Why gay marriage is (probably) still inevitable

In the wake of several high profile setbacks, a recent Politico article casts doubt on one of the gay marriage movement’s core assumptions: namely, that public acceptance of same-sex partnerships is an inevitability. I hesitate to describe just about anything as “inevitable,” but I still think gay marriage advocates have the better argument here.* The best (only?) point opponents raise in Politico is that young people’s attitudes change as they age – witness the persistent divide over abortion or the fiscal conservatism of older voters. While I don’t doubt this is true, it’s pretty easy to identify a plausible connection between aging and conservative attitudes on taxes or abortion. Balancing a checkbook and raising a family might give you second thoughts about the IRS or Planned Parenthood, but what does getting older have to do with your views on same-sex marriage? Nothing we know about older voters’ attitudes suggests a causal relationship between aging and anti-gay sentiment.

Maggie Gallagher offers a few more reasons to be skeptical of the movement’s inevitability claims here. Most of this amounts to precautionary arguments against assuming the inevitability of anything, but she also suggests that changing demographics ultimately favor same-sex marriage opponents because socially-conservative families have more children. I can’t speak to the accuracy of this assumption, but I think it’s worth noting that younger social conservatives’ attitudes on gay marriage seem to be changing pretty dramatically. So unless the aging process magically incites anti-gay hysteria, celebrating Alabama’s official recognition of same-sex couples sometime in the mid-2020s seems like a pretty distinct possibility.

*For the record, I think individual states have the right to determine the status of gay couples. If Virginia holds a referendum on same-sex marriage, I’ll vote in favor, but I emphatically disagree with efforts to recognize same-sex marriage through the Supreme Court.

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165 thoughts on “Why gay marriage is (probably) still inevitable

  1. (Disclaimer: I fully support gay marriage.)

    Balancing a checkbook and raising a family might give you second thoughts about the IRS or Planned Parenthood, but what does getting older have to do with your views on same-sex marriage?

    I think that the answer may have something to do with the dynamic that comes after one has children. When you and your wife get married, it’s because you are two people who love each other and want to spend your lives together! Gay people are just like that! We should support gay marriage!

    Then… kids happen. Then “ohmigosh what if a gay guy was a scout leader!” thoughts start sneaking into the heads of the parents. This cascades down until it eventually hits “gay marriage is an attempt to normalize homosexuality so that gay guys can become scout leaders!”

    And the open-minded twenty-three year olds who totally supported gay marriage because gay people were just people just like them who wanted to get married are now thirty-six year old people with children who oppose gay marriage because gay people are not and cannot be just like them.

    That’s my reading of that particular dynamic. (Note: An attempt to dispassionately explain ought not be interpreted as support.)

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    • In reply to your thesis: ” ‘Then… kids happen. Then ‘ohmigosh what if a gay guy was a scout leader!’ thoughts start sneaking into the heads of the parents. This cascades down until it eventually hits “gay marriage is an attempt to normalize homosexuality so that gay guys can become scout leaders!’ ”

      The gay scout leader arguments, and other fear-based arguments, work on people who either don’t know or only casually know gay people. The acceptance of differences in sexual orientation among young people had made it much more palatable for young gay people to be open with their friends and family. These friends and family who intimately know gay people recognize the fear-based rhetoric for exactly what it is – fear-based.

      Fear of the unknown is a powerful force. The antidote is knowledge and young people have plenty of first hand knowledge about their gay friends and family.

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    • I’m with John here Jay. I believe your analysis could work for youths who are pro gay only in theory ie they don’t know any actual gay people. But anyone who is even routinely familiar with gay people in their personal interactions probably would not make that kind of leap. This is why I do agree that gay marriage is going to come about eventually. Gay people today know what it feels like to live out of the closet. They won’t go back in willingly. So more people will be exposed to them which will make the environment even more accepting which will make more gays come out. It’s a self feeding cycle and the social right doesn’t have access to the kind of violence (either physical or social) they would require to break it.

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      • Please understand: I was trying to explain a dynamic that I suspect exists.

        I also think that gay marriage is inevitable and, for me, the question is “will it happen in 10 years?” vs “will it happen in 50 years?”

        There are a handful of things that I think might help it move to the 10-year mark and a handful of things that I think will push it to the 50-year mark (for example, I think a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling upholding the right for SSM will, at this point in time, inspire a Constitutional Convention which would result in a 50-year period for us to get to the point where we get the 38 States necessary to repeal).

        I’m not talking about “ought”. I was just trying to explain the dynamic that Will said he didn’t understand.

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        • I haven’t taken any offense and I understand fully.

          I also agree with you 100% about the supreme court though the republicans would have to get control before they could launch a Constitutional Convention but it isn’t outside of my darker fears.

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  2. Why would you object to gay marriage coming through the Supreme Court?

    The right to inter-racial marriage came through the SCOTUS. The right for blacks to attend desegregated schools in Alabama came through the Supreme Court. Neither one of those actions were popular with state voters at the time–both were resisted quite strongly by white evangelical Christians–and to tell interracial couples and blacks seeking a fair education that they must convince a majority of voters in Virginia and Alabama in order to secure their rights would have been cruel nonsense.

    At the time the SCOTUS knocked down state bans against interracial marriage in 1967, 73% of Americans disapproved of marriages between blacks and whites (far more than disapprove of gay marriage now btw). Do you know when it finally reached a majority? Do you know when polls showed that 51% of the people approved of interracial marriage? 1991. Can you believe that?

    Imagine the waste, the sheer idiocy, the tragedy if we had allowed states to approve of interracial marriage on a state by state basis.

    And you may disagree with Supreme Court efforts, but in the end, I hardly see how that matters unless you’re a federal judge or sit on the Supreme Court.

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  3. Let’s face it, bigotry isn’t dead in this country and it probably never will be. We saw very recently a judge in Louisiana who refused to marry a mixed race couple. The fact is, if put to a vote, mixed race marriage would STILL lose in some southern states. The real issue here is that America and the American family has changed. In the older generations, homosexual family members kept it very secret their entire lives. Many married opposite sex spouses as a cover and were never found out. Today, that has changed. Gay men and women are no longer socially forced into opposite sex marriages and, in fact, are known to most family members. This will only continue with the next generation. Same sex couples can adopt or have biological children. Those children will be part of the next generation which never happened before. Homosexuality is widely accepted among the younger generation and will continue to be more and more common as states marry same sex couples, church change their attitude about homosexuality and science progresses to show that gay people are just another perfectly normal sexual variation.

    Same sex marriage is inevitable due to the fact that social attitudes have changed, gay people are known by more and more people, families know they have gay members and children of gays and lesbians become voters. In 50 years this issue will simply be a few pages in a high school history book, like women’s suffrage and civil rights.

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  4. The side of the argument favored by this blog is zip for 31 w/ regard to referenda held on this question. That does not seem to render the eventual outcome terribly inevitable to me, but perhaps aging is dulling my mental acuity. (Or perhaps the advocates of this cause are firm in their expectation that the judiciary will give them what they want).

    What does getting older have to do with your views on same-sex marriage?

    Becuase enough exposure to the mundane business of life (including manipulative children) alters how the complaints of the gay lobby sound to you.

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      • There are all manner of human relationships. Most are legally unrecognized and not subject to any sort of articles of incorporation. An aspect of this dispute is the legitimacy of the community in exercising its discretion as to which relations it will accord recognition and to what strata it adopts in assessing these relations. If you ask for ‘gay marriage’, you are asking the collective to ‘care’, after a fashion.

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        • Not really. Many many people didn’t “care” about allowing mixed race couples to marry. Many, many people actually cared NOT to allow them. Once again, the majority should not be able to set policy for people’s personal lives. If something is offered to the majority then the minority should also be allowed to take advantage of it. That is the basis for our freedom.

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          • The internal dynamics of your marriage are an aspect of your ‘personal life’. Your marriage itself is a status assumed publicly with legally enforceable obligations.

            There are lots of ‘minorities’. The complaints of some merit consideration and the complaints of others do not.

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            • I know people who feel the same way about Christmas Pageants.

              If you want to say that the government has the right into this, that, and that other area of those other folks’ lives, you need to stop being surprised when you wake up and find out that the government is meddling into this, that, and that other area of your life, dude.

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            • However, when it comes to a civil right as evidenced by the US Supreme Court decision of 1967 “marriage is a basic human right”, then it would be disingenuous to say same sex marriage doesn’t “merit” consideration. Again, I ask for any logical reasons to oppose same sex marriage.

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    • Art ol boy, there’s no argument that so far the issue has narrowly failed in referenda. Of course a couple years ago you’d have been boasting about how the issue was consistently defeated in the legislatures and heavily defeated in referenda. Then before that you’d be talking about how civil unions were being defeated in referenda and legislatures and how gay marriage was failing in the courts. Then before that you’d have been talking about how the very idea is bringing gay marriage up in court was laughable. I dare say the trajectory is obvious enough.

      The losses have been paper thin and homosexuals aren’t going to go away and the opponents are carrying their opposition out of the ballot office and into the grave with them while the proponents are turning legal age and going out to vote for the first time. I think it’s simple enough math to see how it’s going to turn out, but oh my goodness it seems to take so long when you’re waiting for it.

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    • Don’t know and don’t really care. Polygamy has been part of life in many places since the Bible was written. Even the Bible itself contains polygamy. As for bisexual plural marriages, I would guess there have already been some. As I said, marriage is the business of those who engage in it, no one else.

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      • Relationships may be the business of those who engage in them (if they are consenting adults). But marriage is not a private thing. It is a religious and/or a civil formality.

        I don’t know what will happen in twenty or thirty years, but for now, traditional marriage is still supported by a majority, and I hope that continues.

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        • No, marriage is a civil contract in this country which, like other civil contracts, should be available to all consenting adults. To deny the availability to a civil contract to one group and not to another for no logical reason is discrimination which is not what our country usually supports.

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          • “To deny the availability to a civil contract to one group and not to another for no logical reason is discrimination which is not what our country usually supports.”

            We discriminate all the time. You and I don’t like it but I don’t think the argument is the country doesn’t discriminate, and thus it’s not in our character but; instead, it shouldn’t discriminate.

            Also, a fairly solid majority of Americans do think there is a logical reason and given that this neither Vulcan nor a giant university, that means majorities get to make the rules for political questions.

            Of course like many Americans, presumably including yourself, I live for the day when America can deny the availability of a civil contract to all, free of discrimination.

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            • If, in fact, there were one or more logical reasons to deny a civil contract to same sex consenting adults, I would be happy to hear them. So far, I haven’t seen one yet. Just because “I don’t like it” or “My religion doesn’t all it” are not logical reasons. Also, I very clearly said that our country doesn’t USUALLY support discrimination. That isn’t to say there is no discrimination. Again, a logical reason would be interesting to see.

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              • But it’s not about what is or is not logical, it’s about whether a majority of a community thinks something is valid or invalid. There’s no logic test or requirement on legislation.

                You could make a list longer than your arm of all the logical things that have reason to be law and the illogical things that don’t, that doesn’t however translate into actual legal changes until you convince (not just assert) others’ of that view.

                Final point (and not saying I agree with it) but if you assume that as a member of a democracy you are responsible for the actions of your state/community, then opposition to state actions that run counter to your religious beliefs is not, in fact, illogical. For example, Catholic opposition to the death penalty. Doesn’t mean you have to like or respect it, but an argument based on tradition or emotion doesn’t have to be illogical as a result.

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                • Yet, just because a majority believes something is or is not right, does not mean that it is morally or constitutionally right or wrong. Fortunately, the majority doesn’t always prevail in our country. According to your argument, those who argued in favor of segregation based on their religious beliefs were not being illogical. As a matter of fact, in every case where I’ve asked for a logical reason to oppose same sex marriage, all I get are arguments such as you present. There are apparently, NO logical reasons and only reasons based on emotion. I don’t know about you, but I would personally prefer that laws governing the rights of American citizens not be based on personal emotion.

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                  • “According to your argument, those who argued in favor of segregation based on their religious beliefs were not being illogical. As a matter of fact, in every case where I’ve asked for a logical reason to oppose same sex marriage, all I get are arguments such as you present. There are apparently, NO logical reasons and only reasons based on emotion.”

                    I don’t even… Look, you haven’t disproved anything or clarified why things you think are oppositional are, in fact, opposed. In other words your ostensible argument for logos, is sorely lacking the defining characteristics.

                    So let’s back up. You don’t understand what logic is. Unlike the popular unemotional Mr. Spock portrayal, logic is a facet of multiple disciplines that deals with proper/valid inferences. Meaning that a logical argument is one that uses proper reasoning and doesn’t use or rely fallacies.

                    Even if we were to backtrack to Aristotelian rhetorical devices, ethos, pathos, and logos, from which the word logical is based, which separate appeals to morality, emotion, and reasoning, the focus was on modes of persuasion.

                    So you’re right that these are arguments based on feeling, emotion, religion, and preference for tradition. However, that does not necessarily make them illogical as you’re so fond of saying.

                    Finally, were we to erroneously use your definition of logical, the consequences would be much greater. After all you’re suggesting the end of specially delineating hate crimes, doling out government grants (to science or cities) that are disproportionate to need, and cutting back or eliminating end of life, extension of life, or quality of life care for the elderly, particularly people with preexisting conditions. Society should eliminate pardons altogether, only subsidize college for students with a strong academic performance and likelihood of success, create efficient revenue streams, without much regard to how regressive they are. Perhaps even, we ought to replace judges and juries with sophisticated computer systems.

                    I presume these are suggestions that run afoul of your sensibilities, MikeNYC, but the point in raising them is not to reduce your proposition to the absurd but to remind you that personal emotion is responsible for a lot of good law as well. When most people suggest they want facts and not emotion to rule civil society, what they really mean is they don’t want others’ emotions to dominate at the same time they prefer their own moral-emotional compasses. You don’t lose anything by owning up to that. It’s a clash of values, that happens.

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                    • I understand your point and, in many cases, emotion does coincide with moral and constitutionally correct decisions. The point you seem to miss is that marriage regardless of its shape or form is a basic human right in all societies. Our own Supreme Court clearly stated that fact. In this country it is a civil contract which should mean that consenting, informed adults should be able to enter into that contract just as they are allowed to enter into other contracts. This is just sensible, basic points of law. Not a allowing a group of people the oppportunity to marry whether is it based on skin color, religion or gender, makes little or no sense under the law. It is discrimination without reason other than some people don’t like it. If we based our laws on what the majority did or didn’t like, American would be a very different place. Other than personal dislikes, there is no reason not to allow civil marriage to those who want it. As I said before, I would prefer not to live by laws solely governed by a majority “ick” factor.

                      I am certainly open to any argument against same sex marriage that contains logic rather than a personal “ick” factor. I’ve yet to see ONE.

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                    • I’m not missing that point, I’m challenging your usage of logical. I’m also stridently opposed to the sloppy arguments and mischaracterizations of SSM advocates who think they’re refighting the civil rights war by calling opponents bigots and yet have managed to run up a tally of loses that even the Detroit Lions would be ashamed of.

                      Look, yes the court has said and reiterated how important and fundamental marriage is. However, the marriage they were thinking of was not defined exclusively as, “a civil contract which should mean that consenting, informed adults,” it had more restrictions. Marriage meant two people, one man and one woman. Which is a definition supported by the vast, almost unanimous, majority of all societies that have ever existed including current ones today. If anything, there is more current and historical flexibility on the number of spouses a person of one sex can take of the opposite sex than there is on taking a spouse of any number of the same sex.

                      So here, the reformers, are seeking what seems like a minor change in their minds that is in historical terms rather revolutionary. Frankly it’s not at all shocking that the courts want nothing to do with this because it’s a political/non-question.

                      The question that needs to be settled is whether civil society can and will redefine marriage to include same-sex couples and ultimately that cannot be done via fiat or chastisement. What’s so ironic about this is that stamp of approval for same sex coupling is what people want. Surely some people just want the benefits and personal recognition but the reason this is the biggest deal of all in the gay rights movement is because it demands of the polity a recognition of equality and through recognition of the relationship the validity of the individual. That validation can only come from a majority.

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                  • You seem to be missing the point as you have yet to post one reason not to allow same sex marriage. Why do you find that so difficult when you can fill untold paragraphs with what appears to be stream of consciousness non-rational.

                    The Supreme Court decision did not modify in any way the statement that marriage is “a basic human right”. While you may wish that marriage was more than a civil contract, most lawyers will tell you that it is ONLY that. Obviously, you can pretend anything you like, but I prefer to deal with actual facts.

                    Considering this is hardly the first time that same sex marriage has existed in history, I fail to see it as being all that “revolutionary”. Certainly polygamy has been around as long as the Bible so it’s also not very “revolutionary”. Your arguments fail in light of history.

                    And, frankly, there is NO redefinition of marriage being proposed. Marriage will remain just as it always has with the simple addition that people of the same gender will be allowed to marry. That is not redefinition since everything to do with marriage that exists will still be there.

                    Again, I ask for a reasonable, logical response as to why same sex couples should not be allowed to marry.

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                    • Again, I ask for a reasonable, logical response as to why same sex couples should not be allowed to marry.

                      I’ll take a crack at it.

                      Ahem.

                      We live in a democracy that is also a nation of laws. Every once in a while, a law is put up for a vote by The People as part of a regular election ballot. The People have indicated by their votes that they do not want gay marriage.

                      And, of course, anyone who disagrees with this hates democracy and would probably be happier in a libertopia like Somalia so why don’t you move there, etc.

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                    • Really?

                      It’s quite clear that this discussion isn’t going anywhere. You ask for logic while making silly claims. “no redefinition…with the simple addition.” If you’re simply adding to a definition, you’re re-defining it. That’s what that word means.

                      If you demonstrated an understanding of logic or judicial opinions or any of the points I made, we could continue. I’m not nor have I been saying, “oh look here’s an emotion free reason why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.” What I have been saying is the emotional objections to SSM are neither unfathomable nor illogical. Moreover, I’ve attempted to demonstrate that the idea that emotional concerns shouldn’t determine matters of law is ahistorical and often hypocritical.

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                    • So Jaybird, when the people didn’t want mixed race marriage they should have been allowed not to have it? Again, you have given NO reason, just that the majority should get what it wants. You must be unhappy that the majority of the south didn’t get what it wanted in the 1960s.

                      Let’s actually have a real reason, now.

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          • No, marriage is not just a civil contract. Not at all. It is a unique bond between a man and a woman that has both legal and religious/spiritual underpinnings. Those who would devalue it as “just” a civil contract contribute to misinforming others with an argument that is reductive and fallacious.

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            • As far as the gummint is concerned, it is “just” a civil contract.

              We all know that in the eyes of God that people who get married outside of the Southern Babtist Church aren’t “really” married but we’re not talking about people who are going to hell.

              We’re talking about gummint.

              As far as the gummint is concerned, it’s “just” a civil contract.

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            • In the USA, marriage is a civil contract, nothing more. There is no requirement of religion involved, no expectation of procreation and no requirement of love. It is a civil contract based on the desires of two consenting adults. Even churches who are allowed by the state to perform marriages, do so “by the power vested in them by the state of….” You get married in this country by permission of the state. Without state permission, you are not married which is why we are having this discussion in the first place.

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              • Indeed the state is interfereing. Serveral members of the clergy who attempted to marry same sex couples in New York were arrested and/or fined for doing so because the state of New York grants the right of marriage. The churches involved suffered civil interference in their right to practice their religion.

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                • Except that’s not quite accurate.

                  “Greenleaf…said she signed an affidavit for the couples and considers the ceremonies civil.”

                  “[The DA] said he decided to press charges because the marriages were ‘drastically different’ from religious ceremonies because Greenleaf and Sangrey publicly said they considered them civil.”

                  “”It is not our intention to interfere with anyone’s right to express their religious beliefs, including the right of members of the clergy to perform ceremonies where couples are united solely in the eyes of the church or any other faith,” Williams said.”

                  Williams was the DA who charged the priests. He did so precisely because the church cannot grant civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, had the rites been exclusively religious, no charges would’ve/could’ve been brought.

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                  • Therefore proving that they interfered with a church practicing their religion. Afraid of a lawsuit based on that very reason, it was hushed up very fast. Thanks for proving my point. Not allowing legal marriage is infringing on a religions practice since legal marriage is granted as a purview of the any church.

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                    • *headdesk*

                      No, the only legal grounds for action against the priests was their admitted intent to go beyond religious marriage and issue a civil marriage to same sex couples.

                      Only a few comments ago, you noted, “In the USA, marriage is a civil contract, nothing more. There is no requirement of religion involved, no expectation of procreation and no requirement of love. It is a civil contract”

                      In this case, the priests weren’t performing an exclusively religious ceremony, had they been they would not have been arrested. Because of that lack of exclusivity they acted illegally.

                      I just really don’t get how this is missed. There’s religious marriage and civil marriage. They can be combined or separate, but religious marriage is governed by the church and civil marriage is governed by the state. If you combine them and break the laws of the state, you’re not being infringed upon because you’ve left the protective circle of religious activity.

                      This is why one can ritualistically sacrifice an animal on say church property but not in a public park.

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                    • And since the state grants the right to marry to the churches, it is interfering solely with their right to marry who their faith permits. If the state wants to rescind the right of clergy to marry people, then so be it, but in this case it is using civil authority to regulate religious belief.

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                    • Last reply to you, MikeNYC.

                      Reading comprehension FAIL.

                      The state – if it so chooses – can allow religious officials to marry, in effect allowing them to act as agents of the state in officiating civil marriage. However, that single act does not allow couples married by religious officials to by pass other legal requirements to get married. So the states can allow and determine the scope to which a civil marriage can be officiated by religious officials, because the civil marriage is 100% within the purview of the state.

                      However, a non-civil, religious marriage with zero legal significance would remain free of state control. The issue at hand involved not the latter situation but the former.

                      By your own fictitious standard, churches that take public funds or act in a civil, public function would not have to abide by any laws that conflicted with their religious beliefs. Of course, this is not the case, as accepting private individuals in public roles and organizations taking public funds become subject to certain restrictions based on valid civil laws.

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    • Mike, plural and bisexual marriages don’t seem likely to me. In practical terms their implementation would be astronomically more complex.
      In principle they lack one of the big driving points that SSM has where as the alternative to gay people being able to marry is gay people being forced to be single; being forced to have only one spouse doesn’t seem to have the same oomph to me.
      Historically if anything it seems like the trajectory has been away from plural marriages rather than towards them. I’m also unaware of any comparably strong concerted organizations or constituents pushing for them. Frankly, outside of some Islamic twitches in a court or two in Canada, I don’t think I’ve read much about them except when they’re propped up as specters against SSM.

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      • The Canadian govt published a report in 2006 which indicated they see plural marriage bans as harder to defend after the legalization of gay marriage. I think it all depends on your definition of marriage. If monogamy is a big part of the equation, then plural marriage can be fought, but it also means you have to admit that monogamy itself is a social construct and not a protected class.

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        • Canadian authorities have been aware of their polygamist earlier than 2006. The reason they haven’t prosecuted is that there is serious doubt that the laws could pass Charter protections on religious grounds. If they take the cases to court they open pandora’s box. Now of course the past AG in BC recently tried and failed on a technicality. As it looks, this will be heading toward the Canadian Supreme Court. Regardless of the courts recent curtailing of religious freedoms, I don’t know of any legal analysts that give it a chance in hell. But, again, these are religious arguments, not orientation.

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        • Part of the issue comes down to judicial SSM or legislative SSM. Legislatively, it’s an expansion (or recognition) of the civil institution of marriage through the normal legislative process.

          Were SSM to be established by judicial ruling because the state was being discriminatory, it becomes much harder to justify statutes banning polygamy. After all if any two people can get married, why can only two? Seems a bit arbitrary. Indeed if two parents does a good household make, wouldn’t more be a good thing? I’m not saying it’s easy or destined to happen, but it’s certainly more likely, rather than less.

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  5. *For the record, I think individual states have the right to determine the status of gay couples. If Virginia holds a referendum on same-sex marriage, I’ll vote in favor, but I emphatically disagree with efforts to recognize same-sex marriage through the Supreme Court.

    Interracial marriage was a federal issue, but same sex marriage is not? Hypocrisy much?

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  6. “I’ll ask the same question here that I ask everywhere when this comes up: For those that believe gay marriage is likely/sure thing what are your predictions for other redefinitions? Plural marriages, plural bisexual marriages, etc?”

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with how someone else chooses to define their family. But that falls outside the realm of “two consenting adults”, and same sex marriage does not, so same sex marriage is closer to the current definition of marriage than any other scenario.

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                • My bone of contention with some/most gay marriage advocates is that they see a discrimination against themselves but not against polygamists. Their legal argument is that as members of the same protected class as heterosexuals (sexual orientation) they should also have equal access to monogamous marriage. They believe any barrier is a social construct and unconstitutional. When you point out that the barrier to plural marriage is also a social construct they mostly just shrug their shoulders and say, “Who cares?”

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                    • I’ve actually had this conversation before and heard your response a number of times. I’m not really bothered by the idea polygamy/polyamorism.

                      What does concern me somewhat though, is the lack of thought. The assumption that because “I” don’t have have a problem with policy change X, there are, in fact, no problems with policy change X. Marriage, heterosexual marriage is older than this country, older than nations, and clearly has an enormous impact not just on relationships but support structures, quality of life, economics, etc… It seems unwise to casually suggest major changes to something and not consider the consequences.

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                    • In other words, if anyone can marry any number of people of any sex, what does that mean for us? Will marriage become formalized friendship? How will legal relationships for child custody, debt obligations, and property ownership be restructured?

                      If one can be a party to a network of marriages, will it have any meaning at all?

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                    • In many cases, marriage are simply a matter of conveninece or as you say “formalized friendship”. That doesn’t seem to be a problem under our current system. The only difference with polygamy is number of people involved and child custody, debt etc, will have to be decided by courts just as the current system was decided by courts. Our marriage and divorce laws have come into place over many, many years based, in part, on court cases.

                      If one can be a party to a network of marriages, will it be any different than someone who has been party to 7 or 8 marriages and divorces?

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                    • Yes, yes, and yes. Welcome to a common-law country. Enjoy your stay.

                      However, we do, in fact, treat marriage as something more committed and more intimate than friendship. In fact, we don’t have formalized friendship. Your best friend and your spouse aren’t legally equal when it comes to estate or medical decisions.

                      So culturally and legally, we really have no idea what would happen. Yes, a network would be different from somone who has been a party to multiple marriages. The latter person is still only married to one person at a time, if they’re incapacitated their #3 or #4 ex-spouse doesn’t have the same legal rights and responsibilities as the current spouse. In multiple, simultaneous marriages at the same time, that obviously is not the case. So add another husband in the Terri Schiavo with one wanting to pull the plug (or rather remove the tube) and one not. Throw in a wife, should they vote on it? How would equally competing claims be resolved?

                      I really just want you to think about this.

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                    • Actually we don’t treat marriage as anything more than a civil contract. That is why there are so many people who marry for any reason they wish including celebrities who wed for 55 hours just for the fun of it. In that case is was just a “formalized friendship” as admitted by the participants. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous.

                      As far as legal rights and responsibilities, there are many men who are paying alimony to any number of ex-wives at the same time as well as supporting any number of children from various marriages and affairs. Remember in the case of children marriage is not necessary to collect child support. Your only argument is based on time frame which doesn’t mean much and would no doubt be settled in a court room. Children would be support by their biological parents as is done today. Alimony is no long automatic. Like any other marriage, it would be done on a case by case basis. As for Terri Schiavo, whether it is a husband, husbands or multiple parents, the arguments would have taken the same course as they did. Competing claims were solved in that very case. Marriage would simply be factored in but the out come would proceed just as it did. I fail to see any reasonable arguments. Again, marriage is a civil contract which is usually between two people but can be between any number. How do you resolve disputes in civil contracts that contain more than two parties? There’s your answer.

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      • “But aren’t proponents asking for gay marriage to be recognize on equal protection grounds? How does that translate to monogamous marriages only? Polygamists remain part of a proted class (sexual orientation) as well.”

        Polygamy is absolutely not sexual orientation. It is an institution based on the concept of one sex (almost always women) being “property”. In the past, only the wealthy had them, and it was never respectful to the women’s human rights. It was slavery. I am against polygamy because it violates human rights (in that the women are treated as property to be traded for dowry and kept in a prison-like harem), where same-sex marriage advances them (In that Troy and David can CHOOSE to marry each other, not just live together and make bastard of their children).

        I myself am a bisexual woman, and a psych major, and thus very familiar with the argument that it is a sexual orientation or part of being bisexual. However, I have never met psychologically healthy polyamorous people, and have never read the work of a psychologist who believes it is healthy and can produce a healthy relationship. I’ve seen it destroy marriages, and harm individuals. If a couple wants to sleep with other people, that is their business, but it is neither in the best interests of our society, nor women’s/men’s rights, nor the best interest of children, to give legal rights and benefits in a polygamous way.

        Also, listen to your experts. There is a lot of evidence that polygamy hurts people psychologically, violates human rights, etc. Psychologists mostly agree. Meanwhile, gay marriage has proven itself to be equal to straight marriage. Our children turn out the same, and psychologists report that two parents, regardless of gender, is best.

        HOWEVER, I am a same-sex rights activist, not a polygamy activist and do not wish to be. If they want to form and campaign, let them. To use them as a reason to keep a different people group down is hypocritical, unless you are against any other changes we’ve made to the institution of marriage, for example, interracial couples. You would be a hypocrite to believe same-sex marriage would get us closer to polygamy but allowing interracial marriage would not. This is a classic slippery slope fallacy.

        If you believe changing the institution of marriage will lead to polygamy, adult-child marriages, inbreeding, and human-animal marriages, you would be a hypocrite to be for interracial marriage. It is our responsibility to protect that which we believe to be right (and if you agree with almost all respected health and psychological organizations, this means same sex marriages), and fight against that which we believe to be wrong. GLBT people, like myself, my straight ally fiance, and most of my friends are not out to destroy all law and legalize every destructive and harmful thing. We simply want the rights and responsibilities awarded to couples that function JUST LIKE US. We raise both good and bad children, just like YOU. We have both good and bad work performances JUST LIKE YOU. Some of us go to church and others don’t JUST LIKE YOU. We come from many races, religions, and cultures JUST LIKE YOU. Our relationships are both healthy and sometimes unhealthy, and we want the rights and benefits that you get awarded for happening to be in opposite sex relationships.

        Polygamists are NOT just like you. They are unhealthy and harm many, often including themselves. We however have proven ourselves. If we are unhealthy, it is not due to homosexuality.

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        • Plus polygamists make terrible screen writers, fashion designers, movie stars and interior decorators. Without that foot in the door they haven’t got a hope.

          (Couldn’t help but be cheeky, really nice points though Lofn).

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        • Any potential harm done by plural mariage can be mitigated with ancillary laws (child abuse, etc). There thousands of plural marriages in this country and many of them function in a healthy way. If we’re going to deny marriage based on potential for harm then look at the monogamy rates for gay men. It would seem wise to restrict gay marriage to lesbians only.

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          • Did I say monogamy rates? I said psychological health. And I said it was bad for children and society in general, not just for those directly involved. When something is PROVEN to be extremely bad for people who wish to not be involved in it, we restrict it (like cigarettes) or make it illegal (like methamphetamines).

            And polygamy is proven to be bad for people other than the people getting married. Therefore we keep it illegal.

            And you’re STILL using a logical fallacy, the slippery slope. You do know logical fallacies don’t work in an argument, right? In the future, you may wish to avoid using any of these argument styles, as they don’t work, and cause intelligent people to no longer respect your credibility. : http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

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            • And you’re STILL using a logical fallacy, the slippery slope. You do know logical fallacies don’t work in an argument, right? In the future, you may wish to avoid using any of these argument styles, as they don’t work, and cause intelligent people to no longer respect your credibility. : http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

              Oh crap. You’re one of those commenters… Must keep head down.

              The only fallicy is when you sterotype thousands of families based on a minority of cases. Furthermore, if people are forced into these marriages or abused once they are in them, is it a symptom of the institution itself or some of the participants or the law that is supposed to protect these people? When a wife gets abused by her husband, is it evidence that monogamous marriage is flawed?

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              • What kind of commenter? :) I like debating. Especially when it’s the subject I care most about and spend most of my time researching.

                A minority of cases? I’m going off of cases in modern times all the way the hell back to ancient times. You show me a healthy group of polygamists in any time, where the women were treated equally to men, and I’ll show you polygamists who might pass the test for marrying. In general however, I’ve never even HEARD of ONE. I have however known many polyamorous people and they made life hell for each other, and everyone around them. Most of these are now divorced and/or broken up, with none of them even speaking to each other. I know one couple who swings, but they would NEVER bring anyone else into their marriage or even consider their other partners as friends. I’m basing my opinion off of massive research I started doing years ago when I was asked to be in a polyamorous relationship. Not just my own sad experiences, but all the psychological studies I could get my hands on.

                I would say it is absolutely a symptom of the institution. A group of three is the worst chance you can have for peaceful cohabitation within. Attention can not be divided equally and jealousy and mistrust erupts. Polygamy STARTED as a force against women’s rights, and has never proven that it can overcome that. When it does, I’ll reconsider. In the meantime, other institutions HAVE proven themselves. We do not keep Bobby from his desert because Jane won’t eat her dinner!

                Yes btw, it IS evidence that that monogamous marriage is flawed. However, there are more non-abusive monogamous relationships than abusive. It is the opposite way with polygamy. It’s hard to even think of a way that polygamy can NOT be sexist and harmful to women.

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                • Three things.

                  1.) The slippery slope may be an argumentative fallacy but that doesn’t make it an unwise consideration. Given the legal issues at play, it’s even more wise because that’s how legal progress is made. The recent big ones Brown, Roe, Lawrence, most of those reflected a string of cases and carefully laid precedents that paved the way for something larger. Moreover, in advocacy work, the “slippery slope” can be a fictitious fear or carefully planned strategy.

                  2.) For someone so focused on logical argument, your circular conditioning of support for polygamy is rather glaring. You say until the illegal institution polygamy proves itself, you won’t support it. Which is kind of exactly like saying until marijuana proves its a harmless force for social good, you won’t support decriminalization.

                  3.) There are any number of things that are harmful that you point out are controlled or banned, but we’re not talking about substances, we’re talking behavior and legal relationships. So it’s better to compare it to how we criminalize or otherwise treat the choices to engage in risky or dangerous behaviors.

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                  • I’ve gotten madder and madder reading your posts, Kyle. Let’s just put it all to a vote, put Karl Rove in charge of the vote-counting, and then only white, straight, wealthy Christians will be able to get married. That seems to be in line with your argument. Majority rules, right?

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                    • There are two arguments I’m making/having. One, with Lofn wrangling over whether her rationales are consistent. Another, with MikeNYC et al, over whether opposition to SSM makes sense or not.

                      You can get mad all you want, but it doesn’t change our system of governance, it doesn’t get people rights, and, generally speaking, being mad at people doesn’t usually get you what you want in democratic deliberation.

                      In fact, between the pro-SSM arguments based on pathos, ethos, and logos, how many have won? 6, with one overturned by the voters only months later. Losses in more than half the union, and DOMA.

                      So even if you’re/we’re in the right, the strategy is clearly failing and basing outrage and strategy on misunderstandings of both opponents and the law because “it feels right” or is “simple” is at best unhelpful and worst, counterproductive.

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        • If poly isn’t a sexual orientation, I don’t know what is. Unlike being gay, the desire to be with more than one is pervasive…. even in the South. I’m sure your experts noted that. Where in deed would infidelity be without it?

          You think that extending legal protection to women is going to harm them? Oh, please. Marriage is somehow going to turn someones mistress into chattel? Look at the worst cases of polygamy in North America. These women wouldn’t be helped by actually having a way out, a legal claim to some of the property and assets?

          “Poly folk are sick but we’re ok. Well if we are sick it’s not because we’re gay”? There was a recent case in Canada giving parental rights to a family of three, two gay girls and a gay boy that were having children together. These people are sick because they choose a different family structure? Or, is it the gay boy has enslaved the lesbians? By all accounts they’re great parents and have a stable family.

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            • That’s strange. It sure doesn’t square with the girls I know. I don’t think it’s just that I find slutty women atractive. Doing a quick Google, it seems %54 of women in one poll admitted to infidelity.

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              • “Doing a quick Google, it seems %54 of women in one poll admitted to infidelity.”

                Infidelity is not “sharing”. You’ll find many of those women did it out of spite. I’ve only considered infidelity twice, and both times were out of spite for the actions of shitty lovers.

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              • Cas my man, in my experience and in almost all history that I’ve read of polygamy it’s that it’s an inherently unstable situation. The man in a polygamous relationship is loving life and gloating about how he has more than one women. The women in the relationship are busily planning for how they’re going to end up the only woman in the relationship. Women are strongly inclined to monogamy, men strongly inclined to polygamy.

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                • But couldn’t one say that in both experience and history most women are strongly inclined towards heterosexuality and most men are too.

                  That isn’t a reason to cooly deny comparatively small minority populations their own pursuit of happiness. Protecting people from their own errant desires and life of misery used to be part of the anti-gay canon, and while I think the two groups have differences, in this case, the similarities call for more consideration, not less.

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                  • Perhaps Kyle, but polygamy, unlike ssm (which never had a reason for existing prior to modernity), has a long and negative historic pedigree of generally bad outcomes and unpleasant societies that practiced it. It’s also deeply problematic in terms of the practical legal machinery of our current marriage system. Huff and puff though the social conservatives may at the thought the practical steps of instituting SSM consist for the most part merely of changing of some adverbs and pronouns on the forms. Government sanctioned polygamy would require a wholesale overhaul of the legal framework of not only marriage but also divorce, child custody and inheritance. Additionally I don’t really understand the complaint from polygamists in terms of practical hardships that they suffer. Same sex couples are banned from their partners bedside for instance. If a polygamous couple worked as advertised who could be banned from what bedside? What exactly would the government even be able to do for them?

                    Now were I in favor of forcing SSM via the courts I might give some (small) concern to the possibility that doing so would blaze a path that polygamists (and the other horror shows that the social right lump in with them) would have an easier path making the same logical argument. Since I don’t favor that course of action I don’t feel there’s a conflict in my supporting SSM but being suspicious to against polygamous marriage.

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                    • I agree.

                      My interest here is in which arguments people are using and how they hold up. What I struggle with is that a lot of the “differences” between polygamists’ struggle and the pro-SSM advocates really do boil down to, “it’d be difficult and hard,” or “it’s icky.” Which are reminiscent of the arguments used against civil/gay rights. “It’d be complicated or uncomfortable for me if you live your life as you please so I must restrict your rights,” is a hard argument to make, particularly to someone’s face.

                      Ultimately, I think there should be SSM and not polygamy but I don’t really have a good argument for it. I don’t need one but I don’t have one and that’s discomforting.

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                    • If you aren’t a crazy libertarian, you can always fall back on the amount of paperwork would be required. Let’s say A marries B and B marries C. C gets killed in a car accident. Does A get any of C’s social security benefit?

                      (You’d think that lawyers would be bigger proponents of plural marriage, I tell you what.)

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                • Just to be contrarian, I’d have to say that’s the opposite of my experience. I’ve been in a poly relationship for nearly fifteen years and subsequently know a number of poly families. The men rarely gloat, at least to each other. It seems being a good partner to one is tough. When you’re responsible for more, it’s tougher. The women seem to like not having their men underfoot at all times and are glad to be able to fob them off when they see fit, not to mention enjoying each other. Needless to say, these aren’t Mormons. I’ve met a couple of poly lesbian families but haven’t interacted with them enough to say how they work.

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  7. 1.) In this case it’s a fallacy. Breathing can also lead to same-sex marriage, but that has no bearing on whether we make it illegal. Just because something that is connected is wrong does not make same sex marriage wrong. I do agree that sometimes slippery slope is not a fallacy, but here it is because it is being used as the entire argument, and because it does not necessarily follow.

    2.) I don’t see what is wrong with that. Polygamy has proven to be very harmful for people who do not choose it (specifically that). Until it proves to be neutral or good for people, or harmful only to people who actually choose it, or more specifically will prove that the adults who wish to do so are choosing it for themselves (which is my main human rights violation argument), I will not support it’s being legal. If my smoking meant that strangers received the same effects, I would want cigarettes to be illegal. As it stands now though, my smoking does not seem to be harming anyone but me and MAYBE those who choose to be around me. BTW, marijuana is something I support, because yes, it has indeed proven itself.

    3.) Sure. I can do that for you. How about pedophilia? It hurts children emotionally and physically, and violates human rights. Rape of adults as well. They are illegal because they take away the victims autonomy and injures them physically or psychologically. I place polygamy (every case I’ve ever heard of) on a similar level with those.

    Also remember that we are talking about two different things here. The debate in Uganda is making me think of that. Allowing these practices and giving legal benefits and social acceptance are two different things. We are discussing whether the government should give rights and responsibilities to people who are trying to do good. I am not for outlawing polyamory like Uganda (death sentence for gay people), because if the people in the relationship are choosing it, they aren’t violating human rights. However, I don’t think the government should give them further benefits until they prove themselves, as I and other GLBT people already have.

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    • 1.) But SSM doesn’t necessarily logically follow from breathing, that’s silly and not at all germane. Nor, for that matter, is anyone saying don’t allow SSM because it will cause polygamy, at least not here. Mike asked a question on people’s thoughts about the institutional future of marriage. Then, how and what makes the situations different. I think this whole slippery slope sidebar is addressing something that wasn’t really part of the conversation to begin with.

      2.) Shorter You: “I will not support something until it proves itself, nor will I support it’s attempt to prove itself. Ergo, I will never support it.” Gotcha. Polyamory is not illegal ala Uganda, however, polygamy – emphasis on the gamy – is something else. By definition, it requires marriage. To say you oppose legalization is also to oppose the chance for it to prove itself. Moreover, your objection is entirely focused on willingness, which is already a point of law. Even if it were to be legal, you cannot be forced to marry/ sign a legal contract doing so.

      3.) You keep relying on this, “every case I’ve ever heard of,” an inductive fallacy. Rape and pedophilia are, of course, illegal because it violates personal autonomy, but so is marriage below the age of consent. So if marriage has solved the consent problem, surely polygamy can to, after all it’s not as though forced marriages between one man and one woman don’t have a long, storied, and continued history. That’s no reason to ban marriage as an institution, it’s a reason to ban forced marriage. As counter-examples, unprotected sex carries with it a high risk factor for contracting a disease, not illegal or controlled. Participation in professional sports carries significant risks of personal injury, not illegal but often addressed contractually. Driving while tired, not illegal. I could go on for quite some time but the point remains that there are any number of behaviors, some involving legal contracts, that carry risk and that risk alone does not warrant legal circumscription, particularly when rights are infringed upon.

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  8. It is inevitable for one simple reason – those who are opposed to Same-Sex marriage are not impacted at all when it becomes legal. SSM has now been legal in Massachusetts for five years and none of the doom and gloom predictions have come to pass. In fact Massachusetts has the LOWEST divorce rate in the country – if anything, traditional marriages are healthier in Massachusetts than in the rest of the country. Because Same Sex Marriage has no real impact on the lives of SSM opponents, over time they will get bored, realize it was much ado about nothing, and move on.
    Those seeking the right to enter into Same Sex Marriages are directly and profoundly impacted every single day. It negatively impacts their relationships and their families – they have a vested interest in never giving up the fight for SSM.

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    • In fact Massachusetts has the LOWEST divorce rate in the country

      The divorce rates in the New England states (and the Canadian maritimes) were the lowest in the country in 1970 as well. Judicial fiats issued five years ago have nothing to do with it.

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          • Yes, I know all about Kurtz’s smoke and mirrors:
            http://www.slate.com/id/2100884/

            “But Kurtz’s smoking gun is really just smoke and mirrors. Reports of the death of marriage in Scandinavia are greatly exaggerated; giving gay couples the right to wed did not lead to massive matrimonial flight by heterosexuals.”

            “Despite what Kurtz might say, the apocalypse has not yet arrived. In fact, the numbers show that heterosexual marriage looks pretty healthy in Scandinavia, where same-sex couples have had rights the longest. In Denmark, for example, the marriage rate had been declining for a half-century but turned around in the early 1980s. After the 1989 passage of the registered-partner law, the marriage rate continued to climb; Danish heterosexual marriage rates are now the highest they’ve been since the early 1970’s. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before the partner laws were passed. Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged.

            Of course, the good news about marriage rates is bad news for Kurtz’s sky-is-falling argument. So, Kurtz instead focuses on the increasing tendency in Europe for couples to have children out of wedlock. Gay marriage, he argues, is a wedge that is prying marriage and parenthood apart. ”

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  9. Looking at the issue from a basic civil rights perspective, it will be virtually impossible (in my opinion, of course) for same-sex marriage to become the law of the land without the Supreme Court. It was the Supreme Court that made it possible for the Lovings to remain married and out of jail following their interracial marriage. Although it was legal in 1958 for them to marry in Washington, D.C., they were arrested upon their return home. Now, no one is going to arrest a couple that gets married in MA when they return home to, say, Florida, but having individual states be the determinants of these rights means that people can’t freely move about the country, and retain they legal status as married persons.

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    • Perhaps…but the bigger question is ought it to become the law of the land. I mean we do have states for a reason.

      My opinion is that I would love it for my state, California, to legalize gay marriage and I certainly support other states’ efforts to do the same (legislatively). However, I don’t live in Alabama, I don’t plan on living in Alabama, and frankly as long as the state of Alabama isn’t infringing upon a.) citizens’ ability to participate in/petition state government and b.) their constitutional rights, I really could care less what they do or don’t ban because frankly, that’s up to the people of Alabama.

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          • So in other words, people should have to leave their homes when a state makes laws against them? Oddly enough, many blacks never left the south even though segregation laws didn’t exist in many states. So then you think that Alabama should be able to make laws preventing mixed race marriage as well as other combinations people don’t like?

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            • Yes, if they don’t like it they should pack up and emigrate, I hear the New World is more tolerant. Oh wait. I meant Canada.

              I reject your framing. States make laws against people all the time. I can’t own a ferret. That sucks, they’re cute. I can’t smoke in well most everywhere, I’m not a smoker but now that the possibility is closed off, I’m quite sad. However, I do enjoy living close to the beach, SDIA is a fantastic airport, and my bar trivia team is pretty awesome. Life is about tradeoffs. People, as members of their community, get a voice – not always deciding – in how its run. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. If you lose on something of enormous importance, guess what you can move. Maybe, you’ll find cooler places elsewhere. If not, you can stay and fight.

              I firmly believe that people should decide for themselves wither community they wish to be a part of. If you decide to move to Oklahoma because property is cheaper, go for it. Move to Massachusetts because Boston is more tolerant, do it.

              You bring up civil rights – which is often clumsily and insultingly used as a comparison – to point out that blacks didn’t migrate en mass out of the south. However, some did. They moved to the industrial north, built a black middle class, created Harlem, Chicago’s South Side, etc… Others stayed and fought for civil rights in the Southern states.

              I’m arguing that Alabama should be able to make the laws that Alabamans want within the limits I said earlier, what’s ironic here is that you think Alabama shouldn’t be allowed to make certain laws based on your emotional outrage stemming from a sense of injustice. Which is the very thing you said you said was “not reasonable.”

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              • Then you should oppose the Supreme Court rulings regarding mixed race marriage and, in fact, segregation. Based on your feelings, states should be able to set those laws and maintain them.

                I fail to see how the comparison of civil rights laws is insulting since it was made long ago Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr, in any number of speeches. Basically, like many who don’t think, you want states to make laws based on your own personal likes and dislikes and that just isn’t the ideal for the American system.

                By the way, you’ll note that many same sex couples have also “… stayed and fought for civil rights in the Southern states…. and many other states.” Looks pretty similar to me.

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  10. I’m sorry… but there is absolutely no ambiguity about freedom, or freedom of religion… and the gay marriage issue is much simpler, legally and constitutionally than anyone seems to mention here. If I can find a nationally recognized church (or judge, or ship captain) that will “marry” one consenting adult to another consenting adult of legal age… then what right does our government have in not allowing that?

    You cannot have laws that judge morality… you have laws to protect the rights of citizens, not to define morality because then you have to determine whose morality you would base it on… and that’s an endless debate involving over 300 million varying opinions.

    An example… let’s say after a period of time, Muslims become a majority in the U.S. – or at least a voting majority… and while I respect anyone’s right to believe whatever they want to believe, I would not want any laws passed based on their religious beliefs or anyone else’s, especially considering I am a woman. But would all of you really be debating your rights with the same indifference if they were YOUR rights as opposed to 5-10% of the population?

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        • A joke.

          The Norse God of Thunder was dillying about in Asgard and found himself bored. “Well, I’m going to run down to Midgard and see if anything is happening there!”

          He got to earth and found a nice tavern that was serving decent ale, even if the brewer did throw chopped apples into the barrels, and had a decent selection of serving wenches. Well, he started hitting on the red-haired one and one ale led to another and they found themselves in the stables. The next day, he realized that he hadn’t even told the woman his name… so he walked up to her and said, “You should know, I’m really Thor.”

          She nodded and said “I’m tho thor, I can’t even pith!”

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    • Samantha— there are already churches that marry gays. Gov is not intruding on any religions’ right to marry or not marry gays. Religious marriage is up to religions.

      Civil marriage is a legal contract. Contracts are based on law and go to the courts to settle contract disputes if there are any. That is how the government is involved, because that is who establishes and maintains the law.

      Sam, Jay- It is impossible to separate morality and law, there is intertwined. It is nice to say gov should only focus on rights, but rights themselves are a moral issue. We have rights to protect us from gov overstepping limits.

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      • It is impossible to separate morality and law, there is intertwined. It is nice to say gov should only focus on rights, but rights themselves are a moral issue. We have rights to protect us from gov overstepping limits.

        In practice, you know what this means?

        “The deeply held convictions I hold involve Rights and, as such, the government ought be limited. The bullshit you care about is a reasonable place for government to intervene.”

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        • In practice it means living in a country isn’t always easy. None of us all always right. You are great at pointing out how people can misinterpret things or others hypocrisy. Yup you are correct that people can be selfish. However I don’t see how that changes my statement that law and morality are intertwined so pretending they are separate is pointless. One of the purposes of a government and rights is to set ground rules and limits for us to figure out how to get along.

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            • i don’t think the state should say who should marry who. Whomever wants the enter into the contract we call marriage should do so. It seems like as Americans we have the right to (live long and prosper) search for happiness as we see fit. Deciding who to marry and then bitterly divorce is solely up to us.

              and no that should not be put up for a vote.

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              • And I agree with that 100%.

                Which brings us to all of the other things that fall under the umbrella of “It seems like as Americans we have the right to (live long and prosper) search for happiness as we see fit.”

                And now you can point out how “that’s different” and “one of the purposes of a government and rights is to set ground rules and limits for us to figure out how to get along.”

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                • i’m not getting your point here.

                  Maybe this won’t help. There are all sorts of issues involved with living in country with other people. Some are clearly just our own and nobody else’s issues( star trek vs star wars ). Some are clearly stuff where the state can step in and boss us around ( drunk driving, meth labs, traffic signals). Some are less clear.

                  I make no claim to be the ultimate moral authority, nor should anybody else. It seems likely that some of us will disagree on what are grey area issues are and what aren’t, so we have big marble building and people in long black dresses with hammers to help us figure out some things based on stuff written in old documents. Of course people disagree on what the old dead white guys said and what it means. But that is an obvious and banal observation along the lines of “water is wet.” So what. That doesn’t change the dynamic of the role of gov is to arbitrate some disputes based on our founding document thingees.

                  PS Star Trek is obviously the correct answer. I wonder if liberals tend to prefer Star Trek and libertarians prefer Star Wars. Of course republicans identify with Darth Vader… I kid, I kid

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                  • “It seems likely that some of us will disagree on what are grey area issues are and what aren’t, so we have big marble building and people in long black dresses with hammers to help us figure out some things based on stuff written in old documents.”

                    So let’s say that the Supreme Court rules (6-3!) that, oh, gay marriage is not in the Constitution and ought to be left up to the States.

                    Now what?

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                    • Then I think the Supremes would be wrong. But I am still not getting your point. Nobody said democracy or people are perfect. it feels like you are just being contrarian or complaining without offering a solution. Democracy is messy and people do things you , me and everybody else will disagree with. so what then?

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                    • So: Liberty.

                      None of this talking out of one side of one’s mouth when one extols the virtues of democracy and then talking about the other when democracy does something we don’t like and we then discuss judicial philosophy and then talking out of the third side when one points out that sometimes democracy or the judiciary comes up with stuff that other people don’t like so suck it up.

                      An underlying philosophy (even “ideology”) helps immensely with this (admittedly Sisyphean) task.

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  11. I’m catching up on 30 Rock and so far the episode has touched on religious displays during Christmastime, multiple marriages and gay marriage. Is it strange that I feel current when 30 rock makes a joke about something I’ve discussed seriously the same week?

    Also, gregniak, much thanks for the last comment.

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  12. It’s pretty simple to me: we have a Constitution, and the Supreme Court is there to make sure it’s obeyed. The marriage contract is available to some adult citizens and not to others, which is unconstitutional. Churches can decide whether to marry couples or not based on their religious principles, but governments and/or majorities do not have the right to deny marriage to two consenting adults who wish to marry.

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      • If the Supreme court votes 6-3 to leave it up to the States then the Legislative wing of the SSM fight will continue to push and advance the legislative agenda and eventually we’ll win, possibly as long as 10-20 years down the line but we’ll win. If the supremes vote to force SSM legaly then all hell is going to break loose and we may find ourselves locked out of SSM and maybe even civil equivalents for the generation or two it will take to get enough pro gay sympathy to turn over a constitutional ammendment.

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