No horse in North Carolina?

03.12.2012, 8:54 PM

On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on an amendment to their state constitution:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state,” the proposed amendment reads.

Although there seems to be some debate about the precise legal meaning of “domestic legal union,” it does seem plain that the proposed language would constitutionally ban civil unions in North Carolina as well as gay marriage.  Both ethically and politically, this approach seems to me to be a big mistake — another example of a take-no-prisoners, no-compromise mentality that will likely come across to many in North Carolina and elsewhere as mean-spirited, and for  that reason is likely to backfire sooner or later.  An old race-horse gambler’s line is, “You can’t beat a horse with no horse.”   I haven’t seen any polling data, but my guess is that few North Carolinians believe that NOTHING should be done, now or ever, to extend legal recognition to gay and lesbian couples.  Why would the framers of this proposed amendment want to take things to this extreme?

 


16 Responses to “No horse in North Carolina?”

  1. JeffreyRO5 says:

    My guess is that the writers of this amendment are so anti-gay that they worry that any accommodation of the rights of gay and lesbians citizens, or any recognition of the value of their relationships, work against the unstated goal to keep gays and lesbians in a second-class status. Conservatives tend to see the world in “all or nothing” terms, and their fear is that anything less than full social and government disapproval will lead to creeping equality.

  2. Dennis says:

    What is extreme about this? Why should the state confer legitimacy on a relationship widely regarded throughout most of American history and by longstanding Judeo-Christian moral consensus as a destructive sexual vice? Given the widespread attacks on marriage across the nation, I can understand why localities which have not yet been driven to recognize “civil unions” feel the need for pre-emptive prohibition.

    If the state can intervene to stigmatize, discourage, and deter other destructive vices, such as smoking, sloth, and junk food, then why should it not maintain a bulwark against the sexualization of same-sex relationships.

  3. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Dennis, how does outlawing same-sex marriage in any way “discourage” something, sexual orientation, that no one has any control over? And since being gay is morally neutral, why discourage its expression? That religionists use the Bible to promote their personal dislike of gay people doesn’t mean that gay people automatically get fewer legal rights than straight people.

    Being gay, and expressing it, are not vices. That’s a religious concept, from what I can tell, and we don’t make laws based on religious concepts. That’s why pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce are all legal, even though they are prohibited by the Bible, and probably other ancient religious texts.

    It’s settled law that moral disapproval alone isn’t enough to save an otherwise unconstitutional law.

  4. Chris says:

    Why should the state confer legitimacy on a relationship widely regarded throughout most of American history and by longstanding Judeo-Christian moral consensus as a destructive sexual vice?

    You really should think about the implications of what you say and write, Dennis. In thirty years, the moral consensus in America will be that people who view same-sex romantic relationships as a “destructive sexual vice” are bigots, akin to those who believed the same about interracial relationships. But that moral consensus will not be a valid reason to deprive you of your right to freely express those beliefs without government censorship. Moral consensus is NEVER a valid reason to deny a class of people their civil rights, no matter how unpopular that class of people is.

  5. Phil says:

    If the state can intervene to stigmatize, discourage, and deter other destructive vices, such as smoking, sloth, and junk food, then why should it not maintain a bulwark against the sexualization of same-sex relationships.

    It’s pretty clear that Dennis is comparing same-sex sexual relationships to smoking, sloth, and junk food. Further, it’s pretty clear that Dennis disagrees with the commonly-held view of gay relationships as the interpersonal and relational equivalent, for gay people, of heterosexual romantic relationships for straight people. (He makes this clear by specifying same-sex sexual relationships.)

    Would any of the anti-SSM people who frequent this blog but consider themselves to be reasonable people who believe in the integrity and worth of gay relationships care to respond to Dennis? Elizabeth, David, Karen, Maggie…if any of you read this, do you think that Dennis’ comments are the kind of statements that should be “called out” when you encounter them?

  6. R.K. says:

    Okay, guys, what I see here and in several other threads is, really, an attempt to erase Rene Descartes, or apply his maxim in a totally one-sided method.

    That is, that old assumptions are to be analyzed and questioned, but new ones which we associate with our recent enlightenment are not.

    It’s pretty clear that Dennis is comparing same-sex sexual relationships to smoking, sloth, and junk food.

    To start in analyzing the wrongness or rightness of Dennis’s statement we first have to ask what the problem is with smoking, sloth, and “junk food”. Rather, Phil seems to be operating on the assumption that we just all know that these are terrible things, and that’s it. (Let alone the question of whether or not there is something wrong with people who smoke, are lazy, or eat “junk food”). Hey, I’m guilty of two of those vices to some extent, it’s part of who I am, and I don’t care if I hear them called vices. But why are they?

  7. Phil says:

    R.K., I don’t think you read my comment very carefully. All I said was that it is clear that Dennis comparing A to B, C, and D.

    If you are looking for a value judgment about B, C, and D, you might look to Dennis’ comment, where he called them “destructive vices.”

    So please, R.K., don’t try to derail the conversation with Opine Editorial-esque trolling.

  8. R.K. says:

    R.K., I don’t think you read my comment very carefully. All I said was that it is clear that Dennis comparing A to B, C, and D.

    No, Phil, that’s not all you said. I read your comment very carefully. You also are very clearly saying that the “comparison” is so offensive that it should be obvious to all and that Dennis (a first time visitor here? not sure) should be “called out” for it.

    I’m merely pointing out that when you say that comparing something to A, B, or C is offensive without pointing out what is wrong with A, B, and C, you are simply making a blanket assertion. What is wrong (or so different) with these things that makes a comparison with them so terrible? Maybe you’re right; it’s just that if you haven’t backed up the assertion. If we were talking about murder or theft or something the bad comparison would far be more obvious, though even in those cases applying the Cartesian method doesn’t hurt.

    Is there something bad about smoking? About laziness? About eating “junk food”? Why? What?

    Then, is there by extension something wrong or bad with people who smoke? Why or why not? Ditto for people who are lazy or eat “junk food” (clearly a pejorative term to begin with).

    Then we can talk about what or why the comparison is so bad.

    Look, Phil, you rightly don’t accept the notion that “we just know” that same-sex marriage is a bad idea because “it just is”. Why do you then assume that this blanket a priori method works for other things?

  9. fannie says:

    With all due respect, RK, I don’t find it all that appropriate or compelling when heterosexual “marriage defenders” try to explain why something “isn’t” offensive to gay people and who try to turn the conversation into an abstract pseudo-intellectual philosophical discussion.

    Dennis’ statement absolutely warrants calling out.

    The problem with his statement is that he is saying that my long-term, loving, and mutually-supportive relationship with my partner is a “destructive sexual vice,” and that it is not “extreme” to deny us the same legal rights that man-woman couples get by sole virtue of being a man-woman couple.

    At this particular forum, I’m not sure it’s fair to expect LGBT people to walk through, taking great pains to be Very Polite And Not At All Offensive Ourselves, why that’s so incredibly offensive each and every time some New Guy comes here bleating about how homosexuality is a great affront to “Judeo-Christian” values.

  10. R.K. says:

    With all due respect, RK, I don’t find it all that appropriate or compelling when heterosexual “marriage defenders” try to explain why something “isn’t” offensive to gay people and who try to turn the conversation into an abstract pseudo-intellectual philosophical discussion.

    I’m certainly not denying that you find it offensive, Fannie, or that you shouldn’t. At least the term “destructive vice”. Yes, that term is too provocative to far too many people, even though I won’t object to it being applied to me concerning my laziness (the reason I have not posted far more over the last week, by the way), or eating food which I know is not of the greatest nutritional value. It’s the objections to the comparisons with these things which I find to have a big underlying problem.

    I have never understood today’s common notion that physical sexual experience (as opposed to the personal relationship), regardless of any link to procreation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is to be exalted so much over all the other things in life which give us great pleasure, which please our senses, and which can be enjoyed by people together. That’s what I’m getting at here. I’m not for the government prohibiting what we can or can’t enjoy, though as with anything else in life, there are limits. But I’m honestly not understanding what makes physical sex, for its own sake, so more precious than the other great joys we get in life that please the senses and can be experienced mutually….art, music, food, etc. And to ask this question I was starting out by asking why and in what instances any of the latter things can be called “bad”.

  11. fannie says:

    Welp, while you navel-gaze about that issue, some of us will be here explicitly objecting to people like Dennis’ rhetoric.

    Sorry if that’s harsh, but it gets old to have supposedly nice, civil “marriage defenders” constantly ignore and fail to condemn offensive rhetoric in conversations they are a part of, instead focusing on esoteric, abstract philosphical issues like the one you bring up.

    I agree with MLK: “In the end, I won’t remember the words of my enemies, but the silence of my friends.”

    But to your tangential point, I don’t demand that anyone, least of all Dennis, “exalt” same-sex sexual behavior. I just don’t want his disapproval of it to serve as a justification for denying my partner and me legal protections.

  12. La Lubu says:

    Still wondering where on the planet sexual experiences are “exalted” above other sensual pleasures. In the US, the standard meme is that sex is the least important part of any relationship. Women especially receive a lot of cultural messages that sex and sexual pleasure are unimportant, and should be forgotten about if other aspects of the relationship are in order. And this is in a culture where other sensual pleasures *are also* regarded with suspicion (hey….don’t blame me. That’s the legacy of someonems Puritan ancestors. Mediterranean folks are decidedly more Dionysian in outlook! *smile*)

    Also, as always, cosign to fannie. The comparison to smoking is readily transparent to most of us, if not to you, RK.

  13. Chris says:

    R.K., I share fannie and La Lubu’s confusion over what you’re talking about when you say that sexual pleasure is “exalted” above other pleasures. Even if that is a societal trend you’ve noticed, I don’t see how it has anything to do with this conversation.

  14. Peter Hoh says:

    Why should the state confer legitimacy on a relationship widely regarded throughout most of American history and by longstanding Judeo-Christian moral consensus as a destructive sexual vice?

    I’ve been asking that question for years, but I’ve noticed that some self-styled defenders of traditional marriage don’t like it when I bring up Newt and Callista.

  15. Chris says:

    Peter Hoh for the win. We confer legitimacy through marriage on many types of relationships that are viewed as morally defective by many people, both religious and non-religious. To say we should ban same-sex marriages, but not fifth marriages between an adulterous couple, is to impose a double standard that makes very little sense from any moral framework.

  16. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Rush Limbaugh still has Newt beat by one wife!