Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proposition 8 and Gay Marriage

While I have no dog in this fight per se and suffer from news fatigue syndrome and election withdrawal simultaneously, It seems to me that if equal protection before the law has any meaning, any person should be able to choose what type of person they marry.
There are those that believe that permitting gays to marry is an insult to the institution of marriage or that by definition marriage is between man and a woman. Okay, but aren't 98% of celebrity marriages an affront to the institution and half of non-celebrity marriages as well? As far as the definition of marriage is concerned, don't we all define our marriages for ourselves? Who the hell are we to define it for others?
The one caveat I would insist on here, is that religious institutions must not be forced to recognize any marriage that violate the tenets of their faith. By definition, any religious organization has beliefs that define them from the population at large. To force, for example, The Roman Catholic Church to recognize and indeed perform gay marriages is to deny them freedom of association and would destroy them as a community of belief.
On the other hand, there is a whole huge can-o-worms to be opened here. Once gays can marry, why not polyandrists, siblings, bigamists etc? I suppose an argument can be made and the people can decide, as they did in California, that to ensure the cohesion of the basic building block of society, ie the family, marriage needs to be more narrowly defined. Which asks the question, is marriage a right? If so be prepared for who knows what. If not, then reasonable limits can and perhaps should be imposed, preferably by public accord and assent. If it were up to me, I'd have to say I'd allow gays to wed, but I would draw the line there.


CultMan said...

Hey man, you 've got to take my advice -- take a good, solid course in Logic.

"if equal protection before the law has any meaning, any person should be able to choose what type of person they marry."

No-brainer logical disconnect. What are you thinking here?

"There are those that believe that permitting gays to marry is an insult to the institution of marriage or that by definition marriage is between man and a woman. Okay, but aren't 98% of celebrity marriages an affront to the institution and half of non-celebrity marriages as well?"

No-brainer logical disconnect. Again, huh? How are you thinking?

"As far as the definition of marriage is concerned, don't we all define our marriages for ourselves?"

No. Eg Don't we define consentual sex for ourselves? Don't we define personhood for ourselves? Don't we define quality of life (euthanasia) for ourselves? etc etc etc.

No, we don't.

"Who the hell are we to define it for others?" (Silly relativism, which wouldn't apply to any other primary law/Constitutional principle which you, El D, might respect.)

We're the people who (supposedly) constitute the State which enshrines the laws which govern such institutions pertinent to the Common Good. But those Rights & Laws & Responsibilities are "given" to us and known by us through Natural Law; sure, we articulate them - but we don't define them individualistically.

Yes, Marriage is a Natural Right, but it is (like all Natural Rights) governed by the Natural Law upon which it is based. Read John Finnis' "Natural Law and Natural Rights" as a beginner course about how all of this holds together.

You're right to question what the foundations are -- but you seem to be woefully uneducated and inadequately trained in/about how to find the appropriate answers.

El Duderino said...

Hmm, no shit. I'll get around to reading those logic books right after I finish Eliot’s Middlemarch, which is to say when the Greeks have calends or never.
Please write a piece on why gay marriage should be banned, using your inscrutable logic of course. I'd love to read it. Please answer this one narrowly defined question: One what grounds does the state grant you or I the right or privilege to marry and deny it to another based solely on sexual orientation? It smacks of simple bias to me. You may argue that this bias is well founded, but let's hear your argument.

zaphod said...

Not exactly sure what's causing the hostility, Dude. If we're going to understand where to draw the line, seems to me logic is going to be needed.

And, after all, you brought the subject up and you made the sweeping claim with respect to equal protection. If your argument is impeccable, then logic will compel those of us on the other side of this debate to capitulate.

As for defining our marriages for ourselves, well, that's not what's really at issue here. When Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage the justices weren't simply defining their marriages for themselves. They were making broad claims with respect to the Constitution and our society.

As for the affronts to marriage inflicted by heterosexuals, I quickly concede that, yes, by far most of the damage done to marriage has been done by heterosexuals. So? This means we must redefine marriage so that it not longer means a union of man and woman? Why?

El Duderino said...

No hostility intended, I was merely conceding my lack of logical ability to someone who spent years studying it.
"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Two couples go to get a wedding license from the STATE. Couple A gets their license and weds, couple B is denied because they are two guys. How is this not discrimination based solely on sexual orientation and a violation of the aforementioned equal protection clause?
An argument could be made that the state has a compelling interest in preventing gays from marriage and that the status quo is justified and made constitutional through the due process of law, but I have yet to hear that argument.
You could say that marriage is a privilege not a right, but you would have dammed hard time proving it considering how few, if any, marriage licenses have ever been denied to heterosexual couples for any reason short of incest or retardation.
There’s my blanket statement again, I stand by it and would love to hear from either of you two how you could exclude gays from the rights, privileges and protections offered by the state in the state approved institution of marriage.

Homercles said...

Ed Dude-man.

So inquiring minds want to know... who's the lucky guy?

Sorry couldn't help myself.

CultMan said...

Just so everyone knows, I'd love this blog to be focused upon the following:

1) Protecting heterosexual marriage by banning gay-mariage, democratically; and if need be, constitutionally.
2) Pro-Life issues;
3) Pro-religion in the Public Square;
4) Classical Conservatism vis-a-vis economic issues;
5) Humorous or outlandish current events;
6) Cultural milestones;
7) whatever the heck else you want to include -- preferrably the wanton hunting & killing of the irritating & beautiful beasts of the field.

I believe we can examine these things with humour and gusto.

El D: your challenge is accepted; but you must know (unless you've been reading too much A. Sullivan) that your argument fails according to many classical conservative viewpoints; and you must also know that it is directly opposed to Roman Catholic & Orthodox Christianity's thinking about sexuality. Therefore, you must be honest and engage the R.C. community directly regarding your opinions.

In any case, El D, I welcome wholeheartedly your challenge, you recalcitrant SOB. At least my incomplete PhD work will be of use!

Are you trying to provide me with a job? What's the pay?

Regards, CM.

CultMan said...

PS If you cannot attempty to read & educate yourself about the issue, then why should I even try? My first response is STILL at least educate yourself on the basis of our legal system: "Natural Law & Natural Rights" -- precisely NOT the Law of Nature, or any such hogwash.

I'll make the effort to post, if you make the effort to read & understand.

zaphod said...

"...couple B is denied because they are two guys..."

Exactly. It's by definition not a marriage - unless you first redefine what marriage is. There's no equal protection violation here. The equal protection clause applies to any person (not any couple). Homosexuals aren't prevented from marrying anymore than I'm prevented from rooting for the Yankees. It's my nature that prevents me from being a Yankee fan and it's a homosexual's nature that prevents him or her from marrying.

Anonymous said...

For a more in-depth commentary--particularly as to the mythical "right" to marry, please go here:

El Duderino said...

Look, my position is very simple and neither of you have attempted to answer it in good faith, especially Cultman who tosses more red herrings than an epileptic fish monger. How is the prohibition against gays Voteing not a violation of the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause?
Cultman introduces natural law, natural philosophy, beef franks with natural casings etc and a boat load of RC dogma that has little to do with how the US constitution is construed.
Zaphod comes out with the lame dodge that a gay couple because they are a couple and not individuals are excluded from the protections contained in the constitution. Brilliant that, simply brilliant. Then he goes on to a semantic argument about how we would be changing the definition of marriage, you mean like how we changed the definition of “person” as specified in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution to Article 14, Section 2, Paragraph 1 of the United States Constitution? That was a pretty fundamental shift in definition wouldn’t you say there Zaphod? Are you aware that the 13th and 14th amendments were written and enacted to protect a group? I guess not.
Call it what you want, call it asspartyforlife for all I care. But to deny one individual the rights routinely and consistently granted others based solely on sexual preference is a violation of our constitution.

zaphod said...

It's not a lame dodge. And I didn't make the claim that they are excluded from the protections contained in the Constitution. Talk about bad faith! Put words in someone's mouth and you can win any argument! I said two guys can't get married because by definition it isn't a marriage. This isn't exactly a radical assertion I'm making here.

As for the purpose of the 13th and 14th Amendments why do you automatically assume I don't know they were written with respect to the former slaves. Again, so what? That fact doesn't undermine the clear wording of the equal protection clause. We don't assert our rights as part of a group. Our rights inhere in us as individuals.

And yes, we did change the definition of a person. So? That was done by a Constitutional process put in motion by two thirds of the democratically elected legislators of the US Congress and ratified by the democratically elected legislators of three fourths of the states. Nothing even close to that has happened with this issue.

Until that happens there's no Constitutional violation here. Sorry Dude but you don't know what you think you know.

zaphod said...

One more thing: you've worked yourself into a righteous lather over this issue which is why you're so recklessly dismissive of opposing points of view.

Instead of doing the necessary moral and logical spadework first you race ahead and insist this is an equal protection issue.

I don't buy it.

Let me set aside your Constitutional claims for now. You obviously see this is as simply matter of justice. Fine. I disagree which means you need to change my mind.

Yes, marriage does provide heterosexual couples certain benefits but the civil union laws passed by various states (including Connecticut) addressed this disparity. In short, I don't see a lack of justice here. Rather, I see an attempt to upend another of our institutions. It wasn't enough to remedy any legal disparities we need to redefine marriage before we can claim to be truly just. Riiiight.

Anonymous said...

This is directed to El Duderino:

"Marriage" is NOT a RIGHT protected by the Constitution. Show me where the mythical "right to marriage" is in the U. S. Constitution, please. The problems that flowed from a group of persons being kidnapped from Africa (and the wave of problems that followed after that for centuries) has absolutely NOTHING to do with the CLEAR definition of and institution of and practice of and nature of...of MARRIAGE. Why would we be talking about SLAVERY as an example of what marriage should or should not be treated like? That is in actuality what you are trying to do--make an analogy of marriage being explicitly changed as a concept with the treatment of a race due to dominance, kidnapping, and enslavement---explain please!

Anonymous said...

And for those of you who like to address historical, philosophical, or supposed "Roman Catholic" practices or positions on this "gay marriage" issue, try this site:

CultMan said...

Hey El D, we have ourselves here what's called a Blog..... Ha ha.... It's like hooking a big ol' trout!

"What we have here is a failure to communicate...." When a man gets marriage in his blood.... and begins to read the Constitution ... and (maybe?) peruses what some folks far more intelligent than he is actually think and believe and state publically (oh but you haven't done that yet) .... well, gosh, all hell breaks loose!

I love it!

14th amendement-schmendement: you want to change the definition of an institution that's been enshrined in our Common Law, Natural Law, dfended and defined in Constitutional/legal precedence, and supported by common sense & common opinion for hundreds of years -- because for 10-20 years a very few have challenged it -- and you have yet to show how this is the same as, or different from, the slavery issue or women's vote; and you have yet to define Marriage for yourself and others.

RE: My RC dogma -- which you very, very rudely dismiss -- at least attempts to define Marriage. So what's your definition?

Define Marriage for us El D. 'Cause you ain't getting nowhere with 14th amendment counter-arguments, not w/o a definition of Marriage. Noway, no how.

CultMan said...

PS Just so everyone knows, right now the Canadian media is lapping up the protests which are currently happening (apparently these protests are "HUGE", to quote the most watched news channel in Toronto) against banning same-sex marriage in the States. Canadians are revelling in the fact that some Americans are protesting against banning same-sex marriage. And the exaggeration knows no bounds. "HUGE" protests in the USA, told 2-3 per hour on Canada's most-watched news program.

Interesting to me, as one who actually lives with the results of same-sex marriage, day in and day out.

johnnyc said...

Ah, I should have posted my comment (2 questions for Zaphod and Cultman) here rather than in the other post. Zaphod has made the point that answers 1 of those questions and I think El D is missing this point or sees it differently: This may not be an equal protection issue. Exactly. My 2nd question there was that homosexuals seek more than benefits in return for their unions, they seek also at least acceptance of their unions as a marriage. (I mean this is the least they will settle for). My 2nd question over there (on the other post) is roughly, what should society do with that? You will say it's not a marriage therefore nothing. Fair enough that it's not a marriage. But how do you reach them on this point? It (admittedly like most things good or bad that humans do) has among other things some of the noblest of aspects of being human (profound love, meaningful relationship, bla bla) and it resembles marriage. How do you tell 2 men who are in love and get “married” that their marriage is not a marriage? I do think it’s as simple as defining marriage which at first I thought was missing the point. Now I think defining marriage was essential. It’s not exclusionary, it’s just defining something.
I think reading Cultman's suggestion about natural law and natural rights may hold the answer to why you can define marriage in the traditional way. Though I'll probably read it only after El D does! So my 2nd question over on the other post is roughly how do you explain to homosexuals what they are, where they fit in society, and what society's posture should be toward their unions? How should society handle their unions, (not in terms of benefits, because that’s kind of easy: they should get fewer because the “return” to society – at least the intent of it in the ideal – is significantly different from that of a traditional marriage; rather in terms of “acceptance” of their unions).
By the way, if civil union is already legally differentiated from marriage that seems to be a start but I haven't followed this issue and wouldn't know what sort of legal things have already been done. But that there reinforces the need for my 2nd question: obviously if the civil union thing isn't enough and gays want to be recognized as having "marriages" rather than unions, what is society's best posture toward that aspect of their request: that they not only be accepted as marriages with regard to benefits (again, I would deny that on very simple grounds: the intent of the return to society is far different, mentioned in one of the posts in this blog possibly by Cultman or some source of his, I may be wrong) but also with regard to society’s moral acceptance if that makes any sense?

johnnyc said...

Oh, and although El D surely walks around foaming, dripping and bubbly in a “self righteous lather” 18 hours a day (and dreams in a “self righteous lather” the remaining 6 hours per day) I do believe he is earnest (rather than arguing to win an argument) in his questioning whether we have forsaken equal protection and he raises the questions which you will need to address in a way that reaches the other side of this issue in order to have any chance of undeafening ears to your viewpoint.