Something Worth Noting, Re: People Who Vote For Prop 8

In the comment thread to the previous post, I said the following:

Bear in mind that while I think Prop 8 is hateful, bigoted and wrong, I believe that lots of people who don’t see themselves as hateful and bigoted can see themselves voting for it because they think it’s the right thing to do. As noted, I do feel sorry for them and I hope in the fullness of time they learn to regret their actions, because they are, at heart, good and loving people.

I actually believe this. I think there are good, decent, kind and loving people who will vote for a proposition that is fundamentally bigoted and wrong and hurtful, and that they will do it out of the best of intentions, motivated by a belief in a particular religion, or fear of a changing world, or a perceived conflict in moral system, or because they want to plant a flag about the encroaching power of governments, some combination of any or all of the above, or for some other reason entirely. Good people do bad things for reasons they believe to be good.

This does not make their actions less wrong. It’s clear to me that Proposition 8 is fundamentally bad and that it would inscribe prejudice into the California constitution; it’s a stain on the law and an embarrassment for the state. People who vote for it will vote for hate and bigotry, whether of not that is their intent. But it’s equally clear that at least some of the folks who will vote for it don’t intend to vote for hate or bigotry; either they don’t believe that’s what they’re doing, or they just can’t conceive that’s what they’re doing.

This is why it’s important to talk to anyone you know who is voting for Proposition 8 and let them know that while they see themselves as good and decent people — and you believe them to be, too — that nevertheless what they do with their vote will reflect on them and will matter going forward. I firmly believe that people who will vote for Prop 8 will continue to be good, decent, kind and loving people after they vote for it. They will simply have made a horrible moral choice, and will have to live with the consequences of their actions… and have to live knowing others will have to live with those consequences as well, with fewer rights, fewer rights for their families, and marriages that would otherwise be strong torn apart by governmental fiat. I think that’s going to be a heck of a moral burden to bear going forward, which is why I pity these people.

Anyway. Keep this in mind when talking about the folks who will vote yes on Prop 8. They’re not all bad people, even if they will, through voting for it, be the cause of bad things. In time, some of them may come to regret their choice. If they do, I would say it would be kind to offer to help them with their burden, and to help them work to change their error.

194 thoughts on “Something Worth Noting, Re: People Who Vote For Prop 8

  1. The fact that these people don’t believe themselves to bigoted is the saddest part. We’ve gone through this before with interracial marriages. I’m sure that large numbers of the people against those did believe that interracial marriage was ‘against the laws of God.’ It didn’t make them less wrong.

    Personally, I feel that the argument that ‘my religion says this is wrong’ is something like the argument that ‘I was only following orders.’

  2. I realize this isn’t a terribly useful argument, but in the previous thread, someone commented about what most people in America believe. At one time or another in our history, most people have believed any number of things that turned out to be horribly, horribly wrong.

    It will be really terrific if most people in California tell most people in America that they’re currently wrong.

  3. I’m voting against 8. Given my politics, it is likely to be the only thing that California will see my way.

    I think this civil rights battle is pretty much like all the others and follows the formulation: “it’s impossible”, “it’s possible but not worth doing,” to finally “I said it was a good idea all along.” Right now, America is mostly at stage two. But as with racial desegregation, viewed from forty years away, *everyone* marched with MLK and *everyone* knows miscagenation laws are wrong. I like to think that if I’d been born forty or fifty years ago, I’d have been on the right side of that fight — I believe I would have been, but hard to say how you’d have been raised then. In all events, some years ago I decided that I would damned well be on the right side of this one.

    Go team.

  4. I’m in an interracial marriage, and no, gay marriage and interracial marriage are not the same thing. Just as being gay is not the same as being being African American, Hispanic American, Chinese America, et al. From a purely Judeo-Christian doctrinal standpoint, there is precious little evidence to support the denial of interracial marriages. While homosexuality is proscribed much more specifically.

    At this point, I wonder if gay marriage is going to go down like abortion: legally protected at the federal level, and rabidly defended by proponents, yet still viewed as an evil and amoral practice by half or more of the American population, based on religious teaching.

    In such an instance, the legal wrangling and cultural polarization will be ever-present. As John noted in the earlier thread, gay marriage and the battle over it are gonna be around for awhile. Simply reducing gay marriage opponents to “misguided wrong-doer” status, doesn’t do justice to the deep pondering some of us have done on this; and continue to do on this.

    Which is cold comfort to those who see “misguided wrong-doers” as being almost as bad — or even worse — than the direct and real bigots, like Fred Phelps and Co. That’s one way in which racism and homophobia intersect: sometimes it’s the soft bigotry that can be harder to take, and more damaging to the cause of the offended party, than the hard bigotry of the homophobes.

    From a strictly LDS perspective, I think my church and its membership will fight gay marriage tooth and nail — barring the few dissenters who wish the church would get out of this one.

    I actually happen to be one of those LDS who thinks the church does itself no favors injecting itself so prominently into a political matter like this. Even if gay marriages passes in California, it doesn’t mean that we’ll suddenly start being forced to have gay sealing ceremonies at the temples. So while the church and its members operate purely from doctrine, I think it will eventually be seen as an overstepping that damages the image of the church, and its membership.

    Which is not to say I don’t “get” why LDS people and others of similar mind from other religions are so upset about this. The battle over gay marriage is just part of the “war” over society: how we think, how we feel, how we act, what we do, what we consider acceptable and unacceptable, etc. For devout LDS, legalization of gay marriage will be seen as just another step towards the total moral and religious abasement of American society.

    Frankly, I think heterosexual couples in general have done more to morally abase our culture — through rampant divorce and infidelity — than the minority of gays seeking legal protection as married couples.

    I would also argue that gays probably aren’t quite aware yet of what they’re getting into, when it comes to embracing the full legal ramifications of state-licensed bonding. Divorces can be nasty, abusive, life-destroying things. And I see no reason why homosexuals won’t be cursing this fact just as much, if not more, than straights, given a few years of state or federally-protected gay marriage.

    In the end, both sides have their point of view, and both sides think the other is acting in the wrong; even when convinced that they stand on the right. Trying to have one side or the other “talk through” the issues, past a certain point, hits a brick wall because one side or the other (or both) eventually declares the other side to be morally and ethically evil; and not very many people have an easy time working with people they deem corrupt.

  5. Scalzi, could I get you to say a few words about Florida’s Amendment 2? It’s the same damn thing and has the exact same consequences, but in all the hullaballoo about California’s Prop 8, Florida’s not getting much coverage and so people may vote for it without knowing what it is, or not vote on it at all. You have a big audience, so if you would…?

  6. John,

    Just as the currency in our country was taken off the gold standard and is now Fiat based, our public morality has been taken off of the God standard and replaced by a Fiat system.

    As it currently works ( in my opinion), public standards of morality are set by the courts subject to a possible referendum vote by the citizens as a whole.

    Abortion, gay marriage, property rights, hate speech, etc are, as you correctly argue, at their base moral questions. The definition of each one of these issues have been set by the courts and then affirmed positively or negatively by the majority of the country ( I admit that several are still in process but my point still holds).

    In this case, John, you and others are asserting as a moral fact that should the majority excercise their veto over the courts by voting for Prop 8 that they would be morally wrong. This implies that there is a standard of morality that is seperate and distinct from the Fiat system employed by the government. A standard that could in fact be invoked to correct areas of the current system that have become distorted by masses of ignorant and bigoted voters.

    I am curious, and I have asked before, what is your source for this seperate standard? Or more simply, How do you know you are right?

  7. Sub-Odeon: “Just as being gay is not the same as being being African American, Hispanic American, Chinese America, et al.”

    of course it’s not “the same” (duh) – one defines ethnicity, the other defines sexual orientation, but the comparison stands since it’s about rights. African, Hispanic or Chinese Americans face similar situations as LGBT people because they’re a minority. And their fates are usually decided by a majority. So politically it’s exactly the same.

    “I would also argue that gays probably aren’t quite aware yet of what they’re getting into, when it comes to embracing the full legal ramifications of state-licensed bonding. Divorces can be nasty, abusive, life-destroying things.”

    I would jokingly say that we’ve had quite some time to think about it. No getting married on a whim here. But seriously, every break-up can be nasty, and essentially a life partnership is just like a marriage but without all the rights. Also on the other hand if there’s possibility for marriage there’s also possibility for divorce – and that’s a good thing bc then there are certain rules which make getting screwed over a lot less likely.

  8. Thanks John, I think it’s important in most conflicts to remember that nobody but the clinically insane perceives themselves a villain. We don’t always have to respect their position and sometimes it can be hard to be calm about it – Grod knows that it’s tough for me on this one. But when was the last time someone changed someone else’s mind by screaming at them or telling them they’re a bad person?

    It’s unfortunate that our courts haven’t stepped up to the plate on this issue the way they did with interracial marriage. And with all due respect Sub-Odeon, they’re almost the exact same thing: two people want legal protection for their union which other people think is wrong and immoral. The fact that it’s possible to come up with some sort of evidence or historical condemnation against how two consenting individuals live their lives doesn’t alter the basic actions of other people meddling in their love-lives.

    I hope you and others come to see these people as individuals just trying to live their lives. If you think their direction is immoral, well, you can hold on to the certainty that the power who has the right to judge them will eventually do so, and that judgment isn’t ours to make.

  9. Phearlez,

    My point was that gay activism is doing too much “borrowing” from racial activism, and that while both causes overlap to a certain extent, they are separate and different enough — for those on the inside — that it’s annoying to see people breezily say, “Gay marriages are just like interracial marriages!” when they really aren’t.

    Let me see if I can put it this way.

    Interracial marriage was seen as wrong because of who people were.

    Gay marriage is seen as wrong because of what the two people do.

    Which pretty much sums up the difference between being gay, and being an ethnic minority, in a nutshell.

    Blacks and whites, marrying? Outrageous, because up until recently the races did not mix socially, economically, educationally, or physically. Based on old racial prejudices connected to slavery and European colonialism.

    Men marrying men? By implication, two men married to each other will be engaging in the act of homosexuality, and for the religious, all action contains choice. And where there is choice, there is room for moral interpretation.

    Wheras it’s very difficult to say that a personal is immoral, solely because of their skin color, or because of the skin color of their spouse, because nobody chooses an ethnicity. You’re born with it.

    And yes, yes, yes, we all know the current idea in the gay community is that all gays are born gay, there is no choice, they’re forced by destiny to be homosexual, etc.

    The bottom line is that religious conservatives will not ever view homosexuality in the same light as race, precisely because homosexuality (and its proscription) is a matter of moral interpretation, based on a physical action that tales place between people.

    An interracial couple could be “illegal” even if they never consumated, because it was the idea of a white man with a black woman, or even ‘worse’, a black man with a white woman, that scandalized the sensibilities of those who grew up in a reality where such boundary-crossing was simply unheard of.

  10. Arizona’s Proposition 102 is the same thing – a proposal to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Arizona already has a same-sex marriage ban in place, but wants to strengthen it with a constitutional amendment.

  11. They will simply have made a horrible moral choice, and will have to live with the consequences of their actions

    Consequences like… what, exactly? I mean, you’ve been happy to note that the recognition of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and California have had no impact on your marriage. If you can’t notice the difference after the fact, how would (for example) a married straight couple in California who voted for Prop 8 notice the difference in a return to the status quo ante?

  12. Sub-Odeon:

    “Gay marriage is seen as wrong because of what the two people do.”

    Absolutely wrong.

    It’s seen as wrong because of what people are, which is to say, people who want marry someone of their own sex.

    Remember, it’s not “gay” marriage, it’s “same-sex” marriage. In California, were I not already married, I would be at liberty to marry another man if I chose to. Whether I was gay or not is irrelevant, just as whether someone is gay or not is irrelevant to whether they marry someone of the opposite sex. Surely we’ve all heard of people who are gay who have married members of the opposite sex. Equally surely, we’ve all heard of people who have gotten married for reasons other than love (or sex).

    I’ve heard enough fatuous blathering from people opposed to same-sex marriage, Judge Scalia on down, that gays and lesbians can marry, just people of their opposite sex. If one grants that this is an acceptable state of affairs, then why shouldn’t I or anyone be able to marry a member of my same sex?

    Would you be opposed to same-sex marriage between two straight men?

    Gerrymander:

    “Consequences like… what, exactly?”

    Gerrymander, please take the time to actually read the actual entry completely and fully before posting comments.

  13. Actually, Sub-Odeon raises a good point, which is that many people can’t stop thinking about the “sex” in “same-sex marriage”. They are substituting personal squickedness for rational thought.

    drew apparently forgot that we went off the “God standard” when the Bill of Rights was passed. If it were otherwise, I would have been legally prohibited from marrying my spouse, since my faith does not recognize my spouse as able to enter into a valid marriage contract with me.

  14. Scalzi: You pretty much sum up some of my thoughts as I try to explain to people why my California relatives would be voting for such an amendment. (I must admit, it annoys me when one of my friends from Utah joins the Yes on 8 group on Facebook–I think I ran and joined every No on 8 group I could find.) A lot of them aren’t bad people, but they’ve been living with the privilege of being able to marry whomever they want. They don’t see that they are denying the rights of others. Ironically, I recall one of the big reasons people in my old neighbourhood in Utah said gays were a danger to society were because of their “promiscuous” behaviour. Well, denying the benefits of legally approved monogamy to a group doesn’t sound like fighting “promiscuity” to me. (I’m using the scare quotes, partly because having gay sex at all–even with one partner– is considered promiscuous by many a naive religious kid.)

    Anyway, my Mormon family isn’t evil or bad or even actively malicious. They just think that they will be forced to accept things they have been taught is wrong…and sometimes I almost wish I were gay just because I think it would do them good to know and care about somebody with the full knowledge of what they were like. But we’re already pushing it with my atheism. (In fact, my parents are kind of in denial about it. I swear, I told my mom three times that I’d left the church, and she keeps asking if I’ve read the conference talks. Sigh.)

    Sub-Odeon: As far as arguing that there is less justification for barring interracial marriage from a Judeo-Christian view, I don’t know how old you are, but if you are at least my age, you have to remember how NEW the fact that blacks can hold the priesthood inside the LDS church. Spencer W. Kimball declared it in 1978, which is barely inside my lifetime, and the ramifications of that were still getting sorted out while I was a kid. (People left the church over it, I remember.) You say there isn’t as much justification to bar interracial marriage from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, but historically that has not been the case. I think you are seeing that filtered through the 30 years of progress (for the church) and about 40 years of progress (for the nation). Plenty of pastors in other churches as well preached against marrying black folk to white folk. There are at least as many verses in the Bible decrying the mixing of races as there are about homosexuality. There are stories where the Israelites destroyed entire kingdoms, because God said settle here, but don’t mix with these people. The story about Dinah, who was taken by the son of a different tribe, who then said he wanted to marry her–and her brothers all rose up and killed him and his friends. The tribal warfare that rages up and down the Bible is almost always accompanied by warnings not to marry the “Other”. And believe me, churches used every single one of those stories to justify working against interracial marriage. So the comparison between interracial marriage and gay marriage is apt, to my mind.

  15. “And yes, yes, yes, we all know the current idea in the gay community is that all gays are born gay, there is no choice, they’re forced by destiny to be homosexual, etc.”

    Oh right, that bs about homosexuality being a choice again. What bugs me is that none of the people claiming it’s a choice, like you, Sub-Odeon, have apparently never thought about the implications of this line of thinking:

    1) If loving someone of the same sex was actually a choice, wouldn’t we then choose not to do that? Maybe because, I don’t know, life would be a lot easier for us?

    and 2) homosexuality is a choice –> I can choose being heterosexual –> heterosexuality is a choice –> damnit, you stop being so heterosexual and I’ll stop being gay, ok? 3 -2 – 1 – now…

  16. Much of the underpinnings of the argument for same sex marriage is predicated on the ability to marry whomever they wish. That is, two straight men may marry each other, or two gay men or man/woman or whatever. There is no harm so there is (or should not be) a legal barrier.

    Why stop there? Why not multiple marriage or incest for those over 18? There is no harm there so why the legal prohibition. I’m not a fan of the former and really creeped out by the latter but what is the harm?

    I’m predicting some of you will say something about child brides or abuse or something for one or both. Take that off the table and make this about consenting adults only. Over 18 for everybody. Why not allow that too?

  17. this is the “next they want to marry animals”-bandwagon only this time with incest and polygamy. as dumb as I think that line of reasoning is, I still feel compelled to react somehow:

    no harm in incest? while I really enjoyed John Irving’s “Hotel New Hampshire”, if blood-relatives have a child together the risks of medical problems are manifold.

    as for multiple marriages: that would complicate divorce law a lot. and as a matter of fact polyamorous people in most cases have a primary partner anyways and are not looking to marry their other partners.

  18. JustMe, have you read the decision that Prop 8 is trying to overturn? It really will answer your questions. Could you please go review that instead of demanding that people here re-invent the wheel for you?

  19. JustMe:

    “Why stop there? Why not multiple marriage or incest for those over 18?”

    I’ve discussed my position on polygamy before, actually. I’d also note that generally speaking, in the countries and places where same-sex marriage has been allowed there’s not been a stampede for the rights of incestuous marriage, so this concern is not worth thinking much about.

    That said, I don’t find the “why stop there?” argument particularly compelling, particularly in the case where a right to marriage already exists and people are trying to remove it. You’re making yet another attempt to punt the discussion into theoretical realms; I’m rather more concerned that people are losing rights they already have.

  20. I think that for an adult to be able to choose any other adult (subject to rules of consanguinity, another can of worms I don’t want to open here) to marry is a fundamental human right.

    I believe that people who want to deny me that right are denying my humanity, and I will treat them just that way. I will tell them “well, since you don’t believe I’m fully human, why should I listen to anything you say?” And yes, I have said that to people who oppose same-sex marriage. I have no friends who oppose it, because I will discard from friendship anyone who does, or who in any other way expresses the belief that I am not fully human, with fully human rights. How can anyone be friends with someone who believes they aren’t human?

    And Sub-Odeon…if you think homosexuality is a choice, you’ve never known anyone who was gay (or maybe you just never listened to what we’ve said about it, which would not surprise me). I’ve never known any gay person who didn’t fight it and struggle with it and try to deny it as long as possible. It comes down to “$DIETY grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    It is not wisdom to think that homosexuality is a thing that can change. The thing you CAN change is lying about it. You know, lying, even by omission, is a terrible burden on the human soul. I cast it off very early, luckily for me, and the cost wasn’t terrible compared to some people I know who were cast out of their families, cast out of their homes, turned out on the street with nothing, even beaten until near death by their own parents.

    Oh, yeah, we choose that. I’m sorry, but no intelligent person could possibly believe that.

    And by the way, your church condones the TORTURE of young gay men to try to make them straight. You may not know of this, but I know people who were sent to these torture centers, and who have deep psychological and emotional scars from the crimes perpetrated on them in the name of “God.” And yeah, they’re still gay.

    And you miss the point of the comparison with interracial marriage. There are people who believe that people of different races marrying is just wrong, that it’s what the bible means by the metaphors of “sowing two kinds of grain in one field,” “wearing garments of two stuffs,” etc. It’s not that same-sex and different-race marriage are the same, it’s just that the BAD GUYS are the same bad guys: they claim “next you’ll be able to marry your dog,” and all that same stuff. Look up the Civil Rights era and you can see all that.

    And prohibitions against “miscegenation” violate the same principle: it is a basic human right to choose whom you will marry, regardless of anything but consanguinity.

  21. Oh, gods, the “mom and dad” argument. So you’d oppose all single parents, adoption or no, and advocate all widowed parents’ children being taken from them and given to a nice mom and dad home?

    No you wouldn’t, because you’re a fckng hpcrtcl mrn. (Disemvowelling mine.)

  22. drew @ 8: “I am curious, and I have asked before, what is your source for this seperate (sic) standard? Or more simply, How do you know you are right?”

    In the hopes it might help, I can tell you what my own personal source is for moral standards, drew. I start with “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You” and follow it up with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [here I substitute "people" or "humans" to eliminate sexism] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There’s more of course, but that’s the root of it.

    Let’s not be quibbling about what “Creator” means or about Jefferson’s theology, because it’s not relevant to the point of the statement.

    I support the rights of people of the same sex to marry because of the former. Were I in their position, I wouldn’t want anyone to tell me that I couldn’t, or indeed use legal force to keep me from doing so.

    Also, because of the latter, I support anyone’s rights to Liberty and pursuit of Happiness, and from what I’ve seen there’s a lot of happy married people out there. I think stopping people from living happy lives is a bad idea. It’s hard enough to find happiness as it is without the government getting in the way.

    Note that I would never even consider forcing a church to marry anyone in a way that is against its precepts – even if I disagree with those precepts.

  23. prop8discussion:

    “lots of people talk about the rights that will be denied homosexual couples if this doesn’t pass. this is a misinformed argument.”

    No it’s not. You want to take away their right to marry. That’s a right you’d deny them. If you didn’t think it was important to deny them that right — and that it was a critical right — you wouldn’t be doing it.

    I find the assertion that rights won’t be denied to gay couples when you are in fact intending to take away a signal right they currently enjoy appalling, and I won’t have such abject stupidity on this site, or people who assume that my readers are stupid enough not to parse such fatuous reasoning. Please fuck right off, prop8discussion.

  24. I do wonder sometimes about the state-by-state thing. Are gay couples that marry in Massachusetts or California not able to move to another state without losing the rights that come with being legally married?

    If they do, they are bound to the state of marriage (which can be a good thing for the state, but bad for the couple). This could be a terrible thing in a time of economic crisis, as we currently are experiencing. Sometimes you have to move for job reasons. It would be terrible to chose between your livelihood and keeping benefits for your partner.

    And for those people who can’t afford to move to a state where they could marry–moving is expensive–what about them?

  25. Actually, if children have a right to a mom and a dad, then any woman whose husband dies while she is pregnant should be forced to either remarry immediately, or to give the child up for adoption at birth. That’s what a “right” means; that the child is entitled to be provided with certain things, regardless of the inconveniences to the child’s attached adult(s). Of course, this would be a little hard on the pregnant widows of soldiers, firefighters or peace officers killed in the line of duty, but do we care about the rights of the child or don’t we?

    More seriously, the “mother and father” argument has already been rejected in California. Same-sex couples may adopt and be co-parents of chidlren. So banning same-sex marriage in California will do absolutely nothing to insure that every child has one (1) male and one (1) female parent; all it does is dissolve those parents’ marriage, or prevent them from marrying at all, if they are of the same gender.

  26. Why stop there? Why not multiple marriage or incest for those over 18? There is no harm there so why the legal prohibition. I’m not a fan of the former and really creeped out by the latter but what is the harm?

    Well, why not answer your own question, JustMe?

    I wouldn’t mind, frankly, if the state and federal government stepped out of the cohabitation business entirely, and no longer had anything to do with marriage or any divorce/separation issues other than child welfare (including custody determinations where parties cannot amicably agree).

    But if the government has to be in the marriage business, what exactly is the rational, non-religious basis for barring polyamorous marriages? It’s entirely, I suspect, a matter of individual’s “ick” factor, but if “ick” is going to be the basis of our laws, perhaps we’ll be outlawing meat consumption next. “Ick” cannot possibly be sufficient as a reason.

    As for incest, we have a legal issue and a medical issue that have become inseperable. It is possible that related family members who have children will see a rise in birth defects due to amplification of recessive traits (I seem to recall a recent study questioning this conventional wisdom, hence the word “possible”); but a couple can certainly have sex without being married, or get married without having sex. And legal prohibitions against incest tend to include family members who are unrelated (e.g. Greg and Marcia Brady couldn’t marry) or are sufficiently distant as to make any genetic risks remote (the degree of cousins allowed/denied by incest laws varies state-to-state). So there’s potentially a medical reason for incest statutes, but once again it may be that the biggest bar is “ick” again. Nonetheless, barring marriage between relatives as a bright-line rule may be simpler than performing DNA tests and/or quizzing relatives about whether they plan to have children together.

    It seems to me, JustMe, that your argument is predicated on everybody else being as squicked-out by polyamory and incest as you are. (If you must know, I disagree about the ickiness of polyamory and agree about the ickiness of incest.) But why is ickiness even the dispositive factor?

  27. Why do kids have a right to a mom and a dad?

    I mean, seriously, why?

    People….and I know this is going to be a shock…are individuals. Snowflakes, we were told in elementary school. No two people alike. What magical property of momhood and dadhood changes the fact that two people taking care of kids may have a completely different cocktail of traits than the next two people taking care of kids? You can’t guarantee a single trait from one marriage to the next. I, as a mom, will be very different than my mother as a mom, and different again that Ye Olde Crack Addict down the street (who happens to be in a het relationship, but a terrible mother). My boyfriend will be a different father than his father (an alcoholic) and my father (a teetotalling Mormon dad who is blind to his male privilege) and my brother-in-law (a completely awesome and sweet man). Why does it matter the gender of the parents–that seems to me to be less relevant than any number of other traits.

    Also, why does marriage have to be about kids? What if I decide I don’t want kids? (You can bet my Mormon mother will still want me to get married.) Plenty of people get married for reasons not having anything to do with children. Privileging one reason for getting married over another seems iffy.

  28. @sub-odeon,

    If the LDS, or any other church, does not want to marry people of the same sex… don’t. Nothing in the current CA law mandates that churches perform marriages and I’d fully support the right of your church to not perform them if you feel that it’s against your principles. But I don’t see why your principles should be enshrined into law and others forced to live by them.

    As for the idea that the court decision is state interference in private matters, um… no. The court has decided that there’s nothing in current law that mandates marriage is between a man and a woman. This proposition, not the court decision, is an instrument of state interference in private matters.

    As for that pesky idea that gay isn’t a choice but is a biological fact… yes, science is SO annoying isn’t it? But that’s where it points to. Certainly people experiment – I know a gay man who once experimented with a woman. He didn’t like it. Let’s try it this way… show us the science that says being gay (or straight) IS merely a choice. Not your opinion.. the science.

  29. John @ 14: Gerrymander, please take the time to actually read the actual entry completely and fully before posting comments.

    I did. I just don’t see how “they don’t believe that’s what they’re doing, or they just can’t conceive that’s what they’re doing” will then translate to any practical result for “a heck of a moral burden to bear going forward.”

    If the only burdens are awareness of reduced rights for other people and moral weight, that’s not saying much — especially when we’re already presuming these voters believe they’re on the morally correct side. The total number of people currently married and gay in California is only about 32,000 — about one-tenth of one percent of that state’s population. That’s steep odds against my example voters even knowing anyone married and gay, much less being involved enough to personally realize the impact of that vote. It’s pretty thin gruel to base a statement like “a heck of a moral burden to bear” upon.

  30. so, because i was raised by a single mother some how i didn’t receive my allotment of parental love and affection?
    where can i get my check?

    it’s interesting that (living in california as i do) the only ads i have seen (in print or on tv) for prop 8 state that i should vote “yes on 8″ because otherwise gay marriage will be taught in school!

    did i miss the straight marriage class? shouldn’t the prop 8 proponents be required to actually say what they want instead of trying to trick people into voting their way?

    seems only fair…

  31. I would like to take a second to discuss the religious aspect of homosexuality.

    As far as I know, there are three sections in the bible that speak against homosexuality in the Old Testament, the most often used one in Leviticus “man shall not lie with man” line.

    From a historical perspective, this was being written at a time when the Jewish people were trying to build a nation of believers. This required reproduction. Since a homosexual relationship between men did not produce a child, it was banned. Also banned on the same level was Mastrubation or as they put it “the spilling of one’s seed” or somesuch.

    Many types of shellfish and pork were also banned because of the risk of disease at that time. Also polyknit fibers I believe.

    Can anyone explain to me why this has any bearing on our world today?

  32. Thanks John for your reply. I wasn’t attempting to punt this into theoretical realms. Rather, I think, as George Will has stated, “Social change is autonomous.”

    I think the troublesome part here is when these things come into being by judicial fiat and not legislation or referendum. Those on the “nay” side seem to move along much faster for the latter two.

  33. gerrymander:

    “The total number of people currently married and gay in California is only about 32,000 — about one-tenth of one percent of that state’s population. That’s steep odds against my example voters even knowing anyone married and gay, much less being involved enough to personally realize the impact of that vote. It’s pretty thin gruel to base a statement like ‘a heck of a moral burden to bear’ upon.”

    Well, I know about a thousand different people, Gerrymander, don’t you? So, actually, I think it’s very good odds that many people in California know a gay married couple, and when you narrow that population pool down to adults, and to likely voters, the chances are even better. Throw in all the gay men and women who aren’t married but would one day like to be, and I think it approaches near certainty that every voter in California knows someone whose rights they are stepping all over.

    Beyond this, I’m not sure why you’re under the impression that one has to actually know someone to later feel regret over destroying their marriage and depriving them of their rights. Also you appear to be suggesting that people wouldn’t have a problem destroying 16,000 marriages because it’s “only” 32,000 people, which I think is an interesting exercise in morality accounting.

    So, what’s the minimum number of marriages that would have to be destroyed before your theoretical voters would feel a twinge? I’m interested to know where the floor is, in your estimation.

    JustMe:

    “I think the troublesome part here is when these things come into being by judicial fiat and not legislation or referendum.”

    It does get exasperating to note over and over that in fact the California legislature passed bills to legalize same-sex marriage — twice — only to have them vetoed by the governor because he wanted a judicial ruling, and that the judiciary doing what the judiciary is legally empowered by constitution is not, in fact “judicial fiat.”

  34. John D @35: “As far as I know, there are three sections in the bible that speak against homosexuality in the Old Testament, the most often used one in Leviticus “man shall not lie with man” line.”

    To add to this, can any Christians here point out to me where, in the New Testament, on which Christian religion is founded, Christ says homosexuality is wrong?

    I’d like to read it for myself. My Bible doesn’t have “homosexuality” anywhere in the index.

  35. @rick

    Of course it’s a choice! It’s a sin and god doesn’t create sinners!

    @Sub-Odeon

    What you leave out is that the reason the LDS Church is so involved in these matters is because it reads certain passages of the Book Of Mormon in such a way that implies the laws that go against “god’s will” in the western hemisphere will cause that society to collapse. Of course even by their own logic that falls apart since those same passages indicate that any form of government that isn’t a theocracy will bring god’s wrath down on us.

    And the whole attempt by LDS leadership to duck the issue of hate with the “we hate the sin not the sinner” thing wears thin since, as you point out, it leads to the exact same place. I think I first pointed out that it’s a distinction without a difference in Sunday School when i was 12 or so. Made more than a few folks who didn’t think of themselves as bigots very uncomfortable. It’s your right to be a bigot but at least own your bigotry and have the guts to call it what it is.

    I really wish the IRS would take notice of all their political activism and start taxing them.

  36. “Also, why does marriage have to be about kids? What if I decide I don’t want kids? ”

    I’m not answering your rhetorical here, but I am always puzzled by the “children” issue in arguments against same sex marriage. To me, that is one of the greatest benefits of same sex marriage to society; while any pair of drunken heterosexuals can accidently have, and regret having, children, same sex couples that want children must choose and work (either through medical procedures or adoption) to have them. I know which kind of parents I would prefer having.

  37. As much fun as it is to watch John feed the trolls (they’re his trolls, he can do what he wants with them), one stray comment upthread reminded me of something. Yes, I am going to try to hijack this thread to talk about science fiction.

    I remember reading Heinlein’s “Job: A Comedy of Errors” or whatever it is called, and noticing what a big deal Heinlein made of the characters always trying to change their money into gold. It makes sense in context of the story. What I didn’t find out until years later was that he considered himself a serious economic thinker, and this was just his way of advocating for the gold standard.

    This drove home to me that Heinlein was not particularly insightful, clever, or knowledgeable. Many of his early stories also showed someone who thought he was being very smart based on an extremely shallow understanding of the world (one particularly good example is “Blowups Happen”, if I remember the name right). It showed a mind that creates a framework and then forces the world into the framework, without appreciation for the complexity of reality.

    I don’t think that Heinlein holds up well under the passage of time. Flame away.

  38. What I find peculiar is how the church-based out-of-state funders of these attrocious attacks on civil liberty do everything to avoid discussing the religious (yeah, and personal ick-factor) basis of their hysteria.

    It’s so odd – they won’t talk about their $Deity while they’re in denial, based on some purported conversation with said $Deity, of other people’s civil rights. It’s as if some circuit breaker in their minds has popped off.

    And they really think people won’t notice the source of the money for the ad campaign.

  39. John, I appreciate your acknowledgement that many Prop 8 supporters are good, decent, kind and loving people even though you believe Prop 8 is fundamentally bigoted and wrong and hurtful. It wasn’t clear before, and it was something I was unsure of how to address, so I’ve been holding back from threads on this theme.

    I believe that many Prop 8 opponents are good, decent, kind, and loving people who are just trying to live their lives. The desire to live one’s life in peace without outside intervention is a desire that is entirely worthy of respect. However, I believe that in the issue addressed by Proposition 8, something even greater is at stake. I believe that opposition to Prop 8 is fundamentally wrong and hurtful to society, and the record is showing that the actions of some Prop 8 opponents are bigoted against people who hold religious views that aren’t in their favor.

    John, I must reject your argument against Prop 8 on the face of it, if I understand it correctly: that any wrongness of canceling marriages that already exist must outweigh any possible rightness of canceling them. Let’s get some perspective. On August 12, 2004, the California Supreme Court voided approximately 4,000 marriage licenses issued by San Francisco to same-sex couples. Was this a bigoted, wrong, and hurtful act by the Supreme Court? Marriages that you believe would have otherwise been strong were torn apart by government fiat, even though all those marriage licenses were issued by the duly elected government of San Francisco. The government of San Francisco, however, had to answer to a higher power; the Supreme Court moved to correct an error.

    The Supreme Court has since changed its mind, of course (the constitution and the law did not change from 2004 to 2008, only the Supreme Court’s interpretation of them). But even the California Supreme Court must answer to a higher power that can move to correct an error: the people of the state of California. And some of those people believe that they themselves are answerable to an even higher power. If someone honestly believes that same-sex marriage will destroy society, will be detrimental to the upbringing of future generations, and is already trumping constitutionally protected religious rights in the courts, it is indeed their duty to stand in front of California’s same-sex couples married under the Supreme Court’s lapse in judgment and tell them that their marriages must be canceled.

    Then you’re left with the argument about whether or not same-sex marriage really will destroy society. That is something different people will disagree on, and there are pages and pages elsewhere arguing both sides. Now, is it a California citizen’s right to vote on this issue according to one’s conscious and one’s fundamental beliefs? Absolutely it is a right, and it’s a right everyone should be proud to be able to exercise.

    —Peter

  40. My wife actually got an email from someone who believed the dishonest Yes on 8 ads. She was actually worried that they would force her church to marry two gay men. She said that was the main reason she was voting for it. I ope my wife set her straight, no pun intended.

  41. “Interracial marriage was seen as wrong because of who people were.

    Gay marriage is seen as wrong because of what the two people do”

    are you kidding me? is it really true that people HATE gays because of what they do, in private, with each other?

    I’m not gay, and I’ve never been able to intellectually figure out why anyone HATES gays – is it really the “ACT”? It seems to me that everything a gay couple does, some/many straight couples do. I don’t see marchers

  42. continued – sorry
    I don’t see marchers, websites, protestors etc against BJ’s or buggering (between hetero couples) although I think the religious groups would still consider this sodomy. No, I think bigots are prejudiced vs. gays because of who they are.

  43. If you turned everything in this post around, and had yes for no and no for yes, then you would have exactly my feelings on people who are going to vote No on 8. It’s fundamentally wrong, it’s depriving me of my constitutional rights (see churchstate.org), and they’ll have to live with the consequences of their actions.

  44. 4 John Scalzi: good point, in that a man marrying a man doesn’t automatically equal those two having sex. That’s actually a fascinating bit of mental “what if?”, in that one wonders how same-sex marriage might be used for tax or inheritence purposes by straight males who a) don’t give a fuck about stigma and b) are seeking ways to protect themselves, in the manner of a married couple, without actually being gay. But then, we’re getting back to my argument that the state should be in the business of issuing legal contracts, not marriages, and we already went there, and I am pretty sure you’re not hip to re-hashing that again.

    4 mythago: it cannot be denied that for many opposed to gay marriage and homosexuality, a good portion of their discomfort comes down to putting themselves in the shoes of a gay person, and being unable to comprehend same-sex attraction. I would further argue that some of the loudest, most hateful homophobes (Fred Phelps, knock, knock) might actually be same-sex attracted, and suffer such a virulent reaction to those feelings, they go full-bore in the opposite direction and become haters as a way to compensate for what they view as a dark, shameful desire that must be repressed and denied at all costs — even if this includes being violently externalistic in their attempt to purge themselves.

    4 PixelFish: funny, how parents in LDS homes have such overwhelming attachment to the choices of their children. My parents hated my choice of spouse, because she was older, because she was a convert and was the antithesis of the Quiet Mormon Girl they had assumed I might marry, and because (even if they might not realize it) her skin color made them uncomfortable; if only because the ‘total package’ was so far outside the box, they collectively blew a fuse.

    And yes, I am only 34, so the Bad Old Days of denying blacks the priesthood and treating “mixed seed” as a racial taboo are, thankfully, in the official dustbin. Socially, here in Utah, you still get looks if you’re interracial. And I’ve come close to clocking a fellow LDS member who once made his distaste known at the door.

    It remains to be seen if the LDS church stance on homosexuality and gay marriage will ever “modernize” in the way the LDS church stance on race was “modernized” during the last 50 years. I tend to think that sexuality and race are separate issues and that the church will resists on homosexuality and gay marriage, because these things don’t just contradict Bible or Book of Mormon scripture, they contradict modern dictums from the leadership, like the 1994 Proclamation To The World.

    Do I personally think homosexuals are wrong, or that they’re committing a Great Evil in what they do? I try not to worry about it, because I’ve got enough to worry about in my own life, with my own problems, that I don’t necessarily feel inclined nor qualified to go around pulling a Fred Phelps.

    The only reason I get my dander up on these issues in public at all, is because I resent the idea that just because you are philosophically or religiously inclined to see homosexual activity as a sin, that somehow you become a moral cretin. As I noted in a much older thread, I view a range of different human activities as sinful, but I live and work with and even love the people who do all of these things, and I do it every day. So I think it can be possible to disassociate the behavior, from the person. And not make it personal.

    Too many who oppose homosexuality and gay marriage have made it a personal mission. As if they personally will somehow be attacked if gay marriage goes through, or feel personally threatened if they meet a homosexual; or discover someone in their family is homosexual. I think that’s a waste of time, and self-destructive, and I don’t go there.

    4 Xopher: We’ve discussed before the concept of homosexuality as a choice, and homosexuality as a genetic destiny. I understand totally that anyone who identifies as gay, has a 100% vested interest in objecting to the “choice” argument, and if I were in your shoes, I might feel similarly. I know I certainly don’t feel like I owe much to those (even in my own church) who still view my interracial marriage as signful, wrong, ugly, or otherwise unacceptable. I try to remember that every person starts from a different place, that most Americans do at least try to be good people — as much as they perceive and understand ‘good’ — and that just because a person might get it Really Wrong on a given issue that I happen to hold important, that doesn’t make them a complete and total loser on all fronts, in all aspects, at all times.

    I’ve had enough absolutist moral and ethical litmus tests applied to me to know that I don’t know if I want to go around applying them to other people. About the only people I do feel comfortable condemning outright as scum, are folks like al-Qaeda who send mentally handicapped women, strapped with TNT, into crowded markets; for maximum collateral effect. But that’s a whole other Oprah, and I don’t want to get into terrorism here.

    Anyway, torture centers run by the Mormon church? That’s a very serious accusation. If we’re talking about some sort of gay recovery group or house that is run by LDS members without actually being an owned entity of the LDS church, then I would like to know locations and names. Because if there are U.S. citizens being held in such centers, against their will, by people proclaiming to do so under the auspices of the LDS church, and there is true torture taking place, then I will personally find and locate these operations and do all I can to oppose them and shut them down.

    Such centers would be a violation of not only U.S. state and federal law, they would violate the church’s number one premise: that all men and women are free agents, and that opposition to free agency is opposition to God’s plan. Such a “torture” center would be an abomination worth destroying.

    But be sure. If the people who claim to have been “tortured” are, in fact, simply using hyperbole, then don’t waste my time.

    And yes, I am serious. If there is actual physical torture taking place under the guise of the LDS church, by church members, then this needs to be blown wide open, and the people involved need to not only be excommunicated, but taken to jail.

  45. origamikaren:

    Please explain to me, very slowly, what constitutional violations there would be. Don’t give me general terms like “freedom of religion”, give me specific examples of violations of the constitution, such as forcing your church to marry a same-sex couple.

  46. John,

    In reading your support for polygamy/polyandry I was wondering if that was why you put in that bit about the soldiers have set up a three way relationship in “Ghost Brigades” and further to the point if you include these things as a means to convey a larger point to the reader or are they just part of good storytelling?

  47. JustMe:

    No larger point, other than possibly to note the Special Forces didn’t have any taboos to overcome as regards sex, because they hadn’t been alive long enough to learn any.

  48. If you turned everything in this post around, and had yes for no and no for yes, then you would have exactly my feelings on people who are going to vote No on 8. It’s fundamentally wrong, it’s depriving me of my constitutional rights (see churchstate.org), and they’ll have to live with the consequences of their actions.

    Of which constitutional right are you deprived when gays are allowed to marry? In my reading of the constitution, I have never perceived that anyone is guaranteed the right to have society conform to his or her religious and cultural biases.

  49. PixelFish@28, As for state-by-state marriages, leaving gay marriage aside, it’s pretty much settled law that states don’t have to recognize marriages made in other states that wouldn’t have been legal in their own state. This includes cousin marriage, as well as marriages to non-blood relatives that are legal some places but not others, as well as some more interesting cases where one of the people has had a sex change operation. There’s no reason for gay marriages to be treated any differently, but of course, this supreme court tends to ignore precedent when it wants to make a political point, so who knows how it will rule when the issue comes before it?

    The sad thing is that this was an entirely predictable outcome of this right coming about via a california supreme court ruling rather than via legislation. Of course, I was acused of being a bigot for pointing this out by certain posters here who had reading comprehension problems.

  50. I find it ironic that Skip refers to posters having “reading comprehension problems” when he says “this was an entirely predictable outcome of this right coming about via a california supreme court ruling rather than via legislation” less than 40 minutes after JS wrote “the California legislature passed bills to legalize same-sex marriage (emphasis mine) — twice — only to have them vetoed by the governor because he wanted a judicial ruling.”

  51. Several posters have asked for factual statements from the “no gay marriage” side. Specifically in res whether being Gay is genetic and what the Bible says etc. The implication being that there is not a case to be made on the other side.

    In the spirit of discussion I offer the following link:

    http://www.cmda.org/AM/Template.cfm?Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=18528

    It is from the Cristian Medical and Dental association. They are a very old and well established organization and they are known for sticking to facts and citing appropriate sources for their assertions. They were around long before the internet. The PDF is probably the best presentation of their side of the argument and has extensive and germaine footnotes at the end.

    I do not suggest that this will change anyone’s mind. It’s not intended to do so. I also suspect that many here who go over might be offended by the religious framework that it is presented in. You have been warned. Whether they are right or wrong is largely irrelevant.

    I offer it only for those who are truly interested to know what their opponents think and why. These are well educated medical professionals who have read the relevant literature and studies and this is their conclusion.

    as I said, take it FWIW.

  52. Thanks for the link, drew. I have not read this before. I’m curious to see what is said, and whether I agree with it or not.

    I agree with your basic premise that those on the “non” side of the gay marriage debate, are not automatic morons. That’s pretty much my assertion too.

  53. Re: the link. My favorite part is where Lot says to the gathering men outside who want to have sex with the angels “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

    The lesson: gay sex is wrong; the Christian thing to do is to offer your virgin daughters to strangers.

  54. McC@17:

    I’ve never quite understood why it was so important that homosexuality not be a choice.

    If you think that having sex with a member of your own sex is a bad thing, I can’t see how it happens if you’re predisposed genetically to do so or not; if you think that it’s perfectly fine to do so, that again, it really doesn’t matter why you desire to do so.

    Imagine that I like to go out on weekends to beat up people who don’t belong to my race. Does it really matter to you if:

    – I do this because I make a deliberate choice to do so;

    – I do this because I was raised that way and am unable to shake off the psychological conditioning of my family;

    – I do this because I have a genetic condition in which primitive instincts that evolved so that cavemen would instinctively protect their tribe against genetic intrusion by outsiders are overstimulated, causing me to react violently against mixed-race couples

    If an act is wrong, the only real relevance of the “why” is that it tells us how morally culpable I am or how my condition might be treated–if you beat up people for fun, but I do it because of a genetic disorder, that doesn’t mean that your assaults should be stopped but mine are okay, it just means that the methods of rehabilitation that work on you won’t work on me.

    If an act is fine and acceptable, then again, it doesn’t matter why I do it–I don’t really care whether you like chocolate because it brings back fond memories of your childhood or because of the way your genetics shaped your tastebuds; in either case, have at it.

    In the same way, I’ve never understood the stalwart clinging to genetic predetermination as the answer to homosexuality–if I believe that you have the right to have sex with whoever you want, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s a choice or not; if I believe that who you have sex with can destroy western civilization, then again, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a choice or not.

  55. Peter Ahlstrom:

    “On August 12, 2004, the California Supreme Court voided approximately 4,000 marriage licenses issued by San Francisco to same-sex couples. Was this a bigoted, wrong, and hurtful act by the Supreme Court?”

    What happened then and what’s happening now aren’t even close to the same thing. San Francisco issued the licenses as civil disobedience and to challenge the law as it existed, and just as those practicing civil disobedience risk being arrested and jailed, so did those participating in those ceremonies risk having the licenses voided. They knew what they were getting into.

    The people married now are not practicing civil disobedience; they are getting married because they have been told unambiguously that they are allowed to under the law. The people fronting Proposition 8 and who will vote for it are not the Supreme Court, tasked with interpreting the law; they are trying to change the constitution of the state in order to deprive people of rights they already have. To deprive these people of their marriages is, in a word, vile.

    The Supreme Court ruling (on, if I recall, fairly technical grounds) that marriage licenses were incorrectly provided is interpreting the law. While the law itself may be unjust (and was indeed later ruled so and voided), the interpretation was legally correct at the time. Proposition 8, on the other hand, is specifically and unambiguously depriving people of existing rights to marriage under the law. And that is certainly hateful, and bigoted and wholly unjust.

  56. drew, thanks for that. I skimmed it, because I’ve seen a lot of what’s in there before. I have a few comments:

    re: Health Risks of the Homosexual Lifestyle – everything in this section applies to people who have sex with multiple partners, especially random unprotected sex, whether gay or straight. I put to you that none of this applies to people in a faithful, monogamous relationship.

    You’ll have to present compelling evidence that gay people are inherently incapable of having a faithful, monogamous relationship.

    re: The Homosexual Agenda – sorry, I think that’s all bullshit. Gay people want to be treated like people, equal under the law. They probably will never be treated so by churches, but the rights of the People of this country still apply to them.

    re: Mental Health and Substance Abuse problems – well, in my opinion, if you had to hide who you are from the entire world, and were even denied an avenue of religious faith to help you cope, I think you’d have mental health and substance abuse problems too, in general.

    As far as gayness being genetic or a choice: it doesn’t matter under the law if it is or isn’t, any more than your choice of church does. It simply is irrelevant whether a citizen chooses to be gay or is born that way; it’s part of the rights of Freedom that the Constitution provides for – remember, rights of the People still exist even if NOT enumerated in the Constitution.

    If someone chooses to be gay, that is their right and freedom.

    There’s a bunch of clinical stuff in there that I’m not qualified to evaluate. It doesn’t “smell” right to me, but that’s only an opinion. Someone else would have to attest to its validity in the realm of peer-reviewed science, but single study results do not a theory make.

    But still, thanks, and it was interesting to see what’s said in the New Testament about it.

  57. @Brian Gibbons: People want to make it clear that it isn’t a choice so that they can’t be told that their lot in life is chosen. “If you didn’t choose this lifestyle, you wouldn’t have these issues.”

    They also use it to keep gay people from being around children, on the premise that it will make said children gay. Because heterosexual people only create other heterosexual people.

    As far as the Biblical reasons, I liked the comments about building a nation and also about offering up one’s virgin daughters, and I will add this – in a civilization where there is no soap, advising your constituents not to engage in sexual behavior that involves fecal matter is a health issue, not a moral one.

  58. To add to this bit by Mythago:
    “So banning same-sex marriage in California will do absolutely nothing to insure that every child has one (1) male and one (1) female parent; all it does is dissolve those parents’ marriage, or prevent them from marrying at all, if they are of the same gender.”

    Ah, and let’s not forget the children:

    The law teaches children being raised by same-sex couples that certain people (their parents) do not fundamentally deserve the same rights as others, because of their sexuality. Whether they choose to accept that or not, these children will be set up in the knowledge that their “free society” is freer for some than others.

    What a cleverly designed law! The sexist bigotry is self-perpetuating.

  59. DG Lewis@57, of course, that’s not what the Governor actually said, what he actually said was fairly nonsensical, he said that he wanted either the courts or the voters to decide. However, the reason I hadn’t noted John’s half-quote was that at the time I wrote my response it wasn’t up yet in the view that I had of the thread. There were only a couple of messages past the PixelFish one I was responding to.

    Good try though!

  60. 2 points:

    First, on drew’s pdf.
    I was attracted to guys before I ever DID anything with them. If a core part of being gay is a particular sex act, was I gay before I’d had sex? Or did it magically crystallise at that point?

    The point I’m making is that same-sex couples don’t do anything that opposite sex couples can’t also do. There’s NO SUCH THING as a homosexual sex act. I mean, obviously, gay people are doing sexy stuff with someone of the same gender, but nothing that one couldn’t also do with someone of the opposite gender. To put it bluntly – chicks have asses too. So trying to say that ‘homosexual sex’ is unhygeinic is essentially meaningless. Homosexuality is about attraction, not about putting Tab A in Slot A, B, or C. [Oh and the rest of that thing is bullpucky. I read it, and anything citing NARTH isn't worth the pdf its written on - its practices have been denounced as unethical by every major psychologial and medial association in the US]

    And on the state/federal marriage issue:
    Immigration status is a federal issue. So a marriage that’s legal in CA or MA doesn’t allow your non-American same gender spouse the same right of residence that it would anyone else. Keep that in mind, oh gays from California of Massachussets, if you get serious about a foreign boy/girl. If you want to stay together, it’ll likely be you that’s moving, cos they won’t be able to get residency. Hence the Canadian/American couple of my acquaintance who ended up moving to Canada, because their marriage DID let the american partner get residency in Canada.

  61. Now, is it a California citizen’s right to vote on this issue according to one’s conscious and one’s fundamental beliefs?

    Any California citizen who wishes to vote for a hateful, nasty, useless and bigoted piece of legislation has an absolute right to do so. If there were a ballot initiative to dissolve interracial marriages, it would also be your absolute right to vote in favor of such an initiative, if you wished.

    Whether you have a right to vote as you please has zero to do with the discussion of whether you are hateful, nasty, bigoted or perhaps just plain misguided in doing so.

    In short, that little rhetorical trick was amateur level and you’re in over your head. Please don’t try it again except in front of your mirror, at home, as a basis for learning more advanced debating skills.

    On looking at same-sex couples – I spend a good portion of my working hours at the state court in San Francisco, which is directly across the street from City Hall. A lot of people get married at City Hall because it is a beautiful building, and the registrar just happens to be there too. I wonder what is in the minds of people who look at these beaming couples and their families and think “You do not deserve to marry”.

  62. John, let me try to understand what you’re saying.

    If this proposition had come up for a vote before June 16, 2008—five months ago—when same-sex marriages started being performed, then voting for it would not have been a vile act, but since that date has passed, voting for it is vile?

    If your answer is, “No, voting for it still would have been vile,” then the reasons it would have been vile are your core issue here, not the fact that these marriages were legally performed already.

    Mistakes need to be able to be corrected after the fact, even (and especially) mistakes by the government. Being able to correct mistakes is a huge part of being human.

    Regardless, the Supreme Court and all the people who entered into same-sex marriages after June 16th already knew that the vote on Proposition 8 was coming; they willingly engaged in potential civil disobedience to the potential future will of the voters. Yes, it was just potential, but it was already inevitable that the vote would go one way or another and they knew there was a good chance Prop 8 might pass, just like San Francisco and the folks who entered into same-sex marriages there in 2004 knew the licenses might be voided. Yes, the situation has degrees of difference, but I would say that they are by degrees “close to the same thing.”

    My point is, just because June 16th passed already does not mean that the commencement of legal same-sex marriages should trump any and all arguments against their legality.

    —Peter

  63. Peter:

    Not to answer for John, but legally, I agree with you.

    But the question still remains. Would you feel comfortable walking up to a same-sex couple that was already married and say “I want to destroy your marriage”?

    That’s not a legal question, but it does change the tenor of the debate.

  64. they willingly engaged in potential civil disobedience to the potential future will of the voters

    Doing something that is legal, but other people are hoping to make illegal, is “potential civil disobedience”?

    You do realize that there is a ballot measure in California pending right now to increase the amount of space farm animals (e.g. chickens) are required to have available. Does this mean that if an egg farmer wants to build another cage for some new chickens, that he must do so according to Prop 2’s proposed requirements, otherwise he is engaging in “potential civil disobedience”?

  65. Peter Ahlstrom:

    “If this proposition had come up for a vote before June 16, 2008—five months ago—when same-sex marriages started being performed, then voting for it would not have been a vile act, but since that date has passed, voting for it is vile?”

    You’re making the incorrect assumption that rather than “vile/not vile” there are not varying degrees of vile.

    “Regardless, the Supreme Court and all the people who entered into same-sex marriages after June 16th already knew that the vote on Proposition 8 was coming; they willingly engaged in potential civil disobedience to the potential future will of the voters.”

    Bullshit. Acting in accordance with the law is not even remotely civil disobedience, and the idea that you seem to think it is to suggest you don’t have a good grip on what civil disobedience actually is. Likewise, your argument which essentially boils down to “they should have known that people might try to take away their right to marriage” is just another variation of the “bitch shouldn’t have worn that dress” argument that people used to use to explain why some guy just couldn’t help raping that girl.

    “My point is, just because June 16th passed already does not mean that the commencement of legal same-sex marriages should trump any and all arguments against their legality.”

    Your point, however, is completely and totally wrong. These marriages are legal, and that issue is settled. Those people voting for Proposition 8 will be voting to destroy legal, existing marriages.

    “Mistakes need to be able to be corrected after the fact.”

    Destroying people’s marriages does not constitute correcting a mistake, Peter. It does, however, constitute perpetrating an abominable violation of civil rights against another group of people. Try not to confuse the two. They really are different things.

  66. You know, there was a time back when it was considered dirty and wrong for a white to have sex with a black.

    On the Asian side of things, I was considered a whore by my past family for wanting to get involved with a white man.

    I see that kind of logic being applied by some, and they seem to forget that these prejudices are the same that interracial couples went through. And are still going through, to varying degrees. At least they don’t have laws banning their marriages any more.

    To those who say “but then where would we stop?” — they said the same thing about interracial marriages. Would you have preferred things to have stopped before that bit? Because that’s what the slippery slope argument argues.

  67. John, if you believe that members of same-sex couples have the right to marry their same-sex partners, then isn’t anyone who acts to keep it from happening “perpetrating an abominable violation of civil rights against another group of people” whether that right has been already recognized by a court or not?

    The marriages are legal. But the fact that it’s possible to be even voting on this at all means that the issue iof whether or not they should be legal is not settled.

  68. #52 Maureen: Since you didn’t look at the link I referenced, I’ll do it again:
    http://www.churchstate.org/site/1/docs/Fact_Checking_AAP8.pdf
    http://www.churchstate.org/site/1/docs/Same-Sex_Marraige_Censorship.doc

    These links are articles by lawyers who have dedicated themselves to protecting the division between church and state. The first link shows actual cases of churches and other groups like the boyscouts who have been successfully sued and lost their tax exempt status for exercising their first amendment religious freedoms and freedom of speech. The list is too long to post in the comment thread.

    The second link is a general article on how speech on homosexuality is being socially and legally censored.

    #55 EC For specific examples see above.
    Of which constitutional right are you deprived when gays are allowed to marry? In my reading of the constitution, I have never perceived that anyone is guaranteed the right to have society conform to his or her religious and cultural biases.

    In my reading of the constitution, I don’t see anywhere where it says society has to redefine its fundamental unit (the family) to conform, approve of or sanction somebody’s love-life.

    #71 Mythago Does this mean that if an egg farmer wants to build another cage for some new chickens, that he must do so according to Prop 2’s proposed requirements, otherwise he is engaging in “potential civil disobedience”?

    If they’re constructing the cages now so that they can have as many chickens tortured by their inhumane cages as possible before it’s illegal, then yes. (I’m spouting somebody else’s rhetoric here for effect — I really don’t have much of an opinion on chicken cages either way).

    What really upsets me about this post is that John is saying that he is allowed to make moral arguments — that equality is the highest moral good, and that everything else is just your backward way of looking at things — and the rest of us aren’t allowed to make moral arguments against it without being called religious fanatics. I’m sorry, this hypocritical, ‘be nice to them because they’re just a bunch of ignorant bigots’ speech may be coming from a generous place in your heart, but it really doesn’t cut it.

  69. Sub-Odeon 51: I understand totally that anyone who identifies as gay, has a 100% vested interest in objecting to the “choice” argument, and if I were in your shoes, I might feel similarly.

    You will never know how close I came, reading this, to just skipping the rest of your post, and deciding that you were just beneath contempt and not worth ever responding to or reading again. Let me just say that I had to go take a walk before reading further, because what I would have said in response right then would have been nothing but a semi-coherent stream of obscenities.

    You are either a) calling me a liar about my own experience, or b) saying that I should have made a choice to suppress my true feelings and lie, lie, lie all the time to everyone I know (as “ex-gays” do), and live out the rest of my days in misery.

    Tell me when you chose to be heterosexual. Explain exactly how that felt, choosing that. What other alternatives did you consider and reject?

    One thing you absolutely DID choose was to marry a woman of color. Honestly! Don’t you think you should have chosen someone your parents would have been happier with? Like, say, a Quiet Mormon Girl? Obviously you chose her to piss off your parents.

    Do you see how insulting that is? You married her because she’s the one you fell in love with (I’m assuming; correct me if I’m wrong). That’s sort of a choice, I guess: you chose to be happy rather than miserable.

    I’d be surprised if you see what I’m driving at, actually. You’re not very good at listening.

    As for the torture, my friend was tortured by these scumbags. They explicitly deny using the exact techniques that they used on my friend, specifically, they shocked his genitals if he responded to a picture of an attractive man. He has a serious alcohol problem now, but he’s still gay. I believe him and not them.

    But of course you’ll believe them, because they’re Mormons. Well, so is my friend, even now, though he doesn’t attend church any more (between being gay and the alcohol problem that resulted from his mistreatment by Evergreen, he’s pretty well been driven away—nice work, Evergreen jerkoffs). Or maybe you’ll think it’s an “exaggeration” to call shocking someone’s genitals when he doesn’t do what you want “torture.” If so, let me shock yours until you change your mind.

    Or maybe it’s the “held against his will” part that you’ll contest. I dunno; is it your free choice if you’re 15 years old, a lifelong Mormon with the kind of “without my family and my church I die” feelings that most Mormons have, and your parents tell you that unless you go to Evergreen International and do everything they want you to, they’ll disown you and turn you out into the street with nothing, and completely cut you off from the Church and the entire family? I think not.

    But you’ll probably say it doesn’t count, because he could have walked out any time. I don’t know for certain that they strapped him down for the actual shock sessions, because it makes him sick (as in throwing up sick) to talk about what they did to him. But if actual physical confinement is the limit of your understanding of coercion…well, let’s hope it isn’t.

  70. Btw, speaking of “beneath contempt and not worth responding to or reading ever again,” I give you origamikaren at #76.

  71. Peter Ahlstrom:

    “John, if you believe that members of same-sex couples have the right to marry their same-sex partners, then isn’t anyone who acts to keep it from happening ‘perpetrating an abominable violation of civil rights against another group of people’ whether that right has been already recognized by a court or not?”

    There are varying levels of wrong, Peter. When the voters in Ohio voted to amend the state constitution to block recognition of same sex marriage, they made a bigoted vote, however, no one’s actual marriage was voided. What could happen in California, however, is on another level.

    “The marriages are legal. But the fact that it’s possible to be even voting on this at all means that the issue of whether or not they should be legal is not settled.”

    Well, sure. It does take people time to grow out of their longstanding, inherent and often unconscious bigotry. However, this does not excuse destroying marriages that already exist. People’s lives and their legal right to chose whom they wish to share their life should not have to be put to a referendum, particularly when they have followed the law as it exists.

    Patrick M:

    Only the fact that I know you’re not a troll keeps me from deleting your comment @ 75. However, be aware it makes you look a bit of an ass.

  72. The first link shows actual cases of churches and other groups like the boyscouts who have been successfully sued and lost their tax exempt status for exercising their first amendment religious freedoms and freedom of speech.

    Please cite to an actual case where any religious body has been successfully sued for refusing to perform a marriage in violation of that religious body’s tenets. For example, a rabbi successfully sued for refusing to marry an interfaith couple, or the Catholic Church successfully sued for refusing to marry a man who divorced his first wife and whose wife-to-be declines to raise their children as Catholics.

  73. so because I used exactly the same arguments and even the same words as the “right thinking” people on this thread in pointing out the flaws in John’s argument, I’m beneath contempt?

  74. Wrong again, origamikaren. And I don’t feel inclined to explain anything to you. You can really just fk ff nd d.

  75. Origamikaren:

    “What really upsets me about this post is that John is saying that he is allowed to make moral arguments — that equality is the highest moral good, and that everything else is just your backward way of looking at things — and the rest of us aren’t allowed to make moral arguments against it without being called religious fanatics.”

    I invite you specifically to show where I’ve said anything of the sort.

    In fact, I would be delighted to see a moral argument for destroying the legal existing marriages of other people because so far I haven’t found one that comes close to passing muster. The arguments I’ve seen — and I’ve seen quite a few — haven’t come close to what I consider a reasonable reason to tell two people that someone else, not in the marriage, should have a vote on the existence of said marriage. Bear in mind that inasmuch as I, like the state of California, consider these marriages to be equal to any other marriage, such an argument would necessarily also have to make a reasonable argument for destroying my existing legal marriage (I have a California marriage license, after all).

    Xopher:

    Fixed it.

  76. Adding to my previous post: Conversely, if you believe that the right to marry is not something stemming ultimately from the constitution or the court, and you believe that members of same-sex couples do not have, in that light, a right to marry their same-sex partners, then a court recognizing it as a right is going to have very little effect on your belief. And if you believe that the right to marry is something that stems from God, and you believe that God has loving reasons for all of his commandments, then it is completely consistent for you to believe that not sanctioning same-sex marriage, and canceling same-sex marriages that the law has recognized in error, is an act of love, not hate.

    I know you think I’m misguided, but it’s my honest belief.

  77. Three points:

    (1) John’s point that started this thread is true enough, but the fact, standing alone, that a given group of people “don’t see themselves as hateful and bigoted” is almost totally irrelevant. I would submit that the self-construction of a given person’s value set is far less important than the moral actions they take. Voting for Proposition 8 is an act of bigotry. Well-established and historically-sanctioed bigotry, perhaps, but bigotry all the same. Every argument in support of Prop. 8 can be reduced to one essential: fags are gross. Nuance it up all you like, finesse legal details about the proper exercise of state power, blah, blah, blah, but the argument in support of Prop. 8 lies in intolerance, ignorance, and fear. Anyone who votes for it is, at least in this regard, hateful and bigoted, regardless of what they might think about themselves. Sure, they might not be horrible in every particular; few people are. But there are serial killers who are leaders in their church (see, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Rader#Personal_life.) So what? Wicked is as wicked does.

    (2) The argument that Prop. 8 is a fight against judicial activism is utter nonsense. The California Supreme Court overturned the ban on gay marriage on grounds that it was an equal protection violation. In other words, it held that denying a right (marriage) to a certain group of people (gays, lesbians) based on that group’s status (eew, yuck!) is impermissible under the state constitution.

    This has happened many times in our nation’s history. The spectacular examples are well-known (bans on interracial marriage being the most obvious analogy here). But every time that happens — every time — a court is striking down a law that was supported by the majority. Here’s a tip, for those playing legal scholar at home: equal protection means that the majority doesn’t get to fuck with the minority just because they can get away with it. When they try, the courts are charged with a responsibility to step in and strike down discriminatory laws. And when the California Supreme Court (or any other court, for that matter) does so, it necessarily tells the majority that, no, it’s being a bully and needs to knock it the fuck off.

    (3) John’s take on the initial invalidation of San Francisco’s issuing wedding licenses to gay and lesbian couples is basically right. Without going into the jurisprudential minutae, that case essentially came down to this: a mayor can’t decide on his own to willfully violate state law. Since Prop. 22 banned gay marriage, the mayor was stuck with that. It’s up to the judicial branch, not the executive branch, at least not an executive presiding over a particular municipality, to decide whether a law is unconstitutional. That’s a good result for anyone who cares about the rule of law.

  78. Peter, but it is a belief injecting the person’s religion into secular law. I’m not a Christian. Why should I have Christian beliefs (not even universally held) inflicted on me by the law?

  79. Peter, substitute “interracial couples” for “same-sex couples” in your argument and you get the same result. Whether or not the people making such an argument believe they are motivated by love, their actions are hateful and destructive. “I think I am being nice to you” may be true, but has nothing to do with whether, in fact, I am being nice to you.

    origamikaren, still waiting for you to point me to a case where a religious group was successfully sued to force it to marry people in violation of its own religious tenets.

    And being told you’re a moron is not the same as being “not allowed” to make an argument. You, like many people, seem to think that disagreement is censorship.

  80. Peter Ahlstrom’s posts (at 85 and 74, in particular) illustrate my previous points exactly. He says, “I know you think I’m misguided, but it’s my honest belief.” Honestly held bigotry is still bigotry. I assume that most bigots are honest. That doesn’t make them right.

    Also, he states that although the marriages are legal, “the fact that it’s possible to be even voting on this at all means that the issue [of] whether or not they should be legal is not settled.” Well, we could all vote on whether to repeal the Thirteenth Amendment. Does that mean whether or not slavery should be legal is still an open question? In a democracy, we can always put anything up for a vote. That’s a structural reality, not a demonstration of moral equivocation.

  81. Peter Ahlstrom:

    “I know you think I’m misguided, but it’s my honest belief.”

    I doubt you can argue with alacrity it is God who demands this, since I strongly suspect you share the same God as any number of Christian churches, many of whom are perfectly happy to see same-sex couples marry. If you want to argue with them that they’re listening to God wrong, you go ahead and do that, but in the meantime, I’m throwing out the “God orders this” argument, since there are plenty of counterexamples regarding what the Christian God wants.

    What I suspect instead is that your church demands it, and since I’ve Googled you, I have a reasonable guess as to which church it is. And, presuming I’m correct on my guess, what I’d say to you is that your church is actively engaging in bigotry, and has before, although to its credit has corrected its previous bigotry, although that in itself suggest that your God changes His mind from time to time, or at the very least that what He reveals to your church does.

    I feel sorry for you that your Church believes it must promote bigotry, but it is comprised of people, and people are imperfect, and they sometimes think and do terrible things, even if they mean well. Which is of course the whole point of the entry.

    That said, I’m not at all sure why your “honest belief” should be sufficient to destroy marriages, particularly ones that are not sanctioned by your church and (barring another change in your church’s revelation of God’s mind) never will be. If your church doesn’t want to sanction same-sex marriages, then by all means it shouldn’t. But your church actively encouraging its members to destroy other people’s marriages it has no part in is, simply, bigoted and wrong and all sorts of horrible. That you go along with it is, of course, on your own soul.

    If you want to believe same-sex marriage is wrong, then by all means say it. But the line between expressing the opinion that same-sex marriage is wrong and actively and with full intent destroying existing legal marriages is one that is crossed only with moral cost, which you will bear, along with your church. Don’t lay it on God; lay it on men. That is where the blame truly belongs, as far as I’m concerned.

  82. OrigamiKaren sez: In my reading of the constitution, I don’t see anywhere where it says society has to redefine its fundamental unit (the family) to conform, approve of or sanction somebody’s love-life.

    Just out of curiosity: Where precisely does it say the fundamental unit of our society is the family? Does the Constitution define family too? Where in the Constution does it say that the government can limit families to its own definition?

    That said: The notion of family has fluctuated throughout history, as has the means to enter into a family relationship. We have adoption–by no means limited to children, although they are the primary ones we think of–and we have marriage. Historically, there have been situations where people were married into families after the primary partners were deceased. There’s a Chinese custom wherein families would purchase ghost brides for dead sons. Same sex marriage occured in the Roman states, and while never super common, has occured often enough for many different reasons.

    At the time the United States came into being, the traditional family unit was much more inclined to the large, extended family unit than the smaller nuclear families, or the various types of new families resulting from divorces and remarriage. Was that a redefining of family? People bucked pretty hard about allowing divorce for similar reasons.

    I’m pretty certain that the people who have defined a particular family are the people IN THAT FAMILY. Marriage and adoption came freighted with legal entanglements so that families could have provide legal benefits to their spouses and heirs, not so much to keep them from keeping people out of the family.

    If the government is going to make a set of legal rights based upon the choice to enter into familyhood, you can’t say, “Oh, but only these people can enter into this contract and get these legal rights.”

    Also, people keep citing religious beliefs as a barrier to allowing gays to marry, but what about those religions who have no such bar? Technically, they would be willing to offer the sacrament to their congregants, but are prevented by law from doing so.

  83. This post is addressed to John, but I’ll talk about him in the third person rather than the second so that there won’t be any misunderstanding about pronouns like “you.”

    “…fundamentally bigoted and wrong and hurtful, and that they will do it out of the best of intentions, motivated by a belief in a particular religion…”

    “Then the question becomes: ‘Can someone explain it without religion and/or lying?'”

    ‘In any event, the intolerant schmucks who are fronting Prop 8′

    ‘If you want to vote for Proposition 8 because you think the queers just shouldn’t marry, and your God believes that too, just own up to it.’

    The above quotes, I admit, do not explicitly state that making a moral argument is not allowed. Other people in the comment threads recently, have complained that moral arguments are useless because my morality is not their morality, and because most of the commenters here seem to agree with most of what John says, I mistakenly attributed their opinions to him. I’m sorry.

    At the same time, there is certainly an anti-religious slant to many of John’s statements that I interpret (perhaps incorrectly, but I don’t think so) as his viewing people like me as religious fanatics.

    I’m sorry I blew up and wrote something flameworthy because it makes people disregard my other points. While John may not have explicitly dismissed all moral arguments out of hand, he has dismissed each moral argument as not good enough because his definition of absolute good and evil (which seem to me to be aligned with his ideas of tolerance and intolerance) is not the same as mine.

  84. The bigger point about what “God” “wants” is that such a question has no place in a democracy, governed by a constitution which prohibits laws establishing a religion. Peter Ahlstrom can vote however his God commands. If that God is directing him, or a majority of voters, to discriminate against others, then Mr. Ahlstrom’s God and every other God is going to have to take a back seat to the American guarantee of freedom from discrimination. That’s one of the neat things about our country.

    It’s a quibble, perhaps, but I would modify John’s last post slightly: “Lay it on God all you want. We can all take our own chances on judgment day.”

  85. I don’t care if people believe in God or not. Two of my uncles are Methodist ministers. When they start saying “Well, this should be a law because Christianity demands it” then I, as a non-Christian, get a bit more twitchy. Keep your God off of my laws.

  86. Speaking of…ahem…Mormon beliefs about marriage, they believe it is necessary to get married in the temple in order to enter the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. Bishops will counsel couples who are getting married anywhere other than the temple to go through the temple after they become worthy (requirements: pay an honest tithe, support the church leaders in what they say, be sexually faithful, keep the Word of Wisdom–the dietary and health restrictions enumerated in the Doctrine and Covenants–and attend church faithfully). So technically, Mormons believe that even the civil unions which members who marry outside the church, the less faithful, and non-believers engage in are all marriages that won’t last beyond death. And yet, despite the fact that they don’t recognise these marriages to be lasting, they are willing to keep gay people from entering into one. Why? Because that would be condoning homosexuality, a sin. But there are plenty of other “sins” which do not get this kind of treatment. For example, it is legal to drink and smoke inside Utah, presumably because other people think it is perfectly fine. If they wanted to, the LDS church could go after drinking and smoking. (God knows they have about gambling.) But they don’t, other than to tell their members not to participate in it. Why not apply the same logic: other people think it is fine and it doesn’t hurt me directly, and God will sort it out in the afterlife. They haven’t gone after the removal of fornication laws on the books either, at least not recently.

    Weirdly enough, Mormons are allowed to get divorced, but unless their temple sealing is cancelled, it is still technically in force in the afterlife. Don’t ask me how that works with their current views about the state of marriage, but it does seem a contradiction in terms considering how they regard civil marriage as recognised by the US government. Keeping gay people from getting married won’t keep gay people from existing, but preventing them from participating in a contract you don’t regard as completely spiritually binding in the first place seems extremely…um…sour grapesy.

  87. Origamikaren:

    “At the same time, there is certainly an anti-religious slant to many of John’s statements that I interpret (perhaps incorrectly, but I don’t think so) as his viewing people like me as religious fanatics.”

    I’m not anti-religious, although I have a very low tolerance for religion being used as an excuse for bigotry, and in particular I’m sensitive to Christians who I see doing it, because in my opinion it doesn’t match up to the grace of Christ, which is a theme I’ve discussed here at length over the years.

    “While John may not have explicitly dismissed all moral arguments out of hand, he has dismissed each moral argument as not good enough because his definition of absolute good and evil (which seem to me to be aligned with his ideas of tolerance and intolerance) is not the same as mine.”

    Leaving out issues of absolute good and evil, yes, indeed, I certainly do discard moral arguments I find fundamentally bad or immoral. That’s what you do with moral arguments that aren’t. I can believe you hold these moral opinions, and I also believe you can believe they are right, but I certainly don’t have to believe they are so, and also, in my opinion, to the extent that the arguments have a religious and Christian basis, I don’t typically have to find them worthy of Christ, either, as I understand Him and His message.

  88. Pixelfish, I spent five years living in Utah as a teen and my mother has been there for over 25 years. Try buying a beer in Utah and see what you get or go get alcohol on New Year’s Eve for a party. The Church there has plenty of effect on the laws…

  89. origamikaren 93: I’m sorry I blew up and wrote something flameworthy because it makes people disregard my other points.

    THERE we go! Much better. (Yeah, I cheated and read your post. Sue me.)

    The trouble, origamikaren, is that you need to make a moral argument justified by something other than religion. Nothing that “God wills” or “God says” is relevant to the establishment of law in this country. That’s called freedom of religion, and is part of the First Amendment to the US Constitution (it’s called the Establishment Clause).

    You are, of course, free to make your decision on any basis you wish, but no law is justified unless by something OTHER than appeals to the Will of God™.

    So I put it to you: how does it harm you, or anyone, if I’m married to my boyfriend? Neither of us is Christian, so all the Bible stuff is irrelevant; if you think we’re going to hell for being queer, wait’ll you see our idolatry!* So a little same-sex² isn’t going to make much difference. You can’t even really argue it harms US.

    I personally think that anti-same-sex-marriage laws and constitutional amendments are an unlawful establishment of religion, since MY religion makes love, not gender, the key factor that joins people. Why should I obey YOUR rules?

    People like to say it “harms the institution of marriage,” but they never say how. It sounds an awful lot like “it’ll harm our neighborhood if those n—— move in” to me. In reality, of course, all those people who make that argument are either a) parrotting it without thinking it through because it sounds good, and/or b) using it as a smokescreen for the fact that they just plain hate gay people. And I say fuck ‘em.

    *I, for example, begin every day by bowing to an image of Ganesh-ji and chanting “OM GANESHA YA NAMA” 108 times.

  90. Xopher,

    I think it’s quite true that you don’t necessarily choose the person you wind up loving; that life sorta chooses them for you. All the same, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t “choose” my wife precisely because of her physical characteristics: beautiful face, coffee-and-cream skin, lovely dark eyes, dark hair… These are physical traits I have always found attractive in a woman. Did I pick her just to piss my parents off? Well, perhaps unconsciously. I was 19 when we married and rebellion against my parents was still a major theme in my life at that time. It was not the major factor in my decision, but it probably figured into things somewhere.

    And no, I don’t get how the following statement is in any way a deliberate (or even accidental) insult to you:

    I understand totally that anyone who identifies as gay, has a 100% vested interest in objecting to the “choice” argument, and if I were in your shoes, I might feel similarly. — Sub-Odeon

    It’s pretty much a plain acknowledgement of the truth. Gays cannot allow the “choice” concept to remain current in popular society because as long as “choice” is attached to homosexuality, homosexuality will remain open to moral judgment by heterosexuals. And if there is anything I’ve learned, in my years in community radio, working with gays, rubbing shoulders with my wife’s gay friends from theater and college, it’s that gays are sick to death of moral judgement from straights, and will use any and all arguments to get out from under the heel of hetero judgment.

    Once upon a time, when being gay was still classified as an illness, the “choice” argument was employed because it refuted the idea that homosexuality was in any way abnormal, and that those who are gay cannot be treated as “sick” because their “choice” to be gay is no different from any other choices heteros make: about cars, fashion, etc.

    Some time in the late 80’s or early 90’s, the “choice” argument was quietly put out to pasture because medical and psychological research had dismissed the idea of homosexuality as a pathology, and now social and religious conservatives began attacking the “choice” argument as evidence that homosexuality, while not necessarily ‘sick’, was still morally and ethically wrong.

    Soon came the research suggesting hormonal and brain structure differences, among gays, and very quickly the “genetic destiny” argument evolved, and it’s a potent argument no matter how you slice it because it supposes that all gay people are made gay, either by God or by evolution and genetics, and how can any sane, good person morally judge another human being for genetic and evolutionary — or even God-given — traits that are beyond their control?

    You say you had no choice to be gay. It’s who you are. I believe 100% that you believe 100% in this idea, and nothing I or anyone else says will change your mind about it. How this somehow means I am calling you a liar, telling you to lie, telling you to be miserable, etc. I’m not sure. All I said was I understand why it’s in the best interests of all gays to go the “genetic destiny” route, and if I were in your shoes, that’s absolutely the route I would take too, because it’s the one currently supported by science and it’s the one that has the best traction in 21st century political debate. It puts the entire problem back on heterosexuals, where it rests uncomfortably, and divides heteros up into various camps of ideology, from the “pro” folk like Scalzi, to the rabid “anti” folk like Phelps, and the rest of us are somewhere in between.

    And no, I am not inclined to automatically believe Mormons over non-Mormons, just because I am a Mormon. I often think the opposite is true. You don’t live behind the Zion Curtain like I have, going from LDS-raised, to rebellious secular, and back to LDS again, without realizing that just because someone is LDS, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a liar, an asshole, cruel, false, or otherwise scummy. I appreciate your providing the link to Evergreen, and I will check it out. If your friend was indeed shocked in his genitals, and signed no kind of waiver exempting Evergreen from liability, he should at the very least, sue. Those who seek a “recovery” path (yes, I know you think ‘recovery’ for gays is total bullshit) don’t have to submit to physical abuse, and any program that employs such methods should be called on the carpet.

    I sympathize with your friend, if his only motivator for attending Evergreen was parental coercion. I would assume he’s an adult and on his own now, and not beholden to family anymore for room, board, or anything else? LDS parents are notorious for being judgmental of their childrens’ actions and choices, and you won’t find me defending your friend’s parents in any way, because I myself would never resort to such measures, and have stated on this blog that if my own daughter is gay, or engages in other activity I myself would find ‘sinful’, all I can do is shrug my shoulders, hope she’s not hurting herself, and just keep loving her as my daughter.

    If your friend has suffered what could be termed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as a result of his coercion by his parents and his abuse at Evergreen, I think he might be able to build a case for financial compensation, if not jail time for those which can be fingered specifically in having performed the elctro-shock. If your friend knows others who went through similar treatment at the same location in the same time period, then so much the better. They can put together a class-action suit, and seek damages accordingly.

    Perhaps your friend simply wants to move on and not think about it anymore. If he’s turned to the bottle — for that pain and for other pains — and especially if he’s still clinging to the LDS church in any respect, then he’s in need of some serious counseling. He’ll probably never be happy being LDS, and will do better to just cut ties with his former life, family and all, and move on to a new reality. Doubtless it would be the hardest thing he ever had to do, but it would probably make him the most happy, in the end.

    And no, this is not what his Bishop or Stake President is liable to tell him. They will, of course, keep telling him it’s a moral problem and that if he just prays enough and repents enough, God will find a way to “fix it” and he’ll be alright after that, his family will re-accept him, etc.

    Thing is, if I were his Bishop or Stake President, I’d probably pull him aside and say, look, just between you and me, I don’t think your path lies with the church. It’s making you miserable. For whatever reasons, God has a different plan for you. If it means you have to leave the church and cut ties with judgmental parents, then good heavens, do the healthy thing and get out! There are support groups for gay Mormons; people who want to continue to worship God in the LDS tradition without necessarily buying into the whole Proclamation To The World or any other proscription against homosexuality.

    I would do this in confidence, and if called on it by church leadership, probably take the fifth. Maybe they’d kick me out of the Stake Presidency or Bishopric. I dunno. I’m not sure I’d care at that point because a Bishop or Stake President’s job is to try and look after his people, and if looking after your people also means helping certain souls disconnect from the church and move on with their lives in a more-happy, more functional way, then that too is a form of service to God’s children, and I personally don’t think God would have any problem with that.

    I could go on, but I have to go home from work.

    The LDS gospel is a good gospel and it gives structure and meaning to millions of lives.

    But it’s not for everyone; even if certain church leaders or family members insist that it is.

  91. #92 Pixelfish:
    …or the various types of new families resulting from divorces and remarriage. Was that a redefining of family? People bucked pretty hard about allowing divorce for similar reasons.

    I believe that society in general and children in particular have suffered as a result of the ease of divorce in this country. I do not argue that divorce should be illegal, but I do believe that many marriages have been abandoned just because they weren’t the bed of roses the partners imagined they would be. I also believe that since divorce is so easy and common it makes people less inclined to get married at all. All of this leads to children growing up without two parents in the home, and while it’s possible to raise children that way, it’s not ideal.

    (And before anybody throws the pregnant widow argument in my face, I do not believe it’s right to force her to marry before giving birth. On the other hand, I do believe that society in general and those close to her should affirm that it is not a betrayal of her first husband’s memory to marry again and give his children a father when her grieving process allows.)

    #88 Mythago:
    When I psted the link to from churchstate.org, I was responding to the following request (emphasis mine)

    give me specific examples of violations of the constitution, such as forcing your church to marry a same-sex couple.

    I gave many examples of cases where the courts have been promoting the possibly implied rights of same sex couples and homosexuals over the explicit first amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion. It may not have happened yet, but there are legal precedents for it happening, and you can bet your life that it’s only a matter of time before an activist couple (not the same as an activist judge) tries to sue over that too.

  92. Al: I lived there too. I’m not saying there aren’t laws about drinking, nor does the church not have an effect on them, but you can still drink. Or smoke. Or have sex outside of marriage. I’m noting that these things exist without the Mormon church being forced to take them as qualifications for church membership or without destroying the LDS way of life.

  93. John,

    While I agree with you that same-sex marriage should be legal, there is a good reason to vote for Proposition 8 that has nothing to do with whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal – the California Supreme Court’s decision was an act of almost unconscionable judicial activism.

    I’ve supported same-sex marriage for years. I have legally married gay friends. I have no problem with same-sex marriage morally. It’s the way it was imposed in California that is so problematic.

    You see, California already voted on same-sex marriage, and prohibited it by ballot measure in Proposition 22. That’s why Schwarzenegger did not sign the same-sex marriage bills from the legislature, because the people had already spoken in California and it was probably unconstitutional under the California Constitution for the legislature and Governor to override the ballot initiative by statute.

    So, we have a case where the California Supreme Court found an interpretation of California’s right to privacy (which has been part of the California Constitution for many decades) that was explicitly at odds with a voter-approved law. In fact, homosexual acts were crimes when the right to privacy the California Supreme Court relied on was made part of the constitution. For the California Supreme Court to rule as it did was nothing more than naked judicial policymaking. This kind of judicial activism is the reason for the ongoing cultural wars in our country, and it’s tearing us apart as a people.

    There are a lot of people that really care about the legalization of what should rightly be political issues, myself included. As a result, I really struggled mightily to decide what to do about Prop 8. And I am not alone in this, there are many principled people who object to the way this decision was made, without bearing any ill will towards homosexuals, and without having any objections to same-sex marriage as a policy. We are left in a tough spot as California voters in how to bridge this divide.

    Ultimately, I agreed to log rolling with a friend, where she is supporting a proposition I care about more to get me off the fence on Prop 8, so I am voting against it. I am instead going to try to address the judiical activism of the California Supreme Court in judicial retention elections, which may ultimately be a more accurate way to punish the right people without hurting innocent people.

  94. My understanding, Sub-odeon, is that the boyscouts were open to being sued because of their legal status and the way this allowed them to handle money. This opened them up to litigation because of their status. Entities that are 100% private institutions which take no government money or special deals seem unlikely to get sued around the fact that they don’t want gay people.

  95. Sisyphus:

    “the California Supreme Court’s decision was an act of almost unconscionable judicial activism.”

    Well, of course, I disagree almost entirely — the argument I read, at the very least, was well-founded in existing California law. Naturally there is room for disagreement. And on a basic level, the phrase “judicial activism” makes me twitch, since it’s so often used as code for “rulings I disagree with” independent of whether the ruling was founded in law.

    I will say that I am pleased that your personal solution to the problem both addresses your complaint through the democratic process and, as you say, does not punish the innocent. That’s the way to do it.

  96. Sisyphus, the state supreme court has the job, among other things, of determining if laws violate the state constitution. This supreme court, which is hardly the most liberal, decided that prop 22 violated the constitution. Just because you don’t like the decision doesn’t mean it is “judicial activism.” You ignore the fact that we had “governor activism” when he vetoed the legislature repeatedly on this year issue. Why? Because he supported your view?

  97. I believe that society in general and children in particular have suffered as a result of the ease of divorce in this country.

    I believe that society in general and children in particular have suffered as the result of two parents staying together when they were unhappy in the marriage.

    In any case, the point I WAS making was that divorces-and-subsequent-remarriage has brought a NEW kind of family to social life. No less a family either.

    I slightly regret bringing up divorce, because you hare off after your new tangent instead of answering the question I was posing: Family structure has changed over the years….without Constitutional intervention, I might add. People asked you upthread what Constitutional violations there might be and the only thing you said was that the Constitution didn’t explicitly say that we could change family structure. Well, it didn’t say we couldn’t either. And it is a provision of the Constitution that human beings have rights afforded to them that may not be explicitly spelled out in the Constittion. So what freedoms granted by the Constitution will be violated if Jane and Ann are permitted to make each other the mainspring of their lives and have it legally recognised by the US government or a state government?

  98. “You are, of course, free to make your decision on any basis you wish, but no law is justified unless by something OTHER than appeals to the Will of God.
    Xopher, I think this is the intro to the argument that there is a moral basis that can be established by objective means and exists independent of religion. I don’t think that argument can be made successfully.

    I know deep down inside me that everyone should be equal under the law. No one can change my mind. But I can’t justify it any more than those who believe that homosexuals are subhuman can justify their beliefs.

    The most that can be done is to point out that a yes vote on prop 8 is a vote for inequality, a vote that the loves, lives, and families of certain people have no value. As long as someone accepts that and is still in favor of prop 8, there is nothing else to be said.

  99. John @ 37: Well, I know about a thousand different people, Gerrymander, don’t you?

    I’m sure I do. I’m also sure I can only vouchsafe knowledge of the sexual proclivities and relationship status for a minor fraction of those.

    So, what’s the minimum number of marriages that would have to be destroyed before your theoretical voters would feel a twinge? I’m interested to know where the floor is, in your estimation.

    I have no idea, but I’d guess it’s significantly north of the total number of possible gay marriages. I can practically guarantee that every person in California knows someone directly and adversely affected by “no contest” divorces. If there’s a better destroyer of marriages, I’m unaware of it; yet somehow, it’s still on the books after 40+ years.

  100. So I put it to you: how does it harm you, or anyone, if I’m married to my boyfriend? Neither of us is Christian, so all the Bible stuff is irrelevant; if you think we’re going to hell for being queer, wait’ll you see our idolatry!* So a little same-sex² isn’t going to make much difference. You can’t even really argue it harms US.

    It harms me because it weakens the institution of marriage, and that has serious effects on society. See my comment at #101. If marriage means whatever people want it to mean this week, then it essentially means nothing. If marriage means nothing, then why shouldn’t I gratify my urges to have sex whenever and with whomever I want? This is already what many people believe, and what we’re shown on TV and in movies. These attitudes have led to more children being born out of wedlock than in, and astronomical abortion rates.

    You may feel that those things aren’t that bad — I know that many people don’t think they are. It harms me because my tax dollars go to provide welfare for the single moms raising kids in the slums (I don’t think we should stop paying welfare, I think we as a society should do what we can to encourage behavior that doesn’t end in people being on welfare). It harms me because the kids that end up in the classroom are so messed up because of problems at home that they don’t have the mental energy to pay attention in class (this makes it hard for teachers, which I am, and for students who do have the energy to learn, which I was and my daughter will be).

    This post is already long enough, but I could go on…

  101. Sub-Odeon…you were born male. Suppose you were born male in a church that decreed everyone should be female, and somehow you managed not to notice your maleness, or have anyone else be aware of it, until adolescence, at which point you started concealing it actively.

    Then someone tells you they have a cure. You can have your genitals modified, hormone treatments to grow breasts, your voicebox fixed, your Adam’s apple shaved! How wonderful!

    Meaning no disrespect to genuine transexuals, this would not make you (you, Sub-Odeon, happily male and married as you are to a lovely (I have no doubt) woman) happy.

    That’s if it worked. Suppose after going through all that suffering, your penis kept growing back, your breasts kept disappearing, and your voice kept deepening. NOW we’re at the analogic point to the alleged “cures” for homosexuality. They are cruel and extreme and cause great damage to the person undergoing them, and then they DON’T WORK.

    I’m saying this not to convince you, which I don’t think is possible, but to explain why I react to being told my homosexuality can be changed approximately the way you’d react to someone who pointed out that your dick could be cut off.

    As for my friend, he couldn’t have signed any relevant waiver at 15; his parents are resigned to his homosexuality, if not fully at peace with it, and he’s reconciled with them; and he doesn’t want to think about Evergreen any more.

    And I’m glad (you have no idea how glad) to see that you do, actually, realize that leaving the Church is sometimes (in my view generally) a better choice for gay Mormons than trying to change their sexuality.

  102. origamikaren, if you think marriage is a barrier to people gratifying their sexual urges wherever or whenever they want, you haven’t been paying attention for the last, oh, few decades at least.

    You know that the rate of adultery (which is, by definition, done by married people) is over 50%, right?

    Hell, let’s get into swingers or poly people (I used to live in a poly relationship) where they are married and *still* manage to have sex wherever they want as long as it is done in the open and their spouses know about it.

    I don’t buy your argument.

  103. #109 Pixelfish

    if you’re not going to read the links I posted which show the specific constitutional freedoms that are already being threatened and destroyed, then I’m sorry, I can’t satisfy you.

  104. You are the one inferring that gay people getting married means that marriage means nothing. Obviously it means something to gays or they wouldn’t want to get married. Encouraging two people who want to be together to stay together is strengthening marriage for society as a whole, not weakening it.

    Also: gay sex = doesn’t lead to children being born out of wedlock. Just a note. Nor does it lead to abortion.

  105. Origamikaren:

    “It harms me because it weakens the institution of marriage.”

    Nonsense. There is no “institution of marriage”; there are marriages. Explain in detail how your marriage has been harmed by the fact that same-sex marriages exist.

    Same sex marriages have existed in this country for four years. I have been married every minute of that time. Never once in that entire time has my marriage been in the least bit threatened by same-sex marriage. Never once in that entire time has the marriage of anyone I have known been in the least bit threatened.

    “Weakens the institution of marriage” is a pernicious and vacuous argument, and your support for it, as laid out in your post, is a set of unrelated kvetches about other things you don’t like. If you’re going to make an argument, support it. You’re not doing that at the moment.

  106. #114 Al:

    You’re making my point for me. In our society, marriage means very little to most people. I believe we should be working to make it mean more, not less.

  107. “Marriage means very little to most people.”

    I’d bet it means a lot to those same sex couples who were able to have it for the first time. So, you know. Let them keep it.

  108. OrigamiKaren @ 112, if the only thing keeping you from having sex with random strangers is how the state defines marriage, I think you’re in serious trouble.

    What my marriage means to me and my wife has no dependency on who else is and is not allowed to be married. It’s about our commitment to love each other and take care of each other and nothing that anyone else does to change the state definition of marriage can have the slightest effect on that commitment.

    I’m truly sorry for you if you really believe that how other define themselves and their relationships can have that kind of impact on your commitments.

  109. “But we don’t want them in our club. Next thing you’ll be asking us to share our water fountain with them and letting them sit in the same part of the bus with us…”

    </snark>

  110. Sub-Odeon @100: “Gays cannot allow the “choice” concept to remain current in popular society because as long as “choice” is attached to homosexuality, homosexuality will remain open to moral judgment by heterosexuals.”

    As if heterosexuality isn’t open to moral judgment by pretty much everyone? Doesn’t your own church forbid sex outside of wedlock, for what it calls moral reasons? Does that stop all Mormon kids from having pre-marital sex? (Hint: um, no.)

    Y’know, I think the whole genetics vs. choice thing is a pile of bullshit, for just that reason. If my fiancee and I choose to have sex, we are violating many churches’ moral laws, from the Presbyterian church I was baptized into through the Catholics, the Baptists, even the Hare Krishnas.

    So, heterosexuality is morally OK only when its done in a church-sanctioned context? Sure, you’re welcome to think so. In your church.

    Fine, throw your moral judgment at people who choose to be gay. It just doesn’t matter, because you throw the exact same judgment at straight people who aren’t married. The argument carries precisely the same weight.

    As I recall we’ve done away with all the laws relating to pre-marital sex between consenting adults, and most of the sodomy laws too. How’s that sit with ya? I don’t see too much church-paid-for legislative activity to make hetero non-marital sex illegal (the sex-education mess notwithstanding) these days.

    I guess bisexual people who get married and have kids, but still sometimes have same-sex sex, must really blow your gaskets, huh?

    Stop worrying about genetics vs. choice. People who are gay, are gay, and it doesn’t effing matter why. They are free to be so in the USA, and all rights both enumerated and not enumerated in the Constitution must be accorded to them.

  111. Al Billings,

    As I noted, the Governor’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation was based on his belief that it was contrary to the expressed will of the people. As far as I know, he was not opposed to same-sex marriage in principal, though he might be. However, as I clearly said in my post, I am not. I support same-sex marriage.

    What I don’t support is courts finding interpretations of constitutional provisions that radically differ from the understanding of the legislatures or voters that enacted those provisions. Words have meaning, and words in laws must have a particular meaning, or we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but rather a nation ruled by the caprices of men (and women) alone.

    I oppose judicial activism regardless of the policy outcome, because I believe, deeply and truly, that the rule of law is one of the most important principles of our society. The US Supreme Court was a wrong to impose substantive due process in Lockner (a pro-business case) as it was in Griswold (a right to privacy case). I happen to agree with the policy outcome in both cases, but the court was wrong in its reasoning in both cases.

    By all means, the supporters of same-sex marriage should have tried to pass a ballot initiative in California to overturn Proposition 22, and legalize same-sex marriage. I might even have contributed to that campaign. But judicial usurpation of legitimate political decisions is the kind of thing that creates long-lasting bad blood, like the Roe v. Wade fight, that continues indefinitely, because the losing side can never feel that they fairly lost and accept it.

    Scalzi wrote an earlier post about changing state constitutional amendment procedures, so I know he is at least somewhat aware of process as important in and of itself, and hopefully other readers do, too. Well, it doesn’t much matter what process you have for state laws and constitutional amendments if the courts just make them mean whatever they feel like they should mean. Judicial activism is a process-killer that destroys the ability to implement most other process reforms. Without true rule of law, any process reforms you wish to implement will be subverted or destroyed by activist judges. And you are just a few judicial votes away from losing whatever policies you favored in giving away the rule of law, so it doesn’t even protect your policy preferences.

  112. origamikaren 112: It harms me because it weakens the institution of marriage, and that has serious effects on society.

    You have argued that weakening the institution of marriage harms society. You have not shown how allowing gay marriage weakens the institution of marriage. You may think it’s obvious, but you need to make that case to convince someone who (like me) doesn’t think so at all.

    Did you know that The Economist, hardly a bastion of liberal thinking, has endorsed gay marriage on economic grounds, because it promotes stability in society? Have you considered that the gay people who want so badly to be married are much LESS likely to get divorced than people who’ve never fought for that right? Do you really think that the Spears-Federline marriage that lasted, what was it, 58 hours was more beneficial to society and the institution of marriage than that of Del Martin (may she walk in joy) and Phyllis Lyons, which came as the culmination of a fifty-YEAR partnership?

    I come not to weaken the institution of marriage, but to strengthen it: by including in it a whole crop of new people who’ve thought about it very seriously, usually for years, who are under no familial pressure to do it (quite the contrary in many cases), and who deeply, deeply believe that marriage is important.

    Now you explain how that “weakens” the institution of marriage.

  113. JS says: “I find the assertion that rights won’t be denied to gay couples when you are in fact intending to take away a signal right they currently enjoy appalling, and I won’t have such abject stupidity on this site, or people who assume that my readers are stupid enough not to parse such fatuous reasoning. Please fuck right off, prop8discussion.”

    Absolutely outstanding. How did it take me so long to find this blog?

  114. John,
    Once again, my arguments, directly answering the question asked, are “pernicious, and vacuous.” I believe that decisions have long term and far reaching consequences. I have friends who moved from Canada where SSM is legal because the general atmosphere of amorality was making it hard for them to raise their kids there.

    I need to go make dinner. Have fun arguing some more.

  115. Sisyphus @ 123 As I noted, the Governor’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation was based on his belief that it was contrary to the expressed will of the people

    This is factually incorrect. The Governor actually said that though he supported the law personally he would prefer that the courts decide the matter. In other words he played hot potato hoping the courts would solve the problem. They did.

  116. I have friends who moved from Canada where SSM is legal because the general atmosphere of amorality was making it hard for them to raise their kids there.

    Because we all know what a depraved, immoral society the Canadians have up there…

  117. origamikaren, if we’re really lucky, your friends and all like them will leave California when prop 8 goes down in flames as well. Heck, maybe y’all could leave the United States so the rest of us decent folk could just get on with life. Go build a floating Jesusland in the Pacific or something where you can have your own little inward-turning enclave of people who pretend that things that they don’t like can’t and won’t exist.

  118. origamikaren 127: Once again, my arguments, directly answering the question asked

    I asked you something specific. I’d appreciate an answer to my very civilly-put question.

    Any argument is vacuous if it can’t be backed up. That’s what vacuous means. I have never heard anyone, anywhere make any argument about same-sex marriage “weakening the institution of marriage” that didn’t devolve into “God talk” or into “if we let the [n-word]s in, the neighborhood will be no good because it’ll have [n-word]s in it.”

    Both of those are vacuous in slightly different senses: the first because it’s an argument already made and countered; the second because it’s circular—the equivalent of “I’m so glad I don’t like onions, because if I liked them, I’d eat them, and I hate onions.”

    If you can do better, I’d like to see it. After you’re done making dinner, of course.

  119. OrigamiKaren: Inside your very own link though is a snippet noting that tax-exempt status for churches is not a Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom. It is permissible but not required. No church was forbidden to practise their beliefs, but they were denied tax credits. The circumstances under which the denial of tax credits seems to have fallen under often overlap an area where the church or institution in question has provided “non-sectarian” or “public” services, but then goes on to deny those services to gay couples. Notably the institutions in question did not lose ALL of their tax-exemption, but only a portion of it. Their publically-offered services were required to be made available to all the public. The Yeshiva school had been chartered as non-sectarian, and was not actively pursuing orthodoxy in other realms, just in the matter of the same sex housing. The New Jersey case involved an easement and communal area that had previously been touted as public, and was suddenly be restricted. There certainly seems to be more to these cases than “Oh, we don’t like gays.” In some cases, the tax-exemptions may be in part for facilities that have until now served a public good.

  120. It harms me because it weakens the institution of marriage, and that has serious effects on society.

    As soon as I see pro-Prop 8 people demonstrating outside the homes of Larry King, Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears, I’ll buy this line. If anyone’s mocking the meaning of marriage, it’s them and not gay people.

  121. Have fun with dinner, origamikaren.

    I’m curious which god-hating, amoral, awful piece of Canada your friends fled from. I spent a year in Toronto, supposedly the grimmest, grumpiest place in Canada, and found people to be mostly lovely, thoughtful, kind, and generous to strangers.

    But of course, Canada’s a big place. I’m sure there are places somewhere there (maybe on Baffin Island?) that are amoral and, yknow, a horrible corrupting place for kids to grow up.

  122. (Er. To clarify, the religious institutions had set up facilities for use by people that weren’t of their religion. In some cases, they were charging for the use of the facilities–which to my mind is making a profit on non-church related activities, but never mind–but which in most cases had been available to the public on a non-religious basis. Then they suddenly restricted the use of these facilities saying gay folks could not make use of them. Yet they were allowed to be of use to other people not sharing the religious beliefs of the original institution. This is why the tax-exemptions were voided.)

  123. Origamikaren:

    “Once again, my arguments, directly answering the question asked, are ‘pernicious, and vacuous.'”

    If you don’t want your arguments to be called “pernicious and vacuous,” don’t make pernicious and vacuous arguments. Also, as previously noted, when you make an argument, actually support your argument, say, with actual, verifiable data which support your thesis. In this case you didn’t really even make an argument, you made a statement, followed by a largely unrelated set of things that you don’t like which, as it happens, have nothing to do with same-sex couples being married in the slightest.

    Your argument is vacuous because it was made poorly and without data (possibly because there is no data to support the argument); it is pernicious because it continues to be used by people like yourself despite the fact it is vacuous.

    Make better arguments. So far your arguments boil down to “and here’s another thing I don’t like.” If you’re out to destroy people’s marriages, you need an argument that’s a damn sight better than that.

  124. Pixelfish:

    Yeah, those awful Canadians. You may as well have got 666 and an inverted cross tattooed on your forehead.

  125. “What I don’t support is courts finding interpretations of constitutional provisions that radically differ from the understanding of the legislatures or voters that enacted those provisions.”
    As a California voter, I fully support the court fulfilling their role in keeping laws consistent with the constitution. For those residing elsewhere, the barrage of propositions is mind boggling. Hours and hours of research is required to make even a slightly educated choice. I feel truly sorry for someone who watches TV and tries to find signal in the noise of the nonsensical commercials about them.

    One time that I recall, two propositions were on the ballot as a pair, as is not uncommon. They specifically stated that neither had any force unless both passed. The difference in the vote on these two was 10% ! Either fully 10% of voters consciously threw away their vote or else had no idea what they were voting for.

    I do not share the opinion that a vote on a proposition is the sacrosanct will of the people. It is at most the momentary whim of the uninformed. Perhaps my opinion would change if the propositions were presented in a way to clarify to people the choice it was making rather than worded to get people to vote the way the author wishes.

  126. I thought a bit more about my post @122, and I think I can put it more succinctly:

    If you are a heterosexual person who has had sex outside of marriage at any point in your life, but who now is a supporter of Prop 8 on any grounds, you are a @#$%^ hypocrite. End of story.

    If you had hetero premarital sex, you have violated the exact same set of Judeo-Christian moral/religious laws that gay people violate when they have sex. By supporting Prop 8, you are trying to restrict other people from doing something that you got away with.

    If, on the other hand, you are a religious person who has obeyed all laws of your church at all times, I am impressed by and respectful of your devotion, and cannot condemn you for voting in accordance with church law – even if I’m unhappy that you do.

    Something about a beam and a mote comes to mind…

  127. @sub-odeon – you keep pushing the choice issue. Show us the science behind this contention.

    @Peter Ahlstrom
    “And if you believe that the right to marry is something that stems from God, and you believe that God has loving reasons for all of his commandments, then it is completely consistent for you to believe that not sanctioning same-sex marriage, and canceling same-sex marriages that the law has recognized in error, is an act of love, not hate.

    I know you think I’m misguided, but it’s my honest belief.”

    Fine. But why should the state encode your specific beliefs into law? What if they were being asked to make into law someone else’s beliefs… and those particular beliefs were repugnant to you?

    The short version of this is ‘keep your religion off my laws.’ Note that I’m not anti-religious at all, but I strongly feel that we should not make laws based on religious beliefs. If your church doesn’t want to marry same-sex couples, don’t. But I see no reason to take away that right from civil authorities ESPECIALLY when it IS an existing right.

  128. JohnH: It’s right in there, next to the one that says you can’t wear clothes with mixed fibers, cook an egg on Sunday, and that women will be put in isolation while on their periods.

  129. Oh — we’re talking Leviticus. Gotcha’

    Wait — isn’t that the same place they said burn the witches and stone the adulterers?

  130. Sigh, pity my poor copyeditors. Re: my earlier pair of posts add a couple of commas in here and there at the appropriate places, change affect to effect, and make it other(s).

  131. Well, MY holy scripture says “As a sign that ye be really free ye shall be naked in your rites.” That justifies a law banning the wearing of clothing during religious services, doesn’t it?

    You betcha!

  132. JohnH: Don’t tell me you think that wouldn’t be a spiffy idea? I mean, Leviticus is chock full of sweetness and reason.

    (I think it was college when I finally threw my Bible across the room after reading some passages in Leviticus. It had something to do with women being more unclean for giving birth to a girl child than to a boy child. You had to do twice as much ritual purification for giving birth to a girl.)

  133. I personally know people who dismiss the value of marriage precisely because same-sex couples could not have it, who went about establishing alternative means of declaring their partnerships, and who pursued the legal abolishment of marriage due to its prejudicial status.

    There may be people who oppose marriage now that it’s a more equally available proposition, but I don’t know of any — as many people have noted, my marriage is fine.

    So what I see is that the institution of marriage is directly threatened by people not having equal access, as that leads to other people discarding it or even actively opposing its existence.

    Fortunately, here in MA the anti-marriage movements (both anti-marriage-equality and anti-legal-marriage) have been defanged by marriage equality. Only those people ignorant enough to believe that marriage is a solely religious concept still bang the pseudo-libertarian “give it to the churches to shut them up” drum, which is not merely contemptuous of the religious by trying to throw them a bone to pacify them, but stealing the bone to do it with.

  134. I gave many examples of cases where the courts have been promoting the possibly implied rights of same sex couples and homosexuals over the explicit first amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

    You have not provided any case where anyone, ever, sued (much less successfully sued) a religious organization for refusing to perform a marriage. If it were possible for such a lawsuit to be successful, then why hasn’t any court ever ordered a rabbi to perform an interfaith marriage? Why hasn’t any court ever ordered a Catholic priest to wed divorced persons? (Hint: It’s not because the courts love homosexuals and hate Catholics and Jews.)

    Your link, by the way, is hardly a thoughtful review of the relevant case law; it’s essentially an op-ed written by the Seventh Day Adventist Church that pretends if churches ever have to follow secular law instead of using the First Amendment as the ultimate trump card over everything, then they WILL have to marry same-sex couples. This is a lie. As I requested, please name me a single case where a court has ordered a religious group to perform a marriage in violation of that religious groups’ tenets.

  135. PixelFish: I particularly like the first few chapters of Leviticus, or what they should call Cooking with God: How to REALLY Impress Your Lord and Master!

    Learn such valuable tips as — when giving a meat offering, be sure to dredge it in flour and do a light saute on it. Not too much — you don’t want God to get acid reflux…

  136. origamikaren: The Boy Scouts cases that you cite strike me as a balanced application of freedom of association.

    The BSA has the right to choose who they do and do not associate with, and so do organizations that choose not to associate with them. That includes governments of all levels that have nondiscrimination policies.

    Just as the BSA can choose to not charter a troop sponsored by the Extremely Gay Atheist Society, the EGAS can say “no camping in our nature reserve except by groups that meet our nondiscrimination policy”.

    Complaining that the BSA can’t force others to associate with them after the BSA went to court to avoid forced association is intellectually dishonest at best.

  137. if you’re not going to read the links I posted which show the specific constitutional freedoms that are already being threatened and destroyed, then I’m sorry, I can’t satisfy you.

    Karen, I read those links. For the record, I grew up in the Adventist church and I’m very familiar with the culture and the mindset, which often includes a great deal of very circular reasoning. Even so, the info on the links you provided is SO circular I found myself getting dizzy.

    For example, it claims same-sex marriage puts limits on your religious freedom because one of the reason gay people seek to be married is to thumb their noses at those who want to protect traditional marriage. If your definition of “protecting traditional marriage” means prohibiting gay people from marrying, well, yeah–they kind of HAVE to thwart you. But it’s probably nothing personal. You may want to consider the possibility that their marriage is about THEM, not YOU.

    This concern about the limitations of your religious freedom is followed by a long list of other freedoms that MIGHT SOMEDAY be limited in the same (dubious) fashion if gays are allowed to marry. This is a spurious, illogical, domino-theory scare tactic.

    The material you cited also contends that your 1st Ammendment rights are threatened by same-sex marriage. The reasoning? If you speak out against SSM, some people might think you are bigoted and intolerant, and that’s intolerant of them. Well . . . okay. But the 1st Ammendment does not guarantee that people will AGREE with you, nor does it guarantee that society will be molded to suit your beliefs. The right to disagree and dissent is implicit. That right goes both ways.

    Consider this admittedly extreme example: Many people disagree with white supremacists and really don’t want to hear what they have to say. You could argue that this is a form of intolerance. I heartily disagree with the KKK’s views, but I support their right to believe as they wish, to assemble lawfully, and to express their opinions to those who want to listen. But I do NOT believe it necessary to limit the rights of blacks, Jews, Catholics, and others who offend Klan values in order to protect the KKK’s freedom of expression.

    My purpose is not to offend, but to emphasize a point: An opinion voiced is not a wish granted. The right to believe what you wish and express those beliefs is not altered by SSM. The shift to a more tolerant and inclusive society may influence how those beliefs are perceived, but your basic rights have not changed.

    Likewise, your religious freedom is not compromised by SSM. The existence of gay marrious does not force you to eat bacon and work on the Sabbath. You are still able to attend church every Saturday, send your child to Adventist schools, and believe in a literal and eminent Second Coming.

    SSM is like Sunday observance, in that it’s a choice with which you disagree. You may believe Saturday is the biblical day of worship, but do you really want to push fpr legislation that would force Saturday observance on others? From your world view–one I know very well–that’s a dangerous path to tread.

    One of the traditional tenants of Adventism is a firm belief in the separation of church and state and the protection of individual rights. Because like the old saying goes, what goes around comes around. That’s why I have enormous respect for the Adventists Against Proposition 8. A conservative religious group that will, on principal, support the rights of people WITH WHOM THEY DISAGREE gives me a modicum of hope for human nature.

  138. I want to explain why the pro-prop-8 people make me a little crazy.

    A member of my family is now married. She and her (female) partner have two kids together, now 12 and 15. When they committed to spend their lives together, they had to go through all sorts of legal rigamarole, thousands of dollars worth, but it’s not a patch on what getting married got them.

    So now the Prop 8 people, who claim they’re about protecting children and marriage and puppies and apple pie, want to legally break up a family with children. They want to strip the kids of legal protections that every other kid gets as a matter of course. And for why? Why do they want to mess with my family? According to Peter Ahlstrom, it’s out of love.

    If Peter–or anybody–has had such a sad, warped life that they could mistake that for love, they will have my pity. Once I cool down, anyhow. Gah.

  139. origamikarenon 30 Oct 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I have friends who moved from Canada where SSM is legal because the general atmosphere of amorality was making it hard for them to raise their kids there.

    I remember it like it was yesterday: I was a straight man here in the province of Ontario, and as soon as SSM was legalized I ran out in the street and tossed the salad of any man who happened to walk by. Afterward, I went and sold heroin to grade-schoolers (maybe your friends’ kids got an overly-cut sample), and to round off the night I set fire to cars. The scary thing is that everybody down my street was doing the same thing. Those were the days, and I’m not going to tell you what we did the day after because it’d curl your hair.

    Honestly. You and/or your friends are either lying or deeply, deeply silly people, and those aren’t mutually exclusive propositions.

    Your “argument”: SSM devalues marriage as an institution because it just does.

  140. In a complete aside, I will note that all the biblical prohibitions against homosexuals are very specifically aimed at male homosexuals. So I’m assuming that all the Prop. 8 proponents who are basing their arguments on biblical morality are arguing for the dissolution of only those nasty man-on-man marriages, and are just fine with the lesbian ones?

  141. origamikaren-
    my marriage is about my lover and I wanting to spend the rest of our lives together and affirming that commitment through ceremony and the law. It is also about building a life together that will be protected and recognized. To say that someone else wanting to marry the person they love and enjoy the same benefits as I do somehow undermines our choice? It’s insulting. It implies that, among other things, my marriage is somehow weak at its core, that it is entirely subject to the decisions of others. I believe that the only things that can threaten my marriage are things that would probably originate inside the marriage, not from entirely unrelated external sources.
    However, I’ll be sure to ask my mother why she wants to undermine her children so badly by wishing for the same legal rights as we all enjoy (and to marry a female Episcopal priest, no less, *gasp*). I’m sure her answer will be enlightening (I can see her confused head shake now.)

  142. Those of us in the libertarian wing of the GOP are frustrated with the party’s position on this issue. Most Americans (including most Republicans) don’t care one way or another about gay marriage. I happen to be straight and single, and if two men (or two women) get married, it doesn’t affect my life one or the other. An Obama administration will almost certainly raise my taxes; but gay marriage probably won’t.

    From the perspective of the party, all this has done is drive about 95% of homosexuals into the Democratic fold, making them yet one more group that the Republican far right has alienated.

    This is a shame, since gays do not benefit from the quasi-socialist policies of the Democratic Party anymore than straight people do. This proves yet again that the Religious Right is a faction that needs to be driven from the GOP.

    It is worth pointing out that the GOP’s evangelical wing (I’m not talking here about garden-variety church-going people, but the Religious Right) were originally Southern Democrats. This group, otherwise known as the Dixiecrats, fled to the Republican Party after Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

    Barry Goldwater, in fact, once referred to the Religious Right folks as “kooks.” This is sign of how far the GOP has fallen in recent decades.

  143. Al 147: Xopher, but yours was written by an English woman 60 years ago so it isn’t as good!

    OML you’re right! Better go with something older:

    Inanna was praising her parts [thusly]:
    “My crescent-shaped Barge of Heaven, so well belayed!*
    “My fertile fields, well-watered!
    “My hillock lands, well-watered!”

    And the people praised Dumuzi:
    “Oh, the King’s loins!
    “At their mighty rising, the vines rise up!
    “At the rising of the King’s loins, the fields rise up!
    “At the mighty rising of the King’s loins, all the desert fills with green, like unto a living garden!”

    Let’s make sure all children learn that! (I’m kidding, but the text above (which I’ve paraphrased from a translation, in true Biblical “scholarship” fashion) is several thousand years older than any written text of the Bible.)

    *’Belayed’ means just what it means in sailing: wrapped around a peg.

  144. Btw, I’m giving origamikaren 24 hours to answer my question at 131 before I proclaim her pernicious and vacuous. I figure she was busy last night submitting to her husband, and making sure her kitchen obeys all the laws of Leviticus.

    I really can’t wait to hear her answer.

  145. DG 159: I, of course, beg to differ. But you’re speaking of straight guys, and we all know all the Religious Right are straight guys, or their slaves.

  146. In reading the exchange between Xopher and Origamikaren:

    One problem in the whole same-sex marriage debate is that “marriage” is both a legal construct as well as a religious one. For example, I was raised Catholic, and we were taught that marriage is a sacred sacrament of the church.

    On the other hand, when you get married in a church, the state automatically confers on you a legal set of rights…which look a lot like what might be called a “civil union.”

    To resolve this debate, we need to separate out the religious aspects of marriage from the legal ones. The religious aspects of marriage are defined by the doctrines of the church in question. I would *not* force any church to marry same-sex couples against their will. (But I don’t think that this is the goal of same-sex marriage advocates, anyway.)

    On the other hand, the “civil union” aspects of what we commonly call “marriage” (hospital visitation rights, joint income tax filing) seem to be what same-sex marriage advocates are really after. For the purpose of public debate, it might make more sense to define this set of rights as a “civil union”–since “marriage” has religious connotations for many people. This would remove theology from the argument.

    I suspect that what many average citizens fear is not the prospect of same-sex couples having legal rights—but the idea of two men being married in their church. If the debate were redefined as a push for “civil unions”, it seems that this would encourage the “live-and-let-live” majority in our society to enact some sort of equitable legal framework for same-sex couples.

    In short, I think that we are getting hung up unnecessarily on the word “marriage” when this whole debate is really about civil unions.

  147. In short, I think that we are getting hung up unnecessarily on the word “marriage” when this whole debate is really about civil unions.

    I think, though, that using the word ‘marriage’ is not an inconsequential part of the discussion. It betokens the acceptance of LGBT as full citizens in the American polity.

    Would interracial “civil unions” have been acceptable to civil rights campaigners in the 1950s and 60s? I don’t think so.

  148. Edward 164: With respect, Edward, I disagree. Civil Union laws are failing to achieve legal equality in New Jersey as we speak. Insurance companies are refusing to treat the Civil-Unioned spouses of employees they insure as spouses; they’re being sued, but it’s not clear they’ll lose, because the policy says “spouse,” and they can argue that a Civil Union doesn’t make someone a spouse.

    Even if the couples involved win, it’s hardly equality under the law if you have sue every damn time. Poor people who can’t afford lawyers need these rights MORE, and they can’t sue.

    And think of all those hotels who have “Married Couple” weekend specials. You show up, they take one look at you and say “No, you’re not entitled to it because you’re not really married.” Of course, some might do that even with marriage equality, but they wouldn’t believe the law was on their side. Don’t underestimate the power of that.

    Also, what David said.

  149. Oh, and if the state stops issuing “Marriage Licenses” to anyone, I’ll believe that equality is even INTENDED.

    I’m saying this from New Jersey, which may become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through legislation, because the ledge is seeing what the Civil Union laws fail to achieve.

  150. Edward – that’s already been done. You can have a perfectly legal marriage without ever looking at a church, much less getting married in one. And if you undergo all the correct rituals but don’t fill out the State of California’s paperwork, only the church considers you married.

  151. Sub Odeon @ 52 – The only reason I get my dander up on these issues in public at all, is because I resent the idea that just because you are philosophically or religiously inclined to see homosexual activity as a sin, that somehow you become a moral cretin.

    I don’t care what rules your church has to say about Yaweh damning people for how they love. No one really does who’s not a member.

  152. Odean@11: The bottom line is that religious conservatives will not ever view homosexuality in the same light as race, precisely because homosexuality (and its proscription) is a matter of moral interpretation, based on a physical action that tales place between people.

    Let’s talk about bigotry for a moment, cause not all religious conservatives are bigots, but what you’re really talking about is bigotry, not religious conservativism.

    A lot of bigots don’t think they are bigots per se. They think they’re doing what is “right” for this reason or that reason. They don’t see themselves as bigots. They see themselves as good people. But what is bigotry other than holding some minor fact (or sometimes a complete lie) as more important than a major truth?

    What is bigotry towards homosexuals other than taking some minor fact like “homosexuality is based on physical action, race is something you are” and holding it as more important than a larger truth like “all men are created equal”?

    Saying “bigots will never view homosexuality the same as race” is doing nothing more than buying into the bigotted view that ranks the smaller fact as more important than the larger truth. As long as a bigot holds that fact as more important than the larger truth of human equality, then yeah, they will never view them the same. But you’ve just gone tautological.

    Because bigots view homosexuality as different than race they use that to subvert human equality. and as long as they believe that, they will always be a bigot.

    If there is going to be anything that changes a bigot, it will be that they see some larger truth that dislodges the smaller fact. They see the real human cost of their bigotry on a grand scale, perhaps. Or they see the real cost of their bigotry as it affects one other human being on a personal level.

    Which basically comes back to John’s point. Most people who vote for a bigotted law think they’re doing the right thing. And if you know anyone who’s voting on this proposition, talk to them and try to bring them to a greater truth like human equality.

  153. The only reason I get my dander up on these issues in public at all, is because I resent the idea that just because you are philosophically or religiously inclined to see homosexual activity as a sin, that somehow you become a moral cretin.

    You don’t become a moral cretin for seeing homosexuality as a sin. You become one for trying to use the legislative hammer to deny rights to homosexuals which you claim for yourself.

  154. I posted the following in my LJ/blog. I live in Indiana, but Proposition 8 terrifies me.

    Copy this sentence into your blog if you’re in a heterosexual marriage, and you don’t want it “protected” by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

    Copy this sentence into your blog if you want to be in a heterosexual marriage, and you don’t want it “protected” by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

    Copy this sentence into your blog if you’re a heterosexual and don’t ever want to marry, and you don’t think gay marriage will hurt the rights of your heterosexual married/coupled friends.

    Copy this sentence into your blog if you want California to vote NO on Proposition 8, and be a good human being. Be an open-minded, loving, and reasonable person who sees marriage as a legal bond between two people (who hopefully love each other), no matter what the gender(s) involved are.

  155. origamikaren@127: the general atmosphere of amorality was making it hard for them to raise their kids there.

    Like the time that Gay Man knocked you down at an ATM and carved a “G” on your forehead.

  156. Greg London @174:

    Backward! Remember to get it right!!

    Though I have to say, her little rant nearly broke this Canadian’s polite and friendly attitude. I assume it must have been our godless and immoral socialized medicine that offended her friend… =)

    Or the fact that we value competence in our politicians over religious belief… (Interesting tidbit: I haven’t heard mention of god and religion in Canadian political speeches until recently – and it’s our Conservative party that’s doing it…)

  157. re “judicial activism”

    as previously noted – I only hear this complaint when someone doesn’t agree with the decision. the blance of powers (checks and balances) that are spelled out in the US constitution are pretty clear cut (8th grade civics class)

    legislators can pass any law they want – but
    executive can veto the law – pretty much for any reason – but
    legislators can ovveride the veto – but
    courts can rule law unconstitutional -but
    legislators / people can amend the constitution

    system was put in place to LIMIT the powers of the government (and by extention the powers of the Majority) and protect the rights of the minority/individual

    all of the comments (above) about “the will of the poeple” and activist judges legislating from the bench counter to what the majority of Americans belive etc are BS

    THAT is what the are supposed to do- protect the minority/individual FROM the “will” of the people/majority

  158. Edward @164:

    I am absolutely and categorically opposed to the lie that religion owns the term “marriage” and the law does not.

    For bonus fun points, I consider it a violation of the Establishment Clause, establishing that only those followers of a particular number of religions shall be “married”, and the rest of us poor schlubs who aren’t so unlucky as to have gods weird enough to care about our marriages are SOL.

    My religion does not have sacramental marriage. I consider marriage a social and legal contract. Abolishing the legal contract and handing the whole thing off to the assholes is precisely what I was referring to when I said “throwing them a stolen bone”.

    Here in MA, marriage has not been legally framed as religious since those godless atheist liberals (the Puritans, y’know) set up the laws. They were kinda creeped out by the concept of sullying their god with something so worldly, y’know.

  159. Well, it’s been over 24 hours since I asked origamikaren to explain how same-sex marriage weakens the institution of marriage, and she has not responded. To be fair, she hasn’t been back here at all since I pointed out that I asked her very civilly to explain, so it’s only provisionally that I hereby proclaim her pernicious and vacuous.

    This proclamation may be rescinded should she return and explain herself. Proclaimer will be astonished if she comes up with anything that doesn’t boil down to the onion tautology. Void where prohibited. Contents may have shifted in transit. Do not bounce Happy Fun Ball.

  160. The problem, as I see it, is that people are confusing the religious rite of Holy Matrimony with the legal contract of civil marriage. They are very, very different things with disparate histories and social meanings.

    Just because most people sign the contract with the state at the same time that they pledge the faith of their union to the deity of their choice doesn’t make those two things into the same.

    Same-sex couples already have the right to have their unions blessed by the clergy of many different denominations. They’re not seeking to force churches to confer that sacrament on them any more than gentiles are seeking a full Bris when they circumcise their sons.

    They are only seeking access to the contract so that they are bound, legally and financially, to each other for purposes of inheritance, power of attorney, the right to not testify against one’s spouse and 1500 or so other automatic rights and privileges granted to opposite-sex couples when they file that contract with the state.

    A few other points (apologies for length; I’m consolidating multiple posts):

    1. Religious arguments against same-sex civil marriage contracts are invalid on their face because we do not allow religious law to be made into civil law. A law must have a legitimate secular purpose to be Constitutionally valid here.

    Unless people want to start making laws banning shaving and the eating of pork and shellfish, enshrining $deity’s law as earthly law is a bad idea. We are a widely pluralist nation, and even Christians vary on doctrine. We’d never survive if we started playing My Deity’s Rules Apply to Nonbelievers.

    -Religion is not, in any way, damaged by the behavior of non-believers. If it were, Catholicism would’ve died out as soon as Luther got his panties in a bunch, or certainly as soon as soon as Elizabeth I started getting feisty.

    -Just as freedom of speech does not come with the right to a soapbox and a cheering section, freedom of religion does not come with a right to impose your religion on non-believers.

    2. Secular arguments against same-sex marriage are entirely predicated on conjecture or bad science (which, to be frank, actually is conjecture, too.)

    -There is nothing inherently unnatural about same-sex coupling, as it happens frequently in non-human animals, and may even serve an evolutionary purpose, in having non-procreating members of a tribe available to care for orphaned offspring.

    -Nations and states with same-sex marriage have seen no objective decline in the overall quality of life, and in fact usually tend to score the highest on such measures.

    -The legal contract of marriage has little to do with children (parenting rights and responsibilities are covered by other laws.) It’s instead primarily about mutual financial and legal obligation between adult parties. That same-sex couples cannot produce children formed with their zygotes (yet; science is working on that) is therefore irrelevant, just as the same argument is irrelevant for infertile opposite-sex couples.

    3. “Judicial activism” is a ridiculous argument in this case. What is happening here is EXACTLY how it should be happening in our legislative process.

    -The people (either directly or through their representatives) pass a law; the courts then review that law to see if it violates the state or U.S. Constitutions. If it does, the law is invalidated. The people are then free to attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for their law.

    -The equal protection clause means that any right or privilege granted to one person must necessarily be granted for all, and cannot be denied based on inherent traits unless it can be proven that those inherent traits are incompatible with that right or privilege (see: Driver’s licenses for 10-year-olds or the blind.) As there is no incompatibility with being gay and the contract of civil marriage, then there’s no constitutionally valid reason to deny that contract to gay people.

    -Our Constitution was set up the way it was precisely to avoid whims of popular opinion conspiring to deny basic rights to a minority. We do not have a direct democracy here, and that is by design. It is also why we’ve survived much longer than countries that have tried direct democracy. Mere majority rule simply cannot override the rights retained by the people. If a majority of people in, say, Texas vote to pass a law enslaving everyone who’s last name ends in a vowel, that law could never be legally valid because it violates the Constitutional rights of people whose last names end in vowels.

  161. #176 Yes, exactly. The whining about judicial activism makes me so, so tired. If the courts were meant to defer to the legislature and executive on their every decision, we wouldn’t have judicial review at all and the Supreme Court would be a fairly toothless branch. It is the court’s job to “say what the law is”- Marbury v. Madison. That’s been established for oh, just 200 years or so.

    Beyond that, our system of government was specifically set up to protect minority rights from what Madison called the “tyranny of majority factions”.

    Once upon a time racial segregation laws enjoyed up to 70% voter support. Is Brown v. Board of Education now supposed to be a dark day of “judicial activism” because it went against the all mighty will of those voters?

    I think not.

  162. Ah, the choice thing. I’m bi, have been as long as I can remember — almost 50 years now. So, for me, it is a choice. But it never felt that way to me — I never understood why I should have to choose. I married a man, 20 years ago. To our sadness, it didn’t last. Now, I’d like the marry a woman. I don’t see a lot of difference, and I wish other people didn’t dwell so much on the difference, either.

  163. Unless people want to start making laws banning shaving and the eating of pork and shellfish

    You know, the people who actually follow those rules about not eating pork and shellfish seem curiously uninterested in having the secular authorities enforce such laws. Same with their religious prohibitions on interfaith marriages. Why are the Prop 8 nutbars so obsessed with the state exactly mapping their faith?

  164. There was a point at which I might have thought the same thing as Scalzi about this, that most of the people voting “Yes” are actually kind people who think they are doing something good.

    Then I saw all the people on the corners in my neighborhood, covering the corners, two huge intersections, holding signs that say “Prop 8 = Religious Freedom”, and a bunch of cars are honking at them, and I realize that, no, they are a bunch of liars, as well as being bigots, and the soft-minded are willing to follow them into Hell.

    So, I say fuck ‘em. They are like Betty White in “Lake Placid”, chumming the waters with bloody meat while being disarmingly old and crotchety. I no longer believe for a second that they are kindhearted folks swayed by a love of God and a misguided moral compass. They are either hateful, bigoted, lying sacks of shit, or so weak-willed they would vote for anything they were told to if someone put “God said so” next to it. I refuse to be nice to them any longer. (And I wasn’t very nice to them to begin with.)

  165. mythago 183: You know, the people who actually follow those rules about not eating pork and shellfish seem curiously uninterested in having the secular authorities enforce such laws.

    It’s partly because they realize that those laws are for Jews, and that Jews are G-d’s Chosen People, and to choose yourself to be one is bordering on blasphemous. They allow conversion for marriage, but they don’t go out telling people they should be Jews.

    There’s no justification for trying to impose the rules of Leviticus on non-Jews, in fact some of those rules were designed to set the Jews apart from other people! (For example, the lamb seethed in its mother’s milk was apparently a common feast dish of some nearby peoples.)

    And JC said (somewhere) that if you don’t follow every bit of the Law yourself, you have no right to condemn your neighbor for violating any of it. That means that people who support Prop 8 and claim religious grounds for doing so are either ignorant fucks or malicious hypocrites, and ridicule is the right treatment for them either way.

  166. I went through an intersection yesterday with a bunch of Yes-on-8 demonstrators. No honking, and they weren’t yelling as far as I could tell. I gave them a thumbs-down sign all the way through. I respect their right to be bigots and fools, but I don’t want them trying to shove their beliefs on the rest of us.

    Side note: I was reading a wire story about a state attorney general race – UT or AZ – where they spent a lot of time arguing about polygamy. Apparently the big worry for the LDS church is that same-sex marriage will somehow lead to legal polygamy.

  167. It’s partly because they realize that those laws are for Jews

    Yet they don’t insist that the secular authorities make Jews toe the line, or break up interfaith marriage (which, Judaically speaking, are not valid marriages at all).

    You also don’t see the Yes on 8 folks insisting that the government declare that any couple’s marriage is invalid if their chosen religion says it isn’t.

    It’s almost like they hate queers and hope they can ride bigotry into some kind of power trip, and know they can’t get away with turning that on straight people.

  168. Well, of course. I haven’t seen Orthodox Jews among the Yes on 8 crowd; if you have, that would be news to me, and contrary to my point, which is that the people who actually follow the rules (Orthodox Jews) know that they’re just for Jews and don’t think the government should be imposing them on everyone.

  169. PJ Evans @ 186 “Apparently the big worry for the LDS church is that same-sex marriage will somehow lead to legal polygamy.”

    Wait … what?

    Correct me if I’m wrong here – isn’t the LDS church the ones who ENGAGE in polygamy?

  170. Actually, no, Corby. The LDS Church had to repudiate polygamy as a condition of Utah’s statehood. Don’t confuse them with the FLDS, which has re-embraced it. The CJCLDS is royally embarrassed by the existence of the FLDS, who are a wacko cult that exists so that old men can have sex with* young girls and pretend they’re justified by God.

    Say what you will about the LDS, they’re not quite THAT deranged. They ARE deranged enough to think that same-sex marriage will lead to legal polygamy—I’d be curious to learn what their logic might be, if any.

    *well, rape, really

  171. The LDS Church had to repudiate polygamy as a condition of Utah’s statehood.

    http://www.lds-mormon.com/mormon_polygamy1.shtml

    You make it sound easy. They fought it tooth and nail, and finally “compromised” by SUSPENDING, not stopping the practice.

    And they wouldn’t have even done that were it not for the Feds.

    Seems pretty hypocritical to me to stop one group for doing something “unpopular” by creating a law which stopped THEM from doing something “unpopular”. They essentially said that the law does not apply if God said it, so why should they care if a law exists to stop something they don’t like? Maybe its just the biggest case of Sour Grapes in history.

  172. Or maybe they’re just bigoted assholes like their founder, who laced the Book of Mormon with nasty bad people who were cursed with dark skin for their crimes…thus justifying the Mormons in despising their descendants.

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