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May 11, 2012

Comments

Eddie

This was a good read. I thought I would let you know. That is all.

Trevor

Great article Greg.

"Until someone can give me a compelling reason—without citing Leviticus or Romans—that a class of American citizens are denied the same rights and privileges I enjoy, please just admit that the only real arguments you have are theological (i.e., god doesn't like it) or aesthetic (i.e., it's gross)."

There's rarely if ever a compelling reason to deny someone a right…but then again, I think for the most part, we've gotten to the place where we're allowing LGBT the same rights (i.e. For the most part we're not telling them they can't engage freely in homosexual relationships with each other).

It's the privileges portion that is problematic here. Marriage, adoption, tax breaks, et al. are all privileges. Society therefore gets to decide who is eligible to receive those privileges and who is not. The trouble is that there is no agreed upon rubric amongst the component individuals of society for that decision nor will there ever be. Furthermore, the constitution should not function as that rubric, but should be demonstrative of the consensus opinion on the issue.

For the record, I don't think the government has any business dealing in marriage. So my preference would be for the government to exit the business altogether: tax-breaks, legal rights, adoption rights, etc. included.

As for a "compelling reason": I think an exegesis of (as opposed to an appeal to) Romans gives reasoning to at least be not in favor of homosexuality (I don't believe that opposition toward homosexuality is necessary or even warranted). NASB rightly translates "function of" which is a big part of it. Gender roles inform the opinions on this issue far more than we talk about, and if certain genders have certain functions (which *is* far more flushed out in scripture), then that is a key player in this debate. In that light I think there is an argument to be made that homosexuality promotes homogeneity, and it clearly removes the possibility of procreation which is a necessary part of society. I also would prefer kids to be raised in a heterosexual household where they can have a mother and father.

Leighton

Great article here. I hate those arguments because they're done in bad faith. Not in the sense that the arguers are being intentionally dishonest, but in that they are pretending to care about something they really don't care about at all. That's disingenuous. It's quicker (and just as effective, which is to say pointless for effecting change, but nice for catharsis) to say "I have contempt for your retrograde beliefs and no respect for you for holding them."

Re: child-rearing, I have no kids myself, but the best adjusted children (and adults) I see had a fairly large number of consistently reliable, loving adults in their lives to serve not just as role models, but as explicit models of how to live in a community larger than a handful of people under a single roof (who, frankly, get bloody sick of each other enough of the time that you need those outsiders to help). So I don't think there's any merit to the man + woman > man + man or woman + woman argument. If there aren't other trustworthy adults consistently in the picture, a child with opposite-sex parents will still typically have trouble socializing and forming relationships as an adult.

JDH

About the next-to-last point, I think I disagree with you about the irrelevance of the term "homosexuality" having not existed in the first century. Obviously you're right that first century Christians were familiar with same-sex sex, but the point of making this argument is to point out that the translation implies an understanding that Paul did not have. The significance is that translators more or less gave up trying to translate specific Greek slang/idioms and instead cast a huge net by using "homosexuality."

I think that your analogy on this might be a little flawed in that modern terms for same-sex relationships carry with them the weight of a modern understanding. The distinction here is that "homosexual" means something singularly modern with modern social and scientific implications. "Gay" means something even more specific than "homosexual" in that it relates to an individual's self-identification as much, if not more, than their actual sexual activity. "Men who have sex with men" (MSM) is the term used by government and scientists in dealing exclusively with sexual activity.

So I think your analogy is making an apples-to-apples comparison with an apples-to-oranges issue. Namely, it's misleading and dishonest that bible translators take the centuries worth of history, biology, sociology, and psychology wrapped in a term like "homosexual" and pretend that it was denounced by God in the Iron Age.

It's also important to consider exactly what the first century notion of same-sex relationships were. You mentioned it already, so I won't belabor the point, but common Greek and Roman same-sex relationships have nothing in common with modern same-sex relationships. The circumstances were very different, and Paul would be very right in condemning them. All the more important that the two scenarios not be conflated.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that same sex acts between people is not the same as "homosexuality," and the argument is really a very good one. In light of what you mentioned about the uncertainty surrounding the translations and the fact that "homosexuality" wasn't added to the Bible until the NIV in 1976 (if memory serves), it's not only a good argument but a necessary one.

Greg Horton

JDH, this entire post is predicated on the idea that you're talking to evangelicals. Someone on fb already complained. I don't know how to tell you this, but fundangelicals think you're doing something wrong, and it's the actions that count, not the orientation. The groups have to understand the language games being played here, and it's clear that the LGBT community and liberal Christians think the distinction matters, but it doesn't mean shit to fundangelicals. It's the difference between doing what I want to do and doing what I ought not do, which in most cases, is less than a breath. You can argue this semantic/orientation shit with fellow non-theists all you want, but the theists aren't ever going to buy it. In truth, I don't buy it either. It assumes that ancient people couldn't parse reality unless they had today's categories. Aristotle and Plato would be shocked to hear it. They did a damn good job without the categories. That's why they're still phase one reading in philosophy classes today.

Trevor

Leighton,

I ultimately agree with you. At the end of the day, if people are going to live in community, it's the responsibility of the entire community to foster an environment for its youth that is conducive to productive growth. It's why I'm not opposed to gay marriage. I just think in a perfect system, and all things being equal, that a child growing up with a mother and father is far more likely to be disposed to a wider perspective than one who grows up with two parents of the same sex.

Conversely against my Christian counterparts, I would prefer to see a child raised in a home with two loving and respectful parents of the same sex than a split-home with two parents of the opposite sex who cannot speak good of each other.

Divorce has killed Marriage in this country FAR more than gay marriage could ever possibly do.

Leighton

Trevor, I'm mostly agreed, except for this part:

I just think in a perfect system, and all things being equal, that a child growing up with a mother and father is far more likely to be disposed to a wider perspective than one who grows up with two parents of the same sex.

And it's not that I disagree with you specifically, as this is a very common assumption that seems to be predicated on the existence of firm boundaries between the nuclear family and the rest of the world. Certainly a child's parents or legal guardians do bear the final burden of culpability of anything goes wrong. But I think in a healthy environment (or a perfect system, if you like), the child will be exposed to such a wide variety of perspectives from responsible, caring adults that it will be functionally irrelevant what gender his/her parents are. And even in a slightly less perfect system, where there is frequent honest and clear communication between parents and children, it's not as though being gay or lesbian makes a person completely uninterested in what the experiences of the opposite sex are like. Just talking things out, being aware and being honest would be sufficient, I think. Goodness knows all parents have to scramble to learn a wide variety of things to figure out how best to meet their children's needs. I don't think gay and lesbian parents would be disproportionately handicapped at this.

Trevor

I assume others disagree with me that men and women are intrinsically different in many ways beyond genitals, but because of that presupposition on my part, it only makes sense that being able to have both a male and female parent as parents is the *best* possibility. Again, that doesn't preclude same-sex couples from being fantastic parents...and certainly does not disproportionately handicap them.

Because of the depth and type of relationship that develops in the nuclear family, I don't agree with the claim that it's "functionally irrelevant" what gender one's parents are. It seems that the claim is predicated on the basis of the nuclear family's and the rest of the world's functionality being at least mostly interchangeable.

Indeed, I think the best of all possible situations is that the man and woman who conceive a child would be the parents who raise the child in a healthy environment, in part, because genetics are an important aspect of the definition of one's self, and so to have available to the child the components from which the child was made seems to be intuitive.

So ideologically, when the healthiest of all possibilities precludes the possibility of same-sex parents, I think it is fair for that to inform the opinions of how the issue should be handled even in a less perfect system.

Greg Horton

Trevor, there is only one long-term study of the issue, and I'm afraid the findings don't agree with your contention. I wrote about it for the Gazette in 2010: http://bit.ly/M6yag0

Jeremy

Greg,

Thanks for another great article. I feel that you missed an important point on context when it comes to Christians involvement in politics. If we are going to look at the context of the Old Testament then we are dealing with three distinct timeframes in which the text was written: the nomadic/tribal years, monarchy, and exile. My point is that the Old Testament was idealized to be the guide for a theocracy in which YHWH was king. So when Christians in America attempt to bring forth the polical claim, they miss the implications of what they are calling for. Second, the modern involvement of the evangelical/fundamental movement in politics based upon the Bible is a false dichotomy. Paul never spoke against the empire, emperor, or laws. He never spoke against the larger population. His writings (meaning the letters that the average reader would identify as Paul's) addressed the behavior within the local church and really pressed upon the individual's response to change. When did the call for individual response serve as a catalyst for creating laws to force conformity. As a Baptist pastor, this drives me up the wall because it is against the original identity of our movement. I guess instead of a progressive, I might better be called a conservative on the issue of Religious liberty. Thanks again.

Greg Horton

Jeremy, all excellent points, but not really the kind of material that will enter into the average Christian's debating lexicon. In fact, except for "real" Baptists and anabaptists, Christians would largely disagree with your conclusions (I don't). As for enforcing conformity, that's using loaded language. Allow me to talk like a conservative christian for a second, and you'll see what I mean. I'm not trying to enforce conformity; I'm voting for morality. Just as we make immoral acts like rape and incest and bestiality illegal, we need this to be illegal too. No one accuses the legislature of enforcing conformity when they make rape or murder illegal. End diatribe. Anyway, the point that non-Christians and the LGBT community has to recognize is that the fundangelical opposition REALLY thinks gay sex is immoral, not just an orientation. Saying they are trying to enforce conformity is to load your assertion with an assumption that gay sex is not immoral. I don't believe it is, but they do.

Streak

As someone who has made many of these arguments, I agree with most of your post. But I am unsure why making the argument based on the Constitution fundamentally (no pun intended) changes the efficacy of my argument. The people I talk to think the Constitution was written to enforce a Christian world-view. I suspect they would respond to my argument on the Constitution the exact same way they do me arguing that Paul had no concept of sexual orientation.

Greg Horton

A small minority of Christians actually believe that, Brad. Those that do probably can't be reasoned with, except via the slavery argument. If the Constitution was written to reinforce a Biblical worldview, it would make sense that slavery was included, since the Bible is clearly pro-slavery. You see where this is headed. The Constitution, for all its flaws, is still essentially a shared home court or neutral site, and I have no idea why I'm using all these fuckin' sports metaphors.

Streak

Fair enough. And I take Leighton's point about arguing in a form of bad faith as well. I think, however, that the Constitution has the same interpretational issues (or similar) as the Bible.

Oh, and I like sports metaphors.

Trevor

Greg,

Do you know where I can access the full study...There are a lot of questions I have about the hypotheses, methodology, and interpretation of evidence.

The article starts out with the statement "I'm not sure orientation matters." Indeed, it doesn't, and I'm not even sure why that would be relevant to the point. What revs a person's libido hardly has an explicit effect on his/her ability to parent.

"They were the mothers who, in an attempt to mitigate homophobia and the harassment their children would face, helped establish anti-bullying programs, helped educate teachers and administrators, and by these means helped benefit all children."

Did the heterosexual parents also establish anti-bullying programs, help educate teachers and administrators, and help benefit all children? You can't choose the most active and loving parent and then compare them to an upper-class family where the Dad is the CEO of a 1,000 employee business and assume that's a fair comparison.

"Gartrell said because adolescents in same-sex families do face discrimination or ostracism in schools with a fairly high degree of frequency, parents have to address complex issues like sexuality and tolerance early. That dynamic may contribute to the ability of the children to adapt to stressors better than their peers."

Causal issues are what I would be most skeptical of in a study like this. Just like with grapes, the more adversity a person faces with the right system of support and guidance, the stronger and better that person will likely become.

"Since higher socioeconomic status confers advantages, we would expect the control group to fare better. They did not."

If the reality that higher socioeconomic status often limits the interaction of the parents with the children (due to other obligations) is substantiated in this case (or a host of other possibilities), it renders the conclusion that 2 mothers > 1 mother, 1 father speculative at best. What may seem to be a conferral of advantage could just as easily be a conferral of disadvantage if the the "advantage" has nothing to do with the game itself. You can't confer an advantage to OU that they can pay all their recruits and players as much as they want, proceed to place them on the field where Missouri gets to play with 15 players and expect OU to compete.

Those are just some of the questions I have that were raised by the article.

JDH

It's not just semantics, it's two entirely different things. Sex between men of specific ages and social circumstances is not the same thing as "homosexuality." The argument is a very valid one. However, I totally agree with you that it's not going to get you anywhere talking to a fundegelical because it would require enough honesty for them to admit that the Bible has been mistranslated, thereby challenging their entire worldview (e.g. the Bible is inspired, inerrant, universal, and literal). But if this was the standard for what made a good argument, then there would never truly be such a thing.

You're right that it assumes that people in the Bronze and Iron ages couldn't parse reality. They thought the earth was flat, believed in alchemy, and thought that chopping off the end of your penis was a covenant with God; of course they couldn't parse reality. That's not to discount the progress great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle made for their day (both were smitten with the mansex, btw). They could see the sun/moon come and go and describe it happening, but we don't give them credit for having an accurate understanding of astronomy. It's no different that they could engage in same-sex activities while also not having any understanding of it. I think the best way to talk to Christians is to deal with facts; I think this is what's responsible for the 22% or so of evangelicals who do think gay marriage should be legal.

In my own personal experience, I have only had a few things that work when arguing:

-- Ask "why?" in response to everything the fundegelical says. Sooner or later they'll have to get to a point where either God says so or the Bible says so.

-- Ask "how do you know for sure?" a few times while you're at it. Eventually you will get to a point where the fundegelical has to admit that their beliefs are based on faith rather than facts, and you can start sneaking in little bits about separation of church and state, etc.

-- Remind them of the Christian martyrs and the missionaries who are persecuted around the world under Islam. It's possible that they could see that it's better to err on the side of freedom.

-- Dismantle the slippery slope arguments by educating them about the idea of consent. The difference between rape and a honeymoon is consent. The difference between kidnapping and vacation is consent. The difference between torture and surgery is consent. Gay marriage is no more likely to lead to bestiality or pedophilia as accepted "orientations" than is a prostate exam. Polygamy, on the other hand, is consensual; but there's no legal structure in place for polygamy, and it would be hell on FD, BK, and PB courts. Almost every law in the country would have to be rewritten and reimagined to accommodate polygamy; the infrastructure just isn't there. This is the same reason (to a lesser degree) why civil unions and other non-marriage terms don't suffice for gay couples; the infrastructure IS there and readily available for marriage, but not for any other term.

-- Remind them that there are religious protections involved in legislation that has passed. Swallow the bile and pretend that you fully support the rights of religious assholes to be as big of assholes as they wanna be.

Aside from this (which really isn't much), the best I can do is just be successful in my career, stay happily in my unmarried domestic partnership, and be my clean/sober gamer self. Nothing changes minds like a living, breathing example that all the stereotypes about the "lifestyle" are wrong. I'm coming up on a 5 year anniversary, and the longer I'm in my relationship, the harder people find it to look in my face and repeat what they hear from the pulpit.

JDH

@Trevor

Greg's right about the study, and it has been admitted into evidence at trial twice without any counter-evidence to the contrary.

But regardless of whether the nuclear family is "best" for children, we have to get practical at some point. 40% of school-age children are living in single-parent or split households. The nuclear family is already dead. We can all agree that two parents are better than one.

In addition, we can all agree that any parents are better than foster care and orphanages.

The science behind adoption is very consistent in that adoptive parents are the *most* stable of all households; even more than the nuclear family. Children that are desperately wanted and sought after are better off than children who aren't. Pretending that the nuclear family is served by leaving children to rot in foster care and orphanages is reprehensible. Essentially, what the "family values" groups are saying here is that it is more important to deny gay people the dignity of family than it is to actually provide a family for suffering and abused children.

Trevor

JDH,

Don't miss that I said: "Conversely against my Christian counterparts, I would prefer to see a child raised in a home with two loving and respectful parents of the same sex than a split-home with two parents of the opposite sex who cannot speak good of each other."

cheek

Trevor, you are certainly free to believe that the sexes bear inherent differences apart from their genitalia, but that is simply a freedom to be wrong. Gender is a social construction. That doesn't mean that there aren't marked similarities amongst men and amongst women in the aggregate, but such similarity across populations can have social explanations as well as biological and does not lend itself to generalities since there are standard deviations amongst both populations. Consider one such difference: that women are more willing to sacrifice a professional life to stay home and nurture children. First of all, this disposition is almost certainly inculcated to some extent. That is, girls are taught from a very young age to be nurturers, and low and behold, when they get older, they enact that teaching. Shocker. But even if that doesn't tell the whole story and females are more biologically prone to nurturing behavior than males in the aggregate, that says nothing about particular males and particular females. In other words, it's quite possible for that to be true and for any given male to be more interested in nurturing than any given female. As such, the notion that without a mother and a father a child definitely misses something that they'd be better off getting in an ideal world stands without any support whatever. Likewise the converse, just because a child has a male and a female parent does not guarantee that s/he will get a more rounded experience of parental behavior than would a child of two same sex parents.

Zack Opheim

"Bible scholars and atheists typically form the starters, by the way."

Yeah right.

Greg Horton


Um, Zack, in terms of what it says, both atheists and scholars know more than 99% of Christians. In terms of what the text means, scholars win hands down. I guess you didn't like that point. Maybe the Church should do something to change it. 

Sent from my iPhone

Thatishouldgain.wordpress.com

Greg,

Thanks for your post. I found out about it through my friend Jessica Winderweedle (aka-Weedle). I like your sense of humor woven throughout as well as how thoughtful the post as a whole reads. Thanks. Though, I do disagree with you being an evangelical pastor-scholar myself, though, not a fundamentalist nor fundangelical. I also agree with your comment to Zach O. about the Church doing something about the lack of general knowledge concerning the Bible, theology, Church history, and perhaps hermeneutics. I think it is unfortunate that there is such a gaping divide between the academy and the local church. I am just one man, but I do hope to do what I can to bring the academic realm of Christianity and the local church educational realms together a bit (at least, in my local church). Again, no doubt we disagree about some issues as my friend and Starbucks manager from many years ago also disagree about some things, but we are not enemies of one another and are still able to graciously converse with one another (something I find sorely lacking in the broader spectrum of evangelicalism & fundamentalism & pretty much the whole of Reformed Christianity today). Thanks again. blessings, Matt

JDH

@Trevor

Yes, and I agree with you. But considering the state of the nuclear family, it makes absolutely no sense to punish gay people because nuclear families have failed their children. So really, what's the point of propping up the "ideal" of the nuclear family in public policy? It's not working to save the family, and it's not doing anything *at all* except deny gay people equal access to the freedoms other families enjoy.

At some point you have to step away from saying "this way is the best and it needs to be reflected in public policy" and step towards the facts of life. I don't mean to jump on you, but that statement resonates, obviously, because it's the talking point du'jour for why gays should stay second class citizens (see Romney's statements for the past 4 days).

JDH

@Zack

Don't take anyone's word for it; there's plenty of objective research on this just a few google searches away. In fact, there are even studies by Christian research firms that reflect the exact same thing.

Trevor

Cheek,

I can wholly assent to everything before the "As Such":

"As such, the notion that without a mother and a father a child definitely misses something that they'd be better off getting in an ideal world stands without any support whatever. Likewise the converse, just because a child has a male and a female parent does not guarantee that s/he will get a more rounded experience of parental behavior than would a child of two same sex parents."

I'm tempted to wholly agree with you on the converse position. If all things are equal between the four parents (i.e. they all score equally on the scale of good parenting), then I would posit that because of the aggregate, parents of different sexes lends to a more comprehensive perspective for the child than otherwise. Is that a significant point? Probably not, but I think valid nonetheless.

As per the first part, the lack of specificity of which mother and father makes your point valid, but is somewhat of a straw-man.

My point is that the healthiest of all possibilities is for a child to be raised by his/her biological parents, both of whom are idealistically competent parents. Again, this is because of the role genetics play into a child's formation of identity. In a perfect world, that precludes same-sex parents. In a less perfect world, I think that the ideal can justifiably influence an opinion (and therefore a policy) on the matter because the function of opinions (/policies) is to construct a perceived more perfect reality.

Trevor

JDH,

I take issue with some of the rhetoric you use to frame this issue:

"punish gay people", "access to the freedoms", "second class citizens"

1. Gay people are (for the most-part) not punished in American policy. Notwithstanding certain state laws (which are only very rarely upheld) that prohibit gay sexual relationships, there is no policy that prohibits gay rights. What has actually happened is that American policy has arbitrarily rewarded opposite-sex couples.

2. Marriage, adoption, tax breaks, et al. are all privileges, not freedoms. Society through the government can create, define, and grant privileges (in the case of marriage a privileged institution) and is allowed to discriminate who receives those privileges.

3. In as much as "second class" modifies the term "citizens" there is no way in which gays are treated as such…"second class couples" maybe, but not citizens. Corporate entities are not citizens. Gay people can adopt children as easily as straight people. Gay people can vote. Gay people can use public facilities at their leisure. Gay people can be hired at jobs. If wrongful discrimination is taking place, it's at the hand of society, not the government.

Which brings me to a question/thought I've had lately:

Why would anyone think it a good idea to correct a governmental injustice rather than simply remove the power of the government to effect injustice?

Greg Horton

Trevor, this is rhetorical horseshit. "We're not punishing you; we're just rewarding them," as if the effect isn't the same as punishing. And please tell me what legal precedent there is for government granting privileges that benefit one class of citizens and not another, especially when the financial benefit is derived from the same entity (i.e., tax breaks). You know as well as I that "society" is a empty signifier--there is no such thing as society. The government long ago decided that people could not be excluded from eating at a certain restaurant (surely a privilege) based on color of skin. Discrimination is discrimination, after all. As to your third point, go ahead and grant them the same rights as hetero couples, and then everyone work together to get the government out. For now, it's just heteros arguing from a privileged position. "Seriously, why would you want this? You want the government out, right? Hey, then don't get married. We'll give up our tax breaks and survivor benefits real soon. Trust us. Meanwhile, y'all do the right thing."

Leighton

Why would anyone think it a good idea to correct a governmental injustice rather than simply remove the power of the government to effect injustice?

I would prefer to correct the flawed ways in which FBI, ICE, JTTF and DOJ address interstate organized crime (drug-pushing, gunrunning, human trafficking, etc.), rather than removing their ability to pursue and prosecute interstate gangsters. Want a single town or county to take on MS13, or triads moving Hong Kong heroin from San Francisco up as far north as Seattle and Vancouver (BC)? Good luck with that. Even states can't fight these things effectively, because criminals just border-hop to a different jurisdiction when things get too hot.

I'd love it if we would stop wasting time and money on small-time marijuana movers so we would have the manpower to crack down on the unlicensed handgun trade that puts .45s in the hands of low-income high schoolers in Houston and Louisiana. Definitely an injustice there. I'm pretty sure fixing it is better than abolishing it.

Trevor

Greg,

""We're not punishing you; we're just rewarding them," as if the effect isn't the same as punishing."

That's just asinine…So you and I are being punished for being single? If there is an injustice and it goes one way, it goes all ways.

"And please tell me what legal precedent there is for government granting privileges that benefit one class of citizens and not another, especially when the financial benefit is derived from the same entity (i.e., tax breaks)."

Welfare, Military, Business Owners/Stock Holders, Landowners, Native Americans…Should I go on?

"Discrimination is discrimination, after all."

Discrimination in the negative and discrimination in the positive are not reducible.

"and then everyone work together to get the government out."

You and I both know that would have zero percent chance of happening. It is in fact a wonderful opportunity, this gay marriage issue, to platform against governmental control in places it ought not have control. Once gays can legally marry, they have no reason to decry the power of the government to discriminate. I don't see blacks fighting unilaterally for gay rights…It's like those "Now that I'm safe I'm Pro-Choice" baby t-shirts…people just don't work that way.

Trevor

Leighton,

In your example, what injustice is the government effecting? You're providing an example where the government is inefficient and needs to become more efficient. That doesn't really address the thought/question.

Greg Horton

You really are working hard to make discrimination look sweet, Trevor. We're not punished for being single, Trevor. We can marry whichever girl will have us, not a boy though. Stay on subject here, please. What is the reason for the prohibition? And how is marriage a privilege of government? There was certainly marriage here before there was a federal government. What exactly is your point?

That list is ridiculous. Welfare is a privilege? Military service is predicated on you possibly sacrificing your life for a few less than privileged benefits. Native Americans are receiving remuneration for centuries of murder, rape, disease and theft. That makes them privileged? Business owners are given tax incentives because it's believed they create jobs and wealth. I sort of agree, so not a privilege. Landowners pay taxes on their land. How are they privileged? Should I go on?

Not allowing someone to self-determine their "pursuit of happiness" by limiting the adult pool they are allowed to marry on an arbitrary, Biblical standard is certainly discrimination in the negative. How can it not be? They can't possibly change who they are to meet the arbitrary standard.

So gays are to be the standard bearers against government overreach? Heteros aren't though? How nice of you to insist they be the heros while protected from the discrimination they face. Again, horseshit.

dr dobson

Trevor

Your statement that gay people can adopt as easily as straight people is wrong. They can't. Having represented gay couples attempting to adopt and/or bear natural children via surrogacy, I can flatly tell you that you're wrong with that statement.

Also, ask any partnered gay person to show you their tax return and which partner in the couple is able to claim "married, filing jointly" (answer: neither) and which partner is able to claim any children as dependents (hazard your best guess as to that answer, too). While you're at it, ask them to show you the amount of exempt gift tax income they can receive as a couple in any given tax year. Note that their amount is precisely half of that of a hetero married couple (at least from a federal estate gift tax perspective). Again, while you're at it, and assuming this hypothetical gay person continues to accomodate your curiosity about their standing in society, ask them to show you their insurance card reflecting a family group plan issued by their partner's employer. Chances are, it ain't there.

You've confused a gay person's right to practice a "gay lifestyle" with the institutionalized discrimination experienced by every gay couple everyday of their lives.

I'm guessing here, but it doesn't appear to me like you have any contact with anyone who is gay, nor do you have any close friends or relatives who are. If you did, you would see the false assumptions covering every statement you make above.

Trevor

Dr. Dobson, I never confused anything. I explicitly stated: " 'second class couples' maybe, but not citizens." (To be sure, I should have said surely, rather than maybe)

I'm well aware that gay couples don't have the same privileges as straight couples. The individuals themselves have all the same rights as all American individuals (i.e. they can assemble, bear arms, vote, speak out, live autonomously, etc), which is all that I claimed. If you want to adopt as a single parent, you are certainly able to do so, regardless of sexual preference. All the tax stuff has to do with the enterprise of marriage constructed by the government.

And for the record, you are guessing quite wrong.

Trevor

Greg,

"What is the reason for the prohibition?"

Whatever the reasoning is of the masses.

"And how is marriage a privilege of government?" There was certainly marriage here before there was a federal government

Two different marriages, I'm afraid.

Marriage may well have existed before the federal government, but it has since been usurped by the federal government and was redefined from one person simply living with another person in recognition of the community, into a corporation that receives benefits from the government. Marriage is now an enterprise which the government regulates…I think it to be foolish to expand that enterprise, when it desperately needs to go away altogether.

Yes welfare is a privilege, I can't believe you would think otherwise. The government is bound by nothing in the constitution requiring that it provide in the manner that it does: welfare, remuneration for past sins, etc. But if you are the government, you are wise to dole out privilege to more people so that less people contest the power that you amass…

If your self-determined "pursuit of happiness" is incorporating your relationship, then you are a sad sad pair of individuals. I wouldn't give two shits if the government said I couldn't "marry"…as long as you don't infringe on my "right" to live autonomously and to choose the person(s) that I love and live with then I don't need the government to change my tax structure. There are certain things that need to be fixed in adoption, power of attorney, etc. that affect gay couples…but it needs to be fixed for more than just gay couples and outside the context of marriage.

The government doesn't discriminate on a Biblical standard, the people whom the government represents may, but the government discriminates from its power to decree. The government gets to choose the definitions, and in this case, may do so arbitrarily with no regard for a source of arbitration.

cheek

Can't see why it's a straw man, Trevor. Also, the genetics point is irrelevant. I was responding specifically to your claim "men and women are intrinsically different in many ways beyond genitals." That claim is demonstrably false. The biological differences show up only in the aggregate, not in the particular. As such, and particular woman could possess as many or more "masculine" traits as any particular man. Being a woman might make it all things considered more likely that a randomly selected woman is more "feminine" than a randomly selected man, but that fact does nothing to support the type of biological essentialism you cited as a reason for discouraging gay marriage as a matter of public policy.

As to the genetic point, you run afoul of the same problem. Just because genetics give biological parents tools that can't be gotten any other way, that fact alone does not support a ban on gay adoption. The tools in question (let's call them native affection) are great for a parent to have, but there is no reason to believe that just because one parent has them and one parent doesn't the former will be a better parent than the latter. It might be that those tools can be compensated for in other ways. This notion that ideals should govern public policy is silliness. First of all, it's not nearly as easy to determine what the ideals are as you seem to assume. Secondly, even if you can determine with certainty what the ideals are, the are useless in cases where the ideal is unachievable. As such (I'll try this again) they cannot be used to make general policy because a general policy must apply to all cases, not just ideal cases.

Finally, to pile on what Dobson pointed out above, you claim that homosexuals are free to work. False. In the majority of states, employers can fire workers for being gay. It is not a protected class. Recently, our very own oh-so-pious (and oh-so-unqualified) Rep. James Lankford emphasized his opposition to a law protecting members of the LGBT community from employment discrimination. I don't know for sure, but I imagine every other member of our congressional delegation would take the same stance.

Greg Horton

Trevor, your libertarian undies are showing. Your definition of government is predicated on a political philosophy I don't espouse: that government is somehow separate from the people who vote it in and out of power. They aren't decreeing a prohibition against gay marriage; they are responding to a bigoted constituency. That aside, why would you pick an already disenfranchised class to be your champions in the libertarian (quixotic) attempt to get government out of marriage? Why not pick the privileged class, otherwise it just sounds like you've made up some bullshit reason not to extend the same rights to gay couples. By the way, reasoning of the masses also gave us slavery and women without votes and property. We have to assess this along an axis related to rights, not mass reasoning. I have no idea what point that was supposed to make.

I love the marxist rhetoric of doling out to the masses. Anyway, let's allow that welfare is a privilege. Now, the question: does it make them a privileged class in the good sense of the word? No. No. No. So, you responded to one from your original list. Does this mean you're conceding the others? This isn't about privileges as much as it's about rights, especially the right to self determine, surely an American axiom. The government is preventing citizens from doing that, however sad you think that makes their lives. (We'll see if you feel the same way when it's your turn to marry.) Calling marriage a "corporation" only muddies the issue, as there are more than financial benefits that accrue in a marriage. You may not like the government regulating marriage according to your words, but you seem to have no problem with them prohibiting (aka regulating) it for gay couples...hmmm.

Trevor

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what I'm trying to say...so I'm going to list out some points which can then be critiqued individually.

1. I couldn't care less whether or not two people engage in a gay lifestyle. It's not my business.

3. This is more toward Cheek and Leighton, but RE: parenting/adoption/etc. All that I am saying is that it is FAIR for ideals to influence the opinions of the constituents by which (via government) public policy is determined. I have even stated that there are cases where it is obvious that same-sex parents are preferable. While I cannot forthrightly say I am for same-sex parenting, I'm certainly not against it. I say let them adopt.

3. Marriage is not a right, and it ought not be a privilege. It's a construct that has been around for millenniums which the government has no business being involved in: "That government is best which governs least". The institutionalization of this construct is quite possibly the worst thing to happen to it in the history of the United States. I would never ever ever fight for the institution to be expanded in any way, shape or form, and I'm systematically opposed to any argument which would do so.

4. RE: Discrimination in the negative vs. Discrimination in the positive. These may not be the exact terms that I'm looking for, but I'll explain what I mean so it's a little more clear.
A. By discrimination in the negative I mean negation of individual rights (that ought to be) guaranteed by the government. Those rights include all autonomous rights and suffrage (because if you're forced to live under a government, you ought to have a say).
B. Discrimination in the positive is creating franchises for specific subsets of the population. I guess in a backward way you can call it discrimination in the negative because enfranchising specific subsets of the population automatically precludes those who do not belong to those specific subsets. The difference is that the franchises are not rights. Now, arguments can certainly be made to expand or restrict these franchises, all of which is legitimate…however, I cannot assent to the claim that injustice occurs when the government favors one subset of people over the others based on legislation passed by the representatives of the constituents.

Greg Horton

Trevor, whatever your rationale, the net result is that heteros can marry and gays can't. It's the very definition of discrimination.

dr dobson

Trevor, so marriage should never be (or never have had) a government component? Enjoy marrying your sister, then. See how that "autonomous" right affects your offspring and their 8-fingered hands. What's that? You say you have four sisters? Hell, have a four-way wedding, I say. Saddle up, brother. You're going to be a busy guy. In making your arguments, you a) have strayed far beyond the construct of Greg's original topic; and b) you have offended the very basic tenents of political philosophy by arguing into existence realities that simply do not and will not exist under our current form of government. While we're using the word, "government", let's not forget to remember that marriages are governed by state law, not federal law (they are merely "recognized" by federal law vis-a-vis full faith and credit to a valid, state-licensed marriage in the form of a federal tax return filed as "married; filed jointly", etc.). You cross lines without reference to this important distinction.

Also, saying that discrimination in the negative is the "negation of individual rights (that ought to be) guaranteed by the government" means exactly what? The government discriminates by negating ind. rights that the government itself guarantees/guaranteed in the first place? What??

Trevor

"Trevor, so marriage should never be (or never have had) a government component? Enjoy marrying your sister, then. See how that "autonomous" right affects your offspring and their 8-fingered hands. What's that? You say you have four sisters? Hell, have a four-way wedding, I say. Saddle up, brother. You're going to be a busy guy."

I didn't realize one was required to marry their sister(s) before the two(four) could have sex and reproduce...

you a) have strayed far beyond the construct of Greg's original topic.

This is the nature of conversation. Oddly enough, my original statement was never addressed outside of Leighton on a tangential point...Not sure where it strayed, but it's really not a big deal.

b) you have offended the very basic tenents of political philosophy by arguing into existence realities that simply do not and will not exist under our current form of government. While we're using the word, "government", let's not forget to remember that marriages are governed by state law, not federal law (they are merely "recognized" by federal law vis-a-vis full faith and credit to a valid, state-licensed marriage in the form of a federal tax return filed as "married; filed jointly", etc.). You cross lines without reference to this important distinction.

The reality is that there is not a lick of information about marriage in the constitution. It is a state issue, and I didn't particularly care to type anymore than I had to to incorporate that into my thoughts. When Greg referenced the Constitution in his article, I assumed that the discussion of government would naturally be about the issue on a federal level.

Also, saying that discrimination in the negative is the "negation of individual rights (that ought to be) guaranteed by the government" means exactly what? The government discriminates by negating ind. rights that the government itself guarantees/guaranteed in the first place? What??

Correct. Unfortunately there is precedent for this...when we, you know, wrongfully denied women and blacks the right to vote because they were women and black. That's discrimination in the negative. That's quite a bit different than (over) privileging a subset of the population.

Trevor

Greg,

At no point did I say that discrimination is not occurring. It certainly *is* occurring. But you can't unilaterally remove the ability of the government to discriminate...otherwise government no longer serves a purpose.

I have a good number of gay friends, colleagues, and mentors, and I have met a whole lot more (You can't miss 'em when you graduate from OCU and you're a classical musician). All of them have expressed a great variety of view points on the subject of sexuality and gay rights. For the ones who are negatively affected the most by public policy, I'm certainly dismayed...but that doesn't change the fact that I don't believe assuaging them with a policy that is ultimately bad for the people as a whole is the answer.

JDH

@ Trevor:

You said:

"3. Marriage is not a right, and it ought not be a privilege. It's a construct that has been around for millenniums which the government has no business being involved in: "That government is best which governs least". The institutionalization of this construct is quite possibly the worst thing to happen to it in the history of the United States. I would never ever ever fight for the institution to be expanded in any way, shape or form, and I'm systematically opposed to any argument which would do so."

Deconstructing marriage really isn't that constructive. It's easy for an individual to sit around and come up with grand ideas about restructuring society, but I would suggest that you read up on the history of marriage law in the US.

14 times, the Supreme Court has heard cases on marriage, and 14 times they have ruled that marriage is a fundamental human right. Also, there is an enormous body of science rationalizing the societal benefits of marriage and the government's interest in promoting families.

So you're completely wrong at the very foundation of your argument; marriage is a right, not a privilege. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the right to marriage is the right of the INDIVIDUAL, not the right of the state or of a couple. In Loving v. Virginia, the state argued that the plaintiffs had the same marriage rights as everyone else (you can marry whomever you want, as long as it's within your own race), so the marriage law was not discriminatory. All we're seeing today is the same discrimination on the basis of gender rather than race.

JDH

Completely anecdotally speaking, I have to point out a few facts about my life.

1. If me or my partner died tomorrow, we would lose roughly half of the life insurance benefit to windfall-rate income tax.

2. I bought a car from my dad when I was 21. We went to the tag agency and it was a tax-free title transfer. When my partner and I went to get joint-ownership titles on our 3 cars, the excise tax was $1400 on cars that were paid in full.

3. We have to pay for 2 renters' insurance policies. In the event that something happened to our apartment, only the things I purchased would be covered under my policy and vice-versa.

4. We lose about $1200 a year on taxes by filing separately.

Those are just a few concrete parts of my life. The hardest part of not being allowed to marry is how constantly you're reminded of it. On all types of forms and surveys I get told that I'm "single." Introducing your "unmarried domestic partner" to people makes no sense. Once you share a bank account and utilities, you've earned a better title than "boyfriend." You date a boyfriend in high school; you don't talk to your boyfriend about moving out of state to adopt children.

All I'm saying here is that the words DO matter.

JDH

Trevor said:

"The reality is that there is not a lick of information about marriage in the constitution. It is a state issue, and I didn't particularly care to type anymore than I had to to incorporate that into my thoughts. When Greg referenced the Constitution in his article, I assumed that the discussion of government would naturally be about the issue on a federal level."

Last post, I promise! ; P

You're right that the Constitution doesn't say anything about marriage. You're wrong in thinking that somehow matters. No, marriage is not addressed in the Constitution, but Equal Protection, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Association, Due Process, and Privacy all ARE in the Constitution. On these merits, the Supreme Court has ruled that the states have little to no interest or right to restrict and regulate marriage in the ways the states have attempted to do so. It has been the federal government time and again restricting the power of the state government and the "masses" to use marriage as a bargaining chip. For these reasons, you can marry if you owe child support, you can marry in prison, you can marry outside your own race; the states have an abyssmal record on marriage, and the libertarian mantra of "states' rights" is not the path to civil rights as guaranteed under the Constitution.

Desertwillow

I stumbled upon this post due to a series of button mashing on Google. Brilliant post! Loved it! Well thought out, well written and well argued.

Greg Horton

Thanks very much. Glad you stumbled on it.

Zack Opheim

I am a minister (B-teamer), and I tell you what: most atheists (the A- Teamers), besides a few mostly those with religious backgrounds, are very ignorant of the Bible.

And very many Biblical scholars are Christians anyway.

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