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    Posted by Sean at 13:56, July 1st, 2005

    I don’t want to give anyone a heart attack, but I think Andrew Sullivan’s post about gay marriage yesterday was pretty temperate and mostly well-reasoned.

    There, I’ve said it.

    Christianist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said of the Canadian decision, supported by a majority in the polls: “Similar to tactics here in the U.S., the move for gay ‘marriage’ in Canada was driven by a small minority and liberal activist judges.” And a parliamentary and popular majority, Mr Perkins. And please refrain from those scare quotes around the term “marriage.” Whether Perkins likes it or not, there are now no differences between gay and straight marriages in Spain, Canada, Holland, Belgium and Massachusetts. His scare quotes – and those routinely used by the Washington Times – apply to heterosexual couples as well. Are their marriages now phony, according to the religious right?

    In Canada (where the bill still needs Senate approval) and in Spain, gay citizens and their sympathizers have been able to get a majority of legislators on their side to effect changes in legislation. Who was originally “driving” the movement doesn’t alter that. And as for “activist judges,” I believe the decision that was reached a few months ago was that gay marriage would not itself violate the Canadian constitution–not that denying marriage to gay couples was unconstitutional. The part about scare quotes is shakier, but the point that the law routinely and legitimately defines words in ways that are different from their ordinary usage is a good one.

    I’m still skeptical about gay marriage as policy–for reasons that include those Sullivan raises at the end of his post, which are never far from my mind because of the kind of household I live in. But I’m unreservedly happy that barriers to our being able to form enforceable bonds with our partners are being removed. Neither piece of legislation affects Atsushi and me, of course, but they make a nice lead-in to the weekend. (He’s coming home tomorrow morning.)

    I get the sense that I have few readers who are interested in both gay stuff and Japan stuff, but for those interested in the brief Nikkei article on the Spain vote, it’s here. The Yomiuri‘s is here, and it also has a report up about the Canada vote. Congratulations on Canada Day, BTW.

    So, what’s your, uh, position?

    Posted by Sean at 08:44, June 30th, 2005

    I don’t know that Terry McMillan‘s marital troubles constitute a conservative case for gay marriage, but I do know that it’s a shame Ace’s old boyfriend didn’t turn out to be as gay as she is: Imagine the mileage he could’ve gotten from working the name of his employer! And as usual, Ace has good things to say about integrity.

    God, voters are watching Connecticut lawmakers

    Posted by Sean at 10:22, April 25th, 2005

    I cherish freedom of assembly as much as anyone, but it sure does bring out the lamest in some people, on all parts of the political spectrum. You have puns that not even Dad would stoop to:

    On the Capitol steps, Brian Mock held a sign chastising the governor that read “Truth is not RELL-ative.” He said he had little hope that lawmakers would repeal the civil union statute, but said they need to know voters are watching.

    Especially the majority of Connecticut voters who approved of the idea of civil unions?

    You have self-refuting inanities:

    “Civil unions are merely a stepping stone to redefining marriage,” he said at Sunday’s rally. “Anyone who voted for this bill voted for same-sex marriage.”

    Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the bill last week after it overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate. The law, which takes effect in October, also defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

    And you have those tin-eared folks who think satire has unlimited usefulness:

    Meanwhile, about 80 gay rights activists took part in a mock wedding ceremony on the Capitol lawn Sunday, criticizing civil unions as second-class citizenship. Many said they were happy the state approved civil unions but wished lawmakers had given gays and lesbians full marriage rights.

    One thing I’d like to know–the article doesn’t mention, and there may be no way of finding out–is how many of the 3000 protestors against the bill were from Connecticut. I suppose you could say the same about the participants in the mock wedding, but there were only 80 of them.

    Gay marriage on the way in Spain

    Posted by Sean at 09:34, April 22nd, 2005

    I can’t read Spanish and haven’t seen the text of the bill, so I can’t determine whether the hilarious spelling mistake in the second paragraph of this Reuters report is accurate:

    Spain’s parliament gave initial approval to a law legalizing gay marriage on Thursday in a move likely to rekindle conflict with a Catholic Church that has just elected a new conservative pope.

    A packed public gallery erupted in cheers and applause as the speaker announced approval of the Socialist government’s proposal, making Spain the third European country to legalese gay marriage.

    “It’s unfair to be a second-class citizen because of love,” Socialist legislator Carmen Monton said. “Spain joins the vanguard of those defending full equality for gays and lesbians.”

    I can’t say I’m entirely impressed by the reasoning used by one quoted activist: “I’m going to get married for the sake of activism, for love, and for a question of dignity.” Getting married to make a point? Lovely. But then, activists of any stripe often do have a serious case of single-issue-itis.

    In any case, the bill has another round or two of approval to go through, but it’s apparently expected to pass. It also appears to have good public support.

    End of civilization continues in CT

    Posted by Sean at 08:08, April 21st, 2005

    Civil unions have been signed into law by the Connecticut governor. No court case. Very cool. Even the marriage-or-bust types are reeling it in enough to recognize that there’s much to celebrate:

    Love Makes a Family, a gay rights organization that wanted legislators pass a gay marriage bill, called civil unions an important step toward protecting the rights of same-sex couples. But Anne Stanback, the group’s executive director, said the fight is not over. [“Love Makes a Family” sounds like the kind of entity that should have a headmistress, not an executive director–SRK]

    “As important as the rights are, this is not yet equality,” she said.

    Naturally, it’s that last quotation that 365Gay has seen fit to use as its quote of the day. Whatever. On the opposite side of the country, the Montana domestic partnership bills were voted down by its House of Representatives this week; that it passed the Senate was apparently big news. Things go in fits and starts.

    CT civil unions bill passed

    Posted by Sean at 07:55, April 14th, 2005

    The Connecticut House has passed its civil unions bill. The governor hadn’t threatened a veto, but she had supported an amendment (eventually added) to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

    Following the House vote Rell issued a statement saying, “I am pleased that the House of Representatives passed this amendment and made it clear that while we will recognize and support civil unions, marriage in Connecticut is defined as the union of a man and a woman.

    “Passage of this bill will extend civil rights to all couples, no matter their gender, and send the unmistakable message that discrimination in any form is unacceptable in Connecticut.”

    Good for them.

    Around the maypole

    Posted by Sean at 00:26, April 7th, 2005

    It’s touching that Dean has the patience to keep coming up with new anagrams of his position on gay marriage, as if one day one of his gay friends might listen. But then, as someone’s bound to point out, I’m sitting here writing this post, so who am I to talk?

    Anyway, one thing he’s going off about in the comments is the epidemic of revisionist history among quite a few SSM advocates. I think it’s worth expanding backward on that point a little.

    People used not to understand fertility. I don’t just mean human fertility–they didn’t understand why crops grew and hunt animals were plentiful sometimes but not others, either, any more than they understood why sex sometimes produced children and other times didn’t. Further, the competition for precious resources was fierce. Even after the invention of cavalry and chariots and catapults and cauldrons of pitch, war essentially meant hand-to-hand combat; and there was a lot of war. There was also a lot of disease.

    What all this boiled down to was that human societies knew they desperately needed to keep replacing themselves and the things they subsisted on, but they were never quite sure what was going to work. Things like nitrogen-based fertilizer, filmstrips of sperm and ovum meeting under a microscope, and mechanical refrigeration are all very, very new in human history.

    You already know this, so why am I bringing it up? Because I think it’s easy to forget how the pressure to ensure fertility at all costs has shaped civilization. (Well, Japan, with its disorienting blend of super-modernity and raw primalness, has not lost a lot of its old rites.) When people oppose gay marriage because they assume there’s no love or commitment in our relationships, they’re being ignorant and need to be told so. Even in old times, there were people who reproduced and people who didn’t. There’s no reason gay people can’t contribute to civilization just because we’re not contributing children, and having two people willingly take stewardship over each other’s welfare has obvious benefits.

    But you can argue that, and argue that our ability to care for each other needs protecting in a world of competing interests, without necessarily concluding that marriage has to be expanded to do it. The ability to choose your own life partner is a pretty new thing. Maybe it needs a new institution. Maybe it would do better without any overarching institution but a range of contract options. Maybe, maybe, maybe. The point is, the debate is still going on, and not even all of us who are gay can agree that SSM should be legalized or why. Its advocates are not doing themselves any favors by acting as if the correct conclusion were obvious to, like, any fair-minded person with a brain.

    Outing and hypocrisy, cont.

    Posted by Sean at 00:33, April 4th, 2005

    I meant to draw attention to a link I got from Joe yesterday, but I got sidetracked by spring cleaning. (Is there anything worse than having dingy sheers at your windows? I feel so much better now.) Anyway, here’s part of his response:

    I realize that for me hypocrisy is the trigger, but the justification is political. Outing is a legitimate and reasonable political response to the current political climate. It’s a deliberate, open, and peaceful act of nonviolent resistance, an act in some ways similar to civil disobedience. (And not, as Mike Rogers suggests, merely reporting.)

    I know it’s obnoxious to assume that people are disagreeing with you because they don’t understand what you’re saying, rather than that they do and just think you’re wrong. Nevertheless, I think Joe isn’t focusing on the real point.

    One of the most precious things in a free society is the ability an individual has to set his own priorities, to make his own trade-offs when he can’t optimize all values at once. In traditional societies, the wider group decides what trade-offs are best, which is why people who have their own ideas about where their talents lie or what means happiness for them so often leave them. Outing someone takes away that right. It says that self-assigned arbiters of the proper way to be gay get to dictate that someone has to be openly homosexual and just deal with the resulting loss of options. Anyone who plans on doing such a thing had better be armed with something less lame than “But he’s a hypocrite.” (Sorry, Michael. I know you’re not writing a dissertation here, but when we’re talking about revealing things about people’s private lives without their consent, you’re going to have to do better than that.)

    It’s not just that hypocrisy is insufficient as ethical grounds for outing–though it is. It’s that there may be nothing hypocritical about these people at all. If some people believe the best work they can do is as legislators or campaign leaders, and they’re willing to keep quiet about their private life to facilitate it, where’s the hypocrisy? I’m about as big a flamer as you can get without physically being on fire (as a straight acquaintance once put it), but I oppose the campaign for gay marriage, I oppose hate crimes laws, and I oppose the endless workshops for elementary school students about the variety of sexual options open to them. Perhaps I sincerely and mistakenly believe a few things that are inconsistent with each other, but I can assure you that there’s no double-dealing or cowardly self-preservation involved. It’s not at all hard to believe that there are conservative gay politicians in the same situation, and that’s their lookout.

    And as for the civil disobedience analogy, I’m sorry, that just doesn’t work. Civil disobedience involves putting yourself on the line and risking arrest in order to make a point. Outing involves screwing up other people’s lives without risking anything of yourself. There’s no comparison.

    New book on SSM

    Posted by Sean at 23:28, April 3rd, 2005

    Michael has posted a review of a new book on gay marriage. It’s an issue he and I disagree over, and from what he says, the book doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground–though even I hadn’t heard Naomi and Ruth described as lesbians. Did Orpah leave because she felt like a third wheel? Anyway, Michael’s a fair-minded guy, and his evaluation is worth reading. The book is In Support of Same Sex Marriage and Gay Rights in America.

    Jane Galt on gay marriage

    Posted by Sean at 11:37, April 2nd, 2005

    Megan McArdle has an essay up about gay marriage, which is a fascinating read. It’s fascinating both because she makes good points and because she falls all over herself to assure people that she’s not just ragging on gays. Personally, I find it a little insulting to be approached so gingerly, but I can understand where she’s coming from. These days, we’re flatly informed that anything less than full marriage equality is a mark of second-class citizenship.

    Added on 4 April: Megan says that there’s nothing wrong with assuring friends and loved ones that you’re not trying to stick it to them. Point taken, especially since she didn’t soften her argument itself in order to do so.

    Eric has his own post up that, as always, is worth reading. I think there are gays who are sincere in wanting to commit to the obligations of marriage in order to get the benefits, but the far louder talk about getting our relationships respected sure makes it hard to believe that the majority aren’t more concerned with self-esteem-building. It’s a mark of how mainstream we’ve become that we’re as entitlement-minded as everyone else now.