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Gay Marriage: its Advocates, Practitioners & Skeptics

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:07 am - April 6, 2009.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage

At the heart of the two most serious books on either side of the gay marriage debate is a question we should all be asking as we wrestle with whether or not states should extend the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.  Both Jonathan Rauch in Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America and David Blankenhorn in The Future of Marriage consider whether such recognition strengthens the institution or undermines it.

Rauch, as his title suggests contends it strengthens marriage.  Blankenhorn disagrees.

It sometimes seems Rauch is alone in making that argument.  He understands the purposes of marriage and how the institution benefits society.  By contrast, most of his fellow gay marriage advocates see the institution as a right to which they are somehow entilted.

Yet, as I wrote on Saturday, while most advocates may not understand the meaning of the social change they’re promoting, many of the institution’s practitioners do, as this comment to Bruce’s post reveals.  The writers simply acknowledges that his 24-year gay relationship has been “monogamous.”

Would it that other advocates use that word which practically everyone in our culture understands inheres in the very definition of the institution*, but which all to which all too many advocates wish to give short shrift (if that) for fear of offending someone in the gay movement.  Or maybe it’s not just a fear of offending, it’s a rejection of the notion altogether.

No wonder some see gay marriage as an assault on traditional marriage.  Those who often promote it portray marriage as just a union of two loving individuals, dispensing with many of the qualities which have long defined the institution.

Yet, when we talk about gay marriage as most of its “practitioners” experience their relationships, we often get a different reaction from its skeptics as this comment to my post on the exclusion of gay conservatives from gay marriage confabs indicates:

I am a straight, conservative and married man. Until about a year ago, I – shamefully – was opposed to gay marriage. It was the line of reasoning in this blog that has caused the change in my heart. Thank you and please keep up the fight. Seems to me that married gay people, serious about their own vows, would only strengthen the institution of marriage.

This reader helps make the case for Jonathan Rauch’s argument.

In the end, I believe it boils down to whether or not we see gay marriage as a political goal or a social ideal.  If we talk about it as a social ideal, as does Jonathan Rauch, we might realize more quickly the political goal.

That last comments shows why this is so.  He sees that extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples means more than just conferring privileges on these relationships.  It also affirms the values which have long undergirded traditional marriage.

If you want to convince the skeptics, have the “practitioners” remind us how serious they are about their vows.  That may not please some gay activists, but it might just cause some currently opposed to gay marriage to change their minds.  That one reader did.  And who knows how many other persuadable individuals are out there.

———

*Just watch nearly any American movie with a marriage at its core if you don’t believe me.

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19 Comments

  1. Britain moves to ban gay jokes as “hate speech.” As I’ve asked repeatedly, once the “Gay Marriage” box is checked off on the agenda, what comes next? I don’t expect people making pretty sweet livings as professional activists to fold up their tents and get real jobs. There always has to be another crusade, and gay marriage advocates, from what I have seen, are not big respecters of other people’s rights.

    Comment by V the K — April 6, 2009 @ 5:45 am - April 6, 2009

  2. “If you want to convince the skeptics, have the “practitioners” remind us how serious they are about their vows. That may not please some gay activists…

    The gay people who have been suing various states for the right to get married are VERY serious about their vows and protecting each other and their kids. You can read exactly how serious they are and how their families have been affected by not having this right in their petitions to the court.

    And, they are also gay activists. This may displease conserva-gays, who seem to delight in employing pretzel logic when describing “gay activists”.

    Comment by Thomas — April 6, 2009 @ 9:52 am - April 6, 2009

  3. I no longer use the word “monogamy.” I find I have to say “lifelong sexual exclusivity.” For most gays, monogamy means some sort of emotional fidelity which allows them to have sex with other people but not really mean it. When a gay says “I’m in a monogamous relationship” he probably means he’s in an open relationship with someone who is so codependent he thinks that a man who sleeps around on him can still love him.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — April 6, 2009 @ 10:19 am - April 6, 2009

  4. Re. same-sex marriage, I’m not a skeptic — I’m an opponent.

    Comment by Ignatius — April 6, 2009 @ 10:37 am - April 6, 2009

  5. Gay marriage is where my conservative instincts win out over my empathy for my fellow homos and homo-ettes. I know both male and female couples whose fidelity, constancy under challenge, etc. makes them as worthy of the title of spouses as my straight brothers and sisters. But this is not a question to be decided by instance of personal virtue.

    Here’s my problem: taking a bedrock social institution which has already been greatly weakened and making, of all things, the gender of the spouses irrelevant…what unintended outcomes lie ahead?

    The income tax amendment to the Constitution, the first payment to a single mother on welfare, the first hate crime law…I am sure they all were well-intentioned. But disaster has followed over time and I’ll bet every one of their framers would cry, “But I never intended that!”.

    My problem even with Rauch, whose book is very fine indeed, is that it is a rationalist argument that really assumes that people will act well and respond rationally to social change. If anything makes someone a conservative, it is reading history instead of philosophy and observing how the race actually behaves, not how you hope it would.

    Sorry to be unsupportive, but I am not comfortable that this brave new world would be under the control of the good intentions of good people. Nothing is.

    Comment by EssEm — April 6, 2009 @ 11:39 am - April 6, 2009

  6. Great comments. It is inspiring to hear such heart-felt sentiments.

    I was feeling really alone this weekend when a dear, straight friend sought me out to congratulate me on the Iowa decision.  Then two people gave me a ‘black power’ salute.  Truly!

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but has anyone else been following Maggie  Gallagher‘s ‘Power of the Culture’ series on The Corner?

    Not that they need the advertisement, but I found her sober (if a bit depressing) on the topic.

    Best wishes,
    -MFS

    Comment by MFS — April 6, 2009 @ 12:31 pm - April 6, 2009

  7. “homo-ettes”

    I like it!

    Comment by Julie the Jarhead — April 6, 2009 @ 2:16 pm - April 6, 2009

  8. Well, maybe I am missing out on a lot of “left” vs “right”, etc but to me the issue has always been one of equality. I simply want the same legal and statutory rights as str8 couples. Equality under the law as defined by the equal protection clause of state constitutions. Its that elementary to me. “Marriage” has evolved over the centuries and in the United States it has (from women and children being treated as property to slaves not being able to marry) etc.

    There are approximately 1400 federal statutory rights associated with marriage. Those rights due not accrue to any same sex couples that marry in states that permit marriage. Of course this is due to DOMA. Therefore, I do not have problems with state Supreme Courts rendering decisions on the issue of marriage (they do all the time as to str8 couples) Until Loving v. VA, interracial marriage was banned in most states. Courts have consistently ruled on the issue from everything from child support to alimony to custody to everything in between.

    I don’t have a problem with individual states deciding differently. California to me was a weirder situation since the Governator talked out of both sides of his mouth (he said the Legislature and not the courts should decide the issue…well, lo and behold the Legislature voted two times to allow same sex marriages and he vetoed that twice…so much for “the will of the people” and then when the Court decided the issue he suddenly supported that decision and said constitutional rights shouldn’t be left up to the Legislature or put up for a vote by the people or some other illogical arguments that he came up with that left one wondering how many ways can a politician lie to us)

    Quite frankly, if the federal government by the Legislature repealed the parts of DOMA that denied federal statutory rights (those 1400 or so mentioned above) to me the whole issue would go away and if the legislation were created that if a state had same sex marriage/civil unions/domestic partnerships then you get those 1400 federal statutory rights, it would make more sense and the issue would be closer to being resolved. Of course, if a state didn’t have same sex marriage/civil unions/domestic partnerships, then the federal legislation could be well you get the federal rights but not the state statutory rights in your states. My guess is at least this way rights like Social Security benefits, joint federal tax benefits could be solved easier that way.

    Of course, I have always believed DOMA is unconstitutional due to the full faith and credit clause and we know why Clinton pushed it in 1996 so he help get re elected….but that’s another story.

    In time, and in its own way, I do believe more and more states will
    have marriage equality as each state decides it. Some will, some won’t. But as long as its left to the states and the mess of DOMA is corrected, I think it would end up being ok.

    Of course, its just my opinion….Marriage is a civil law issue and I don’t discuss it based on religion and if a church wants to not marry a same sex couple….well that is their right..the civil marriage license is a license granted by a state/locality and not by a church…so there is always the Justice of the Peace or Magistrate to perform the ceremony.

    Comment by Rocket — April 6, 2009 @ 3:09 pm - April 6, 2009

  9. I am sorry but has anyone read the Bible. Sodum was destroyed because God did not institute marriage between the same sex. It is wrong. And yes I do know gay people. Some of the nicest people you would ever meet. But I do not agree with their way of life, and for us to except it denounces God. God will always love the people but he does not like what they are doing. Gays tend to ignore this or gloss over this fact to make it right. I am not here to judge them, not my job, that will be judged in time, until then they need to know it is wrong! PERIOD.

    Comment by DAISY — April 6, 2009 @ 7:19 pm - April 6, 2009

  10. Um. Wow. I’m a homosexual Christian. Yes, I’ve read the Bible. There’s that part where Jesus welcome eunuchs into His Kingdom without asking them to change. Since you seem fairly conservative, look up “eunuch” in your Strong’s concordance–you’ll see it doesn’t mean “castrated”–it means “without the inclination for traditional marriage.”

    Sodom, if you read in Isaiah, was destroyed for lack of hospitality, not sexual behavior.

    Oh, heck, here’s a link: http://www.gaychristian101.com/index.html

    Please give it a look and get back to me. Thanks in advance! Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — April 6, 2009 @ 9:26 pm - April 6, 2009

  11. EssEm,

    The left has always dismissed and pooh-poohed slippery slope arguments while simultaneously depending on the tactic.

    Comment by American Elephant — April 6, 2009 @ 11:14 pm - April 6, 2009

  12. When a gay says “I’m in a monogamous relationship” he probably means he’s in an open relationship with someone who is so codependent he thinks that a man who sleeps around on him can still love him.

    Ashpenaz, have you taken a survey? I’m in a monogamous relationship, and neither of us have had sex with someone else since we’ve been together. So that’s one on the against side. I do know someone who is in an open relationship. He doesn’t use the word “monogamous” to describe it. Sure, this is anecdotal evidence, but so far, monogamous appears to mean monogamous.

    Sodum [sic] was destroyed because God did not institute marriage between the same sex.

    Um, Daisy, I doubt that’s why God destroyed Sodom as interpreted in the Bible.

    God will always love the people but he does not like what they are doing. Gays tend to ignore this or gloss over this fact to make it right.

    How do you know that? Because the Bible says so? Maybe God really does not like homosexuality, and maybe we’ll find that out and why God made gay people. Who knows? But we all gloss over things, you included, as your argument indicates.

    Comment by Pat — April 7, 2009 @ 7:18 am - April 7, 2009

  13. Gay marriage proponents are middle-class yuppies, and they make me want to vomit all over their middle-class arguments dressed up in cliches. RE: Lesbians. There are enough fatherless families (thanks to liberal laws), without designing more. Rupert Everett is right too. They are just plain weird:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-04-06/rupert-everett-unleashed/

    Comment by Bud — April 7, 2009 @ 8:46 am - April 7, 2009

  14. Hey, Pat–remember when I got kicked off of IGF? Well, guess what, girlfriend, I got a WHOLE THREAD here! Yeah! And it’s a big long one, too! How does that make you feel? Pretty small, huh? In your FACE! In your FACE! Nyaaah! Nyaaah! Woo-hoo! Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?

    Comment by Ashpenaz — April 7, 2009 @ 9:36 am - April 7, 2009

  15. aw, daisy…you’re cute.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — April 7, 2009 @ 6:37 pm - April 7, 2009

  16. Congrats, Ashpenaz. Yeah, the whole thing is really devastating, I’m sure, but I’ll do my best to try to pick myself back off. Thanks.

    FWIW, I thought it was a mistake for IGF to ban you.

    Comment by Pat — April 7, 2009 @ 8:14 pm - April 7, 2009

  17. “up,” not “off,” that is.

    Comment by Pat — April 7, 2009 @ 8:15 pm - April 7, 2009

  18. […] That is, leaders who recognize that in pushing this social change, they’re “trying to overcome,” in Dale Carpenter’s words, “deeply embedded views about something Americans think is the foundation of responsible family life.“  Respect that while some social conservatives harbor much animus against people like us, many, perhaps the great majority, are not so hateful.  I believe that some of them can be reached by “gentle suasion,” thoughtful arguments civilly expressed. […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Once again, the needed conversation on gay marriage — April 25, 2009 @ 3:47 pm - April 25, 2009

  19. […] That is, leaders who recognize that in pushing this social change, they’re “trying to overcome,” in Dale Carpenter’s words, “deeply embedded views about something Americans think is the foundation of responsible family life.” Respect that while some social conservatives harbor much animus against gay people, many, perhaps the great majority, are not so hateful. I believe some of them can be reached by “gentle suasion,” thoughtful arguments civilly expressed. […]

    Pingback by When Falls the Coliseum » On the necessary conversation on gay marriage — April 26, 2009 @ 8:06 pm - April 26, 2009

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