Junior Ganymede
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Depressing Any-Sex Marriage Thoughts

February 17th, 2012 by John Mansfield

Yesterday, my state’s legislature tried twice to pass any-sex marriage in the lower house and they’ll be at it again at noon today. In the Maryland House of Delegates, the Democrat/Republican balance is 98 to 43, and in the State Senate it’s 35 to 12. So, heavily Democratic. The governor, the Speaker of the House, the Senate President, Democratic party leaders generally, they all feel it’s very important that marriage be an any-sex, gender-indifferent institution, but it still takes exquisite timing to get enough rank-and-file legislators to say “yes” to that at the same time. Timing is one of the very important advantages of being the majority party, however.

Last year, party leaders figured they had the House of Delegates all sewed up, so they passed any-sex marriage in the State Senate first. Then the House surprised them, the votes weren’t there, and it was not brought to a vote. This time they’re working the Orwellianly-named “Civil Marriage Protection Act” through the House first. (The Delegates from my district are co-sponsors along with 53 others.) The vote was postponed yesterday until a special evening session. That session was adjourned recessed very shortly without doing anything; apparently one of the “yes” votes belonged to a Delegate who was hospitalized for a serious medical emergency. Perhaps I should have been more focused in my prayers, should have pleaded for a swarm of locusts or something else bothersome but not painful.

These depressing events have combined in my mind with Charles Murray’s depressing new book, Coming Apart. (Here’s the best of the many things I’ve read addressing the book: “Charles Murray on the new upper class” by Andrew Gelman. “From one side he argues that the upper class has good habits that they should transmit to ordinary Americans; on the other side he says that the upper class should become more like the rest of the country. But I can’t see how you can have it both ways.”)

Entwined with our various social pathologies is the noxious phrase, “A family is a group of people who love each other.” Maybe there’s a mother and father married to each other. Or maybe they aren’t married. Maybe the father(s) live somewhere else and love their children from afar. Or maybe Dad is out of the picture altogether, but Mom is there loving her children and they her. Unless she’s not; maybe the kids live with their grandparents. Whatever. It’s all good. Just so long as there is someone who loves someone. That’s what a family is.

Once the injustice is remedied that some people want to marry but not to another sex, perhaps the inequality faced by single people who want to marry will be addressed. Why should the person that a person marries have to be another person? Why is marriage arbitrarily limited to couples? Why can’t a person marry herself if that’s who she loves?

[Also posted at Millennial Star.]

Comments (23)
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February 17th, 2012 09:05:39
23 comments

Vader
February 17, 2012

The point of the same-sex marriage campaign, all along, has been to destroy any legal recognition of marriage as an institution. The groundwork for this was laid by no-fault divorce laws.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

For some that does seem to be the point. Reading about the politics of passing any-sex marriage in New York, it was notable how often the word “girlfriend” came up in connection with the elected officials at the center of the action. Governor Cuomo is only one of several co-habitors running that state.


Seldom
February 17, 2012

It appears that the reasons for opposing same sex marriage are now based upon “truther” like conspiracy theories. When a logical approach fails, make the opposition part of a broader, evil conspiracy. That way the facts no longer matter. I’m just waiting for someone to connect the dots to the Gadianton Robbers.


DCL
February 17, 2012

Vader, help me understand. The purpose of the same-sex marriage campaign is to make it impossible for anyone to be allowed to have a spouse: make health care decisions for them, take an intestate share of assets, obtain common health insurance, share childrearing responsibilities, etc? Really, that is the purpose?


Adam G.
February 17, 2012

Many of the ideologues behind SSM are opposed to marriage in general and rightly perceive that upheaving the institution under the guise of expanding it serves their purposes.

But the bulk of the strong support comes from different, though related, sources. The homosexual insistence on societal approval, the cult of authenticity and radical personal autonomy, and the ramifying drive for sexual liberation.

Because the elites insist on it so strongly, this is one of those ‘one man, one vote, one time’ things, as long as the vote goes the right way.


Seldom
February 17, 2012

DCL – Quit trying to confuse things with mundane reasoning. We’re working on a conspiracy here!


Vader
February 17, 2012

DCL,

I’m suggesting the purpose of the same-sex marriage campaign is to make marriage legally meaningless, not illegal. Kind of a “when everyone’s special, no one is” thing.

Dilute the meaning of marriage by extending its legal definition to cover all kinds of relationships heretofore not covered, and you destroy its meaning.


DCL
February 17, 2012

I suppose, Adam, but ideologues opposed to “marriage in general” must be as loud and as powerful as ideologues opposed to “the military” in general or “education” in general. I think we can survive their attacks.
In fact, the legal system at least continues to innovate ever new ways to privilege spousal relationships over all other kinds of relationships – recent changes to IRA and 401k laws, recent fast-track probate set-asides for surviving spouses, clarifications to health care laws privileging spouses, etc.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

Seldom, you seem a bit smitten by the idea, so please elaborate. What conspiracy theory am I promoting?


Vader
February 17, 2012

I know quite a number of ideologues who are opposed to “the military” in general, so perhaps that’s a less than happy example.

Also, there is a subtle, but perhaps not unimportant, distinction between being opposed to marriage in general and being opposed to legal privilege for marriage in general.

You can confer all kinds of legal privileges on marriage, but they’re meaningless (except for scoring political points) if essentially every human relationship is regarded as “marriage.” It would be like offering special legal privileges to only those American citizens who were either born in U.S. territory or who have been naturalized. It’s a distinction without a difference.


MC
February 17, 2012

There’s no doubt that no-fault divorce set the table for this. Although I vacillate over whether the libertarians are right that the crucial mistake was having any government involvement in issuing marriage licenses in the first place.

I know that there are legal implications to marriage that government recognition is useful for, but I am leaning toward the idea that, whatever headaches there might be from having marriage be a purely private affair, they are outweighed by the consequences of giving the government too much power to define (and redefine) societal relationships.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

I wonder when that “first place” is when libertarians think civil recognition of marriage was imposed. Before iron smelting?


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

MC, a problem I have with that is the notion of marriage as a purely private affair. Marriage isn’t just a relationship between the spouses. It is also a relationship between the couple and the rest of their society. That could be handled in a number of ways, but I don’t think that any of them that are meaningful would be all that different from a license registered at the courthouse. I mocked the libertarians’ “first place” above; I get the idea that they are imagining some time of a few centuries ago when marriages where registered with a parish priest instead of a courthouse clerk and somehow ignoring that those were societies where the church was more or less part of the government.


Seldom
February 17, 2012

John – Regarding conspiracies, I’m referring to the comments, not your article. With no facts, the comments have tied same sex marriage campains to no-fault divorce, co-habiting (ironic word choice for those of us with polygamous ancestors) politicians, and un-named idealogues trying to destroy marriage by expanding it. I hear the same thing at church. It appears much easier for some to believe in an evil conspiracy against marriage than to believe that gay people want to be married for the same reason that heterosexual people want to be married.


Adam G.
February 17, 2012

Listen, dial down the accusations of conspiracy-mongering and all that. If you want to rage against the troglodyte stupidity of the Saints in opposing radical redefinition of fundamental social institutions, go get a professorship.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

Seldom, why homosexuals may want an end to strictly inter-sexual marriage doesn’t matter so much; there aren’t enough of them for their desires to amount to much in a public policy debate. The interesting thing is why some heterosexuals want any-sex marriage.

Advocates or sympathizers come at it from various directions. There are those who feel a desire to signal their cosmopolitan sophistication, transgressive edginess, or insouciant indifference. Others need to display their pan-liberal solidarity or how very, very caring they are.

Among those really doing something to promote the cause there is a noticeable element that doesn’t seem to much like marriage as it stands. There are feminists are want all marriages to be gender indifferent. There are violators of marriage (Andrew Cuomo, David Paterson) who seem to be looking to cover their immorality. Invoking Charles Murray again, there are well-off stable elites who want liberty from confining norms of sexual behaviour and don’t care about the turmoil such erosion of norms generates for people not so superb at managing life as themselves. These are people that I and others are complaining about and calling out here.

I don’t see much sense of conspiracy in this beyond normal politics and activism, some of it behind the scenes. There is some expression here of one-thing-leads-to-another—first no-fault divorce, then any-sex marriage, then irrelevance of marriage—but mostly in the sense that changes have consequences, not in the sense of a secret master plan unfolding across decades.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

Here’s a reminder of who New York’s last three governors have been, all advocates of any-sex marriage:

Eliot Spitzer, who resigned because his prostitute habit was too unseemly even for New Yorkers.

David Paterson, who in his first press conference on replacing Spitzer let the press know that his adultery was none of their business because he’d covered all the expenses himself.

Andrew Cuomo, who has shares a house with his girlfriend. Sort of a prude by New York standards.


Vader
February 17, 2012

I looked, and none of the regulars used either the words “conspiracy” or “co-habiting.” You brought them up, not us.

Which strongly suggests you’ve had this debate before, with others, and already know the arguments.

Like John, I don’t see a conspiracy. Rather, the consequences of tugging this loose thread in the social tapestry are obvious enough that I really believe its proponents have to feel a hostility towards legal recognition of marriage as an institution.

Though it’s possible they simply haven’t thought very much about it. That probably describes the majority of ordinary voters who support these kinds of things.


MC
February 17, 2012

John,

Like I said, I’m open to persuasion on this, but let me play libertarian’s advocate here: You’re absolutely right that marriage is not a purely private affair, and that the state’s recognition of marriage was originally just a continuation of the state-like church’s recognition of them. We are still left with the conundrum that the government now has the power to define the most fundamental of human relationships, without regard to cultural mores or religious teaching. It seems a faustian bargain to me.

In hindsight, the Founders’ decision to outlaw the state’s establishment of religion was the best thing that could have happened to religion. I wonder if the same could be said for the state’s establishment of marriage.


John Mansfield
February 17, 2012

Uhm, I brought up co-habitors.


Seldom
February 17, 2012

John – I hear Newt Gingrich is oppossed to same sex marriage. I could point out other examples, but it doesn’t prove anything. The moral shortcommings of individual proponents and opponents doesn’t shed much light on their motives.


madera verde
February 17, 2012

I would think one of the drivers of SSM is radical gender equality. Equal, as they use it, meaning interchangeable. I find that sort of equality dehumanizing as it strips both femininity and masculinity from us and leaves nothing. For me interchangeable parts is for the factory floor.
But this kind of thinking permeates their rhetoric – most noticeably in comparing it to the civil rights campaign. For them gender differences are a meaningless relic of evolutionary history, a horrible biological accident – to be reduced as much as possible. Thus, a fascination artificial fertility technologies and raising kids without a sexual identity.
But gender is an essential characteristic of humanity. Eliminate it and you’ve eliminated humanity. What you’ve created instead may be something great and wonderful but it isn’t me or you.
From this perspective, marriage is something that is not as important as the main goal, something to be used and adapted to achieving the main purpose. If it is destroyed in the purpose – oh well. This is the thinking of fanatics with tunnel vision.


Vader
February 17, 2012

Perhaps it’s time to reread Lewis’ The Abolition of Man.

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