Scattered thoughts on the same-sex marriage debate

You know, “marriage” is one of those words I can never remember how to spell. Is it “marriage” or “marraige”? Sometimes I suspect that other bloggers have this problem too, which is why they refer to it as the “SSM” debate.

Anyhow.

Eve Tushnet writes:

Advocates and opponents of SSM might usefully discuss what they think about children and gender. Should children learn gender roles? Is that harder with a same-sex couple? Is it harder in a society with same-sex marriage? Do those questions matter, and if so, how much?

When social conservatives start talking about the need to teach gender roles, I reach for my gun. People who believe in the importance of teaching “gender roles” create a social context in which unathletic and non-masculine boys are given beatings by their peers.

I think about the years in which I didn’t go a single day without fearing that someone would beat me up, and rarely went an entire week without being physically brutalized by someone (usually, but not always, a boy). After a few years, I internalized so much loathing that I’d stand in front of the mirror, yell at myself, and punch myself in the face; I didn’t even require a bully to be present to get beat up.

And the beatings happened for one reason, and one reason only – because I was unable to decide for myself what was valuable about me as a male. Instead, the people who think it’s important to teach gender roles got to decide – they created a social context in which the punishment of gender role deviants was not only acceptable but encouraged.

Boys will be boys.

Girls will be girls.

And those who don’t fit into the binary will be taught/punished.

Fuck that.

So, to answer Eve’s question, I’m laissez fair when it comes to children’s gender roles. What’s important is providing every child with the individual liberty to act like themselves. If that self fits in with Eve’s conception of proper “gender roles,” fine – but if not, that should be fine too.

The belief that there is a correct “gender role” which must be taught inevitably leads to child abuse, in my opinion.

What always strikes me about the “children must be taught proper gender roles” folks is their lack of faith in the innateness of gender. If masculinity and femininity are really inborn traits, as these folks claim, then why worry about teaching gender roles at all?

* * *

Senator John Cornyn argues that the Supreme Court shouldn’t force SSM onto unwilling states. I agree, if only because I think the backlash from such a Supreme Court decision would fuel the anti-gay-rights movement. For years, the anti-gays have lost every argument and cultural debate on this question; despite their best efforts, lesbians and gays are far more accepted now than they were twenty years ago, and overt homophobia has become almost forbidden. All the trend lines indicate that the folks who favor equal rights are the ones with the wind in our sails, while the folks who oppose equality have been losing their wind for a generation.

I think that without a Supreme Court decision to rail against, the anti-equality movement will die out sooner and more completely.

The Senator also writes:

Another phony argument is the issue of religious freedom. Religious organizations overwhelmingly reported to the subcommittee their support for traditional marriage, and for any legal action necessary to protect traditional marriage. And of course, the Defense of Marriage Act does nothing whatsoever to violate religious freedom. That law focuses entirely on how government shall treat marriage, and not how churches shall treat marriage. Whatever government decides to do about marriage, churches can always make their own decisions, and vice versa. Nobody in Congress is talking about eliminating the right of churches to conduct marriage ceremonies and impose marriage rules of whatever kind they choose.

Of course, nobody in the pro-SSM movement is talking about imposing on churches’ rights, either.

However, what the Senator is talking about is picking and choosing which religions’ marriage ceremonies will be recognized by the state. If the Senator has his way, all of the Catholic Church’s marriage ceremonies will be granted state recognition, but only some Reform Jewish marriages will be given the same recognition. In practice, the state will be saying that Roman Catholic beliefs are superior to and deserve more respect and support than Reform Jewish beliefs.

Probably that doesn’t make the Senator – who I’m willing to bet is not Jewish – nervous, but it does bug me.

* * *

Some of the anti-SSM marriage folks are now turning to the argument that (in Eve’s words) “marriage is how we reconcile the opposite sexes.” I’m very sorry to hear that Eve, who is (I think) unmarried, has no close male friends nor any good relationships with any male relatives, and exists in a state of permanent war with all men. I assure her, however, that this is not the case for all humanity.

To make this argument work, the SSM (same sex marriage) opponents are regressing more and more to pure sexism; their view of the sexes seems to have frozen somewhere around 1952. To see what I mean, read this piece by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

If compatibility is the mainstay of a relationship, then homosexuality makes much more sense. After all, two men have a lot more in common than a man and a woman. How many women enjoy watching hours of football, or seeing Mike Tyson tear out an opponent’s spinal cord? And is there a husband who really enjoys spending the day at the mall trying on outfits with his wife?

Why do men and women want to drop their same-sex friends, with whom they have so much in common to spend the rest of their lives with the opposite sex? Why does a man give up his male drinking buddies, hide his inner Neanderthal to go home to his wife? Why would a woman leave the chatty, sympathetic company of her female friends and share her life with a monosyllabic brute?

Is it really necessary to explain why this is nonsense?

When I want to find friends in a strange town, I’m far better off dropping by the local science-fiction club – which is likely to be half female (despite the stereotype, fandom isn’t male-only) – than I am trying to join the local all-male club. For that matter, I’m far better off looking for the local chapter of NOW, which might be 100% female.

The point is, if I search for friends based on my interior life – my enjoyment of science fiction, or my commitment to feminism – I’m far more likely to find people I share things in common with. According to the rabbi, I should just look for an all-male group and I’ll automatically be among my peers – but in reality, men aren’t all the same, and we don’t all have the same interests.

Not all men enjoy watching football and Mike Tyson. Not all women want to spend all day trying on outfits in the mall (and not all men find trying on outfits a bad time).

The Rabbi believes that “two men have a lot more in common than a man and a woman.” Well, which two men and which woman? I suspect I have a lot more in common with Eve Tushnet than I do with (say) Ghengas Khan or Mr. Spock. I know I have a lot more in common with Sarah, my housemate of 14 years, than I do with most men I meet. (I think I may even have a little more in common with her than I do with Charles, Sarah’s husband).

The basic point is, do you think that men and women are individuals, with individual traits (some of which are gender-typed, some of which are not), or robots whose every trait and interest are determined by their genitals?

Apparently, SSM opponents think the latter. How odd.

(In case anyone’s interested, by the way, the Rabbi’s overall argument is that attraction is the key to romance, and that common interests are therefore unimportant. His entire argument thus rests on the unlikely assumption that attraction and common interests are mutually exclusive, so if the one is important the other is not.)

* * *

In the end, this debate really comes down to equal treatment under the law. Which is why SSM opponants say it’s about the children; no, it’s about society; no, it’s about preserving heterosexual monogamy; no, it’s about reconciling women and men; etc etc etc, blah blah blah.

The SSM debate is about equal rights under the law. And SSM opponants are determined to avoid that real debate, because they don’t have any decent arguments in support of lesbians and gays having unequal treatment. That is, in my view, the bottom line.

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54 Responses to Scattered thoughts on the same-sex marriage debate

  1. 1
    emjaybee says:

    Thanks for the enlightened commentary, Amp. You sound so much like my husband, who has no interest in sports and is actually much more of a clothes horse than me. Neither one of us can stand the whole “battle of the sexes” mentality evident in sitcoms like Everybody Loves (*&*%@ Raymond. If we screamed at each other like that, we would need marriage counseling, not a laugh track.

    I would blame John Gray and his stupid Mars/Venus books, but he’s only a recent footsoldier in sexism’s army.

    Thanks for being the voice in the wilderness…

  2. 2
    karpad says:

    just some random mutterings, as cold medication have made me a touch incoherant, but I do have some thoughts on the matters addressed. (hopefully, you can peice together what I mean)

    I am and perhaps always will be entirely baffled by people opposed to same sex rights who think that they have first amendment protections regardless. the ONLY grounds one can oppose them on is religious (and indeed, I have much more respect for individuals that admit their position is wholly religious than to invent excuses based on “gender roles”). unfortunately for them, the religious world view of members of the gay community obviously allows for ideas such as love as the basis for marriage. legal prohibitions on a marriage within that particular faith (call it “the church of the civil union of love and peace,” perhaps) is about as flagrant a first amendment violation as you can get. legal prohibitions of SSM is, precisely, congress establishing a law forbidding the free exercise of religion. in other words, if SSM can be constitutionally illegal, so can church attendance or baptisms.

  3. 3
    wanderer says:

    Repeat after me: We are not talking about “marriage”. The general idea of “marriage” is that it is a religious institution.
    We have to keep in mind there are two components to what we call “marriage” — the civil component and the religious component.
    Vermont’s “civil unions” address the civil component, but place no restrictions or requirements on the religious component. When a civil union license is issued, there is no requirement that any church “marry” the participants.
    If people rail against same sex marriage on religious grounds, fine. If they rail against Vermont-style civil unions, calling them “same sex marriage”, they are ignorant or deliberately mis-characterizing the argument, and must be corrected.

  4. 4
    Simon says:

    Good post.

    I’m reminded of a comment Teresa Nielsen Hayden once made, to the effect that the supposedly God-given standards of girlhood that were imposed in her LDS community were ones that she was completely unable to fit into, and that her alienation from her religion started when she began to think darkly about a God that had both created her and required such impossible behavior of her. (That comment really stuck with me, so I hope I’m forgiven for stealing your thunder, Teresa, if you’re reading this.)

    Rabbi Boteach gets even weirder after the quote given here. His answer to his own question is, it’s sexual attraction that brings the sexes together. Which only leads to the mentality that pumps up the divorce rate when initial attraction fades, since in these folks’ minds that’s all that marriage is for.

    I’m glad I’m not Rabbi Boteach’s wife. It’s compatibility that keeps marriages alive in the long run. He claims that attitude reduces the status of one’s mate to that of one’s buddy.

    So? Even the most compatible marriage is a lot more than buddyhood. For one thing, it’s a life-long roommate situation, and that’s a lot more than buddyhood, as many pairs of male buddies, or female buddies, have sadly discovered when they’ve decided to room together. (I refer Rabbi Boteach to the famous fictional case of Felix and Oscar, and it happens in real life too.)

    And it’s also the sex, and it’s also the romantic intimacy above & beyond sex, which is all tied in with compatibility and is much more than simple buddiness, or it least it is if one has a greater personal sensitivity than Rabbi Boteach.

  5. 5
    Simon says:

    And these data:

    I am terminally bored by sports, or cars.

    My wife hates to shop. She reads comic books: I don’t.

    She also hates to cook. I do the cooking. She inherited this attitude from her mother. (Her father cooks.) However, her mother loves to shop. Her mother also loves to go on vacations (another claimed feminine characteristic): my wife hates to travel.

    I like going on business trips. I hate what most people consider vacations. (I get phone calls from marketers wanting to give me vacations in Vegas, or Florida. For god’s sake, why? I’ve been to both those places – on business trips. If I never go back, it’ll be too soon. Please, boss, send me back to Boston or Seattle instead: somewhere interesting.)

    That last point has nothing to do with sexual differentiation, but it makes a related point: people like different things, and their preferences aren’t always predictable, or explainable by cod psychology.

  6. 6
    Raznor says:

    When social conservatives start talking about the need to teach gender roles, I reach for my gun. People who believe in the importance of teaching “gender roles” create a social context in which unathletic and non-masculine boys are given beatings by their peers.

    It’s also a social context in which men reach for their gun when threatened. Even kindly, bearded, feminist men.

    Sorry, I know it’s just an expression. I found it humorous anyway.

  7. 7
    karpad says:

    precisely, wanderer. marriage is a social institution. it historically is a religious social institution sanctioned by the government (it’s only within the last few hundred years when the government actually had anything specific do do with marriage outside the noble classes)
    I take less issue with people who object on religious grounds simply because they’re being honest with themselves. rather than trying to justify it with poorly structured studies, they admit their reaction is based only on their interpretation of their religious doctrines.
    that doesn’t make them any closer to correct.
    the church of the civil union of love and peace is simply a bold illustration of the unconstitutionality of anti-gay marriage laws.
    of course, the actual ideas behind “marriage” as we generally understand it is thuroughly outdated anyway. at it’s core, it is a statement of male ownership of a woman for various purposes to do with as he pleases. since that is obviously not the case any longer (divorce makes it’s use as a contractual obligation between families useless, and martial rape and spouse abuse laws remove the ownership qualities) essentially marriage is a reduced to little more than a public statement of love and respect. the other remaining functions (tax restructuring for the couple, a commitment to respectability and future child rearing) are all optional and play a distant second to the main point: an expression of love.

    personally, I’d advocate a removal of a government sanctioning of marriage at all, rather than creating one for SSM. the idea of filling out paperwork just to make a specific kind of declaration of love rubs me the wrong way.

    but again, that’s just my personal rant. scrap the bad idea altogether rather than retrofitting it into being fair, just and equitable.

  8. 8
    Avram says:

    Something I noticed a few years ago: Sports are supposedly a male interest, but most of the baseball fans I know are women. Has anyone else noticed this, or do I just have unusual friends?

  9. 9
    John Snead says:

    Gods, the anti-SSM arguments are even more deeply pathetic and regressive that I expected. It’s quite pleasing to see that the opponents of this issue are either exceedingly vile or utterly moronic. I’m most amused by the first one: Should children learn gender roles?

    My answer is both simple and definitive: NO. The very idea lies at the heart of sexism and is utter foolishness that gets people harrassed, beaten, and occasionally killed. I would be deeply surprised and impressed if anyone could come up with a single argument that I would agree with as to why teaching children gender roles as anything other than a dire and awful mistake.

  10. 10
    Raznor says:

    Define fan, Avram. Are we talking casual fan or hardcore fan. Because most hardcore fans I know are men (with several exceptions, such as my mother) but among casual fans, it seems to be split more or less evenly between women and men. At least as far as I’ve seen.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    John: It’s quite pleasing to see that the opponents of this issue are either exceedingly vile or utterly moronic.

    John, with all due respect, Eve Tushnet – who is on my blogroll – is neither vile nor stupid. On the contrary, she’s a decent human being trying to reconcile that decency with what are (in my opinion) the indecent beliefs required by her religion. But that I disagree with her on this issue doesn’t negate her obvious intelligence and kindness.

    Raznor, yeah, good point. I remember I first wrote “I reach for my bunker” – indicating that my real reflex is to run and hide – but I was worried that no one would get it so I changed it to the more cliched version.

  12. 12
    John S. says:

    Mostly I was referring to the other two links, since I couldn’t get that one to work and so was only commenting on the portion of her post that appeared in your blog.

    I did however read more in the other links and was even more amused. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote: And therein lies the reason for society’s incredible interest in homosexuality. Attraction, once so strong between men and women, has greatly waned. In a world where natural attraction between men and women is weak, compatibility has risen to fill the vacuum.

    Once one gets past the obvious ludicrousness that I might in some way be more compatible with some knuckle-walking jock than with many women, simply because we are both physically male, I actually think the nutty Rabbi actually has a point. I think that various changes in society, especially those that now allow men and women to spend far more time together outside of romantic and dating contexts have changed society in significant ways, the difference is that I applaud these changes and look seeing such trends continue. The idea that someone might be willing to have a romantic partner who is not deeply compatible is bth baffling and disturbing to me.

    I’m also interested in one of your comments about gender roles: I think about the years in which I didn’t go a single day without fearing that someone would beat me up, and rarely went an entire week without being physically brutalized by someone (usually, but not always, a boy). After a few years, I internalized so much loathing that I’d stand in front of the mirror, yell at myself, and punch myself in the face; I didn’t even require a bully to be present to get beat up.

    I have great difficulty understanding this sort of reaction. Gods only know that I was picked on a truly vast and terrible amount, but I was always completely confident that the reason was that the people picking me were stupid sub-human troglodytes fit only for mindless menial jobs. The concept that they could in any way be correct never even occured to me. Likely the fact that I have always had a healthy contempt for most of humanity and am an unashamed elitist helped. I do wonder though why we had such different reactions to experiences that seemed frighteningly similar.

    Also, did you ever get attacked by girls? IME, in public school male gender roles were always enforced by the boys (often brutally) while female social roles were always enforced by girls (often equally brutally, although the brutality usually occured in a somewhat different manner).

  13. 13
    carla says:

    I think gender roles are enforced by the opposite sex, too–and I’d argue (perhaps because I’m female) that males are harsher enforcers on females than vice versa. If I had the time/energy, I’d perhaps speculate that it has to do with the source of the power: boys get their power from being jocks, from doing stuff; girls get their power from hanging out with th;e jocks and wearing stuff. (A school where the female athletes ruled would be an exception–but at my high school, lo those many years ago, female athletes were regarded as somewhat suspect–not entirely feminine.)

    But the whole subject makes me crazy. I realized long ago that there isn’t anything I’d teach a son that I wouldn’t also teach a daughter, and vice versa.

  14. 14
    John Isbell says:

    “Do those questions matter, and if so, how much?”
    No. Duh. This whole debate is so f***ing neanderthal. Move to Europe, everyone!
    And I personally love the NFL and the NBA. Bring on same-sex marriage and enter the 21st Century.
    After this, let’s have a debate on slavery: good or bad?

  15. 15
    Kell says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of research into the “marriage” movement lately. It’s a classic case of “riders” getting tagged onto the issues. Legitimate concerns exist for monogamous heterosexual people who can’t find each other because of the mish mosh about what marriage is or isn’t. Some folks are doing that deeply spiritual, life-long commitment deal, but they’re running into temporary spouses who have put a wink-wink, nudge-nudge on to those “commitments”.

    And, people (male or female) who do want to be married simply have a hell of a time finding each other. Changes in courtship patterns (aka. requirements) have resulted in more freedom for people who aren’t straight or monogamous, but for those of us who are, it’s pretty tricky right now. So, the challenge is to find ways for people with similar goals, and who are sexually compatible (especially in terms of spiritual and social commitment levels) to find each other, without simultaneously intruding on the rights of non-straight or non-monogamous people. Unfortunately, much (not all) of the marriage movement is looking to restore the old oppressive systems instead of creating newer, more just patterns of courtship, at least in part because returning to the old weirdness seems easier. It’s very tricky. Please send any suggestions to BR-549@whatthe.com

    And, there’s a lot of concern about kids who are coming up in households that are far from financially solvent (for whatever reasons). I think fighting the marriage penality, for instance, makes sense, because it’s the financial burdens, not necessarily personal choices, that keep many low- or ultra-low income parents from living and raising their kids together. But, actually, this issue is an argument for same-sex marriage, since gay folk raise kids, too.

    But, man, when people start to tack their religious belief onto civil marriage, the mud swirls. Not only does the discussion of stable relationships and households and kids and how taxes work get subverted into another argument about whether homosexuality should exist, all those creepy assumptions about gender roles come in as well. (I may be female and straight, but I’m not obedient, and yes, thanks, I do expect to have equal access to the joint checking account.)

  16. 16
    cc says:

    Re Eve and her married state: she’s written on her blog about being a chaste bi-sexual.

  17. 17
    John Snead says:

    And, people (male or female) who do want to be married simply have a hell of a time finding each other. Changes in courtship patterns (aka. requirements) have resulted in more freedom for people who aren’t straight or monogamous, but for those of us who are, it’s pretty tricky right now.

    Compared to when? The three primary changes in marriage that I’ve seen are the near total elimination of arranged marriages, the availability of birth control and abortion, and the ease of divorce. None of these has anything to do with helping compatible people find one another. Instead, we now have far fewer cases where people who either loathe either other or simply are not happy together are married to one another and somewhat fewer cases where people feel compelled to stay together because of the presence of children. I’m far from certain that it’s any more difficult now for people who would actually be happy together to find each other. Given the wide range of variation in personalities and tastes, I can’t imagine that this was ever easy.

    So, the challenge is to find ways for people with similar goals, and who are sexually compatible (especially in terms of spiritual and social commitment levels) to find each other, without simultaneously intruding on the rights of non-straight or non-monogamous people.

    I honestly don’t see how they could. Except for foolish attempts to make everyone fit the same model, I don’t see how or why there need be any conflict or any way in which one group intrudes on the rights of another. Am I missing something?

  18. 18
    Aaron says:

    Conservatives harp on the necessity of having “proper gender roles being taught,” yet conveniently forget that most people aren’t exactly perfect men or women.

    I suppose they’d prefer to a same-sex couple an opposite-sex couple of a drunken, battering man and an untreated bipolar religious fanatic woman? Or perhaps that most responsible of couples, the meth-head couple?

    No, what you want is responsible people raising children, whether same-sex or opposite-sex. Role models come from all sources, and good parents tend to teach lessons that apply well across sex lines – share, don’t hit, wait your turn in lines, try your best, work hard, etc.

    Coaches, teachers, and older peers tend to be better at teaching or introducing the cultural skills and interests (sports, art, music, fashion, reading, etc.) people associate with “masculinity” and “femininity.”

  19. 19
    Kell says:

    To CC (and y’all):

    If anyone’s interested in het marriage trends, check Barbara Dafoe Whiteheads “Why There Ane No Good Men Left”. (Breathe. Some marketing yahoo wrote the title. One of her primary points is that the man shortage is an illusion.) The book’s pretty good sociology, albeit more than a bit East Coast/Ivy League-centric. The biggest change has been in the delaying of het marriage, until later and later in life. Also see the Rutger University Marriage Project (http://marriage.rutgers.edu/).

    Part of what’s going on now that creates so many problems are the tacit assumptions that everybody has sex after the third date, and “We can always get divorced.” (aka. serial monogamy, which is a form of polygamy.) Monogamous people (those looking for life-long, one-time marriages), need to start looking out for ourselves, because if the world ever did default to us, it certainly doesn’t now. And, we have no other support system in place. (At least gay American has dances and coffeehouses, etc. The only cultural/social tools for monogamous straight people right now are centered around fundamentalist Christianity. No thanks. But where’a a straight/mono-but-tolerant person to go?)

    Some things this might mean are not engaging in sex until marriage (or, perhaps, engagement) — this would help discourage those people for whom monogamy and commitment aren’t that important (i.e. who believe lying is OK) from preying on us. (And, no, it’s not just a female problem.)

    And, pre-marriage conferences (i.e. Pre-Cana-like sessions) should certainly be more the rule than the exception.

    It would help a lot if “Is s/he monogamous?” became as common a pre-date question as “Is s/he available?” or “Is s/he straight/gay/etc.”

    And, it would also help if all those folks who preach about how monogamy is an illusion/impossible/anti-nature, etc. would stop trying to tell everyone else how to live.

    And, personally, I’m looking for other people who are straight and monogamous, but not (necessarily) Christian. The stereotype says I don’t exist, but here I am. (So far, the largest group of kindred souls I’ve found has been with the Unitarian-Universalists.)

    Yes, these are interesting times.

  20. 20
    Jake Squid says:

    I agree with John Snead. I don’t see how changes in courtship patterns that have made it easier for same-sex couples to find each other have made it more difficult for opp-sex couples to find each other.

    Do you have any examples Kell? I can’t even imagine any at this point (unless you take it to the extreme of being culturally unacceptable to be heterosexual). Right now I’d have to say that that is a ridiculous assertion. But, hey, maybe I’ve just got a block. I’m open, give me one way in which changes in courtship patterns have increased the ability of same-sex partners to find each other while at the same time limiting the abilities of heterosexual partners to find each other.

  21. 21
    Kell says:

    From what I’ve read, the decline/delaying of het marriage doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality, except perhaps *very* indirectly.

    The biggest factors (I think. I’m still in the middle of one of the books.) have been women attending college in greater numbers and pursuing careers with greater dedication. (Yes, a good thing. But how do we get people together if college no longer works?) And, there’s the marriage tax penalty. And, premarital sex is *expected* of the majority, so that monogamous people have no way to find or identify each other (and surviving the failed relationships en route is much harder.)

    I’m not in love with the Institute for American (?) Values, but their “Hooking Up, Hanging Out and Looking for Mr. Right” sums up a lot of young women’s experiences (and even some of us older women’s, too) pretty well. (http://www.americanvalues.org/html/r-hooking_up.html) Also see, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/gergen/february97/divorce_2-24.html about “The Divorce Culture”

  22. 22
    Jake Squid says:

    Kell,

    I’m not sure that I follow you. You write “women attending college in greater numbers” and “how do we get people together if college no longer works?” and I don’t get it. If more women are attending college, why does that make it harder for a het couple to get together?

    You also wrote: “premarital sex is *expected* of the majority, so that monogamous people have no way to find or identify each other”

    I don’t get this either. I’m a monogamous het & this hasn’t been an issue for me (anecdotal, I know) and has never been mentioned to me as an issue before this. It’s not like premarital sex was significantly less prevalent in the 60s or 50s or 40s (check out what went on during WWII). So I don’t understand the difficulty.

    And, FTR, I’m straight, monogamous & not Christian. I had no difficulty finding another straight, monogamous non-Christian after my first marriage ended (more anecdotal, but there you have it).

    In your post of 9/23 at 7:35AM: “Changes in courtship patterns (aka. requirements) have resulted in more freedom for people who aren’t straight or monogamous, but for those of us who are, it’s pretty tricky right now.”

    Yet in your post of 9/23 at 1:29PM: “the decline/delaying of het marriage doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality”

    Which is it?

    I’m just not seeing the connections that you are trying to make. Maybe it’s my inexperience w/ dating, but none of my friends ever reported any of this as a problem & I’ve never seen these claims before.

  23. 23
    John S. says:

    I looked at the press release for Hooking Up, Hanging Out and Hoping for Mr. Right: and was deeply unimpressed. Comments like:

    A number of women in the study complained that coed dorms seem to take the mystery out of male-female interactions and contribute to the male passivity that some women noted. A freshman at Colby College said, “[If the dorms were single sex], the guys would be forced to . . . go out and find girls that they like . . . and to see them and say `Well, I don’t really know her, but I’ll just call her up and like pursue this . . . because I’m a guy and that’s my job.’ ”

    Indicate that this is yet another book harping on endlesly about the glories of the pre-feminist “good old days” of the 190s which in realiy were filled with vast amounts of misery because divorce was extremely difficult and women had few other options than becoming housewives. From everything that I’ve read, absolutely none of the modern changes have made marriage more difficult for het monogamous people. Divorce is (thankfully) far easier and forced or effectively forced marriage because of pregnancy is rarer, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that it is any more difficult for monoganous het people to find people they wish to spend their lives with. It’s certainly less easy to find someone who can end up being miserably trapped into spending their life with you, but that’s hardly the same thing.

    If anything, I would imagine that it’s easier for men and women to find suitable partners now, given that after college, people now work in workplaces that are also mostly co-ed and so the opportunity of meeting someone with whom one shares common interests or at least common experiences is far higher. The fact is that gay, straight, or bi poly or mono, meeting someone who will be a any form of long-term partner is far from easy because it is an inherently difficult process. Later marriage at least means that many people are a bit more likely to know what sort of person they are looking for.

  24. 24
    Kell says:

    OK, I’m going to try to take these in order:

    “If more women are attending college, why does that make it harder for a het couple to get together.” [I'm going to be talking about specifically, het & monogamous couples.]

    There are a bunch of things going on, apprently:

    *Women are postponing marriage on purpose (i.e. the subject never comes up) because they busy with extended collegiate work and careers.

    *Monogamous people have, in these times of no communication, been “wasting time” in relationships that they think will be permanent, but which turn out to be temporary. In other words, living together for a number of years. One half of the couple assumes it will result in marriage; the other decides to split after three or four years. That’s three or four years when the monogamous person could have been actively looking for their spouse. (This is how premarital sex can get in the way — not only as a major heart breaker, but also a time waster. Avoiding premarital sex is one way to screen out the dead wood.)

    * “Homosexuality” comes in as a factor only because being straight_and_monogamous is no longer the default orientation. (The social acceptance of various forms of non-monogamy is a factor for the same reasons.) This means that het_&_monogamous people now have to use the same tools for finding each other that Gay people, or swingers, or other previously marginalized groups used to (and to some extent, continue to) use to find each other. Perhaps we do need our own clubs, dances, secret handshakes, resorts. We need to be very obvious about our identity and goals. I’m not saying it’s necessarily unfair, but that we do need to do something, out loud and on purpose. Again, it’s about efficiency.

    * Being in more co-ed environments doesn’t help enough to offset the screening work that used to be done by parents, friends, etc. If I meet a man, he could be married, gay, polygamous, or unsuitable for a variety of other reasons (i.e. maybe he’s a jerk). Despite the seemingly larger pool, screening out the unsuitable men from the dating process takes forever (and then some, if one also happens to run into a liar or game player). This is worse now than, say, in the 1940s because the monogamous people are on the defensive. In 1940, breach of promise was a big deal. Now, the monogamous victim (a victim in terms both of heartbreak and dating time stolen) of a polygamous liar is more likely to be considered naive, and be given the “monogamy is impossible” speech. (Dafoe Whitehead writes at length about “relationship fatigue”, for instance.)

  25. 25
    John Snead says:

    This is worse now than, say, in the 1940s because the monogamous people are on the defensive. In 1940, breach of promise was a big deal. Now, the monogamous victim (a victim in terms both of heartbreak and dating time stolen) of a polygamous liar is more likely to be considered naive, and be given the “monogamy is impossible” speech.

    I see no evidence that this is true. Marital infidelity rates have been fairly constant and that seems to be a far better measure of how willing people were to break promises, especially since back then far fewer people were willing to accept open marriages. It also seems far from difficult to simply ask someone fairly early one about their views on relationships. Some people lie, but sleazy people have always lied about their intentions.

    I also don’t see that het and monogamous was any more the actual default back than then now. Vast number of people in (say) the 1940s cheated on their spouses, and while few people talked about (or in some cases knew) they were gay or lesbian, many of them either ended up in unhappy marriages or later in life realized they were such and left their partner – is that really an improvement over now? The Kinsey reports of the 50s do not paint a particulary glowing picture of fidelity or marital bliss.

    Also, the fact is that currently more than 80% of people in the First World are both straight and monogamous (or at least non-polyamorous). Many of these people are deeply sleazy, far too immature (regardless of their age) to maintain any serious relationship, or simply unpleasant, but I doubt that those factors have changed much in the last century (or even in the last millennia). Is there any non-anecdotal evidence that it’s more difficult to find a positive long-term relationship now than 50 or 60 years ago?

  26. 26
    Kell says:

    It doesn’t matter whether “then” or “now” was better; what’s important is that now is different, but many, perhaps most het_&_monogamous people have not changed to keep up. By “default”, I mean that identity which was assumed to apply to most people. Now, there is no default, and we need to clearly identify ourselves in ways that we did not need to do before. We need to start talking about ourselves as real, valuable, something other than anachronisms or impossibilities or jokes.

    Monogamous people are very, very different from polygamous people. Monogamy, even for those of us who our involuntarily alone, is deeply part of our being. We would be monogamous in any culture, any time, any place, just as we would be all the other intrinsic things that are us. Our sexuality is different. We suffer and yearn in ways that polygamous people (even when they are kind) cannot begin to understand. Our time scale is different; our relationships develop over years, not weeks. We handle goals and adversity differently. We have, simply, different values. If human sexuality is a gift, then monogamy is a gift, not some social construct or punishment. Those people you are calling “straight and monogamous”, but too “inmature” or “sleazy” to maintain a serious relationship *are not monoagmous people*. If, when left to “follow their bliss”, that bliss is found in many, noncommittal relationships, then they by definition are *not* monogamous.

    The non-anecdotal evidence is at the links I’ve already listed — the Rutgers marriage project is as far as I know the most well-respected and least political.

  27. 27
    Tishie says:

    I’m in a hurry, so I haven’t read the other comments, and actually didn’t get to finish the post.

    I was just discussing this with Bean the other night. Coasters (those on the coasts) think things are improving and being affected. The thing is, it doesn’t filter inland.

    Gays and lesbians are 100% NOT accepted where I live, and saying that you do support their rights is enough to get people to yell at you and not let their kids play with yours. And I don’t mean a few people, I mean almost everyone.

    Anyway, I’ve been feeling quite hopeless lately due to this. Sexism is okay here. Racism is okay here. It’s all okay, and someone like me speaking out is at best, tolerated, but usually is met with total disgust, at least.

    There just isn’t any progress in the “heartland.” Not that I can see. People like it this way and they don’t see anything wrong with it at all. In fact, they see it as godly and RIGHT, and people like you and I are trying to demonize this whole wonderful country of ours. I live in an area (as do many others) where people are horrendously offended if you say that the Patriot Act is a bad idea. Supporting Bush is the American Thing to Do, and to be unamerican is to be one of those pinko commies, which might as well be Satanism as far as they are concerned.

    I spend most of my time at college with college people. These are the attitudes I get from THEM. My neighbors and random people at the grocery store are even worse.

    I just think that we get into our groups and boards and blogs and friendship circles and books and you name it that reinforce what we believe and we tend to think that there are just a few wackos who disagree. But the fact is, this country is going more and more to the right and just a pinch of us inland have a problem with that. There is a huge backlash and I’m really starting to lose hope over here.

    Send reinforcements to Idaho, please.

  28. 28
    Kell says:

    Responding to Tishie: I wish I could say things were better on the Left Coast (and maybe they are compared to the Midlands), but gee whiz have we got a backlash here, too. I’m holding out hope at this point that a lot of what’s going on is that the intolerant folk are just louder and more presumptuous, but not the majority. I had a fight recently over someone engaging in the standard-issue French bashing (Je suis fier d’être français, damnit!)

    And, work’s been weird as heck for the past two years. It’s as if the more conservative someone is, the more they feel they have the right to make smart ass remarks (and to explode if they get called on it.)

    Things to be hopeful about: that Michael Moore’s and Al Franken’s books both hit #1 on you-name-it’s top ten lists, and pretty fast, too.

  29. 29
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    I think this conversation might be a lot easier if some words are defined so that everyone can use them the same way in the course of the discussion:

    monogamythe practice of having one parter during a given period of time.

    polygamythe practice of having more than one spouse at the same time.

    permanent monogamythe practice of having only one partner in a lifetime.

    It seems that Kell is talking about permanent monogamy, while John S. is talking about monogamy.

    Having said that, I don’t think that finding a permanent monogamous relationship is any harder now than it ever has been. The incidence of what appears to be permanent monogamy has decreased, but mostly that’s because people are more able and willing to divorce now than they have been in the past.

    Permanent monogamy, though, has never been the norm or standard. It’s pretty much always been accepted that one partner in a marriage (usually the male) would end up being unfaithful at some point in the relationship, while permanent monogamy was simply the ideal (although monogamy was encouraged always).

    Which is not to say, before I’m accused of it, that permanent monogamy is an impossibility. I know a small number of couples who have been together and have never cheated on their spouses and have never been with anyone else.

  30. 30
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    Oh, and–

    I know exactly what Tishie’s talking about. Send reinforcements to Colorado too, please.

  31. 31
    John S. says:

    I just think that we get into our groups and boards and blogs and friendship circles and books and you name it that reinforce what we believe and we tend to think that there are just a few wackos who disagree. But the fact is, this country is going more and more to the right and just a pinch of us inland have a problem with that. There is a huge backlash and I’m really starting to lose hope over here.

    There is a lot of backlash over the entire country, but it’s also true that life for women and gays is significantly better now than it was 15 or 20 years ago, at least on the coasts. What is mostly see going on is a moderate level nation-wide backlash combined with the longer-term continuing separation and polarization of the different portions of the US. As long as people are free to move, I have far less trouble with this second trend since I’d far rather have moderately liberal coasts and a scarily conservative South and Midwest than uniform mid-level conservatism. The again, I think that it will be a long time before any of this nation is anything I would consider truly liberal, which is the primary reason I wish to leave and move someplace that is actually civilized.

  32. 32
    Darcy says:

    And South Carolina.

  33. 33
    John Snead says:

    It doesn’t matter whether “then” or “now” was better; what’s important is that now is different, but many, perhaps most het_&_monogamous people have not changed to keep up. By “default”, I mean that identity which was assumed to apply to most people. Now, there is no default, and we need to clearly identify ourselves in ways that we did not need to do before. We need to start talking about ourselves as real, valuable, something other than anachronisms or impossibilities or jokes.

    Monogamous people are very, very different from polygamous people. Monogamy, even for those of us who our involuntarily alone, is deeply part of our being.

    Going by your definitions, monogamy is not only relatively rare now, it has been fairly rare in every culture on this planet in every historical era that I’ve seen data for. In our own culture, it has been claimed to be the norm to various degrees for the past 200 years, but in practice it hasn’t been.

    It seems to me that the fact that it was more often assumed to be the default condition 50 or 60 years ago made it more difficult back then. Given that most people simply aren’t, isn’t it far easier and less painful to date someone for a few weeks until they openly tell you that they aren’t monogamous instead of marrying someone who claims fervently to be monogamous and then has three secret affairs before you discover that they are not in fact monogamous and instead lied to you?

    You are a member of a fairly minority that has always been a fairly small minority. The only difference from the past is that now, somewhat fewer people do not lie and claim to be monogamous when they are not. As I see it, the fact that almost everyone used to claim to be monogamous was far more of a problem than some people now admitting than they are not. Honestly, things seem at least somewhat better for people like you today since people can more openly discuss this topic. Am I misunderstanding something?

  34. 34
    Aaron says:

    I still don’t understand Kell’s feeling that she is in a minority when she talks about monogamous heterosexuals being “rare” or “not the default”. While homosexuality/bisexuality is more open than previously, we’re still up into the 80s.

    If Kell is talking about expectations of fidelity in marriage, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago’s 1994 study found that only 21 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women it interviewed admitted to ever having an extramarital affair (2 percent of women and 5 percent of men within the year of the study), and that 90 percent of the men and 94 percent of the women believe sex outside of marriage is wrong.

    If we’re talking about disapproval of premarital sex, that covers a lot of ground…..I don’t like the singles-bar culture, but find absolutely nothing wrong with an unmarried couple who’s been together for a significant period of time to have sex. (“Significant period of time” can mean many things, but only the prudish would consider sex between long-term cohabiting partners repugnant.)

    And, oh yes, I want to go back to the days of dating shown in the 1950s shorts shown on MST3K. Gee, that’d be swell!

  35. 35
    Aaron says:

    Clarification: the 90/94 percent figure refers to adultery (sex by a married person to someone not their spouse), *not* sex between two unmarried people.

  36. 36
    Aaron says:

    Tishie: I think we both have distorted views of what’s going on – in inner east side Portland, the easiest way to prove you’re a moron is to spout some homophobic remarks. (Racist remarks put you past the moron category into skinhead territory. Or you’re someone’s mossbacked dad who embarasses the kids with his foul mouth. :)

    As the late, lamented Almost Live said in one of their sketches, if there was another Civil War, Idaho would join the South. :)

  37. 37
    Aaron says:

    I’m coming from the opposite side of the jock vs. artist divide – and have to say that nobody bothered me for sitting out art class and doing very little in music class throughout elementary school.

    I was the victim of *some* bullying, but not to the degree you describe, Amp, and certainly not to the degree of any of the (now-grown) kids from Jon Katz’s and Slashdot’s Voices from the Hellmouth threads.

    I don’t think I bullied others in school, and if I have, I apologize – whatever I did was probably a sin of omission, not commission. (I might have thought it odd that you wouldn’t want to play football at recess, especially if you were one of the larger boys, but wouldn’t think much more about it.)

    Now as an adult, I get irritated at testosterone-soaked sports radio (like 910 The Fan), particularly the tendency of its broadcasters to scream into the mike. Dude, you’re not at a noisy bar – you don’t have to scream! Explain to me why you think the coach’s strategy stinks/GM made a bad decision/player doesn’t fit in the system, and I might agree with you. You’re not going to convince me screaming over the radio (and even less so in person – don’t think with your dick).

  38. 38
    John Snead says:

    I still don’t understand Kell’s feeling that she is in a minority when she talks about monogamous heterosexuals being “rare” or “not the default”. While homosexuality/bisexuality is more open than previously, we’re still up into the 80s.

    I’ve got to admit, her attitude puzzles me too.

    If Kell is talking about expectations of fidelity in marriage, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago’s 1994 study found that only 21 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women it interviewed admitted to ever having an extramarital affair

    Really? I’ve heard figures that were over 50% from several sources (which I sadly don’t remember, one may be Kinsey). Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to get accurate data on this topic. However, I had heard that reported figures from people who have recently ended a relationship are signficantly higher than those from people still in one – data which could obviously have multiple meanings. I’ve heard figures ranging from the ones you are quoting to more than 2/3s. The first seems to low, the 2nd perhaps too high…

  39. 39
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    I suspect that infidelity rates are heavily weighted one way or the other depending on how the questions are phrased, in much the same way that rape rates are weighted by the questions used to determine them.

    For instance, the question “have you ever cheated on your spouse” will get fewer respondants than “have you ever had an affair” which will get fewer respondants than “have you ever had consensual sex with someone who was not your spouse when you were married at the time” which will get fewer respondents than if the subject is asked about specific sexual activities and it is left to the surveyor to determine which acts constitute infidelity.

    It’s actually pretty interesting how those kinds of things work, how the specific phrasing of questions can lead people to answer in different ways. Consider the question “have you ever cheated on your spouse?” The specific words chosen (specifically “cheated”) will lead some people to answer “no” even if they have been unfaithful to their relationship. Some people don’t think it’s “cheating” if the relationship was dissolving anyway, or if the sexual activity was a type of sex other than vaginal sex, or a number of other reasons.

    Also, specifying that the subject have cheated on a “spouse” can rule out people who weren’t faithful to long-time partners they never married, or who cheated while they were engaged to be married, or whatever. This use of the word spouse also will lead some people to answer “yes” who haven’t, in fact, been unfaithful because some, particularly among the more religious, will consider it “cheating” to have had sexual relations with anyone at all other than their spouse in the course of their lifetime.

  40. 40
    Kell says:

    “It seems to me that the fact that it was more often assumed to be the default condition 50 or 60 years ago made it more difficult back then. Given that most people simply aren’t, isn’t it far easier and less painful to date someone for a few weeks until they openly tell you that they aren’t monogamous instead of marrying someone who claims fervently to be monogamous and then has three secret affairs before you discover that they are not in fact monogamous and instead lied to you?”

    The fact that “most people aren’t” means that, for many people, it’s OK to lie to us, especially since the anti-us peer pressure is to describe us as naive, or “wanting to bring back the 50s.” They don’t “openly tell us” they’re not monogamous; according to Dafoe Whitehead, the pattern is more likely for the non-mono. to wait until three or four years of cohabiting have passed. My own experience is the classic bait & switch, where he (in my case) says and does all the right things until I put out, and then he treats me like shit. It’s also OK to yell at us (me), to ridicule us, to accuse us of “playing games” when we’re only telling our truth (i.e. saying “no” to sex after the third date).

    One of the reasons I’m looking to the marriage movement for help is that I hope this will, among other things, emphasize the immorality of using monogamous people casually, and get across to what probably is a majority of non-monogamous people that we do exist, aren’t stupid, and have a right to pursue our own happiness.

    I never said anything about “disapproving of premarital sex” — that’s just more of the stereotype I’m talking about; I said avoiding premarital sex is one way to cut out the dead wood. In other words, it helps expose the liars. Also, expecting/demanding we participate in pre-commitment sex isn’t fair to us — it’s requiring that we, in order to be “allowed” to date, tear our skin off and allow ourselves to be casually devoured. But, see how just my saying we have a right to say “no” has been turned into “disapproving of premarital sex”. Projecting those kinds of myths on to us is not acceptance of other people’s sexuality; but then, there’s no social mandate to accept us.

    My only point in originally bringing up the marriage movement was to emphasize that the movement is speaking to an unknown number of us, but that the anti-gay politics of some of that wave make the situation difficult to navigate. And, I don’t think it’s possible for people who aren’t monogamous (again, serial monogamy is just another form of polygamy) or who aren’t straight to know what our lives are like. Wasn’t the rule on this sort of thing that people get to tell the truth of their own lives?

  41. 41
    Hestia says:

    I don’t get it. Am I supposed to believe that monogamous individuals–heterosexuals or homosexuals, really–are oppressed based solely on the concept that they’re having trouble finding each other? I mean, I’m sorry dating is so hard, and I’m certainly sympathetic towards “permanent monogamy,” but what’s society supposed to do about it, or about any other difficulties people have in finding compatible mates? I mean, we have government-sponsored abstinence programs. We have The Rules. We shame adulterers. How else can we get people to respect monogamists? Some kind of tolerance program? I’m so confused.

    Then again, I have one of those romances that’s apparently impossible to find: a happy 7-year monogamous one, going strong. We aren’t married, though; we don’t think a ceremony and certificate would change our relationship significantly enough to consider it right now.

  42. 42
    karpad says:

    Kell makes a few points I find rather confusing. The idea of “time wasted” simply because a relationship ultimately doesn’t work out is foremost among them. If you enjoyed spending time with the person, and enjoyed your life living/dating/whatever else with them, how is that time “wasted” simply because it didn’t work out? I can pull out all sorts of hypotheticals (they’re dying of cancer, they get a great new job overseas, they have to move home to take care of dying parents, whatever) just because it isn’t permentant doesn’t mean the time is wasted. since the only real reason to have a relationship is to enjoy yourself, if you enjoyed yourself while in the relationship, then no matter how it ends, your time wasn’t wasted.
    even if you find Mr. right and reach a permenant monogamous relationship, one of you is going to die eventually. so if you’re 70, and your spouse dies, does that mean your time was “wasted” on them and damn them for taking you out of the dating pool for 40-some-odd-years while you should have been looking for Mr. Right who wouldn’t die?
    if you’re happy with them, that’s all that matters, and you should enjoy what you have while it lasts, for one day, you too will die, cheat, or get bored.

  43. 43
    Amy S. says:

    What Hestia said, only without the seven years. ;)

  44. 44
    John Snead says:

    I just read this post about gay marriage from a lesbian widow and can’t think of anything that I could add to this beyond saying that I have nothing but contempt for anyone who can read that post and still deny that we desparately need to change these antiquated laws.

  45. 45
    Aaron says:

    (Smiles at Amy….)

    Yep, same as Hestia’s last paragraph, only change “7″ to “4+”….:)

    I get urges about weddings after attending other peoples’ weddings, but realize that just like funerals, it’s much better to be a guest at a wedding than the guest of honor……

  46. 46
    Kell says:

    Forgive me for interrupting all this self-congratulation, but have any of the people here offering anecdotal evidence bothered to speak to or read anyone in the marriage movement? Or, to investigate the myriad religious and social levels and types of significance related to marriage? Have you read, or listened to, anyone else at all? Has anyone even following through on the Rutger’s link?

    I’ve given you plenty of avenues for further investigation; instead, you don’t want to admit that, sometimes, people you disagree with can nevertheless be treated unfairly or suffer as the result of social change.

    Why do you hate involuntarily single people so much? Especially, involuntarily single straight and monogamous people? Why do we threaten you? Why are you doing so much talking, and so little research or listening? If you care enough about the issue to condemn me, why don’t you care enough to research the issues?

  47. 47
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    Kell, I don’t mean to be rude, but what are you talking about?

    Yes, I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the marriage movement, and read a lot of stuff about the marriage movement. John S. clearly looked up information on Hooking Up…, and everyone has obviously read what you’ve written.

    As near as I can tell, the marriage movement is a predominantely conservative Christian organization hell-bent on enforcing the status quo of marriage, by which I mean that it seems to seek to enforce the ideal that marriage is a union between a man and a woman in which the woman is submissive to the man. Now, I might not have read everything and I might not have read properly what I did read, but that was the impression I got from the marriage movement and that’s why I disagree with it.

    Now, you asked us, the people who disagree with what you’ve posted, why it is that we hate involuntarily single people so much. The answer is that we don’t. I’ve read this comment thread as it unfolded and just skimmed back over it right now; I can’t find a single person who mentioned that they hated you or anyone else who is single, voluntarily or otherwise. What we’ve been saying is that we don’t understand your postion, i.e., we don’t understand what you mean when you say that heterosexuals interested in lasting marriage are an oppressed minority.

    Now, I can’t speak for everyone here at Alas, but I’m not threatened by straight, single people. In fact, I am straight and was single until not too long ago. I’ve researched what you’re talking about, and I know the “myriad religious and social levels and types of significance related to marriage” both from a liberal and conservative stand-point.

    Simply, we’ve listened to what you have to say, we’ve research marriage, we’ve been involved in relationships, and we disagree with what you’ve said. This doesn’t mean that we hate you or that we’re caught up in some sort of self-congratulatory echo chamber or that we hate straight, single people. It just means that we disagree with your position.

  48. 48
    Kell says:

    Go through the responses to my originally dirt-simple post (Which was don’t automatically discard members of the marraige movement as anti-gay, because that’s not necessarily the case), and substitute “gay” wherever I’ve typed “straight”. I’ve been expected to justify my sexuality left, right and sideways, yet if someone gay were making similar posts about “SSM”, the responses wouldn’t have been nearly as hypercritical and hostile.

  49. 49
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    I don’t think you got any responses that were hostile or critical. You made a comment in your initial post about how it was harder than it used to be for heterosexual, monogamous couples to find one another without intruding on the rights of non-straight, non-monogamous persons. John S. and others disagreed with what you said. I don’t see any mud-slinging (unless you consider “I don’t understand her position” to be mud-slinging), and I don’t see any hypocricy.

    I’d be interested in reading which comments it was you thought were hostile and hypocritical because I honestly cannot understand where you’re coming from.

  50. 50
    John Snead says:

    I’ve been expected to justify my sexuality left, right and sideways, yet if someone gay were making similar posts about “SSM”, the responses wouldn’t have been nearly as hypercritical and hostile.

    Disagreement =/ hostility. Several people, myself included have disagreed with several of your points and in some cases with the ideas upon which you made these points. I followed the links you suggested and saw nothing that answered the points on which I disagree with you. However, I hardly think that saying that I think that people like you have an easier and not a more difficult time finding compatible long-term partners now than in the past is in any way a hostile statement. I am admittedly fairly hostile to pople who oppose SSM, but you have never stated that you do.

    I’m also deeply skeptical of “the marriage movement” because everything I’ve seen about it, including the link to the book you suggested, indicates that it’s mostly composed of Conservative Christians. Since you are clearly not a Conservative Christian, I’m somewhat puzzled that you support some of their ideas.

  51. 51
    karpad says:

    it’s more rhetorical than anything else but what praytell makes a “marriage movement.” I for one don’t much care for the institution (marriage, not monogamy. love monogamy. think it’s the best thing since sliced bread) but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any serious political groups advocating the permenant society wide ban on the practice. so they aren’t fighting to protect the existance of the institution. they OBVIOUSLY aren’t fighting to legalize it, so that isn’t it. to expand it’s scope and frequency in soceity? well, yes and no, since the reading I’ve done on the matter wants to make it manditory for straight couples and impossible for gay couples.
    protecting the validity of an institution doesn’t seem particularly helped by either venture. If a monogamous couple is commited to the idea of settling down and building a family (the whole point of marriage, as I gather.) then why should sexual orientation interfere with that? and if a couple WANTS sex, but wants neither children, nor to spend too much time with one another, (don’t kid yourself, these people have always existed) wouldn’t forcing a marriage that would be both useless and short lived upon them be impractical and degrade the institution? I can’t imagine a faster way to kill a system than to keep the people who want in out, and to keep the people that want out in. arguing against gay marriage is both anti-marriage and anti-family, but also “pro-christian” and anti-gay. if one is truly concerned about increasing the number of marriages, then wouldn’t recognising committed homosexual couples do exactly that? I suppose making a sematic arguement based solely on the code word naming of a political philosophy is off point (“shouldn’t pro-life people be vegan?”) but I would like to understand why including gay people who behave like married couples in the set of couples who count as “married” would degrade the institution in any way. after all, interracial couples being recognised did nothing but lend further legitimacy to the institution.

  52. 52
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    As I understand it, “marriage movement” refers to the group which runs this weblog: http://www.marriagemovement.org. At least, that was what I thought Kell was referring to (that web site links to the book about hooking up and hanging out which she referenced), though I think some other people in the thread might be referring to “pro-family” conservatives in general.

    I actually have a positive impression, so far, of the “marriage movement” web site (Trish Wilson, judging from what she’s had to say about David Blankenhorn, may have a different impression). I’ll explain why, by describing how I see them and their goals, and by comparing then with a “pro-family” web site of which I have a less positive impression.

    The Massachusetts Family Institute (http://www.mafamily.org/) describes itself as “dedicated to strengthening families in Massachusetts.” But also, and this makes a big difference to its agenda, “dedicated to strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which it is based.” The front page of the web site has links to the hidden costs of domestic partnership benefits, the health risks of gay sex, and the problems of casino gambling in Massachusetts. A list of “pro-family bills signed into law by President Bush,” and a similar list of “pro-family” bills passed by at least one house of Congress, includes bills about school prayer, requiring Internet filters at school, preserving the clergy housing allowance exemption, lots of abortion related bills, Internet gambling, preserving “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. Some of their “pro-family” bills are things I’d strongly approve of, some I’m indifferent to, and some I dislike, but my overall impression is of an organization justifying all of its moral and religious stands as “pro-family,” regardless of whether they have much to do with strengthening actual families.

    As you might expect, the Massachusetts Family Institute strongly opposes same-sex marriage. It looks to me as if their answer to homosexuality is to support the ex-gay movement.

    The Marriage Movement web site is quite different. First of all, it focuses on posts about marriage, courtship, and divorce, and doesn’t digress into presenting all kinds of other agendas (particularly religious ones) as “pro-family.” It has had lots of posts and links about same-sex marriage lately (naturally, given that same-sex marriage is in the news), but hasn’t taken a strong position itself, pro or con. They’re on friendly terms with same-sex marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher (and seem to have common ground with her on other marriage-related issues), but at least two regular contributors appear to be ambivalently leaning toward the “civil union” solution. I’ve found a variety of interesting articles about marriage through this site (as well as one pro-cohabition weblog, http://www.cohabitationnation.com). One thing I like is that they discuss developments in marriage worldwide (it was there that I learned about the Lebanese parliament rejecting bills that would have stiffened penalties on honor killings and allowed women to initiate divorce), another is that they discuss not just legal trends, but also cultural ones (such as attempts by different churches in a community to improve marriage preparation for the couples they are marrying).

    So, why is this group a “marriage movement” and what is their agenda? From what I can see, their agenda is anti-divorce, in favor of staying together for the sake of the children, in favor of marrying rather than cohabitating, in favor of “shotgun marriages” in case of pregnancy, and for dating/courtship patterns which move toward marriage, as opposed to ones which celebrate casual sex.

    Obviously, this is an agenda which I’d expect to be controversial among Alas readers. And, it has its downside, if the more punitive ways of promoting the agenda get emphasized. If, on the other hand, the more facilitative ways of promoting this agenda get emphasized (the ones which help someone like Kell find someone who shares her ideals about permanence, and help the two of them succeed at actually achieving those ideals), then I think even Alas readers ought to see some value in the enterprise.

    In practice, it looks to me as if Marriage Movement advocates both the punitive and the facilitative side of promoting marriage. They want divorce to be legally more difficult (whether that means required counselling or waiting periods, or reconsidering no-fault divorce), and they also want to teach people to form better marriages. They oppose the “men’s rights” movement (good for them), and required joint custody (they seem to share Trish Wilson’s opinion that forcing hostile divorced couples to share custody isn’t going to really improve the position of children of divorce).

    I’m ambivalent on their positions on divorced families. On the one hand, I agree with them that less divorce is the ideal, and I agree with them that it’s a pipe dream to suppose that enforced joint custody will solve all the problems of divorce. On the other hand, as a child of divorce myself, I do think it matters how parents handle the divorce, and I appreciate every effort my parents made at civility and cooperation. Given an imperfect world, in which people sometimes divorce, I think ameliorating the results of that imperfection is also a worthwhile goal.

    I do like the way they combine discussion of cultural trends with information about legal proposals, and I like their civil tone. As a weblog, http://www.marriagemovement.org is worth reading, even though most of you will find things to disagree with there.

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