Friday, January 8, 2010


What really gets me about the whole "gay marriage" debate, besides, you know, everything, is that it seems to be based ultimately in the idea that men and women are importantly and irreconcilably different. If a marriage between two men is less legitimate than a marriage between a man and a woman, it follows that men and women must play different roles in a marriage. The genders aren't interchangeable because they're not equal.

In other words, the problem really is "which one of y'all does the dishes?"

(Actually, that's probably only about half of it. The other half is believing that gay doesn't mean "attracted to the same gender," it's an entire "lifestyle" of which same-sex attraction is only one symptom and the others are all different manifestations of hedonism and debasement.)

Something I don't have time to fully pontificate on right now because I have work in like ten minutes: the difference between feminism that describes womanhood as unique and special, and feminism that says women are equal to men because they're basically the same. I tend to fall on the side of equality, because "women's culture is secret and beautiful" sounds a little too much like "ladies have their own role to play" to me. That culture and that role's the fucking kitchen, man. I don't want to be special, I want to have a life.

(Barely related comment: I hate it when people say "if gays can get married, what about polygamy?", not just because it's a dumb slippery slope, but because in my sheltered little way I really want to just say "what about it?" Sometimes a mommy and a daddy and another mommy love each other very much...)


  1. Sex between a man and a woman can be absolutely wonderful-provided you get between the right man and the right woman. Woody Allen

    I think the problem is not so much that Gays should be allowed to be married, but that no one should be allowed to be married.

    Just change the name to Legal Union for everyone and get rid of that whole religious aspect.

  2. I wouldn't dismiss the slippery slope. Since successful social movements need to work through incrementalism, slippery-slope arguments are often valid. The marriage equality movement needs to figure out how to deal with the existence of godless polyamorists like me, and the fact that we eventually _will_ start demanding equal protection ourselves.

    The most productive strategy may simply be to ignore the argument (the same way gun rights advocates have to just ignore the "over-the-counter machine guns" hardliners) and try to aggressively refocus the issue, but denying we exist will only make the equality advocates look like liars down the road.

    Don't hand the homophobes yet another "see? We _told_ you!" to use in the next close vote.

  3. I really don't get the anti-polyamory slippery-slope argument. Most of the people fighting against gay marriage base their "arguments" on the Bible and the Bible is chock full of men with multiple wives. You'd think they'd be all for polygamy (maybe they only approve of the Biblical one man, multiple women arrangements and they know legalizing it would also allow one woman, multiple men?). Instead they imply that it's somehow in the same morally reprehensible group as gay marriage, pedophilia, and bestiality. Never did understand how they justify clumping together consensual sex/relationships with acts like bestiality that are by definition nonconsensual.

  4. This is what I'm saying. It isn't _my_ fault all these heathen lib'ruls have redefined traditional Biblical marriage to justify their deviant one-wife relationships. ;)

  5. I think perhaps the best thing I've heard on gay marriage to date came from a stand up comic, responding to a politician's remarks on how gay marriage would demean or otherwise make traditional man/woman marriage less meaningful. I wish I could remember who it was-- maybe Margaret Cho? At any rate, her take on it was this: if a man and a woman can go through a drive through wedding chapel in Las Vegas and then get divorced a day or two later, what can gays and lesbians do to make marriage any less meaningless than that? Once you peel aside the questions about things like health insurance, patient/family rights in hospitals, and so on, the entire question of marriage becomes a fight to impose our morals on each other. Teh straights have committed just as many marital sins as teh gays have, so I don't see any group in this convo that really has a right to claim moral superiority. :p

  6. I think that a person should be able to marry or screw whoever they want as long as all parties consent. But I think that everyone is spending way too much time and energy on same-sex marriage. The marriage "debate" boils down to one group wants to change a meaningless institution that another group believes will be made more meaningless by the change. Lax divorce laws and unfavorable tax treatment have made marriage largely irrelevant and meaningless except for some limited and unusual circumstances where access to records or occasionally insurance coverage might be denied (i.e. same sex partners being denied access to medical records or being denied spouse coverage on health insurance). Most of these rare circumstances could usually be dealt with by using a little bit of forethought and legal creativity.

    So on the one side, we have the anti-SSM people saying that they will somehow be harmed if "those" people can marry, but never being able to provide any rational examples of these harms; while on the other side we have the pro-SSM group saying that they are bound for the cattlecars if they can't get a magical piece of paper from a .gov official and have the ability to be have a court force them to give half their stuff to a vindictive ex-spouse.

    I just wish that some state would just say that the government has no business in who (consensually) screws whom and when and leave the whole marriage thing up to the churches. People who want to plan for separation can write up legally binding contracts that take effect when one of them moves out.

  7. On poly marriage: It's true that a child does better with two parents than one. It's also been found that a child does better with three or more parental figures than two. In addition, naturally poly people who feel constrained by monogamy are more likely to cheat or divorce, which is disruptive to families. So why the hell not allow poly marriage?

    On "gay lifestyle": Their fears are true, in a very limited sense. Gay people are more likely to be hedonistic because they're already outsiders to the dominant culture, so they feel less need to be constrained by its conventions. So, as long as society remains rather ahedonic, you could get rid of some of the more "undesirable" elements of "gay lifestyle" by mainstreaming them - and that includes allowing them to marry! Whoops, logic fail.

  8. It's also been found that a child does better with three or more parental figures than two.

    *citation needed*

  9. I'm sick and fucking tired of my so-called allies buying into the right-wing lie that marriage is religious in origin.

    Marriage is human in origin.

    Don't let them define you as not human.

    (Some days I'm more coherent about it than this, but today I see "leave marriage to the churches" two or three times and I just want to scream and howl like my kid has been doing all evening. Just because they're lying idiots with no sense of either history or anthropology doesn't mean you have to agree with them.)

  10. >>The other half is believing that gay doesn't mean "attracted to the same gender,"<<

    Gay doesn't mean attracted to the same gender. Bi means attracted to the same gender. Gay means not attracted to the opposite gender, and that's where the problems come in in the exemplars I've known.

  11. Everyone who suggested ending civil marriage altogether - I actually agree with you. Marriage is a religious or personal ritual, and joint benefits like insurance and healthcare decision-making should be arranged separately. But I don't think it's likely to happen anytime soon, what with all the fervor to protect "traditional marriage." So as long as we have civil marriage, it should be open to everyone.

    Anonymous - What problems?

  12. elmo: "It takes a village"


    Over here gay people can get married and our president has three wives so I'm sure the anti's will point and say "see? If you allow these things *that's* how you're going to end up...

  13. I grew up in a military family and as far as the 1.5 million or so people in the military are concerned, marriage is still VERY relevant. If a military member has a spouse, they get more money for housing, food, etc (which also translates to more retirement pay). They're allowed to have better quarters. That spouse has access to free healthcare. The spouse can move with the military member overseas (how my mom and, by extension, me, ended up living with my dad in Japan and Germany for 10 years total). If the spouse dies, the military member gets $200,000 worth of life insurance. If the military member dies, the spouse gets $400,000. They've even started a program where military members can transfer GI Bill benefits to spouses or children so they can go to college. On the other hand, adultery is still a crime in the military and people get demoted for it.

    The benefits of marrying a military member are still tangible. I actually know several people who married military guys after dating for a month or two just to get the benefits, which is kind of fucked up, but it should at least be a fucked up option (or a serious one for actual committed couples) available to same sex couples, too. Don't ask, don't tell has to be gotten rid of, too, for that to happen, though. Still waiting for Obama to take care of that campaign promise.

  14. Mangosandlines - I absolutely wouldn't end partner benefits, I just a) don't think they need to be called "marriage" and much more importantly b) think they need to apply to anyone who's significantly sharing their life with a servicemember.

  15. So how would you define "significantly sharing their life?" I guess what I'm trying to say is that marriage already exists and most people seem to like the idea of it. Getting rid of civil marriage and replacing it with contracts and whatnot would be a very, very complicated task. Laws would have to be changed all over the place, churches and all sorts of people and organizations would oppose it, and something would have to be done about existing marriages. I think it would face more opposition than making civil marriage inclusive of gay couples and eventually poly people. It goes back to the incrementalism idea - change what we have now so it's fair to people of all orientations before working on changing the whole structure to some sort of contract system. If people demand that marriage be completely overhauled right now, it will take more time and gay people will have to wait for equality that much longer.

  16. Marriage is, in origin, a set of protocols about inheritance, family ties, and legitimacy of children. That's what marriage is about, at root.

    Anyone with stuff, family ties, or children should have access to marriage. Because marriage is part of how those things are defined. That's the anthropological concept; that's where it came from. Gods ain't in it, though some people choose to sacramentalise that particular legal arrangement. (Other people choose to commercialise it and expect exchange of money and goods. People hook their stuff into all kinds of other things people do. Surprise!)

    Marriage has not been defined as religious where I live since white people arrived here, and I don't believe the previous inhabitants had it either. My ancestors in England - though that would be 'cousins' more than 'ancestors' given the timeframe - had to deal with exclusive church control of marriage for about seventy years starting in the mid-1700s, and then they stopped.

    I object to the enshrining of religion in my laws, especially religion not my own (and my religion has no sacramental marriage to enshrine, if you want me to be limited to religious marriage give me back my common-law marriage because that's how it's done!).

    The word for the property, family ties, and children thing is "marriage". That's just an anthropological fact. Religions that want to claim marriage should get their own damn word rather than thieve it from the rest of us.

  17. I still adore Ali G for saying, "We allowed women to vote, what's next? Dogs?"