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Religion Hurts People
I'm reminded of a talk David Carr (formerly Washington City Paper editor, now a media columnist for The New York Times) gave on storytelling at the alternative newsweeklies convention a few years back. He said something like, "Don't write about poverty, write about how Sonya can't afford lunch."

When people talk about being for or against "gay marriage," it's a dry political issue of interest mainly to gays, lesbians, and frightened fundies. But, make it personal, and maybe there's a chance of getting through to a wider swath of the population. For example, this story from last year in The New York Times about what it means to an individual to keep gays from marrying. Damien Cave writes:

The cancer in Laurel Hester's lungs keeps her voice to a whisper, so a noisy public dispute over gay marriage was the last thing she wanted at the end of her life.

She said she only sought to leave her longtime partner, Stacie Andree, the pension she earned as an investigator with the Ocean County prosecutor's office so Ms. Andree could keep their house.

"I'm not on a crusade," said Ms. Hester, a 23-year veteran who once headed the county's narcotics division. "My concern is really that I don't have a lot of time left, and Stacie would not be able to afford the mortgage without assistance."

New Jersey law allows municipalities to extend domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples who work in local government. Dozens of New Jersey towns and counties have opted to do so, but Ocean County has not addressed the issue until Ms. Hester's case.

She first made her request to county officials last fall, soon after doctors discovered her cancer. But only last week did Ocean County freeholders respond. And after one board member, John P. Kelly, told The Asbury Park Press that the board had denied Ms. Hester's request because it would violate "the sanctity of marriage," she was reluctantly thrown into the glare of public scrutiny.

[On Wednesday, dozens of police officers from across New Jersey and New York, gay rights advocates, ministers and Representative Frank Pallone stood outside the county's brick offices in Toms River to protest the freeholders' decision.]

At least three state lawmakers - including Bonnie Watson Coleman, the Democratic Party chairwoman - have issued statements denouncing Ocean County, saying it is defying the spirit of New Jersey law.

Though Ms. Hester, 49, says she has no interest in marriage herself, her case has nonetheless come to be seen as a powerful weapon in the war over gay unions.

"There is a bigger context here," said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey gay rights group. "This only helps the cause of gay marriage because people are seeing that half-steps like civil unions are not providing people with real protection."

While my thinking is basically in line with the quote on a magnet Lena gave me -- "Let gays marry. Why shouldn't they be as miserable as the rest of us?" -- ultimately, I think there should be a system like the PACS in France to protect gays and straights who don't wish to get married but are in longterm partnerships. This "system" would be a way for them to grant rights to their partners -- rights to stay in an apartment, rights of inheiritance, right to the person's pension, parental rights to a child the two people are raising together, etc.

Two longterm partnered straight friends of mine have drawn up a legal agreement granting each other these and other rights, when legally possible. But, often the rights married people can have are simply unavailable to homosexuals because having them would require gay marriage -- which, of course, the fundanutters are so desperate to prevent.

Posted by aalkon at December 25, 2006 9:43 AM

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Comments

> "Don't write about poverty, write about
> how Sonya can't afford lunch."

There's no finer, more condensed explanation for why the average altweekly is such a shitty read. This laserlike focus on lonely pain obscures the boundary between failures of policy and those of individual responsibility. Stubbornly puerile rhetoric of this school has ruined many a soft taco, and sent the lunchcounter reader scampering quickly to the rear two thirds of the free tabloid in the hope that outcall prostitution ads --no matter how distasteful they may be-- will restore a context of adult feeling and economic clarity.

And then, all the sudden, you're talking about the New York Times... Poyfect.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 6:14 AM

I totally disagree. It's great writing advice - to make policy problems come to life by writing about those the effect, not keeping policy dry. Isn't "gays should have equal rights" less compelling than the story of the woman above? Don't take your problems about alt weeklies out of David Carr, who's a fantastic reporter and editor, and knows how to tell a story.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 6:16 AM

And futhermore (after shower):

What steps has this woman taken to pass on her property? Is there any reason to believe the surviving partner would be able to afford the house even if she was married? Are we saying that anyone who has a partner who dies gets a free house? What exactly is the fantasy we're pursuing here? I've filling out paperwork to make my executor of my living trust... Has this woman even done that?

(I'm very concerned that when I die, my niece won't be able to afford a waterside mansion in Malibu colony! Of course, there's no reason that she should, since I can't.)

> to make policy problems come to life

These thigns are only dry if you don't understand them. If you need to have your hearts strings plucked like a Hallmark commercial (soft focus, straw light, strings, twinkly logo) to care about this pivotal issue, then you're not the sort of person who's going to offer a helpful judgement anyway. The story is "compelling" because it's a stack of disproportions and frauds.

Bah Motherfucking Humbug!

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 6:36 AM

Whoops, that's paperwork to make my niece executor, etc....

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 6:37 AM

Crid, I believe you can't just pass your pension on to anyone...they have to be your spouse. If you can't marry your partner, you can't pass on your pension, no matter how many agreements you draw up.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 6:51 AM

And P.S. What about states that don't recognize a gay parent, and won't let the partner adopt the kid or have any real rights to it? If Mary Cheney and Heather Poe stay in Virginia, Heather Poe has no rights to their kid.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 6:56 AM

Maybe she can leave the pension, maybe she can't. Before we rejigger the foundation of civilization, I'd like to know whether or not these matters have been considered in this case. You seem eager to believe this is a slam-dunk without specifics. It's often the case that people make adjustments to their lifestyles when partners die. It happens all the time, and it doesn't mean the Man is oppressing anybody.

> What about states that don't
> recognize a gay parent

Amy, *I* don't recognize gay parents! Specifically: I know that gays have raised children since the dawn of time, and always will. But I think the best thing for a kid is a loving mother with loving father, and I want what's best for kids. States that keep their eyes on the ball are fighting the good fight.

Your rhetoric is telling, and I didn't put words in your mouth: "Heather Poe has no rights to their kid."

I don't know or care of Mary Cheney or her torpid little girlfriend. But you describe parenting with the same sense of consumer entitlement that you'd bring to a car warranty or a roofing contractor. There are a couple of generations of people who've grown up in such wealth that they simply can't think of the world except in those terms. "I have rights! That dry cleaner is going to PAY for letting me trip on his broken sidewalk! I'll sue! I'll get the city involved!"

I realize that many people, most especially women, feel an essentially erotic drive to bear and raise children, and that life won't seem whole without this. And I realize that many of the encumbrances on the human spirit have in recent centuries proven to be bogus (race enslavement, suppression of women, mistreatment of the handicapped, etc.). But it's just a planet, and we're bound by logic. What's best for kids is what's best for kids, and kids are the defenseless parties whose interests we need most to defend... I feel bad for people who want everything to be perfect, but the fact that it isn't doesn't mean there's a policy problem.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 8:09 AM

So Crid, if a child was raised from birth by two women, and then one of those women (the biological mother) dies, you think it's best for the child if the child is now considered an orphan and put into the public (taxpayer-funded) foster/adoption system? Or is it that you think that result is best for society in general, and therefore you don't care how bad it is for the individual child?

I know that you like to argue from how things "should" be rather than from how they are, but I'd like you to answer the actual question rather than just saying that two women shouldn't be raising a child together because it's better for a child to be raised by a mother and father.

Posted by: jenl1625 at December 25, 2006 9:33 AM

But I think the best thing for a kid is a loving mother with loving father, and I want what's best for kids.

So, are you going to remove rights from parents when they get divorced?

I think another best thing for a kid is to have parents who aren't dirt poor. Does that mean we're going to take away kids from poor people and give them to rich people?

Crid, I find the notion that a child can't have male role models without having one in the family is ridiculous. I've been meaning to post a link to a terrific Saletan piece on these topics we're discussing here. You've forced my hand. Here's the link and here's a quote:

http://www.slate.com/id/2156033

James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, says Cheney's pregnancy is a bad idea because a father "makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate," such as "a sense of right and wrong and its consequences." You must be kidding. Cheney's partner is a former park ranger. They met while playing collegiate hockey. If they want a night out to catch an NHL game, Grandpa Dick can drop by to read bedtime stories about detainee interrogation.

And P.S. Personally, I find it appalling that you need a license to cut hair, but only working ovaries to have a child. That said, until we start having people apply to me to see if they're fit parents before they're allowed to make babies, I think we're going to have to provide equal rights for all parents, not just the ones you or I think are best fit.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 9:47 AM

You're presenting a fait accompli. I'm saying two mommies isn't as good as a loving mommy and a loving daddy, and should be discouraged. We used to hear that in India or damn someplace, begging was a family business that would get handed down for generations. And eventually a parent would maim his child in infancy, hoping that visible impairment would make the pathetic appeals more productive.

A child deliberately (deliberately!) raised without an intimate experience of both masculine and feminine love is facing a rough ride anyway. For you to say "But that's the real world!" after you've done so little to correct the problem --or to actively solicit the bad outcome-- is disingenuous.

I care about nothing but individual children. The fulfillment of their parents is less of an issue.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 9:58 AM

Damn someplace is supposed to be some damn place. Typos are a big problem on legal holidays.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 10:00 AM

Amy, we covered "role models" yesterday. It's bullshit. It's a pathetic canard by which cowardly, undersocialized, egocentric women imagine that the contributions of a husband (whom they don't have the skills or affection to maintain) are irrelevant to their children.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 10:03 AM

I'm not diminishing the contributions of men; merely saying that you can say what's ideal until you turn red and green and sprout antlers, but that doesn't mean we should deny rights to gays, divorcees, or the poor.

If you want to talk about children being damaged for life, remove children from the homes of people who teach them not to think, and instead to believe, without thinking, that there's a big man in the sky who is looking out for them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 10:11 AM

Big Men in the Sky is your angle; I'm all secular and biological about this. I judge the rights of children as higher than those of gays, divorcees, and other grownups. The fact that people really, really want to have children doesn't mean they should.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 10:22 AM

I agree with you there. But, research by Judith Stacey and others shows that gays are excellent parents compared to the general population. Part of it, I'm sure, is the fact that gays and lesbians can't have children by accident.

What if gays are actually better parents than heterosexuals? What if the missing parent of the opposite sex (whether masculine or feminine) is a small detail when compared to the positives of gay parents versus hetero ones?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 11:18 AM

(First of all, thanks for the Xmas morning amusement for a lapsed Christian)

> gays are excellent parents compared
> to the general population

No. The gays who have thus far hopped through the hoops to adopt are more likely to want the kids --as would any adoptive parents-- than your average couple of married alcholics, who skew the curve disproportionately for straights in general. There's no reason to believe that gayhood makes one more competent at childrearing.

> What if the missing parent of the
> opposite sex (whether masculine
> or feminine) is a small detail

well, that's the daydream, isn't it? Seeing that daydream codified into law is when things get ugly. I wish all the politically correct straights --woman especially-- who glibly sign off on this one were compelled to think it through and shout it out loud in the town square at noon every Tuesday: "My femininity is NOT a blessing to my children!" It would be fun to watch.

Why are people so eager to think that their sexuality has no impact in this most personal realm or generation and nurturance? These are people who claim all sorts of sexual awareness and sophistication in every other issue.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 11:54 AM

Their sexuality does have an impact, and it seems to be a positive one, from the research I've read (Stacey's mainly). The thing is, the nuclear family is a relatively new invention, humanity-span-wise. If we really raised children in the environment that was best for them, it would probably be a group of five families, living together in a collective/complex/commune. Oops! There goes non-hippie western civ!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 12:26 PM

Ugghh. I gotcher village right here, Hillary... In my underpants.

It's time for a kibbutzim to stand up and say "It was a great way to be raised! I'm a thoughtful, sane, law-abiding individual who has balanced, rewarding relationships across the board!"

Nuke families have problems, but the best people always seem to have come from them.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 12:36 PM

Kids who grow up on kibbutzim are in too big a village. But, we evolved in hunter gatherer bands. Presumably, just as men today seek hot chicks (what we consider hot being a reliable indicator of fertility), and just as women today prefer a guy with a Ferrari to a guy with a beater, a family group the size of a hunter-gatherer band is probably the optimal environment for raising children.

You say nuke families breed the best people -- but I would say loving, conflict-free families breed the best people. A high-conflict nuclear family is probably not as good an environment as that provided by a single mother who earns enough to support her child, and gives the kid a conflict-free home. (By conflict-free, I mean, without heated, violent, and/or verbally abusive arguments.)

We don't have evidence of non-hippie hunter-gatherer-sized bands on children -- but perhaps there are a few researchers could look at. Because the data doesn't exist doesn't mean it's a lesser way to raise kids.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 1:04 PM

Well, maybe. But I strongly disagree about the peacefulness of a single mother's home. Having one rampaging ego running the shop can be abusive as hell, no matter how well-mannered te dinner table... Especially when a socially unrelieved (ahem) woman is exhausted from making ends meet. Parents who resolve conflict well are a great blessing. Remember the movie Harvey? "A little conflict's a good thing; it just means that everyone's taking part."

Also, I still want that hussy Hillary Clinton to mind her own beeswax.

For the record: as of 2pm, all the best exchanges today have been with Jewish people. They came in to work today too. Well, there was the Hispanics who sold me a half-caf early in the morning, but they were working in a bagel shop.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 2:05 PM

Hey, probably, the more the less hairy, of course. Speaking of which, is Harvey the movie with the giant bunny? -Amy The Forgetful Post-Jew

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 2:48 PM

Crud writes:

I'm saying two mommies isn't as good as a loving mommy and a loving daddy, and should be discouraged.

And has never proven this, never will prove this, but..."IT'S TRUE BECAUSE I SAY IT'S TRUE, GODDAMMIT! AND IF YOU DON'T AGREE WITH ME, YOU'RE A PETULANT TEENAGER!"

Posted by: Patrick at December 25, 2006 3:26 PM

Well, finally! I was beginning to think it was "The Day After," and Crid and I were the last two people on the planet.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 25, 2006 3:37 PM

Well, finally! I was beginning to think it was "The Day After," and Crid and I were the last two people on the planet.

If Crid and I were the last two people on the planet, I'd shoot myself.

Posted by: Patrick at December 25, 2006 6:48 PM

You wouldn't have to bother.

Posted by: Crid at December 25, 2006 7:19 PM

Yes, Harvey is the movie with the giant invisible rabbit. Based on the stage play by Mary Chase. Movie version starred Jimmy Stewart.

Posted by: Patrick at December 26, 2006 1:18 AM

Yikes! Leave town for a few days and miss a great back and forth.

Two issues here - property rights and parental rights.

Re: property rights, Amy wrote "Crid, I believe you can't just pass your pension on to anyone...they have to be your spouse." Amy, as the NYT article points out, this varies from employer to employer, even where your employer is a state or local agency. First reaction for any good libertarian should be "why can't she grant her hard-earned property rights to whoever she damn well pleases?" Second reaction for any hard-line libertarian should be "hey, she CHOSE to accrue a pension for 23 years she knew she couldn't pass on to a same-sex partner and she CHOSE to partner up with a woman who can't afford the house after she's gone. Its sad that Surviving Partner will have to sell the house, but not tragic and not worth poster-child status." Policy-wise, I favor the first. In this instance, though, I don't have much sympathy for the affected parties because of the second. Put it on the ballot and I'll vote for it, but don't expect to see me at any demonstrations.

Re: parental rights - Crid, I have far less of a problem with two committed same-sex partners who become parents than I do with the numerous single professional women who deliberately ("deliberately!") become single mothers because parenthood should not be denied them "just because" they can't find a man that can put up with them. I don't know if its particular to the profession, but I know a lot of female lawyers who profess the above.

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 26, 2006 12:51 PM

Snakeman, Much agreed, especially the second part. Much more damage is done by casual single motherhood than gays are likely to do. But we shouldn't throw gas on the fire, and the point with gays clarifies the larger issue.

The lawyer mommas are contentious egomaniacs. If they coiuldn't have kids, they'd be Scientologists.

> a great back and forth.

Amy's given me a lot a practice on this one. This particular exchange may have been a holiday gift.

Posted by: Crid at December 26, 2006 1:38 PM

First reaction for any good libertarian should be "why can't she grant her hard-earned property rights to whoever she damn well pleases?"

I agree.

And regarding the second, it's complicated. Straight people don't have to make these special plans; why should gay people?

And Crid, consider yourself lucky I was on deadline the whole time...but I did enjoy it...as always!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 26, 2006 3:05 PM

"And regarding the second, it's complicated. Straight people don't have to make these special plans; why should gay people?"

Which brings us to the last frontier of gay rights - the US Tax Code. Truth is, Miss Hester probably CAN name her partner (or any other person) as her designated pension beneficiary, but not with the same tax-preferred benefits that a "spousal" beneficiary would receive. Same thing usually happens when a parent designates a child (instead of a spouse) as beneficiary. And don't think MA same-sex spouses have it any better. The Federal Defense of Marriage Act (signed by Clinton!) dictates that for Federal purposes (including Federal taxes) a "marriage" may only be between a man and a woman.

I'm not even half-kidding when I call taxes the last frontier for gay rights. Truth is, most of the other legal benefits of marriage (community property, medical power of attorney, posthumous preference for inheritances with no will) are state-driven and can be obtained by motivated same-sex partners who are willing to do a little homework and move to a friendly jurisdiction. When the US Supremes finally take on the gay marriage issue, it will likely be two same-sex adults filing a joint tax return who provide the test case.

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 26, 2006 4:17 PM

How will that test go? What's in it for the taxpayer?

Posted by: Crid at December 26, 2006 7:19 PM

Certain married taxpayers receive a benefit for filing jointly that they would not otherwise get if they each filed separately.

OR a same-sex spouse will claim that they are entitled to receive their wealthy dead partner's estate free and clear of estate tax, something unmarried beneficiaries who receive more than 2 million from a spouse cannot currently do. The IRS will audit the estate tax return, the taxpayer will protest and lose in court, claiming that MA law says they are married (or in CA or NJ, the equivalent of married) and challenge the Defense of Marriage Act up to the Supreme Court.

OR a same-sex spouse will claim that they are entitled to a tax-free rollover of their dead partner's 401k into their own retirement plan. The plan administrator will not allow this. The surviving partner will sue the plan and so on and so on.

The major queries will be whether or not the Constitution even authorizes the Feds to define "marriage," and if so, whether the Federal interest in doing so outweighs the states' rights to determine what constitutes a marriage in their borders.

This is what makes the decision from a few years ago overturning arcane anti-sodomy laws so sinister. While gays hailed that unanimous decision as a step forward, it really overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, a decades-old case which had previously upheld anti-sodomy laws because each state was held to have had an interest in determining what constituted a lawful sexual union between two parties. By overturning Bowers, the US Supreme Court could theoretically be laying the groundword for arguing that those states no longer hold that same interest, when compared against the Federal interest in defining marriage.

But that's just the conspiracy theorist in me.

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 26, 2006 10:16 PM

Self-correction - The Pension Protection Act, signed into law this past August will allow post 12/31/06 tax-free rollovers to non-spouse beneficiaries (same sex partners, brothers, sisters, neighbors, etc.) for 401k, 403b, and IRA plans. Still, though, you get the idea. The tax code is rife with marriage-based preferences.

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 26, 2006 10:30 PM

Thanks for posting that. A step forward.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 26, 2006 10:53 PM

I meant the other taxpayers, but good to know.

It's difficult to worry much for people with millions to pass along, whatever their preference. But my larger point is that much of the financial value in these discussions is going to be paid by somebody somewhere. If one class of people is given a preference, everybody else picks up the slack.

So tell me again what's in it for the rest of us if gays marry? What are we trying to encourage?

Posted by: Crid at December 27, 2006 7:04 AM

How about civil rights? Equal protection under the law? I know, I know. Nothing prevents gay people from marrying members of the opposite sex and obtaining all the legal benefits of marriage. Except of course their preference to not marry that person.

Crid, I hear you loud and clear re: the cost. Clearly anytime tax subsidies are extended, the rest of us are picking up the tab. But that's an argument against marriage-based tax preferences, not gay marriage itself.

I even agree with you that children are best served by having one mommy and one daddy. But at some point, I think you have to say that's just not going to happen for everyone. Given the vast numbers of unadopted unwanted children, shouldn't we be opening up more channels to give these kids homes headed up by two committed parents . . . who happen to both be of the same gender?

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 27, 2006 7:57 AM

But that's an argument against marriage-based tax preferences

I'm against those too, but as long as the straights can get 'em by pairing up with the person they love/are attracted to, we have to make them available to the homos, too.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 27, 2006 8:20 AM

> that's an argument against marriage-
> based tax preferences

Not at all! You're more of a card-carrying libertarian than I am... Though that's probably a contradiction in terms. You're at least more reflexively egalitarian. I think it's OK for society to say that some kinds of arrangements are better than others in the broadest sense, and more deserving of support and encouragement.

> unadopted unwanted children, shouldn't
> we be opening up more channels to give
> these kids homes headed up by two
> committed parents . . . who happen
> to both be of the same gender?

I think that's a wonderful idea, particularly for the older and more troubled kids. But that's not what gays are looking for, now is it? I think a loving mommy and a loving daddy is what's best. But human nature persists, even during adoption. And adoptive parents tend to want a perfect (newborn/healthy/white) baby.

> we have to make them available
> to the homos, too.

Do not!

Posted by: Crid at December 27, 2006 9:11 AM

Wait! There's more!

> Equal protection under the law?

At present, everyone's precisely equal, whaddya want?

> Except of course their preference...

Libertarianism is a wonderful set of tools, but if you think the world should cave to your "preferences," no matter how heartfelt, you're on the wrong planet.

> children are best served by

And I'm sure you want what's best!

> you have to say that's just not going
> to happen for everyone

No, it's just not going to happen for SOME of them. Do we get to choose which ones? OK, then to Hell with the black babies. No! Wait! To Hell with the Asians... There are billions of 'em! Or the short ones. Or the dim ones, the 'tards. Or the crippleds....

Do you have a problem making these selections? I knew you would.

Listen, I think two loving, competent, sober parents of the same sex is second-best. Before I sign off on them as adopters, I'm going to want to be really sure the kid has no better options. This will be a cumbersome process, but at this date, it's as far was we should go.

Posted by: Crid at December 27, 2006 4:37 PM

"Listen, I think two loving, competent, sober parents of the same sex is second-best. Before I sign off on them as adopters, I'm going to want to be really sure the kid has no better options. This will be a cumbersome process, but at this date, it's as far was we should go."

Given the vast number of horrible alternatives, I see nothing wrong with encouraging the "second-best" choice.

And your equal protection claim is prediated on the notion that gays should not be treated as a protected class . . . i.e. that being gay is not an immutable trait, but a chosen one. While I'm not a believer in the mythical gay gene, I'm not willing to conclude that being gay is a strict cognizant choice.

Posted by: snakeman99 at December 28, 2006 2:24 PM

> I see nothing wrong with encouraging the
> "second-best" choice.

Fine, but just for Negro babies, OK?

No?

Which of us gets to decide which babies don't deserve the best? Human aspiration is a funnel. The best are defined at the skinny part, not the wide part. I want what's best for those who can't defend their own interests... All of them. We'll rate *them* later... They're just kids for now.

> prediated on the notion that gays should
> not be treated as a protected class . . . i.e.
> that being gay is not an immutable trait,
> but a chosen one.

What on Earth makes you think so?

I hate it when Allan Bakke, a recessive performer in his 30's, takes up space belonging to more skilled (and youthful) individuals in developmental paths demanding excellence. I don't want to be a passenger in a 767 helmed by a trisomy airline pilot, even if the wine in plastic bottles is especially fruity that day. I'm tired of being asked to admire blind people climbing Everest... Why climb a mountain if you can't see it?

My "equal protection claim" applies to children, not parents. I care nothing for the 'cognition' of anyone old enough to be licensed to drive.

I'm short! Shorter than many, anyway, and I didn't choose to be short! Nonetheless, it's good that I'm not a power forward for the Phoenix Suns.

Who cares whether our constraints are volitional? They're still constraints.

Posted by: Crid at December 28, 2006 5:16 PM

First reaction for any good libertarian should be "why can't she grant her hard-earned property rights to whoever she damn well pleases?"

She can, as long as it's a man. She could marry some dude off the street, just a random guy she met last week. He could have nothing in common with her, he could be gay himself, he could be a murderer. It could be Lance Bass. It could be O.J. And the marriage would be completely legal. O.J. could claim her pension. But her life-partner of how ever many years could not. The "what's best for the children" argument is complete bullshit. You could list a thousand factors that are more important to a good life for a child, and exactly zero of them are at all required to get married or have kids. The only reason to be against gay marriage is that you are a bigot. You can justify it based on your "religion," but if your religion says you're a bigot, you're still a bigot.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at December 28, 2006 5:31 PM

> You could list a thousand factors that
> are more important to a good life for
> a child

We note that in 150 words, you couldn't make time to list even one of them. But you made room for "bullshit" once, and "bigot" three times.

Looking down on others is a fundamental human need. People will contort their logic and compassion grotesquely to get it fulfilled.

Posted by: Crid at December 28, 2006 6:02 PM

We note that in 150 words, you couldn't make time to list even one of them.

So you're saying that since I haven't specifically enumerated them, there aren't any other factors to how well a child is being raised, that the sexual orientation is the only thing that matters when raising children. Gay parents = crappy upbringing; Straight parents = great upbringing, perfect children. Yes, of course.

And I'm sorry I was mean and called you a bigot. And said that your argument was bullshit. But you hate gays, and that's really your whole argument. And by "hate" I mean you want to deprive them of what seems to you maybe not much. But really, isn't the ability to take care of the people you care about the most important thing in the world to most of us? If you can't marry, you can't make sure your spouse gets your pension. You can't make sure that your child won't be taken from your care. If you don't hate gays, why would you want to do this to them?

You talk about "The Foundation of Civilization" as if marriage wasn't originally the set of rules for how men treated women as property. It has evolved into the set of laws that define our rights and responsibilities toward our designated loved ones. And everyone should be entitled to equal protection under those laws.

And when you say "Looking down on others is a fundamental human need. People will contort their logic and compassion grotesquely to get it fulfilled." my response, of course, is: "I know you are, but what am I?"

Posted by: Jon Tyken at December 28, 2006 7:25 PM

> that the sexual orientation is
> the only thing that matters
> when raising children.

No; I'm saying children deserve a loving mother and a loving father in the home. How did you misread this?

> I'm sorry I was mean

We'll both move into a bold new dawn of mutual admiration, trancending the wretchedness of this moment.

> everyone should be entitled
> to equal protection under
> those laws.

The law presently makes no distinctions, and everyone is protected equally. Right?

> "I know you are...

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Good luck out there.

Posted by: Crid at December 28, 2006 7:42 PM

>No; I'm saying children deserve a loving mother and a loving
>father in the home. How did you misread this?

There are a lot of reasons that children are deprived of having both a loving mother and a loving father. But gays being allowed to marry has never been one of them. For a long time, getting married and having kids have been becoming less and less a necessary pair. And I'd agree with you that't not a good thing. But preventing gays from marrying DOES NOT prevent kids from having the perfect nuclear family. Gays can still have kids (not with each other, I guess, but somehow they do it. I'll leave the science to the scientists.) And the thousand other secret things that ruin childhood continue to do so.

>The law presently makes no distinctions, and everyone is
> protected equally. Right?

Straight people can get married. Gay people can't. Everyone is NOT protected equally.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at December 28, 2006 8:30 PM

> There are a lot of reasons that
> children are deprived of having
> both a loving mother and a loving
> father.

Yes, and almost all of them suck: In most cases the deprivation is a failure of human judgment. By the adults, not the children.

> have been becoming less and
> less a necessary pair

What makes you think so?

> having the perfect
> nuclear family.

I know I'm dealing with a reflexive, unthinking liberal when I hear talk about how this-or-that position doesn't make things "perfect" for everyone in every circumstance all the time. What planet could work that way? Policy should benefit the greatest possible number of individuals while protecting the interests of those who can't speak for themselves.

> Straight people can get
> married. Gay people can't.

Sure they can... Just not to each other. They have the same rights as everyone else.

Posted by: Crid at December 28, 2006 8:57 PM

>this-or-that position doesn't make things "perfect" for everyone
>in every circumstance all the time.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't prohibit gay marriage because it's not a perfect solution; I'm saying (and pay close attention, if it wasn't rude I'd type it in all caps):

Even if the best case scenario is a mom and a dad, prohibiting gay marriage does not in any way improve the lives of any children anywhere, you idiot.

And yes, I've gone all "ad hominem." Because if you actually believe that:

>They have the same rights as everyone else.

Then you're not even arguing honestly. It's one thing to say you don't think the homos should get equal treatment, to get what we have, for whatever reason, but to insist that they're just petulant and asking for those elusive "special rights," extra pudding that you or I can't have, is just being a douchebag.

So I'm going to finish with "mean" again, and point out that straight guys have no reason to hate gay guys. Every gay guy is less competition for us to get women. So why do people hate? Jealosy is a good reason. When you see someone who does something that you want to do, but you can't because you're too afraid to come out of your closet. If only there was a recent news event that I could use to illustrate my point...some anti-gay preacher maybe...well crap, I've overloaded Google.

Just so you don't accuse me of implying something untoward, I'll say it outright: people who hate gays, (and you hate gays), are most likely to be huge closet cases.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at December 28, 2006 9:35 PM

> I'm not saying that we shouldn't
> prohibit gay marriage because
> it's not a perfect solution;

You brought up perfection; I'll settle for doing what's best.

> Even if the best case scenario
> is a mom and a dad, prohibiting
> gay marriage does not in any way
> improve the lives of any children

That part is self contradictory...

> you idiot.

... And that part's hurtful!

> I've gone all "ad hominem."

What's with the quotation marks? You did that earlier with "religion."

> if you actually believe

Do I need to hold your hand and walk you through this? Homosexuals presently have the same legal opportunites for marriage available to everyone else. Settle down and think for a minute; can you list one right that they don't have that straights do have? Word your response thoughtfully. We'll get through this together.

> for those elusive "special rights,"

More quotation marks! They're petitioning for a legal variance on the basis of interior conditions. Is that not a special right?

> just being a douchebag.

It's upsetting to see you talk this way.

> I'll say it outright:

It tickles when you peer into my soul like that!

Perhaps your mother had no femininity or your father had no masculinity, or you're parents weren't around and the people who were had no genitals at all. But otherwise it's difficult to understand why people think sex is so unimportant in parenting. What is the source of this fantasy? Did I miss a special Brady Bunch episode or something?

Posted by: Crid at December 28, 2006 9:56 PM

The right to free speech doesn't mean you have the right to speak as much as you want, as long as you say things that agree with the government. It means you have the right to say what you want. And the right to get married means you have the right to marry the person that you want to. (And before you go all Rick Santorum on me, four-year-olds are the yelling fire and slander of this analogy. So "...with that person's adult consent.")

And by the way, your argument must be a little weak if you're reduced to attacking my punctuation.

And finally:

>"it's difficult to understand why people think sex is so
>unimportant in parenting."

I don't know about you, but my parents never had sex with me.

And I'm out of here.

Posted by: Jon Tyken at December 28, 2006 10:25 PM

> the right to get married
> means you have the right
> to marry the person that
> you want to.

No. You have the right to marry an unmarried, unrelated, sane person of the opposite sex within a broad age range who will have you.

> you're reduced to attacking
> my punctuation.

Just trying to read the tea leaves.

> my parents never
> had sex with me.

Sex is about more than fucking. Ask anyone.

Posted by: Crid at December 29, 2006 4:26 AM

You know crid, you never answered the firstquestion put to you.

If the biological parent of a child dies do you think it is better to leave that child with the only surviving prent they know - or to take them away because you belive that homosexuls shoudnt have kids.

And i have to say that while i rarely agree with anything you have to say, at least your agruments are usualy thought out and have some sort of reasonble basis.

But here, where it is so oviously apparent to everyone how bigoted you are on this subject - everything you sayjust rings hollow.

Posted by: lujlp at December 30, 2006 7:24 PM

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