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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Marriage is for Breeders, Part IV: Where I Stand » Marriage is for Breeders, Part IV: Where I Stand

Marriage is for Breeders, Part IV: Where I Stand

D Christian Harrison - February 12, 2006

So I’ve spent the last little while giving background for my feelings on gay marriage… without really sharing my feelings.

I guess it’s time that I get to the point: I don’t think the government should recognize gay unions as "marriage" for statutory purposes.

It’s natural to want to pair-off… natural for straight couples, and just as natural for gay couples. I know that when I date a guy (assuming it’s going well, of course) I often think how nice it would be to come home to him… to love and be loved… to grow old together. But that’s not what’s at issue, here.

Fundementally, when societies regulate marriage, they should be regulating it on behalf of their vested interest in the rearing of children… and despite all the cruft that’s attached to marriage law (hospital visiting rights and the like), society can justify its meddling in what would otherwise seem like a deeply personal matter because of this vested interest. And it is because of this interest, I believe, that society must vigorously protect its right to discriminate in favor of healthy hetero households in matters touching on the bearing and rearing of children.

So let me pause here for a moment… and make certain that its clear that I’m not advocating that society actively legislate against gay couples or to police homes where children are being raised… as I believe I said earlier in this series, it’s not in society’s best interest to set-up a system that consumes so many resources to run as to make it untenable… and police states are un-tenable because of the necessary input of resources needed to maintain the state’s superior power (which, IMHO, would be an interesting post in and of itself). No: I am not suggesting that the state intrude any further into our homes than it does… which, when the system is working properly, only happens now when physical or sexual abuse is reported, or when there is compelling evidence of neglect; or in matters dealing with appointing guardianship of a minor, in cases of adoption or the like.

So there. I’ve said it.

I’ve laid-out my basic thoughts on the matter… questions? The final installment will be for answering questions asked earlier in the series; questions asked in the comments, below; and questions that have been rattling around in my own head for some time.

I owe Rusty (et al) a big hearty thanks for his willingness to share this space with me for the last little while… and the best way to thank him, will be to exit quickly… so I’ll post my final installment Wednesday evening.

FINAL INSTALLMENT: Q&A

34 Comments »

  1. With all due respect, Silus, you haven’t said anything here. You haven’t made a case. All you’ve said is that you think the state should regulate marriage based on its vested interest in rearing children, but you haven’t offered much of anything to convince your audience of your position. And you haven’t addressed what we’ve already discussed in other posts here, that the state already regulates marriage for purposes other than the rearing of children.

    So I find myself reading this latest installment, scratching my head and saying,”Huh? That’s it?”

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 13, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  2. Here’s a question for you to address. What do you think of Colorado Senate Bill 166? It would establish a form of civil unions that omits all of the “breeding” aspects. It has even been endorsed by Focus on the Family. The summary is below. The full text can be found at http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics2006a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/3AA56AE77373E092872570CB005A0AA0?Open&file=166_01.pdf

    Authorizes the establishment of reciprocal beneficiary agreements for the purpose of permitting any 2 unmarried persons who are excluded from entering into a valid marriage under the marriage laws of this state, or who are or were related by blood, adoption, or marriage, and who meet specified requirements, to establish a reciprocal beneficiary agreement that extends specific rights and related responsibilities to each reciprocal beneficiary. Specifies the rights and related esponsibilities that would extend to reciprocal beneficiaries, including but not limited to health care insurance benefits.

    Specifies who qualifies to enter into a reciprocal beneficiary
    agreement (“agreement”) and how the agreement is formed and
    terminated. Describes the applicability of domestic partnerships formed pursuant to another state’s law in relation to the agreements created in this act.

    Specifies that a reciprocal beneficiary may be considered a
    dependent for health insurance coverage purposes if an employer elects to cover a reciprocal beneficiary as a dependent.

    Comment by Last Lemming — February 13, 2006 @ 9:31 am

  3. the state already regulates marriage for purposes other than the rearing of children.

    And those purposes could be isolated into a legal arrangement called something (and, indeed, being something) other than marriage (see above).

    Comment by Last Lemming — February 13, 2006 @ 9:34 am

  4. Last Lemming: And those purposes could be isolated into a legal arrangement called something (and, indeed, being something) other than marriage (see above).

    Why is it necessary to isolate these purposes?

    What is the threat to “traditional” marriage?

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 13, 2006 @ 9:40 am

  5. I’ve done what I often do when I approach this topic… lay out my fundementals and then clearly state my position… and then wait for questions.

    It’s too broad a topic for me to address in any holistic fashion… especially within the constraints of a blog.

    So can I put your question down as “marriage is used as a vehicle for all sorts of stuff that’s unrelated to bearing and rearing children… what’s the big deal”?

    And if that’s your question, can you give me a couple of examples of items you consider to be un-related to that interest?

    :)

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 13, 2006 @ 10:08 am

  6. Silus, you were the one who was going to tell us why marriage is for breeders…and just breeders. All I’m saying is you’ve convinced me of nothing, even if the state’s sole interest in marriage were the rearing of children.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 13, 2006 @ 10:33 am

  7. I must admit, I’m still stuck on the “dating” thing. Who are these guys you’re dating, and what does the date accomplish? Or is it just friends?

    As to SSM, I agree that you haven’t made much of a point as to why it shouldn’t be legalized.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 13, 2006 @ 11:32 am

  8. Thank you Silus,

    We live in an imperfect world. Should society or the state focus only on “healthy hetero households” for “the bearing and rearing of children”? Where do we draw the line of discrimination? Would it be wrong to deny marriage to Britney Spears, who makes a mockery of marriage and drives with an infant on her lap? Gay people, who also are able to bear children, sometimes divorce their opposite-sex partners and bring existing children into same-sex households. If marriage is for breeders, it makes no sense for the state not to take an interest in gay breeders who also raise children. What is the logic in declaring same-sex households unfit and the likes of Britney Spears to represent “healthy households?”

    Comment by MahNahvu — February 14, 2006 @ 1:59 am

  9. “gay breeders”? Hmmm. When that happens, call me and I’ll perform that wedding.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 14, 2006 @ 10:03 am

  10. Ah, yes, Chris, you’re right… in the fog of writing the post I completely skipped the “why”.

    * hangs head in shame *

    I’m in a rush this morning, but I’ll definitely get a comment in hear today giving you the why.

    My apologies… and thank you for pointing that out.

    D. Fletcher: speaking of dating… I’ve got a lovely one tonight. And he’s a great guy. I’m completely stoked.

    As for who these guys are… well, that’s none of your business.

    : P

    And what does the date accomplish? Huh? There’s a little socializing, a little courting, a little food, and a kiss at the end. I learn about myself, I learn how to negotiate intimate (not _that_ way) relationships, I learn how to be more charitable — to see others as God sees them… and I get a kiss at the end.

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 14, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  11. ( Though my date _is_ very handsome, the ‘lovely” above refers to my plans for the evening. )

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 14, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  12. As I understand it, with the current situation in most states, hetero married couples are given a host of rights by virtue of that legally solemnized relationship that are not currently offered to other possible relationships. So, the question is, does the state have a compelling interest in maintaining that privileged position for hetero married couples? I would think yes, because there seems to be sociological data that indicates that children are best raised in two-person, two-gendered households (although I am not terribly familiar with the literature and am willing to be corrected). Other possible relationships are not censured in this understanding of the law (in a legal or moral sense), they are simply not being extended the level of privilege that hetero marriage is being extended (because it is the “ideal” setting for the development of children (see the above caveat)).

    Comment by John C. — February 14, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  13. Silus, I guess what I meant when I said “who are these guys?” is this: are they satisfied with a date and a kiss? Are these guys also gay, but celibate? Is this a group of friends of yours, or are these new people you know, a new date each time?

    I don’t understand what you’re “learning,” exactly. Dating is… meeting and trying to connect with a future mate, whether heterosexual or homosexual. This is what dating is to me, and you’re literally the first person I’ve ever known who has made dating with an innocent kiss the preamble to… nothing more.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 14, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  14. So I owe Chris (and everyone) a little more than what I delivered up-top… mostly a “why”… Fundementally, the question of gay marriage is not a question of all the extraneous perks that attend a marriage in the US currently, but a question of child bearing and rearing. All the other perks should be looked at individually… but the ones dealing with children are central to the question of marriage, and therefore central to the question of gay marriage. Because I believe that children deserve both a mother and a father (preferably their biological mother and father), and that having such produces superior results, it would follow that I believe that the state should be able to discriminate in favor of healthy hetero households. Were gay marriage legalized, gay couples would have the same footing with hetero couples on questions of parental custody, adoption, child fostering, and the like… which I think would be unfortunate.

    I’d like to say that there’s overwhelming evidence supporting my position: that children are better off with in healthy hetero homes (especially the homes of their biological parents), but there’s not. Like so much that touches on sex and family, the literature seems to be conflicted. But my feelings aren’t rooted in the literature, but in my gut… well, my gut and a deep tradition that supports the idea (though so rarely the reality) of healthy hetero households.

    I hope that answers your question, Chris.

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 16, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  15. Silus wrote: Because I believe that children deserve both a mother and a father (preferably their biological mother and father), and that having such produces superior results, it would follow that I believe that the state should be able to discriminate in favor of healthy hetero households. Were gay marriage legalized, gay couples would have the same footing with hetero couples on questions of parental custody, adoption, child fostering, and the like… which I think would be unfortunate.

    I think you are allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Last time I checked, we don’t live in a world where every child in need of adoption can be placed in a happy hetero home. And you admit that your policy preference here is based on your gut rather than any data.

    If the history of marriage and family tells us nothing else, it tells us at least that the instutions of marriage and family are flexible and adaptable to changing societal and cultural norms. Silus, your sense of marriage as an instruemtn for the rearing of children may be rooted in history, but it does not reflect the considerable evolution of the institution through the centuries. Marriage today confers rights and obligations with respect to raising children, as well as holding property, sexual behavior, kinship ties, tribal membership, inheritance, and yes, emotional intimacy and love. Marriage in modern western society is not just about the baby–it’s about the bath water, too.

    You can strip away all the other “perks” that we give married couples, but then you are essentially gutting the institution that staights and gays alike recognize as marriage.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 16, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  16. I agree with Chris’s eloquent post. Also, you’ve admitted that there’s very little data proving the worth or lack of worth of same gender parents. I contend that legal (or at least, socially acceptable) marriage between same-gender adults must come prior to supportive numbers of statistics acclaiming their parenting skills. In other words, we must provide a legal support system for gay parents, a good enough support system that more people will choose the lifestyle (gay marriage, children), and then we will see more data.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 16, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

  17. Chris, D,
    If you guys had the choice would you rather have been raised by hetero parents or gay parents? And if you were raised by gay parents would you rather have been raised by two men or two women?

    I’m not trying to imply anything regarding Silus’ post, I just think it’s an interesting question.

    Comment by Rusty — February 16, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

  18. If we had the choice? What child has a choice of parents?

    Many orphaned children would be very lucky to get one parent of any gender. How many times do I have to make this point?

    I wouldn’t trade my parents away. They have been married for over 60 years now, and successfully raised 8 kids. They were very supported in their lifestyle by the state and national governments, by a culture that approves of such arrangements, and by a Church that blesses them.

    And still, heterosexual married couples having and raising their own children doesn’t guarantee they’ll be good parents. There’s no more guarantee they’ll be good parents than gay couples raising adopted children.

    Gay couples, given cultural approval, legal support, and the moral/religious model of commitment called marriage, will probably be equal as parents to heterosexual couples. Some will miserably fail, others will be wildly successful.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 16, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

  19. Rusty,

    My parents divorced when I was 3. My mother re-married when I was 5 and divorced again when I was 30. My parents were bitter and resentful toward each other throughout my childhood and I often felt caught between them. I can’t imagine that gay parents could have been more disfunctional than my straight parents.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 17, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  20. Wow, I would have thought at least one of you would have at least attempted to answer at least one of my questions. What are you, lawyers?

    You guys are reading way too much into my questions. You think I’m implying that straight parents would do a better job, but I’m not saying thatl. I ask it because if I try to put myself in that hypothetical position (all else being equal), I can’t help to think that I would want a man and a woman. Of course that’s not to say they would do a better job than two men or two women, but I can’t help but think that that’s what I’d prefer.

    Whether it’s two men or two women is only interesting because it’s either double or nothing and psychologically this would seem like a HUGE decision that could have a major impact on who you become.

    Comment by Rusty — February 17, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  21. But Rusty, how can any of us imagine different parents than we had? Even bad or good — I’d say the only person that could make such a judgment is somebody who grew up with same-sex parents, and wished for a man and a woman instead.

    Otherwise, I think the question is unanswerable. Children don’t get to choose their parents. It’s as simple as that.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 12:43 am

  22. I meant, how can any of us imagine parents of different *genders* than we had? I certainly can’t imagine gay parents.

    It doesn’t stop me from believing that gay parents are as good (and maybe even better) at parenting than straight parents, who tend to get married and pregnant very young, and literally know nothing about parenting. At least gay parents will go into it somewhat organized!

    :)

    P.S. I also think denial of gay marriage on the grounds of some made up evidence that they make bad parents is… no grounds at all. Gays should be married, should be encouraged to get married like everyone else.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 12:51 am

  23. Rusty, I have no idea if same sex parents would have been better or worse than my opposite sex divorced parents.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 17, 2006 @ 1:00 am

  24. Children don’t get to choose their parents. It’s as simple as that.

    Oh really? I didn’t know that. Thanks for reemphasizing it for me because this whole time I thought babies come out telling us who they want to look after them for the rest of their lives.

    Gosh, I’d hate to introduce a hypothetical question IN THIS POST FULL OF HYPOTHETICALS!!!!! It’s called momentary suspension of reality, it’s something you have to do when you watch a cartoon or sci-fi flick. It’s okay to pretend, it won’t mean you will lose your real parents, D, I promise. And Chris, you’re answering a question I never asked. Again, you guys are answering questions you THINK I’m asking.

    I didn’t realize this question was so difficult to answer. You guys are weenies.

    Comment by Rusty — February 17, 2006 @ 8:56 am

  25. OK, Rusty, I read your question again and here’s my answer: I don’t know.

    -Weenie

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 17, 2006 @ 9:45 am

  26. I read the question again too. It’s unanswerable except to say, I don’t know.

    –Weenie Too

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 10:12 am

  27. LOL!

    Well, I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.

    Comment by Rusty — February 17, 2006 @ 10:28 am

  28. But we do have evidence becoming available. Shouldn’t we wait until we see what happens in Canada and the Netherlands and other societies where gay marriage is legal before we commit here? I agree that all the reports put out thusfar are put out by people with obvious agendas. Shouldn’t we wait until clear, unbiased (to whatever extent possible), and relevant data is available?

    You are right that we don’t have the social institutions to support gay marriage here (although I have serious doubts that legislation will dispel the bias that makes things thus).

    Comment by John C. — February 17, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  29. What evidence are you talking about John C.? You mean, children reared by gay parents in Canada? So, we’ll need to wait at least, 18 years before we can make a clear judgment about how successful these children turned out.

    And what will that judgment be based on, exactly? That if the children didn’t turn out gay, the parents were successful?

    The right to marriage needs to be separated from potential parenting skills, I think.

    And I don’t think we should wait and watch Canada, Spain, Belgium, and the rest of the civilized world to see how they dealt with gay marriage, before we give the opportunity. Gay people who wish to marry now, should.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  30. D.
    I don’t particularly care how the children turn out in terms of sexual orientation (this isn’t entirely true, of course, but it is true enough (I just think that gays will always have a hard time of it; we do not lose our prejudices quickly even when they are clearly wrong)).

    The right to marriage needs to be separated from potential parenting skills, I think.

    I don’t believe there is a need to separate this, as it is already clearly separate. However, as from the example of no-fault divorce, there are wide-ranging effects that these social policies regarding the decisions of two individuals “who are just minding their own business” make. I do not believe we should make these decisions quickly or lightly. Since we have the opportunity to observe the effects in other cultures, it might be appropriate to do so. Having said that, if it is wrong to legislate the difference, then it should be eradicated now. I just don’t know that it is morally wrong to legislate the difference.

    Gay people who wish to marry now, can. They won’t get a certificate, but they can find a priest/minister/etc and hold a ceremony. Nothing tangible hinders them in doing this. Gay people have every right to fall in love, have lasting relationships, kiss, have sex, etc. The personal work of relationships is not dependent upon national decree and thank goodness for that.

    For that matter, if it is an issue of legal rights, for issues pertaining to gay partners, it is my (somewhat ignorant) understanding that visitation rights, power of attorney rights, etc. can be given to one’s partner through proper legal documentation. The problem is that such things are given automatically to hetero couples with the marriage certificate. Is this fair? No. Should it be the case? I doubt it. But, if you love that person, are you willing to go through the rigomarole (sp?) for them? Probably.

    So, is it about marriage or is it about the legal rights surrounding marriage?

    Comment by John C. — February 17, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

  31. I think you’re right, John C. Relationships don’t depend upon the state. However, successful relationships may have been helped by a very supportive government and social support system. A public “marriage” is really an announcement to the social support system that you would like… support.

    Many relationships don’t need that support, but many others do.

    Legalizing gay marriage would be a step towards showing social support for these kinds of relationships, which would help foster better and more long-lasting relationships, and also perhaps kindle the desire for many gay people to enter into such relationships.

    Commitment, to my mind, is always preferable to the other, and yet commitment is hard for many, and perhaps even more difficult for those without legal and social support systems in place.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

  32. D.
    I also think that you may be right. Legislation could be a step toward social support. But, 50 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, the problems of racism persist, in spite of public minded denials to the contrary. It will require much more than legislation to create the support you envision.

    Comment by John C. — February 17, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  33. That’s right, John, but it’s a start. Brown vs. BofE was just a start, but imagine where we might be without it (the starting point 50 years ago).

    This is why, I don’t think we should wait for Belgium, or Spain. We need to start, the sooner the better.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  34. So marriage should only be for people who are having kids? I can see why you’re still single.

    And f.y.i. the statistics of straight people molesting children are much higher than homosexuals.

    Comment by noname — March 27, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

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