posted by Jabawacefti

Volokh asks a particularly pertinent and timely question: Is it rational to exclude gay couples from marriage? The question is based on the New York Court of Appeals decision not to overturn the New York legislature's limit of marriage to between a man and a woman.

Volokh, not surprisingly, provides valuable insight on the Court's decisionmaking:

For decades, homosexual life has been medicalized and pathologized by doctors, sexologists, psychiatrists, and politicians. Only 33 years ago, homosexual orientation was still officially a “disorder.” Gays, especially gay men, were denounced as hopelessly promiscuous, unstable, histrionic, and self-absorbed. Above all, this medico-political consensus held, homosexuals were dangerous to children and should be kept away from them. From the outset of the gay-marriage movement, a vocal opposition argued that the supposedly innate instability of homosexual relationships disqualified them from marriage.

Now, in the most important judicial decision yet rejecting a claim for gay marriage, we are told that gay couples may be kept from marriage not because they are unstable, but because heterosexual couples are unstable. Implicit in this view is that gay couples don’t have as large a need for the “inducement” to “make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other.” (p. 6) Implicit also is that gay couples are likely to plan more responsibly for the upbringing of their children. We thus have less reason to worry about the children gay couples are raising. Is the New York legislature listening?

12 Comments:

At 11:23 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

A slight adjustment:

For decades, negro life has been medicalized and pathologized by doctors, sexologists, psychiatrists, and politicians. Only 33 years ago, being black was still officially a “disorder.” Blacks, especially black men, were denounced as hopelessly promiscuous, unstable, histrionic, and self-absorbed. Above all, this medico-political consensus held, blacks were dangerous to children and should be kept away from them. From the outset of the interracial-marriage movement, a vocal opposition argued that the supposedly innate instability of interracial relationships disqualified them from marriage.

Our grandchildren are going to look back at us the same way I look back and my grandparents world, and their treatment of blacks.

The court's omission in this case is ridiculous. This seems to me the judicial opinion equivalent of saying "Because God thinks its wrong."

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Okay Matt that adjustment's more than just a little stupid. It's saved a little by your first statement, but only a little. Agreed our grandchildren will probably wonder why this was ever an issue but this isn't quite the same as racism.

The most vocal guy rights activists trumpet their differences. That makes people uncomfortable. That's not an excuse for denying them the ability to marry, but it doesn't help their case. Personally I don't think that there's anything preventing a homosexual from being as good a parent as any heterosexual. Having said that I think that before anyone becomes a parent they should have to a) raise a puppy to adulthood b) take a 40 page written test and c) have a thoutough psych exam and background check.

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Okay Matt that adjustment's more than just a little stupid. It's saved a little by your first statement, but only a little. Agreed our grandchildren will probably wonder why this was ever an issue but this isn't quite the same as racism.

The most vocal guy rights activists trumpet their differences. That makes people uncomfortable. That's not an excuse for denying them the ability to marry, but it doesn't help their case. Personally I don't think that there's anything preventing a homosexual from being as good a parent as any heterosexual. Having said that I think that before anyone becomes a parent they should have to a) raise a puppy to adulthood b) take a 40 page written test and c) have a thoutough psych exam and background check.


With respect, Scott, if you're going to label my remark 'stupid,' then you should be able to explain why in a manner that makes sense.

What, precisely, are you trying to say here? That gay people bear responsibility for their troubles, because they won't stop talking about their gayness?

If being made uncomfortable by homosexuality is really the reason your floating for the attempted denial of gay rights, then my playful adjustment is even less stupid than you contend.

Whether someone makes you uncomfortable is not a good enough reason to discriminate. I don't care how flaming they are. It's no different to my eyes than saying that black people make you nervous.

40 years ago (and continuing today), black men in particular were considered volatile, "more animal," and intellectually inferior. It was believed that breeding interracial children would hurt the child, either in terms of their innate intellectual abilities, or because of the "societal prejudice" those children would end up facing.

This was used to prevent interracial marriage in many, many instances.

Now, how is my adjustment stupid again?

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Don't make me headbutt you.

What I'm saying is that it takes time for society to adjust to new and better ideas. Gay pride parades are not going to help that adjustment period. So no, gay people are not responsible for their troubles for talking about their gayness, but "extreme gayness" isn't going to win them any friends or influence people. And yes if they want to be accepted I think it's pretty important to do both. By being less flmaboyant are they failing in being true to themselves? I don't think so. I dunno if I'm adequately explaining myself here or if I'm juist digging the hole deeper.

And by stupid I meant, it's easy to do the find n replace argument. You don't usually take the easy way. That's all.

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous portia said...

Gay pride parades have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone "adjusting" to anything. They have to do with this:

The most vocal guy rights activists trumpet their differences. That makes people uncomfortable. (Emphasis mine.)

It's a really common thing, Othering. Everyone does it, because (to steal my grandfather's line) all we have to run this place with is humans. But it's still useful to recognize when we do it, and to try not to do it unless it's necessary. And when we're talking about basic civil rights in our society, it's not necessary.

Look: religious fundamentalists make me uncomfortable. Their marriages makes me deeply, deeply uncomfortable and concerned for the well-being of everyone involved in the family AND of that impact on our society. But my discomfort is not a good enough reason to deny their civil rights, much less their right as consenting adults to love as they see fit. Personally, I believe our capacity to love one another is our greatest directive from God, and it is an absolute affront and sacrilege to declare who may and may not love one another.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

But no one is declaring who can and cannot love one another.

"religious fundamentalists make me uncomfortable. Their marriages makes me deeply, deeply uncomfortable and concerned for the well-being of everyone involved in the family AND of that impact on our society."

If you mean that and aren't "adjusting" something I'd love clarification. I'm also interested in why you see civil union as a basic human right? I mean I don't really think it is even though I'm okay with letting homosexuals do it.

 
At 1:16 PM, Anonymous portia said...

But no one is declaring who can and cannot love one another.

What use is the concept of love in the abstract? Preventing consenting, loving couples from forming legal families is absolutely putting limits on who may and may not "love."

I don't see "civil union" (not what I'm referring to, by the way; I've been talking about marriage equality) as a basic human right. I see the ability to form families with one another as a basic human right. But that more fundamental right aside, marriage is a civil institution in this country, as well as being a religious one. There is simply no justifying argument for preventing adults from exercising their civil rights. It's not "yours" to "let" anyone do. You simply got full access to it first, just like citizenship and the vote.

I wasn't "adjusting" anything; I think it's deeply unhealthy when people form the types of relationships and families common in extremely fundamentalist communities. I say that with full knowledge and appreciation of the rights and responsibilities implicit therein; I just happen to think it's not a Good Thing. But my disapproval of their lifestyle is no reason to argue for the denial of their rights.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Head butt away, my friend. I'm EXTREMELY thick-skulled, as my ex-girlfriends will inform you.

I don't usually take the "easy" way (and I wasn't aware I had a way, though surely it's understandable for me to dip my pen into the ink of easier argument occasionally?) because usually I see problems as having multiple sides that deserve consideration. I, frankly, don't see that here. I don't see another side to the gay marriage argument unless that side is blatantly homophobic, or religious and unjustly imposing those beliefs.

Long story, short: If heterosexuals recieve civil, secular benefits from marriage, then committed gay couples who choose a union have a right to those benefits as well.

Without allowing for that, gays are second class citizens. There are an enormous number of legal issues pertaining to marriage and to children, from hospital visitation rights to adoption procedures.

Being able to love each other is nice, but what about being able to visit your dying lover in the hospital? For decades, that hasn't been possible for homosexuals in large portions of this country.

That's a travesty.

And I understand your point about how some people will be more resistant to change if it's pushed in their faces. There's sense to that, and I don't think you're digging yourself deeper, so to speak. I just disagree. Flamboyance is very much a part of gay culture, even if it's not the exaggerated sort we see on tv.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

IMO marriage is not "concrete love" it is a promise to remain faithful in many ways to that one person. In my case it was a promise to God first and my spouse second. That may be the same for some heterosexual couples and some homosexual couples. I would argue that all most people have is a civil union. That is a relationship contract with each other recognized by the state that has very few rights (important ones though) and almost no responsibilities (at least enforced by law). How much weight couples give this union is between them and in my opinion the only time it is a marriage is if that weight is great indeed. I don't think that our society has any right to keep any consenting adult from forming a civil union with another adult. I disagree that marriage is a religious institution in our country. It may have been so once, but not any more other than perhaps in the sense that a great number of them happen to occur in a church.

The ability to form families is a right only in the sense that it is strictly speaking biological. If you're talking about adoption (as I assume you are) I'm not sure that that right is guaranteed us anywhere in the Constitution. You say it is a basic human right. I disagree.

And Matt, I don't see the "other side" of this debate either. I agree that homosexuals should recieve civil, secular benefits. I also happen to agree that one of those benefits should be adoption. Since you don't have to be married to adopt (though perhaps that still makes the process more difficult, I don't know) I don't see the argument against adoption by homosexuals as having any traction. That doesn't make adoption a civil right in my opinion though. Not just anyone should be able to adopt.

 
At 4:31 PM, Anonymous portia said...

There are over 1400 rights automatically conferred upon the granting of a marriage license: http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_bene.htm

One of them is the right to jointly adopt. For the purposes of adoption, homosexual couples are considered "single," which means they're at the bottom of the list if they're women, and disqualified if they're men. I'd put parenting, and having a family, under 'life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.' Obviously not everyone automatically gets a kid, regardless of orientation.

Scott, I'm not following at one point: you said most people have civil unions (your argument makes sense) but that marriage isn't a religious institution...did you switch back to the current meaning of "marriage" (i.e., a civil institution) there?

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

"Scott, I'm not following at one point: you said most people have civil unions (your argument makes sense) but that marriage isn't a religious institution...did you switch back to the current meaning of "marriage" (i.e., a civil institution) there?"

I think in many cases where a couple has what I would consider to be a marriage (which has more to do with a level of commitment than any religion thing) God comes second if he's in the picture at all. Religion in our country is more like a country club. And many Christians call themselves that strictly because they were born into a Christian family.

 
At 10:38 AM, Anonymous portia said...

Ah, thanks. I agree.

 

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