Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The same thing as hate

I really enjoyed Msgr. Pope's recent blog post about how redefining marriage could have some pretty ridiculous consequences. After sharing a pretty silly story about a woman who decided to hold a wedding ceremony in which she "married" herself, Msgr. Pope made some interesting points:

Let’s overlook the logical fallacy and abuse of the English language in the phrase “solo relationship” for the absurdity is evident enough; and it you don’t see it, I have a square circle to sell you. Let’s also overlook the bizarre non-sequitur that single “marriages” would somehow result in a lower “divorce” rate. For as absurd as the notion of self-”marriage” is, the notion of divorcing one’s own self is even more absurd. Where would one go from oneself?

But absurd is the word for the whole strange redefinition of marriage movement. The secular world, having sown in the wind, now reaps the whirlwind. If something as outlandish as two men together can be called “marriage,” who is to say that any other part of the definition cannot be tampered with? Why should marriage be between only two? Here come the polygamists. And apparently too, here come the soloists like Ms (Mrs?) Schweigert. And while we’re at it, who is to say marriage has to be between two humans? Bring on the bestiality advocates as well as those who would like to effect marriages between their pets.

Absurd? Sure! But so is two men getting “married.” And I would wonder how advocates of homosexual “marriage” would be able to answer Ms. (Mrs?) Schweigert’s (s’ ??) salvo, as well as the silly conclusions of the reporter? Are they not hoisted on the petard of their own “logic?” For if something as basic as sexual identity can be removed from the definition of marriage, who is to say that duality, and even humanity, cannot be removed? Can the homosexual community and advocates of homosexual “marriage” really say such things as polygamy and bestiality are a bridge too far? Why? On what basis?

And if you think the bestiality example goes too far, you can consider the recent story of the woman who "married" a building:

Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun, Occupy Seattle protestor Babylonia Aivaz, a Duke University graduate, married an abandoned warehouse at 10th and Union Street in Seattle.

Yes: I said “married.” The bride, radiant in a white wedding gown, posed beside a bulldozer as fellow occupiers swayed to the strains of Bill Withers’ 1972 hit “Lean On Me” strummed by a ukelele.

The wedding, Aivaz’ friends report, was a lesbian wedding because the warehouse, like Aivaz, is “female.”

Granted, the wedding of the "solo bride" and the "warehouse wedding" aren't valid marriages according to civil law, which, for now, still requires (even in states that permit gay "marriage") that there be two human parties to a marriage contract.

For now.

Here's the question, though: why?

If marriage has nothing to do with children or reproduction, if marriage is not the union of one man and one woman, if marriage is all about someone's idea of romantic love, why should marriage require two human participants--and also require that the two aren't related to each other?

If all of our old marriage laws and customs were based on religious ideas which should no longer have anything to do with how people conduct themselves in our modern society, why should marriage forbid the union of close family members? Why can't a father marry his son or daughter, or a mother her son or daughter? Why can't two brothers or two sisters or a brother and a sister get married? Are you some kind of a hater, that you would look at their deep love for each other and tell them that for some vague reason having to do with the stability of society or the integrity of the family they should be forbidden to marry?

And why shouldn't bigger groups be allowed to marry, too? We know that people are actively practicing polygamy in this country; they just can't legally get married to each other. Isn't that bigoted and hateful, and bad for the children of their multiple unions?

And who are we to tell Babylonia Aivaz she can't have a lesbian marriage to her favorite warehouse? Sure, in our anthropomorphic biases we think a warehouse (like animals) can't consent, but isn't that just the residue of our speciesism acting like there's something special about human beings that inanimate objects can't possibly have? If Aviaz says she loves the warehouse and believes the warehouse loves her, is it hurting anyone to go with it, and to let her celebrate that love, and collect tax breaks and benefits just like any married couple?

Consent's not even an issue with Nadine Schweigert, who clearly consented to marry herself, exchanging a ring with her "inner groom." Who says marriage must involve two of anyone or anything? Can't a woman love herself enough to want to spend the rest of her life with herself? She can even have and raise children alone (though she already has a son from a previous relationship). Shouldn't the happy Ms.--Mrs?--Schweigert get the same exact tax breaks, privileges, and benefits as any two married people--or are we just haters who can't stand to recognize single people and rejoice in their solo happiness?

Once we start redefining marriage, where do we stop? It should be obvious that if we think that two men can be "married" or two women "married," there's nothing really special about marriage that would limit it to two people; in fact, in plenty of ages past polygamy was openly and proudly practiced, so if anything, that ought to be next on the agenda. If rendering the very word "marriage" a meaningless joke and destroying the family, the culture, and society is the end-game of the pro-gay "marriage" advocates, I'd say we're well on our way. After all, what reason--other than bigoted hatred--can be given to stop marriage from meaning whatever anyone wants it to mean, even people like Schweigert and Aviaz?

No. Either you embrace the polygamous group, the incestuous "marriage," the solo "marriage," and the warehouse "marriage," or you're just a hater. Because if the gay rights group has taught us anything, it has taught us that refusing to accept someone else's totally twisted views of reality is the same thing as hate.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Starting at the broadest level, either there are NO standards, criteria, or rules whatsoever, or, there is SOME basis on which to make distinctions.

If there are enforceable standards, then the question is, on what basis?

The woman who "married" a warehouse is kind of irrelevant really, akin to the aphorism "You can call yourself a millionaire, but it doesn't put a dollar in your pocket."

To most Christians who oppose civil government issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it comes down to, "because this is what God ordained, and man has no power to change it."

That is not enforceable as a legal standard under the First Amendment. It may well be true, but the federal government, and since ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, also the state governments, are without authority (because they are deemed to be without competence), to weigh in on what exactly God does or does not approve of.

So, people whose real motive is religious faith have turned to arguments that might have some merit in the civil courts. Whether or not procreation is of the essence to marriage, there can be little doubt that sexual emotions and desires exist for one reason: without them, nothing more complex than a sponge would ever bother to go through the inconvenient and intrusive contortions necessary to reproduce.

Thus, there is a unique relationship specific to a man and a woman that the general community, and/or The State, might well have an interest in promoting, regulating, recognizing, and taxing (or not taxing). Variations in the occurence and application of sexual desires and hormones might well be overlooked as not of any general community interest. They are variations on the main theme, outliers, deviations from the norm, which are no basis for persecution, but really kind of irrelevant, except to the people intimately involved.

The ties uniquely binding a man and a woman, and those which sometimes occur between two men, or between two women, are not similarly situated. Does anything more really need to be said?

Liz said...

In point of fact, polygamy is less disordered than gay marriage. After all there is the possibility of fruitfulness, and there's even Biblical precedent. I'm not advocating gay marriage, and it clearly isn't a Christian concept - Jesus was pretty clear about that. However, the fact that Jesus was pretty clear about what marriage is doesn't seem to have prevented many so-called Christian denominations from allowing gay marriages. I don't see them coming out in favor of polygamy though I can't understand their logic. Just yesterday I saw someone saying that Jesus never condemned homosexuality, but they didn't seem to make the leap that he did define what marriage is.

c matt said...

SJ, that is the most cogent secular argument I have come across. I have tried to get that point across, but far less coherently.

Kirt Higdon said...

I'm wondering if that Jack-in-the-Box commercial of the guy marrying the bacon cheeseburger is a subtle bit of social satire or just an advertising take of the new politically correct position that you can marry anyone or anything.
Sometimes the whole corrupt culture seems like a spoof of itself.

Red Cardigan said...

Kirt, I've wondered that exact same thing! If two men can marry, or two women, or a man and two women, or a woman and two men, etc. ad infinitum, then why not a man and his bacon cheeseburger? Does anyone think that the Wedding-Industrial Complex would stop a man from spending $30,000 to proclaim his love for food?

Charlotte said...

I think polygamy is wrong, very wrong. However, when people bring polygamy into these discussions about gay marriage it makes me very nervous because of things like the contraception mandate - I DON'T want polygamy outlawed because it's infringement on religious freedom. And while there is a whole dark side to polygamy that gets swept under the rug, it is like someone above said, still a practice undertaken by heterosexuals who are devoted to a Christian-like religion for the SOLE purpose of making babies. The practice is not wholly disordered or (for the time being) undertaken by people other then religious fundamentalists.

And while I know there might be a few secular whack-jobs out there salivating at the idea of having more than one wife for sexual reasons, it stands to reason that polygamy out in the "real world" wouldn't really work because regular people haven't been raised in or indoctrinated into a culture where jealousy between wives is tempered by social controls and cooperation and sharing of work between wives is also learned and a way of life. Out here in the real world, jealousy and malice would likely rip apart polygamous marriages in a nanosecond. Not to mention the fact that a secular polygamist would likely have all his wives on birth control, anyway, since he'd be in it for the sex and not the kids.

I think polygamy needs to be left out of the discussion, although I'm sure someone can come up with legit reasons to leave it in.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

c matt, glad to find some common ground. If the Supremes appear likely to take the Ninth Circuit analysis as valid, calming this question down a bit will require some better amicus curiae than the high powered Christian law firms have offered to date.

Polygamy worked better when women had a lot of hard labor all day long, and were happy to share their husband's attentions, as long as they could get some help with the house work. It is indeed acceptable in all Old Testament sources. European Jews adopted monogamy in the middle ages, to reduce tensions with their Christian neighbors.

Red: this tack always reminds me of the soft porn novel (soft enough to be reviewed in the NY Times Book Review) about the New England village that finds holes mysteriously appearing in trees about three feet off the ground. At first people suspect some new variety of wood pecker, and, in a different sense, it turns out that some local guy has a thing for trees. So, maybe he should marry one? "Do you take this male homo sapiens to be your lawful wedded husband? If so, signify by gently waving your leaves in the breeze."

Rebecca in ID said...

Charlotte, polygamy *is* against the law, at least so far! Religious freedom is important but where religions promote acts which defy the natural law in a serious way, that is where the line has to be drawn. It is obviously not as egregiously against the natural order as one woman with many husbands or homosexuality, it is nevertheless not the intended order. In the Old Testament the specific examples we see, are fraught with jealousy and disorder, such as Sara and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, and Solomon and his wives.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Rebecca, I support maintaining the laws we have against polygamy and incest, but there is NO authority under the First Amendment to limit religious freedom on the ground that a given faith or doctrine "defies the natural law." Laws of GENERAL application to ALL are not required to include EXCEPTIONS for religions that teach a different pattern of behavior, and, no religious doctrine may be imposed upon a non-adherent. Both of those reasons are sufficient to, e.g., prohibit human sacrifice, nothwithstanding any claim to religious freedom by some pagan revival cult, or, to deny Mormons the practice of polygamy.

You may believe that the government SHOULD have authority to regulate religious doctrines on the basis of what the government believes to be the requirements of natural law, but it does not, and I for one shudder to think how such authority might be used.

While you are correct that there is plenty of jealously between co-wives in the Old Testament, that does not make polygamy "not the intended order." It is entirely acceptable to God as far as any prescription or proscription found in the Old Testament is concerned.

Many species of mammals feature harems of up to fifty wives, while the majority of males never have a chance to reproduce at all. I know there are many ways to split hairs about what "natural order" means, but then we are right back to "accordingt to whom?"

Geoff G. said...

Here's the question, though: why?

Sigh. Because civil marriage is a contract and there are certain entities that cannot enter into a contract because they lack the faculties that could provide consent.

Therefore, buildings and animals, neither of which have the capability to express the desire or intent to form a binding contract, nor do they have the understanding of the basic ramifications that such a contract implies.

Likewise, we have decided that children, even if sexually mature, are not capable of entering into a contract until they reach a certain age (which may be lowered with parental consent, precisely because kids lack the maturity to understand what they are getting into).

Once we start redefining marriage, where do we stop?

Followed shortly by...

in fact, in plenty of ages past polygamy was openly and proudly practiced

Thank you so much for making it absolutely crystal clear that, yes, marriage has indeed been redefined in direction we find desirable from time to time and, no, each time it has been redefined, we've somehow managed to keep from going off the deep end. The point being that human beings are capable of making distinctions between cases.

And while you have chosen to cite an instance where marriage was redefined in a more restrictive way, there have also been cases where it has been redefined in ways that open it up to be more responsive. Cases of that would be the death of dowries and bride prices (which effectively regulated marriages between social classes) or the lifting of sanctions on interracial marriage.

All of which you know darn well because I've made these argument in this forum and others where you participate multiple times. And every time you choose to ignore them. Sticking your head in the sand, however, is generally not an effective way of bringing people around to your way of thinking (though apparently the choir seems to like it).

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Geoff G makes a sound argument, particularly with regard to consent. There is, however, one reason I have from time to time indulged the same analogies Erin has here.

It is not the thought of a state licensing same-sex couples that disturbs me. It is the argument that same-sex couples have a constitutional RIGHT to a marriage license that I find a brick short of a load.

When people pull a phrase or two from Loving v. Virginia totally out of context, to say "I have a right to marry whoever I want," the implications lend themselves rather easily to "my car, my dog, a warehouse..." because it is all about ME and what I WANT.

Marriage is not about me. It is about a rather specific relation that any man AND woman may enter into. It is indeed an individual's right to determine who, if anyone, they will enter into that relation with. But what that relation is has a definition.

Just as a prostitute and a customer cannot be charged with conspiracy, because the very nature of the crime of prostitution requires two persons to commit it at all (a pimp and a prostitute, on the other hand, or a pimp and a john, CAN be charged with conspiracy to commit prostitution), one cannot commit marriage without a partner, specifically, a partner of the opposite sex. If you enter into something else, it may not be, currently in most states is not, a marriage.

There are other partnerships that men, or women, sometimes enter into. There are a lot of citizens who believe that states should acknowledge, license, and regulate some of them. It may happen. I thought it a good thing that in New York, the state's highest appellate court did NOT order the state to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It happened only when a majority of the legislature thought they could do so, and still get re-elected by the voters.

That expands the legal definition of civil marriage. It adds two more human relationships to what the state will issue a license for. It signifies, 'after due consideration, we the people of this state have decided that this is something worth taking official notice of and granting recognition to.'

But that is different from "I have a right to marry whatever I want."

Patrick said...

Geoff is right. In short, if the government is going to hand out licenses 2 people to do A, B or C (open a securities business, form a marriage, whatever) they need to have a very good reason for denying the license to 2 applicants who come before them.

An inability to procreate is historically not a legally valid reason to deny them. An unwillingess to procreate is historically not a legally valid reason to deny them. The fact that they are 2 different races is not a legally valid reason to deny them. That they intend the marriage to last a week or even a day is historically not a legally valid reason to deny them. The fact that they have no intention of even living together is not a legally valid reason to deny them. The fact that they are unable to have sexual intercourse is historically not a legally valid to deny them. All of these people get marriage licenses.

So when you get to gay people, it comes down to nothing more than "God told me he doesn't want you 2 to have a marriage license because you are teh same gender and God says its a bad idea."

Doesn't cut it. Not a legally valid reason for our government to deny something that it is handing out to citizens left and right.

Red Cardigan said...

So, Patrick, if a brother and a sister want a marriage license, the government should hand it to them? If more than two people want a marriage license for a group marriage, the government should hand it to them? If a father and his adult biological daughter want a marriage license, the government should hand one to them? There's no reason other than religious bigotry to deny them, by your reasoning...

Patrick said...

Red, your examples are not serious, and you know that. They are red herrings. You've read more about this topic than most people and you know full well the many, significant social, psychological and medical reasons that a brother and sister should be denied a State marriage license. And gender isn't one of them.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Patrick, like several state supreme court justices, has mislocated what "equal protection of the laws" is about. It means that each INDIVIDUAL is treated in the same manner any other(similarly situated) INDIVIDUAL is treated.

For example, each MAN seeking a marriage license is treated in the same manner as every other MAN seeking a marriage license. Marriage licenses are generally unavailable to males below a certain age. They are available only for the purpose of marrying a woman, because that is the legal definition of what a marriage consists of. That applies to EVERY man, equally. With a bit of mirror-imaging, the same is true of a woman.

Equal protection of the laws says nothing about assigning people to demographic groups, then making sure that each demographic has equal access to anything. It was about NOT treating people differently from other people on the basis of some demographic distinction.

If a man applied for a license to marry a woman, and was told "You can't marry her, you're a homosexual," he would have been denied the equal protection of the laws. If the woman said "I won't marry you, you're gay," she would be making a constitutionally protected choice as to whom she wished to marry.

The fact that some individuals WANT something not contemplated in the marriage laws is irrelevant. If this is about the equal protection of the laws, we should also be fighting for the right of heterosexuals to marry a person of the same sex.