Those Uppity Gays

The whole Chick-fil-A controversy reminds me of a period of time in recent American history when a segment of our society that tried to assert what it believed to be its civil rights and dignity was brutally repressed, particularly in a certain section of the country.

I refer, of course, to African-Americans which is certainly not what they were called back then.

Recently, I loaned our copy of The Help to my young teenage son to watch. He told me later that he enjoyed the movie but was appalled that black people were actually treated that way. I was dismayed, but not surprised I suppose, that he knew so little about what things were like back then.

My son has probably never even heard the word nigger. The thought that a black person was forced to use separation public washrooms, was expected to sit at the back of the bus, was expected to remember her place, was expected to accept second-class citizenship and (perhaps most of all) was expected not get uppity and aspire to being treated equally all of this was beyond the pale of my sons comprehension.

I gave him a very brief history of what it was like, what I remember watching on the news growing up in the 60s. What I didnt go into was the way segregation was viewed by society at large, particularly in the South, which is also the bastion of Chick-fil-A. How in those days, sermons were preached in many pulpits about the propriety of keeping things the way God intended them to be. How those who were trying to change things were called agitators and were routinely intimidated, beaten or even murdered. How most people were simply part of the silent majority who didnt commit acts of violence but who nevertheless to one degree or another agreed with those of their ilk who were committing acts of violence, whether government-sanctioned (e.g., police) or acts of vigilantism.

What I think he would have had the most trouble comprehending, however, is the concept that African-Americans were expected to just accept the order of things as dictated by the racist white majority. Blacks were expected to see themselves as inferior, because of course they were. No amount of agitation could change the religiously-sanctioned (and even promoted) view that blacks were inferior to whites and needed to be treated so. What really enraged certain segments of the white population in the South (as well as elsewhere in the country) was when blacks simply refused to accept this status-quo. How dare they be so uppity!

So, here we are in 2012, and the same thing is going on only this time, its the gays that are being uppity. Certain segments of the population, i.e., those represented by the people that stood in line at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country a couple of days ago, are perhaps willing at least publicly to accept the existence of homosexuals, but they are enraged that gays presume to aspire to the same degree of civic equality as heterosexuals. They insist that gays accept second-class status and are infuriated when we refuse to do so.

To me, thats what this Chick-fil-A thing is all about. Dignity. Vast swaths of our society expect us to accept their world-view, their beliefs about ourselves and their views as to what we are entitled in the way of civil rights. The fact that we refuse to do so makes some of them practically foam at the mouth.

I wonder, will my grandson, 40 years from now, express incredulity that a minority in our society was discriminated against, suffered acts of violence and was expected to know their place and keep it? Will he find it difficult to comprehend that religious organizations actively participated in this discrimination and fostered this intolerance and hate? Will he wonder why a majority of society simply accepted this situation as being part of the natural order of things?

I hope so.

* Invictus Pilgrim blogs atBeyond-the-Closet-Door.blogspot.com, where the above post was published last Friday.

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118 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    Yes Kuri.

    However the assumption of rational discrimination tends to be pretty strong in constitutional history. Enough to where I think calling it the default isn’t much of a stretch at all.

  2. kuri says:

    Im talking about undermining the fundamental premise of the social contract between genders in society. Theres no way anyone here can predict just how far the shockwaves from that will go.

    Except that you specifically are able to predict that even when “the paradigm is broken” anyway, these unpredictable shock waves will go at least far enough that gay marriage should be illegal. And that’s your “coherent argument.” Got it.

  3. kuri says:

    However the assumption of rational discrimination tends to be pretty strong in constitutional history. Enough to where I think calling it the default isnt much of a stretch at all.

    So now you’re trying to shift the argument from whether non-discrimination is the default under the law to whether the rationality of discrimination is the presumption under the law? I’ll give you credit for subtlety on that one, since it would probably take a constitutional scholar to answer the question. I think that’s just a diversion though, and moot anyway since Prop 8 and DOMA are both being challenged in the courts on equal-protection grounds, which will require proof of their supposed rationality.

  4. Holly says:

    In any case, child support laws are only the symptom anyway. Im talking about undermining the fundamental premise of the social contract between genders in society. Theres no way anyone here can predict just how far the shockwaves from that will go.

    Precisely how does a social contract between two men or two women erode the social contract between a man and a woman? Never mind predicting what the shockwaves are; just explain the process by which the erosion happens in the first place.

    I think this is another of those statements you can’t provide any support or explanation for.

    I should start keeping track of how many of those you make per thread.

  5. Seth R. says:

    It solidifies further and further an assumption that marriage is primarily about personal romantic needs rather than about responsibility for creating or contributing anything to society. We’ve been going down that path for quite some time with extremely negative results. This is just another big redefining push in that direction.

  6. kuri says:

    It’s been fascinating to me over the past few years to see how arguments against gay marriage always dissolve into incoherence, ending up resting on premises like “I predict unpredictable shock waves in vaguely related aspects of society, although I can’t (or can’t be bothered to) explain why they will occur.” As I’ve said before, that’s why I changed my views and came to favor marriage equality: there’s no rational basis for this prejudice.

  7. Seth R. says:

    Likewise Kuri, I changed my opinion about gay marriage over the years when I realized that most of the arguments in favor of it were premised on assuming it was a good thing without further comment, backed up with fatalism about how screwed up human relationships are anyway (so what’s the harm?), and reinforced with smug contempt that didn’t even bother to try and make itself convincing to anyone who wasn’t already on board.

  8. kuri says:

    Guilty on two out of three. Absent solid evidence indicating otherwise, I readily assume that not discriminating against people is a good thing. And I confess to not being a stranger to smug contempt regarding arguments that dissolve into incoherent silliness at the slightest push.

    But I’m not a fatalist about human relationships being screwed up. I merely recognize that every “human relationship” based argument I’ve heard against gay marriage seems to apply at least equally well (and certainly in far greater numbers) to straight marriage and/or seems to be based in fantasy.

    Seriously, I’ve just never heard of a single argument against gay marriage — in courts, in old media, on the internet, or IRL — that will stand up to even slight rational inquiry. (Well, except “Because God says so!” and “Ick!” which are unanswerable in their own ways, but hardly seem like sound bases for public policy.) This is almost unique, in my experience. Most current political arguments I disagree with seem to have at least some merits, some coherence, some basis in rational thought. Arguments against gay marriage seem to have none. (Sometimes I actually find myself wishing that they did, so at least there would be something substantive to grapple with. But there’s no there there.)

    And that’s why I can only conclude that those arguments are based on nothing more than prejudice. And, because I assume that non-discrimination (except when there is a rational basis for discrimination) is good, I support gay marriage.

  9. Alan says:

    Seth @ 57:

    Likewise Kuri, I changed my opinion about gay marriage over the years when I realized that most of the arguments in favor of it were premised on assuming it was a good thing without further comment, backed up with fatalism about how screwed up human relationships are anyway (so whats the harm?), and reinforced with smug contempt that didnt even bother to try and make itself convincing to anyone who wasnt already on board.

    Invictus explained at length @42 that a civil right to gay marriage is not premised on whether you or anyone else who disagrees with it are convinced anything good will come from it. The “good” has already been determined/demonstrated/lived by the minority in question. The convincing of the majority to codify it into law is an unfortunate aspect of secular states (see Marx’s “On the Jewish Question”) that puts additional burden on the minority. This aspect doesn’t HAVE to be the case…sometimes a government will step in and protect citizens/grant rights regardless of what the majority thinks or does (e.g, Judge Walker’s ruling with Prop 8), but usually the government waits for public opinion to catch up. E.g., by the time the Supreme Court got rid of anti-miscegenation laws, most states had already done so.

    What makes convincing the majority difficult here is the discrimination against gay relationships as “inherently lesser.” It seems folks like you make the requirement for a “good marriage” to be the “ability to procreate via only the two people in the marriage,” and then you illogically attach a bunch of other concepts/events/threads to that, as if those things are de facto part of reproductive capacity, and they aren’t.

    @55:

    It solidifies further and further an assumption that marriage is primarily about personal romantic needs rather than about responsibility for creating or contributing anything to society.

    I think you need to think outside your box about the ways that people create and contribute to society. Marriage is not the only place from which to do this, and you haven’t really established how the ability to procreate via only the two people in the marriage means inherently that a mother/father dyad are “responsible” or that a gay couple are being “selfish,” much less, childless. Really, how do gay couples raising kids fit into your schema of gay marriage furthering the assumption of “marriage as primarily about personal romantic needs” — when actually, a lot of the gay couples taking gay marriage to the courts have children and are arguing for federal rights with regards to those children…?

    Seems like you’ve been reading or at least heavily influenced by the likes of Boyd Packer who says homosexuality is “basically selfishness in a subtle form.” And you can’t see passed that.

  10. Seth R. says:

    Alan, I haven’t read anything from Packer on homosexuality, nor do I really remember anything Kimball said about it in his book either.

    The selfishness impression came entirely from repeat exposure to advocates for the institution.

    Let’s be clear, I don’t consider these relationships worthless. I don’t even question the love behind them. But the rhetoric pushing this issue is so relentlessly self-centered, personal romance-focused, and obsessed with personal rights without much consideration for any impact beyond that, that the conclusions were hard to escape.

    I’ve absorbed, read, and paid attention to very little of what the General Authorities have said about homosexuality. My opinions came entirely from exposure to advocates for the issue.

  11. chanson says:

    backed up with fatalism about how screwed up human relationships are anyway (so whats the harm?)

    No one here has argued this except you. I have repeatedly stated that I think happy, stable marriages are a good thing [both for individuals and for society], therefore we should favor policies that promote happy, stable marriages. Gay marriage does this.

    The selfishness impression came entirely from repeat exposure to advocates for the institution.

    Or at least repeat exposure to your own invented straw gay-marriage-advocate. If you have heard or read the positions of real-life gay marriage advocates, I’m not convinced that you listened to them.

  12. Holly says:

    I was thinking as I drifted off to sleep last night about Chanson’s point elsewhere that defenders of traditional marriage don’t really seem to think much of it. And then Seth goes and makes points like this:

    You see this abundantly today with the sexual revolution and the freedom it supposedly offers. Largely the freedom it offered was one-sided in the favor of the guys who decided they had even less reason to stick around and care for the kids than they historically had when restrictive marriage traditions were in place.

    In other words, marriage functions primarily about enforcing restrictions on men who don’t want to fulfill obligations to the women they knock up and the kids they conceive.

    It’s about getting recalcitrant men to pay a debt.

    Never mind that men can and have always abandoned their wives and children; that before things like garnering wages for child support, women with husbands or baby daddies who didn’t want to pay it were in much worse shape than they are now; and that in the olden days (i.e., 50 years ago), fathers of bastards had no legal obligation to them, whereas they do now. These were all huge societal problems.

    Never mind as well the fact that even today, most of the men I know in unhappy relationships still feel enormous obligation to their children. Their children are a primary concern in how to navigate the relationship.

    Seth not only doesn’t think much of marriage, he doesn’t think much of men.

    It solidifies further and further an assumption that marriage is primarily about personal romantic needs rather than about responsibility for creating or contributing anything to society. Weve been going down that path for quite some time with extremely negative results. This is just another big redefining push in that direction.

    Not necessarily. The gay couples I know who have been married feel that their marriages and their families DO contribute something to society. YOU are the one who argues that gay marriage contributes nothing to society.

  13. Holly says:

    Alan, I havent read anything from Packer on homosexuality, nor do I really remember anything Kimball said about it in his book either…. Ive absorbed, read, and paid attention to very little of what the General Authorities have said about homosexuality. My opinions came entirely from exposure to advocates for the issue.

    This is breathtaking. the man seems downright proud to live in a bubble of ignorance. He can claim on another thread that “faith is all you need. For all sorts of things” and then claim here that he has “Ive absorbed, read, and paid attention to very little of what the General Authorities have said about homosexuality.”

    When actually he makes abundantly clear in nearly every statement he writes that whether or not he has READ anything a single GA has written on any topic, he has absorbed their basic ideas on most topics of concern to Mormons.

    Speaking of reading. where does the reference to “anything Kimball said about it in his book either” come from? I went back through the thread. Seth’s is the first reference to Kimball, and there’s no reference to “The Miracle of Forgiveness” anywhere, except for Seth’s untitled one. So clearly Seth remembers enough about the book to know that people invoke it as an example of GA homophobia, even if he didn’t notice all the nastiness when he read it himself.

  14. Holly says:

    But the rhetoric pushing this issue is so relentlessly self-centered, personal romance-focused, and obsessed with personal rights without much consideration for any impact beyond that, that the conclusions were hard to escape.

    First of all, I don’t believe you; second of all, even if this were accurate, so what?

    People have the right in this country to do what they want in personal matters in all sorts of ways. The closing banquet at Sunstone discussed the lawsuits involved in various minorities establishing their rights to follow their conscience–for instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses securing the right to refrain from saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s selfish or bad for society or “obsessed with personal rights without much consideration for any impact beyond that”–in fact, plenty of people did think that. They still have the right to follow their own wants and desires in the matter. Muslims have the right to build mosques. Doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s selfish or bad for society or “obsessed with personal rights without much consideration for any impact beyond that”–in fact, plenty of people do think that. They still have the right to follow their own wants and desires in the matter.

    And there is no legal justification for treating gay marriage any differently, which of course the LGBT community has to be smart enough to know.

    Given that you claim to be good at ignoring major discussions going on around you, like the one among GAs about the evils of homosexuality that practically everyone else over the age of six and involved in Mormonism has managed to pick up on, you need to consider the very real possibility that you are paying attention only to the arguments that people know will win in court, and completely ignoring, as Alan points out, the larger context in which gay couples create their unions and live their lives.

  15. kuri says:

    Just in case anyone was wondering what I meant by “incoherent silliness” (besides “I predict predictably bad unpredictable consequences!”), I don’t want to rehash it here, but in the past I’ve addressed major anti-marriage-equality talking points, more talking points, the Prop 8 court debacle, accusations of “intolerance,” and Mormon whininess about Prop 8.

  16. kuri says:

    Somebody rescue my comment from moderation (too many links, apparently), please?

  17. Kuri, just to let you know – I tried one of the links and I got a message there is a problem with malware. šŸ™

  18. kuri says:

    IP, can you tell me what browser and anti-virus soft ware gave you the message?

  19. Chrome, using a MacBook.

  20. kuri says:

    Thanks. That’s weird, because I checked the site with all four major browsers, Norton, and a couple of malware scanners, and I get nothing.

    Has anyone else out there experienced this?

  21. Seth R. says:

    They all loaded fine for me.

  22. kuri says:

    Thanks Seth. I’ve scanned the site with four different malware detectors now, and they all came up clean.

  23. chanson says:

    @62 I was kind of thinking along those same lines. Maybe Seth meant that marriage oppresses men by making them take responsibility for their offspring…?

    @70 I’ve had Chrome give me scare warnings too — not for your blog, but for some other innocuous site. I think it’s extra sensitive, and perhaps gives false positives.

  24. Seth R. says:

    Not exactly Chanson, I was thinking more arranged marriages, shotgun weddings, and various other ways a modern 21st century American male might find past wedding practices objectionable. I’d also point out that sexist brutality toward women brutalizes both the abused and the abuser. I think the men were also damaged by negative images of women – wouldn’t you agree?

    Of course, I’m not even attempting to compare the level and kind of oppression of men in marriage historically with that of women. Completely different things.

  25. Holly says:

    @74, re the issue of how marriage historically oppressed men:

    I was thinking more arranged marriages, shotgun weddings, and various other ways a modern 21st century American male might find past wedding practices objectionable.

    Since when does “finding something objectionable” necessarily equal “oppress”?

    If that’s the case, then people are welcome to argue that anything that comes out of Boyd K. Packer’s mouth not only offends them, but OPPRESSES them.

    You really want to go there, Seth?

    I think the men were also damaged by negative images of women wouldnt you agree?

    The fact that men who oppressed women were psychologically and morally impaired by their role as oppressor, no matter how joyously they embraced it, does not mean that they were de facto oppressed by the institutions they created and/or benefited from.

    Of course, Im not even attempting to compare the level and kind of oppression of men in marriage historically with that of women. Completely different things.

    it’s good to see, once again, that you’ll actually work to establish a point you subsequently acknowledge is intellectually dishonest.

  26. Holly says:

    p.s. Seth, since you mentioned shotgun weddings as one way that men were supposedly “oppressed” by marriage, let me point out that that means that Chanson is exactly right in guessing that “Seth meant that marriage oppresses men by making them take responsibility for their offspring.”

  27. Holly says:

    One other thing: this sentence:

    I think the men were also damaged by negative images of women wouldnt you agree?

    If the principle is true here, it applies elsewhere, as in “I think the homophobes were also damaged by negative images of gay people wouldnt you agree?”

    I think we can all see how it’s relevant to the conversation currently under way.

  28. kuri says:

    …defenders of traditional marriage dont really seem to think much of it.

    I noticed this strikingly when a divorced friend of mine, in his 40s, married a divorced woman, also in her 40s, with four children. He said that most people he knew, and perhaps especially most Mormons, treated him as if he were some kind of saint for taking on the huge “burden” of a middle-aged (-ish) woman and her large brood. His feelings, though, were completely different. He was over the moon that his years alone were ending and he was gaining a new (and big) family all at once.

    And that, I thought, in contrast to all the usual talk about “burdens” and “obligations,” is how only someone who really values marriage and family life would think.

  29. chanson says:

    The fact that men who oppressed women were psychologically and morally impaired by their role as oppressor, no matter how joyously they embraced it, does not mean that they were de facto oppressed by the institutions they created and/or benefited from.

    Tangent time, but this remark really reminds me of the strange-and-historically-important book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I felt like the author only truly empathized with the white and mulatto characters. That — despite the central role of the black slaves — the book was by, for, and about white people. And, specifically, the book was about the moral damage (impairment) suffered by the oppressors.

    Perhaps it would help if there were some way to illustrate to those who discriminate against gay people that they’re harming themselves, morally. Naturally, they’re not harming themselves in quite the same way as they’re harming others, but if they could see the harm to themselves, maybe that would get a foot in the door…

    @78 exactly.

  30. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    Invictus Pilgrim
    Good to see you here again.
    I would have commented sooner, but I was in a coma from the shockwaves.
    Don’t get the foaming at the mouth.
    I’m dull and boring.
    My wife(here’s where I resist listing a very long list of sexist, misogynistic terms for wife because I don’t won’t to be accused of devaluing my marriage when my intent is to comment on, um, non-egalitarian marriages.) and I live in the boring suburbs, in a track house surrounded by a boring lawn. For excitement I drive my uppity posterior to the grocery store(make that unionized grocery store) and Costco.
    Oh yeah, civilization is falling.
    The scariest thing about me is my carbon footprint. Now that’s real harm.

  31. Holly says:

    @79:

    Perhaps it would help if there were some way to illustrate to those who discriminate against gay people that theyre harming themselves, morally.

    That probably would help. And certainly there are attempts to make this point–I think IP’s OP was one. But as Seth so ably demonstrates, the people who need the message shrug it off and insist that “it’s pretty insulting to the black civil rights movement to assert that gays today are facing anywhere even remotely close to the scope, depth, nature and intensity of discrimination that blacks were facing in the 1960s.”

    @80:

    Dont get the foaming at the mouth.

    I guess the argument would be that that’s because you’re so blinded by your own selfish desire to live an ordinary human life where you make and honor your own explicit commitments that you can’t see how you’re subtly but surely preventing us straight people from taking “responsibility for creating or contributing anything to society.”

    Not that I can see it either. But maybe Seth will spell it out for us.

    The scariest thing about me is my carbon footprint. Now thats real harm.

    Ditto.

  32. @80 – Thanks. The foaming at the mouth bit was a bit of hyperbole, and is meant to refer to how rabidly angry some of the Christian far-right (and some Mormons) get when gays and lesbians have the audacity to challenge bigotry and refuse to accept their designated place in the natural order of things. šŸ™‚

  33. Alan says:

    Perhaps it would help if there were some way to illustrate to those who discriminate against gay people that theyre harming themselves, morally.

    But as Seth so ably demonstrates, the people who need the message shrug it off and insist that its pretty insulting to the black civil rights movement to assert that gays today are facing anywhere even remotely close to the scope, depth, nature and intensity of discrimination that blacks were facing in the 1960s.

    I think what might be more useful than simply saying homophobia is “like” racism, which Seth is right, can be insulting, it would be better to show how homophobia and racism are linked (to patriarchy and colonialism, etc). This way, homophobia might not be as easy to dismiss by homophobes who are intent on not also being racist and patriarchal.

    You really only have to look to the far right to paint the full picture for you. Here Christian Right activist Charles Colson links homosexuality and terrorism:

    Marriage is the traditional building block of human society, intended both to unite couples and bring children into the world. . .There is a natural moral order for the family. . .The family, led by a married mother and father, is the best available structure for both child-rearing and cultural health. Marriage is not a private institution designed solely for the individual gratification of its participants. If we fail to enact a Federal Marriage Amendment, we can expect, not just more family breakdown, but also more criminals behind bars and more chaos in our streets. Its like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who would use Americas depravity to recruit more snipers, more highjackers, and more suicide bombers.

    When radical Islamists see American women abusing Muslim men, as they did in the Abu Ghraib prison, and when they see news coverage of same-sex couples being married in U.S. towns, we make our kind of freedom abhorrent the kind they see as a blot on Allahs creation. [We must preserve traditional marriage in order to] protect the United States from those who would use our depravity to destroy us.

    So, basically, homosexuality is viewed as creating chaos and selfishness where there needs to be order and…subservience…? In order to maintain this homophobic position, you also have to maintain racism and patriarchy.

    This website explains it better than I can:

    “The implicit assumption in [Colson’s] analysis is that heteropatriarchy is the building block of empire. Colson is linking the well-being of U.S. empire to the well-being of the heteropatriarchal family. Heteropatriarchy is the logic that makes social hierarchy seem natural. Just as the patriarchs rule the family, the elites of the nation-state rule their citizens.

    “Consequently, when colonists first came to this land they saw the necessity of instilling patriarchy in Native communities because they realized that indigenous peoples would not accept colonial domination if their own indigenous societies were not structured on the basis of social hierarchy. Patriarchy in turns rests on a gender-binary system; hence it is not a coincidence that colonizers also targeted indigenous peoples who did not fit within this binary model.

    “In addition, gender violence is a primary tool of colonialism and white supremacy. Colonizers did not just kill off indigenous peoples in this land, but Native massacres were always accompanied by sexual mutilation and rape. The goal of colonialism is not just to kill colonized peoples, but to destroy their sense of being people. It is through sexual violence that a colonizing group attempts to render a colonized people as inherently rapable, their lands inherently invadable, and their resources inherently extractable.”

    Of course, genocide and slavery are different, but they represent two of the three pillars of white supremacy. The third pillar is orientalism/war, which we see above in Colson’s “us/them” formulation of how Muslims view “us.”

    Really, I don’t see Seth’s position on these matters as being far from Colson’s. He’s routinely spoken of the US crumbling empire, and speaks of gay marriage as if it’s part of the crumbling.

  34. Seth R. says:

    Alan, Colson may link this issue with the maintenance of patriarchy, but I don’t. I don’t see that there has to be any connection and I don’t find Colson’s argument compelling. What is there about opposing gay marriage that automatically leads to the notion that women are subservient?

  35. Seth R. says:

    Kuri, I was reading through your first link. It talks about common objections to gay marriage and why they are invalid. First it cites some conservative arguments:

    Four Key Points
    1. Same-sex families always deny children either their mother or father.
    2. Same-sex family is a vast, untested social experiment with children.
    3. Where does it stop? How do we say “no” to group marriage?
    4. Schools will be forced to teach that the homosexual family is normal. Churches will be legally pressured to perform same-sex ceremonies.

    To each bullet point, it responds:

    1. No more so than heterosexual divorce does.
    2. The numbers are hardly “vast.”
    3. There’s no reason it should stop with anything but the marriage of one person to one other person.
    4. Schools should mind their own business and not presume to call some students’ families abnormal. There will probably be various social pressures on churches, but they can hold out if they believe in what they preach.

    My response:

    1. Then prevent divorce AND gay marriage. Then you get to encourage kids to have a mother and father in all situations. This is a common theme in gay marriage advocacy – to point to other social problems as an excuse for slipping in one more social problem under the radar. Rather than advocating for an end to divorce, gay marriage advocates simply compound the problem by trying to throw in gay marriage on the theory that it won’t mess up things any more than they are messed up already.

    This isn’t a valid argument – it’s merely a sleight of hand trick.

    “Now you see here in my one hand I’ve got gay marriage, and… WHOA – look at that over there – it’s a clown with balloons… wow – where did the ball in my hand go?!”

    2. The numbers don’t need to be vast. They just need to be visible in the public consciousness to do all the damage to the public image of marriage that they need to. Just like Hollywood actors are not a vast numeric majority by any stretch of the imagination – but their divorces are shoved in the faces of everyone at the supermarket checkout counter. Gay marriages can and will have an impact on the societal perception of marriage that far outweighs their numeric percentages.

    3. You don’t know that. It’s mere assumption. And in any case, polygamists can and will take advantage of the same arguments the gay marriage crowd is using – because the same arguments equally apply to them. Who cares what “consenting adults” want to do together?

    People have blasted this as a slippery slope argument, but what people don’t realize is that the slippery slope fallacy isn’t really so much of a fallacy when you are talking about the US court system so much as it is an institutionalized reality. In the US legal system we don’t call things “slippery slopes” – we call it “precedent.”

    4. This shows a completely contemptuous disregard for the troubles that churches and people affiliated with them will be facing. It’s merely dismissive and doesn’t even pretend to be an argument at all.

    What if I said “gays should be denied marriage – they can hold out if they really believe in their relationships and love each other”?

    How would you view that dismissive statement from me?

    Then don’t do the same thing yourself by making idiotic statements like “well, churches will hold out somehow – frankly I don’t give a damn about them anyway.”

    Incidentally, how do you think a high school SHOULD handle the following scenario:

    A high school student in a class discussion, without name-calling, declares that marriage is supposed to be between men and women.

    How should the high school handle it?

    I was just in a discussion on a British religion forum where just about every gay supporter unanimously agreed that the kid should be taken aside by school authorities and re-educated in how homosexuality is just fine and gay marriage is too. Some of the more strident voices even suggested child protective services ought to be involved.

    I’ll be frank – I don’t believe gay advocacy groups when they say they have no intention of re-educating kids on this issue. If you believe strongly in an issue – then have the courage of your convictions enough to acknowledge that you want our nation’s children indoctrinated in that ideal. Don’t lie to me and say – oh we’ll leave your kids alone… for now…

  36. Seth R. says:

    I haven’t gotten to the rest of your arguments Kuri, but I didn’t find the rest of the blog post much more compelling.

  37. kuri says:

    1. Then prevent divorce AND gay marriage. …

    This isnt a valid argument its merely a sleight of hand trick.

    No, actually, it’s a reductio ad absurdum. If someone wants to make the “deny children a mother or father” argument, then fine. Outlaw divorce. Pass a constitutional amendment against it. Oh wait — that would be silly.

    2. The numbers dont need to be vast. They just need to be visible in the public consciousness to do all the damage to the public image of marriage that they need to.

    I’m not the one who said “vast.” I was answering the argument, not making it. And yeah, I’m sure it’s extremely damaging to the image of marriage when people desperately want it and spend years fighting for the right to do it. What better way to degrade something than to show how very very desirable it must be, amirite?

    3. Who cares what consenting adults want to do together?

    Not me.

    4. This shows a completely contemptuous disregard for the troubles that churches and people affiliated with them will be facing.

    Not completely contemptuous. I have a little compassion for people whose prejudices are butting up against a changing world. But only a little, it’s true.

    Incidentally, how do you think a high school SHOULD handle the following scenario:

    A high school student in a class discussion, without name-calling, declares that marriage is supposed to be between men and women.

    How should the high school handle it?

    Pretty much the same way it would handle this scenario:
    A high school student in a class discussion, without name-calling, declares that marriage is supposed to be between men and women of the same race only.

    I havent gotten to the rest of your arguments Kuri, but I didnt find the rest of the blog post much more compelling.

    It’s not meant to be “compelling.” It’s only meant to demonstrate that those talking points aren’t. If you want to talk about what’s “compelling,” then let’s talk about things like love and equality. Because that’s what’s “compelling” to me.

  38. Holly says:

    @84:

    Colson may link this issue with the maintenance of patriarchy, but I dont. I dont see that there has to be any connection and I dont find Colsons argument compelling. What is there about opposing gay marriage that automatically leads to the notion that women are subservient?

    Lordy! This from the man who wrote, @36:

    I would simply state that the inherent biological inequality of men and women is one of the most crucial and volatile imbalances in our society. And it is crucial that this relationship be regulated and properly taken care of.

    He really has no idea what he’s saying, does he.

    Re: @85: the crucial point is, none of that really matters. As I said @64, the negative consequences to the majority of allowing a minority to follow its conscience in certain personal matters is well established. Arguments about the negative consequences to the majority are trumped by the fact that unless an activity is explicitly criminalized, the minority has the constitutional right to put its own concepts of what’s right and wrong ahead of the well-being of the majority.

    I will add that if Seth is really so scared of the dire consequences of gay marriage that he lists @85, it’s astonishing that he can sanction civil unions for gay couples. After all, a number of gay civil unions will be likely to involve children and grandchildren who, like their same-sex parents, may or may not go to church; may or may not be elected to public office; may or may not teach in public schools; may or may not publish books or produce movies in which their families are matter-of-factly treated with respect. What will THAT do society and our concept of what “a family” is? Can anyone predict?

    also: If gay couples get civil unions, what’s to prevent polygamist families from wanting civil unions? Hell, all the people in Centennial Park are agitating for now is decriminalization of polygamy, not official recognition. But what if they want civil unions? What then? What will the LDS church do then?

    Really, Seth: you ought to embrace your own arguments and oppose any sort of formal recognition of gay relationships.

    As for #4, about churches and stuff–there’s little “completely contemptuous disregard for the troubles that churches and people affiliated with them will be facing.” Particularly in the case of the LDS church, which will have to deal not only with its homophobia but its whole history with polygamy, there’s a lot of anticipation (which may or may not be contemptuous) at the prospect of seeing churches try to deal, once again, with their historic practices of using “the word of god” to justify bigotry and cruelty. The churches with sufficiently loving doctrines managed to make the shift from bigoted institutions that defended slavery on biblical grounds to institutions that preached the embrace of all of god’s children, regardless of color; the ones who clung to their nastiness were marginalized. It will be wonderful to see the same winnowing process happen again.

  39. Holly says:

    1. Then prevent divorce AND gay marriage.

    This isnt a valid argument its merely a sleight of hand trick.

    No, actually, its a reductio ad absurdum. If someone wants to make the deny children a mother or father argument, then fine. Outlaw divorce. Pass a constitutional amendment against it. Oh wait that would be silly.

    Also: Outlaw also dying while your kids are still little. Also outlaw abandonment, and enforce it. Make parents who hate their situations so much that they’ll just run off to escape it return and continue to live in the home with the people they legally contracted to live with. Don’t worry about how frequently or infrequently this happens. After all, “The numbers dont need to be vast. They just need to be visible in the public consciousness to do all the damage to the public image of marriage that they need to.”

    Oh wait — that would be silly too.

  40. chanson says:

    Also: Outlaw also dying while your kids are still little. Also outlaw abandonment, and enforce it. Make parents who hate their situations so much that theyll just run off to escape it return and continue to live in the home with the people they legally contracted to live with.

    Yes, this is a good reductio ad absurdum.

    If someone wants to make the deny children a mother or father argument, then fine. Outlaw divorce. Pass a constitutional amendment against it. Oh wait that would be silly.

    This is a poor reductio ad absurdum because the people (like Seth) who oppose gay marriage don’t find outlawing divorce absurd. When you say “Outlaw divorce. Pass a constitutional amendment against it,” people like you and me say “Oh wait that would be silly,” but people like the NOM say “Yes! Exactly! Great idea!!”

    You’re underestimating how hard-won our modern divorce laws are and overestimating their acceptance. It’s a stinker of an argument and should be dropped.

    It’s like saying “If you want to send Mexican-Americans back to Mexico, then why not send the African-Americans back to Africa, while you’re at it?” The people who find the latter absurd are the same people who find the former absurd. As for those who don’t — it isn’t helpful to give them more bad ideas…

    And then people like Seth misread your argument as:

    Rather than advocating for an end to divorce, gay marriage advocates simply compound the problem by trying to throw in gay marriage on the theory that it wont mess up things any more than they are messed up already.

    Which I don’t think is what you meant.

    It’s better to present the positive face of the coin by pointing out that both gay marriage and modern divorce laws increase the proportion of marriages which are happy, stable, and successful (as opposed to dysfunctional).

  41. kuri says:

    This is a poor reductio ad absurdum because the people (like Seth) who oppose gay marriage dont find outlawing divorce absurd.

    I’m not sure that Seth doesn’t find it absurd (or at least impractical), but anyway, my argument wasn’t aimed at people like NOM or Focus on the Family or anyone else who is already convinced and unlikely to ever change. The talking points were aimed at people who are uncertain and confused about what to think about the whole thing; so were my responses. Nor were my responses meant to make a positive case in favor of gay marriage. They were only meant to show that there is no strong case against it. So I think the reductio ad absurdum is adequate for those aims.

  42. chanson says:

    @92 I agree that the argument may work on moderate/centrist straight people who (wrongly) imagine that they can discriminate against gay people without affecting their own rights. However, even in that case, it’s not so much a “reductio ad absurdum” as it is a “slippery slope” (i.e. “the people who want the government in gay people’s business actually want the government in your business as well, foolish straight non-ally”).

    Given that there exist countries even today that have draconian divorce laws (and we can see the harm that draconian divorce laws inflict on families and children), I can’t dismiss it as absurd — there is a real danger of moving the poles of the debate in that direction.

  43. chanson says:

    p.s. You said you might attend Sunstone, but I didn’t see you there…

  44. kuri says:

    I don’t think divorce right are in any danger in America. Divorce is too mainstream. It’s way too common among the Evangelical Protestants who are most vehemently against gay marriage. They’re not about to agitate for laws that would make them feel bad about their own lives.

    @93, Yeah, Sunstone happened the weekend before most of my family left for Japan for the month, (I’ll be joining them there later), so I spent the time with them instead. If Sunstone had been a week earlier or a week later, I could have gone, but it was bad timing for me.

  45. chanson says:

    If Sunstone had been a week earlier or a week later, I could have gone, but it was bad timing for me.

    That’s too bad! I was looking for you, and was quite disappointed not to get the opportunity to meet you in person. I guess you’ll just have to come to Switzerland. šŸ˜‰

    I dont think divorce right are in any danger in America. Divorce is too mainstream. Its way too common among the Evangelical Protestants who are most vehemently against gay marriage. Theyre not about to agitate for laws that would make them feel bad about their own lives.

    Yes and no. There are plenty of divorced Evangelicals (and Mormons, for that matter), but those who aren’t are happy enough to condemn divorced people. See the discussion on this blog, for example.

    And anyway, I really think it’s a losing strategy. I’ve heard gay people say things like “The high divorce rate is something that straight people did to themselves, so why should we be blamed for it?”

    That has a certain logic, but it grants that modern marriage is damaged (compared to traditional marriage). Hence people like Seth logically interpret the argument as:

    backed up with fatalism about how screwed up human relationships are anyway (so whats the harm?)

    This confusion is why I recommend dropping this argument.

    Yes, gay marriage is strongly tied to the way marriage has changed over the last couple of centuries. But it is a good change. If marriage were still an owner-property relationship, gay people would (rightly!) want nothing to do with it.

    And neither would I, for that matter…

  46. kuri says:

    Don’t know if I’ll ever make it to Switzerland. I have relatives in northern Germany, so if I ever set foot on European soil I’ll have to visit them. So maybe I’ll pass through Switzerland on my way between Germany and Italy someday. (It’s kind of in the way down there, right? lol)

    The thing with the Evangelical Protestants is that there’s been a sea change in their attitudes in my lifetime. Well into the ’70s at least, divorce was anathema for them, and divorced people were quite often more or less ostracized from their congregations. But they dropped those views like a hot potato when enough of them got divorced to reach some sort of critical mass.

    I just don’t see them going back, because so much of their politics is about feeling superior to other people. They want laws that control what other people do, not what they do. And they get divorced too.

    It’s just like when whichever Palin kid it was got pregnant out of wedlock. Some liberals were expecting Evangelicals to condemn her because of all their anti-sex talk, but I knew they wouldn’t. Too many of them are just like her, or have kids just like her, and Evangelicals never, ever, condemn themselves. They condemn other people.

    Anyway, the argument I made was in response to a specific argument being made four years ago. I don’t use it as a general all-purpose thing. My go-to argument nowadays is to appeal to love, compassion, and empathy.

  47. chanson says:

    So maybe Ill pass through Switzerland on my way between Germany and Italy someday. (Its kind of in the way down there, right? lol)

    It’s no joke — it really is right on the way!

  48. Alan says:

    Seth @ 84

    What is there about opposing gay marriage that automatically leads to the notion that women are subservient?

    You should ask yourself that. It’s not a coincidence that religions that validate same-sex marriage also ordain women. And it’s also not a coincidence that religions that don’t validate same-sex marriage only allow men in the highest roles.

  49. kuri says:

    @97 On the way, or in the way? šŸ˜‰

  50. chanson says:

    @99 har, har.

    But seriously, Q: What’s between Germany and Italy? A: Switzerland!!

    If you’re visiting both, it would be a shame not to drop by — it’s really beautiful here!!

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