WeiWenDi wrote:James wrote:I don't see the use in pointing out that the civil rights concerns of homosexuals that do not correlate with other civil rights concerns such as those in the civil rights movement. Yes, we're not segregating them on the bus, but we're segregating them in a range of legal means, many tied to marriage, and we're discriminating in many ways as well. You've defended here the 'right' of a store to refuse service to homosexuals, a view supported by others, and discrimination also takes many other forms as well (here a governor reversing anti-discrimination law already in place). These are the concerns at hand here—the concerns which do pertain to homosexual/LGBT rights.
I considered reporting your post for this paragraph. I was deeply offended by it. I'm still not certain whether or not I chose rightly in not doing so, because you are very clearly, blatantly misrepresenting my position and denigrating me personally.
I have not defended the 'right' of a business 'to refuse service to homosexuals', or discrimination in any other form. I have defended the right of businesses to not provide a specific service to the public which violates their religion or their ethics. It is not discrimination for a Jewish deli to refuse to serve a pulled-pork sandwich to a Gentile customer no matter how much that customer might want it; by that very same token, it is not discrimination for a Christian bakery to refuse to bake cakes commissioned for same-sex marriages. In principle, it has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the person ordering the cake, any more than the Jewish deli owner's refusal has anything to do with discrimination against non-Jews!
Please try not to be offended. I'm being sincere, and it's because I really do not understand or follow the correlation you're making here or previously. The Jewish deli may choose to not serve a pulled pork sandwich but I will take issue with them if they make a pulled pork sandwich and refuse to serve it to someone because they're not Jewish. This is not the same thing at all.
A company baking cakes has every right not to serve a cake they do not make. But they absolutely should not have the right to deny their product to a customer because that customer is gay. The difference you're drawing here is, in my eyes, mere semantics. Saying 'we don't provide this service to homosexuals' is, for the purpose of that service, functionally the same as saying 'we don't serve homosexuals'. And if you're denying all your products to homosexuals they are literally the same thing. And in either case the product of this act is discrimination against homosexuals.
WeiWenDi wrote:James wrote:Today in the United States, and many Western cultures, acceptance of homosexuality is growing. Minds are slowly changing and support is more widespread with each new generation. But still today there is widespread animosity and opposition to gay marriage. It goes well beyond a personal lack of acceptance, which is certainly understandable given the 'old brain' influences at play in terms of driving us to procreate, into positions that seek to impose anti-gay positions upon other people. In Western culture Christianity and its views play a prominent role here.
To be quite blunt, I think you're looking for a bogeyman in the wrong place here.
I'm certainly not imposing 'anti-gay positions' on anyone else. You're certainly free to believe whatever you like and to behave however you like. Likewise, Orthodoxy, whilst proclaiming homosexuality to be sinful, never forces anyone to accept its teachings, nor calls for homosexuals to be punished by law. There is no 'imposition' of anti-gay prejudice or ideas on anyone, no call to exclude or commit violence against the people who struggle with same-sex attractions! The teaching that homosexuality is a vicious distortion of the human sexual urge, is not to be confused with bigotry against the people who do it.
Most of what I say is in general terms. For example, describing the typical view of Christianity. In general I try to avoid speaking specifically to the Russian Orthodox Church because I'm not qualified to do so. But based on what I can learn as a layman, and what you've mentioned, their views do not different so much from other Christian faiths.
And those views retain the same problem. When you, as a religion, outline engaging in homosexual acts as a sin (going very easy on the wording here—sin is not the word I usually hear or read from people), it only matters so much when, in the same breath, you ask people to treat homosexuals equally. The later sounds noble enough, but for many the product is discrimination and bigotry. People are frequently not perfect, and this remains especially true in balancing difficult religious teachings. And this has the same impact on parents—the religious position encourages parents to treat homosexuality as something which can be addressed/managed—as an ascetic struggle—rather than something which should be embraced, and this has a profound impact on the not insignificant percentage of children who face this challenge.
Whatever the case, this is the way in which some of these bizarre balances manifest in the real world. Maybe that sounds reasonable to you—correct me if I'm wrong—but to me it is boring, clear discrimination.
Going back to what I wrote, this is what the product of these beliefs becomes: it results in people acting deliberately to oppose gay marriage for their fellow human beings. Maybe individuals will reason that they should not do anything to support someone who wishes to embrace that part of who they are, but the product is the same.
WeiWenDi wrote:James wrote:In the case of gay marriage we have plenty of arguments telling us why it is bad for religion but no credible argument (in my opinion, that I have heard to date) why it will do harm to society or marriage (as viewed outside specific religious interpretation).
I presented you with one. Both from the Guardian (not a newspaper known for its conservative or religious leanings) and from the Australian public radio site. You ignored the first and threw a tantrum about the second.
That piece from the Guardian is reporting news, not representing their own views. Not sure why it's political leaning needs to be relevant. You're right, though, in that I didn't address consummation. I was distracted wondering of the extent to which it is actually law. Maybe it is in the UK, but not in the US (unless you've given some new information below).
In any case, whatever. They can redefine consummation as the proper sex act for the married couple, erection penetration and all, and go on with their day. The heterosexual couples can continue on as before and the homosexuals can be fostered into a law which shouldn't exist in the first place. Adjusting that law for the state does not need to change a single thing about marriage for heterosexual couples (unless so insecure that the knowledge that same-sex couples are getting married somehow impacts their love and commitment to one another), nor does it redefine anything for the church's individual interpretation.
Very mature on 'tantrum' there. It was an awful, biased article.
And neither presents a meaningful argument. Adultery, as a legal concept, need have nothing to do with sex. It can be adultery to have sexual intercourse with a man outside your marriage just as surely as it would be a woman.
Both are weak arguments which, frankly, represent grasping at straws. Nothing need change for existing law regarding same-sex couples (even if the former should change) and neither impacts religious beliefs on what constitutes marriage. And both represent religious efforts to inflict their views upon people outside their faith.
WeiWenDi wrote:Religions take moral views which apply to those outside it all the time. Secularism particularly.
You yourself have taken moral views which apply outside your religion. Particularly with regard to vaccinations - you are dictating morality grounded in your worldview upon those who do not share it (Christian Scientists, Scientologists, faith-healers). You are engaging in a kind of special pleading for your own religious outlook and denying it to others - the entire takeaway for those of us who belong to other religious groups, then (even those who might agree with you on these particular topics), is to do as you say and not as you do.
Science is not a religious view. Let's not muddy the word. You can say I'm applying my beliefs to others, and I do so specifically where the concern is the life of another human being. I am opposed to anti-vaccination because the choice endangers the lives of the children the view is inflicted upon and the lives of others who interact with them. I am opposed to climate deniers because their choice is impacting our health through pollution and the lives of countless human beings. Or because it is harmful, such as is the case of using 'treatments' to make a gay person straight.
In all of these issues I do not care what religion someone has. I'm just concerned with issues which impact all of us, as should be everyone. And to lump the watered down and propped up perception of gay marriage impacting the marriage of others in ways anywhere even remotely so meaningful does a great disservice to our discussion.
WeiWenDi wrote:The big thorny problem in the centre of this discussion is that marriage is a legal reality which has adapted over time to serve the purposes of religious people. That legal reality has presumed and still presumes sex complementarity, for the purposes of legally defining consummation and adultery. Just because the new legal definitions of both under the new regime of same-sex marriage have not yet been tested doesn't mean that they don't matter, or won't matter to the definition of the institution as a whole.
Marriage has evolved, pretty significantly, and it's a good thing. Marriage in many areas has recently evolved to accept interracial marriage. Marriage can [and in my opinion should] evolve again to accept same-sex couples. The legal redefinition of adultery can simply be to cover those acts with a man or a woman (as they should anyway—is it any less 'cheating' to do so with the unexpected sex?)—and consummation, too, can change without impacting traditional marriage. Although it should just go away anyhow in place of good time-sensitive general annulment laws that would easily cover that subject (as one possible approach). And whatever the case, both can continue to matter.
Not that same-sex marriage would be recognized by many of the religions and religious concerned here.
WeiWenDi wrote:James wrote:It seems to me that you're making a specific scientific claim. That somehow the inability to produce the child must necessarily matter psychologically, hence it must impact their ability to experience the same sort of joy, happiness, fulfillment from their relationships and intercourse.
Again, taking 'happiness' as the sole baseline or catch-all measure of a relationship's health is questionable at best. It certainly isn't 'scientific' in any way, and depends entirely on an a priori assumption that you are making (and subsequently refusing to clarify or quantify in any conceptually-meaningful or quantifiable way) of what is valuable to any given couple. It's better to step back and take a look at just two measurable criteria - faithfulness within a sexual relationship, and length of a sexual relationship. Generally speaking, in our society, faithfulness within a sexual relationship is considered a credible barometer of its health, even if it is not followed by everyone.
The Bell-Weinberg study from 1978, though it has faced severe criticism in citation for failing to take into account the impact of the AIDS epidemic, shows very clearly that in this specific period, the broad-strokes norm for relationships amongst sexually-active homosexuals was short-term, low-stakes and low-information, with the vast majority of respondents reporting more than 50 sexual partners in their lifetimes. Since the AIDS epidemic, several studies have shown that homosexual relationships have developed ways of coping with sexually-transmitted infection, but current studies (like the one referenced here and this one as well) seem to show that monogamy is something honoured by same-sex couples, particularly same-sex men, more in the breach than in the observance. Dan Savage has been an open advocate of 'monogamish' infidelity as a norm within male homosexual relationships that he hopes will begin taking hold within heterosexual relationships. Quite frankly, this disturbs me.
It is very, very difficult to find statistics on the length of homosexual relationships that aren't commissioned by groups who have a dog in the fight on either side, which is a shame. (I pulled the above studies on same-sex faithfulness from a range of websites, both for and against same-sex marriage. There are a lot of biased studies out there; these are the ones which are cited broadly and seem the most credible.) But two studies by the late developmental psychology expert Larry Kurdek (both of which are linked here) show that same-sex relationships are dissolved more frequently, all other factors being equal, than heterosexual relationships.
Kurdek posits two possible causal factors - one of which being that marriage itself creates liminal barriers to leaving a relationship. The other one is precisely the presence of children in a relationship, which itself constitutes a reason for a relationship to continue!
My answer here is simply, "I don't know." We don't have the research we need because equal marriage is a relatively new construct. Once it exists the proper studies can begin. Heck, I'm sure they're already underway, but the results are going to take time. And we'll need multiple studies as well.
A simple observation to make prior to the AIDS epidemic is that it [was believed] a whole lot easier for a couple to hook up for a casual fling when the risk of impregnating your partner is removed from the equation. How do you account for that in a study? I expect people are far more careful now. And how do you account for social differences, or something so simple as an increased probability of discrimination and bigotry from family members? Or from being engaged in a controversial union as opposed to the widely accepted norm?
What I'm taking issue with, here, is taking a scientific position not supported by science. It's not too hard to find scientists reviewing existing research and exploring new avenues (e.g. here, here, both frustratingly lacking in charts/tables), much of which comprehensively considers and reflects upon the wide range of existing research into non-married same-sex relationships, but there's nothing here you can base solid conclusions on. To go from existing older research into non-married couples, through the extremely young new research into marriage, and draw conclusions such as those outlined previously is not tenable. And even if we had research from ten years down the road today, showing something like same-sex couples lasting 10% less, it's no argument to exclude them from marriage and even then will struggle to take into account a wide range of subjects. How will the new pools of same-sex marriage being arranged as soon as it becomes legally possible compare to same-sex marriage conceived of more organically in following years? Will they last longer because they represent more established relationships? Will they last shorter or longer because those relationships have longer histories prior to marriage? It would be extremely easy to misuse these numbers.
In any case, I'm not sure how they can support either of our positions.
WeiWenDi wrote:With regard to your first question - that really depends on what values the society ought to be serving, doesn't it?
The idea of wives-as-property is something that was largely overcome by the legal model of marriage as it held in Europe during the Christian era. Wives were generally not treated as property after Rome converted, and it was generally held to be the case that women themselves were allowed to own property through the institution of the dowry. On the other hand, the idea that marriage grants legal rights, protection and access to a broad array of social goods for any natural children of two spouses is something that societies have tended to encourage even more up until the present day... though since the 1970's we have seen something of a regress in that area.
That each idea has a history, within the context of the same institution, is no reason to equate them. The questions are, what are the proper ends of the institution, and how best can the means of that institution be matched to them to promote human flourishing and the development of healthy characters? Certainly not every married couple has to have children, but that's no reason to deny natural children the legal rights, protection and social goods that they already enjoy as a result of being born within a marriage!
The history of marriage and the role of women in marriage is quite a bit more sloppy than that, and, of course, played out across all cultures in different ways. But I'm not sure you'd disagree and I don't think elaborating on that observation would really lend materially to our discussion.
My position is simply that any such discrimination (gender roles) ought not to be embedded in any legal manifestation of marriage and I'd extend that to taking issue with gender roles in religions proper (e.g. LDS, Islam—interpreting gender roles from the Bible). Some of the research I just cited actually discusses the subject, such as its ongoing impact on heterosexual marriage and its absence (with benefit and loss) in same-sex relationships. It's an interesting subject but I don't think it should be relevant to the legal definition and construct of marriage.
And my concern for children is that a child in a same-sex marriage should have the same legal rights as a child in a heterosexual marriage—as they would. I'm not aware of any ambiguity here. A child's legal rights as they relate to marriage are largely tied to the legal construct of marriage.
Marriage should evolve as society evolves. That applies to gender roles and also needs to apply to children within marriage. It already effectively does, though: you don't have to produce children or have to be able to conceive of children to enter into marriage in the wealthy Western nations I'm aware of. And most cases I'm aware of allow for contractual addendum to marriage on personal terms. Religions can have their beliefs here, but they need to keep their beliefs out of my life where I don't observe their faith; need to keep their beliefs out of the lives of my friends who do not observe their faith.
WeiWenDi wrote:But on the legal aspects of the matter, he's factually correct.
Perhaps insofar as Britain is concerned.
It is news to me and as said above, I think that law should die. Fortunately that outdated expectation does not seem to be the case in the United States outside some odd-ball laws in a few states. The only thing I can scrub from the internet pertains to traditions observed in the United States based on consummation of marriage (e.g. tossing the garter) but no corresponding national-level legal construct. Although here I did find the legal standing for England/Wales and it also speaks to the Roman Catholic Church.
WeiWenDi wrote:And he has a good case to make on the historical side as well. Apart from Baker v. Nelson, the first appeals for same-sex 'marriage' began happening in the mid-1980's after Karen Thompson's lawsuit for care rights for her injured partner in Minnesota. But these appeals were not endogenous to the homosexual liberation movement from the very beginning! It is not a mere coincidence that these calls for same-sex 'marriage' happened alongside Reaganomics and Thatchernomics. The economic self-sufficiency of the family was already being eroded by Reagan's anti-labour policies, as a single earner's wage was no longer sufficient to support it. A similar development happened in Great Britain over this same period.
Milbank, being a theologian and social theorist whose antipathy toward neoliberalism generally (and Thatcher specifically) has never been in question, no doubt rightly regards with suspicion the motives with which corporations, including such outfits as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Microsoft, Amazon, Nabisco, Nike, Target and Nordstrom have suddenly begun bankrolling and publicly supporting same-sex marriage initiatives. None of these companies has been particularly caring toward workers. Most of them are openly anti-union. Practically all of them have contributed to the depression of American wages by sending jobs overseas, including a few (notably Nike and Nordstrom) who have still employed sweatshop labour in recent years.
That certainly smells suspicious to me, as I have mentioned before; I imagine this is why Milbank framed the issue the way he did in his own article, but of course I can't speak for his own actual line of thinking.
Support for same-sex marriage on the part of the few companies here I'm familiar with—in terms of their history on the subject, not their brands—are doing so to support their employees and their rights. And these companies have not just done so in voice, but also in terms of lobbying and contribution. For the majority of people working in these companies—and the demographics they hope to attract—this is considered an important civil rights issue. And this is doubly so for a company in tech (greater left-leaning demographic) or founded in, say, Silicone Valley (self-explanatory). And companies can do good. Apple, for example, has a history of advocacy on some issues (e.g. climate change, same-sex marriage) and sticks to their guns even when it makes shareholders uncomfortable.
The concept has a shaky history. It has also taken a long time to take hold in politics. For the United States' part, look at President Obama. I expect he supported same-sex marriage from the start but he hedged because so recently in history it was political suicide to support it on that political level. Now, such a short step in history later, it would be quite detrimental for a Democrat on that political level to oppose it.
But these are just curious footnotes. Circling back to the beginning of our discussion, this is a civil rights issue we're facing today and that is my concern. My concern is simply discrimination and equal rights.