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Morgan Freeman to marry step-granddaughter; Lorenzo Lamas' ex-wife slept with step-son

Welcome to the world of the consenting "adults"! Read about each here and here. If, of course, any of these folks had publicly supported prop 8, they would never work in Hollywood again.

(Update: Legal scholar Jonathan Turley offers the Lawrence v. Texas argument here, maintaining that the state's prohibition of adult incest should have to pass strict scrutiny. Now, that didn't take long, did it?)

Comments (78)

Francis, you are obviously killing your precious time by screening reliable sources like "Hollywood Gossip" and the "National Inquirer". Reading this garbage may be fun, but basing your verdict of cultural pessimism on it, is quite a different matter. Perhaps some people might get the impression that you are a hypocrite.
But more important, it's outrageous to insinuate that same sex marriage is on the same moral level as sleeping with your emotionally and financially dependant (step) granddaughter.
You should stop with this stuff, or you will loose any credibility when demanding intellectual honesty from your contrahents.

Whether or not such stories are true is almost beside the point. The point is that, if can be legally obligatory to call an incestuous relationship 'marriage', why shouldn't it be legally obligatory to call a sodomitic relationship 'marriage'? Such is cultural decline in the making.

These folks will only start worrying when faced with a movement for making it legally obligatory to call bestiality 'marriage'. But I'll wager they won't stay worried for too long. In Hollywood, some pets are more attractive marriage prospects than many people.

Whether or not such stories are true is almost beside the point.
Morgan Freeman might disagree. And again, homosexuality is neither incest nor sodomy. Blurring all moral distinctions is simply dishonest, though it may help to incite hatred.

The incestuous acts to which Prof. Beckwith drew our attention, if indeed they occurred, are heterosexual, not homosexual. Where you got the idea that I consider "homosexuality" incestuous is beyond me. Moroever, since homosexuality is an orientation, not an action, of course it's not sodomy. Where you got the idea that I call an orientation 'sodomy' is also beyond me.

But there is a real issue here nonetheless. Those who oppose legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" do not claim that people of said orientation should not be allowed to marry, period. Instead, they claim that homosexual relationships should not be called "marriage." And many of them make that claim partly because they believe that the sexual acts characteristic of such relationships are immoral. The traditional legal term for that class of acts is 'sodomy'. I'm not surprised that advocates of same-sex marriage find that term offensive. If their opponents are correct about morality, as I believe they are and as I believe most people know in light of the natural law, then the acts covered by that term are morally offensive. Accordingly, retaining the traditional legal term for them is appropriate not only in spite of the fact, but largely because of the fact, that people find the term offensive.


Michael, when I spoke of "homosexuality" I should have said "homosexual intercourse". Thank you for clarifying that.
The incestuous acts to which Prof. Beckwith drew our attention are introduced by him with the phrase "Welcome to the world of the consenting 'adults'", later on he alludes to the prop 8. He thereby clearly wants to invoke the impression as if homosexual partnership were on the same moral level as having sex with your dependant step granddaughter.
It is, of course, legitimate to discuss the moral status of homosexual intercourse, but is not legitimate to equate it with this kind of reprehensible incest or "bestiality".
I hope you agree with that.

Grobi, my point was that Freeman and Sand will not suffer professionally for their acts, while those who supported prop 8 financially in fact have. This tells us much about the Hollywood culture, one in which it is bad to support male-female marriage but permissible to sleep with your step-son or step-granddaughter. Whether we like it or not, this sort of thinking does shape the wider culture in a variety of ways. Think, for example, of the plots of such programs as the wildly successful Desperate Housewives. Many intellectuals are in the forefront of this sort of thinking, seeking to show the apparent "arbitrariness" of the distinctions between mother, son, father, daughter, sister, brother, husband, and wife. If these roles have no identifiable grounding in the order and nature of things, then in fact it is worse to support Prop 8 than to boink your step granddaughter (or even your real granddaughter, if she is a consenting adult). The roots of this thinking go way back, and are finally coming to fruition now. Take, for example, this 1980 piece that appeared in Time Magazine, "Attacking the Last Taboo":

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,923966,00.html

Here is another interesting piece:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1607322,00.html

Nevertheless, it had actually never occurred to me to employ these stories as a sort of analogy to homosexual acts until you brought it up. My point was a bit more subtle than that.

As for killing time, you seem to be suggesting that time can be wasted. But why would you believe such a thing? Do you actually believe that human beings are designed in such a way that their actions may be either wasteful or lead to flourishing? Be careful. If you believe such things, you may be a closeted teleologist, a secret lover of final and formal causality cleverly disguised in a nihilist suit. :-)

Grobi:

I point out that the Bible does put sodomy on the same moral level as incest or bestiality. We can of course discuss whether people ought to continue seeing things that way today; but it would be rash to assert, as though it were self-evident, that the biblical view is "not legitimate."

Your site has been a favorite for quite some time--thank you for standing in the gap...
C-CS

Welcome to the world of the consenting "adults"!

Freedom unfortunately means that a lot of people will act according to their nature. The only thing the government can do is make people pretend to be moral, and to keep the peace against violent and property criminals.

Grobi - I really look forward to your reply to Frank's latest.

Just to rub it in: to note that our cultural trend-setters find inter-generational incest rather cute & piquant, while gasping in horror at anybody who entertains any doubts about "gay marriage," just *is not* "to insinuate that same sex marriage is on the same moral level as sleeping with your emotionally and financially dependant (step) granddaughter."

Why on earth would you think so?

Thank you, Mr. Beckwith, for defending Western Christian culture!
We are already on a slippery slope and moreover there are people even pushing!

Steve,

Just to rub it in: to note that our cultural trend-setters find inter-generational incest rather cute & piquant, while gasping in horror at anybody who entertains any doubts about "gay marriage," just *is not* "to insinuate that same sex marriage is on the same moral level as sleeping with your emotionally and financially dependant (step) granddaughter."

Related to this subject is the recent discovery that the rate of birth defects for women over the age of 40 having children is at least as high as those produced by first cousin marriages. As society loses the moral basis for attacking incest which in cases like this is based on the power difference between the two partners and the ease of abuse inherent to it (not to mention the disruption of family ties), it will go to the biological for justifications. Those biological justifications will cross over into other unions which aren't morally problematic, and will invariably result in an increase in statism.

Granted, in cases like this, I am less sympathetic on the basis that the woman is 27 and in good health, and thus hardly has a legitimate case for being emotionally and financially dependent. Still, it is sick and should be cause for rebuke from Freeman's potential employers and peers even though they are "consenting adults" and not blood related. It's too bad that even if they were of the mind to do it, Freeman's potential employers would almost certainly face legal reprisal for discriminating against him on the basis of this decision.

Another sign of crumbling customs: a co-worker of mine at an odd job six years ago married a divorced man. They merged families, each having a son and a daughter both in their mid-teens.

Stepbrother slept with stepsister and she got pregnant before the age of majority. The two later married. The mother didn't seem to think it was much of a problem.

Though I'd rather forget it, I distinctly remember "I can sleep with my hot stepsister!" being a theme of an episode of "Blossom" in the early 1990s. The failure to defend and articulate a non-scientific ethic has many ramifications.

There's obviously some genuine relativity in standards of incest. For example, my great-grandfather was married to my great-great-aunt, who died. He then married her sister.

By law, this was considered incest in her native Ireland, but not in the U.S. where they wed. I believe she was temporarily disowned by her immediate family, but with the distances involved it had little real effect.

The traditional arguments against incest, like the duty to honor one's parents or to expand one's familial affinities, probably can't stand without a robust family ethic in influential circles. When the family itself is a totally voluntary venue for self-expression, no wisdom can be had.

There's obviously some genuine relativity in standards of incest. For example, my great-grandfather was married to my great-great-aunt, who died. He then married her sister.

By law, this was considered incest in her native Ireland, but not in the U.S. where they wed. I believe she was temporarily disowned by her immediate family, but with the distances involved it had little real effect.

The U.S. laws were more rational in that respect, since as a bachelor, he was originally free to marry either woman. I could see how it might be confusing to children to have half brothers and sisters who are also cousins, but in Judao-Christian tradition that is not considered incest. The only biblical prohibition in this case is that you could only be married to one daughter from a household at one time (ancient Israel had some tolerance for polygamy). However, God placed no such prohibition on marrying your sister-in-law after your wife died.

I would hesitate to condemn a practice which the Bible permits.

(Update: Legal scholar Jonathan Turley offers the Lawrence v. Texas argument here, maintaining that the state's prohibition of adult incest should have to pass strict scrutiny. Now, that didn't take long, did it?)

It depends on what your view of the state is. If you believe that the state exists as a peacekeeper, then there is naturally high burden to prove that there is a legitimate state interest. That would require some proof that it is violent toward life, limb or property, abusing someone lacking mental competence (a child, someone who is insane or retarded) or that it is a case of economic fraud.

The main reason that conservatives don't like the idea of such a state is that it would allow people to act according to their nature in a lot more cases. We'd suddenly find that humanity really is in all times and places, as immutably wicked as the Bible says it is. To paraphrase my wife on the matter, "if we elected a libertarian, we'd know who has God's blessing and who doesn't very quickly."

Simply put, we'd peel back the polite, bourgeois exterior and find a soddomite interior. That would, however, be most beneficial to the Church as it would help us make the case for why Jesus is so necessary.

"If, of course, any of these folks had publicly supported prop 8, they would never work in Hollywood again."

If, of course, any of these folks had starred in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, they would never work in Hollywood again.

Funny that these things have a way of working themselves out.

Funny that these things have a way of working themselves out.

You're confusing being black listed with not earning enough to be in the black. :-)

You're confusing being black listed with not earning enough to be in the black. :-)

Your sharpened wit strikes again doctor.

It is good to see that the gross misinterpretation of your post didn't dampen your spirits.

Francis, sorry for my delayed reaction.
You remarks at least helped me to understand your point a little bit better. If your only goal was to critizise the attitude of people who think it is "worse to support Prop 8 than to boink your step granddaughter (or even your real granddaughter, if she is a consenting adult)", I will happily retreat!
I also agree, of course, that there is no apparent arbitrariness of the distinctions between mother, son, father, daughter, sister, brother, husband, and wife. We also seem to agree that it isn't really the blood relation which is morally crucial, but the unilaterally emotional and financial dependance inside incestous relationships.

However, I still think that you should have been more cautious in quoting sources like the "National Enquirer". Such rumours may ruin persons' lifes, even if they live in Hollywood.
People who read this kind of gossip (in many cases with some unacknowledged hidden delight, I guess), while at the same time lamenting about the moral crisis of our time, often appeared to me as hypocritical, bigoted or both. Probably you are an exception, but you should better avoid this kind of smell.

Michael:

If you really think that sodomy (i.e. anal sex, why not call a spade a spade?) between two consenting adults who live in an equitable partnership is at the same moral level as incest or bestiality, I cannot help you. If the bible put it at the same level, we shouldn't accept the biblical passage in question as an authentic revelation, as most of us already (more or less ouvertly) did in a considerable number of other cases.

Grobi,

I find it slightly odd that you consider 'sodomy' to be some sort of euphemism for 'anal sex'. Surely the opposite is true. One who sodomizes another does not engage in 'sex', because sodomy as a sexual act is not sexual intercourse or copulation. Rather, 'anal sex' is a neologism that seems to be prefered nowadays to the more forthright term 'sodomy', possibly because it is in line with the current idea that what counts as sexual intercourse is relative to the individual agent. Perhaps I am being too pedantic, but I belive clarity is always helpful.


Actually, "sex" is a term with a lot of definitions, and I'd guess that you would be accepting of many of the variants. It can refer to gender, to the act of determining phenotypic gender, and to genitals. It is often used as a synonym for "coitus," a word whose Latin root refers to "coming together."

Anal sex is a widely understood term, and it has the advantage of being specific. "Sodomy" has also been used to refer to fellatio--or what those hippie kids, as well as doctors, refer to as "oral sex."

It's not entirely accurate to characterize homosexual couples as sodomitic. Statistically, more heterosexual couples engage in sodomy. Homosexual couples are not unique in engaging in sodomy; they are unique in that they do not engage in penile-vaginal sex.

Statistically, more heterosexual couples engage in sodomy.

In raw numbers, perhaps, but in percentages, the number of gay men who do not engage in that behavior is probably as high as the percentage of yellow labs that have 3 eyes and a 2 tails.

Not to derail the conversation back to the original topic, but Morgan Freeman denies wedding plans. Google News' results on the subject are nothing if not confusing. For example, these four were one after another on the front page:
- Morgan Freeman To Marry His Step Grand Daughter
- Morgan Freeman Not Marrying Step-Granddaughter
- FREEMAN WON'T WED STEP-GRANDDAUGHTER
- Morgan Freeman to wed step granddaughter

My hunch is that one of the tabloids "broke" a false story, it got picked up, and then Morgan Freeman denied it, so it's starting to die down. This doesn't mean there isn't an inappropriate relationship, but perhaps we should be careful about the accusations until more reliable information is available.

Phil,

Of course a word may have, and usually does have, more than one meaning; I did not mean to imply that any given word in the English language can have but a single definition. I also accept that a word may acquire new meanings over time. It does not follow, however, that I have to accept the new meaning, if I think it obscures some real distinction expressed by one or more of a word's original meanings. With regards to your comment about doctors prefering the term 'oral sex' to fellatio, I do not see how this alters anything. Physicians may use a taxonomy that 'carves the world up' according to their specific needs; but just because they wish to lump various sexual acts together with coitus in one all-encompassing class, this does not mean I should infer that such acts really belong to the same class at some more fundamental ontological level.

In raw numbers, perhaps, but in percentages, the number of gay men who do not engage in that behavior is probably as high as the percentage of yellow labs that have 3 eyes and a 2 tails.

Actually, Mike, your statement is far from accurate. There are plenty of celibate gay men, and there is no reason to believe that there aren zero long-term gay couples who are no longer sexually active, just as there are many straight couples who no longer have sex.

My larger point, though, is that sodomy is not unique to gay couples. What makes these couples unique is their failure to engage in penile-vaginal sex. From that perspective, then, gay couples are on a moral par with any other persons who fail to engage in penile-vaginal sex. It's a different way of characterizing the couples, to be sure, but it's more accurate.

It also helps to understand better the anti-same-sex marriage arguments. Sodomy is irrelevant; it's a red herring. No one is making serious legal arguments that heterosexual couples who engage in sodomy should be stripped of their marital status or forcibly unmarried. It's the failure to put penises in vaginas that has conservatives up at arms, and that raises some interesting implications about their world views.

It's the failure to put penises in vaginas that has conservatives up at arms, and that raises some interesting implications about their world views.

Most people in the world believe that the state should recognize as marriage only those sexual relationships which include the sort of act that can lead to conception of new life. I don't think that saddles conservatives with any peculiar metaphysical baggage.

Most people in the world believe that the state should recognize as marriage only those sexual relationships which include the sort of act that can lead to conception of new life.

Notice that you perform a little linguistic gymnastics there (as all same-sex marriage opponents must) if you're trying to come across as a reasonable, logical person, and yet you're unwilling to make the argument that the state should ban post-menopausal women, impotent men, and women who've had hysterectomies from marrying.

Logic tells us that putting your penis into an orifice that does not have a (potentially) fertile womb at the other end cannot possibly result in pregnancy.

Mathematically, there is no difference in the children that gay couples cannot conceive and the children that completely infertile couples cannot conceive. Zero equals zero.

I submit that you cannot make a distinction between categories of actions that result in a penis ejaculating with no possibility of conception without resorting to either arbitrary parameters or a belief in the supernatural. Would you agree?

Mike T: Freedom unfortunately means that a lot of people will act according to their nature. The only thing the government can do is make people pretend to be moral, and to keep the peace against violent and property criminals.
But even that is no mean thing. Even merely pretending to be moral does less damage to others and to society in general than actually acting out one's immorality.

God sees the heart; we can see only what is done. With respect to the heart, we can sometimes at best infer.

Phil:

I submit that you cannot make a distinction between categories of actions that result in a penis ejaculating with no possibility of conception without resorting to either arbitrary parameters or a belief in the supernatural. Would you agree?

No, I would not. From the fact that some couples cannot conceive, it does not follow that penile-vaginal intercourse between them is not the sort of act that is inherently fit to lead to conception. It only follows that the act cannot lead to conception in their particular circumstances. For two reasons, there is nothing "arbitrary" about that distinction.

First, most acts of penile-vaginal intercourse between fertile couples cannot, as a matter of natural fact, lead to conception. But that is no reason whatsoever to say that penile-vaginal intercourse is not the sort of act that is inherently fit for conception. Sometimes, couples try to conceive without knowing that they cannot succeed in the circumstances, which would be an unreasonable thing to do if the distinction I defend were not justified. But it is often quite reasonable; therefore, the distinction is justified. Second, it is a matter of historical fact that most people have grasped said distinction and form their moral beliefs accordingly. That alone shows that there's nothing arbitrary or counterintuitive about it; quite the contrary. It has only been within our lifetime that a significant number of people have come to question that distinction. But so what? It is not we who need to justify ourselves to you; it is up to you to supply us with a good reason to accept your counterintuitive position. Indeed, I would argue that the very attempt to supply such a reason is an ad hoc attempt to justify something which some people ardently want to do but is against the natural law: sodomy.

As such a reason, you opine that it is logically self-inconsistent for defenders of the distinction in question to hold that the state may allow heterosexual couples who know that they are infertile to marry. But you need to consider why the overwhelming majority of people, both today and throughout history, see no such inconsistency. It is simply not the case that you and the small minority of dissenters can see a simple logical inconsistency where most others—those poor benighted souls—cannot. That would be chronological and cultural snobbery of the first order. The reason people in general have seen no such inconsistency is that they recognize a valid societal interest in privileging committed sexual relationships between people whose genitals are designed to work together for an obvious natural end, even when that end is no longer attainable, while seeing no such interest in privileging relationships between people who use their genitals together in ways that have no intrinsic relationship with procreation. And that's because they believe that sodomy is inherently and therefore always lustful, whereas "straight sex" can and often does foster a spiritual bond between people that is beneficial to society. That spiritual bond is essential for the proper upbringing of children, but it can and often does exist even between sterile couples. On the other hand, the absence of such a bond is why most gay men prefer promiscuity and have no interest in "marrying" each other. Gay "marriages" are disproportionately between lesbians, precisely because women more than men tend to recognize and value the fact that sexual intercourse expresses and fosters a spiritual bond—even though they misunderstand how, and therefore what sort of sex can have that feature.

That said, there is indeed a problem of logical inconsistency in the attitude of most Westerners today. Ultimately, the defense of traditional marriage requires recognizing that only normal heterosexual intercourse between traditionally married couples, in which nothing is done to block conception, is morally acceptable and socially beneficial. That's why I oppose contraception and heterosexual sodomy as much as homosexual sodomy. Approving either of the former makes it logically impossible to condemn the latter, Most people used to recognize that. It is a sign of Western society's moral degeneration that fewer and fewer do, so that the ersatz concept of same-sex marriage continues to make headway. In that respect, people are being ironically self-consistent.

Dr. Liccione:

It is not we who need to justify ourselves to you; it is up to you to supply us with a good reason to accept your counterintuitive position. Indeed, I would argue that the very attempt to supply such a reason is an ad hoc attempt to justify something which some people ardently want to do but is against the natural law: sodomy.

Interesting point; however, there is a Berkeley professor I know who, to this, would simply retort, "Just what is natural?" He argued in one of his lectures that we can't really say that the homosexual act is un-natural and placed the burden on those who argued against homosexuality.

How familiar is that Berkeley professor with pertinent natural-law approaches in moral philosophy? If he knows them in depth, then he presumably does not accept them; in that case, I'd like to know what his arguments are for rejecting them.

Michael, my claim was that,
"[Y]ou cannot make a distinction between categories of actions that result in a penis ejaculating with no possibility of conception without resorting to either arbitrary parameters or a belief in the supernatural." (I have added the emphasis on or.)

You claim that your reasoning is not arbitrary. I'll acknowledge that this is a matter of opinion--clearly--since the reasoning you went on to present seemed wholly arbitrary to me.

If a person learned that they had been playing blackjack for an hour at a casino where all of the aces had been removed from the deck, it would be just as nonsensical to tell them that at least they were engaging in the "sort" of behavior that could result in a blackjack. The fact that, most times, blackjack players don't hit 21 on the first two cards would be irrelevant to that person. The outcome of getting a blackjack, like the outcome of getting pregnant from sex, varies in statistical likelihood from instance to instance. But if you are playing in such a way that you cannot possibly get a blackjack, then there is no varyiance in statistical likelihood. Zero equals zero.

You see great significance, apparently, in the fact that a man having sex with a woman who has no uterus is still going through the same motions as a man whose wife is fertile. Isolate it further, then, since you acknowledge that the uterus is not necessary. What _is_ the magical component that makes it the right "sort" of act? Is it the vagina? If a woman's vagina were, essentially, removed in some surgical or violent act, would it still be the same "sort" of act? What if a damaged vagina were reconstructed using skin from the buttocks? Would that suddenly cease to be the right "sort" of act? What is it about the woman that makes her the right "sort" of partner for sex? Since it's not the uterus, is it the presence of the second X chromosome? Are woman with chromosomal disorders still engaging in the "sort" of act that can result in pregnancy?

What is the key element that keeps your distinction of sex acts from being arbitrary? I'm not being facetious; you have indicated clearly that a uterus is not required. So, what _is_ required? How many of the key elements that constitute potentially fertile sex can be eliminated before it ceases to be the right sort of act?

You further state that "most people have grasped said distinction and form their moral beliefs accordingly." This is an example of "argument ad populum." You're suggesting that because a majority of people believe something, it must be so.

I think that's curious logic, since history can provide many instances when a majority of a population believed something that you and I would agree was untrue.

It is simply not the case that you and the small minority of dissenters can see a simple logical inconsistency where most others—those poor benighted souls—cannot.

Are you making the claim that a small minority of dissenters can never see a logical inconsistency where a majority cannot? It seems much more likely to me that the majority of people don't really reflect upon their viewpoints in the kind of detail that you and I are hashing out.

This is not to say that the majority of people are stupid or amoral. Rather, most people only think deeply about the moral decisions that they will be faced with. Since the vast majority of persons are innately heterosexual, they have much less incentive to consider the implications of their decisions on people who are innately homosexual.

However, statistics also disprove your claim that the majority of people who oppose same-sex marriage do so because they agree with your contention that only the sort of acts which can result in new life are licit. Far from finding such acts unacceptable, the majority of Americans engage in "sodomy." In fact, the number of Americans who claim they have never engaged in oral sex is very close to the number of Americans who have gay sex. (I doubt there's much overlap, though.) ;)

Even if determining what is "arbitrary" were not so, well, arbitrary, some of your next statements make clear that you do, in fact, agree with my claim:

[...]they recognize a valid societal interest in privileging committed sexual relationships between people whose genitals are designed to work together for an obvious natural end...

If you believe your genitals were designed, you hold a supernatural belief. Thus, my claim is true.

[...]they believe that sodomy is inherently and therefore always lustful, whereas "straight sex" can and often does foster a spiritual bond between people that is beneficial to society.

If you believe in a "spiritual bond," then you hold a supernatural belief. Once again, you illustrate that my claim is true.

On the other hand, the absence of such a bond is why most gay men prefer promiscuity and have no interest in "marrying" each other.

So, Michael, are you claiming, as you seem to be, that no gay male couples experience a bond? Are you saying that the number is zero?

Gay "marriages" are disproportionately between lesbians, precisely because women more than men tend to recognize and value the fact that sexual intercourse expresses and fosters a spiritual bond

So do you support lesbian marriage while you oppose gay male marriage? If not, isn't this point just another red herring in your argument?

Phil:

What is the key element that keeps your distinction of sex acts from being arbitrary? I'm not being facetious; you have indicated clearly that a uterus is not required.So, what _is_ required? How many of the key elements that constitute potentially fertile sex can be eliminated before it ceases to be the right sort of act?

My position is not, without qualification, that "a uterus is not required." I believe, e.g., that hysterectomy for contraceptive purposes, as distinct from unrelated medical purposes, is immoral. So, in cases where a uterus is present and its removal would be both voluntary and contraceptively intended, the presence of a uterus is morally necessary. A uterus is morally unnecessary only when its absence is either involuntary or voluntary but unrelated to contraceptive intent. That's because, in either case, there is no intention against procreation. When there is no such intention, then the absence of a uterus no more affects the morality of penile-vaginal intercourse than any other involuntary obstacle to conception. In general, what is necessary for an act of sexual intercourse to be morally acceptable is that it culminate in ejaculation in the vagina—because that's the act of the procreative sort—and that it not be intentionally closed to new life—which closure would make it morally no different from sexual intercourse that is not of the procreative sort.

You further state that "most people have grasped said distinction and form their moral beliefs accordingly." This is an example of "argument ad populum." You're suggesting that because a majority of people believe something, it must be so.

I have made no such suggestion. What I'm suggesting is that, if the vast majority of people throughout recorded history believe that P, that is a good reason to believe that P is not an arbitrary belief. That does not rule out its being false, but it does rule out rejecting P out on the spurious ground that P is arbitrary.

Are you making the claim that a small minority of dissenters can never see a logical inconsistency where a majority cannot?

Of course not. I'm claiming that, if the small minority claims there's such an inconsistency, then the burden of proof is on them to show it's there—not on the majority to show it isn't there.

Since the vast majority of persons are innately heterosexual, they have much less incentive to consider the implications of their decisions on people who are innately homosexual.

I do not concede your premise that homosexuality is "innate." Science has reached no clear judgment about the etiology of homosexuality; the matter is still under investigation. And even if science turns out to show that some people have an innate predisposition to homosexuality, that would have no more moral significance than showing that some people have an innate predisposition to alcoholism or violence.

However, statistics also disprove your claim that the majority of people who oppose same-sex marriage do so because they agree with your contention that only the sort of acts which can result in new life are licit.

I made no such claim. My claim was that the vast majority of people have recognized "a valid societal interest in privileging committed sexual relationships between people whose genitals are designed to work together for an obvious natural end, even when that end is no longer attainable, while seeing no such interest in privileging relationships between people who use their genitals together in ways that have no intrinsic relationship with procreation." You need to read more carefully.

Far from finding such acts unacceptable, the majority of Americans engage in "sodomy." In fact, the number of Americans who claim they have never engaged in oral sex is very close to the number of Americans who have gay sex.

That is true. And that's exactly why I wrote the last paragraph of my previous comment.

If you believe your genitals were designed, you hold a supernatural belief.

That's just silly. Biologists talk all the time about what various parts of living creatures are for, and they know quite well that it is no mere accident that such parts function for an end. That's all I meant by 'designed'. I don't need to cite any religious belief to make that point.

If you believe in a "spiritual bond," then you hold a supernatural belief.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'supernatural'. If you mean that I believe that that human capacities and relationships cannot be adequately accounted for by citing purely physical factors, then yes, my belief is "supernaturalist." But so what? Unless you're prepared to argue that only what can be known scientifically can be known at all, you haven't provided any reason at all for rejecting my belief, never mind a good one. And whether or not my belief is true, no particular religion need be cited in its defense.

So, Michael, are you claiming, as you seem to be, that no gay male couples experience a bond? Are you saying that the number is zero?

Of course not. What I'm claiming is that the practice of sodomy militates against such a bond even when it exists.

So do you support lesbian marriage while you oppose gay male marriage? If not, isn't this point just another red herring in your argument?

No, and no. I'm against same-sex "marriage" for women for the same reason I'm against it for men. My point, which you haven't attended to, was that lesbians are more likely to want to "marry" because women tend more than men to appreciate the fact that sexual expression ought to express and foster a spiritual bond. That doesn't mean that I think their way of pursuing such a bond is suited for the purpose.

Your comment contains so many misrepresentations and exaggerations of my position, as well as non-sequiturs of its own, that I doubt this debate is worth continuing. So unless you raise your level, I will not continue it.

But so what?

The "so what" is that I have proven my point. My claim was that
"[Y]ou cannot make a distinction between categories of actions that result in a penis ejaculating with no possibility of conception without resorting to either arbitrary parameters or a belief in the supernatural."

--your explanation of the distinction involved supernatural beliefs. I'm not claiming that one must appeal to a specific, named religion in order to make the distinction. I haven't put forth the argument that your belief should be rejected because it is supernatural, only that it cannot be fully understood in the absence of belief in the supernatural.

OK, so I agree with you that one cannot be both a materialist and an upholder of traditional sexual morality. This is a problem because?

The "so what" is that I have proven my point.
I would say that the "so what" is, in fact, "So what?"

That is, that the proper response that *any* secularist objections (to our moral assertions) and/or moral assertions (they themselves make) is to say to them "So what?" This response is, of course, merely to take secularism at its word, and to treat it exactly as seriously as it can be treated.

Michael,

I appreciate your honesty.

For my part, I just think it would be nice if same-sex marriage opponents would admit that they, like you, are trying to force other people to submit to religious beliefs that they do not hold.

Too often, supernaturalists engage secularists and materialists in a charade, in which they pretend that their reasoning can be accepted without first accepting their supernatural beliefs.

Phil:

I just think it would be nice if same-sex marriage opponents would admit that they, like you, are trying to force other people to submit to religious beliefs that they do not hold.

With as much or as little justice, I could say: "It would be nice if same-sex marriage proponents would just admit that they are trying to force other people to submit to a materialistic worldview they do not hold." Materialism, my friend, is not the default worldview to which we non-materialists are obliged to submit. The default human worldview is, and always has been, that there is more to human life than molecular interactions. So if you want to make your own case for state-sanctified sodomy, you'll have to convince us of materialism first. Good luck.

If you'd rather not stoop to addressing us, however, there's always this to consider: http://tech.mit.edu/V124/N5/kolasinski.5c.html

In re Lawrence, Freeman, Turley, and the "reasoning" of the Iowa Supremes in their legalization of gay "marriage", doesn't it seem that once this door has been opened, we really only have two legal and logical (if you buy into the flawed logic) options under Substantive Due Process and Equal Protection? Namely, 1) permit any and all behavior between consenting adults or 2) refuse to statutorily acknowledge marriage at all.
Without being arbitrary, how can we stop ourselves along the path? At some point we need to either really ask what marriage is or they need to say its nothing at all. At least nobody's successfully argued that the animal consents to bestiality...yet...

Can I go back to a more central point to the original post? The possible "incestuous" situation of marrying your step-granddaughter. Seems to me that however strongly both society and the state have a natural interest in preventing incest, the interest is much, much lower in the situation of a step- relationship, consider by itself.

That is, one can easily imagine a theoretical situation that does not present any of the most important reasons for interfering with such a marriage. If the step-granddaughter had never lived under the man's roof, and was not financially dependent on him, and met him for the first time as an adult forming only an adult relationship, then there is hardly the basis for an automatic and grave repugnance to their forming a romantic relationship and wanting to be married. Indeed, it would seem that the ONLY reason to object is that such a marriage does not carry out in the usual degree the extending of familial bonds to new sets of families hitherto unattached. But this has never been posed as a critical meaning of, or basis for, marriage in and of itself. It is at most a secondary purpose for marriage. And even at that, one could pose that while it does not extend the familial relationships farther, it deepens the ties between two families so it still bears a social value of the same category. In any event, violating a secondary purpose of marriage in a matter of degree can hardly be set on a par with violating the fundamental purpose of marriage altogether.

In a sense, the relationship "step-" anything is a relationship in law, not a relationship of reality and substance. People can be step-something without ever even having laid eyes on each other. But other in-law relationships do not set the stage for what we consider "incest". If brothers A and B marry sisters X and Y, the fact that B and Y already had a relationship as in-laws does not forbid their marrying on the grounds of "incest".

So while incest can be a grave moral evil (and therefore a mortal sin), either the notion of calling the mere fact of a marriage between two persons with a step-granddaughter/father relationship "incest" is problematic, or incest as a class of acts has widely varying sorts of evils attached, and one cannot simply say of the entire class that it violates the primary purpose of marriage.

But even that is no mean thing. Even merely pretending to be moral does less damage to others and to society in general than actually acting out one's immorality.

God sees the heart; we can see only what is done. With respect to the heart, we can sometimes at best infer.

Forcing society to pretend to be what it is not allows us the luxury of believing that we are much better than we really are and don't need a savior. All we have gained is a society that looks nicer, but that is still rotten inside. In fact, we have an incredible level of hypocrisy today.

With as much or as little justice, I could say: "It would be nice if same-sex marriage proponents would just admit that they are trying to force other people to submit to a materialistic worldview they do not hold."

The analogy isn't quite accurate. I'm not advocating mandatory same-sex marriage for everyone, nor am I advocating eliminating heterosexual marriage. I simply advocate legal, optional same-sex marriage, such that gay and straight married couples could live in the same state side-by-side, without interfering with each other's marriages.

The secular case for marriage doesn't require that you submit to my beliefs. It simply requires that you allow me to hold and follow my own beliefs.

The supernaturalist case against legal gay marriage, on the other hand, requires gay couples to remain unmarried. Thus, whatever their own religious beliefs, you are forcing them to follow yours.

The secular case for marriage doesn't require that you submit to my beliefs. It simply requires that you allow me to hold and follow my own beliefs.

Well, the moment you decide that the state gets to define marriage, you impose your own views on others. It doesn't matter how tolerant you think you are of other choices, you impose your view of how things should be through force of law. Whatever you say marriage is by law naturally excludes all other non-coercive variations.


The only way to allow others to hold and follow their own beliefs is to abolish marriage laws altogether.

I would personally rather see polygamy and polyandry be licensed before gay marriage. They are far more natural than gay marriage.

The supernaturalist case against legal gay marriage, on the other hand, requires gay couples to remain unmarried. Thus, whatever their own religious beliefs, you are forcing them to follow yours.

And when a gay couple sues their employer for not recognizing their marriage when it's time to assign benefits, they are still respecting their employer's views, right?

The supernaturalist case against legal gay marriage, on the other hand, requires gay couples to remain unmarried. Thus, whatever their own religious beliefs, you are forcing them to follow yours.


Right, and pedophiles deserve to be afforded the same sort of rights; can't wait 'till such rights are likewise advocated and bestowed upon them as well -- I mean, why should we force our irrational religious beliefs on the pedophiles too, no?

Well, the moment you decide that the state gets to define marriage, you impose your own views on others. It doesn't matter how tolerant you think you are of other choices, you impose your view of how things should be through force of law.

This is an argument against state-defined marriage, not an argument against same-sex marriage.

And when a gay couple sues their employer for not recognizing their marriage when it's time to assign benefits, they are still respecting their employer's views, right?

Again, the distinction you make is arbitrary. Do we give the employer the right to cherry-pick which marriages they recognize when they assign benefits, or don't we? Catholic employers currently must recognize non-Catholic marriages, racist employers recognize mixed-race marriages. Were Michael L. an employer, he'd have to provide benefits to marriages involving women who'd had voluntary hysterectomies.

Do you even believe that you're comparing apples to apples? That an employer--who already provides benefits--is being imposed upon more than a couple who must be forced to remain unmarried for their entire lives? Your argument makes sense only if you would support the same logic for married couples that you personally also find licit. Your current logic is this: If any employer, anywhere in the country doesn't want to provide a benefit to a type of married couple, then that couple should be banned by the state from marrying.

I mean, why should we force our irrational religious beliefs on the pedophiles too, no?

aristocles,
In order to accept your reasoning here, we must first accept the claim that "We cannot make a distinction between consenting adult couples and pedophilic relationships without resorting to a belief in the supernatural."

Do you believe that to be true? I know I don't.

Phil:

Fair enough -- but can you actually tell me where one perversity is deemed acceptable, another just as perverse cannot by the same token be deemed likewise?

Besides, the very interlocutor you yourself are currently engaged (namely, Mike T) had himself asserted repeatedly in a previous thread that even tweens should be regarded at the level of a consenting adult; besides, was not the Virgin Mary herself 13 years old when she had married Joseph?

Point is, this deplorable need to rationalize, justify and, even further, legitimize such outrageous acts of perversity; there comes a point where almost anything even the most foul can become regarded by a morally decadent mob as acceptable and, unfortunately, even to the point of hailing it as 'normal'.

There's a significant practical case for disallowing gay marriage. Gay couples are categorically unable to have children, whereas straight couples are only unable to in specific instances, which in most cases would be highly intrusive for the state to investigate. So it makes sense to allow straight marriage as a whole, while not allowing gay marriage as a whole, since the state is only interested in procreation anyway. There is some overlap, such as women obviously past the point of menopause, where straight marriage would possibly be disallowed too.

As long as gay marriage is framed as an issue of undeniable and fundamental rights, this won't have any traction though.

Phil:

My argument against same-sex marriage goes roughly like this:

(1) "The vast majority of people have recognized a valid societal interest in privileging committed sexual relationships between people whose genitals are designed to work together for an obvious natural end, even when that end is no longer attainable, while seeing no such interest in privileging relationships between people who use their genitals together in ways that have no intrinsic relationship with procreation."

(2) The above-described distinction made by the vast majority of people rests on the belief, call it 'R', that opposite-sex marriage can both express and foster a spiritual bond that is beneficial to society, whereas no other sort of sexual relationship does both.

(3) 'R' is true.

(4) Therefore, the state should only recognize, as marriage, a committed sexual relationship between members of the opposite sex.

Your rebuttal attacks (3), and runs roughly like this: R is premised on a form of "supernaturalism," and it is immoral to impose supernaturalism on people who are not supernaturalists. But that's exactly what restricting "marriage" to traditional marriage would require; whereas the case for same-sex marriage does not require imposing naturalism on anyone, and therefore does not call for an immoral sort of action. Thus:

The secular case for marriage doesn't require that you submit to my beliefs. It simply requires that you allow me to hold and follow my own beliefs. The supernaturalist case against legal gay marriage, on the other hand, requires gay couples to remain unmarried. Thus, whatever their own religious beliefs, you are forcing them to follow yours.

There are two difficulties with that rebuttal.

One is that that state recognition of same-sex marriage would require people who think it's not marriage, and that it is indeed immoral, to treat it as marriage for economic and other purposes. Thus it would require imposing the beliefs of some on others. Although that in itself would not make same-sex marriage wrong--many laws, after all, require some people to obey and even subsidize policies they believe are immoral--it does belie your claim that state recognition of same-sex marriage would not entail imposing some people's beliefs on other people.

Accordingly, it is incumbent on you to show why imposing your beliefs on others would be morally acceptable in this case while traditional marriage laws, which impose the beliefs of the majority on others, are not morally acceptable. Given the parameters you've laid out, the only way for you to do that is to argue that imposing something called "supernaturalism" on others is immoral but imposing your own non-supernaturalism would not be. And that brings me to the second difficulty with your rejection of R: you have made no attempt to make such an argument.

I understand why you shy away from that. To make your case, you would have to argue that freedom must be understood and respected from within a worldview according to which everything which happens at the macro-level consists simply in molecular interactions with no spiritual dimension. That is a very difficult case to make.


Dr. Liccione:

(1) "The vast majority of people have recognized a valid societal interest in privileging committed sexual relationships between people whose genitals are designed to work together for an obvious natural end, even when that end is no longer attainable, while seeing no such interest in privileging relationships between people who use their genitals together in ways that have no intrinsic relationship with procreation."

Doe you mean to imply that absent the majority, if the majority were to concur otherwise, same-sex relationships would be deemed wholly acceptable and even legitimate?

aristocles:

I introduced that premise (1) solely for the sake of showing Phil that the belief in question is not arbitrary. That shouldn't need to be shown, but then we live in strange times. That their belief is also true is suggested by (2) and (3).

In fact, however, were it not for the belief described by (1), then people would probably not oppose gay marriage. It might be "deemed wholly acceptable and even legitimate." Of course, such deeming would be mistaken.

This is an argument against state-defined marriage, not an argument against same-sex marriage.

It was not intended as a moral argument against same sex marriage itself, but serves as an example of where there is as much tyranny as "freedom" in expanding state licensing of marriage to homosexuals. In fact, there is arguably more tyranny when one considers the fact that most Americans oppose licensing gay marriages, and state licensing coerces recognition by many institutions.

Again, the distinction you make is arbitrary. Do we give the employer the right to cherry-pick which marriages they recognize when they assign benefits, or don't we? Catholic employers currently must recognize non-Catholic marriages, racist employers recognize mixed-race marriages. Were Michael L. an employer, he'd have to provide benefits to marriages involving women who'd had voluntary hysterectomies.

Given that I am a right-libertarian, I freely endorse the right of Michael L to discriminate against certain employees, for BET to openly exclude whites from employment or advancement, and Muslim employers to require all female employees to abide by an Islamic dress code if they wish to remain employed. It is, no offense, none of your damn business on such trivial matters between employer and employee.

Do you even believe that you're comparing apples to apples? That an employer--who already provides benefits--is being imposed upon more than a couple who must be forced to remain unmarried for their entire lives? Your argument makes sense only if you would support the same logic for married couples that you personally also find licit. Your current logic is this: If any employer, anywhere in the country doesn't want to provide a benefit to a type of married couple, then that couple should be banned by the state from marrying.

No state prohibits homosexuals from getting married in a private ceremony. The same sort of private ceremony that marriage has been conducted under for thousands of years of human history. Thus it is legally possible for a homosexual couple to get married, merge accounts, jointly own property and do most of the things that they already could do with a license.

Employers are free to provide benefits to gay couples. Many of them already do. I have no problem with companies coming up with any such compensation plan in order to attract and retain good employees. I have an issue with laws which would force employers to extend benefits against their will, especially in matters which they may believe are fundamental moral issues.

Matt:

Good point. Here's a secular case against gay marriage: http://tech.mit.edu/V124/N5/kolasinski.5c.html

Phil, I have a huge objection to the state taking upon itself the right to redefine the language. Language is an organic development through the uses and conventions of a social group. It is a given for the state, through society - a backdrop within which the state must operate, not a canvas open to the state's arbitrary choice to modify. The government is not the entire realm of the social sphere.

This becomes very important in such matters as contract law. A contract means what the parties to it conveyed in the words they chose to use, given a specific language - and the law is supposed to reinforce that. If the state comes along and unilaterally and arbitrarily re-defines the terms of a contract between two persons, the state is basically a tyrant - rather worse than most of the totalitarian states we have seen so far, actually.

The word 'marriage', in itself is and has been for the last 700 years of English, capable of clear and undeniable meaning, referring to a distinct sort of union of two people, one male and one female. If society wishes to redefine the word to include same-sex couples, then society can do so. The state has no such power or authority.

What the state does have the power to do is decide what privileges are given to which groups. If the state decides that privileges that have previously been given to only group A are now to be given to groups A and B, that is within the state's powers, generally. But not by redefining language to pretend that 'A' now includes B by definition.

If the democratic powers of the people in the state are exerted to choose to extend privileges beyond A to B, then nobody has had their rights impeded. But when the state claims to redefine 'A' to include group B, all those people who already had contracts using the term 'A' have had their rights denied them, the right to contract as they choose.

When a state's people democratically decide to grant a privilege to group A but not to group B, those in group B cannot say that their rights are denied them, because privileges are not rights. Nobody has a right to privileges. The most B can claim is that making a distinction between A and B in setting the parameters for that privilege is unreasonable. In some cases they would be correct in this. But whether it is or is not unreasonable, a democratic determination not to give privileges to B ought not be viewed (by some higher court, say) as an infringement - this is precisely the realm of authority of the democratic powers of the people and their elected representatives. A democratic state will be unreasonable at times using its power. That a court should take it upon itself to overturn the democratic decision of the people in an area of their proper authority (without taking away people's rights) - merely because their determination was erroneous (in the judge's infinitely more authoritative view) - is for the court to legislate. The very thing it is not intended or designed for.

It so happens that it is not unreasonable in this case of distinguishing between hetero- and homo- sexuals. Whether gays see or admit it or not, the relationship between sexual activity and bearing (and rearing) the future of society is not arbitrary or secondary to marriage, nor is it of no moment to the state. As long as society intends itself to be a temporally self-extending institution, it will concern itself with those aspects of society by which its future citizens come to be (and come to be well-formed citizens.)

What normal heterosexuals are objecting to is the presumption (by judges, in every case so far) to run roughshod over BOTH the rights of society to establish language, and the rights of the people to use democratic venues to determine who receives privileges. And the presumption (by virtually all gays everywhere) that the only moral arguments against homosexual behavior receiving privileges are those which stem from a religious viewpoint - a presumption patently false.

I would much rather see the state simply eradicate all special provisions in favor of marriage and let all the other components of society decide what they want to do about it, than have the state shove gay 'marriage' down all our throats as if it merely granting to gays something they have a right to.

I just think it would be nice if same-sex marriage opponents would admit that they, like you, are trying to force other people to submit to religious beliefs that they do not hold.

As does any coercive law advanced on the basis of a secular ethical theory which religious people do not agree with.

In order to oppose legal, optional same-sex marriage, opponents frequently employ a tortured logic, in which one rationale is applied to same-sex couples, and then a bizarre and arbitrary exception is created so that the same logic does not apply to categories of heterosexual couples who might be banned from marrying under the same rationale.

In fact, there is arguably more tyranny when one considers the fact that most Americans oppose licensing gay marriages, and state licensing coerces recognition by many institutions.

If you are using "recognition" in the most basic sense, then, yes, state licensing coerces recognition. That is, if something exists, then institutions and individuals must acknowledge in some way that it exists. But the actual, specific actions that are required of such institutions are nothing that is not already "required" within the status quo for all kinds of other couples. So singling out same-sex couples is arbitrary.

Fair enough -- but can you actually tell me where one perversity is deemed acceptable, another just as perverse cannot by the same token be deemed likewise?

I'm not willing at all to accept on face value--or on the basis of supernaturalist reasoning--that homosexual sex is "perverse." Quite the opposite: it can have the same close-bonding effect on gay couples that sex has on straight couples.

Sex with children and sex with animals is categorically different, because one partner is unable to give meaningful "consent." You are welcome to argue that, if you want, but I'm not going to take it up with you...it's a tired slippery-slope fallacy.


It is, no offense, none of your damn business on such trivial matters between employer and employee.

No offense taken. But, (no offense intended)-- that statement comes as quite a surprise from someone who takes a political viewpoint which would be impossible without forming a political opinion about my genitals.

As a libertarian, perhaps you'll agree: the fact that I have a penis is my own business, and should not be a consideration for the state--or for my fellow citizens--in determining who I have the "privilege" to marry.

In terms of libertarian thought, the arrangement of structures on my body trumps the "privileges" of a business owner, as far as I'm concerned.

I have an issue with laws which would force employers to extend benefits against their will, especially in matters which they may believe are fundamental moral issues.

If your argument is that we should eliminate all marriage-based requirements on employers because you're a pro-business libertarian, then I find you logically consistent. I might not agree with you, but at least you're not being a hypocrite.

You would agree, I assume, with the argument that a businessperson who adheres to a racist religion ought not be forced to provide benefits to mixed-race married couples?

Further, based on your logic, it sounds like you believe that mixed-race marriages should not be legal, since their legality, under current law, forces some racist employers to provide benefits to couples of which they do not approve?

Or are you, as I suggested earlier, applying one rationale to same-sex couples and then carving out an exception for heterosexual couples, such that the rationale is not based on logic?

If the democratic powers of the people in the state are exerted to choose to extend privileges beyond A to B, then nobody has had their rights impeded. But when the state claims to redefine 'A' to include group B, all those people who already had contracts using the term 'A' have had their rights denied them, the right to contract as they choose.

That's a fine semantic argument, but if you're making the case that legal same-sex marriage suddenly changes the nature of the "opposite marriage" contracts, that's a pretty big stretch.

What's the real-world implication? In Massachusetts, for example, same-sex marriage was illegal one day, and then legal the next. If you were a married heterosexual, what specific right was denied on the second? How did your life change in any meaningful way?

Perhaps I can save you some time by pointing out that it would be useless and silly to point out instances where Massachusetts courts applied laws (either wisely or unwisely) that had nothing to do specifically with same-sex marriage.

If you are using "recognition" in the most basic sense, then, yes, state licensing coerces recognition. That is, if something exists, then institutions and individuals must acknowledge in some way that it exists. But the actual, specific actions that are required of such institutions are nothing that is not already "required" within the status quo for all kinds of other couples. So singling out same-sex couples is arbitrary.

The difference is that only a negligible percentage of the population has any issue with recognizing heterosexual, monogamous marriages. To them, it is a natural institution and does not put them in a position where they feel that their consciences are being violated. Same sex marriage licensing, coupled with anti-discrimination laws changes that. You could say that they are two separate issues, but that is just a philosophical distinction because in practice you have to confront the system from a holistic in manner.

No offense taken. But, (no offense intended)-- that statement comes as quite a surprise from someone who takes a political viewpoint which would be impossible without forming a political opinion about my genitals.

As a libertarian, perhaps you'll agree: the fact that I have a penis is my own business, and should not be a consideration for the state--or for my fellow citizens--in determining who I have the "privilege" to marry.

As I said, you can get a same sex marriage right now. Just not a marriage license which would allow you to raise unholy hell in a court of law if anyone chose to not respect your marriage for the purposes of employment benefits and such. Therefore your argument is simply a complaint that you cannot get the same legal standing for that relationship, not that you cannot have it.

In terms of libertarian thought, the arrangement of structures on my body trumps the "privileges" of a business owner, as far as I'm concerned.

Then you're not a libertarian.

If your argument is that we should eliminate all marriage-based requirements on employers because you're a pro-business libertarian, then I find you logically consistent. I might not agree with you, but at least you're not being a hypocrite.

I have no problem with homosexuals getting married. I simply refuse to support any law which would extend to them the force of law to coerce recognition of their relationships. While I support abolishing the same for all marriages, I regard gay marriage as worse in that respect because it is not only an expansion of an odious legal regime, but an expansion that will force a large percentage of the population to potentially violate their consciences.

You would agree, I assume, with the argument that a businessperson who adheres to a racist religion ought not be forced to provide benefits to mixed-race married couples?

Further, based on your logic, it sounds like you believe that mixed-race marriages should not be legal, since their legality, under current law, forces some racist employers to provide benefits to couples of which they do not approve?

There is a point where principle must give way to pragmatism. This is such an example. Since the percentage of said employers is statistically insignificant, they don't warrant special consideration.

Or are you, as I suggested earlier, applying one rationale to same-sex couples and then carving out an exception for heterosexual couples, such that the rationale is not based on logic?

I am applying a rationale within the limits of reason. I could take your argument and twist it around in favor of allowing polygamy, polyandry, marriage to animals and even marriage to children since I don't recall you specifying that marriage must be between "two consenting adults as defined by the law." But I won't do that at this point since I am assuming certain limits on your part since you haven't specified otherwise.

Granted, I think the arguments against polygamy and polyandry are much more specious than the ones for gay marriage. Those against the former are almost entirely based on utilitarianism.

Aristocles,

Besides, the very interlocutor you yourself are currently engaged (namely, Mike T) had himself asserted repeatedly in a previous thread that even tweens should be regarded at the level of a consenting adult; besides, was not the Virgin Mary herself 13 years old when she had married Joseph?

You forgot to mention that I also favor a traditional Judao-Christian patriarchal society in which men have to get the approval of their love interest's father before they can get married or generally even pursue them. That puts this a bit in perspective, doncha think? Just sayin...

Mike T,

The point being is that Phil attempted to make the argument earlier concerning "consenting adults". However, as in those biblical times as well as during the time of even St. Augustine, women around that age (however much I might personally disagree) actually got married; indeed, that age was considered to be such an age of an "consenting adult".

Of course, our dear friend ended up, for some odd God-awful reason, bringing up the matter of sex with animals; yet, I might in a way understand why he should, in the end, bring something so utterly dispicable as that especially given the topic of the homosexual act which is in every way perverse.

Ah, well I wasn't trying to attack you, but merely make that point clear so that he didn't think I was defending practices like the Islamic practice of marrying off 9 year old, prepubescent girls. Of course, one of the major differences back then was that fathers, in the age of Augustine, were far more protective of their daughters and society far more tolerant of fathers literally beating cads off with a stick to protect their daughters.

It seems to me that the most arbitrary part of the gay marriage debate is why it must be between two "consenting adults." That seems to me like a bait-and-switch tactic to reduce heterosexual marriage to just a relationship between two people who happen to be male and female respectively. There the people who defend same sex marriage on a moral basis, as opposed to merely tolerating it as a private practice, can say that it is different in degree, not in kind.

In actuality, the closest cousin to heterosexual monogamy is heterosexual polygamy. I would argue that polygyny is far more natural, and even supported by traditional morality (as it was tolerated in ancient Israel under the Torah), and even polyandry is more natural than same sex marriage if you want to push it from something we tolerate others doing privately into defending it as a legitimate practice which everyone should personally accept.

It seems to me that the most arbitrary part of the gay marriage debate is why it must be between two "consenting adults."

That should have been "two consenting adults." Consenting adults as in 18+ as opposed to cases like my cousin, LaSalle Corbell who, at around 14, married ~28 year old George Pickett, or why society cannot make room for a rich man having 3 wives. The moral defenders of gay marriage want us to believe that those two examples are filthy and unnatural, but gay marriage is totally kosher.

I simply refuse to support any law which would extend to them the force of law to coerce recognition of their relationships.

This ignores the facts that many of the important benefits that marriage provides a couple stem from their marriage's recognition by the state. Only legal marriages recognized by the state enjoy these privileges.

Same-sex married couples who attempt to force private businesses to recognize their marriage are logically no different from any other married couple which forces a business to recognize their marriage. You can make the fallacious argument that because more people oppose same-sex marriage, those people are correct, but it sounds like what you really mean is that businesses ought not be coerced to do business with people they don't want to. Isn't that a wholly separate issue from marriage?

Would you agree with me that the state ought to provide the same benefits to tax-paying married same-sex couples that it does to married heterosexual couples, or is the small business argument a red herring?

Same-sex married couples who attempt to force private businesses to recognize their marriage are logically no different from any other married couple which forces a business to recognize their marriage. You can make the fallacious argument that because more people oppose same-sex marriage, those people are correct, but it sounds like what you really mean is that businesses ought not be coerced to do business with people they don't want to.

As it currently stands, employers don't have to provide any benefits to or recognition of marriage. However, if they do, then they can be penalized under law if they discriminate against ones they don't wish to deal with. That is an issue.

It is also a major issue that majority of Americans are being forced to violate their consciences on a positive right issue.

Isn't that a wholly separate issue from marriage?

In a philosophical sense, it is. In practice, it is not because the law is very intertwined and coupled together.

Would you agree with me that the state ought to provide the same benefits to tax-paying married same-sex couples that it does to married heterosexual couples, or is the small business argument a red herring?

I would argue that if it provides benefits to state license holders, then it should. However, I don't support extending licensing to gay marriages.

Now, do you or do you not support extending marriage licenses to polygamists? If not, then what is your basis for opposition? In fact, since you seem to support marriage licenses and the apparatus behind them, what groups would you deny them to and why?

This ignores the facts that many of the important benefits that marriage provides a couple stem from their marriage's recognition by the state. Only legal marriages recognized by the state enjoy these privileges.

So, again, your case that same-sex marriages should be recognized by the state is supported largely by what again?

If anything, Mike T's bias for pedophile marriages seems to warrant greater support (given historical precedence -- although, personally, I remain disgusted by even his notion of tween marriages) than same-sex animalistic indulgences for fudgepacking.

Aristocles, please, watch your verbiage. I ask everybody to please keep this classy. I haven't been watching this thread much, but (sigh) perhaps I should.

Lydia:

Apologies, but I believe it's best (within parameters, of course) to recognize the act for what it is instead of employing the usual euphemisms that merely disguise it so as to make it seem more socially (and even morally) acceptable; it reminds me of the term "pro-choice".

However, if they do, then they can be penalized under law if they discriminate against ones they don't wish to deal with. That is an issue.

It is an issue, and it sounds like it is completely distinct from same-sex marriage. Surely you're not suggesting that any behavior that any church disagrees with should be banned by law.

It is also a major issue that majority of Americans are being forced to violate their consciences on a positive right issue.

But the only example you've given of people being forced to violate their consciences is the benefits that businesses are not forced to provide. Barring that, where are you seeing people "forced to violate their consciences?"

Now, do you or do you not support extending marriage licenses to polygamists? If not, then what is your basis for opposition?

My logic is that the state, in providing rights, benefits, or privileges, ought not discriminate on a basis of sex & gender (or religion, or race.) The state provides licensing for "marriage," in which one adult can marry exactly one other adult. It denies women the right to marry women based solely on the fact of their sex; despite bluster to the contrary, the state does not consider fertility or ability to parent in issuing marriage licenses.

I argue that the state should provide the same right to all citizens, without regard to their sex. Half of the citizens of the U.S. have the right to marry a woman, there is no logical reason for the state to deny this right to the other half.

On the other hand, the state does not issue marriage licenses to any person to marry a second (or third) spouse. You can argue about why it would be good to create such an institution, but at present, there is no unreasonable discrimination with regard to polygamy.

Actually, the state provides licensing for "marriage", in which one adult can marry exactly one other adult of the opposite sex. I bolded the important part, which will hopefully show you where exactly you begged the question.

My logic is that the state, in providing rights, benefits, or privileges, ought not discriminate on a basis of sex & gender (or religion, or race.)

Surely, the state ought not to discriminate on the basis of age as well, no?

Why is it you find it unacceptable for Mike T to marry off your 12 year old daughter/niece/grandchild (who may very well consent) but you find it wholly acceptable for a guy to marry off another and for what? Just to go all bender on him?

Or should the perversity of one kind be argued and even justified over another all because of one's biased preference for a particular perversion?

In other words, it ain't so slippery a slope -- especially when it comes to the heinously disgusting.

Actually, the state provides licensing for "marriage", in which one adult can marry exactly one other adult of the opposite sex.

Right. And in so doing, the state determines whether to issue me a marriage license to a particular male person based solely on the fact of my gender.

Using your logic, one could argue that anti-miscegenation laws were not discriminatory, because the state provided marriage licenses in which one adult could "marry another adult of the same race." It's a specious argument, however, because in both cases the state is denying particular marriages based on an arbitrary rationale that it fails to apply equally to all citizens.

Surely, the state ought not to discriminate on the basis of age as well, no?

Actually, I think we both agree that the state can and should discriminate on the basis of age in some instances, so this is an example of a "straw man" fallacy. When the state applies an age-of-consent test in determining whether to issue a marriage license, it applies the same standard to all persons. Nor does it forbid any particular marriage in perpetuity: any given couple will eventually qualify for the marriage license.

The concept that there is an age at which a person is legally able to enter into a contract is in no way unique to marriage law. A person must be 30 years old, say, to run for the U.S. Senatem and 25 years old to run for the House of Representatives.

If Federal law stipulated that only Catholics and other Christians could run for the Senate and only Jews and Muslims could run for the House, I might--wisely--suggest that such law be abolished.

Using your logic, you might respond that "Now we're going to have to let NINE-YEAR-OLDS run for Congress!" But of course, that would be ridiculous. Instead, you're using tortured logic, using an argument against same-sex marriage that you wouldn't reasonably apply to other categories of persons or in other situations.

It's interesting that you keep bringing up terms like "heinous," "disgusting," and "perversion," aristocles, when your arguments against me marrying a man (for example) center solely on the existence of my penis and testicles. If I had a vagina and ovaries, but every other perceivable quality of my person were the same, you wouldn't argue against my marriage license--or at least the arguments you've made so far wouldn't hold water.

At heart, then, your arguments have nothing to do with anything except my penis and testicles. Why do you have an opinion about my genitals? Does it not make sense that the person most qualified to decide how important their genitals or their partner's genitals are to their relationship is that particular person?

I submit that the gender of an individual's marital partner is so much more important to that particular individual that all other opinions are superfluous, no matter how deeply held those opinions are. Gender, like religion, should be "off the table" when it comes to rights and privileges granted by the state.

Of course it is discriminatory. Any concept with a definition is discriminatory, as it includes some things and excludes others. Any legal fiction, like age of consent, is discriminatory. Your proposed redefinition of marriage is discriminatory as well, against bisexuals and mormons.

Your original argument begged the question, however, by assuming from the outset that the 'correct' definition of marriage is the one in which you are able to marry anyone, hence the omission of the crucial detail. But of course the state definition of marriage is one male and one female of sufficient age. This is applied equally to everyone: everyone has the ability to marry one person of the opposite sex who is old enough. You do not have the ability to marry anyone you want, but neither does anyone else. So your argument of sexist application falls apart.

This is not to say that such legal fictions can never be changed, but rather that we require an argument more substantive than simply pointing out the discriminatory nature of definitions. Can't gay marriage advocates try, just once, to make a serious argument?

This is not to say that such legal fictions can never be changed, but rather that we require an argument more substantive than simply pointing out the discriminatory nature of definitions.

I'd argue that, when the state discriminates by providing a right or privilege to one group of people that it denies to another, the onus is on the state to provide a rationale for that discrimination that is not arbitrary. I'd also argue that a religious rationale is not sufficient for state-sponsored discrimination.

Once upon a time, marriage was defined as "one male and one female of sufficient age and the same race." Under your logic, it was applied equally to everyone.

So, do you believe that such a law was right? Do you believe that the majority deserved the right to set such standards, based on their beliefs? If a majority of a population in a state oppose miscegenation, is it therefore right for the state to ban miscegenation?

Using your logic, you might respond that "Now we're going to have to let NINE-YEAR-OLDS run for Congress!"

Oh, that's right; in biblical times as well as in the days of Augustine, I forgot how they allowed marriage of tweens and, at the same time, run for the Senate!

What hogwash!

Do you have no knowledge whatsoever of such times where 13 year olds were actually (and legally) allowed to marry?

And just because they happened to allow such practices then (and in those times had deemed so as socially and even morally acceptable -- although, personally, I might have a problem with it), it did not mean that they allowed these same to take up other more weighty endeavours.

Has your bias for folks going all bender actually clouded your judgment so as to see that?

Or has the enterprise to make fudgepacking a wholly legitimate activity and even sacred institution rendered your senses dull?

Do you believe that the majority deserved the right to set such standards, based on their beliefs?

Ironic how you attempted just previously to make a stand on the "age-of-consent" believed to be deemed acceptable by the majority and, therefore, set a valid as well as legal standard; yet, here you rant against the very same principle upon which you attempted to make such a stand, opposing the same!

However, I do not find anything substantive in your comments how their equally valid and legal standard of marriage between "one man and one female" should be wholly invalidated except that you personally find it to be "discriminatory". Well, quite frankly, utilizing the very same premise, almost anything can be said to be just so.

Still, I wonder if you can supply something more compelling than the same trite complaint as that.

For a start, you might provide a more substantial responsio to Matt Weber's quite valid observation as regarding your rather egregious petitio principii and overcome the burden of why marriage should be exactly defined as anything other than being between persons of the opposite sex.

Unless, of course, the mere reason for such redefinition is simply for wont of fudgepacking!

Perhaps you might find such statement irredeemably facetious as well as vulgar (as even Dr. McGrew herself had quite understandably thought as much), but I merely apply such term to point out what should be to those of more reasonable mind as well as respectable personage, the apparent absurdity of such a proposition if based on anything other than just that.

One is that that state recognition of same-sex marriage would require people who think it's not marriage, and that it is indeed immoral, to treat it as marriage for economic and other purposes.

You realize you're talking about other people's marriages here, right? No one would be forced to enter into, or perform, a same-sex marriage. So, except for a business-owner who chooses to provide benefits to married couples, what are these "other purposes?" You're writing as if they're self-evident. But the impact of a couple's marriage on the people who are not involved in that marriage is miniscule, and the impact of a same-sex couple's marriage on others would be no more significant or onerous than every other marriage in the country.

The crux of your argument, essentially, is that religious people shouldn't be forced to deal with any people who do something that is against their religion. Muslims shouldn't have to do business with dog owners, Orthodox jews shouldn't have to do business with pork eaters, racist Christian sects shouldn't have to do business with mixed-race couples, etc.

That's a fine argument to make, but it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, except that you're arguing that same-sex couples should be singled out by the state as the only people that religious Americans shouldn't have to deal with, simply because they engage in behavior that is proscribed by a particular powerful religion.

It would be one thing if these "other purposes" were something incredible and onerous, but that's clearly not the case. I say "clearly" because marriages have been performed in this country for centuries, and many of these marriages (common sense tells us) have been disapproved by some segment of society. Where are the ill effects for these people?

Or has the enterprise to make fudgepacking a wholly legitimate activity and even sacred institution rendered your senses dull?

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "fudgepacking," aristocles, can you be more articulate?

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