Time to frame Gay Marriage as ‘Pro-Family’


2:12 pm - December 10th 2012

by Robert Sharp    


      Share on Tumblr

It’s encouraging to see that a group of Tories have formed a campaign group in support of gay marriage. Let us hope it hastens the day when the Government put the necessary legislation in place.

At the end of 2012, I assume the Liberal Conspiracy website is not best place to make arguments for gay marriage. There is a sense of preaching to the converted. Far better that the core case is made on places like Conservative Home.

But Christmas is coming, which is the perfect opportunity for us all to debate the issue with relatives or friends who may not yet be persuaded.

Over the turkey, then, you may hear a version of the tiresome talking point trotted out by Peter Bone MP over the weekend: Marriage has been defined as “between one man and one woman” for hundreds of years.

This really seems to be all the opponents of gay marriage have left – a feeble call-back to historical precedent and utterly discredited religious authority. They fail to follow up with a persuasive “and this is a good thing because…” Any arguments for why exclusively heterosexual marriage might better than extending the marriage ‘franchise’ fail in the 21st Century (for example, no-one these days seriously suggests that marriage is primarily about procreation).

Second, many people try to hide behind religious reasons for their opposition. “It is Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve!” Yawn. To that soundbite, it is worth pointing out that in the Garden of Eden story, the very first thing that God says about His creation, is that man should not be alone (Gen. 2-18).

By contrast, the position of the Christian churches currently requires gay people to be alone. It is a pro-loneliness, anti-Genesis position.

The prefixes “pro” and “anti” remind me of the ongoing political arguments over abortion, where the battle is over language as well as facts and values. The campaign for gay marriage needs to be similarly mindful of language.

For example, the Coalition for Marriage uses the language of preservation, where in fact their policies suppress the possible number of people who can get married.

The opposition to gay marriage is anti-marriage and anti-family, and should be framed as such.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Religion ,Sex equality

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Northern Worker

Robert, I can’t see any case for gay marriage in your piece.

I think the first point I would make is that none of our representatives in Parliament included this proposal in their manifestoes and so thus the proposal has no legitimacy. Not that MPs have ever bothered in the past!

My second point is that gay marriage is a distraction from far more important problems facing the UK. Or perhaps that’s Cameron’s intention?

I guess the upside of Mr Cameron pushing this through is that it will devastate the Conservative party and virtually guarantee the election of Labour in 2015.

2. Chaise Guevara

“no-one these days seriously suggests that marriage is primarily about procreation”

They do when they’re scrabbling for reasons to oppose gay marriage.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ Northern Worker

“Robert, I can’t see any case for gay marriage in your piece.”

Surely equal rights should be the default, requiring arguments to deviate from it?

“I think the first point I would make is that none of our representatives in Parliament included this proposal in their manifestoes and so thus the proposal has no legitimacy. Not that MPs have ever bothered in the past!”

It does have legitimacy, based on our democratic system. Parties aren’t restricted to manifesto pledges. Although as this is part of an ongoing debate, I agree that there’s no good reason for them to have missed it out.

“My second point is that gay marriage is a distraction from far more important problems facing the UK. Or perhaps that’s Cameron’s intention?”

Maybe, but that falls on both sides. If it’s such a silly distraction, everyone could just stop opposing it and then it would be done with.

Northern Worker @1: You’re right, there isn’t an argument for gay marriage in the piece. I’m assuming most readers are already persuaded, and so I go straight on to the parallel task, of framing the issue in a way that exposes the shoddy arguments left to the other side.

I recall reading an article/statement years ago, I think published by the Council for Secular Humanism, that was a sort of non-religious-right defence of ‘family values’. It started with a recognition of families as ‘the fundamental unit of society’ (or something like that) but went on to refute the restrictive ‘traditional’ model of families as consisting of married man + woman + kids, instead defining families in a way that included gay couples with or without children, single parents, etc. I’m damned if I can find it now, but I remember thinking it was very good precisely because it made a pro-family case for a liberal position.

My second point is that gay marriage is a distraction from far more important problems facing the UK. Or perhaps that’s Cameron’s intention?

I guess the upside of Mr Cameron pushing this through is that it will devastate the Conservative party and virtually guarantee the election of Labour in 2015.

Well it is largely the only feel-good policy the coalition is running with at the moment, now that the Jubilee and the Olympics have fucked off, and I can’t really see anti-gay marriage conservatives going AWOL over this one policy, not when his gang is giving them all the scrounger bashing they could ever want and more. Once Universal credit kicks in next year they’ll have more homeless in the streets to spit at than they’ll have spit! What more do they want?

7. Northern Worker

Emm various responses there. And Robert thanks for clarifying.

Chaise probably summarises what I’ve heard about the argument for gay marriage – equality. Is that about it? If so, playing devil’s advocate here, does that mean men and women should be allowed civil partnerships, or are they already? Dunno.

Cylux. I have the misfortune of knowing quite few Tory activists. They are not impressed; they are incandescent. It’s definitely a deal-breaker, which will send them off to UKIP. This and the rest of the omnishambles will see Cameron as a one-term PM – with a bit of luck.

@ Northern Worker

“I think the first point I would make is that none of our representatives in Parliament included this proposal in their manifestoes and so thus the proposal has no legitimacy.”

Not so very long ago, laws prohibiting interracial marriage enjoyed overwhelming popular support in certain US states. Those laws were overturned without any electoral mandate being sought or claimed. That’s how it has to work in a democracy that seeks to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority; even if 90% of voters oppose interracial marriage, or gay marriage, or the abolition of slavery, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. These aren’t the sort of issues that should be decided on by a show of hands.

Betty Bowers explains the Biblical position on marriage pretty well here.

you may hear a version of the tiresome talking point trotted out by Peter Bone MP over the weekend: Marriage has been defined as “between one man and one woman” for hundreds of years

Which is utterly wrong; the definition of who can get married to whom differs throughout the world. It isn’t even consistent within the UK because the definition in Scotland is different from England.

@7

does that mean men and women should be allowed civil partnerships,

I fail to see why not. Plus it’s not that original a question either – http://blogs.findlaw.co.uk/solicitor/2010/06/straight-couple-denied-civil-partnership-launch-echr-appeal.html

I’ve stopped trying too hard on LC as there isn’t much point making the opposing view usually. I’ll just say though that I disagree entirely with the way the OP is suggesting this thing needs to be spun.
Basically I hate spinning, and am not too impressed with the need for gay marriage. Civil partnerships were close enough I thought, and it messes with that large section of the population who don’t agree also.
Now maybe people think there’s a need for a culture war and that ”Daily Mail” section of society need to be attacked on all sides. If you think that, then good luck, but I find it all quite boring really.

It was my first day in Cairo today and I took the metro for the first time. It was strange to see how they have the carriages segregated by gender here.
Now there’s a place where some issues of real equality and inequality need to be addressed – not fake ones like this celebrity sponsored gay marriage carry on.

In my opinion that is.

“But Christmas is coming, which is the perfect opportunity for us all to debate the issue with relatives or friends who may not yet be persuaded.”

Oh, so as I’m sitting round the table making small-talk, I can look forward to the prospect of suddenly being treated with an impromptu lecture on gay rights. Oh joy.

Still, if you’re going to go around trying to convince people, perhaps you could first write a letter to the government asking them not to go on about “equal civil marriage”. There’s no distinction between “civil marriage” and “religious marriage” in English law, and trying to pretend otherwise just looks disingenuous.

Another thing you might do is try and learn your opponents’ arguments. For example:

“Over the turkey, then, you may hear a version of the tiresome talking point trotted out by Peter Bone MP over the weekend: Marriage has been defined as “between one man and one woman” for hundreds of years. This really seems to be all the opponents of gay marriage have left – a feeble call-back to historical precedent and utterly discredited religious authority.”

I didn’t see Peter Bone MP saying what you quoted him as saying. Instead he said that “marriage *is* between a man and a woman” — i.e., that marriage as traditionally understood is part of human nature, gay marriage is a creation of positive law, and the government can no more make the two equal than it can make humans and gorillas the same species.

““It is Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve!””

I’ve never actually heard anybody say that except to mock it. Have you? Has anybody reading this site?

“To that soundbite, it is worth pointing out that in the Garden of Eden story, the very first thing that God says about His creation, is that man should not be alone (Gen. 2-18). By contrast, the position of the Christian churches currently requires gay people to be alone. It is a pro-loneliness, anti-Genesis position.”

One could equally say that, since God created Adam a woman, clearly He intends the fundamental family unit to be male-female. Hence gay marriage is a rebellion against our God-given natures, etc., etc. (see point above; also St. Paul, Aristotle, the Catholic Church, et al.).

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 Northern Worker

“Chaise probably summarises what I’ve heard about the argument for gay marriage – equality. Is that about it?”

Yup. Well, that and liberty and empathy.

“If so, playing devil’s advocate here, does that mean men and women should be allowed civil partnerships, or are they already? Dunno.”

No they are not and yes they should be – although if gay marriage becomes legal it might be simple to scrap civil partnerships altogether. Basically there’s no reason to make people’s decisions for them here.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 12

Shorter damon: this topic is really boring but somehow I feel the need to comment on it every time it comes up, and I’m so proud of refusing to justify my beliefs, and oh shit I haven’t used a contrarian buzzword yet, um, uh, CULTURE WAR!

16. Northern Worker

Chaise @14

So, you’re absolutely certain that any legislation can be framed* in terms immune from any ECHR decision to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages? In a CofE Church, Catholic Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or even in a registry office if the registrar objects? If so, I’m fine with the concept of same-sex marriage – even as a guy married to the same lady for 39 years. Admittedly, I haven’t studied the cases for and against, but apart from the possible legal problems, I don’t have any objections.

* Although, thinking about it, if left to Cameron it’ll be a total shambles.

Can someone please explain:

– Does ‘Gay marriage’ assumes sexual activity between the married. Is this right? If so is ‘non-consummation’ still a reason for annulment?

– Isn’t ‘same sex marriage’ the more correct phrase. Does this mean (e.g.) sisters can marry (they cannot currently have a civil partnership) and thus they are discriminated against.

– In the name of equality should not a man and a woman be allowed to have a civil partnership?

Not quite Chaise. The subject is very interesting to me.
Slagging off people who come from the wrong side of the ideological tracks all the time is what I find a bit boring.
Do you see the difference?

And what’s wrong with ”culture war” when that’s quite a reasonable way of describing what it is?
One side of society against the other.

It’s like that idea of ”permanent revolution” from Marxist theory. You never stop, as there is always some other cause or front to be fought (in the good fight).
Maybe I’m getting it wrong, but that’s what it looks like. I can’t forget Owen Jones calling LBC radio presenter Ian Collins a ”knuckle dragging bigot” for not supporting gay marriage but only civil partnerships.
How many on LC would say that was completely out of order? I thought it was shameful of Jones and quite rotten, but then I’m not a true believer.
I reject that way of conducting this aspect of the culture war.

Not sure it will split the Tories. If Gove and Boris are backing this, they obviously don’t see any potential leverage against Cameron.

I think this is a response to what happened in America. Romney looked out of touch on “values” issues and got his arse kicked. I’d also expect to see the right, both sides of the Atlantic, become less hostile to abortion and more friendly to climate change so they can concentrate on their core business of reinforcing the existing structures of power and wealth.

Does ‘Gay marriage’ assumes sexual activity between the married. Is this right? If so is ‘non-consummation’ still a reason for annulment?

Apparently British law makers actually are looking into this bit which led to some amusement with our cousins across the pond. ‘Trust the Brits to make something more complicated than it needs to be’ was pretty much the main message there.

In the name of equality should not a man and a woman be allowed to have a civil partnership?

Peter Tatchell, among others, says yes, and has been campaigning on that issue for the past couple of years too.

Isn’t ‘same sex marriage’ the more correct phrase. Does this mean (e.g.) sisters can marry (they cannot currently have a civil partnership) and thus they are discriminated against.

As for this one, no and no, but if you’d like to have a debate on the subject here’s some guy venturing some arguments you might find interesting.

@20 Cylux

‘Apparently British law makers actually are looking into this bit which led to some amusement with our cousins across the pond.’ Well, as AFAIK this is the law perhaps they should look into it. But hey – the ‘cousins’ think it’s funny.

So ‘same sex marriage’ is not the correct phrase? And what should it be? Why do people who promote equality always only apply this to sexual arrangements?

I support civil partnerships but I’m opposed to gay marriage. My objections are twofold:

1. We are entering a legal labyrinth by allowing gay marriage. For example, how is consummation (and also adultery) to be defined in law when many gays and lesbians don’t practise penetrative sex?

2. The proponents of gay marriage risk needlessly antagonising many Muslims, Christians and small ‘c’ conservatives. Civil partnerships are a workable compromise that gives gays all the legal rights of marriage without upsetting or offending anyone.

@12. damon: “I’ve stopped trying too hard on LC as there isn’t much point making the opposing view usually.”

Why? Just because commentators disagree doesn’t mean that there are no listeners.

“Basically I hate spinning, and am not too impressed with the need for gay marriage.”

Some churches, synagogues and temples wish to celebrate gay marriage. Gay religious marriage would be a permissive law; religious bodies are not compelled to conduct them.

Well, as AFAIK this is the law perhaps they should look into it. But hey – the ‘cousins’ think it’s funny.

The Americans think it funny because they don’t have a similar law, regarding it as an antiquated measure. It might well be a uniquely British problem that needs resolving for same sex marriage. Simplest solution would be to scrap said law.

So ‘same sex marriage’ is not the correct phrase? And what should it be?

The ‘no and no’ referred to “Does this mean (e.g.) sisters can marry (they cannot currently have a civil partnership) and thus they are discriminated against.”
Standard rules regarding siblings marrying would still apply, since by following your own stated logic there should current be no barrier to brothers and sister getting wed, which there clearly is. As for if they’re discriminated against I guessed no since incestuous lobby groups have yet to make any sort of constitutional challenge as gay people already have. Furthermore I suspect that such ‘discrimination’ would be exceptionally hard to prove in the courts, AFAIK there is little evidence to suggest that there are people who are only sexually attracted to members of the same family and only wish to form relationships with them, whereas there is abundant evidence of people only being sexually attracted to members of the same sex.

Why do people who promote equality always only apply this to sexual arrangements?

Well, YOU were the one that brought up consummation, so I’m sure you can figure out the rest yourself…

TONE,

2. The proponents of gay marriage risk needlessly antagonising many Muslims, Christians and small ‘c’ conservatives. Civil partnerships are a workable compromise that gives gays all the legal rights of marriage without upsetting or offending anyone.

Curious why it doesn’t work the other way around: why aren’t we concerned about Muslims, Christians and small ‘c’ conservatives needlessly antagonising gays who want to get married?

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Northern Worker

“So, you’re absolutely certain that any legislation can be framed* in terms immune from any ECHR decision to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages?”

If the CoE want to continue having their weddings officially recognised by the state, they should have to agree to marry gays. If they don’t like that, fair enough – they can do like all the other religions and have the marriage legally confirmed with the state afterwards.

Aside from that, I am not a lawyer. I don’t know whether legalising gay marriage would bring pressure on religious institutions to marry gay people. But, if it does, I’ll be on the same side as you, demanding that religions be left alone to do their own thing. One issue at a time.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 damon

“Slagging off people who come from the wrong side of the ideological tracks all the time is what I find a bit boring.
Do you see the difference?”

I do indeed. So why do you come into every bloody thread on this topic and slag off the opposition? I mean, you do it carefully, so a passing observer might not notice. You don’t call them twats. You just pretend that they bore you, and accuse them of buzzword-related crimes. But as someone who’s read your passive-aggressive, feigned-lack-of-concern bullshit roughly 400 times, it doesn’t wash.

You LIVE off ad homs, Damon, you’re just slightly subtler at it than most internet denizens. So don’t go bitching about ad hom attacks on your friends.

“And what’s wrong with ”culture war” when that’s quite a reasonable way of describing what it is?
One side of society against the other.”

Because it’s always one side being condemned for the damn “war” (you should look up what that term means someday, BTW, you’ll be horrified when you find out about guns and dead bodies and shit). It’s always the side that you don’t like but lack any argument against… oh, sorry, loftily choose not to present your secret and wonderful arguments against.

“It’s like that idea of ”permanent revolution” from Marxist theory.”

Very much so, in that you can selectively apply it to anything. The Tories wanted to cut tax slightly five years ago. NOW THEY WANT TO CUT IT SLIGHTLY MORE!!!!! Permanent revolution, the horror, the horror! I can’t stand how the world keeps turning, I liked things as they were!

Grow up, stop weaving webs of distraction and misdirection, and stick to the topic like all us people you despise.

28. Chaise Guevara

@ 22 TONE

“We are entering a legal labyrinth by allowing gay marriage. For example, how is consummation (and also adultery) to be defined in law when many gays and lesbians don’t practise penetrative sex?”

I’m not aware that adultery is proscribed by law. But I doubt courts would have much trouble working out that, say, a man going down on another man counts as cheating on his husband, if it comes up in a divorce or something. As for consummation, it’s easy enough to expand the definition. This really isn’t a game-changing problem.

“The proponents of gay marriage risk needlessly antagonising many Muslims, Christians and small ‘c’ conservatives.”

You mean some people will be offended by people being allowed to make their own life decisions?? OH NOES!!!! I’ve got a solution to that: ban everything. No wait, that would offend me and my bleeding-heart brethren. Looks like we can’t do anything ever. Someone might turn their nose up, and we can’t have that!

I’m not understanding why they are not taking this great opportunity to also legalise polygamy between consenting adults.

So, you’re absolutely certain that any legislation can be framed* in terms immune from any ECHR decision to force clergy to perform same-sex marriages?

Yes. For one, the ECHR has ruled that states are not obliged to allow gay marriages at all.

For two, the ECHR and HRA as interpreted by both European and British judges have found repeatedly that religious ceremonies (as opposed to secular services provided by religious organisations) are not subject to discrimination law.

So anyone who believes that religious institutions other than the C of E could be forced to perform same-sex marriages is talking completely and utterly out of their arse.

It could just about, tenuously, be argued that the C of E’s status would be considered different (this was the position taken by the C of E’s submission to the equal marriage consultation) because of its state recognition status as mentioned by Chaise above.

This would easily be resolved by the obviously-sensible-anyway step of putting the C of E on the same status as other religious institutions, but is unlikely to arise anyway. The C of E already differs from civil marriage law by refusing to remarry divorcees, and this is not considered discriminatory.

For example, how is consummation (and also adultery) to be defined in law when many gays and lesbians don’t practise penetrative sex?

The case law definition of consummation (“ordinary and complete intercourse”, ie a penis ejaculating inside a vagina) that the more excitable and homophobic elements of the religious press are blethering on about when they make this point is from an 1845 judgement (D v A), which has long been made obsolete by changes to equality and sexual offences legislation.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 lays down detailed definitions of sexual activity. Legally speaking, oral sex is defined as penetrative sex (forcible oral sex is defined as rape). It would be astonishing if a judge were to uphold D v A in a modern context even within current straight marriage. But to forestall even that possibility, then including the SOA2003 definitions in SSM legislation would avoid all doubt.

Does this mean (e.g.) sisters can marry (they cannot currently have a civil partnership) and thus they are discriminated against.

No, obviously they can’t; this doesn’t mean that they are discriminated against, and the point is completely fatuous.

I can’t marry my sister under current law, or indeed any law that’s been in force as long as English jurisprudence has existed; any such wedding would be void whether or not we were to consummate the relationship (we’d be guilty of a separate criminal offence if we did, but that’s not relevant).

Extending marriage to same-sex couples doesn’t change that at all.

I’m not understanding why they are not taking this great opportunity to also legalise polygamy between consenting adults.

I don’t see any particular moral reason not to, but it creates a far more complicated set of issues related to the relationship status of the people involved than is required for SSM. Marriage is defined in law as a binary and equal relationship between the parties; all case law related to marriage assumes this. This all applies directly and uncontroversially to marriage where the partners happen to have matching genitals.

Polygamy would require a legal definition of the rights of each party (can your first husband veto your decision to take a second husband outright? Should taking a second husband without your agreement void your marriage, or count as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ for fast-track divorce? Is there any contractual relationship between your first husband and your second husband, and what obligations if any do they have towards you? How will all of this be treated for taxation, benefits and immigration purposes? Would custody of children be based solely on the biological mother and father or would other spouses have parental rights?).

Those questions could all be answered and resolved in a way consistent with equality and human rights legislation, but it would be a drawn-out process requiring intensive consultation that would take many years to resolve, and there is no reason why this process should delay the introduction of same-sex marriage rights.

Even more importantly, unlike same-sex marriage which is something that large numbers of people are lobbying for and clearly want to do, the concept of legalising polygamy within the context of English and European equality and human rights law is something that nobody – apart from anti-SSM campaigners looking for a strawman – actually has any interest in doing.

“Even more importantly, unlike same-sex marriage which is something that large numbers of people are lobbying for and clearly want to do, the concept of legalising polygamy within the context of English and European equality and human rights law is something that nobody – apart from anti-SSM campaigners looking for a strawman – actually has any interest in doing.”

Innovations are about doing something that no one has done before. Rule out innovations and progress stops. If gay marriage is pro-family, polygamy is even more pro-family. And there are many precedents for polygamy in the Bible.

If you feel so strongly about the right to polygamy, then why don’t you do what queer and queer-friendly activists have done, and spend decades organising, campaigning and lobbying for the process I’ve outlined above to begin? Based on the SSM lobby’s actions and their timeframe, you could probably start to see reasonable results within 20 years or so.

@Bob B – Well when it comes to granting its citizens rights, I can’t really think of too many examples where the state has been overly generous and anticipated a demand and preemptivly granted said rights, rather than there being a big-ass struggle to force their hand.
Obvious points from the past couple of centurys include the liberation and emancipation of women, miscegenation laws being overturned, the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement.

I completely agree with the OP.

NB in the 2010 Conservative manifesto: “we will also consider the case for for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/05/03/conservative-equality-manifesto-promises-to-consider-full-gay-marriage/

“not fake ones like this celebrity sponsored gay marriage carry on.”

Haha – well I’m sure Sir John Major would be delighted to be considered a “celebrity”!

“My second point is that gay marriage is a distraction from far more important problems facing the UK. Or perhaps that’s Cameron’s intention?”

Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? We employ 450,000 civil servants at great expense. I’m sure this issue won’t need a very large number of them to deal with.

no-one these days seriously suggests that marriage is primarily about procreation

Really? I wish someone had told me that before I did it.

So what is it for then?

Because if it is not intended,any longer, to strengthen the tie of the to tie between the father and the child, is it not about time we grew out of it?

37. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 pagar

“Really? I wish someone had told me that before I did it.

So what is it for then?”

There’s this “love” thing. I’m told it’s pretty awesome. Some childless married couples even use protection! Crazy I know.

“Because if it is not intended,any longer, to strengthen the tie of the to tie between the father and the child, is it not about time we grew out of it?”

That’s bizarre. If people want to marry for love, why on earth shouldn’t they?

38. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Bob B

“Innovations are about doing something that no one has done before. Rule out innovations and progress stops.”

So? You’re rather assuming we should innovate for innovation’s sake, regardless of the issues.

If nobody’s pushing for polygamy, then devoting resources to legalising it is simply a waste. And that’s especially true given all the issues that John B rightly points out would need to be resolved – until we have a sizeable group of would-be polygamists, we don’t know what shape the law should be to meet their needs.

ukliberty @ 25:

“Curious why it doesn’t work the other way around: why aren’t we concerned about Muslims, Christians and small ‘c’ conservatives needlessly antagonising gays who want to get married?”

But we are (and I am). Hence the concern about homophobia and homophobic hate crime.

A civil and civilised society requires more than simply laws, but also for mutually antagonistic groups to respect our customs and traditions of tolerance and good manners. The danger with the current proposals for gay marriage is that they nake a significant minority feel their values are threatened – and unnecessarily, too, when civil partnerships give gays all the rights of marriage anyway. If reform were really necessary, it might have been better to have redefined marriage as a religious institution and made veryone else have civil partnerships.

CG @ 28:

“You mean some people will be offended by people being allowed to make their own life decisions?? OH NOES!!!!”

Err…No. The proposed legislation is not about allowing people to make their own life decisions (as they already can with (civil partnerships), but the name to be applied to their life decisions.

johnb @ 30: So how do we determine consummation/adultery in non-penetrative homosexual marriages? It sounds like a nice little earner for m’learned friends.

Chaise,
@27 and 28: a game of two halves there? 27 is beautifully put, but 28 is it a bit harsh isn’t it?

Some (not necessarily intolerant) people have an objection, based on tradition, but this group is surely shrinking. The change will happen, it’s just a question of when.

Ask 100 people what Elton John’s relationship status is and I suspect the great majority would say “married”. The legal definition is likely to be changed in one of two ways:

1) Very soon, with one party or the other taking the credit (and against a background of resentment), or
2) A little later, with the law being passed on a damp Tuesday as a simple tidying-up measure.

I think I’d prefer 2), which is the dog-bites-man option.

Meanwhile, now that “not the marrying kind” no longer works as a euphemism, can we have a replacement?

@36 – If you’re a poor father, a marriage ain’t gonna fix that, similarly, if you have a poor marriage introducing a child into it isn’t going to fix it. You’d be better off seeing a relationship counsellor instead in both instances.

“The danger with the current proposals for gay marriage is that they make a significant minority feel their values are threatened”

So did votes for women, I believe.

Well – diddums, baby. Diddums.

TONE,

A civil and civilised society requires more than simply laws, but also for mutually antagonistic groups to respect our customs and traditions of tolerance and good manners. The danger with the current proposals for gay marriage is that they nake a significant minority feel their values are threatened –

Again, why does it not work the other way around? Why is that significant minority not concerned with the values of the other significant minority?

And what “mutually antagonistic groups”? I’m quite sure gays who want to be married are perfectly fine with straights who want to be married. Why can’t straights who want to be married be perfectly fine with gays who want to be married? I don’t see any gays saying straights shouldn’t be married.

and unnecessarily, too, when civil partnerships give gays all the rights of marriage anyway.

But not the meaning.

@43 well said

The level of respect one accords others’ “values” must surely have something to do with what those values actually are.

The “values” of those who hate homosexuals are not worthy of much respect.

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 39 TONE

“Err…No. The proposed legislation is not about allowing people to make their own life decisions (as they already can with (civil partnerships), but the name to be applied to their life decisions.”

The name is part of the life decision. That’s patently true because there are plenty of people on both sides who consider it more than just book-keeping.

46. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 Jack C

“@27 and 28: a game of two halves there? 27 is beautifully put, but 28 is it a bit harsh isn’t it?”

Really? I thought 27 was harsher, mainly because damon does this all the bloody time.

“Some (not necessarily intolerant) people have an objection, based on tradition, but this group is surely shrinking. The change will happen, it’s just a question of when.”

OK, sure, but that’s not a reason to not bother encouraging it along.

“Ask 100 people what Elton John’s relationship status is and I suspect the great majority would say “married”.”

True dat.

“I think I’d prefer 2), which is the dog-bites-man option.”

I would agree, except I think it would be a good deal later – we’d have to be at a point where nearly everyone saw the distinction as stupid and anachronistic, and that’ll take time.

“Meanwhile, now that “not the marrying kind” no longer works as a euphemism, can we have a replacement?”

Rather too civil to marry?

TONE @ 39:

“Err…No. The proposed legislation is not about allowing people to make their own life decisions (as they already can with (civil partnerships), but the name to be applied to their life decisions.”

It’s not even that — people are quite free to refer to civil partnerships as “gay marriages”, and lots of them do already. The legislation is actually about trying to mould society into holding a particular view about same-sex relationships.

Yes, Mr. X, let’s all aspire to the state of primitive tribes.

50. Chaise Guevara

@ 47 Mr X

“It’s not even that — people are quite free to refer to civil partnerships as “gay marriages”, and lots of them do already. The legislation is actually about trying to mould society into holding a particular view about same-sex relationships.”

Rather fluid standards you have there. It doesn’t count as changing the word because people are free to use the word differently to how it’s defined in law, but it somehow does count as moulding society’s views, because… people aren’t free to use or even think the word differently to how it’s defined in law?

There’s an arbitrary and, for historical reasons, rather insulting difference in how same-sex and mixed-sex unions are presented under law. We wish to see that changed. Simples.

I’m with PJ O’Rourke on this subject, both for practical reasons:

“Only God can make a marriage, and I don’t have his direct dial. I don’t even know it’s a he. Marriage as defined on earth is a civil contract. Why should not any two people of age and in their right mind have the same rights to form any civil contract as any other people do?”

And for naked ideological reasons:

“I’m so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire’s recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they’ll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.”

@Tim J – pretty much on the money there. You think daily mail readers have it in for the fecundity of single mother scroungers? Just wait till you unleash gay conservatism on the world.

Chaise Guevara @27. That’s all far too strong and misses me by quite a ways I think. You’ll see it’s the OP that’s talking of spinning this issue. Over Christmas dinner with the family even. I’m not overly ”slagging off” the people I disagree with on this issue like Owen Jones did of that socially liberal LBC radio presenter. Who he called a ”knuckle dragging bigot” live on the airwaves. Owen Jones has written editorials (or OPs) for this website. How can I show my disagreement with such methods of promoting causes if I can’t just say so? It’s what a talk board forum is supposed to be about isn’t it?

Yes I know ”the other side” is also engaged in some kind of culture war, or political war against the side that LC usually represents. The trick is though IMO, to try to be better than them. I also hate the Daily Mail view of the world, but sinking to their level and being lazy is what disappoints me most, as I hoped that there could be a ”higher way” of making arguments from the left and liberal point of view.
But it seems that there isn’t. Just sides to pick, in the same crude way that George Bush talked about ”you’re either with us or against us”.
It’s a pity that.

The only people I really despise though are when people get sectarian and abusive mostly out of laziness.
That would include (for example) some people over on the Harry’s Place website who have called me a hater of Jewish people because I’ve said some things they didn’t like about Israel. It sucks, but that’s what you get on the internet.
I don’t support gay marriage as it stands now as the people promoting it haven’t put up a good enough case IMO.
That’s all really. And I suspect their motives.

@46
I reckon it will take less time than you think, and that the tipping point is almost in reach.

There will still be some, or plenty, who disapprove of or hate homosexuals and same-sex marriage, but once it becomes a social faux pas to say so the game’s over.

55. Chaise Guevara

@ damon

“You’ll see it’s the OP that’s talking of spinning this issue. Over Christmas dinner with the family even.”

Well, gay marriage is a safe subject over my Christmas dinner because the whole family is on side. Using it as an opportunity to proselytise to people who disagree might be an error, though.

“I’m not overly ”slagging off” the people I disagree with on this issue like Owen Jones did of that socially liberal LBC radio presenter.”

You’re obsessed with Owen Jones. It’s like you think one comment by one person defines an entire political movement. But no, you don’t throw epithets. You just go on about how much better-adjusted you are than everyone who happens to support gay marriage. Which is insulting. I did say you were more subtle about it.

“How can I show my disagreement with such methods of promoting causes if I can’t just say so?”

Who says you can’t?

“The trick is though IMO, to try to be better than them.”

Yes, but you can use “culture war” to include absolutely any political or quasi-political disagreement under the sun. So if you do decide to stop applying it selectively, you’re going to be sitting on a political forum berating anyone who discusses politics.

“But it seems that there isn’t. Just sides to pick, in the same crude way that George Bush talked about ”you’re either with us or against us”.
It’s a pity that.”

THIS is what we need to rise above – you, me, everyone.

“I don’t support gay marriage as it stands now as the people promoting it haven’t put up a good enough case IMO.
That’s all really.”

I’m still at a loss to know why the burden of persuasion is on those who want equality, whereas you’re happy to accept inequality as default.

“And I suspect their motives.”

By all means do that, but dismissing the argument as a result is the genetic fallacy.

56. Chaise Guevara

@ 54 Jack C

“There will still be some, or plenty, who disapprove of or hate homosexuals and same-sex marriage, but once it becomes a social faux pas to say so the game’s over.”

Good point. Hadn’t thought of that.

57. Waterloo Sunset

@ 27

You LIVE off ad homs, Damon, you’re just slightly subtler at it than most internet denizens. So don’t go bitching about ad hom attacks on your friends.

I’d actually respect Damon more if he’d just do a good honest ad hom instead of the passive aggressive whiny stuff.

He reminds me of that snotty kid at school who spent their whole time winding people up, then went running to teacher as soon as anyone retaliated.

Still, it was unreasonable for Owen Jones to call that guy a “knuckle dragging bigot”. Should have just called him a “fuckhead”.

That’s what I’d have done. Everyone should lobby Newsnight to have me on as a guest.

More seriously, the whole CoE stuff is complex. This, along with the whole issue round women priests, shows why disestablishment is necessary. It’s untenable at the moment, when we have a situation where the CoE is both theologically independent and part of the state.

I’m still at a loss to know why the burden of persuasion is on those who want equality, whereas you’re happy to accept inequality as default.

As you frame it like that it’s difficult to have the discussion.
Why should any gay person want to muscle in on hetro marriage might be another way of looking it.
Isn’t it a bit like demanding non gender defined changing rooms or something? There are different. Or it is to enough people. But agree or disagree, why can’t the debate be had without the likes of this?:

”Who Is The Third Labour Anti-Gay Bigot?”
http://hurryupharry.org/2012/12/11/who-is-the-third-labour-anti-gay-bigot/

See Chaise Guevara? It’s not just Owen Jones. It is ”the movement” as you call it.

I’m still at a loss to know why the burden of persuasion is on those who want equality, whereas you’re happy to accept inequality as default.

As you frame it like that it’s difficult to have the discussion.

How else can it be framed? One group wants to deny another group the liberty first group enjoys. Justify it. Go on.

Why should any gay person want to muscle in on hetro marriage might be another way of looking it.

Um, they don’t. Some gays want to get married, they don’t want to stop straights getting married. Some straights want to stop gays getting married. AFAIK no gays want to stop straights getting married.

Waterloo Sunset, so everyone who has reservations about gay marriage is a fuckhead?
That’s the point I’m making actually.
Half the country is calling the other half things like that. That’s what I call a ”culture war”.
And it gets nasty quite easily.

When people start with that, all you can do really is say ”fuck you back” …. and then where are you? Nowhere.
That’s why I really can’t be bothered with it all, and left a two line message saying as much on that Harry’s Place article I just linked to in my last post.

It will only get nasty with people calling you a bigot weeks afterwards on any subject you post on.
Once you go against them on this issue, that’s it.

You’re a 100% bigot.

See Chaise Guevara? It’s not just Owen Jones. It is ”the movement” as you call it.

Bit harsh comparing gay marriage campaigners with Harry’s place.

cjcj @ 49:

“Yes, Mr. X, let’s all aspire to the state of primitive tribes.”

Let’s remember that issues of sexual identity are more open to cultural influence than often supposed, and be sceptical of arguments which rely on the premise that x% of the population will self-identify as gay no matter what.

Chaise @ 50:

“Rather fluid standards you have there. It doesn’t count as changing the word because people are free to use the word differently to how it’s defined in law, but it somehow does count as moulding society’s views, because… people aren’t free to use or even think the word differently to how it’s defined in law?”

Gay people are quite free to say that they’re married at the moment, so contrary to what the government says this isn’t about “the right of gay people to call themselves married”. It’s about changing society to make everybody else call gay people married. And yes, I do think that the legal definition of things such as marriage has an effect on society as a whole, and so do most gay marriage advocates: if it didn’t and the difference was only a technical legal one with no effect on wider society, why bother getting so worked up about it?

“There’s an arbitrary and, for historical reasons, rather insulting difference in how same-sex and mixed-sex unions are presented under law. We wish to see that changed. Simples.”

Heterosex marriage is a part of human nature; same-sex marriage isn’t. That’s not at all arbitrary. In fact, I’d say that imagining the govt. can by legislative fiat change the fundamental building-block of human society to suit the (highly culturally contingent and most likely ephemeral) whims of modern society is far more arbitrary (and for that matter illiberal) than my view.

Damon @ 60:

“You’re a 100% bigot.”

Hah, what a quaint, old-fashioned view. Everybody nowadays knows that the true mark of an open, unprejudiced mind is its ability to ignore the actual arguments your opponents make and dismiss anybody who disagrees with you as being motivated by bigotry and prejudice.

65. Chaise Guevara

@ 58 Chaise

“As you frame it like that it’s difficult to have the discussion.”

So the idea that, all else being equal, equal rights are preferable to unequal ones is troubling for you? How come? Seriously, do you not see equal treatment as a positive?

“Why should any gay person want to muscle in on hetro marriage might be another way of looking it.”

It would, if we were talking about gay people muscling in on hetero marriage. But we’re not, we’re talking about a mostly hetero society muscling in on gay marriage. Show me a gay person trying to muscle in on hetero marriage (for real, not this “OMG your marriage devalues my marriage” bullcrap) and I suspect I’ll disagree with him.

“Isn’t it a bit like demanding non gender defined changing rooms or something?”

No. Not at all. Because Adam and Steve’s marriage doesn’t actually affect you. You’re being deliberately obtuse, another habit of yours.

“See Chaise Guevara? It’s not just Owen Jones. It is ”the movement” as you call it.”

Several points.

1) One guy is not “the movement”. Two guys is not “the movement”. 100 guys is not “the movement”. In fact, here’s a general rule: any selection of comments cherrypicked by you to make the movement look bad is not “the movement”.

You bitch about antis being called bigots and then you turn around and treat pros in exactly the same way.

2) There are always some pillocks. I don’t know why you’re asking me why the debate can’t take place in a perfect world. What do you want me to do, wave a wand and make all the bad stuff vanish? Is my screen name Gandalf?

3) I’m not sure this guy qualifies as a pillock. Deciding that anti-gay-marriage views are held only by bigots is not a stupid or malign conclusion. I do think it’s wrong. I used to hold the same view, but I’ve revised it since, partly after rethinking the religion aspect, and partly from talking to some people on here, including (believe it or not) you.

But it’s an easy error of judgement to make. It’s not a massive, deliberate self-deception, like, say, pretending that allowing gay people to get married is an attack on married straight people, like some people I could name.

Get the damn great two-by-four out thine eye before attending to motes in the eyes of others.

66. Chaise Guevara

@ 63 Mr X

“Gay people are quite free to say that they’re married at the moment, so contrary to what the government says this isn’t about “the right of gay people to call themselves married”.”

Entirely true.

“It’s about changing society to make everybody else call gay people married.”

Entirely false. It’s about gay people being allowed to LEGALLY get married like the rest of us.

“And yes, I do think that the legal definition of things such as marriage has an effect on society as a whole”

So in that case you need to stop acting like there’s no effect on society of not letting gays legally get married. You can’t have it both ways.

“Heterosex marriage is a part of human nature; same-sex marriage isn’t.”

Naturalistic fallacy. Also: wrong! If you’re defining “nature” the way hippies often do, then neither of them are natural, because they’re both social and legal conventions. If you’re defining “nature” to mean “how humans act” then they both are, because they both in fact happen. However you look it at, if straight marriage is part of human nature, then so is gay marriage, albeit a less common part.

Not that any of that matters, because like I say, even if you weren’t wrong, you’d be making a fallacious point.

“In fact, I’d say that imagining the govt. can by legislative fiat change the fundamental building-block of human society to suit the (highly culturally contingent and most likely ephemeral) whims of modern society is far more arbitrary (and for that matter illiberal) than my view.”

The exact nature of marriage changes all the time anyway. Time was men could beat and rape their wives; is the government all nasty and evil for getting rid of those rights? There is no Platonic form of “true marriage”, written on an eternal stone, to be kept to or deviated from. Believe it or not, we have to make our own decisions about what’s right and what’s not. What this comes down to is that you have a personal ideal of marriage and expect everyone else to fall in line, at least to the point of accepting that ideal as default.

And you don’t know what “illiberal” means, so don’t use it.

@64 mrx

The article you linked to is a poor report skewed towards a religious polemic against homosexuality and masturbation. Hardly germane, as you suggested. The interpretation of the Hewlett’s findings has been various, including that in some circumstances homosexual traits may be selected against or suppressed by the greater need to reproduce in situations of high infant mortality. It ain’t so here in Britain, so I’d say it was a straw man.

@63

Heterosex marriage is a part of human nature; same-sex marriage isn’t.

I’ll think you’ll find the crux of the matter is that if heterosexual marriage is a part of human nature, then so is homosexual marriage. Although ‘human nature’ is a very dodgy term of phrase here, human tradition would be more correct, unless you’re attempting to perversely claim that while sexuality is not inherent, getting married heterosexually somehow is.
Fucking and reproducing are certainly human nature on the other hand, though as any underage pregnant teen could tell you, they unfortunately don’t require a marriage to achieve.

@ MrX

Sorry for the follow-up posting. I mean to add that the Aka are undoubtedly not Christian, so by the logic of the article you linked to you might as well blame Christianity for masturbation and homosexuality.

Now, where were we…

Mr X has discovered the lizards’ conspiracy to turn all humans gay so they don’t breed. As humanity dies out, Earth will be weak and ripe for the plucking. The lizards will only need a few thousand humans for breeding slave stock.

@ Chaise

If people want to marry for love, why on earth shouldn’t they?

No reason at all if that is what they want to do, but what is the point?

Is it that they might be more inclined to stay together when they are no longer in love? For the sake of the children?

That’s the traditional argument.

But is such an explanation not now somewhat obsolete?

Or is it to announce the fact of their love for each other to society? But then whose business really is it other than the individuals concerned?

Seems to me the whole concept is something of a hackneyed anachronism and gay marriage suffers from the same illogicality.

Just saying.

Chaise @ 66:

“So in that case you need to stop acting like there’s no effect on society of not letting gays legally get married. You can’t have it both ways.”

I never said that gay marriage would have no effect on society. (If it didn’t, neither I nor most other people would care much about it one way or the other.) I said that gay marriage is about changing society in a certain way, not as is sometimes claimed an entirely private affair which has no effect on anybody else.

“Naturalistic fallacy.”

No, things-with-different-origins-are-different argument. If you can explain why that’s a fallacy, I’d be interested to hear your opinion.

“Also: wrong! If you’re defining “nature” the way hippies often do, then neither of them are natural, because they’re both social and legal conventions. If you’re defining “nature” to mean “how humans act” then they both are, because they both in fact happen. However you look it at, if straight marriage is part of human nature, then so is gay marriage, albeit a less common part.”

I’m defining human nature to mean the inherent behavioural tendencies which exist in us regardless of cultural influences. Pretty much every society we know of has heterosexual marriage, whereas only a few have gay marriage. That’s good prima facie evidence for straight marriage being inherent in the human psyche and gay marriage being culturally conditioned by a particular set of circumstances.

“The exact nature of marriage changes all the time anyway. Time was men could beat and rape their wives; is the government all nasty and evil for getting rid of those rights?”

Standards of modesty change all the time anyway. That doesn’t mean that having a sense of modesty has nothing to do with human nature.

“What this comes down to is that you have a personal ideal of marriage and expect everyone else to fall in line, at least to the point of accepting that ideal as default.”

One could equally say the same about you. So what? Person thinks his definition of something is the right definition shock.

Cherub @ 67:

It’s an example of how modern views of sexuality are more culturally conditioned than a lot of people like to think, and thus supports my nature vs. culture distinction.

Pagar @ 71:

Precisely. If marriage is essentially an expensive way of saying “I love you”, why should the government get involved? Why ought it to care whether or not two people happen to love each other? And why should the couple *want* the government to get involved? Is anybody really so insecure that they need government approval before having a big party to say “I love this person”?

Mr X,

That’s good prima facie evidence for straight marriage being inherent in the human psyche and gay marriage being culturally conditioned by a particular set of circumstances.

Really – babies are born with a natural desire to stand in front of a religious leader and be tied to one member of the opposite sex, are they?

How do you know straight marriage wasn’t / isn’t culturally conditioned? Britain has been ostensibly Christian for many hundreds of years after all.

76. Chaise Guevara

@ 71 pagar

“No reason at all if that is what they want to do, but what is the point?”

Ask them. I’m not being a smartarse, but it’s simply their decision. If they want to, and it makes them happy, more power to them, and no way in hell am I going to make laws to stand in their way.

“Is it that they might be more inclined to stay together when they are no longer in love? For the sake of the children?

That’s the traditional argument.

But is such an explanation not now somewhat obsolete?”

Bordering on fossilised now, but it’s as legit as any other. It’s not obsolete if two people want it. I would go on, but you’re a libertarian and as such I assume you get it. Although I guess you might want it entirely decoupled from the state, which I’d need to think on before forming judgement.

“Or is it to announce the fact of their love for each other to society? But then whose business really is it other than the individuals concerned?”

If the individuals want to announce it, that’s their business. Seriously, can you not see how a loved-up couple would want everyone they know to watch them affirming their love for each other?

I’ve recently entered that phase in my life where everyone I know starts getting married. When I got the first invite I thought I was gonna be bored senseless, remembering weddings from my childhood. Turns out the ceremonies are honestly rather beautiful. Good for them.

“Seems to me the whole concept is something of a hackneyed anachronism and gay marriage suffers from the same illogicality.

Just saying.”

Well, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not big on marriage. I essentially agree with you here. But if it matters to the people who are involved, where’s the harm?

UKL @ 75:

“How do you know straight marriage wasn’t / isn’t culturally conditioned? Britain has been ostensibly Christian for many hundreds of years after all.”

If straight people only get married because our culture is influenced by Christianity, how do you explain the existence of marriage in cultures where Christianity does not have and never has had any cultural influence?

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 72 Mr X

“I never said that gay marriage would have no effect on society. (If it didn’t, neither I nor most other people would care much about it one way or the other.) I said that gay marriage is about changing society in a certain way, not as is sometimes claimed an entirely private affair which has no effect on anybody else.”

So change happens. It happens quite a lot, as you may have noticed. Big deal. This is change in a positive direction, and literally nobody is being hurt. Oh, there are always people who purse their lips and wave their fingers, regardless of the specifics of the change (left or right), but so what? Why pander to the small-minded? Is the vanguard that scary?

“No, things-with-different-origins-are-different argument. If you can explain why that’s a fallacy, I’d be interested to hear your opinion.”

Nope, you invoked Nature (here represented with Victorian capitalisation, as seems appropriate). That was the basis of your argument. If you’re dropping it, say so now. Or explain why they’re different, with reference to Science (capitialising important nouns is fun).

“I’m defining human nature to mean the inherent behavioural tendencies which exist in us regardless of cultural influences.”

Pretty good definition, actually.

“Pretty much every society we know of has heterosexual marriage, whereas only a few have gay marriage. That’s good prima facie evidence for straight marriage being inherent in the human psyche and gay marriage being culturally conditioned by a particular set of circumstances.”

Or for homosexuality being repressed or abused in most societies, and for minorities getting a poor deal in general. I really hope you’re not going to claim that gayness just sorta turned up in the last couple of centuries.

Pretty much every society in history has oppressed women, but I don’t see you saying that’s a good thing, because you’re evidently not an arsehole. And you’re back to the naturalistic fallacy, I’m afraid, plus appeal to tradition. “We’ve always eaten people! What else is there to eat? If the great Juju hadn’t meant us to eat people, he wouldn’t have made them of meat!”

And so on.

“Standards of modesty change all the time anyway. That doesn’t mean that having a sense of modesty has nothing to do with human nature.”

No argument here. Now pretend that you’re in the Victorian era with your modern brain, and tell me why jailing women in miniskirts is super-awesome.

And again, I have to point out that I don’t worship “nature”, much less whichever handpicked version of it someone decides to put on a pedestal.

“One could equally say the same about you. So what? Person thinks his definition of something is the right definition shock.”

I expected this, and I don’t blame you, but you’re wrong. I never condemned you for wanting us to agree with your version of what marriage should be. Of course you want us to agree with that, just as I want you to agree with mine. But I’m not demanding that you treat my version as the default, “correct” version, and then castigating you for deviating from this preordained vision of what True Marriage is.

In other words, I’m not trying to frame the conversation so that my preferences are given a privileged status before we start. I’m not pretending that True Marriage has always meant the public confirmation of love between two adults regardless of gender. The technical term for that is “begging the question”, and I’m not doing it.

@ Chaise

Turns out the ceremonies are honestly rather beautiful. Good for them.

Responses to weddings tend to vary according to temperament. Personally, I’d much rather have go to a good funeral!!!

But if it matters to the people who are involved, where’s the harm?

We’re agreed that, provided there is no coercion involved, there is no real harm (beyond the fact that couples are encouraged to stay together beyond the natural span of their relationship).

The state, and the church before it, derives some tangential benefit from this in terms of the “stability” of society and is therefore happy to be involved in sanctioning it.

So I find it amusing that the gay lobby is not content to have won the right to endure the very minor oppression involved by having the state sanction their relationships in civil partnerships. But the point is that there is really no need for government, or anyone else, to be at all involved in affairs of the heart.

If straight people only get married because our culture is influenced by Christianity, how do you explain the existence of marriage in cultures where Christianity does not have and never has had any cultural influence?

I didn’t suggest it is entirely due to Christianity. That is something you inferred.

So how do we determine consummation/adultery in non-penetrative homosexual marriages?

The same way we do in heterosexual marriages: by asking the people involved to testify whether they’ve had sexual contact. Virginity tests are thankfully not a thing in English law any more (and are neither necessary nor sufficient to show consummation or adultery in any case).

@Pagar – there’s no need cept for the people asking them to be. Any sort of libertarian analysis of marriage that fails to see that people enjoy getting married, enjoy getting benefits and rewards for getting married, and enjoy wishing others well on their marriages just isn’t going to make much headway.
Presumably that’s why we generally see plenty of ‘government should get out of the marriage business’ type statements, but very little in the way of political action aimed at bringing that about.

@Mr X, since you are very keen on exploring cultural changes, what effect do you think women’s emancipation would have had on the nature of marriage, and indeed relationships between men and women in general?

Where did gay marriage even come from? It seems to have just come to prominence very recently. Since civil partnerships were granted I think.
I suspect that much of it is a case of people just being unable to say ”No” when faced with people coming from the civil rights and equality angle. And also can’t face being called a bigot – so just acquiesce.

Gay marriage is a non-issue though IMO, and supported mainly by people who like to think of themselves as a bit special and up against the forces of reaction. The dreadful bigots who voted for Maggie Thatcher etc.
It’s so much nicer to be with Lady GaGa and all her legion of fans. And all the ”enlightened” Hollywood celebs too. I think that people just like to be in fight with the Fox News conservative side of society, as it makes one feel so superior.
Just like watching Jon Stewart’s show does.
He is quite brilliant, but it is a bit like standing on your soap-box proclaimig how much better you and your kind are. So much better than them bigoted and stupid others.

damon, thanks for repeatedly telling us how uninterested you are in the topic. I note you haven’t yet linked to Spiked in this thread, are you feeling poorly?

86. The XYZ Line

Chaise @ 78:

“So change happens. It happens quite a lot, as you may have noticed. Big deal.”

Yes, change does happen, but it doesn’t follow that all change is good, or that we should never try and do anything to stop change we think will be bad.

“This is change in a positive direction, and literally nobody is being hurt.”

Having the government officially endorse a falsehood and make others endorse it too doesn’t strike me as a particularly positive change.

“Nope, you invoked Nature (here represented with Victorian capitalisation, as seems appropriate). That was the basis of your argument.”

The naturalistic fallacy goes “X is natural, therefore it is right”. My argument goes “X is natural, therefore it is different to Y, which is artificial”. You seem to be confusing “the naturalistic fallacy” with “any reference to human nature in an argument”.

“Or for homosexuality being repressed or abused in most societies, and for minorities getting a poor deal in general.”

So every single society outside of the 21st-century West has just happened to be prejudiced against gay people, and has just happened to show this prejudice by oppressing them in such a way as to stamp out their natural desire for gay marriage. What a coincidence. Also, what a welcome boost for own egos, since we can now congratulate ourselves for our unique superiority and open-mindedness.

“No argument here. Now pretend that you’re in the Victorian era with your modern brain, and tell me why jailing women in miniskirts is super-awesome.”

Erm, what?

“In other words, I’m not trying to frame the conversation so that my preferences are given a privileged status before we start. I’m not pretending that True Marriage has always meant the public confirmation of love between two adults regardless of gender. The technical term for that is “begging the question”, and I’m not doing it.”

Neither am I, given that I argue for my definition of marriage.

87. Chaise Guevara

@ The XYZ Line

First off, can I take it that you’re using various screen names for some unimaginable reason? Because you’re replying to something I said to an apparently different bloke and acting as if I was talking to you.

“Yes, change does happen, but it doesn’t follow that all change is good, or that we should never try and do anything to stop change we think will be bad.”

Indeed. Obviously. But you (or Mr X, whoever) seem to be making the opposite assumption – that change is automatically bad. If not I don’t get what you mean by it.

“Having the government officially endorse a falsehood and make others endorse it too doesn’t strike me as a particularly positive change.”

I shall call upon you to recall these words presently.

“You seem to be confusing “the naturalistic fallacy” with “any reference to human nature in an argument”.”

No, it seems I’m confusing it with “people making arbitrary distinctions between ‘natural’ and ‘artifical’ when it suits their political convenience to do so”. I believe I have explained already why the distinction you are drawing is false. Post 66.

“So every single society outside of the 21st-century West has just happened to be prejudiced against gay people, and has just happened to show this prejudice by oppressing them in such a way as to stamp out their natural desire for gay marriage. What a coincidence.”

I’m not sure this is completely true, but the vast majority have. They were pretty much all racist too. Prejudice is an inherent part of what you call human nature; it’s something that has to be fought. Gays are in a minority, a minority that seems to provoke instinctive negative reactions in many members of the majority. Hardly surprising that they’ve always suffered historical bad treatment.

“Also, what a welcome boost for own egos, since we can now congratulate ourselves for our unique superiority and open-mindedness.”

Ah. So stating the facts makes me arrogant, does it? That betrays a rather poor attitude towards reality.

“Erm, what?”

Well, if gay people should be banned from marrying because historically they’ve been banned from marrying, presumably if you were in the Victorian period you would say that women should be at risk of being done for indecent exposure if they went out with most of their flesh exposed. Or if the law didn’t actually ban such practices then, pick another one. Would you have agreed 100 years ago that buggery should be a criminal offense?

“Neither am I, given that I argue for my definition of marriage.”

Recall your words from earlier. Apparently I’m meant to accept that gay people getting married is a “falsehood” within the frame of the debate.

Where did gay marriage even come from?

If by that question you mean ‘where did the current noisy campaign for marriage equality originate’ then the answer is roughly around the Justice’s summations at the conclusion of the Lawrence v. Texas case in the Supreme court of the United States in 2003.

Responses to that along the lines of ‘But that’s America!’ will be met with ‘Because internet and international news’.

Chaise @ 87:

“First off, can I take it that you’re using various screen names for some unimaginable reason? Because you’re replying to something I said to an apparently different bloke and acting as if I was talking to you.”

Yes, sorry: I tend to use a different pseydonym for each website, and sometimes I forget which name goes where…

“Indeed. Obviously. But you (or Mr X, whoever) seem to be making the opposite assumption – that change is automatically bad. If not I don’t get what you mean by it.”

What I mean is that one of the common arguments for same-sex marriage — “It’s a matter for the two people involved; it doesn’t affect you; if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t have one” — is based upon a false premise.

“No, it seems I’m confusing it with “people making arbitrary distinctions between ‘natural’ and ‘artifical’ when it suits their political convenience to do so”. I believe I have explained already why the distinction you are drawing is false. Post 66.”

How is the distinction arbitrary? Anyway, you haven’t done that at all: you offered a false dichotomy, and I explained what I actually do mean and why I think I’m justified in considereing OSM to be natural and SSM to be artificial.

“I’m not sure this is completely true, but the vast majority have.”

I’m going to need some evidence for that. Also I’ll need some explanation of societies which had no problem with men having sex with other men but also felt no need for same-sex marriage (e.g., Ancient Greece, Rome, ancient China).

“Ah. So stating the facts makes me arrogant, does it? That betrays a rather poor attitude towards reality.”

I will confess that I tend to get rather cynical when people make sweeping unsupported statements which happen to make themselves look good. You can consider that a poor attitude if you want.

“Well, if gay people should be banned from marrying because historically they’ve been banned from marrying,”

I’m saying that it’s impossible for them to get married in the same way that straight people can get married, and that it’s wrong for the law to try and pretend otherwise.

“presumably if you were in the Victorian period you would say that women should be at risk of being done for indecent exposure if they went out with most of their flesh exposed.”

I still don’t get what you’re trying to say here. Yes, I support having laws against indecent exposure, and yes, what counts as “indecent” varies between cultures and time periods… so what?

“Recall your words from earlier. Apparently I’m meant to accept that gay people getting married is a “falsehood” within the frame of the debate.”

I argue that gay and straight marriage have different sources and are therefore different; it follows quite naturally that for the government to legislate saying otherwise is for the government to promote a falsehood. I still don’t see what’s question-begging about this.

What I mean is that one of the common arguments for same-sex marriage — “It’s a matter for the two people involved; it doesn’t affect you; if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t have one” — is based upon a false premise.

Those aren’t arguments for it – they are arguments against interfering with it.

What effect does the marriage of John and Jack, or Jill and Jane, have on the marriage of Jim and Joan? Is there any harm, at all?

@Mr X – and iffn I told you there apparently was the odd same sex marriage every now and then in Ancient Rome, what would you say to that?
Indeed when Christianity became the dominant religion they passed a law specifically banning it which carried the penalty of execution should it be breached.

92. Chaise Guevara

@ 89 Mr X

“Yes, sorry: I tend to use a different pseydonym for each website, and sometimes I forget which name goes where…”

Cool.

“What I mean is that one of the common arguments for same-sex marriage — “It’s a matter for the two people involved; it doesn’t affect you; if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t have one” — is based upon a false premise.”

I don’t see how. It doesn’t affect you and you don’t have to have one.

“How is the distinction arbitrary? Anyway, you haven’t done that at all: you offered a false dichotomy, and I explained what I actually do mean and why I think I’m justified in considereing OSM to be natural and SSM to be artificial.”

Yes, using a spurious claim that the desire for gays to get married is created by society and the desire for straights to do so is not, based on the fact that gay marriage has historically been very rare, which couldn’t possibly be explained by it generally being illegal and the fact that in many societies, agitating for it would see you ostracised, jailed or killed.

Something you completely made up, in fact. Seriously, if you have to use so much conjecture and torturous logic to justify standing in the way of other people’s happiness, why not just do the decent thing and switch sides? You’ll feel better when you’re not following an ideology of intolerance, oppression and spite, I promise.

“I’m going to need some evidence for that. Also I’ll need some explanation of societies which had no problem with men having sex with other men but also felt no need for same-sex marriage (e.g., Ancient Greece, Rome, ancient China).”

Check out Wikipedia’s page for same-sex marriage under the “history” entry. I’m not a historian, but I can offer a couple of possible explanations: 1) In a lot of societies (e.g. Tudor England) homosexuality was officially illegal or frowned-upon, but really nobody thought it was a big deal. 2) Just because a society is progressive on sexuality doesn’t mean they’re progressive on family values, and 3) A lot of the time, marriages (especially the important ones that would get widely reported) have been for tactical purposes rather than love, making it a poor measure anyway.

“I will confess that I tend to get rather cynical when people make sweeping unsupported statements which happen to make themselves look good.”

By inference, you think your position looks bad? I love the fact that you think that the claim that gays have historically tended to be a poorly treated minority is sweeping and unsupported. I’ll go find you evidence on that, and try to convince you that water is wet and France is in Europe while I’m at it. Any other contentious stuff I need to prove? Do you need convincing that air contains oxygen?

“You can consider that a poor attitude if you want.”

I consider using ad homs as an excuse to dodge factual points to be a poor attitude, yes.

“I’m saying that it’s impossible for them to get married in the same way that straight people can get married, and that it’s wrong for the law to try and pretend otherwise.”

It’s impossible right up to the point where we change the law. It’s already possible in other parts of the world. This is your “change is the devil” thing again.

“I still don’t get what you’re trying to say here. Yes, I support having laws against indecent exposure, and yes, what counts as “indecent” varies between cultures and time periods… so what?”

What I’m trying to get you to understand is that whatever is legal or “normal” now isn’t necessarily right. If you lived 100 years ago, you would presumably support jailing people for buggery because that was the status quo. A bit further back and you’d have been cheering while they burned witches. You’re blinded by your reverence for the present. I’m trying to demonstrate that by showing you that, in another present, you would have resultingly held views that you hopefully find abhorrent. Reductio ad absurdum.

“I argue that gay and straight marriage have different sources and are therefore different; it follows quite naturally that for the government to legislate saying otherwise is for the government to promote a falsehood. I still don’t see what’s question-begging about this.”

OK, you’re not question-begging, you’re just lying. The government isn’t legislating anything to claim that the historical differences that you’ve described between the two never existed. It’s not bringing in the Let’s Pretend Gay Marriage Was Never Illegal Act. It’s just making the same word used for both in a legal sense. The change is that gay unions will be officially called “marriages”, and that will be a truth the moment the law is changed.

93. Robin Levett

@TONE #

The danger with the current proposals for gay marriage is that they nake a significant minority feel their values are threatened – and unnecessarily, too, when civil partnerships give gays all the rights of marriage anyway

Really? Could you ask Lilian Ladele to talk to Mr & Mrs Bull about that? She thinks that civil partnerships are marriages, and claims that she is being persecuted because her religious objections to same-sex marriage were ignored.

The Bulls, on the other hand, think that civil partnerships aren’t marriage; and claim that restricting use of their double bedrooms to heterosexual married couples is, for that reason, not discriminatory.

Funny how that works; the Christians going to the ECHR (who are backed by the Church of England, so there’s no argument that I’m tarring all Christians with the brush of a small minority) seem to want to redefine the words civil partnership so as to cut down the rights enjoyed by those in them; even within the saem appeal to the ECHR…

94. Robin Levett

@Chaise:

“We’ve always eaten people! What else is there to eat? If the great Juju hadn’t meant us to eat people, he wouldn’t have made them of meat!”

Quoth the Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief (IIRC).

95. The XYZ Line

Cylux @ 91:

“@Mr X – and iffn I told you there apparently was the odd same sex marriage every now and then in Ancient Rome, what would you say to that?
Indeed when Christianity became the dominant religion they passed a law specifically banning it which carried the penalty of execution should it be breached.”

I’d ask for evidence of that. I’d also ask to see the original law banning gay marriage, and in the meantime point out that just because something is banned doesn’t imply that it was once a widespread and socially-acceptable practice.

96. The XYZ Line

Chaise @ 92:

“Check out Wikipedia’s page for same-sex marriage under the “history” entry.”

There’s some vague talk about female “contracts” in China, two Roman emperors (both of whom were widely considered to be insane), and a single incidence of two peasants in Galicia. That really doesn’t do much to support the idea of same-sex marriage in the pre-modern world.

“I love the fact that you think that the claim that gays have historically tended to be a poorly treated minority is sweeping and unsupported.”

For your argument to work, it doesn’t just have to be the case that gays have *tended* to be a poorly-treated minority; that would have to be the case in *every society before the twentieth century*. It’s the latter claim which I’m taking issue with.

“It’s impossible right up to the point where we change the law. It’s already possible in other parts of the world. This is your “change is the devil” thing again.”

So if the government were to pass a law saying that from henceforth cats and dogs were the same species of animal, would that make them actually the same species?

“What I’m trying to get you to understand is that whatever is legal or “normal” now isn’t necessarily right.”

I don’t think it is, nor does my argument require this to be the case.

“OK, you’re not question-begging, you’re just lying. The government isn’t legislating anything to claim that the historical differences that you’ve described between the two never existed.”

First of all, they aren’t “historical differences”; they’re still different today, will be tomorrow, and will always be different, no matter what the law says.

Secondly, the government is legislating to make gay marriage “legall identical” to straight marriage. So from the government’s view, actually, there is no difference between the two.

@95 Apparently it’s in the Codex Theodosianus, around section 9.7.3, translation here. Plus at least two Emperors had gay weddings to male slaves, Nero and Elagabalus, and historians have a consensus that same sex relationships existed in Rome, the exact frequency and nature of same sex unions is obscure. Which isn’t all that surprising given the adoption of the Codex Theodosianus, you’d expect most of the records pertaining to such to be destroyed under the new regime. The burning down of the Library of Alexandria likely didn’t help matters much either.

just because something is banned doesn’t imply that it was once a widespread and socially-acceptable practice.

Well given that lgb people make up approximately 3% of the populace, technically speaking should same sex marriage become legal tomorrow, then gay marriage won’t be a ‘widespread practice’ either.

98. The XYZ Line

Cylux @ 97:

“Apparently it’s in the Codex Theodosianus, around section 9.7.3, translation here.”

Thanks for the info. I’m not sure it’s as clear as the translation makes out, though. Having found the relevant passage in Latin (at http://ancientrome.ru/ius/library/codex/theod/liber09.htm#7), I don’t see any particularly strong indication that “femina” means an effeminate man rather than just a woman; whilst it’s possible that whoever wrote this was just using a euphemism, I don’t see why he couldn’t just write “cum vir nubit in virum” and be clear. And even if “femina” is taken as a euphemism, I don’t see why “nubit” can’t be as well (in this case for simply having sex rather than going through a marriage ceremony). Also, “and what he wants is that the ‘woman’ play the male role” seems a bit dubious; “femina” in the Latin is in the nominative, whereas if the man is wanting him/her to do something, it ought usually to be in the accusative.

Still, even assuming for argument’s sake that that passage does in fact refer to two men getting married, it doesn’t follow that same-sex marriage was an accepted feature of Roman society. Modern Britain has laws against necrophilia, for example, but it would be wrong to assume that there must have therefore been a time before the law was past when people were OK with the idea of having sex with corpses.

“Plus at least two Emperors had gay weddings to male slaves, Nero and Elagabalus,”

Nero and Elagabalus were both widely considered insane, so I don’t think they’re very good guides for what Roman society as a whole thought.

“and historians have a consensus that same sex relationships existed in Rome, the exact frequency and nature of same sex unions is obscure.”

I’m not disputing that same-sex relationships existed in Rome, but I haven’t seen any evidence that the average Roman (or indeed any Roman) would consider these relationships to be the same as marriage.

“Which isn’t all that surprising given the adoption of the Codex Theodosianus, you’d expect most of the records pertaining to such to be destroyed under the new regime. The burning down of the Library of Alexandria likely didn’t help matters much either.”

First of all, I don’t se what the Library of Alexandria has to do with anything: it contained works of literature, not records of marriages.

Secondly, I don’t think that there were any marriage records in ancient Rome, or if there were, none of them have come down to us. What we would expect, however, if same-sex marriage were an accepted part of Roman culture, is for some record of it to have survived in the literature: mabe a historian stating that X famous figure got married to a man, Catullus asking Juventus to marry him, or something like that. As a matter of fact, there are no such mentions, and the simplest explanation is that the idea of marrying a man just didn’t cross people’s minds back then. You could I suppose say that all the sources mentioning gay marriage have been accidentally lost, but that seems like too much of a coincidence, and doesn’t really have any (non-question begging) evidence to support it. You could also say that they were “purged” by Theodosius or a later emperor, but that doesn’t explain why they let any homoerotic literature survive at all.

@98

mabe a historian stating that X famous figure got married to a man, Catullus asking Juventus to marry him, or something like that. As a matter of fact, there are no such mentions,

Pretty sure Roman Emperor’s count as ‘famous figures’. While you might dismiss them as ‘insane’ they did very much exist, so as such there ARE such mentions.

It is however unimportant, times and cultures change, what Marriage is today is considerably different to what Marriage was then, because people and society are different. The question ‘why didn’t anyone think of it before?’ can easily be answered by ‘the conditions were different’.
As I’ve mentioned before, women’s emancipation has changed the nature of relationships, as such rather than getting married to a women and remaining in the closet gay men are much less likely to get away with that, and gay women are less likely to be badgered into a relationship with someone their parents have their eye on. As such in todays modern world long term same sex relationships will be more common and present and there is an actual social driver for same sex marriage which wouldn’t have been present in antiquity.

100. Chaise Guevara

@ 96 XYZ Line

“There’s some vague talk about female “contracts” in China, two Roman emperors (both of whom were widely considered to be insane), and a single incidence of two peasants in Galicia. That really doesn’t do much to support the idea of same-sex marriage in the pre-modern world.”

Why do I have this feeling that your standard will just keep shifting so you don’t have to admit that you’re factually incorrect? Given the sketchiness of historical records and the general treatment of gays, it’s impressive we have a record at all.

And I don’t know why I’m arguing about this because you’re using it to back up a point that is entirely fallacious and almost certainly a stalking-horse.

“For your argument to work, it doesn’t just have to be the case that gays have *tended* to be a poorly-treated minority; that would have to be the case in *every society before the twentieth century*. It’s the latter claim which I’m taking issue with.”

Not a historian, but I can’t think of a single society where gay romance was acceptable, except a probably mythic one. Gay sex, yes, but not gay romance. We know that gay sex was generally considered socially OK in Shakespeare’s time, but there’s a still a question over whether he was gay and disguised his love by changing the genders in his romantic poetry. Romans set great store by virility and a man who lived with a male lover would probably have been called a woman.

“So if the government were to pass a law saying that from henceforth cats and dogs were the same species of animal, would that make them actually the same species?”

No, but if it were to pass a law saying gay marriage was legal, it would be legal and hence possible. The only reason that legal gay marriage is impossible is that it is currently illegal. Are you seriously going to refuse to accept something that is a bloody priori true?

“I don’t think it is, nor does my argument require this to be the case.”

True, as long as you can keep rejecting basic cause-and-effect logic you’ll be fine.

“First of all, they aren’t “historical differences”; they’re still different today, will be tomorrow, and will always be different, no matter what the law says.”

That’s right, keep it up.

“Secondly, the government is legislating to make gay marriage “legall identical” to straight marriage. So from the government’s view, actually, there is no difference between the two.”

No legal difference. Stop equivocating.

I don’t like right-wing spin like “pro-family” and I don’t think the left should be using it. We should just tell people facts and if they don’t like it then sod them.

102. The XYZ Line

Cylux @ 99:

“Pretty sure Roman Emperor’s count as ‘famous figures’.”

OK, I’ll clarify: famous figures who weren’t insane.

“While you might dismiss them as ‘insane’ they did very much exist, so as such there ARE such mentions.”

They did exist, but what a couple of madmen did is a poor guide to what society as a whole thought. Caligula made his horse a consul, but it would be a mistake to infer that the Romans were fine with promoting animals to political office.

103. The XYZ Line

Chaise @ 100:

“Not a historian, but I can’t think of a single society where gay romance was acceptable, except a probably mythic one.”

Catullus’ Juventus poems come across as quite romantic, at least to me, and he doesn’t seem to have been considered a pariah or oddball. Sappho also wrote love poems about other women, and was one of the most popular and widely-read poets in Antiquity.

Long-term gay relationships weren’t unknown, either. Sulla, for example, supposedly remained in love with the actor Metrobius until the end of his life.

“We know that gay sex was generally considered socially OK in Shakespeare’s time,”

Really? I’m pretty sure Elizabeth passed a law outlawing it.

“No, but if it were to pass a law saying gay marriage was legal, it would be legal and hence possible. The only reason that legal gay marriage is impossible is that it is currently illegal. Are you seriously going to refuse to accept something that is a bloody priori true?”

That’s only if you assume that marriage is solely a legal construct, and hence can be altered by any relevant law the government passes. My whole point is that this isn’t the case.

104. Robin Levett

@XYZ Line #103:

That’s only if you assume that marriage is solely a legal construct, and hence can be altered by any relevant law the government passes. My whole point is that this isn’t the case.

What is it then? Apart from “something that the govrrnemnt can’t legislate into existence”?

105. Chaise Guevara

@ 103 XYZ

“Catullus’ Juventus poems come across as quite romantic, at least to me, and he doesn’t seem to have been considered a pariah or oddball. Sappho also wrote love poems about other women, and was one of the most popular and widely-read poets in Antiquity.

Long-term gay relationships weren’t unknown, either. Sulla, for example, supposedly remained in love with the actor Metrobius until the end of his life.”

What does this actually tell us? Couple of over-simplified anecdotes and a paragraph of conjecture. And this is STILL about the basis of a fallacious argument, so it’s kinda hard to engage.

“Really? I’m pretty sure Elizabeth passed a law outlawing it.”

Indeed. Punishable by death, IIRC, like a lot of stuff was those days. Hence me saying “socially” acceptable, not “legally”. The attitude seems to have been that you could do what you liked as long as you didn’t do it in the street and frighten the horses. I did already make it clear that I can spot equivocation, so you should probably stop trying.

When people were executed for buggery, it was generally one of a list of trumped-up charges being brought against someone who had annoyed the establishment or someone powerful. You’d get sedition and blasphemy and so on in the mix too. It was that kind of system. Imagine a certain scene from Game of Thrones, if you watch it.

“That’s only if you assume that marriage is solely a legal construct, and hence can be altered by any relevant law the government passes. My whole point is that this isn’t the case.”

Which misses the whole bloody point. There are (at least) two different things meant by marriage, which are massively intermingled, hence the confusion. There is the concept of legal marriage, which is cold and official: if you die, your spouse gets your stuff, that sort of thing. And then there’s marriage as a religious or social vow of commitment. That doesn’t have to be official. All you need is someone of the relevant order to stand in front of you and say you’re married. Hell, by those rules you could just agree to be married and be done with it.

The first is, by definition, something the government is involved in. The second is none of the government’s fucking business. But they’re blurred together, unsurprisingly. And we have to deal with the fallout while trying to secure basic rights for human beings. Stop standing in the goddamn way.

106. Chaise Guevara

@ 101 Chris

“I don’t like right-wing spin like “pro-family” and I don’t think the left should be using it. We should just tell people facts and if they don’t like it then sod them.”

I’ve been waiting all bloody thread for someone to say that. Thank you. Although my problem with “pro-family” isn’t so much that it’s right-wing (though it is), it’s that it’s creepy as hell and invokes an excuse for any number of terrible things.

That’s only if you assume that marriage is solely a legal construct

The important relevant parts are. Everything else is window dressing that others add or take away as desired.

108. The XYZ Line

Chaise @ 105:

“What does this actually tell us?”

That, contrary to your assertions, gay people in the ancient world weren’t harrassed and persecuted, and that their idea of gay relationships wasn’t limited to one-night stands and casual sex. IOW, if people had wanted gay marriage, they’d have been perfectly capable of getting it.

“Indeed. Punishable by death, IIRC, like a lot of stuff was those days. Hence me saying “socially” acceptable, not “legally”.”

If it were socially acceptable, why pass a law against it? You say yourself that there were plenty of things used as trumped-up charges for people the authorities wanted to get rid of, so it can’t be that.

“Which misses the whole bloody point. There are (at least) two different things meant by marriage, which are massively intermingled, hence the confusion. There is the concept of legal marriage, which is cold and official: if you die, your spouse gets your stuff, that sort of thing. And then there’s marriage as a religious or social vow of commitment. That doesn’t have to be official. All you need is someone of the relevant order to stand in front of you and say you’re married. Hell, by those rules you could just agree to be married and be done with it.”

I think you’re exaggerating the difference between the two. Yes, there are laws about marriage, but those only exist as a response to the instinctive human urge to get married. Sort of like how there are laws defining eating, but that doesn’t mean that there are two separate categories of “legal food” and “non-legal food”, or that the government could legislate to say that (for example) grass is now OK for humans to eat.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    Time to Frame Gay Marriage as ‘Pro-Family’ http://t.co/0WRs5SGO

  2. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Time to Frame Gay Marriage as ‘Pro-Family’ http://t.co/mXIijqtr

  3. LGBT News Portal

    Time to Frame Gay Marriage as 'Pro-Family' | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/17adPji7





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.