quote:
Originally posted by MBM:

How does gay marriage threaten heterosexual marriage, much less move to "disregard" it? Smile


My fault, MBM, my usage error must have confused you. I meant to say, "its central features are so basic and universal to it, to disregard THEM is problematic." I meant them, as in the central features, not "it," as in marriage itself. Allowing same-sex marriage disregards the central male-female feature that characterizes human marriage. I didn't mean that it "disregards" marriage itself. My mistake.

But as to the rest of your point, any change in a societal institution has some effect on society, at least temporarily. Inflation went through the roof as families increasingly started bringing in two paychecks. America is still going through fits and starts as we continue to struggle for racial equality. And in those cases, none of the affected institutions were really basic to human society. The more basic the institution, the less clear we are on the effects that basic changes would have. It's not 10% of the population we're talking about. If same-sex unions are allowed, that's 100% of the population. Anyone can marry anyone else. Who knows what effect that will have 100 years from now on the public's perception of marriage. Marriage could become a tool for all kinds of other things. It could become socially acceptable for straight men to marry each other, to keep "that bitch from getting my money." Or to place a cap on how much child support the judge might mandate. Or for some business arrangement. Maybe not, but the point is, all kinds of consequences -- things we can't even imagine right now -- could result from a monumental change to the basic structure of a bedrock social institution. We don't know why marriage was invented. We don't know, as I told Kresge, why even the ancient Greeks didn't have same-sex marriages. But they undoubtedly had a reason. All I'm saying is that until we become enlightened enough to understand what the male-female feature of marriage means to human society, the least we can do is be wise enough to understand that it most likely means something very important and basic that we risk losing if we change it too much.
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

It's not 10% of the population we're talking about. If same-sex unions are allowed, that's 100% of the population.


Well - I really do believe that one's sexual orientation will drive the statistics here. Your concern about misuse of the institution will always be much more of a factor in thinking about heterosexual unions than homosexual. It will always be a numbers game. If society can live with the "abuse" within "traditional" marriages, certainly it can absorb any issues that would arise from gay marriages.

Further, I'm not sure it makes good policy to deny a group of citizens their rights based upon a hypothetical abuse of those rights. Again, in antebellum days think of the issue of freeing the slaves. I can just hear the debates about not granting blacks rights for fear that they will abuse/misuse them.

Lastly, I agree that change creates collateral societal impact. While most don't like change, I would submit that some change is good. Just because we feel uncomfortable with something, IMO, has no bearing on whether the change is healthy and beneficial to society. Evolution and progress are also change. To attempt to inoculate Americans from discomfort just for the sake of doing so doesn't seem to be a worthy or enlightened position. IMO - asking whether it's right or not makes much more sense.



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
Vox... I too once thought about how casual marriage could become... but then.. its already like that. There will always be deception to get around a system.

I think to insure the sanctity of marriage, counseling is a must and the counselor could see if it was bullshit or not. I think we need that now regardless of any gender

I don't have much to say on the subject of this thread. I don't have a desire to control other peoples lives in that way. I don't see it as wrong or right. It just is.

I once read an erotic story about a planet where a marriage consisted of 4 people, 2 women and 2 men. The 2 men were together and the 2 women where together and each of the women was only with one of the other men, and visa versa. So each person had 2 people to sleep with and love. The other was just a friend. Suffice it to say, getting a marriage like that together was not easy. This story centered around 2 men who were together and one of them falling for a woman who already had her woman..and how the other man and the other woman came to love each other too.

I personally found the concept interesting, exciting and non-objectionable. Love is love and in that world you had the best of both.

La Femme Nkechi
Be the change in the world you want to see...it starts with you
Just saw this post -

quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

Modern movements toward gay marriage are based on concepts of equality, civil rights, and tolerance, which are progressive, but are not the basis upon which to judge the continued character of bedrock social institutions that have existed for exactly 100% of known human history, in 100% of known human societies.


I'm confused. You seem to be saying that the fact that marriage has been around forever gives the institution protection against current scrutiny. Do you level the same analysis against all sorts of other things that have also been around similarly as long? Murder? Violence against women? Child abuse? Crime? Etc.

I'm pressing (perhaps exaggerating) the point here because you dismiss "equality, civil rights, and tolerance" as appropriate measures for consideration. Why? Aren't those universal concepts that have been around just as long? I might argue that they are even stronger concepts than marriage. They are certainly purer ones! Smile

Gay marriage may offend one's sensibilities. I guess we have to ask whether that is strong enough to deny roughly 10% of the population rights that, except for their sexual orientation, they would otherwise enjoy.



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
MBM and Vox, may I suggest that we re-frame the discussion to discuss Civil Unions rather than Gay Marriage? My reason re-framing it is because by doing so we remove the religious bias surrounding Gay Marriages.

I suspect that the objection to Gay Marriages is more religious/morality based.

Civil Unions are simply the state recognizing a pairing without having to address or concern ourselves with the morality of sexual orientation.
Vox: one last question. How is a civil union between two gay people going to affect the relationship between me and my wife?



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.


[This message was edited by MBM on March 11, 2003 at 12:12 PM.]
quote:
Originally posted by Kweli4Real:
MBM and Vox, may I suggest that we re-frame the discussion to discuss Civil Unions rather than Gay Marriage? My reason re-framing it is because by doing so we remove the religious bias surrounding Gay Marriages.

I suspect that the objection to Gay Marriages is more religious/morality based.

Civil Unions are simply the state recognizing a pairing without having to address or concern ourselves with the morality of sexual orientation.


But marriage is also within the purview of the state. As a clergy person, the state recognizes the legitimacy of a union which I facilitate for a heterosexual couple, but will not do so for a religious service I might perform for a same sex couple. So, we are not simply talking about "civil" unions.

Now, if the state were to issue only licenses for "civil unions" indiscriminate of the sex of the couple, then I would believe that they were indeed acting in a fair and consistent way.

Again, as clergy, I strive to maintain the same criteria for all unions that I might perform: that the couple represent a committed, mutual, and respect filled relationship that is loving and nurturing. My expectation is that the state would also attempt to maintain consistent criteria regardless of the sexes of the parties involved. Moreover, the designation should also be consistent IMO.

God has told you, O man and woman, what is good; and what does the SOVEREIGN ONE require of you but to do justice, and to be compassionate, and to walk humbly with your God?
Kresge, that's exactly what I am talking about. The state should only recognize "Civil Unions" (a secular construct) and not be in the business of sanctioning marriages (religious constructs).

Two of the founding principles of this nation are the separation of Church and State, and the equality of man. The state should not be empowered to enforce religious institutions. Therefore, where ever possible, the state should establish secular institutions, i.e. Civil Unions.

By doing so, we also promote equality of treatment.
I'm gonna have to respond a little later to the full discussion, but I personally don't see the difference between same-sex marriages and same-sex civil unions. If they're not the same, then that means a man could legally have a same-sex civil union and still have a wife. If so, then that would defeat the purpose of one of them, because who gets the right of survivorship? On the other hand, if you want to eliminate that problem, then a prior civil union would have to make a subsequent hetero marriage illegal. That makes more sense to me, given the purpose of the civil union, but if it's the correct way to look at it, then it's essentially the same as marriage. Therefore, I would have to be opposed to them for the same reasons as same-sex marriage.

Really, a same-sex civil union sounds exactly the same as a marriage. Remember, I'm pretty anti-religion, so the religious aspects of marriage are irrelevant to my viewpoint. And they have to be irrelevant to this discussion anyway, because we're talking about state recognition.

Anyway, I'll be back this evening.
Vox, I guess a short answer would be that Civil Unions are the same as marriages (only without the religious ceremony/"in the eyes of God" thing).

I'm sure same-sex Civil Unions would have an effect on society; but, I don't see them as doing any more harm than hetero unions (marriages). In fact, I would think that state recognized same-sex Civil Unions would have more of a stabilizing effect for a section of the population.

Currently, we have both hetero and same sex partners living together. But, Without a "marriage", neither group is contractually obligated to the other. And let's face it ... remove the religious aspect and romantic notations, and all a "marriage" is is contract binding two people - providing them with rights, obligations and remedies.

My support of Civil Unions is rooted in the fact that the marriage option is currently only available to the hetero partners; thus, the same sex partnership is unprotected.

Us Hetero and married folk tend to take the marriage advantages, such as rights of survivorship, insurance coverage, etc., for granted - until the divorce comes - much like the suburban, White male tends to take White priviledge for granted.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:


It will always be a numbers game. If society can live with the "abuse" within "traditional" marriages, certainly it can absorb any issues that would arise from gay marriages.
______________________________________________________________________

Further, I'm not sure it makes good policy to deny a group of citizens their rights based upon a hypothetical abuse of those rights. Again, in antebellum days think of the issue of freeing the slaves. I can just hear the debates about not granting blacks rights for fear that they will abuse/misuse them.
_____________________________________________________________________
Lastly, I agree that change creates collateral societal impact. While most don't like change, I would submit that some change is good. Just because we feel uncomfortable with something, IMO, has no bearing on whether the change is healthy and beneficial to society.
____________________________________________________________________




I hope I formatted the lines okay.
As to the first point, clearly we have different perspectives. You say, if we can deal with the abuses we have with hetero-only marriages, we can deal with the abuses from same-sex ones too. I say, we see enough problems with abuse of hetero-only marriage, just imagine what problems we'd have if the possibility of abuse suddenly doubles and moves into areas we haven't really considered.

Your point about the hypothetical abuse of a new right is well-taken generally, but my examples (of straight people taking advantage of same-sex marriage for invalid reasons) were really just possibilities of what types of instability could result. None of us has any idea what ramifications may exist, but again, I can't help but think that some big ones could exist, mainly because this idea has always been off-limits to human society.

Finally, change is often good. But however "uncomfortable" people may be about the idea of gay marriage, their discomfort is irrelevant to my point. It shouldn't be about mainstream discomfort, it should be about whether there's a risk of societal destabilization at a very basic level, due to too drastic a change to a very basic feature of a bedrock institution of human society.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
Just saw this post -

quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

Modern movements toward gay marriage are based on concepts of equality, civil rights, and tolerance, which are progressive, but are not the basis upon which to judge the continued character of bedrock social institutions that have existed for exactly 100% of known human history, in 100% of known human societies.


I'm confused. You seem to be saying that the fact that marriage has been around forever gives the institution protection against current scrutiny. Do you level the same analysis against all sorts of other things that have also been around similarly as long? Murder? Violence against women? Child abuse? Crime? Etc.

I'm pressing (perhaps exaggerating) the point here because you dismiss "equality, civil rights, and tolerance" as appropriate measures for consideration. Why? Aren't those universal concepts that have been around just as long? I might argue that they are even stronger concepts than marriage. They are certainly purer ones! Smile




Well, I think you understand that universal social institutions should be treated differently from universal human behaviors. But my argument (to answer the main point you're making) also says that universal human societal institutions (like marriage) serve a stabilizing function for human society, while universal human social ideals (like equality & tolerance, assuming they're universal) really don't. The fact that this country and others have existed for centuries openly flouting these ideals attests to that, but it would be clear even without the history to tell us. They are hugely important, but history has shown that they're really not the "foundation" of a stable society. A firmly stable society can afford to start aspiring to higher ideals, but the higher ideals don't create the stability. On the other hand, denial of equality can cause instability. But to alter a bedrock foundational institution in the name of "equality," when there are other ways to basically guarantee the same essential rights, may defeat the purpose in the long run. I could be wrong, but until we have a better ideal of what we could be wreaking, the only way to prove or disprove it is to try it and see what happens. If society falls apart because of it, then I was right. If it stands, then I was wrong.
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:
. . . just imagine what problems we'd have if the possibility of abuse suddenly doubles


Again, statistics suggest that only 10% of the population is gay. I can't fathom how allowing gay couples to marry would create mass chaos.

quote:
. . . but my examples (of straight people taking advantage of same-sex marriage for invalid reasons) were really just possibilities of what types of instability could result.


Remind me of what these problems are and how they impact society. Seriously, what are we talking about. What exactly are we protecting society from? If people commit crimes (fraud, etc.) they will be prosecuted as such. Marriage, as an institution, will not protect anyone - as it does not now.

quote:
None of us has any idea what ramifications may exist, but again, I can't help but think that some big ones could exist, mainly because this idea has always been off-limits to human society.


Again, just because we are now contemplating this idea doesn't discount the concept as invalid. Vox, we know today more than we've ever known. Humanity is moving forward not backward. Perhaps this is an idea, simply, whose time has come.


quote:
It shouldn't be about mainstream discomfort, it should be about whether there's a risk of societal destabilization at a very basic level, due to too drastic a change to a very basic feature of a bedrock institution of human society.


Two points: I think before we can meaningfully proceed we need to articulate exactly what we're talking about. How can permitting gay people to marry or form civil unions "destabilize" society? As I asked before - how is permitting this going to impact the relationship that I have with my wife or that you have with your girlfriend? Seriously!

Second, we aren't contemplating changing heterosexual marriage at all. I see absolutely no impact, in fact, to traditional marriage. We are simply contemplating extending the protection of the law to 10% of the population that, despite the fact that they pay taxes, fight for our nation, and contribute to society in every other way, still do not enjoy equal access to its laws in this area.

I've enjoyed the discussion, as always, Vox! Thanks!! Smile



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
I'm on the fence: on the one hand, it's possible that gay marriages could destabilize society. I have no idea how. On the other hand, the question MBM keeps asking,

quote:
how is permitting this going to impact the relationship that I have with my wife or that you have with your girlfriend? Seriously!



Is the same one I would ask (although from a hetero woman's perspective).

Vox, regarding the "it's always been that way," notion of hetero only marriages...I don't have any research on this at all, but the most convincing case I've seen for marriage as an institution is property. In the thousands of years before DNA testing, the best way for a man to be sure he was passing down his property to *his* kid is if the woman couldn't legally have another man's child. Even polyandry supports this, because the only time (that I've noticed) women have multiple husbands at once is when the husbands are brothers with limited land. The use of the levirate law, even inbreeding amongst royalty and non-royalty all point to the inheritance of property as the reasoning behind strange marriage customs. Because of this, I don't think any ancient, now forgotten knowledge of gay marriage destabilizing society is the reason it hasn't happened before.
I think I can address both of y'all in this one post, letting this quote be the starting point:

quote:
Originally posted by Lea:


...the most convincing case I've seen for marriage as an institution is property. Because of this, I don't think any ancient, now forgotten knowledge of gay marriage destabilizing society is the reason it hasn't happened before.


So the idea of marriage as being for love only (or mainly) is not only relatively recent (which I knew), but it also may have been unheard-of until recently (which I didn't). I'll buy that. But I wonder if that doesn't track the point I'm making. Whatever function it had, and whatever function it originally had, it has changed over time. But as it went from "property" to the more equal "what he/she does for me" status it has now, society has changed along with it. Most of it has been for the good, and even the changes that have weakened stability have been for the good. Example: it's probably one reason why divorce is so prevalent. But most divorces probably end bad marriages, so that's probably a good thing. We're trading some social stability away in exchange for less dependence on living a lie. Maybe there are other tradeoffs.

Similarly, same-sex marriages probably would cause some loosening of social stability. Maybe the examples I gave would come to pass, maybe others we can't imagine. Maybe the change would be for the overall good. Maybe the change wouldn't affect anybody. Like MBM keeps asking about, it surely wouldn't have any immediate effect on any straight person, but I just wonder about the long term effects. Like I said, 100 years from now, nothing would prevent straight people of the same sex from using the civil union for some other types of reasons that may ultimately make those who marry for love look like old fashioned, quaint remnants of days gone by. There comes a point where weakening stability weakens the society. This may be it.

Marriage could become something totally different than how we view it. Maybe, as my take on Lea's post suggests, that'll be a good thing. Maybe not. But at least this much should probably be kept in mind: states shouldn't recognize same sex unions without understanding the potential effect it would have on how society might come to view marriage in succeeding generations. And how the future USA will view it is going to influence how they'll use it. I'm against it for that reason, but even those who are for it should keep that in mind. It would probably be a much more far-reaching act than most people think. It's likely to have effects far beyond the gay community, far beyond anything we now consider.

When we enacted Medicare, the government acted without understanding that the better health it would lead to will cause the overburdening it suffers from now, with so many elderly people living so much longer. Of course we're grateful for what caused the burden, but we're worried that the entitlement program might crumble under the weight of its own success. In addition, there's no way they could have foreseen the effects that Medicare -- and its burgeoning senior population -- is beginning to have on everything from commerce, marketing, politics, and media to the state of Florida! Surely a change to a millennia-long social institution that existed before civilization did will have effects we can't imagine. And given that it's a social institution that probably serves some fairly important function in terms of ordering the social cosmos, states have to at least proceed with caution and as much foresight as possible before they change it.

I understand the disagreement and I really can't think of how else to state my position. All I can say is, given these concerns, we should leave marriage alone and instead let states pass a "Gay Rights Act" that has provisions that guarantee the specific property and entitlement rights that flat-out gay marriage would, without the civil union aspect.
Vox - I saw an article today that stated that lawmakers in some Midwestern state upheld a law against cohabitation there. You can be fined $3,000 and sent to prison for a year (I think) for being convicted of "shacking up".

I wonder how you would weigh the societal impact/danger of gay marriage versus cohabitation on the institution of marriage? Which in your opinion is the more dangerous threat?



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
Interesting question! It looks like the question comes down to which is the greater potential threat: the one that fundamentally alters the parameters of what marriage is/can be, or the one that reduces the importance that people place on marriage.

I'd say the one that alters it is more potentially dangerous. Cohabiting couples are basically just married couples minus the social contract/commitment and the legal rights that come with it. (It's also minus the religious sanctioning, but religion is, IMO, completely unimportant to this discussion, so it's irrelevant.) Maybe this reduces the role of marriage, but as long as there's a similar family structure, it's not really injecting anything new, so I don't really see that it would threaten society. With gay marriage, I fear that allowing it could cause new, unforeseeable variables that could impact society.
My problem with Civil Unions is this; Civil Unions appears or is being offered as an alternative to marriage. Down the road a case will come that will challenge the right of civil Unions only being afforded to gay men and women and if the court find it illegal to force hetero men and women to marry to get the benefits gay men and women get in Civil Unions then Civil Unions will become the thing to do. Like it or not, if a state allow and recognize Civil Unions and based on a Civil Union couples can now be afforded the rights of Married men and women then why should men and women marry when the benefit of such can easily be gained by a Civil Union. Divorced men and women would definitely take the route of Civil Unions in their next relationship because if the relationship does not work out the headache of a divorce can be avoided. I believe Vox hit the nail on the head when he said the consequences of Civil Unions are unimaginable right now and Civil Unions do pose a threat to Marriage. I say this because of human behavior, If Civil Unions become a choice readily available to everyone then a great portion of the population who now would get married would opt for Civil Unions because it affords one all the beanies of a marriage without the luggage of having to go through a divorce. Do a study on your own and ask men and women who have went through a divorce if Civil Unions were offered to hetero couples would they opt for it instead of going through the whole marriage thing again and I bet many of them would opt for a Civil Union and get all the beanies without the luggage and consequences of marriage.

At the least Civil Unions would become something people did prior to marriage to see if they are marriage materials. Men and women would start dating based on they never want to marry but Civil Union is ok and the next generation of children who have never known life without Civil Unions may take Civil Unions to another level and that level I can not even imagine what it is.

-------------------------
By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem

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