Fighting Marriage Equality Is Not The Be-All And End-All Of Supporting Marriage

04.05.2012, 12:12 PM

[This post is adapted from a comment I wrote a couple of months ago.]

In comments to an earlier post, Elizabeth wrote:

And, if not, if we finally strip away every last social and legal norm and channeling mechanism that tries to say that heterosexuals should try *really* hard to be responsible for the new life their sexual unions often produce — and often unintentionally produce — then what do you propose to do with all those children whose parents we have now freed from obligation? Leave the children all to be raised by their mothers alone, trusting that something special in women makes them generally stick by their kids? Give them all to nice gay couples to raise instead? What?

If we define — in law and social norms — marriage as something that has nothing to do, at its core (yes Fannie there’s that word again), with trying to channel the frequently procreative effects of heterosexual sexuality, then what do we do about the resulting mess?

I don’t think we should “strip away every last social and legal norm and channeling mechanism that tries to say that heterosexuals should try *really* hard to be responsible for the new life their sexual unions often produce.”

However, it’s not the case that “stripping away every last norm” and “legally recognizing same-sex marriage” are the same thing.

The most rational-seeming of the arguments against same-sex marriage is that marriage equality, in some difficult-to-describe way, marginally erodes the commitment of heterosexual parents to raising their own children. This gives opponents of equality a plausible explanation for why the sky has not fallen on families in Massachusetts; the negative impact is real, but it’s not visible because it’s too small and gradual. Or the negative impact is real, but is swamped by other, more positive factors (such as Massachusetts’ relatively low divorce rate).

But Elizabeth’s argument suggests that the impact of marriage equality is not marginal, but catastrophic. But if that’s the case, then why hasn’t the sky fallen in Massachusetts? If “every last social and legal norm” has been stripped away in Massachusetts, shouldn’t we be able to measure that in some concrete way? More single motherhood, more divorce, more something?

Here’s the problem for opponents of equality. If their claim is that the impact of marriage equality will be catastrophic, then their view is already been disproven by events. Family formation has not catastrophically crashed in areas with marriage equality.

But if their claim is that the impact of marriage equality is impossible to measure because it is small, gradual, and swamped by other factors, then in fairness to lgbt people, they should stop opposing marriage equality.

There are a hundred things we can do to strengthen marriage culture. We could reform drug laws and stop sending hundreds of thousands of young men (aka potential eligible grooms) to prison. We could finance and encourage people to use marriage education programs, both pre-marriage and pre-divorce. We could use a lot of channels to encourage TV networks to include examples of healthy, successful, lower-and-working class marriages in their programming. We could try to educate people away from the idea that they shouldn’t marry until they have a home, a career, and enough money for a big wedding. We could do more to provide more people with traits that tend to be associated with more successful marriages (such as college educations and access to stable, family-wage careers).

Alongside those and other pro-marriage initiatives, there’s a lot we can do to support the idea that parents must be responsible for their children. We could make child-support laws, especially for higher-earning parents, stronger; social science evidence shows that states with strong child-support laws have lower rates of single motherhood. (Although we should also reform those laws to avoid creating perpetual debt among parents who genuinely have no money to give.) We could increase government support for parents living with their children — not only in the form of cash aid, but also in the form of childcare for parents seeking education or job training.

And alongside those policies, we could also act to protect the right of children to know their biological parents. We could pass laws for fully honest birth certificates (listing all known biological parents in addition to any adoptive parents). We could outlaw anonymous donation of sperm or egg. We could outlaw anonymous adoption.

The above list is far from comprehensive, and I don’t expect that everyone reading this will support every idea I’ve listed. But my point is that it’s self-evidently false to say that stopping marriage equality is the be-all and end-all of supporting connections between parents and children.

Out of all the proposals to strengthen marriage and make stronger connections, only one — banning same-sex marriage — singles out lgbt people and their kids for permanent second-class citizenship. This is a proposal that has no evidence to support it whatsoever. Yet this proposal receives far more attention and energy from the so-called “pro-family” movement than any other.

How is that fair?

Statistics show that, of all religious groups in American, Jews have the highest divorce rates. But no one would would propose forbidding Jewish marriage in order to lower divorce rates. Even if it would work on a practical level, and even if no one in the world had antisemitism in their heart, we’d still understand that it’s morally repulsive to demand that Jews, and Jews alone, bear the burden and the sacrifice.

Why can’t we extend that same understanding for LGBT people and their kids? How can it be right for LGBT people and their kids to be the only ones forced to sacrifice their dignity and well-being?

Here’s my question for opponents of marriage equality. There are a hundred ways you can pursue your stated goals of supporting marriage culture, parental responsibility, and connections between parents and children. 99 of those ways do not require institutionalizing discrimination and second-class citizenship for same-sex couples and their kids.

Why is pursuing 99 paths, rather than 100, so unthinkable to you?


31 Responses to “Fighting Marriage Equality Is Not The Be-All And End-All Of Supporting Marriage”

  1. Elizabeth Marquardt says:

    Well Barry I followed most of what you said up until your list and talk of the “99 ways” of stregthening marriage besides opposing same sex marriage.

    I would write a long response right now, but unfortunately I am too busy today, as most days, working on projects that fall squarely within those other 99 ways you mention of trying to strengthen marriage.

    It would give me a great sense of satisfaction if ANY of the vocal proponents of same sex marriage did any work at all on strengthening marriage in the ways you describe. I’ve spent more than a decade of my life thinking and working pretty incessantly about the problem of (heterosexual) divorce, the implications of the college hook up culture for (heterosexual) women and for marriage, how an aging society will look given the large number of Baby Boom era failed (hetero) marriages and (largely hetero) relationships. With my colleagues I’ve worked on the impact of reduced marriage rates among the working class, the poor, and non-whites; how people raised in (hetero) stepfamilies fare, and much more. And I’ve spent a lot of the last five years trying to make sense of how people conceived through reproductive technologies (historically and still most often used by heteros) feel and fare. Along the way I have also raised my concerns about what redefining marriage such that we cannot talk about children’s need for their mother and father will do in law and culture.

    Barry, my friend — and I do consider you my friend: have you spent five minutes doing anything like what I list here?

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I’d argue that Barry’s writing and commenting here and on Alas, a Blog surely should count towards his five minutes working on the issues you’ve discussed. He often advocates on behalf children, raises concerns about divorce, and written about the concerns of children born through ART.

    That seems pretty significant for someone who isn’t a professional activist and scholar paid by a think tank to do this kind of activism and given a platform to do this kind of work.

  3. Chris Gable says:

    Elizabeth, Barry,

    Let’s stipulate that EM does work in those areas, after all she does.

    Elizabeth,

    That does leave Barry’s overarching points — points that deserves to be addressed in a serious way:

    But my point is that it’s self-evidently false to say that stopping marriage equality is the be-all and end-all of supporting connections between parents and children.

    How can it be right for LGBT people and their kids to be the only ones forced to sacrifice their dignity and well-being?

    To the above I’d add, especially in civil law?

    Also Elizabeth, frankly I feel that my husband and I have been doing something for marriage by providing an example for couples straight and gay about what it takes to stay together for 11-plus years (certainly longer than five minutes) through stage-four cancer, the illness and deaths of parents, and various other hardships.

    We have dear friends – Ed and Jenny (let’s call them). I had a drink with Ed about four years ago when they were contemplating a divorce. It turned out that he and Jenny and my husband and I had similar problems in our relationships. He talked about wanting a divorce (which they got sadly – they had no kids btw), and I told him it was brave to face and acknowledge their problems instead of ignoring them, and he replied “No, you guys are doing the brave thing by working them out.” Does working on your marriage not count, even for five minutes, toward supporting marriage? Or is just that because we are two men we are – not role models? incapable of marriage? I’ve heard those arguments here quite a few times but we know that we are a good (though certainly imperfect) example for our friends and family and in our church. Why? Because people tell us. Doesn’t that count? Isn’t that something we ought to encourage more of?

    If you are, and I believe you are (with a couple exceptions honestly), people of good will here (or I certainly wouldn’t bother coming here), then those questions need serious and considered and balanced responses.

  4. Chris Gable says:

    And yes E, I agree with you on ART pretty closely and certainly have spent more than five minutes here saying that.

    So even if my attempts to live a loving example (you didn’t, but if asked me, I’d agree with you that simple acts of kindness go a very long way to smoothing the rough spots in a marriage when they come — that is certainly true in our marriage) with my husband doesn’t count, wouldn’t that?

  5. nobody.really says:

    What Jeffrey said — except that I’d point to Barry’s work on poverty and income redistribution. All the research suggests that divorce correlates VERY heavily with poverty. Fix poverty, and we fix damn near everything else.

    Statistics show that, of all religious groups in American, Jews have the highest divorce rates.

    WHAT????

    Jewishness doesn’t correlate with ANY driver of divorce! Jews tend to be wealthier, more educated, and more concentrated in New England than most other groups. Jews don’t marry especially young. And Jews tend to be atheists – a group that traditionally has a low divorce rate.

    There’s clearly a story here. Does anybody know it?

  6. fannie says:

    “It would give me a great sense of satisfaction if ANY of the vocal proponents of same sex marriage did any work at all on strengthening marriage in the ways you describe.”

    As someone in a same-sex partnership that is not legally recognized by our federal government and is not recognized by my state as marriage, am I to understand that I must also be tasked with strengthening an institution that I am not allowed into?

    And to do this for the benefit of those who already have the privilege of marriage, many of whom deny my entry into that institution?

    *blink blink*

    My guess is that many same-sex marriage advocates could and would devote more time and resources into strengthening marriage if we didn’t have to devote so much time and resources to being allowed into marriage in the first place.

    It also bears mentioning that I think many opponents of same-sex mariage and many of the progressives who support marriage equality have differing ideas as to (a) what constitutes strengthening marriage and families, and (b) which families deserve strengthening.

  7. Chris Gable says:

    Your request of civil marriage equality proponents does implicitly acknowledge that gay couples have a right to marriage.

    Per Fannie’s point, you wouldn’t expect equality proponents to find ways promote an institution that they are categorically written out of/unqualified for, would you?

    How could a gay person, if unqualified for marriage by definition, begin to understand and promote the purpose of marriage as you see it?

  8. Elizabeth, I do consider you a friend. But as Chris said, your comment does not address my point in any serious way.

    Reading your response, I wonder if maybe you read this line:

    Yet this proposal receives far more attention and energy from the so-called “pro-family” movement than any other.

    And took it personally? If so, let me assure you it was NOT intended as a dig at you or at IAV.

    When I wrote that line, I was thinking of the thirteen million dollars Maggie says NOM spends fighting SSM every year. I’d bet you a dinner that IAV’s annual budget is less than a tenth of that, and IAV’s budget is split among many issue areas, not focused on one issue. That’s the sort of thing I meant when I said the “pro-family” movement (by which I mean the movement as a whole, not IAV as an org or you as an individual) puts far more energy and resources into fighting SSM than any other issue.

    I am certainly not trying to make this about you, personally, and I’m sorry if it seemed like that’s what I was trying to do.

    * * *

    I know very well that you spend most of your professional life “working on projects that fall squarely within those other 99 ways… of trying to strengthen marriage.” But that wasn’t my question.

    Have I spent five minutes working to strengthen families? Well, yes, I have. But obviously I haven’t done even a tiny fraction of the work you’ve done. (In fairness to me, you haven’t drawn nearly as many comics as I have. :-p )

    With all respect, I think your attempt to turn the tables on me deflects the point of my post rather than addressing it. Just as this isn’t about you personally, it’s not about me personally.

    The better people among SSM opponents, including you and David, frame the issue as a matter of (to use David’s phrase) “goods in conflict.” You’ve made it very clear that you are not opposed to legal equality for LGBT people for its own sake; on the contrary, in the abstract, you’ve said you’re in favor of legal equality for LGBT. You only oppose LGBT equality in marriage because you’re convinced that we can’t have it all. You believe we have to choose between marriage equality and strengthening marriage/child-parent connections. And faced with that choice, you regretfully choose to oppose marriage equality.

    Well, I have good news. We’re NOT faced with that choice! We — not you and me, but our entire culture — can have it all. We can support a huge menu of meaningful policies to strengthen marriage and parent/child connections, and at the same time support full legal equality for lgbt people. We are not stuck in a world in which all norms will be catastrophically obliterated if Adam marries Steve. Contra David, these two goods don’t have to be in conflict.

    In a world where we can have both goods — we can have equality for LGBT folks (including their kids), AND we can work to strengthen parent/child connections — how can supporting a policy of second-class citizenship for lgbt people and their kids be right?

  9. [...] [Crossposted at Family Scholars Blog. This post is adapted from a comment I wrote a couple of months ago.] [...]

  10. nobody.really says:

    Statistics show that, of all religious groups in American, Jews have the highest divorce rates.

    WHAT????

    2008 data from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life sez Jews are among the least likely people to be divorced or separated; heck, your average Catholic is more likely than your average Jew to be divorced or separated.

    For what it’s worth….

  11. R.K. says:

    Barry: If their claim is that the impact of marriage equality will be catastrophic, then their view is already been disproven by events. Family formation has not catastrophically crashed in areas with marriage equality.

    The obvious error here is the assumption that catastrophic equals immediate or even rapid.

    Was the 1929 stock market crash catastrophic? Was there an event which immediately preceded it that rapidly caused it to occur? Was the crash any less catastrophic if it was not caused by an immediately preceding event, or does this mean that it had no cause at all?

    Is extinction catastrophic? We know that some were caused by rapid cataclysms such as asteroid impact. But not all. Is extinction any less catastrophic to a species when it occurs slowly?

    Barry’s assumption indicates a failure to really appreciate how complex systems work, and how they can unravel.

    Again, to quote Megan McArdle: “My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can’t imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that’s either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I’m a little leery of letting you muck around with it.”

    For many people, marriage is still seen as between a man and a woman. For many other people, and I would argue, much/most of the younger generation and most of the pro-SSM voters, “marriage is between and a man and a woman” has been replaced, not with “marriage is between two persons”, but with “marriage is between a man and a woman unless you are gay/lesbian“. And if there was a way to retain the last of those three concepts of marriage, I would not be as worried about the effect of SSM. But it is the idea of it morphing into the second of those concepts that causes me to keep asking, what’s wrong with this picture? Only after that concept becomes ingrained will we be able to judge the effects of it.

    Now, if any of you have any ideas of how SSM could be legalized and the third concept be retained rather than it morphing into the second, I’d be glad to listen, and work with you.

    Why is pursuing 99 paths, rather than 100, so unthinkable to you?

    Would you ask a question like that regarding a computer? Regarding economics? Regarding ecology or the weather? Why is culture any different? Any part (or path) may be integral.

  12. RK, as I understand your logic, your claim is that either we believe that any change at all could lead to unexpected, un-pre-detectable catastrophic effects, or we are arrogant and stupid.

    Is it your view, therefore, that all policy changes are bad? After all, any of them could at any moment lead to catastrophe, and it’s arrogant to think that we can rely on evidence, logic or rational thought to judge ahead of time if a policy will be harmful or not.

  13. R.K. says:

    Is it your view, therefore, that all policy changes are bad? After all, any of them could at any moment lead to catastrophe, and it’s arrogant to think that we can rely on evidence, logic or rational thought to judge ahead of time if a policy will be harmful or not.

    Barry, I think you’re misreading what I said here. I’m saying that effects can be slow to show but still be catastrophic (which can mean many many things) when they do finally show, and I was just giving a few examples. Yes, we can use evidence, logic, and rational thought (including that based on past history) to judge ahead, while still acknowledging that even our best predictions may turn out to be way off, and thus allowing others whose predictions may differ from ours to make their case as well.

  14. Chris and RK, please try to dial it back it a few notches, and stay on the topic of this one particular thread. Thank you very much.

  15. Chris Gable says:

    But giving you the benefit of whatever doubt exists on this one, you do raise a point in your post.

    For many other people, and I would argue, much/most of the younger generation and most of the pro-SSM voters, “marriage is between and a man and a woman” has been replaced, not with “marriage is between two persons”, but with “marriage is between a man and a woman unless you are gay/lesbian“. And if there was a way to retain the last of those three concepts of marriage, I would not be as worried about the effect of SSM.

    OF COURSE it’s between a man and a woman unless you are gay. How could it be anything else? The overwhelming culture is straight — man/woman. That’s great. I don’t know of anyone who wants to change that. My sense of the total percentage of LGB people in the US, including those not out – this is my educated guess – is about 8%.

    I don’t see how you think “two persons” will become a cultural standard. The only place it will become co-equal is in the language of legal statutes that apply to both gay and straight couples.

    For instance, you may think “Hollywood” is pushing gay characters in every TV show. Actually, it’s less than 3% and declining. http://www.aoltv.com/2011/09/28/gay-tv-characters-decline/

  16. R.K. says:

    Will do, Barry.

  17. Peter Hoh says:

    It would give me a great sense of satisfaction if ANY of the vocal proponents of same sex marriage did any work at all on strengthening marriage in the ways you describe.

    I have given substantial time to an organization that helps marriages in crisis.

    If you are talking about nationally prominent proponents of same-sex marriage, I don’t know that it’s fair to expect that small group to have a lot of crossover with other kinds of marriage advocacy.

    I think Barry raises a fair question: Why is there so much money being spent to prevent state recognition of same-sex marriage when there are many other issues and policies that would seem to have a greater impact on marriage?

    I suspect the answer is a lot like Willie Sutton’s: “Because that’s where the money is.”

  18. JeffreyRO5 says:

    An unintended consequence of reducing marriage to simply an arrangement that can be voted on, is the devaluing of marriage. No one believes that keeping legal marriage rights away from gay couples somehow makes marriage more valuable. It does turn marriage into just one more political football, though.

    If the anti-gay marriage people weren’t blinded by their homophobia and/or straight supremacy feelings, they might have chosen to welcome with open arms the interest of gay couples in marriage. They would have reasoned that more, not fewer, couples interested in marrying would bolster interest in the sagging institution. Or they would have at least kept silent on the issue, realizing that to oppose equal legal rights for gays and lesbians, including marriage, while supporting legal pre-marital sex, legal adultery and legal divorce, is the height of hypocrisy.

  19. mythago says:

    It would give me a great sense of satisfaction if ANY of the vocal proponents of same sex marriage did any work at all on strengthening marriage in the ways you describe.

    Your argument makes absolutely no logical sense.

    Barry says that your professed goal is X; you oppose A because it is harmful to X. Barry points out that B, C, D, E and F are provably harmful to X, while there is little if any evidence that A is actually harmful to X. Your response? “Oh yeah? Well what have YOU done to accomplish MY goal, X?” This is a non sequitur. It doesn’t counter Barry’s point about problems B through F. It doesn’t show that, in fact, A is a problem and it’s appropriate to focus on A. All you’ve done is say that, because Barry hasn’t invested as much time as you have in accomplishing X – which you phrase very nastily as ‘not even having spent five minutes on X’ – he’s wrong.

    I am inclined to agree with Peter’s take.

  20. Yes, we can use evidence, logic, and rational thought (including that based on past history) to judge ahead, while still acknowledging that even our best predictions may turn out to be way off, …

    Of course I acknowledge that my predictions may turn out to be way off. I don’t claim to be all-knowing! For all I know, eating vegetables and exercising every day will cause the sun to explode next year, even though it has done nothing of the sort so far.

    But, by the same token, how can you be certain that banning same-sex couples from marriage won’t lead to a catastrophic delegitimization of marriage among young people?

    Knowledge is always imperfect. That’s the state of being human. But we have to make judgements based on evidence and logic, even while we acknowledge that evidence and logic are not perfect. And the evidence and logic we have available simply does not support the belief that SSM will lead to a catastrophic destruction of marriage culture.

    In general, things that have enormous, catastrophic effects are measurable in advance. (Global warming, for example). And to suggest that people’s rights should be put on hold based on purely hypothetical changes that cannot be measured at all, is unfair on its face, and creates a very strong moral hazard of majorities unfairly discriminating against minorities.

    and thus allowing others whose predictions may differ from ours to make their case as well.

    There’s no issue of “allowing others… to make their case.” I have neither power nor desire to prevent you, or Elizabeth, or David, or anyone else from making their case.

    I just reserve the right to point out when your case is illogical, lacks supporting evidence, or contradicts what we know. And I certainly will continue to point out that sacrificing LGBT people’s rights on the basis of a purely hypothetical harm is unfair.

    Is extinction any less catastrophic to a species when it occurs slowly?

    But if the spotted squirrel is slowly going extinct, then we can measure spotted squirrel populations and see that they are in decline. We can propose coherent causal mechanisms, such as “reduced habitat caused by development is reducing the spotted squirrel breeding stock.”

    OTOH, if there’s no measurable reduction in the spotted squirrel population in areas with development, and if I have no coherent causal mechanism by which development can cause problems for spotted squirrels, then it would be unreasonable of me to demand that all development be banned forever in order to prevent a purely hypothetical development-caused spotted squirrel extinction.

  21. Peter wrote:

    I think Barry raises a fair question: Why is there so much money being spent to prevent state recognition of same-sex marriage when there are many other issues and policies that would seem to have a greater impact on marriage?

    Although I appreciate your support, this isn’t really the question I wanted to focus on. That question goes to what motivates opponents of marriage equality. And that’s not really my main concern in this post.

    My argument is about justice for LGBT people and their families.

    What motivates (for instance) Robert George to oppose SSM is besides the point. He could have the purist heart on the planet and it wouldn’t matter, because regardless of his motive, the end result of his preferred policy is that LGBT people are being unnecessarily singled out for unjust treatment.

  22. Chris: You comments are consistently inconsistent with our civility policy. Please know that you are right on the edge — you are actually over the edge — and that if your current practices continue, you will be banned from commenting here.

    Others who violate our civility policy will also be banned from commenting.

    And as a reminder, attacking our civility policy, or attacking the moderators who try to enforce it, is also a violation of the civility policy, and those who engage in this tactic will be banned from commenting.

    This is serious. A line has been crossed in recent days, and we are going to uncross it, starting now.

  23. Chris Gable says:

    I appreciate what you say David. I do hope that policy, as you indicate, is applied all around. We, most all of us, cross the line here at some point.

    As I have offended (and especially as it is Holy Week), I humbly apologize.

  24. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I’d like to apologize to you Chris for having to be subjected to majority approval for being treated equally under the law. While I understand the purpose of the “let’s keep it civil” rule is to keep the discussion civil, there is also something inherently uncivil about a majority deciding that’s it’s suitable for discussion to withhold certain legal rights from a minority. Why gays and lesbians, but not blacks, Jews or left-handed people, are subjected to majority approval for their legal rights is mystifying.

    I hope you can accept my apology, on behalf of straight people who feel as I do.

  25. Chris Gable says:

    Very kind of you Jeffrey. Thank you.

    It’s true that even nondiscrimination laws in employment and housing covering gay people are voted on in this country.

    In fact a non-discrimination ordinance was voted down in Anchorage, Alaska this week. And statewide in Maine about a decade ago. (Happily, the Maine electorate reversed itself in 2005).

  26. Chris Gable says:

    J – It’s also moving beyond words I can muster to hear that from a straight ally. It’s my hope to put myself in the shoes of people other than me (not in my circumstances or of my biology).

    That’s one reason I believe in the rights of donor conceived people as an issue, even though I am not donor-conceived, nor do my husband and I have nor will we have or adopt children.

    Because there are many donor-conceived persons on this site, I believe it is very important to address issues surrounding that very carefully, and with deference to those persons regarding what they feel is inappropriate or offensive language around the issues of donor conception.

    It is their personhood we are discussing after all. They live it and know more, and more viscerally, than I ever could.

  27. hello says:

    Barry,

    The whole “sky falling” argument is useless right now because laws that allow gay marriage are too new for long-term to be assessed. It usually takes a generation before the most of the results of dramatic social can be adequately measured. So Barry, Maggie Gallagher can’t prove whether gay marriage is a negative force in society but neither can you prove it is a positive one. At this point no one knows.

  28. mythago says:

    hello, how long is “long enough”? If in one generation, there are no terrible or dramatic effects from same-sex marriage, will its opponents concede it is acceptable?

  29. Phil says:

    I think one could argue, persuasively, that by repeatedly campaigning to “Let the people vote!” on marriage, NOM may have done more to harm marriage than any other group if our era.

    I think the actual statistics regarding divorce rates among Jews in America are irrelevant to Barry’s point. If any religious or ethnic minority were found to have a statistically significant increased likelihood to divorce, the idea of banning all members of that group from marrying would still be “off the table,” for all intents and purposes, at least among reasonable and educated people. Reasonable people would agree that it would be morally repugnant to oppress such a group, even if it would have the effect if reducing the overall divorce rate.

    Do you think that is something that we agree on, in concept? It is wrong to oppress an ethnic or religious minority, even if we believe that such oppression would have the effect of lowering divorce rates?

    It is morally repugnant to oppose legal same-sex marriage, and it is frustrating and shocking that this option is still “on the table” for people who appear to be otherwise reasonable. Although I have faith that many of you will sort out your issues and come around to this conclusion, I suspect I’m not the only one who winces a little bit when I read (some of) the opposing views on SSM. It’s like when a respected friend or family member makes a racist joke.

  30. Timothy S. says:

    Hello, ‘Hello’!

    Provided we’re including LGTB people in our thinking of ‘society’, then allowing them to marry those they love, and enjoy the full legal and cultural benefits of marriage, strikes me as an immediately tangible positive force in society.

    Happy, respected people make for happy, respectable societies.

  31. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I have to agree with Timothy S: society definitely benefits when all citizens are treated equally under the law, and that includes gay and lesbian citizens. Married couples have access to so many benefits, such as a spouse’s health insurance or freedom from inheritance taxes. Plus the children of same-sex couples could get access to health insurance in many circumstances. Plus those children wouldn’t have to grow up thinking the government dislikes their parents. That’s got to be a horrible emotional burden on a child, who forms a bond with his or her caregivers/parents long before he or she is sophisticated enough to understand prejudice and social animosity.

    It’s always interesting that groups like NOM never own the fact that their public advocacy, and very real political actions against gay and lesbian families creates great burdens for those families. What kind of organization advocates a public policy that harms children?!