• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    Kiss me on the bus

    I like John Corvino’s latest article posted to IGF, but, then, I like his writing in general. I could have done without the Rosa Parks analogy, which he crashes through the guardrail and follows in flames as it rolls down the ravine (just to be gallant and cover his bad conceit-making with my own). His priorities are in the right place, though, and I join him in wondering how other people can possibly fail to see this stuff:

    Is that name difference silly? Yes, it’s silly � maybe even insulting. But when health benefits are denied to committed same-sex couples, when a person can’t get bereavement leave upon the death of her same-sex partner; when loving couples are split apart because one partner is a foreigner and can’t get citizenship, that’s far worse than silly or insulting � it’s downright cruel. I contend that we have a fighting chance at ending such cruelty, and that once we do so we’ll have an even better chance at ending the silly name-difference (again, see Scandinavia).

    I still don’t agree that attaining marriage under that name must, must, must be the goal. Even if we accept that legal and social circumstances are unequal now, it’s possible that opening marriage to gays is not the solution in the best interest of the larger society (including us gays). If the child-rearing function really is central to marriage, perhaps it needs to be reemphasized through stiffened divorce laws and greater penalties for parents who make spurious accusations at each other in custody battles, for example.

    The interference in individuals’ ability to make contracts that dictate the disposal of their possessions and persons if they’re incapacitated isn’t even a given everywhere; as Corvino says, we need to start there. Forget even the part about “recognition of our relationships” in the general sense, or at least, hold it in abeyance. Accusations like the one in the hate mail with which Corvino opens his article can only come from people who don’t see the current social and political climate for what it really is, a phenomenon that may be partially explained by their tendency to reach for invective when they should be assessing and countering arguments.

    Along those lines, I’m sorry to see that Maggie Gallagher is the latest columnist who took pay by the Bush administration to plug programs and is only now disclosing it. Gallagher is not my favorite person, as you might imagine. She has always struck me as principled, though, and I’ve cringed whenever I’ve seen someone from my team decide that the way to provide a witty and substantive refutation of one of her pieces is to call her a bitch. What she’s done isn’t an ethical infraction of epic proportions, but it doesn’t speak well of her–how does one forget about a contract for two grand, exactly? And even if her support for the program was there for the asking, anyway, is it impossible to believe that she might have been inclined not to publicize such flaws as it might have had once she and the government had an understanding?

    What this does do is give people who could learn from Gallagher’s arguments a new, easy reason to dismiss her as a bankrupt thinker. That’s not exactly what we need on either side at the moment. (The Gallagher story was foreshadowed by Instapundit and Drudge.)

    2 Responses to “Kiss me on the bus”

    1. John says:

      Sean, if you accept the child rearing element as part of true marriage, there are a lot of yuppie couples who don’t qualify, although I guess the sword of Damocles is hanging over them if their contraception fails, which isn’t true for gays. But my real question to you is, how do you then consider gays who adopt?

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I consider them bound by existing law, which I would certainly say we should work to change where it’s inequitable. Florida bans adoption by gays; a bunch of other states allow adoption by unmarried couples; and I think that among the rest (40 or so?), about half have precedents for second-parent adoption (that is, adoption by the non-marital partner of the primary adoptive parent).
      This is all happening organically, if more slowly than most of us would prefer, and it is not clear to me how continuing to push for marriage would help. It’s true that changing marriage laws would provide legal protection against harassment by the unsympathetic, but only to a degree. Surely, the current record of various Child and Family Services agencies provides evidence enough that if they want to take your kids, they will find a reason to take your kids. The assumption that those branches of the government will be liberal for all time just because they’re liberal now is naive.