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Austin Cline

Comment of the Week: Gay Marriage as Intrusion on Religious Rights

By June 10, 2008

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Supporters of equality for gays and gay couples argue that the interests of gays are more important than any religious objections and, in fact, because some religious groups accept gay couples then it's an infringement on religious liberty for the state to uphold the theologically conservative perspective. Some religious conservatives, in contrast, argue that it would be a violation of their religious rights for the state to treat gays couples as equals to heterosexual couples.

Scott writes:

I read your article and agree with one part of it;it is an issue of "Separation and State”. I do see this issue as an intrusion upon religious rights".

I accept your contention that marriage has been and is still a "religious" definition. The point I think you’re missing however is should the government be using a religious terminology? This, for me, is the real issue and what has been missing in this debate.

At the time the word "marriage" was incorporated into law and tax codes. Gay Rights or even the acknowledgment of homosexuals wasn't an issue.

So when "marriage" was incorporated into the tax codes and into the law, it was understood to mean ... Man & Woman.

If this definition is no longer an acceptable one, to the public or to our court’s, then I contend that the government should have to change what word they use in law and tax codes, because “The Government” doesn't have the authority to change the "religious" definition/meaning of a “RELIGIOUS” rite/practice as per the topic of your article; Separation of Church and State.

Maybe instead of the government issuing marriage licenses, they should be giving Civil Union Licenses?

I suggest that this as the alternative that both sides could live with, since it gives equal status under the law that gay’s are saying they don’t have, but it doesn’t use the term “Marriage” that Christians, Muslims and Jews (and perhaps other religious groups that I “MAY” not be aware of or am not thinking of right now) take offense too. The people I know that take offense to the term Marriage don’t really care if the government has some form of equal standing/protection under the law, they are taking offense to the word “Marriage” being used, since their “religious” belief and teaching is in conflict with it. They believe their religious rights are being violated and secularized to an increasingly hostile population of nonbelievers.

[original post]

Many of the arguments used by the Christian Right against gay marriage make a lot more sense if we add in as an unstated premise the idea that they are trying to preserve some form of cultural "ownership" over the concept of marriage. Here, though, we find Scott making this premise quite explicit. Although he only ever uses the adjective "religious," it's hard to see Christianity isn't the primary religion of interest. The concept of "marriage" varies too much among religions for it to make any sense to think that there couple be a single, coherent "marriage" definition for all religion.

Why, though, should anyone accept the idea that marriage is an exclusively religious concept anyway? Why should we accept that talk about marriage means using religious terminology about a religious rite? Granted, marriage is also religious for most religious believers, and most religions have a lot to say about marriage, but there doesn't appear to be any reason to imagine that therefore there isn't such a thing as a secular or civil marriage which lacks any religious components.

Basically, Scott is trying to argue that people aren't genuinely married unless and until some religious authority figure (usually male) approves of a couple's union. If a couple can't find a religious authority figure to give them his approval, then their union can't possibly be considered a "marriage." He wants to create an entirely new category of civil law to cover such unions — as if all heterosexual marriages in America up until this time have been entirely religious. I don't think that any adjective fits this perspective better than "deluded," and I fear the possibility that there many be quite a few American Christians who share it.

Scott certainly isn't the first to argue that it's wrong to change the nature of marriage to include unions of the same sex, but like all people making this argument he forgets that the "nature" of marriage is a cultural, legal, and human creation which has gone through a lot of changes over the past couple of centuries. Roderick Long wrote about a case from 1886 in which two "free-love activists," Lillian Harman and Edwin Walker, announced a marriage which they had performed in private — they didn't believe that either the state or the clergy were necessary.

The judge presiding over the case, Valentine, agreed that under common law “the mere living together as husband and wife of a man and woman competent to marry each other, with the honest intention of being husband and wife so long as they both shall live, will constitute them husband and wife, and create a valid marriage.” Still, he rejected the validity of the marriage:

In my opinion, the union between E. C. Walker and Lillian Harman was no marriage, and they deserve all the punishment which has been inflicted upon them. … In the present case, the parties repudiated nearly everything essential to a valid marriage, and openly avowed this repudiation at the commencement of their union.(Quoted in Hal D. Sears, The Sex Radicals: Free Love in High Victorian America, p. 94.)

What "essentials" to a valid marriage had Walker and Harman "repudiated?" Long explains:

In their marriage ceremony Harman had declined not only to vow obedience to her husband (such a vow being repugnant both to her feminism and to her libertarian anarchism) but also to vow love unto death: “I make no promises that it may become impossible or immoral for me to fulfill, but retain the right to act, always, as my conscience and best judgment shall dictate.”

She also declined to submerge her individuality in another’s by taking her husband’s last name: “I retain, also, my full maiden name, as I am sure it is my duty to do.” Walker for his part vowed that “Lillian is and will continue to be as free to repulse any and all advances of mine as she has been heretofore. In joining with me in this love and labor union, she has not alienated a single natural right. She remains sovereign of herself, as I of myself, and we ... repudiate all powers legally conferred upon husbands and wives.”

In particular he repudiated any right as husband to control his wife’s property; he also acknowledged his “responsibility to her as regards the care of offspring, if any, and her paramount right to the custody thereof should any unfortunate fate dissolve this union.” Harman’s father added: “I do not ‘give away the bride,’ as I wish her to be always the owner of her person.” (Sears, p. 85.)

Thus, according to Judge Valentine, the "essentials" of marriage included: life-long commitment, a wife's obedience to the husband, the husband's absolute control over all property, the wife taking the husband's last name, the right of the husband to force sexual intercourse on an unwilling wife (that would be rape, by the way), and the right of the husband to control and have custody of any children. Yes, those were once all regarded as essentials of marriage — just as it is today regarded as "essential" to marriage that it be a union between one man and one woman. Given that all those other essentials have been abandoned — and even Christians like Scott are unlikely to argue for their return — upon what basis can they insist that the so-called "essential" of heterosexuality be retained?

Comments
June 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm
(1) humble says:

Austin,

You wrote: [Some religious conservatives, in contrast, argue that it would be a violation of their religious rights for the state to treat gays couples as equals to heterosexual couples.]

I read the posted comments you included by Scott, and that was not the sense I was getting from his argument. He says directly:

[Maybe instead of the government issuing marriage licenses, they should be giving Civil Union Licenses?

I suggest that this as the alternative that both sides could live with, since it gives equal status under the law that gay’s are saying they don’t have, but it doesn’t use the term “Marriage”...]

He is fine with the state treating homosexual couples as legal equals with heterosexual couples.

He just doesn’t want the state re-defining marriage, which is a word that has a specific and in his case, sacred meaning, to mean something else entirely.

If non-Christian people of any stripe who want to wed believe that the sacrament of marriage is shallow and small minded and antiquated – why do they want to keep the word?

It will still carry those associations and all the negativity you describe, at least for a few generations – that’s just the nature of language.

Why not be fully free from the word, along with all of the backwards thinking and call this new kind of relationship something else?

June 10, 2008 at 1:01 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

You wrote: [Some religious conservatives, in contrast, argue that it would be a violation of their religious rights for the state to treat gays couples as equals to heterosexual couples.]

I read the posted comments you included by Scott, and that was not the sense I was getting from his argument.

I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s unambiguously the point he was making. He wants to treat gay couples as inferior to straight couples by limiting the former to a “civil union” ghetto. Bigots have a long history of pretending that they aren’t really bigoted through promoting “separate but equal” institutions.

He just doesn’t want the state re-defining marriage, which is a word that has a specific and in his case, sacred meaning, to mean something else entirely.

Except he and other anti-gay bigots don’t raise the same complaints over past redefinitions of marriage. It’s only expanding marriage to gays which bothers them, much like how religious conservatives were upset over expanding marriage to interracial couples. Basically the same arguments are being used, too.

If non-Christian people of any stripe who want to wed believe that the sacrament of marriage is shallow and small minded and antiquated – why do they want to keep the word?

Maybe because marriage isn’t a Christian sacrament to non-Christians. A person can dismiss the value of the sacrament of marriage without dismissing marriage.

Why not be fully free from the word, along with all of the backwards thinking and call this new kind of relationship something else?

Gay marriage isn’t any more a “new kind of relationship” than interracial marriage or marriage where women own property. It’s only bigots who regard gays as inferior who think that a gay couple can’t be the full equals of straights and therefore their union must be something radically different.

June 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm
(3) humble says:

Austin wrote: [He wants to treat gay couples as inferior to straight couples by limiting the former to a “civil union” ghetto. Bigots have a long history of pretending that they aren’t really bigoted through promoting “separate but equal” institutions.]

No, he’s saying that all couples, heterosexual or otherwise be granted a civil union (or some better name) in terms of legal status with the state. He’s lumping everyone into that bucket, including himself. There’s no segregation here if both groups get the same treatment.

If there is a disconnect between the religious and legal meanings of marriage, why not make that formal? It would be more clear and would allow homosexual couples the legal rights and privileges some of them don’t have today.

At that point the “separate” part of marriage is the sacrament part, which most gay people don’t want anyway. And if they do, there are churches willing to give them their blessing and a religous ceremony now, apart from the legal status.

The alternative is having people use the word “marriage” in fundamentally different ways.

A different word seems like a small price to pay for the potential benefit involved.

June 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm
(4) Austin Cline says:

No, he’s saying that all couples, heterosexual or otherwise be granted a civil union (or some better name) in terms of legal status with the state.

And the only reason is because of gays wanting to marry. None of the other changes in civil marriage animated such a concern, only gays. Private schools became very popular in the South after desegregation; there wasn’t much concern with public schools before, only after black kids might sit next to white kids while learning math.

So, the idea that we need “civil unions” in order to protect “marriage” for religion is just a mask for anti-gay animus. It is, moreover, bigoted in other ways because it seeks to deny that “marriage” can exist for people who aren’t “religious” in some fashion.

There’s no segregation here if both groups get the same treatment.

No, there’s still segregation — it’s just moved to the private sector, like private schools that just happen to admit only whites.

If there is a disconnect between the religious and legal meanings of marriage, why not make that formal?

1. There is no single religious or legal meaning of marriage, so no simple two-way separation is possible.

2. There have always been differences in what religious groups will allow in terms of marriage and what civil authorities will allow; the fact that a desire to eliminate “marriage” from the legal code now when gays might marry is a sign that the real motivation is to deny gays equal status alongside married heterosexuals.

It would be more clear and would allow homosexual couples the legal rights and privileges some of them don’t have today.

There’s nothing unclear about the situation now. As matters currently stand, every religion has marriage standards which it imposes on couples wishing to be “married” in the context of that religious tradition, but which the secular state does not require. Any couple can get married by the secular state even though that marriage won’t be recognized by some religions — including their own.

Heterosexual couples have been living comfortably with this situation for decades and centuries without trying to prevent the state from using the term “marriage.” Now, suddenly, some are expressing concern — just as gay marriage might gain more widespread civil acceptance. It’s only the presence of gays alongside straights as equals that is creating this worry, nothing more.

At that point the “separate” part of marriage is the sacrament part, which most gay people don’t want anyway.

Why do you assume that “most gay people don’t want” the “sacrament part” of marriage? You seem to be assuming that “most gay people” aren’t religious, aren’t members of religious communities, and don’t want their marriage to be recognized as religious in nature. Now, I frankly don’t know what the numbers are and that’s why I wouldn’t make an assertion one way or the other; since you do choose to assert what “most gay people don’t want,” I’d like you to provide some hard data to back that up.

The alternative is having people use the word “marriage” in fundamentally different ways.

Uh, that’s already the case.

A different word seems like a small price to pay for the potential benefit involved.

I don’t see any benefits, except perhaps for the heterosexuals who think they will be able to continue feeling privileged over gay couples.

June 10, 2008 at 3:53 pm
(5) humble says:

Austin,

That’s a fair point. I would amend my comment to say, “Most gay people I know personally could care less about the religious meaning or requirements of marriage.”

They just want the legal benefits and really don’t care what you call it.

It is very possible that they are not indicative of the larger population here.

Austin wrote: [I don’t see any benefits, except perhaps for the heterosexuals who think they will be able to continue feeling privileged over gay couples.]

I disagree that giving gay couples legal standing under a different name has no benefits except for straight people feeling more bigoted and superior.

As someone who has been widowed, the process of life change and recovery from that complicates beyond belief, in practical terms, if you have a situation where people are co-habitating, have joint assets, etc… but are not legally recognized as married.

There truly is a real and practical benefit to a legal standing, in the sense that you can access your bank account after someone dies, even if you called it something else.

June 10, 2008 at 4:05 pm
(6) Agersomnia says:

And where’s the problem with adding to the present laws a *legal* definition of marriage?

According to different english dictionaries, it seems as there’se enough room for same-sex marriage to me, even if some (like Webster’s) do not contemplate it:

1. The state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (or until divorce); “a long and happy marriage”; “God bless this union”
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage; homosexual marriage.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) (based on the Random House Dictionary 2006)

b A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

June 10, 2008 at 4:18 pm
(7) Austin Cline says:

I would amend my comment to say, “Most gay people I know personally could care less about the religious meaning or requirements of marriage.”

And what about those who do want a religious marriage?

They just want the legal benefits and really don’t care what you call it.

If this were the most common position, there would be more support for civil unions for gays among gays. I don’t see it. Given the amount of support for civil unions vs. marriage, I would tend to suspect that most gays want to be married, not merely have the standard legal benefits that go with marriage. Perhaps that’s because marriage has benefits that aren’t religious but which go beyond the standard legal advantages.

I disagree that giving gay couples legal standing under a different name has no benefits except for straight people feeling more bigoted and superior.

Well, why didn’t you list any of these alleged benefits? Where, exactly, are the benefits for gay couples? What benefits would they gain from not being married?

June 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm
(8) Tamar says:

Being that, up until recently, religion has held control of nearly every aspect of human life, the plethora of concepts that could be considered religious and should thus not be used for any other purpose abounds.

And yet, more importantly, why is this particularly word a problem? Why is the usage so repugnant when used by gays? I think this is the greater issue.

June 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm
(9) humble says:

Austin,

I did list some benefits, maybe I wasn’t clear.

1) Tax benefits

2) Health care (although most companies will recognize a gay partner for health insurance, not all of them do, but a spouse is almost always automatically covered)

3) Estate stuff. When someone dies and they jointly hold assets with another person, or if they hold assets in their own name (i.e., a house, a bank account, etc…) those assets are frozen by the IRS until the applicable estate taxes are paid.

There is no taxing or freezing of assets passing from one marriage partner to another.

Assuming an average income – the financial benefits of a legal status would be significant.

I think most of these things can be worked around with a sufficiently detailed probate or will, but they will often be taxed and there will often be a difference if a couple is legally recognized as married and if they are not.

I hear you regarding the potential for bigotry with a different name, etc… and believe you when you say that the larger gay community is really pushing for marriage and not civil unions.

But the legal benefits are really significant.

Honestly, I think the primary benefit for gay couples in calling it something else, is that it would pass and get them legal status much more quickly.

That nets real, actual financial benefits… I’m not sure I would hold out for the “principle” of the larger vision here – but it doesn’t apply to me directly.

June 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm
(10) Austin Cline says:

I did list some benefits, maybe I wasn’t clear.

You listed benefits of marriage, not of getting rid of civil marriages.

Honestly, I think the primary benefit for gay couples in calling it something else, is that it would pass and get them legal status much more quickly.

Would that have been a benefit for interracial couples to not try to get their unions recognized as valid marriages? If you would not have supported this same policy in the context of interracial unions, why not?

Upon what basis do you think that such a tactic would succeed in getting gays the status in question? Measures designed to ban gay marriage typically ban government from giving official recognition to any status that is “like” marriage. This is why the federal government won’t recognize “civil unions” performed in places where they are legal. So since the anti-gay-marriage forces also try to ban civil unions, I find your idea that gays should stop trying to get married and instead work for something else to be rather hard to believe.

I’m not sure I would hold out for the “principle” of the larger vision here – but it doesn’t apply to me directly.

What makes you think that it is only a “principle” involved?

June 10, 2008 at 9:04 pm
(11) Jim says:

Well, I think I have the perfect solution to this problem. However I am sure no one will like it.

The way I see it is that there are only two fair options. 1) marriage is granted to all who what it; or 2) there should be absolutely no state recognition of marriage. Choose one.

June 11, 2008 at 12:50 am
(12) Tep says:

So see what’s going on from a bit different perspective, change the idea from reserving “marriage” for religion only and using a new term for non-religious commitments to coining a new term for the religious to use, like “religious marriage”.

Now, assuming the state can recognize marriages but has no special extra meaning for “religious marriages” that only religious people (with the consent of their religion) can enter into, is having same-sex couples getting married still threatening? Do you believe the government should provide some special added benefit to the “religiously married”?

June 11, 2008 at 11:10 am
(13) humble says:

Austin wrote:[So since the anti-gay-marriage forces also try to ban civil unions, I find your idea that gays should stop trying to get married and instead work for something else to be rather hard to believe.]

I’m not saying they should stop trying to get married.

I’m saying that there are two primary interested parties here, 1) religious people with a conservative view of marriage as being between a man and woman and this being a sacrament and 2) gay couples, religious and non-religious who want legal standing and who want to be treated with dignity and respect as equals in their relationships.

It seems to me that an equitable solution would be to find something that doesn’t denegrate either group.

If bigotry is wrong, then let’s not take an anti-gay agenda of intolerance and bigotry and trade it for an anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry.

June 11, 2008 at 11:53 am
(14) Austin Cline says:

I’m saying that there are two primary interested parties here, 1) religious people with a conservative view of marriage as being between a man and woman and this being a sacrament and 2) gay couples, religious and non-religious who want legal standing and who want to be treated with dignity and respect as equals in their relationships.

I challenge the notion that religious people with a conservative view of marriage are any more an “interested party” than they are when it comes to other people’s divorces, interracial marriages, open marriages, interfaith marriages, etc. How and why are they any more an “interested party” when it comes to gay marriages than they are when it comes to my marriage?

It seems to me that an equitable solution would be to find something that doesn’t denegrate either group.

This assumes that other people entering into marriages that certain people disapprove of means that this latter group is “denigrated.” I challenge this, as well.

If bigotry is wrong, then let’s not take an anti-gay agenda of intolerance and bigotry and trade it for an anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry.

This seems to assume that civil marriages which certain Christians disapprove of would entail an anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry. I would challenge that even if it were the case that all Christians disapproved of the marriages in question, but the fact is they don’t all disapprove — only some do. So there two challenges here: how can civil marriages disapproved of by Christians entail an “anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry,” and how can it be an “anti-Christian agenda” when there are Christians pushing for those civil marriages? In effect, you’re defining “Christian” according to the political demands on one group of American Christians.

It seems to me that you are trying to argue for a “compromise” when one of the two parties has no other involvement besides disapproving of what the first group wants to do. There is no indication that the latter group will be negatively impacted aside from personal disapproval. That’s not a sound basis for arguing that the latter side should get any sort of legal concession and that the former group should give up something that they are working towards.

June 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm
(15) tracieh says:

Marriage, as a concept and institution predates the Bible. And its found in may different forms in cultures around the globe in different mixes of religious and nonreligious contexts. The Christian church used to not be in the business of handling or sanctioning marriages–so what exactly is the church’s current claim to ownership of the term or the institution? It serves a civil, social function, so why shouldn’t it be in the state’s domain?

However the state defines it, it only becomes a problem when it impacts free excercise. So, if a religious polygamist, for example, wants to challenge the two-person minimum–THAT’S a case. Allowing gays to get married, however, doesn’t limit anyone else’s marriage options or freedom to exercise those options in alignment with their religion.

What’s the problem here, really?

June 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(16) DeeGee says:

Humble,

I echo Austin’s latest remarks to you. Tell me this, why should a whole group of people who have no control over a particular personal trait (i.e. sexual orientation) be denied something that everyone else has the right to do (i.e. marry)? Many southern whites were “offended” that their white children had to attend public schools with black children after the 1954 Brown case but their “offense” could not trump the right those black children had to attend those public schools after the Brown decision.

The intolerance on same-sex marriage is by those religious folks who want to deny same-sex couples something that opposite-sex couples are allowed to do (i.e. marry). Those intolerant, religious folks have no right to impose their religious beliefs onto others through the power of government.

As I have said many times on this issue and others involving intolerance, pointing out intolerance by others is not intolerance. Instead, it is imperative that such intolerance is exposed for others to see so it can be eliminated (or, perhaps, ridiculed).

June 11, 2008 at 3:46 pm
(17) humble says:

Austin wrote:[I challenge the notion that religious people with a conservative view of marriage are any more an “interested party” than they are when it comes to other people’s divorces, interracial marriages, open marriages, interfaith marriages, etc. How and why are they any more an “interested party” when it comes to gay marriages than they are when it comes to my marriage?]

Well, part of the reason is, the groups you mention above aren’t lobbying for legislation at the moment.

A couple of things here.

I, personally believe that gay couples can do what they want. They probably will regardless of my belief either way… but I have no issues there.

Also, I personally see no reason why they shouldn’t have legal standing as married people. I really don’t care if it’s called marriage or something else.

I think what I’m trying to express (albeit very badly) is that there might be an issue of religious freedom here.

From the perspective of the conservative religious folks who are opposing homosexual marriage, homosexuality itself is morally wrong.

They range from complete and utter bigots just screaming nonsense over and over to more sane (though potentially still mistaken) people who say that they aren’t targeting homosexuals at all, but any sexual behavior outside of the sacrament of marriage as defined in a certain way is actually harmful to the individual and to society.

They may be wrong about that, but it is easy for me to understand why many people in this group feel threatened.

It would be like asking a Hindu to agree to pass a law saying that eating beef is fine and cows are not sacred because by holding that belief they are being bigoted and intolerant towards meat eaters.

They just can’t do that and remain true to their conviction.

I guess I’m just hoping that one group can get what they want without screwing the other… but maybe that isn’t an option in this case.

DeeGee – I hear what you’re saying, but I’ve never liked the argument that “I was just born this way.”

That doesn’t work for anyone else, in any other context.

If that is fair game, then the religious right bigoted anti-gay person could say that they are just genetically predisposed to be intolerant, they don’t have any choice.

June 11, 2008 at 4:49 pm
(18) Austin Cline says:

Well, part of the reason is, the groups you mention above aren’t lobbying for legislation at the moment.

That won’t work. Conservative Christians can’t have an interest in the marriages of gays simply because gays are lobbying for marriage rights — the interest must lie in some other feature or relationship.

I think what I’m trying to express (albeit very badly) is that there might be an issue of religious freedom here.

In what way can Mary’s religious freedom create limits on what Joe and John do in their personal lives? If Mary has a “religious freedom” claim to say that Joe and John can’t have a civil marriage simply because Mary has faith-based objections to the idea of a same-sex marriage, what other aspects of all our lives can be restricted simply because Mary doesn’t like it?

From the perspective of the conservative religious folks who are opposing homosexual marriage, homosexuality itself is morally wrong.

They had the same opposition to interracial marriages. They have had the same opposition to divorces. I’m still waiting to learn why those couldn’t have been banned because of Mary’s “religious freedom.”

Perhaps what you need to do is explain how and why you are defining “religious freedom” to mean something more than what a person does in their own lives.

They may be wrong about that, but it is easy for me to understand why many people in this group feel threatened.

I understand why they feel threatened, but I think that your perception here is mistaken. They are threatened because they are a privileged group which is having its privileges taken away. Just about every issue for Christian Nationalists involves some cultural, social, or political privilege (something which they had or benefited from merely because of being Christian and which no one else had) which is either being taken away or expended to include everyone. In every case, Christians make the same arguments about losing religious liberty when in reality they are only losing an unjust privilege.

Gay marriage is a perfect example of the privilege issue because for so long, heterosexuals have been privileged with marriage. It’s not just about taxes and hospital visitation, but about the community recognizing the significance of their relationships as well as the ability to form new, important kinship bonds. Gays haven been denied equality in all this and now they are lobbying for equality.

Here is where the apparently nonsensical claim that gay marriage will undermine marriage comes in. It sounds ridiculous to think that one couple’s marriage could be “harmed” because of gays marrying, but what is being harmed is the privilege of marriage — heterosexuals will no longer be privileged and so some will feel like they are no longer being told how special, important, and better they are.

It would be like asking a Hindu to agree to pass a law saying that eating beef is fine and cows are not sacred because by holding that belief they are being bigoted and intolerant towards meat eaters.

Actually, it’s just like asking Christians to agree to laws allowing interracial marriages and no-fault divorces. Christians have had religious objections to such laws, yet here we are with them. What’s the difference?

I guess I’m just hoping that one group can get what they want without screwing the other… but maybe that isn’t an option in this case.

So long as Christian Nationalists stake their identity on being privileged, they will be screwed in the end.

June 11, 2008 at 5:16 pm
(19) deegee says:

Humble, you have got to be kidding me. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of “disorders” back in 1973. Being intolerant or a bigot is a personal choice and is not recognized by the APA as something genetic. Being homosexual is genetic and is not a choice. Do you really think someone would wake up one morning and declare, “I am going to be homosexual from now on. I will be scoffed at by others, perhaps assaulted, and be given fewer rights by the government than if I were heterosexual?”

People who are born with black skin have no choice about their skin color. People born had no choice about their given gender (sex-change folks notwithstanding). Same thing with sexual orientation. The problem is that you intolerant religious folks prefer to attack homosexuality by declaring it a “choice” so it can be demonized and used as justification for denying equal rights. Just because you “don’t like it” doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Your argument is nonsense.

June 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm
(20) deegee says:

Humble, you said, “homosexuality is itself morally wrong.” Who decided that it was morally wrong? I do not consider it morally wrong (and I am not gay, only an atheist). To me, saying homosexuality is morally wrong is like saying, “being black is morally wrong” or “being female is morally wrong” or “heterosexuality is morally wrong.” If your answer is, “the bible says homosexuality is morally wrong,” then you are trying to impose your religious beliefs onto others, and THAT is surely wrong. I do not believe the bible – it is merely a religious document for people of some religions – not of others and not of atheists.

June 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm
(21) Austin Cline says:

Humble, you said, “homosexuality is itself morally wrong.”

Actually, he said that “From the perspective of the conservative religious folks who are opposing homosexual marriage, homosexuality itself is morally wrong.” And he’s right — from their perspective, homosexuality is indeed morally wrong and gay marriage would be something like sacrilege. That’s really not in question.

What is in question is whether such theological opinions are a sufficient basis for restricting the behavior of other through the use of state power. If it is legitimate for the state to ban gay marriage because some Christians have religious objections to it, why isn’t it legitimate for the state to ban interracial marriages or divorces because some Christians object to those? Why isn’t it legitimate for the state to ban women in public office because some Christians object to women having authority over men?

Just to make it absolutely clear, the question at hand is whether the civil, secular laws which apply to everyone can and should be written so that they are in accordance with the theological beliefs of some. And, if so, why just conservative Christians. There are Hindus in America who object to eating beef, so why isn’t that a reason for the state to ban McDonald’s? There are Muslims in America who object to women walking around wearing so little clothing, so why not ban that?

Humble doesn’t say that he agrees with the conservative Christians above. Then again, to suggest that their theology should be a legitimate basis for denying marriage equality for gays is objectively siding with the oppressor. I see no difference between that and someone saying that interracial couples should have to settle for the separate but equal institution of “civil unions” simply because some Christians have religious objections to whites marrying blacks. That, too, would be objectively siding with the oppressors even if the person in question does not personally harbor any racial bigotry themselves.

June 11, 2008 at 10:21 pm
(22) John says:

If you really want to punish homosexuals just for being homosexual, legalize gay marriage, but make gay divorce illegal.

June 12, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(23) humble says:

DeeGee wrote:[Humble, you have got to be kidding me. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of “disorders” back in 1973. Being intolerant or a bigot is a personal choice and is not recognized by the APA as something genetic. Being homosexual is genetic and is not a choice. Do you really think someone would wake up one morning and declare, “I am going to be homosexual from now on. I will be scoffed at by others, perhaps assaulted, and be given fewer rights by the government than if I were heterosexual?”]

This is a very separate issue from the question of homosexual marriage.

But here is why I don’t like the argument.

I have a close friend who was raped repeatedly as a child by a homosexual man.

The offender claimed that his sexual preference for male children, was genetic, and uncontrollable.

So, help me understand the difference between your claim and the reference to the man above.

Do you really think he just woke up one morning and said, “I am going to be sexual predator from now on. I will be scoffed at by others, perhaps assaulted, and be given fewer rights by the government than if I were heterosexual, because I’ll be in prison?”

What if it turns out that he is correct, and there IS a genetic component to being sexually attracted to children?

Are you really saying that a complex set of social behaviors like sexuality has no component of choice, but is purely genetic?

That seems ridiculous to me. Especially when you consider that very simple point that genetic traits are passed down through reproduction.

If homosexuality were irrestible and only genetic… homosexuals would eventually eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

It just isn’t that simple. There are environmental and psychosexual complexities to this and all sexual behavior that are shaped by our families (or other relationships) and personal experiences.

I do think genetic makeup gives us certain predispositions. But I don’t think the genetic potential and predisposition for homosexuality is any more of a given than the genetic predisposition and tendency towards being an olympic athlete.

I’m in a monogamous heterosexual married relationship. Am I’m sympathetic to the argument in that I don’t think I could “choose” to be homosexual any more than I could “choose” to turn myself into a pumpkin. But I could be celibate if I chose to, or choose multiple sexual partners, etc… but I don’t.

Maybe homosexuality is a genetic marker on the level of gender or skin color.

But what we do, or don’t do, bears a level of individual response and accountabiliy that the “I was born that way” argument completely leaves out.

June 12, 2008 at 2:31 pm
(24) Austin Cline says:

So, help me understand the difference between your claim and the reference to the man above.

Consent. I’m surprised you can’t think of it yourself.

What if it turns out that he is correct, and there IS a genetic component to being sexually attracted to children?

So he’s attracted to children — the inability of children to consent means that he can’t act on it.

Are you really saying that a complex set of social behaviors like sexuality has no component of choice, but is purely genetic?

No one is saying that every sexually-related behavior is purely genetic; however, which sex you are attracted to appears to be mostly to entirely biological and thus outside one’s conscious control

If homosexuality were irrestible and only genetic… homosexuals would eventually eliminate themselves from the gene pool.

This statement relies upon significant misunderstandings of genetic inheritance.

I’m sympathetic to the argument in that I don’t think I could “choose” to be homosexual any more than I could “choose” to turn myself into a pumpkin. But I could be celibate if I chose to, or choose multiple sexual partners, etc… but I don’t.

When you are comparing homosexuality to something that is legitimately analogous, you find the argument is reasonable; when you compare it something not analogous, you find the argument is not reasonable. This indicates that if you focus on comparing homosexuality to less legitimately analogous things, like multiple sexual partners, you are only doing so in order to justify a preferred conclusion that you don’t want to let go of.

That wouldn’t be honest. Homosexuality is directly comparable to heterosexuality, not being celibate, preferring blondes, etc. This is the level on which the issue must be addressed. If you cannot choose to be attracted to men and do not believe there was ever a point in your life where you made a choice to be attracted to women, then you should do gays the courtesy of accepting that the situation is basically the same for them.

June 12, 2008 at 6:44 pm
(25) deegee says:

Humble, the issue about whether homosexuality is genetic or not is very much related to whether same-sex marriage should be permitted. Many of those who oppose same-sex (gay) marriage believe that homosexuality is immoral, a sin, which implies choice. If you can take the issue of homosexuality being a choice out of the equation (i.e. it is genetic), it becomes much more difficult to justify denying homosexuals the right to marry any more than you could justify the right of blacks to marry, or redheads to marry, or short people to marry.

Your comparison to the sex offender who claimed his compulsion to rape children was genetic was also way off base – and not only for the reason Austin gave. It is a lot different for the APA to declare something genetic than a sex offender to make a self-serving statement about his compulsion being genetic (to try to get acquitted of his crime or be convicted of a lesser charge). If the APA one day declares the rape of children to be genetic, then I will stand corrected. However, nobody other than sex offenders or perhaps NAMBLA is making that statement. And, even if the APA were to declare it that way, then Austin’s remark about consent surely overrides it.

Your comparison to olympic athletes is also off base the same way a tall person is not predisposed to be a basketball player – it takes interest and training, too. I have perfect pitch but I am not predisposed to be a musician.

Sexuality, as you define it by “behavior,” is not genetic. Sexual orientation is genetic. But sexual orientation indicates the gender someone is predisposed to desire to have sex with, that’s all.

You don’t seem to understand genetics, as Austin pointed out. Many traits are passed down through reproduction. Everything from diseases to hair and eye color are passed down. We don’t see diseases disappearing from reproduction (they disappear from medical science finding cures). Homosexuality is not going anywhere, either.

As Austin said, being celibate is not the same as being homosexual. The former is an outward sexual behavioral choice – to not have sex. The latter is an the inborn sexual attraction to people of the same sex. Homosexuals can be celibate, just like heterosexuals. Homosexuals can have multiple sex partners, just like heterosexuals. Sexual orientation is not the same as sexual acts. Please stop interchanging the two.

Humble, imagine yourself in a Jerry Seinfeld “Bizarro World” in which people could marry only those of the *same* sex. Then, you would have been prohibited from marrying someone of the opposite sex. Wouldn’t that make you angry? You would say, “I love this person, I want to marry this person, why can’t I?” When told you could only marry if you married someone of the same sex, you would reply, “I don’t love anyone of the same sex that way, I never did and never would. I deserve the same right to marry the person of the gender of my choice the same way same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Give me that right!” How does that sound?!

June 13, 2008 at 4:31 pm
(26) Kenneth says:

I may be confused, but why is the government in the “marriage” business at all? Why not get out of it entirely? Churches that recognize gay and lesbian marriages would register their marriages and other churches would register the marriages they recognize. Both types of couples would then rgister a domestic partnership with the govenment. That would seem to solve the problem, wouldn’t it? Or am I missing something?

June 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm
(27) Austin Cline says:

I may be confused, but why is the government in the “marriage” business at all?

Because it’s not a “business,” it’s the establishment of new kinship ties. This leads to innumerable complications with regards to inheritance, proxy decisions, child custody, and so forth.

Churches that recognize gay and lesbian marriages would register their marriages and other churches would register the marriages they recognize. Both types of couples would then rgister a domestic partnership with the govenment. That would seem to solve the problem, wouldn’t it? Or am I missing something?

What about people who aren’t Christian and don’t have churches? What about people who aren’t religious and don’t see the need for any religious figures to give their approval for a marriage?

What’s the point of saying that government should get out of the “marriage” business and then say that they should create an entirely new business called “domestic partnership”? If there is no difference between “domestic partnership” and “marriage,” what was the point of creating the new legal category in the first place — unless it’s perhaps to placate bigots who want to pretend that they have some sort of cultural or religious ownership over the “marriage” concept?

June 16, 2008 at 10:07 am
(28) humble says:

DeeGee and Austin,

I hear what you’re saying.

Can you help me understand the following? You both have taken issue with the point that genetic traits are passed down through reproduction.

DeeGee wrote:[You don’t seem to understand genetics, as Austin pointed out. Many traits are passed down through reproduction. Everything from diseases to hair and eye color are passed down. We don’t see diseases disappearing from reproduction (they disappear from medical science finding cures). Homosexuality is not going anywhere, either.]

If homosexuals don’t reproduce…or if they reproduce a lot less frequently… wouldn’t that necessarily result in a lowering of the genetic component that causes homosexual preference over time and generations?

Can you direct me to an actual scientific study that says otherwise or makes the actual correct stance of genetics related to homosexuality and how it is passed from generation to generation more clear?

June 16, 2008 at 10:37 am
(29) Austin Cline says:

If homosexuals don’t reproduce…or if they reproduce a lot less frequently… wouldn’t that necessarily result in a lowering of the genetic component that causes homosexual preference over time and generations?

No, not necessarily. First, if we adopt the simplistic perspective that it’s a single gene, then that can get passed down recessively so long as it doesn’t create any survival disadvantages when recessive. It will be even more common if it provides survival advantages when recessive. Creating survival disadvantages when two are combined isn’t enough for it to disappear entirely. Just look at how Tay Sachs has survived, and that’s a lot worse from the perspective of survival than homosexuality.

Second, if we adopt the more complex (and likely) perspective that it involves a number of different genes interacting, then it would be difficult for it to disappear entirely because all of those genes may be providing important survival advantages which simply result in a side effect of homosexuality now and again.

Third, if we adopt the far more complex (and perhaps even more likely) perspective that there are additional biological factors that go beyond genetics (like the environment in the womb), then there is an even lower chance that a lack of reproduction among gays would lead to a disappearance of homosexuality.

Fourth, even if gays don’t themselves reproduce, this doesn’t mean that they can’t aid in the survival of their genes. A gay uncle who doesn’t reproduce and thus doesn’t have children competing for resources may be able to invest time and protection for nieces and nephews carrying a quarter of his genes. Lots of his genetic code will survive.

Fifth, how do you know how much gays reproduced generally in the past? It’s only recently that gays have been able to be outside the closet and live their own lives without apology — and even then, only in a portion of the world. Gays in the past had to pretend to be straight and many had children.

Sixth, why should humans be special in this regard? All other animal special studied closely enough have been found to have homosexuality. If homosexuality hasn’t disappeared from birds, cats, and other animals which can have far greater pressures against survival and reproduction, why would it disappear from humans?

There is not yet any definitive answer on the genetic component of homosexuality, but twin studies indicate that a strong one is there. What you need to do first is look at how apparently negative traits are easily passed on from generation to generation without being eliminated. It’s not that hard — and it shouldn’t be that hard to conceptualize, given the fact that humanity continues to have plenty of genes that make survival and/or reproduction difficult. Why haven’t they all been eliminated? Genetics is more complex than you realize. You’re going to need to work through the basics before tackling the current state of research on genetics and homosexuality.

June 16, 2008 at 10:48 am
(30) humble says:

Austin wrote:[Just to make it absolutely clear, the question at hand is whether the civil, secular laws which apply to everyone can and should be written so that they are in accordance with the theological beliefs of some. And, if so, why just conservative Christians.]

I’m not convinced this is the actual question at hand.

I’m not aware of any laws being written or passed that fit this criteria. I don’t think anyone would agree to this as a means of writing law, including the most dogmatic Christians I know.

What is happening is that there are current laws on the books (concerning marriage and the nature of marriage) that happen to agree with a more conservative theological stance. A group that disagrees is lobbying for those laws to change.

So, if we reframed the question with Austin’s criteria it might look something like, “should civil, secular laws which apply to everyone be changed if they are in accordance with the theological beliefs of some?”

The answer to that one is clear. I can’t think of any law that wouldn’t agree with someone’s theological belief. Prohibitions against murder, purgery and the like also happen to be in the ten commandments and other religious teachings…

So then, upon what basis should we change the law? Because the people who agree with the law are bigots, or wrong, or whatever?

No, that doesn’t follow either.

It seems to me that if the real issue is equality for a certain group that deserves it, then let that be the case. If the only real opposition is another fringe group that is out to lunch, leave them out of the discussion as much as possible.

The anti-Christian rhetoric does as much to cloud the issue as the anti-gay rhetoric.

June 16, 2008 at 11:06 am
(31) humble says:

Austin wrote:[There is not yet any definitive answer on the genetic component of homosexuality, but twin studies indicate that a strong one is there.]

If that is true, then until there is a definitive answer, people need to stop acting like this is a given, even if they don’t like the implications.

And comparing homosexuality to be being black, or being female seems to be overstating the case.

Thanks for the response – I’m not seeing a link or reference to any actual research, basics or otherwise.

I’ve only seen references to the twin studies, but my understanding is that they show that only about 50% of the time, are both siblings gay.

If it were genetic, or overwhelmingly genetic, wouldn’t that be a lot closer to 100%?

They share 100% of their genetic makeup, they shared the same conditions in the womb – what do we do with the other 50%? Recessive genes don’t make the case for that population.

June 16, 2008 at 11:08 am
(32) Austin Cline says:

I’m not convinced this is the actual question at hand.

Actually, it was you who helped make it the question at hand by arguing on behalf of the idea that gays not be “married” but instead settle for a “civil union” in order to please the concerns of certain Christians. You claimed that certain religious people are somehow an “interested party” in the marriages of others and, therefore, that perhaps marriage laws should be written in such a way that their “interests” are included.

You have taken the position that gay couples should be given “legal standing under a different name” from marriage and based solely on the idea that it would somehow infringe on the religious freedom of people who object to gay marriage. You have never explained or justified any of this argument, but the fact remains that you are the one proposing a new legal institution for the sake of pleasing certain religious believers.

So, if we reframed the question with Austin’s criteria it might look something like, “should civil, secular laws which apply to everyone be changed if they are in accordance with the theological beliefs of some?”

Yes, if the only reasons for those laws are theological.

Moreover, there aren’t always requests for changes to marriage laws — just requests that the laws already on the books be applied fairly. Not all laws specify different-gender couples.

Finally, you are still forgetting that you proposed creating a new legal category for gays — something separate from but equal to marriage. You have not spent any time or effort justifying this and your own basis for even suggesting it is so that marriage laws can be in accordance with the theological beliefs of some (not that they really would be anyway — the fact that only gay marriage is singled out in this way is another issue you have kept avoiding).

The anti-Christian rhetoric does as much to cloud the issue as the anti-gay rhetoric.

Feel free to point to any anti-Christian rhetoric being used here. Remember, there are Christians who support legalized gay marriage, so criticism of the theological position against gay marriage cannot be construed as being inherently anti-Christian.

A lot of your claims, ideas, and arguments have been questioned and challenged. You have responded to few if any of those questions and challenges. I really think you should back up, take another look, and start giving more rigorous support to the position you have taken.

Or, abandon the position if you find it is insupportable.

June 16, 2008 at 11:34 am
(33) Austin Cline says:

If that is true, then until there is a definitive answer, people need to stop acting like this is a given, even if they don’t like the implications.

When all the evidence points to one thing, and no evidence points to anything else, then that “one thing” should be taken as a given even if we don’t have all the details on how it works.

Thanks for the response – I’m not seeing a link or reference to any actual research, basics or otherwise.

I’m figuring you’re capable enough to find basic texts on genetics and start from there. If you aren’t motivated enough to do that, then you won’t be motivated enough to read and try to understand the material anyway. But, if you need any pointers for starting, I’m sure your community has a library.

I’ve only seen references to the twin studies, but my understanding is that they show that only about 50% of the time, are both siblings gay.

A bit higher, actually.

If it were genetic, or overwhelmingly genetic, wouldn’t that be a lot closer to 100%?

No. Once again, genetics is far more complex than you realize. To cite just one issue, having identical DNA doesn’t mean that every gene will be expressed identically. As points of comparison, twin studies show less than 50% for certain mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

If homosexuality were not genetic, then the rate of two twins both being gay should be around 5%. Since it’s more like 55%, that demonstrates a tremendous amount of genetic influence.

They share 100% of their genetic makeup, they shared the same conditions in the womb

Obviously the conditions in the womb aren’t identical for everyone there, that’s why there are differences in birth weight and other physical characteristics.

June 16, 2008 at 1:52 pm
(34) humble says:

Austin wrote:[Actually, it was you who helped make it the question at hand by arguing on behalf of the idea that gays not be “married” but instead settle for a “civil union” in order to please the concerns of certain Christians. ]

No.

I’m arguing that the separation of the civil definition of marriage from the religious one is a possible compromise between two groups who disagree fundamentally about what marriage is and what it means.

It would apply equally for both gays and straight couples. If either group at that point, wants to add a religious significance to their relationship, they are free to do so.

That answers both the primary religious and civil concerns.

I’m open to other alternatives. If one of the the groups in question does not feel like this is a good solution and will not agree to it, that is their perogative.

But not everyone who believes that a certain behavior is morally wrong is a bigot, even if they are misguided or mistaken in that belief.

Everyone draws a line in terms of acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior. Someone who draws the line in a different place from where you do is not necessarily a bigot… and they are not necessarily wrong, simply because you don’t agree.

June 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm
(35) Austin Cline says:

I’m arguing that the separation of the civil definition of marriage from the religious one is a possible compromise between two groups who disagree fundamentally about what marriage is and what it means.

You are only recommending it for the sake of particular groups of religious believers and only because of homosexuality (not interracial marriages, marriage after divorce, etc.). This makes it all about homosexuality and some believers objections to it. This therefore also makes it an attempt to create a new legal category simply because some religious believers don’t like gay marriage.

I’m open to other alternatives.

Irrelevant unless and until good secular reasons can be given for your proposal in the first place. If the only reason for it is to placate some religious believers’ objections to gay marriage, then it’s simply not worth considering in the first place.

But not everyone who believes that a certain behavior is morally wrong is a bigot, even if they are misguided or mistaken in that belief.

Homosexuality is an orientation, not a behavior, and people how object to gay marriage as morally wrong are every bit as bigoted as people who objected to interracial marriage.

Everyone draws a line in terms of acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior.

And that’s always fine when it concerns their own behavior. When they start attempting to draw lines for others’ private behavior, it can be much harder to justify.

June 16, 2008 at 5:23 pm
(36) humble says:

Austin wrote:[A lot of your claims, ideas, and arguments have been questioned and challenged. You have responded to few if any of those questions and challenges. I really think you should back up, take another look, and start giving more rigorous support to the position you have taken.

Or, abandon the position if you find it is insupportable.]

Actually, I’ve only found that my claims, positions and arguments have been mis-stated and this has often been coupled with a personal attack on me that has nothing to do with what I actually believe or don’t believe.

The only bigotry and intolerance I’m seeing has been towards me, and not from any mythical conservative Christians.

But name one thing that has been challenged that I’ve actually said and I’ll do my best to support it.

June 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm
(37) Austin Cline says:

Actually, I’ve only found that my claims, positions and arguments have been mis-stated

For example?

Unless any of my questions about or challenges to your statements can be shown to be mis-stating your position, this is no excuse whatsoever for ignoring those questions and challenges. I’ve questioned the implications of your claims and challenged your premises. You can’t continue to defend your position while ignoring so much of what’s been said to you — it would be intellectually dishonest.

The only bigotry and intolerance I’m seeing has been towards me, and not from any mythical conservative Christians.

Feel free to point it out. Then, feel free to point out how it isn’t bigotry and intolerance to try to pass constitutional amendments banning recognition not just of gay marriages, but also of any sort of legal arrangements that are like marriage. There are plenty of other cases where these allegedly “mythical” conservative Christians (as well as adherents of other relgions) have been engaged in significant bigotry and intolerance towards gays.

But name one thing that has been challenged that I’ve actually said and I’ll do my best to support it.

I’ll point out a bunch. I count 5 in comment #10, 3 in comment #14, and 2 in comment #18. Some of those arguably the same question or challenge restated, since you ignored them the first time or more. Do you really need me to quote them all?

June 17, 2008 at 11:21 am
(38) humble says:

Austin wrote: [You are only recommending it for the sake of particular groups of religious believers and only because of homosexuality (not interracial marriages, marriage after divorce, etc.). This makes it all about homosexuality and some believers objections to it. This therefore also makes it an attempt to create a new legal category simply because some religious believers don’t like gay marriage.]

You asked for an example of how my arguments have been twisted and misrepresented. This is an example. I’ve never said this and the inferences you are drawing are incorrect.

Austin wrote:[I’ve questioned the implications of your claims and challenged your premises. You can’t continue to defend your position while ignoring so much of what’s been said to you — it would be intellectually dishonest.]

Here are the claims I’ve actually made:

- Homosexuality is not solely based on genetics.

You agreed to that one. Using words like “mostly” and “no one is making that claim” – but DeeGee made that claim specifically. The more I read about the genetic studies here, the more I find that the data is simply inconclusive. There does seem to be some predisposition which is likely to be genetic, but it isn’t simple, and it isn’t a given.

- Civil union for all couples, straight and gay, may be a possible compromise – since it formally recognizes the separate nature of political and religious meanings of “marriage”.

That’s been pretty heavily rejected here, and that is fine. I just thought it was an intriguing possibility that in some sense, protected both groups. I’m more than willing to concede the point if this isn’t acceptable to the lobby that is seeking gay marriage, or if it were unacceptable to the religious conservative perspective.

- Conservative religious people have a right to defend their view of marriage.

Their position is that sexuality is an incredibly powerful and precious gift. That it is sacred and meaningful and should be treated in a very specific way. Namely, in a faithful, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman. Any sexual behavior outside of that treatment is prohibited, with consent or without. That includes heterosexual relationships with other adults of either sex, sex with children, animals, etc… They are not specifically targeting homosexuality, but would have an equal problem with any redefinition of marriage that changed it to mean something fundamentally other than what it does to them today, in terms of sexual behavior.

I’m not saying that they are correct. I’m certainly not saying that the way people have expressed themselves on this issue is without any problems… but they have a right to air their opinion and they have a right to vote on issues that concern them.

You’ve made the claim that people arguing against interracial marriage (which I’m assuming means people marrying other people with different skin color) and people arguing against divorce and remarriage after divorce is not different at all to people opposing homosexual marriage.

That covers a lot of ground, and is fundamentally different for a number of reasons. That position is so broad, and non-specific that I’m not sure it is possible to frame a legitimate response.

From the perspective of the conservative Christian view (as I understand it), people still argue against interracial marriage (not very many, but they are still out there), and they are wrong to do so. They were wrong 100 years ago, they were wrong in the 1950′s and they are still wrong. Views on divorce and re-marriage are extremely varied and there is not a consensus on how best to handle this one even among mainstream conservative Christian groups. They would agree that divorce is bad, but when it is allowed, if ever, varies and opinions or remarriage will vary.

- Not all conservative religious people are bigots.

They might lose that fight in terms of perception, and in terms of marriage law. But the argument is being put forward that either you say homosexuality is completely acceptable, or you’re a bigot.

It just isn’t that simple. There are other possibilities. Among them is the position that homosexuality is morally wrong, but held in such a way as to not be hateful or intolerant.

If you accept that Catholics are “Christian”, that Greek Orthodox believers are “Christian” and that Anglicans and mainstream denominations (say having more than 2 million members worldwide) count as “Christian” then more than 98% of Christians by their own stated beliefs and doctrinal statements believe that homosexuality is morally wrong.

To be sure, there are Christians within these groups who might have a differing opinion. And there are “Christians” who are part of other groups, smaller groups and who are not a part of any group… but the groups counting as Christian that are referenced above account for billions of people currently alive today.

Not all of them are bigots – to say otherwise is a ridiculous claim.

I would contend that to blithely relegate billions of people to being a virtual member of some equivalent to the KKK is a dishonest and dangerous practice.

If that argument were coming just from me, it would have little credibility.

But there is a surprisingly large and growing population of people who claim that they were once gay, but that they are not gay any longer. They know this issue intimately and have wrestled with the arguments on both sides in a way I can’t imagine. When this group says that being gay is morally wrong, that they were actively involved in a gay lifestyle and that they rejected that lifestyle to choose something else… it seems to me that they have to be taken seriously.

That group is strangely absent from any of the material you’ve referenced and I did not see an acknowledgment in the links provided where you’ve written about this a great deal. You’ve accused me of being dishonest because I haven’t responded to every criticism. That may be fair and I’ll try to find time to either be more clear, or admit I don’t have a good answer, which will often be the case.

Would that same criteria apply to the “ex-gay” community and their lack of mention in your material?

Their very existence is compelling evidence that the behavior and expression of homosexuality is not simply genetic and a given in the same way that being a certain ethnicity is.

I’m not aware of anyone who is a part of this group who is displaying any argument or behavior that would be considered hateful or intolerant as defined by our court system.

June 17, 2008 at 11:59 am
(39) Austin Cline says:

Austin wrote: [You are only recommending it for the sake of particular groups of religious believers and only because of homosexuality (not interracial marriages, marriage after divorce, etc.). This makes it all about homosexuality and some believers objections to it. This therefore also makes it an attempt to create a new legal category simply because some religious believers don’t like gay marriage.]

You asked for an example of how my arguments have been twisted and misrepresented. This is an example. I’ve never said this and the inferences you are drawing are incorrect.

So, you’re saying that you aren’t recommending your proposal because of gay marriages? Is this just a coincidence of timing?

Civil union for all couples, straight and gay, may be a possible compromise

This was based on the premise that opponents of gay marriage have an interest in gays’ marriages. You asserted they did specifically (you must have forgotten that when listing your claims). I challenged this and you never responded.

Conservative religious people have a right to defend their view of marriage.

That depends on what you mean by “defend.”

You’ve made the claim that people arguing against interracial marriage (which I’m assuming means people marrying other people with different skin color) and people arguing against divorce and remarriage after divorce is not different at all to people opposing homosexual marriage.

That covers a lot of ground, and is fundamentally different for a number of reasons. That position is so broad, and non-specific that I’m not sure it is possible to frame a legitimate response.

1. The arguments against gay marriage are almost identical to those made against interracial marriage.

2. People have objections to divorce and remarriage which are just are religious and legitimate (from a religious perspecive) as objections to gay marriage.

So, while there are of course differences, there are many important similarities. This leaves you with a problem: unless you can explain why the differences are so great that they make the cases non-analogous, you must explain why…

1. It wouldn’t be bigoted and racist to have recommended “civil unions” as a “compromise” on interracial marriage.

2. No one has tried to make a “civil unions compromise” in order to accommodate divorce and remarriage. If it’s not bigotry driving the desire to eliminate civil marriage, why didn’t it come up with all the other ways in which civil marriage is different from religious marriage?

But the argument is being put forward that either you say homosexuality is completely acceptable, or you’re a bigot. It just isn’t that simple.

Does the same hold true for living in the same neighborhood as blacks, being Jewish, interracial marriages, etc.? You agree that it’s “wrong” to argue against interracial marriages, but do you regard the position as bigoted or not? The argument I’m putting forward is that either you accept interracial marriages or you’re a bigot. Do you respond with “It just isn’t that simple” or not?

But there is a surprisingly large and growing population of people who claim that they were once gay, but that they are not gay any longer.

Homophobic Christians like to make this argument, but there is little to no evidence that “restoration therapy” works. Homosexuals may be able to stop acting on their orientation, but not stop being gay. Mainstream medical organizations, If I remember correctly, actually regard such “therapy” as harmful.

That group is strangely absent from any of the material you’ve referenced

For the same reason that creationist material is absent when I’m trying to explain evolutionary biology.

No, where are your answers to my questions and challenges? You said you’d do your “best” to answer if I pointed out even one; I pointed you to comments where there were several and you failed to even try. Is that suppose to be your “best” — to just keep ignoring questions and challenges no matter how often they are pointed out?

June 17, 2008 at 3:32 pm
(40) humble says:

Austin wrote:[So, you’re saying that you aren’t recommending your proposal because of gay marriages? Is this just a coincidence of timing?]

It’s not my proposal. I didn’t make it in the first place and could care less if people call it a “marriage”, a “civil union” or something else. My belief is that thinking will clarify more readily if someone takes an alternative position and takes a good shot at it.

In this case, I feel like both sides have a legitimate point, so was trying to explore that a bit.

Austin wrote:[This was based on the premise that opponents of gay marriage have an interest in gays’ marriages. You asserted they did specifically (you must have forgotten that when listing your claims). I challenged this and you never responded.]

Never said that. I think they have an interest in the definition of marriage overall and in not defining marriage in a way that is contrary to their own belief. That seems self evident, and that isn’t the same thing as targeting gay marriage and not targeting other groups who may also disagree.

Austin wrote:[1. The arguments against gay marriage are almost identical to those made against interracial marriage.]

No they aren’t. You’ve made that claim repeatedly, I still deny it. The first was made by a fringe group and still is made by a fringe group. It was refuted at the time as incorrect and is still refuted as incorrect today.

The people who initially opposed slavery, in Europe and in America were Christians and did so from a Christian perspective. Martin Luther King Junior was a Christian and led the civil rights movement from that perspective as well.

It is ridiculous to say that “Christians opposed interracial marriage – and look out! They’re at it again…” and to equate the two things.

Are you saying that because Dr. King didn’t include homosexuals as part of his rhetoric in the civil rights movement that he was a bigot?

Austin wrote:[2. People have objections to divorce and remarriage which are just are religious and legitimate (from a religious perspecive) as objections to gay marriage.]

Objections to divorce are more mainstream. And yes, this group argued against no fault divorce and voted against it when that became an option and it passed anyway. That is what it is.

Are you really making the claim that people who feel that marital reconciliation in almost all cases as being favorable to no fault divorce are bigots?

If not, then your argument is not analogous.

The negative effects of divorce are clearly documented and the prevalent rate of divorce is seen as a problem, while reducing the rate of divorce is viewed as positive almost universally by religious and non-religious people alike. Remarriage is a separate issue entirely.

Neither issue has anything to do with homosexual marriage.

Austin wrote: [1. It wouldn’t be bigoted and racist to have recommended “civil unions” as a “compromise” on interracial marriage.]

Right, that would not necessarily be bigoted or racist. It could theoretically be drawing a separation between the political and religious definitions of the relationship in a formal way. If it applied equally to both whites and blacks – it would not then be racist.

Now in the historical perspective, there certainly were attitudes towards marriage between white people and black people that were racist. But the argument was that black people were not really people in the same way that white people are. No one that I’m aware of is denying that homosexuals are really people.

Austin wrote:[2. No one has tried to make a “civil unions compromise” in order to accommodate divorce and remarriage. If it’s not bigotry driving the desire to eliminate civil marriage, why didn’t it come up with all the other ways in which civil marriage is different from religious marriage?]

That’s because there isn’t a law prohibiting remarriage in a civil sense. If there were, people who wanted to divorce and remarry would lobby for it and certain groups (such as Catholics) would oppose it based on their point of view.

The nature of our society allows people to disagree about important things.

I’m not intending to be condescending here, but I see this as a good thing, you seem to call it racism and bigotry and intolerance when those things are not necessarily present.

Austin wrote:[Does the same hold true for living in the same neighborhood as blacks, being Jewish, interracial marriages, etc.? You agree that it’s “wrong” to argue against interracial marriages, but do you regard the position as bigoted or not? The argument I’m putting forward is that either you accept interracial marriages or you’re a bigot. Do you respond with “It just isn’t that simple” or not?

It depends on how you define bigot. If you define it as "someone who disagrees with you" then yes, all conservative Christians are bigots. If it means, "acting in a hateful or intolerant manner" such as a court of law would accept, then some people who oppose interracial marriages could still be "wrong" but would not qualify as bigots. Same thing for people who feel that homosexuality is immoral.

Even if they are wrong, they are not necessarily bigots.

I also would point out that the word "interracial" may not be the best term. We're all homo sapiens. In that sense, there is only one "race" of people on earth. The varieties of ethnicity are quite minor when you get down to it. I understand what you're saying from a perspective of reference and in terms of the history of thought you're speaking of... but the assumption behind the word is a holdover from a more divisive time.

Austin wrote:[Homophobic Christians like to make this argument, but there is little to no evidence that “restoration therapy” works. Homosexuals may be able to stop acting on their orientation, but not stop being gay. Mainstream medical organizations, If I remember correctly, actually regard such “therapy” as harmful.]

It is interesting to me the names that people cook up to denigrate each other. Godless liberals, homophobic Christians, etc… I’m not sure how helpful those things are. Does the name have anything to do with what either group has to say?

Looking at this over the last few days, it seems that the latest research contradicts this. There is some recently published material that shows a 38% success rate of people who are voluntarily applying to the ‘restoration therapy’ techniques within a specific period of time. The research showed that there were no measurable “harmful” effects from the therapy techniques as reported from survey results from the people involved in the therapy directly.

I think it’s important to realize that these organizations are reactive, in that people come to them asking for help. Because they are a self-selected audience of volunteers that would have a big effect on the nature of this population – and on their responses I would think. If someone chose to be there then they would be less likely to view the process as harmful.

If they thought it was harmful, they would be less likely to sign up in the first place. However, that 62% of the participants either chose to retain homosexual behavior, or did not characterize that the process had “worked” yet for them, but still did not consider the process harmful would have meaning.

The mainstream medical organizations, since they take the position that homosexuality is not a disorder, do not recommend therapy to try to change it. But, interestingly, none of them actively prohibit it. That seemed odd to me and I couldn’t find a clear reason why not. It might be because there are a significant number of people who feel, for whatever reason, that homosexuality is not the right answer for them. They are free to pursue means to a different lifestyle if they want to.

Austin wrote:[For the same reason that creationist material is absent when I’m trying to explain evolutionary biology.]

I would challenge that one. This isn’t a theory about millions of years in the distant past where we are not able to directly observe the process. There are at least tens of thousands and at most hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, right now, who define themselves as ex-gay.

If there was a single individual who made this claim, it would be a problem. That there are thousands of people, who can be interviewed, studied, talked to and who claim personal experience with this particular issue and who would disagree with you seems incredibly relevant.

But then, perhaps you feel, that as a minority opinion going against what is an increasingly popular social opinion, they don’t deserve to be heard or even acknowledged. That is, at best, highly ironic, at worst, a refusal of your own process of review of evidence and critical thinking that may be cause for concern.

I would prefer that they be given a fair and objective hearing. If they are an exception or some concocted and elaborate hoax, that would probably become evident. If they are real people who are basically who they claim to be, they probably would add a great deal of relevant information to the discussion.

Austin wrote:[No, where are your answers to my questions and challenges? You said you’d do your “best” to answer if I pointed out even one; I pointed you to comments where there were several and you failed to even try. Is that suppose to be your “best” — to just keep ignoring questions and challenges no matter how often they are pointed out?]

I really am trying to dialogue in good faith. And I appreciate your time in responding, even if we ultimately disagree.

I asked for a single example, but haven’t gotten one yet. What am I missing? The back and forth has wandered greatly here, as these things tend to… is there something in particular that you feel I’m avoiding intentionally? I’m happy to try to clarify or admit that I’m wrong or don’t have a good answer, but it isn’t my intent to be subversive or deliberately evasive.

I honestly am not sure what you’re referring to at this point.

June 17, 2008 at 5:18 pm
(41) Austin Cline says:

It’s not my proposal.

I apologize for the poor choice of words. The idea didn’t originate with you, to be sure, but you have assumed some responsibility for defending it. This makes you partially responsible for the timing as well I’m afraid. If this is really just a bigoted attempt to deny gays marriage rights, but dressed up to look neutral, that reflects on you as a defender.

It would be different if, for example, you argued that it could be a nice idea if it were promoted consistently and if supporters had been saying the same for a while in contexts other than gay marriage. That would allow you to point out any positive points the idea has while acknowledging that, despite any positive points, it is being offered for different and far less positive reasons. Then those bad reasons wouldn’t reflect on you.

Austin wrote:[This was based on the premise that opponents of gay marriage have an interest in gays’ marriages. You asserted they did specifically (you must have forgotten that when listing your claims). I challenged this and you never responded.]

Never said that.

You called them an “interested party.” When it comes to a marriage, that means people with an interest in the marriage. I specifically challenged this and you never responded. Not once. If this was my misunderstanding based on your choice of words, it’s persisted solely because of your consistent refusal to answer almost every question put to you.

Austin wrote:[1. The arguments against gay marriage are almost identical to those made against interracial marriage.]

No they aren’t.

I can point to many places where the parallels are described and explored. I’ve written about it myself. More than once.

Feel free to actually make an argument yourself here for your position. Tell us specifically how and why the arguments against interracial marriage are not similar in any substantive and relevant way, or at least not enough, to the arguments against gay marriage.

You’ve made that claim repeatedly, I still deny it

Still? Point to where you denied it even once. I think if you had, I’d have provided the above links sooner.

It is ridiculous to say that “Christians opposed interracial marriage – and look out! They’re at it again…” and to equate the two things.

1. I haven’t generalized about Christians on this matter. On the contrary, I’ve pointed out more than once that some Christians support gay marriage and, therefore, the proposal you’re defending is really only to benefit a subset of Christians rather than Christianity generally.

2. The argument that there are important parallels between the two is based on much more than “look, Christians.” Your rendering of the position suggests that you have no idea what the parallels even are, and thus are in no position to deny them.

Are you saying that because Dr. King didn’t include homosexuals as part of his rhetoric in the civil rights movement that he was a bigot?

1. He did include homosexuals who later moved on to promote gay rights and his widow argued that gay civil rights is the continuation of King’s work. I suspect that he would have agreed; he was much more radical than most people give him credit for. Did you ever notice that when mainstream institutions praise him, they almost never quote from or show speeches from the last couple of years of your life? If this is news to you, you might want to look into why.

2. Please explain how this question is connected to anything I have said or to the fact — not the argument, because it is a fact which you have trouble accepting — that the rhetoric and arguments used against interracial marriage are so much like those being used now against gay marriage.

Are you really making the claim that people who feel that marital reconciliation in almost all cases as being favorable to no fault divorce are bigots?

If not, then your argument is not analogous.

No, you don’t understand the analogy. Let me try again: the objections to divorce & remarriage (note: that’s not the same word as “reconciliation”) are just as religious and sincere as objections to gay marriage. No one tried to argue for a “compromise” that would make marriage exclusive for people uniting in a church but give people remarrying after divorce a “civil union” instead. No one tried to argue for this with any of the many ways in which civil marriage has diverged from religious marriages.

This “compromise” is only offered now, in the face of gay marriages. The “reason” given is to “preserve” the traditional religious definition of marriage for certain Christians. Yet, they didn’t feel the need to do this at any point in time in the past. Ergo, the conclusion which forces its way to the front is that this isn’t so much about “preserving” a religious definition of marriage as it is about denying equality to gays.

Get it now?

Austin wrote: [1. It wouldn’t be bigoted and racist to have recommended “civil unions” as a “compromise” on interracial marriage.]

Right, that would not necessarily be bigoted or racist. It could theoretically be drawing a separation between the political and religious definitions of the relationship in a formal way. If it applied equally to both whites and blacks – it would not then be racist.

Defenders of anti-miscegenation laws said that since they applied to both blacks and whites equally, the laws weren’t racist. How is your statement any different?

But the argument was that black people were not really people in the same way that white people are.

No, I don’t remember seeing that argument made in the any of the attempts to defend antimiscegenation laws. I don’t think I saw it in any of the old newspaper editorials, court decisions, transcripts, or books. The idea that blacks were somehow less human was surely a popular prejudice, but I really don’t believe that it was ever offered as part of legal, cultural, and religious arguments against interracial marriage. Where have you seen it used? Please quote the people arguing that blacks and whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry because “black people are not really people” like us whites.

The nature of our society allows people to disagree about important things.

Indeed. And conservative Christians can disagree all they want with the morality of gay marriage, just as some disagree with the morality of divorce or interracial marriage. In some cases, that disagreement indeed involves bigotry and intolerance. Sometimes it’s not. When that disagreement is based on or promotes inequality, discrimination, or prejudice, then we are dealing with bigotry and intolerance.

If it means, “acting in a hateful or intolerant manner” such as a court of law would accept, then some people who oppose interracial marriages could still be “wrong” but would not qualify as bigots.

Can you point to one?

There is some recently published material that shows a 38% success rate of people who are voluntarily applying to the ‘restoration therapy’ techniques within a specific period of time.

Please point to the peer-reviewed scientific research that provides such numbers. I’m not talking about a press release from an anti-gay or ex-gay group. I want scientific data. The only peer-reviewed study I know of on this subject was done by Shidlo and Schroeder and it only found 3% of participants who could change, but at the same time many suffered demonstrable harm.

For example, in how many allegedly successful conversions was the sexual orientation of the subject adequately assessed? How many, for example, were actually bisexual instead of homosexual?

In how many of the allegedly successful conversions has it simply succeeded in stopping behavior but not attraction? How much follow-up has there been to determine if there is even much success in changing behavior?

What sorts of controls and safeguards are used in order to ensure that the therapies are the cause of “success” rather than something else entirely?

What even defines “success” here? For how long is the average subject an “ex” gay — one month? One year?

The mainstream medical organizations, since they take the position that homosexuality is not a disorder, do not recommend therapy to try to change it. But, interestingly, none of them actively prohibit it.

That’s not entirely true. Some organizations make it clear that ethical members cannot do it or refer patients to therapists who do it. This makes it sound like anyone who tries can be brought up on ethics charges in the organization and perhaps lose their license.

There are at least tens of thousands and at most hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, right now, who define themselves as ex-gay.

Far more, in the past, stayed in the closet, denied their sexuality, married, had children, and lived what appeared to be normal lives. That didn’t mean they weren’t gay, it just meant that they were successful in pretending otherwise.

Before you can assert the relevant nature of your above statement, you’ll need to be able to address all the concerns with ex-gay therapy — and what I listed only scratches the surface. Tell me, did you ask any of those questions before you accepted the legitimacy of this movement?

They are free to pursue means to a different lifestyle if they want to.

Homosexuality isn’t a “lifestyle.” That rhetoric is only used by anti-gay bigots.

But then, perhaps you feel, that as a minority opinion going against what is an increasingly popular social opinion, they don’t deserve to be heard or even acknowledged.

That would be a fair conclusion if I have refused to listen to or investigate creationist claims. In reality, I have spent a bunch of time with both the claims of creationists and ex-gay organizations. My position is a conclusion based on my investigation of what they claim, not an attempt to dismiss them simply because I disagree with them. I don’t know about you, but I asked pointed questions about the science and evidence behind the claims being made by ex-gay organizations and I found a complete lack of acceptable answers. Instead, I found pseudoscientific hand-waving that is quite reminiscent of creationism.

I asked for a single example, but haven’t gotten one yet.

At the bottom of post #37, I gave you the post numbers where there were multiple questions and challenges which you have ignored plus a count of how many could be found there. Despite the fact that almost all were clearly set off with question marks — a sure sign of a question — I still asked if you need me to quote them all.

You didn’t respond. You didn’t go back and answer the outstanding questions and challenges. You didn’t go back and pick out one to start with. You didn’t say “thanks, I’ll get to it but wanted to address this first.” You didn’t even complain that scrolling up was just too hard for you and could I please do you the favor of putting them in a brand new message so that you could finally focus on them (that would have been annoying, but at least it would have been a response).

Nope, there was just silence. You couldn’t have missed it. You couldn’t have misunderstood it. You couldn’t have failed to form some sort of response in your brain — when you read the words, some thought must have formed about what to do. So, you must have chosen to simply act as though it wasn’t there and ignore it, just as you must have done when most originally appeared (being generous and assuming that you could have missed a couple in the longer comments — it happens).

I really am trying to dialogue in good faith.

Given the immediately preceding exchange, I can’t believe that.

June 17, 2008 at 5:45 pm
(42) Drew says:

I got married, and I celebrate Christmas. Neither of these things has held, or ever will held, any religious significance for me. No Christian is going to tell me that I can’t use these terms, and no Christian is going to impose upon me his definition of what these words mean.

I also use the words “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” etc to name the days of the week. None of these words has held, or ever will held, any religious significance for me. No Viking is going to tell me that I can’t use these terms, and no Viking is going to impose upon me his definition of what these words mean.

June 17, 2008 at 6:15 pm
(43) humble says:

Austin,

This is the third, or perhaps the fourth time I’ve asked.

If you’re unable or unwilling to provide a single example of a question that I’ve evaded… I don’t know what to tell you. You can attack me personally all you wish.

I have no desire to respond in kind.

One example please.

June 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm
(44) Austin Cline says:

This is the third, or perhaps the fourth time I’ve asked.

At the bottom of post #37, I gave you the post numbers where there were multiple questions and challenges which you have ignored plus a count of how many could be found there. Despite the fact that almost all were clearly set off with question marks — a sure sign of a question — I still asked if you need me to quote them all. I don’t really feel like repeating questions that should have been addressed the first or second time they were asked.

You didn’t respond. You didn’t go back and answer the outstanding questions and challenges. You didn’t go back and pick out one to start with. You didn’t say “thanks, I’ll get to it but wanted to address this first.” You didn’t even complain that scrolling up was just too hard for you and could I please do you the favor of putting them in a brand new message so that you could finally focus on them (that would have been annoying, but at least it would have been a response).

Now you can also add several questions asked in comment #41. Once again, all you have to do is look for the question marks.

If you’re unable or unwilling to provide a single example of a question that I’ve evaded… I don’t know what to tell you.

If you are unable or unwilling to detect questions in the listed comments, then I don’t know what to tell you. I guess this is a test. If you are unable or unwilling to find questions in the posts I listed — just look for the question marks — then it seems unlikely that you’d be able to answer them anyway.

I have no desire to respond in kind.

I question your desire to respond at all. Questions have been asked more than once, without even an acknowledgement from you that you saw them. You’ve been pointed directly to the posts where questions appear and even told how many are then, again without even acknowledging that you have been given this information. Instead, you act as though I’m the one ignoring you.

I don’t believe that’s how an honest person behaves. That’s not a personal attack, despite how much you seem to like to complain that you are being attacked. That’s just an observation of human behavior. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that questions which cut to the heart of your claims are consistently ignored, no matter how often they are asked or pointed out to you. When combined with your apparent failure to ask basic skeptical questions about so-called “ex-gay” therapy, this raises serious questions about your ability or willingness to entertain questions and doubts about your beliefs.

June 17, 2008 at 8:06 pm
(45) jerry says:

By my understanding, the proposal for civil unions is intended to get the government out of the business of defining marriage. Taking out a “civil union” license would confer upon the couple, homo- or hetero-, the rights and privileges that now go with marriage — survivorship, inheritance, medical access, Social Security, and on and on. That couple could then go to whatever church they wanted and get married, or not.
Among rational people, this would remove the “threat to marriage” argument by allowing people or their churches to define marriage however they like. Catholics and Baptists and other fundies could continue to refuse holy wedlock to whomever they please, queers, divorcees, interracials, whoever, but those people, gay or straight, mixed or unmixed, would have the option of gaining the legal protections now bestowed only on “married couples.”
This would not satisfy the fundies, but the majority in America is slowly moving toward acceptance of gay rights, and this is a way to let us all define marriage as it pleases us.
The United Church of Christ, the Unitarian-Universalist Association and the Metropolitan Church all are accepting of gays, and two of those three are overtly Christian, so we have a little chink in the wall already.
Austin, even if the “proposer” in this blog is coming from a flawed angle, that’s really no reason to argue against the separation of “marriage” from the legal rights that now are confined to marriage. The civil union proposal would apply to all, and the marriage-minded could get married in the way that pleases them. It makes sense to me.

June 17, 2008 at 8:26 pm
(46) Austin Cline says:

By my understanding, the proposal for civil unions is intended to get the government out of the business of defining marriage.

Since marriage is a fundamental right, that’s a bit hard.

Taking out a “civil union” license would confer upon the couple, homo- or hetero-, the rights and privileges that now go with marriage — survivorship, inheritance, medical access, Social Security, and on and on.

Except it wouldn’t create kinship relations in the same way that marriage does. Ergo, it would constitute a second, inferior status.

Among rational people, this would remove the “threat to marriage” argument by allowing people or their churches to define marriage however they like.

Are opponents to gay marriage rational?

If they were rational, and if this proposal had any merit, why do opponents of gay marriage also work just as hard to ban civil unions for gays?

Catholics and Baptists and other fundies could continue to refuse holy wedlock to whomever they please, queers, divorcees, interracials, whoever

Which they already do. So, what do they gain except that they have denied “marriage” status to others who weren’t seeking a wedding ceremony in those churches anyway?

but those people, gay or straight, mixed or unmixed, would have the option of gaining the legal protections now bestowed only on “married couples.”

The same can be achieved by simply expanding marriage to same-sex couples. Where’s the advantage to those couples for settling for this proposal?

This would not satisfy the fundies, but the majority in America is slowly moving toward acceptance of gay rights, and this is a way to let us all define marriage as it pleases us.

Funny, but we all already have the ability to define marriage as it pleases us. I fail to see the change.

Austin, even if the “proposer” in this blog is coming from a flawed angle, that’s really no reason to argue against the separation of “marriage” from the legal rights that now are confined to marriage.

On the basis of the flawed angle I argued that the proposal is simply a mask for bigotry. I have given entirely different reasons for why the proposal is simply wrong — reasons which apply regardless of why the idea was proposed in the first place.

The civil union proposal would apply to all, and the marriage-minded could get married in the way that pleases them. It makes sense to me.

But you are unable to offer a single positive reason to adopt it. The only “benefit” that is mentioned is that it would make bigots feel better because now they have denied marriage status to gays, but even that isn’t really a benefit because they have consistently showed that they also want to deny any sort of civil union status to gays as well.

June 17, 2008 at 9:18 pm
(47) jerry says:

I’ve tried four times to respond to your insensate post. My computer won’t accept my e-mail address. I’m trying another. If this works you’ll get my real response.

June 17, 2008 at 9:33 pm
(48) jerry says:

You are missing the point entirely. Under the civil union proposal, anyone can get married.

This proposal separates legal status from marriage. A couple, any couple, can go to the courthouse and swear out a certificate of civil union. At that point, they have all the privileges that are now restricted to marriage.

After that, they are allowed to get married in any form they or their religion choose. It mighht be nothing. It might be a $50,000 extravaganza. The point is, the state, and the legal rights and privileges that the state endows, are already out of the picture; they are already bestowed.

Marriage becomes a private choice, of the gay couple or the straight couple.

This will not satisfy the fundies, but they will not be satisfied until Jesus bursts through the clouds. They also are not the majority in this country.

According to opinion polls, Americans are slowly becoming more accepting of gay rights, especially younger Americans. This is the target group we need to aim at.

What the civil union proposal does is put everyone on an equal footing. Declare your union, get marital status. Then have your marriage ceremony however you want to have it.

It’s non-judgemental. It treats everyone the same. I do not understand your seemingly relexive opposition to it.

June 18, 2008 at 2:08 am
(49) humble says:

Austin,

Here are all of the questions I can find for the posts in question. I’ve already addressed all of these in other posts. I REALLY have no idea what you are talking about at this point. One more post after this one. I think I’m all talked out on this one.

Post #10

Austin wrote:[Would that have been a benefit for interracial couples to not try to get their unions recognized as valid marriages? If you would not have supported this same policy in the context of interracial unions, why not?]

If the contract and requirement of a civil “marriage” is fundamentally different in terms of responsibility and definition from a religious “marriage”, I would have no issue in calling it something else. From a civil perspective if should be applied fairly to both whites and blacks and I don’t have a problem with this being a separate policy.

Austin wrote:[Upon what basis do you think that such a tactic would succeed in getting gays the status in question?]

It might not. But the original proposal was coming from someone who is opposing “gay marriage” as such. If they agreed to civil unions, it is at least possible that more people would see this as a reasonable alternative.

Austin wrote: [What makes you think that it is only a “principle” involved?]

If the issue is primarily legal status and equality for gay couples then the proposal civil union carries the weight of law equally for gay and straight couples. If not, fine. It seems to me that the legal status is what carries the real benefits, not the title of that status.

Post #14

Austin wrote:[How and why are they any more an “interested party” when it comes to gay marriages than they are when it comes to my marriage?]

They aren’t. That isn’t the claim.

Austin wrote: [So there two challenges here: how can civil marriages disapproved of by Christians entail an “anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry,” and how can it be an “anti-Christian agenda” when there are Christians pushing for those civil marriages? In effect, you’re defining “Christian” according to the political demands on one group of American Christians.]

The civil “marriages” themselves are not necessarily an agenda of intolerance and bigotry, but the rhetoric and actions of people supporting gay marriage are often extremely hateful and intolerant towards a variety of people, including most people who would call themselves Christians.

Post #18

Austin wrote:[Actually, it’s just like asking Christians to agree to laws allowing interracial marriages and no-fault divorces. Christians have had religious objections to such laws, yet here we are with them. What’s the difference?]

The difference is that one has been passed as law, the other hasn’t.

Austin wrote:[In what way can Mary’s religious freedom create limits on what Joe and John do in their personal lives? If Mary has a “religious freedom” claim to say that Joe and John can’t have a civil marriage simply because Mary has faith-based objections to the idea of a same-sex marriage, what other aspects of all our lives can be restricted simply because Mary doesn’t like it?]

In no way. That isn’t the claim either.

June 18, 2008 at 6:09 am
(50) Austin Cline says:

This proposal separates legal status from marriage.

To what end? What is the advantage?

A couple, any couple, can go to the courthouse and swear out a certificate of civil union. At that point, they have all the privileges that are now restricted to marriage.

Except kinship.

After that, they are allowed to get married in any form they or their religion choose.

To what end? What does it add?

Marriage becomes a private choice, of the gay couple or the straight couple.

It already is.

According to opinion polls, Americans are slowly becoming more accepting of gay rights, especially younger Americans. This is the target group we need to aim at.

We can do that with marriage.

What the civil union proposal does is put everyone on an equal footing.

We can do that with marriage.

It’s non-judgemental. It treats everyone the same.

We can do that with marriage.

I do not understand your seemingly relexive opposition to it.

I have described a couple of problems with your idea. Most importantly, I keep pointing out the lack of any reason to do it. You offer no benefits that aren’t achieved with simply treating gays like straights are currently treated.

June 18, 2008 at 6:21 am
(51) Austin Cline says:

Great, you found the questions. Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them the first time they were posted? Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them the many times they were referenced? Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them when they were specifically pointed to in comment #37?

Austin wrote:[Would that have been a benefit for interracial couples to not try to get their unions recognized as valid marriages? If you would not have supported this same policy in the context of interracial unions, why not?]

If the contract and requirement of a civil “marriage” is fundamentally different in terms of responsibility and definition from a religious “marriage”, I would have no issue in calling it something else. From a civil perspective if should be applied fairly to both whites and blacks and I don’t have a problem with this being a separate policy.

You don’t answer question #1.

Defenders of anti-miscegenation laws insisted that they weren’t discriminatory because they applied equally to both whites and blacks. It was true, but courts rejected this argument. Do you understand why and, if so, why don’t you think it applies to your position?

Austin wrote:[Upon what basis do you think that such a tactic would succeed in getting gays the status in question?]

It might not. But the original proposal was coming from someone who is opposing “gay marriage” as such. If they agreed to civil unions, it is at least possible that more people would see this as a reasonable alternative.

Possible? How possible? How many opponents of gay marriage have you seen supporting civil unions for gays, and how many who oppose it?

Austin wrote:[How and why are they any more an “interested party” when it comes to gay marriages than they are when it comes to my marriage?]

They aren’t. That isn’t the claim.

Then they aren’t an interested party, period.

Austin wrote: [So there two challenges here: how can civil marriages disapproved of by Christians entail an “anti-Christian agenda of intolerance and bigotry,” and how can it be an “anti-Christian agenda” when there are Christians pushing for those civil marriages? In effect, you’re defining “Christian” according to the political demands on one group of American Christians.]

The civil “marriages” themselves are not necessarily an agenda of intolerance and bigotry, but the rhetoric and actions of people supporting gay marriage are often extremely hateful and intolerant towards a variety of people, including most people who would call themselves Christians.

Any more hateful and intolerant than those who supported the Civil Rights movement and legalization of interracial marriage?

Austin wrote:[Actually, it’s just like asking Christians to agree to laws allowing interracial marriages and no-fault divorces. Christians have had religious objections to such laws, yet here we are with them. What’s the difference?]

The difference is that one has been passed as law, the other hasn’t.

Except that at one time the above two were not passed into law. You can’t say that the gay marriage differs from them too much simply because it hasn’t been legally successful yet. Your argument was that certain believers can’t support certain laws “and remain true to their conviction.” This holds whether the law is merely proposed (legal gay marriage) or passed (legal interracial marriage). The fact that believers can be expected to deal with all sorts of civil marriage regulations that aren’t true to religious marriage standards, so why raise a fuss over this one?

There is but one answer: anti-gay bigotry.

Austin wrote:[In what way can Mary’s religious freedom create limits on what Joe and John do in their personal lives? If Mary has a “religious freedom” claim to say that Joe and John can’t have a civil marriage simply because Mary has faith-based objections to the idea of a same-sex marriage, what other aspects of all our lives can be restricted simply because Mary doesn’t like it?]

In no way. That isn’t the claim either.

Then you have failed to express what claim you are making about the existence of “an issue of religious freedom” which justifies denying civil marriage to Joe & John.

June 18, 2008 at 12:16 pm
(52) humble says:

Austin wrote:[Congratulations, you found the questions. Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them the first time they were posted? Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them the many times they were referenced? Why couldn’t you have directly addressed them when they were specifically pointed to in comment #37?]

Two reasons, time limitations and because the questions and problems are both extremely repetitive and have little or nothing to do with what I’m actually saying. The exercise of going back through convinced me of two things. First that I had already addressed to some degree, every single objection and second, that no argument, no matter how valid or sound will ever be acknowledged if your previously held position disagrees.

When I challenge a claim related to the scientific data on homosexuality, and ask for a reference to the data to support a completely false claim, your comments tell me that I don’t understand genetics, and if I’m not motivated enough to find it myself, then that is my issue. Then your condescending comments point me to the public library. While being abusive in this way might be amusing to some, it does not further the discussion. Further, it can be seen as nothing other than a clear acknowledgment that the claim was false and unsubstantiated by scientific study.

It is accepted for your posts to demand scientific, peer reviewed data, and to demand that people provide it. Looking at your articles and your posting, one thing becomes clear. Your expression of articles and responses indicate a high level of interest in furthering your agenda and a marginal interest in the truth. And your choice of response, and lack of response, demonstrates that your own arguments and the comments of certain groups of people who agree with your arguments are not held to the same level of scrutiny of comments when they appear to disagree. If clear thinking is really the goal, this practice is both unethical and immoral.

That being the case, it becomes impossible to have an actual dialogue, because no new or original or surprising thought can be accepted. There can be no change in position, because everything is already known. The rhetoric which is actually inflammatory and bigoted, logically incorrect and factually wrong goes without comment, as long as it is anti-Christian, or anti-theist… but even reasonable and honest argument is rejected out of hand, not on it’s own merits, but simply because your own position is weak or your position is one that seeks to disagree. This is fascinating, because it actually stops lines of inquiry and thought. Cries of “bigot” and “intolerant” are preferred to a reasoned examination of the data at hand.

Taken as a whole the conclusion is inevitable. This site and process is, simply, dishonest pseudo-scholarship and not actually interested in furthering any sort of understanding or enlightenment in a serious way. The occasional article displaying an accurate accounting of both sides of an issue makes this worse, not better, since this demonstrates the ability and capability to argue fairly. This means that the aforementioned phenomena is intended and not due to honest mistake or incompetence. To know better and to continue to engage in this sort of thing is the highest sort of fraud.

To be more interested in condescension, mockery and a smug sense of arrogant superiority than any actual rigor or examination of evidence to find anything resembling the truth is troubling and unfortunate. This is seen most clearly when civility and rhetoric is abandoned for the whispy ranting of a petulant and repetitive tantrum which can only be seen as childish in nature.

June 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm
(53) Austin Cline says:

I think that I only need to respond to one thing:

When I challenge a claim related to the scientific data on homosexuality, and ask for a reference to the data to support a completely false claim, your comments tell me that I don’t understand genetics, and if I’m not motivated enough to find it myself, then that is my issue. Then your condescending comments point me to the public library. While being abusive in this way might be amusing to some, it does not further the discussion. Further, it can be seen as nothing other than a clear acknowledgment that the claim was false and unsubstantiated by scientific study.

Actually, I said that genetics is more complex than you realize. Given the simplistic nature of what you said regarding genetics, that has to be treated as a statement of obvious fact. To say that something is more complex than you realize when it really is more complex than you realize isn’t “abuse,” it’s the truth. Yes, I did point to go do research on your own because this isn’t the place where others can or should provide you with a basic introduction to biology and genetics. That’s something you can and should be able to do on your own if you care enough.

What more should I do besides point you to a library when you continue to ask for references and research after you’ve been told that you need to acquaint yourself with the basics before moving on? Once again, that’s not “abuse” or condescension, that’s simply being honest. There’s no point in giving you references to material you can’t understand. Your education is your responsibility, not the responsibility of anyone here.

Unfortunately, when you persist on misrepresenting others, refuse to answer basic questions, refuse to provide even a little bit of evidence to back up your empirical claims, and refuse to familiarize yourself with the subject you’re talking about, it’s impossible to credit you with a sincere interest in dialog.

And that suffices to address everything else in your last comment as well because none of it any more substantial or accurate than the portion I quoted.

June 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm
(54) humble says:

Austin,

Thanks for making my point.

Earlier in the thread, DeeGee wrote:[Being homosexual is genetic and is not a choice. Do you really think someone would wake up one morning and declare, “I am going to be homosexual from now on. I will be scoffed at by others, perhaps assaulted, and be given fewer rights by the government than if I were heterosexual?”

People who are born with black skin have no choice about their skin color. People born had no choice about their given gender (sex-change folks notwithstanding). Same thing with sexual orientation.]

Austin wrote:[No one is saying that every sexually-related behavior is purely genetic; however, which sex you are attracted to appears to be mostly to entirely biological and thus outside one’s conscious control]

Austin wrote:[There is not yet any definitive answer on the genetic component of homosexuality, but twin studies indicate that a strong one is there.]

So which is it?

Is homosexuality genetic and not a choice?

Is no one actually making that claim? Is it “mostly” genetic and “mostly” not a choice? How does that work exactly?

Is there not yet a definitive answer on the genetic component of homosexuality?

Is it just like being a black person or female? In the twin studies, are 45% of the identical twins not black?

I’m the one that made the claim that the genetic influence on homosexuality as to how it relates to behavior is not a simple relationship.

I pointed out two problems.

1) Genetic traits are passed down through reproduction.

2) Behavior is not soley determined by genetic makeup.

Both of things are overwhelmingly true. I never made any claim that these are the only rules of genetics, or that I understand all of the intricacies of the human genome.

If someone with the trait in question does not reproduce, then the winning trait (or combination of traits) is not passed on to the next generation by that person.

In terms of probability, the more often people with certain genetic traits self-select out of the gene pool, the less common those traits will be.

Yes, it is possible that a complicated set of recessive genes, or recessive genes in combination could still be passed down.

My point was that IF genetics and homosexuality were as simple DeeGee claims, THEN it is extremely likely that homosexuals would decrease over time as they would self select out of the gene pool.

Over a large population, if less black people reproduce, then the probability is that there will less be black people in future generations.

Yes, you proposed several ways that homosexuality MIGHT be passed from generation to generation… but that was all clever speculation, none of it is conclusive, or conclusively supported by any real data.

If you were intellectually honest… you would have admitted that a conclusive scientific peer reviewed study of how homosexuality is passed from generation to generation does not exist.

Instead you mocked me and sent me to the library. The issue was not that I don’t understand basic genetics… or that I’m too thick to understand the research. The issue was that the research doesn’t exist… and you know that.

If you had an issue with me disputing this as overly simplistic and incorrect but no issue with DeeGee’s comments, and you certainly made no move to correct him…

then my entire comment stands.

This just isn’t about the truth. It is about treating anyone who disagrees with you unfairly.

June 18, 2008 at 6:01 pm
(55) deegee says:

Austin had no reason to correct me because I was not wrong.

Didn’t you ever hear of recessive traits? A recessive trait can be passed on from one generation to the next without being active. However, these “carriers” can keep the trait alive for the next generation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recessive_trait

And did you see this week’s study which supports homosexuality as a genetic, not learned trait?

http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20080616/gay-brain-shows-gender-atypical-traits?src=RSS_PUBLIC

To me, homosexuality can be compared to some degree to being left-handed. Nobody wakes up one morning wanting to be left-handed. Most people are not born left-handed, left-handedness has negative social stigma, some people can “convert” to being right-handed. None of this makes being left-handed any less genetic. But left-handedness survives.

June 18, 2008 at 6:28 pm
(56) Austin Cline says:

If someone with the trait in question does not reproduce, then the winning trait (or combination of traits) is not passed on to the next generation by that person.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t passed down, though.

Yes, you proposed several ways that homosexuality MIGHT be passed from generation to generation… but that was all clever speculation, none of it is conclusive, or conclusively supported by any real data.

Actually, what I described are ways in which apparently maladaptive traits are passed along. Whether any happen with homosexuality is another question — but pure speculation they are not. You’d know this if you spent some time researching genetics and biology.

Behavior is not soley determined by genetic makeup.

There you go, treating homosexuality as a behavior again. If you don’t like it when people think you might be a bigot, perhaps you should consider not saying the things which bigots consistently say. It’s just a thought…

This just isn’t about the truth. It is about treating anyone who disagrees with you unfairly.

Actually, I’ve been more than fair with you. If I were merely “fair,” I’d have started ignoring you long ago. Instead, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and spent a lot of time reading your comments and writing responses. In return, I received contemptuous silence to almost every question asked — and yes, when you refuse to acknowledge that a question was even asked, never mind don’t respond, that demonstrates quite a lot of contempt. So much for generosity.

June 19, 2008 at 9:29 am
(57) humble says:

Austin,

I responded two nights ago, at some length, to every question I could find and the comment did not post correctly. I don’t have time to redo that now, but I will within a few days.

I wrote:[Behavior is not soley determined by genetic makeup.]

Austin wrote:[There you go, treating homosexuality as a behavior again. If you don’t like it when people think you might be a bigot, perhaps you should consider not saying the things which bigots consistently say. It’s just a thought…]

Austin wrote(earlier post):[No one is saying that every sexually-related behavior is purely genetic;]

When you get to the point of directly contradicting yourself in looking for things to insult me with, that I never actually said… it just makes you look ridiculous.

I’m not talking about just homosexuality, I’m not convinced that any complex social behavior is explained adequately by genetic makeup alone.

Even in your ethical view, things that consideration of “harm” and “consent” influence and modify behavior (or they should).

If people, homosexual or otherwise, have the ability to modify behavior to not act on a genetic predisposition, then the expression is not purely genetic in the same way that being female is.

June 19, 2008 at 10:08 am
(58) Austin Cline says:

Austin wrote(earlier post):[No one is saying that every sexually-related behavior is purely genetic;]

When you get to the point of directly contradicting yourself in looking for things to insult me with, that I never actually said… it just makes you look ridiculous.

The statement you quote was not about homosexuality. I was responding to a statement by you about “a complex set of social behaviors like sexuality.” I made a general statement about “sexually-related behavior[s]” and then contrasted that to “which sex you are attracted to” (i.e., homosexuality or heterosexuality). In other words, not only was I not describing homosexuality as a behavior, but I was in fact contrasting it to behavior.

So to accuse me of contradicting myself is to willfully misrepresent what I wrote — and right where it is easy for people to check on, which is not very wise.

I’m not talking about just homosexuality, I’m not convinced that any complex social behavior is explained adequately by genetic makeup alone.

I agree that no complex social behavior is explained adequately by genetic makeup alone. Homosexuality, however, is a sexual orientation — not a sexual behavior, complex or otherwise. It’s bigots who describe homosexuality simply as behavior and I’ll repeat what I said before: If you don’t like it when people think you might be a bigot, perhaps you should consider not saying the things which bigots consistently say. It’s just a thought…

If people, homosexual or otherwise, have the ability to modify behavior to not act on a genetic predisposition, then the expression is not purely genetic in the same way that being female is.

Gays do indeed have the ability to not act on their sexual orientation, just like straights do. This does not mean, however, that the sexual orientation itself is not purely biological (whether that’s purely genetic or some combination of genes and another aspect of biology). Left-handed people have a choice not to act on their left-handedness, too, but this doesn’t mean that being left-handed isn’t purely biological (purely genetic, in this case).

If the previous post of yours is characterized by the same misrepresentations and bigoted ideas as you express here, there’s really no point in re-writing it. We’ve read all we need from you on that.

June 20, 2008 at 8:16 pm
(59) gaypaganunitarianagnostic says:

Make ‘em all civil unions, have a ceremony if you want. In Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Puppet Master’, the 21st century society used that approach.
If gay people don’t want marriage ceremonies, why do many have ceremonies of union that have no force in laW?

June 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm
(60) humble says:

apologies if this is a double post, breaking it into two pieces…

Austin wrote:[I agree that no complex social behavior is explained adequately by genetic makeup alone. Homosexuality, however, is a sexual orientation — not a sexual behavior, complex or otherwise. It’s bigots who describe homosexuality simply as behavior and I’ll repeat what I said before: If you don’t like it when people think you might be a bigot, perhaps you should consider not saying the things which bigots consistently say. It’s just a thought…]

Two things here.

1) The word, ‘homosexuality’ refers to both orientation and behavior. This is clear in common usage and in dictionary definition, look it up if you don’t believe me:

A. Sexual orientation to persons of the same sex.
B. Sexual activity with another of the same sex.

If you want to define terms in a non-standard way, you need to make that clear. If you want to further clarify terms to distinguish “homosexual preference” versus “homosexual behavior” that is fine.

But it is not bigoted to use the accepted, definition of words.

2) I’ve never made the claim that homosexuality is only behavior.

Would you like to retract the implication that I’m a bigot because I use words as defined in the dictionary?

Or would you like to show me where I make the claim that homosexuality is only behavior? You claiming that I’m a bigot like a petulant child, repeatedly, does not make it true. I’m sorry that this is threatening for you, but sometimes it is important to really take a look at a series of arguments before blindly accepting what they have to say. This is true of you and the things you say, just as it is true of conservative religious claims.

I’ll try to be brief related to the other post. Five things:

1) You asked for a response to the argument that proposing civil unions was bigoted because religious groups did not propose civil unions in response to interracial marriage and for issues related to divorce and remarriage. Your argument in part, is that these groups are targeting gay marriage and singling out gays unfairly.

2) You asked for a response related to the argument that opponents of gay marriage use similar arguments to the opposition of interracial marriage. If the arguments against interracial marriage are bigoted and flawed, then similar arguments against gay marriage are also bigoted and flawed and should be rejected as well. You specifically point out that arguments for the anti-miscegenation laws claimed to not be racist, because they punished both blacks and whites for violating them. The point as I understood it, was that the arguments for upholding these laws were clearly racist, so how are the arguments against gay marriage different? You also asked for legal precedent for blacks not being considered equal “people”.

3) You asked for the research showing that “restoration” therapy was more effective than 3% and that it was not measurably harmful to people engaged in it. My understanding is that this study is ongoing, is being peer reviewed and that the response is that the study is honest about potential problems with methodology and is sound scholarship.

4) You asked for an example of a group that believes that homosexuality is immoral, but it not bigoted in their expression and practice.

5) DeeGee wrote:[http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20080616/gay-brain-shows-gender-atypical-traits?src=RSS_PUBLIC To me, homosexuality can be compared to some degree to being left-handed. Nobody wakes up one morning wanting to be left-handed. Most people are not born left-handed, left-handedness has negative social stigma, some people can “convert” to being right-handed. None of this makes being left-handed any less genetic. But left-handedness survives.]

June 24, 2008 at 7:58 pm
(61) humble says:

make that 3 pieces… sheesh.

For the first one, I’m not convinced that the proposal of civil unions are bigoted for the following reasons. It makes the assumption that the same groups were opposing the changes to marriage. This doesn’t seem to be the case.

- It is not clear that arguments against interracial marriage were primarily religious in nature. No major religious group (such as Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Protestant Denomination with more than 3 million members) has ever prohibited interracial marriage in stated doctrine.

Yes, some religious people argued against interracial marriage, they still do. They were wrong in the 50′s, they are still wrong.

- It is clear that many arguments against homosexual marriage are primarily religious in nature. No major religious group (such as Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Protestant Denomination with more than 3 million members) has ever accepted homosexual behavior in their stated doctrine.

It is easy, from a religious perspective, to accept interracial marriage and reject homosexual marriage. Both positions have been in place and fundamentally unchanged for thousands of years.

Divorce and remarriage have less of a consensus in the groups mentioned above. But to take an example, Catholics believe divorce and remarriage is prohibited. They opposed no fault divorce and they oppose homosexual marriage now.

So if the arguments against interracial marriage and against homosexual marriage are not coming from the same people or groups, then to accept one and reject another is not targeting gays. The arguments might be bigoted for some other reason, but not because they are treating marriage differently somehow.

Calling it marriage will not result in conservative religious groups suddenly accepting homosexual couples. Rather, it will result in those groups viewing homosexual civil “marriage” as illegitimate. Granted, many religious groups do this today and refuse to acknowledge remarriages or marriages outside the church.

Civil unions don’t have the baggage associated with the word marriage.

For the second argument, my understanding of the arguments against interracial marriage were:

- Violated God’s law
- Relationships between white and black people was mere sex, and not a committed relationship
- Allowing interracial marriage would automatically result in polygamy and bestiality
- Scientific evidence presented, showing that children of mixed couples would be deformed, physically and mentally

The second and fourth argument can be removed related to homosexual couples. They don’t have biological children, and no one is arguing that it is impossible that they have a real relationship.

The “violation of God’s law” argument is not analogous either, at least in terms of who is making the argument. It is not the same groups making the case in both instances. For interracial marriage, this seems to be an outgrowth of the social effects and attempts to justify slavery.

The legal precedent of black people not really being people would be, unfortunately, the Constitution, stating that “other” persons, including black people were to be counted as 3/5 of a regular person. This was overturned in the amendment process, but a lot of thinking in American culture reflected this and it was part of the puzzle.

June 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm
(62) humble says:

The third argument does seem similar to me. People still argue that accepting homosexual behavior will result in all sexual prohibitions being lifted and chaos, etc…

There is a great deal of ambiguity and problems in seeing these arguments as completely, or even mostly analogous.

Religious conservatives (and some others) oppose homosexual marriage because they believe homosexual behavior is immoral and therefore, should not be an accepted, lawful practice. Other groups believe that homosexual orientation is a given, and that homosexual behavior is harmless and should be allowed, accepted as a lawful practice and that marriages between homosexual couples should be allowed as well.

In the market of free ideas, both groups are allowed to make their case. It falls on the opponents of homosexual behavior to demonstrate that it is harmful and immoral and that laws allowing it would be harmful in some way to society. It falls on the proponents of homosexual behavior to demonstrate that it is neither harmful, nor immoral and that homosexual behavior would be beneficial, or at least not harmful to society.

The primary reason why the proposal of a civil union is interesting to me, is that marriage, as a word, as a concept and as a practice is really fragmented.

Austin wrote:[Defenders of anti-miscegenation laws said that since they applied to both blacks and whites equally, the laws weren’t racist. How is your statement any different?]

It is different in the following way:

With anti-miscegenation laws in place… (simplifying to black and white people for space)

- Whites could marry whites
- Blacks could marry blacks
- Whites could not marry blacks

If civil unions were made effective legal standing for each case:

- Whites could enter into civil union with whites
- Blacks could enter into civil union with blacks
- Whites could enter into civil union with blacks

If they were applied equally across all groups, the law would no longer be racist.

Three, http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=2846.

There just isn’t a lot of data and research on this topic, good, bad or otherwise, but this was interesting.

June 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm
(63) humble says:

Four, I would give the example of the Anglicans who are refusing to break with the worldwide Anglican church and who are remaining consistent with their beliefs about homosexuality and other things in the face of extreme pressure and opposition from the American Anglican church, which is breaking away from the larger worldwide communion.

As an example, http://www.thefallschurch.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=32337.

These people believe what they believe and they just want to have a church and worship. They aren’t attacking anyone or burning crosses into anyone’s lawn. The American Anglican church has been vitriolic and attacking, and is seeking to take away their land, building and property because of their theological disagreement.

Five, you’ve ignored me pointing out that you target me but not the comments of DeeGee twice now. Want to make it three?

DeeGee wrote:[Being homosexual is genetic and is not a choice.] There was a link to a recent article related to brain size which was interesting, but far from conclusive of anything. Linked to that article, also on the WebMD site, was the following statement:

“Most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is the result of a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors. In other words, there are many factors that contribute to a person’s sexual orientation, and the factors may be different for different people.”

So which is it? Is it like being black, or being left-handed? Or is the strict definition of homosexual orientation without even mentioning behavior a result of a “combination” of factors, many of which are not genetic or biological?

Austin – you really have no problems with DeeGee’s comments and agree with them completely? Or would you like to admit that you target the arguments of people who disagree and refuse to target the arguments of people who agree, regardless of their merit or coherency? Isn’t that a double standard? At that point, how can you claim that the goal is really an unbiased approach where reason rules the day?

June 25, 2008 at 10:42 am
(64) John K says:

humble,

I’m afraid I got lost in trying to follow your posts. Could you please clarify for me? Are you saying it’s not bigotry to oppose marriages based on homosexual behavior but you agree it is bigotry to oppose marriages based on homosexual orientation? Do you think it is possible to engage in homosexual behavior without having a homosexual orientation?

Being left handed, I can see the parallels being drawn. According to some people, left handedness is “the devil’s work.” Although my left handedness has never been treated as anything more than a curiosity, a friend of mine was held back a grade by a teacher who ordered him to write with his right hand, then flunked him for poor penmanship. Why are crazy old religious loons always trying to force people to behave in ways that are unnatural for them?

June 25, 2008 at 11:41 am
(65) deegee says:

Humble,

“So which is it? Is it like being black, or being left-handed? Or is the strict definition of homosexual orientation without even mentioning behavior a result of a “combination” of factors, many of which are not genetic or biological?”

It is biological, for the reason I stated in an earlier post. Nobody wakes up one morning and declares, “I am going to be homosexual from now on. I will be scoffed at by others, perhaps assaulted, and be given fewer rights by the government than if I were heterosexual?” You don’t see straight people “pretending” to be gay. You do see gay people “pretending” to be straight in order to avoid all the pitfalls of being outwardly gay.

I can see non-biological factors having an influence on BIsexual people. That is, a bisexual person surrounded by straight people of both sexes is not going to be able to easily pursue any homosexual tendencies…..but that is another topic for another time.

June 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm
(66) humble says:

John K wrote:[Could you please clarify for me? Are you saying it’s not bigotry to oppose marriages based on homosexual behavior but you agree it is bigotry to oppose marriages based on homosexual orientation? Do you think it is possible to engage in homosexual behavior without having a homosexual orientation?]

Yes, it would be possible. Bi-sexuals do this without a strict homosexual orientation as defined by DeeGee.

To try to clarify, the point isn’t that bigotry exists in one place, but not another… I’m questioning what qualifies as bigotry.

A common dictionary definition has it as: not tolerating or respecting beliefs, opinions, usages, manners, etc., different from one’s own, as in political or religious matters.

So what qualifies as intolerant? Is simply disagreeing intolerant? Is someone claiming that certain sexual behavior is immoral intolerant and bigoted? I’m trying to say that bigotry involves more than disagreeing. Maybe even more than passionately disagreeing.

Are some religious conservatives bigoted regarding homosexuality? Yes, I think that is clear and extremely unfortunate. The folks with the signs, “God hates fags” who are screaming at funerals and so on are bigots. Maybe even criminally so.

But that isn’t true of all the folks who hold the position that homosexuality is immoral. Many of them have looked at the evidence on both sides and have made an informed decision. Many of these folks aren’t attacking anyone, many of them are not actively opposing any homosexual activity at all, including homosexual marriage on the civil side, they honestly believe that it is harmful to the individual.

Even if they are wrong, I’m not convinced they are necessarily bigots.

June 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm
(67) humble says:

DeeGee,

I’m understand what you’re saying related to homosexual orientation being purely genetic or biological.

Not all experts agree on that one.

My honest question would be, what do you do with the people making the ex-gay claim? I have a friend in this camp and conversations with him have really shaken how confident I am that homosexuality is like being left handed.

June 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm
(68) deegee says:

Those so-called “ex-gay” people are likely bisexual people who were “taught” to follow or emphasize their opposite-sex desires while repressing their same-sex desires.

Could the same be said for left-handed people “converting” to being right-handed only if they had some ambidextrous orientation (not counting those who “convert” because of necessity such as losing a right arm or the ability to use an existing right arm)? I don’t know.

June 25, 2008 at 2:46 pm
(69) humble says:

DeeGee,

Ok.

I’m not sure I’m convinced by that, because that isn’t how these folks will characterize themselves, but that certainly seems like a possible explanation to me.

Do you think it’s possible that there is a series of interrelated genetic or biological factors resulting in something of a sliding scale insofar as it relates to orientation?

June 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm
(70) John K says:

“…they honestly believe that it is harmful to the individual.”

Well then, perhaps they would be willing to settle for a notice on marriage applications that reads, “WARNING: Many folks believe homosexual marriage is harmful to the individual.”

Having been properly warned, homosexual couples could then decide if they want to take the risk.

June 25, 2008 at 5:24 pm
(71) deegee says:

Humble, by a sliding scale you mean someone could be a “weak” homosexual versus a “strong” homosexual based on genetics? No, not any more than someone could be a “weak” lefthander than a “strong” lefthander.

June 26, 2008 at 9:14 am
(72) humble says:

John K – warning labels – hysterical. No really, nicely done.

DeeGee, actually I do think people can be stronger or weaker in terms of ‘handedness’… and some people are completely ambidextrous.

Others seems to be able to use their off hand more than most people can. There are a lot of switch hitters in baseball who can’t write with their off hand, or people in the NBA (as an example) who can shoot a bit off handed, but would not consider themselves fully ambidextrous.

It might be completely different, or there might be enough complicated factors weighing in on orientation to make it really hard to determine cause, even if people agree it is biological.

If homosexual orientation were not a simple binary off or on, it would help explain bisexuality and also (it seems to me) the ex-gay claim.

June 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm
(73) Drew says:

All of this long-winded discussion is missing the point.

There is nothing religious about the word “marriage”, or the concept.

That’s it, that’s all. My marriage had zero religious content, and zero religious significance. Marriage is something that governments license. No religious input is required. In Canada, people who co-habit for 12 months are considered married. Not only does this not involve religion, it doesn’t require a public ceremony, a private ceremony, or an exchange of vows – it involves absolutely no action at all on the part of those who are “married”.

So, let’s acknowledge and understand this. Marriage is a legal relationship recognised and defined by the state. Marriage pre-dates all religions, and religion has no ownership of either the concept of marriage, or the term itself.

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