Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The most important question in the gay "marriage" debate



I am thrilled to have stolen one of Joe Heschmeyer's posts to present as a guest post today in the Bubble. If you don't read Joe's blog, Shameless Popery, you need to rethink your priorities, people. His attorney mind always impresses me. Joe, take it away…. 


The Most Important Question in the Gay Marriage Debate

A lot of people, even a growing number of Christians, have trouble understanding opposition to legalized gay marriage. After all, if the whole "marriage is one man plus one woman" thing is based on religious values, why force views those on other people? And what's the deal about destroying the sanctity of marriage? How is a heterosexual couple's marriage damaged in any way by gay marriage? For me, a single question helped clear up all of this...

“What is marriage?”


I. The Traditional View of Marriage, and Why Society Should Protect It


A. What Traditional Marriage Is

It seems to me that there are basically two views of what marriage is. The first is the traditional view. A good working definition comes from the Code of Canon Law, which says that marriage is that institution “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (Can. 1055 §1).

This view of marriage isn't unique to Catholicism, or Christianity, or even religion. Cultures across the world (with all sorts of religious views, or none at all) have understood marriage to be something very near this for as long as marriage has existed. What's fascinating about this is that even with the diversity of marriage customs and norms, much remains the same.  Even cultures which permitted or encouraged polygamy recognized that the polygamy was heterosexual, and tied to procreation. A man might have two wives, but he's just committing himself to caring for two families as a result. And even cultures which encouraged homosexual and pedophilic sex (like Ancient Greece) never thought of those sexual and even romantic relationships as marriage-potential.

Perhaps more striking, the thing that gets overlooked is: all of these cultures have marriage. Many of the cultures punished premarital or extramarital sex; others simply declared that premarital sex acted as a marital covenant. If marriage is simply a social construct, it's certainly striking that all of these cultures across the globe, in both the New World and the Old, independently enshrined this construct at the heart of their cultures.


B. The Importance of Family

The reason for this universally-accepted tradition of marriage is obvious: family. Parents are the primary educators of children, and they pass on the culture's values. Children raised in this environment are statistically better citizens: more law-abiding, less violent, and so on.  We're born with our own desires. It's largely through education, much of it at the feet of our parents, that we learn how we're supposed to act.

Even animals understand this instinctively. You don't see birds just leaving their chicks to raise themselves, or be raised by some other bird, or by “the village.” A great many species mate for life, and even amongst those that are effectively polygamous, there's a real sense of family tied to the biological parents of the animal youth. Obviously, this isn't true of all animals, but it's remarkable that it's true of any. Now-Secretary Hillary Clinton wrote a book, It Takes a Village. Former-Senator Rick Santorum's response came with a more accurate title: It Takes a Family. Both sociologically and even biologically, he's right.

So “family” is critical to society. And traditional marriage is critical to family. The logic of it is obvious. Our sexual desires are often fleeting, but when we act on them, and a child is conceived, that's a lifelong consequence. In the absence of marriage, women in particular are vulnerable, since they're ones (biologically) who are left to raise the child if the man splits.  By tying heterosexual, potentially-reproductive sex to marriage, society ensures that a family is formed.

Given this, it makes absolute sense for society to enshrine traditional marriage into its laws and norms. We want (and even need) a society in which there aren't a lot of children conceived out of wedlock, and that those children conceived out of wedlock are still raised in a family (thus the popularity of "shotgun weddings" and the like). Enforcing this as the norm by law through legal recognition of the institution of marriage, and the thousands of incentives tied to marriage, is absolutely sensible. It's a principle that virtually everyone in history has understood (including those who freely engaged in non-reproductive sex outside of marriage).


II. The View of Marriage Behind Gay Marriage


A. The “Romantic” View of Marriage

Almost without exception, those in favor of gay marriage approach the question through a common lens. You can discover this quickly, by asking, "Why should gays be able to marry other gays?" The answer will nearly without exception be that  “these two people love each other.” And for about two hundred years in the West, we've really harped on this notion that marriage is the result of romantic love.

Let's be clear a couple of things. First of all, romantic love is ideal: I wish every married couple was romantic towards each other. The biological and spiritual purpose behind eros and romance is to help get through the rough patches in marriage, to make marriage joyful, and to remind us of the incredible love God has for us. But let's be clear about something else: romantic love isn't necessary for marriage. The canon law view calls it a "partnership," and in selecting the word, carefully avoided anything suggesting that romance was necessary for marriage.

Plenty of married couples find the spark dimmed or dead, and marriage can be rough-going sometimes. When you swear your allegiance to another human being "for better or for worse" for the rest of your life, you're knowingly pledging that even though marriage might seem awful, you'll stick to it. If marriage wasn't hard sometimes, so bad you wanted to quit, you wouldn't need to promise you wouldn't quit. No one has to pledge to keep doing something they're obviously going to do, and enjoy doing, like eating or relaxing. They'll just do those things without provocation.

So the problem with gay marriage is actually something distinct from the problem with homosexuality. Homosexuality is wrong because it perverts sex from something reproductive into something non-reproductive. But homosexual marriage goes a step further, and turns the bedrock of society, marriage and family, into something fleeting and pointless.

Here's what I mean. If romance is the critical factor in marriage, just consider that married couples often don't feel romantic towards each other, even if they did at the outset. It's easy to love the other person on your wedding day. It's harder when they've let themselves go physically, there's a screaming baby, and the house is a mess. Meanwhile, there may be someone else -- a co-worker, a friend, whoever -- who you do feel that "spark" with. The New York Times caused a minor controversy in December when it ran in its marriage section, "Vows," a blurb spotlighting a couple who met while married to other people. The story was told as if it was romantic to do the forbidden and abandon your families for a new fling. But this is absolutely consistent with this view of marriage. So is the sky-high divorce rate in America, and the massive amount of infidelity, homosexuality, and premarital sex. We're a culture taught to follow our hearts and our hormones, and those are fickle things.


B. Peering Over the Precipice

So here's my point. Because the heart is fickle, don't condition marriage on romance. If you're serious about being open to having children with this person, and working with them to raise children, and staying together until death, whether things are wonderful or awful, great. If not, wait to marry until you get to that point with someone.  Marriage is one of the single most important decisions most people will make in their lives, and it rarely gets the serious treatment it deserves.

More importantly, even if individuals want to stupidly declare, in a fit of romantic passion, that they'll be together for better or worse (while closing their eyes tightly to what "worse" might mean), as a society, we need not indulge that madness. Society has a huge vested interest in family, and by extension, traditional marriage. Society has no interest whatsoever in just-romantic marriage without a connection to family.

Interestingly, even many gay marriage advocates recognize this. Alan Dershowitz at Harvard argued that the solution to the gay marriage debate is to end governmental recognition of marriage altogether. Time Magazine agreed, arguing that marriage is just a religious or spiritual practice. This is the sort of end-point of the campaign to redefine marriage: leave "marriage" something so vague and meaningless, an idea whose meaning is unique to the person declaring him- or herself "married," that it ceases to be a protectable institution at all.  Of course, the consequences of trying to become the first society without marriage are ones that we can't even fathom.

The point is clear. Society, including the state, has a clear interest in protecting marriage, if marriage means what it always has meant. But if "marriage" becomes an amorphous and individualistic romantic concept, what role could society possibly have in regulating or promoting that? So the end point of the gay marriage debate is necessarily the implosion and unraveling of the institution of marriage, even if individuals still declare themselves "married" in non-recognized ceremonies.


III. Conclusion

Understanding this clash of visions explains nearly everything. When opponents of gay marriage say that it destroys the sanctity of marriage, what they mean is that gay marriage is incapable of being marriage, as that term has been traditionally understood for thousands of years. So a government that embraces gay "marriage" is a government that discards marriage (as traditionally understood) in favor of something much more volatile and dangerous. Likewise, if the government started to declare business merges "marriages," the term marriage would be deprived of its meaning until it meant something vague and sort of meaningless.

To imagine that a culture that drains marriage of its meaning, or tries to substitute (in its place, or in addition) something foreign as a new form of legally-sanctioned "marriage", can do so without it having far-ranging unintended consequence is naivety to an astonishing degree.

My point is that gay marriage is a sort of "point of no return" in a much broader fight that most Americans have somewhat disconnected from. Rather than viewing this as a battle over "gay rights" or anything else, this needs to be understood as a battle of the definition of what "marriage" actually means, and whether marriage is a thing that society and government can and should fight for.


*Be sure to read Joe's follow-up post, "What's the State Interest in Promoting Gay Marriage?"



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676 comments:

  1. LOVE this. Every point is spot-on. Thanks, Joe!

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  2. Thanks, JoAnna!

    And FYI, I'm going to try to be available over the near future to field questions, comments, and criticisms, so feel free to ask me anything directly here in the combox.

    Joe

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  3. Thanks, Joe!! The idea of the "romantic" marriage necessarily ends when the "romance" is gone. I remember a very nice young atheist who used to comment here, Mrs. M, and she told us that when she and her husband fell out of love (if that happened), they would divorce. She has small kids. I thought that was so horrific, but she was fine with it. I asked her something like: "What if you personally were still in love with him, and also you have children to raise and a home and life together, and he left you because he didn't have those 'feelings' anymore?" She said she fully would expect him to do that, so that he could be "happy". It boggled my mind.

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  4. (con't.)

    And by contrast, I think of that great scene/song from Fiddler on the Roof: "Do you love me?"

    Tevye and Golda are discussing their 25-year marriage (not based on "romance"!), and the very profound partnership (and yes, love!) that they have together, raising their family.

    I just have always loved that scene, even as a "romantic".

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  5. " You don't see birds just leaving their chicks to raise themselves, or be raised by some other bird, or by “the village.” "
    Various birds use a creche system, in which all of the youngsters in a colony are cared for cooperatively. Brood parasitism is a way of life for many birds : cuckoos, cowbirds, whydahs, honeyguides, etc.

    While I agree with the point of the post, you might want to rethink that example.

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  6. Terrific post, thanks Joe! I will agree with Narwen however, that using animal/bird analogies won't really do much for those who don't already agree. After all, plenty of animals do not form permanent pair bonds. More importantly, part of our dignity as human persons is that our free will and consciences allow us to overcome animal instincts.
    God bless!

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  7. Just a few weeks ago, our priest was talking about that very scene with Tevye and Golda (Fiddler on the Roof) during the homily.

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  8. If your definition of marriage is so universally accepted, why are we debating the issue?

    It's hard to keep arguing about this issue on Leila's blog since it ultimately relates to people here clinging to a definition of marriage as not only one man and one woman but with the purpose of creating children and having sex in which semen is always deposited inside the woman for the possibility of pregnancy.

    In many cases, people advocating for SSM are concerned about having civil unions to protect their rights to inheritance without taxes, and for custody of children in addition to any feelings of love.

    And the definition of family and kinship varies substantially throughout the world.

    I feel like it's futile to argue any of these points here.

    -gwen

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  9. I know I just said I was done commenting for awhile...

    But when I read this, this is the message I get:

    The relationship between two men or two women who are committed to each other and plan to stay together for life and raise children - that relationship is worthless at best and disastrous at worst. It'll tear down society, and it must be stopped. The marriage of Kim Kardashian, which lasted 72 days, while not to be commended, is still preferable because it was between a man and a woman.

    I know you guys can't possibly believe that, but it's the sense I get every time I read something like this. Does the best same-sex marriage really "[drain] marriage of its meaning" more than the worst opposite-sex marriage? Because that's what I'm getting out of this.

    Michelle

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  10. Gwen,

    I have felt a lot like you do... But I believe this article addressed that point, albeit indirectly.

    If things like rights to inheritance without taxes, and for custody of children, etc. exist because the State has a vested interest in traditional families (ie married for the long haul, raising and educating children to become the next generation of citizens)...

    Does it really care about those things if marriage is simply a declaration that says "I love this person today, but we'll split up as soon as it becomes inconvenient?"

    And this is not just about same sex... Was Kim Kardashian's 72 day farce of a wedding in any way a "marriage?"

    If marriage is reduced to a certificate that says a couple is "going steady" until they feel like breaking up... does it matter at all to the State? Does it deserve tax breaks or special entitlements? That concept is the danger to marriage, not gay people in particular.

    Mexico has already suggested (but hopefully won't be enacted) marriage licenses with built in expiration :-p http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-15114406

    The institution of marriage is in grave peril just from what heterosexual people have done to it.

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  11. Michelle, off the bat, homosexuals cannot marry each other because marriage is inherently heterosexual.

    One step further now, marriage (which is inherently heterosexual) is meant to be for life (a real commitment). So, KK's marriage was a sham. Could they consummate? Yep. Could they commit? No.

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  12. @Michelle - On the contrary, the damage to marriage is certainly predominantly being done by heterosexual couples.

    But I think the point vis a vis gay marriage is have we completely given up on marriage? If marriage is meaningless, then yes... no need to deny it to gay people. But if we still want to try and save traditional marriage, that is sort of the last straw that will kill it (it being the concept of traditional marriage, which is being replaced by a temporary declaration of romantic interest).

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  13. Michelle,

    The Kim Kardashian marriage is also to be decried by Catholics. Divorce is another issue than this post is addressing, but is morally wrong, just as same sex marriage is and our Lord goes as far as to declare remarriage (while your "ex" is still living) to be adultery. That being said, it is important to remember that one abuse of marriage does not justify another abuse. Nor is it reasonable to expect a discussion on gay marriage to include every other possible abuse to the institution of marriage.

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  14. Nice post, Joe. Hear, hear, Nicholas and Nathan.

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  15. Gwen,

    I’m interested in what you have to say, and would love it if you would respond to the arguments made in the post itself. To wit:

    First: On the definition of marriage, you provided your own definition that you claim “people here [are] clinging to.” In doing so, you seem to have overlooked or ignored the fact that I defined the traditional view of marriage in the original post, quoting Catholic canon law, and adding that this “view of marriage isn't unique to Catholicism, or Christianity, or even religion.” Is there something wrong with the definition, as provided? Or why did you feel the need to make up your definition of what people here are “clinging” to?

    Second: You say that “the definition of family and kinship varies substantially throughout the world.” In doing so, you seem to have overlooked or ignored the fact that I discussed this subject, showing that on the subject of marriage, societies around the globe have been traditionally astonishingly similar, and heterosexual, even amongst societies which encouraged homosexual behavior. I added that if “marriage is simply a social construct, it's certainly striking that all of these cultures across the globe, in both the New World and the Old, independently enshrined this construct at the heart of their cultures.” You can find all of that above in Part I, A of the post you’re responding to.

    Finally, you pointed out, quite fairly, that one of the arguments proponents of same-sex “marriage” raise is being able to receive inheritance tax-free, and having increased custody rights. I can’t tell if you think that this is a serious argument, or are just pointing this out as something you find interesting.

    In any case, it’s quite a silly argument. Even assuming that there’s a problem with overly-strict inheritance or custody laws, why in the world would this justify redefining marriage? Why not simply relax inheritance or custody laws, if the problem was this compelling? It’s like using dynamite to remove an ingrown toenail.

    For that matter, redefining marriage doesn’t even solve the alleged problems with inheritance or custody laws. What about those couples who want tax-free inheritance or custody rights, but don’t want to be married? Or what about those people who want to leave inheritances to non-romantic friends?

    So while I agree with you that in “many cases, people advocating for SSM” raise those arguments, I think that as rationales, they’re deceptive (and sort of dopey) reasons to justify a cultural overhaul.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  16. If your definition of marriage is so universally accepted, why are we debating the issue?

    Universal Truths are not always universally accepted... but that doesn't mean they aren't true. If the government decided that 2+2 was no longer equal to 4, would that mean that it's no longer true? No, of course not. You can't change definitions of universal truths.

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  17. The best thing he said in that whole post was this: "If marriage wasn't hard sometimes, so bad you wanted to quit, you wouldn't need to promise you wouldn't quit. No one has to pledge to keep doing something they're obviously going to do, and enjoy doing, like eating or relaxing. They'll just do those things without provocation."

    I am far more concerned about divorce than gay marriage.

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  18. But, I do think the gay marriage debate brings up several very difficult questions: what of plural marriage and what of marriage between related persons. It seems that granting gay marriage we will have to stipulate in the law: "marriage is a legally binding union of two and only two unrelated persons." Immediately the plural marriage proponents will jump up and ask why they are excluded, and I suppose we will have to accept that too. Then, related persons who are infertile, or who are willing to undergo surgery to become infertile...I cannot see how we will maintain the distinction.

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  19. Joe,

    Am I wrong that the Catholic definition of marriage includes: understanding the union of one man and one woman in sacred covenant with each other and God for the purpose of procreation and unity? Your view of 'traditional marriage' is unique. It wasn't so long ago that marriage entailed women becoming the property of men.

    I'd like for you to prove just how cultures all over the world have adhered to your definition of traditional marriage. Which ones? Where? When? It seems like a gross generalization to me to say that people all over the world uphold marriage for the same reasons, in the same manner and with the same understandings as you.

    I brought up the inheritance tax, etc. because its been a focus in my community amongst same sex/transgendered people in committed relationships in which children are involved.

    A merry yule and Samhain to you,
    gwen

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  20. Is it really a sincere fear here that if same sex marriage is legalized, suddenly there will be long lines of people asking to get marriage certificates to be married to their cousins, brothers, trees, pets, cars, small children, and small bands of men or women?

    -gwen

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  21. Gwen, are you saying that if I were trasported to another place and time, and someone in the city or village spoke of an upcoming marriage, I would be justified in asking (after the congratulations), "Does the marriage consist of a bride and groom? Or is two grooms this time? Or two brides?"

    Because no one would assume a male/female wedding?

    Is that what you are saying?

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  22. Is it really a sincere fear here that if same sex marriage is legalized, suddenly there will be long lines of people asking to get marriage certificates to be married to their cousins, brothers, trees, pets, cars, small children, and small bands of men or women?

    Gwen, you bring this point up a lot. It's irrelevant. If even one couple petitioned the gov't. for same sex marriage (or human/animal marriage), it would still not be a true "marriage". The *number* of petitioners is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

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  23. Michelle,

    I’m sorry “that’s what [you’re] getting out of this,” but I think you’re missing my point. The debate isn’t over whether two men make better parents than a man and a woman. That’s a fine discussion to have, but not the one we’re having today. Instead, the question is two-fold:
    (1) What is marriage?
    (2) Can homosexual couples meet this definition of marriage?

    There are two ways we can go as a society. First, we can understand marriage the way it’s always been understood. That definition of marriage is clearly in society’s interest to defend (as explained in the post). And within that definition, same-sex marriage is a non-starter. It’s not it’s good or bad, but that there’s no such thing as gay marriage. You might as well debate the merits of circular triangles. It’s an inherently contradictory phrase. Sure, you can start referring to certain triangles as “circular triangles,” but you’re simply reinventing what “circular” means.

    Whatever your personal feelings on homosexuals as romantic partners or parents, that’s beside the point. A society can love homosexuality a whole lot (like ancient Greece), and still conclude that marriage means a certain thing, and that a pairing of two men aren’t compatible with that thing.

    The second option is that we can decide, as a society, to reinvent and redefine what “marriage” means. That’s the action that I say “drains marriage of meaning.” And we’ve already started to do this, replacing it with some fuzzy notion of romance. It’s this redefinition of marriage that permits things like the Kardashian marriage… and, as Mary notes, virtually every other sort of pairing imaginable.

    If you disagree with the logic here, I’d love to know why. Because your comment sort of replaced what I’d actually said with an anti-homosexual pro- Kardashian rant, and then responded to that, instead.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  24. Gwen,

    Do you have any counter-examples of cultures that have sanctioned same sex marriage?

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  25. Perhaps the important idea missing from the debate is how do we "fix" marriage?

    Because while I agree with Joe's points here, if it is true that marriage is already trashed, and the Kim Kardashian "standard" is the standard for marriages, and that they are already effectively just a temporary declaration of romantic interest... then I see less value in fighting the next step which is gay marriage.

    Unless there is a viable notion, plan, idea, or reasonable hope that the institution of marriage as defined above can actually make a comeback.

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  26. Joe/Nicholas,

    My point is that your definition of marriage is not simply just "one man and one woman legally bound together" but "one man and one woman in a holy covenant with God for the purposes of procreation and unity.' Marriage has not always been understood in those terms nor has it been understood in this way throughout the world.

    Furthermore, your definition of marriage includes the understanding that proper married sex is always performed in such a manner as I stated earlier with the possibility of pregnancy unhindered. So gay marriage will never meet your definition of marriage. On this we can agree.

    But that doesn't mean that LGBT people don't have sex, don't have relationships, don't have meaning in their lives, etc.

    -gwen

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  27. Gwen,

    You aren’t recognizing any difference between the definition of marriage, and how things should operate within a marriage. Twice now, I’ve pointed to the traditional definition of marriage, as outlined in canon law. Namely, marriage is the institution “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (Can. 1055 §1).

    Twice now, you’ve responded with some ridiculous straw men: so far, you’ve covered gender roles, whether women are property, and ways of having sex. None of these relate to the definition of marriage. So, for example, we think spouses shouldn’t use contraception. But if they do, they don’t cease to be husband and wife. And frankly, I suspect you knew that already.

    It feels as if you’re fighting dirty here. You’re relying heavily on emotionally-overwrought straw men, and refusing to answer direct questions (for example, “Is there something wrong with the definition, as provided? Or why did you feel the need to make up your definition of what people here are ‘clinging’ to?”). If you’re not aware you’re doing that, now you are. If you are aware, stop.

    I genuinely want to have a productive dialogue here, and demonization and partisan boilerplate aren’t helpful towards that end. To that same end, consider what you wrote in your last comment:

    I'd like for you to prove just how cultures all over the world have adhered to your definition of traditional marriage. Which ones? Where? When?

    What are you asking for, exactly? A listing of every country and culture that has ever existed? Let me make it simpler for you. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay "marriage," and that was in 2001. If you've got some counter-examples, the burden is on you there. It's entirely unreasonable to demand that I list, by date, what every culture in the world has said and done regarding marriage.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  28. Gwen,

    I understand your point. But I believe Joe was pointing out that certainly the majority of cultures over time have recognized marriage as inherently heterosexual, even if not exactly the same as the Catholic definition.

    Boy Scouts are boys. You can make Boy Scouts co-ed, but then they wouldn't be Boy Scouts anymore. It would be inherently different, albeit not necessarily bad or worse.

    It isn't inherently anti-gay to suggest that marriage is a heterosexual institution. And that is really the crux of the argument.

    To me, if in fact marriage has degenerated to the point of frivolous (eg Kim Kardashian) then yes, the value in fighting over it is much less... But presumably people hold out hope for the traditional viewpoint to come back around.

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  29. How is this a universal definition of marriage and not a unique Catholic definition?

    “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (Can. 1055 §1).

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  30. Gwen,

    This view of marriage isn't unique to Catholicism, or Christianity, or even religion. Cultures across the world (with all sorts of religious views, or none at all) have understood marriage to be something very near this for as long as marriage has existed.

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  31. Excuse me?

    "I genuinely want to have a productive dialogue here, and demonization and partisan boilerplate aren’t helpful towards that end."

    Where is the demonization? You are the one who has called my points/arguments silly, emotionally overwrought and 'fighting dirty' I've been nothing but civil in my questions and discourse. Nor have I said any of your points are silly or 'fighting dirty' too bad you can't hear the sincerity in my voice.

    -gwen

    -gwen

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  32. Gwen,

    What is your definition of marriage then? That reasonably reflects the standards you would have found in most places?

    Certainly children have typically been involved/presumed via the whole notion of legitimate vs illegitimate children.

    I believe there are good arguments that can be made, but the idea that most cultures haven't considered marriages to be about man/woman/children seems a pretty tough one to make.

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  33. "This view of marriage isn't unique to Catholicism, or Christianity, or even religion. Cultures across the world (with all sorts of religious views, or none at all) have understood marriage to be something very near this for as long as marriage has existed."

    I disagree.

    -gwen

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  34. Gwen,

    Ok, you're free to disagree. Why? How do you define marriage?

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  35. Nicholas, I agree with this:

    "but the idea that most cultures haven't considered marriages to be about man/woman/children seems a pretty tough one to make."

    It's the details in how relations between men, women and the purposes of marriage that I contend, have changed throughout history and are differently construed in other parts of the world.

    -gwen

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  36. Nicholas,

    Yours is, I think, the strongest objection: that traditional marriage has already effectively been junked by our culture.

    There are two responses to this, one of which you’ve already made.

    First, there’s a difference of kind between a “Kardashian marriage” and a gay “marriage.” In the former, the problem is the conduct of the parties within the marriage, and probably with their expectations going in. It’s a cultural problem, not a structural one. Gay “marriage” is different: it’s a problem with the intended union inherently.

    I’ve seen couples get married where I worried about whether they’d make it. But they could always mature and fix their fledgling marriage. That’s a difference of kind, not degree, from what we’ve got with gay “marriage.” There, the problem is inherent, not behavior. No amount of emotional maturity or stability can fix it: the “marriage” itself is the problem.

    Second, the damage we've done to marriage as a society is still quite reversible on a societal level. But if we scrap the definition of marriage, we’re taking a step that’s virtually irreversible.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  37. I like this definition:

    Marriage is a social process that transforms the status of a man and woman, stipulates the degree of sexual access the married partners may have to each other, establishes the legitimacy of children born to the wife, and creates relationships between the kin of the wife and the kin of the husband.

    -gwen

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  38. Gwen, one (not small) point that has never really been answered: You say that gay couples have sex. Actually, they can do sexual things with each other, but they certainly cannot have sexual intercourse. They cannot consummate a marriage.

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  39. @Leila - While that may be true, it is really only an effective argument if one were to try and place gay marriage within the confines of traditional marriage.

    However, if one accepts that to have gay marriage at all requires a complete revision and redefinition, then the consummation argument is handled by the nature of a complete redefinition :-p

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  40. "stipulates the degree of sexual access the married partners may have to each other"

    What does this mean? (Honest question - I'm puzzled.) Can you clarify?

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  41. Nicholas, I totally agree. But there was the statement that gay couples can have sex, which is not the case.

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  42. "I genuinely want to have a productive dialogue here. . ."

    I don't think so. You have very quickly adopted the hectoring tone of interrogation that is used by all the authority figures here.

    This discussion will go round in the usual circle and no one's views will be changed.

    Meanwhile, I live in Canada where same-sex marriage -- no quotation marks -- has been legal since 2005 and everything here is fine, thanks. No one has petitioned to marry his/her dog.

    I'm pretty sure that the same thing will come to pass where you are too.

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  43. @Lily - If the divorce rates in Canada are anything like the US I wouldn't exactly say "everything is fine" :-p

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  44. Lily,

    Sorry if you found my approach hectoring. I've been doing my best to keep this in the realm of the reasonable: in other words, keep it focused on what "marriage" means, and whether that should be legally protected, rather than caricatures of the other side's arguments.

    On that note, while no one will be signing up to marry their dog, there are a lot of other far more plausible avenues in which marriage will likely continue to regress. The most probable one is consensual adult insect.

    Here in the US, a well-known professor was exposed as having had an ongoing consensual affair with his adult daughter. Switzerland has also moved to decriminalize such incestuous relationships.

    How do you define marriage? And why should (or shouldn't) it be legally protected?

    God bless,

    Joe

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  45. Nicholas, I had never looked up a comparison but I just did and found the US divorce rate is 4.95 per 1000 people and Canada is 2.46 per 1000 people. Who knew?


    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_div_rat-people-divorce-rate

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  46. Joe, I expect this will be seen as evasive but I don't intend it to be. I don't really consider it to be my job to define marriage. Our country came to a consensus that civil marriage would be defined as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”

    Naturally, not everyone in the country agrees that it should be this way but whatever objection there was/is seems to be waning as time goes on.

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  47. “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”

    Based on… romantic feelings?

    What would be the state's interest in protecting or encouraging such a union?

    I, for one, thank Joe for keeping the questioning and discussions on track.

    "hectoring tone" "interrogation" "authority figures" -- Lily, just those loaded terms make me want to know more about your story.

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  48. “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”

    Does it have to imply a sexual relationship? Does it exclude siblings? Does it include children? Can the "two" be changed to "five" if the "consensus" is there?

    I don't know much about the Canadian law, but was the definition changed by popular vote of all citizens?

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  49. Gwen, your definition speaks of male/female marriage. If that is your definition of marriage, then how to male/male pairings fit in?

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  50. The past few days I've been disgusted over the news stories about Herman Cain and Penn State. Then I went and clicked on the story about the incestuous professor (that Joe linked to) and got grossed out. Why did I do that?

    Also, I Don't. Want. to. think. of. gay. people. having. sex or whatever they do.

    I have to go now and think of things that are lovely and pure and wholesome.

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  51. When two people agree to marry one another and go to get their licence, they're asked certain questions -- their age, whether they're related, etc. -- to ascertain whether their relationship fits within Canadian law. If it does, they would be issued a licence.

    When my husband and I were getting married, no one asked us if it were for romantic reasons and I'm assuming that no one asks same sex couples that question either.

    The law says "two people," not "five people."

    The Canadian government works in the parliamentary tradition. We are not governed by referendum.

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  52. Thanks for the clarification, Lily. You said that your country had "come to a consensus", so I thought that implied that most Canadians somehow approved of gay "marriage" being equal to traditional marriage.

    You didn't answer the question: What would be the state's interest in protecting or encouraging such a union? (It seems so vague and seems to have no real purpose, in my opinion.)

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  53. Also, can you personally think of any reason why two gay men have to be non-related to get a marriage license?

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  54. It used to be that doctors wouldn't wash their hands. Now they do, and we're clearly better off for it. The argument from tradition is really not a strong one.

    I'm short on time, but I'll try to pick out a few of the points I took issue with:

    (1) So “family” is critical to society. And traditional marriage is critical to family.
    Same-sex couples can raise families too. Supporting same-sex marriage is, I would argue, the truly pro-family position, because it's pro more families. Not all families have to look the same to be successful.

    (2) The answer will nearly without exception be that “these two people love each other.”
    When a heterosexual couple gets married, they love each other, but no one uses that as an argument against their marriage. Same-sex couples aren't stupid - they know that all relationships carry the risk/likelihood that attraction will fade, but they're just as committed to staying together.

    (3) This is just a general observation, but whenever discussions like this come up, it seems that people forget that the whole gay marriage debate is centered around the legal definition of marriage. That legal definition says that all you have to be is opposite sex and not related. A guy can go marry a prostitute tomorrow and divorce her tomorrow. You and I both think that's ridiculous, but it is a marriage in the sense that we care about - legally, just like Kim Kardashian's marriage, it is a marriage. A farce of one? Sure, but it's a marriage all the same.

    I don't think I really got an answer to my question (which I'll reword, since maybe that was the problem): Is the best same-sex couple always less deserving of marriage than the worst opposite-sex couple? Does it drain marriage of its meaning more for a committed same-sex couple to get married, or for a man to marry a prostitute and divorce her the next day?

    Thanks!

    Michelle

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  55. "What would be the state's interest in protecting or encouraging such a union?"

    Equal rights for all Canadians.

    "... can you personally think of any reason why two gay men have to be non-related to get a marriage license?"

    When Joe asked me to define marriage, I said it wasn't up to me to define marriage -- Canadian law does that. Likewise, it isn't up to me to provide a reason why two gay men -- or anyone else -- have to be non-related. We believe in equal marriage and everyone does it according to the same rules and regulations.

    This discussion is, of course, about civil marriage. No church is required to marry anyone they're not comfortable with.

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  56. Leila: "But there was the statement that gay couples can have sex, which is not the case."

    Er, Leila rest assured the LGBT community has sex. Sex doesn't have to be only heterosexual.

    Also the definition i gave is a working term for considering marriage in general throughout different cultures. Thus the usage of "stipulates the degree of sexual access the married partners may have to each other" is an attempt to include the myriad and complex ways in which sex features as an aspect of marriage.

    -gwen

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  57. Sex doesn't have to be only heterosexual.

    Actually... yes, it does. Without being graphic, it requires inserting Tab A into Slot B. Only males have Tab A, and only females have Slot B.

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  58. Gwen, I am very curious how a same-sex couple can complete the marital act? I have a good grasp of the basics of what is required for sexual intercourse. Maybe you could email me privately and tell me what you know that I don't?

    Lily, "Equal rights for all Canadians"? First, that is never why marriage was protected and promoted by the state. Never. It was for the stability of the family, for the children born of the union.

    And giving the right to "marry" to gay couples does not ensure "equal rights for all Canadians" -- not by a longshot. Where are the equal rights for polygamous Canadians? Or related Canadians? Or pedophile Canadians? Or Canadian children who wish to marry each other? Or Canadians who want to marry their dog?

    How can you say you are for "marriage equality" when you exclude so many groups? You lose all credibility in my eyes. If you want marriage equality for all, then make it for all. Don't pretend that by opening it up to one more small group that suddenly there is marriage equality. Don't you want real equality? Isn't that the purpose of what Canada did, as you say? Equality?

    Michelle, when you say something like this:

    It used to be that doctors wouldn't wash their hands. Now they do, and we're clearly better off for it. The argument from tradition is really not a strong one.

    then I know it's not going to be possible to discuss. I mean, you seriously think that "doctors not washing their hands" is a human "tradition"?

    I really have nothing to say to that.

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  59. Is the best same-sex couple always less deserving of marriage than the worst opposite-sex couple?

    Again how can they be "less deserving" of something that is an impossibility for them?

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  60. I still can't get over that you analogized the institution of marriage (the foundational building block of families and societies) with bad hygiene practices.

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  61. Okay, fine, I suppose I should have remembered that analogies always fall flat here. I'll try again, even though you know that wasn't the main point of my post.

    It used to be that black couldn't even use the same drinking fountains as white people, it used to be that women couldn't vote. I think we can all agree that we're better off for those "traditions" having changed.

    And you know what, when you say something like "Again how can they be "less deserving" of something that is an impossibility for them?" I realize that it's not going to be possible to discuss.

    You know full well that two men or two women can live together in a committed relationship, with children. They can contribute to society. They can be your neighbors, your friends, your teachers, your policemen, your politicians, your soldiers. If one "slot A" and one "tab B" is all that's required for a marriage, then what a sad, depressing view of humanity and love yours must be.

    Michelle

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  62. You see, Michelle, in the worldview of the left could this...

    marriage is that institution “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring”

    …. which is enshrined throughout history in every culture, be seen as "discriminatory".

    I'll repeat Joe's words: If marriage is simply a social construct, it's certainly striking that all of these cultures across the globe, in both the New World and the Old, independently enshrined this construct at the heart of their cultures.

    And I will say this: Never did anyone say that marriage was only about sexual intercourse and consummation. But it's certainly a requirement that cannot be fulfilled by two men or by two women.

    Bride and groom are like lock and key. Complementarity and the procreative order are essential for true marriage.

    Why on earth would the state need to promote the "romantic" view of marriage, which has nothing to do with the traditional view? Lily says it's to "promote equality" ("equality" being the highest good for the left, as far as I can tell). Do you agree with her?

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  63. And in all seriousness, if you want to see a "sad, depressing" view of "love", read what the atheists said, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/01/is-christian-love-gibberish.html

    Now that's depressing.

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  64. existenceandessence,

    First, I do not think you are talking about an argument from tradition. You are talking about an argument from convention. An argument from tradition is inescapable. To even use a language is to be imbedded into a particular tradition. All tradition means is we are historical animals. The fact that we even reflect about whether or not a doctor should wash his or her hands demonstrates a tradition: namely the tradition of medicine. What we have issue with is the convention. So, either marriage is a mere convention or an important tradition that is a bedrock to human flourishing.

    1. You prove that being for polygamous, polyamorous, and incestuous marriages is more "pro-family" than traditional marriage. This would fall under the category of "fallacies of relevance" since we can easily prove the negation of the positive, showing that the argument is a argumentum ad populum. I mean come on, who wouldn't want to be pro more family?

    2. I think this misses the point. Joe is talking about the definition of what marriage is. You know, like my toilet doesn't take me to work in the morning "is" kind of question.

    3. The "legal" definition of marriage brings us back to the debate about what and from where does the state derive its power to make laws. Are laws just arbitrary social constructs? If so, then the state would be at liberty to make a law that anyone with the screen name "Brent" or "existenceandessence" must be put to death. Of course, we would say that this would violate our inalienable right. From whom? The state? The state cannot violate what the state has inviolably given? Says who?

    And to your central question, it is not so much about who is more deserving. For example, if we are discussing what a car "is", a good toilet is not more deserving to take me to work in the morning than a really bad car. A really bad car should be fixed not replaced by a well-working toilet. In this analogy, I don't mean it as a one-to-one. In other words, the point isn't to say "x" is a great toilet and "y" is a bad car, but rather to bring to bare the reality that when defining anything it is off the point to merely ask "who is deserving".

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  65. *only in the worldview of the left (sorry, that original was incoherent!!)

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  66. Complementarity and the procreative order are essential for true marriage.

    This comes back to "slot A" and "tab B." I'm going to make this really simple, and then leave if we don't get anywhere, because I do have other things to do:

    You have two families, each has two kids, say. One is headed by a same-sex couple, the other headed by an opposite-sex couple. Each family is loving and supportive, the kids are happy, both families make positive contributions to society. Is that first family less worthy of the benefits of legal marriage simply because either "slot A" or "tab B" is missing?

    Doesn't that seem ridiculous?

    Why on earth would the state need to promote the "romantic" view of marriage, which has nothing to do with the traditional view?

    I'm going to call straw man here, because like I said earlier, people of sound mind generally do not go into marriage thinking it's going to be all romantic and perfect forever. Until straight couples get married solely for children and shut up about "oh, we love each other so much," this argument is meaningless.

    Michelle

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  67. I have to run out the door in a few minutes, but just wanted to try to post some definitions for clarity.

    So a few definitions (all from a medical dictionary):

    Intercourse: Dealings or communications that occur between persons or groups.

    Sexual intercourse (a.k.a. "sex" for this discussion):
    1. coitus.
    2. any physical contact between two individuals involving stimulation of the genital organs of at least one.

    Coitus: Sexual union between a male and a female involving insertion of the penis into the vagina. Also called coition, copulation.

    So, the word sexual intercourse does not actually refer to the procreative sex of marriage, because the word does not mean that literally. As a society, however, we tend to use the term "sexual intercourse" or "sex" to mean coitus, which I think is part of the back and forth confusion over whether gay couples can have sex.

    When speaking about traditional marriage, procreation, etc., Catholics, as well as anyone referring to the act that has the potential for babies, the act unique to the opposite sex, are talking about coitus, which is impossible for gay couples. When others say gay couples can have "sex", they mean that they can participate in a myriad of sexual activities, but not coitus.

    So just wanted to clarify over the argument. The basic point is that gay couples cannot engage in coitus -- therein lies a very significant difference in male-female relationships vs. same-sex relationships. Would anyone argue that these relationships are exactly the same in this regard?

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  68. JoAnna, if homosexual sex doesn't exist what exactly are two naked men doing when they, to use your terms, "insert tab A into slot c and d"? or when a woman wears a "tab a" and inserts it into her partner's "slot b"?

    Only in the worldview of the conservative right would people claim that there is only one way to make love....talk about cold and uncreative!

    -gwen

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  69. You have two families, each has two kids, say. One is headed by a same-sex couple, the other headed by an opposite-sex couple.

    Same sex couples cannot make kids. Where did they get the kids? Is the couple two sisters who are widows who are raising their children together, for support? It can't be called "marriage".

    Or are you talking about two people who are of the same sex who want to live as if they are a husband and a wife? And then want to add children? How are they getting those children?

    To deprive, on purpose, a child of a mother or a father, for the purposes of making the adults happy, is just wrong.

    Michelle, since you don't believe there is any difference between men and women, I am guessing you don't think motherhood or fatherhood needs to be role modeled for children, correct?

    What it means to be a man/husband, or what it means to be a woman/wife…things that we believe it's important to impart to our children... that's all bunk, right? Because it's all the same in your opinion?

    Fatherless boys are not at any disadvantage? Motherless children lack nothing in their motherlessness?

    I know we've been over this, but I still have to ask, because I think you know that we need our moms and our dads. And motherhood and fatherhood are not the same.

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  70. if homosexual sex doesn't exist what exactly are two naked men doing when they, to use your terms, "insert tab A into slot c and d"? or when a woman wears a "tab a" and inserts it into her partner's "slot b"?

    Um, they are imitating heterosexual sex, but can't quite do it?

    I mean, seriously, Gwen?

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  71. Only in the worldview of the conservative right would people claim that there is only one way to make love....talk about cold and uncreative!

    Because sodomy and strapped-on d*ldos are so warm and loving!

    Sorry, but that is just too much…. I have no words….

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  72. Leila, you know how same sex couples get children. They can be from previous relationships, adoption, whatever. Do you really not know that? That same sex couples raise children? Who cares where they come from?! And do you really think that same-sex couples don't want the best for their children, that they're just going to the trouble and expense of raising children for fun? Not buying it.

    From what I understand, the legal benefits of marriage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States) don't concern you at all. These benefits, like the ones about making end-of-life decisions, hospital visitation rights, property inheritance - those all require that one member of the couple have a "slot A" and the other have a "tab B", huh?

    I'm not going to get into this argument about men and women again, because my answers aren't going to be any different from before. I think you know, deep down, that a same-sex couple is not an abomination and that their relationship is really no different from that of an opposite-sex couple.

    Michelle

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  73. I think you know, deep down, that a same-sex couple is not an abomination and that their relationship is really no different from that of an opposite-sex couple.

    It's *fundamentally* different, Michelle. In its very essence.

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  74. Leila, you know how same sex couples get children. They can be from previous relationships, adoption, whatever. Do you really not know that?

    Their relationship is in no way ordered toward life, and creation of life, of giving life, or even the possibility of any of that. They get children from others, but never, ever from their union. Their union is, of its essence, and in its order, sterile and lifeless.

    All they can do is imitate.

    I don't doubt that there are deep feelings there (read Marie's story), and there is almost a tragic edge to it all, but no matter what love they share for one another, it is not ever going to be the equivalent of marriage.

    Whether you can admit it or not, there is an order to life, to the universe, and to our very bodies.

    I think I need to do a Theology of the Body intro...

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  75. One question, then I'm leaving. This is getting too depressing.

    Do you (do any of you) know any same-sex couples personally?

    Michelle

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  76. Michelle,

    Yes, I do.

    And I agree, this is too depressing.

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  77. You know full well that two men or two women can live together in a committed relationship, with children. They can contribute to society. They can be your neighbors, your friends, your teachers, your policemen, your politicians, your soldiers. If one "slot A" and one "tab B" is all that's required for a marriage, then what a sad, depressing view of humanity and love yours must be."

    Michelle, I am sure they can and I know neighbors that are living in these situations. No one is arguing the goodness of homosexual persons.

    The problem is that in cultures that have legalized gay marriage, proponents of traditional marriage are being silenced swifter than you think the homosexuals are being marginalized. Couples in Britain who agree with Catholic teaching - not speak out, merely are found to agree - are denied adoption rights because they don't kowtow to the new legal definition. White supremecists have freer speech than Christians. Somebody will get pushed out. And that is traditional families in cultures who have gone that way.

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  78. Leila said: "And giving the right to "marry" to gay couples does not ensure "equal rights for all Canadians" -- not by a longshot. Where are the equal rights for polygamous Canadians? Or related Canadians? Or pedophile Canadians? Or Canadian children who wish to marry each other? Or Canadians who want to marry their dog?"

    Awww, now you're just being silly. Aren't you?

    The law, as I quoted it earlier, refers to “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.” Two persons. Not five. Not animals.

    As with any law that grants rights, it comes with responsibilities. Those who wish to take advantage of this law must show, by answering certain questions, that they meet certain requirements.

    It's a law. It came about after a lot of discussion and debate and ultimate agreement. People can't just come along and demand that it be tinkered with to somehow make it apply to your bizarre list.

    Believe me, we're not going to have Canadian children and Canadian animals getting married.

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  79. And you still see their relationship as destructive, disgusting, and all that? Very, very sad.

    I'm done here. I don't mean to be snarky, but this just makes me feel so lucky that I wasn't raised Catholic. This is not a loving or rational perspective, it's irrational hatred.

    Michelle

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  80. Monica, same-sex marriage is not legal in the United Kingdom.

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  81. Lily, nope, I'm not being silly. I'm honestly asking. How can you be for "marriage equality" and exclude polygamists and others? Straight up serious.

    Michelle, you say it's "irrational hatred" to believe that marriage is for brides and grooms. And you say this as a person who believes it is moral to hire doctors to crush the skulls of living babies and suck their brains out. You say this and yet you cannot say that the little dead girl in the casket was worthy of love. You couldn't tell me if she were trash or valuable. You said, as you looked at her battered dead body, that you'd couldn't make that determination unless you knew the "circumstances".

    But belief in traditional marriage, and that a child needs his mother and his father, is irrational hatred.

    You see, it's true that, as Prof. B. said, "We don't want the same things." Unfortunately, in the culture war we face, the gulf is unbridgeable.

    The only way to bridge the gulf is to convert hearts.

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  82. Lily, you missed Leila's point. We know what your Canadian law says. We're saying that if it's for the sake of "equal rights for all Canadians" then your government has failed. Where are the equal rights for people who want to marry their sibling, or for the man who wants to marry several women? They are Canadian citizens; they deserve equal marriage rights, yet they don't have them. You yourself just pointed out some examples of exclusions (not five people. not animals).

    See, one could legitimately say: "Those poor polygamist Canadians are being discriminated against by Canadian marriage laws." Do you get it now? Is this really about equal rights for all Canadians? Is that really what the State was interested in? Doubtful.

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  83. Lily, what Monica said about Christians being marginalized in England is exactly true. And it's in your own nation, too. And now ours. Not that we worry about the ultimate ending, of course, but it is sad to watch our religious freedoms washed away in nations which pride themselves on "tolerance".

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  84. Meg, thank you! That's what I wanted to say, but was not as clear as you.

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  85. It seems to me that the problem with this entire discussion relates to 'what is the sacramental element of marriage'? Nowhere in the language of marriage as sacrament does gender identification come up. There has long been debate about whether or not marriage is a sacrament but the Catholic Church has affirmed it as a sacrament and agrees it is also a contract between two individuals.
    I have wondered why marriage is a civil contract as the other sacraments are not civil contracts. It seems to me that the church should continue with sacramental marriage but the government can recognize other relationships. These relationships would be parent/child, civil unions, etc. although I do not know why the government has to define civil relationships at all. As for the argument that homosexuals cannot commit coitus thus marriage is impossible is not logical. If the church teaches that adultery takes place by wrong thinking then surely the church does not limit sexual intercourse to parts placed in parts.
    The Church does teach that marriage is to be open to creation which homosexuality is not but neither is sex after menopause or between one or two infertile persons. The argument made is that it may be divinely possible for life to occur in this situation. However, if divinity is part of the equation we know that a virgin gave birth. Indeed the Bible does not make the distinction between various sexual activity and the gravity of the sexual sin. So the argument that homosexual acts are sinful is a legitimate Catholic argument but is unrelated to the issue of government sanctioned relationships which allow hospital visitation, burial rights, estate rights, tax breaks, and custodial rights. When we discuss the issue of partnerships outside of the male/female pairing the controversy arises when we legislate morality. Of course we already do this and indeed the government must do this. But when one bases the entire premise on a theological concept such as immorality, we run the risk of a theocracy which is inherently a bad idea. We all agree the extremism of the Taliban is theocracy gone amok but it is a slippery slope to legislate relationships between two consenting adults on the basis of religious belief.
    One of the arguments I hear frequently is that two homosexual persons cannot raise a child in a committed relationship as well as two heterosexuals. The flaw in this dispute is that that is too big a generalization. Children are more frequently abused within families than outside of families but no one here wants to remove children from all parents. Children do better generally within a homosexual family than in group homes or foster homes. The Pope has asked Catholics to not support homosexuals in the adoption of children and as faithful Catholics I understand that position. However, again, where does the separation of church and state occur? Do we as Catholics really want to criminalize immoral behavior? Where do we draw the line? Should girls who expose their breasts on spring break in Palm Springs go to jail? That behavior is immoral but usually understood to be a very bad choice on the part of the girl and not criminal behavior. It seems to me that it is our job as Catholic Christians to pray for our brothers and sisters who, like ourselves, have not reach sainthood. It is not necessarily our job to make others lives more difficult to live. On the issues surrounding homosexuality, we can ignore that we are making others’ lives more difficult but can we forgive ourselves when our own behavior (well meaning as it may be) becomes the backbone for hatred towards individuals within a community?
    I am not attempting to flame or incite; I am trying to understand.

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  86. One more thing, Michelle. If Catholic teaching is "irrational hatred", then do you think it should be classified as "hate speech" to proclaim homosexuality acts as immoral or homosexual marriage as impossible? And if yes, what should the penalty for such hate speech be?

    I believe in Canada they do arrest preachers who preach Christian morality, and bring them before a panel for questioning and even fines and jail.

    Do you think that would make sense here? Why or why not?

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  87. JoAnna, if homosexual sex doesn't exist what exactly are two naked men doing when they, to use your terms, "insert tab A into slot c and d"? or when a woman wears a "tab a" and inserts it into her partner's "slot b"?

    Gwen... are you saying that the one of the main biological purposes of the rectum is to have a penis inserted in it? And that women are evolutionarily designed to strap on dildos and pretend they're men? What evolutionary or reproductive purpose does either of the above serve?

    Michelle, "hatred"? Where? From who? Are you, as a biologist, claiming that it constitutes "hatred" to state the biological facts regarding coitus? Wow. 

    Lily - surey you've heard of the Canadian professors currently advocating for the normalization of pedophilia? Do you think it's sheer coincidence that this is occurring a few short years after the Canadian government suddenly decided that marriage is meaningless? What about pastors being jailed for preaching about the sinfulness of homosexual acts -- that violation of religious freedom doesn't strike you as unjust or tyrannical?

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  88. Happygrrl, you have made so many different points and asked so many different questions that I will let Joe field them if he'd like (I've discussed most of them elsewhere), but I would ask you to read the following, to see why the push to demand acceptance of gay unions will end up harming Christians, and already has:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/08/catholics-your-misguided-compassion.html

    Also, heterosexual sex is ordered toward procreation, even if God does not open that door (due to age or broken reproductive systems). The act is still ordered rightly. Gay sex acts can never produce life, and are fundamentally disordered. (The anus, for example, is not ordered for the reception of a penis. Most people understand this.)

    Again, it's impossible to prove the obvious to someone who won't see it.

    Female and male bodies were made to go together and is ordered toward sexual union and life.

    Male bodies together? Not so much. That's not "hatred", that's just truth.

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  89. "I believe in Canada they do arrest preachers who preach Christian morality, and bring them before a panel for questioning and even fines and jail."

    What??? Do you actually believe this? Would you like to provide a link to such a story?

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  90. Lily, I believe JoAnna just did provide a link. Do your newspapers not cover such things?

    Gwen, you've got me curious now, since you think sex needs to be a lot more warm and creative than a husband and a wife coming together in the marital embrace. Do you think that sex is better the more "creative" it gets? You've said that dildos and sodomy are warm and creative, but what about, for example, sex in public? Or sex with many people (orgies)? How about pornography? Sadomasochism? Anything two (or more) people consent to? Is that more of what you mean by warm and creative?

    I'm seriously asking, not being snarky.

    Do you think married Catholics having sex is boring? I won't do a survey, but remember, Gwen, that most of the Catholics here have had sex the Planned Parenthood way for a good many years, and then sex the Catholic way. I think most have said the difference is like night and day, and they wouldn't go back for anything. Don't you worry about us Catholics. ;)

    And, do you think that Catholic teaching on human sexuality is "irrational hatred" like Michelle does?

    Thanks!

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  91. I've seen JoAnna's links now, from two of the most biased news outlets I can imagine.

    These stories can both be quite sensibly deconstructed and explained but it would take a long time, it's late at night, and no one here wants to hear it anyway.

    As for Meg -- and Leila who agrees -- I'm afraid these arguments really are deteriorating into silliness. Equal rights are always tempered by common sense. Extending marriage rights to consenting adult homosexuals doesn't mean that we have to let children drive the car and allow the dog to adopt a baby. Now that really is silly.

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  92. I still love Alan Keyes answer, here:
    http://youtu.be/KrD8zvCUtWc

    "...you have changed it's definition in such a way as in fact to destroying the necessity for the institution, since the ONLY reason it has existed in human societies and civilizations was to regulate from a social point of view the obligations and responsibilities attendant upon procreation. So when you start playing games in this way you are acting as if the institution has no basis independent of your own arbitrary will."

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  93. Lily, why not respond to the facts presented in the articles as opposed to their allegedly biased sources? I suppose your rebuttals will come from equally biased (i.e., anti-Christian, pro-gay) sources, so does that mean I am therefore entitled to discount the information presented?

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  94. Let's try to imagine, for a moment, how the entire idea of marriage in society may have come about. The distinction between sexual intercourse and coitus is relevant to this. Early on in mankind, people noticed that the union of a man and woman created entirely new people. Civilization realized that this special result required some special recognition. Does it make sense that, maybe, the ability to create an entirely new person may require some notice, a definition, some recognition in society?

    So people start to think, well, when man and woman get together, they create new people. What is the best way to go about structuring society so that children and mothers are not abandoned? They wonder if there is anything significant about this natural equation here and they ultimately determine this family unit out of the facts of nature. People still recognize that you can love others differently -- brother and sister, lovers, friends, etc. But the fact that man and woman can create an entirely new life on any given month is significant if only for furthering the entire human race.

    I get all the desires for recognition, love, tax breaks, etc., but why is it so wrong to set apart an extremely significant biological distinction in the male-female relationship apart from any other relationship? Why is it discrimination to acknowledge this very reality?

    People are still free to engage in other types of relationships. People are still free to write up legal contracts, wills, advanced directives, to live together, claim each other as dependents on taxes, help each other out, love each other in many, many capacities. It is not the law's place to intervene in those relationships, right or wrong, unless those relationships harm minors or result in death or imposes on someone else's basic rights. This doesn't mean that marriage is only about procreation, or that other people cannot have feelings, or that others cannot parent someone else's children, etc. But marriage distinctly recognizes this unique and procreative biological relationship between man and woman and structures this relationship within society for the benefit of the family. Yes, people are imperfect. Yes, some suffer from infertility. Yes, lots of different kinds of people love each other. But what is wrong with making this obvious natural distinction?

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  95. Thanks, Manda. That quote summarized it well.

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  96. These benefits, like the ones about making end-of-life decisions, hospital visitation rights, property inheritance

    I'm sorry, I still find this one of THE most ridiculous arguments. It's a called a Living Will, Power of Attorney and a general Will. Anyone and EVERYONE can create these and assign them to whomever they want. In fact, most heterosexual couples have these at some point in time anyway.

    Sorry, I don't buy the legal rights of marriage as a reason to allow same-sex marriage.

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  97. It isn't about the right to raise children, or have a medical health care power of attorney, or to leave your fortune to your partner after you die. All of that can be done with legal documents without marriage. It isn't even about the right to "hold" yourselves out as a couple that loves each other and builds a life together.

    Let's cut to the chase- we are talking about legitimacy. Same Sex advocates want the word marriage for the government stamp of approval to that lifestyle.

    I guess my question is how is allowing Gays to marry going to add to the stability of marriage in this country? Especially, since it is a lifestyle that traditionally supported a very hedonistic mindset.

    Most of the Gay marriage advocates talk about the RIGHT to marriage or the RIGHT to raise children or various other rights. But they don't say a lot that expresses the understanding about the responsibilities.

    The divorce rate is deplorable in the US. But let's look at the motivations of the young soon-to-be divorced couple. They love each other, they have a vague sense they want to build a life together, they want the societal and government "benefits" to being married. But they are mainly in it for themselves. That's why so many break up when they are no longer "happy."

    Why do Catholics get married? For the Sacramental grace to build lives together and raise children with the end in mind being to help each other get to heaven. That's what helps those marriage last right? The fact that it isn't just about you.

    My father-in-law was trying to tell me this before I got married. To be honest, I politely nodded and had no idea what he was talking about. It wasn't until a friend told me she was getting divorce after 3 years of marriage I started to understand what my FIL met that marriage isn't just about you, or the couple, or the Church, it is about the community.

    I have no problem allow homosexuals to bequeath their worldly goods to their partner, or having that partner make medical decisions for them, etc. But I have an issue with marriage. I just don't see how it is going to help us as a society take marriage more seriously.

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  98. It's actually "peg A into slot B", speaking in engineering terms. A tab isn't necessarily a receptacle of a peg. It's there with it's own purpose, but not necessarily to receive. Hmm... kinda like genital play, so there is a point in there somewhere.

    And to the angle of "let's tally how many gays you know", if we knew 10 or 20 or 100 what relevance does that have on the biological aspect of the argument? Zero.

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  99. These stories can both be quite sensibly deconstructed and explained but it would take a long time, it's late at night, and no one here wants to hear it anyway.

    Lily, I want to hear it. I am all ears, seriously. Tell me.

    As for Meg -- and Leila who agrees -- I'm afraid these arguments really are deteriorating into silliness. Equal rights are always tempered by common sense.

    I think it's common sensical that two men cannot get married. Seems completely obvious to me (and pretty much anyone who's every lived). To say otherwise is just, as you say, silly.

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  100. Lily,

    While I disagree with your conclusions, I’ve appreciated your comments, because I think you’ve consciously tackled the arguments that I laid out in the post. In general, you’ve been making two lines of arguments. The first is a legal positivist one: that marriage is whatever the State (in this case, the Canadian Parliament) happens to define it as. The second is an argument from equality, that the State has an interest in protecting or encouraging same-sex “marriages” to ensure “equal rights for all Canadians.”

    These arguments can’t both be right. This contradiction becomes apparent in the context of two gay brothers who want to wed, as we can see from one of your responses. After earlier noting that Canadian law restricts marriage to non-relatives, you added:

    When Joe asked me to define marriage, I said it wasn't up to me to define marriage -- Canadian law does that. Likewise, it isn't up to me to provide a reason why two gay men -- or anyone else -- have to be non-related. We believe in equal marriage and everyone does it according to the same rules and regulations.

    So your argument from equality would say that they should be able to. But your legal positivist argument would say both that they (a) shouldn’t, and (b) intrinsically can’t. That is, it’s not just that it’s illegal. It’s that incestuous marriage is a contradiction of terms, since you’re defining marriage to be only possible between non-relatives.

    Separately, both the argument from equality and the legal positivist argument are problematic. The positivist argument is circular: it would justify supporting the status quo, regardless of what it was. If marriage is nothing more than whatever the state says it is, then the state is always right, by definition. And the argument from equality presupposes a definition of marriage (since “marriage” is the right in question), which brings us back to the problems with your positivist argument.

    So we're still left without a clear (non-circular) definition of what marriage actually is.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  101. Manda, excellent quote!

    Elizabeth, exactly: why is it so wrong to set apart an extremely significant biological distinction in the male-female relationship apart from any other relationship? Why is it discrimination to acknowledge this very reality?

    Why is it "irrational hate"?

    StarFire, so true, this:

    It isn't about the right to raise children, or have a medical health care power of attorney, or to leave your fortune to your partner after you die. All of that can be done with legal documents without marriage. It isn't even about the right to "hold" yourselves out as a couple that loves each other and builds a life together.

    Let's cut to the chase- we are talking about legitimacy. Same Sex advocates want the word marriage for the government stamp of approval to that lifestyle.

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  102. To be honest I have a little bit of an issue being able to articulate "why" the Catholic belief should be law.

    Obviously, I agree with the Catholic stance that homosexuals are to have our support and kindness for their cross but to act on such desires is sinful. If acting on such desires is sinful there is no way there can be a marriage.

    But.....as an American in the land of free religion, how does it translate into law?

    I agree the Church gives us the Truth and any deviation from that truth leads to disorder. Hence, my questions about how will allowing Gay marriage make things better.

    I agree with Joe that the State has a social policy to support the traditional definition of marriage. But if the State decides Gays are just as good of parents.....does that policy really make sense?

    If we can't even prove killing an unborn child is a harm to society how can we show that a gay couple getting married is an indirect harm?

    I guess I'm asking for some insights from fellow Catholics out there. I know the religious argument. But Since we aren't in a Theocracy,how do we translate our religious views into our legal framework?

    I hope I am making sense.

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  103. "I'm sorry, I still find this one of THE most ridiculous arguments. It's a called a Living Will, Power of Attorney and a general Will. Anyone and EVERYONE can create these and assign them to whomever they want. In fact, most heterosexual couples have these at some point in time anyway.

    Sorry, I don't buy the legal rights of marriage as a reason to allow same-sex marriage."

    I can't believe people still say this. It isn't that simple, it's incredibly complicated, and same-sex couples often get hurt in the end.

    This entire post and comment thread is nauseating. I'm so glad this isn't my worldview.

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  104. Starfire, if you watch the 2 minute youtube video I posted, I think Alan Keyes does a fantastic job at doing what you ask. Fyi he's Catholic but he leaves religion out of his argument.

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  105. I can't believe people still say this. It isn't that simple, it's incredibly complicated, and same-sex couples often get hurt in the end.

    ...

    It's very simple, actually. My husband and I met with an attorney. It took us about two hours to discuss what we wanted. Our lawyer drew up rough drafts and e-mailed them to us. We e-mailed back and forth regarding changes for a few weeks. Our lawyer sent us final drafts in PDF form. We printed them out and went to the UPS store, where the documents were signed and witnessed by a notary. We also had friends sign the documents as witnesses. It really wasn't difficult at all, or complicated.

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  106. StarFire, It has to do with laws being based on natural law vs. legal positivism. Joe, if you ever want to do a guest post for me about the two approaches to law, I would be so grateful!

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  107. Thank you, Manda. Sadly, I won't get much out of the video because I am deaf. But I'll google him and see if I can't find his arguments in print.

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

    *wanders off to google*

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  108. It isn't that simple, it's incredibly complicated, and same-sex couples often get hurt in the end.

    We should destroy the traditional definition of marriage so that your legal rights don't have to be "complicated"? Sorry, Zach, lots of things are complicated and we do them.

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  109. Joanna,

    It's because you're in a heterosexual relationship.

    I know. It might come as shock to you, to know that there are many laws and policies within business and insurance companies that make things more complicated for same-sex couples. I appreciate the sentiment, though. If it was that simple I wouldn't be complaining. But unfortunately I've heard enough and seen enough to know it's not that simple.

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  110. We should destroy the traditional definition of marriage so that your legal rights don't have to be "complicated"? Sorry, Zach, lots of things are complicated and we do them.

    Um, the basic rights and privileges granted by marriage shouldn't be complicated, and lives shouldn't have be torn apart. Just because you're okay with same-sex couples dealing with unnecessary hardship doesn't make it right, and I think your comment might actually qualify you for bigotry, a rare honor. A widow shouldn't have to lose everything him and his partner built simply because his partner's cousins were uncomfortable with his sexuality. It's more than just complicated in these cases. I don't care if you think my life is sinful and disgusting, my choice of partner doesn't affect anyone and this basic inequality does.

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  111. A thought occurred to me and it's not a flippant one, as I mean it sincerely. There are plenty of polygamous marriages out there. How do those folks protect their legal rights? How complicated is it? Do they even bother, or do they get so frustrated that they want to be recognized as legally married, too? If we recognize two men as capable of marriage (which is impossible), then how can we possibly deny marriage to heterosexuals in polygamous relationships?

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  112. For the record, the instance with the "cousins" I referenced did happen. And they did have a legal will. And the judge overturned it because the indirect family apparently comes before widow in those cases due to laws like the DOMA.

    So no, it's not as simple as having a 2-hour appointment with a lawyer. We don't get that privilege.

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  113. (StarFireKK, See (3) below.)

    Happygrrl,

    My original post wasn't intended to be about a specifically “Catholic” view of marriage, but simply the traditional view that more or less everyone (of any or no religion) had for nearly all of human existence, and continues to have in most of the world. I quoted the Catholic Code of Canon Law just because I think it's a very helpful definition.

    Your questions, however, are specific to Catholicism, so some of my answers here will be, too.

    (1) First, you wondered “why marriage is a civil contract as the other sacraments are not civil contracts.” Good question. Marriage is both a religious and a social institution, which is why both the Church and the State have an interest in regulating and promoting it (and why the debate over gay marriage is necessarily both a political and a religious one).

    We Catholics recognize a distinction between sacramental marriage (between baptized Christians) and natural marriage. Both forms of marriage were instituted by God. Natural marriage predates the New Covenant. It’s prescribed as far back as Genesis 2:23-24, so it even predates the Old Covenant. Christ raises marriage to the level of a sacrament in the New Testament, but He’s building upon and glorifying what already existed.

    For this reason, you’ll find converts to Christianity who are already validly married (and whose marriages the Church recognizes as natural marriages). There’s no parallel with any of the other sacraments. There’s no “natural baptism,” or “natural confirmation,” etc.

    (2) You said: “The Church does teach that marriage is to be open to creation which homosexuality is not but neither is sex after menopause or between one or two infertile persons. The argument made is that it may be divinely possible for life to occur in this situation.

    No, the argument is that it’s physically possible. Plenty of people who were believed to be infertile or postmenopausal have become parents. It doesn’t take something like the Virgin Birth.

    (3) You said that “when one bases the entire premise on a theological concept such as immorality, we run the risk of a theocracy which is inherently a bad idea.” Go back to the original post. Is there anything that I wrote that argued from the basis of immorality or religion, etc.?

    Rather, my argument is that the state has a strong secular interest in protecting the traditional family. It’s the stable building block of every society – when families break down en masse, societies become far more chaotic, and far worse places to live. And that’s why every culture in the world, regardless of religion, has traditionally protected and promoted marriage (in the way that term has been traditionally understood: a heterosexual union with a possibility of children). That’s not a coincidence, and it’s not an argument from Catholicism. These cultures aren’t being irrational: they’re acting in their own (secular) best interest.
    As I’ve said, even places like Ancient Greece that condoned and encouraged homosexual behavior recognized that individuals were inherently incapable of marrying members of the same sex.

    Once again, we need to figure out what marriage is, and then determine if it’s something worth protecting.

    God bless,

    Joe.

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  114. Whoa… so far tonight I am an irrational hater and a bigot. Anyone want to go for the trifecta?

    Sheesh.

    Jesus must have been an evil guy to found such an evil Church which has taught the exact same thing in His name since the day He ascended.

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  115. And to be honest, the terms of bigot, hater and even racist are tossed around so easily by the left that they have lost their meaning, much like marriage. How I wish words still had meaning. It's how we communicate. Or it's how we should be able to communicate. That part makes me very sad.

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  116. Zach, you're honestly trying to claim that not a single lawyer will draw up a power of attorney document for homosexuals? Really?

    If a hospital or whoever won't honor a binding legal document, what makes you think they'd honor a marriage license? Seems like they'd reject both as opposed to honoring the latter over the former.

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  117. Michelle,

    You asked, “Do you (do any of you) know any same-sex couples personally?”

    When Leila answered yes, you used it as an excuse to decry her as an irrational bigot. I’m not sure there was any answer that would have avoided that cheap shot, but let me go ahead and share with you a bit.

    In college, my assistant debate coach was in a long-term gay relationship (although he was initially against judicially-created gay marriage rights, out of a fear of public backlash). At the time, I was in favor of gay marriage (I didn’t see any legitimate secular argument against it, and it seemed only fair). Eventually, I changed my mind on the question of gay marriage. And the reason had a lot to do with the question that I presented in the original post: what is marriage?

    I came to the realization that every society had independently concluded remarkably similar things about what marriage was. And I realized that we in the West were quickly tossing that answer in the garbage heap of history, but we weren’t replacing it with anything. It would have been bad enough if we’d said, “We disagree with your definition of marriage: here’s ours.” But we weren’t. We were just saying, “We disagree with your definition of marriage, but we don’t really know what marriage is.”

    If you don’t believe me, look around at this comment thread.

    My original post centered around a single question, and its implications: “What is marriage?” We’re at well over a hundred comments so far, and none of the same-sex marriage promoters have been able to answer this question in a non-circular manner. Only one has even attempted. That’s remarkable, really, particularly since I’ve continued to ask it (over and over and over) in the comments themselves. In lieu of a coherent counter-definition of marriage, we’ve seen a lot of straw man argumentation, cheap shots, and name-calling.

    So for me, it came down to this. I can understand the arguments for traditional marriage, and they make sense. I can’t understand (and indeed, haven’t heard) the arguments for traditional marriage plus gay marriage, but not consensual incestuous marriage or polygamous marriage.

    Likewise, I can understand the arguments for government protecting and favoring traditional marriage. I can’t understand (and indeed, haven’t heard) the arguments for the state’s interest in favoring any and every romantic / sexual dalliance.

    At every turn, I realized that one side of the gay marriage debate made a clear set of philosophical arguments about what marriage was, why it was worth the government’s protections, and why this definition of marriage including only one man and one woman. The other side seemed to rely a lot on shaming their opponents into silence, or shouting them down, or demonizing them as bigots, or mocking them (often in pretty vile ways). In other words, one side made an argument, the other side made a spectacle.

    Your response to this is to say: “This is not a loving or rational perspective, it's irrational hatred.” Fine. Keep going with the shaming / shouting down / demonization route. It’s effective right now in making a lot of gay marriage opponents feel guilty. But it’s intellectually dishonest, and eventually, people are going to wake up to that.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  118. Demonization route? I don't know if you've read the comments here, but there's an awful lot of demonization against us. Lots of heckling and "I know you don't believe that" and consistently bringing up past statements to discredit unrelated arguments (which Leila has done here, and on many, many other posts). The minute something other than flowers and bunnies comes out of an atheist's mouth here, it's taken as us being rude.

    Believe me, you are not persecuted or demonized or shamed in this country. I just heard today that 70% of Democrats wouldn't want an atheist president. "In God We Trust" was just reaffirmed as our national motto. If you're feeling demonized, imagine how we must feel.

    This says it better than I ever could: http://goo.gl/tnKg9

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  119. Michelle, you called belief in heterosexual marriage (which has been understood in every age, race, culture, class and creed) "irrational hatred". Do you think that is rational?

    Bottom line, you have once again failed to address the actual points in the post.

    All I've ever wanted on this blog is to get to some answers. I know I am not the only one frustrated.

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  120. All I've ever wanted on this blog is to get to some answers.

    But you know what you believe, and you know what we believe and what, to you, the logical progression of ideas should be given our beliefs, right? I often get the sense when I'm here that you know exactly what you want me to say, and that's why I sometimes end up having to argue why I agree with you. It's very frustrating.

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  121. Michelle, what I'm saying is that there are always so, so, so many unanswered questions. Some which are asked multiple times, on multiple posts. It's not just you. It's several others. We ask questions, and just when it gets a little difficult to answer or defend, we never hear back from them again. The questions hang in the air. No answer. I try to remember the more common ones, and then I do bring them up again when I can. For example, MaiZeke still won't tell me why abortion is generally "bad". And Zach never let me know why Peter Singer is a "bad person" for his beliefs. And Miss Gwen left many questions unanswered in the Gosnell thread.

    Everyone says they don't have "time" to answer. But even when we ask repeatedly, we hear nothing.

    I'm challenging you when I ask the questions. Challenging you to think it through and write something logical. Like I said, I will take a logical answer, even if I hate it. I think Singer is logical. Wrong on his premise, but logical and consistent.

    If you ask me a question, especially repeatedly, I will answer it.

    Anyway, frustrated.

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  122. Reading this Post reminds me of the age-honoured culture of my people, the largest tribe in Kenya. Marriage was honoured as a sacred and permanent Commitment. Once you entered into it, you were required to do everything in your power to ensure harmony and stability of the Family. Romance was never, ever the basis of marriage. Maturity and understanding of the purpose of marriage as the foundation of the Community and the protection of the new Family was the sole criteria which both Families of the bridge and the bridegroom used to consent to the marriage. As a result, divorce was unheard of in a Kikuyu marriage and Community. Children were brought up to understand that sex was strictly for the married. Result? no promiscuity or illegitimate children and girls went into marriage virgins. Boys were bound to never engaged in sex until the wedding day. Boys and girls were taught about the sacredness of their sexuality and its sole purpose as intended by God and our Ancestors - procreation and bringing up of disciplined, responsible children who would uphold the dignity of Parenthood and the Community in general. Sadly, this Sacred Custom and ancient Family set-up is facing serious threats from the Western culture regarding sexuality, marriage, the Family and the upbringing of children. Infidelity in marriage is now widespread, leading to divorces and separations where marriages were entered into under the Catholic Faith. Very, very sad indeed.

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  123. I wanted to comment in Lily's messages but haven't gotten thru all of the comments yet. My apologies if I'm repeating anyone else's comments.

    I can see how Canadian marriage law Provides euality. There have to be 1) two people who 2) meet the requirements. No couple that meets those standards is denied marriage. No couple that fails to meet those standards is allowed to marry. Therefor, there is equlity in Canadian law.

    But by that standard, Canadians already had marriage equality. You had to have two people, one male, one female, who met certain additional requirements. No couple who met those standards was denied marriage. No couple that did not meet those standards was denied marriage.

    There has not been an increase in equality in Canada, there has merely been a change in standards. Since those standards do not allow for polygamy, there is equality in the law and yet there is discrimination. Maybe less discrimination than before, but there is still discrimination. Polygamists, and there are polygamists in Canada, are being discriminated against.

    The law was "equal" in Canada before you allowed gays to marry.


    However, by that standard, Canadian law already granted equality. You had to be

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  124. "Believe me, you are not persecuted or demonized or shamed in this country. I just heard today that 70% of Democrats wouldn't want an atheist president. "In God We Trust" was just reaffirmed as our national motto. If you're feeling demonized, imagine how we must feel."

    That is what it takes for you to feel demonized? Seriously?

    The fact that a country that is made up of theists might not wish to have an atheist as a president?

    Now if you said you heard "70% of democrats would support a bill to outlaw any public speaking of atheism", then you would probably have a right to say "we are being demonized!"

    But just because they won't elect one as a president?

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  125. Oops! That last line in my post isn't supposed to be there. I was typing on an ipod, the screen froze and when it unfroze it seemed to have lost that line so I just started over. Sorry about that!

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  126. I am a Canadian, and the approval of gay marriage was a sad day for Canada!!!

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  127. Starfire, I'm sorry! I tried looking for the in print version of what Keyes said but couldn't find it...his basic premise was:

    Where procreation is, IN PRINCIPLE, impossible, marriage is irrelevant.

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  128. Um, the basic rights and privileges granted by marriage shouldn't be complicated, and lives shouldn't have be torn apart. Just because you're okay with same-sex couples dealing with unnecessary hardship doesn't make it right, and I think your comment might actually qualify you for bigotry, a rare honor. A widow shouldn't have to lose everything him and his partner built simply because his partner's cousins were uncomfortable with his sexuality. It's more than just complicated in these cases. I don't care if you think my life is sinful and disgusting, my choice of partner doesn't affect anyone and this basic inequality does.

    As with what Joanna said, your problem is with courts and institutions failing to uphold legal documents, NOT with the institution of Marriage.
    And if Marriage afforded heterosexual couples all of these wonderful legalities, then why, why, why, do WE still have Living Wills, POAs, and general Wills. Your only deluding yourself if you think a marriage license protects heterosexual couples from unscrupulous people/family/businesses. Does it happen to homosexual couples more often? Probably, but that has nothing to do with marital status.

    Heck in the state I live in, if I don't have a Will saying that my children are to be with their father if anything should happen to me, they become wards of the state. He's their biological father, but if something happens to me first, the state gets them before he does unless I specify otherwise.

    I agree with Starfire, the real reason gays want same-sex marriage is because they want the government to validate their lifestyle. You might say you don't need validation, but if you (general you here) really didn't need validation we wouldn't have cases like we do here in Illinois, where the state is forcing Catholic Charities out of the foster care system because they won't place children with same-sex couples. They'd refer people to other agencies that would, but that's not good enough. Either Catholic Charities must validate these relationships by going against their own beliefs, or they must not help anyone.

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  129. As JoAnna has said about "marriage equality" in this nation:

    Marriage rights ARE equal in this country - one unencumbered consenting adult has the right to marry one unrelated, unencumbered consenting adult of the opposite sex.

    No inequality at all. We all play by the same rules.

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  130. Manda- No need to apologized! I looked for a print version too. When I couldn't find it I recruited my husband to translate for me. :-)

    Bethany- you took the words out of my mouth!

    Zach- It is a tragic situation you described. Not knowing the specifics I can't comment on why the court did what it did. But there ARE lots of ways around the probate courts: trusts, joint ownership and transfer on death beneficiaries. It really is as simple as going to a lawyer. Most Estate Planning attorneys help people set up ways to transfer property without having to go through the courts and the Will is more of a fail-safe than the line of first defense.

    I hardly believe the "widow" got nothing. (If it was a guy, wouldn't it be widower?) Bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts all have payable on death beneficiaries. Land and cars can be owned as joint owners. Those things aren't under the jurisdiction of the courts.

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  131. I'm still interested in if Michelle or others think that Church teaching should be prosecuted as "hate speech"?

    If so, I'm in trouble, as my blog would convict me easily!

    Also, still interested in Lily explaining what really happened in Canada with the pastor and the tribunal. Thanks!

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  132. Joe- I'd like to take a stab at what Same Sex advocates would consider marriage:

    Two adults who consent to build a life together for the purposes of mutual security Including, but not limited to the following activities: building assets to maintain a family home, joint ownership of said assets, raising any possible children the couple has legal custody of, engaging in sexual activity and sexual fidelity, making medical and end of life decisions for their partner.

    I think you have to have sexual activity in there otherwise it could include roommates.

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  133. What about the rights of the children?

    No one has the right to have or raise a child, no one, gay or straight. A child does have rights, one of which is to be raised (if possible) by their biological father and mother united in permanent marriage (which creates - and is ordered to creating - a family).

    To protect the rights of the most vulnerable (small children) the State has the duty to defend traditional marriage.

    Too often, we only think of the supposed "rights" of adults without considering the actual rights of children. Of course, this can be most plainly seen in the "right to terminate a pregnancy" if it is found inconvenient for the adult involved.

    To deliberately deprive a child of a father or mother is to deliberately violate their rights. Arguing that a homosexual union may produce a "happy home" or that a homosexual couple may be "good parents" is moot. No amount of love or good intentions can make a male into a mother (another scientific fact).

    And yes I personally know same sex couples. I also have a cousin that murdered 3 people. The fact I like someone does not mean I must condone every action they take.

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  134. StarFireKK,

    Why only two people? Why do they have to be adults? and why must there be sexual fidelity?

    In other words, what justification can be given to prohibiting polygamy, pedophilia, or "swinger" marriages?

    If SSM advocates are arguing for "equality" on what grounds can they exclude people who want to engage in these unions?

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  135. Nathan, exactly! "What about the rights of the children?" A question you never hear (unless it's about the child's right to have sex... which we covered in another post).

    The rights of the children are the last consideration regarding the discussion of marriage today (starting with no-fault divorce). We become increasingly selfish, and the children become more and more lost due to the arrested adolescence of the "grown-ups".

    But you nailed it when alluding to abortion. If the group that pushes for same-sex "marriage" is also the group that pushes for abortion on demand and without apology, then what can we expect? Children's rights or needs are meaningless. Children themselves, in the case of abortion, are meaningless and of no value.

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  136. Hi all,
    I am seriously interested: What do Zach and Michelle and Lily say to polygamists? Do they say that marriage is only for two people because there is something special about two? Or do you say that allowing legal polygamy will be harmful to society because it makes property inheritance difficult? I am just interested in your argument against polygamy or polygyny. As I see it, polygamy is the greatest challenge to same sex marriage.

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  137. Mary, great question and here's something I never thought of before. When I think of polygamy, I always think of heterosexual polygamy (man with several wives, and of course the children that come from those unions). I have never once thought about homosexual polygamy.

    What would that look like? Why doesn't anyone ever think of that? It's not natural for our minds to go there. Would that mean one man has a bunch of other men that he does sex acts with separately (each distinct?). Would he and the other men all have sex acts together? Could any of the men have sex acts with any of the other men, so that anyone can be with whomever he wanted to?

    And why would we ever call this marriage? And yet, heterosexual polygamy has been part of the marriage landscape forever.

    Does anyone else see the weirdness in this and how no one would ever accept gay polygamy as marriage? Or would they?

    Or, could several lesbians and several gay men "marry" in a big polygamous situation where the men do sexual things with the men and the women with the women? And could this be called "marriage", too?

    I'm not being snarky. I'm asking. Michelle? Zach? Gwen? Anyone?

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  138. I would like to put forth the statement that I would like to see more energy and attention on this blog and other outlets paid to no-fault divorce. Read http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/232863/marriage-contract-should-still-be-contract-carrie-lukas.

    No-fault divorce makes the word "marriage" less meaningful than same sex marriage does, in my opinion.

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  139. I know I said I was gone, but I feel the need as a gay MARRIED man in Massachusetts (because regardless of what you believe Leila it is possible) to say a few things.
    1. We don't want or need validation of our lifestyles. Really most of us have the same lifestyle as you (and please don't point out the obvious "I have a partner of the opposite sex", but look at what you life entails. Paying bills, shopping, going out with friends, raising families, if you need I can show you how much the same our lifestyles are). What we want is the federal recognition of the importance of our relationships that provide equal rights and protections to different sex marriage.
    2. It is not up to us to give you reasons why plural marriage, incestuous marriages or marriage to animals is any different. It's for those to argue why they should have it.
    3. There is a difference between civil marriage and religious marriage. Many of you religious seem to think government should not be involved in marriage at all. So maybe we agree government should not be involved.
    4. You fight for the word marriage because of tradition. Because it is ordered. But then you also say the government should not offer any recognition of our relationships because it infringes on your rights and beliefs. Do I have this wrong?
    5. Sadly legally binding documents time and time again are not worth the paper they are printed on. Many have lost all they have worked for because of families who disagree with homosexuality. Marriage certificates can be more enforced. I know different states have different laws, but see even then all who are married have to follow those laws in the state. The question is why should homosexuals have to go to the extra length if it is not required in their state via marriage?
    6. Definition of marriage for me. The joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership. Family may or may not result.
    7. Could we please put the slot a tab b, genital play foolishness to rest. I think we all know that sexuality encompasses an abundance of different acts. Yes two men and two women cannot sexually make a baby. Are you really telling me that none of you catholics EVER engage in any other acts?

    Ok, hope this is all coherent. As long as we don't come back at me with the foolish pedophelia/animal marrying I will try to answer/respond to what you have to say.

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  140. Mary, I wonder if my suspicions are right that most everyone who supports gay "marriage" also supports no fault divorce laws.

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  141. I forgot to mention that I indeed take marriage seriously. I know it is hard work, and both my husband and I acknowledge that it is more than a romantic love. But make no mistake, our relationship on that end is no different than yours, so to suggest it is just shows and amazing amount of ignorance. We don't live with your defintions of moral or sin. And you really cannot expect us to. I am not teli\ling Leila and JoAnna they have to get married to each other, why do you all think it is ok to tell me how to act or what to do?

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  142. Starfire KK,

    Thanks for answering. Your answer is illuminating, and raises an obvious follow-up question. If we bought into this definition of marriage, why would the state want to promote this?

    I wrote a separate post responding to you here, and exploring the question of what the state's interest is in promoting gay "marriage."

    In a nutshell: why should the state give Mark and Jim separate rights and benefits if they're "married," as opposed to if they're just long-term roommates, or an unmarried couple (gay or straight)?

    Joe

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  143. Early on, Michelle said:


    "Do you really not know that? That same sex couples raise children? Who cares where they come from?!"

    The children do. Marriage is ultimately about children, about raising them in a situation that is most likely to benefit them. We are treating children now as social experiments. We will find out over the next generation how well we've done, both by weakening marriage to the point that it is almost meaningless (popular song: "It's a beautiful night/we're looking for something dumb to do/hey, baby, I think I wanna marry you. Is it that look in your eyes/or is it this dancing juice?/who cares, baby? I think I wanna marry you") to raising them purposely in a situation that leaves them without an opposite-sex parental role model, and with no connection to at least one biological parent. How will it turn out? We'll see. It's not irrelevant to the children, even if it is to you.

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  144. But alan, no one is trying to make it illegal for you to live with whomever you wish, and do whatever you wish with that person. You have that right even in a state which did not legalize gay "marriage".

    Ultimately this issue isn't about what you want or what I want. It's not about the "wants" of adults. It's about what is best for society and for children.

    You are okay with redefining marriage to mean something entirely new (and centered on the "desires" of adults), and I am not okay with redefining marriage to mean something entirely new. I think it's detrimental for society in general, and for children specifically.

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  145. "Who cares where they come from?!"

    The children do.


    Sharon, you just said a mouthful. Thank you.

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  146. Joe, excellent follow-up post, and I've linked it to the bottom of this one.

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  147. This is time-consuming though -- reading all the comments, looking up stuff, trying to find the right words that won't be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

    It's also frustrating because it's clear, as the discussion proceeds, that nothing is going to change and the two "sides" will be entrenched as least as deeply as they ever were.

    Just two quick things and then I have to go out. I'll be back a little later to respond to specific points.

    1. There are many people who suffer from severe physical disabilities, impotence, other infirmities. They are unable to perform the marital act but they are able to love and pleasure each other and make a lifelong commitment to each other.

    In this discussion, their marriages are devalued, relegated to the B-list, not quite as good as yours and mine.

    That makes me feel so bad.

    2. There is no legal contract, no power of attorney, no living will that can breach a hospital's regulations about restricting visitors.

    So you can have one half of a same-sex couple ill in hospital and when he's in ICU or recovery -- or, in fact, on his death bed -- the hospital will say "immediate family only" may come in.

    The loving partner, the loyal care-giver is left sitting in the hall while an often-hostile family is admitted to say final good-byes.

    It happens -- but not if that's your legal spouse in there.

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  148. In Response to:
    6. Definition of marriage for me. The joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership. Family may or may not result.

    This raises several questions.

    1) Why should the State recognize anyone's definition of anything for "me". If you are arguing for SSM, you have to argue that the definition you supply is for everyone, and that the State should enforce and protect that definition. This, of course, requires the State to have an interest in doing so.

    2)Why limit the definition to two individuals? There has to be a reason to limit marriage to two individuals, not three or four or more.

    3)What do you mean by committed? Till death do you part? Until the "two individuals" are no longer in love? Something else? How should this be enforced (if at all)?

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  149. Nathan-

    I think the counter arguments would be as follows:

    Why only 2? The State has the right to limited the number of marriages because it is statistically likely families with more than two spouses will require more state aid.

    Why only adults? The State has laws stating children cannot consent to sex, contracts and various other things because they do not have the mental and emotional maturity. Allowing children to get married is not going to increase stability.

    Nathan, I agree with your post about children. But I think Same Sex advocates don't associate raising children with getting married. I think it is one of the reasons both sides have a hard time communicating.

    I think Same Sex advocates consider raising children as a PART of the marriage but not the end of the marriage itself. After all not all married couples have children.

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  150. Lily,

    You make a great case... for changing hospital regulations NOT for changing marriage.

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  151. 2. There is no legal contract, no power of attorney, no living will that can breach a hospital's regulations about restricting visitors.

    And why is it easier to entirely redefine and devalue a societal institution that has existed for time immemorial than to simply change hospital regulations?

    Mary, I agree with you regarding no-fault divorce.

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  152. Lily, I have no illusions that anyone participating will change their minds. Please read the "Please Read First" up on top of my blog, which mentions my purposes specifically.

    And just as an FYI, couples (heterosexual) who cannot physically engage in the marital act (sexual intercourse/coitus) cannot be validly married. That capability for consummation must be there, or else all you have is a very close friendship.

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  153. StarFireKK,

    I'm not sure how having more spouses (and potential breadwinners) would necessitate more state aid.

    As far as SSM advocates not associating raising children with marriage, I think you are 100% right. This whole debate is a necessary consequence of the acceptance of contraception. As soon as sex and marriage become about sexual gratification apart from the upbringing of children the door is open for homosexual unions. The only way forward (as far as I can see) is reestablishing the inherent link between marriage and the begetting of children or as we used to say "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage" - something kids understand instinctively, but adults seem only too wiling to forget.

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  154. Hi, Alan!

    I enjoyed your quite reasonable tone, and hope that you find my response in kind:

    1. To be clear, what we're dealing with isn't whether you want to consider yourself "married." It's whether the state should legally recognize such a "marriage," and promote it by conferring on it the accompanying rights and benefits.


    2. We know the traditional definition of marriage. What we don't know if what you're promoting as an alternative, and why that alternative wouldn't include consensual incest and polygamy. So the burden is on you there. As Leila pointed out, there doesn't seem to be any rational reason to require two gay men to be non-relatives in order to marry.

    3. I think it makes sense for the government to promote traditional marriage, for the good any potential children. If a heterosexual couple is having sex (coitus, specifically), there’s a good likelihood that they’ll end up having children. As such, there’s good reason for cultures to encourage couples having sex to be married: that is, to make a lifelong contractual commitment to each other, for better or worse. Otherwise, you get all sorts of problems tied with broken homes, and the like.

    But I think I agree with you on the issue of gay marriage: why should the state be involved?

    In the case of polygamy, the state recognizes the first marriage, and the other weddings are legally-unrecognized private ceremonies. The couples consider themselves married, but the state doesn't consider them as such. Why isn't gay marriage treated this same way? If you want to consider yourself married, you're free. Why should the state be required to recognize it?

    4. I think it's a bit more complex than that. Marriage is defined how it is, not because of arbitrary tradition, but because it's tied to coitus and children. The state wants to protect and promote families.

    Changing this definition of marriage seems to undermine the institution that marriage laws are set out to protect. The end point, as you signaled in 3, is the removal of any governmental recognition of marriage at all.

    (continued – sorry it’s so long!)

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  155. (part II)

    5. You're right that marriage bestows a set of rights not (easily) acquired by the unmarried. This is true of both the gay and straight. A straight guy dating a girl whose parents hate his guts finds himself in the same position as a gay guy "married" to a guy whose parents hate his guts.

    The reason, as I mentioned above, is that the state is trying to incentivize marriage in order to promote stability for any children born into these romantic unions. This has distinct benefits for kids, but you're absolutely right that it comes at certain costs for those who don't enjoy these marriage benefits (again, gay and straight alike).

    So then the question really becomes: do we, as a society, find these costs worth it, in order to help ensure that kids are born into a traditional family and a stable environment?

    I'd say yes, and think that as a result, we should continue to recognize and reward heterosexual marriage (and it alone). But if you say no, the answer doesn't seem to be gay "marriage." It seems to be to blow up civil marriage completely. Nobody gets any benefits or rights, or everybody gets them. Gay "marriage" is an arbitrary halfway point.

    6. Thanks for providing a definition (that's sincere, if you couldn't tell). But the definition seems incredibly broad: "The joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership" could cover long-term dating, engagement, and even the formation of an LLC. But it also seems arbitrarily narrow: why only two individuals? And for that matter, why only individuals, and not (for example) corporations merging to form a new corporation?

    I just don't see any State interest in promoting "the joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership."

    7. I may be misunderstanding the point of that side discussion (I haven't been a part of it), but I understood the reason not to be about proclaiming the virtues of coitus over all other forms of sexuality, but recognizing that heterosexuals alone have coitus, and thus, carry a possibility that their sex will lead to new children.

    As a result, the State seems to have an interest in promoting or regulating heterosexual coitus (and the relationships giving rise to it) in a way that it doesn't for homosexuals or non-coital heterosexual relationships.

    So again, I can see a reason to promote marriage for "coital relationships" (if you'll pardon the term). But otherwise, why should the State be involved at all?

    God bless,

    Joe

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  156. Nathan,

    I agree. A friend of mine relayed a lecture she heard at Hillsdale, in which the professor said: "You can't be for contraception, and against gay marriage."

    I think that overstates things (since even contraceptive coitus is potentially reproductive), but you're right about the connection. When we lose part of the meaning of sex, we start to forget the meaning of marriage.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  157. Nathan,

    I think the following would be the counter arguments:

    Why only two? The State has a reason to limit the number of marriages because it is statistically likely families with more than one spouse will need State assistance. Also I think you can make an argument that it is more burdensome for the State to try to revamp the rules considering taxation and the like to include multiple marriages rather than the gender of those married. The State could say the "benefits" of polygamy are not worth the administrative costs to implement such change.

    As for children? The State already makes the determination children cannot consent to contracts, sex or various other things because they lack the mental and emotional maturity. I don't see why the standard arguments against children marrying wouldn't apply here.

    Please understand I don't agree with these reasons- I'm just trying to figure out what the other side's argument would be.

    I'm going to go read Joe's post now.

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  158. Opps, sorry for the double post. Technical error.

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  159. Nathan and Joe, you are right about that connection. I wrote about it here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-devout-secularists-and-devout.html

    An excerpt (showing that both sides "get it")….

    Contraception and Homosexual "Marriage"

    In July 1997, Philip Lawler wrote an excellent article about homosexuality in The Catholic World Report, which I've saved to this day. In it, Lawler quotes homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan* from his book, Virtually Normal:

    The heterosexuality of marriage is intrinsic only if it is understood to be intrinsically procreative; but [with the acceptance of contraception] that definition has long ago been abandoned by Western society.

    The response from Lawler, a faithful Catholic:

    If Sullivan's premise is correct, then his logic is inexorable. If [sex] is robbed of its distinctive quality -- its fecundity -- then there is no rational explanation for a public policy that restricts that franchise to heterosexuals.

    They are right. If a culture accepts the marriage act stripped of its essence and purpose, with willfully sterilized sex now the norm within marriage, then that culture will be hard pressed to find a philosophical leg to stand on when traditional marriage needs defending. Pro-contraception Christians are in a particularly hard spot.

    The redefining of marriage began with society's acceptance of contraception, and both gay activists and the Catholic Church know it.

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  160. Alan, Gwen, Zach and everyone else that is getting a bit offended by our arguments and wondering how in the world we could be good people and say these things. Let me give you an analogy.

    As I stated earlier, I am deaf. Let's say I decided to announce in Leila's combox I have a lifelong ambition to run the Sonar on a Submarine. What most of you will think and what everyone that knows me in real life would say is:

    "Starfire, sweetie, I'm not sure you realize this....but you can't _hear_ the sonar."

    I am physically incapable of doing that job. Now am I less of a person because I can't do that job? Or be a receptionist, police dispatcher, air traffic controller, telemarketer etc? No. Are people guilty of "hate speech" when they tell me I can't do these jobs? Ummm, no.

    That's how Catholics view gay marriage. The parts don't add up to make a baby so how _can_ you be in a marriage?

    I hope that helps shine some light on how we view the world. It just seemed like it was getting a bit tense.

    Joe- Thanks for the answer- let me think for a bit and get back to you.

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  161. Leila, as far as I am concerned I am not redefining marriage, except for the words man and woman. Gays get married and "procreate". Many children are raised by gay parents. I wonder how those children would answer the do you care who you are raised by question.
    Some marriages do not include children, yet they are still legal. Again as stated before I fight for civil marriage.

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  162. StarFireKK, thank you! What a great analogy! It's not "mean" or "hateful" to tell you that you can't do certain things. Just like it's not "mean" or "hateful" to tell a blind man that he cannot get a driver's license.

    I have learned that those on the left put "equality" (and "feelings"!) as the highest good and consideration, no matter the situation. That is problematic in so many ways!

    I have a memory of John Stossel interviewing Gloria Steinem many years ago. He was making the point that for some jobs requiring a great deal of upper body strength, men do a better job. For example, he mentioned firefighting. He said that physical strength is crucial when pulling unconscious adults out of burning buildings efficiently, esp. with stairs, etc. Ms. Steinem was not seemingly able to accept that some jobs are better suited to big, strong men. She said that a woman firefighter could save the person, too, by dragging the unconscious body down the stairs by the ankles!! (Presumably the victim getting a concussion as the head gets banged on each step all the way??). It just seemed so ideological and so absurd!

    But again, for them, it's about "equality" for the person who "wants" something they think is owed them, not about what is best for the actual victim, or who could best do the job!

    Sorry if that is a non sequitur, but I've often thought of that absurd interview throughout the years!

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  163. Alan, but you are fundamentally redefining it from inherently heterosexual and procreative to "not that at all". That is an essential difference, i.e., in its essence.

    No child who loves his parents, no matter who they are, is going to say they want to be with someone else. But if you a child born of a sperm donor if he is happy about that, you think he would be? Or if you ask a motherless child if he wished for a mother, wouldn't you think that child (without pressure from people in the room) would admit to wanting a mom?

    Gosh, even children of divorce want their homes to be intact. They don't want the fighting, but they want their parents to stop the fighting and live in a peaceful home with mom and dad together.

    Can you answer Joe's points specifically? Your comment seems not to even touch his points, although maybe you are crafting that response, and if so, sorry!

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  164. Alan said "Gays get married and procreate." I suppose we have reached that point in the discussion where we no longer recognize reality. Sorry, but two men or two women cannot procreate together. As far as your comment on parenting, I'd point out it is impossible for a gay man to be a better mother than a woman, simply b/c he cannot be a mother at all. Does the left still believe in objective science or is that something only Catholics believe these days?

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  165. @ Nathan
    "Why should the State recognize anyone's definition of anything for "me". If you are arguing for SSM, you have to argue that the definition you supply is for everyone, and that the State should enforce and protect that definition. This, of course, requires the State to have an interest in doing so."

    It is for everyone, you too can marry another man. Sorry if you are a woman, the name Nathan leads me to think you are a male.

    "2)Why limit the definition to two individuals? There has to be a reason to limit marriage to two individuals, not three or four or more."

    You are right, I should not argue for/against pologamy, that is their arguement. I will simply argue for what I believe. But I believe even Leila has admitted it is hard to argue against pologamy due to the fact that it leads to procreation which is tantamount to marriage for you all.

    "3)What do you mean by committed? Till death do you part? Until the "two individuals" are no longer in love? Something else? How should this be enforced (if at all)?"

    What do you mean by committed Nathan? Is commited not part of your definition of marriage?
    As stated before I plan to be married to my husband until one of us dies. I don't plan to divorce, I take the vows seriously. So if you want to say until death do you part, ok fine throw that in my definition.

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  166. Alan, here is an article, from Slate no less, which shows that kids of sperm donors are not really all right:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/06/the_spermdonor_kids_are_not_really_all_right.html

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  167. I suppose I shouldn't say the left, lets say SSM advocates instead, as supporting SSM isn't intrinsically a part of liberal politics.

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  168. Leila you gots to give me some time here to respond. :-)
    I wont argue your points about a childless mother wishing he had one, or father. How many times do children wish they had their friends parents, or any other parent, or wished they had been raised by wolves.
    My point is that you all negate so quickly that a child raised in a home by homosexuals could be raised to be a perfectly fine citizen. Say you don't but really go back and find this with an open eye, mind, and heart.

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  169. Alan, so you would change your #6 above to:

    6. Definition of marriage. The joining of any number of individuals to form a committed partnership. Family may or may not result.

    How does this differ from friendship, a business relationship, parent/ child relations, or any number of other situations? What is marriage then?

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  170. Nathan, you said: "Does the left still believe in objective science or is that something only Catholics believe these days?"

    That's the big question! And it's not just on SSA, it's on abortion, too. Suddenly, the left cannot agree with embryologists and scientists who say that a new human being exists as conception. They go with "personhood" which is arbitrary and metaphysical, so that they can go ahead and do what they want with the unborn. It's actually shocking to me.

    And it leads back to this quote from the Norwegian:


    "I never fail to be amused by how sex transforms liberals from hard-headed sociobiologists into velvet-minded romantics. From a strictly biological perspective, the ultimate purpose of sex is procreation alone, and the pleasure we derive from it is simply nature’s little stick and carrot. Why, then, this irrational and adamant defense of non-procreation and anti-natalism from people who otherwise jump at any opportunity to smugly wax prosaic about man being just another animal or the Darwinian origins of everything from organized religion to the nuclear family?"

    I will never understand how they can get away with being so anti-science. And even Roe v. Wade eschewed any modern scientific knowledge about the unborn human, and instead based itself on ancient ideas of pregnancy and life. Literally, they quoted the ancients!

    And yet we Catholics are called anti-science? It's an upside down world.

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  171. My point is that you all negate so quickly that a child raised in a home by homosexuals could be raised to be a perfectly fine citizen.

    Alan, so can children raised in broken homes, and even on the streets, frankly. My point is that we don't deliberately, as a society, seek to start kids out with a disadvantage, or without a mother or father. Wouldn't you agree?

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  172. Let me put it this way, Alan. Yes, fine children can be raised in homosexual homes. And fine children can be raised by single mothers. And single fathers. And broken and "reblended", etc.

    But why would the state want to promote or encourage situations where children do not have a stable home with both their mother and their father? Why would we promote that as *ideal* and as no different than families with two parents (mom and dad) in the home? Why would the state do that?

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  173. Great points Leila. I'd add that Darwinism, of course holds that everything is, in the end, structured to the reproduction of our genes. To be a Darwinist you would have to assume that gays are so poorly evolved that they can no longer even be bothered to perform the one function that everything is supposedly reduced to. Isn't this demeaning gays by suggesting they are inherently inferior to straights? Gay genes, according to this theory, are not part of the survival of the fittest and will be naturally selected out of the gene pool.

    As Catholics, we strongly affirm the worth and dignity of homosexuals, who are created in God's image, while condemning the sinful action (though not inclination) of same sex relations. Of course, we are all sinners and all have our crosses to bear.

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  174. @ Joe

    I enjoyed your quite reasonable tone, and hope that you find my response in kind:

    1. To be clear, what we're dealing with isn't whether you want to consider yourself "married." It's whether the state should legally recognize such a "marriage," and promote it by conferring on it the accompanying rights and benefits.

    Yes, but for the record, I am legally married to another man in my state.


    2. We know the traditional definition of marriage. What we don't know if what you're promoting as an alternative, and why that alternative wouldn't include consensual incest and polygamy. So the burden is on you there. As Leila pointed out, there doesn't seem to be any rational reason to require two gay men to be non-relatives in order to marry.

    Burden is not on me to show any of this. Burden is on the multiples/gay brothers to show why they should be allowed to marry. Please lets not confuse this.

    3. I think it makes sense for the government to promote traditional marriage, for the good any potential children. If a heterosexual couple is having sex (coitus, specifically), there’s a good likelihood that they’ll end up having children. As such, there’s good reason for cultures to encourage couples having sex to be married: that is, to make a lifelong contractual commitment to each other, for better or worse. Otherwise, you get all sorts of problems tied with broken homes, and the like.

    But I think I agree with you on the issue of gay marriage: why should the state be involved?

    In the case of polygamy, the state recognizes the first marriage, and the other weddings are legally-unrecognized private ceremonies. The couples consider themselves married, but the state doesn't consider them as such. Why isn't gay marriage treated this same way? If you want to consider yourself married, you're free. Why should the state be required to recognize it?

    Why should the state be required to recognize any marriage? Not ignoring the point, I just feel you don't really have one. Are you saying the state should recognize no marriage? If it should recognize some where is the line drawn? Clearly for you it is with the heterosexuals, but why? If gays want to marry and raise children what is the difference in those families legal rights?

    4. I think it's a bit more complex than that. Marriage is defined how it is, not because of arbitrary tradition, but because it's tied to coitus and children. The state wants to protect and promote families.

    Changing this definition of marriage seems to undermine the institution that marriage laws are set out to protect. The end point, as you signaled in 3, is the removal of any governmental recognition of marriage at all.

    I might argue this point. Marriage was originally an ownership of the wife by the husband. It was a financial transaction between a father/family and the husband. Many traditions still call for it to be an arranged marriage for financial purposes. Is this what you strive so hard to protect?

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  175. Ok Joe-

    I think the answer to why should the State support Gay marriage with benefits and not roommates is because of the duties the spouses would owe each other.

    It gives a level of stability to society to have two people agreeing they will support each other. If one has a job that doesn't have insurance, they can be placed on the other persons. If one loses a job, the spouse can help cover the bills etc.

    Less obviously, spouses tend to care about each other's health. Encourage good diet and exercise. Take each other to the doctor and provide care for each other.

    I can see an argument saying that type of relationship adds to the stability of the State.

    What's the difference between that type of relationship and roommates? Well, roommates is more of a business relationship there is no understanding of financial and emotional support.

    I'm sure there are holes in that but so far that's the argument I got.

    BTW- To be fair to Alan's point. It isn't as though all the children adopted by Gay couples would be in happy homes with moms and dads if it weren't for the gay couples. That's often not the case.

    Now I don't agree with surrogacy but I think we have enough arguments going on at the moment. So for the purposes of adoption- I do think Alan has a point.

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  176. Alan,

    You state that marriage was originally a financial transaction. Please pin-point the origins of marriage in history so we can investigate this historical claim.

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  177. I grew up in a "broken home" - one parent had an affair whic led to a messy divorce. My siblings and I are all healthy adults with college degrees (my brother is a civil engineer; my sister has a degree in criminal justice and works with anti-drug programs in local schools; I have a degree in English and work in the EH&S field). We are law-abiding, productive members of society.

    So, Alan, does that mean it is in society's best interest to encourage divorce and infidelity, given how well it allegedly worked out for my siblings and I?

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  178. Nathan, exactly. Some ironies there.

    You know, I believe Michelle said that the idea of "personhood" is not metaphysical but is in fact scientific. I want to hear more about that. What is the science behind "personhood"? (If you are still there, Michelle.)

    Whoa, I guess I just went on a tangent. But I really am interested in the "science" behind personhood.

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  179. StarFire, in cases where children are abused or neglected and need to be taken from their parents, the answer is to find them a stable home with a mom and dad (or with relatives who might be able to care for them). It might also mean helping to get the mom and dad functioning and able to parent their own kids. But what it shouldn't mean is that we need to call gay unions "marriage" and then say they are equivalent to having a mom and dad, and that children should be placed there as if it were.

    The problem with even civil unions is that states are now using those laws to say that any organization (primarily Christian/Catholic organizations) which works in the apoption/foster care system must place with homosexual couples as if they were a married mom and dad. No exceptions, no ability to serve according to the dictates of conscience and religious belief. So, the very existence of civil unions laws has put many Catholic Charities out of business, some after a hundred years of serving and placing children in homes. Very, very sad.

    Again, the children lose.

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  180. 5. You're right that marriage bestows a set of rights not (easily) acquired by the unmarried. This is true of both the gay and straight. A straight guy dating a girl whose parents hate his guts finds himself in the same position as a gay guy "married" to a guy whose parents hate his guts.

    The reason, as I mentioned above, is that the state is trying to incentivize marriage in order to promote stability for any children born into these romantic unions. This has distinct benefits for kids, but you're absolutely right that it comes at certain costs for those who don't enjoy these marriage benefits (again, gay and straight alike).

    So then the question really becomes: do we, as a society, find these costs worth it, in order to help ensure that kids are born into a traditional family and a stable environment?

    I'd say yes, and think that as a result, we should continue to recognize and reward heterosexual marriage (and it alone). But if you say no, the answer doesn't seem to be gay "marriage." It seems to be to blow up civil marriage completely. Nobody gets any benefits or rights, or everybody gets them. Gay "marriage" is an arbitrary halfway point.

    So anything less than a man and woman marriage is unstable? And what is wrong with everybody getting the same rights? Gays have families and children. Are these children really due less protections?

    6. Thanks for providing a definition (that's sincere, if you couldn't tell). But the definition seems incredibly broad: "The joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership" could cover long-term dating, engagement, and even the formation of an LLC. But it also seems arbitrarily narrow: why only two individuals? And for that matter, why only individuals, and not (for example) corporations merging to form a new corporation?

    I just don't see any State interest in promoting "the joining of two individuals to form a committed partnership."

    LOL if my definition is "arbitrarily narrow" what does that make yours? Again, the state allows committed partnerships every day. So many heterosexuals marry and never intend to have children. Are you saying they don't deserve the priveldges that come with marriage?


    7. I may be misunderstanding the point of that side discussion (I haven't been a part of it), but I understood the reason not to be about proclaiming the virtues of coitus over all other forms of sexuality, but recognizing that heterosexuals alone have coitus, and thus, carry a possibility that their sex will lead to new children.

    As a result, the State seems to have an interest in promoting or regulating heterosexual coitus (and the relationships giving rise to it) in a way that it doesn't for homosexuals or non-coital heterosexual relationships.

    So again, I can see a reason to promote marriage for "coital relationships" (if you'll pardon the term). But otherwise, why should the State be involved at all?

    So the state/government can regulate your coitus? I mean if they have an interest to promote "coital relationships" then they also have an interest in the frequency and the number of offspring you have. Or does their interest stop at the point of marriage?

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  181. Leila et al
    I apologize if I miss a question, I am not ignoring them, it's just there are so many of you and one of me.

    @starfighter
    Please know your words don't offend me. Some here I find less than generous towards the opposing view and demeaning in their responses, but I am not offended nor overly sensitive.

    Now for your sonar/receptionist analogy, you cannot physically do those jobs due to your deafness. If we keep marriage as so narrowly defined as "procreation of children" then yes I too cannot do that job with my husband, but let me tell you we can raise children (probably as well as you) and we can form a commited life long relationship. So why can't we marry?

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  182. Alan, is it possible for you to format your answers to Joe's questions (by using bold or italics tags, or quotation marks)? It's hard to follow where his questions end and your answers begin.

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  183. Or, could several lesbians and several gay men "marry" in a big polygamous situation where the men do sexual things with the men and the women with the women? And could this be called "marriage", too?

    State-sanctioned orgies?!?!?!?!?!

    And another thing:

    1. We don't want or need validation of our lifestyles. Really most of us have the same lifestyle as you (and please don't point out the obvious "I have a partner of the opposite sex", but look at what you life entails. Paying bills, shopping, going out with friends, raising families, if you need I can show you how much the same our lifestyles are). What we want is the federal recognition of the importance of our relationships that provide equal rights and protections to different sex marriage.

    Defintion of Validation from The Free Dictionary.com

    1. To declare or make legally valid.
    2. To mark with an indication of official sanction.
    3. To establish the soundness of; corroborate.

    I'm just saying....

    I understand what you want. But all those "benefits" from getting married, are there in place to benefit the potential children of the married couple and help the family. They're a safety net to protect the children and to protect the spouses for the sake of the children, NOT for their own sake. It's all about the children.

    Yes, homosexuals can raise children, and yes, some of them may turn out to be wonderful human beings, maybe even most of them will be great productive members of society. HOWEVER, this is NOT the IDEAL. The IDEAL for every child is to live with their biological mother and father. Like all ideals they cannot always be met, but as a society, we should always be striving for THE IDEAL. We may fall short, but if we strive to attain anything less than the IDEAL (knowing that sometimes, even many times we won't make it) then we end up with mediocrity, at best.

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  184. @ Nathan

    Alan, so you would change your #6 above to:

    6. Definition of marriage. The joining of any number of individuals to form a committed partnership. Family may or may not result.

    How does this differ from friendship, a business relationship, parent/ child relations, or any number of other situations? What is marriage then?

    1. For a marriage to last shouldn't you at least be friends?
    2. Business relationship? Aren't many marriages already this? Husband works and provides. Wife raises kids? Service for a price. However I think we know that the aspect of romantic love enters here, where it does not in a business arrangement. If we remove romantic love then I ask how you all chose your spouse?
    3. Parent/child. Do you really need me to explain the difference in these relationships?

    I have basically said what I think marriage is have you not seen that? Because you can't understand does not mean I am not explainly clearly.

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  185. @ Nathan

    "You state that marriage was originally a financial transaction. Please pin-point the origins of marriage in history so we can investigate this historical claim."

    " alan's response:

    Look at Wikipedia origins of marriage. So many financial/societal reasons for marriage. It actually is an interesting read.

    But are you saying that you disagree that marriage was once a financial/ownership arrangement?"

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  186. Alan-

    I was just thinking you must have the patience of Job. Your ability to argue calmly with those that you fundamentally disagree with is impressive.

    My point is Catholics do define marriage that narrowly. That's why to us there is no difference between telling you "can't" get married vs. telling me I can't be a police dispatcher.

    What about infertility? Well, we don't know as much about that as we think we do. There are stories all the time of women who get preg after being told they are barren. Not to mention several examples in the Bible of such things happening. So that's why we don't get so hung up about infertility.

    I'm glad you aren't offended. I just wanted to make it clear we do have a reason for our arguments rather than blind hate.

    As for your questions, you might have noticed I am arguing both sides of the fence. That is because I'm not sure I have a good argument as to why the Catholic position should be support by American law.

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  187. Alan,

    You have not clearly articulated the difference, according to your definition of marriage, between marriage and any other social contract.

    In your definition, you state that marriage is: "The joining of any number of individuals to form a committed partnership. Family may or may not result." In other words, marriage is a committed partnership.

    That definition is so broad as to include my relationship with my business partner and my relationship with my sons, my parents, my sister, and my wife. In the end it is no definition at all.

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  188. Alan,

    I am not saying I disagree that marriage was once a financial arrangement, I am disagreeing that marriage at it's origin was a financial agreement (your original argument). The institution of marriage is prehistoric, there is no evidence that marriage, at its origin, was a financial/ownership relationship. To make that argument, you would have to be able to point to the beginning of the institution, not just that marriage once was considered such.

    Of course, for Catholics, the original marriage was NOT about ownership of woman by man, but was instituted so that man would not be alone and that he might procreate. The origins of marriage, from a Catholic perspective, are unitive and procreative, which have ever since been there natural ends.

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  189. Leila- As to your points on Foster Care. I know in my state placement with a relative or reunification with the parent is always explored before adoption is considered.

    But we have to face the sad truth some parents just can't parent. Some have drug issues, some of mental health issues, some repeatedly put their children in horrible situations. The State tends to terminate the parents rights at the point.

    I do think that a house with a mom and a dad should be preferred because there is value in having parents of different genders.

    But so many kids remain in the foster care system and are never adopted. How is it really better to keep them in that system rather than allow them to be raised by loving, safe adults?

    Isn't it a problem of choosing between two *ahem* less than ideal situations?

    I suppose you would say one is something we can't avoid and the other is.

    I'm confusing myself now.

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  190. @ JoAnna,
    Yes exactly my point on the broken families. It is in societies best interest to promote infidelity and divorce.

    Now here is where I say step away from the crack pipe.

    Is that really what you got from my post, or are you just being argumentative?
    I think you help me to prove my point though. See y'all came out ok. So we can talk about what is ideal, but at the end of the day thats all it is. We do not now, nor have we ever lived in an ideal situation. I think children do best in a two parent home. I do not negate the importance of a mother or a father and I acknowledge that there is a difference. But I don't think that by means of a child being raised by two parents of the same sex they will not learn how to be a girl or how to relate to the opposite sex, and I definitely don't think that it inherintly puts that child at a detriment. If it does it is more than likely due to societies views on homosexuality rather than anything els, but that is just MY theory.
    But it seems that you all seem to think ideal means only. And it does not.

    And I apologize if it is hard to read my responses, I don't seem to be able to use italics or bolding on this website. Not sure why.

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  191. StarFireKK,

    The question isn't if two husbands can be good parents, it's if they can be a good mother and father - which they can't because neither can be a mother. A child is entitled to have a father and a mother, not just 2 "loving" parents.

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  192. I might argue this point. Marriage was originally an ownership of the wife by the husband. It was a financial transaction between a father/family and the husband. Many traditions still call for it to be an arranged marriage for financial purposes. Is this what you strive so hard to protect?

    Okay, first of all, I've had a friend use this argument too, and it fails to admit one simple thing. The "financial" aspect and even "ownership" aspect are precisely because the marriage was and is expected to produce children. Now yes, the western world has gotten rid of the ownership ties, but the financial aspect remains the same, the difference is, instead of the families of the spouses taking on the financial burden in order produce children (thereby carrying on the family and creating future workers), the state realized that those future workers are future tax payers, and therefore it is financially in the best interest of the state to, as Joe said, give incentives to those who can (not just raise, because that's NOT the ideal), create and raise children in the BEST possible environment, attempting to ensure the best possible outcome.


    let me tell you we can raise children (probably as well as you)

    How? As Leila has pointed out several times, neither you nor your "husband" can be a mother to any children you have. If neither of you can be a mother, then how can you raise a child "probably as well as" any of us, when children not just deserve but ultimately require both a father AND a mother to meet the ideal.

    You might be able to raise a child "probably as well" and maybe even better, in certain circumstances, than a single/widowed father.
    But we shouldn't be seeking out to place children in either circumstance. As I said above, we should be actively pursuing the IDEAL, and only when the IDEAL physically can't be met, then do we seek for the next best thing.

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  193. SarFire, I agree that Alan is a very respectful commenter.

    Just one thought. You said: "That is because I'm not sure I have a good argument as to why the Catholic position should be support by American law."

    Just to reiterate what Joe has said: We wouldn't expect the state to uphold a merely "Catholic" view of marriage (that would entail belief in sacramentality, etc.). We expect the state to uphold what all cultures and creeds and eras have upheld, which is natural marriage (he defines it all in the post). It's not specific to Catholic belief. It's a natural law argument, not a sectarian one.

    Just as abortion is not a religious issue, neither is traditional marriage.

    If we were trying to get the state to uphold a belief in the Virgin Birth, or the Trinity, or any other point of the Creed, then yes... that would be a clear example of wanting the state to uphold a Catholic position. That is definitely not what the Church is seeking.

    Hope that makes sense.

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