Same-Sex Marriage and Time

Yesterday Maine voted to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. It’s a sad day for people who believe that all couples who love each other should be allowed to marry, full stop.

But the chart below may cushion the blow a tiny bit. It’s from a paper by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips, “Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness,” recently published in the American Political Science Review (via The Monkey Cage). What you are seeing is support for same-sex marriage in 1994-96, 2003-04, and 2008-09; solid dots indicate that same-sex marriage is equal, hollow dots that it is not.

marriage

Similarly, here’s the picture of recent (2008) support for same-sex marriage by age group:

age

Barring a backlash even bigger than the one we’ve seen over the last ten years (during which support for same-sex marriage increased in every state except Utah), time is on the side of same-sex marriage. That may still be small consolation to elderly couples who have been together for decades.

By James Kwak

82 responses to “Same-Sex Marriage and Time

  1. Encouraging post – thanks.

    God Bless those New England Millennials!

  2. Also it’s worth noting that Northeastern Americans generally tend to be the more educated of the nation. Personally I am for giving them the legal rights, but not labeling it marriage. Young people just don’t care about the issue anymore.

    I think gays would do themselves a much better service if they quit lashing out at their best friends (Obama), take a chill pill and wait until the tide is stronger. If they changed in Iowa, I can see every state except Utah and the deep south changing relatively fast.

  3. Sure would be nice if the government got out of the marriage business, wouldn’t it?

    Cheers,
    Carson

  4. I guess you’ve never read “letter from a Birmingham jail,” have you? Chill pills are only a way to make the repression seem more bearable, they do nothing to create change.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. How about we just abolish all state-sanctioned marriage and only have the government recognize civil unions like it should.

  6. My experience with young people is that they just don’t differentiate – to them there is no issue.

  7. Which part of the word “except” was confusing to you Jim???

    You want to say that most of society excepts it now so the law should be changed, or you want to say that you are “repressed”?? You want to say that most of America doesn’t except it, but it’s morally wrong so the law should be changed for YOU??

    The tide is going homosexuals way. You might find that people such as myself who are kind of in the middle ground on the issue would support you more if you could be more level headed on the issue. That means when President Obama puts his neck out on the political chopping block for gays, you don’t whine and groan “Finally!!”

  8. Homosexuality isn’t against imaginery “gods”, it’s against biology. Using the anus as a sex organ is not bilogically normal and no amount of jumping up and down and shrieking can change that.
    Politically associating important poltical causes with measures that imply that homosexuality is normal, just gives the Rush Limbaughs of the world a political gift.

  9. I am for creating civil-union laws but against calling them marriages – government should not enforce New-Speak.

  10. “accept” I should have said in the second sentence. Back to 5th grade for me.

  11. The trouble with not calling it marriage is that many extremely important federal privileges, such as Social Security continuation for surviving partners, inheritance, immigration for foreign partners, and about 1200 other benefits are triggered by being married. Not civilly unioned, not domestically partnered, married. And marriage licenses are issued by the states, not by the federal government. For same-sex couples to enjoy all the privileges and benefits that that hetero couples are entitled to, without using the word “marriage”, thousands of pages of law would have to be altered to use whatever phrase would be deemed correct. Good luck at that.

  12. Yeah cause “separate but equal” worked so well for all those years.

  13. James, you turned on a buzz saw with this posting. The comments here are rapidly descending into misfocus and assumption.

  14. Since when was our society about making sure everyone was “normal? What about the protections afforded the minority?

  15. I was afraid of that. I thought of not allowing comments on this post. I’ll give it a bit longer before pulling the plug.

  16. RA, by your logic fellatio is not “normal” (the mouth is not a “sex organ”)and could be criminalized, as could masturbation (the hand is not a “sex organ”). And certainly contraception is not normal, otherwise the penis would come natrually equipped with a retractable condom.

    Sex is only for procreation, right?

  17. Its odd that you says its against biology and yet it happens in nature. This isn’t only a human issue. That fact makes it pretty difficult to play the “biology” card.

  18. Well, if we’re redefining marriage, we should also allow for polygamy. Because if we jettison the biological basis for marriage as between a man and woman, there’s no *logical* reason why marriage is restricted to only two people. Please no ad hominem. If I’m wrong, just point out the exact *logical* reason for limiting marriage to two.

  19. count me among the people who has, in the past 10 years, come over to the side of legalized same-sex marriage.

    the reason i changed my mind was that i just didn’t see it as a fundamentally big deal. i couldn’t think of a good reason why same sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry if mixed sex couples should. it’s not going to hurt ANYTHING, so why get all upset about it?

    i would rather the government get out of the marriage business altogether, but that’s not going to happen.

  20. there’s no ‘logic’ to who can marry.

    marriage is a cultural, social construct.

    that means we can make it what we want it to be.

    as long as society wants it to be restricted in certain ways, it will be, and if society decides to relax these restrictions, that will happen too. that’s the point of the post.

  21. i should also add that i have had a very favorable experience over the past ten years with marriage whereas i was completely inexperienced with it prior to that time.

    i just don’t see the reason to restrict what i’ve got based on gender.

  22. Where and when does it happen in nature (don’t include penned in zooed animals or pets – both arein abnormal settings).
    What are your sources on this?
    By the way, can’t animals below humans exhibit biolgically abnormal behavior? We know what sex organs are for, and we know what excretory organs are for – and we don’t have to rely on workers with hidden agendas to work that out.

  23. That’s a strawman argument. It’s a right to be different and to have a right to be safe from attack, job loss etc.

    I’ts not a right for homosexuals to have legal / social approval.

  24. CBS from the West

    Let me join in on this. This whole issue arises only because government is intruding into the domain of marriage in the first place. To many people, marriage is a religious institution–and historically I believe that is universally the case. Government, in my view, has no more business performing, recognizing, or regulating marriage than it does administering last rites, recognizing baptisms with special benefits or penalties, or deciding who is eligible to be bar mitzvah.

    There are certain things for which it makes sense to treat households as a unit. So if people live together and share property, financial responsibility etc., that is a household, no matter who they are. The government can and should recognize such domestic economic units where there is a good public policy reason to do so. But that is separate from marriage. Note that a some married couples wouldn’t qualify as a household because they don’t live together, and some because despite living together they have chosen to keep their wealth and finances separate.

  25. CBS from the West

    Excuse me, but the distinction between reproductive and excretory organs is not that clear cut. The penis is both. And even in human females, the urethra runs through the vagina.

  26. q,

    Do you really want to take the position that there is no logic to marriage and we can remake it however we want?

    To take an extreme example: Would you let a mother and son marry (let’s stipulate one is infertile)? Is there anything besides an “ick” factor that weighs against that? If not, then any group that can get rid of the “ick” factor for their sexual practice (however unusual — and let’s admit we’d be in for some very unusual couplings), will have a right to marry.

    More broadly, if there is no reason for marriage, why would society privilege the relationship in the first place? Or, for that matter, why does anyone marry? What do people who marry think it does to a relationship?

  27. So why exactly should the government be regulating sexual behavior?? Do you want the government to monitor all marriages to make sure only “normal” sexual behavior is practiced? And what is “normal”? Oral? Anal among heterosexuals? I could go on but I’ll keep this somewhat civil. Should the government nullify marriages where “normal” sex is not being practiced on a regular basis? Please explain how government regulation of sexual behavior between consenting adults is consistent with any interpretation of liberty, freedom, or responsible government.

    If two consenting adults want to function as a unit for whatever reason, I don’t see how the government can pick and choose who gets this right. The problem lies in the unfortunate use of the word “marriage”. It’s like the government calling the final step of naturalizing as a citizen a “baptism”. Maintaining freedom of religion is impossible when the government tries to regulate practices that have strong religious overtones. Leave “marriage” to churches and individuals. Recognize “civil unions”, and extend rights and benefits based only on civil union status, and much of the controversy will go away.

  28. Tim, obviously marriage is a cultural construct and can be remade however we want. That’s what’s been happening throughout human history. Marriage has historically been about an exchange of property, with young women being exchanged for property or as security in some alliance or contract. Marriage has historically been an act of necessity between partners chosen by their parents, not an act of two people choosing each other. Marriage has historically been a polygamous institution in most cultures. Only in the last few centuries have modern western notions about marriage (romantic love as the primary reason instead of property, partners choose each other rather than chosen for each other, relationship is between two coequals rather than a dominant party with many subordinate parties) become the norm in our part of the world.

    If you’re against the idea that culture changes what marriage is about, then I can only assume you intend to trade your daughters for oxen. However, I suspect what you’re really against is the idea of culture going against YOUR idea of marriage, not any “traditional” idea of marriage. You consider YOUR image of marriage to be the ideal to which all should aspire. Unfortunately, your image of marriage is just as much a cultural construct as any of the others that have existed throughout history. None of them permanent, always evolving.

  29. Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac

    “If I’m wrong, just point out the exact *logical* reason for limiting marriage to two.”

    No. You’re right. Polygamy is just as discriminatory. If a bunch of adults want to enter into a multiple person agreement about property and visitation rights, why not let them? It would have to be different contractually from Marriage, due to the multiple people involved (property rights are exponentially more difficult with each new participating member), but there is no good legal reason not to allow it. I would even say that with our multiple earner economy, it might help with the “family unit” to have more adults at home to help raise the kids.

    I just think that it would be mostly new territory, due to the legal complications, for the government to enter into. That’s the major reason why it’s not done. Can you imagine a divorce proceeding with 5 parties involved?

  30. Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac

    Devin wins this thread.

  31. Interesting observation. Maine polling suggested a dead heat (as does this chart), but I’ve read the vote to repeal same-sex marriage passed with 53%. Now it’s probably a margin of error thing, but I can’t help but wonder if we’re starting to see a bit of the Bradley Effect. Perhaps we’re getting to the point where there’s more shame in being associated with discrimination then there is in being a homosexual or identified with homosexual causes. Thus people being polled could be inclined to hide their true feelings since they can be identified. That would be a breakthrough moment when people who oppose equal rights for gays feel as marginalized as those who oppose equal rights for all races and sexes.

  32. I hope it wasn’t me. I mean really I am basically on the gay and lesbians side on this legally and with their rights. And I know it’s very tough for gays to live their lives. But when you consider America’s Judaeo-Christian history I don’t think gays and lesbians appreciate the DRASTIC changes they are expecting from the culture. And sometimes DRASTIC changes gays DEMAND from society/culture in a very childish way. This is a worn out cliche but I will say it anyway, I have had many gay friends in my life, people I knew for a fact were gay and people who I’m sure never cared to share it. But I still have a major problem with calling it marriage. I’m sorry (and I’m not saying sorry facetiously), I really am sorry, but it is NOT marriage and it never will be marriage.

  33. As reported on DKos today:

    “Final numbers are in from [University of Maine]-Orono campus- 81% No, 19% Yes.”

  34. Exactly right. There is typically a 5% lower margin on voting day than polls indicate, factoring in polling margins of error. Those in the middle of the political spectrum (the demographic sector that is determining the fate of this issue) tend towards the noncommittal “yes” as they sort out their own feelings on the matter. We must also consider the makeup of those actually voting…off-year elections tend to be determined by the habitual – older, more conservative – voters than presidential elections. If you look at the chart for Maine, you will see that the older voters skew very strongly anti-same-sex marriage. This “discrepancy” in the Maine vote is not suprising. LGBT issues need to have greater than a 10 point margin in pre-election polling to prevail at the ballot box. This was the result in Washington State’s Referendum 71 battle.

  35. There are many, many sources out there. Do your own damned research instead of making a strawman argument.

  36. postmodernprimate

    “Homosexuality… it’s against biology” – RA

    Yo, Richard Dawkins. I’m sure your theory “It ain’t natural, it ain’t biology” will soon become a powerful new tool for biologists but I’m inclined to stick with current research showing homosexual behaviour is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom.

  37. Ted, you’re fine. I’m more unhappy about the sort-of sexually explicit comments.

  38. Actually I think this is just ‘feel-good’ nonsense for homosexuals. The problem with polling is that it’s an inaccurate science. Don’t forget that most of the pre-election polling (all except one poll in fact) showed that gay marriage would be ratified in Maine – some by double digits. Yet that clearly didn’t materialise and the Bangor Daily News is reporting that with 98% of precincts reporting, there was a 60% turnout of voters in November 2009 with just under 53% supporting the repeal of gay marriage in Maine. Big turnout was supposed to help gay marriage and it really didn’t seem to at all.
    My point is that the same polling you’re drawing comfort from at the top of the page is also probably (mostly) just as flawed as the pre-election polls that showed this measure winning handily.
    Additionally, polling shows that while younger voters are ‘more accepting’ of homosexuality, it’s not by the margin that many people seem to think. For instance, a recent comparison survey found that elderly Canadians (aged 55+) were more likely to support gay marriage than 18-29 Americans – even in the Northeast where gay marriage has been legal. But that’s the problem with polls – they’re simply unreliable. What happened in Maine is something that any rational person should have known would happen after last November: AMERICANS DON’T WANT GAY MARRIAGE LEGALIZED. Not even in ‘liberal’ Maine.

  39. Devin,

    I’m sorry but it’s not obvious that marriage is *only* a cultural construct as opposed an ideal that is realized, and at times distorted, within cultures. You must make an argument for that point. That’s what I asked for, but have not received.

    The fact that marriage has at certain times and in certain cultures been accompanied by morally wrong acts or unjust practices does not refute the argument that marriage has as its (ideal) nature the joining of one man and one woman.

    We would not argue that because in history some peoples have enslaved others that the wrongness of slavery can be denied and we may enslave others today.

    The fact that a moral norm is violated by someone’s actions does not mean that the moral norm is not true and valid.

    I asked for a reason for accepting gay marriage but not polygamous marriage. I have not received one.

    Is it because the defenders of gay marriage can’t supply one?

    I suspect so. If I am wrong, prove me wrong and give me the reason.

  40. LOL. There many reliable sources “out there”, but you can’t name any.

    And I didn’t raise a strawman argument.

    To repeat: politically associating important poltical causes with measures that imply that homosexuality is normal, just gives the Rush Limbaughs of the world a political gift.

  41. Perhaps the “distinction between reproductive and excretory organs is not that clear cut”, to you.

    For most people the biological distinction is quite clear.

    To repeat: Politically associating important poltical causes with measures that imply that homosexuality is normal, just gives the Rush Limbaughs of the world a political gift.

  42. I don’t think the polls were that inaccurate…in Maine, the electorate was split pretty much down the middle as of 2008. In 2009, the electorate is still pretty much split down the middle. The trend, reflected at the voting box as well as in polls, is that the electorate has been steadily moving towards support of LGBT issues – some states much faster than others. But it is clearly a generational trend.

    Same-sex marriage is the most difficult issue for the electorate to come to grips with; it will take the most time. It will be resolved when we realize that the love and committment that characterizes marriage and that is recognized and nurtured by society is universal, and should be universally supported in law.

  43. Just glad I didn’t need a dowry when I got married. Sometimes, they had to sell the bride instead of getting paid for her.

  44. I read Andrew Sullivan because his writing style and political knowledge. He tends to be a bit vain and narcissistic, but he makes up for it with the writing and wit. I assume most gays and lesbians are familiar with Sullivan’s blog, but if not you should check it out. He has covered the gay civil union issue and also the Iran Revolution quite well. Link here
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/a-gay-catholic-now.html

  45. I might add Andrew Sullivan is a master with words and knows exactly how to phrase things to fit his argument (at least in his writing). Notice how he says “civil marriage”. Sullivan’s language has a way of hitting you subliminally if you’re not paying attention. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/the-pain-in-maine-ii.html

  46. Can we please solve the banking problem before tackling the Oedipal problem? As for polygamy, I favor it if someone will please take my third wife. Indeed, I would support same sex marriage for the same reason. Incidentally, on that chart? The people over age 65 are not homophobic, they are victims of matrimonial experience and hope to save at least gays and lesbians if they cannot help anyone else. As for the commentator who believes marriage should be limited to those engaging in normal behavior, it seems seventy percent of them are now saved from its consequences only by divorce.

  47. Abolishing slavery was a DRASTIC change to culture, but we dealt with it. Injustices should not be permitted just because we’re worried culture won’t be able to deal with it.

  48. On a moral ground, you’re right. The difference though is that polygamy would be a legal nightmare, resulting in bizarre and draconian property disputes and custody battles that would bring the American legal system to its knees.

    Also, parenting as a social construct seems to be set at two people. That’s not to say it has to be, but that’s what the standard is and as a result that’s what our laws support.

    In short, same-sex marriage fits within the pre-defined constructs of marriage and parenthood, polygamy does not.

    And if you really wanted to legalize polygamy, I would have no problem with it. People have made it work in the past, and people could make it work now.

  49. Martin Spiegelman

    Missing from the analysis is that for many people attitudes about these sorts of things change as people get older. While the trend may still be favorable to the “allow same-sex marriage” position in may take a lot longer that the chart predicts.

    A good deal of today’s 18-29 year olds who take the libertarian position today may not do so when they are 45-64 year olds.

  50. Some argue that Obama was predominantly elected by a wave of Latinos getting back at Republican anti-immigration laws. This was one explanation for how California’s Proposition 8 was passed at the same time a liberal, gay-marriage supporting president was voted into office. Conservative-leaning Latinos vetoed gay marriage but were happy to vote for Obama. In a similar vein, we might say Maine’s marriage laws have been defeated by a wave of Old Folks driven to the polls to get back at Democrats for threatening to dilute Medicare with universal coverage.

  51. Have you any reason to call my posting misfocused or falsely assuming something? Is disagrement enough for you to attack other peoples’ intelligence?

  52. Daniel Habtemariam

    This is a good point.

    It essentially comes down to the tendency to become less liberal as you age vs. any underlying real, lasting changes in social attitudes in those young people.

    I’m betting that, like civil rights for blacks, this is more the latter, but you make a good point in pointing out the former.

    It is difficult to stay a liberal as you age because , I think, doing so requires you to learn to accept new ideas and social dynamics. That takes effort, intellectual curiosity and an acceptance of change which is challenging for most people at any time. Conservatives on the other hand, often appear to have started out that way and never changed or questioned their beliefs. I think the difference is empathy; they lack it. Life changes you and not always for the better. So the trend as the years pile up is to become more conservative. Not everyone succumbs, though. I know a number of former 60s activists who never did, and I count them among the best of my friends.

  53. CBS from the West

    Well, maybe and maybe not. We really don’t know if the age-gradient in support for gay marriage is an age effect or a cohort effect.

    Maybe when today’s 18-29 year olds become 45-64 they will be more conservative in their social views. But perhaps not. Today’s 45-64 year olds have lived most of their lives in a society where homosexuality received little tolerance of any kind and accepting it has, for many, been a big stretch from what they were taught to believe growing up. Being in that age group myself I can tell you that homophobia was quite the norm in this cohort until pretty recently. By contrast today’s 18-29 year olds have lived most of their lives in a society where gays have come out of the closet and were tolerance of all kinds of differences has been much greater than it was. They have grown up with much more diversity of all kinds than the current crop of 45-64 year olds. So, I don’t see much reason to believe that as they age they will change in a more socially conservative direction.

    But, of course, only time will tell.

  54. I guess RA has never got a BJ. It’s kind of sad if you think about it

  55. TH,
    I think there is a difference between skin color and sexual behavior. Although you can argue being homosexual maybe a genetic trait, you still have a choice whether you engage in that behavior or not. Straight men may feel strong urges to commit adultery, but that doesn’t give them a free pass. I don’t wish to get in a back and forth quarrel with you—but comparing skin color to sexual behavior is apples and oranges.

  56. TH,
    I also might add something that gays would like to keep hush-hush: 70% of blacks voted FOR Prop 8, as did 53% of Latinos. Of course Prop 8 ELIMINATED the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California.

  57. That last sentence is confusing, but I think we understand you zic. At one time in North Korea (it may STILL be true) the proud/starving father of the bride-to-be could get a large bag of rice. I’m thinking you could get some undervalued assets there.

  58. It’s such a horrible thing when people feel the need to fulfill their civic duties huh TH??? If we could only get people to be more passive than they already are…….. I don’t suppose you have the percentage of those who voted on Tuesday in Maine who were over 65???

  59. We’ll have those statistics shortly, I’m sure. But I think TH was being sarcastic. I hope.

  60. James you wrote…. “It’s a sad day for people who believe that all couples who love each other should be allowed to marry, full stop.”

    Is that how you would write a public policy?

    How about adult siblings should they be allowed to be married….The extended childhood we see here is not present in most societies. In many cultures its not unusual for girls of 12-13 to marry…so how about loving marriages of older children and adults. How about arranged marriages of older children to adult relatives… how would the law detemine that they do or do not love one another.
    How about a parent marrying an adult child?

  61. LOL.
    A few years back, “scientists’ were “proving” that it was normal to be fat – all genetic etc. Nothing abnormal or for people to feel bad about. Anyone with common sense knew they were on an agenda.

    Oddly, I’ve never seen two male dogs, cats, cattle or horses having anal sex… it probably would a “current researcher” to be clever enough to detect it.

  62. Note that Obama has never voiced support for gay marriage. Certainly this could have just been a concession to boost his support among moderates or ease efforts at bipartisanship, but I suspect at this point that it is not political maneuvering and is what he actually believes.

  63. mullingitover

    “Homosexuality isn’t against imaginery “gods”, it’s against biology.”

    Well, that might be a point worth debating if it were true.

    However, homosexuality is common in the animal kingdom. Ranchers can explain to you how a certain percentage of rams will only mount other rams. Swans occasionally form lifelong same-sex bonds, going as far as to take over a nest and raise the young. So sorry, no, homosexuality is not against biology. In fact, the Nazis and fascists who you join in opposing same-sex rights used exactly the opposite argument you use. They asserted that it was biology, and that people should fight it because it was a animalistic act.

  64. And of course there are plenty of relationships (both homosexual and heterosexual) that lack any form of physical sexual component.

  65. CBS from the West

    The issue of incest has been raised here and in an earlier post on this blog. Apart from the genetic problems attendant on marriage of close relatives, I think there are strong reasons to distinguish parent-child marriage from gay marriage.

    Gay marriage, to echo an earlier post here, has only to overcome the “ick” factor, which, in time, it probably will.

    But parent-child relationships are fraught with all sorts of emotional baggage and power relationship issues. It is hard to see how any parent-child marriage could ever be regarded as the freely made choice of rational agents. Parent child relationships are inherently coercive, even when the people involved try hard to eliminate that.

  66. Perhaps, James, it would be better to keep future baselinescenario postings about matters of financial and economic sensibility and fairness rather than larger issues of social justice. The financial morality issues facing us are already enough that posters on this site struggle to contain their justifiable anger and frustration. It’s tough enough without the distraction of the current financial situation to discuss the social justice of same-sex unions when the word marriage is so freighted with each individual’s belief structures, and vice versa.

    I’m for same-sex marriages. My son and his partner deserves the same respect and support that I and my wife did. He and his partner are no less upstanding and honorable that we, and it’s time we recognized that fully.

  67. I don’t mind changing the SS law, inheritance law, immigration law, or whatever else is necessary to allow people with their unique needs to be met. Let’s start. Today.

  68. Ted, it’s been well known for many election cycles that many of the communities of color in this country are less supportive of LGBT issues than white communities are. It’s a real problem with LGBT persons of color. No LGBT leader I know denies or tries to hush this up. Now as for communities of color deciding the Prop 8 vote, more complex statistical work indicates that communities of color couldn’t have done that themselves.

  69. OK, Tim, so if marriage is an universal idea, when was that universal idea defined, and by whom? What you consider the universal idea (loving life-long commitment between a man and a woman who have chosen each other) would be absolutely alien to most cultures at most times in history. How can an ideal that has only existed for a few centuries in one part of the world be considered an ideal for all cultures at all times? A woman being the property of a man in marriage was not a *distortion* throughout most of history–it was the ideal.

    I’m sorry that you can’t follow the argument, but let me try to make it very simple. You’re arguing that your definition of marriage represents some sort of universal idea that transcends culture. By pointing out that your definition of marriage (which, BTW, I completely share except the part about excluding same sex partners from engaging in it) is an aberration from a global and historical perspective, I’m arguing that our modern view of marriage arises out of our culture. Please give me an example of a culture prior to the last few centuries where the norm was for young people to choose a spouse based on romantic attraction and then engage in a relationship where the two were on equal footing with neither partner subject to the demands of the other?

    And your point about slavery doesn’t make sense to me. You’re saying just because something was an historical norm doesn’t make it OK today. That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. Just because marriage has historically has been about the acquisition of a woman as property by a man doesn’t make it OK today. Just because marriage has historically not been about a romantic relationship doesn’t mean it can’t be today. And just because marriage has historically not been open to partners of the same sex doesn’t mean it can’t today.

    Polygamy would require a massive overhaul of the legal system, as others have already addressed here. Same-sex marriages requires no changes whatsoever other than the occasional gendered pronoun. On a moral level, I’m ambivalent. Historically polygamy has been about a very unequal relationship, with many women being the possession of a single man, so I don’t see that institution reviving in our culture today. But if a group of people was interested in legalizing polygamy, and could suggested a legal framework in which to do it, I wouldn’t close my mind to the possibility.

  70. You’re making a wild assumption that the only purpose for intercourse is to make babies. Sex is about a lot more than just making babies – that orgasm(s) at the end? yeah, that feels good. Especially when it’s with someone else. Not to mention the interpersonal connections associated with sexual acts.

    Who’s to say that those other attributes aren’t equally as important to “nature” as procreation? Clearly, not everyone is going to be gay, therefore, the species won’t die out from lack of procreation. In addition, bisexual men/women are capable of both.

    Your limited view of sex is…limiting.

  71. If Obama (or Ted K) is our “best friend” we are royally screwed without lube. I’m just curious what the hell you think Obama has done for “us”. Nothing but a bunch of platitudes. Didn’t say a word in the Prop 8 campaign, except some BS that supposedly supported marriage rights while sounding more like he was against them, and with the Prop 8 people prompty used in their own campaigns.

  72. CBS from the West

    “I think the difference is empathy; they lack it.”

    I would have said that too, until I moved out west and lived among conservatives and go to know them. In truth, I often observe conservatives exhibiting great empathy and making substantial sacrifices to help out others they know. To a degree that I find it difficult to imagine my liberal friends from back East doing.

    The way I think of it now is this: conservatives are deeply empathetic, but almost exclusively to people they know. Liberals are mildly empathetic towards almost everyone.

  73. Since when does homosexuality equate any specific sexual act? All it means is certain sexual and emotional attractions.

    And since when does anything in nature have to be restricted to one single use? Is using your penis for sex an “unnatural” abomination because it is also used for urinating? If not, then why can’t an anus or mouth be used for sex? Why do you reduce sex to the sole purpose of procreation? Doesn’t that make any nonprocreative sex “unnatural”, such as with your frigid postmenopausal wife. Humans are SOCIAL animals, and besides making babies, latent and overt sexual attraction underlies many SOCIAL bonds. If we were not SOCIAL animals, then all men would kill each other, and women would kill all their sexual competitors too.

    And since when is natural law defined by simplistic observations of selfrighteous douchenozzles? Science draws its conclusions by observing nature as it is, and not against some arbitrary standards set by cranky old men who stopped thinking in 7th grade. Of course examples of homosexuality among humans and other species for hundreds of years, but because of ideological and religious biases like yours they have been automatically discarded as abberations from supposedly real nature.

  74. oregano: “For same-sex couples to enjoy all the privileges and benefits that that hetero couples are entitled to, without using the word “marriage”, thousands of pages of law would have to be altered to use whatever phrase would be deemed correct. Good luck at that.”

    Really? I expect that a single piece of legislation saying that all rights and responsibilities incumbent upon married people under Federal legislation shall be extended to people who are in domestic partnerships or civil unions, as licensed by the states.

  75. Actually, humans are not the only species with homosexual behavior. Biology makes strange bedfellows. ;)

    Also, I notice that you left out the unbiological use of the mouth as a sex organ. Surely you are against mouth to mouth sexual contact, too.

  76. You said it RA.
    Homosexual acts are as abnormal as any act can be. If any species engages in it as a norm, it will go extinct in one generation. Thus how can it be treated as equivalent to normal heterosexual act? (I am an atheist, by the way.)

    And people are “proud” of it! Is it some sort of accomplishment? How?

    However, such abnormal acts between consenting adults should not be treated as unethical or immoral — any more than a person with six fingers on a hand should be looked down upon.

  77. Daniel: “It is difficult to stay a liberal as you age because , I think, doing so requires you to learn to accept new ideas and social dynamics. That takes effort, intellectual curiosity and an acceptance of change which is challenging for most people at any time. Conservatives on the other hand, often appear to have started out that way and never changed or questioned their beliefs. I think the difference is empathy; they lack it. ”

    You do not know what you are talking about.

  78. some guy in a cube

    Generational die-off will solve the problem, as illustrated vividly by the second graph. Overall, the world will be a better world once the baby-boomers and their geezer parents have turned to dust.

  79. MM: “Homosexual acts are as abnormal as any act can be. If any species engages in it as a norm, it will go extinct in one generation.”

    Not necessarily. There are species of all female lizards that, of course, reproduce without fertilization. Still, they have lesbian sex.

  80. Incest is not at all the same thing as gay marriage as there is a significant danger of genetic damage and thus the welfare of the children.
    Neither is arranged marriages which involves taking away the exploitation and denial of freedom for the children.
    Homosexual relationships have absolutely no negatives and many positives.

  81. postmodernprimate

    Scientific research contradicting deeply held preconceptions is the product of an agenda. Research confirming our suspicions is always sound science. Common sense says so.

  82. I think it’s ok for “Baselinescenario” to throw political issues and taboo topics out from time to time. You seem to be pro gay marriage. I am pro civil union (I think the line between the two is relatively small). I still find the topic awkward and there really is a certain “ick factor” involved here. I think the more it’s talked about in the open people can have more of a comfort zone with it.

    I believe homosexuality is a sin, and I can NEVER approve of it being named marriage. But life is short, and if people want to do that in their own home without throwing it in my face (which some gays apparently feel a deep need to do, to their own detriment) I really don’t care.