Various and Sundry Marriage Equality Links

07.01.2011, 7:42 AM

Some things I’ve read lately:

  1. Nate Silver prognosticates The Future of Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures. In the near future, marriage equality might win by a narrow margin in Minnesota, lose in North Carolina, and NOM’s quest to overturn marriage equality in NY seems hopeless.
  2. Former Bush official David Frum says he was wrong to oppose gay marriage.
  3. Poll: “New York State voters support 54 – 40 percent a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, with voters under 35 supporting the measure 70 – 26 percent.”
  4. In a decision that could have far-reaching effects on immigration cases involving same-sex couples, federal officials have canceled the deportation of a Venezuelan man in New Jersey who is married to an American man.”
  5. Barbara MacEwen, Religious Liberty, and Special Rights: A New York city clerk refuses to process paperwork for same-sex marriages.
  6. The Peculiar Logic of Robbie George: A Catholic writer (who I think is anti-SSM, but not passionately against it) criticizes Robert George’s anti-SSM arguments and right-wing economic views. Obviously I have a lot of disagreements with the writer, but it’s interesting stuff, and very different from the other Robert George critiques I’ve read. Thanks to Peter H. for emailing me this link.
  7. Why one NY Senator changed his vote on SSM to “yes”: “The gay nephew of the woman he lives with, Dorothy Turano, was so furious at Mr. Kruger for opposing same-sex marriage two years ago that he had cut off contact with both of them, devastating Ms. Turano.”
  8. “Suppose that the New York State Senate operated according to the rules of the United States Senate and a bill failed unless it secured a 60 percent supermajority. What would people be saying about Andrew Cuomo now?”
  9. “The Liberty To Do What We Ought”: A very prominent SSM opponent displays an incredibly Orwellian idea of freedom.
  10. New York legislature says “I do” to same-sex marriage (big photo gallery)

16 Responses to “Various and Sundry Marriage Equality Links”

  1. Dave Holmes says:

    “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.” He’s quoting Lord John Dahlberg-Acton, a very prominent 19th century British historian. The idea cn be traced back, I think, to Plato. Another famous Acton quote is, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He was Catholic, and perhaps not to your taste, but Orwellian? From what I’ve read of Orwell, he might have had some sympathy for the idea. He was a pretty stern moralist himself, and no libertarian. Of course, comparing SSM to North Korean totalitarianism is pretty over the top as well

  2. Plato was such a brilliant philosopher that using the word “brilliant” feels like an understatement. Nonetheless, I’d be horrified if anyone actually tried to run a country using the policies Plato suggested.

    I stand by the word “Orewellian.” The liberty to do only what the Archbishop thinks “we ought” isn’t liberty at all.

    If you claim Orwell would have agreed with the idea, then please provide a quote of Orwell saying something substantially similar; otherwise, I don’t think you can expect me to take your claim seriously.

  3. Dave Holmes says:

    Hi Barry,

    Point taken on Plato. As far as Orwell, as soon as I posted the comment I began to have second thoughts. Here are some other quotes though.

    “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
    Benjamin Franklin

    “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.”
    George Washington

    “[M]en will be free no longer then while they remain virtuous.”
    Samuel Adams

    http://liberty1.org/virtue.htm

    The Abp (and Acton) were saying the same thing in a slightly different way. Freedom and virtue are inseparable. Freedom to do what we ought not is an absurdity– freedom will self-destruct. This is a weird idea for modern Americans, but it has a long history. What we usually think of as freedom, freedom as autonomy– “I can do anything I want as long as I don’t hurt anyone”– was called license in most Western political traditions until very recently, including the republican tradition that played a part in the Founding. It was synonymous with vice and corruption. Whether or not you think this is relevant to the debate on gay marriage, if you dismiss it as Orwellian you dismiss a big chunk of the Western political tradition as Orwellian. So comparisons to North Koreans are innappropriate on both sides.

    I’m not opposed to gay marriage, but I have friends who are, so I guess the point I’m trying to make (at great length) is that although they (and the Abp) may be mistaken but they’re not authoritarians.

    Hope this wasn’t too pedantic :).

    Also, I would point out that the “freedom to do as you ought” is not the same thing as “freedom to do what someone else tells you to do.”

  4. Dave, thanks for that comment. It’s genuinely interesting. At the same time, I have to admit that I don’t understand it.

    I very much doubt that when the founding fathers spoke of “virtue,” they meant “gay people shouldn’t marry.” Jefferson, in the page you linked to, is quoted saying “virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country.” If he’s correct, then it’s hard for me to see any relationship between “virtue” as he (and his contemporaries?) meant it and what Dolan is saying.

    Here’s what Archbishop Dolan said:

    Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.

    Please, not here! We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.

    The dismissiveness and condensation towards lesbian and gay people implicit in that final sentence is truly astonishing.

    But that aside, rereading Dolan’s editorial, and your comment, doesn’t give me a clue as to what the terms “freedom,” “license” and “liberty” are intended to mean. Since you seem to understand Dolan’s meaning, I’ll take your word for it that he didn’t mean to say that people should only be free to do what they ought to do. But I still haven’t a clue what he did intend to say, and I’m sorry to say your comment didn’t clarify that. I am interested, however, and hope you’ll post again.

  5. Phil says:

    Dave, you mention the idea of what we “ought” to do several times.

    What do you believe that a young gay person ought to do, in this country?

    In my view, a young gay person ought to seek a person of the same-sex whom they respect, and who treats them with respect. They ought to attempt to form a committed, honest relationship.

    Some people believe that young gay people ought to force themselves to marry people of the opposite sex, or remain celibate for their entire lives. What do you think they ought to do?

  6. R.K. says:

    Regarding #3 and #5:

    Barry, as one of those who have defended the use of the term “bigot” and other things in order to marginalize opponents of SSM, I would think you might understand that one of the consequences of such marginalization will be unreliability of polls taken on the subject, as people who feel that their views are deemed “incorrect” or ridiculed will be afraid to tell a pollster how they really feel. I’ve lost the links for now, but I have read several articles on the net showing evidence that polls taken in most states before a vote on an SSM-related issue have overestimated the pro-SSM side by about 8 percentage points. Eventually, bombardment by the press of the message that opposition to SSM is “bigoted”, etc., may well effect the polls in your favor, but in the meantime, expect a growing gap between what people tell pollsters and how they actually vote.

    5. Sorry, but if you don’t understand what Dolan means, then I hahate to say it but you are clueless here. If freedom means just the right to do whatever we want, it will eventually lead to the end of freedom. Freedom will only survive if accompanied by responsibility. Not imposed by government, but by ourselves.

  7. Barry, as one of those who have defended the use of the term “bigot” and other things in order to marginalize opponents of SSM…

    Please don’t falsely attribute motives to me, R.K.. I have never said, and do not believe, that we should use the word bigot “in order to marginalize opponents of SSM.”

    The polling effect you’re thinking of is called “The Bradley Effect.” A study by anti-SSM group Protect Marriage found that polls underestimated support for gay marriage bans by an average of 7%.

    But Protect Marriage’s methodology was very dicey: They didn’t account for margin of error, they didn’t account for the elections in which both sides underpolled (due to the undecided voters), they included polls conducted weeks or months before the election, and they selectively picked polls with the greatest discrepancy from the vote. Patrick Egan at NYU analyzed Protect Marriage’s data and found that the average Bradley Effect was actually less than 3%, and there’s no evidence that the effect is getting larger over time. (pdf link)

    Whether the Bradley effect is 3% or 7%, however, I don’t think there’s a lot of reason for anti-SSM folks to take comfort. What really matters is the trendline. In 2000, Californians voted for Proposition 22 by a 23 point margin; in 2008, Prop 8 won by a 4 point margin.

    And the trend in polling is much larger than the Bradley effect can account for:

    Finally, regarding your last paragraph, obviously I don’t think people should be free to do anything. For instance, I think murder should be illegal. But I don’t understand how we can be genuinely free if essentially harmless activity, like same-sex relations, is outlawed; nor do I see how society ends if we give same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples equality under the law. And no opponent of SSM has been able to explain this rationally or even coherently.

  8. R.K. says:

    Barry, look at the date of Egan’s article, and the poll it refers to.

    Maybe the argument then is that the polls are not overestimating support for SSM, but that support for it drops in the weeks leading up to an election. Or that the closer we get to the election, the more truthful people are with pollsters. Plus that the undecideds are breaking much more strongly against SSM. (I know, I know, it’s because the traditional marriage side is “brainwashing” people with “lies”).

    Are you also going to argue that different wording of a pollster’s question can not produce vastly different results?

    For years I have noticed one thing about polls: as often as they may not be reliable in predicting outcomes of elections involving two candidates accurately, they are far more reliable with candidates than they are with issues. Issue polls are highly dependent upon the wording, as many people who don’t have strong opinions on an issue can be swayed by the way the question is framed.

    And even regarding ballot questions, wording can make a difference; the wording Brown approved for Prop 8 was far more designed to maximize the vote against it than the wording of Prop 22 was. Maine’s Prop 1 was also worded in a way to get people to vote against it. I’m not saying that support for SSM has not increased between 2000 and 2008. I’m sure it has, but I would argue that the difference in the vote may give a misleading idea of how much it has really increased.

    …I don’t think people should be free to do anything. For instance, I think murder should be illegal.

    Obviously, when I said “Freedom will only survive if accompanied by responsibility. Not imposed by government, but by ourselves”, I was referring to things other than just those for which we imprison people.

    But I don’t understand how…

    nor do I see how…

    Again.

    Years down the line, if I’m around, I will not accept hearing “How were we supposed to know?” from those who earlier kept saying “I just don’t see how…”.

    I apologize for saying “clueless”. But I just wish there was some appreciation for the myriad of ways in which good intentions can lead to unforeseen and not so good results down the line, even if nobody totally predicted them. Again, not saying we should never take chances, just that we acknowledge we are taking chances, whether we think the chances are slim or substantial.

  9. Barry, look at the date of Egan’s article, and the poll it refers to.

    Egan was talking about a poll conducted about two months before the election — two months during which polls showed the Prop 8 election getting close. As one of the articles I linked to pointed out:

    The final Field Poll, conducted about one week before the election and released on October 31, indicated that 49% of likely voters opposed the measure. The margin of error was +/- 3.3 points, so the poll’s estimate was that opposition in the population of California voters ranged between 46% and 52% at that time.

    So the final prop 8 polls were actually pretty accurate.

    Maybe the argument then is that the polls are not overestimating support for SSM, but that support for it drops in the weeks leading up to an election.

    I don’t think that’s an “argument” per se — is there anyone who claims this isn’t the case, in many elections?

    I know, I know, it’s because the traditional marriage side is “brainwashing” people with “lies.”

    I’ve never said that people are “brainwashed.” PLEASE stop putting words into my mouth. I would much rather that you just call me insulting names, honestly.

    But I don’t understand how…

    nor do I see how…

    Again.

    And again, you don’t offer any argument or evidence to defend my views.

    I just wish there was some appreciation for the myriad of ways in which good intentions can lead to unforeseen and not so good results down the line, even if nobody totally predicted them. Again, not saying we should never take chances, just that we acknowledge we are taking chances, whether we think the chances are slim or substantial.

    Any time we do anything — including attempting to maintain the status quo — we are taking a chance of unforeseen consequences.

    Unforeseen consequences are just that — unforeseen. So yes, there always is a chance of unforeseen consequences. As you correctly point out, that’s not an argument against ever making any changes.

    It’s too easy, when you’ve got nothing at stake, to call for the rights of lesbian, bi and gay people to be sacrificed for the greater good, and to not be bothered by the lack of any solid evidence.

    But what if it were your own rights at stake? Would you sacrifice your marriage — or your right to marry, if you’re not married currently — based on no compelling evidence? What if I said that there could be unforeseen bad consequences to not sacrificing your rights — would you be willing to make the sacrifice then?

    Maybe you would. But a huge number of LGBT people, and their allies and loved ones, aren’t willing to make that sacrifice based on no evidence. Expecting otherwise wouldn’t be reasonable.

  10. Karen, less than two hours ago, you complained that it was unfair that people on your side are “targeted as ‘bigot’ ‘akin to racist’ etc.” Now you’re comparing the entire SSM movement to Bull Conner. Doesn’t that seem hypocritical?

    Karen, imagine a bunch of dissidents being beaten, viciously, by the Klu Klux Klan. With metal pipes. For fifteen minutes.

    Can you imagine that — being out, in public, in a bus station, being beaten with metal pipes for fifteen solid minutes? How many blows do you suppose they can land in 15 minutes? 200, at least. Or maybe just one a minute — maybe just 15 blows. Think of how much getting hit with a metal pipe fifteen times would hurt. Frankly, they were lucky not to be killed.

    And the police, who knew perfectly well what was going on, waited and did nothing. Because Bull Connor wanted the KKK to have the chance to beat the Freedom Riders up with metal pipes.

    That’s who Bull Connor was and what he did.

    How is that the same as what happened in New York last week? You know, when an elected legislature passed a law you disagree with?

    Please explain the similarity to me, because somehow I don’t see it.

  11. R.K. says:

    The final Field Poll, conducted about one week before the election and released on October 31, indicated that 49% of likely voters opposed the measure. The margin of error was +/- 3.3 points, so the poll’s estimate was that opposition in the population of California voters ranged between 46% and 52% at that time.

    And this same poll was showing only 44% of likely voters supporting the measure. In other words, for the poll to be accurate all the undecideds had to break pro-8.

    And the 49% had dropped from 55% just a couple months earlier. What does the 55% to 38% in the earlier poll resemble?

    I don’t think that’s an “argument” per se — is there anyone who claims this isn’t the case, in many elections?

    No, I agree that that’s true, though we would disagree about why. You seem to desperately want to believe in the accuracy of issue polls, by noting that some polls were close for the numbers on one side, if only just before the election. Though it says even less about the accuracy of such polls long before an election, doesn’t it?

    I’ve never said that people are “brainwashed.” PLEASE stop putting words into my mouth.

    If I earlier misrepresented your position on the use of the term “bigot”, I apologize, though you have defended its use and where you draw the line needs further clarification. But, although it’s true you haven’t used the word brainwashed, I didn’t attribute the term to you, I paraphrased an argument I’ve heard from many in this debate. I don’t recall if you’ve ever used the word “lies”. Many others have, and implied implicitly or explicitly that people have been bombarded with lies, which comes close to saying they’re brainwashed.

    And again, you don’t offer any argument or evidence to defend my views.

    I’ve offered plenty of arguments before. SSM is way too new on the horizon to declare “no evidence, therefore it’s safe”. Like with new chemicals, or with smoking and lung cancer, it takes a long time for the evidence to accumulate. (Don’t claim unfair comparison—until we knew it was harmful smoking was regarded as a joy, a pleasure, and a personal right, except by some fundamentalist religious groups). Cultural effects likely take a generation to become apparent.

    Any time we do anything — including attempting to maintain the status quo — we are taking a chance of unforeseen consequences.

    Right. Other conditions may necessitate a change in the status quo. But when the change proposed is one which has never existed in any of the vast domain of comparables, whether similar to ours or different, a sensible and non-dismissive explanation as to the reason for this lack is called for. None have been offered.

    But what if it were your own rights at stake? Would you sacrifice your marriage — or your right to marry, if you’re not married currently — based on no compelling evidence? What if I said that there could be unforeseen bad consequences to not sacrificing your rights — would you be willing to make the sacrifice then?

    Maybe you would. But a huge number of LGBT people, and their allies and loved ones, aren’t willing to make that sacrifice based on no evidence.

    Barry, I’d ask the same questions I’ve been asking here all along. Since I try to look at things historically, and I don’t mean just by seeing history as a progressive accession of rights but as a much more complex interweaving of influence, cause, and effect, I’d have to say I wouldn’t want to usurp something that has been intrinsic to every human society on earth because I feel something is my personal “right”, especially when it’s not just a matter of practicing the right I may feel is mine, but asking everyone else to bless it as well by calling it what I want it called.

    And, yes, I do have a couple gay friends who oppose SSM. One of them even more strongly than I do, if you think that isn’t possible. As best I understand it, his position is that saying gay relationships are just the same as heterosexual relationships is an insult to gays as much as to straights.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    It’s significant that Sen. Diaz’s rant failed to convince a single African American in the NY Senate that civil rights ended with African Americans. 14 of the 15 African American and Latino Senator did see gay marriage as a cilvil rights concern .