Gay and Lesbian Marriage

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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:11 am

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.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:35 am

James wrote: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.


I'm not drawing semantic differences. I would agree with you in the following circumstances, for example. A Christian bakery which:

- bakes cakes for gay weddings and then refuses to sell them to gay customers, or
- refuses to sell any cakes to gay customers, or even
- refuses to sell a pre-prepared cake to gay customers which it would sell to straight customers

I would say is engaging in discrimination, and ought to be punished for it under the law. From the news stories I read, though, I thought that Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused only to take a specific order for a specific purpose that they disagreed with. That's not like a Jewish store making a pulled-pork sandwich and then refusing to sell it to a Gentile customer. That would be more like the Gentile customer going to the deli asking for a pulled-pork sandwich, and suing the deli when the owner replies 'we don't make those; we're Jewish'.

James wrote: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.


Refraining from certain sexual behaviours that one is tempted to is a kind of asceticism, and one that isn't exclusive to homosexuals. A majority (between 64% and 68%) of 18-35 year-old heterosexual men in the United States buy or watch pornography. That's also something that needs to stop for a number of reasons, because it actually physically harms a greater number of women, and psychologically harms a greater number of men, than homosexuality does. People who struggle with same-sex attractions and people who struggle with inordinate, violent or degrading attractions toward the opposite sex face similar struggles.

The balancing is indeed tricky, but it needs to be done. That's one of the reasons why being personally judgemental of individual people, with no regard to the inner struggles that they face, is so strongly and so persistently condemned by the Church Fathers.

S. Basil the Great wrote:If you see your neighbor in sin, don't look only at this, but also think about what he has done or does that is good, and infrequently trying this in general, while not partialy judging, you will find that he is better than you.


S. John Chrysostom wrote:One who strictly prosecutes the misdemeanors of others will find not condescension towards his own.


S. Isaac the Syrian wrote:Love sinners, but hate their deeds, and do not disdain sinners for their failings, so that you yourself do not fall into the temptation in which they abide. Do not be angry at anyone and do not hate anyone, neither for their faith, nor for their shameful deeds. Do not foster hatred for the sinner, for we are all guilty. Hate his sins, and pray for him, so that you may be made like unto Christ, who had no dislike for sinners, but prayed for them.


To be perfectly honest, homosexuals who manage to overcome their passions and lead celibate lives, are really worth respecting as spiritual superiors, not least because they still have to deal with the backbiting of heterosexuals who think they're better than them! Personally, I'm a huge fan not only of Rob Halford's music, but also massively respect that he could lead the life he did, and that he could come out the other side of it a stronger person in better command of himself, in spite of the pressure of being a high-profile gay man in the public eye during the 1980's. Even if he wasn't completely celibate, that took an immense amount of courage and self-control, and I have to respect that.

Get back to more on this later, got to run for now.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:01 am

James wrote: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.


So what you're proposing is a two-tiered marriage law, with different de jure definitions applying to same-sex couples and straight couples. In essence, it is very little different from my support for civil partnerships.

Ultimately, it seems to me that our disagreement consists primarily in that I consider 'marriage' to imply sex-complementarity on every level: legally, socially, culturally, biologically and ontologically - because, at least within the context we care about, it presupposes the purpose of the union to be production and care of natural children. You, on the other hand, think that the institution can be torn up from its deep cultural and societal basis to cover a group of people to which it hadn't applied before, and for which it was never meant to apply.

James wrote:Very mature on 'tantrum' there. It was an awful, biased article.


That's precisely what I thought of your reaction.

James wrote: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.


Does adultery really have nothing to do with sex? That's a very strange argument to make. The more so when a noted statistical plurality of same-sex relationships do not even understand plural partners to be 'adultery', and are more apt to consider it 'monogam-ish'. The definitions of these categories are already shifting under our feet, and they're shifting in a direction that is going to make healthy sexual relationships much more demanding and difficult than they already are.

That's not because I'm 'insecure', either. I haven't any particular cause for worry about my own relationship at the moment, though even if I did, that's none of your business. Generally, though, I'm worried about my daughter's, and those of her peers and her partners, when she's ready for them. I don't want to see her end up getting abused, abandoned or heartbroken as the second wheel in a 'monogam-ish' relationship; honestly, I don't think any father would. I don't think that's the kind of anxious expectation she should set out to have from her partners.

James wrote: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.


Let's not muddy the use of the word 'science', then, either. Neither one of us belong to the disciplines of the traditional natural sciences, even though we might overlap with them. Your 'beliefs' (and yes, they are that) do not have any bearing on the scientific disciplines or communities as a whole, which on these particular bioethical issues are still very much divided. Evolution, climate change and vaccination effectiveness are not controversial issues; the bioethics of abortion, sperm donation, paid surrogacy, organ donation, sexual etiquette and hygiene, on the other hand, are still very heavily debated within the scientific community. Again, I grew up in a family of scientists who are incredibly liberal politically, but I know for a fact that not all of their colleagues shared their views. I'm sure that, living in Utah, you know personally some very highly-educated natural scientists who still hold to Mormon views on bioethics.

James wrote: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.


Guess what? So am I!

But the latter proposition remains to be seen. If we're being intellectually honest, we should say we have no idea what the effects of the redefinitions of consummation and adultery will be. At best, as I said above, the result will end up being a de facto two-tiered system of marriages, underpinned by two distinct de jure bodies of case law and precedent.

James wrote: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.


Um... no, it hasn't. Unlike interfaith marriages, interracial marriages have been rare-but-accepted without question, practically throughout all of Old World history up until the mid-1600's. Even in Roman Catholic Spanish colonies, it wasn't only accepted - it was common for colonists to intermarry with local women - that's why Latin Americans look so different from Spanish people! In Orthodox Russia, intermarriage between Russians, Finns, Latvians, Tatars, Mongols, Siberians and so on was expected; in American emigre communities many Russian families have distinctly non-Russian names. It's practically only in the colonial governments of Maryland and Virginia that miscegenation became something criminal, and interracial marriage is neither an evolution or an innovation, it's a restoration of the status quo ante.

And I don't think that trying to gauge the consequences of a fundamental shift in thinking about the legal basis, grounds and ontological purposes of marriage is ill-grounded. Interracial marriage, even interfaith marriage, never demanded such a shift the way same-sex marriage does.

James wrote: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.


My opinion on this, of course, is that it's better to err on the side of caution now in this regard. There already is a good reason to worry in the ideological foisting of the 'monogam-ish' norm upon heterosexual couples, as though we have something to 'learn' from it. The 'monogam-ish' norm, which opens up in heterosexual expressions toward the normalisation of polygyny, is, in my opinion, fundamentally disrespectful to vulnerable sex partners in particular, which in our society means women. It expects heterosexual couples to adapt to a short-term, low-stakes, low-information form of intimacy that will do nothing but foster cheating, suspicion of cheating, and transactional and self-defensive behaviour when applied to straight relationships.

James wrote: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.


Agreed, agreed and agreed.

James wrote: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.


What you have cited here, I view as problems. Pre-nup agreements are essentially divorce plans, and (from a purely game-theoretical standpoint) no marriage can be healthy when an endgame is planned for in advance and each partner is looking to secure an 'escape route' from the prisoner's dilemma.

As for gender roles within marriage, that's not the institution itself changing so much as the society around it. You're talking about the results of a sexual revolution centred around birth control technologies, and an economic revolution centered around the destruction of trade unions and the dissolution of the living wage with the expectation of double-income (or more) households, each earning less than what is needed to support a family. I don't view either revolution with a particularly friendly eye, and I'm downright hostile to the latter. You'll pardon me if I'm not particularly eager to celebrate the downfall of the working-class family at the hands of big corporations under Reagan, and its replacement with starvation wages for both working-class men and women, regardless of whatever positive effects on 'gender roles' you think that downfall may have had.

James wrote: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.


You'll also pardon me if I don't share your insupportably naive presumption about the altruistic motives of these corporations, and particularly for their concern for 'their employees and their rights'. Particularly since Apple isn't particularly well-known for being worker-friendly, either here or abroad. So until they decide to support the right of their employees to form and join unions for better wages and better working conditions, I will continue to view their support of their employees to form same-sex unions with the suspicion it properly deserves.

Because naturally, it is in the company's best financial interests not to have its employees devoting good man-hours to procreating and rearing those pesky, costly children. Next thing you know, these blasted plebes will be wanting paid paternal and maternal leave, or asking for educational benefits! Better to shell out a little bit for birth-control now (which the government is insuring anyway), and save the shareholders a lot of headache in the future. See here - look at these good, productive homosexuals. No risk of pregnancy leave, no expectation of higher wages to support a partner on leave, and they adopt children on their own dime rather than the company's!
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:10 pm

Disclaimer: I felt a little prickly when I wrote this. 'Tantrum', 'naïve', etc.

WeiWenDi wrote:I'm not drawing semantic differences. I would agree with you in the following circumstances, for example. A Christian bakery which:

- bakes cakes for gay weddings and then refuses to sell them to gay customers, or
- refuses to sell any cakes to gay customers, or even
- refuses to sell a pre-prepared cake to gay customers which it would sell to straight customers

I would say is engaging in discrimination, and ought to be punished for it under the law. From the news stories I read, though, I thought that Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused only to take a specific order for a specific purpose that they disagreed with. That's not like a Jewish store making a pulled-pork sandwich and then refusing to sell it to a Gentile customer. That would be more like the Gentile customer going to the deli asking for a pulled-pork sandwich, and suing the deli when the owner replies 'we don't make those; we're Jewish'.

For the bakery to refuse selling cakes to someone because they are gay is discrimination. That can be a pre-prepared cake, or a specific type of cake which they can normally serve/prepare, or simply refusing service to customers because they are gay. This is how the law has been falling into place and, in my opinion, rightly so. It is literally discrimination and the trend in past and present has been for it to be legally discrimination.

Here's a controversial case. When the story first came out (as was originally the article at FOX News as well) the service was declined specifically because they are gay. Now it has been elaborated (whether due to stories changing or bad initial reporting—I can believe either) that service was refused because the requested product was one the bakery was not able to make. No business should be required to sell a product it does not carry for the sake of discrimination (unless the product distinction is just a vacant effort to justify discrimination, such as 'heterosexual couple wedding cakes'). But if what happened is more along the lines of what the father described—"I explained we're a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that"—then that is discrimination.

And I have no more sympathy for people declining services to someone because they are gay than I do using a sex or race in place of that decision. And fortunately, that's the trend the law is slowly evolving, even if state-levle legislation in many red/south states happens to be fighting back.

WeiWenDi wrote:Refraining from certain sexual behaviours that one is tempted to is a kind of asceticism, and one that isn't exclusive to homosexuals. A majority (between 64% and 68%) of 18-35 year-old heterosexual men in the United States buy or watch pornography. That's also something that needs to stop for a number of reasons, because it actually physically harms a greater number of women, and psychologically harms a greater number of men, than homosexuality does. People who struggle with same-sex attractions and people who struggle with inordinate, violent or degrading attractions toward the opposite sex face similar struggles.

The balancing is indeed tricky, but it needs to be done. That's one of the reasons why being personally judgemental of individual people, with no regard to the inner struggles that they face, is so strongly and so persistently condemned by the Church Fathers.

S. Basil the Great wrote:If you see your neighbor in sin, don't look only at this, but also think about what he has done or does that is good, and infrequently trying this in general, while not partialy judging, you will find that he is better than you.

S. John Chrysostom wrote:One who strictly prosecutes the misdemeanors of others will find not condescension towards his own.

S. Isaac the Syrian wrote:Love sinners, but hate their deeds, and do not disdain sinners for their failings, so that you yourself do not fall into the temptation in which they abide. Do not be angry at anyone and do not hate anyone, neither for their faith, nor for their shameful deeds. Do not foster hatred for the sinner, for we are all guilty. Hate his sins, and pray for him, so that you may be made like unto Christ, who had no dislike for sinners, but prayed for them.

My issue here is that they—homosexuals—are told to refuse their indulgences because doing so is a sin. It is something asked specifically of homosexuals (the correlation would be asking straight couples to avoid acting on their sexual desires) based on one of Christianity's greatest shortcomings. Christians can go ahead and justify it by comparing it to, say, abstinence, celibacy, or (wow) pornography—things asked equally of all or for those who choose a specific path in faith—but it's not the same thing. Homosexuals enjoy the special privilege of being told that the essence of who they are, sexually, is a thing they can never act upon (to do so would be a sin, an abomination, etc.).

I actually understand where they're coming from from a religious perspective. They've got some outdated dogma in the holy book which is particularly hard to just whisk away. I still think they should even though there'd be fallout. The LDS Church has solved problems like this (e.g. polygamy) by attributing it to a new revelation from God. I'll take it. But it gets trickier when the subject is in the Bible (especially for people who lend credence to the Old Testament).

But to carry that argument outside the religion, to people who approach the matter from a more general ethical perspective (one not governed by a religious doctrine, such as civil rights in the United States) or for someone who views the matter scientifically does not hold water. It is only a reason for a religious person to explain their religious beliefs but a terrible explanation for any interest or initiative to apply those beliefs outside the religion, such as into law.

The research into pornography is not so black and white. I do believe it is safe to conclude that it has definite negative impacts on various levels (e.g. relationships, sex performance) for many people but the research is deeply colored by bias. There are no shortage of studies funded or carried out by parties interested in a specific outcome. As a comparison to homosexuality, however, it should not be used. Everyone in a typical Christian interpretation is encouraged to avoid pornography (and frequently the masturbation which has made it's religious and cultural contributions to modern views of pornography).

WeiWenDi wrote:To be perfectly honest, homosexuals who manage to overcome their passions and lead celibate lives, are really worth respecting as spiritual superiors, not least because they still have to deal with the backbiting of heterosexuals who think they're better than them! Personally, I'm a huge fan not only of Rob Halford's music, but also massively respect that he could lead the life he did, and that he could come out the other side of it a stronger person in better command of himself, in spite of the pressure of being a high-profile gay man in the public eye during the 1980's. Even if he wasn't completely celibate, that took an immense amount of courage and self-control, and I have to respect that.

Religiously, sure, it would be an admirable feat indeed! More so than an equally applied expectation of celibacy because in the case of the homosexual they are denied a part of who they are that others around them are not. To manage that is an impressive feat of will, even though it frequently has profound and depressing psychological impacts on them as human beings.

To characterize the homosexuals or bisexuals who embrace who they are and discourage them from this choice, if that was your intention, as 'backbiting [people who] think they're better than them' is, in my opinion, done in very poor taste. There's a difference between someone 'thinking they are better' and what is far more likely to be the case, someone wanting to help them to not bury something so integral to who they are and embrace it and be happy with themselves.

WeiWenDi wrote:So what you're proposing is a two-tiered marriage law, with different de jure definitions applying to same-sex couples and straight couples. In essence, it is very little different from my support for civil partnerships.

Ultimately, it seems to me that our disagreement consists primarily in that I consider 'marriage' to imply sex-complementarity on every level: legally, socially, culturally, biologically and ontologically - because, at least within the context we care about, it presupposes the purpose of the union to be production and care of natural children. You, on the other hand, think that the institution can be torn up from its deep cultural and societal basis to cover a group of people to which it hadn't applied before, and for which it was never meant to apply.

No... adultery does not require a sex to be defined. Consummation does not require a sex to be defined (unless the interpretation where a child should also be produced, which may be the case in some areas but you know my feeling here—this law should be dropped in its entirety). And if some technicality must ultimately be written in to satisfy, say, England's approach to consummation, so be it. It's not a big deal.

I want marriage to embrace the notion of two human beings wedding regardless of sex. Simple as that. And that's also what people behind movements such as this in numerous countries are pressing for (as well as what will inexorably take place within the United States and various other countries). And I want religion to continue to have it's freedom but in cases where their beliefs are destructive, such as the dogma surrounding homosexuality, I want them to keep it to themselves.

WeiWenDi wrote:That's precisely what I thought of your reaction.

Nice.

WeiWenDi wrote:Does adultery really have nothing to do with sex? That's a very strange argument to make. The more so when a noted statistical plurality of same-sex relationships do not even understand plural partners to be 'adultery', and are more apt to consider it 'monogam-ish'. The definitions of these categories are already shifting under our feet, and they're shifting in a direction that is going to make healthy sexual relationships much more demanding and difficult than they already are.

That's not because I'm 'insecure', either. I haven't any particular cause for worry about my own relationship at the moment, though even if I did, that's none of your business. Generally, though, I'm worried about my daughter's, and those of her peers and her partners, when she's ready for them. I don't want to see her end up getting abused, abandoned or heartbroken as the second wheel in a 'monogam-ish' relationship; honestly, I don't think any father would. I don't think that's the kind of anxious expectation she should set out to have from her partners.

Even if it is common for same-sex couples to think of their relationships a 'monogamish' (big if, there—you're depending too much on some survey-based research) that's no justification for legal concern. Just as a heterosexual couple can have an 'open' marriage so too can a same-sex couple—adultery is there as a provision for couples who are concerned with the subject (and I'd bet good money that includes the vast majority of same-sex couples as well).

To carry these assumptions into concern for your daughter is a particular stretch.

But that's neither here nor there. We don't get to deny people legal rights because we perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own. It does not matter if it is true that same-sex couples are more open sexually (whether in terms of multiple partners or some subset more welcoming of 'open' aspects even in a marriage—though I'd expect far less of any such thing once they can actually marry as heterosexual couples can), we don't get to deny them legal rights on those grounds (and similar arguments have held no weight in legal concern to date).

I mean, this is perhaps useful for actually understanding where you're coming from. Or it is useful to know why a religion believes as they do. But it's not relevant from the perspective of wanting same-sex couples to enjoy equal rights, and wanting religious groups with their own objections to refrain from enforcing those beliefs on others outside their faith.

WeiWenDi wrote:Let's not muddy the use of the word 'science', then, either. Neither one of us belong to the disciplines of the traditional natural sciences, even though we might overlap with them. Your 'beliefs' (and yes, they are that) do not have any bearing on the scientific disciplines or communities as a whole, which on these particular bioethical issues are still very much divided. Evolution, climate change and vaccination effectiveness are not controversial issues; the bioethics of abortion, sperm donation, paid surrogacy, organ donation, sexual etiquette and hygiene, on the other hand, are still very heavily debated within the scientific community. Again, I grew up in a family of scientists who are incredibly liberal politically, but I know for a fact that not all of their colleagues shared their views. I'm sure that, living in Utah, you know personally some very highly-educated natural scientists who still hold to Mormon views on bioethics.

And please let's not pretend we aren't qualified to use word science, either. We might as well carry that on to say someone who is a member of a religion shouldn't speak of their religion's beliefs because they are not, in fact, ranked or educated to some level within that faith.

You're also confusing a few issues here. There is no great controversy in science regarding organ donation. It is widely accepted and encouraged, just as surely as the donor's rights to opt in are defended. The only contribution science is making to abortion is in contributing data such as development, brain activity, etc. Or psychological and social consequences of choosing or not choosing to abort a child. This should not be confused with the actual moral and legal concerns associated with the subject—science can provide data for that discussion but at this point it is no longer a scientific problem. You may be thinking along those lines in saying 'bioethics' but I wanted to elaborate anyway. Same on sperm donation. Science here can contribute data but the resulting moral debate is not science.

You are right, though, that these are my beliefs. That word I'm totally comfortable with. Or my personal ideology. Everything from my belief in evolution and gravity on down to my personal moral interpretations which are not supported by scientific consensus are my beliefs and I am not infrequently wrong.

WeiWenDi wrote:Guess what? So am I!

But the latter proposition remains to be seen. If we're being intellectually honest, we should say we have no idea what the effects of the redefinitions of consummation and adultery will be. At best, as I said above, the result will end up being a de facto two-tiered system of marriages, underpinned by two distinct de jure bodies of case law and precedent.

Nah, not really. That's a pretty easy one to envision. I'm going to become no less dedicated to my wife just because adultery laws are reworded in such a way that the law, as it impacts me, remains exactly the same. It just means the same standard will be applied to same-sex couples who also marry. And to pretend that somehow a great two-tier marriage structure will somehow form of a law written and applied equally to both heterosexual and same-sex married couples is absurd. As far as adultery is concerned, the expectation will be the same in both cases—you don't get to commit adultery. As it should be. And for heterosexual couples they shouldn't get to commit adultery with the same sex anymore than they do the opposite sex, at least so far as the law is concerned with consequences.

WeiWenDi wrote:Um... no, it hasn't. Unlike interfaith marriages, interracial marriages have been rare-but-accepted without question, practically throughout all of Old World history up until the mid-1600's. Even in Roman Catholic Spanish colonies, it wasn't only accepted - it was common for colonists to intermarry with local women - that's why Latin Americans look so different from Spanish people! In Orthodox Russia, intermarriage between Russians, Finns, Latvians, Tatars, Mongols, Siberians and so on was expected; in American emigre communities many Russian families have distinctly non-Russian names. It's practically only in the colonial governments of Maryland and Virginia that miscegenation became something criminal, and interracial marriage is neither an evolution or an innovation, it's a restoration of the status quo ante.

And I don't think that trying to gauge the consequences of a fundamental shift in thinking about the legal basis, grounds and ontological purposes of marriage is ill-grounded. Interracial marriage, even interfaith marriage, never demanded such a shift the way same-sex marriage does.

We're glossing over history again here by focusing on specific examples with widely varied circumstances playing out across culture and time. This is not just a legal concern, though, it's also one of society. Recent history matters very much here as well. For the purposes of United States law, marriage absolutely did have to evolve into interracial marriage, and here such concerns were also deeply embedded in religion (no doubt culture played a role).

But this probably isn't a useful discussion aside from being interesting history.

Marriage can and should evolve with society. At least insofar as society as a whole is concerned outside institutions.

WeiWenDi wrote:My opinion on this, of course, is that it's better to err on the side of caution now in this regard. There already is a good reason to worry in the ideological foisting of the 'monogam-ish' norm upon heterosexual couples, as though we have something to 'learn' from it. The 'monogam-ish' norm, which opens up in heterosexual expressions toward the normalisation of polygyny, is, in my opinion, fundamentally disrespectful to vulnerable sex partners in particular, which in our society means women. It expects heterosexual couples to adapt to a short-term, low-stakes, low-information form of intimacy that will do nothing but foster cheating, suspicion of cheating, and transactional and self-defensive behaviour when applied to straight relationships.

Way outside legitimate basis for the 'monogamish' interest being foisted upon heterosexual couples. And then to carry it into polygamy as if there's any meaningful basis to support a conclusion is just as surefooted as arguing that same-sex marriage will lead to legalization of polygamy. The next step people love to take is in talking about bestiality and pedophilia.

Nor does it serve as grounds to support ongoing discrimination against gay couples (denying marriage).

WeiWenDi wrote:What you have cited here, I view as problems. Pre-nup agreements are essentially divorce plans, and (from a purely game-theoretical standpoint) no marriage can be healthy when an endgame is planned for in advance and each partner is looking to secure an 'escape route' from the prisoner's dilemma.

I agree, actually. Although a couple codifying religious beliefs they already accept into a marriage on a legal level would not quite be the same thing—if they are actually so concerned with the subject.

WeiWenDi wrote:As for gender roles within marriage, that's not the institution itself changing so much as the society around it. You're talking about the results of a sexual revolution centred around birth control technologies, and an economic revolution centered around the destruction of trade unions and the dissolution of the living wage with the expectation of double-income (or more) households, each earning less than what is needed to support a family. I don't view either revolution with a particularly friendly eye, and I'm downright hostile to the latter. You'll pardon me if I'm not particularly eager to celebrate the downfall of the working-class family at the hands of big corporations under Reagan, and its replacement with starvation wages for both working-class men and women, regardless of whatever positive effects on 'gender roles' you think that downfall may have had.

Hmm... if you're talking about the rise of feminism, more or less, it's much more complicated than this. But that's another discussion. Once you've got two working adults in a family the 'free market' more or less adapts to consume them, and the person who suffers in this exchange is the single parent, or the family with average jobs who wants to have a member staying at home. I agree that this is definitely a loss in the United States and in other areas where it may have played out similarly, but at the same time we shouldn't lament the loss of a culture where one member of a marriage was expected to forego education to play a specific role at home.

I'd much rather have seen a society where the gender roles break down but the economy sustains a couple with only one working parent (a child is definitely better off with more parental involvement, and the single adult suffers all around in this new economy). I have no idea, though, of the extent to which the many impacting factors have brought this about. Some blame certainly falls on the free market (to the extent it exists) and capitalism, and in ways it is a subset of the wild wealth inequality issues playing out across the United States.

I guess this is another discussion, though...

WeiWenDi wrote:You'll also pardon me if I don't share your insupportably naive presumption about the altruistic motives of these corporations, and particularly for their concern for 'their employees and their rights'. Particularly since Apple isn't particularly well-known for being worker-friendly, either here or abroad. So until they decide to support the right of their employees to form and join unions for better wages and better working conditions, I will continue to view their support of their employees to form same-sex unions with the suspicion it properly deserves.

Because naturally, it is in the company's best financial interests not to have its employees devoting good man-hours to procreating and rearing those pesky, costly children. Next thing you know, these blasted plebes will be wanting paid paternal and maternal leave, or asking for educational benefits! Better to shell out a little bit for birth-control now (which the government is insuring anyway), and save the shareholders a lot of headache in the future. See here - look at these good, productive homosexuals. No risk of pregnancy leave, no expectation of higher wages to support a partner on leave, and they adopt children on their own dime rather than the company's!

You're conflating issues to draw conclusions here. And mischaracterizing my position as well. Apple is a publicly owned company and, like other publicly owned companies, profit is a key driver in the decisions it makes. But Apple does not always act solely in the interests of shareholders, such as is the case with the climate change concern I cited previously. The wage fixing issue is indefensible, but Apple is harder on international labor than the other Western companies leaning on them for labor. Because I choose not to generalize them or other companies based on specific criteria, instead looking at the whole, you should not choose to believe I see them (or other companies) in black and white.

Whether you like it or not, Apple and some other companies have been making positive contributions to society, even if it is only evolving a badly damaged system in a positive direction. You can cite Apple's negative press in factories abroad, but their contribution has, through time, improved those circumstances not just for Apple but in the industry (e.g. Foxconn). You can be cynical about it. Maybe it's a response to the press focusing on Apple because they drive clicks and they want the good PR? Maybe they support environmental initiatives because they've decided it will produce a net profit in terms of brand image? But it is possible to be so cynical that you can no longer perceive gray.

Toward the end, though, you lose me—not only are you citing examples which are actually pretty well supported in the tech community (with Apple and some other players exceeding what is expected of them by law in some areas) you're just imagining malicious intent by the time you're tying interest in a homosexual employee with avoidance of these concerns. If you paid closer attention to Apple and its executives you'd know they do have a deep interest in the subject of civil rights here.

That said, back to your wild and baseless assumption of what my general beliefs are on the subject of these corporations, no, the typical publicly owned company does not give much of a damn about society beyond it's financial contribution to their bottom line.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:49 am

Okay, James. I'm sorry.

I clearly made ungrounded, wild and baseless assumptions about your own stance that were ungrounded and hurtful, and even though I disagree with several of your arguments here and take exception even to the way that you frame some of them, I expressed my disagreements in a way that did you no justice. So, I'm very sorry for that. I'm still really not very good at this. I often wonder what I'm even doing here, since it's clear I'm not doing anyone any good by posting here. I'm not provoking thoughtful or interesting discussion, only stirring up resentments and still being an intellectual jackass and snob. Quite frankly, James, I'm both surprised and grateful that you've somehow managed to put up with me for this long.

So, I'm going to leave this be for one or two days. See if I'm in a better and less self-righteous mood when posting. Again, James, I'm sorry that I gave you good reason to take personal offence.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:29 pm

Thanks, sir. That means a lot to me. It really does.

For what it's worth, I know I struggle with similar reactions at times (and have much more so in the past). Not long ago I managed to offend a friend in a discussion about a health concern I feel strongly about, and despite extending a sincere and welcomed apology I still feel awful. At the same time, though, please don't read too much into it. Even if some of our conversations have been stressful they can still be informative and interesting. And for my part the only way I can see to better have disagreements with people I care about, about subjects I care about, and to do so without hurting them in the process, is to actually have those conversations and pay attention.

So please do stick around and continue chatting with me when you feel up to it. And where I've made a bad argument or framed an argument poorly, feel free to pick it apart as it deserves. :)
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:47 am

James wrote:Thanks, sir. That means a lot to me. It really does.

For what it's worth, I know I struggle with similar reactions at times (and have much more so in the past). Not long ago I managed to offend a friend in a discussion about a health concern I feel strongly about, and despite extending a sincere and welcomed apology I still feel awful. At the same time, though, please don't read too much into it. Even if some of our conversations have been stressful they can still be informative and interesting. And for my part the only way I can see to better have disagreements with people I care about, about subjects I care about, and to do so without hurting them in the process, is to actually have those conversations and pay attention.

So please do stick around and continue chatting with me when you feel up to it. And where I've made a bad argument or framed an argument poorly, feel free to pick it apart as it deserves. :)


Thanks for your understanding, James. That you still value my input actually means a great deal to me, also! :)

So, I think I may be ready to pick up the discussion where we left off here.

James wrote:For the bakery to refuse selling cakes to someone because they are gay is discrimination. That can be a pre-prepared cake, or a specific type of cake which they can normally serve/prepare, or simply refusing service to customers because they are gay. This is how the law has been falling into place and, in my opinion, rightly so. It is literally discrimination and the trend in past and present has been for it to be legally discrimination.


We agree on this. This reads like you're not so much arguing against me as taking my position to an extreme I never intended, and proceeding to argue against that.

The problem I can see here is that it's very easy to say a bakery is engaging in discrimination if there is a pre-prepared cake they refuse to sell to a gay person. Obviously that cake being displayed they meant to be sold to any other customer, right? Likewise, a specific type of cake which they can normally serve and prepare. It's easy to tell from the behaviour of the store owner what the reasoning behind their action is, yes? But they should be able to say, as in the controversial case you highlighted, that 'no, we can't actually make this kind of cake, you'll have to go elsewhere'. That reasoning shouldn't be subject to scrutiny unless there is a specific and overriding reason to do so.

See, sometimes it reads like you want to establish mens rea in the absence of any evidence to that effect, with the reasoning being that 'X person holds such and such a belief, therefore they must hate gays, therefore they must be refusing service to gays because they hate them'. I feel that legally, this is dangerous reasoning, because it relies on stereotypes rather than evidence.

If you can prove, though, that such individuals and businesses are doing what they do precisely because of hateful attitudes, then by all means prosecute away! It's just not entirely clear to me that this is what is actually happening.

James wrote:Homosexuals enjoy the special privilege of being told that the essence of who they are, sexually, is a thing they can never act upon (to do so would be a sin, an abomination, etc.).


'Who you are' and 'what you do' are two very different questions. Christianity is no respecter of persons; people who have SSA are as welcome at the chalice as the rest of us are! But we're not going to justify or promote or enable behaviours that tradition tells us are harmful.

James wrote:I actually understand where they're coming from from a religious perspective. They've got some outdated dogma in the holy book which is particularly hard to just whisk away. I still think they should even though there'd be fallout. The LDS Church has solved problems like this (e.g. polygamy) by attributing it to a new revelation from God. I'll take it. But it gets trickier when the subject is in the Bible (especially for people who lend credence to the Old Testament).


Dogma within Orthodoxy is defined as 'a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful'. Truth does not have an expiry date, and all changes to dogma have always historically resulted in very bad things (schism and violence). Different understandings of dogma have resulted as various aspects have been held under philosophical scrutiny, but the dogmas themselves haven't changed since Chalcedon.

James wrote:one not governed by a religious doctrine, such as civil rights in the United States


You do realise that the Civil Rights Movement in the United States was spearheaded by Baptists and Methodists, right? That practically all of its support through history came from religious people? The actual legal doctrine of the 14th Amendment might contain no religious language, but it couldn't have happened, and would have no legal-philosophical basis, without decades of agitation on the part of Quakers, Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Black Methodists, Anabaptists and so on.

James wrote:To characterize the homosexuals or bisexuals who embrace who they are and discourage them from this choice, if that was your intention, as 'backbiting [people who] think they're better than them' is, in my opinion, done in very poor taste.


Wait, whut?

I think you seriously misread me there. My point was that celibate homosexuals still face needless discrimination from straight people!!

James wrote:But that's neither here nor there. We don't get to deny people legal rights because we perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own.


Um, yes we do. We do it all the time. You do it too. You perceive the parental practice of refusal to vaccinate children to be impure, immoral and socially unacceptable, and you argue very persuasively for them to be denied the right to do this. I agree with you on this subject. Where we disagree, apparently, is that there are specific moral or normative stances that you feel should not be legislated. But it's bad form to suggest that no moral or normative stances should be legislated.

James wrote:I'd much rather have seen a society where the gender roles break down but the economy sustains a couple with only one working parent (a child is definitely better off with more parental involvement, and the single adult suffers all around in this new economy). I have no idea, though, of the extent to which the many impacting factors have brought this about. Some blame certainly falls on the free market (to the extent it exists) and capitalism, and in ways it is a subset of the wild wealth inequality issues playing out across the United States.


Insofar as such a hypothetical social structure was stable, sure, fair enough. Sounds great to me. I have my doubts about its workability; doing away with gender norms in legal practice may not be enough to do away with them in fact. Also relevant: you remember that study I linked before, right? Controlling for all other factors, the great majority of women in cultures and societies where traditional gender norms prevail actually self-report higher levels of life satisfaction and personal happiness. In such societies, though, women and men both who transgress moral or normative strictures against non-traditional lifestyles and family setups report lower levels of life satisfaction and personal happiness.

This can be read one of two ways, of course, depending on your preference. But ultimately we may have to be concerned that the loss of traditional ways of life and traditional patriarchal family structures is going to cause many people - women included! - a great deal of social anxiety.

James wrote:Because I choose not to generalize them or other companies based on specific criteria, instead looking at the whole, you should not choose to believe I see them (or other companies) in black and white.


Fair enough. I was definitely wrong about your own stance on this issue, and again I'm really sorry about having mischaracterised it.

But even so, I think you should understand where I'm coming from on this. If you're looking at how much a given company cares about the rights of its workers generally, its stance on labour unions comes up front and centre, before everything else. The right of workers to collectively bargain underpins every single other workplace right in a capitalist social structure. If they refuse to grant this right to all of the people who earn wages by working for them, then it strikes me as logical to assume an ulterior motive if they take a particular interest in the rights of one specific subset of its wage-earning employees.
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WeiWenDi
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:44 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:We agree on this. This reads like you're not so much arguing against me as taking my position to an extreme I never intended, and proceeding to argue against that.

The problem I can see here is that it's very easy to say a bakery is engaging in discrimination if there is a pre-prepared cake they refuse to sell to a gay person. Obviously that cake being displayed they meant to be sold to any other customer, right? Likewise, a specific type of cake which they can normally serve and prepare. It's easy to tell from the behaviour of the store owner what the reasoning behind their action is, yes? But they should be able to say, as in the controversial case you highlighted, that 'no, we can't actually make this kind of cake, you'll have to go elsewhere'. That reasoning shouldn't be subject to scrutiny unless there is a specific and overriding reason to do so.

See, sometimes it reads like you want to establish mens rea in the absence of any evidence to that effect, with the reasoning being that 'X person holds such and such a belief, therefore they must hate gays, therefore they must be refusing service to gays because they hate them'. I feel that legally, this is dangerous reasoning, because it relies on stereotypes rather than evidence.

If you can prove, though, that such individuals and businesses are doing what they do precisely because of hateful attitudes, then by all means prosecute away! It's just not entirely clear to me that this is what is actually happening.

I don't set out to misrepresent your arguments, but I certainly do misunderstand them on occasion.

Maybe I have done so here.

The thing is, 'we can't make this kind of cake' needs to be a literal 'this is not a product we sell', and that in non-discriminatory terms. For example, the purchaser is asking for a type of cake the bakery is not capable of making. Now, if a bakery makes custom cakes (most do) and a custom cake is requested—one which is well within their ability to make—but they refuse to make it not because the cake requested is infeasible but rather because some form of discrimination comes into play, it's discrimination.

And that's kind of the catch here. Most of these examples are not the 'we can't make this kind of product' sort of thing in terms of the product being viable, but rather 'we don't want to sell this product because we disagree with x'. And even in some cases where the argument morphs into something more legally viable (frequently after a lawyer becomes involved) the actual statements (and typically follow-up statements) clearly outline the bias.

If we extend a charitable interpretation to this particular case—the one involving rainbow cupcakes—and ignore the discriminatory statements made in favor of the more tenable legal explanation, it's probably the only such example that moves into this legally tenable area.

If this really is your argument, though, we agree. Nobody should be able to come in and get a product a company does not sell. But that 'does not sell' must not be based on discrimination. 'We don't sell wedding cakes for gay couples/weddings/interests' is not the same thing.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Homosexuals enjoy the special privilege of being told that the essence of who they are, sexually, is a thing they can never act upon (to do so would be a sin, an abomination, etc.).

'Who you are' and 'what you do' are two very different questions. Christianity is no respecter of persons; people who have SSA are as welcome at the chalice as the rest of us are! But we're not going to justify or promote or enable behaviours that tradition tells us are harmful.

Oh, I'm not disputing what the beliefs happen to be.

I'm speaking specifically to what the product of those beliefs is.

WeiWenDi wrote:Dogma within Orthodoxy is defined as 'a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful'. Truth does not have an expiry date, and all changes to dogma have always historically resulted in very bad things (schism and violence). Different understandings of dogma have resulted as various aspects have been held under philosophical scrutiny, but the dogmas themselves haven't changed since Chalcedon.

That's unfortunate in my eyes. But I don't think it's terribly uncommon. There's no changing the facts as they are and I accept that these positions are going to be hard to change, or that changing them would result in its own falling out, though I'm curious how churches maintaining these beliefs are going to adapt to a world where people become more and more accepting of homosexuality and supportive of gay marriage. There's going to be some kind of falling out one way or the other.

On a perhaps positive note, I don't think the 'violent' aspect is going to apply to quite so great an extent. Maybe I'm underestimating the extent to which response might vary in different countries, but Christianity has moved beyond quite a few of the aspects which once so readily guided it into bloodshed.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:one not governed by a religious doctrine, such as civil rights in the United States

You do realise that the Civil Rights Movement in the United States was spearheaded by Baptists and Methodists, right? That practically all of its support through history came from religious people? The actual legal doctrine of the 14th Amendment might contain no religious language, but it couldn't have happened, and would have no legal-philosophical basis, without decades of agitation on the part of Quakers, Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Black Methodists, Anabaptists and so on.

First I'd observe that you're discounting social drive behind these changes. And the genuine anger, resentment, dismay, of actually being a second-class human being and the sympathies of those who recognized that problem for what it was. Religion, yes, was involved, and it played a significant role, but the factors at play were more than you seem to suggest.

That said, civil rights is not a religious concept. One need no religious motivation to be concerned with it, though the religious are welcome to participate (for or against). In the case of gay marriage, it just so happens that the religious involvement is more against than in support.

My point, though, is that the concept is a vessel independent of religion, but one which welcomes it aboard.

WeiWenDi wrote:I think you seriously misread me there. My point was that celibate homosexuals still face needless discrimination from straight people!!

Okay, gotcha. I was speaking to the characterization I read into your argument.

I'm not quite sure how to stomach this position/argument, though. The position outlined in this article. And I sincerely don't believe the argument itself deserves an equal degree of merit. The individual deserves their due share of respect and courtesy, but not the argument. Why? Because the individual is pressing for an interpretation which supports existing discrimination and, in doing so, endorses any such discrimination inherent to a given church's practice. From the perspective of the church this may not be understood, but I do understand why this is not received well by the group of people being discriminated against, or those who are sympathetic to their cause.

I'll have to think on this one.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:But that's neither here nor there. We don't get to deny people legal rights because we perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own.

Um, yes we do. We do it all the time. You do it too. You perceive the parental practice of refusal to vaccinate children to be impure, immoral and socially unacceptable, and you argue very persuasively for them to be denied the right to do this. I agree with you on this subject. Where we disagree, apparently, is that there are specific moral or normative stances that you feel should not be legislated. But it's bad form to suggest that no moral or normative stances should be legislated.

These two examples should not be conflated. Vaccination is specifically a case of health and welfare of citizens and it approached from an entirely different angle by law.

For example,

Prince v. Massachusetts wrote:Prince v. Massachusetts
"The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child [p167] to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death."

Legally the argument for this sort of discrimination is not the same thing. And the United States is not the only country to draw distinction between discrimination cases such as gay marriage and 'discrimination' against a parent's rights to endanger themselves, their children, or others.

Legally was my point, but what of morally? I think it would be even sketchier to make this argument on moral grounds. To do so would be to conflate a parent's choice to endanger their children and other people with a same-sex couple's desire to marry and enjoy all the same benefits currently available to heterosexual couples, right up to enjoying the same label for their union.

We don't, legally, get to justify our discrimination on grounds that we 'perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own.' Maybe that elaboration helps to clarify my position.

WeiWenDi wrote:Insofar as such a hypothetical social structure was stable, sure, fair enough. Sounds great to me. I have my doubts about its workability; doing away with gender norms in legal practice may not be enough to do away with them in fact. Also relevant: you remember that study I linked before, right? Controlling for all other factors, the great majority of women in cultures and societies where traditional gender norms prevail actually self-report higher levels of life satisfaction and personal happiness. In such societies, though, women and men both who transgress moral or normative strictures against non-traditional lifestyles and family setups report lower levels of life satisfaction and personal happiness.

This can be read one of two ways, of course, depending on your preference. But ultimately we may have to be concerned that the loss of traditional ways of life and traditional patriarchal family structures is going to cause many people - women included! - a great deal of social anxiety.

Here again I'd caution on ground of correlation vs. causation, but there's no doubt that the breakdown of gender roles/gender discrimination has produced it's own growing pains and drawbacks. Conversely, it's a young concept here in the United States and 'growing pains' are certainly a factor. Some of these problems will be overcome with time. Some society will adapt to. Who knows, though—some may remain a problem long term or may even become worse (it certainly doesn't play nice with capitalism and the previously cited income inequality concerns, but that's becoming a prominent political concern in the United States along with numerous other countries).

I really don't know what to expect here. And I don't think I have the evidence I need to support a belief one way or the other. Maybe it exists, but I certainly haven't consumed enough knowledge to hop onboard.

That said, this ship has sailed, and discrimination is (and in my opinion should be) resolved first and growing pains addressed second. Such has been and continues to be the case with gender discrimination and such will be the case for gay marriage as well. Expect in the case of gay marriage, I find it impossible to imagine anywhere near the same extent of unintended consequences being introduced into society. The single greatest drawback of breaking down gender roles was the contribution it made, however great, to going from households with one working parent to two.

It must also be pointed out that such legislation does not tell people living at home that they must or must not observe gender roles, and indeed, in the United States and in other countries where these roles are eroding they still exist. It just becomes more common for the person getting the bum end of those roles to be dissatisfied with their position (rightly so). But yes, that's only part of the picture. A society which breaks down gender roles also produces the possibility for social pressure on those who continue to observe them. I can think of other factors that come into play.

Main point here is that we don't get to continue discrimination against women on the basis that breaking down that discrimination is producing some new problems for society and the economy. Legally.

WeiWenDi wrote:Fair enough. I was definitely wrong about your own stance on this issue, and again I'm really sorry about having mischaracterised it.

Thank you, sir.

WeiWenDi wrote:But even so, I think you should understand where I'm coming from on this. If you're looking at how much a given company cares about the rights of its workers generally, its stance on labour unions comes up front and centre, before everything else. The right of workers to collectively bargain underpins every single other workplace right in a capitalist social structure. If they refuse to grant this right to all of the people who earn wages by working for them, then it strikes me as logical to assume an ulterior motive if they take a particular interest in the rights of one specific subset of its wage-earning employees.

Have you read the Apple article to which you linked? I don't see any problem here. Apple absolutely should take steps to educate their managers and the partners with whom they work on how to interact with unions, along with the legal do's and don'ts of this involvement. And even if you were to read a negative connotation into it—such as a company wanting to manage unions carefully—that, too, seems appropriate when you consider just how powerful unions can be in some states. There are both pros and cons to unions both when they are too weak or too powerful.

I do understand your point, I think. Apple just likely isn't the best company to lean on here. In terms of workers' rights and looking after employees, despite black marks (such as no-poach policies enacted with other players in tech), they're one of the better corporate citizens. This is because they frequently do break from the expectation that decisions should be made from the most shallow perspective of what is most profitable (e.g. don't swap to this more environmentally sound component as it is $0.21 more per unit). I believe I understand your point in that such destructive principles are common to publicly owned companies and multinational corporations.

Also on the subject, 379 companies, including Apple, Google, Amazon, Target, AT&T, Bloomberg, Citigroup, Cisco—a range of companies from a range of industries—have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court supporting gay marriage (actual brief).
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James
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:33 am

James wrote:The thing is, 'we can't make this kind of cake' needs to be a literal 'this is not a product we sell', and that in non-discriminatory terms. For example, the purchaser is asking for a type of cake the bakery is not capable of making. Now, if a bakery makes custom cakes (most do) and a custom cake is requested—one which is well within their ability to make—but they refuse to make it not because the cake requested is infeasible but rather because some form of discrimination comes into play, it's discrimination.

And that's kind of the catch here. Most of these examples are not the 'we can't make this kind of product' sort of thing in terms of the product being viable, but rather 'we don't want to sell this product because we disagree with x'. And even in some cases where the argument morphs into something more legally viable (frequently after a lawyer becomes involved) the actual statements (and typically follow-up statements) clearly outline the bias.

If we extend a charitable interpretation to this particular case—the one involving rainbow cupcakes—and ignore the discriminatory statements made in favor of the more tenable legal explanation, it's probably the only such example that moves into this legally tenable area.

Nobody should be able to come in and get a product a company does not sell. But that 'does not sell' must not be based on discrimination. 'We don't sell wedding cakes for gay couples/weddings/interests' is not the same thing.


Okay, here's where we come back to the Jewish deli argument. Taking out the purely-emotional component of this that necessarily attaches itself around LGBT identity politics, this legal reasoning is, I think, overly broad and subject to abuse, because we are making it so that personal beliefs are completely discounted in favour of technical ability to comply with requested service. So, again, suppose there's a Jewish deli that sells cheese sandwiches and beef sandwiches - each separately, of course, since that's the only way to keep kosher - and makes sandwiches to order (as most delis do). So what do you do if a non-Jewish customer comes in demanding that the deli owner make him a beef and cheese sandwich?

So do you provide the customer with the legal basis to file for discrimination? Obviously, from a purely technical-ability perspective, the Jewish deli owner is fully capable of making such a sandwich, and any objections said deli owner might have to making such a sandwich would be based entirely on his religious beliefs about the right way to prepare food. Should he be legally compelled to make that sandwich?

James wrote:That's unfortunate in my eyes. But I don't think it's terribly uncommon. There's no changing the facts as they are and I accept that these positions are going to be hard to change, or that changing them would result in its own falling out, though I'm curious how churches maintaining these beliefs are going to adapt to a world where people become more and more accepting of homosexuality and supportive of gay marriage. There's going to be some kind of falling out one way or the other.


It's not the way of the Church to adapt to the world, and it never has been. The Church did not adapt itself to Rome's idolatry, imperial hubris or sexual deviance. (On the contrary, it was Rome that converted.) Will there be falling-out? Perhaps so, and that is regrettable. But the One, Holy, Sobornyi and Apostolic Church will not and cannot sacrifice the truths that have been handed down from the Apostles merely for the sake of expediency and relevance - the secular powers that govern modern liberal states will hate Holy Mother Church anyway regardless of what she does, precisely because she exists and exists independently of their power structure.

James wrote:On a perhaps positive note, I don't think the 'violent' aspect is going to apply to quite so great an extent. Maybe I'm underestimating the extent to which response might vary in different countries, but Christianity has moved beyond quite a few of the aspects which once so readily guided it into bloodshed.


I'm not so sure. Christians might not be violent against American secularists, but the reverse is assuredly not true.

Given all the Christian (and Shi'ite, and Alawite) blood that America has spilled in Iraq (or caused to be spilled at the hands of its Sunni proxies and Saudi, Qatari and Emirati oil buddies), in Syria and now in the Ukraine, a clear message is being sent to all Christians in a vulnerable political position: comply with American imperial dominance, or die. Ted Cruz and all the Republicans who supported him sent this message loud and clear to the Christians of the Middle East over Israel policy. Obama is now sending this message to the Christians in Nigeria - essentially strong-arming them into an American secular policy of sexual ethics.

James wrote:First I'd observe that you're discounting social drive behind these changes. And the genuine anger, resentment, dismay, of actually being a second-class human being and the sympathies of those who recognized that problem for what it was. Religion, yes, was involved, and it played a significant role, but the factors at play were more than you seem to suggest.


The genuine anger, resentment, dismay etc. of being a second-class human being, only translated into political action because of a religious conviction held both by the oppressed slaves and by their sympathisers that human beings of different races are somehow fundamentally alike. Why was it, indeed, that so many black people of that time turned to Christianity - the religion of the people who enslaved them? It's precisely because the message of Christianity offered them hope and deliverance, through the story of Moses and through S. Paul's letter to the Galatians that Christ accepts all, man and woman, Jew and Greek, slave and free. I really think you ought to read up more on the history of this. The anti-slavery movement was never secular. Dr. Johnson was a High Church Anglican Tory. Wilberforce and Newton were Evangelicals. In the Americas, practically all the early white abolitionists were Quakers. (Indeed, the Deists and secularists who followed Jefferson - and indeed Jefferson himself - all lined up to varying degrees on the pro-slavery side.) And civil rights was never secular - it had pretty much always been based in the black churches. (There's a reason the key organisation spearing the Civil Rights Movement was called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference!)

James wrote:That said, civil rights is not a religious concept.


I very much disagree with this.

Modern biology has pointed consistently to the idea that people, as with all other organisms, are not born equal either in their physical or mental capacities. It's a hard pill for some people to swallow, but the only way you can get to a principle of legal equality is through the religious (and specifically Abrahamic) conviction that all people are of inherently equal worth.

James wrote:Okay, gotcha. I was speaking to the characterization I read into your argument.

I'm not quite sure how to stomach this position/argument, though. The position outlined in this article. And I sincerely don't believe the argument itself deserves an equal degree of merit.


I don't either.

I was linking and highlighting it to give an example of what I was talking about - not because I agree with it.

James wrote:We don't, legally, get to justify our discrimination on grounds that we 'perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own.' Maybe that elaboration helps to clarify my position.


It doesn't at all; all that's been added is an additional layer of ad hoc self-justifying language.

The entire legal argument for Prince v. Massachusetts is based on a certain moral outrage against contamination, in defence of the community and in defence of children. It takes an a priori moral view of public health as a common concept of 'the good' oriented to an end of general human flourishing (particularly of children), not to be compromised by a specific individual's project of 'the good' however sincerely held.

The concern about marriage is not only comparable, it's almost exactly analogous. The moral view of marriage as a common concept of 'the good' oriented to an end of general human flourishing, again particularly of children, is precisely what is being argued on the conservative side. On the other hand, we have individuals who want to make marriage an entirely individual project of 'the good' based on entirely on sexual self-satisfaction - indeed, this has been your argument. I have no doubt that this argument is held sincerely. But it's still not one which the law ought to be obligated to uphold, and I think we are drifting in a very dangerous direction by entertaining such an individually-malleable legal concept of marriage.

James wrote:I really don't know what to expect here. And I don't think I have the evidence I need to support a belief one way or the other. Maybe it exists, but I certainly haven't consumed enough knowledge to hop onboard.

That said, this ship has sailed, and discrimination is (and in my opinion should be) resolved first and growing pains addressed second. Such has been and continues to be the case with gender discrimination and such will be the case for gay marriage as well. Expect in the case of gay marriage, I find it impossible to imagine anywhere near the same extent of unintended consequences being introduced into society. The single greatest drawback of breaking down gender roles was the contribution it made, however great, to going from households with one working parent to two.


We'll see. I hope you're right about this, but you'll pardon me if I'm not entirely convinced.

You know perfectly well that I'm about as thoroughgoing an anti-libertarian as you're likely to find on the interwebs, and as time has gone on I've grown increasingly sceptical of movements which use naive libertarian freedumb-talk to paper over the basic social realities and costs faced by its most vulnerable members. I'm convinced that liberty is not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice to work yourself to death or starve. For the same reason, I'm convinced that liberty is not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice to be used and abused as a piece of meat for someone else's (or a group of other people's) sexual pleasure, or to live destitute, frustrated and alone. It's not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice of which parent you get to live with this weekend - if you even have two parents to choose from. It's not meaningful when it signifies the choice of killing your unborn baby or going through the hellscape of our modern economy trying to support it when it's born.

James wrote:Have you read the Apple article to which you linked? I don't see any problem here. Apple absolutely should take steps to educate their managers and the partners with whom they work on how to interact with unions, along with the legal do's and don'ts of this involvement. And even if you were to read a negative connotation into it—such as a company wanting to manage unions carefully—that, too, seems appropriate when you consider just how powerful unions can be in some states. There are both pros and cons to unions both when they are too weak or too powerful.


I have indeed. I found it troubling. It helps to have a bit of awareness of the context in which this language is being used, too. Apple's certainly not the only company to do this, and you're right that it isn't the worst offender (Walmart, Target and Amazon being far, far worse), but 'union awareness training' is a standard management euphemism for 'anti-union sabotage training'; the idea is to make managers aware of everything they can do, right up to pushing the envelope of what is legally allowed, to discourage workers from forming unions, and if that fails then keeping unions weak and disorganised. And the chance of labour unions in the United States ever being too powerful is fairly close to zero at this point, and sadly has been ever since Reagan.
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Re: Gay and Lesbian Marriage

Unread postby James » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:30 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:Okay, here's where we come back to the Jewish deli argument. Taking out the purely-emotional component of this that necessarily attaches itself around LGBT identity politics, this legal reasoning is, I think, overly broad and subject to abuse, because we are making it so that personal beliefs are completely discounted in favour of technical ability to comply with requested service. So, again, suppose there's a Jewish deli that sells cheese sandwiches and beef sandwiches - each separately, of course, since that's the only way to keep kosher - and makes sandwiches to order (as most delis do). So what do you do if a non-Jewish customer comes in demanding that the deli owner make him a beef and cheese sandwich?

So do you provide the customer with the legal basis to file for discrimination? Obviously, from a purely technical-ability perspective, the Jewish deli owner is fully capable of making such a sandwich, and any objections said deli owner might have to making such a sandwich would be based entirely on his religious beliefs about the right way to prepare food. Should he be legally compelled to make that sandwich?

The 'emotional' component you've discounted is important. Whatever law is drafted to combat discrimination must necessarily combat discrimination. And when you outwardly express that you turned a customer away specifically for discriminatory reasons and then double-back to a technical explanation after speaking to a lawyer, how can you still expect people to take you seriously when discussing your decision?

Whatever form the law takes it should be one which does not make it easy for the shop owner to openly discriminate while at the same time hiding behind a technicality.

Which leads us on to technical interoperation. What I wrote is not an attempt to write such a law, but rather an effort on my part to describe the problem in general terms as I see it. It's fine and dandy to make an observation of how such a thing could be exploited for one purpose or another, but that rather misses the point of our discussion, don't you think? And because one of us can envision a potential technicality in a theoretical bill does not stand as any degree of evidence against a law designed to combat discrimination. That's a discussion to be had when the law actually appears.

And more to the point, some such laws do exist, and what you've outlined in theory is not happening.

Bringing us to your Jewish deli example. Honestly, it feels a bit like a straw man to me. Kosher delis have been operating for quite some time now alongside discrimination laws and problems such as this have not come up. I doubt any court will view it as 'discrimination' when a deli refuses to combine meat and cheese for any customer, nor is that anything remotely approaching comparable to denying products to an entire group of people based on sexual orientation.

Many problems could be addressed in the United States simply by adding sexual orientation as a 'protected class'. Or Title II of the Civil Rights Act could be extended to cover sexual orientation. There are ways to solve aspects of this problem through established law here, and similar approaches seem reasonable for other countries with similar laws.

WeiWenDi wrote:It's not the way of the Church to adapt to the world, and it never has been. The Church did not adapt itself to Rome's idolatry, imperial hubris or sexual deviance. (On the contrary, it was Rome that converted.) Will there be falling-out? Perhaps so, and that is regrettable. But the One, Holy, Sobornyi and Apostolic Church will not and cannot sacrifice the truths that have been handed down from the Apostles merely for the sake of expediency and relevance - the secular powers that govern modern liberal states will hate Holy Mother Church anyway regardless of what she does, precisely because she exists and exists independently of their power structure.

You might want to avoid taking too much of what I say to be applied specifically to your church. I speak in more general terms. That said, all Christian faiths have evolved over time. For example, a range of punishments once sponsored through the Bible have largely been eliminated. Maybe your faith won't follow that path in terms of gay marriage, as will likely be the case (at least for some time) among some other Christian faiths. Who am I to contest that? But society is going to evolve to accept it in most wealthy (particularly Western) nations.

WeiWenDi wrote:I'm not so sure. Christians might not be violent against American secularists, but the reverse is assuredly not true.

Given all the Christian (and Shi'ite, and Alawite) blood that America has spilled in Iraq (or caused to be spilled at the hands of its Sunni proxies and Saudi, Qatari and Emirati oil buddies), in Syria and now in the Ukraine, a clear message is being sent to all Christians in a vulnerable political position: comply with American imperial dominance, or die. Ted Cruz and all the Republicans who supported him sent this message loud and clear to the Christians of the Middle East over Israel policy. Obama is now sending this message to the Christians in Nigeria - essentially strong-arming them into an American secular policy of sexual ethics.

There are a few different arguments here.

1) Secularist violence. I cannot fathom how you could support your opening argument here, outside perhaps turning to specific regional or individual examples. Both sides of the discussion are responsible for a fair amount of animosity, but I wouldn't read too much into that as it is a discussion dominated by the outspoken minority.

2) Ted Cruz. Can we please not pretend he has a worthwhile contribution to make to this discussion? I remember that event and my bet is that he did it specifically for political reasons elsewhere, the people to whom he was speaking be damned. If you want to argue that the Tea Party is toxic, I'll agree. But, thankfully, they are not yet the United States.

3) Christians in Nigeria. Maybe we shouldn't allow opinions from a few individuals to speak for another individual who has said nothing to support the argument? I have read a wide range of theories as to why the United States has not been more involved, most dealing with politics or local cooperation, and all are based on a degree of speculation based on limited information. I wouldn't be comfortable backing any particular information given how limited our information happens to be.

And none of this suggests to me, to any meaningful extent, that Christians would react violently to their church's gradual acceptance of gay marriage. Although they may certainly branch the church. And if it were actually true that they would react violently I'm not sure how I could view them with anything but disgust.

WeiWenDi wrote:The genuine anger, resentment, dismay etc. of being a second-class human being, only translated into political action because of a religious conviction held both by the oppressed slaves and by their sympathisers that human beings of different races are somehow fundamentally alike. Why was it, indeed, that so many black people of that time turned to Christianity - the religion of the people who enslaved them? It's precisely because the message of Christianity offered them hope and deliverance, through the story of Moses and through S. Paul's letter to the Galatians that Christ accepts all, man and woman, Jew and Greek, slave and free. I really think you ought to read up more on the history of this. The anti-slavery movement was never secular. Dr. Johnson was a High Church Anglican Tory. Wilberforce and Newton were Evangelicals. In the Americas, practically all the early white abolitionists were Quakers. (Indeed, the Deists and secularists who followed Jefferson - and indeed Jefferson himself - all lined up to varying degrees on the pro-slavery side.) And civil rights was never secular - it had pretty much always been based in the black churches. (There's a reason the key organisation spearing the Civil Rights Movement was called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference!)

This is nothing but speculation. If you want to believe that these people wouldn't have organized and fought back through their communities (keep in mind that a common feature of their communities was segregated church—and served as an excellent means through which they could collaborate) if not for religion itself, fine, but it's an unsubstantiated position. Not to say religion wasn't involved. It played an important role for many of these people (as it did a wide range of Americans at that time). But it is a dramatic oversimplification to say it was so simple as born of religion.

And I'll reiterate that civil rights, the concept, does not require religion. I do not require religion in order to be concerned with civil rights concerns. And in the case of gay rights, and in many cases associated with women's rights, religion frequently (heavily in the case of the former) falls on the other side of the coin.

WeiWenDi wrote:That said, civil rights is not a religious concept.

I very much disagree with this.

Modern biology has pointed consistently to the idea that people, as with all other organisms, are not born equal either in their physical or mental capacities. It's a hard pill for some people to swallow, but the only way you can get to a principle of legal equality is through the religious (and specifically Abrahamic) conviction that all people are of inherently equal worth.[/quote]
A straw man. Of course people are not created equal. We are all different in a wide range of small and significant ways. But this is not a concern at heart to African Americans in the civil rights movement, women's rights (though opponents are quite fond of pointing out that they should know their place where women are different, such as in strength), or gay rights (where it is a purely irrelevant argument). Where this is more relevant is in, say, handling of individuals with various handicaps—where we actually embrace this biological diversity and seek to make special accommodations for those born in a far less fortunate position (whether accessible ramps or the braille present to assist floor selection in an elevator.

Similarly, the 'equality' or the 'born equal' you might hear the champion of some form of civil rights interest say is not concerned with the biological differences we all exhibit.

Or maybe you've misunderstood my position? Maybe there are some areas where civil rights becomes a religious concept, but in the United States, and typically in many countries exploring these issues, a civil rights concern is one which religion is just as welcome to participate, for or against, as groups or individuals of other interests. And the ultimate product—African American equality, women's rights, gay rights—is not one tied to religion.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:We don't, legally, get to justify our discrimination on grounds that we 'perceive their practices to be less pure, moral, or socially acceptable than our own.' Maybe that elaboration helps to clarify my position.

It doesn't at all; all that's been added is an additional layer of ad hoc self-justifying language.

The entire legal argument for Prince v. Massachusetts is based on a certain moral outrage against contamination, in defence of the community and in defence of children. It takes an a priori moral view of public health as a common concept of 'the good' oriented to an end of general human flourishing (particularly of children), not to be compromised by a specific individual's project of 'the good' however sincerely held.

The concern about marriage is not only comparable, it's almost exactly analogous. The moral view of marriage as a common concept of 'the good' oriented to an end of general human flourishing, again particularly of children, is precisely what is being argued on the conservative side. On the other hand, we have individuals who want to make marriage an entirely individual project of 'the good' based on entirely on sexual self-satisfaction - indeed, this has been your argument. I have no doubt that this argument is held sincerely. But it's still not one which the law ought to be obligated to uphold, and I think we are drifting in a very dangerous direction by entertaining such an individually-malleable legal concept of marriage.

Regardless of your interpretation, what I shared earlier is the current standard for United States law.

And please don't confuse it with the gay marriage discussion. It pertains directly to your vaccination argument. One which doesn't relate meaningfully to gay marriage in the first place and shouldn't be further correlated.

What you've outlined later is how you'd like marriage to be represented, which is fine. You are absolutely not alone in this belief. But marriage is already a malleable concept with different definitions and restrictions from faith to faith and in the eyes of the government. The government must ultimately level it's laws with its constitution (or whatever stands in its place; or at least it should—see NSA) and marriage will not be an exception to that rule. Either marriage as the government sees it needs to conform to the government's law, where it does not hold up well against anti-discrimination law, or it needs to be dropped from the government consideration entirely.

Such is rather the argument for 'civil union', but that's also an argument form the religious that marriage belongs to them, but it currently does not and, in my opinion should not. They own their individual interoperation.

WeiWenDi wrote:We'll see. I hope you're right about this, but you'll pardon me if I'm not entirely convinced.

You know perfectly well that I'm about as thoroughgoing an anti-libertarian as you're likely to find on the interwebs, and as time has gone on I've grown increasingly sceptical of movements which use naive libertarian freedumb-talk to paper over the basic social realities and costs faced by its most vulnerable members. I'm convinced that liberty is not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice to work yourself to death or starve. For the same reason, I'm convinced that liberty is not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice to be used and abused as a piece of meat for someone else's (or a group of other people's) sexual pleasure, or to live destitute, frustrated and alone. It's not meaningful when it signifies merely the choice of which parent you get to live with this weekend - if you even have two parents to choose from. It's not meaningful when it signifies the choice of killing your unborn baby or going through the hellscape of our modern economy trying to support it when it's born.

Yeah, I hope I'm right too. I'm at least confident where laws on consummation and adultery are concerned. :)

And these examples—all have representations in moderation and extreme.

And many things have no right solution. Take abortion, for example. There are those who don't like the idea that a woman would choose the abort a child, but it would be irresponsible for them to turn a blind eye to the psychological impact of raising a child produced through rape, pushing through medical concerns, or simply completely upending one's life and career to have a child that parent doesn't want to have. And that's to say nothing for children turning up in dumpsters, being unwanted by their own parents, or the consequences of 'alternative' abortion solutions (self administered, or administered through an illegal provider). It's also not that the mother does not care. That she cares is exactly the thing protesters want to use to guilt her away from the clinic. So a government does the best job it can do.

We can classify them as concerns of 'liberty', and literally that seems appropriate, but they are exactly the struggles any government must deal with (certainly ignoring them is not preferable—and no major interested party wants that in the case of a subject like abortion). So is it useful to classify it for the sake of argument?

And a 'freedom' to choose a life predominantly dedicated to work or starve? It's a really awful choice to make, and one many people get to make. It's a little disingenuous for someone to label that choice positively as doing so ignores the problems which created that reality (such as income inequality), but it's another example of a concern which government must address. Certainly the lack of government in terms of addressing it leads to this very extreme.

WeiWenDi wrote:I have indeed. I found it troubling. It helps to have a bit of awareness of the context in which this language is being used, too. Apple's certainly not the only company to do this, and you're right that it isn't the worst offender (Walmart, Target and Amazon being far, far worse), but 'union awareness training' is a standard management euphemism for 'anti-union sabotage training'; the idea is to make managers aware of everything they can do, right up to pushing the envelope of what is legally allowed, to discourage workers from forming unions, and if that fails then keeping unions weak and disorganised. And the chance of labour unions in the United States ever being too powerful is fairly close to zero at this point, and sadly has been ever since Reagan.

It is wrong to suggest that there's a standard on this subject. Or that a training program pertaining to working with unions (especially in areas where unions are extremely powerful) must necessarily prescribe certain content or motives. And certainly it is wrong to conflate one company's practices with another, such as is the case with Walmart where they will actually close stores to avoid a union. And certainly anti-union programs provided by outside contractors should not be used to assign intention to individual companies outside connecting information.

I'd also take issue with a position that unions are a matter in which people should have a black or white position. Here in Utah they are remarkably weak entities under weak workers' rights laws, and unions absolutely should be strengthened. In, for example, the Bay Area of California Unions are heavily protected and are extremely powerful. For example, it can be extremely difficult to fire even terrible employees, and that does significant damage to a businesses. And there are other concerns, aside from retaining employees who treat customers poorly. Your union, for example, might fight to keep intact the retirement package they negotiated under pressure even as it becomes apparent that it is unsustainable.

I'm rather surprised how frequently I meet people who are either wholly opposed or in complete support of unions. The former seems to be politics or direct financial interest, but the later—maybe the goal here is to support anything that helps to combat income inequality and other national concerns.
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