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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Marriage is for Breeders, Part III: Shooting the Messenger » Marriage is for Breeders, Part III: Shooting the Messenger

Marriage is for Breeders, Part III: Shooting the Messenger

D Christian Harrison - January 29, 2006

The entire debate about gay marriage isn’t so much a debate as it is a list of talking points being contemporaneously aired… there’s no discussion to be had, well, at least not that I’ve seen.

What I’ve seen isn’t encouraging.

The anti-gay marriage camp features spokespeople like James Dobson, whose fear-filled (some say "hate-filled") rhetoric is hard to get past… or legislators from our halls of government who seem to have just discovered the sorry state of modern marriage.

And the pro-gay marriage camp isn’t so much a camp as it’s just plain campy. It’s a cheap shot, I realize, but I’ve seen better logic from horses… and I’m tired of the whining… the whinying… the whatever. I’m tired of hearing about how gays aren’t allowed to marry (which is patently false on a few fronts: commitment ceremonies, whether secular or religious, aren’t illegal; moreover, gays aren’t being denied marriage, as it’s defined — as plenty of people in gay/straight marriages can attest — what they mean to say is "gays aren’t allowed to marry each other". Which is a different discussion… the first phrasing _would_ be a discussion about civil rights. The other is a discussion — TV-unfriendly as it is — about public policy.

But isn’t that what should be happening? Shouldn’t we be having a deep and thorough discussion of the merits (or lack thereof) of the matter?

I’ve not been alive long enough to remember a time when we weren’t this partisan… but I’d like to think that somewhere, way back when, it was possible for legislators and policy wonks alike to have meaningful dialog. But that’s not what’s happening.

Instead, we get right-leaning philanderers telling us that marriage is in trouble… and left-leaning philanderers telling us that marriage is important enough to include gays.

So.

What are your favorite gems from this spectacle we’re calling a national debate… and who do you listen to?

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Where I Stand.

41 Comments »

  1. I read a lot… so I’ve seen plenty on the subject… and online, I really like the Family Scholars blog. I also really liked the Jonathan Rauch essay from the Atlantic which argued that gay marriage was good for America because (among other things) it promoted monogamy.

    Comment by Silus Grok — January 29, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

  2. I’ve got to admit that most of the times I follow this debate I end up agreeing with the other side — whichever one it is.

    It is one of the few debates that I lean against the speakers because they are just so darn unpersuasive.

    I find that part of so bizaare. I’m glad someone else has had that experience.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — January 29, 2006 @ 11:25 pm

  3. Silus,

    I have been reading the posts but have not commented because I dont feel like I have anything to add. But, now that you are opening things up for comments, I have a question. Now, this is a genuine and honest question, not inteded to incite, inflame, or irritate. It is something I dont understand and wish to gain greater understanding of. OK, here it is:

    Why do homosexuals want to get married and have kids in the first place?

    Seemingly dumb question when taken superficially, but here is the core of my confusion: it seems to me like people who are engaging in and endorsing an “alternative life style” are seeking to conform to a “traditional life style” when they seek marriage and children. I look at it and it seems like conformity to a heterosexual norm for the sake of fitting into a culture that they have decided not to fit into as a result of sexuality. The stereotype of gay/lesbian couples who adopt masculine and feminine partner roles also fits into this seeming conformity to heterosexual norms. I find it simply baffling. Now, I completely understand the psychology of the homosexual who has no interest in marriage and children, but the homosexual who wants to settle down into a relationship and family lifestyle that simulates a traditional hetersexual couple I dont get. I dont understand how an alternative lifestyle square peg like this fits into the round hole of the traditional culturally-normative marriage and biological necessity of reproduction and child-rearing (which would be impossible to the homosexuals, left to themselves).

    Honest question here. If someone could explain this and make it click for me, that would be appreciated.

    Comment by Kurt — January 30, 2006 @ 8:03 am

  4. Good morning, Kurt…

    Great question… and you seem sincere. So here’s my answer… also sincere: your confusion, I would submit, comes from your taking the phrase “alternative lifestyle” to heart. Homosexuals aren’t the opposite of heterosexuals… we love and live (well, many of us do, at least) in the same way that you do. Our only difference (categorically speaking, of course), is that we love and long for the affection and intimacy of members of our own gender.

    The drives to couple, to nest, and for some, to raise children are all still there. And the fear of dieing alone is still _very_ much with us.

    So don’t be suprised when we want children and spouses to love and to love us.

    : )

    Comment by Silus Grok — January 30, 2006 @ 9:45 am

  5. Silus,

    OK, will dispense of the seeming opposites of alternative versus traditional semantics. You arent opposite in every sense, but are opposite in attractions. So, you would say that is the only way in which you are opposite, is in the object of the attractions?

    I can understand the desire to not want to die alone and to want substantial relationships, but I dont see any necessary connection there with sexuality.

    The spouse and children part is where I get hung up. Your desire is for persons of your own gender, but homosexual couples simply cannot have children of their own, it is impossible. A lesbian couple can use a sperm donor and both gays and lesbians can adopt, but biologically in and of themselves it is an absolute impossibility to have their own children. Ouside of very recent modern technological and legal remedies, it is not possible for homosexuals to have children.

    And the seeming simulation of heterosexual gender roles within homosexual couples isnt explained by the simple desire to be intimate with someone of your same gender.

    Are you suggesting the parenting desires are still there, simply by virtue of biology? And are the adopted gender roles simply a matter cultural imposition?

    Comment by Kurt — January 30, 2006 @ 10:12 am

  6. Kurt, forget about “simulation/adoption” of gender roles. That is just a stereotype.

    Comment by MahNahvu — January 30, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  7. MahNahvu, stereotypes are based on observed reality. That’s what makes them funny. Yes, some gays are straight acting and some are flammers. And many gay couples are composed of two straight acting people. But almost all flammers are gay, most visibly gay, and they have to pair up w/ someone.

    Comment by Steve EM — January 30, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  8. MahNahvu,

    I have observed this behavior first-hand in homosexuals I have known and lived with.

    Comment by Kurt — January 30, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

  9. Kurt, in any given gay partnering, one individual will invariably be more “butch” or more “swishy” than the other to some degree. Don’t assume by this difference that they are “adopting cultural gender roles” in the relationship. Any child growing up in a same-sex-parent household will tell you that he or she has two daddies or two mommies, as the case may be.

    Comment by MahNahvu — January 30, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  10. Silus: I’m tired of hearing about how gays aren’t allowed to marry (which is patently false on a few fronts: commitment ceremonies, whether secular or religious, aren’t illegal; moreover, gays aren’t being denied marriage, as it’s defined — as plenty of people in gay/straight marriages can attest — what they mean to say is “gays aren’t allowed to marry each other”. Which is a different discussion…

    I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t understand that this is precisely what gays mean when they say gays can’t marry. I also can’t think of a single person who doesn’t recognize that commitment ceremonies are symbolic, not legal.

    What’s your point?

    Comment by Chris Williams — January 30, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  11. “Kurt, in any given gay partnering, one individual will invariably be more “butch” or more “swishy” than the other to some degree.”

    That statement will be correct if you replace “invariably” with “sometimes.”

    Comment by Dave Walter — January 30, 2006 @ 9:47 pm

  12. I keep thinking people are gay here when they’re not. I’m confused who’s is gay and who is straight. So I keep putting my foot in it.

    I don’t know for sure what that has to do with marriage, but it does have to do with how I respond to a person.

    For instance, to Silus, who I think is gay, I might be nice and sympathetic, but to someone else, I might express my geniune mystification of the topic.

    I don’t know how we, okay I, can have an honest discussion under those terms. Or even get to the point of acknowledging gay marriage as a legitimate issue.

    So…with that in mind, honestly, I can’t comprehend living side by side in a society that has gay marriage and straight marriage. That could just be a big mess.

    Comment by annegb — January 31, 2006 @ 10:26 am

  13. annegb,
    I’m not gay (as you can see from my last post), nor is Chris Williams, Kurt or Steve EM. I’m not sure about MahNahvu. Silus, D Fletcher, and Dave Walter are gay.

    Comment by Rusty — January 31, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  14. annegb,

    What difference does it make who is gay and who is straight in this discussion?

    Comment by Chris Williams — January 31, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  15. Annegb, can you talk more about what kind of mess would be caused by a society that accepts gay and straight marriage side-by-side? I’m having a hard time understanding what exactly would be different in our society? The only difference is if there were more male homosexual couples around I may have an easier time finding guys to help me lay sod in my yard this summer ;).

    Comment by jjohnsen — January 31, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  16. What happened to eunuchville?

    Comment by Steve EM — January 31, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  17. Okay, okay, back off the thread-jack!

    I think what Silus has to say here is really, really important. What can we say about the substantive matters of this debate? Is it possible to talk about “gay marriage” without resorting to talking points? Is it possible to talk about anything in this country without resorting to partisan hackery?

    I’ll try one right here. I, being an active and fairly religiously consertive minded Mormon, might possibly convinced that if two people love each other they have a legal (potentially inalieable) right to be civilly wed, because I’m really quite liberal socially and economically. Let’s assume that is the case. If we grant such a right, modern constitutional notions of civil liberties require that this type of marriage not be “separate but equal.” This means that any two people, when wed, should have the rights of all other married couples, irrespective of the gender of either of the parties in the marriage contract. This means that adoption rights, inheritance rights, medical powers of attorney, visitation rights in prisons and hospitals, etc. must all be accorded to this couple.

    Now, we come to the matter of adoption by homosexual couples.
    Public policy, as it currently stands, takes children who are wards of the state and gives them to couples that it has thoroughly vetted in order to assure their ability to be good parents.

    In this case, since the state’s mission is to ensure the best possible future for this child, shouldn’t the state give a diversely gendered couple greater consideration than a homogeneously gendered couple?

    I think it should be argued that every child, particulary when the state intervenes so carefully, should have a right to have both a mother and a father. This doesn’t mean that a homosexual couple couldn’t be considered, just that it would be a knock against them: after all, they can’t provide the dual gender interactions that occur in “the ideal family,” which is, in short, what the state is looking for when placing children.

    Now, there are lots of hypotheticals in there, but I think most of them can be seen as logical . (If they’re not, please, rip them to pieces.) If all of my assumptions hold, then aren’t we still creating a “separate-but-equal” type of relationship?

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — January 31, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  18. Yes, there could be a strike against a homosexual couple for not providing role models of both genders to their adopted children.

    Then, on the other hand, IF they were married, this would be in their favor, over what they have NOW.

    And there are plenty of children that need a parent, of any gender.

    Next question?

    Comment by D. Fletcher — January 31, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  19. I’m trying to think how I can figure out my assumptions about peoples homosexuality. Because what if I accidentally or unintentionally say something insulting?

    It seems very messy to contemplate my neighborhood with half gay families and half hetero families. We could get dads and moms really mixed up. Kids would be very mixed up. I don’t see it being very effective.

    If there’s only one gay family, that would be the “gay family.” And we would all know. We would even probably be nice, knowing my neighbors.

    It just seems very messy if the numbers rise.

    Comment by annegb — February 1, 2006 @ 3:10 am

  20. Anne,

    I don’t think diversity is messy.

    I believe that, in a perfect world, neighborhoods would reflect such a broad variety of sexual orientations, races, religions, national origins, etc., that children would be socialized to observe and embrace a truly “mixed up” population.

    Comment by Dave Walter — February 1, 2006 @ 5:08 am

  21. I don’t have a solid opinion on this issue. I try to go to my gut and ask myself what I think and I think it sounds messy.

    I don’t know one way or the other. I don’t even know if I really exist.

    But if I do, if the gospel is true (and if I exist, I think it is), the Proclamation is revelation and families based on marriage between a woman and a man are the basis of eternity. which oh, gag a maggot, I am so not going to do for eternity.

    Comment by annegb — February 1, 2006 @ 9:11 am

  22. “the ideal family”

    What is this? And why should I let the state define it for me?

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 1, 2006 @ 9:46 am

  23. annegb: It seems very messy to contemplate my neighborhood with half gay families and half hetero families.

    This is an unnecessary worry, given the small percentage of people who are homosexual.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 1, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  24. Chris: What is this? And why should I let the state define it for me?

    The state isn’t defining it for you. It’s defining it for wards of the state. And in that sense, I think we can argue that the state has lots of business defining the kinds of families with which it wants to place children for which it’s responsible.

    And, I think you can make a fairly sound argument that a child with two fathers is likely to have innate problems interacting with women in the same way a child with two mothers will have innate problems interacting with men, since they don’t grow up around men and women… That’s really my question, I suppose… can we handicap a child like this? If we do, can we require them to have a daily interaction with another gender caretaker? If we don’t allow or disfavor single gender couples from adopting, however, we’re creating “separate but equal” aren’t we?

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — February 1, 2006 @ 1:38 pm

  25. The darkside of the “Adult Entertainment Industry” is having a far greated impact on the male (and female) membership of the Christian church than just gay marriage.

    Yet no one in politics or any Christian church hardly lifts a figure or says a word to stop these evil businessmen.

    Meanwhile the producers of Brokeback Mountain makes millions and gets 8 oscar nominations.

    Hey people get off your duff and call for support of AEI tax initiatives in your community and state.

    http://eagletroop.blogspot.com

    Comment by roland — February 3, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  26. Oh yeah, Brokeback Mountain is definitely Adult Entertainment or gay porn.

    Oy.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 3, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  27. This is primarily in response to “Nonny” regarding her “equal protection –> adoption” argument

    I see no evidence that children of gay couples are any less well-off in the end than children of straight couples, nor, in my experience, do I think I will ever see such evidence.

    In any case, the notion that gay people should not be allowed to marry because somewhere down the line they may adopt, and that will prevent the state from giving preference to mixed-sex couples (who, in theory, and even then only marginally and statistically, MAY be more stable—a determination that is best made on a case-by-case basis, in any case) in that context, is too attenuated to be meaningful, let alone persuasive.

    If we wish to allow people the liberty to engage in intimate gay relationships (a proposition I see few here disclaiming), it makes no sense to deny them the liberty of engaging into marriage contracts.

    Comment by B. Bowen — February 3, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  28. B. Bowen: In any case, the notion that gay people should not be allowed to marry because somewhere down the line they may adopt, and that will prevent the state from giving preference to mixed-sex couples (who, in theory, and even then only marginally and statistically, MAY be more stable—a determination that is best made on a case-by-case basis, in any case) in that context, is too attenuated to be meaningful, let alone persuasive.

    Oh, the point here wasn’t to argue for or against gay marriage, it was to look at one particular ramification… More just to talk about it than anything else, which is why I find D. Fletcher’s quick dismissal of my discussion so funny: it’s exactly what Silus is talking about in his post! People take a side of the issue, and refuse to discuss the ramifications of their side. It’s all talking points, all emotion, no public-policy discussion.

    So, I’ll keep throwing out bones until somebody bites and gives me a compelling reason to stand-down on this one, but, you, B. Bowen said, I see no evidence that children of gay couples are any less well-off in the end than children of straight couples, nor, in my experience, do I think I will ever see such evidence.

    Why don’t you think you’ll see such evidence? Don’t you think it’s important for a child to form close, intimate familial relationships with both a male and female parent? There’s no snarkiness, and no baiting here. I’m just trying to figure out how a homogenously gendered parental unit can provide the same types of intimate gender interactions for its children as a more diversely gendered parental unit. I think we all agree, diversity is important in becoming a functional member of society, and it seems to me that there is a real deficiency (ie in gender diversity) in a gay couple as parents… Why isn’t that important? Don’t just dismiss me outright, let’s discuss the issue! That’s the point Silus is making.

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — February 4, 2006 @ 2:50 am

  29. I didn’t dismiss your post, but answered it. I do think that gay couples might have a strike against them, when applying for an adoption. On the other hand, the fact that they have committed to each other and are legally married, would help them adopt, which is more legal underpinnings than they have now.

    I don’t think it would be separate, but equal; gay couples will still have to deal with some distrust on the part of the adoption judges.

    But as I said, there are many adoptable children that need any parent, of any gender or sexual persuasion. While gay couples might have some trouble stacking up against straight couples for the rights to adopt, this is not a good reason to deny them the right to *try,* nor the right to marry.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 4, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  30. As to Silus’s original premise that we’re “shooting the messenger,” I agree, that this issue is polarizing the country, and the Church, and no one listens to the other side, and no one’s views are altered. People have made up their mind beforehand, and it takes a lot of clever rhetoric to break through the barrier of a closed mind. I feel that quite often, my posts here are unread. But I have no authority, because I’ve made my position so clear, and seemingly unchangeable.

    I’ll reiterate it, though: I don’t see anything wrong with gay sex, gay relationships, and gay marriage. It seems perfectly natural to me. I don’t understand the notion that legalized gay marriage will somehow undermine *marriage* and the family. I also don’t see why the Church would struggle so ardently against gay marriage, since it doesn’t seem to affect them in any way — gays don’t normally attend Church (our church, anyway). I don’t see anything wrong with adoption by gay couples, and I don’t think gay couples will be any worse (or better) than straight couples, just by being gay.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 4, 2006 @ 11:13 am

  31. That last sentence should read:

    “I don’t see anything wrong with adoption by gay couples, and I don’t think gay couples will be any worse *parents* (or better) than straight couples, just by being gay.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 4, 2006 @ 11:15 am

  32. While gay couples might have some trouble stacking up against straight couples for the rights to adopt, this is not a good reason to deny them the right to *try,* nor the right to marry.

    Okay, so do you think there’s anything the state could do to help them stack up equally? Give an extra point or two to a gay couple who legally promises to hire a differently gendered caretaker? Give an extra point or two for couples who have strong relationships with their own biological parents and are geographically close?

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — February 4, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  33. Give an extra point or two to a gay couple who legally promises to hire a differently gendered caretaker?

    We have to assume a child being raised by gay parents is not living in a bubble and will have contact with other humans of various genders. Let’s be honest and recognize that children are being sucessfully raised worldwide by single parent families. Is this significantly different from raising children in same-sex households?

    Comment by MahNahvu — February 4, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  34. What are your favorite gems from this spectacle we’re calling a national debate…

    One arguement that I rarely hear in the gay marriage debate is the idea that marriage is not so much about raising children as it is about nurturing in general.

    This point of view is articulated quite well here: http://positiveliberty.com/2005/10/on-nurturing-as-the-true-purpose-of-marriage.html

    The nurturing model of marriage answers the question posed by Kathy Young, Unless children are an issue, why should the government take an interest in whether we settle down with a steady partner in a sexual relationship?

    The answer is that the government does have an interest in adults nurturing, caring and providing for each other. . . .the great benefits that children get from marriage do not exhaust or interfere with the good effects that adults may also derive from it. After all, who really wants to grow old alone? It is perhaps the bleakest question in all the modern world. Marriage answers it with the promise that no matter how ill or how deformed we may become in old age, someone will stand beside us until the end. . .

    Comment by MahNahvu — February 4, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  35. Let’s be honest and recognize that children are being sucessfully raised worldwide by single parent families. Is this significantly different from raising children in same-sex households?

    I don’t think arguing for parity between single-parent and single-gendered parental units is the right tack to take here: there are all kinds of problems (statistically) with single-parent homes (typically single-mother homes): higher crime rates, higher dropout rates, higher poverty rates, etc. I think most of those statistics preclude your statement about children “being successfully raised worldwide by single parent families.” And, I think most of those statistics are due to the single-person nature of the parenting: in general, one parent just doesn’t have enough energy and time to provide the same level of care that two can, while providing financially for a family.

    Additionally, I think it’s incredibly premature to say that we have any data about gender relations and single-gender families. We just don’t know what this lack of diversity in a family will do to a child, because there simply isn’t enough data. It seems to reason though, that in an “ideal” family situation, which I think we’ll all agree is what the state should be searching for when it examines a potential adoptive family (ie the state should look for the best possible home for each of its incredibly valuable wards), wherein there is gender diversity in the parental unit, a child will gain enormously in learning to interact with members of both genders in a caretaker role.

    Comment by A. Nonny Mouse — February 4, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  36. Even if we accept arguendo the assertion that children raised by heterosexual couples will be better equipped to relate to members of both sexes (a claim that seems far from obvious to me), shouldn’t the real question be the effect of a prohibitive policy on whether some children are adopted at all? I do not claim to know the numbers but I have often heard that, overall, more children need families than can be placed (please correct me if I am wrong here as my next point flows from the validity of this supposition).

    I can’t believe it could possibly be more in any child’s interest to be raised by the State than by a nurturing gay couple.

    Comment by Base — February 5, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  37. Another of the elephants in the room on this issue is that there are plenty of heterosexual couples who are terrible at raising children. But few complain about them.

    Contrast that with a Florida judge who removed a child from the home of two nurturing lesbians and placed the kid with the father — who had served prison time for murdering the woman who was his wife and the child’s mother.

    Comment by Dave Walter — February 5, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  38. Where’s Silus?

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 6, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  39. Where’s eunuchville?

    Comment by Steve EM — February 6, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  40. Though the debate over raising children is interesting, I still see it as something of a red herring.

    One big problem with really discussing the gay marriage issue in an LDS context is that we inevitably end up bringing issues into the discussion that are very important to us, but completely irrelevant when it comes to civil marriage.

    No state requires a married hetero-couple to procreate. No state denies a hetero-couple a civil marriage license if they can’t procreate. For that matter, I’m not aware of any state that requires marriage partners to live in the same residence, let alone be sexual with each other.

    I have married co-workers who have decided they don’t want children. Ever. It’s not my choice, and I think they’ll regret the decision someday, but their civil marriage license is no less valid.

    The ability (or desire) to procreate is not required of heterosexuals who want a civil marriage license. It would be patently unfair to use that as a tool against homosexuals.

    Comment by Chad Too — February 6, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  41. The ability (or desire) to procreate is not required of heterosexuals who want a civil marriage license. It would be patently unfair to use that as a tool against homosexuals.

    Which is why I argued above that the state is interested in marriages that provide “nurturing” for both children as well as adults.

    Comment by MahNahvu — February 6, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

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