I promised a Q&A, and here it is.
A few of the questions are ones that y’all have raised… and some of them are one’s I have myself.
Hopefully, I’ll do them all justice.
“What has changed?”
In his otherwise bile-filled comment, John W. Redelfs asked a question that I think deserves an answer… and while I’m not an historian, I’d say that we’re suddenly discussing gay marriage because gays have so recently come into their own in our nation. And despite our differences, Americans are fundementally interested in doing the right thing… and in treating people fairly. So a discussion about gay marriage was inevitable — just as women’s suffrage and the dismantling of the Jim Crow laws were inevitable. I just hope that this discussion gives us something other (and better) than gay marriage.
Colorado SB 166
Last Lemming asks what I think of Colorado state’s Senate Bill 166, which creates a form of civil union that appears to sidestep my particular beef with gay marriage (namely, it gives gay couples equal standing in questions related the bearing and rearing of children) by excluding those perks from its list of benefits. So what do I think of the bill? Well… I think it’s missing the point, and we’re missing an opportunity here to do something important.
If the benefits of marriage (outside of those which touch upon the bearing and rearing of children) are so coveted, then maybe it’s time to have a national discussion about each of them… but no one wants to have that discussion, because it would be boring. Instead, people scramble to inact laws such as these which refuse to look carefully at the matter. Some throw around a number like 1800 when discussing the number of perks that come with a marriage certificate… I don’t know how accurate it is, but whatever the number, some of those perks have no place being attached to marriage… some are germane to marriage, but should be available more widely… and some should be available only to married couples as they provide either a useful incentive to marry, or are necessary for the expeditious and effective execution of ones parental duties. Yet we’re not having that discussion… and it’s a darn shame. Personally, I’d like to see a discussion about how employer health insurance comes so effortlessly to a spouse… I’d like to see employer health insurance cover everyone living in the same residence. Imagine how this would benefit adult children with ill parents… bring them home to live with you, and they’re covered by your insurance! … And think of how that would, in turn, bless families across the country as generations (once again) came to live in close proximity to each other. But no one’s having that discussion because everyone’s yelling so loudly about gay marriage.
Britney Speares & Other Mockeries of Marriage
MahNahvu asks several questions… and I’ll start with this one: “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?”
I focus on this one, because it touches on a larger issue (at least in my head)… and that’s the issue of defending marriage on all fronts, and not just against a threat on its left flank. Frankly, I’m surprised that so many who are up in arms against gay marriage have nothing to say (or pay only lip service) to the very real — and perhaps even more-serious issues of no-fault divorce; absentee fathers; domestic violence; adultery; and the myriad difficulties of adopting children; not to mention some wonderful ideas out there to make marriage better, like mandatory pre-marriage counseling. If these people want so badly to preserve marriage, they should really be waging a much broader war.
MahNahvu asks about people who have left hetero relationships that have resulted in offspring… and while
John C Mark B chuckles, the fact of the matter is that there are many many people out there that fit this description. In my small circle of friends, I know of three people who married straight, had children, and latter divorced. How should society treat these people? Should their gay partners be treated as second-class citizens (or worse)? My personal opinion is two-fold:
First, regardless of orientation, custody laws in the US are a mess, and the body of legal opinion that forms the basis of interpretation for those laws offer no help at all. We really need to overhaul custody law, and to put children first by making them the center of the decision and by making parenting them well, easier.
Second, it’s my opinion that the custodial parent should have the greatest latitude possible to raise the children as best they can — and that includes the ability to assign to other responsible adults limited rights of custodianship. We were never meant to raise children alone, and single parents need all the help they can get. Government should be _helping_ these people by supporting them in the effort. In the end, this approach would bless gay couples who have complete or partial custody of a child by affording gay partners a firmer standing in the eyes of the law — as well as anyone else the custodial parent wants to name as a partner in child rearing. Once again, here’s a discussion that could have wide-ranging benefits for all sorts of people… if only we’d have it.
Gay Breeders, Too
One of my dearest friends is in a committed gay relationship. He intends to marry, eventually — going to Canada, if need be — and wants children. They could adopt… they could use a surrogate mother… or (if the promise of the scientific literature is to believed) they could actually have children together (he explained it to me — he’s a medical student — but it all sounded like science fiction). Anyway, he’s been reading this thread, and he asked me, in all sincerity, what I would do with them.
It’s so much easier to talk about these things in the abstract… but, in the end, there are always casualties of any policy decision, so the discussion can’t remain abstract for long.
I’m torn, to be honest… I think D and J would make great parents. But in the end, I think that any path they choose would end-up treating children as objects of desire, because any choice they make would deny the child a mother and a father — which I think cheats the child. There are many, many healthy hetero households that want desperately to adopt — but can’t because it’s just too difficult, and because the supply (in-country) is so tight. ( I’m avoiding the discussion of adopting out-of-country, because it’s so complex… and is really another issue, entirely ) If he and his partner were to adopt in-country, they would most-likely be denying that child a place in a healthy hetero home. Surrogacy has its own complications… not least of which is treating another person ( in this case, the mother ) as a birthing chamber. Surrogacy is emotionally taxing on the mother, and ( I imagine ) has an impact that is felt long after birth. And the last option falls within an area of science that has jumped the bonds of our humanity… I think the ethical implications of such science are deep and ill-understood, and I wouldn’t really look kindly on a society that countenanced such proceedures.
In the end, though, they will most likely succeed in securing children… and I think they’ll make good parents… and I would love the children like any good god-father and would enjoy spoiling them rotten.
So there you have it… a short Q&A… and the end of a series that I hope has explained (if only in part) how a gay man can be opposed to gay marriage. I’m frustrated that life got in the way of my posting everything more closely together, and I’m sorry that the series has suffered from light readership because of my failure to deliver it in a timely manner. I hope that y’all have taken some good from it all, though… and I look forward to your comments below.