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March 23, 2004


Mark Miller

I think Kurtz's agenda is to strengthen the link between parenting and marriage *for heterosexuals only*. (at the expense of legitimizing gay relationships). But I'm sure you already know that.

Kurtz's articles amaze me. He supposedly is not against all gay rights and states his view is not based on religious fundamentalism or evangelical. Yet you can practically feel the desperation of his search for some-any evidence that the results of legal acceptance for gay couples in Scandinavia shows as clear link between that and the weakening of marriage.

As I've written on this subject, the statistics from Scandinavia are less than obvious with regard to the effect of 'acceptance of gay relationships' (since gay marriage does not exist there) and other social events such as marriage, divorce and illegitimacy rates. As proof, both Kurtz and Andrew Sullivan have used the stats from Scandinavia to support their opposing views.

Yet I do agree with Eve on on the 'Sky Fallen ?' post. To me, the debating point is really 'where' the line should be drawn on family issues with regard to freedom versus 'idealism'. I think most reasonable people on both sides of this debate agree that lines should be drawn - somewhere. Society has already drawn them on divorce and contraception. To me, the question is whether same-sex marriage indeed results in a moving of the line and if so, in what direction.


I agree that the question is where the line should be drawn as well as how it may be drawn. I'm generally skeptical of lines drawn purely based on gender. So I hold those that wish to draw the line there to a higher standard. That said, I feel the argument for drawing the line based on gender fails to meet even the lowest standards.

Mark Miller

Not to play devil's advocate ... well, yes I am.

But I don't think the debate is simply about discrimination based on gender. Even I, as an advocate for gay rights, feel that this issue is more complex than that.

Like the comparison of this debate to the laws against interracial marriage, in some ways the comparison is legitimate - but not in all ways.

But I agree with you that those who won't concede that there is some legitimate analogy between this debate and the interracial marriage ban (regardless of the position of African-American clergy) are less persuasive than those who argue that the analogies are exact.


I never said the debate is "simply" about discrimination based on gender. I also feel the issue is more complex. That being said, the line being drawn here is done entirely based on gender without regards to the capability or character of the individual. Gender is the determinative factor in whether the marriage will be allowed or not. I am skeptical of lines being drawn on that basis.

That same-sex marriage bans classify based on sex is indisputable. Now, one can view race-based classifcations as being of a different kind than sex-based classications. One can also argue that the justifications and/or motives behind the two classifications are different, and that is certainly quite relevant. One could also argue some relvance in one ban requiring someone of the same class and the other someone of a different class. Still, just the fact that the ban classifies based on sex makes it problematic already in my book.

Mark Miller

I understand your point. I really do.

My only 'doubt' lies in the fact that the term 'marriage' has always referred to and defined by opposite-sex relationships.

In that sense, it is different than the interracial ban because that ban affected a direct subset of the relationships currently allowed to marry at that time. Using this context, there is not an actual 'ban' on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is a new entity.

Now I am not saying it is not a legitimate new entity. I'll also admit I am having trouble reconciling my strong belief that homosexuality should be legally (and socially) legitimized with my doubts about same-sex marriage.

But I guess I do feel that the issue of same-sex marriage is very different than, for example, the ban on gays in the military.

I'll also say that you have been persuasive. In some ways, I see the SSM debate similarly to the pledge of allegiance issue in that the challenger is arguing that the government is 'indoctrinating' (or may I use 'legitimizing') a belief in his child that he personally believes is not valid and thus, is infringing on his 'rights. This strikes me as similar to some of the arguments by foes of same-sex marriage which is that it would legitimize homosexuality which is against the beliefs of many people, thus infringing on their rights.

In my opinion, both arguments are equally unpersuasive.


In that sense, it is different than the interracial ban because that ban affected a direct subset of the relationships currently allowed to marry at that time. Using this context, there is not an actual 'ban' on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is a new entity.

The idea that marriage can said to be "definitionally" opposite-sex was used by a few courts in the early seventies, but most judges in the past fifteen years have found such an argument to be circular. The definition of marriage is and has been constantly changing. And who sets the definition of what is a marriage? The state. It's especially uncompelling today when same-sex marriage is legal in several other countries. So the SSM ban also affects a direct [nontrivial] subset of the relationships currently allowed to marry [elsewhere] at this time. If the problem of that statement is the elsewhere, then the same problem occurred with regards to the interracial ban.

I noted one problem with the defintional argument awhile back. My argument is a reductio. If the use of gender in a definition is enough to deny a classification based on gender, then a state should be able to ban women from being eligable to serve as governor. A "governor" was at one time defined to be a man who ruled an area. There was even a separate word, "governess", for a female in such a position. Likewise women could be denied serving as "executors", "directors", etc.

Mark Miller

I'm not arguing that the definition of marriage is and should always be 'opposite-sex'. I guess I am saying that the 'definitionally' argument is one of the few I feel that is at least worthy of debate - as opposed to other arguments such as 'procreation' and 'mother-father parenthood'.

I was unaware that same-sex 'marriage' was legal in other countries. I thought that same-sex couples could obtain some of the benefits of marriage in Belgium and the Netherlands but that these were not considered 'marriage' by-name - sort of like the civil unions in Vermont.

Your analogy to 'governor' is a good one. It does make sense to me that regardless of what the definition has historically meant, if same-sex couples can meet the criteria of 'marriage' (and I think they can) then there is cause to modify the definition to include same-sex couples. Just as it has been proven that a woman can meet the criteria of 'governor'.

All I am saying is that I feel it is legitimate to refer to 'same-sex marriage' as a change in the current definition - albeit an appropriate one.


I do agree that same-sex marriage would be a change in the current definition, although I think it follows rather naturally from previous changes in the definition of marriage that were of a more fundamental nature. In particular, marriage used to define certain distinct legal rights and obligations for husband and wife separately. Today's marriage laws (at least in many states I believe), are interpreted to be gender-neutral. For example, the wife has the same obligation to care for the husband as the husband does for the wife. Given that change, the requirement that each spouse be of the opposite-sex is no longer so radical.

Marriage itself is legal in the Netherlands and Belgium (although in Belgium gay couples cannot yet adopt that appears likely to change). It is also legal in three Canadian provinces, (Ontario, BC, and most recently, Quebec).

Ra-Ra the Dancer

Thankyou I totally agree , gays are humans just like the rest of us give us a sho at raising and adopting kids.


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