Opponents of gay marriage might have trouble explaining this one, at least in the free world.
Too many shadows whispering voices. Faces on posters too many choices. If when why what how much have you got…
Opponents of gay marriage might have trouble explaining this one, at least in the free world.
Too many shadows whispering voices. Faces on posters too many choices. If when why what how much have you got…
Note: I wrote this eight (8) years ago, in April, on my personal blog, Facts Matter.
The Catholic Church is, first of all, a criminal organization. It conspired for several generations to shield criminals from justice, just like the Mafia. Reading the press, I experience a sense of growing disbelief. Many commentators sound as if it the Catholic Church should be given a pass, somehow. The reverse is true. I am not religious but I know enough about the traditional Jesus to remember that he held hypocrites in special contempt. (Within the context of his day, he called them “Pharisees,” a sect known for showing off instead of acting righteously.) The Catholic Church’s own historical, philosophical, and moral claims demand that its crimes be treated with special severity. The Catholic Church deserves enhanced penal sentences and seizure of property.
If you are a grief-stricken Catholic and you hesitate to leave the Church, you should wonder whether even your simple passivity does not make you complicit in the large-scale, systemic, criminal cover-up becoming apparent right now. If you believe that the Catholic Church has the ability to cleanse itself somehow, you have not been listening to the shameful lies and self-deceptions expressed by prelates, during Holy Week of all times.
As always, I pay attention to what one should reasonably expect to happen and that is not happening. It’s striking how nearly none of the accusations of pedophilia against the Catholic church concerns girls. Catholic sexual crimes against children are almost exclusively homosexual. It looks like we are speaking about thousands of homosexual crimes. It makes me wonder why I don’t hear a word from so-called “gay” organizations. I mean militant gay organizations. I do not (not) refer here to the many homosexuals who lead irreproachable and constructive lives. They have no more to do with priestly pedophilia than I am responsible for heterosexuals who cut up their wives into little pieces. Nevertheless, anyone who thinks that mass molestation of children by homosexuals within the church has no bearing on the discussion of homosexuals’ right to marry is dreaming. The numbers are just too large and the criminals are homosexuals, anyway you look at it.
I think this piece has regained currency. Look at it when you have a chance.
News item: the Georgia governor has just vetoed a bill that would, among other things, have allowed ministers to decline to wed gay couples.
What a tangle. Let’s see if we can sort things out.
First of all, many decent people, your humble servant included, find the concept of “gay marriage” troubling. I believe any two adults (or three or more) should be free to make any contract they like regarding sharing assets, pledging fidelity, and so forth. I just wish they wouldn’t call it “marriage.” That term is taken.
Second, hate is not a crime. Some people express repugnance or hatred for homosexuality. Ayn Rand called the practice immoral, an attitude that is hard to fathom in this day and age but perhaps understandable given the tenor of her times. Some go farther and express hatred for homosexuals per se. But as long as these people refrain from initiating force or fraud, they should not be molested. Boycotts, shunning, and criticism are legitimate responses to such people, but forcible restraint is not.
Third, rights are not granted by governments. Rights derive from our basic nature as humans, as thinkers such as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard have so eloquently demonstrated. Contractual “rights” should have a different name, perhaps “privileges.” These are actions that have been legitimized by a voluntary agreement. Thus for example, no one has free speech “rights” on a campus. Students may have free speech “privileges” on a campus if the owners of the campus have granted that privilege in a written or implied contract.
Fourth, freedom of association is a basic human right, and includes freedom of dissociation, whether in personal or business relations. Some years ago I posted a defense of the late Lester Maddox who famously attempted to exclude blacks from his chicken restaurant. My post generated considerable blowback, but I stand by it and note that in this day and age, anyone who tried to exclude blacks would not be elected governor of Georgia as Maddox was, but instead lose most of his customers and close his doors.
In summary, no minister needs permission from the state to deny wedding services to a gay couple. And religion has nothing to do with it. Anyone should free to decline business or personal relationships with anyone, for any reason whatever, or for no reason at all.
Marriage licenses should not be granted to gay couples nor to straight couples. Marriages should be private consensual agreements between any two competent, consenting adults. Or three or more, for that matter. Governments should not be involved: no licenses, no special privileges, and no special obligations for married couples.
However, the fact that an action is legitimate and non-coercive does not mean any term can be used to describe it. Gay couples should not call their agreements “marriage” because that term is taken. For centuries, it has stood for heterosexual unions in almost all cultures. Marriage might be called a “trade mark.”
Kim Davis is a hero. She is the county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for contempt because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
She bases her stand on her religious beliefs, but that’s not why she is a hero. If she were acting on secular philosophical grounds, her case would be just as strong. She is a hero for standing up to a central government that is smothering civil society, reaching its tentacles into all areas of life and strangling spontaneous freely evolved social order.
Of course, she is guilty of contempt. That’s only right, because the process that has led to her imprisonment is in fact contemptible. She is following a course of civil disobedience that I must admire, and I wish her well.
Defenders of traditional marriage have lost, alas. Rather than just sulk, I suggest that conservatives, especially those from Utah, respond by promoting legalization of polygamous marriage. This will put “progressives” in a lovely bind.
They will have a hard time opposing the idea because it is supported by the same arguments they used to support gay marriage. Why is love among threesomes any less valid than love of couples? Surely it’s past time for threesomes to come out of the shadows and break free of the yoke of suppression! End triophobia!
They will also have a hard time supporting it because almost all plural marriages, whether among Mormons in times past or in Islamic countries currently, feature one man with multiple wives. Clearly these are exploitative sexist unions! Most un-progressive!
Conservatives, don’t get mad, get even! Put it out there and watch ‘em squirm.
The title really gives all of the details. Libertarians are usually quick to celebrate these kinds of liberalizations of government authority but I always take these times to reiterate and oft forgotten fact. Italy has not “given more rights to drug users”. I hear this so often and strangely enough almost universally from more “left” policies such as gay marriage “Massachusetts has given the right to marry to homosexuals.” This is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. The right of self-ownership is universal and each and every person already has the right to consume any drugs they please or to marry whomever they choose. Government action has taken away those rights and them removing that restriction is not the same as giving away rights. Rights cannot be granted, they are innate and inalienable. Rights can only be removed by force. Two forces in this world deny rights to others. Criminals and the Government. Most libertarians do not make a distinction between the two.
I apologize for the dearth of posts lately. I have been reading a lot of books the old-fashioned way, chasing girls down so that I can smell their hair and generally just enjoying life post-graduation.
I don’t care much if homosexuals, a small percentage of the population, gain the right to marry. (The right to marry? What kind of a right is this?) In general, I don’t like the idea that an activist minority can use the armed power of the state to force a cultural change at all, on a well identified majority. (Why no thave a court decree that lies are now included under the definition of “truth,” subject to fines and even to jail terms for recidivism?) I also don’t get all that agitated by the realization that civil union contracts can achieve the same objective, concrete ends, as marriage without hurting deeply the many.
At the same time, I think that both fear of the new and a simplistic reading of the Bible motivates many opponents of homosexual marriage. (By the way, given the California large majority vote on Proposition Eight, it has to include many Democrats, not just Republicans.) I am no theologian but I have trouble imagining a God who loses sleep over the fact that some men love men (and act upon it) or that some women love women (and act upon it). After all, that was His indifferent design that did it.
I am not much concerned either about the example it will set if the right to homosexual marriage becomes the law in the whole country as it is already in several states. I don’t think we are on the eve of seeing a woman marry her two Chihuahuas, one male, one female, for example. The spread of polygamy is a greater possibility. One form, polygeny, might turn out to be OK because there is a shortage of functioning males, I hear. I do believe in slippery slopes though. I have to because I am a three-times former smoker.
Whichever way the Supreme Court decision comes down, I will easily live with it. My friendship for the homosexuals of both sexes I have known and who care about the decision makes this acceptance even easier. (That’s the way it is: Principles regarding abstractions tend to melt a little in contact with the warmth of flesh and blood of real people.) Homosexual activists are not, however making friends with me by their insistence of having the Court (or the courts) overturn the results of a well established democratic process. I mean California Proposition Eight (against which I voted).
Deep inside my brain, there is also a vague notion that the issue does not reduce to morality or to tolerance. It has to do with some very basic structures of human thought based on dualities. I don’t have a good grasp of this. I will wait until I do to discuss the topic (unlike some visitors on this blog who will say anything twenty seconds after it comes to mind.)
A reader, MM, sent a comment criticizing an off-hand, snide remark I had made in my micro-essay, “Sex Advice.” I welcome the opportunity MM gives me to take him into the alley and beat him to a pulp. His full comment:
Though usually considered much of a stick-in-the-mud regarding language, and especially neologisms, I must offer a cordial disagreement regarding the word “gender” when used instead of “sex.”
Ordinarily I despise changing the language (you should see, for example, my battles with the ignorami who say “healthy” when they mean “healthful”), but when a change improves and clarifies, then I can not only accept but embrace it.
You are right that “gender” was originally intended for language references — more important in French and other furrin tongues — but since “sex” has become such an important, or at least such an ever-present, part of everyday life, having a separate word, such as “gender,” keeps the meaning clear.
I mean, I have compromised my formerly inviolate principles so that now I even use the word “gay” rather than “homosexual,” after swearing I would never degrade the language in that fashion.
But, after all, “gay” is the polite term, the one preferred by the people to whom it applies.
So, if I can change, linguistically, so can you.
MM’s justification for the widespread substitution of “gender” for “sex”makes sense. I agree that it clarifies. However, it ignores the fact that such a change rarely occurs as a result of a technical-rational process. Such changes, this one in particular, are loaded with sociological and, with political importance. To ignore them is to assent. Winning the substitution of one word for another is like winning an election forever, an election in which the winning party never even ran and the opposition never campaigned. What I am going to say about “gender” applies even better to “gay.” Continue reading
Here’s a commentator in the New York Times who echoes my views on the Chick-fil-A matter, and in a more gracious manner:
… a society that truly believes in individual freedom will respect Mr. Cathy’s right to his views. Those who disagree with him are free to boycott Chick-fil-A in protest. But if our elected officials run Chick-fil-A out of town, they are effectively voting for all of us, regardless of our respective beliefs, and eliminating our individual freedoms.
The writer is Steve Salbu, dean of the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology. And he happens to be a gay man. Here is the link. Not sure if it’s gated.
If anyone hadn’t yet gotten the message, the flap over Chick-fil-A ought to make it crystal clear that contemporary “progressives” are fascists, plain and simple.
The issue, of course, is the CEO’s statement in opposition to gay marriage, which has prompted a backlash across the country. San Francisco’s mayor tweeted “Very disappointed #ChickFilA doesn’t share San Francisco’s values & strong commitment to equality for everyone” followed by “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.”
Wow. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to substitute “Closest Jews are 40 miles away and I strongly recommend they not try to come any closer.” Mayor Lee would have fit right into 1930’s Nazi Germany.
The proper response to those who take offense at the CEO’s statement is a boycott, which just might work if Chick-fil-A were to set up shop in San Francisco. It’s a totally different story when a mayor, backed by the armed might of the police, issues veiled threats against people who hold unpopular views. This is a huge demonstration of our descent into fascism, right in front of our eyes.
By the way, do I recall correctly that the majority of California voters in 2008 approved Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage?
I recently read an article in this anthology on the emergence of gay identity in the United States and its connection to capitalism. I was particularly delighted to read it after the author, John D’Emilio, admits the following in the abstract:
Using Marxist analyses of capitalism, I argue that two aspects of capitalism – wage labor and commodity production – created the social conditions that made possible the emergence of a distinctive gay and lesbian identity.
Before I continue I should mention that the article was published in 1983 – a whole six years before the fall of the Berlin Wall – so my initial stance going in to the reading was one of condescension. In my head I was thinking:
Oh really? A Marxist analysis of gay identity and how it relates to capitalism? I can’t WAIT to see what interesting charges will follow. Private prisons for homosexuals? Exploited homosexual labor for meager wages? I am soooo glad that my critical thinking skills are respected by the academic community.
Alas, the article in question is very, very good (but for all the wrong reasons, of course!).
The article is good for three important reasons.
1) it explicitly shows how capitalism, or more precisely the market, has indeed provided more freedom for homosexuals.
2) it inadvertently shows how the state has been used by factions to impose their will upon other factions in society.
3) it illustrates just how utterly childish Leftism in general and 1980’s American Marxism in particular really is.
D’Emilio, an academic historian (lest you question his very good credentials), begins by explaining how the gay and lesbian identity as it is understood today began to emerge in the 1960’s. The key aspect here is that a number of myths about homosexuality were created and adopted by the gay movement in response to state-sponsored oppression. It would be pertinent to keep these myths in mind when we think about other movements that have worked to eliminate oppressive laws (which are always and everywhere created and enforced by our enemy: the state) since the 1960’s. D’Emilio writes:
[…] we constructed a myth of silence, invisibility, and isolation as the essential characteristics of gay life in the past as well as the present. Moreover, because we faced so many oppressive laws, pubic policies, and cultural beliefs, we projected this image into an image of an abysmal past
[…] There is another historical myth that enjoys nearly universal acceptance in the gay movement, the myth of the ‘eternal homosexual.’ The argument runs something like this: Gay men and lesbians always were and always will be. We are everywhere; not just now, but throughout history, in all societies and in all periods. This myth served as a political function in the first years of gay liberation.
It is important to note here that myths among minority groups are often created by the intellectual class to help give such groups a base with which to launch their “resistance” campaigns from. While liberal democracies are much better for minority groups than are other types of governments, there is still oppression to be found. Again, this oppression is always and everywhere created and enforced by the state at the behest of factions. The marketplace, which is made up of billions of individuals pursuing their own self-interests, has no place for systematic rules of oppressing potential customers and business partners. This is not to say that some business interests don’t try to eliminate competition through laws based on irrational, xenophobic or racist views, but only that if the market is allowed sufficient room to operate freely then individual freedom and prosperity will ensue.
When D’Emilio writes about the myth of the eternal homosexual, he is not denying that homosexuality has been absent from human societies since time immemorial. What he stating here is that homosexuality as American society now understands it is a new phenomenon. Got that? So, 200 years ago homosexual acts weren’t considered homosexual. They were something else entirely and dependent upon the cultural interpretations for homosexual acts of a given society. This is what scholars mean when they refer to “identity.”* D’Emilio continues to elaborate his point:
Here I wish to challenge this myth. I want to argue that gay men and lesbians have not always existed. Instead, they are a product of history, and have come into existence in a specific historical era [stay with me here, outdated Marxist frameworks can often be useful – bc]. Their emergence is associated with the relations of capitalism; it has been the historical development of capitalism – more specifically its free-labor system – that has allowed large numbers of men and women in the late twentieth century to call themselves gay, to see themselves as part of a community of similar men and women, and to organize politically on the basis of that identity.
D’Emilio is admitting here, in an anthology published by the Monthly Review, that capitalism has created the space necessary for homosexuals to live their lives as freely and as independently as possible, something that has never been accomplished before**. What’s more, D’Emilio is correct and for all the right reasons. More flexibility and mobility among individuals is one of the hallmarks of capitalism, as is the emergence of more choices for just about anything. Without capitalism, the gay and lesbian movement would have never existed. There would always be people living in the closet, to be sure, but it was the institutions aimed at creating freedom of association and choice – the hallmarks of the market-based economy, or capitalism – that was developed by American society that has led to emergence of a vibrant, proud, and now-successful gay and lesbian movement.
Although the gay and lesbian movement began to flourish in the 1970’s as a result of liberalized markets and the re-emergence of globalization (which creates even more choices and more prosperity for those who participate), D’Emilio notes that in the 1950’s and 60’s “oppression by the state intensified, becoming more systematic and inclusive.” Again, D’Emilio is correct. The state has always been a useful tool by which one faction aims to oppress another faction. Conservatives have always loathed homosexuality (the closet conservatives most of all!), and their attempts to equate homosexuality with communism in the 1950’s and 1960’s falls neatly in line with their demagogic attacks on homosexuality over the course of the American republic’s history.
So how is it that capitalism, which has led to the flourishing of gay identity in the West, can be condemned by Marxists of the 1980’s (and probably today as well) for the very same oppression that it has undone if the state has been the ultimate oppressor of this flourishing?
Here is where we can find the childishness of the Left.
D’Emilio answers the first half of my question:
The answers, I think, can be found in the contradictory relationship of capitalism to the family. On the one hand […] capitalism has gradually undermined the material basis of the nuclear family by taking away the economic functions that cemented the ties between family members. As more adults have been drawn into the free-labor system, and as capital has expanded its sphere until it produces as commodities most goods and services we need for our survival, the forces that propelled men and women into families and kept them there have weakened. On the other hand, the ideology of capitalist society has enshrined the family as a source of love, affection, and emotional security, the place where our need for stable, intimate human relationships is satisfied.
This elevation of the nuclear family to preeminence in the sphere of personal life is not accidental. Every society needs structures for reproduction and childrearing, but the possibilities are not limited to the nuclear family. Yet the privatized family fits in well with capitalist relations of production […] Ideologically, capitalism drives people into heterosexual families […] Materially, capitalism weakens the bonds that once kept families together so that their members experience a growing instability in the place they have come to expect happiness and security. Thus, while capitalism has knocked the material foundation away from family life, lesbians, gay men, and heterosexual feminists have become scapegoats for the social instability of the system.
NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! How can I be reading this? How does something that has been so brilliant up to this point become so childish and immature? Why am I going to school again? To learn critical thinking skills? Let me get this straight:
1) instead of acknowledging the ability of capitalism to provide more choices and better lives for individuals in society, or
2) acknowledging that the state is the actual oppressor of liberty, the author decides to
3) blame homosexual oppression on the “contradictory relationship of capitalism to the family” due to ideology?
Can it get any more childish and immature than this? The author is basically stating the following: Capitalism helped alter family life in a fundamental way in the 19th and 20th centuries, so families adapted themselves accordingly.
I think the inability of the author to give credit where credit is due (because of ideological reasons, ironically enough) does enough to discredit the “Marxist analyses” we are dissecting, but there is one piece that I would like to hone in on, if only to more fully discredit the dying, reactionary school of thought known as Marxism:
“Ideologically, capitalism drives people into heterosexual families”
First of all, I didn’t realize that capitalism had an ideology. I am fairly certain that the Marxists of the 1980’s did (do?) not know what capitalism’s ideology was either. Reality tells a different story than the one depicted in the two paragraphs above. What capitalism has done, and continues to do, is provide more choices to individuals (including homosexuals). Just as the family continued to adapt to changes in the past, so too will they continue to adapt in the present and the future. Gay marriage is a big topic these days, and – guess what? – it the state that is to blame for the oppression of individual choice, not capitalism.
I and others here at Notes On Liberty are well-aware that conservatives are behind the efforts to hamper choice in the market for marriages. Warren Gibson, Jacques Delacroix, and Fred Foldvary have all blogged about this before. If Leftists are truly interested in equality they would do well to heed the facts concerning gay life in the West: Capitalism has brought about the movement’s flourishing, and the government is holding it back. This fact is true not just in the realm of gay identity, but in the realm of all other social, political, and economic aspects of as well. Leftists would also do well to remember that their movement, as it stands now, as it stood three decades ago, is, for all intents and purposes, one of conservatism, obstinate ignorance, and embarrassing causality.
*Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the horrors of the centrally-planned economy became exposed to all, the Left has been trying its hardest to avoid using the term “individualism” in its theoretical frameworks. Thus it has concocted a bunch of somewhat-useful terms like “identity” to explain what libertarians have been trying to get across to everybody for centuries: that individuals are best-able to choose for themselves, and therefore it would be best to go about molding social institutions like laws and political structures to play an accommodating role in individual choices by reducing (or outright eliminating) the size and scope of the state.
**In Native American societies, homosexuals had a large amount of personal freedom and were often revered for their shamanistic qualities, but such a social status worked both ways: if there was a problem of some kind that was viewed as supernatural then guess which shaman’s feet the blame often fell to? Shamans were often murdered quickly rather than put on trial due to the fears of witchcraft that Native American tribes harbored.
PS I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “homosexual” in a conversation before. If anybody out there has a term that gay people like to refer to themselves as I would be grateful for the heads up. Otherwise I will just continue to call everybody “dude.”
PPS Inevitable disclaimer: no I am not a homosexual. I like boobs and big juicy female butts. I like ’em a lot! Ladies: send me dirty messages to my Twitter account!
PPPS I have a lot of respect for Karl Marx. Go here for details.
The wait is over. Our Dear Leader uttered this pronouncement recently. Biden probably forced the issue when he opened his big mouth a short time before.
At a certain point,” Mr. Obama said in an interview in the Cabinet Room at the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
This on the heels of the previous day’s overwhelming vote in North Carolina that not only bans gay marriage but also civil unions. If there’s one thing BO’s opinion is not, it’s for him personally. His attempt to tiptoe past the issue will rouse the opposition in November. The Romney camp must be licking their chops.
So, should gay marriage be allowed or not? I find gay “marriage” troubling. I believe marriage plays a fundamental role in human society that does not entirely translate to other unions. But rather than argue my position I want to suggest that, as often happens in public discourse, we are presented with a false alternative: that gay marriage must be legal or illegal.
A cornerstone of libertarian social philosophy is the sanctity of contracts. No one may interfere with agreements entered into voluntarily by competent adults. A marriage is a ceremony in which a couple publicly declares their intention to enter a permanent relationship that is exclusive in many respects. They may choose to have a clergyman bless their union or not, but there is always an invisible and uninvited party at the altar: the state. Numerous laws dictate the form marriages may take with respect to divorce, property ownership, and taxation among other things. This is wrong. It is not the province of the state to restrict the content of voluntary contracts made by consenting adults.
I’m surprised opponents of gay marriage haven’t framed the debate as a slippery slope. What’s next, they might ask, three-way marriage? In fact, there is no legitimate reason to outlaw such unions. If allowed, they would be tested in the marketplace of ideas, and the experiences of people who entered informal threesomes and foursomes in the 1970’s suggests that only rarely would they succeed.
What about time-limited marriages? Not “till death do us part” but a ten-year agreement, for example? Again, no reason why they should be outlawed.
How then should we respond, those of us who are repelled by gay marriage? It is not a major issue for me. If a man introduced someone to me as his husband, I might just say, “yeah, right” and leave it at that. For those who are passionate opponents, there is a long list of non-coercive actions that are possible – speaking out, blogging, boycotting, shunning. A majority of Americans, a declining majority to be sure, would probably share my sentiment. But that doesn’t mean we get to forcibly deny the rights of gay couples or threesomes to contract with each other.
What might we expect if the state were to cease its interference in marriage? Brand names would arise for various forms of marriage. For example, “Catholic marriage” would be a lifetime commitment that excluded divorce, with the brand perhaps identified by a logo. “Open marriage” would signify that extramarital sexual affairs were permitted. “Islamic marriage” might require the woman to wear a veil in public. Once established, these brand names could not be misused by those who did not practice their tenets.
Couples could make financial arrangements that best suit them. As it stands, the state decides for everyone by such things as community property laws and inheritance rules.
Married couples pay different tax rates under the income tax code. Some couples pay a “marriage penalty” meaning they pay more tax than the total they would pay if filing as singles. For other couples it’s the other way around. Is this fair? No, but as I have argued on this blog, there is no such thing as fair tax. Repeal of the income tax is the best answer, or short of that, ever lower rates will lessen the impact of the disparities.
Earlier today over at Slate.com, a spontaneous debate on the curious Mormon practice of baptizing the dead happened. I actually have a lot of Mormon relatives and both of my parents aaannnd all of my siblings are Mormon too, so I always take an interest when Mormonism pops up in the news. For the record, I am not a Mormon, and even if I tried to convert, I don’t think they would let me!
Anyway, I found the way in which this debate unfolded especially heartening, because instead of bagging on Mormonism, or treating it with disrespect, the contributors actually tried to make an effort to understand why Mormons baptize the dead, and then debate why or why not this practice could be perceived to be offensive to people of other creeds. Here are some of the highlights: Continue reading