Same-sex marriage: Can one disagree without being viewed as hateful?

Bob Siegel Bob Siegel 47 Comments


Originally published by Communities @ Washington Times

SAN DIEGO, June 7, 20, 2013 ― In the wake of so many current, riveting news events, some have forgotten what lurks in America’s horizon. The question of same-sex marriage finally made its way to our Supreme Court.

We have not heard as much about this issue lately because the skilled attorneys from both camps have finished their passionate pleas and returned home. Nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are now reflecting upon the various arguments thrown their direction. At the moment, we are experiencing still waters. Stormy waves may have appeared to be far off on the horizon but June has finally arrived and soon a decision will be made.

SEE RELATED: The GOP struggles with same-sex marriage

Actually, two different but related laws are being considered simultaneously.  First, the Defense of Marriage Act, (1996) which grants states the rights to refuse recognition of same-sex marriage should a couple relocate from a former state which did allow the union.

DOMA also offers a definition of marriage at the federal level.

“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” (Defense of Marriage Act, United States Government Printing Office, September 21, 1996).

DOMA was signed into law by Bill Clinton, who has since “evolved” to the point where he no longer agrees with his own law. Such evolution has been recently shared by President Obama (who refused to defend DOMA) and several Johnny-come-lately Republican politicians.

SEE RELATED: Why opinion is shifting on same-sex marriage

The other case, of course, is the appeal of California’s infamous Proposition 8. This one has a back story that could rival any soap opera or reality show. At first the will of the people got struck down when courts overturned a new law springing to life from Proposition 22, a successful 2000 ballot measure. Prop 22 defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The California Supreme Court felt it knew better and ruled the law as unconstitutional. People tried again with Proposition 8. The goal this time was far more ambitious: They decided to amend the California constitution itself!  After all, no judge can rule something unconstitutional if it’s actually in the constitution, right?  No, not so fast. The new law was also struck down because supposedly California’s amended constitution violates our federal constitution.

Whatever the outcome, don’t hold your breath waiting for this issue to go away. Strong opinions and emotions will remain on both sides of the isle. The Supreme Court could no more end a debate on same-sex marriage than 1973’s Roe V. Wade made abortion discussions disappear.

That’s not such a bad thing. One should never be in a hurry to shut down an important debate.  In that vein, perhaps it would be best to back up and study the same-sex issue a little more closely.

What follows is a series of responses to certain questions or statements, all of which I have heard in real conversations. The objective is to inspire and stimulate further dialogue in a friendly atmosphere. Cordial discussion seems to be missing today. It is time to put away worthless mudslinging and attempts to silence opposing views.

SEE RELATED: Obama’s support for same-sex marriage is on the wrong side of history

Certainly weak arguments have been heard from both sides. Nevertheless, this article takes one side.  It’s probably no spoiler alert to admit right up front that I’m speaking on behalf of traditional marriage, hopefully presenting a better case than people are used to hearing, all the while offering empathy for the side I respectfully disagree with. My goal is to not only discuss the issue compassionately, but legally, intellectually, and even psychologically. Such a tall order must be broken up over several articles, so today’s column should be viewed as the initiation of a small series.

We will begin by addressing people who think conservatives are their enemies:

“Isn’t it important to speak against hate? Those who are against same-sex marriage are filled with hate, aren’t they?”

With all due respect, that’s quite a sweeping generalization. Have you met and conversed with every single person opposed to same-sex marriage? Have you allowed them to speak for themselves or are you letting others filter and restate their opinions? And how exactly are you defining “hate?” I respect your desire to be loving, but please be careful here. Stop, take a deep breath, and notice the subtlety of what is going on. Otherwise you may find yourself guilty of the same kinds of bigotry you claim to be against. Before pulling words such as “compassion” or “tolerance” out of the arsenal, please put yourself under the microscope of these very words: Can you show compassion and tolerance for people who have a view of homosexuality contrary to your own?

“But disapproving of homosexuality is like disapproving of an entire race because gay people were born that way.”

Actually nothing of the sort has ever been proved. This notion will be challenged shortly in this same series of articles, but for now, even if you disagree, viewing sexuality as different from race or skin color isn’t really that far of a stretch, is it?

Dedicated liberals are quick to make this comparison. By couching the debate under headings such as “equality” or ”civil rights” they often forget how many African-Americans and Latinos resist the alleged parallel. 70 percent of California’s African-American voters voted in favor of Proposition 8. A little more than half of California’s Hispanic voters joined them (National Election Pool, 2008).

Rev. William Owens (head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors)  is himself a civil rights activist. He had this to say about the comparison between gay rights and the African-American plight:

“Every morning I wake up, I look in the mirror, and I see a black man, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change the color of my skin…They are not suffering what we suffered, and I sympathize with people who face discrimination. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, but what they’re going through does not compare to what we went through.”

Owens went on to say that changing the definition of marriage will be “devastating to all of our families” (CNS News.Com, March, 26 2013).

“Even if the comparison with race breaks down, you are still suppressing the rights of gay people. Shouldn’t they be allowed to marry?”

Nobody says they can’t. In fact, gay churches and other liberal churches have been performing homosexual weddings for years. All we ask is that they not force the rest of us to change our own definition of marriage. If they are entitled to their view of marriage, we are also entitled to ours.

“But in most states a gay marriage isn’t recognized legally.”

That is true. But many who oppose changing the definition of marriage still support civil unions. A lot of states have civil unions or domestic partnerships and we are probably on the road to all having them in time. With such an ideal scenario, there would be no financial benefit denied and no hospital visitation suppressed. So legally, homosexual couples would have the same rights, and religiously (depending upon the church) they have the affirmation of marriage. I honestly appreciate your desire to be fair and compassionate. I really do. But please think about this for a moment. If gay couples can already be married by choosing from a wide array of liberal churches; if they can also have legal civil unions; if they decide to then call themselves married (as they have been doing for many decades) and if nobody is passing any law against their free speech to describe their relationship any way they choose, what possible reason remains for demanding that the entire country change its definition of marriage, other than to insist on affirmation from people who have a right to their own opinion about varying lifestyles?

NOTE: This article was the beginning of a series. Watch for Bob Siegel’s next article: If you think same-sex marriage will not affect your family, think again

Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Bob sometimes selects reader’s comments and responds to them on his radio show. Readers are free to call in and challenge Bob’s response over the air. Details of his program can be found at


Comments 47

  1. Bob,

    The definition of traditional marriage has been changed repeatedly through the years. Go watch Fiddler on the Roof for a few examples.

  2. Post

    All that means is that the definition of marriage has been changed before. That is a completely neutral observation. It says nothing about the right or wrong of the situation and it says nothing about my points in that article and the other three articles it is linked to.

  3. Bob,

    I was intentionally not making a value judgement on same-sex marriage because I know we have differing opinions on the subject and you are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

    The main argument I hear against same-sex marriage is that it is an assault on “traditional” marriage. I made the point I was trying to make and I am glad to read that you agree with it.

  4. “Actually nothing of the sort has ever been proved. This notion will be challenged shortly in this same series of articles, but for now, even if you disagree, viewing sexuality as different from race or skin color isn’t really that far of a stretch, is it?”

    This is true which is why the race/sexuality argument holds no water. There have been some studies which suggest pre-birth dispositions (epi-genetics) and I am eager to learn as more studies come out. Until then, I’ll stick with my Catholic definition of marriage….and no, that doesn’t make me a bigot.

    “Nobody says they can’t. In fact, gay churches and other liberal churches have been performing homosexual weddings for years. All we ask is that they not force the rest of us to change our own definition of marriage. If they are entitled to their view of marriage, we are also entitled to ours.”

    This is a good starting point. I see no reason for the government to be defining marriage or doing anything other than enforcing contracts between consenting adults. The problem is that there is a disparity in how same-sex couples are treated under tax and inheritance laws. Remove those disparities and we should be able to solve most of the problems.

    “Marriage equality” is a silly. I don’t need a government license to sanctify my marriage to my wife and I certainly don’t need two gay people to show me one to recognize them as a couple. Moreover, no law is going to force some people to accept same sex marriage.

    Free people can define marriage however they want. How you conduct yourself with your spouse will pretty much signal how people accept or reject your union…regardless of your genders.

  5. Of course sexuality is different from race/color and race/color is different from gender. Every civil rights battle has been unique. What has been the same is the arguments made by those who wish the status quo would never change. They always fall into one of three categories:

    1. It is against my religion.
    2. It is in conflict with our traditions.
    3. I am entitled to my opinion and you shouldn’t force me to accept that (homosexuals, women, other races) are equal.

  6. ” I am entitled to my opinion and you shouldn’t force me to accept that (homosexuals, women, other races) are equal.”

    Are you talking about equality in the eyes of the law?

  7. Brian,

    Yes, I was referring to equality under law, something those in favor of the status quo are usually (not always) not supportive of.

    Whether it is “I shouldn’t have to share a restroom with a black man” or “Gay marriage cheapens my marriage,” those fighting to maintain the status quo are usually (again, not always) fighting for more than the right to simply believe what they want to believe.

  8. The San Diego Debate Club will debate this very topic on the 27th at the Moose Lodge (Ruffin and Aero Drive) Social Hour starts at 6pm and the debate at 7pm (Google: San Diego Debate Club to get the address and to join the meetup and RSVP for the free event)

  9. “Yes, I was referring to equality under law, something those in favor of the status quo are usually (not always) not supportive of. ”

    If you understand the argument that marriage is an institution for conceiving and raising children (as it has traditionally been), it doesn’t make someone a bigot for wanting to preserve that institution–it’s a darned good way to perpetuate the species.

    Having recognized that, I hold little regard for a government definition of marriage:

    1- I think rent-seeking tax legislation, for families, is bad policy because it violates the precept of “equality under the law”. Would that we lowered everyone’s marginal tax rate, to equal that of married couples, and cut government’s size and scope to equal that revenue, the more free (and thereby prosperous) we’d all be.

    2- I think DOMA was bad policy because it violates the idea that ones property (which compensation for labor is) is not fundamentally their own. Individuals should have a right to designate their compensation/successor benefits to whomever they wish.

    Naturally, I seek more peaceful solutions to this debate: privatize marriage, privatize adoption agencies, and stop subsidizing “classes” of people.

  10. “If you understand the argument that marriage is an institution for conceiving and raising children (as it has traditionally been), it doesn’t make someone a bigot for wanting to preserve that institution…”

    I never called you a bigot nor do I think you are and you just made classic argument #2.

    Sometimes traditions evolve and often times that is for the better.

  11. It’d help make the case that one can disagree with same-sex marriage without being hateful if in reality fewer people who disagree with same-sex marriage weren’t hateful.

  12. In your creativity, Michael, it appears you committed an unintentional double negative. You’d either like more people to not be hateful. Or, you’d like fewer people to be hateful. You’ve stated that you’d like fewer people to not be hateful. I think.

  13. Suggestion: “…in reality fewer people who disagree with same-sex marriage were hateful.”

  14. “Sometimes traditions evolve and often times that is for the better.”

    Sometimes they don’t and that is for the better. To date, science is on the side of traditional marriage but, as I’ve said, I”m really curious about new studies. It would make things a lot easier if homosexuality (for this issue) was a genetic trait.

    (and I know you”re not calling me a bigot for having what, to me, is a really good conversation)

  15. Brian,

    How can you say that science is on the side of traditional marriage? If your point is that homosexuality is a choice, the science is at best split and probably favors the argument that it is innate.

    I know you previously said that “marriage is an institution for conceiving and raising children.” If that is your argument, how do you explain the marriage of senior citizens, the infertile or those who simply do not want to have children?

    As for the tradition of marriage, it has already evolved. I am probably repeating myself, but interracial marriage was until relatively recently illegal in many states. Certainly, marriage of two people of different religions was at one time taboo. In fact, for the majority of recorded history, marriages were arranged by the families and were more of a business transaction than a relationship based on love.

    I often ask myself, what will my grandchildren (assuming I have grandchildren one day) think of the positions I took. I am quite confident that by the time they are adults, gay marriage will not even be an issue, much like the races using the same restroom or going to the same school is not an issue today.

  16. Yeah, but genetic trait or not, why do we want the government to “permit” something as important as marriage? Why not just have them record it? That way it is up to the individuals and whatever church marries them.

    We don’t want government to permit divorce, baptisms, confirmations, circumcisions, communions, marriage consummations, etc. Just record that a marriage happened.

    Neither side is actually talking about the legality of same sex marriage. Anyone can go out tomorrow and have a ceremony and get married to someone of the same sex. And they can live as spouse and spouse. You can even set up a business or decide as a church to perform the ceremonies. Nobody gets arrested. It’s legal; it is just not recognized by the government. And that’s a problem.
    Allowing government to have that much say over religion and an individual isn’t our side’s typical stance.

  17. Good conversation going on. I’ve posted before on gay marriage so I’m not going to rehash things I said before, but I’ll throw this out for both sides –

    What is the objective for keeping gay marriage illegal and how do we know it has met that objective? If its to keep traditional marriage intact how do you quantify that and judge that the policy is working?

    Likewise, what is gay marriage legalization hoping to achieve? How do you know we achieved it?

    I’ll wager there are not good answers to those because gay marriage for or against is not the end in itself but a proxy for larger conflicting agendas.

    The traditional marriage activists don’t accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle so it doesn’t want it to be publically validated as such. Homosexual activists believe that if gays participate in highly venerated institutions such as marriage or the military then the public will accept them for their lifestyle/genetics (whatever case is made). Gay marriage is just one battle in that contest and it would be better if both sides acknowledge that this is what its about and then see if there is any possible resolution. Likely there isn’t any but since they have both taken it to the government we are all drawn into the drama.

    And that’s my issue with social politics. It is built on emotion so it is a bottomless pit of needs emotionally and ultimately financially. For activists on the left and right. People emotionally charged about these issues don’t care about cost, or the time spent, or expansion of government, or anything until they feel that their emotions are validated which is often never.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone – I’m not a bigot nor anti-tradition – but I’m just stunned how much time and money this country spends on these issues. It reminds me of the last days of Rome where they debated theology while the empire crumbled.

  18. Also: It’d help make the case that one can disagree with same-sex marriage without being hateful if in reality so many activists who agree with same-sex marriage weren’t so hateful.

  19. At the 30,000 foot level, Elliot’s point is exactly correct. The struggle for marriage equality is a struggle by the minority or less powerful (homosexuals) to be treated as equals by the majority or more powerful (heterosexuals). In this way, the struggle is really no different than that of the Suffragette Movement or the Civil Rights Movement.

    However, when you get to ground level, the debate is really about individual injustices:

    *The person who was not allowed to visiting her dying wife in the hospital because her wife’s “real” family forbid it and she had no legal standing.

    *The person who was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax to inherit her deceased wife’s possessions because federal tax laws did not recognize her marriage.

    *The person who was forced to live and raise the children without alimony or child support after his higher-earning husband decided to end the long-term relationship – because the family courts did not recognize his marriage.

    The non-biological parent who lost all rights to his children upon the death of his husband because the husband’s family didn’t approve of their relationship, and the courts, not recognizing his marriage, took custody of the children.

    The person who was left to raise the children without any support upon her wife’s death because the Social Security Administration did not recognize her marriage.

    There are countless individual injustices perpetrated daily because gay marriage is not universally accepted and this why Michael Schwartz’s utopia of marriage without government acceptance breaks down. Without the complete legal recognition of gay marriage, with all of the rights and responsibilities given to those in heterosexual marriages, homosexuals will always be second-class citizens and will always face real personal legal injustices.

  20. Random thoughts…..

    ~Marriage as between a man and a woman is one of the last free institutions we have. Free people can only be free within free institutions. The notion of an individual being free apart from free institutions is a pipe dream. The radical individualism of the libertarian camp is playing right into the hands of Progressives.

    ~To remove gender, which is really what the debate is about, is to take a fully functional, pre political and natural institution, and to make it an unnatural thing, since no person is without gender. Can a real conservative support changing marriage so that it goes from the state simply recognizing nature (male/female), to something purely a state defined and unnatural? What precisely is the conservative conserving by supporting this change?

    ~The analogy between gay sexual behavior and race does not withstand scrutiny. As just one example, Loving v. Virginia, the SCOTUS case that legalized interracial marriage in the 1960s, actually argues FOR marriage as being a gendered institution when it says this:

    “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

    Existence and survival of course refer to the children who are born in the marital union… which means that marriage is male/female.

    ~Removing gender from marriage removes mothers and fathers from family policy. What this means is that people who lean left on the issue are tacitly arguing that this will strengthen marriage and family. I say that anybody who believes removing moms and dads from policy, as a way to strengthen families, is smoking crack. Removing gender from marriage removes children from the central focus of marriage policy and places them nowhere.

    ~Removing gender from marriage removes sex differences from societal recognition. Actually, it goes further than this: sex differences will be prohibited from recognition.

    ~Gay marriage policy will shift the incentive for everybody to be “monogamish”:

    “Many libertarians and conservatives, including Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, assert that marriage is a conservative institution—which is true—one that will therefore function as such for those who enter it, whether gay or straight. While certainly the case for some, that claim is an unlikely future for many, not because gay or lesbian couples are liberal but because those in the driver’s seat of the contemporary mating market—men—are permissive. This, I predict, will be same-sex marriage’s signature effect on the institution—the institutionalization of monogamish as an acceptable marital trait. No, gay men can’t cause straight men to cheat. Instead, the legitimacy newly accorded their marital unions spells opportunity for men everywhere to bend the boundaries. Dan Savage will be proud.”

    ~We have clearly signaled to the universe that our future civilisation is unimportant to us, by doing these things:

    Making marriage policy deliberately non procreative by removing gender
    Removing children from the central focus of marriage and placing them nowhere
    Legalizing abortion
    Incentivising contraception

    When children are no longer the central focus of our policies surrounding sex, it is a clear signal that we no longer care about our future. Our society is on the decline, and it’s due to our social policies more than our economic policies.

  21. Marriage has historically been a natural institution that religion and the state simply recognized. Our country, being founded by people who believed in Natural Law and who were at the very least nominally religious in the Christian sense, brought with them their understanding of natural marriage, also as being the most healthy context for sex and child bearing and child raising. Current social science data bears this out.

    Even the ancient Greeks, with their love for homosexual behavior, did not seek to change marriage to accommodate gay sexual activity. Were they homophobic? Hardly. Could it be that they understood something about marriage that we have forgotten? Yes, that’s what I think.

    Consider that natural marriage is codified with terms based on biology. Brides, wives, and mothers are all human females. Grooms, husbands, and fathers are all human males. All of these are either stricken from the law, or rendered “gender neutral” when we accept the notion that diversity of gender is not a requirement for marriage policy.

    My concern is that we are moving away from a natural institution, one that requires almost nothing from the state except recognition. This means the institution is a free one when we recognize that it comes from nature. I recall our founders saying something about “…nature and nature’s God….”

    We are removing an objective and biologically based foundation for family policy, and replacing it with something that has no basis in objectivity or reality–gender neutrality is not real. AND, we’re supposed to believe that this change will be not only harmless, but beneficial to children, society, and the scope of the government.

    Given that I can cite cases where judges gave people parental status who were not biologically related to the children, under circumstances that did not resemble adoption… all due to gender neutrality/ssm…. and that I can also cite cases, due to gender neutrality/ssm where three or more legal parents are being implemented…. It is clear that we are observing brand new types of structural breakdown in the family. When two people argue over how the kids will be raised, it’s bad enough.. now three or more? Research how vast the state has expanded under “no fault divorce” and multiply this expansion by at least a factor of two, and you will understand the state expansion that will occur under ssm.

    And we’re supposed to believe this will be beneficial for children, and that opposing this change is hateful.

    I don’t buy it, not for a single moment, and I never will. Furthermore, I think the Left is being hateful to children. On the one hand, they argue that marriage is not procreative and so any two people should be allowed to marry. On the other hand, gays will seek (and are seeking) parental status on the basis of being married. It’s ignorant, and it’s hypocritical.

  22. Hypocrisy, I’m saying the process should be a recording process, not a permitting process. Like, you don’t get a permit to buy a house, you just record who now owns it. If there is a dispute, the government records are pulled as evidence. The government should not be making decisions on who can and cannot file the marriage paperwork. Just recording it when it happens.

    The examples you listed happened as a result of our current government marriage policy. A change in the government’s role would change the result. I live in a country of the self-governed and the proper role of government is to protect the rights, liberties, and freedoms of individuals. That should mean I decide the details of my life, not ask the government for permission.

  23. SSM policy will continue the so-called “discrimination” of certain relationships, such as:

    ~Youths being unable to marry
    ~Close relatives being unable to marry
    ~Number of marital parties in the marriage (polygamous marriage)

    If marriage is not presumptively procreative:

    ~What is to stop the marriage age from dropping? What should the marriage age actually be?

    ~Why should close close relatives not marry? What has stopped them from marrying in the past if marriage is not presumptively procreative as a policy?

    ~If marriage is not presumptively procreative as a policy, why do we have the legal doctrine called the “marital presumption of paternity”? What do we do with this doctrine if marriage is redefined to be gender neutral?

    ~Under SSM policy, why is two a significant number for the number of people in the marriage? On what basis can SSM supporters defend two people to the marriage to the exclusion of other numbers? If they wish to be consistent, they cannot cite nature based reasons. Nor can they pretend that marriage is about children (ie “two parent” argument), since their primary argument is that marriage is not procreative.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  24. The case being made to stop the government from not recognizing same sex marriage appears to be based on same sex marriage being generally bad for society for various reasons.
    The flaw in that argument is the government choosing not to recognize same sex marriage won’t influence society to have fewer same sex relationships or limit the number of people interested in a same sex relationship.
    Did polygamy end due to laws against it? No. It became socially unacceptable and the Mormon Church was pressured by society to change their teachings.

    Regarding kids, nobody is asking to change the age of majority from 18 nor would government recording of marriages change a child’s inability to marry, enter a contract, etc.

    Are laws against incestual marriages the reason incest is not socially acceptable and widely practiced? No.

    If there is damage to society due to same sex marriage, that damage is already here and already exists. Asking the government to record it won’t make it “worse”. It won’t increase the frequency or influence a person’s sexuality.

    Both sides have the same proposal for fixing what has become a muddled government policy: more government. And as long as it is muddled in the way they prefer, they are happy. One side wants to force acceptance of same sex marriage through government control and the other side wants to prevent the acceptance through government control.
    The solution to the issue is to let people make their own decisions. Give the church’s authority back to make decisions regarding who they choose to marry. If your church and your household want to teach against same sex marriage, nobody should force you to do otherwise. If your church and your house want to teach that same sex marriage is ok, then nobody should get in your way. If you want to jointly own property, change your last name, and have the ability to make medical decisions for someone else, sign the contract. Give everybody the chance to have the life they want.

  25. Michael,

    I agree with you, but I am not sure how you completely remove the role of government.

    The government administers Social Security benefits, the courts settle disputes between parties (spouse vs. other family members), hospitals determine visitation rights but base their decisions on the legal definition of family member and as long as we have an inheritance tax (perhaps a good topic for another day), the government will determine who is exempt from paying it.

    Unfortunately, just calling yourself married will not overcome any of the above if the government doesn’t recognize the marriage as valid.

  26. HQ

    I think your question highlights a bigger problem. With social security the govt owns your retirement and you don’t. Hospitals on visitation rights can be changed to respect a contract/living will etc that specifies who can visit who.

    Because those are outstanding issues doesn’t mean we should continue down the path of having the govt regulate marriage. If we can unwind government from the 11,000 or so (according to SCOTUS) laws that it has related to marriage we can address the issues you mentioned. Just that number, 11,000 shows that government has been too intrusive into marriage.

    Sadly, the national debate seems to be between the activists that want the govt to take a side on their agenda. There hasn’t been much mention or discussion of ending govt regulation of marriage.

  27. Elliot,

    Which do you think would be easier to accomplish: Unwind 11,000 laws relating to marriage or pass one law that legally recognizes same-sex marriage?

    I agree that your Quixotic Libertarian crusade is very well intentioned, but while you continue tilting at windmills, real people are suffering similar fates to the ones suffered in the examples I gave above.
    One other point – Social Security is much more than a retirement plan. It is equally, if not more, important if one parent dies when there are still minor children to be cared for.

  28. Here’s an analogy I’ve been contemplating for a long time, but haven’t yet shared. “Get the government out of marriage” sounds like this to me:

    “Let’s get the government out of gun ownership by abolishing the 2nd amendment.. The 2A is a statist approach for allowing gun ownership. We don’t need it. Self defense is a natural right, and we don’t need the government to acknowledge our natural rights for gun ownership.”

    But actually, that is not what we 2A fans argue. We argue that the 2A acknowledges our natural rights to defend ourselves, with firearms and against our own government if necessary. The 2A is governmental regulation that limits the government by acknowledging the natural rights of self defense.

    We can view marriage, in particular DOMA, the same way. If DOMA is statist, then to use that same logic we must also say that the 2A is statist.

    Since marriage between a man and a woman is a natural institution that exists not primarily for adult needs but for the needs of children, for the government to simply recognize it is not statist. Or, if the government recognizing marriage IS statist, then we must be logically consistent and say that the government recognizing our natural right to self defense via the 2A is also statist.

    In other words, when the government recognizes natural rights, it is actually placing limits upon itself, since natural rights do not come from government, they come from “nature and nature’s God.”

    And the particular natural rights that the government recognizes in m/w marriage are these: children have a right to a mom and a dad, and when married people conceive and bear children, those children belong to that couple and to no other person. We are taking these natural rights for granted, and it’s a tactical mistake for conservatives to do so. If these rights are not overtly acknowledged by the government, the government WILL mow them down. I can cite cases of this already happening via ssm/gender neutrality.

    This is not all I have to say regarding this analogy, but I must ruminate on it more before going further. Your thoughts are welcome.

  29. “Which do you think would be easier to accomplish: Unwind 11,000 laws relating to marriage or pass one law that legally recognizes same-sex marriage? ”

    Is this is a trick question? The answer is which ever promotes individual liberty so the former is the correct answer.

    “I agree that your Quixotic Libertarian crusade is very well intentioned, but while you continue tilting at windmills, real people are suffering similar fates to the ones suffered in the examples I gave above.”

    I would argue that all of the well-intentioned laws, which have failed, should not be layered upon. What you’re seeing is a the horrible effect of collectivism–fighting force with more force.

    There is nothing Quixotic about repealing bad laws.

  30. Brian,

    If there were no laws to define it or the rights and responsibilities that come with it, would there really be something called marriage? If so, how would you define it?

  31. My definition would be this:

    “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.”

    I have little interest in forcing people to accept that definition with the implied threat of force. I would hope that the way I live out that definition would attract respect from others and desire to accept that definition personally.

  32. Brian,

    By that definition, marriage is only for Christians. I hope that is not what you meant.

    More importantly, what happens when a marriage breaks down? Without laws, there is no spousal support, no child support; in fact, nothing to stop both parents from deserting the child. A senior citizen who spent her life keeping the house and raising the children can be left without any support by a husband with a mid-life crisis.

    I really do admire your utopian optimism. I wish people would be inspired to always do the right thing simply by watching you live your life, but I don’t think that is realistic.

    This really is a great discussion but I think it has veered from the original topic so I will repeat that I agree with the original premise that you can disagree on the question of same-sex marriage without being hateful. However, your disagreement shouldn’t take away the right of same-sex couples to have the same legal rights that heterosexual couples have.

  33. Brian. Just hoping people would follow your example and not engage in child marriage, incest, selling their children into marriage, having multiple marriages, etc. won’t stop them from doing it. Laws prohibiting these, including the threat of prison, is one huge reason they don’t do these things. In other words, here are very good, common-sense reasons why we already limit the legal definition of marriage.

    As a society, we have a responsibility to protect children and provide them with their best chance for success in life. If you prefer not to call that a moral obligation because that sounds too “religious,” then how about calling it simple humanity. We strive to make life better for our families, especially our children, because there is something deep inside most of us that tells us we should. And we have enacted laws that promote and protect that desire because doing so brings huge benefits to society as a whole.

  34. Karen,

    A few questions for you:

    1. Are children better off in a loving family with two parents of the same gender or a dysfunctional family with two parents, one female and one male?

    2. Are children better off with two parents of the same gender or in a single-parent family?

    3. If the sole purpose of marriage is procreation and the raising of children, then shouldn’t the government refuse to recognize the following marriages:

    a. A marriage where the women is past child-bearing age?
    b. A marriage where either the husband or wife is infertile?
    c. A marriage where the couple chooses not to have children?

    I am very interested in reading your answers.

  35. “By that definition, marriage is only for Christians. I hope that is not what you meant.”

    I do believe that… but I also believe this:

    “I have little interest in forcing people to accept that definition with the implied threat of force. ”

    I’m watching you and Karen battle for whom gets to use the men with guns, to enforce your respective definitions of marriage, and I’m starting to think my “utopian view” is becoming much more practical than utopian.

  36. Brian,

    You lost me. By your definition, my marriage is not as legitimate as yours because I am not a Christian, but you also say I don’t have to accept your definition of marriage. I assume you do believe that marriage must come with at least some legal rights and responsibilities. Don’t we as a society have to have an agreed upon definition of marriage, at least for those legal rights and responsibilities?

  37. I think I answered the latter question, HQ when I said I want government to enforce contracts. Try not to get too hung up on what I believe to be a “legitimate marriage”. You asked my definition and I answered you directly (and openly).

    I’m a pretty polite and amiable person, though. If you tell me you’re married to a certain person, I would respect your statement and treat you the way you want me to treat you.

  38. “I assume you do believe that marriage must come with at least some legal rights and responsibilities.”


    None of us are saying that there are no responsibilities when the govt stops regulating marriage. The left has already made the case that a marriage is about love so we see no need for government to be involved. We do see that it is a contract between two parties, so that is where the legal responsibilities come in.

    So in the case of inheritance, child responsibilities, survivorship it depends on what the two parties agreed to in their contract. You can be married and have none of those agreements/protections if that’s what the two parties want. Or you can have the whole slew of property rights and other responsibilities that are currently bound to the marriage contract. The key point is that individuals should have the right to contract agreement and what it entails, not the government. The Left and Traditionalists want the government to dictate what a marriage is, who can have it, and what rules apply. Totally unnecessary and a bigger threat to Christian values and secularism in my view.

    I want government out of marriage but individuals to have the freedom to form any binding contract agreement. Marriage is something for love and faith. You have a beautiful, expensive ceremony for it and an equally impressive calligraphy endowed document saying you are married. This isn’t the legal part at all.

    The legal part is the contract in standard font that is done in a drab officer. Its where the property agreement, potential alimony, inheritance rights, child rearing responsibilities, hospital visitation, survivorship, and the like go. That’s all contract law. does that sound like a lot and hard to imagine people doing it compared to what they do today? Yeah, I think so. But I think its that lack of transparency as to what a marriage is to two people that is causing problem. Its because government regulation of marriage and the quick signing of document that people have no idea what they are signing up to.

    I really think its because government has regulated marriage that the institution has crumbled into multiple divorces and broken homes. Its because the state decrees the roles and responsibilities of marriage is why individuals cannot adjust, or delay, or end marriage. If individuals are empowered to have their marriage be what is best for them and not what government thinks is best I’m sure that some of our social ills can be corrected.

    So marriage and contract law has been contorted into being one and the same out of convenience. It is that same approach to convenience that people just want to throw SSM in to the mix.

    Since SSM has brought national attention to marriage its a good time to relook at what government has done to the institution and marriage back to its proper place of being about faith and love. Even better to put government back in its proper place of not regulating the institution of marriage but its more limited role of enforcing and arbitrating contract law. Two very different things.

  39. Brian and Elliot,

    If I understand you both, neither of you should have any objection to two men (or two women) calling themselves married and setting up a contract that gives them all the rights of a heterosexual couple. These rights would include, among other things, the right to spousal Social Security benefits, the right to spousal pension benefits, the right to inherit property tax free up to the same limits as a heterosexual couple, the right to adopt children, the right to be included on spouse’s health coverage, etc.

    If this is what you truly mean, then you really have no objection to same-sex marriage and we are in total agreement. Now, if we get everyone to treat people as Brian says he would, the world would have a lot fewer problems.

  40. HQ,

    I’m very interested in tax reform and have no issue with private contracts regarding survivor benefits. I’d also be in favor of eliminating the death tax altogether and privatizing social security so that retirement assets can be passed through to whomever is designated.

    Getting the government out of the adoption business appeals to me even more. Biological mothers are best suited to determine the household which raises their children.

    If this is what you truly mean, then we are in total agreement.

  41. I’d rather deal with the probable rather than the possible. Hypocrisy, it is possible that we’d have to reverse thousands of laws? Yes, but not probable. Is it possible that simply recording the event rather than permitting it will still not be enough enforcement to make sure individuals in same sex marriages get to visit each other in hospitals and collect social security? Yes, but not probable. On the other side, is it possible that the entire family unit will fall into disarray, strip the rights of natural parents, and destroy society? Yeah, I guess that is possible too, but really not probable.

    If the pro-same sex marriage side wins and government forces same sex laws, the most probable scenario is those who object to same sex marriage would be forced into situations that should not be forced. And if the anti-same sex marriage side wins people who define marriage in any way other than 1 man and 1 woman (the part about it being lifelong was left off of Prop 8 conveniently) will continue to fight for the protection under the law they deserve.

    If we get the government out of the business of marriage the most probable outcome is that both sides will get to live life as they see fit and the government will continue to protect their rights, liberties, and freedoms.

  42. Like with most things, government does not help with this issue. Marriage and Divorces and the related legal issues consume vast quantities of private wealth, clog our courts, and wreak havoc on families. Government should get out of the business of marriage. Marriage should be between a couple and their church. Yes, insurance benefits, governments benefits, etc…all play a part in these laws, but there is no reason that cannot and should not be reformed.
    Success rates are higher with marriages where couples have entered into pre-nuptial agreements than those that have not. Like with a good business, all partners should draft a partnership agreement so that they have a wriiten plan and have put to writing each person expectations and goals and contingency plans. Most good churches have couples go through pre-marital counseling so that each is prepared . There is a direct correlation between the increasing role of govt in marriage and corresponding reduced church role, and the disintegration of marriage as an institution. It is a moral commitment and government should get out.

  43. Brian,

    The devil is in the details when it comes to privatization of Social Security, but I am in total agreement with your other points including the elimination of the inheritance tax.

  44. We are debating this very topic at the San Diego Debate Club on the 27th of June at 7pm. Social hour starts at 6pm. Moose lodge at NW corner of Ruffin Rd and Aero Drive.
    Should be a good one

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