Thursday, March 28, 2013

Response to Greg--The Role of Government in Marriage Equality

The primary area where I believe Greg has gone wrong in the role of the federal government and marriage equality is that he has defined marriage equality as an issue of morality rather than as one of liberty. His primary premise is that government should not have a place in determining morality. It is because I agree with him that I support marriage equality. In fact, it is in the status quo, where homosexuals are denied marriage equality, that the government is mandating morality.

Greg begins his response by claiming that "it is not the place of institutions of the federal government to prescribe laws regarding individual morality." The question is not whether or not the government has a role in mandating morality, but whether or not the government ought to recognize multiple moral systems. I agree with Greg that "the government is not the arbiter of morality," and so I stand against definitions of marriage as being between a man and a woman and disagree with the Defense of Marriage Act. These constitute a government arbitration of morality.

If the court were to strike down Proposition 8, it would not be a mandate that everyone be forced to believe that homosexual marriages are valid, moral, or correct. It is not a judgment of morality, but rather a declaration that all, regardless of their moral beliefs on the issue, are equal before the law, as guaranteed in the 5th and 14th amendments to the constitution.

Greg argues that "ANY type of marriage amendment or Congressional law regarding the definition of marriage would be legally odious" (emphasis added.) And so my question is this: by that same declaration, are not amendment and acts that define marriage as being between a man and a woman then legally odious? Recognition of same-sex marriages forces no one to redefine their individual definitions or beliefs concerning marriage. It has nothing to do with the arbitration of morality. In recognizing same-sex marriage, no one is forced to do anything immoral. It merely opens up room for differing views on morality, which ought to be conducive to a society in which, as Greg claims, "the government is not the arbiter of morality."

After some explaining, Greg says that "to a certain degree, marriage is sanctioned and regulated by the legal system, and rightly so." Here he is completely denying his former claim that government should have no place in arbitrating morality, because while equal recognition of same-sex marriages by the state inhibits no one from acting on their moral beliefs, denying or banning same-sex marriage recognition by the state denies the rights and benefits associated with marriage on moral grounds. If you are going to make the argument that government ought not to arbitrate on morality, then the libertarian conclusion that the state should have no role whatsoever in either heterosexual or homosexual marriage seems much more logically consistent than the conclusion that marriage "rightly" "sanctioned and regulated" "to a certain degree."

In his explanation of why marriage is regulated, Greg explains that "equality of protection and guarantee of individual rights does not entitle every individual to all legal statuses, protections, and titles possibly enjoyed by an individual or other social unit." I absolutely agree. Equality of protection does not guarantee all possible legal statuses to everyone. This point, however, is moot as it is a complete red herring. No one is arguing that all possible political statuses should be granted to everyone. And so the question is not general, but specific: why is it that recognized status of marriage and its entailed rights and protections granted only to heterosexual and not to homosexual couples (of course not covering here the perhaps more important question of what gives the state the right to grant statuses, privileges, and protections in the first place). Greg's specific argument is that the current legal definition of marriage is a contract between a man and a woman (which seems to me to be a legal moral mandate of the sort we ought to oppose).

Greg gives three reasons as to why this legal definition ought to endure, all of which are either irrelevant to the question at hand or in direct contradiction to his own premises. The three reasons he provides are "the propagation of the species, correct socialization of children, and morality promoted via families..." The first point, as to the propagation of the species, is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. The legalization of same-sex marriage will have no impact on the propagation of the species, because homosexual individuals will continue to be homosexual either way, and heterosexual unions will continue either way. Marriage equality is simply the recognition of unions that are already taking place. This will not impact the propagation of the species. This point is completely irrelevant. Any degree of research will show that homosexual unions are not new and have existed throughout history, and yet the species continues to propagate. A much more persuasive argument is that economic development slows down the propagation of the species as families in developed countries have far fewer children than those in developing nations. If the continuation of the species is our concern, perhaps a more apt target would be modernization and economic growth, and not homosexual unions. As for the "correct socialization" of children, this argument presupposes that the government's role is to mandate what this correct socialization ought to be. The multiplicity of cultures and sub-cultures within the United States necessitates an argument already established at the beginning, when Greg so succinctly states that the "government is not the arbiter of morality." As for morality being promoted via families, I believe that the subject of children raised in families of same-sex couples deserves its own post, so lets put that to the side for now. Though I will say that it is unfair to call my argument, which is also backed up by research and studies, "naive and ultimately very weak." The only actual evidence he cited was the effects of divorce. Divorce is the exact opposite of same sex marriage, and so I don't quite see the relevance. I will address this in my next post.

Greg fundamentally misunderstands the issues at hand when he argues that "to suggest that the legal "title" of marriage is essential for the pursuit of happiness even when same sex couples are allowed to be together and enjoy equal rights and protection under the law is to have a rather shallow view of happiness." The argument at hand has very little to do with happiness and the supposedly "shallow views" thereof (this coming from a religious tradition that teaches marriage is necessity for eternal happiness), and more to do with justice, liberty, and equity. 

My argument can be summarized succinctly: I agree that the role of the government is not to arbitrate morality, and so it ought to expand its recognition of different views of morality instead of only recognizing unions legitimized by one moral system.

The deep irony is that in arguing the government should not arbitrate on morality, those in opposition to marriage equality are actually upholding a moral arbitration.


  1. Sorry,this is from my phone, so my response length is understandably limited due to time of text entry. I should have been more clear in my initial post. When referring to the State or the federal government, I am not referring to state governments. Of course it is incumbent upon state governments to regulate acts such as stealing, murder, etc. The federal government, specifically the supreme court, is invested with the power to determine Constitutionality of such laws based on due process grounds.I never suggested anything to the contrary, although to be fair my writing was not very clear. Sorry. So when I referred to any law of such and such a nature as being odious, it was with reference to national law,especially considering that the legislation of such laws specifically is not within the enumerated powers of Congress. I believe that cleans up the first few paragraphs of this post. Thus clarified, I believe it is safe to say you agree with me. More later, as I am at work.

  2. Then I assume you are opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act on the federal level?

  3. After reading the text of the act I need to retract part of my statement, when writing my original post,I did not consider legitimate instances in which the federal government would need to discriminate between different demographics, such as with taxation. There are also federal laws that I do not agree with personally, but which are nevertheless law. These laws also require demographic differentiation (social security is an example). From my understanding of the law, I believe it is section 3,it affirms the already unwritten definition of marriage in such instances. To my knowledge, section 3 is the only section which has been found unconstitutional, but an important point is that it does not deny anybody due process or equal protection. It merely affirms a legal definition. If the law stated that in such instances as taxation, homosexual couples could not be given the same consideration, then it would definitely be unconstitutional. But it doesn't, and there is no reason addendum cannot be made to tax or other federal policy in order to equally benefit all.

    So why all the trouble to keep the definition of marriage the way it is? Society has a vested interest in promoting the excellent functionality of its central unit. A mother and father creating children and tutoring them in correct morals and social behavior. This is especially true for members of the LDS... you know what? It is really bugging me to type all of this with my phone. So I will finish it when I get a computer.

    1. Greg, minus five points for me since I'm interrupting you while you're in transition between devices.

      If I'm not mistaken with where you're going, the argument you're in the middle of presenting assumes the burden of proving that equal legal recognition of homosexual and heterosexual unions as marriages will be dysfunctional, i.e., that it will hinder the education of children in "correct morals and social behavior," etc., which, of course, assumes the additional burden of addressing learned behaviors that are morally superior and yet are less easily learned within a society as a result of the equal legal recognition of homosexual and heterosexual unions as marriages.

      If that's not where you were going with your argument, please don't accept the burden of covering all of those bases (especially when the LDS Church no longer teaches that sexual orientation is a learned behavior).

      Again, I don't mean to throw off the flow of your argument; I just want to maintain a healthy discussion. Thanks.

    2. *addressing=demonstrating

    3. To add to your response here, not only do you have the burden of proof that same-sex couples are unable to provide the benefits of "correct morals and social behavior." (evidence for this is fairly weak but good luck) but you should also clarify the actual thrust of your objection to same-sex marriage.

      It seems that you started from a moral background claiming religious teachings sufficient to legislate a moral argument, moved to a legally based constitutional argument, and are now arguing an evidence based consequential issue.

      If it is all three you might want to break them up or label them separately.

  4. As to the issues that you addressed Ryan, my point was going to be simply this (also, I'm glad somebody is keeping points. Isn't that what this is about? hee hee):

    1. Changes to the "traditional" family, whether through death, divorce, etc. have had a demonstrably negative effect on children and society in general. Therefore, we should approach changes very cautiously it at all. However, please note that I have not said research proves that children raised by same sex couples are at a disadvantage, be it sexually, psychologically, etc., as compared to other children. I think it was assumed I did, but that is putting words in my mouth. Changes such as death and divorce necessarily involve a change in the gender of present parents and thus cannot be disregarded when considering same-sex parenting. The idea of same sex marriage and parenting is relatively new enough that significant sample sizes for any kind of research data are out of the question, meaning studies on both sides claiming one thing or another are premature in prognosis. Essentially, the jury is still out (I mean, come on. Social scientists are just now realizing the effects of the increase in divorce that started in the 70s) on this particular point. Supreme Court justices seem to share this opinion.

    2. Society has a vested interest in promoting marriage as an ideal. I am not saying that two homosexuals can't teach an adopted child not to steal. My point was that "a mother and father creating children and tutoring them in correct morals and social behavior" is the ideal that society should sanction with the legal title of marriage, for a variety of reasons (Also, just an... ahem... aside: Interesting that you left "creating children" out of your responses when quoting my previous posts, as that is an integral issue in this debate). If you want an arguable philosophical defense of this idea take a look here:

    I refer you to this article (about 40 pages... sorry) to avoid presenting Girgis, George, and Anderson's ideas as my own, but also because I sincerely doubt my ability to present their argument briefly and intelligently.

    Is that not your bag? How about Kant? Prove to me that homosexuality is not socially objectionable on deontological grounds. That would require you to refute Kant's first (homosexual behavior) and second (surrogate parenthood, heterosexual sex for reproduction purposes only, and a variety of other issues) formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Nobody has been able to "categorically" dismiss (see what I did there?) either in the last few centuries.

    1. Ok, lets talk about Kant. But first, to answer 1 and 2

      1) At least you acknowledge that the evidence is sketchy on both sides, but it still seems that you are now focusing on a consequential framework. Is this really the case, or are you simply attempting to justifying a deeper objection?

      Let's assume that this is a consequential issue. On balance, the harm to gay couples is very real (tax exemption, visitation rights, health benefits), and the possible harm to children is unproven and hypothetical. In most consequential frameworks you weigh real costs heaver than hypothetical costs. That is the first reason you support gay marriage.

      Next, the effects of the breakdown in marriage are often instability at home and single parenting. The gender of the remaining single parent is not a significant factor as far as I have seen? This disparity can reasonably be explained by the dysfunctional relationships, poor examples at home and the lack of enough attention/support from the single remaining parent. Trying to explain these effects through the lens of only a single present gender seems like a stretch when there are more immediate and obvious causes and in most divorse, both gender of parents have some sort-of access ranging from rare holidays to 50-50.
      It is a truth that gay people have kids. If the children is your primary concern this is the second reason you should support gay marriage as it provides this stability and attention, as well as tax credits, social services, healthcare from jobs, hospital visitation rights etc.

      Ok but I will grant you your general point in 1). We don't have much data to prove that children will not be harmed. We don't have much reason to believe otherwise, but you are correct that a few conservative justices expressed this worry. So this lack of evidence of the harms on both sides still lends itself to supporting gay marriage, as harms to gay couples and same-sex families is already evident and proven. To follow up:

      1) To get this data, don't we need to have an experimental group? Would you support gay marriage in a few states in order to gain this data?
      2) If we have thorough evidence that gay parents are just as good/bad as straight parents down the road, will you support gay marriage?
      3) Am I mistaken, but were you advocating for civil unions as an alternative previously? The consequences for civil unions to society/children will likely be the same as marriage? Is there a distinction in the harms?

      Lastly, the analogy of look what happened when we messed with traditional marriage in the past "death, divorce, etc." are not analogous to gay marriage with two stable parents at home. It's probably more similar to the interracial marriage debate that made the same claims, that it would harm the children and degrade society, but the courts overruled the argument before the evidence was available based on immediate loss of liberty and present harms.

    2. Ok 2)
      "a mother and father creating children and tutoring them in correct morals and social behavior is the ideal"
      Why is this the ideal? The only research that I have seen demonstrates this only by comparing two parent households to single parent households. There are no major studies (to my knowledge) that control for the sex of these two parents as gay parents are rare and it is difficult to get a sufficient sample size. You need to warrant the gender part of this claim first before we buy the argument.

      "creating children"
      The act of creating children as the supreme court justices questioned is certainly not exclusively the reason for marriage. There is no survey requiring intent to procreate or fertility test. While physical procreation may even be the primary benefit of marriage (I will grant you this for now), it is not an exclusive one: sterile individuals, the elderly, or those intending not to have children may also get married. We can promote procreation with marriage, but we do no exclude people based on it. Further, the assumption is that gays are already not procreating, so by restricting them from the other rights and benefits, you are gaining nothing, while doing substantial harm. This may be the primary reason a consequential framework supports gay marriage.

      Let me turn this argument in the following ways.
      1) Gay marriage increases physical procreation through donors, IVF etc.
      2) Science recently allows for two men to procreate genetically, they still need a rent-a-womb, but more and more straight couples do as well.
      3) As a consequential argument, gay marriages relieve the social pressure/cost of parentless kids and can be an alternative to abortion. And single parents, gay parents, or straight parents are certainly better than being homeless, orphanages, or temp/unstable foster care.

      Ok so as a conclusion, if you view this as a consequential issue, it seems that the evidence we do have largely supports gay marriage, as hypothetical harms to society are largely unwarranted. To win on the consequential side you need to positively prove with evidence the real harms to children and society, hypothetical are insufficient.

    3. Yay Kant!
      “Nobody has been able to "categorically" dismiss (see what I did there?) either in the last few centuries.”
      Well there are many that argue the categorical imperative supports gay marriage, and I can link them later if you want, but first allow me to make some history...

      My guess is that while you worry a little about the effects of same-sex parents, even if there was a ton of evidence suggesting otherwise you still wouldn't support it, so you aren't really a consequentialist (although I would argue that the government should be, and we can also talk about this later). I don't think you are against gay marriage because of Kant, but this might be getting closer to your real objection.

      Ok, lets break this down.
      In general your Kant arguments are just a misunderstanding of the Categorical Imperative, and it seems you are selecting poor maxims. While it is true that Kant himself thought homosexuality was “unnatural,” personal views of individuals in the late 1700s should have little influence on the current debate due to cultural mores. (It is thought by some that Kant himself was gay and this could be classic 16th century self-loathing, but that is a different discussion, he never married, but may have had an affair with a woman?)

      1) First formulation: Ok so the question is whether gay marriage can be applied universally. I assume you think this fails the first formulation because the proposed maxim would force all individuals universally into gay marriage, and the straight people wouldn't like it. Or that you are assuming that the entire society would be gay and not procreate? Is either correct? You didn't provide your maxim or explain the point so I am going off assumptions.
      The problems with the two interpretations above are fairly obvious, a society exclusively made up of homosexuals would still certainly be able to procreate, but this form of universalism is not what the first formulation assesses. We could either argue that yes they could still procreate, or use a more logical interpretation which works with the current population of homosexuals, 2-10%. Still plenty of “breeders.” And enforcing universal gay marriage only fails if you remove choice, which any moral maxim would allow; a simple rephrasing makes it pass.

      Here is how gay marriage would pass the fist formulation. Use the maxim that “Any rational adults who wish to enter into marriage with the intent of lifetime commitment/stability for rearing children/or to (as kant puts it) "return its personality" to the sex act, be allowed to do so” This means that only those who are gay would chose a gay marriage, there are no apparent contradictions to making this a universal law, and no individual has their rational standing violated by being forced into an institution.
      In fact, allowing this action actually reinforces the fact that a society ought not deny the rational standing of individuals, and should always respect them as rational actors.

      2) But the second formulation is where it gets more interesting, and Kant may directly provide more support here.

      First the nontechnical argument. It is only with a simplistic view that surrogates or heterosexual sex fail the second formulation and is a common mistake of misinterpreting the “mere” part of “as a mere means to an end.” Surrogates are hardly being used as a mere means to an ends. In most cases, financial compensation nullifies this argument, but in many cases, it is an active choice made out of the love of a friend that is willing to gift a same-sex couple the joy of being parents. The only way this would fail is if the assistance in procreation were forced upon the individual, such as rape. Which it isn't, so gay marriage doesn't fail the second formulation.

    4. Second, the second formulation actually supports gay marriage by further legitimizing sex to ensure that it is not just a mere means to an ends. The marriage contract is essential in order to avoid failing the second formulation. So Kant says that sex often does fail the second formulation because sexual desires is often a drive to use someone as a mere means to your ends. The best way to avoid this is through marriage.
      “There is only one condition under which this is possible: that while one person is acquired by the other a if it were a thing, the one who is acquired acquire the other in turn; for in this way each reclaims itself and restores its personality.”
      So in order to prevent gay couples from using each other immorally by breaking the second formulation, we need gay marriage “to restore its personality.” This works as long as the marriage is consensual and they surrender completely.

      And why don't we finish off with the 3rd Formulation.
      In the realm of ends, gay marriage will most assuredly be supported. The trend of modern ethics is represented by the ever increasing respect for civil rights at the legal level. Kant already saw this transformation in his time, and hypothesized that if we were as a group progressing, we are progressing to a hypothetical ends. We can see many countries slowly embracing gay rights protection as well as gay marriage, and it seems convincing that gay rights and gay marriage would be a tenant of this hypothetical realm of ends. What is so interesting is that just this year, one of the arguments used by opposition to gay marriage before the cali/fed supreme court was that homosexuals should not be considered a protected class like women, the disabled, and racial minorities, because they have gained rights and support faster than any other oppressed class. This is nothing more than an acceptance that gay rights are happening, and most on both sides view it as inevitable. Welcome to the realm of ends, where gay marriage is endorsed.

      But please elaborate on “homosexual behavior” and “a variety of other issues” or provide the maxims you are using.

    5. I misunderstand the Categorical Imperative? Quite amusing. The way you talk is as if you had a complete understanding of said, especially when it comes to homosexuality. No easy feat considering many Kant experts I have interacted with don't pretend to categorically understand the Imperative itself. Or at least they don't claim a complete understanding in order to justify their own moral claims and decisively dismiss those of others. Instead, they provide a justification for a given moral belief based on the formulations of the Imperative, but they also develop their argument and debate competing arguments in the context of Kant's other writings. Your single word quote of Kant's views of homosexuality is hardly generous. What I am speaking about here is your use of the word "unnatural." And you of all people - here I assume from the way you have carried yourself in this discussion that you are at least acquainted with philosophical tradition - should know that in philosophy, natural is a very loaded term, suggesting more than merely what animals do sexually. Nature carries with it an inherent conception of reason, and therefore morality, but I digress. I believe what you refer to specifically comes from Kant's treatise "The Science of Right." How about we take an extended look at what Kant actually says about homosexuality and marriage:

      "The domestic relations are founded on marriage, and marriage is founded upon the natural reciprocity or intercommunity (commercium) of the sexes.* This natural union of the sexes proceeds according to the mere animal nature (vaga libido, venus vulgivaga, fornicatio), or according to the law. The latter is marriage (matrimonium), which is the union of two persons of different sex for life-long reciprocal possession of their sexual faculties. The end of producing and educating children may be regarded as always the end of nature in implanting mutual desire and inclination in the sexes (me here; maybe a rethinking of your comments on a world of end is in order here); but it is not necessary for the rightfulness of marriage that those who marry should set this before themselves as the end of their union, otherwise the marriage would be dissolved of itself when the production of children ceased.

      *Commercium sexuale est usus membrorum et facultatum sexualium
      alterius. This "usus" is either natural, by which human beings may reproduce their own kind, or unnatural, which, again, refers either to a person of the same sex or to an animal of another species than man. These transgressions of all law, as crimina carnis contra naturam, are even "not to be named"; and, as WRONGS AGAINST ALL HUMANITY IN THE PERSON (me again; this statement is particularly interesting. The language suggests Kant is certainly thinking about the Imperative), they cannot be saved, by any limitation or exception whatever, from ENTIRE REPROBATION.

    6. And even assuming that enjoyment in the reciprocal use of the sexual endowments is an end of marriage, yet the contract of marriage is not on that account a matter of arbitrary will, but is a contract necessary in its nature by the law of humanity. In other words, if a man and a woman have the will to enter on reciprocal enjoyment in accordance with their sexual nature, they must necessarily marry each other (me again; banning interracial marriage would be reprehensible in this case, but not homosexual marriage. It can't even exist. I suppose the point is that homosexual marriage is a contradiction in terms); and this necessity is in accordance with the juridical laws of pure reason."

      Let me check, but I believe... Yes, this was published in 1790, which was after both the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason. I could understand (not accept, but understand) a claim that negative comments from Kant regarding homosexuality would be less credible were they written in his younger years, before he formally formulated principles of moral behavior. As it is, the above assertions were made by Kant in the midst of his moral and ethical prime, so to speak. Any person interpreting Kant's moral philosophy generally and the Categorical Imperative specifically must do so in view of these comments. Period. So, it is YOUR interpretation of the Categorical Imperative that leads me to believe you don't quite understand Kant's moral philosophy (as long as we are making such assertions).

      If you would like me to provide a more detailed analysis of the Categorical Imperative and homosexuality, then I will need some time. This is something of a quick response. I would, however like you to notice how Kant defines marriage as well as his comments on the nature of the marriage relationship. These are especially interesting when considered together with the paper I posted earlier:

      The nature of marriage, and by this I mean definition, is essential to this debate just as the definition of central terms are to any debate. The thrust behind Girgis, George, and Anderson's argument is that marriage is not just the highest type of relationship several individuals can enjoy (have fun demonstrating laws against polygamy don't infringe on civil rights if this is your definition). It is not even just about sex. And several of their ideas line up with Kant's here.

      As to whether Kant was a homosexual himself... Is anybody else tired of the endless conjecture about whether or not historical figures were gay? I swear, somebody has probably tried to convince me that Giacomo Casanova was a homosexual. To me it is just a non-issue. In fact, if Kant were a homosexual and still objected to it on moral grounds, then we could more reasonably eliminate "sexual bias of the author" as a reason for objecting to Kant's views on homosexuality.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. And as far as your comments before Kant, claiming that gender does not affect childhood development, these are simply nonsensical and irresponsible (try and explain to me how your mom or dad's gender did not affect the way you grew up. Now try and think of a single instance in which their gender affected you. Bingo.) Yet, somehow this talking point is propagated profusely. I see headlines like, "new studies shows gender of parents does not affect children" when what the study is really claiming is that parental gender does not affect childhood success. The difference is rather large, but for whatever reason it is passed off as nuanced. It is precisely because parental gender does influence important aspects of human development other than "success" as defined in a given study that proponents of "gay marriage" go to such great lengths to prove it doesn't. It is truly comical. Come now folks... We need go no further in our search than that champion of the foundations of modern liberal thought, Sigmund Freud to see a discussion of effect of parental gender on childhood development. Furthermore, your dismissal of my claim that an issue in divorce is change of available parental gender is naive and irresponsible. Take a few minutes actually looking up some scholarly articles on gender and childhood development. You don't have to spend more than a few minutes before you will find articles with discussion about the negative effects of mother-headed single parent households having a greater detrimental effect on male children than on female children. I am not saying that the most significant factor in the effects of divorce on children is parental gender, but it is a factor. To claim otherwise is to be narrow-minded and irresponsible.

  5. Now to some of Josh's comments:

    "Greg fundamentally misunderstands the issues at hand when he argues that "to suggest that the legal "title" of marriage is essential for the pursuit of happiness even when same sex couples are allowed to be together and enjoy equal rights and protection under the law is to have a rather shallow view of happiness." The argument at hand has very little to do with happiness and the supposedly "shallow views" thereof (this coming from a religious tradition that teaches marriage is necessity for eternal happiness), and more to do with justice, liberty, and equity."

    I must say, as far as twisting my words goes, masterfully done. Your debate coach would certainly be proud or disappointed, I don't know which.

    The reason I cited "pursuit of happiness" was in order to stymie any appeal to that phrase as a Constitutional mandate to justify any Federal (Congressional, Judicial, or Executive) action to change the definition of marriage (even though the phrase in question actually comes from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution). You then suggest that I am an idiot or hypocrite (my words, not yours) because I said that "marriage" was not essential to happiness, but my Church teaches the opposite. Talk about equivocation. You are suggesting that the legal title of marriage is the same as the LDS concept of marriage; something you know very well not to be the case, but nice rhetoric. You then throw out buzz words like "justice, liberty, and equity," suggesting I have completely ignored such considerations in my argument, when I am CLEARLY on record supporting equal rights for and decrying discrimination against LGBT couples (the LDS church is too). You however have failed to prove the legal title of marriage is part of any of those three ideals. You have cited Loving v. Virginia, but that case presupposes that only marriage between a man and a woman (of legal age, consenting, etc.) is even possible. I have already given you my reasoning on why banning interracial marriage violates due process, but you did not address that. I already defended my position against appeals to Brown vs. Board of Education, but you did not address that either. If you want a further defense, then read the article I posted above.

    1. I'm sorry; I really didn't mean to come across as rude. I should have worded my sentence differently. I didn't mean at all to suggest that you are "an idiot" or a "hypocrite." I just meant to redirect the conversation away from happiness.

  6. . If you want FURTHER clarification, then I would suggest you write to the authors. I would be curious what they have to say. If you are more interested in what I have to say personally, then call me or Facebook me and we can go out to eat. This is important to me, but I really don't have time to do this every night. I get home around six, and I don't have time to give the thought, writing, and proofreading that this topic deserves in addition to getting ready for bed, making my lunch, and sleeping before 9, to say nothing of actually relaxing for one second of the day.

    I assume that this is also the case for you with school, especially since you have not posted since Thursday despite the fact that you only addressed the Constitutional/somewhat philosophical portion of my argument. You have said nothing about my comments regarding LDS teachings regarding fallibility of church leadership and the President of the Church nor have you addressed any of my comments regarding segregation of Priesthood rights and the Journal of Discourses, or consistent scriptural teaching (from the Old Testament until now) regarding homosexuality. I hope I don't come off the wrong way, especially to your friends. Mine is not a dogmatic morality. I don't believe that something is right just because God said it. I believe God says things because they are right. He works according to rules and is bound by normative structures. I don't see any other way of interpreting the teachings of Joseph Smith. Thus, to me philosophy, theology, morality and politics all intertwine, based on similar principles of truth. That is why my argument includes several aspects. The main reason I include so much theology and LDS specific terminology is because I know that you and many that read your blog are Mormons. I wish to address the issue of gay marriage in general as well as "internally" (meaning within the LDS church). I hope the least I have done is demonstrated that those that oppose gay marriage can have reasonable and well-spoken objections to the concept of gay marriage. We are not religious, idiotic bigots. We don't hate LGBT people. We are not homophobic. I have several close gay friends (I hope you still consider me a friend) whom I love and respect. We do hold that marriage (not the same as a legal companionship enjoying equal civil rights) is an ideal that should be promoted, and for which heterosexual companionship is a necessary, but not sufficient condition. Thus, even heterosexual married couples may not realize the truly ideal state of marriage.

    The END

    Use email correspondence if you wish to continue dialogue:

    I cannot promise a prompt reply or incredibly intelligent insight. Apologies.

    1. Thank you for another thoughtful response. James did a much better job than I ever would in responding, so I'm just going to leave it there. And you are very correct that I have been quite busy lately, which is why I haven't been able to adequately respond to the rest of your points. But I think that talking in person would be much more interesting, so if you'll email me your phone number (, I'll take up your offer to go out to eat and talk more sometime soon.

    2. Greg, I don't mean to draw you unwillingly back into a discussion here, but I must admit that it seems that while you support the extension of rights to civil unions, you maintain that these civil unions should not be legally recognized as "marriages."

      I am not as informed as i'd like to be of the legal differences between a "civil union" and a "marriage." If anyone could help me to understand what differences there may be beyond terminology, I would appreciate it. Since I'm also busy with school and work, a brief response would be adequate.

      It seems to me that as far as terminology goes, opponents to homosexual unions being recognized as marriages just like heterosexual unions face the difficulty of justifying a legal distinction, based on demonstrable harms (as pointed out beautifully by James above) rather than a religious code or tradition.

      Thanks everyone for providing careful input to this discussion. I've enjoyed it!

    3. The difference between marriage and couples as I see them enjoying equal civil rights is quite complex. I am not a lawyer, and therefore not versed in the specifics of marital law. Anything I could tell you on the subject would be something I research and then give to you, which means you could probably do it better on your own. Not trying to be a jerk here, but I don't want to research it, tell you, and then appear like I am some sort of expert.

  7. Just saw this. Apologies. Entering busy season at work. Against my better judgment - at least as far as sleep and my social life are concerned - I will provide a response. :) Give me a little time.