won’t you save the queer-hating dodo?

“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”  –Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday, on the way back from the dentist with the kids, I heard a commercial on the radio that annoyed me greatly.

Apparently, Vermont has a same-sex marriage bill floating around in Montpelier, and the commercial was in opposition of that bill.  It started out with a kid’s voice saying, “If my daddy marries another man…who will be my mommy?”  Then the narrator mentioned the same-sex marriage bill, professed a popular outrage against legislators who had nothing better to do that to “mess with marriage”.  The money statement was the claim that the gay marriage bill would harm existing marriages, and then the commercial ended with a kid’s voice again, saying “I want a mommy and a daddy!”

This commercial bugged me on several levels.  First, there’s the blatant Argument from Emotion–the kid being concerned about daddy running off and marrying another man.  That’s a ham-fisted attempt at emotional manipulation that has nothing at all to do with the facts.  (In reality, the national divorce rate hovers at 50+ percent for established “straight” marriages, so his daddy is statistically far more likely to divorce his mommy and shack up with the IHOP waitress than with some leather-wearing gay biker dude.) Very few straight marriages end because one party suddenly turns gay, and the legality of gay marriage will have little to no impact on that sliver of a percentage point, statistically speaking. 

(You can be sure I’ll remember that commercial the next time someone tells me with a straight face that “liberals argue from emotion instead of logic”.  In truth, conservatives also fall back on the security blanket of feelings when the logic runs out on them.  As a general rule, the side that has to resort to arguing from emotion has lost the argument.)

The second part that’s bothersome is the claim that someone else’s marriage threatens my own.  Look, folks: if the NH State House made it legal overnight for people to enter in marriage with their poodle or their ficus plant, you know what kind of effect it would have on my own marriage?  Zero. None.  Zip.  It would not make me love my wife even a smidgen less, it would not invalidate our marriage certificate, and it would not take the rings off our hands or nullify the vows we made when we slipped them onto each other’s fingers.

I’ve shared my opinion on gay marriage in this spot already (here and here), and my opinion is still unswayed.  If anything, I’m even more resolutely in favor of it after having to listen to that hand-wringing little piece of agitprop on the radio.  The government has no business being in the business of deciding who can or cannot get married.  That’s a thing that needs to stay between the willing and consenting partners, their priest/rabbi/shaman/imam/minister of choice, and (if applicable) their chosen deity.  Marriage licenses are a vestigial remnant of a time when the majority used the power of the government to make sure that only the properly-hued folk could get married, just like carry permits were introduced to make sure that only the properly-hued folk could defend themselves in public. 

Same-sex marriage is opposed with the same arguments that were once used to oppose interracial marriages…and just like miscegenation laws, same-sex marriage bans are destined to go the way of the dodo.  And before it goes extinct altogether, gay marriage prohibition will serve to show just how quickly some conservatives will abandon their principle of “states’ rights” when it comes to a hot-button issue.  The next time someone puts forward a Constitutional Amendment in “defense of marriage” (like I need some spineless sack of blubber in a suit to “defend” my marriage!), imagine it’s your marriage that will be canceled or denied with the stroke of a pen.

Defending marriage by denying it some people is backwards, bone-headed, and counterproductive.  If anything comes even close to devaluing marriage, it’s the fact that some people want to keep it a straights-only privilege.  As  a heterosexual white male, I get to ride in the front of the bus pretty much all the time, but I have no right to be proud of that fact, and I’ll gargle a bag of razor blades before I spend a penny of my money or a second of my time working to keep gays sitting in the back.

44 thoughts on “won’t you save the queer-hating dodo?

  1. theflatwhite says:

    As a general rule, the side that has to resort to arguing from emotion has lost the argument.

    I disagree.
    The use of an emotional argument neither detracts nor adds to the validity of the core position.
    Emotional arguments just plain work in that they sway the 95% that operate solely on emotion. Emotional arguments are often much more effective at changing positions than any rational argument.

    Many of Oleg’s pro-gun posters shamelessly play on emotions. Does that make them wrong?

    As to this particular issue…
    I agree the conservative’s emotinal argument is flawed.
    But, I’m opposed to the government even being in the marriage license business. A bill like this validates the governments un-needed role in what should really be a religeous/personal conviction issue.

    Is there really a need for laws that discriminate on marital status in the first place?

  2. Whitebread says:

    I dunno, man. If they made it legal for me to marry my space heater… well, all bets would be off. My wife and my ceramic would have to fight it out for my affections, if they couldn’t come to an amicable sharing agreement.

    In all seriousness, coming from a practicing Christian, I agree wholeheartedly with you.

  3. perlhaqr says:

    Cue defence of opposition to Marriage o’ t’ Gheys as “perfectly logical” in 3… 2… 1…

  4. theflatwhite says:

    The idea of gay marriage repulses me to my core.

    But, the idea of any government arbitrating one way or the other on such a personal, moral, and religious institution repulses me even more.

    I’m as much opposed to laws sanctioning gay marriage as I am to laws banning it, for this is an area where government has no business being. Laws that discriminate on marriage (tax, inheritance, medical codes) should be changed. Introducing legislation to ban or sanction a particular type of marriage shouldn’t appeal to anyone espousing ideals of limited government/libertarianism.

  5. aczarnowski says:

    I’ve long thought those pushing the gay marriage agenda were doing it wrong. They should be working to get “marriage” out of government all together.

    Granted, that’s a much harder row to till. Government releasing its grip on something makes flying bacon seem like a good bet.

  6. Bill says:

    It is not the gay marriage thing that concerns me, it is the matter of unintended consequences. Frankly we’re not capable of knowing what this might lead to, I don’t think that those who wrote the welfare bills back in the 60’s ever conceived of an unwed pregnancy rate in the 50-60% range as a result of their compassionate change. Maybe the European model would work here, all civil unions and marriages being the provence of the church. Jus’a thought. Bill

  7. Jay says:

    Exactly.

    The legality of gay marriage is simply not relevant to 99% of the population. It will have no impact on them whatsoever. (The 1% being those who are G/L AND who want to get hitched.)

    The only reason that I’m against marriage between humans and donkeys is that the donkey in question cannot consent.

  8. Phil says:

    I am not in favor of gay marriage due to religious objections; if it becomes legal I will not solemnize them. Still, as far as them being legal, well, it seems the only argument that those trying to keep them illegal can being forth is that it detracts from the sacredness of marriage. I feel much the same way you do- it doesn’t matter what happens in any other marriage, it has no effect on my own.

    I think it’s about time our government quit trying to regulate all aspects of our lives. So long as two consenting adults want to do something that harms nobody else, it isn’t my business. I’m not interested in trying to run their lives, I have no desire to try and enforce my religious objections as law. It just doesn’t involve me. If they want to know what the Bible says, I’ll tell them, but if they don’t, well, that’s their choice.

    I think the anti-gay marriage groups are on the losing side of this one, and it’s time to just let it go. It isn’t going to destroy society and it isn’t going to wreck marriages of straight folks. It isn’t going to affect others one little bet. Just let it go.

    On the flip side, though, those “domestic partner” benefits are likely gone the moment marriage for homosexuals becomes a possibility- if a company won’t fund them for unmarried opposite gender couples, there’s no reason to do so for same gender couples if the same options are open to them.

  9. Mike Clemens says:

    Having just gone through this mess with our own Proposition 8 this past fall, I empathize completely. I think the same ad agency packed up and moved east, from the sound of it. (The TV commercials run over here made it sound like children would be forcibly indoctrinated in the public schools by jackbooted gays. Or something.)

    The legalization didn’t pass, and it’s still slogging through the courts over here. Marriage is — at the moment — still very much a legal contract, and as such, the lawyers, the state, and the gub’mint all get to shove their paws into it for now. Breaking that grip is going to be a tough one, it’s too tightly intertwined with the moral foundation of the country. Luckily, apathy is on our side here.

    What’s it going to take to pass gay marriage? A generation of voters to die, to be blunt. It will eventually happen, but quite literally over the dead bodies of those who are such vocal objectors today. You pointed this out already, but if you substitute the terms “mixed-race” for “gay” in the various arguments pro/against, you’ll see that the logic and the emotions are the same as they were a generation or two ago.

  10. “Look, folks: if the NH State House made it legal overnight for people to enter in marriage with their poodle or their ficus plant, you know what kind of effect it would have on my own marriage? Zero. None. Zip.”

    On the other hand, it would legitimize one of my favorite kinks.

    No, not that one. I’m talking about sweet, sweet ficus love. Whaddaya think I am, a pervert?

  11. CKL says:

    See, this is why I don’t listen to the radio. And why I gave up on commercial voice acting five years ago. It’s too difficult to read other people’s bad dialogue when I know I can write better.

  12. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    Here’s a very eloquent speech on the matter, from back in november, at the time of proposition 8.

  13. Tam says:

    In truth, conservatives also fall back on the security blanket of feelings when the logic runs out on them.

    I wouldn’t have to call myself a “libertarian” if somebody hadn’t let all these populist jeezonazis into the conservative tent…

  14. Robert says:

    I don’t have a problem with gay marriage per se, but I don’t want the government mandating that various religions that forbid it (Catholics, for example) be forced to perform gay marriages; to me, that is a violation of the 1st amendment. If a religion accepts it, fine, but no government compulsion.

    Secondly, I think that a lot of people have qualms not about gay marriages per se, but they have qualms about opening the door to other variations: polygamy/polyandry, bestiality, necrophilia, incest, pedophilia/ephebophilia. If the door is going to be opened, we might as well go ahead and make clear once and for all where the line is drawn, so that we don’t have to re-draw it every 20 years or so.

  15. Marko says:

    No same-sex marriage proposal anywhere, in any state, has ever included forcing churches to marry anyone they don’t want to marry.

  16. theflatwhite says:

    @Mike: The legalization didn’t pass…
    If you are talking about Prop 8, it did pass.

    @Marko: No same-sex marriage proposal anywhere, in any state, has ever included forcing churches to marry anyone they don’t want to marry.

    Why should I support legislation requiring my government to recognize gay marriage any more than I should oppose legislation banning it? How is either one any more or less intrusive? Don’t both explicitly endow the government with power over an area in which it has no business in the first place?

  17. the truth is just too simple: apply little l libertarian logic and find that the reasons to oppose gay marriage are exactly the same as those favoring it.

    follow. the. money.

    ask the most ardent proponent you know of to enumerate the advantages of a governmentally sanctioned union, and you will have the reasons for opposition as well, bearing in mind that the bs smokescreen of “feelings” is a bi-causal (heh) tool .

    jtc

  18. p.s.

    mw, i’m so used to seeing that benevolent visage on the right margin; that new mugshot shocked the hell out of me. that’s gonna take some getting used to…jtc

  19. Mike Clemens says:

    @theflatwhite: correct, Prop. 8 did pass, effectively blocking the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. I could have worded that better.

    @Robert: the argument about “where will it stop?” (bestiality, necrophilia, incest, etc.) is an old trope, and not a very effective argument in my mind. Only two of those you listed are actual marital situations (polygamy and polyandry) and I think already illegal in most (all?) states. I heard this exact argument countless times up to our election day, and I still fail to understand it. The language of the prop. was clear, and did not involve kiddy-diddlers and animal-x’ers in any way that I saw. They can get their own preferences on the ballot if they so choose.

  20. Divemedic says:

    polygamy/polyandry, homosexual unions:

    Why not? What business is it of mine if two or more adults want to be married?

    bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia/ephebophilia

    Children, animals, and the dead do not have the capability to consent to wed.

    Incest:

    The only valid reason for prohibiting incest is the possibility of the production of a defective child. With the state of birth control, that can easily be mitigated. If two adults want to be wed, so what? How is it MY business?

  21. Mer says:

    Hello, my name is Meredith, and I’m a lesbian. A big one. I’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman for what’s coming up on 6 years now. We own property together, we have two businesses together, we share a cat, and we share significant financial debt. We have different religious affiliations, and neither of us participates in an organized religion or feels the need to present our relationship to a greater power.

    If the option was available, we’d truck on over to the courthouse and have a Justice of the Peace wed us in an instant. Hopefully in an instant, anyway, because we run two businesses and we’re effin’ BUSY, man.

    Why? It doesn’t affect the love we share. It’s not about any sort of social contract. It’s not about wedding presents, because we have enough stuff. We’re not all that into ritual.

    It’s about money. Taxes, mostly. It’s a hell of a lot easier and cheaper for married business partners to file their taxes, and cheaper, too. Life insurance companies give us different rates than married couples. Domestic partner health benefits are a joke, and often impossible to get or pay for if the company you work for wants to provide them, and is smaller than General Electric. Married couples get favorable car insurance rates. If there is an accident, I’m not guaranteed to be granted the privilege of visiting her in the hospital. Don’t even ask me about inheritance taxes and penalties if one of us dies. And a thousand other little things are why I would marry her in a heartbeat, even if we don’t really want a wedding.

    Because we can totally have the wedding. It would just be expensive and fun. Nobody is going to stop me from that.

    Gay marriage isn’t about love, and it makes me crazy when people frame the argument that way on either side. It’s about money, legacy, and rights.

    I agree with all of you that it’s kind of silly that the government is involved with marriage at all, and I do think that we should all be treated as individuals from a government standpoint, but it’s just not that simple. There are so many rights, entitlements and privileges wrapped up in the institution of marriage that it would toss many, many things unto chaos if “legal” marriage was suddenly abandoned. This is (i hope) why activists have pursued gay marriage as a right, instead of marriage abolition.

    If the choice was mine, I’d kill the marriage privileges for everyone, but that won’t happen. So I’d rather get the benefits. Sure it’s a little greedy, but it’s also attainable in my lifetime.

  22. Wild Deuce says:

    “Marriage” …. what does the term/word/institution mean to you? What more does it grant you beyond the “committed” relationship you already possess? Thoughts?

  23. dave says:

    Conservative, Christian, etc. and don’t care if gays marry. I find the thought repulsive (as well as the lifestyle), but that doesn’t change the fact that people should be able to get a piece of paper that essentially says they love each other very much. My problems with the current situation are:

    1. The government has no business saying who can or can’t get married. Giving the government power over anything is usually a bad idea.

    2. What difference does it make if you can’t get a piece of paper saying you’re married? Do you love the person any less? Do you say “oh, well we couldn’t get a marriage license so I guess we can’t be together anymore.” Nothing says you can’t still have a ceremony and live like a married couple just because the general populace finds it “icky.” If it’s the financial perks, why is the government giving perks to people based on the gender of their significant other? Being married shouldn’t include any sort of special treatment, negative OR positive.

    The fact that married couples are given financial perks (from the government, insurance, etc.) versus unmarried couples is discrimination, in my eyes.

  24. Robert says:

    Divemedic:

    Children, animals, and the dead do not have the capability to consent to wed.

    Age of consent varies from country to country and even from time period to time period. In Muslim countries the age of consent is often nine years old, the age Aisha was when Mohammed wed her. If, through relaxing of polygamy laws, the United States became a majority-Islam country, you can be sure that age of consent laws would be adjusted downward.

    I should also point out that some “bioethicists” have absolutely no problem with declaring the beginning of menstruation in a woman as the age of consent, and sperm production in men correspondingly the age of consent. So don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility that pedophilia will be re-defined in the future.

    The alternatives are, then, to either define all of these variations immediately and be done with it, or kick the can down the road and deal with each variation as it becomes an issue. For myself, I’d prefer to get everything decided today, but that’s just me. Other people will have other ideas and opinions.

  25. theflatwhite says:

    Why not let three men and two woman get “married” so they all can get in on the financial perks of marriage together?

    That’s the trouble with asking the government to inflict your wierd redefinition of marriage on everyone else. Leave the state out of it. You’re doing it wrong.

  26. Marko says:

    To your question, I say “Why not?” How does it pick my pocket or break my leg?

    As for the whole “asking the government” thing: the whole bone of contention is that one group started getting the government involved to safeguard *their* definition of marriage. If they hadn’t brought the state into it to begin with, this issue wouldn’t even be one.

  27. everybody that hasn’t go back and read the comment from a truthful, intelligent, committed lesbian…

    Mer: “It’s about money.”

    like i said.

    jtc

  28. p.s.

    thanks for changing the pic back, mw…oleg’s work is way better.

    your babies are still lucky they got the good looks of their mom, though…speaking of which, why is that big ugly lump blocking the view in the cheesecake flickr photo? get outta the way, man!

    jtc

  29. theflatwhite says:

    Why not?
    That’s not an answer, so you tell me why not.
    The question wasn’t the point.
    The point is that having government and legislation that discriminates on marital status causes these sorts of issues. If you are going to go all revisionist on the meaning of words, keep my government out of it.

    the whole bone of contention is that one group started getting the government involved to safeguard *their* definition of marriage. If they hadn’t brought the state into it to begin with, this issue wouldn’t even be one.
    Woah woah woah. The whole bone of contention is because the homosexuals demanded my government (and by extention me) recognize their perverted form of union as marriage, both legally and socially.

    My contention is that the gay movement and conservatives are BOTH going about things wrong by trying to legislate their own versions of morality. Get the government out of marriage. Of course, that’s not so easy, so the solution is to add more crap legislation to get the .gov on thier side.

  30. theflatwhite says:

    Failing that, they run crying to the courts.
    I don’t support Proposition 8, but I sure don’t cotton to a state court determining it has the authority to pass judgement on a STATE constitutional amendment.

  31. Jay says:

    One of the nice things about humanity is that we do – and likely always will – change to adapt to the realities around us (resisting all the way sometimes, but we do).

    While change is happening, we disagree vehemently on exactly what the good parts and the bad parts of the change are. We can argue that CO2 is more of a danger than nuclear weapons. We can argue whether the ice caps really are melting, and – if so – will the discomfort of a few polar bears be offset by the availability of tens of millions of acres of newly-usable farmland in northern Canada to feed the world?

    Get a grip. Change happens. Sometimes pretty quickly. We assume “It’s always been this way!”, when it hasn’t.

    My daughter (14) recently visited Ellis Island as part of her Theater class trip to NYC. She looked up her GGGGrandfather and GGGGrandmother in the records. Then – later that day – she did the math and figured out that GGGGranddad was 32 when he married the 12yo GGGGrandmom. GGGranddad was then born when 3Grandmom was 13. My daughter was shocked and repulsed, and asked if he was thrown in prison? Nope. While perverted and felonious by our current standards, it was just barely “icky” by the standards of the mid-1800s. They were married for 55 years until he passed. She passed 2 months later, of what my Grandmother told me was “a sadness”.

    If you are caught DUI today, you are in for a long and expensive set of court dates, massive insurance bills, public excoriation, and a permanent record. When I was in high school (’77-’81) I was pulled over twice by local law enforcement and informed I was way too drunk to drive, and would thus only be allowed to drive straight home. Once the deputy followed me home to make sure I made it. Once he (there were no “she” deputies at that time) just let me go on my merry way.

    If GLBTs started to tell me how to live my life by their standards, I’ll feel free to tell them where to stick their instructions. In the meantime, I’ll feel free to not do the same to them.

  32. Jay says:

    Sorry. I pontificate on Fridays.

  33. MarkHB says:

    Mmmph. The financial thing seems to make the most sense to me. If there are financial benefits to being married, then it’s not fair to only have them for “traditional marriage” and not gay marriage.

    In this case, it’s the government making a rod for it’s own back. By giving financial perks for “normal” marriage, it opens itself up to a perfectly rational argument of discrimination against gay marriage – because that’s precisely what the financial perks for marriage are:

    Get married, stay married, and we’ll give you money (or at least take less away from you).

    Seeing as that door’s pretty firmly open, everything else is fallout from officious meddling in people’s home-lives in the first place.

  34. theflatwhite says:

    Depending on the incomes involved, you don’t get a tax break by being married.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_penalty

  35. MarkHB says:

    But some people do. Now there’s this situation where same-sex couples are saying – perfectly fairly – we want the same treatment as straight couples. For domestic taxes, for business purposes, for inheritance.

    Should’a kept the government out of the bedroom in the first place. Ick.

  36. MarkHB says:

    We? They.

    Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass who marries what, but I think I’ve got an underdeveloped fiddlefart gland.

  37. Strings says:

    You might not get that big a tax break, but there ARE a bunch of other “perks”. Many of them outlined already by Meredith…

    But that’s ok: I’m used to seeing the real arguments ignored in these debates…

  38. Mer says:

    FlatWhite: Depending on the incomes involved, you don’t get a tax break by being married.

    True. But time is also money. Marriage would give me the privilege of counting all of our collective assets as a single unit. I would only have to submit one tax return. Now I have to submit 4, figuring out how to split things like the mortgage and business assets between us. Not cool.

  39. Tom D. says:

    Incest:

    The only valid reason for prohibiting incest is the possibility of the production of a defective child. With the state of birth control, that can easily be mitigated. If two adults want to be wed, so what? How is it MY business?

    It may not be your business, but it is societies business. I can’t believe such a wrong-headed view.

  40. John Gall says:

    How about this? If we humans would hold the concept of “first, do no harm” firmly in mind, and examine all “laws” with the goal of making “All men are created equal” a reality rather than continuing to make new laws, we could become what we should be.
    How’s that for “pie in the sky?”

  41. Sara says:

    If churches had to marry people based on who the government allows to marry, Catholic churches would be forced to marry divorced people. They aren’t.

  42. Cathy says:

    I just received a phone call today about gay marriage in New Hampshire, I was wondering which way to tell Governor Lynch to go. I thought of you so I wanted to post my thoughts here. The Libertarian in me says to approve gay marriage. The Machiavellian voice in my head says to not allow gay marriage and this is why. I believe in less government if more gay people move to New Hampshire because of gay marriage that means we will get more democrats moving to New Hampshire and I don’t want that to happen. The damage the Democrats have done to New Hampshire since November 2006 has been devastating to those in the state who believe in less government and fiscal responsibility.

    • Marko says:

      Well, which one’s going to weigh less on your conscience, when all is said and done–having been in support of your home state denying equal rights to all its citizens…or having been in support of your home state butting out of the matter altogether?

      As a libertarian, I feel the need to always take the side of personal freedom and less government, regardless of my personal stance on whatever issue comes up for vote.

  43. Cathy says:

    I want the state to butt of marriage altogether no matter it be man/man or woman/woman or man/woman.

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