Links about Marriage Equality

Because God Created Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Dead Eve’s Sister
A terrific Crooked Timber post describes the heated 19th-century controversy over if widowers should be legally allowed to marry their sister-in-laws. The resemblance to the current marriage equality debate is sometimes uncanny.

Gays Can’t Marry Because Men And Women Are So Different
This anti-marriage-equality argument, by Noah at Gideon’s blog, is better-written than most of its genre, and Noah seems like a nice enough fellow. But the reason I’m linking to it is that it makes the connection between opposing marriage equality, and endorsement of sexism, screamingly clear.

Cathy Young on Marriage Equality Again – and Again, and Again.

Cathy Young at The Y Spot has put up a few new posts on same-sex marriage, all of which I pretty much agree with. The final post of the series, “Concluding Thoughts,” is the one to read if you’re only going to read one. I particularly liked her listing of the bad arguments used by each side.

UPDATE: Cathy informs me via email that it’s “The Y Files,” not “The Y Spot.” Oops.

Response to Maggie #481
Julian at Hit and Run has written a typically thorough and logical response to Maggie Gallagher’s posts on Volokh.

Novel Idea For TV Commercials: The Truth
PurpleScarf links to a series of pro-marriage-equality commercials, airing in Texas, which make the case for same-sex marriage by showing that same-sex couples really are ordinary humans.

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19 Responses to Links about Marriage Equality

  1. 1
    Robert says:

    From now on, any time I disagree with something advocated by a liberal, I will have no choice but to label it a “diseased craving for abnormal enlargements of personal liberty which is the seamy side of Liberalism”

  2. 2
    mythago says:

    I can’t say as I blame you.

  3. 3
    alsis39 says:

    It sure sounds sexy written that way, doesn’t it ? The world need never know that the sexiest things I’ve done lately are along the lines of planting snowflake bulbs and watching Simpsons reruns on the new disc player.

    Oh, wait. I put in a new light bulb, too. Didn’t want any visiting goblins falling off the porch Monday night.

  4. 4
    Robert says:

    Diseased liberty-enlargers!

  5. 5
    nik says:

    It’s difficult to get too condemnatory about Victorian attitude to marriage to deceased wife’s sisters. At the moment the UK ban on marriage to children/parents-in-law has just been found to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and another project of diseased liberty-enlargement is underway.

  6. 6
    NancyP says:

    The little whosis peering with one eyeball out the slit (marking the divisions between posts) should be rolling said eyeball at the links, particularly Noah at Gideon. Many best wishes to Amp for the constantly changing whosis spacers!

    Real men commit to marriage, sayeth Noah. So, what does he make of the men having religious rites of union at the local MCC and UCC congregations? Surely a promise before God, even if unrecognised by government, should be recognised as a sign of maturity, particularly because the denominations have mandatory pre-union counselling (like Catholics do “pre-Cana”) and a waiting period before union.

  7. 7
    NancyP says:

    Glad to have the history behind the obscure lyric explained:

    From 1841 to 1909 there were 35 failed attempts to fire through Parliament successive shafts from a whole quiver of deceased wife’s sister marriage bills. You can read about it here. (Lyrics to Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe: “He shall prick that annual blister/ Marriage with deceased wife’s sister”.)

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Many best wishes to Amp for the constantly changing whosis spacers!

    Thank you, Nancy! I think you may be the first comment-writer to leave a comment about those. Unless there were others and I’ve forgotten, of course.

  9. 9
    ADS says:

    Wow, you linked to Noah’s blog. I’ll have to tell him. He’s a friend of mine, and you’re right, he is a nice guy, a very nice guy. To be fair, this post of his is from two years ago, and he may have changed his mind since then. I’ll talk to him and see.

  10. 10
    BantamBlonde says:

    I am surprised that you write that you “pretty much agree with” Cathy Young’s post. It seems to me that she gives far too much credence to the crowd of anti-SSM folks who argue, “SSM is bad, because it will lead to an increase in nonmonogamy, which is bad,” while leaving the badness of nonmonogamy as an unsupported assertion.

    If some (perhaps many) gay men find that a nonmonogamous committed relationship works better for them than a monogamous one, what’s wrong with that?

  11. 11
    Robert says:

    If some (perhaps many) gay men find that a nonmonogamous committed relationship works better for them than a monogamous one, what’s wrong with that?

    The negative impact on public health, for starters.

  12. 12
    NancyP says:

    Plenty of straight men find that a one-way nonmonogamous committed relationship works just fine for them, as long as the wife doesn’t find out. Or even if the wife finds out, and having mistresses is a social and class norm (cf. France).

    Its time to look at what people actually DO, not just what they say. Het men want their wives to be absolutely faithful, and want the children to be guaranteed to be theirs. However, a significant fraction also want the freedom to tomcat, hence the split between ideology (mutual monogamy) meant to keep the wives in line, and practice. The main “problem” with gay male “open” committed relationships may be the mutual honesty, not the rate of extra-relationship sexual contacts. I suspect there is a wide range, from one-night stand once every year or two, to weekly visits with fuck-buddies. Just as there is a range for unfaithful het husbands. HIV risk is greatest for concurrent long-term relationships, and lowest for a one-night stand. GC and chlamydia and syphilis risks are probably on a per-contact basis, regardless of the type of contact.

  13. 13
    Robert says:

    Plenty of straight men find that a one-way nonmonogamous committed relationship works just fine for them

    Last four words are key. Same as with the gay couples; works fine for them. That’s great, but coupling doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

    Nonmonogamous lifestyles are bad for public health.

  14. 14
    nobody.really says:

    Nonmonogamous lifestyles are bad for public health.

    Two thoughts.

    1. Is this true? I’d like to see a study comparing public health outcomes in societies with greater and lesser degrees of monogamy (controlling for other variables, etc). Sure, I expect that sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) will spread more quickly when people are promiscuous. But are there compensating health benefits to living in a society that tolerates greater freedom (including the freedom to be promiscuous)?

    2. What does “public health” mean in this context? I acknowledge that second-hand smoke is a public health problem in that it affects members of the public who may not consent to bear the risk of smoking. In contrast, it is less clear to me that consensual promiscuity imposes any risks on people who do not consent to bear the risk. So even if we agree that promiscuity can cause health problems, it is less clear that it causes public health problems. Of course, CHEATING (non-consensual promiscuity) may be a public health problem.

    (And, ok, I’d agree that a resulting embryo/fetus/child may suffer, without giving consent, as a result of the mother’s choice to bear the risk of a STD. But then we face the question of whether it makes sense to defend an innocent child’s right to be born without the effects of STD by discouraging the very conduct that caused the child to exist in the first place….)

  15. 15
    Charles says:


    I don’t really think you want to argue that the spread of disease by consensual contact is not a public health problem. Do you really feel that because STDs are predominantly spread by consensual contact that public health agencies should not work to irradicate them or that (farther afield) because the avian flu epidemic will be spread by consensual social contact (and not by force) that nothing should be done to stop the spread (since it isn’t a public health problem)? Are you really so libertarian as that?

  16. 16
    mythago says:

    Nonmonogamous lifestyles are bad for public health

    That is why the CDC has a public-health mandate to arrest and quaratine those who practice nonmonogamous lifestyles.

  17. 17
    nobody.really says:

    Are you really so libertarian as that?

    Damn you, Charles, that’s a good point.

    To review: BantamBlonde asked what makes nonmonogamy bad. Robert said that nonmonogamy harmed public health. I suggested (or meant to suggest, anyway) that consensual nonmonogamy did not qualify as “bad” from the public’s perspective because the consequences of consensual nonmonogamy generally fell on people who consent to bear the risk. Now Charles argues that the public/private distinction may not be as solid as I suggest.

    Of course I favor people working to control disease, fire, natural disasters, crime, etc. But I have concern about the means we would use to control them. Should we seek to control the transmission of bird flu through the use of voluntary inoculations? Sure. Mandatory inoculations? Maybe. Prohibiting all contact between people (“quarantines enforced by federal troops”)? Probably not.

    Similarly, I support efforts to control STDs, depending on the means. Voluntary inoculations? Sure. Mandatory inoculations? Maybe. Prohibiting all sexual contact between people? Probably not.

    But Charles’ larger point really knocked the wind out of me. Yes I AM as libertarian as all that (on some days, anyway). Upon reflection, however, the fact that I have not chosen to move to a cave somewhere suggests that I consent to all manner of social contact. Every time I shake hands with someone I guess I’m consenting to bear the risk of getting a cold. Every time I breathe air in my city, I guess I consent to some risk of catching air-borne pathogens. Is that really any different than consenting to breathing second-hand smoke?

    Maybe “consent to bear risk” aint the clear line of distinction I had generally thought. Let me mull this one….

    That is why the CDC has a public-health mandate to arrest and quarantine those who practice nonmonogamous lifestyles.

    To be fair, Robert merely made the factual assertion that promiscuity caused health risks. I think I precipitated the discussion about remedies.

  18. 18
    Charles says:

    And the fact that anything that is bad for public health is criminalized is why the CDC also has a mandate to arrest and quarantine people who go to work or the grocery store while suffering from the flu or a bad cold. Additonally, this is why the WHO has shut down all transport of birds (including wild migratory birds) to and from East Asia in response to the spread of the avian flu.

    Oh wait, neither of those things has happened either. I guess the practice of working (in offices) through a contagious disease, or of allowing the transport of poultry (or the migrations of wild birds) must not be part of a public health problem. Good to know we don’t have to worry about that then.

  19. 19
    Charles says:

    Oh, that was a response to mythago’s response to Robert, not to nobody’s response to me.