Looking for a New Plessy v. Ferguson

Perry v. Schwarzenegger, also known as “The Prop 8 Trial,” or the first serious test of the federal case for gay marriage, concluded earlier this week, following pointed pre-closing questions from Judge Walker, effective answers, and closing arguments for which reviews are, preliminarily, positive for the side of Justice. This is enough to make David Boies, the litigator’s litigator, optimistic to the point of naiveté:

Boies said he thought it likely that Judge Walker would issue his ruling in August—my own hunch is that he will rule for the pro-same-sex marriage side—and that either side would appeal immediately. Indeed, Boies and Olson hope the Perry case will be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, and that they will ultimately win a decision comparable to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that declared laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.

It’s not naïve to expect a victory before Judge Walker. In fact, I share Boies’ confidence, and the New Yorker’s, that, especially because Judge Walker appeared to take Romer v. Evans deadly seriously, as one should, we’ll get a pro-equality ruling that, while not recasting gay men & women as a “protected class,” will nonetheless find that the Prop 8 advocates impermissibly relied exclusively on gay-baiting, animus, and bigotry to make their case, and that Prop 8 is therefore void as a textbook case of the majority abusing an unpopular, but otherwise harmless minority.

Of course, the bad guys will immediately take an appeal, but will be, by that point, stuck with an extremely favorable, pro-equality, and frozen factual record (factual findings can only be disturbed on appeal for “clear error”), and thus will be forced to argue not that animus didn’t exist here, but that its existence is irrelevant. That’s an uphill battle. Such an uphill battle that victory before the 9th Circuit is also a realistic possibility, given the right selection of judges (though if the case is heard en banc, either at the outset or on a motion for rehearing, that calculus changes).

Should Boies & Olson secure that victory, they’ll have done a great thing, but they’ll not have won. Politically, a Supreme Court reversal of any favorable verdict is essentially guaranteed. They will, however, have forced the Supreme Court into making an unpopular, clearly incorrect decision for nakedly political reasons. The reversal will happen in one of two ways. The first, and most likely option, entails a 5-4 court reversing or limiting Romer v. Evans, which will require Justice Kennedy to gut his own opinion. There’s some elegance to that. The second, more insulting option would require the Supreme Court to essentially disregard the trial record, validating Romer but engaging in some fiction about how plaintiffs never carried their burden of proof, lower court be damned. This would be outrageous but not unheard of. Justice Kennedy, and therefore the modern Supreme Court, in fact has very little regard for trial court findings in matters carrying even slight political import. See Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007) (reversing three federal circuits, each of whom had, relying on a strong, unchallenged trial record, struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003). Either way, the eventual reversal will look, and in fact be, ridiculous.

Query whether Boies & co. know this, and whether such a defeat is, itself, the victory they’re hoping for. In America’s brief history, we’ve seen our fair share of nakedly wrong decisions, and they never stand for long. In fact, sometimes they focus the debate, and render eventual victory a near-certainty. Scott v. Sanford showed just how disgusting the justification for slavery actually was, and pushed that question towards its bloody resolution, while Plessy v. Ferguson, by stating clearly the narrow assumption upon which its validity depended, gave activist groups a clear target. If it comes to a Supreme Court reversal, then, the anti-equality lobby will end the day weaker than they began it, and be forced to defend an increasingly ridiculous premise from a population suddenly aware of its toxicity. And that, as they say, is not nothing.

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174 comments

  1. From Ames:

    “In fact, I share Boies’ confidence, and the New Yorker’s, that…we’ll get a pro-equality ruling that, while not recasting gay men & women as a “protected class…”

    If the ruling doesn’t find sexual orientation to be protected, how is the comparison to P v. F appropriate? Surely you aren’t comparing the denial of gay mariage to slavery?

  2. Plessy wasn’t slavery.

    And while this court won’t make the protected class analogy, someone should, and eventually, someone will.

    1. To be clear, though, I do think the comparison to Jim Crow is appropriate. In both cases the law relegates a party to second-class status based solely on an assumption about their subjective merit. “Blacks are inferior” has about as much foundation in fact as “gays are dangerous.”

    2. I meant to reference the Scot case – which DID refer to slavery.

      You can only make the protected class argument if you can demonstrate that that sexual preference is genetic, an impossible thing to do…or to admit it is a mater of preference like religius affiliation, which would significantly undermind your case.

      There’s also a flaw in any logic which would compare this to segregation or anti-miscegenation laws. In both cases those represented a step backwards and the creation of legal discriminations where none had previously existed. That is not the case with gay marriage.

    3. It actually wouldn’t undermine the case. The argument with religion gets to the same result, and is based on the notion that some choices are choices, yes, but the state shouldn’t be able to coerce you out of them. And, the state of things is actually pretty settled that, however it comes about, sexuality is not a choice. Whether it’s genetic or behavioral, it’s set and not the product of any conscious decision. That gets us to where we need to be.

      I’m not sure what you mean about segregation being a step back. It was a step FORWARD from slavery…

      1. Ahhh…but then we’re still back to other forms of sexual preference that would be neglected. I’ve yet to see a pro-gay marriage bill that specifically states the desirability of monogamy as an ancillary component to any legal marriage regime.

        Blacks enjoyed near-equal legal equality after the Civil War. Many served in Congress. Segregation was established after the Democrats abandoned the South. In that sense it was a step backwards. New discimatory laws were created where none had previously existed.

        It’s for that very reason that I have opposed gay marriage bans in the states that have passed them. They codify discrimination when it is unneccessary. The right to gay mariage doesn’t exist in those states so there’s no reason for a law specifically forbidding it.

      2. Your Reconstruction history is fascinatingly wrong. It’s true that black equality was a near-actuality while Reconstruction remained in full force, but when Southern conservatives gutted it, with a willing Supreme Court, that brief honeymoon period ended. If you’re using a ten year interval between oppressions to argue that Plessy overturned a deeply-rooted tradition of equality, which is the argument you have to make to win this point… well, False.

        Ah, the old polygamy canard. You were just telling me that no-one thinks homosexuality is genetic, and everyone thinks it’s a choice, but presumably abandoned that argument because it’s a loser. But the equivalence between polygamy and homosexuality only makes sense if they’re either both choices, or both deeply ingrained in personality/genetic. Are you going to take that position?

        1. AMes – you’re claiming my history is wrong and then you recap almost exactly what I said. Yes – Reconstruction was brief. So what? The point is, if you’re going to make the comparison to segregation, you should point out the similiarities. Segregation was not a ‘step forward’ as you contend. It was the creation of a new set of laws that completely underminded the 14th Amendment. When you had blacks serving in Congress and then you move to a system where they can’t even vote, I don’t know how you could possibly call that a step forward.

          Blacks HAD legal equality and it was taken away. The right to gay marriage has never been taken away from them. The comparisons are poor and designed more for the benefit of hyperbole than for an accurate analogy.

          What I said was that you cannot prove that homosexuality is genetic. I didn’t say that no one believes it is. Either way, what I am referring to is not so much polygamy as a religious institution but the existence of bisexual people and multiple partner relationships. Without a stronger push for monogamy and an explanation of why this is desirable, you are obligated to open the door to them as well under the same criteria.

        2. You argue that gay marriage would be “new,” but freedom from segregation was not, because it existed for a brief 10 year period or so before being consumed by Jim Crow. What we’re really disagreeing about, then, is whether a brief interruption suffices to displace a tradition of oppression, thus making Brown a glorious return and not a new rule.

          First, as I should’ve done earlier, I dispute that this hallowed ten-year period even existed. Mississippi elected ONE black Senator; this, contemporaneous with the foundation of the Klan and the beginning of an open war against newly-enfranchised Blacks. What you’re looking at then is a small formal victory accompanied by a thousand informal defeats, which would later swallow utterly the small victories won by Blacks in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. This suffices to indicate the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment but not an Actual History of fair dealing, equality, and desegregation. What Brown did was permanently restore a rule that never saw meaningful implementation; the difference between that, and the creation of a new rule, is rhetorical and not substantive.

          Second, you could make the same argument, actually, about gay men & women. While gays have never been able to live openly, the actuality of formalized oppression is a novel creation. There never were gay marriage bans in states until say ten years ago. Similarly, gays in the military were politely overlooked until DADT.

          I don’t understand your last paragraph at all. The question of whether a restriction to single partnerships is constitutional bites rational basis, and there are nonfrivolous arguments, not based on animus, that meet that criteria. So it’s patently distinguishable.

          1. The point of mentioning the Reconstruction period is that you have a Constitutional Amendment which granted full equality which was later undermined by Jim Crow laws. You do understand that Jim Crow represented the specific creation of discrimatory laws. In this sense it IS similar to gay mariage ban, a point I assume you would agree on. Where we diverge is the way you wave away the short perod of real equality blacks enjoyed before Democrats abandoned them. Yes, only one senator, but several members of the House and the control of many state legislatures was certainly not insignificant. It’s kind of amazing that you are minimizing a period in black history which they themselves take grade pride in.

          2. Who are these Democrats who “abandoned” the blacks, and at what point in time did that happen? I’m somewhat confused about the chronology you’re arguing from here.

            1. What I mean is that Democrats forced the federal government to withdraw troops and Reconstruction effectively ended.

          3. He’s actually right about that. It was the Democrats who actively worked against Reconstruction; the GOP was still, at that time, the “Party of Lincoln.” They’ve clearly since fallen from that high calling.

            And Mike, the point of minimizing the brief honeymoon period is to lend more significance to Brown, which *actually accomplished* a permanent, anti-racist realignment. I don’t minize the achievements of black legislators in the interim; I simply point out that, by the contemporaneous horrific acts of their enemies, they were foreclosed from creating the kind of permanent break with the past you’d need to prove to undermine my analogy.

          4. I just don’t see when the Democrats of the time were ever for the blacks in the first place. Without reflecting on present-day party labels, surely it must have been the Republicans who abandoned the blacks in the Compromise, if anyone?

        3. Even if there was a magical fairyland of equality during the brief period of Reconstruction, your analogy still holds, at least in California, where there was a period of some months before the passing of Prop 8 in which same-sex marriage was legal. So you can concede this point to Mike (though he is of course incorrect as you have noted) and still win the argument.

          1. Precisely. I tried to say that earlier but didn’t put it as simply, thank you ;)

          2. Incorrect about what? The equality granted to blacks by the 14th amendment or the loss of that equality at the end of Reconstruction?

            1. Incorrect about the “equality granted to blacks by the 14th amendment”. Improvement over slavery? Yes. Equality? No. Relevant to the argument ACG is making? Also no.

              1. Tell that to the blacks who served in Congress and in state governments during the Reconstruction period. This isn’t about equality in practice – this is about equality under the law. That’s why it is 100% relevant.

                This position has been laid out by other bloggers:

                “Laws banning interracial marriage explicitly banned interracial marriage. Those who sought to overturn these bans were seeking formal equality: not the expansion of law to include them, but the subtraction of laws designed to exclude them. What they wanted was for race not to be mentioned in the law at all. By contrast, what proponents of same-sex marriage seek is a subjective, substantive equality. They want the law to say that homosexuals should get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire. This claim might be right and just, but you will note that the law does not currently say “only heterosexuals get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire.” Of course this is what the law actually entails, but nobody is formally excluded in current law. Even to see the current law as exclusive requires a particular and modern understanding of human sexuality, whereas exclusion is the whole point of laws banning interracial marriage.”

                http://plumblines.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/interracial-marriage-is-not-like-same-sex-marriage/

              2. Homeboy’s using vocabulary (“formal/substantive” equality) he doesn’t understand. Miscegenation statutes and gay marriage bans are both issues of substantive equality, with the words properly understood. Formal equality means literal equal application; substantive equality takes effect into context.

                For example, miscegenation and straights-only marriage are both “formally” equal, because the law applies equally to whites and blacks, gays and straights. But they’re substantively unequal because the purpose, effect, and import is to disadvantage a minority. Kudos to Plumline for trying to play with the big boys, but no.

                See, e.g., http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=512662

                1. “But they’re substantively unequal because the purpose, effect, and import is to disadvantage a minority.”

                  How can this be when gays have yet o be found to be a protected class? You admit yourself it is unlikely to happen in this latest ruling. Currently they enjoy no more protections that 20 year-olds who are not allowed to drink.

                2. The difference is gays would be a protected class but for politically-motivated stalling. The reasoning is crystal clear and protected status follows logically, so the failure’s not there, but with the courts for refusing to take the law seriously.

                  1. Even if sexual orientation is declared a protected class (I think we’re still some distance away form that)it doesn’t automatically grant gays access to marriage. You would still then have to argue that access to marriage be limited only monogamous relationships but disregard gender. I’ve yet to see a serious effort to do this on the part of gay marriage proponets. More than likely this has to do at least in part with the realy poor monogamy rates for gay men. It’s also hard to define the desirability of monogamous relationships in legal terms.

                  2. Actually, it does. Most restricts based on protected-class status fail perforce. And the burden isn’t on me to show where the line can be drawn, really; I posit wherever it’s drawn, it includes gays, and that’s all I have to do. On the flip side, I’ve never heard a persuasive argument that polygamous couples constitute a protected class. In fact, that sentence itself makes little sense. How do you define the class to protect?

                    1. If sexual orientation is a protected class – then don’t ALL sexual orientations have to be included?

                    2. Sure. I think you’re confused about what a sexual orientation is, or perhaps consciously enlarging the definition to suit your purposes. One of the two.

                    3. Are you contending that bisexuality is NOT a sexual orientation or that monogamy is?

                    4. No, bisexuality (as in, guys, girls, they’re both cool) is also a sexual orientation, but a tendency to bigamy is not.

                    5. So then, of course, a tendency towards monogamy isn’t either. Without that you have this large protected class (sexual orientation) and your cherry picking which ones can access the institution of marriage, thus creating new discriminations against hose who can’t (to follow liberal logic that no marriage = discrimination). Since you’re basically admiting that it’s okay to limit access to marriage on various criteria, why not just push harder to say gender isn’t a factor so long as monogamy is the end result? Wouldn’t that actually strengthen your case and also acknowledge that certain discriminations or societal preferences will still be enforced and even embraced by gays? It would put you not on the oppsite side of the aisle as someone who wants to make sexual orientation the deciding characteristic but on the other side as a fierce proponent for monogamy.

                    6. The difference seems to be that a (heterosexual) polygamist can still get married, just not to more than one person. Homosexuals are barred from marriage altogether.

                    7. No so – homosexual can mary someone, so long as they are not fo the same gender. Either way you have a lack of fulfillment of that person’s marriage desires. Polygamy (usually) stems from religious beliefs (protected class) while gay mariage would stem from sexual orientation (proposed protected class). To deny one is to admit that it’s okay to discriminate on some grounds.

  3. Gotchaye · ·

    So why is it unlikely that Walker will find that gays ought to be a protected class? That always seemed pretty open and shut to me.

    1. In fact that is accurate. There’s no serious argument against the extension of protected status, at least academically. You won’t find, for example, a law professor who honestly believes otherwise. But the protected classes have only rarely been supplemented. It’s a hell of a step to take, and I don’t expect a district court to make it. I’d expect it to come on an appeal from a loss.

  4. James F · ·

    I have to inject some science into the debate for a second:

    From the American Psychological Association:

    What Causes a Person To Have a Particular Sexual Orientation?
    There are numerous theories about the origins of a person’s sexual orientation. Most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.
    It’s important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person’s sexual orientation, and the reasons may be different for different people.

    Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?
    No, human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.

    So yes, I would caution against saying orientation is solely genetic, but based on (for example) studies of twins, etc., there is a definite genetic component.

  5. I’m restarting this thread below. Let’s try not to over-nest.

    Mike, it is okay to discriminate on some grounds. No liberal will make the contrary argument. And your “gays CAN marry someone!” is exactly the formal-but-not-substantive equality argument that proves the equivalence with Plessy. Thanks, for that!

    1. I don’t actully agree with that point although it was the logical reply to Lanfranc’s statement.

      As I stated, wouldn’t this all be much easier if gay marriage proponents had just become serious monogamy advocates and brushed aside gender as an important factor? Redefine the institution and bingo, you’re done. Of course – you have to get he cooperation of the populace and by extension their lawmakers, so that doesn’t work. You think that if you find some new protected class exists then it’s cut & dry…but it’s not. You’re STILL planning to discriminate against some sexual preferences and even monogamous ones at that.

    2. “Serious monogamy advocates”? What the hell does that mean? And how does it connect to the rest of what you’re saying? It seems you’re just tacking a backhanded slap onto a slippery slope argument and calling it a day.

      1. It means that the silent corollary to gay marriage advocacy needs to be a reaffirmation that monogamy be the law of the land. That also means admitting that this requirement constitutes a form of discrimination (note: not all discriminations are bad). Without this emphasis then the court route has at least the possibility of seeing marriage not just redefined as gender-blind but also redefined away from monogamy.

        My personal guess is that the lack of willingness to advocate directly for monogamy as the ‘gold standard’ is 1) because many gay men aren’t and don’t plan to be and 2) because it’s a societal preference with no hard evidence to back it up. This leaves SSM proponents open to other forms of societal preference i.e. no gay marriage.

      2. Or maybe it just means that the mono- vs. polygamy question actually has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and trying to connect them is an attempt to muddy up the issues.

        1. But of course it has everything to do with it. Here’s the deal: IF gay marriage gains any traction it will be because legislatures have decided that the social values of their states have changed in such a way that they can now disreagard gender as a criteria for entering into a marriage. Like many conservatives I believe that this is the best way for dealing with the issue which is why we didn’t make a stink about the legalization in Vermont and in fact many conservatives called it a victory for the democratic process (not in those exact words necessarily.) For any number of reasons court challenges will fail. So….given the liklihood of the legislative over judicial route to gay marriage, why can’t there be further revisions? If gender becomes moot, how long before someone asks why numbers are still a factor? With enough interest, legislatures will have to consider this as well. It’s not really a slippery slope argument, but more of a B-follows-A argument.

        2. It’s not really a slippery slope argument, it’s just, completely-unrelated-B follows A!

          1. I think this sort of demonstrates how unwilling you are to look beyond the next 5 minutes in social policy. It’s interesting though that you draw these long, drawn out and highly theoretical conclusions about the case you referenced in the post and what will happen next, but when someone suggest that one redfinition of marriage might make it easier for the next redefinition of marriage the response is, “Oh that could never happen – redefinitions each exist in a vaccuum! There’s no such thing as precedent!”

          2. It’s not a failure to think ahead. It’s a conviction that number isn’t the same as type. For all your side waxes poetic about the virtues of marriage, and the nuclear danger posed by letting different types of people marry, you sure don’t put much stock in the importance of pair-bonding, or in the ability of people to recognize, defend, and distinguish it.

            You’re right that gay marriage implies “one redefinition” and that allowing polygamy would be another. But that’s the extent of the similarities between the two. Unless “one-man-one-woman” is the finger plugging the hole in the dam that is the social structure of this country, removing gender-based restrictions doesn’t necessarily imply anything else, and I have yet to hear one argument from you about why it would, except, “once you start you can’t stop!” That works with chips, not with laws.

            1. Enlighten me then Ames – please state the legal case for monogamy.

            2. Not my burden to carry, buddy ;)

              1. And I’m going to assume that’s because there IS no legal case for monogamy. It’s a social preference, just like heterosexual marriages and thus subject to the same potential for redefinitions.

              2. I don’t know how you get that from anything I’ve written, or anything you’ve argued. I’m simply stating that if you think there is a slippery slope, when it’s this much of a reach, it’s your burden to prove, not mine to avoid.

                1. No, don’t you see? Because THE GAYS are promiscuous, and that’s just like being polygamous, if you’re going to allow THE GAYS to get married, you have to let them marry LOTS OF OTHER GAYS.

                  Nobody (on Mike’s side) is interested in the historical facts about polygamy because those are inconvenient distractions to their central belief about how icky man-on-man love is. How deliciously, temptingly icky.

                2. To continue, because I hit the button too quickly: the argument you’re engaging in is one you will never win, because your opponent is not amenable to reasoned discussion. You can’t successfully attack religious beliefs (and make no mistake: the only opposition to SSM comes from religious conviction, either on the part of your interlocutor on on the parts of those who shaped his thinking) with arguments. People in general just aren’t wired properly for that.

                  1. “…make no mistake: the only opposition to SSM comes from religious conviction…”

                    I’ve heard this point from other folks before. I think there was a girl on here a few months back that took the same line of reasoning. Those SSM proponents who need to believe opposition is based on religious beliefs also probably find religion to be highly irrational and therefore they can assign that same irrational belief to SSM opposition (because, y’know, what sane person would oppose gay marriage?)

                    All I can say in response is that I have numerous friends who oppose gay marriage and who are also atheist. To provide your next reply for you I imagine you will say something like, “Then they were molded by people who were religious or they are closeted Believers themselves. No one could oppose SSM on secular grounds.”

                    Sound about right?

                    Make no mistake…ALL social policy is based in morality and where that collective morality comes from often has religious origins. Marriage is a social construct that is augmented by a legal framework. Monogamy is a social construct as well. You want to see both of those social constructs redefined. All I am saying is that if one social redefinition happens, there is a little more momentum towards the next redefinition. That’s sort of how social policy works. To deny that is folly and exactly why conservatives go bonkers over liberals and their affinity for social change. You all don’t think about how things are inter-connected or if you do you brush it off and something you will fix later. It’s like health care reform. “Oh we know it’s highly theoretical and there is a potential it will cause major problems but we’ll just fix it later because people are unhappy today and we have to do something.”

                    I really wish anthropology and/or history degrees were mandatory for all lawmakers. Studying the way society evolves would be helpful.

                    1. “Those SSM proponents who need to believe opposition is based on religious beliefs also probably find religion to be highly irrational and therefore they can assign that same irrational belief to SSM opposition …”

                      I don’t need to claim that opposition to SSM is religiously based. I claim it because it is true.

                      As for the rest, your condescension is amusing to me. It would be insulting if you had any idea what you were talking about, but since your education in ethical philosophy seems to be entirely lacking, well…

                    2. Look Erik – i want to believe your logic, i really do, but obviously you are gay yourself so therefore you’re not an unbiased debater. I can’t see any reason why someone would support gay marriage unless they themselves are gay.

                3. And again – that’s a difference between liberals and conservatives. You all assume any social change (or any liberal policy proposal) are going to be good things until proven otherwise. Conservatives er on the side of caution and assume harm until proven otherwise.

                  1. Couple of things on that post:

                    1) That study was pretty flawed. I believe they only surveyed 78 families and they used self-assesments. Questions like, “Are your kids happy?”

                    2) As you lay it out, I have no problem with society excepting gay marriage one state at a time and acting accordingly. That’s the way social change should work. What I have a problem with is the implication in THIS post that a legal ruling is the way to go. I find that to be highly improbable and also a direct violation of states’ rights. I also don’t see a Constituional right to mariage (whether straight or otherwise). That’s I keep saying over and over that is a social construct and society should decide when to change it, not the courts.

                    1. Er, sorry..accepting gay marriage…

              3. Of course mono- vs. polygamy is a question of social preference. That’s the whole point: Homosexuality is not, as James F pointed out above, so no matter how hard you try to shift the focus of the debate, the two questions are not related.

                Besides, who says you can’t make a legal case on a question of social preference? Whether or not to cut off the heads of your defeated prisoners of war and playing football with them is also, in the end, a social preference, but I suspect you could make a reasonably solid legal argument against that.

                1. Homosexuality is not a social preference but marriage is. Gays are requesting access to a social institution. The criteria for that access is not unalienable. It’s defined based on the social preferences of the society that creates the institution.

                  We don’t allow siblings to marry even though we have the technology to eliminate the problem of inbreeding. Why? Because as a society we believe that’s wrong. We don’t allow plural marriages for the same reason even though there are thousands of successfull plural mariages in this country and the historical existence of polygamy is much, much wider than gay marriage. Why? Because we’ve decided it’s wrong.

                  Right now most of our states don’t like the idea of two people of the same gender marrying. I have no doubt that number will shrink in the next decade, but why not let them decide for themselves instead of trying to find a bogus Constitutional right to marriage and forcing it upon them?

                2. I believe it is commonly accepted that it’s not up to you or me, but to the Supreme Court to decide which Constitutional rights are legitimate or bogus. And why not wait for people to decide for themselves, you ask? Because that’s precisely why you have a Supreme Court: To uphold legitimate rights in the face of public opposition. Wouldn’t be the first time, either, which I guess brings us full circle back to Loving v. Virginia and the other civil rights cases.

                  1. As I previously mentioned – Loving was turning over a law specifically created to discriminate. I’m equally okay with overturning gay mariage bans in all the states that have enacted them. That doesn’t mean that I find a legal case for SSM, only that you should never create laws specifically to discriminate against a party.

                  2. Mike, you’ve settled on a distinction without a difference.

                    And the “history/anthropology” line is pretty condescending… wow… but also hilarious in that your conception of the way the course of history should be is, wait long enough, and the problem solves itself.

                    1. It’s meant to be condescending. It’s not a point I invented. As far back as Disraeli conservatives have been complaining about the lack of understanding/respect for history on the part of liberals.

                      I don’t expect problems to fix themselves (although many do) but I also believe in the point recently made by David Brooks which is that even great legislation still has small potential for improving people’s lives but bad legislation has enormous potential for harm. I like things to be thought through. The momentum shift towards gay mariage is relatively new and owes much of it’s success to Hollywood. Since I find no civil right to mariage I believe states should decide for themselves who can enter it.

                    2. By Hollywood you mean “culture.” Things change, and groundless fear isn’t a reason not to do things. Respect for history is one thing, exalting it over all potential alternatives is another, and unhealthy.

                    3. In fact, couldn’t you delete “gay” and replace with race related words in most of your last comment?

                      “The momentum shift towards desegregation is relatively new and owes much of it’s success to Hollywood. Since I find no civil right to integrated education I believe states should decide for themselves who can enter it.”

                      You’re making the exact same argument.

                    4. HA! Yeah, I always tell people how Hollywood is a perfect representation of American society.

                      Man, that was good Ames. I needed that today.

                    5. From Ames:

                      “I find no civil right to integrated education I believe states should decide for themselves who can enter it.”

                      Your example would be correct if I didn’t believe education to be a civil right..but I do. I also believe there is a civil right o live where you want, eat in the same restaurants, vote, etc.

                      I DO NOT believe there is a civil right to marriage.

                      I don’t believe there is a civil right to marriage. Period. That means me, you, the President or Ellen Degeneres.

        3. For any number of reasons court challenges will fail.

          Such as?

          1. Let’s ask Ames…

            From the original post:

            “Should Boies & Olson secure that victory, they’ll have done a great thing, but they’ll not have won. Politically, a Supreme Court reversal of any favorable verdict is essentially guaranteed. They will, however, have forced the Supreme Court into making an unpopular, clearly incorrect decision for nakedly political reasons. The reversal will happen in one of two ways. The first, and most likely option, entails a 5-4 court reversing or limiting Romer v. Evans, which will require Justice Kennedy to gut his own opinion. There’s some elegance to that. The second, more insulting option would require the Supreme Court to essentially disregard the trial record, validating Romer but engaging in some fiction about how plaintiffs never carried their burden of proof, lower court be damned. This would be outrageous but not unheard of. Justice Kennedy, and therefore the modern Supreme Court, in fact has very little regard for trial court findings in matters carrying even slight political import. See Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007) (reversing three federal circuits, each of whom had, relying on a strong, unchallenged trial record, struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003).”

      3. Could be!!!! But a slippery slope argument made in bad faith? Nah, that’s never happened before!

  6. Continuing below:

    The “Hollywood doesn’t represent America” line is a stupid culture war trope that adds nothing to any discussion into which it’s injected. By your narrative, Hollywood exists in a vacuum, simply conjuring up filth ex nihilo to force on an unwilling public. That’s not how entertainment works, although if it did, it would surely provide you with a useful windmill to tilt against. America wasn’t 100% homophobic until one day, BOOM, “Will & Grace,” and now everyone loves The Gays. There’s a responsive dialogue between content producers and the public that means that Hollywood simply gives voice to something that’s already there, even if you try to pretend it away. Recast with this understanding, the gay equality movement doesn’t “owe it’s [sic] success to Hollywood,” but to an emergent understanding that Hollywood’s merely popularized. Yawn.

    I get that new thing are scary. But, granting that new things are scary, that’s a statement that’s so broad as to be useless on its own, and should be properly underestood only as a rhetorical vehicle through which to assert actual substantive claims, not a claim in and of itself. The kind of caution you’re advocating isn’t error deflection, it’s stonewalling.

    Marriage is a social construct, sure. But at the point you grant SOME the right to marry, you can’t restrict its availability based on nonrelevant traits. The goal of marriage is to promote socially beneficial pair-bonding, and stable families (all other purposes, like child-rearing, are under-inclusive). Because the sexuality of the pair threatens none of those core foundations, there’s no reason not to expand it, aside from, “but it’s never been done before!”, which is not its own reason.

    1. Okay – allow me to concede your point for a moment. If Hollywood is a reflection of society, what does the existence of Big Love tell us?

    2. That polygamy is terrible, even approached with the best intentions. Have you watched the show???

      1. Would you say that all the gay references in Hollywood in the last 10 years have been positive?

        The point is that there are enough plural marriages out there that Hollywood has found it a subject worth exploring. If you recall, the first references to gays were all extremely offensive in a modern context. Now they are looked at ground-breaking because at least they were talking about it. Isn’t it conceivable that the same thing is happening with plural marriages?

        Also – I would note that by your own definition, marriage is about forming a socially beneficial bonding (you say pair-bonding but families aren’t just about the success of two individuals – get married and you will discover that). So ignore the liberal notion of plural marriages being fundamentalist mormons in the west and one man with lots of wives. What about three women entering into a plural marriage? What’s so offensive about that? Wouldn’t they form a pretty strong social unit, able to support one another in various ways? Is it unconceivable they could love each other equally and jealousy might not be a factor? Why does sex even have to be part of the equation? Certainly you don’t suggest that marriage is merely the legal expression of sexual desire? Do you have any idea how many sexless marriages are out there?

      2. Talking about something is not the same as mainstreaming it, which is what you were arguing. And negative cultural references to a practice don’t *always* constitute the first step in mainstreaming. You’re missing a critical step in your logic, one you cannot prove.

        It IS entirely conceivable that plural marriage could be beneficial to some couples. But that doesn’t mean it logically follows as the next step on a slippery slope.

        1. But the point is, if you look at the way that gay marriage has progressed, it was aided greatly by increasingly positive depictions of gay individuals in TV and movies. This is a fact that gay supporters and gays themselves celebrate. But it started with Three’s Company and Archie Bunker which were terribly insulting.

          You said:

          You say:

          “…the gay equality movement doesn’t “owe it’s [sic] success to Hollywood,” but to an emergent understanding that Hollywood’s merely popularized. “

          Don’t you think that understanding
          came about with help from Hollywood? Does the average American learn more about the gay lifestyle from hanging out with gays or from watching them on TV? I would contend in most places it’s the latter. Rosie and Ellen did far more to change the minds of middle America on gays than their coworker in the cubicle next door.

          Plural mariages are now on TV because the dialogue on them has matured. They are writen about on the Huffington Post in a positive light. There was a positive depiction of them on This American Life some time back. America is trying to understand them since there are thousands of plural marriages in this country. If anyone is pretending they don’t exist and there isn’t real interest…it seems to be you.

        2. In Big Love, a family man with all the best intentions demonstrates that even the strongest moral compass can’t navigate the perils and deception that modern polygamy implies. In Dexter, a serial killer proves that “what he does for a living” doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy in the rest of his life.

          By your rubric, Dexter makes a stronger case for mainstreaming serial murder than Big Love does for polygamy. Fair characterization?

          1. It’s all about exposure. The more people are exposed to the concept, the more they are going to become comfortable with it. You might want to check out this piece at the Huffington Post:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/gay-marriage-and-polygamy_b_49928.html

            A quote:

            “Because the conversation is ripe for discussion. The battle for gay marriage, if successful, will naturally give rise to other minority groups fighting for their own redefinition of marriage. Enlightened people who support gay marriage should begin searching their conscience for an honest answer to the question: if it is acceptable for two gay people to marry, why shouldn’t it be acceptable for three (or more) people — of any sex — to be married?

            “the entertainment industry has advanced gay rights among mainstream America more than any other factor, I would be willing to bet. On television, in particular, homosexuality was present in the past, but unacknowledged prior to the 1970s. Liberace and Paul Lynde got on TV, but nobody ever pointed out the obvious. The closest Hollywood came to an actual gay character was on Three’s Company — and he was nothing more than a straight man pretending to be gay to fool the landlord who lived downstairs, so he could live with two women (as if any Southern California landlord would have cared, in the ’70s, as long as the rent checks didn’t bounce…).

            Jump forward a few decades, and gay characters abound on sitcoms and dramas. It wasn’t so long ago that Will and Grace was one of the top sitcoms on the air. Oscar-winning films portray gay life, love, and tragedy — from Philadelphia (1993) to Brokeback Mountain (2005).

            But recently, the show Big Love appeared on the air — a look at polygamy as a serious subject (rather than merely being lampooned) which was also the show’s core concept. I have to admit I haven’t seen the show, but the fact that it exists at all should be seen as a polygamist-rights landmark.”

            I will also add that the author is a liberal.

          2. (1) HuffPo is simply not credible.

            (2) Lots of liberals think polygamy should follow naturally. I gave a lecture about gay marriage rights and was almost booed when I said that it has to stop there. That doesn’t stop them from being just plain wrong, and it doesn’t mean that a court or legislature would listen to them. None will.

            (3) The guy hasn’t seen Big Love. If he had seen it, he’d realize just how ridiculous that idea is. Your theory seems to be that any publicity is good publicity for a downtrodden minority; even granting that for the sake of argument, it still doesn’t follow that such exposure will ever reach enough of a crescendo to compel any further action. And if negative portrayals contribute positively, they still net negative.

            1. 1) Then maybe you should take them off your blogroll? Boom.

              2) if lots of liberals think it should follow, there are more conversations happening about it, there is potential for a whole new swarm of plural requests after gay marriage becomes more common, etc…I think to ignore it is folly. I also think the fact that THOUSANDS of plural marriages exist in this country already is sort of a precedent as well. It’s not as though they are all hiding in the shadows.

  7. It’s meant to be condescending. It’s not a point I invented. As far back as Disraeli conservatives have been complaining about the lack of understanding/respect for history on the part of liberals.

    And as far back as Disraeli, it has been a transparent attempt by conservatives to disguise a purely ideological disagreement as a factual one.

    Besides, not to toot my own horn unneccesarily, but I like to think that between a BA and an MA with distinction in history, I do have some small understanding of and respect for history in spite of my liberalness.

    1. Well it’s a historical FACT that social changes lead to other social changes. I don’t think that’s a disguise. Of course if I disagreed withthat conclusion I would read it as a misinterpretation or a co-option of the historical record. History is a fickle friend that way.

      I’m sure your credintials are lovely. Mine are similar. The problem is that so many liberals with those backgrounds tend to ignore their education when they make policy.

    2. It’s also a fact that “change leads to other changes” is useless nonsense. Sure it does. So?

      1. I mean – they are linked. One begets the next and so on.

    3. It’s a disguise because it assumes that given the same historical facts, everyone must necessarily arrive at the same interpretations – so those pesky liberals who happen to draw different ones must by definition be wrong. It’s a classic example of Hume’s Is/Ought fallacy.

      By the same token, your claim that liberals “ignore their education” when we dare to draw different conclusions… well, the implication seems to be that the only kind of qualfied history is the Conservative tradition, which I frankly find incredibly insulting.

      But then again, it turns out I’m apparently gay as well, so what can you expect, right?

      1. While liberals may interpret history correctly from time to time, the problem is that they still always find it flawed. This has create an addiction to change, often simply for the sake of change. As someone recently put it, “Thus, traditional conservatives strongly argue for the importance of various communal institutions and associations beyond or in addition to the State, knowing that these are our means not merely of loving, but of living and of knowing, as well. They argue strongly against the literally endless freedom of liberalism, which of its nature requires perpetual mobility, perpetual invention and re-invention, in order to secure the individuality of the individual (thus, in our culture, we sometimes stop doing something simply because it used to be done, e.g. wearing neckties to work or marrying for life). “

        1. “Someone”? Are we just dropping random quotations now? I’ve got plenty of those.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “finding history flawed”. History is what it is. On the other hand, when people argue for change, it’s generally because they find the present flawed.

          Also, I asked one of my gay friends, and he didn’t really think I was gay, in spite of the overwhelming evidence. So I guess now I’m just confused.

          1. *sigh* The quote was from James Matthew Wilson at Front Porch Republic.

            http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2009/04/letter-from-a-young-conservative/

            The comment I made about only being able to support gay marriage if you were actually gay was sarcasm directed at Erik’s ridiculous assertion that you can only oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. I’m concerned though how much you all seemed to be bothered by that thought. What would Freud say about that?

    4. I was recently told that I’m so bad at dating women (I’m too nice, apparently?) that I must be gay. So I will join your happy gay club.

      1. Isn’t ‘happy gay club’ a redundant statement?

  8. Oh, Mike. You’re so cute when you try to get catty!

    Sadly, perhaps, it turns out that I support same-sex marriage because there is no rational reason to oppose it. Given that there’s no rational reason to oppose same-sex marriage, and some same-sex couples want to get married, we ought to allow them to do so.

    There is, despite your unsupported claims to the contrary, no necessary connection between “approval of same-sex marriage” and “approval of polygamy” — not that I personally see anything morally wrong with polygamy in principle, but in practice it has, shall we say, a less-than-stellar track record — so you can’t claim the slippery slope. Unless you can make that connection, of course; and I certainly invite you to do so in a rigorous manner.

    If you want to make arguments about moral questions, it would probably be a good idea to learn something about moral theory. I’d start with Euthyphro, then go through the Republic, the Nicomachean Ethics, Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, On Utility, and A Theory of Justice. That should be a decent start.

    Of course, if the primary texts are too much for you to swallow, I’ve always liked James Rachels’s The Elements of Moral Philosophy. White also has an anthology that’s pretty good, but I can’t remember off the top of my head what the title is.

    Oh, and my fiancee is a little upset that I’m gay, but I’m sure we can work through it.

    1. clapclap :)

    2. “I’d start with Euthyphro, then go through the Republic, the Nicomachean Ethics, Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, On Utility, and A Theory of Justice”

      That’s one of the most pretentious lists I’ve seen in some time. It reminds me of some of my professors in college who tried to impress us with the texts they assigned us. I’m stifling a yawn as we speak. But anyway…

      It would be useful if this was a moral issue, but of course, it isn’t. I don’t consider marriage to be a moral institution or the laws surrounding it to be based in morality. It’s a social construct based in social preferences. Now those may have a root in morality or religion or hocus pocus, but they are secular laws. marriage is not a civil right and it certainly isn’t a moral one either. So, to clarify for you, the rules for access to marriage are subject to the will of the people. At this point a majority of Americans do not prefer homosexual marriage and an even greater majority do not prefer plural marriage. In that sense, they are interconnected as both require society to change its social preferences in order to win access.

      1. “That’s one of the most pretentious lists I’ve seen in some time.”

        Well, gosh. I guess the foundations of Western ethical theory are pretty fucking pretentious then. Maybe you should keep stifling that yawn and make your way back to college — and while you’re there, have a long talk with the instructors who so poorly educated you the first time round.

        “marriage is not a civil right and it certainly isn’t a moral one either.”

        It’s strange indeed that you say this after the rest of the thread, but OK. Suppose that marriage is not a right. Then marriage is just a privilege we extend to certain unions. On what rational basis can we refuse extending that privilege to same-sex unions? It can’t be procreation, because — as a matter of fact — we allow barren couples to marry. What else have you got?

        Nothing, that’s what. It turns out, you know, that “what the majority of Americans prefer” bears, quite often, little or no resemblance to what ought to be the case. There was in fact a time when the majority of Americans supported the institution of slavery; by your argument here, then, since the majority of Americans preferred owning slaves, it ought to have been the case that they could own slaves.

        I’m comfortable with that entailment if you are, since it’s not my position, but if this is really what you think, you’re a terrible person and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

        Since you like anticipating arguments, let me anticipate your next one: “Oh!”, you will cry, “but freedom from slavery is a civil right, unlike marriage!”

        “Well,” I will respond, “if you want to make that claim, you need to establish why it is that freedom counts as a civil right. You can do this in two ways: first, by appealing to the Constitution, in which case Loving v. Virginia shows that you are incorrect and a bigot, or second, by appealing to moral facts, in which case this becomes a conversation about moral issues, and you need to brush up on your reading.”

        So, let’s just skip the intermediary step and get to the punchline: Are you a bigot, or are you ignorant? Those are basically your choices, unless you can show me that I’m incorrect somewhere. I am open to that possibility! Indeed, I hope that this is the case.

        PS. I’ve talked things through with my fiancee, and she’s come to terms with the fact that I’m apparently gay. So, I guess that worked out.

        1. “Suppose that marriage is not a right. Then marriage is just a privilege we extend to certain unions. On what rational basis can we refuse extending that privilege to same-sex unions?”

          On the same grounds that we let people drink at 21 and not 20. We let them vote at 18 and not 17. We let 2nd cousins marry but not 1st cousins. We have dry counties and wet counties. We allow abortion but not infanticide. We let men fight on the frontlines but not women. Etc, etc.

          Do I really have to explain to you that society sets arbitrary barriers on any number of policies / institutions? We make a decision, as a people, that a 20-year-old shouldn’t legally drink alcohol but at 21 it’s fine. There’s no real logic behind that decision as some 20 year-olds are incredibly mature and responsible while some 21 year-olds are incredibly immature and irresponsible. I mean, really, we can probably all agree that 14 year-olds shouldn’t drink. Probably 15 year olds too. 18 year-olds? It starts to get fuzzy.

          With regards to access to marriage the arbitrary standards that society has set out are (with some slight variations):

          1) Must be no closer related than 2nd cousins

          2) Must be 18

          3) Must be two people only

          4) Must be one man, one woman

          Now I could easily find grounds for challenge to any of those 4 criteria. Specifically on gay marriage – and this is where you really need to pay attention – I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH GAY MARRIAGE BEING ALLOWED ON A STATE-BY-STATE BASIS. The state governments of Vermont, New Hampshire, etc have decided that the people of their state are okay with revising #4 and that is their right and I support it. If my state does the same thing in 5 years, regardless of my personal opinions, I will support that too. That is how democracy should work.

          If you want to read that and still call me a bigot, that’s fine. i don’t know you and i certainly won’t lose any sleep at night. But it also demonstrates a certain lack of reading comprehension, don’t you think?

          What I DO NOT support are a couple of things:

          A) The judicial strategy of finding a civil right to marriage when I believe none exists.

          B) Thinking we can revise #4 without prompting more challenges to #1-3 and weakening whatever shaky logic they are based on (and let’s be honest there, they are ALL based on shaky logic).

          So you can keep name-dropping primary ethics sources in an attempt to dazzle us with your intellectual pedigree (I also read primary sources as an undergrad as did most of us I’m sure) but what you don’t get is that social laws are rarely based in reason. They don’t have to be. I realize this addiction to reason is a liberal thing and I understand the roots of it in liberal thought but I’ve got news for you, understanding the way government works will always be impossible when only viewed through the prism of reason. Our President is sworn in with one hand on a Bible. Reason went out the window a long time ago.

          1. “I realize this addiction to reason is a liberal thing…”

            Really? This is your argument? That using reason is a liberal thing?

            How do you get anybody to take you seriously?

            1. Because the problem is that addiction makes you think you can reason out everything, which you can’t and also causes you to overturn every convention of society because you assume everything is broken.

              1. “Dear Supreme Court Justices: Please don’t give homosexuals a constitutional right to marriage, because people should be allowed to have their prejudices, and besides, reason isn’t everything.”

                Yeah, I’m sure that’ll go well.

                1. Again – marriage isn’t a civil right. Are you contending it is?

                2. I’m contending it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide what is and isn’t a civil right, and that they’re unlikely to be persuaded by the sort of argument you present here.

                  1. Their decisions are based on the Constitution…do you see a civil right to marriage there?

                  2. I’m afraid I can’t answer that question without using Liberal Reason, so following your own argumentation, I don’t quite see how that can even be relevant to you.

                    1. So that’s a no.

              2. Well, OK. Just so I’m absolutely clear: You’re saying, without argument, that there is no civil right to marriage. You’re further saying, again without argument, that we shouldn’t try to reason through anything because we can’t reason through everything.

                Awesome. That’s a great way to approach things.

                1. I thought i made it clear. i don’t see marriage as a civil right. The legal rights surrounding it have only existed for heterosexual unions for 100 years or so.

                  1. Oh, no, you did make it clear that you believe that there is no civil right to marriage.

                    It turns out, though, that “Mike thinks that P” does not constitute an argument for P. So you’re claiming, without argument, that there is no civil right to marriage. We’re cool.

                    1. If you can find it in the Constitution – i’d love to see it.

                    2. I think Lanfranc did that for you, Mike.

      2. You know, in retrospect, I may have gone too far in my “Mike is a bigot” hypothesis. It’s still possible, of course, but it’s not really supported by the facts so far in evidence. So, I’d like to retract that for the moment.

      3. I also note — and this is a real flaw in the blogging software, I thing, which forces me to make three comments here — that you have not, in fact, provided anything even beginning to resemble a rational defense of your position. Since you’ve moved off on a tangent yet again, I am forced to conclude, therefore, that you have no rational defense of your position.

        I do hope that you can provide one. I’ve been looking for one, actually, for something like six years now.

  9. Mike: So that’s a no.

    It’s a weak cry for consistency in your arguments. One the one hand, you denounce an “reason” as a “liberal addiction”, but on the other hand, you expect me to present a constitutional interpretation, which by definition is founded in reason. Could you at least make up your mind?

    But anyway – I’m not a lawyer, so I’ll just quote the opinion in Loving v. Virginia:

    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U. S. 535, 316 U. S. 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U. S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.

    There you have it: Marriage is a “basic civil right”.

    1. As for reason, I like beer – it doesn’t mean I drink it at every meal. I pointed out several examples above of arbitrary barriers to social institutions. Do you want to try and say that those barriers are all based on sound reasoning?

      Loving specifically states that marriage is, “…fundamental to our very existence and survival.” Since we know procreation is no longer considered a reason to marry, that seems to take a bit of wind out of your sails, so to speak.

      Also keep in mind that Loving is narrowly worded to only discuss race. You’ll notice, for example, that the right to plural marriages was not suddenly discovered as a result of the ruling.

      I’ve also stated several times above that I find Loving renders DOMA and other gay marriage bans unconstitutional. But that just means you shouldn’t pass laws that are designed to discriminate. It STILL doesn’t dictate a redefinition of marriage.

    2. I don’t know you find a line between “banning a the Practice of X is illegal” and “but explicitly legalizing Practice X is wrong.” But however you do it, it’s fascinating. You could never get a ruling on your first point that didn’t imply the second.

      Loving isn’t “narrowly worded to only discuss race.” It just doesn’t discuss anything else because the issue wasn’t before the Court. And the implied reference to procreation is made in passing. But if you want a court that discusses other reasons marriage is fundamental, see http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/conlaw/goodridge111803opn.pdf

      1. ‘I don’t know you find a line between “banning a the Practice of X is illegal” and “but explicitly legalizing Practice X is wrong.” You could never get a ruling on your first point that didn’t imply the second.

        So by your logic, if banning interracial marriage is wrong then banning plural marriages is wrong as well. right?

      2. …no. That doesn’t follow, at all.

        1. Why not?

        2. I say, there’s no difference between forbidding the state from criminalizing a practice, and allowing it. You say, therefore polygamy is legal. You’re missing about sixteen steps between those.

          1. When miscongenation laws were removed, interracial marriage was immediate, correct? Is it your contention that if you remove DOMA then all marriages laws include gays automatically?

          2. Those are nonseverable holdings, yes. But technically DoMA isn’t a gay marriage ban; it permits states to not recognize foreign marriages, and enables but does not supply independent bans.

            1. So removing miscongenation laws made interracial marriage legal automatically, but removing gay marriage bans won’t make it automatic. Then why the comparison?

            2. You’re now arguing something completely different from what you argued at the outset. I remind you, this came from:

              Me: I don’t know you find a line between “banning a the Practice of X is illegal” and “but explicitly legalizing Practice X is wrong.” You could never get a ruling on your first point that didn’t imply the second.

              You: So by your logic, if banning interracial marriage is wrong then banning plural marriages is wrong as well. right?

              1. You DID say that Loving made interracial marriage legal automatically but overturning DoMA would not…correct?

    3. But it establishes that marriage is a civil right, which is what you asked. Even a “…vital personal [right] essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

      Whether or not that civil right extends to homosexuals is not yet established. But as I’ve been saying all along, that’s for the Supreme Court to decide. Loving obviously only deals with race, but considering that homosexuality is just as immutable as race, it seems entirely reasonable to use it as a precedent.

      1. Fair enough. Blood relation is immutable. Why not allow two 1st cousins to marry?

      2. As far as I know, most countries in the world and several US states already allow cousins to marry. So I don’t see any reason why not.

        1. OK – then why not siblings?

        2. Even leaving aside the concerns about inbreeding, it would be redundant. Marriage is a legal contract that establishes and formalises kinship, but siblings are already related.

          1. So are cousins.

          2. I have no idea what the law is in the US (I imagine it differs by state), but at least in the UK, cousins are not legally recognized as “nearest relatives”, which has implications for inter alia inheritance law, guardianships, contracts and so on.

            1. Even if siblings are related, being a spouse is a different kind of relationship. My employer does not provide health insurance to my sister, for example.

            2. Fair enough. There’s still the problem of inbreeding, though. (And yes, I know it also exists for cousins, but to a much smaller degree.)

              1. Fairly easy to solve – sterilzation for one or both parties. Besides, procreation is no longer a reason to get married anyway, which also implies sex is no longer a factor.

              2. Well, it’s not the only reason, and I don’t think it’s ever been. People get married for different reasons, and most cultures have property and rights as important dimensions to their marriage practices.

                Personally speaking, if permitting marriage between sterilized siblings is the great price that must be paid for extending a “basic civil right” to millions of homosexuals, I for one am not going to lose any sleep over that. I just think we’re getting a bit too far into the details here.

                1. So we’ve accepted marriages between siblings as a fair price. Now what about extending that to the thousands of plural marriages that already exist and the potential thousands more that might exist?

                2. People in plural relationships can already get married, they’ll just have to choose one of their partners.

                  Unless they’re homosexuals, of course.

                  1. You’ve circled back around and used the same argument some people use against homosexuals 9they can marry so long as they pick someone of a different gender).

                    You could also say that siblings can marry so long as they find someone who is not a sibling, or something like that.

                    Why allow siblings and not plural marriages?

                    1. Lanfranc – right. And polygamists don’t just want be in marriage with just one person. I also suspect there are some bisexual relationships of more than two people that feel the same way. You seem to be implying we should satisfy all wants?

                      Inheritance law is a non-issue. Estates are divided among multiple individuals all the time. Contract law can also easily address multiple partners since it happens with multiple corporations frequently.

                      And honestly, who cares if it requires more thinking? Surely liberals could ‘reason’ things out if plural marriages required a few new bits of legal code.

                    2. No, but I just think there is a significant difference between a homosexual couple who can have 0% of their ‘marriage wants’ satisfied, and a polygamous relationship where at least a non-0% of the same want can be satisfied. It’s not really comparable.

                      And of course the issues could be worked out, but my point is that in legal terms, polygamous marriage represents a much more radical reinterpretation (more than two people) of the concept of marriage than single-sex marriage does (still just two people). So I disagree with your idea that the one will likely lead to the other.

                  2. That’s a bullshit argument and I can’t imagine you don’t realize that. You don’t get married just for the sake of being married, and homosexuals by definition don’t want to be in a relationship with people of the other gender.

                    Besides, as ACG already pointed out above, that is exactly the kind of argument that Plessy made and which was later overturned.

                    In any event, I think that allowing plural marriages would change the nature of the contract far more substantially than single-sex marriage. The latter case is still just two people, while the former would require entirely rethinking the issues involved. Inheritance law alone would be a nightmare.

                    1. So, I really have to ask: Why are you still arguing with Mike, given that he’s admitted he’s not amenable to reasoned persuasion?

                    2. Erik – who says we’re arguing? And I never said I was immune to reason. i said not all policy is based in reason and that liberals need to stop their obsession with it.

                    3. I don’t think the point of a discussion is necessarily to convince the opponent; that very rarely happens, anyway. But it’s an opportunity to learn about a topic and develop my own views about it.

                    4. I would agree with Lanfranc – I am rarely convinced by anyone in online discussions, but I appreciate hearing other viewpoints. He lives overseas so all the more interesting.

  10. Mike, you’re partially correct. Lanfranc is attempting to argue with you, but since you’re either unable or unwilling to engage in reason-based discourse, it cannot be said that the two of you are arguing. What you’re doing is trying to play rhetorical games with people who are much better at this than you are.

    I know you’re not going to be convinced by anything anybody here says (see above). You should also know that nobody here is going to be convinced by your claims. So, given those facts, why do you continue?

    “i said not all policy is based in reason and that liberals need to stop their obsession with it.”

    You have indeed said that. And indeed it’s true that, as a matter of fact, not all policy is rationally based. But what alternative do you offer? Should we make policy based on our emotional responses? Our gut feelings? That can’t possibly end badly, can it?

    1. “What you’re doing is trying to play rhetorical games with people who are much better at this than you are.”

      Are you including yourself in that group? If so, bonus points for a lack of humility.

      “And indeed it’s true that, as a matter of fact, not all policy is rationally based. But what alternative do you offer?”

      What makes you think I want an alternative? I accept that some of our policies are based in reason and some are based in irrational preference.

      Since you’ve conceded my point that not all policies are based in reason…would you prefer it if it was? If so, please explain to me the reason for the drinking age at 21 and not 20. Or if you believe age = safety, why not 22?

      (and before you try to punt by saying i won’t listen to reason, let’s pretend for the moment that I will).

      1. Are you including yourself in that group?

        Well, yes. Then again, it’s actually my job, so I would hope that I’m better than an amateur. Not really a question of humility — though I will happily admit that I have a huge opinion of myself.

        What makes you think I want an alternative?

        Well, you seem to have made normative claims about policy. If this is the case, then, assuming you’re following at least vaguely Gricean conversational maxims you must have some view about how policy ought to be made. Do you?

        Since you’ve conceded my point that not all policies are based in reason…would you prefer it if it was?

        Well, yes. That was easy!

        … explain to me the reason for the drinking age at 21 …

        So you want me to give you a reason for a policy which, since we’ve agreed that not all actual policy is based on reason, might not be one of the reasonable policies? You’re really not very good at this, are you?

        Anyway, a conversation about the drinking age and what a rational policy would be should actually start with an examination of the severely broken American drinking culture. I’d be happy to have that conversation, but this is not the appropriate place for it.

        I’d still like you to show a necessary connection between allowing SSM and allowing polygamous union, but really, I think we all know that’s not going to appear here.

        1. The problem is Erik you haven’t actually been reading any of my comments. I’ve stated numerous times that i am okay with social policies that have nothing to do with reason and everything to do with social preference, provided a civil right is not being violated. So, with regard to marriage, since sexual preference has not been ruled a proteced class, it is subject to the whims of social preference. In short, i don’t advocate an alternative to the current way we make social policy because I like the way we make social policy. It seems by now you would have figured that out.

          So, without explaining the depth of your reasoning, you’re suggesting there is a very logical reason for selecting 21 as the drinking age and not 20 or 22? Reason leads you to believe that 21 is the perfect age?

          1. No, no, I’ve been reading your comments. You’ve repeatedly claimed that marriage is not a civil right, which is especially strange now that lanfranc has provided the quote from Loving v. Virginia in which the Court made precisely that determination. But anyway.

            “So, without explaining the depth of your reasoning, you’re suggesting there is a very logical reason for selecting 21 as the drinking age and not 20 or 22?”

            It’s funny that you can say that right after accusing me of not reading your comments. I did not claim, nor will I, that there is a rational reason that the drinking age is 21 and not 20 or 22 or 18 or 37 or whatever. Perhaps you should look at what I actually said and then try again.

            1. So then assuming you believe there should be a drinking age, do you believe reason would you lead to the correct age, or would it still end up being an arbitrary line in the sand?

              1. On an unrelated note, it’s kind of refreshing to see someone laying such obvious conversational traps.

                Now that that’s out of the way, I can address the substance you’re trying to build up to. The fact that the drinking age, if we establish one, will necessarily be arbitrarily established does not have anything to do with marriage. Unless you can demonstrate an essential similarity between Mad Dog and matrimony, your analogy will be a failure.

                1. Both marriage and legal consumption of alcohol are legal institutions created by the state, correct?

                  1. So’s the speed limit. What’s the relevance here? Oh, right, there isn’t one. Come up with an argument or piss off, champ.

                    1. If they’re both state institutions, then shouldn’t the state decide the access criteria? And why can some of that criteria be arbitrary and some be based in reason?

                    2. A pair of transparent rhetorical questions does not constitute an argument, Mike.

  11. Lanfranc,

    “I just think there is a significant difference between a homosexual couple who can have 0% of their ‘marriage wants’ satisfied, and a polygamous relationship where at least a non-0% of the same want can be satisfied.”

    But can’t at least some of the desires of homosexuals be satisfied with a tweak or two of the legal code? Many companies are already offering are same-sex health benefits. What if we made that a federal law and threw in the ability to make medical decisions? A will takes care of inheritance problems and bingo, things are looking pretty good. Meanwhile no laws are going to cover multiple spouses. So who has the lesser % of their wants satisfied?

    “…polygamous marriage represents a much more radical reinterpretation (more than two people) of the concept of marriage than single-sex marriage does (still just two people).”

    I don’t know if I agree with that. As a historian yourself, i’m sure you know history is on the side of polygamy as it has existed in many cultures for thousands of years. Also, I think suggesting redefining away from gender is less radical than redefining away from numbers is in the eye of the beholder.

    1. But can’t at least some of the desires of homosexuals be satisfied with a tweak or two of the legal code?

      It seems like that would precisely create the ‘separate but equal’ issue that you find in Plessy – sort of the same rights, but still clearly in an inferior legal position overall.

      Meanwhile no laws are going to cover multiple spouses.

      Sure. But not having your wants entirely fulfilled (something we all have to live with from time to time) is a much smaller problem than being entirely excluded from a civil right. Which is why I don’t think they’re comparable.

      As a historian yourself, i’m sure you know history is on the side of polygamy as it has existed in many cultures for thousands of years.

      That depends. It has certainly existed in some cultures – parts of the Islamic world, Imperial China, or some African societies, for instance. But it has always been notably absent from European/Western cultures – unlike, one could add, homosexual relationships, which were reasonably common both in the Hellenic world and (if John Boswell is to be believed) in the early Middle Ages.

      Although I agree that it’s ultimately a question of interpretation which would be the more radical break.

  12. “Sure. But not having your wants entirely fulfilled (something we all have to live with from time to time) is a much smaller problem than being entirely excluded from a civil right. Which is why I don’t think they’re comparable.”

    But you were mentioning % of satisfaction. I’m just saying, there would be more % there than with plural marriages who get zero benefits. Or is the % you are talking about based on being able to marry at all? If so, is it your contention that a potential pluralist will be at least partially satisfied with one marriage? I don’t think it works that way for them. I would think they would be as dissatisfied as a gay person forced to marry someone of the opposite gender.

    “But it has always been notably absent from European/Western cultures – unlike, one could add, homosexual relationships, which were reasonably common both in the Hellenic world and (if John Boswell is to be believed) in the early Middle Ages.”

    But there was never gay marriage. Only one of them have an actual historical tradition, regardless of where that took place. Plus, with the increase in immigrants from countries where plural marriage is still practiced to some degree, doesn’t that mean that American social preferences are going to change?

  13. Since this thread won’t go away (but at least it isn’t that craptacular Birther zombie thread) and yall are talking about polygamy… If it weren’t for the logistical issues involved, I’d be 100% in favor of legalized polygamy. As it stands, I still favor it, I just don’t care very much since there’s going to be that logistical hassle of setting up a spouse-by-committee system (Person A’s married to Person B & Person C, how to resolve a disagreement between Person B & Person C regarding spouse-made decision’s while A’s incapacitated? and so forth) and I’m not seeing many people who are going to benefit from it.

    1. I am pretty okay with plural marriages as well of the consenting adults, non-coercion variety. I suspect many, many liberals are of the same mind but they remain extremely hesitant to voice this opinion because they think it will undermine gay marriage. I also suspect this is why you don’t really hear a lot of liberals chattering about the desirability of monogamy, because they aren’t really that attached to it as a concept even if most of the educated elite practice it themselves.

      …and there’s also the whole joy of sticking it to the fundamentalists which should never be underrated when discussing liberal motivations.

    2. Translated: “You lie-berals always hide your motives and just like sticking it to the religious right! And hate monogamy! Hurr hurr.” Real mature.

      1. Ames, I noticed you never disputed Erik’s claim that it’s impossible to oppose gay mariage on secular grounds and that anyone who claims the contrary is lying.

        How is my claim any different?

      2. I think you can oppose gay marriage because you’re afraid of change, and harbor irrational fears that even adequately explored future courses of action will lead to disaster. That’s secular, but still not rational.

        1. So, to translate, you disagree with Erik’s asserion that all opposition to SSM is faith-based?

        2. Right. I don’t question your motives. I know it’s a mix of fear and bigotry.

          1. Oh c’mon Ames – could you be any more juvenile? If I was truly bigoted or fearful of gay marriage would I support it in the states where it is legal? Would I say I have no problem with it being legalized in other states? Would I read this blog?

          2. But your support isn’t really support at all. It’s support for the process, not the principle (SMALL-P), and certainly not the cause. If you supported something more than those, the below discussion wouldn’t make sense.

            1. From a secular perspective, so long as I support the process, I don’t think i am required to support the principle. Surely there are some institutions you are not fond of, but you support the process of their legalization if it’s what people want.

              The problem is that your mind is unable to grasp how someone could not agree with you on the right to gay marriage. It’s burned into your DNA and anything to the contrary is ‘bigotry’. I guess it’s much the way i feel about support for abortion. To me it’s an endorsement of murder and I won’t be swayed otherwise. Should I call you some kind of horrible name to make that point?

              We all have our issues where we are deaf to persuasion, don’t we?

  14. This thread went awry a looooong time ago, which seems to have been the design. If Mike piles non-sequitur on non-sequitur, maybe eventually we’ll all get too confused to continue and he’ll “win”!!!

    Anyways, Mike’s exclusive problem with this post is that he sees any move towards gay marriage as an elimination of all social barriers in the marital context, and therefore as a step towards polygamy, which he alternately despises, or argues for.

    This is not correct. Equal protection works by preventing the legislature from drawing lines based on membership in a group typified by an immutable trait that lets them be singled out and discriminated against, but doesn’t track with group merit, and bears no significant relationship with a vital state policy. It’s hard if not impossible to say gays don’t fit that description.

    The same can’t be said of polygamy. A diverse sexual appetite, incapable of being satisfied with one partner, may be immutable, but the state has made the reasonable decision that pair-bonding is preferable to multiple partnerships, and can support that position with more than moral opprobrium. And besides, “persons with an active sexual appetite” isn’t the relevant group. because “many” is not a sexual orientation.

    Lanfranc, you conceded too easily on the incest point. There is no due process right to marry a specific person except as an incident to group membership, and sexual attraction to your cousin isn’t an immutable trait. So the state can draw its line wherever it wants.

    More fundamentally and as a matter of policy, if marriage to have any meaning at all, since we accept now that “procreation” is not the reason for the institution, changing the number of persons per marriage is a more basic change to it than eliminating its gender component. It’s the difference between a logical expansion of the institution, based on the purposes we now honor, and a distortion of it beyond all recognition.

    1. Anyways, Mike’s exclusive problem with this post is that he sees any move towards gay marriage as an elimination of all social barriers in the marital context, and therefore as a step towards polygamy, which he alternately despises, or argues for.
      Incorrect. What I argue is that there’s probably never going to be a SC ruling on gay marriage (point to the Right for getting a conservative Chief Justice) and instead gay marriage is going to be legalized on a state-by-state basis. It works best that way as the lack of serious conservative objection to the Vermont decision proves. So what does this mean in places where gay marriage is legalized? Ames is incorrect when he contends that I see gay marriage as, “…an elimination of all social barriers in the marital context.” What I argue is that barriers won’t fall but that it is logical for them to be re-evaluated. Without a SC ruling gay marriage is only going to pass when social preferences change. So why stop at gay marriage? In some states I think plural marriages will also get consideration. I could see both gay marriage AND polygamy finding support in libertarian-leaning places like Montana and plural marriage finding no support in a state like Connecticut. Conversely we might see Utah accept polygamy and never approve gay marriage.
      As I’ve stated over and over, social change doesn’t exist in a vacuum. One change leads to another and still another. Human history proves this. What’s interesting though is that I am far more flexible on the idea of changing marriage laws than liberal Ames. I accept gay marriage in states that want it, regardless of my personal opinion. Likewise I would accept plural marriage or even sibling marriages in other states that might approve of them. That’s democracy. On the other hand Ames only wants to see marriage redefined in a way that aids his friends in the gay community and no benefits no one else, regardless of the preferences of a particular state’s population. This seems a bit narrow and unfair.
      The path forward has been established by the SSM community. Those seeking revisions must appeal directly to the populace and hope they can persuade lawmakers. The reality is that this process could easily be co-opted by other groups that feel disenfranchised. Ames just doesn’t want to admit that because he still holds on to the fantasy of a SC ruling.

    2. Brown v. Board looked like a fantasy in 1945, too. It won’t be this Court that expands the protected class analysis, but it might be the next, when Obama wins term 2 and Thomas/Scalia/Kennedy face the specter of retirement.

      You’re flat-wrong about conservatives welcoming Vermont’s decision. It, and Mass., were both billed as the eschatalogical disaster the far right was waiting for.

      And if you’re not talking about a legal slippery slope, your case is even weaker. Polygamy has *zero* support except as a conservative scare tactic, and the fevered dream of liberals who haven’t thought about it enough. Utah is deathly afraid of the practice, because they know how unpopular it is, and that it makes Mormons look like misogynistic tribal warlords. Felling one barrier may lead to re-evaluating the others, but there’s no evidence that that re-evaluation will end in any result but strengthening them.

      This:

      As I’ve stated over and over, social change doesn’t exist in a vacuum. One change leads to another and still another. Human history proves this.

      Signifies nothing, and can be reduced to “things change,” which while true, says nothing about the likelihood of specific changes.

      Your argument has, thus far, collapsed from “SSM implies polygamy logically” to “people might think it should.” You’re at a weaker position now, and one that’s been disproved. You know people said the same thing when the miscegenation wall fell? That polygamy would be next? Well?

      1. Here’s just one example of someone who supports polygamy in principle if not in practice. Seems you should be sympathetic.

        http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/2004-10-03-turley_x.htm

        “For polygamists, it is simply a matter of unequal treatment under the law.

        Individuals have a recognized constitutional right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of partners. Thus, a person can live with multiple partners and even sire children from different partners so long as they do not marry. However, when that same person accepts a legal commitment for those partners “as a spouse,” we jail them.

        Likewise, someone such as singer Britney Spears can have multiple husbands so long as they are consecutive, not concurrent. Thus, Spears can marry and divorce men in quick succession and become the maven of tabloid covers. Yet if she marries two of the men for life, she will become the matron of a state prison.

        I personally detest polygamy. Yet if we yield to our impulse and single out one hated minority, the First Amendment becomes little more than hype and we become little more than hypocrites. For my part, I would rather have a neighbor with different spouses than a country with different standards for its citizens.”

        Seems fairly rational to me…

  15. I think this one was written specifically for you Ames:

    “With the exclusively libertarian premises that are relied on today for such questions, the case for polygamy is stronger than that of same-sex marriage. For the libertarian, any case against polygamy is based on nothing more than ignorance and fear. After all, most people know homosexuals. How many polygamists does anyone know? Perhaps such irrational opposition should be stigmatized as “polyphobia.”

    http://enduringamerica.com/2009/04/23/culture-wars-warning-first-same-sex-marriage-then-polygamy/

  16. Interesting post from a member of the gay community:

    “Ida Hunt’s story reinforces why the gay and lesbian communities must support and fight for the right to polygamy.

    Large swaths of liberal feminists hate this idea of supporting polygamy — which merely shows how gay and lesbian liberation is antithetical to some of feminism’s basic tenets.

    This kind of feminism sees women as victims who can’t speak out for what they want in their own lives. It’s the kind of ideology that reinforces the idea that women have no agency. It reinforces inequality, rather than acknowledging and encouraging free thought and independence.

    Polygamy, when practiced in an ethical and thoughtful manner, is just like homosexuality. There are no victims, everyone understands what’s up and agrees to the relationship rules they’ve all drawn up.

    If you support the right of gay people to live their lives as they wish, you must support the same right for others. Like polygamists.”

    http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/articles/211.aspx

  17. To all of the above:

    (1): This columnist, whoever he is, appears to engage in the conservative fiction that the first amendment attaches to mere assertions of moral opprobrium (e.g., Palin claiming “censorship” when she’s losing a debate). It doesn’t. Next, the distinctions he points out are by no means fortuitous or slight. Concurrent marriages imply a different level of commitment to each spouse than consecutive marriages, and the state may not be right to, but they can distinguish between them. And the fact that someone can “live in sin” with multiple spouses without suffering any consequences is really a question of how good the prosecutor is, and whether one of the sister-wives gets unhappy enough to sue on any number of claims, each of which she’ll win. There may be no criminal penalties, but meaningful civil distinctions adhere to that fact pattern.

    (2) This article disproves your point that no-one in the conservative movement cares when states choose to go their own way. Oops! And the “stronger” case that this guy builds for polygamy is that it’s more in line with tradition (sure: a tradition of abuse, like Ottoman harems. Hardly a favorable connection to make), and that people don’t know as many polygamists. Sure, but I don’t see how, aside from its proximity to a conclusory statement, that actually proves his point.

    (3) This is a moral argument that depends on the assertion that polygamy CAN be done right. I don’t think it can. The inequalities and jealousies it implies are not avoidable except by true saints. But I can safely concede that it COULD be done right, even most of the time, and still not lose, because if you’re making a moral argument, you’ve abandoned the legal argument, which is the only one that actually has the potential of a “slippery slope,” and started arguing for polygamy as an institution unlinked from gay marriage. We can have that argument, but it’s not the one you need to win here.

    1. Why don’t we take this conversation back out to what my boss refers to as the ‘10,000 feet view’ ?

      Regardless of whether or not you think polygamy would ever pass or how you think gay marriage will progress in the coming years, isn’t it interesting that people are talking about this? I find it fascinating. There are literally thousands of articles, journals, blogs, websites, etc that are all looking at polygamy as part of a larger discussion on changing social norms. Kudos to the SSM movement for creating the discussion. But it’s not just about plural marriages. Gay marriage has spawned debates on adoption, monogamy rates, divorce, health care, custody, etc. There are all of these ancillary issues that come up and have to be dealt with one-by-one. I was watching that new ‘Real L Word’ show the other night and one of the characters shares custody of three kids with her former partner. One of the kids is her ex’s biological child, two of them are hers. From a legal perspective, that must have been an interesting discussion.

      And that’s really the larger point I’ve been trying to make over and over. SSM is an enormous leap in social norms. It’s never been done before. It’s naïve to think it won’t create many new discussions and possibly resurrect some old ones. I just think the responsible thing to do is to start talking about those ‘what-ifs’ now instead of later. It’s my sincere belief that once gay marriage is more common and people see the world didn’t end, there will be a lot more willingness to rethink our other ideas on social institutions. You don’t think that conversation has the potential to produce any results…I do.

      I think if gay marriage were legal in all 50 states with no chance of repeal, you’d probably be interested in those discussions, even if it was to simply guffaw the notion of mariage being redefined again. But right now you see those conversations as threatening because they are loaded discussions with the potential to hurt your cause. I get that, which is why as a conservative I get uncomfortable when liberals bring up better support for adoption in the midst of a discussion on abortion. Maybe we should leave it there because until you see gay marriage legal in all 50 states you are going to fight a rear guard action over the mere notion of other redefinitions coming about.

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