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Marriage and the Modern Conservative
June 22, 2012 7:04 PM   Subscribe

As a marriage advocate, the time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do. I’d like to explain why.

The founder and president of the socially conservative Institute for American Values has changed his mind on same-sex marriage. If not much else.
posted by gracedissolved (82 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, you don't believe that same-sex and opposite-sex marriage are equal, but you see the writing on the wall, so you're changing your mind. Yay for you.
posted by Huck500 at 7:11 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, it comes down to EVERYONE MUST BE MARRIED TO SOMEONE?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:12 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bigots of this generation will mostly live long enough to know shame.
posted by spitbull at 7:13 PM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


The founder and soon-to-be-ousted president of the socially conservative Institute for American Values has changed his mind on same-sex marriage.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:15 PM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's comity gold, right there.
posted by etc. at 7:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


gems from his Wikipedia page:

• Blankenhorn identifies as a liberal Democrat

• On cross-examination by David Boies, Blankenhorn stated that marriage's "rule of two people" is not violated by polygamy, because "Even in instances of a man engaging in polygamous marriage, each marriage is separate. He — one man — marries one woman."

• In the decision filed on August 4, 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Blankenhorn was not qualified as an expert witness, and that his testimony was "unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight."
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


It isn't what he said so much as that he said it that shows how much progress has been made so quickly. So I read this in the spirit of thinking that the very fact that he wrote this is a marker that the forces of good have triumphed (or the triumph is inevitable, and soon).
posted by MoonOrb at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I opposed gay marriage believing that children have the right, insofar as society makes it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world.


That is one of the stupidest fucking arguments I have ever heard. And also, at the same time, the most clever. Logically it doesn't make any fucking sense, because marriage doesn't mean children, and children don't mean marriage, and sometimes parents don't mean care.
But, if you advocate it that way, that gay marriage is preventing children from being 'cared for' by the people who were destined to do so... well, I can see how ignorant morons who don't think past the front of their nose would eat that shit up.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


i wish he had a full change of heart, but i'm glad for this. personal beliefs will come around, the big fight is that personal beliefs don't drive public policy and equality. also, at least this position is more logically consistent. i've often said that if "family values" and "strengthening the marriage" were the actual goals, these people would be fighting quickie divorces and vasectomies just as hard.
posted by nadawi at 7:18 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace?

Sure, that sounds good.

Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation?

I doubt it.

Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?

I don't even know what he's talking about here -- is this from some part of the culture war that hasn't even been rolled out yet?
posted by escabeche at 7:18 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope to jeebus this comment doesn't serve to channel the thread into an Obama thread, but there is a part of me that wonders just how much a milestone Obama's final "evolution" on the topic has been for people in the public eye to realize they won't take a huge hit in popularity by endorsing SSM.

The President's approval numbers hardly seem to have budged since his endorsement, and so others can be a little less rabid in their pandering, and the issue is finally perceived slightly less divisive to be on the pro-marriage equality side.

We certainly can argue about timing and intent and bemoan that it wasn't sooner. However I honestly thing at the end of the day, win or lose in Nov it was a brave step for a national politician to take, and possibly has been a game changer for many that may have been on the fence.

This in no way is negation or a dismissal of all the people that have been fighting tooth and nail for marriage equality. That has been the bedrock and fundamental reason for change (as it should be), I think the president's statment may have been the visual tipping point however.
posted by edgeways at 7:20 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's hard for me to appreciate this. My brother was adopted and I can't get past his insistence that kids need to know their biological parents to be raised properly.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:46 PM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


I can't get past his insistence that kids need to know their biological parents to be raised properly.

I'm adopted and regret ever agreeing to meet my birthfamily. Fuckin' loons, all of them.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:48 PM on June 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


I don't agree with where he's pausing in his thinking, but I do think I recognize the sincere evolution of thought, the honest recognition that first principles conflict with practice too often and converge with "anti-gay animus" which is rightly deplored, and an honest effort to make progress - something that is incredibly laudable coming from this quarter.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on June 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


Throughout most of human evolutionary history, owing to maternal mortality and general mortality (and leading to complex kinship structures), some very large number of children did not know at least one of their biological parents, and in many cases either of them. That percentage probably varies between 10 and 50 percent until the 20th century in the developed world. There can be no prescriptive case that it is a natural advantage to know both or even one of your sperm and egg donors, or we wouldn't be here.

People who don't understand the time depth of evolution often see reality through the wrong end of a telescope.
posted by spitbull at 7:56 PM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


So, it comes down to EVERYONE MUST BE MARRIED TO SOMEONE?

If it does, can someone get Reverend Moon on the phone and get him to do a big televised ceremony marrying half of everyone to the other half? It'd make a sinister old man happy and the rest of us could stop talking about this utter utter shit.

Seriously. End civil marriage. State-supported civil partnerships for all, no matter what their sex, whether they want to screw each other or whether they are even allowed to.

I'd like to point out that, while the absurd institution of civil marriage persists, I believe it an outrage that it is restricted to people of different sexes. But it's still fucking stupid.
posted by howfar at 7:58 PM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation?

No.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:04 PM on June 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


Let me expand on that. My girlfriend and I have been together 11 years. Will it last? I don't know. Seems to be going pretty well so far.

It has, however, outlasted every single marriage we have attended in those 11 years. Every single one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:06 PM on June 22, 2012 [36 favorites]


There can be no prescriptive case that it is a natural advantage to know both or even one of your sperm and egg donors, or we wouldn't be here.

That's a completely unsupported conclusion— by the same argument there can be no advantage to, say, modern medicine or sanitation either.
posted by hattifattener at 8:10 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


People "changing their minds" about this now would announce that they'd REALLY been in favor of homosexual encounters in bus station bathrooms all along, if they could somehow score political points by doing so. One wonders if they actually believe anything.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:11 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has, however, outlasted every single marriage we have attended in those 11 years. Every single one.

It's possible that marriage isn't the common denominator in those relationships.
posted by howfar at 8:11 PM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can't we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, it is preferable not to hang out with Benny Ultramod?
posted by escabeche at 8:12 PM on June 22, 2012 [48 favorites]


(not Ultramod-ist)
posted by escabeche at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am a homewrecker, if that's what you're getting at.

Oh, Bunny will wreck a home good.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


by the same argument there can be no advantage to, say, modern medicine or sanitation either.

No, that's not actually the same argument. There's a difference in the claim that it's "natural." Medicine isn't a "natural" advantage; it results from the process of human reason and accumulated knowledge. The essentialist claim about marriage is that it's somehow a state that occurs not through reason, but through processes of nature.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I dig once witness two poodles marrying each other. I think it was the owners' idea.

It was about the least natural thing I have ever seen.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?

I don't even know what he's talking about here -- is this from some part of the culture war that hasn't even been rolled out yet?


This has already been rolled out. It's "father's rights" shit, I think.
posted by corb at 8:18 PM on June 22, 2012


Sort of proves my point that marraige is an example of complacency.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:27 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm not sure if I would describe (based on their September 2011 mission statement (I don't know if the language about marriage was changed to reflect the newest change in position of its President) the Institute for American Values as particularly socially conservative. It's more like they're very focussed, perhaps in a very traditionalist-minded though also thoughtful kind of way, on the question of how to reproduce and defend a vibrant civil society in a stable way. They don't come across as hardcore moralizing dogmatists or ideological wingnuts e.g. this quote from the mission statement :

"Third, civil society can be weakened when one of its norms, valuable enough in its proper context, becomes absolutized. For example, familism, or high regard for the institution of the family, is widely understood to be a social good. But amoral familism—loyalty to family above all other values—becomes socially destructive."
posted by Bwithh at 8:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?

Sure, I'd be very happy to discuss this just as soon as social conservatives are willing to similarly discuss whether the children of the adoption option they prefer over the abortion option they revile also have this right.

Oh, wait, they don't want to talk about that? Didn't think so.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bwithh, you sent me back to read the mission statement. And I agree with you up to a point, that the generic part of the mission statement is almost entirely unobjectionable and sticks to centrist, time-honored, and widely shared American values. But it's kind of jarring when you get to the project points and it BEGINS with "marriage," goes on to "thrift," and proceeds from there to "nest" and "nest egg" and only after all that to "public conversation" and "global public conversation." IT seems to me that a hand is being tipped there. I share a deep concern about threats to civic values, but when someone says "OK, how do we solve this issue, " leaping to "the family, of course!" is not a neutral logical next step - it's a pretty assertive flag-planting manoever. We don't all start from the premise that the heterosexual nuclear family is the foundational unit of civil society, and that kind of household has almost always been a minority in US history, so I don't understand how this emphasis on it is going to help solve challenges of civil society. In fact, it looks like the language about civil society, while lovely, is kind of the window-dressing for what is essentially an organization with a highly conservative social and political agenda. Look at their goals.

The more you hang around right-wing think-tank sorts of sites, the more you admire them. They're so good at putting out this apple-pie, Mr. Deeds rhetoric that absolutely no American centrist could disagree with, and then when you look at the way the reports and activities are actually wheedling you, it gets appalling. It's not about the words.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I dig once witness two poodles marrying each other. I think it was the owners' idea.
It was about the least natural thing I have ever seen.
posted by Bunny Ultramod


Least it wasn't dogs and cats living together.
posted by 445supermag at 8:46 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


They've published two books by Elizabeth Marquant, My Daddy's Name is Donor: "stunning findings" about how children conceived via sperm donation "fare worse" than their peers. Also, the report One Parent or Five? about "intentional families" and how they faily, a book which "for the first time, systematically challenges the assumption that intentional parenthood, simply because it is planned in advance of the child’s conception, is good for children."
posted by Miko at 8:46 PM on June 22, 2012


I read his op-ed and have been browsing through the court transcripts and findings linked from his Wikipedia page... my impression is that Blankenhorn is a good, thoughtful guy (whether conservative or not... I don't think he identifies with conservatism particularly) . I don't agree with him on the all-importance of conventional two-person marriage, and am much more of a social liberal than he is (not least on non-heteronormative relationships), but that doesn't change my impression that he 's a genuine and decent public intellectual.
posted by Bwithh at 8:47 PM on June 22, 2012


sorry not "all-importance"... "prime importance"
posted by Bwithh at 8:48 PM on June 22, 2012


He may well be genuine and decent, but that doesn't mean he isn't conservative, as you noted. Looks like he really is.
posted by Miko at 8:50 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Say you're the GOP, and you can see it coming. You're going to lose this one. The few remaining votes you're wringing out of the gay hate thing is starting to be outweighed by the ones it's driving away. You can see that's not going to reverse, and you're going to end up looking like the out of touch crackpots.

How do you get out of that gracefully? Can't have a high-profile repub go out and make a statement like Obama. Too abrupt. Voters would cry betrayal, and besides, it might make Obama look good and you look too insincerely me-too.

Nope, first you have to get your lap-dog think tanks to start saying it. Then you can "hear the people" and pat yourself on the back for it.
posted by ctmf at 8:57 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Marriage is how society recognizes and protects this right. Marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.

You know, as a gay person, I appreciate the sentiment here. A lot.

But as an actual person, ignoring that label, I have a different view.

I just spent a week camping on a mountain lake. I watched a family of geese -- two adults, three babies. That family very much understands parenthood and lasting bonds. That family understands biological and social realities (and is blissfully free of legal shit).

Marriage doesn't mean shit. I'm glad it means something for those of you who are married. But in the end? It's a fucking farce.

What matters is being good to each other, and caring for each other, and protecting each other, and being there for each other. Straight people can do it, gay people can do it, geese can do it. Fucking marriage certificates have fuck all to do with it

Sorry, I guess this made me all fuck-heavy. But, fuck.

And now, back to your discussion. Thank you.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:06 PM on June 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


This is an interesting think tank. They're so passionate on these family issues, and so convinced that only one form of family works to support children. In fact, they start from this premise, basically, and since we have a lot of unsupported children and the social problems that result, their solution is to shore up the conventional family. I can sympathize with where they're coming from, to support children; but there is a fascinating lack of vision and disinterest in finding workable models evident in the way they totally reject out of hand solutions that don't revolve around insisting on traditional, male/female married couples as parents.

It doesn't add up. I believe they are sincere about wanting to support children, but because of their lack of imagination and their strong interest in putting the kibosh on any alternative family structure, it's hard to trust them as just researchers seeking the best solution. They're leaping to a foregone concluson.
posted by Miko at 9:09 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "I am a homewrecker, if that's what you're getting at.

Oh, Bunny will wreck a home good.
"

Watch out, you floozy, or you might get decked.
posted by Lexica at 9:12 PM on June 22, 2012


This is an interesting think tank.

Sort of like a group of people looking at our transportation problems, especially those caused by cars, and decides the only sensible solution is returning to horses.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more you hang around right-wing think-tank sorts of sites, the more you admire them. They're so good at putting out this apple-pie, Mr. Deeds rhetoric that absolutely no American centrist could disagree with, and then when you look at the way the reports and activities are actually wheedling you, it gets appalling.

No kidding. They're also pretty good at bait-and-switch. I was looking into an anti-tax Tea Party affiliated group and all of the stuff the spokesman said in public was fairly reasonable and actually almost progressive in the way he was advocating for participation in local and state government.

Then I came across a video someone else had made of a presentation to a Tea Party chapter he did about fighting tax hikes and he spent the first quarter of it showing slides of children and adults who had been executed by the Khmer Rouge, the Soviet Union, and Mao's regime in China and explained how only about 15% of the U.S. population actually believes in freedom. He capped this off with the completely Orwellian doublethink statement, "So far thankfully we haven't had to resort to violence - and of course no one would advocate that - but clearly some people have," before going on to actually talk about local taxes in the audience's area.
posted by XMLicious at 9:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


girlmightlive, as an adoptee, I also find that point of view more than a little bit odd.

Bunny Ultramod, as a person also in a cohabiting unmarried relationship (almost 14 and a half years now!) I also wonder more than a little bit why our marital status is so important to other people. It's almost like they fancy themselves part of our relationship. As if they're polygamists or something. Personally, I don't want or need their approval.

Ironically, I have recently been told that others use my SO and I's relationship as a benchmark of sorts. A "what would wierdo and [so] do?" gut check in times of stress. I found that surprising, but I guess it shouldn't be so much. After all, we're well past the point of the median lifetime of marriages.

More on point, I think it's a little odd how the author of the oped manages to twist the right of an adoptee to gain information about the circumstances of their adoption, which could have important healthcare implications into some moral duty on society to force biological parents to raise children they may well be unprepared for, often to the detriment of the child. It's more than a little ridiculous, if you ask me.

I'm in a bit of a mood right now, so on that point he can go fuck himself for deciding he knows what's best for me. To some degree I feel like he's trying to diminish my relationship with my adoptive parents when it's really none of his business. He needs to figure out what it is within him that makes him feel the need to control others for vaguely specified and not very logical reasons.
posted by wierdo at 9:33 PM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


"...much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus."

What an understatement.
posted by PJLandis at 9:36 PM on June 22, 2012


Seems like he recognized that the BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE BABIES argument is flawed in 17 different ways, and he doesn't have the capacity for intellectual dishonesty. So, good for him. Allies are allies.
posted by moammargaret at 9:37 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Least it wasn't dogs and cats living together.

These are indeed the end times.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:42 PM on June 22, 2012


what matters is being good to each other, and caring for each other, and protecting each other, and being there for each other. Straight people can do it, gay people can do it, geese can do it. Fucking marriage certificates have fuck all to do with it.

Philosophically perhaps, but practically speaking, a marriage status (which you usu. get after living together a while) can be important in "being there for each other," i.e. hospital visiting right and other legal powers. I have no need for marriage, but it seems like civil partnerships or something of that sort are necessary.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


His argument in opposition to gay marriage was incoherent. His argument in favor of it is equally incoherent, but I don't understand these people at all, so maybe this will change some minds?
posted by empath at 9:45 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly think people like this are good because you can argue and reason with someone who has a reasoned, however poorly, position.

When it comes to bigotry based on religion there isn't much to say other than your religion doesn't have any validity to anyone else but you and your co-coreligionists, but that's unlikely to faze someone who thinks they've got GOD on their side.
posted by PJLandis at 9:45 PM on June 22, 2012


But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.

Another good thing is comity. Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting. (...)

In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.


(emphasis mine)

These right here are profoundly heartening things to be hearing from the right, despite whatever ambivalence I may feel towards his other rationales. He seems to hold a basic human kindness and empathy that's not at all common enough amongst his ilk, and I welcome it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:29 PM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm glad I read that. With this guy I feel that, even if I fundamentally disagree with him on major points (I am a married lesbian with a new baby) at least he's speaking a language I understand. I may disagree with his reasoning, but he is reasoning.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:34 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, for the record, although significant numbers of cohabiting couples remain together, the statistics are very clear that married couples are more stable than cohabiting couples, and produce, on average, better results for children. This does not mean that any given cohabiting couple will produce bad results for children, or break up---statistics don't work that way. But it does argue that society has an interest in promoting marriage (which is a great reason to support gay marriage), or at least in figuring out what married couples have that cohabiting couples don't. Which, admittedly, in many cases seems to be a bachelor's degree and a later date of beginning their relationship rather than any special marriage magic; cohabiting couples who have bachelor's degrees or higher seem to have results not significantly different from married couples.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:48 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've said it before, and it seems obvious to me, yet I never hear it stated by anyone else: The more marriage to go around, the more people are vested in the institution of marriage. Gay people? Lesbians? Sure! The more the marry-er!

So, if marriage is so important, spread it around. Get everyone on board! Even cats & dogs!
posted by Goofyy at 11:21 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, for the record, although significant numbers of cohabiting couples remain together, the statistics are very clear that married couples are more stable than cohabiting couples, and produce, on average, better results for children.

The problem with this sort of cite is that marriage means two very different things that are tangled together in our definition. It's a religious/cultural ceremony and a civil/administrative status.Maybe married couples produce better results on average for children because they get the full benefit of civil marriage tax benefits. Or maybe it's the recognized, ritualized profession of commitment. Most likely it's a combination.

But since we largely no longer recognize common-law marriage in the US, we don't seem to have good stats comparing legally-married people with married-in-all-but-paperwork people.
posted by desuetude at 11:23 PM on June 22, 2012


Well, for the record, although significant numbers of cohabiting couples remain together, the statistics are very clear that married couples are more stable than cohabiting couples, and produce, on average, better results for children.

That is highly debatable, to say the least.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:44 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? You mean the one that the US hasn't ratified, alone along with Somalia and South Sudan?
posted by Zarkonnen at 1:52 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you.

...although unfortunately it's fairly often a lie.
posted by emmtee at 2:49 AM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh god yes what hippybear said. The article is so revoltingly patronising and dishonest and full of unfounded assumptions or personal viewpoints passed off as Universal Law that it really isn't much better than outright homophobic sexist attitudes.

Except that I guess if there was a referendum on passing gay marriage laws, then yeah, it wouldn't count what motivations people have to vote in favour. But in terms of discussing the issue it really isn't contributing anything (maybe the one thing that's to be appreciated regardless is the recognition of the changing of "majority consensus" which is nice, yay, hello, welcome to 2012, but then he has to cover that in a ton of patronising too - "the younger generations may be wrong on the merits blah blah", ugh).
posted by bitteschoen at 5:05 AM on June 23, 2012


Count me as unimpressed as well. His article seems to boil down to the belief that his side has probably lost so they might as well make the best of a bad situation, and isn't it unfortunate that this in-good-faith movement was co-opted by bigots? I guess I'm glad he's thrown in the towel but he's going to have to do more than this if my opinion of him will change.

I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over.
Maybe I'm nitpicking, but was there ever a time to denigrate them? "It was okay to bully Johnny five minutes ago, but I think we all agree that now it is time to stop. Look how gracious I am!"
posted by jamincan at 5:29 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The statistics" are bullshit. Nthey reflect a brief historical moment in a changing social order. MIT cohabitation is socially and economically stigmatized, then it is likely to be less stable than (unstigmatized)"marriage.". If it is not then where does the difference lie?

The use of bullshit "social science" arguments without any commitment to rigor, historical change, cultural context, or evolutionary facts is a hallmark of bigotry. Your perfect world is only perfect if you define perfection on your own terms.

Miko's defense of my point above is exactly correct. Nthere is no biological basis for "marriage" in it's ver recent western form being a "naturally" preferable form of human kinship structure.
posted by spitbull at 5:52 AM on June 23, 2012


Fucking iPad spellchecker sucks... "IF cohabitation is stigmatized" ( vs marriage)
posted by spitbull at 5:54 AM on June 23, 2012


I really dislike when people make up quotes to criticize others when they can so easily take actual quotes. There is plenty to criticize in this guys article without making stuff up.
posted by PJLandis at 5:56 AM on June 23, 2012


Having absorbed his position on polygamy, I can confidently state that I need to know absolutely nothing else about what this man thinks. That should go into some sort of reference work as the acme of "tortured logic".
posted by hwestiii at 7:10 AM on June 23, 2012


This obsession with biological parents raising their biological children seems like an idea that was reverse-engineered by bigots who realized they needed an "objective" argument against gay marriage. And it makes me insane because it makes. no. sense. Straight couples can be childless, or adopt, or use fertility treatments, including sperm donors and surrogates. This article is bullshit--mostly reinforcement of the same nonsense, with a grudging acknowledgment that, even though he was right about all these things, he guesses gay people should be able to get married. Because of the elites and the young people and comity.
posted by Mavri at 7:10 AM on June 23, 2012


Well, for the record, although significant numbers of cohabiting couples remain together, the statistics are very clear that married couples are more stable than cohabiting couples, and produce, on average, better results for children. This does not mean that any given cohabiting couple will produce bad results for children, or break up---statistics don't work that way. But it does argue that society has an interest in promoting marriage (which is a great reason to support gay marriage), or at least in figuring out what married couples have that cohabiting couples don't.


Correlation does not imply causation. I doubt that encouraging otherwise unstable cohabiting couples to get married will magically make them more likely to stay together. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that, if anything, the causation goes the other direction. Being in a relationship that is stable and likely to last (and being in a financial position to afford a big wedding) inspires couples to finally tie the knot.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also curious about his intended audience and what he hoped to accomplish here. I can't imagine a marriage equality opponent reading this and rethinking their position. The majority of the article consists of arguments against gay marriage, and the arguments in favor are . . . weak. Social conservatives do not care about comity when sin is involved. And there is a strong narrative on the right of opposing elites, not deferring to them. And then he basically admits that he's decided to throw up his hands and give up trying to convince people that gay marriage is partially responsible for the fragmenting of heterosexual marriage. Give up? On marriage? NEVAR!
posted by Mavri at 7:28 AM on June 23, 2012


I opposed gay marriage believing that children have the right, insofar as society makes it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world.

This seems like it's some really weird picture of adoption as demand driven. Like the reason kids are adopted isn't that their biological parents couldn't take care of them, but because some other (possibly gay couple) wanted them. "Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, but we're going to have to confiscate your baby. Gay marriage."

Needless to say, this is totally insane.

Still, glad he came around. He may mean it, he may not, but I'd say that getting to a place where opposing gay marriage is shameful is an important step.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


benito.strauss: "This is an interesting think tank.

Sort of like a group of people looking at our transportation problems, especially those caused by cars, and decides the only sensible solution is returning to horses.
"

Well, they are green, sustainable, and can be used to help solve the hunger problem when they are too old to be ridden. Plus, they can help to solve the farm crisis and unemployment with the increases in the need for hay and stable personnel...

Wait a minute!
posted by Samizdata at 8:09 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously. End civil marriage. State-supported civil partnerships for all, no matter what their sex, whether they want to screw each other or whether they are even allowed to.

I'd like to point out that, while the absurd institution of civil marriage persists, I believe it an outrage that it is restricted to people of different sexes. But it's still fucking stupid.


It may be "fucking stupid" in your opinion but it is an institution that we as a nation and as a society are stuck with and it probably won't be going anywhere.

At this point, I think it'd be less helpful to ditch civil marriage in favor of "civil partnerships for all" (plus whatever religious marriage you want to get) because it'd be a Pyrrhic victory for those of us pushing for marriage equality. This is as much about getting people to recognize the relationship as equal as it is about equal access to federal tax benefits and hospital visitation rights, and to end the argument by taking the term "marriage" away from everyone is to deny that social change from properly taking place. It lets the social conservatives cut their nose off to spite their face ("well, they have the tax benefits now, but they still aren't married!"). Sometimes it becomes as much about the symbol as the things being symbolized.

In short: speaking as a (fairly enlightened) rational thinker? Yes, it's just a dang word. But as a gay man engaged to the guy I love and waiting on the outcome of the prolonged-beyond-belief Prop 8 case? Get the fuck away from that word because I want it and everything it signifies.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you just type the number "8" into YouTube you will get a play that is based mostly on the Prop. 8 trial transcripts (there are a couple out of court scenes, but everything else is direct from the record). In this version, John C. Reilly plays Blankenhorn and (MeFi's own) George Clooney plays David Boies. The whole cross-examination exchange is absolutely hilarious.

Also, I was at the actual trial on that day and the exchange was only slightly less hilarious there. If only they taught you about comic timing in law school...
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The population as a whole remains deeply divided, but most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage. This emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits. But surely it matters.
So, he's saying that gay marriage is still wrong, evil, and might as well have been cooked up in the head of Baal so far as you're concerned. But that at a certain point, pragmatics trumps morals? The republicans really are learning from the dems!
posted by anewnadir at 8:15 AM on June 23, 2012


Around the time of the Prop 8 trial, I was hanging around the Volokh Conspiracy - partly for the lulz, and partly because the actual lawyers over there had interesting and informative things to say about the law, the trial, and the process. But the vast majority of commenters were....well, you can imagine. When anti-gay-marriage folks trotted out stuff about how marriage was about children, and someone would ask if couples without kids should be made to get divorced (or infertile people should not be allowed to marry) - handwave! Or if the couple was already divorced and had kids, should the custodial parent be forced to marry - handwave! Or, when asked what they were doing to specifically support and encourage marriage in breeding-age heterosexual couples (e.g. working in their communities to set up systems of social and economic support, fighting for better wages, more jobs, etc.) - handwave!

Many of them thought that Boies was just so mean to Blankenhorn, that the reason his testimony was so...unfortunate was that Boies was asking him the "wrong" questions. Or something. It was very weird.

I could only conclude, based on what anti-gay-marriage people themselves were saying, that of course it's not that they luuuurve marriage so much. It's that gay people are icky. They couldn't have made it clearer.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on June 23, 2012


Except that I guess if there was a referendum on passing gay marriage laws, then yeah, it wouldn't count what motivations people have to vote in favour.

My state (Washington) has a gay marriage referendum on the ballot this fall. The numbers are looking good right now, but that's before the Catholic/Mormon/NOM money machine gears up. Frankly, what the good guys in Washington really badly need right now is a powerful and respected voice saying "Well, I still don't think it's right, but that doesn't mean it should be illegal." Because when that's the emergent messaging? That's when we win. That's how we got it through our legislature; a bunch of conservative Democrats and Republicans "prayed on it" and decided it was wrong to let their personal beliefs drive a secular civil rights issue.
posted by KathrynT at 9:23 AM on June 23, 2012


bitteschoen: The article is so revoltingly patronising and dishonest and full of unfounded assumptions or personal viewpoints passed off as Universal Law that it really isn't much better than outright homophobic sexist attitudes.

Those are the same issues for me. It's also ethnocentric, as if the nuclear family is the only way to raise kids. This is damning gay marriage with faint praise.
... gay marriage has become a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization, by which I mean marriage’s steady transformation in both law and custom from a structured institution with clear public purposes to the state’s licensing of private relationships that are privately defined.

I have written these things in my book and said them in my testimony, and I believe them today. I am not recanting any of it.

...

Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting.
Then why the fuck are you fighting for the nuclear family? Saying "most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage," only to follow it up with "This emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits. But surely it matters." is the most mush-mouthed way of saying "I see value in your [probably wrong] point of view, because there's more of you than there are of me, and my homophobia hasn't swayed you."

He's compromising because the fight against gay marriage is doomed. His next fight is to parenthood and child-rearing. "I had hoped that the gay marriage debate would be mostly about marriage’s relationship to parenthood. But it hasn’t been." Because marriage is primarily about a vow of monogamy and commitment to your partner.
I had also hoped that debating gay marriage might help to lead heterosexual America to a broader and more positive recommitment to marriage as an institution. But it hasn’t happened. With each passing year, we see higher and higher levels of unwed childbearing, nonmarital cohabitation and family fragmentation among heterosexuals. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the reconceptualization of marriage as a private ordering that is so central to the idea of gay marriage. But either way, if fighting gay marriage was going to help marriage over all, I think we’d have seen some signs of it by now.
Heterosexual marriage and child-rearing are this man's focuses. Fighting gay marriage hasn't decreased the divorce rates, and the national elite and the youth of America support gay marriage, so he's finally turning with the tide, hoping to shore up support for marriages everywhere, and for the return to the closest form of a nuclear family that he can get.
So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?
Hey everyone, co-habitators are sinful creeps! Marriages for all! Babies for married couples!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2012


You have got to see the director's cut, hippybear.
posted by escabeche at 11:52 AM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not sure this has been poiinted out already, but what annoys me about this guy's half-hearted argument for yes to gay marriage with tons of string attached is that it's also completely overlooking the main practical reason to allow gay marriage: the legal recognition of a couple as a couple, and all the legal rights and benefits that come with it - in lots of areas such as property, inheritance, banking, healthcare, etc.

Regardless of how you view marriage and how you consider it, children or no children (that's another legal area where being a spouse grants you extra rights though, so, not irrelevant), whether you wanna get married or not, the basic legal inequality is the one fact you cannot escape from.

Not all couples wanna get married, but at least everyone should be given the same opportunity because those rights can be very important in people's lives.
posted by bitteschoen at 12:15 PM on June 23, 2012


"There's nothing in what he wrote which treats gays as human beings,"

Except when he says, "the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love."

That's hitting on the right notes there, in a way that will be more persuasive to people on his side than much else you can say.

"completely overlooking the main practical reason to allow gay marriage"

Legalistic descriptions of same-sex marriage are less convincing to the moveable middle than emotional ones are.
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2012


Except when he says, "the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love."

Which he then follows up with, "I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same".

He offers a morsel with one hand while slapping across the face with the other.
posted by hippybear at 4:18 PM on June 23, 2012


Which he then follows up with, "I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same". He offers a morsel with one hand while slapping across the face with the other.

While I agree this would be optimal, I'm not sure why you need him to believe they are the same. If he supports same sex marriage and moves more conservatives forward on this with him, it's a modest win for the home team. You can think same sex marriage is morally reprehensible while still supporting the legal right of people to marry. Broad change in attitude has to start with the legal right, like it did with integration, or indeed with the decriminalization of homosexuality.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:45 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


tl;dr We must protect the sanctimony of marriage.
posted by applemeat at 5:11 PM on June 24, 2012


While I see a lot of flaws in this man's opinions, it's still pretty encouraging to read.

Yep.

Broad change in attitude has to start with the legal right

Exactly. It's fucking politics - who cares *why* - just get the law you want. Time and time again, that has been the best approach.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2012


[This is the second time today where I am going to tell people that advocating violent rape, even against our enemies, is something that will not work here. Feel free to go to MetaTalk if you need to discuss this further. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:43 PM on June 26, 2012


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