November 5, 2004

Deciphering the Election Results or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Republicans

Posted in General at 7:34 pm by Ian

I’ve been meaning to write about the election for the last few days, but it never quite came out right. As a stopgap solution, and because I hate not seeing today’s date at the top of my blog, I posted a snarky joke about secession.

I also wrote a relatively vicious and mocking post lambasting the majority of Bush voters for their uninformed and foolish votes, but then I looked again at a sentence I had written, and I realized that I was going about this all the wrong way. At best, I was going to score some cheap points with people who already agreed with me, and I’d likely lose the respect of some other friends who feel vilified for their choices. So, taking my cue from the guidelines for being an Evil Overlord (ever a guiding light in my times of moral ambiguity)
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

Last week’s list of reasons you should vote for Bush was originally meant to have actual reasons interspersed with the tongue-in-cheek ones, but through a combination of fatigue and general surliness, I ended up venting my spleen instead. Here are the actual issues on which I favor Bush:

  • He has a more realistic plan for Social Security than Kerry. Which I will define here as any plan for dealing with Social Security aside from insisting that it be maintained as is and/or ignoring it until it’s too late.
  • He’s against gun control.
  • He does not toady to the UN. This one’s really on the fence, though, because I think he’s done a phenomenally terrible job of it. I think that the unilateral actions of the US are both effectually bad in the sense that they will not result in a positive effect on international terrorism (their claimed purpose) and politically bad because our allies were dubious in the first place and we went ahead and did it anyway and they were right. But in principle, I don’t think the US should stoop quite so low in the international community.
  • Education. Before he was the War President, he was the Education President. But it looks like he hasn’t really lived up to it. No Child Left Behind is not bad in theory; I think that there should be standardized tests for schoolchildren. If they can’t pass, hold ’em back. But in practice, it basically put standards into place without funding them. Furthermore, since its passage, he has worked to cut funding to schools. Not the most stellar record. But, then, I didn’t hear much from Kerry on anything better.

Ok. It’s a short list, and full of qualifiers. But I don’t think he’s all bad.

There are lots of other issues on which I can easily see myself disagreeing with another informed voter, though. Perhaps Bush voters think that taxes should be cut, regardless of the fact that a huge proportion of the gains go to the richest members of our country. I consider it to be a very bad idea, but not everybody does. Perhaps they believe that the war in Iraq was justified, and that it will turn out all right. I don’t know what justification they would argue, but I’m willing to believe that there’s an argument to be made.

Or perhaps I’m looking at things the wrong way.

Last week I posted a link to a survey of Bush and Kerry supporters that showed an alarming amount of cognitive dissonance on the part of a large proportion of Bush supporters. Assuming that votes for Bush were largely cast by the ignorant, I tore into them for not caring enough about important issues to even bother reading the news.

But then I realized: It’s not that they don’t read the news; it’s that those aren’t important issues to them. Above, I listed four issues on which I supported President Bush. Yet I never remotely considered the possibility of voting for him because those issues aren’t important to me.

President Bush was re-elected with the largest number of popular votes ever. He also had the most votes against him of any incumbent ever, and was elected with the lowest approval rating ever.

Clearly, there are a lot of people who have very strong feelings on both sides. But I don’t think that they are on the same issues. I think that what is incredibly important to one group is basically ignored by another.

So, here’s why you should care about my issues:
USAPATRIOT Act:
This one’s a little hard to explain without hysterics, and I remain amazed that more people aren’t up in arms over it. It is so incredibly Orwellian that it almost defies belief. This act

  • Suspends the right to a trial by jury, as required by the Constitution.
  • Allows for the creation of secret laws. That’s right. You can be accused of breaking a law that was never published. Furthermore, you have difficulty in court because you can’t produce the law under which you have been punished, without which it can’t be ruled unconstitutional
  • Removes the right to be served with a warrant. They can conduct searches and lock you up without ever telling you what you are accused of.
  • Removes the right to counsel, as required by the Constitution.

I don’t know what else to say about this. It frightens me that such legislation can be passed and supported by so many people. Regardless of any other issue, I would have voted against Bush for his continued support of this rights-depriving atrocity.

Separation of Church and State (most notably, Gay Rights):
I was ashamed to see the results of the 11 anti-gay initiatives. I have a whole barrel of arguments for why this is just wrong. But I don’t imagine they’ll do any good. I can only hope that in a few generations I won’t be so stuck in my ways as to completely miss the important civil rights struggle of that time.

Moreover, I can’t argue that this was an ignored issue; this is something that people want! It’s still not something that we care about the same way, though. I care about it because I believe in the principle of the civil rights involved; they care because it’s a moral issue. What worries me the most is that nobody has even stopped to consider that, if you have to amend the Constitution of your state to pass a law because the law would otherwise be blatantly unconstitutional… maybe that law deserves a second look. Maybe it’s a bad idea after all.

Finally, it sickens me how many of those initiatives included language that prohibited civil unions. I have long bit my tongue when people waxed on the importance of the symbolism of the word “marriage,” and how calling something else that would cheapen the union. I disagree with the notion that a marriage between two people of the same gender would cheapen anything, but I respect that people are willing to compromise and not let their personal beliefs get in the way of equal rights and opportunities. It seems that most people don’t believe that at all, and, given the chance, will put the queers in their place.

Now, tell my why I should care about your issues.

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61 Comments »

  1. Jonah said,

    Plenty of things I could say to this, but just one quick comment in response to this:

    He also had the most votes against him of any incumbent ever

    You’ve got the wrong Bush. In 1992, if you include Clinton’s and Perot’s votes, Bush Sr. had 65 million votes cast against him.

  2. Sarra said,

    I think Bush has an awful education policy (taking away money from schools when they don’t score high enough is not going to solve the problem, it just makes it worse). I think his tax cuts are suicidal for the country, and I think his policy of giving government contracts without bids is criminal. I think the invasion of Iraq was unjustified, although I do feel that since we caused a power vacuum, we sure as hell better finish what we started and make sure there’s a stable government in place before we leave. I think his blatant disregard for international opinion is arrogance at its worst, and makes me ashamed to be an American. I think the Patriot Act is on line with the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

    But none of those really mattered. Why did I really vote against him, especially consdering I didn’t think terribly highly of Kerry either on most of the above issues? Why would I have voted for a syphillic monkey on crack before voting for Bush? Why am I furious and terrified that he won? Gay rights and abortion.

    That’s what it comes down to. Not politics, not war, not terrorism, but basic civil rights. And Bush scares me.

  3. Jonah said,

    I don’t get the sense it’s gotten too much public attention, but just last week Bush came out in favor of civil rights. Make of that what you will, given the timing…

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that the progressives overplayed their hand in San Francisco and Massachusetts. By bringing gay marriage to the forefront of public opinion, they inadvertently incited a backlash they could’ve easily avoided. Obviously this is speculation, but it seems like allowing for the gradual expansion of civil unions would’ve created a society which de facto included gay marriage, and eventually it would’ve seemed uncontroversial to alter the legal definition as such. But then, this is also why I’m against Roe v. Wade while at the same time in favor of legalization of abortion…

  4. Jonah said,

    Er heh, talk about Freudian slips. That should be civil unions, not civil rights.

    Liberals may now commence making smart-aleck remarks about Bush’s record on civil rights.

    πŸ˜€

  5. Ian said,

    Jonah, the most votes against an incumbent was, I believe, referring to one who won the election. Although I don’t remember where I heard that bit, so I can’t verify what the original quote was. Thanks for pointing that out. For now, ignore it. I think my point is valid even if he didn’t have the most.

    And, yes, I heard all about his recent decision that civil unions should be allowed. While I’d like to believe that he is sincere, I don’t. The FMA, which he is on record as supporting, contains language that would likely prohibit civil unions.

  6. Jonah said,

    I’m pretty sure it was actually Howard Dean who originally made that remark. But even if you take it as a president who won, the 1992 election still stands as a counterexample. After all, Clinton won with 44.9 million votes, when 104.6 million were cast. Subtracting out, you get 59.1 million votes against Clinton. In 2004, Kerry got 55.9 million votes (which means at least 55.9 million votes against Bush), and I have to assume that third parties didn’t make up the 3.2 million vote deficit between that and 1992.

    But as you say, none of this pedantic nitpicking really matters that much.

    And I agree that it seems a bit hypocritical to support civil unions and the FMA at the same time. I’ve heard arguments suggesting that supporting the FMA was just as symbolic as supporting pro-life judges: it’s not that they’re actually going to do something about it; it just helps rally the base. Is anybody actually worried about the FMA passing?

  7. JT said,

    For those who oppose the FMA, I apologize for the actions of my representative, Marylin Musgrave, who’s main focus the last two years was to get one passed (she was the one who proposed it in the House). We tried to get her out of office, but that’s hard to do when you live in the most conservative county in Colorado.

    Still, I’m not concerned about the FMA passing, because it won’t. You have to do a lot of stuff to amend the Constitution, and they didn’t make it hard just to piss people off. A number of Republicans in Congress who would otherwise support a ban on gay marraige oppose the FMA simply because it amends the Constitution. That’s why it hasn’t passed already.

  8. Lisa said,

    LISA’S BIG LIST O’ ISSUES:

    Education: Vouchers and standardized tests are not going to help our public schools, and neither is throwing money at them. So, really, neither Bush nor Kerry have it right, in my opinion. But George W. and Laura Bush support a lot of teacher initiatives and training programs, as well as expanding Head Start, and I haven’t seen Kerry really mention education at all. Since I tend to believe that people who care matter most, Bush grudgingly wins this one, although I still disagree with most of his policies.

    Gun control: NO, for many reasons, although obviously making sure kids don’t get guns is rather important. Go Bush.

    Environmental issues: Yeah, about that… while I think that stewardship should be our environmental goal (which I define as responsibly *using* resources), which tends to be a Republican value, I also think Bush has looked more at exploiting resources rather than using them. The sun is a resource, corn is a resource, methane clathrates are not a resource that we should even consider using. Oil is not nearly as handy a resource as it used to be. I really think that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bad idea, even if it can be done sustainably, which my Alaskan sustainable coal-mining uncle says it can. So Bush loses here. Although Laura did plant natural grasses on their Texas ranch, which I think is a cool and appropriate thing.

    War and stuff: Getting Saddam out was a good thing, because killing your own people is despicable. The aftermath is not being handled terribly well, though. I also like that he doesn’t kowtow to the UN, although echoing Ian, it’s not like he’s been keeping friends either. One of my Democrat friends voted for Bush because she didn’t think Kerry took terrorism threats seriously enough, and also because Bush is very pro-Israel, and she is Jewish.

    Gay rights and abortion: I am glad Bush came out in favor of civil rights, as it seems to be the only sensible thing to do. Marriage is a religious ceremony, and shouldn’t be put on the government to regulate. Civil unions, however, should be under the government’s jurisdiction. And as to amending a constitution to specifically prohibit gay marriage – what sheer nonsense. Regarding abortion, I am extremely pro-life, so I applaud Bush’s support of the Partial-Birth Abortion ban. I have loads of reasons for my stance on this, which I will be willing to discuss with anyone, but only in a calm environement where you are assured that I will neither change my mind nor expect to (immediately πŸ˜‰ )change yours, and will not tolerate anything that sounds like a personal attack. I know that abortion is a very important issue to many people, especially those supporting a woman’s right to have an abortion, and if anyone really wants to know my reasons why I don’t think it’s a right then I’ll be glad to talk about them, in person, one on one.

    Faith-based initiatives: I like this one, not in the least because most of the service organizations in Grand Rapids are faith-based, and I know they do good things, and also letting faith-based organizations get supported means that the majority of the charities in GR get support. I can see some problems in making sure the money doesn’t get used for proselytizing, but in general I expect it’s used for food and clothes and heat and renting space and all the things that take lots more money than tracts.

    TO CONCLUDE: I know I felt a lot less strongly pro-Bush than most people here felt anti-Bush. And I don’t have marvellous reasons for supporting him. But in general, I felt that while Bush had reasons and plans to get things done, Kerry was saying anything opposite Bush to get into office, and then he’d figure out what he really stood for. Also, I like that Bush has connections to Middle America, that it’s an area he knows to be concerned about. A lot of attention is paid to the deplorable conditions in the cities, but there are equally sad areas in the middle 2/3 of the country too. He expanded rural health centers instead of just community ones, for example – when you’re 100 miles away from the nearest community center, it can be awfully difficult to keep up on your health. That’s one of the things I liked about Clinton – he knew what rural meant. I don’t feel that Kerry thought about the middle of America beyond who would vote for him. He actually said they could win the election without the South, implying that supporting measures near and dear to the people in those states wouldn’t be necessary for him. We can’t be a country of cities – having both rural and urban areas is what made us so successful, in my opinion.

    So, there you have it. These last four years, Bush has tended to do things that either upset or satisfies people, and it seems that the satisfaction has soothed the anger for the majority. I’d rather vote for a candidate who knows what he’s about (and whom I tend to agree with, of course)than an unknown element whose main attribute is that he’s not Bush.

  9. Lisa said,

    Wow, that’s long! Can you tell I haven’t really been engaging in many political discussions lately? πŸ˜‰

  10. Ian said,

    Glad to hear it.

    I take it, then, that you voted “No” on the Michigan Anti-Gay Marriage initiative?

  11. Mama said,

    A sad state of affairs in all, I say.

  12. Evan said,

    Ian, I’m gonna hit up the patriot act section of what you’ve posted first, because I’ve had many discussions about this and related topics. Did you know that most of the sections you posted are taken from the ‘war on drugs’ legislation? Right now, if the government suspects you of a.) distributing b.) transporting c.)using in large quantities they can sieze your property? That if they then DO sieze your property, they don’t have to give it back? Ever? In fact, if you have someone living with you, and THEY are doing any of the above, you can lose your property? You can’t contest it in court. You cannot have legal representation at the property hearing (because all they do is tell you you’re losing your property, and who needs a lawyer for that?). They don’t need a warrant to search your house if it’s drug related. And once they’ve siezed your property (house, car, whatever) they can sell it, and THEY keep the money? Directly tied into that, did you realize that congress regularly writes a ‘rider’ clause that exempts them from laws such as this? I guess it was considered ok when it was the war on drugs, because everyone knows that those drug dealers are bad people, right? Who cares if they’re american citizens. Stupid drug dealers.

    About the whole issues thing, I think you left something important out. Both of my parents are democrats (unusual in a baptist minister and his wife) but vote for their concience. The only reason that they voted for Bush was because they didn’t trust Kerry to select good members of the Supreme Court. That was it. They weighed the issues, and liked some of each, disliked some of each, but just don’t think that John Kerry will do right by the Constitution.

    One more thing. What was the supreme court decision you were telling me about two summers ago where one of the justices wrote that the issue had no bearing on the constitution and functioning of the government, or something like that? I can’t remember exactly, but I think the sentiment applies to gay marriage. Hell, I think government should stay out of it all together. Churches can choose whether or not to allow a wedding under their auspices, but two people who want to should be accorded the same benefits (and penalties) regardless of gender.

  13. Evan said,

    I meant to include this hyperlink above. Sorry. (regards forfeiture laws in the US.)

  14. Lisa said,

    Actually, I’m registered in California, so I got to vote on all sorts of fun things, like casinos and stem cells and sales tax hikes. Very educational.

  15. Matt said,

    Great thread, Ian, and everyone else who’s put up something here. I like hearing well thought out arguments from both sides.

    I think my main reason for supporting Kerry was the war in Iraq and terrorism. I find it absolutely deplorable that Bush would divert resources away from Afganistan when the man who actually attacked us was still on the loose. Saddam was a bad dude, sure, but he hadn’t attacked us. Bin Laden did. Get him first, then go after Saddam if you must.

    I also find it hard to support an administration that goes to war so hastilly that their primary, if not only, reason for going to war was completely wrong. How dare he put America’s lives, resources, and international reputation on the line when he’s not careful enough to recheck his facts at least as many times as he has fingers to avoid an embarassment like this. I don’t think that the USA should have to bend to the will of the UN, but when the rest of the world is screaming at us about how wrong we were, I want a president who will take that into consideration and make darn sure he’s right rather than continue to boldly and blindly charge forward.

    I can’t believe how Bush has largely ignored North Korea amidst all this when they actually have nuclear capabilities. His refusal to get other nations involved in talks, namely China, is plain stupidity, considering how much more influence China has than us. China would just as soon have a nuke-less North Korea as us.

    That makes three strikes, and that was more than enough to tank my support for Bush. On domestic issues, the decision wasn’t as clear cut for me. Social security is an interesting issue for me. I have a hard time deciding if I like Bush’s plan to give younger workers some of their social security money back to invest. On the one hand, if the system is going bankrupt in its current state, taking money out of it sounds like the exact wrong thing to do. However, if the system is going bankrupt, I’ll gladly take my money now and invest it rather than giving that money to the government and not getting anything back. I think that it’ll take a pretty remarkable person to come up with a good way to save social security, so even though I originally was against this idea of Bush’s, I may just back Bush now. Be greeedy, take my money now, and to hell with everyone else.

    Gay marriage is an issue on which if done sort of the opposite: I started out on the right, but I’ve been slowly drifting left, in part because of secular arguments coming from the likes of you all, but mostly because of changes in the ways I see my religious background. I disagree with the FMA Bible-thumpers on their own turf. If you read the Gospels, you’ll read over and over how Jesus invalidates, mocks, and embarasses people who assume the moral high ground and in the process exclude and cast out people. It’s one of their the top 5 themes, and to me, it looks like a related situation is going on here. People are claiming the moral high ground and casting homosexuals out of normal society. Granted, the Bible makes specific references against homosexuality, but if you focus in on that, you severely miss the boat. The overwhelming teachings and commandments all boil down to fostering relationships, either between you and God or you and your fellow man. Once I started looking at things like the Ten Commandments through that lens, it provided an interesting perspective. The one against coveting, for example, is not about God watching over your shoulder and making sure you’re a good little boy or girl, its about how doing so injures your relationship with other people. With that in mind, the choice is pretty clear. Thou shalt always act in a manner that promotes relationships to the fullest extent possible. If that means dining with tax collectors and prostitutes instead of throwing them out of the temple, so be it. If it means allowing homosexuals to marry, or at least engage in a civil union, rather than relegating them to a dark corner of society, go for it. The government has no business banning them. Sure, go ahead and reserve the word “marriage” for heterosexual relationships, but we have no right to exclude people from civil unions in the name of morality.

    Abortion is a real sticky issue for me. I see many good reasons to have an abortion, and just about as many bad ones. Since forcing people to make a case that it’s a good reason is largely preposterous, it’s tough to balance. I think, though, that I’ll err on the side of people currently breathing and largely support it. However, partial birth abortion I’m against. When the difference between an abortion and infanticide is about 6 inches, I can’t support it. Sure, you can make the “slippery slope” argument, but I never liked that argument anyway, no matter what issue it was referring to. I guess I’ll wind up supporting Bush on this issue, mainly because I don’t think that he’ll be able to go as far as he wants. The Supreme Court justice Bush is most likely to replace is Rehnquist, easily the most conservative of all of them. If anything, the Supreme Court is apt to end up slightly more liberal after he’s replaced.

    Lastly, I find it rather funny how people have been touting how Bush had more people vote for him than any other president. Of course he did. There are more voters now. OK, maybe it’s still not a given, but it’s not exactly all that impressive.

  16. Jonah said,

    I can’t believe how Bush has largely ignored North Korea amidst all this when they actually have nuclear capabilities. His refusal to get other nations involved in talks, namely China, is plain stupidity, considering how much more influence China has than us. China would just as soon have a nuke-less North Korea as us.

    I agree with you that multilateral talks (especially those that involve China) are far more likely to be effective than bilateral ones. However, you’re a bit mixed up about whose position is whose. Kerry was actually the one advocating bilateral discussions with North Korea, while Bush instead was holding out for multilateral talks which also included China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia.

  17. JT said,

    There are a number of reasons I didn’t vote for Bush. He and I agree on a number of policy issues, many important to me, many not as important. I could never vote for him simply because he wants to ban gay marriage, and I’m very for it. But the number one reason I didn’t vote for him this time is trust. I don’t trust him. I think he led us into war in Iraq under false pretenses, he won’t admit to making mistakes when he has, and he talked of how he could unite the country before going in the exact oppostie direction.

    Some might say that he was duped into the war in Iraq as well from faulty intelligence, but I don’t buy it. They were talking about war in Iraq before 9/11. Even Colin Powell admitted that he knew the evidence he presented to the UN was very shaky/made up, but he did it anyway. So Bush never said it might have been wrong to be so quick on the Iraq attack, and instead let other people be the fall guys (George Tenent).

    As past (greater) Presidents have said, “The buck stops here.” If it happened on your watch, you take responsability for it. There’s no way I can believe the Bush is a great leader, worthy enough to be President, if he only takes credit for the “good stuff” and locks the rest away in a vault somewhere.

  18. Ian said,

    Evan: I was aware of many of the injust provisions of the “War” on drugs, but thanks for the link. (What ever happened to the Congress having the authority to declare war, and to having such wars be actual, y’know, wars, instead of “The War on [noun]”?). I certainly don’t agree with the drug laws of this country, nor do I agree with the way essential rights are trampled on in the course of enforcing them. However, a reasonable approach to drugs seems to be untenable for any serious politician, given the tendency to label such a position as “soft.” I hope things won’t stay that way.

    As far as why I might be enraged about the Patriot Act and not about the Drug War, a few things came to mind: 1. There’s a substantive difference between having the government take your car and the government take your freedom. They both suck a lot, but the second is much worse. 2. Bush didn’t push the Drug War. I can’t really hold him accountable for not challenging a bad policy that has stood for decades; I can be pissed that he supported the Patriot Act and has called for it to be expanded and made permanent.

    I’m surprised about your parents’ view Kerry’s and Bush’s probable appointments to the Supreme Court. For one, with a Republican controlled Congress, I have serious doubts that Kerry could have put anyone truly objectionable in the Court. But, then, my fear is that Bush will put three or four judges on the Court who consider strict constructionism to be reading the literal truth in each word of the Constitution, except for the Ninth Amendment, which is ignored, because it explicitly says not to do so.

    Unfortunately, I don’t remember the court case we were talking about then.

    Lisa: Way to dodge the question; you should go into politics. I assume you’ll answer the spirit of the question if you feel like it.

    Matt: I think that’s a pretty enlightened view of how Christianity ought to treat gay marriage. It’s unfortunate that so few Christians share your analysis. Realize, though, that many people for whom gay marriage is an issue will not be satisfied with only civil unions as long as the goverment sanctions and recognizes a marriage as a legal arrangement. A separate designation is inherently unequal, a fact that would be driven home to every member of a gay civil union who, upon mentioning his husband or her wife, hears the response: “Oh, but you’re not really married.”

  19. Sarra said,

    You’d think the atrocious track record of segregation would have put a stop to the whole “separate but equal” fallacy. Apparently it hasn’t. *hums the Keep Your Eyes on the Prize theme song from the wonderful civil rights documentary she saw in Stigma last week*

  20. Jonah said,

    A separate designation is inherently unequal, a fact that would be driven home to every member of a gay civil union who, upon mentioning his husband or her wife, hears the response: “Oh, but you’re not really married.”

    Ian: At the risk of playing devil’s advocate, I’d just like to point out that this is a separate designation for circumstances which are, in fact, different. An analagous case is the fact that women don’t have to register for Selective Service like men do; thus, the arrangements for men and women are separate, and unsurprisingly, unequal. I don’t know how many advocates of ERA still exist, but I’m certainly against it; when situations are in fact different, it seems to me that they merit separate arrangements. The word “discrimination” has become tarnished by its association with inappropriate discrimination, but if you sit back and think about it, you’ll realize that people (rightfully) discriminate between different things all the time.

  21. Ian said,

    I’m not arguing that there are no differences between a heterosexual marriage and a homosexual one, just that there are no substantive ones on which a discriminatory policy could reasonably be based.

    After all, there are differences between black and white people, but discriminatory practices based on those differences are injust.

    Finally, your analogies fall short because, unlike the selective service, women and men are equally fit to be married.

  22. Jonah said,

    Haha well that wasn’t quite what I was getting at — of course women and men are equally fit to be married. I was only talking about the differences between women and men as they pertained to selective service.

    But back to your main point about substantive differences. One very substantive difference seems to be the fact that heterosexual marriage as an institution facilitates procreation. Obviously there are cases of heterosexual marriage in which procreation does not occur — such as marriage between old or infertile couples — but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

    The same cannot be said for homosexual marriage, which on its face has a substantively different purpose: that of codifying the love and securing the legal rights of two people. I (and I’m sure you agree) consider this to be a very worthy and admirable goal, but you have to acknowledge that it is nevertheless a substantively different one than that of heterosexual marriage.

  23. Evan said,

    Alright, i’m gonna take this in a different direction and ask:
    Ian, did you mean to say:
    unlike the selective service, women and men are equally fit to be married.
    thus implying that men and women are NOT equally fit to serve in the military?

  24. Ian said,

    Jonah: I’ve heard that argument before, and I don’t buy it. Marriage, as an institution, is not based on having children. Traditionally, it was primarily an arragement of property rights. Recently (last two hundred years or so), marriage has become more about love and companionship (but has not lost the property rights components). Note that almost no traditional wedding vows mention children at all. In this list of about 200 vows, only half a dozen mention children or procreation at all, and some of those are rather parenthetical references. If marriage were really about children, there are many many heterosexual couples who would not be married, including the elderly, the sterile, or people who simply choose not to have children. Rather than them being the exception that proves the rule, they demonstrate that marriage = procreation is a fallacious argument.

    Evan: I assumed that was Jonah’s rationale for not drafting women, and pointed out that the situation was not analogous.

    Personally, I think that whether or not someone is fit for the military is a question of their individual characteristics. Depending on the situation, different physical attributes would be prefered. However, by any reasonably objective set of criteria for general physical fitness for combat, far more men would qualify than women.

  25. Lisa said,

    Okay, so maybe I’m just missing something here, but it seems to me that the government already makes a distinction between civil union and marriage, just not in terminology. Let me explain: The government says you can only be married to one person at a time, as long as they’re of the opposite gender, but divorce is ok. But dozens of religions have a different definition of what marriage is – radical sects of the LDS church and certain sects of Islam say marriage can be to more than one woman (if you are a man), some Christian churches (and I’m not too sure about other religions, so I’ll stick with what I know) don’t acknowledge divorces, etc. The government doesn’t acknowledge the religious definition of marriage; in all essentials it’s a breakable civil union legal only between a man and a woman. You can be what you or your religious group consider married, but if you don’t go to the Justice of the Peace and get it legalized, it doesn’t count. And if abolishing a governmental definition of marriage will result in homosexuals being told that they’re not really married and therefore we should expand the legal definition of marriage, let me point out that my parents were told (by members of the church they attended) that they were living in sin after their wedding because my father has been divorced. Whether you change the legal definition of what counts as married or not, thoughtless and/or cruel people will still react the same way. Civil unions are the way to go.

    And Ian, I wasn’t dodging the question purposefully – it wasn’t one of the questions I was considering in more than a rhetorical way much before the election, since there were so many more questions that I actually had to vote on that seemed to be more pressing. I thought you didn’t know that I was registered in CA and therefore what I would have done if I had been registered in MI would have been a useless question, since I wasn’t registered in MI, unless you wanted to put me on the spot to see if I really believed what I said. However, since I didn’t vote, and I’m considering it after the election, what I say now doesn’t matter, because it has no bearing on my actions, potential or otherwise. But I think I would have voted against adding the amendment, if only because it’s just plain stupid to do so on a relatively small matter (like outlawing alcohol was a stupid amendment. Freeing slaves was appropriate), whether I was for or opposed to legalizing homosexual marriage.

    I do want to go into politics.

  26. Sarra said,

    Vote Venechuck 2020!! Nice ring, don’t you think? (Actually, I wouldn’t ever vote for Lisa, as she’s anti-choice, but I’ll still campaign for her. ;))

    Jonah: At the risk of echoing Ian: The ancient Greeks thought marriage was primarily for the purpose of raising children for the state. The pre-industrial revolution English thought marriage was primarily for the purpose of property management. We now think marriage is a legal way of recognizing a lifetime comitment, and a requirement for various rights such as health coverage, joint tax returns, and hospital visitations. Are you going to insist we’re really 4th century BC Greeks because we still bear children? Marriage stopped being about breeding a long time ago.

  27. JT said,

    I think that the arguement against gay marriage because of child rearing is quite a shaky one. After all, due to recent medical advances, two women can have a child through artificial insemination. Two men can have a child through a surrogate mother. A same-sex couple can adopt a child (provided the state doesn’t outlaw that too), or a member of a same-sex relationship can bring a child from a previous heterosexual marriage. So there are a number of options same-sex couples to have children. Sure, it’s not quite the traditional image of a mom and dad starting out in a bedroom on wedding night, but it proves that child bearing can happen in a same-sex marriage.

  28. Jonah said,

    I apologize if what I say next reminds anybody of Rick Santorum, but humor me for a moment.

    Supposing marriage is really about lifetime commitment and love and whatnot, why should we stop at gay marriage? If a man and an 8-year-old boy profess love for each other, why is it anybody’s business to stop them? What about between a brother and his sister, or a father and his daughter (or son)? And if a women decides she’d like to marry her goat (which is legal in India, mind you), why should we get in the way of that? What about group marriage, for the indecisive? After all, it’s all about love and commitment, right?

  29. Ian said,

    Well, I think you look at each case individually, and see if any other overriding reasons should apply. Here are my responses (in order) to your suggested slips down the slope:

    An eight-year-old cannot enter into a binding commitment such as marriage. I don’t really take this one seriously.

    I see no reason why family members shouldn’t be able to get married. Sure, thinking of them having sex grosses me out, but gay sex grosses out many people. Being uncomfortable about how two consensual adults spend their time together does not give society license to keep them from it.

    I’m not even sure how to respond to the goat one. It’s such a non-sequitor. I suppose I’d default back to the fact that a goat can’t make a commitment to marriage.

    I also have no problem with group marriage, except that it would require a lot of legal reworkings to make it happen. How do you deal with custody of children conceived by the other members of the marriage if it breaks up? How do health benefits work when someone has multiple spouses? But I see no reason why those problems couldn’t be worked out.

    For those who would like the above examples to be illegal, what gives you the right to determine what love or companionship means for others? Why should the state sanction some personal relationships with special rights but not others?

  30. Philip said,

    Don’t stop at the eight-year old one as being quite so non-serious. What about a nine-year-old? Ten? 14? 17.5? Where you draw the line is somewhat arbitrary, but it needs to be somewhere, right?

  31. Ian said,

    That’s true. However, just because it’s hard to tell where a line should be drawn between the somewhat fuzzy categories of “child” and “adult” doesn’t mean that there’s no line to be drawn. Fuzzy categories like this often seem like they make good candidates for slippery slope arguments, but they fall short. For example, because the line is somewhat hard to figure out, you can get things like lowering the voting age to 18 or raising the drinking age to 21 in a reasonable society. But no one would ever try to reasonably argue that the voting age should be lowered to three or the drinking age raised to 65. Clearly there’s a pretty good split between child and adult somewhere around 20 (in this society anyway). I should note that the above argument is paraphrased from Steven Pinker’s The Clean Slate, a really interesting book on human nature and society.

    But I don’t think that this argument is related to gay-marriage any more than tangentially (because they’re both about marriage). Society already has to make a determination between people who are “old enough” for whatever and people who are not.

    Furthermore, age discrimination is not nearly as insidious as other discrimination because in the long run, it affects everybody equally. Thus, while it may be foolish or somewhat arbitrary, it is not, in general, unjust.

  32. Matt said,

    When I was suggesting using the term civil union over marriage, that was more as a compromise with the conservatives rather than my own personal belief. I’d just as soon call them married and be done with it. However, the separate but equal analogy is an interesting point. As a country, we have a poor history of doing just that. I’m not sure that the analogy holds up, assuming that a gay civil union law is written to grant exactly the same legal benefits of a heterosexual marriage. Reactions from people basted on their beliefs aside, the legal results seem pretty binary: you have hospital visitation rights, or you don’t, you can file a joint tax return, or you can’t, etc. At first, there would almost certainly be people (incorrectly) raising red flags about Joe and Jim being on the same form, but that would happen just about equally often if you called it marriage I suspect. It seems like a different case from giving the black children an “equal” school, but not funding it as well and giving them inferior supplies. There is a continuum there were inequality can more easily creep up. In such a true/false case as many of the marriage rights seem to be, I don’t think your analogy is complete.

    I also forgot to comment on education last time. I do like Bush’s accountability idea, but I don’t like the implementation. Granted, throwing money at schools is not going to fix them, but taking it away seems worse still. I’m not sold, and hopefully this program will not be as bad as I think it might.

    Lastly, there is a decent genetic argument about forbidding relatives to marry: recessive genetic diseases are more likely to show up in an inbred population. Of course, that leaves open the possibility of a gay familial relationship, which would probably gross some people out so much that they would spontaneously combust.

    Let’s do it. I want to watch them go booooom!

  33. Jonah said,

    Lastly, there is a decent genetic argument about forbidding relatives to marry: recessive genetic diseases are more likely to show up in an inbred population.

    Ah but that argument only makes sense if marriage is about procreation. The consensus here seems to be that it’s about love, so if a brother and sister (or grown-up child and parent) profess love for one another, who are we to stop them for irrelevant procreative reasons?

  34. Ian said,

    It seems like a different case from giving the black children an “equal” school, but not funding it as well and giving them inferior supplies. There is a continuum there were inequality can more easily creep up.

    If the amazingly unlikelyhood of getting a civil union equal to marriage in terms of rights actually got passed, every time that a law came up that was related to marriage, we’d have to fight tooth and nail to make sure that it included civil unions as well.

    The only way to make a separate designation work would be to tie the rights of civil unions directly to marriage (essentially amend every current and future law to replace “marriage” with “marriage or civil union”), meaning that marriage would literally be just another word, or to get government out of the marrying business and just establish a civil union for any two adults who want it. People who want to get married can go to their preferred church or other organization, and everyone can go on down to city hall for their civil union licenses.

  35. Evan said,

    Ian, this is a great post. Props! I’m gonna take the women in the military argument (because i’m more interested in that) to my blog, so as to leave this one on-topic.

  36. Ian said,

    Ok. Everyone who wants to discuss women in the military, pile on over to Evan’s. Except that I don’t see anything posted yet. Soon, perhaps.

  37. Evan said,

    Up. Live. Active. Ready. Waiting.

  38. jon said,

    a few notes:

    As far as the “traditional purpose of marriage” goes – don’t forget that many people in the national discussion are basing their idea of marriage on Judeo-Christian values, which have been around for a long, long time. If you look at how marriage is approached in the Bible, the ideal (if not always the practice) is fairly uniform across the 1500 or so years of its writing. I am not saying that this ideal has to be the American ideal, but it puts the argument in a different place than “historical example A proves that there has been no traditional stability in the definition of marriage”.

    As far as the Patriot Act goes, didn’t Kerry vote for its approval? Actually, didn’t he write sections of it? And which provisions of it was he going to go about changing when he was reelected? It just doesn’t seem to be the issue to pick him on.

    I didn’t vote for Bush because of his environmental policy, educational policy, the manner in which he approached the war in Iraq, and because he’s a generally poor model of how a Christian should act (I’m not saying anything about whether or not he’s a good Christian – just that he’s put up an image before the world that is not very appropriate at all).

    I didn’t vote for Kerry because of the way he seemed to just try to say whatever was necessary to get elected (rather than having actual standpoints and views), because of his abortion policy, because of his view on secularism, and because his record of action in the senate seemed to have very little to do with all of his claims about what he would do in the presidency.

  39. Ian said,

    Jon, I’m sure you know the Bible better than I, but I’d be very surprised if two Christians married now have essentially the same relationship that two Christians had 1500 years ago. When you consider how many other social and cultural changes that have taken place in that time, it’s highly unlikely that a marriage has not changed at all. To throw out one example, divorce is relatively accepted now by mainstream Christianity. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure what you mean by marriage being uniform over so many centuries. You said that the “ideal” was the same, but not always the practice, but I don’t know how that could be real constancy. Clearly the Bible hasn’t been substantially re-written in the last 1500 years, so the “ideal” couldn’t possibly have changed. But the only reasonable way of determining whether it’s been constant is to look at actual marriage, not the words written in a book. The ceremony has changed. The permanence has changed. The concept of women as equal parters has changed. If you mean that it’s been constant as being between one man and one woman, then you’re begging the question. Furthermore, you may not even be right. Google produced this, which suggests that there is historical precedent for homosexual Christian unions.

    Yes. Kerry did vote for the Patriot Act, along with almost everyone else. For one, once a law is going to pass, people often pile over to the winning side. For another, we’d just been attacked and Congress was lining up behind the President to support his plan of action. For a third, Congress was pretty hamstrung by the chickenshit name. Most people don’t really know what the Patriot Act does, but it behooves one to vote for it anyway because, come reelection time, “So-and-so voted against the USA Patriot Act” on a commercial is about as bad as voting against the “Protection of Mom, Apple Pie, and Cute Little Puppies Act.”

    Since then, however, Bush has called for expanding the Patriot Act. Kerry has argued that it should be revised to remove some of the more egregious violations. At the State of the Union speech when Bush called for expansions of the Patriot Act, and got a standing ovation from half of Congress… which half do you think John Kerry was in?

  40. jon said,

    Actually, I wasn’t claiming that there’s been no change in marriage over 1500 years. I was claiming that over the 1500 years the Bible was written (~1400 BC to 90 AD) the purposes and ideals held for marriage remain quite consistent – when Christ wants to talk about marriage, he quotes Genesis. So really, I’m talking about the state of marriage over the last 3500 years. And no, divorce is not acceptable in my church (except in the case of adultery), it’s not accepted in the largest church in the US, and it’s strongly discouraged in most others. The fact that quite a few people in some churches have gone against the ideal does not mean that the concept has changed, no more than wanton violence should encourage us to drop pacifist ideals. I agree that the status of women in society has greatly improved over time, but I don’t believe that anything regarding the definitions and goals of the marriage has changed.

    As for the Patriot Act, in the debate Kerry said that he is still strongly in support of it. He said he wanted to “tweak” some provisions of it, making it “stronger” in some places and “smarter” in others. I still can’t see that kind of weak promise being something to elect him on.

  41. Matt said,

    I’m not entirely willing to concede the link between marriage and procreation. Granted, procreation is not necessary for marriage, but there’s been more than one shotgun wedding held making the case that it’s sufficient. Unfortunately, I don’t have the statistics on hand with which to make my case. Does any one know what percentage of married couples have children? How many unwed couples do (that are still couples)? Also, does any one know what adoption laws have to say on the subject? Does being a married help you at all for adopting, or perhaps meet a requirement for it? Can single people adopt? Can unwed couples? The adoption laws may or may not reveal if the government has made a statement regarding the link between marriage and procreation, even if the child is not by your own blood.

  42. Ian said,

    I’m not saying there’s no correlation, just that having a marriage does not require children, nor does having children require a marriage (under law). Yep, lots of people go and get married once they’re pregnant. That’s because their culture or personal beliefs compell them to. But to say “marriage is about procreation” is misleading.

    As to the adoption point, I think you are right that married couples are favored for adoption. Sounds like an excellent argument toward legalizing homosexual marriages to me. After all, then they could adopt, clearly promoting the general social welfare.

  43. Adam said,

    Ian, I think that is exactly the point that those opposing homosexual marraige. They claim (though I doubt its validity it’s still a central part of the argument) that children raised in such an arrangement will not develop properly will grow up with skewed morals. I think adoption (procreation if you will) by homosexual couples is exacatly what those against gay marriage want to prevent. So while I agree that it is an excellent point, it’s not one that is going to convince someone against the concept for moral reasons.

  44. Ian said,

    Oh, I’m well aware. The last point was partly tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely. See, the impetus needs to be on them to prove why their estimation of homosexuality should be written into law, rather than us arguing that homosexuals are “good enough” to adopt. We don’t establish a particular brand of Christian moral standards for any other couple to adopt, so why shouldn’t homosexuals adopt? It all comes down to the “I think gay people are icky” argument, which is bullshit.

  45. Ian said,

    Oh, and Jon, can you give some cites for Jesus talking about marriage and the quotes in Genesis.

  46. Evan said,

    I’m not comfortable giving names of people who aren’t around on the web, but it has been my experience that the two people I’ve know who’ve been raised primarily by their homosexual parents had a very difficult time of things, beyond normal adolescence. Being uncomfortable inviting friends over on weekends because one didn’t know how to explain about mom and mom is one of the problems I’m aware of personally. I know that there are problems with hetero marriages where the kids are uncomfortable for whatever reasons, but most of those are acceptable in an 8th, 9th, 10th grader’s social world..

    Biblical references for marraige:
    “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
    -Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV)

    “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, For this cause a man shal leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?”
    -Matthew 19:4-5 (NKJV)

    “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.'”
    -Mark 10:6 (NKJV)

    “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
    -Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV)

  47. Matt said,

    Jesus’ discussion of marriage isn’t particularly long, saying that looking at another woman with adulterous thoughts in your heart is equal to actually committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-30), and that divorce is forbidden except when your partner has committed adultery (Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-12). There are parallel passages in at least Mark, but I don’t have the verses. His thoughts on divorce echo the idea from Genesis 2:24 that in marriage, the man and woman become one in flesh, a more serious union than a divorce certificate could ever break.

    Also, while I’m not particularly optimistic that things will be changing much w.r.t. the Patriot Act, you’re probably still doing a little dance that Ashcroft is resigning.

  48. Jonah said,

    Ian: I admire your attempt at consistently neutral morality. I guess I just don’t see society ever getting to the point where it doesn’t attempt to enforce some moral standards. To take a particularly egregious example, would you support adoption by a “marriage” of two brothers, their father, and their father’s mother? Do you really think that a child reared in such a household would not be in any way harmed by the unusual arrangements?

  49. Ian said,

    Thanks to both of you for the marriage quotes. I had no doubt that they were there, I just wasn’t coming up with anything in my search.

    As for the fact that children of gay parents can have a tough time of it socially, it’s true. I know of at least one person who did and reads this blog, but since I don’t know how comforatble that person is discussing it here, I’ll leave it to them to decide whether to talk about it here. But I fail to see how ostracizing homosexuals or demeaning their relationships will solve that problem. If anything, it will make it worse. And, regardless of the state of marital law, homosexuals can and do have children, and can and do adopt children (in some states).

    And, yes, I’m definitely doing the No More Ashcroft Dance.

  50. Matt said,

    I guess you just beat me to the draw on some of those quotes, and good for busting out that one from Romans about homosexuality. Another one on that subject is from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV), “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    St. Paul is quite hard on sexual immorality in all its forms, quite a bit more than in the Gospels. He’d just as soon you didn’t even marry, and it’s his writings that are largely responsible for celebacy in the Catholic clergy. The idea remains, though, in the above passage that anyone can be made clean in Christ, and any Christian who would suggest that (a) they have never done anything from the above list, or (b) people who have should be excluded from the love of God or society in general are severely missing the point.

  51. jon said,

    Genesis 2:24
    Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    Matthew 19:3-9
    The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

    (I think that passage is especially interesting, because it shows how a change in how some people act does not change the truth or the ideal)

    some other passages on marriage:

    Hebrews 13:4
    Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

    Proverbs 6:27-29,32
    Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent…Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.

    Matthew 5:27-28
    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Matthew 5:31-32
    Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”

    1 Corinthians 7:3-5
    Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

    Malachi 2:16
    “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

    Ephesians 5:21-33
    Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind^Χyes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

    Peter 3:1-4
    Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.

    Deuteronomy 24:5
    When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be charged with any related duty. He shall be free at home one year, to be happy with the wife whom he has married.

    There are other commands too, so don’t consider that list exhaustive. Another way of understanding how marriage was viewed during the writing of the Bible is to look not just at commands, but at stories of marriage. Some include Issac and Rebekah (Genesis 24), Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29), and the whole book of Hosea.

  52. Matt said,

    Say, is anyone aware of any studies regarding gay couples raising children, either adopted or from a surrogate partner? I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them (if there are any) are from crazy right-wingers showing that kids with gay parents are 1000% more likely to be gay/murderers/drop outs/abused/picked on in school, etc., or from equally biassed gay rights groups saying that everything is normal. I’m just curious if anyone out there is trying to be objective on the subject, or even pseudo-objective.

  53. Sarra said,

    To argue that “homosexuals shouldn’t adopt because they’re kids might grow up funny” is irrelevant as it is fallacious. If we’re going to legislate on how people raise their children, we should start by cracking down on abusive households, something which is guarenteed to produce dysfunctional children (and I see no evidence that the children of homosexual households grow up any more dysfunctional than your average child — in fact, the few children of homosexual households that I do know have grown up with a great deal more love and support at home than most of the “normal” children I know, because their parents had to go through so much work just to get a child that they were damn sure to rear it properly). We have such a hard time penalizing abusive parents because we insist people maintain some sort of autonomy in rearing children, and not be subject to constant interference by the state — and yet we say that homosexuals can’t rear children because “they might be uncomfortable bringing kids home from school”? That’s absurd.

    And I can give several strong arguments in favor of polygamy, if you want.

  54. JT said,

    Ian, I am joining you in the No More Ashcroft Dance. Oh, it’s ever so much.

    As it comes to children raised by a same-sex couple, I have to raise my hand as an product of such a situation. Yeah, life was different growing up, but I managed, as did my sister. I think I came out ok. I consider myself a fairly moral person, and I did well enough in school to graduate from college. I had friends in high school who didn’t care about my mom and stepmom, and I had friends in high school who I knew were very against the idea of a person being gay, let alone recognizing a same-sex marriage, but they still hung out with me. I don’t know about other people in a similar situation, because I can’t say I really know anyone else who had gay parents, but what I do know is that my mother loved me, and that she did everything she could to make sure I could make it in the world. That’s the point of parenting, isn’t it? To make sure when we’re out on our own, we can survive, and do a good job of it?

    I’m not gay, I’m not a murderer, my mom didn’t abouse me, and while I was picked on in school, it generally had more to do with my nerdiness than anything else. Through it all, I never really wished that she was “normal,” becasue I love my mom as much as she loves me, and I’m not about to tell her to change to make life “easier” for me.

    So you can’t say that gays and lesbians can’t raise children, because my mom did a heck of a job.

  55. Ian said,

    To answer Jonah’s question from way back, yes, I would support that. I’m curious what harm you think would come from raising a child in a marriage of two brothers. If you mean he would grow up to think that there’s nothing wrong with such a situation, I agree with you. But if that’s the only harm that would come to him, you’re begging the question. Like saying that homosexuals shouldn’t raise children because the children might turn out to feel okay about being homosexual, you have to start from the position that there’s something wrong with being homosexual or you’re just arguing in circles.

    Let me suggest another example. Suppose that a man and a woman fell in love and married, but were unable to conceive and adopted a child. Years later, it’s discovered that records were misplaced and babies exchanged, and the man and woman were actually siblings! Has the child come to harm (except for the way society would treat him after that)? Is their marriage or the love they feel any less real than if they hadn’t come from the same womb?

  56. Matt said,

    Thanks for opening up, JT, although I don’t think we’ve ever met.

    I did a token amount of poking around to answer my own question to expand on our one case study here. I came across colage.org that cites a few sources, frequently books by a psychologist at UVA named Charlotte Patterson, for statistics that children of homosexual parents have the same instance of being heterosexual, being picked on in school, and fewer instances of abuse as compared to the rest of society. Naturally they have a vested interest in showing as much, but it’s a start. Also, the first thing they note at the top of their facts page is that research is slim, so it’s little wonder that I haven’t heard much along these lines.

    There’s another book out by Abigail Garner, a woman whose dad came out as gay. She apparently argues that being raised in such an environment didn’t result in any harm to her from her parents, but that there was plenty from homophobics in society.

    Oh, hey, I just found something fairly significant. Here is a review article by Patterson summarizing much of the research that has been done along these lines. It says that to date, no studies have been done that show adverse affects on children from gay parents, although there are not all that many studies, and sample sizes are usually

  57. jon said,

    I found a ton of studies showing that the children of homosexual parents have a lot of statistically significant differences from the population at large (more instances of verbal abuse at home, more likely to be socially withdrawn, more likely to be homosexual, etc) but they all came from sources that had a vested interest in showing such a thing. The positive examples obviously have such an interest as well. When the paper starts out as: “The purpose of this summary of research findings on lesbian and gay parents and their children is to assist psychologists and other professionals to evaluate widespread beliefs in the light of empirical data and in this way ameliorate the negative effects of unwarranted prejudice” that causes me to assume off the bat they are going to be quite biased in the studies they select.

    btw – if you want to find biased studies, just search for “homosexual parents” and “statistics” or “studies” or anything like that in google.

  58. Jonah said,

    Ian: My question wasn’t just about two brothers, but a polygamous marriage between those two brothers, their father, and their father’s mother.

    But regarding your mistake-at-birth hypothetical, I think we’re confounding two separate issues. Of course I don’t think that their love for one another would be affected, nor, in that particular case, do I think that it would be especially harmful to the child. However, things are quite different when siblings are reared in the same house and then become sexual with one another.

    To quote my fellow namesake, Jonah Goldberg, the “problem with lifting the legal and social censure against incest is that it would sexualize family relationships and hasten the transformation of our children into sexual beings, robbing them what few years of innocent childhood kids get today.” Isn’t there some value in having kids grow up in an environment which doesn’t put needless sexual pressures on them at an early age?

  59. Ian said,

    Ah. I misunderstood your example. And I agree that we’re talking about different issues. For one, you assume that there would be pressure on the child of a polygamous incestuous family to have sex at an early age. I think you’ve made the jump from one “perversion” to another because all such sexual oddities are the same in your mind. Aside from the fact that society deems incest, polygamy, and pedophilia to be morally wrong, what’s the connection between the first two and the second.

    I read Jonah Goldberg from time to time and, while I’m impressed with his writing, I’m generally not that impressed with his arguments. In this particular case, he mentions Woody Allen for comedic effect, but then ignores the implications of him to his pet theory. Allen, for the record, ended up marrying the adopted daughter of his former lover and mother of his children, Mia Farrow. So, in fact, relationships between adults and children and quasi-incestual relationships can arise from a perfectly normal heterosexual relationship.

    And then he demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about why gay marriage in one state will almost immediately become a federal issue.

  60. Ian said,

    That was obviously supposed to say first two and the third

  61. augie said,

    Ian,

    I saw this: http://www.antigenius.net/blog/archives/000238.php
    and thought of this thread. πŸ™‚


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