Most people have probably heard that Rick Santorum was given a hard time by a group of college students in New Hampshire because of his opposition to same sex marriage, which resulted in him being booed and jeered at the end. You can see the video at the bottom of this news story. What people may not have been noticed is that this was a group of college Republicans, which shows how the younger generation across the political spectrum views giving gays equal rights much more favorably than the old. Homophobia is dying, and dying quickly.
In responding to the question of why he opposed same sex marriage, Santorum exploited a debating trick in which one shifts the point of discussion ever so slightly away from something that is hard to defend against to something else that is easier to defend. The students were not prepared for this and though they sensed that they were getting a non sequitur, they could not quite put their finger on the flaw at that moment. This is not a good thing for Santorum because the students will figure out later what he did and why he was wrong and it will make them angry that he tried to snooker them. I think the jeers at the end were from those who already realized what he was doing but did not get the chance to make their case.
As a former debater, I have learned that there are quite a few tricks that you can use to stymie an opponent and seemingly win a point in the short term but you have to be aware that when people figure out later that they have been tricked, that will backfire on you. So, as a public service, here is some information to anyone to counter the kinds of phony arguments that Santorum made.
What happened during the exchange was this. When a student asked why he opposed same sex marriage, Santorum correctly replied that the burden of the argument is on those who advocate a change in existing law and pressed the student for a reason that made same sex marriage necessary. Put on the spot, the student said (at 2:30) that without it, gay people do not have the right to visit their partners in hospital. Santorum responded (again correctly) that gay people could sign a contract that gave their partners this particular right, so marriage was not necessary to achieve that particular goal.
But this misses the point. It is true that one can sign contracts that enable one’s partner to have this or that specific right, but the fact is that when you get married you automatically get conferred on you a wide range of rights, only a few of which can be substituted contractually outside of marriage. If all the rights of marriage could be achieved by signing a single legal contract between two people, then the whole issue of same sex marriage would be moot since we would have the equivalent of civil unions and gay people could have such a legal ceremony and be done with it.
Santorum further said that if same sex marriage is allowed, then the rule that marriage is only between one man and one woman would no longer hold and one would have to allow polygamy as well. He wisely steered away from his earlier claim that allowing same sex marriage to be legal would mean that one would have to also allow marriage to animals and children. This association of homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia was what resulted in his famous Google problem.
What Santorum was doing here was misleading the audience on the ways in which the rules for marriage can be expanded. In general, marriage has the following rules: (1) only human beings can get married; (2) the number of people who can be married is two; and (3) the two people must consist of one man and one woman. (There are other rules involving age, relationship, and so on that do not add anything to the point I am making here.) Hence when one broadens the definition of marriage, one can do it in at least three ways. One can expand it to include other species, one can increase the number of people involved, one can make more flexible the genders of the people involved, or some combination of all three. What should be obvious is that there is no logical reason why any one option would inevitably lead to any other. What supporters of same sex marriage are saying is that they have no problem with restricting marriage to human beings or that the number be two. It is that they want to relax only rule #3 and allow two people of any gender (male, female, transgender) to marry. The reason for urging this change is so that then there will be equality under the law and that people’s rights are not restricted because of their gender or sexual orientation. This is a reasonable, understandable, and to my mind compelling, argument.
So what about relaxing rule #2 and allowing polygamy or rule #1 and allowing bestiality? At present there is no significant constituency pressing for either and so they are moot and bringing them into this discussion is purely a diversionary tactic. It may happen that the day will come when (say) some Mormons and Muslims lead a campaign for relaxing rule #2 and that debate will come to the forefront. I for one would have no fundamental problem with the number of people who are allowed to marry being increased to three or four or to whatever number society deems most suitable. But for the same reasons as above, I would have a problem if they increased it to three and restricted it to (say) just one man and two women. If we are going to increase the number to three human beings then, invoking the same principle of equality, the persons that comprise those three should not be restricted by gender. You should also allow one woman and two men, or three men, or three women, or one woman and one man and one transgender, and so on.
What Santorum was doing was conflating something that is arbitrary (the number of people who can be married) with something that involves a fundamental principle of justice (equal treatment under the law). As an analogy, if one should be needed, it is like the speed limit on a road. People accept whatever number is posted. People also accept speed limit changes from 55 mph to 60 mph or 65 mph as involving merely numbers that are determined based on a variety of prosaic reasons. There is no fundamental principle involved. But everyone would agree that it would be wrong to have one speed limit for male drivers and another for female drivers.
One student during the exchange pointed this out, saying (at 5:40) that she personally did not care if polygamy was allowed but that this issue was irrelevant to the issue of same sex marriage. She was absolutely correct but her view did not get a proper response.
This was not a debating competition where the point is to win. As a lawyer, Santorum should have been aware of everything that I said above and in not acknowledging it, he was either being dishonest and trying to bamboozle the audience or is so homophobic that his reasoning skills completely desert him when it comes to anything involving homosexuality. It could be the latter. As comedian Gary Shandling says in a tweet, “Rick Santorum seems so homophobic that I’m surprised he even allows another man to vote for him.”
I think that the students sensed that Santorum was not discussing the issue honestly and was being patronizing and condescending and that was why he was roundly booed at the end. But thanks to the internet, people are going to wise up and the next time he, or anyone else, tries these debating tricks, I hope they get strong push back.
Excellent argument. Welcome to freethoughtblogs.
Very nicely and clearly stated. I’m bookmarking this for future reference.
And polygamy is something we’re going to have to deal with in the future as well. While there’s a certain amount of inequity in the ways that the groups you mention practice it today, I cannot see any reason why it shouldn’t be legal too.
Welcome! Nice post.
Forbidden Snowflake says
The student fell for his trick by replying with pragmatic, rather than principle-based, reasoning. While it’s true that the burden of the argument is on those who advocate change, it’s also true that rights are (supposed to be) granted by default and denied only with justification. So I think it would be fair to retort that it’s the banning of same-sex marriage (and anti-same-sex marriage laws/amendments are “a change in existing law” as well, aren’t they?) which needs to be justified.
colin hutton says
I regularly follow Pharyngula and Camels here at ftb. This post suggests I may have to increase that number from 2 to 3. Thank you for such a clear exposition.
Many thanks for the debating tips; that’s useful.
To answer Santorum’s question, people need to point out that there are about 1100 federal benefits to marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act denies all of them to same-sex couples. The GAO gives more details here.
Solid inaugural post! I look forward to reading more, and perusing your backlog.
That was very well written! Thank you and welcome to FTB!
Skeptical Pitbull says
An excellent deconstruction of Santorum’s gay-marriage slippery slope, thoroughly enjoyed it. Welcome to the blog!
-That is my hope as well. So many in the public eye (no matter the political party or religious affiliation) spout opinions as if they were facts. I often wish a highly respected national (or international) organization existed which could refute lies and half truths with *the* truth and reach a wide audience.
Welcome to freethoughtblogs! Very good post, thank you.
Additional incidental point: IIR, several states have passed laws to prohibit non-marriage contracts intended to provide analogous rights, and the ease with which non-cooperative family members can dispute the validity of such contracts in ways that render them effectively worthless.
The real problem for Santorum and other conservative Republicans is the demographics. As one YouTube video puts it: You guys don’t understand. You’ve already lost. The current generation doesn’t care. The General Social Survey data largely agree; legality for Gay Marriage (variable MARHOMO) for post-1980 birth COHORT in the 2008 and 2010 tends to run in favor — and to a surprising degree, even when PARTYID or POLVIEWS are limited to the right. While the GSS samples are too small (filtered to that level) for much confidence, it may well be that as of 2010, a plurality of Republicans+StrongRepublicans of that generation at least Approve. Adding the “Meh” brigade makes a majority — and the change trend is rapidly headed towards acceptance.
The good news for conservative Republicans is that the young tend to be politically disengaged. The bad news is by pissing them off, they may be making long-term enemies.
Welcome to FtB. It is good to have a physicist here.
An interesting point that the students could easily have interjected is that polygamy is approved of in the Bible. For example:
2 Samuel 12:11 -- Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
So is Romney saying that God is wrong?
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
Personally, I think that “Marriage” is a religious institution, and the government shouldn’t have any laws pertaining to it whatsoever. What the government should have is civil unions: for everyone, regardless of gender. And a civil union is what you should need for all those extra rights and whatnot.
If you want God to approve of your boning, or a big fancy ceremony with pretty dresses, or whatever else the fuck you think a marriage constitutes? Have at it. The government, however, should refrain from being involved regardless.
Corollary: Religious organizations should stay out of civil unions. It’s only fair, after all.
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
So, just to clarify: Replace “Marriage” as a thing that gives you tax breaks with “Civil Union”, a thing that also gives you tax breaks but doesn’t bog itself down with religious baggage. Even for straight people. Then let “Marriage” be whatever nebulous BS people want it to be.
Also: “No laws pertaining to marriage” assumes that your marriage isn’t breaking any other laws. If you’re marrying a twelve year old, obviously there should be problems.
Mike de Fleuriot says
Remember people, democracy is not about the candidates that you vote for, but it’s about the people who you convince to vote for the candidate that you personally think is fit to govern. It’s up to you to show others why one guy is better than another guy. And Mano seems to have some pretty decent advice on what to look out for in a debate.
But that is what one expects from a hard science guy.
Excellent points. Whenever I’ve been confronted with a religious nutter who brings up the polygamy angle during a discussion about same sex marriage, I’ve always taken the tack of saying “There’s nothing inherently wrong with polygamy and, on principle, it should be legalized but that would take massive legislative changes”. Then we debate polygamy for a while. While I think my point is valid, I now see that I’m being suckered into an argument that has nothing to do with same sex marriage. From now on, I’ll be using your points to keep the discussion on topic.
Greetings on FTB. It’s so easy to get missled during these kinds of debates, but I would say Santorum’s primary blindness to the “equality under the law” argument is directly ideological and homophobic.
SallyStrange, FemBrain in a FemBadge (Bigger on the Inside!) says
Ooh, so logical you are! One might almost think that it was appropriate to apply the principles of skepticism (evidence for claims, logical reasoning) to issues of social justice. Hmmm…
Sheila Crosby says
Bestiality is also a red herring because animals can’t possibly give consent. I don’t think the “eawwwwwwww” reaction is enough to legislate other people’s sex lives. After all, there must be people who find the heterosexual missionary position revolting.
Callum J Hackett says
Excellent post! More people need to think critically like this, though it seems that many students feel the flaws intuitively even if they can’t quite point them out.
I’m entirely with you on every point you made, and have no issue with the idea of a marriage with more than two people, but I would say that when discussing same-sex marriage with an opponent, it’s probably counter-productive to point that out.
There are most likely many more people in the country who feel instinctively against polygamy (albeit without reason) than against same-sex marriage, so to even associate with the false slippery slope argument can have a negative impact. It’s better to not comment at all, and simply state that the number of people involved is irrelevant to the issue of the genders involved.
Welcome to FtB! Look forward to more of your stuff and your RSS is already assigned to Google Reader.
…he was either being dishonest and trying to bamboozle the audience or is so homophobic that his reasoning skills completely desert him when it comes to anything involving homosexuality.
Why do these have to be mutually exclusive? I’d say it’s far more likely that he’s being dishonest and trying to bamboozle the audience because he’s so homophobic that his reasoning skills completely desert him when it comes to anything involving homosexuality. Many atheists describe religion in terms of disease, poison, toxicity, etc., and I think Rick Santorum is the poster child for that sort of description. It’s somebody who’s faith is so strong it prevents him from seeing any other point of view and demands he oppress others.
I think we can connect this, politically, to Barry Goldwater, actually. Specifically, we see the same type of rhetoric and meaningless opposition to anything that violates Santorum’s religious views that Goldwater showed early in the battle over lowering the voting age. The difference, however, comes in that Goldwater was willing to listen to young people and eventually changed his mind in light of arguments from college kids asking why they could be drafted but couldn’t vote on who sent them to war, whereas Santorum is entirely incapable of making the same leap. As a result, he ends up trying to lecture his young audiences and using misleading debate tactics to “prove” a point with no foundation.
Thanks for telling the rest of the story, Dr. Singham. Oh, and welcome to FtB! It’s always nice to see another great blog move into the neighborhood.
colin hutton says
A further comment.
I note that my earlier comment is “awaiting moderation”. It could reasonably be described both as ‘favourable’ and as ‘off-topic’. I think that that creates a problem; which can be summarised by my suggesting that the best solution would be for you to disallow the comment on the grounds that it is off-topic.
Another way of putting it is to point out that if, knowing that comments are moderated here, I were to have read the identical comment from some other person, I would have regarded it as valueless (perhaps dozens of critical comments have been vanished!).
“Santorum should have been aware of everything that I said above and in not acknowledging it, he was either being dishonest and trying to bamboozle the audience or is so homophobic that his reasoning skills completely desert him when it comes to anything involving homosexuality”
I think he’s so homophobic he’ll resort to any tactic to bamboozle the audience, including dishonesty and debate tricks.
One simple question to him and all the “it’ll destroy traditional marriage” folks out there is “How?”. As far as I know, the responses range from “but then we’ll have to teach our kids about how other lifestyles are okay” (gee, that’s terrible, having to get rid of bigotry) to “but then churches will have to marry gay couples, which is against their teachings” (no, the marriage license is a secular contract, a wedding is a performance. Churches regularly get out of all sorts of stuff they don’t want to do, but they may lose out on tax breaks by doing so) to “but it’s icky”, which is probably the most honest of them to say, though still nonsense.
Elias Lasalle says
Thank you sir for this clear evisceration of Santorum’s dead-end argument. I often find myself at a loss when encountering arguments that I feel are flawed, but lack an immediate logical counter to. Your easy to follow scheme of how this type of argument works will ensure I can effectively challenge it whenever it tries to sneak past me again.
“As a lawyer, Santorum should have been aware of everything that I said above…..”
Ah yes, but as a sociopath he’s not bound to rules of ethics
Joe Geiger says
Welcome — and a very nice first post. Indeed, some good take-ways for me as I run into dishonest homophobes.
I was very disappointed to see the purveyors of bigotry and prejudice in Colorado use the “… they can sign a contract…” argument successfully here in the campaign against the state recognizing civil partnerships. The campaign for civil unions responded correctly as you advocated but it was too little too late. It would have been an incomplete victory at best, but it would have been a step in the right direction. I think that similar legislation might succeed if presented now.
I have to wonder, Santorum argued that the burden is on those who advocate a change in existing law. Fair enough, but to which law does he refer? Is he referring to fairly new laws that restrict marriage to hetero couples? I guess what I’m really curious about is before these laws, was gay marriage legal? Or was it just not defined?
RW Ahrens says
Welcome to FTB!
Good post -- personally, I think he knew exactly what he was doing, but was just so into the campaigning thing he forgot where he was and what he should have been doing.
Of course, these kinds of tactics are endemic among those who hold such logically indefensible positions -- there aren’t any good defenses they can use to fend off the reasonable, so they must resort to these underhanded tactics to at least keep their self-respect.
Even if they lose our respect!
A couple of years ago, I advocated that the system of marriage be disintegrated from the system of civil unions. One is a religious rite, the other a civil contract.
And let me tell you, I was roundly and thoroughly booed off the stage (this was at Daily Kos, where I no longer inhabit).
I was told that I was being a homophobe and a bigot and a Rethuglican and about a billion other nasty names.
All because I could recognize that the religious component of the practice should be separated from the civil component. Like they do in France (and maybe other countries).
No. I won’t be advocating that anymore. Not in “liberal” circles, in any event.
Santorum is flat-out lying: same-sex couples cannot meaningfully sign a contract guaranteeing their partners visitation rights, any more than I can meaningfully sign a contract with another individual that will entitle that person to U.S. residence. A contract saying “This person is entitled to visit me in the hospital if I am sick or injured” isn’t enforceable against the hospital. If the hospital wants to let me choose my visitors, I can, and it’s not necessarily limited to relatives or a spouse. (When my best friend’s partner had a stroke, I wasn’t kicked out, even though neither “best friend” nor “unmarried partner” are legally recognized statuses. Neither were other friends of his. But the hospital could, legally, have kept us all out, and refused to talk to anyone until his mother managed to fly in from the other side of the country.)
So it’s not just “individual contracts for 1300 different things are impractical,” it’s that in most cases they aren’t available. I can’t privately arrange that one other person and I get to file our income taxes jointly, for example.
Reginald Selkirk says
This occured in New Hampshire, where same sex marriage is already legal, since January 2010.
Todd W. says
I disagree that the burden of proof is on the one who advocates a change of existing law. In any case of restricting human freedom, the burden is always on the one advocating the restriction, even if this restriction has existed for all of recorded history. If no justification can be given for an existing restriction of freedom, it should be eliminated.
I agree with you as long as all unions, hetero and LGBT, were treated as civil unions in the eyes of the state, (and I believe that’s what you’re advocating) and “marriage” was relegated to and recognized as merely the ceremonial and religious (or non) affirmations of love and commitment that folks do with respect to their communities.
Ibis3, denizen of a spiteful ghetto says
You’re wrong. Marriage is a secular, civil, legal institution, both historically and today. There were legal, civil rules about it in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China etc. from the dawn of civilisation. Weddings have, historically, incorporated religious ritual, but that’s not the same thing.
Today, in a pluralistic society, religious authorities can already determine who is eligible to marry or divorce within their traditions, subject to civil law. There is no reason why this needs to be modified.
When we talk about equal marriage rights, we are talking about civil marriage because that’s the only kind that counts for everyone. Why should we allow religious denominations to appropriate that for their own purposes? If I want to marry, I should be able to *marry* a man or a woman. I should be able to use the word marriage like everyone else whether I’m religious or not. I should be able to say “my wife” or “my husband” like everyone else. It doesn’t matter to me if my marriage doesn’t qualify as valid in a Greek Orthodox Church or a Jewish synagogue (which it wouldn’t, no matter which gender my spouse is).
(p.s. welcome, Mano)
Marcus Ranum says
So, just to clarify: Replace “Marriage” as a thing that gives you tax breaks with “Civil Union”, a thing that also gives you tax breaks but doesn’t bog itself down with religious baggage.
Why not forget the tax breaks? I’m still trying to remember why society needs to reward people for pairing up. Or punish them for it. If marriage/civil union didn’t come with a package of arbitrary legal tradeoffs then maybe nobody’d care and the people who want to have a big religious wedding can do that and nobody’d care and the people who want to pair off secularly can do that and nobody’d care.
Marcus Ranum says
I agree with you, though I’d put it more in terms of that laws shouldn’t be passed at all, unless they are accompanied with a strong argument for why it protects the individual or society. In other words, you don’t make something illegal unless you first show how it harms society at large. Or that society at large somehow has a better understanding of an individual’s situation such that society’s will must override the individual’s. The burden of proof should be showing “this law will protect society against a specific harm” otherwise it oughtn’t be a law at all.
This. Contracts are not enforceable on third parties. It’s as simple as that.
And in regards to the second point, polygamy is a completely different story. The rights and responsibilities of marriage are basically about exclusivity. That is, designating a primary partner. Many of those rights and responsibilities simply can’t scale to a polygamous relationship, from a legal basis, although in theory I really don’t have any problems with group marriages per se (although in practice they’re usually very problematic).
Welcome, Mano. I appreciate the depth of the post in providing both context and analysis. And I think you pegged Santorum soundly with your description of ideology interfering with reasoning. It happens with most, if not all, people on some issue. This one’s his. For all he’s worth, let him own it. One day, he can tell his kids about he was the most famous homophobe.
I think the point being, as I’m sure you agree, that whatever the rights heretofore assigned to “marriage” would be assigned to civil unions as well. “Marriage” would become a term describing the ceremonial accoutrements.
Hi Mano, welcome to FTB.
I don’t think you quite addressed the full subtlety of Santorum’s rhetoric, and thus I think you shortchange those who might turn to your post here as having the “perfect response”.
Firstly, with respect to the first student’s question, you responded
Your response implies that Santorum addressed the hospital-visitation issue and that it’s only a strong argument when considered as a part of “all the rights of marriage”
I disagree; I think Santorum played that one quite poorly and actually set himself up for a “checkmate” moment based on hospital-visitation rights alone. His comeback was effectivly, “Can gay couples get living wills today? [yes] Then, problem solved, next question.” The student’s response should have simply been, “Yes, but why should homosexual couples have to pay lawyers and court costs for this privilege that their heterosexual counterparts get automatically? Furthermore, spousal rights and living-wills are not equivalent in real life: case after case shows that, even with lives on the line, hospital staff are much quicker to acknowledge ‘spousal visitation’ than ‘living-will-enabled visitation’.”
In other words, I think the student could’ve had Santorum pinned down without need to shift gears from hospital-visitation to the other benefits that come with marriage.
But that’s kind of nit-picking… I think you really missed the boat in failing to address Santorum’s “polygamy gambit” (which the second questioner set him up for perfectly).
This gambit is to first get the opponent to accept this line of reasoning as valid:
(P1) Everybody has the right to be happy [as long as it doesn’t harm others]
(P2) Gay people would be happy if same-sex marriages were legal.
(C) Therefore, same sex marriages should be legal.
Santorum’s entire reponse requires the student to acknowledge this as THE argument which furthers the case for same-sex marriage. If you watch the clip, you’ll see how Santorum absoutely refuses to let things move forward until the young lady he’s talking to “accepts” it. Once Santorum gets the student to accept this argument, he makes the entirely valid case that, if this argument is valid, then the proponent must accept as equally valid:
(P1) Everyone has the right to happiness [as long as they aren’t hurting others]
(P2′) Polygmists would be happy if multiple-partner marriages were legal.
(C’) Therefore, polygamy should be legal.
I think it’s important to note that Santorum has not committed any logical fallacies in doing this -- this is NOT a red herring, as I’ll try to demonstrate.
If you argue that
It is perfectly valid for me to retort:
This retort is valid. More, the structure works particularly well for Santorum because it refutes the conclusion (C) “Gay marriage should be legal” without forcing him to directly rebut (P1) “Everybody has the right to be happy”, a difficult thing to do without sounding bigoted.
My whole reason for this rant is because it would be INVALID for you to dismiss the retort by saying, “I was talking about apples… by bringing turnips into this, you committed a red herring”.
Anyway, I’m not agreeing with Santorum -- I’m merely of the opininon that you are setting people up to rebut “polygamy gambit” with invalid logic, and against a sharp debator like Santorum, they will get torn to shreds.
Having said that, I think the gambit is a difficult one to overcome. Quite simply, based on fairness and right-to-persuit-of-happiness, YES polygamy should be as legally acceptable as any other form of marriage. But there is a HUGE rhetorical cost of acknowledging this, especially w.r.t the conservative base Santorum is playing to. Without the time or platform to explain that
1) Historically, polygamy has almost always violated the consensual rights of certain parties and
2) The form of polygamy that should be legally acceptable bears no resemblance to the historic form of polygamy and
3) There simply are not many people on the planet who’d actually be interested in #2,
ANY acknowledgment that polygamy should be legal gives Santorum a distinct advantage. I guess I’ll leave off with: if the claim of “irrelevance” is not a viable comeback, what is a decent response to the “polygamy gambit” in a format like this?
I had no idea it was the college republicans who did this. Great point, and welcome to the wacky world of blogging.
Doh -- I just realized that a halfway-applied clarifation muddied my post up. I had decided to change my hypothetical from “red things” to “red foods”. However, I made the change in one place and not the other. With apologies, the text of my hypothetical argument should be this:
Mano Singham says
I think I understand the point you are making but I think that one does not have to concede that it is the right to happiness that is important here. One should stick to the argument that it is the principle of equal treatment irrespective of gender that should drive the decision. Santorum might reject that principle but he would have a hard time getting people to sign on. Equal treatment under the law is a powerful principle.
Solid first post, welcome! I’m happy to see the FTB community grow.
I have one criticism, though and it’s one of language. I realize you’re trying to be inclusive by referring to:
And it’s laudable that you’re trying not to be cisnormative. Thank you for being considerate! But you’re also treating trans people as an “other” category by default as if there was no overlap between the previous two. Moreover, transgender is an adjective, not a noun.
From a recent piece by Natalie Reed with Queereka:
For trans people who identify as men and women, you have already included them when you say men and women. It’s only for those that don’t identify along binary gender divisions that you can specifically include under a term like genderqueer people.
It’s important to talk about equality for transgender people in marriage, and I’m glad you are. It can be maddeningly inconsistent in those states that restrict marriage to “a man and a woman” because each state treats trans people differently, so in one state you may be able to marry who you love, and in another you can’t. It’s an issue that largely gets ignored because it would become a non-issue if marriage equality became the law of the land, but I think it’s still an important one.
It’s yet another way in which navigating the world is even more difficult for non-cisgender people that most people don’t even consider.
Yes, that’s exactly what I was saying. Same rules for everyone. Why is this so difficult for people to understand?
What part of my post was unclear?
Civil union (contract rights) first.
Then “marriage” (religious ceremony) if you so choose. Or not, if you don’t feel like it.
You are invited to go over to Kos and float that little trial balloon.
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
Yes, you should. 100%. What I’m arguing is that the government simply not talk about marriage, and allow each individual to be “married” or “not married” however the hell they would like to be. I am in no way advocating that the Pope or whoever else should have the right to decide who does or doesn’t get married. I’m just saying that the government shouldn’t either.
The only reason the government should be involved in something like marriage is for working out legal/tax considerations that change when people live together. Everything else should be the right of the individual to decide.
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
This is exactly what I was advocating above, in case anyone is still confused.
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
To be honest, I don’t know enough about why those taxes are in place to argue for or against them. I’m inclined to agree with you, but have yet to really see what the justifications supporting them are.
Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says
This. Thank you.
There is an argument based on the public good against extended marriage (> 2 people married to each other, of which polygamy is but a specific example).
When two people are married, if divorce or a death within the marriage occurs, the marriage ends. It is a mortal institution.
If more than two people are married to each other, we have legally sanctioned a potentially immortal institution. If one member of the marriage dies, the marriage itself survives and can acquire more members into the marriage, thus (potentially) perpetuating itself forever, with no natural death built in to it.
The human race has a poor track record with immortal institutions. I’m thinking religions, governments, corporations…sooner or later, they turn malevolent. We should think very carefully before creating yet another immortal institution. Imagine a corporation with the CEO, board members, and upper management all married to each other, and therefore enjoying spousal privilege. They would be beyond the reach of the courts! Even if the laws were changed, their ability to accumulate wealth and power over generations would ultimately not be in the public’s interest.
There is one immortal institution that has, on the whole, been benevolent: scholarship. So we don’t always screw it up.
The public good can outweigh the rights of individuals to do what they’d really like. Usually that argument is made in support of bigotry (like the weird idea that same-sex marriage would somehow ruin marriage, a ridiculous concept as the institution was not changed at all, just extended to more couples). But, while I have no issue with how people conduct their sex lives, or what living arrangements they choose, I think extending legal recognition to extended marriage carries some real perils for society at large.
At the very least, I would urge very careful thought about the matter before forging ahead in an admirable attempt to satisfy everyone.