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The Lords Hath Spoken
June 5, 2013 4:37 AM   Subscribe

18 arguments made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
posted by marienbad (105 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eloquent nonsense is still nonsense.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:46 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The lords has spoken"?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:46 AM on June 5, 2013


Some Lords can be such taints.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:54 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it time for Commonwealth II: The Housecleanening yet?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:58 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A few months ago, listening to argument before the US Supreme Court, and now these folks, I had the same thought. The people against marriage equality have NO ground to stand on. They got nothing.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:59 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The lords has spoken"?
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:46 PM on June 5 [+] [!]


Yes. As in the House of Lords.
posted by Decani at 4:59 AM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


... the complementarity of men and women is what enriches and stabilises society.

See, that's something I can understand as being wrong. A lot of the other 'arguments' were as persuasive as my seven-year-old's arguments for why we should have video games in every room of the house. They just aren't, you know, arguments.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:02 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, it still passed by more than two to one. Not a bad ratio, considering how socially conservative the Lords have historically been.
posted by jaduncan at 5:02 AM on June 5, 2013


They just aren't, you know, arguments.

There really aren't any arguments to be against equal marriage rights other than, you know, not wanting those people to have the same rights as us and in 2013 we've at least come so far as to have even out and out bigots be uncomfortable with being this blunt.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:08 AM on June 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


The people against marriage equality have NO ground to stand on. They got nothing.

Nothing to stand on you say? What about this bit of fine rhetoric?

Some of the phrasing in the Bill is a bit convoluted.
posted by three blind mice at 5:09 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Homophobatron: "Creating nonsensical anti-gay marriage arguments so politicians don't have to."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:09 AM on June 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


That whole huge pile of half-baked discourse is just a very obvious attempt to keep from accidentally saying "I just think they are gross" out loud.
posted by SharkParty at 5:11 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the lesbian queen argument just because it so beautifully begs the question as to whether genetics is the best and only way to choose the successor to your head of state.
posted by bonaldi at 5:13 AM on June 5, 2013 [30 favorites]


Reads the 18. Thinks.
posted by Wordshore at 5:17 AM on June 5, 2013


"The one that has been mentioned is the fate of people who might lose their jobs as a result of this Bill being enacted. We should all be extremely concerned about that. What about registrars, whom no one has mentioned? As I read the Bill, registrars, unlike priests and ministers of religion, will not have the opportunity to opt out. Are they all going to be fired? Are they going to be compensated? Is a decent effort going to be made to find them another decent job? We need to know. We cannot possibly allow this Bill to go on the statute book without having an answer to those questions."
AKA: but what if the racist registrars get the sack for refusing to work with interracial couples?
posted by jaduncan at 5:26 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The lesbian queen argument strikes me as well... Monty Python said it best: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
posted by petrilli at 5:29 AM on June 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


There really aren't any arguments to be against equal marriage rights other than, you know, not wanting those people to have the same rights as us and in 2013 we've at least come so far as to have even out and out bigots be uncomfortable with being this blunt.

Thing is, a lot of folks make these arguments to convince themselves that they aren't bigots.
posted by Peevish at 5:34 AM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Some of the phrasing... is a bit convoluted.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:34 AM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


'England'?
posted by mippy at 5:36 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


“There’s a nice knock-down argument for you. Marriage means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”.
Well, I do agree with that one. I say get government and religion out of our unions and let us decide who gets to do what to whom(s) and whatnot.

I also agree with the idea that gay people may come to regret marriage, but that hasn't stopped heterosexual people yet.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:38 AM on June 5, 2013


'England'?

It's clunky phrasing, but I assume it was chosen because this is an English/Welsh bill that won't affect Scotland. The fact that the Labour party saved it in the Commons does rather indicate West Lothian issues, but that's a debate for another day.
posted by jaduncan at 5:39 AM on June 5, 2013


Won't someone think about the Lesbian Queens?
posted by panboi at 5:44 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


'Soon they will say, “No, we are different. We want be different and we need to create our own institution”. Like a flag, a motto or a name, they need to find their own terminology, their own symbols to express their rights and their different contribution to society—'

Baroness Cumberlege is trying hard to be open minded to society's changes, in a conservative sort of way, while still managing to be completely dismissive. I'm impressed with her rhetorical technique. Those homesexuals and their heavy rap music. And next they'll be on to raving hop or some such. It's not worth keeping up. They're not proper songs, are they? But they do like the arts, and who am I to judge another's culture.
posted by bendybendy at 5:45 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there is no possibility of genetic offspring or indeed no requirement for consummation, why should not close relatives get married? If that were to happen, I can see all sorts of interesting possibilities for inheritance tax planning. We would open a Pandora’s Box. I do not believe we have looked closely enough at the unintended consequences.

Often the slippery slope argument is used with the assumption that whatever is at the bottom of the slope is manifestly wrong, so there's no discussion of why polygamy or marrying your dog is actually a problem. I respect Lord Edmiston for not only picking a more original bottom of his slippery slope, but also pointing out that the real evil here is difficult estate planning.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:45 AM on June 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


All opposed, wave your hands.
posted by Jode at 5:52 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Won't someone think about the Lesbian Queens?

I assure you, since reading this, I can think of NOTHING but Lesbian Queens and the prospect of royal succession.
posted by corb at 5:55 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the Lesbian Queens "problem" is a real matter for consideration.

Admittedly, the people doing the consideration should be the low-level statute drafters, as well as those who liaison with the other Commonwealth countries. It's a thing that could come up, and it'd be better to have a solution to it ahead of time, and in unison with the other countries who have Her Majesty as queen, because otherwise you would have different people as queens of different parts of the Commonwealth, which is logistically very problematic.

As arguments against marriage go, mind you, it's shit. Obviously.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:00 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Won't somebody think of the Lesbian Spider Queens?
posted by Peevish at 6:00 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


DEAR GOD! WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE REGISTRARS?!
posted by Kimberly at 6:01 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It recently occurred to me that there is in fact a coherent argument you could make for why gay marriage undermines traditional marriage.

A traditional marriage is an exploitative relation between unequals, where one party has to provide sexual and domestic services in exchange for some degree of protection and safety. Allowing equals to enter such a relation does imply that (horribile dictu) the parties in a traditional marriage might under some circumstances be considered equals as well. Spreading such an idea does, in fact, undermine traditional marriage, in the same way the idea of black people as equals to whites undermines a slave holder society.

Of course if you have a different concept of marriage this argument doesn't make sense, but my point is that this is their implicit idea of marriage.
posted by dhoe at 6:02 AM on June 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


But oh my god, you should all go read the full arguments. Some of these are AMAZING. Why can't our Congress talk like this?
The utilitarian approach of Jeremy Bentham—the greatest good for the greatest number, where a simple majority carries the day—was challenged first by John Stuart Mill and then by other theological and jurisprudential writers in the 19th century. Very sensibly, it has been moderated over the years to a point where any society wishing to be thought of as civilised, tolerant and mature is judged by the degree to which it can accept minority views, even when those views fail to accord absolutely to the norms and views of the majority.
Like, I disagree with you, but I kind of wish you were my representative, philosopher-quoter!

Also, you should link the good ones too!
My Lords, I declare an interest. Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since—that is, apart from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY. As the slogans on the T-shirts used to say, it happens in the best of families.
posted by corb at 6:02 AM on June 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, man. Yeah, I'd just heard the lesbian queen argument a few days ago. That's like my new favorite argument. It really is a thing of beauty in its own (as someone else pointed out) Mony Pythonesqe way...

I don't think it's true to say that there are no decent arguments against SSM, though. After years of denial, I've recently come to think that the polygamy argument carries weight. If you insist that marriage is essentially about love, then you're construing the debate in a way that puts you on a trajectory toward accepting polygamy. (Marriage is about two people of the same race and different sexes who love each other...no, too specific; it's about two people of different sexes who love each other...too specific; it's about two people who love each other...too specific; It's about n people who love each other...)

There are ways of trying to respond to the polygamy argument, but I believe that objection to it by SSM supporters (like: my previous self) is mostly opportunistic. In a few years we're likely to see that trend inverted, and the fact of the acceptance of SSM will, in fact, be used to push for polygamy by some of the same people who currently deny that the polygamy argument has any force. (Such is my prediction, anyway.)

And there's nothing obviously wrong with polygamy anyway. I'm not for it, but it's not obviously wrong. (If we were talking about a few frisky triads here an there, then no prob; but we'll also be talking about mass loony cult marriages. And that's bad, bad, bad.)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:03 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's true to say that there are no decent arguments against SSM, though. After years of denial, I've recently come to think that the polygamy argument carries weight. If you insist that marriage is essentially about love, then you're construing the debate in a way that puts you on a trajectory toward accepting polygamy.

OK, I'll ask. What's wrong with polygamy even in larger groups amongst consenting adults? I wouldn't want to tell Islamic families that they'd have to choose which husband/wife they are legally related to when moving to England, for example.
posted by jaduncan at 6:06 AM on June 5, 2013


Admittedly, the people doing the consideration should be the low-level statute drafters, as well as those who liaison with the other Commonwealth countries. It's a thing that could come up, and it'd be better to have a solution to it ahead of time, and in unison with the other countries who have Her Majesty as queen, because otherwise you would have different people as queens of different parts of the Commonwealth, which is logistically very problematic.

I had the same thought. Sure, it's a slight issue (although it's really more a problem with modern reproductive technology than gay marriage, the same thing could happen to an infertile straight king whose wife bore a child by sperm donor), it's also an issue that is completely solvable. The succession rules are governed by the laws passed by parliament, aren't they? Couldn't parliament just pick an outcome and enact it? Obviously getting the other Commonwealth countries to change their laws is a logistical problem, but the solution to "the law doesn't have an answer for this question" is a new law, not throwing your hands up at the problem and going home.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:06 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had the same thought. Sure, it's a slight issue (although it's really more a problem with modern reproductive technology than gay marriage, the same thing could happen to an infertile straight king whose wife bore a child by sperm donor), it's also an issue that is completely solvable. The succession rules are governed by the laws passed by parliament, aren't they? Couldn't parliament just pick an outcome and enact it? Obviously getting the other Commonwealth countries to change their laws is a logistical problem, but the solution to "the law doesn't have an answer for this question" is a new law, not throwing your hands up at the problem and going home.

It's a matter for the Privy Council for most of them, handily enough.
posted by jaduncan at 6:08 AM on June 5, 2013


filthy light thief responds to 18 lords, so he doesn't have to do anything yet this morning:

1. It would make the word “marriage” meaningless (also, something to do with Lewis Carroll).
- Nope, you're just stuck in this modern/western notion that marriage is between a man and a woman, not two adults who love each-other.

2. It would be confusing and awkward for everyone. "The result is confusion. Marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories."
- Nope, see response to #1

3. Those who are anti-gay marriage could be accused of a hate crime. "Ordinary people with deep feelings about the sanctity of marriage will also be demonised as homophobic and will be very lucky if they do not finish up accused of hate crime."
- "Ordinary" people with strong feelings about being able to marry the one they love are currently demonized.

4. It would diminish the role of women. "in the realm of public discourse, assertion of sexual difference in relation to marriage has become practically unspeakable, in spite of the fact that it is implicitly assumed by most people in the course of everyday life."
- Is "sexual difference" really that critical? See response to #1. And why wouldn't this diminish the role of men equally to the role of women? Ugh.

5. It would lead to state-sanctioned polygamy. "Today, the borders are clear. Where, then, are the new borders as one sets out on this path? There will be increased pressures for polygamy. In short, marriage should surely not be available for everyone, even if they love one another. "
- I'm honestly at a loss as to why this is a bad thing, but I won't go there. First, this is just a nicer way of saying "Oh no, slippery slope to marrying your pets and guitars.

6. Gay people will regret it in the long run. "I believe that, in time, LGBT people will regret attaching their unions to heterosexual marriage. Soon they will say, “No, we are different. We want be different and we need to create our own institution”. Like a flag, a motto or a name, they need to find their own terminology..."
- They are people, humans, same as straight individuals. In this way, they are the same. Couples have wanted the option to get married for decades, why would they change their mind once they can get married? They're not petulant children stamping their feet, wishing for candy, only to realize they want a cookie when they have their candy.

7. Marriage can only exist for heterosexual couples."The truth is that I cannot get my head round two people of the same sex being in a relationship defined as a marriage, however much they love each other. I hold to a simple traditional view that the word “marriage” can apply only in heterosexual relationships."
- Please, don't let us confuse you, Lord Campbell-Savours, nor let us change the world that you grew up to know. Progress shall have to wait for your death.

8. The Prime Minister has introduced the Bill on a whim.
- OK, maybe there's a point here, if the language really is that poorly written. But you can't drag your heels waiting for the perfect language. "It is made even sadder by the fact that three days before the election one of the candidates for Prime Minister stated that he was “not planning” to introduce same-sex marriage." -- Oh, on this. You mean it's sad for that potential PM, right? Because he just shot himself in the foot and lost any potential for getting support from LGBTQ groups? Right?

9. Removing the requirement for consummation from marriage will lead to inter-sibling unions. "The reason marriage is limited to one man and one woman is that it takes no more and no less to produce children. If we were to accept that love is the precondition for marriage, why should we restrict it? If there is no possibility of genetic offspring or indeed no requirement for consummation, why should not close relatives get married? If that were to happen, I can see all sorts of interesting possibilities for inheritance tax planning. "
- Oh, "Inheritance tax planning" is what we're calling it now, are we? Again with the less awful examples of "slippery slopes." Well done, sir. Well done.

10. Not even gay people support gay marriage."There is no evidence of majority support for this measure, even in the gay community. In an article in the Daily Mail, the well known columnist Andrew Pierce writes that he is a gay man who opposes gay marriage."
- Really, you're citing a Daily Mail piece, and a handful of other individuals, while the streets are full of people clamoring for this? And you're citing openly gay ministers who say it will "smash centuries of church teaching"? Which church is that? All the churches of the people of England?

11. It is hurting people’s feelings. "Far from achieving understanding, it is already creating confusion. Far from building harmony, it will create disharmony, anger and long-lasting hurt."
- And those slave masters really knew their place in the world, when their fields and homes were full of slaves. Emancipation really mucked things up across the pond. Change can bring about hurt feelings, but is that a good reason to deny adults who love each-other from the same option as their straight neighbors and friends?

12. The disagreement over gay marriage risks reversing the progress that has already been made on gay rights. "I fear that the atmosphere created by the tabling of the Bill is potentially divisive. For decades there have been vigorous debates about the acceptability of homosexual orientation and lifestyles. "
- Wait, is there still a "gay lifestyle"? Anyway, I'm at a loss as to how "the atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance" is so pervasive if a shift from civil unions to same-sex marriages is going to ruin all the good things you had going on. That atmosphere sounds like a thin fog, veiling your eyes from the feelings people still hold.

13. Some of the phrasing in the Bill is a bit convoluted. “‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage … In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include … a man married to a man”.
- Valid point. That sounds like an effort to save the effort of re-doing all your forms that currently say "husband" and "wife" to saying "spouse" and "spouse," and it does sound convoluted.

14. The Famous Lesbian Queen Conundrum "What, then, if [a future lesbian Queen of England] marries and her partner bears a child by an anonymous sperm donor? Is that child the heir to the Throne? The possibilities must have been discussed in the deep consideration of this Bill in government, so the Minister must know the answer."
- Is there any near future potential of this? No? OK, focus on same-sex marriage, THEN work on the Lesbian Queen Conundrum.

15. People might lose their jobs. "As I read the Bill, registrars, unlike priests and ministers of religion, will not have the opportunity to opt out. Are they all going to be fired?"
- Only if they refuse to obey the law, just like if they opt to only marry white couples.

16. Some doctors are apparently against it. "There is ample evidence that public opinion, including medical opinion, is against the Bill."
- Please, tell us more about the medical opinions against same-sex marriage, because I have never heard of this, and can't find anything about this online.

17. Civil partnerships already perform the legal functions of a marriage.
- Do civil partisanships provide ALL the same rights as a marriage? And if they do, why don't you want to permit same-sex marriage? Because that's only for straight couples? If so, see point #1.

18. Not everyone agrees about it. "I do not know whether it is 70% one way or the other or if it is 50/50, but it is clear that, in the main, the senior part of the country believes in the traditional role of marriage and wishes to keep it, while a lot of younger people think that it is all a load of hooey and ask, basically, why anyone should get married."
- Aherm, you really should know what you're talking about before you begin to speak. Polls are trending upwards. A June 2012 YouGov survey shows highly accepting attitudes of the British population toward LGBT rights. The report found that 71% are in favour of same-sex marriage. So, to your first uncertainty, yes - it is 70% one way (for same-sex marriage). On part 2: yes, the elderly are less likely to be supportive, but doesn't that show you you're just biding your time before this is not a debate? Why wait? And part three: because some young people don't want to get married doesn't mean no one should get married. That's silly. Plus, they're young, do you really want them to get married now? Let them live a little, learn from their mistakes, and grow up!
posted by filthy light thief at 6:11 AM on June 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, when I feel bad about the failures, corruption, and dysfunction of American democracy, I think to myself, "well, at least we don't have a fucking House of Lords."
posted by jcreigh at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2013


Thinking Anglicans (thanks again, essexjan) has been following this issue. Here is good roundup of links to speeches in the House of Lords.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2013


OK, I'll ask. What's wrong with polygamy?

Well, beyond the scope of my comment, really. I'm just pointing out that the argument that the reasons for accepting SSM do also count in favor of polygamy. That argument isn't terrible.

Polygamy's actually something you have to know quite a bit about to have a decent opinion about it, and I don't know much. As I said, it's hard for me to see any big problem with a few moderately multiple marriages here and there. But huge cult marriages are said by knowledgeable people to basically be bad for everyone involved. Also, if multiple marriages become very common, and tend to be mostly more females with fewer males, it leaves a bunch of unattached males floating around and, sexist though it sounds, that's associated with a bunch of bad things for society.

Of course, if we get to consider what's good and bad for "society" (whatever that is), then we're moving away from the "it's all about love" conception of marriage that seems to get us to SSM... Though I don't really know what to make of that.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah the Perth Agreement wikipage covers most of what would need to be done for Lesbian Queens.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:18 AM on June 5, 2013


Also I'd add:

Those definition of marriage/makes 'marriage' meaningless arguments have to be ridiculed mercilessly.

The *definition* of marriage is in no way limited to two people of different sexes. We know perfectly well what is being said when we are asked whether two people of the same sex should be allowed to marry, or when we're told that there is polygamous marriage in other cultures. Such things aren't inconceivable, and wouldn't be even if they were wrong.

That's not the way it works when you violate a definition. If someone told us that there are four-sided triangles in other cultures, we'd have no idea what he was talking about...but we'd know he was daft.

Hell, we even *sort of* know what those odd people who claim that their dogs are married are talking about. Marriage is a vague relation, and many different kinds of things count. Contrary to what some on the other end of the spectrum say, it's not "whatever your culture says it is"--no culture could decree that, say, only the Great Plains are married, and not to anything. There are limits to what could possibly count as marriage...but those limits are way, way, way flexible enough to count SSM and polygamy without, as it were, batting an eye.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:22 AM on June 5, 2013


Yeah the Perth Agreement wikipage covers most of what would need to be done for Lesbian Queens.

If it apparently can't even get the Queen able to marry Catholics, I can't say as I'm holding out much hope for SSM.
posted by corb at 6:24 AM on June 5, 2013


It's nice to be reminded from time to time that America hasn't cornered the market on shitheads.
posted by phunniemee at 6:25 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like, I disagree with you, but I kind of wish you were my representative, philosopher-quoter!

Sadly, you can't just elect that sort of pointless erudition; it has to be carefully inbred over centuries.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:26 AM on June 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's nice to be reminded from time to time that America hasn't cornered the market on shitheads.

It should be remembered that these shitheads were hugely outvoted
posted by dng at 6:27 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]



OK, I'll ask. What's wrong with polygamy even in larger groups amongst consenting adults?


Previously
"A new study out of the University of British Columbia documents how societies have systematically evolved away from polygamy because of the social problems it causes. The Canadian researchers are really talking about polygyny, which is the term for one man with multiple wives, and which is by far the most common expression of polygamy. Women are usually thought of as the primary victims of polygynous marriages, but as cultural anthropologist Joe Henrich documents, the institution also causes problems for the young, low-status males denied wives by older, wealthy men who have hoarded all the women. And those young men create problems for everybody."
posted by xqwzts at 6:28 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is ample evidence that public opinion, including medical opinion, is against the Bill.

More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!
posted by phunniemee at 6:28 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


as cultural anthropologist Joe Henrich documents, the institution also causes problems for the young, low-status males denied wives by older, wealthy men who have hoarded all the women.

I will note that this argument could also have been made regarding lesbian marriage.
posted by jaduncan at 6:31 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's just so noble of these nobles to be thinking of the plights of people so unlike them, where those concerns purely coincidentally align with their own prejudices.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:32 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, I'll ask. What's wrong with polygamy even in larger groups amongst consenting adults?

In Friday, specifically, Heinlein raises some issues. He imagines group marriages, structured by seniority, "line marriages", as corporations you essentially have to bind your life to. It's easy to imagine some tax sharper with an MBA developing a marriage structure as an end-run around financial and legal requirements of regular corporations. Spouses can't be forced to testify against each other, right?

And, if the experience of what's happening in Bountiful BC is anything to go by, the difference between personal and financial disappears. All sorts of pressures, financial, sexual, emotional, can be used by "senior" members to enforce their will on the "junior" spouses.
posted by bonehead at 6:40 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A new study out of the University of British Columbia documents how societies have systematically evolved away from polygamy because of the social problems it causes.

Consensual polygamous marriage: figure out a way to write up the legal contract, which is what civil marriage should be, and the three or more of you should be able to go knock yourself out. I imagine the divorce or partial divorce rate would be huge, but have no moral issue with it, nor do I think laws need to be in place to "fix" the social problems that a full society of polygyny could create. I'm pretty sure our society is now solidly in the monogamous majority without any fears that polygamy would take over should it be legal.

I've always felt the "what's next polygamy?" argument is particularly poor. Bestiality of course always comes next, because all of these arguments are just a dial to see when you'll be so morally perturbed you'll connect the dots and say "whoa, you're right, gay marriage is too extreme".

If you have a loving relationship and want to enjoy an economy of scale, hospital visitation rights, etc., that's something I'm for whether I "understand" the relationship or not.

but not with ducks because that's just wrong
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:43 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as discussed I think in the previously itself, the UBC study, while very good, focuses on traditional polygyny, rather than modern polyamorous partnerships - which makes sense for the context in which it was written, that of the Bountiful lawsuits.

Bonehead's point is absolutely valid, but again I would argue that it's a matter for changes to estate law and junior gov't lawyers; it is solvable.

So now that the HOL has voted in favour; what happens next? Is it just "goes to the PM for signing"? Or was this more akin to the 2nd reading and we still have to have a 3rd, etc?
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:53 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you insist that marriage is essentially about love, then you're construing the debate in a way that puts you on a trajectory toward accepting polygamy.

That's a good way to put it, because it nails a core distinction. Same-sex marriage is essentially about love, but polygamy is, in practice, overwhelmingly just another gear in machines for the oppression of women.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:57 AM on June 5, 2013


I like the lesbian queen argument just because it so beautifully begs the question as to whether genetics is the best and only way to choose the successor to your head of state.

Wasn't this argument debunked with Elizabeth I, who — lesbian or not — had no heirs?

Queen Elizabeth I: a case of testicular feminization?

The purpose of this paper is to provide support for the hypothesis that Queen Elizabeth I was a case of testicular feminization (male pseudohermaphroditism) and for the explanation of her contemporaries and of some historians, that she never married because of some congenital defect. The phenotypical characteristics of the testicular feminization syndrome are strikingly similar to descriptions of Elizabeth's appearance, personality, behaviour, and particularly, to those physical defects which her contemporaries believed made her sterile and unwilling to marry. Modern historians have rejected the "physical defect" explanation of Elizabeth's refusal to marry in favour of a "psychological" explanation. The basic premise of the "psychological" explanation, that Elizabeth was physically capable of bearing children is unsound for a number of reasons. Recent advances in our understanding of the process of sexual differentiation, particularly, the description of the testicular feminization syndrome, justify a re-evaluation of the "physical defect evidence" of Elizabeth's contemporaries.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:59 AM on June 5, 2013


> Also, you should link the good ones too!

Absolutely. Baroness Barker's speech is wonderful.

We chose to get married. If any other couple could derive even a fraction of the joy we've had, who are we to deny them the chance of that joy?
posted by scruss at 7:08 AM on June 5, 2013


I think the problems with polygamy are (1) the birth rate seems to be approx 50/50 split between boys and girls, so it leaves people without wives, and (2) as mentioned above, "Women are usually thought of as the primary victims of polygynous marriage," as mostly it is 1 man several women, which looks to me very much like a display of patriarchical power.

Also, if they are citing religion, didn't King David have a shed ton of concubines? How's concubinism going these days, CofE and Catholic Church?

And when people say "gay lifestyle" I think it means they think teh gays are indulging in endless, unbridled butt-sex. Well, at least someone is getting some.
posted by marienbad at 7:20 AM on June 5, 2013


MetaFilter: a more original bottom of his slippery slope
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:22 AM on June 5, 2013


And when people say "gay lifestyle" I think it means they think teh gays are indulging in endless, unbridled butt-sex. Well, at least someone is getting some.

In fairness, so are an increasing number of the bi and hetrosexuals.
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on June 5, 2013


And when people say "gay lifestyle" I think it means they think teh gays are indulging in endless, unbridled butt-sex. Well, at least someone is getting some.

I imagine they'd be more alarmed by bridled butt-sex.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:31 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


More seriously, Same-Sex Marriage and polyamory have really nothing to do with each other. The first does not require a massive restructuring of the contractual nature of marriage, while the second does.

In most of the modern poly marriage arrangements I have seen proposed all partners are married to all other partners (or, perhaps, they are all married to the marriage itself). This creates far more complex questions of divorce, inheritance, benefits, and so on than two-person marriage (regardless of gender), and, given that more people are involved, these already thorny issues are likely to be even more complicated. These are not necessarily insurmountable hurdles, but they are not obvious developments from the idea of SSM, which can simply operate according to the systems that are already in place, once a few forms get rewritten to say "spouse" instead of "husband" or "wife."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:32 AM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are so many bullshit conceptions around marriage, but I think I'd say the main one is the idea that you can use a social concept like "the sexual/reproductive bond between a standard man and a standard woman (and that bond alone) is special, reliable and unyielding" and use it as a basis for a legal/financial mechanism like the joining of two individuals' household affairs.

IMO any two people who wish to join together their household affairs should be allowed to do so, whether they are of the same, different or indeterminate sex, whether or not they love each other or pretend to love each other, whether or not they can have children, whether or not they have sex, whether or not they're related, or anything else -- as long as they are both capable of demonstrating their consent. There is no good reason to link that mechanism with a disproven assumption about how loving relationships work. That emotional/social aspect should be handled by ceremony, religious or otherwise, but should in no way relate to the mechanism of legal conjunction.

Similarly I see few problems with multiple people using the same mechanism, with the same lack of restrictions, although I acknowledge there may be some edge cases that would need to be looked and and potentially disallowed, and it is trickier than joining two people. But overall, the alleged potential social and demographic repercussions are not the responsibility of two people who want to get married, and stopping them from marrying is a shitty way to address those alleged problems. Just as much as making marriage mandatory would be a shitty way to address the problems associated with a low marriage rate.
posted by Drexen at 7:38 AM on June 5, 2013


I guess I'm not quite willing to concede that polygamy is only polygyny (as is implied in more than one comment above) and always with some kind of "victim", be it individuals or society as a whole. No one I've known has ever revealed to me that they are in a poly relationship, so I don't understand it in any personal way, but it seems possible that such a marriage can exist in a constructive way. If so, I think it's valid.

In any case, it's a really stupid argument against gay marriage.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:40 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a couple of assumptions about the "damage" caused by polygamy that don't necessarily apply in a (theoretically) equal society, as opposed to the patriarchal societies in which we normally imagine them. 1. That there would be sufficient "uptake" of polygamy to make a dent in the overall number of available spouses. 2. That polygyny and polyandry would not be sufficiently equally to more or less cancel out.
But, as per mcstayinskool above, in any case, it's a really stupid argument against gay marriage.
posted by Jakey at 7:45 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


scruss: "Baroness Barker's speech is wonderful. "
QFT.
The idea that public servants should decide, according to their personal beliefs, who does and does not receive a public service is just wrong. Taxes are levied on a non-discriminatory basis and services should be provided on a non-discriminatory basis.
I'm very much in favour of structuring marriage like it's done in e.g. Germany or the Netherlands where the official part has you enter a civil union in a secular ceremony officiated by a public servant. You can then afterwards have a ceremony within a cult of your choosing run by whichever discriminatory rules you find acceptable.

However, when the act of marriage is being done with legal effect by clerical public servants, as is the case in the UK or Denmark, there is no way that you can defend said public servants refusing to perform their job due to the sexual orientation of the person seeking this service.
posted by brokkr at 7:54 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's true to say that there are no decent arguments against SSM, though. After years of denial, I've recently come to think that the polygamy argument carries weight.

Not really. The very fact that equal marriage rights have to be codified in law before same sex marriages can be legally enacted disproves this argument. For polyamory to be recognised in law the same process has to be undertaken. Only if there's the same sort of demand for polyamorous marriages as there is now for same sex marriages will this be done: in other words, when both those who want this sort of marriage and those whosee the justice of allowing it are in the majority.

This is not something that will happen automagically.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess SSM has the potential to "ruin" hetero marriage – if your model is the classic one, wherein the woman is property and the marriage itself is more a financial transaction uniting two families in what amounts to a business merger.

Hell yes I want the definition of marriage to change and orient itself more toward mutual love.

(Also, I do know a couple of people who practice polyamory very successfully. I think they should have the right to call it whatever they want and even have paperwork to back it up, whether that be a marriage or a household or whatever, I just can't really see them taking advantage of a hypothetical legal marriage situation since the fluid, constantly-evolving structure of their relationship[s] doesn't seem at all conducive to nailing anything down on paper.)
posted by Mooseli at 7:56 AM on June 5, 2013


Actualy, a lot of the poly people I know are in relationships with more men than women.
posted by jaduncan at 8:04 AM on June 5, 2013


So now that the HOL has voted in favour; what happens next? Is it just "goes to the PM for signing"? Or was this more akin to the 2nd reading and we still have to have a 3rd, etc?
This was the second reading which means that the House of Lords agrees with the bill in principle. It will now go to the committee stage where it will be discussed at length and could have amendments tabled. Then the amendments will be voted on, and at last the whole bill (with any amendments that passed) will be voted on at the third reading. After that there could be an additional stage if the House of Commons and House of Lords passed bills which don't match, and they will have to come to some agreement over which to officially adopt.

Then it goes to the Medieval's Premier Dynast to scribble something in Old French and remind everybody how her forebears got the throne *cough* genocide *cough*, and thus a law is born!
Sadly, you can't just elect that sort of pointless erudition; it has to be carefully inbred over centuries.
Most members of the House of Lords are not hereditary (only about 12% are hereditary).
posted by Jehan at 8:08 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


jaduncan: "Actualy, a lot of the poly people I know are in relationships with more men than women."
Same here (caveat: I don't know a lot lot of poly people), but I'm wondering whether that's because it's more socially acceptable for women to out themselves as polyamorous - poly men might be more likely to be categorized as "players" or something like that.
posted by brokkr at 8:08 AM on June 5, 2013


Actualy, a lot of the poly people I know are in relationships with more men than women.

But most of the poly relationships we see are not marital ones, by definition. So it's hard to know how those relationships would change by, say, being able to marry more than one person. (Or marry more than one non-income producing person for the purposes of taxes, etc.)
posted by corb at 8:09 AM on June 5, 2013


re: lesbian queen, and the nature of royal sperm donors. uh, prince philip anybody? it seems like we crossed this bridge several years ago.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 8:23 AM on June 5, 2013


I'm confused on how sperm donors relates to Prince Philip?
posted by corb at 8:37 AM on June 5, 2013


Also, if multiple marriages become very common, and tend to be mostly more females with fewer males, it leaves a bunch of unattached males floating around and, sexist though it sounds, that's associated with a bunch of bad things for society.

I would argue that the large number of men beating their wives is bad for society, but the solution isn't to illegalize marriage between men and women.

There is no rational argument for illegalizing polygamy, it's just culturally acceptable to be squicked out by it.
posted by Peevish at 8:49 AM on June 5, 2013


I honestly thought the UK already had same-sex marriage. I know their immigration agency caters for same-sex partners (unlike the US) and the UK military already recognizes it. Is this to do with the church?
posted by atlantica at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2013


They have civil partnerships, which are often referred to colloquially in the same terms ('getting married' 'my husband' etc) but aren't, in name or status, marriages.

There are also legal issues regarding use of religious texts, so if you're a person of Christian beliefs who wants to marry their same sex partner, you can't invoke that during your ceremony.
posted by mippy at 9:01 AM on June 5, 2013


Baroness Knight says that homosexuals are "...very good at things like antiques".
posted by hydatius at 9:04 AM on June 5, 2013


Ah, ok, thanks.
posted by atlantica at 9:10 AM on June 5, 2013


There is no rational argument for illegalizing polygamy, it's just culturally acceptable to be squicked out by it.

This is not quite true, and it's kind of a weird way to put it, because it's already illegal in most parts of the world. A better question might be: are there any compelling reasons against legalizing multiple marriages? I can think of a few:

1. It would be a complex process, requiring rewriting almost every part of the law that relates to marriage. The cost for this would not be insignificant. (Unlike SSM)

2. It would require reconsidering a lot of the public/private benefits structure, at least in the US. (Unlike SSM)

3. It could conceivably give cover to groups who advocate a "traditional polygamy," which is not in the best interests of the women (and many men) in those groups (Unlike SSM).

That last one is the least compelling, but it probably should be addressed in any plan to legalize multiple marriages. The other two are considerably more complex and much harder to solve -- family law is already difficult and unsatisfactory enough; adding additional partners will make things an order of magnitude worse.

I'm not against multiple marriages on principle*; however, I see significant problems with implementation, and, when the questions come up, I hear "that's just details." I have had some experience with modifying considerably less complex systems, and the details are what get you, every time.

*and clearly, there are people who want them, and I am uncomfortable saying "below this level of population, your wishes don't count," since that thinking can cover a multitude of sins.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Baroness Knight says that homosexuals are "...very good at things like antiques".
Would that be the same Jill Knight who helped introduce Section 28? She might look like a sweet little old lady, but she is, in fact, a first rank gay hater.
posted by Jehan at 9:33 AM on June 5, 2013


Baroness Knight says that homosexuals are "...very good at things like antiques".

I have a few friends who are very fond of older men, but that is an unkind way to characterize it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:35 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb, i'm having a hard time finding the difference between "sperm donor for lesbian queen" and "sperm donor for heterosexual queen".
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:06 AM on June 5, 2013


Well I was in favour of gay marriage but if it will convert the marriage bed into a procrustean bed, how can anyone support it?

(I looked it up and am sitll not sure what he is talking about.)
posted by biffa at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2013


corb, i'm having a hard time finding the difference between "sperm donor for lesbian queen" and "sperm donor for heterosexual queen".

There isn't one - I'm still confused though. Is this supposed to be an insult to their relationship, or purported lack thereof? I don't see what he has to do with any sperm donation at all.
posted by corb at 10:12 AM on June 5, 2013


Like, I disagree with you, but I kind of wish you were my representative, philosopher-quoter!


Nah, I'd rather have my representatives be elected by universal suffrage, even if it returns drooling illiterates.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:13 AM on June 5, 2013


corb: "If the Queen herself subsequently bore a child by an anonymous donor, which child then, if either, would inherit the Throne?"

the only difference in the latter part of the lesbian queen objection between the proposed situation and what exists right now is that we know that the donor's name is philip. and that the queen is married to him. but she could not be married to him at this point and it wouldn't really matter. as for the first half, what if the queen married a man that already had kids with a previous spouse? would they be eligible for the throne? of course not.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:18 AM on June 5, 2013


unless, of course, he's arguing that the royalty are not sovereign over their own bodies or that the act of marriage allows for reproduction or succession. in the prior case, that's hilarious in this day and age. in the latter two, would the divorce of charles render his children unusable?
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:24 AM on June 5, 2013


Where will it end? Are we going to see people arguing in the future for marrying their pets? or their furniture? (Sexy wardrobes would be OK I guess, but not that tramp of a laundry basket...).
posted by panboi at 10:30 AM on June 5, 2013


the only difference in the latter part of the lesbian queen objection between the proposed situation and what exists right now is that we know that the donor's name is philip. and that the queen is married to him. but she could not be married to him at this point and it wouldn't really matter. as for the first half, what if the queen married a man that already had kids with a previous spouse? would they be eligible for the throne? of course not.

Oh, I see what you're talking about, but I was thinking more the "Two Queens In England" idea. Because children conceived in a marriage are generally considered legal children of that marriage, if the lesbian queen had a wife who was artificially inseminated, and also was inseminated with a child herself, which of them would have primacy? Would it be the firstborn, regardless of whose womb actually birthed them? Would it be only children of the Queen's Body?

(I should state, this is totally an interesting hypothetical, it is bullshit to use it to argue against gay marriage, I am just fascinated by it. Also if this really happened, no queen would be stupid enough to create this drama, she would just be the one to have the babies I imagine. But still, I find succession issues interesting.)
posted by corb at 10:45 AM on June 5, 2013


which of them would have primacy?

Flip a coin.
posted by Drexen at 10:56 AM on June 5, 2013


Nah, I'd rather have my representatives be elected by universal suffrage, ...

So would I. Where do I move to get this, as I currently live in the United States?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:09 AM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am mostly over the urge to shake my fist and call these people by some time-honored names (such as "rank boil-brained haggards"). Instead, I will simply take a moment to list their actual names. Because, really. Laughing is so much better for the soul.

These are the Lords and Ladies who think my upcoming marriage really shouldn't happen because of reasons:

Lord Dear
Lord Waddington
Lord Anderson of Swansea
Baroness Cumberlege
Lord Campbell-Savours
Lord Naseby
Lord Edmiston
Lord Singh of Wimbledon
Marquess of Lothian
Lord Dannatt
Lord Quirk
Lord Tebbit
Lord Davies of Stamford
Lord Hylton
Lord Flight

...you couldn't make this list up, you really couldn't.
posted by harujion at 11:14 AM on June 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will note that this argument could also have been made regarding lesbian marriage.

Exactly how many society-bothering straight men are denied a wife by two lesbians going off the market, though?

I don't think the "straight single dude suplus = bad" argument could be made against lesbian marriage the same way it could be made against polygamy. On the other hand, maybe it could be made against the existence of nuns. We should totally improve society by kicking them back into the dating pool. Or maybe it's not a very good argument at all.

Please, don't let us confuse you, Lord Campbell-Savours, nor let us change the world that you grew up to know. Progress shall have to wait for your death.

I think what most people have against gay marriage is that it goes against their fantasy theocracy, either the one they want to exist now, or the one they like to pretend existed in the past and was central to everything good. When it really was never like that.

In a way I admire this as the most honest one of the lot.
posted by fleacircus at 11:24 AM on June 5, 2013


...you couldn't make this list up, you really couldn't.

Many similar sounding names just voted by more than 2 to 1 that it should. I feel like the Lords is getting a bit of a slating here when we consider that I don't think that many US chambers would have voted 2 to 1 for gay marriage when civil partnerships already exist.
posted by jaduncan at 1:02 PM on June 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


It could conceivably give cover to groups who advocate a "traditional polygamy," which is not in the best interests of the women (and many men) in those groups (Unlike SSM).

I have difficulty believing that people who practice "traditional polygamy" in a form that is degrading to women are sitting around saying, "shit, it won't be considered a legal marriage, guess I'll just have one wife and respect her instead."

I'm not going to over-simplify by saying "the rest is details," but I'll say that the right to marriage between consenting adults is more important than details. And nobody arguing "gay marriage is a slippery slope to polygamy" is talking about increasingly complex paperwork.
posted by Peevish at 1:16 PM on June 5, 2013


God, their arguments read like something from the 19th century.

The Lesbian Queen Argument: ugh, what about gay kings? Kings can be gay too, or does that make them Queens? (HA!)
Seriously, do they not think that in the history of their country there has never been a King who enjoyed the stable-boys more than the dairy maids?

The UK should have a Revolution to dissolve their House of Lords, cause that's what I am seeing the House of Lords asking for here.
Give 'em what they asked for.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:56 PM on June 5, 2013


QueerAngel28: "Seriously, do they not think that in the history of their country there has never been a King who enjoyed the stable-boys more than the dairy maids?"
Of course they do. However, since Kings can't bear issue themselves, that is completely irrelevant. The thing that makes the Lesbian Queens thing a smidgen interesting is that it presents an actual unsolved question: what happens to the order of precedence if both the Queen and the Queen's Consort bears a child?

This isn't, as also pointed out upthread, an argument against gay marriage - it's a problem of protocol. But it's a real problem nonetheless with real-world (to the extent you consider royal families part of the real world) consequences.
posted by brokkr at 2:15 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


More seriously, Same-Sex Marriage and polyamory have really nothing to do with each other. The first does not require a massive restructuring of the contractual nature of marriage, while the second does.

No, more seriously they have a lot to do with each other, for reasons I've already explained. That is: if your rationale in support of SSM is that people that love each other should be able to get married, then you're basically already committed to polygamy.

Again, one might hold that polygamy is fine, or that there are other reasons for blocking polygamy...but you've got to have some extra premise to block polygamy if you accept the principle that all people in love should be able to marry. Hell, you can even continue to accept that principle that *any TWO people who love each other should be able to marry* and that still allows polygamy: A marries B, B marries C, C marries A.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:29 PM on June 5, 2013


The UK should have a Revolution to dissolve their House of Lords, cause that's what I am seeing the House of Lords asking for here.
Did you miss the bit where they resoundingly pass the bill's second reading? Arguments about whether the House of Lords is or isn't fit for a democratic country are nice, but in this instance they are actually more liberal than the elected House of Commons.
posted by Jehan at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I'm sure somebody has already mentioned this, but this vote is a sign that the law will pass the House of Lords easily. Equal marriage in England and Wales is now pretty much a done deal, the opposition has been defeated. Barring the collapse of the government before the end of summer and a Ukip takeover, same-sex couples should not hesitate to send out the invites, book venues, and buy adorable little suits for their page boys.

Rejoice! England and Wales will have equal marriage.
posted by Jehan at 2:39 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to over-simplify by saying "the rest is details," but I'll say that the right to marriage between consenting adults is more important than details.

I have to disagree with you here, because those details are what allows the thing you want to happen. Or, conversely, they will trip up and ruin every thing you thought you were working for. If you imagine that you can work out the details afterward, at the very least you will add years of struggle onto your efforts.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:08 PM on June 5, 2013


so what confuses me is that in the UK it's "equal marriage" and in the US it's "marriage equality" - so which twitter hashtag should I use?

that said, in Canada we can already just call it "marriage" - and we'll all be happy when the whole of the US and the UK join the club.
posted by jb at 6:18 PM on June 5, 2013


I think I understand where a lot of the opponents of gay marriage are coming from. Our culture treats "marriage" as a special and valuable thing in itself, distinct from the emotional relationship between the partners and the legal and financial obligations they owe each other. Marriage's prestige derived not only from its social formalism (e.g., "church weddings" and expensive parties) but also because marriages were hard or impossible to legally dissolve. This mostly-indissoluble bond was a signalling mechanism through which the partners demonstrated the value they placed on the relationship, even if the partners got married in a registry office with a small glass of sherry shared with the registrar by way of a reception.

We've lost this idea that marriage must or necessarily should be for life, so we're left with the financial and fairytale elements. I don't think anyone really objects to the fact that even gay people can contract to (e.g.) share their finances or be responsible for each others' debts; the problem is that gay people want the romance and beauty of "marriage" and not just entry into a legal relationship. The problem with this is that once we ask "Well, is a gay marriage special and beautiful?" we tend to ask whether any marriage has those special elements. It's no wonder that a lot of people would rather stick their fingers in their ears and hum very loudly rather confront this question, and it's no wonder that they blame the advocates of gay marriage for "destroying" traditional marriage: what we have is basically a cultural value that has been unmoored from its legal and symbolic underpinnings and it just won't stand up to any sort of scrutiny.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:47 PM on June 5, 2013


What we have here is a cultural value — treating gay people as fundamentally less than non-gay people — that is being driven into a corner before it is completely destroyed.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:11 AM on June 6, 2013


I expressed myself poorly there. Sorry.

What I should have included is that your story rests on accepting the idea that homosexuals are different and lesser than non-homosexuals. It's like marriage is an alcoholic, and gay marriage is the sign that it has hit rock bottom, the thing that makes it realize how low it has sunk after many years of steady degradation.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:18 AM on June 6, 2013


That's not a good analogy, because marriage itself can't do or think things. My point is that the legal and social things that made marriage a big deal have been mostly stripped away (for good reason) and we've mostly been left with marriage as the Hollywood-approved seal on a romance that has blossomed into a serious relationship.

This is why some people think that amending the definition of marriage to include gay couples is an attack on marriage itself. They may accept the logic of formally registering a gay relationship via a civil procedure: this is an explicit alternative to "marriage" and therefore doesn't imply anything about marriage's symbolism. Accepting gay marriage, on the other hand, would imply their acceptance of the proposition that gay romances and relationships are similar to heterosexual ones. Since they can't or won't accept that proposition they think that gay marriage will vitiate the symbolic elements of marriage, and reduce marriage itself to a mere civil procedure.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:16 AM on June 6, 2013


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