Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Groovenstein

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12853948/

I guess they only care about so-called "states' rights" when it suits them. I mean, really, if you're going to be a "states' rights" clown, how can you say the federal government should have anything to do with marriage, considering that domestic relations is about as traditionally state-regulated as you can get?

Idiots or liars. I don't like either.

Fortunately, the article does say that the amendment's ultimate passage is unlikely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Idiots or liars. I don't like either.
And yet there you have both in one package. You know, I haven't been paying much attention to the idiot-liars (it depresses me), but I wonder, do they still make noises about states rights these days?

On another amusing note, I assume you saw that the anti-same-sex amendment in Georgia was struck down. Since we have one of those, I was wondering, how the hell do you strike down a state's constitutional amendment (assuming you can't find a federal unconstitutionallity). Well, the answer is that the amendment was passed illegally, so it isn't an amendment. I thought that was rather clever, though it's a temporary patch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find it interesting that people are still debating the non-sequitur, "gay marriage". According to the dictionaries I have, back from the days before the Liberals started bastardizing the English language, the definition of marriage was "a union between a MAN and a WOMAN."

The concept of 'gay marriage' is a misnomer--it simply does not exist BY DEFINITION.

People need to come up with another term. If two guys want to hook up, it is not marriage, it is somethng by another term. "Civil union" is a more acceptable stand-in, until a better phrase can be coined. But please, don't call it something it is not and can never be, otherwise you'd be changing the definition of words, and when you can do that, you can change the meaning of any word and that means Constitutions and the rule of law can be distorted to fit ANY purpose or agenda.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitions are about essentializing, yes? What are the essential characteristics of a marriage? Why do you think the sex of the participants is among them?

I see the uses of the word "marriage" as follows:

1. A helpful legal term to define legal relations between individuals in areas such as property ownership (during life and after), child custody, and power of attorney.

2. A term describing the relationship between adults who choose to formalize their deep love (hopefully) for one another.

I do not see any utility in distinguishing between heterosexual and homosexual marriages. For many (I'm not saying you), calling a formalized homosexual relationship a "civil union" is intended to give it some substandard status, like it's not a "real" marriage. I mean, sure, "black" and "nigger" both describe the same thing, but they don't mean the same thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion, the real hangup is not over the definition of marriage as such, but the ability for two people of the same sex to be perceived as equal to, and receive equal legal benefits as, heterosexual couples.

If the original definition of marriage was what you say, there is definitely a case for the "bastardization" of the English language. However, I don't think this is the predominant issue at hand. Also, at this point in English language evolution, I think "marriage" could include both gay and straight unions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The real problem in this issue is the fact that the government, at any level, recognizes marriage at all in any form. Why does it need to?

The common answers are for tax purposes. Well, why is the government using economic incentives and disincentives to engineer the make up of society? I've also heard that by legally recognizing gay marriage, it would distort the actuarial tables of insurance companies since homosexuals are statistically more likely to be more permiscuous and thus less healthy. As if it was anyone else's business with whom insurance companies choose to do business with.

Other than that, I can't think of any reason why the government should be involved. There's the issue of shared property, but that could all be sorted out through things like contracts and financial records. It's really dumb that once you're married in the eyes of the state, you become this partial individual - with some rights as an individual and other rights as a cog in some kind of social entity.

This whole issue is so boring.

Edit: Oh, and I should mention children. Even though it's early, I can't believe I forget them. It's my opinion that a child is the sole "property" of the mother and any involvement by the father should be at her discretion. Unless, of course, other arrangements were contractually agreed upon before the child's birth.

Edited by ggdwill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most people are not the Christian fundamentalist-types that would support this, and will consider such laws to be unnecessarily discriminatory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Most people are not the Christian fundamentalist-types that would support this, and will consider such laws to be unnecessarily discriminatory.
Check your premise. In the 2004 election, some states voted on propositions against gay-marriage. Here is the text from one, from Kentucky:

Amend the Kentucky Constitution "to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be a marriage in Kentucky, and that a legal status identical to or similar to marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized?"
On the CNN page I linked to, you'll see that the proposition won 75% of the vote in Arkansas, 75% in Kentucky, 76% in Georgia, 59% in Michigan, 86% in Mississippi, 67% in Montana, 73% in North Dakota, 62% in Ohio, 76% in Oklahoma and 66% in Utah. The big surpirse (for me) was that it even won 57% in Oregon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Check your premise.
Bleh, wasn't that a pitiful sight. Good point nonetheless; I suppose such actions are more popular than I'd prefer.

But still, long term, I don't think such a position is a winner. I'll have to look into this more, but I don't see any purported purpose to such laws, other than a protection of the sanctity of the dictionary (hardly a government function) and perhaps an indirect snub at homosexuals. IMO the more such things are argued, the less likely someone will support such things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IMO the more such things are argued, the less likely someone will support such things.
Hunter, I think you're attributing a mythical thoughtfulness to the average voter. Voters will choose a better option than gay-marriage bans, but only if one is presented. This, like many other issues, demonstrates how intellectuals from the Democratic party have been ineffective in playing on their party's strengths. The religious right is taking all the initiatives and the left is playing defense by sticking to a position that is popularly considered extreme.

Politically, the right way to proceed is to take the initiative by creating positive law that

  • creates a new legal status,
  • gives it very delimited rights and
  • makes clear that none others are being assumed

For instance, one might have a law that says what a civil union is, and saying that civil partners will have the right to act as agents for their partners just as spouses can, in certain areas: medical decisions, financial agreements, etc. and are not presumed to be same as spouses in any area not explicitly listed. Such a law should also explicitly say that no past or future agreements that refer to "marriage" and "spouses" will be assumed to imply civil-partnerships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am curious how such a law as you propose, as well as the current state laws/amendments recently enacted, would fare against an equal protection challenge. I would guess there have been lower court cases, though I'm not sure. Maybe I'll look sometime. For now, take a peek at Romer v. Evans. Classifications on the basis of sexual orientation gets a scrutiny in between rational basis (most EPC cases) and strict scrutiny (racial classifications). Note that the decision was 6-3 with O'Connor in the majority (unconstitutional side) and Rehnquist in the dissent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to the dictionaries I have, back from the days before the Liberals started bastardizing the English language, the definition of marriage was "a union between a MAN and a WOMAN."
That may be, but there's a distinction between the traditional religious definition and a legal concept. The amendment in question isn't an imposition or redefinition of a religious concept, it pertains to the legal concept. That legal concept has significant consequences for individuals, and it is right that the legal concept "marriage" either (1) be completely obliterated as not the concern of government -- clearly this is the correct solution to the problem -- or (2) be extended to whatever form of voluntary union people want to join in. The federal and state governments deny rights to technically unmarried couples which should not be denied, and there is no rational basis for that denial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DavidOdden, I agree completely. And I do not think this is a boring issue. Neither do I think most gay men do, nor can I see why a straight man would. False descrimination has already been signed into law against a (albeit smaller) portion of the population. What would you think if states began ratifying laws banning people with blue eyes from marrying other blue-eyed people? Or how about entire ethnic groups from marrying at all?

Personally I would like to see the government's involvement in marriage disolved, but does anyone think that is actually going to happen in the next 25 years?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For instance, one might have a law that says what a civil union is, and saying that civil partners will have the right to act as agents for their partners just as spouses can, in certain areas: medical decisions, financial agreements, etc. and are not presumed to be same as spouses in any area not explicitly listed. Such a law should also explicitly say that no past or future agreements that refer to "marriage" and "spouses" will be assumed to imply civil-partnerships.
I see two problems with this proposal. First, when applied to agreements, I'm not sure if the government has the power to categorically prohibit defining "marriage" in an agreement as including samesex marriage, if the parties want to explicitly define the term that way. They can invoke an "unless the context otherwise requires" rule of interpretation that says that unless you say otherwise, "spouse" is interpreted to mean X. I'm not familiar with any means of systematically blocking a contract that states "Marriage, including any legally registered civil union between members of the same sex".

Second, when there is a specific statute that for example grants a person immunity from testifying against a spouse or grants one the right to make emergency medical decisions on behalf of a spouse (etc), I doubt that this can be handled with a single meta-law; rather, I think that what would have to be done is that the specific statutes that refer to spouses would have to be amended individually. Matt can smack me upside the head if I'm wrong about that, but this seems to be a basic feature of our legal system that laws are largely self-contained or at least require reference to some other specific law, e.g. "as defined in 21 USC 801 (2)(A)". If some set of laws refer to a "spouse" which is specifically defined in a particular part of the code, you can change that definition.

I agree entirely that a positive alternative is needed, but the fundamentalists have been excessively sucessful to the point that America is in real danger of taken over by the Christian Taliban. Gay marriage is a very minor issue, in comparison to the larger theocratic problem that in the name of "religious freedom", the fundies have won the right to impose on "themselves" whatever religious laws and obligations they want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find it interesting that people are still debating the non-sequitur, "gay marriage".

How can a phrase be a "non-sequitur"? Usually, isn't the Latin non sequitur used to name an idea applying to whole propositions -- as conclusions of illogical arguments -- rather than to terms? Perhaps rather than "non-sequitur" you mean "misnomer" -- which is the term/idea you use below.

According to the dictionaries I have, back from the days before the Liberals started bastardizing the English language, the definition of marriage was "a union between a MAN and a WOMAN."
Generally speaking, in my experience, dictionaries don't offer philosophical definitions, that is, definitions (of fundamental concepts) suitable for everyone, everywhere, at all times. Instead, don't most dictionaries merely record common usages -- indeed, a very wide range of usages -- from contemporary or historical culture? (Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 74, briefly discusses the role of philosophers in formulating philosophical definitions.)

Though dictionaries can be very helpful as an early step in thinking about a concept and what it means to the thinker, everyone has a right to rename concepts or reformulate definitions of concepts, where cognitive necessity requires it. Would you have advised Ayn Rand to confine herself to the conventional, common dictionary "definitions" of "selfishness" or "objectivity"? I wouldn't have.

The concept of 'gay marriage' is a misnomer--it simply does not exist BY DEFINITION.

How can a concept be a misnomer? A concept is a mental integration of a certain sort (ITOE, p. 13). A term (word) names a concept (or a thing, in the case of proper names). A term thus is only a symbol for a concept, not the concept itself. A misnomer (which means, etymologically, "faulty name") is an inappropriate name (symbol, term) not an erroneously formed concept.

The process of forming a concept is complete when a thinker names the concept. So, in this sense, a thinker could pick an inappropriate name (as a symbol) -- for example, saying "white" is "a rational animal." "White" would certainly be a misnomer because it is a term that usually names a certain color, which has nothing to do with the essential distinguishing characteristics of the object (man) being defined.

[...]you'd be changing the definition of words, and [...]

Strictly speaking, except for proper names (words), it is concepts not words (terms, symbols) that need definition.

[...]when you can do that, you can change the meaning of any word and that means Constitutions and the rule of law can be distorted to fit ANY purpose or agenda.

So, do we -- those of us now living in Western Civilization -- have only two choices?

(1) Always follow our ancestors in applying the same terms to the same concepts having the same definitions. OR

(2) Abandon all guidelines for concept formation and naming, letting chaos reign in our thinking and communicating?

Wouldn't that be a false dichotomy? Don't we have another choice -- changing terms or changing concepts to meet our changing cognitive needs, all while following objective rules? (In passing, Ayn Rand, ITOE, pp. 69-74, discusses cognitive necessity as a standard for concept formation.)

In other words, the proper choice is neither traditionalism nor chaos, but objectivity.

P. S. -- I am neither a philosopher nor a lawyer. Here I am only making suggestions about issues of nomenclature and concept formation. I have not done the long thinking that would be required to formulate a philosophically applicable definition of marriage, much less a technical, legal definition. I vaguely remember a lecture I once heard, in Virginia about 12 years ago, in which Dr. Peikoff mentioned that he had worked for several weeks on forming a definition of a certain concept -- something like "friendship.")

Edited by BurgessLau

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hunter, I think you're attributing a mythical thoughtfulness to the average voter. Voters will choose a better option than gay-marriage bans, but only if one is presented.
Well, if they will choose a presented better option, then at least we agree that they generally have thoughtulness, if not of the mythical variety.

How many of these people support government action (and tax money) every time some word is being applied in an irrelevant manner? Does anyone really believe banning gay marriage is going to diminish gays from pop culture? I doubt pro-dictionary and anti-gay law can be presented to be better options, particularly over the long term.

This, like many other issues, demonstrates how intellectuals from the Democratic party have been ineffective in playing on their party's strengths. The religious right is taking all the initiatives and the left is playing defense by sticking to a position that is popularly considered extreme.
"Gays want to get married? Okay. What are the advantages of discriminatory laws in this case?" In this case, forcing Republicans to defend a piece of idiocy would be quite effective and not particularly extreme.

Nice Buffett sig BTW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12853948/

I guess they only care about so-called "states' rights" when it suits them. I mean, really, if you're going to be a "states' rights" clown, how can you say the federal government should have anything to do with marriage, considering that domestic relations is about as traditionally state-regulated as you can get?

Idiots or liars. I don't like either.

Fortunately, the article does say that the amendment's ultimate passage is unlikely.

I believe it is called "pandering".

All they are doing is putting something in a bill and expecting it to fail. Then they can go back to their constituents and say "see we tried, vote for us again and we'll try harder".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That may be, but there's a distinction between the traditional religious definition and a legal concept. The amendment in question isn't an imposition or redefinition of a religious concept, it pertains to the legal concept. That legal concept has significant consequences for individuals, and it is right that the legal concept "marriage" either (1) be completely obliterated as not the concern of government -- clearly this is the correct solution to the problem -- or (2) be extended to whatever form of voluntary union people want to join in. The federal and state governments deny rights to technically unmarried couples which should not be denied, and there is no rational basis for that denial.

Right, there should be a legal definition, but what concerns me is the apparent variability of definitions for concepts that I had considered as absolutes. Ie, if a marriage is a union of a man and a woman, then that word is reserved exclusively to that concept. How can it be changed without opening the door to changing the meanings of ALL of our language and the abuse that can come from that once creative dictator-wannabes start to meddle with the meaning of important words--like the words that make up our Bill of Rights?

While I don't recognize any religious definition per-se, I do favor stability in language, so that meanings can't shift over time and therefore be manipulated for political reasons. Already, there are people who wish to reinterpret the US Constitution by changing the definitions of words. Courts seem to be at the forefront of redefining American launguage. Words should have fixed meanings. If A is A, then it should always be A, not redefined as B or A+B by some future court of law. Once we can manipulate language, once meanings are no longer absolute, we slip down the funnel of confusion and dictatorship.

Of all the people that would understand this, I would expect those with Objectivism as their guide would. Words have meaning. It is my opinion that stability of definition throughout all of a civilization's existence is essential to maintaining the protection of the rule of laws and constitutions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark, while I share your concern, I think in this case it is misplaced. Our legal institutions should concern themselves with doing justice. While I think there is something to be said for rules like plain meaning, using interpretive rules (insofar as the courts are concerned) and using dictionary definitions (insofar as the legislatures are concerned) must be discarded if the result is a miscarriage of justice.

I am not aware of your legal knowledge, so I do not intend this question to be insulting. Are you familiar with the old case of Dred Scott v. Sandford? Here is a helpful quote:

The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement [slaves]compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word "citizens" in the constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them.

Do you not think in a case such as this, where blacks are wrongly excluded from the definition of "citizen" and therefore deprived of rights, the proper solution is to reject the definition and formulate a just one?

Regarding the issue at hand, what rationale do you offer apart from history for excluding homosexual relationships from the definition of marriage? As I see it, the only function such exclusion serves (apart from history, which logic and the terrible result in Dred Scott should adequately demonstrate is not helpful) is an attempted relegation of homosexual relationships to second-class status. Is there a useful function such exclusion serves?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Words should have fixed meanings.

Unless new objective knowledge dictates that the existing definition is inadequate or is not objective. This does not necessarily have to lead to a slippery slope on all words. I would agree that altering definitions should be done judiciously and objectively, but I don't think that definitions should be so set in stone that they cannot be changed when they should be.

I think Groove provides an excellent example to illustrate what I mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Of all the people that would understand this, I would expect those with Objectivism as their guide would. Words have meaning. It is my opinion that stability of definition throughout all of a civilization's existence is essential to maintaining the protection of the rule of laws and constitutions.
I do fully understand this point, but you also have to understand that reality is what it is and not what we wish it to be. The primary fact that has to be understood is that language changes, and objecting that language change leads to social decay does not negate the fact that language does indeed change. (Without getting too sidetracked, the reason for this is that words are not "absolute" and meanings are not intrinsic, they are objectively established by social convention which allows us to contextually know the meanings of words). This ultimately leads to the very real problem of Scalia, that if we are to be governmed by a society of objectively stated law, the meaning of those laws must be knowable, and not just to a handful of legal scholars. Just to take one example, does the meaning of the word "arms" in the Second Amendment include 6-shooters, semi-automatic weapons or bazookas, none of which existed when the founding fathers wrote the the Second Amendment? You would not have found those referents in a dictionary at that time. While I despise Scalia's positivism and his contempt for man's objective rights, he is absolutely right that judges have been telling lies about meaning in order to manufacture social changes that they want. (Although he himself is one of those liars, he's less of a liar than most). What he doesn't seem to get is that laws need to actually be revised on a constant basis, in order to address either bad statements of law with unintended effects or to adjust for the historical fact that language does change.

Good law includes a section of definitions, and always uses current language. In addition, good law is revised (I suspect that in virtually every state in the union, the wording of the murder statutes has been revised a number of times, which is why laws remain reasonably intelligible to modern man). The US Constitution is a special problem, because the founding fathers were laboring under a different set of legal assumptions (we have been slowly moving from common law to statutory law over the past 225 years), and as I have said many times, the Constitution needs to be rewritten exactly to avoid the inference that the welfare clause means the government should create a welfare state, or that the commerce clause means that the feds should be in charge of the nation's businesses.

What matters most is whether the referents of terms in law are clearly knowable, and second-most important is whether that usage corresponds to how the language actually exists at a specific time. The essential definition of the concept "marriage", as far as law goes, is a particular solemnized relationship between people. Whether that is two people or more, between people of the same sex or different, anything about their clan membership or degree of genetic relationship, these are all non-essential factors that reflect the law about marriage, and don't have anything to do with the meaning of marriage itself. The reason why you can reasonably conclude that marriage is between one man and one woman is because the laws of marriage in the US have imposed that requirement on marriage. If you change the law so that two men can marry, then the the properties of marriages will change, so that is can be any two adults.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:dough: Any law, state or federal, that specifies sex, religion, race, and anything else that separates people into arbitrary groups violates the individual rights of others and is unjust oppression that violates the Constitution as I understand it. However, there is a key element of this argument that deserves more serious examination. According to those trying to pass the law, from what I heard today, is that marriage is a historically religious practice between a consenting man and woman (of course this ignores all non-Christian religions that practiced polygamy and certain denominations of Mormons as well as the traditional Christian marriage of thirty-something men marrying twelve-ish girls through financial arrangements) and that all unions outside of God are false marriages, are immoral, and should be illegal.

As an atheist, they are talking about me and my wife, the jack-asses. :lol:

Inspired, I wrote a letter to the local papers (I know, probably a waste of time even if it’s published, but it might plant some seeds). So people won’t just glance over it I tried to make my letter witty.

I encourage all of you to do the same, if for no other reason than to let those out there who live by thinking instead of whim-worship lean they are not alone. :D

----------------------------------------------------------------

If you’re interested I pasted the letter below, but don’t read it if you don’t want to.

What religion do I need to stay legally married?

It should scare the bee-jeebees out of you that the government is considering who we may enter into a legal contract with based on the religious beliefs of the majority.

I’m afraid my marriage, performed by a secular justice of the peace in a non-religious setting, could be null and void. Don’t laugh yet. This is a just fear because the federal proposal to define marriage comes from the belief that marriage is religious in nature. Now this legal contract I entered into with my wife has become a matter of individual rights versus “group rights.” Which religious group and which denomination of that group must I pretend to believe in so I do not lose my insurance?

“Group rights” do not exist. Be it gay or Christian's "rights," men or women's "rights." “Group rights” are the rights of one arbitrary assortment of individuals denied to another arbitrary assortment of individuals by those with the guns. When rights do not exist to all then they are just governmental privileges given at whim. This is an affront to the Constitution and too similar to how the tyrants we are at war with rule. You can laugh at my fears now, if you still want to.

(edited to take out some accidental emotes)

Edited by Samoht

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...