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Devil's Advocate, the concretes you gave don't address my question. I want you to help me understand your point about sanctioning the creation of children. Because I don't understand what legal "sanction" you believe is conferred when a government enforces a marriage contract, I want you to give concretes only for heterosexual relationships. I want to know the difference between how you think the state should treat unmarried hetero parents and married hetero parents. I sincerely hope this helps us move forward without any misplaced feelings of intellectual dishonesty on either of our parts.

I appreciate your attempt to move forward with honest debate on this issue, and will attempt to respond to your question to the best of my ability...

Unmarried hetero parents haven't formally agreed to equal custodianship of their biological children, and until they do, the law correctly prefers the wishes of biological mothers in parental disputes; that's justified unless the fitness of the mother is an issue. Equal custodianship of biological children is conferred by civil marriage, and then only legitimately challenged by divorce, legal separation, or infidelity. Adoption and infidelity introduce third partners into marital relationships that fall outside the scope marriage contracts, thus the legal identities of marriage and cohabitation are necessarily different and confer custodianship of biological children differently. The issue of third partners is why I believe civil marriage, by definition, sanctions the creation of children over the acquisition of children which requires adoption.

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Marriages sure are similar to other types of contracts, like wills. The governments role in marriage should be to enforce such contracts and create certainty regarding legal interpretation. So it make

Fixed. The opposite would be, "Gay people can practice Objectivism, but they can't be called Objectivists."

Because it has no bearing on the concept of marriage - Sexual organs, nor any other random part of physical appearance like height, weight, or skin color, has any effect on it. It is unessential, and

Point out the instances where anyone has called you a "bigot" or described your arguments as "homophobic."

"He's (DonAthos) not saying you did. He's drawing a comparison between the 'sexual preference' card and the race card. I think its a valid comparison... because it does sound like the last rationalization a bigot could stick to." ~ FeatherFall, post #129

"There is a sexual preference element in the concept of marriage (heterosexual); where is the racial element which makes your comparison valid?" ~ My response, post #133, to which there hasn't been any explanation offered from either Moderator...

"Paraphrased: 'You're against homosexual marriage.' 'No I'm not!' 'You're for it, then?' 'No! But I'm not against homosexual marriage; I'm for heterosexual-only marriage!' ~ DonAthos, post 152, in which you return to characterizing my position as evasive, which along with the race card you keep playing, implies bigoted and homophobic.

So explain to me, Mr Moderator, how my reluctance to claim I'm against homosexual marriage, because the meaning of the word marriage identifies a husband/wife relationship that doesn't apply to same sex couples (and which you have yet to refute), is evasive? I'm arguing from the position of how the word marriage is defined, and you from what you think its legal recognition ought to include. So forgive me if I avoid the hoop you keep inviting me to jump through. After all, we both know what accepting your generous offer implies, even if you try to pretend otherwise ;)

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"He's (DonAthos) not saying you did. He's drawing a comparison between the 'sexual preference' card and the race card. I think its a valid comparison... because it does sound like the last rationalization a bigot could stick to." ~ FeatherFall, post #129

"There is a sexual preference element in the concept of marriage (heterosexual); where is the racial element which makes your comparison valid?" ~ My response, post #133, to which there hasn't been any explanation offered from either Moderator...

"Paraphrased: 'You're against homosexual marriage.' 'No I'm not!' 'You're for it, then?' 'No! But I'm not against homosexual marriage; I'm for heterosexual-only marriage!' ~ DonAthos, post 152, in which you return to characterizing my position as evasive, which along with the race card you keep playing, implies bigoted and homophobic.

So explain to me, Mr Moderator, how my reluctance to claim I'm against homosexual marriage, because the meaning of the word marriage identifies a husband/wife relationship that doesn't apply to same sex couples (and which you have yet to refute), is evasive? I'm arguing from the position of how the word marriage is defined, and you from what you think its legal recognition ought to include. So forgive me if I avoid the hoop you keep inviting me to jump through. After all, we both know what accepting your generous offer implies, even if you try to pretend otherwise ;)

Do you mean that putting your arguments in a straightforward manner makes you sound like a bigot or a homophobe?

That's not a claim I ever made, and I'm not responsible for it if it were true. If you are against homosexual marriage, be courageous enough to say so.

And no, I won't forgive you for your evasive and obnoxious manner, though I am comprising another post to address your... "position."

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Do you mean that putting your arguments in a straightforward manner makes you sound like a bigot or a homophobe?

No, I mean that your paraphrasing of my arguments is anything but straightforward.

That's not a claim I ever made, and I'm not responsible for it if it were true. If you are against homosexual marriage, be courageous enough to say so.

Courageous enough to accept your definition of what marriage ought to be, and then oppose it?! LOL

And no, I won't forgive you for your evasive and obnoxious manner, though I am comprising another post to address your... "position."

I'm sure that will be an equally entertaining fictional account of it. At this point you don't really require any further responses from me to keep writing your own script. Enjoy your creative efforts, and if you're ever interested or able to refute my position, I might just respond again...

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Unless something new comes up to address, I'm done responding to paraphrased insinuations of my position on this issue.

Since nobody wants "paraphrased insinuations of [Devil's Advocate's] position" which apparently misconstrue his actual position, and since this is such a long thread, I went back to the first few pages, prior to my foolishly entering into the discourse, so that we can review a bit and clear this all up. While I have selected these quotes, and possibly according to a bias, the full context is of course available for the sufficiently masochistic.

...it's pretty hard to defend something [marriage] that society is trying so hard to kick down. Marriage IS a contract, yes indeedy, but those who focus on the fine print too often miss out on what's written between the lines. Remaining happily married is a work in progress; and one, quite frankly, most people today aren't suited for... and that's a genuine shame for those who never will experience one.

It is a shame for those who will never experience marriage, especially through discriminatory laws. But what's that about society "trying so hard to kick down" marriage? I wonder what that's all about!

What is so special about marriage, is the integration of 2 individuals into a durable living partnership founded on faith and commitment.

Hmm. So it's interesting to note, at this early stage of the discussion, Devil's Advocate's description here... and his gender-neutral descriptor of "2 individuals."

Interesting to me alone, perhaps? Perhaps!

Marriage is more an argument for monogamy and dedicating yourself to maintaining a life long relationship that may, or may not, include raising children, than a personal financial investment.

Marriage -- "the integration of 2 individuals into a durable living partnership" -- is, here, "more an argument for monogamy and dedicating yourself to... a life long relationship." Are children essential to this view of marriage as presented, a person might ask himself?

Well. It's more about that life long relationship, you see. It may, or may not, include raising children. ("Raising" children? Does that possibly include adoption or surrogacy or children from previous relationships?)

What marriage offers, is a chance to have faith in something tangible; another person. Contracts are fine, but contracts basically presume distrust. Personally, I don't think a marriage ceremony requires much more than jumping over a broom together.

Ah, okay. So marriage is really less about the legal contract (i.e. a "civil union") -- which "basically [presumes] distrust" -- and more about the spiritual unity between "2 individuals." Doesn't require "much more than jumping over a broom," gotcha. (Can homosexuals jump over a broom, I find myself wondering...?)

So far as legalities go, why shouldn't government regulation taint marriage, just like it does every other aspect of human relationships. Committed couples ought to be allowed the same legal protection married couples get.

Can this be more clear? Committed couples (irrespective of gender? just "2 individuals"?) ought to be allowed the same legal protection married couples get.

The key term is commitment, Eiuol, and that is the primary focus of the two individuals choosing to share the rest of their lives together; the rest is so much red tape. Marriage only becomes necessary as a recognition of commitment.

Marriage is only necessary as a recognition of the commitment of "2 individuals" choosing to share the rest of their lives together. This recognition oughtn't provide any more "legal protection" apart from that of any other "committed couple," of course.

The legal arrangement called marriage, and the voluntary commitment called marriage, are two separate issues; the latter isn't dependent on the former, and the latter definitely belongs exclusively to the individuals choosing the commitment. In terms of the former, I agree (if this is your position) that marriage ought to be deregulated.

Marriage is a voluntary commitment (the "legal arrangement" presumably being the "recognition of the commitment" referenced above, though a "separate issue"), and it "belongs exclusively to the [2] individuals choosing the commitment." Who doesn't it belong to? Anyone else apart from those 2 individuals.

It's only desirable when two individuals choose to spend the rest of their lives together and want to formalize their commitment to each other in a manner that makes it evident to their community; it creates a legal and spiritual unity. Civil unions work fine to accomplish the former, and jumping over a broom works fine for the latter, but marriage accomplishes both.

Okay. We have two (2) individuals who choose to spend their lives together, and commit to one another by jumping over a broom. Broom? Boom! They're married, these two 2 individuals, in a way that "belongs exclusively" to them. You know, spiritually.

Now if they want to "formalize" that commitment, in, uh, "the legal arrangement called marriage" -- to have a contract (which "basically presume distrust") and "[make] it evident to their community," they can have a "civil union" or they can "marry" (presumably being a different civil ceremony, then? but a legal one, not merely a broom hopping). "Marriage" (i.e. a legal marriage) accomplishes these two things: the spiritual joining of the broom, and the legal joining of the civil union.

Is... uh... everyone still with us?

Marriage (legal marriage) = a "civil union" + "the [spiritual] integration of 2 individuals into a durable living partnership."

Civil unions are a good example of the efficacy and consistency of government regulation; marriages are a good example of the efficacy and consistency of two individuals being allowed to set their own terms.

This use of marriage seemingly applies to the "broom-hopping" variety, and not the legal marriage (which, remember, incorporates the legal features of the civil unions), though I'm not 100% certain.

What's great though, is the reaffirmation of the clear nature he's staked out for the spiritual/non-legal side of "marriage": 2 "individuals being allowed to set their own terms."

So a legal marriage, in this view, being itself a marriage between "civil union" and "broom marriage," is a consistent application of government regulation, for all those groups of "2 individuals" who have committed themselves to that spiritual, "durable living partnership" and wish that partnership recognized. The spiritual aspect to such a marriage, while present, belongs only to the 2 individuals involved.

Devil's Advocate's views could not be more clear.

Or... could they...?

Essentially your argument is that contracts which favor one kind of relationship over another should not exist in a fms (free moral society?)... is this correct? If so, why?

If a man and woman choose to marry, and local regulation of marriage awards them greater legal benefits than two men (or two women) who choose a civil union, or two individuals choosing to live together, what standard of liberty or morality is being violated? Why specifically should a contractual arrangement between a man and woman that is unique to other combinations of gender or commitment, not exist in a fms??

Er, come again?

If a "man and woman choose to marry" -- apart from "2 individuals," you mean? Now you're wondering whether this marriage shouldn't be entitled to "greater legal benefits"?

But didn't you say, "Committed couples ought to be allowed the same legal protection married couples get"?

And this marriage can award "greater legal benefits" than a same-sex couple "who choose a civil union?" But I thought that the legal aspect of marriage *was* as a civil union! Remember? Legal marriage "[formalizes] their commitment to each other in a manner that makes it evident to their community; it creates a legal and spiritual unity. Civil unions work fine to accomplish the former..." yeah, and brooms for the latter. RIght?

But now a legal marriage accomplishes more, legally, than formalizing/making evident this commitment in the manner of a civil union? This sudden import of gender is curious. One wonders (well, I wonder), if a heterosexual couple decided to forego jumping over a broom and just have a civil union, would they not have as many legal benefits as a married couple?

What once seemed so clear... is arguably less so, now.

But we have agreed to eliminate government, i.e. civil rights... My question to you is, what specific ethical/moral standard (other than one imposed by government in the form of civil rights) are you using to support the premise that a contract between two genders who agree to live together till death do they part, must carry the same legal weight as a contract between the same gender, or no contract at all?

Here... uh... I don't know, but Devil's Advocate seems to misunderstand how a proper government might uphold contracts. Or he's questioning whether a same-sex couple has the ability to construct a (marriage) contract with "the same legal weight" as such a contract "between two genders."

I don't know.

While I agree in principle that government shouldn't act as an interloper in consensual relationships, I'm not convinced that legal recognition of historically task specific marital roles (breadwinner, homemaker) isn't justified. Until recently marital tasks were gender specific, according to biological and financial (albeit culturally biased) necessity. The introduction of surrogate mothers combined with today's financial necessity for double incomes has altered the historical dynamic in many cases, but not all cases; specifically those pairings who choose to marry according to the historical model. The legal needs of DINKs are objectively different than those of biological parents relying on a single income (SIWKs?), and I believe the law ought to reflect those differences for the security of pregnant spouses who remain unemployed to bear, deliver and raise children by agreement. Civil unions are better suited for DINKs, and marriage for SIWKs, and there remain legitimate differences of entitlement for these two forms of contract.

So here, Devil's Advocate is flirting with the idea that there might only be "marriage" for those who "choose to marry according to the historical model" of marriage, meaning a "breadwinner" and a "homemaker"? (Same-sex couples who fulfill these roles included? Er, probably not, all things considered, right?) Because "[t]he legal needs of DINKs [Double Income, No Kids] are objectively different than those of biological parents relying on a single income (SIWKs?)...the law ought to reflect those differences..."

So, "Civil unions...for DINKs, and marriage for SIWKs, and there remain legitimate differences of entitlement for these two forms of contract."

We have come a long way from "Committed couples ought to be allowed the same legal protection married couples get," haven't we?

Anyways, here is Devil's Advocate's rationale for why marriage needs to be "heterosexual-only" (which he further will not agree simultaneously means "anti-homosexual"). Conspicuous by its absence is an investigation into the etymology of the word "matrimony"...

Legalities aside, for me personally, marriage celebrates a man and woman being able to overcome gender biases in order to work together towards long term, mutually shared goals, in a way that two men, or two women, never address. Maintaining an intimate relationship with the opposite sex is no small feat I can assure you. Whatever personality differences gay couples may have to overcome, they understand how their own gender works. I love my spouse, but it took me years to understand the perspective of my spouse's gender. Heterosexual marriage will remain distinct from gay marriage because of gender, and to marginalize historical custom and physical reality for legal expedience, as opposed to promoting civil unions on the merits of legal rights, is a tactical blunder that creates adversaries who otherwise would be allies.

But, specious psychologizing on the difficulty of relating to the opposite sex versus one's own gender aside, why should arguing for gay marriage be a "tactical blunder that creates adversaries"? Why should anyone be adverse to it?

The rights of those who marry according to the legal recognition of traditional marriage, are violated by those who attempt to alter the identity of marriage, essentially diminishing the value of their marriage earned by their effort to maintain it. In terms of property value, redefining marriage can be viewed legally as trespassing or vandalism.

Ah. A gay couple that "jumps the broom" -- or (worse?) convinces a state authority to recognize the fact of their commitment to each other -- is as a vandal. They have violated the rights of good folk like Devil's Advocate, who believe that marriage is for breadwinners and homemakers alone, and who are thus possibly entitled to "greater legal benefits" than other kinds of couples.

So there we have it. Or the first three or so pages of the thread, at least, and I cannot bear continuing to document this and try to make sense of it (and presumably you cannot bear continuing to read it).

Perhaps Devil's Advocate would maintain that he has held one consistent position throughout? That this is all a matter of "obfuscation," and that I haven't proven my "intellectual prowess," and I'm "backpedaling," and that "the clock continues to tick!" I don't know, and past this point I really don't care. The issues have been clearly laid out to at least my satisfaction, though not thanks to him, and I suspect that an honest reader will be able to draw his own conclusions.

I do finally wish to address Devil's Advocate's cries about being labelled a bigot or whatever-it-is.

As the twists and turns of his argument have continued, and increasingly as he began to base his arguments in history and tradition, comparisons have been made between Devil's Advocate's opinions re: marriage, and other similar-seeming opinions about miscegenation and etc. So far as I can tell, the first instance of this is on the 2nd page of the thread, before my participation:

As to your other point, are you asking 'what's so wrong with having marriage be only between men and women?' Well, it's a civil rights issue. In the 60's, people asked a similar question, 'what's so wrong with having marriage be only between same-race couples?'

Drawing these seemingly sensible parallels is not calling him a bigot, and neither is stating clearly that his stance is anti-homosexual marriage. It may serve him as a distraction to describe this as "playing the race card," or "accusing him of homophobia," but of course it is neither.

While it adds little-to-nothing to the content of the debate, it does provide a lot of evidence regarding Devil's Advocate's fundamental intellectual honesty as regards this topic. I will say that while I have not called him either a bigot or a homophobe, I've also not ruled either of those out as possibilities. I would prefer either of those, in fact, to my current evaluation of "intellectually dishonest," which precludes anything more fruitful coming from continuing to converse with him. I believe this is a game for him and nothing more.

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I love it! CliffsNotes for this topic!!

Um, where was it you (DonAthos) refute my claim that long term, monogamous heterosexual relationships aren't inherently discriminatory towards any other long term, monogamous relationships? ... or that the actual meaning of the words used to describe marriage are gender specific?? Is that coming up next???

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Your claims that you're in favor of an equivalent "civil union," just that we must use a separate term for some silly reason (tradition!), are worthless, even if true.

...oh, OK... so it's not about actual discrimination, or what the meaning of words used to describe marriage are.... identity is apparently non-essential to reality, or to consciousness... and forget about truth...

... is this a forum of Objectivism?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Devil's Advocate, the distinction I see is that marriage allows for the pre-emptive declaration of paternity for future biological children. This is opposed to what I did after my daughter was born out of wedlock. Is that it, then? Civil marriages are pre-emptive instead of after-the-fact?

If so, then I think we should consider what harm having the same arrangement for homosexuals can cause. It seems to me that this pre-emptive declaration of paternity would simply be a vestigial clause that could be ignored when the civil union (marriage) is homosexual. I don't see how it could possibly violate anyone's rights to issue the same civil contract to each type of couple. On the other hand, we all know how separate treatment creates legal inequities that violate individual rights.

It sounds like you would be fine with this arrangement so long as we don't use the wrong words. For instance, would you be ok with using the same "civil union" contract that included a "Marriage" clause regarding future custodianship?

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FeatherFall,

I believe your description, "pre-emptive declaration of paternity for future biological children", correctly describes my view why civil marriage sanctions creation of children over acquisition of children. We can argue whether this sanction is justified, but I doubt anyone believes that a heterosexual commitment to create and raise children is inherently discriminatory towards a homosexual commitment to acquire and raise children. The legal distinction between creation and acquisition simply recognizes a biological fact; specifically that same sex couples cannot be biological parents of the same child.

The legal recognition of a matrimonial ceremony, called marriage, presumes a husband taking a wife for the purpose of creating a biologically independent family, therefore the relationship and biological result of pairing men with women justifies a unique classification, for the same reason unique classifications are necessary to identify men from women; and this kind of legal classification certainly isn't discriminatory. It's my view that attempts to dismiss what marriage clearly identifies, as being an argument from tradition, a violation of civil rights, or identifying non-essential attributes, are themselves evasive of the factual evidence that justifies having a distinct legal identification.

My argument is essentially an appeal for identity, so in terms of what legal remedies I'd be fine with, my position is that government is an interloper in private consensual relationships and needs to confine itself to securing individual rights. There isn't any individual right to marry; that requires consent, and individuals certainly aren't discriminated against by having someone decline their proposal to marry. Yes, the individual rights of contractual partners must be equally secured, but that's a long way from justifying inaccurate contractual titles to secure them.

On a side note, consider the legitimacy of enforcing an identity for marriage contrary to that which the concept refers, in order to pursue a political agenda. Consciousness is identification; what would it mean to have government regulate the process of identification?

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It sounds like you would be fine with this arrangement so long as we don't use the wrong words. For instance, would you be ok with using the same "civil union" contract that included a "Marriage" clause regarding future custodianship?

The problem is that marriage doesn't include an adoption clause, and the future custodianship of homosexual couples depends on adoption, so it remains an illegitimate use of language.

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Marriage is a man-made concept; you can't simply craft a law to conform to "marriage." You need to craft "marriage" to conform to objective goals. This point represents the single largest problem for your position, and you haven't addressed it. What you did was offer a little bit of etymological support. But etymology completely misses the point. It elevates historical usage above today's objective goals; in the process, it confuses the metaphysical with the man-made.

In this case, the metaphysical is the physical nature of men and women, their conceptual natures and the need to protect individual rights that follows. Marriage is the man-made. The etymology of marriage shows us the history of a man-made legal construct; it does not describe a metaphysical truth. Words that had different original meanings are ubiquitous because they are man-made. And that's ok.

I believe your description, "pre-emptive declaration of paternity for future biological children", correctly describes my view why civil marriage sanctions creation of children over acquisition of children. We can argue whether this sanction is justified, but I doubt anyone believes that a heterosexual commitment to create and raise children is inherently discriminatory towards a homosexual commitment to acquire and raise children. The legal distinction between creation and acquisition simply recognizes a biological fact; specifically that same sex couples cannot be biological parents of the same child.

So again, what problem does a pre-emptive declaration of shared-custody cause when introduced to a same-sex couple? I reiterate that it causes no problems, and can simply be ignored.

A quick aside: It is not out of the question that women will share biological daughters in the near future.

The legal recognition of a matrimonial ceremony, called marriage, presumes a husband taking a wife for the purpose of creating a biologically independent family, therefore the relationship and biological result of pairing men with women justifies a unique classification, for the same reason unique classifications are necessary to identify men from women;

No. Marriage is man-made. Functional/Hormonal/Morphological differences between men and women are metaphysical. Different classifications for men and women are due to a process of identification. Different legal classifications for relationships are teleological; while one can use a process of identification to classify them (like when I mentioned that some cultures have multiple husbands - leading me to classify them as "polygamous"), they must first be constructed to fit a goal. Very different.

the relationship and biological result of pairing men with women justifies a unique classification, for the same reason unique classifications are necessary to identify men from women; and this kind of legal classification certainly isn't discriminatory. It's my view that attempts to dismiss what marriage clearly identifies, as being an argument from tradition, a violation of civil rights, or identifying non-essential attributes, are themselves evasive of the factual evidence that justifies having a distinct legal identification.
Such a pairing justifies a unique contractual clause. A clause which can be disregarded any time the creation of a child is not possible (like when someone in the couple is infertile, or when the couple involves two men). The refusal to enforce a contract between the infertile (or between two men) on the grounds that the contract contains one vestigial clause disrupts their right to contract. In common parlance that is, "discriminatory."

There isn't any individual right to marry; that requires consent, and individuals certainly aren't discriminated against by having someone decline their proposal to marry.

People have a right to engage in any activity that promotes their lives and does not impede another's right to the same; that includes the right to engage in consensual relationships, which includes the right to contract. Nobody's argument in this thread has insinuated that the right to contract involves a right to extortion.

On a side note, consider the legitimacy of enforcing an identity for marriage contrary to that which the concept refers, in order to pursue a political agenda.
Marriage is man-made; it necessarily involves a political agenda. If your agenda is the protection of individual rights, in the short-term you should advocate the amending of DOMA to include same-sex marriages. Edited by FeatherFall
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More CliffsNotes...

"As I have said before, I am not in favor of the government's role in education. But while the government does run schools, they must not discriminate for race, sexual orientation, etc."

DonAthos, Post #118

"I'm not keen on the government sanctioning relationships (which typically implies that some are not allowed, like polygamous relationships) or running schools, and would like to see both practices stop, but in the interim I'm glad for the ending of officially sanctioned racial discrimination."

DonAthos, Post #120

--

I identify the position of DonAthos, et al, as pragmatic by claiming that while government's regulation of marriage remains discriminatory, the only solution worth considering is to allow government regulation of marriage to include same sex couples. Of course the next step, as suggested by DonAthos by referring to polygamous relationships, is to claim the number of marital partners is as non-essential as their gender; so if two is discriminatory, lets allow five, or one (after all, "the smallest minority on earth is the individual")... and why discriminate according to whether a relationship is monogamous or enduring??

Marriage is ultimately reduced to a legally sanctioned contract (like any other contract, which begs the question, why call it marriage?) that identifies a long term, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, and discriminatory governmental regulation of contracts persists and is expanded to include everyone...

--

"To give you an example: if a building were threatened with collapse and you declared that the crumbling foundation has to be rebuilt, a pragmatist would answer that your solution is too abstract, extreme, unprovable, and that immediate priority must be given to the need of putting ornaments on the balcony railings, because it would make the tenants feel better."

The Ayn Rand Letter, “How to Read (and Not to Write),” I, 26, 5 (Ayn Ran Lexicon, Pragmatism)

--

Separate but equal refers to a politically misguided attempt to provide equal rights in separate locations, e.g. white schools and black schools. Any effort to parallel this failed policy with today's legal recognition of marriage and civil unions, presumes marriages are "good schools" and civil unions are "bad schools". The problem is that marriages and civil unions are vocabulary; not geography. Renaming civil unions as marriages doesn't alter the identity of civil unions, and redefining marriages as civil unions, doesn't address political discrimination.

Political discrimination is the "crumbling foundation" that threatens the collapse of individual rights; not the legal recognition of a particular ceremonial custom. Adding the ornamental title marriage to civil unions may make same sex couples feel better, but does nothing to prevent the continuing erosion of everyone's individual rights, including theirs.

(edit) FeatherFall, as I posted this, I just noticed your latest response, which I will read and respond to ASAP. Thank you for your feedback, which I do appreciate...

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Peikoff also commented on this issue, in Love, Sex and Romance. I don't keep up with his podcasts, so I'm not sure if he's elaborated on this (or changed his views) in the past two years.

"A marriage is a public declaration to a society that you two are to be treated as one. And the state is properly involved in granting such a status because it is, in significant part, a legal relationship.

There is the marriage contract that you sign. And the state has every right -- let me say, counter to the libertarians -- to decide who should be able to sign this type of contract. I do not think, for instance, if an uncle and his two 12 year-old nieces come in and say, "We want to get married," the state should say, "Well, you know, contracts are private. Here's a marriage license." Even with consenting adults, if two women and a man come in, I think the state has a perfect justification [to deny them], or if two men come in. I don't believe in gay marriage. I believe that it's proper, since this is a special, state-sanctioned relationship, that some standards be applied in the granting of this type of license. But that's a whole separate question." [Source]

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Peikoff also commented on this issue, in Love, Sex and Romance. I don't keep up with his podcasts, so I'm not sure if he's elaborated on this (or changed his views) in the past two years.

Peikoff's comment, "I don't believe in gay marriage", is interesting given he apparently voted against CA's Prop 8. He clearly believes the State is justified to deny gay marriage, but considers opposition to gay marriage to be entirely religious, and therefore adopts a position that gay marriage is the lesser of two evils. From your link: "I (Peikoff) agree that it is wrong to make society equate gay marriage with regular marriage. But out of the two, gay marriage, in my judgment, is of no threat, no harm to society at all... But religion is a major threat, and therefore I had no doubts and no problem at all in voting in favor of gay marriage as a means of holding back religion." Not being an Objectivist, I find his position perplexing, but it seems to parallel with the kind of pragmatic position others have asserted in this thread... I guess he means the State is justified to deny gay marriage, but not the Church? Oddly enough, his statement that, "it is wrong to make society equate gay marriage with regular marriage", pretty much sums up my position on this issue, and I don't believe that to be the endorsement of a religious view.

This point represents the single largest problem for your position, and you haven't addressed it... Marriage is man-made; it necessarily involves a political agenda. If your agenda is the protection of individual rights, in the short-term you should advocate the amending of DOMA to include same-sex marriages.

First off, I think you mean DOMA should be repealed, and I would agree. Marriage is Man-Made, but it was made for the purpose of sanctioning long term, monogamous heterosexual relationships, which are apparent and distinguishable from long term, monogamous homosexual relationships, therefore making DOMA unnecessary to begin with. DOMA only encourages the kind of pragmatic political countermeasures Objectivists like yourself and Peikoff respond with, all the while increasing legal ambiguity by pitting group against group instead of focusing on securing individual rights. There is no greater necessity today than restraining (not expanding) the political manipulation of groups which the government has no business in favoring or prohibiting. Ornamental swapping of titles to appease the masses has nothing to do with securing individual rights.

-edit--

So again, what problem does a pre-emptive declaration of shared-custody cause when introduced to a same-sex couple? I reiterate that it causes no problems, and can simply be ignored.

...and I reiterate that the biological impossibility of same sex couples to reproduce a common child cannot simply be ignored, or reduced to a contractual clause subsumed by the legal recognition of heterosexual relationships that can reproduce a common child. There's also the additional legal necessity to recognize a 3rd partner (via adoption) that marriage has nothing to say about, but same sex parents depend on. Perhaps I'm not understanding your point here, but I'm not trying to avoid it either...

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He clearly believes the State is justified to deny gay marriage, but considers opposition to gay marriage to be entirely religious, and therefore adopts a position that gay marriage is the lesser of two evils.

Yeah, I purposely didn't post that quote. After listening to his podcast, I wanted to ask, 'Did you really think this through before forming an opinion about it?'

Not being an Objectivist, I find his position perplexing, but it seems to parallel with the kind of pragmatic position others have asserted in this thread... I guess he means the State is justified to deny gay marriage, but not the Church?

No, that is nonobjective. Churches are private, voluntary institutions. They should be free to perform any kind of ceremonies they choose, as long as these ceremonies don't violate anyone's rights.

Peikoff said, "The anti-gay marriage side was pushed and defended entirely on religious grounds. It was heavily backed by the Mormons, among others, and would have represented, if it had passed, a big victory for the anti-abortionists and potential religious totalitarians."

This aligns with what I remember of the anti-gay-marriage campaign in California, although I was pretty young at the time. In the mainstream, marriage was (and is?) seen as a religious rite, so conservative churches were quick to rant and rave about how gay marriage would defile and demean 'God's heterosexual institution.' But Peikoff is wrong if he believes that all churches have these views; the more liberal ones don't. Just a couples week ago in Indiana, there was a Disciples of Christ convention, where members overturned a ruling made in the '80s that banned openly gay ministers from being ordained in Indiana churches. So that view is slowly becoming more mainstream. Just looking at the prop 8 voting percentages from '08, I'm suprised at how close the numbers were- 52% 'yes' to almost 48%. 'no.' That's a small victory in itself. Peikoff makes a good point though: religionists who have a moral problem with gay marriage are preventing it from happening on religious grounds.

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Devil's Advocate, it was my understanding that DOMA was a complicated law that included many provisions regarding how the federal government would treat marriage... After re-reading the relatively short law, it is clear that I confused DOMA with a host of other marriage laws. So in short, you're right; I think DOMA should simply be repealed.

I don't think we should ignore the differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples. I think we should have a standard set of recognized clauses that, together, protect a couple's choice to unify their lives. As I said earlier, I don't care what you call that contractual set. What I think we should ignore are the clauses that do not apply to the couples in question, in the same way other clauses like, "in the event a naturally occurring fire destroys the property," are ignored when no such fire occurs. Or the way we ignore provisions about who gets to decide whether or not to pull the plug in the event of an instant death. Easy-peasy.

DOMA only encourages the kind of pragmatic political countermeasures Objectivists like yourself and Peikoff respond with, all the while increasing legal ambiguity by pitting group against group instead of focusing on securing individual rights.
Can you clarify, please? I'm not familiar with Peikoff's proposed countermeasures. Hopefully what I've already written in this post removes the need for me to address any alleged countermeasures of my own.
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I don't think we should ignore the differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples.

I agree, and apparently Peikoff does as well; but the question of how to appropriately recognize this distinction (metaphysically given) remains.

I think we should have a standard set of recognized clauses that, together, protect a couple's choice to unify their lives...

I think we should maintain standards that accurately reflect differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples as metaphysical givens; not political agendas.

Can you clarify, please? I'm not familiar with Peikoff's proposed countermeasures. Hopefully what I've already written in this post removes the need for me to address any alleged countermeasures of my own.

Peifoff addresses gay marriage as a battle in a war against religious totalitarianism, and you as a violation of civil rights; i.e. both views are pragmatic political countermeasures to political aggression...

"The anti-gay marriage side was pushed and defended entirely on religious grounds. It was heavily backed by the Mormons, among others, and would have represented, if it had passed, a big victory for the anti-abortionists and potential religious totalitarians." ~ Peifoff

"On the other hand, we all know how separate treatment creates legal inequities that violate individual rights." ~ FeatherFall

To his credit, Peifoff acknowledges that, "it is wrong to make society equate gay marriage with regular marriage". It is wrong because it employs the government's use of force to coerce public opinion. Unfortunately, his moment of clarity is abandoned in order to adopt a pragmatic goal of keeping "anti-abortionists and potential religious totalitarians" in check. Similarly, by equating gay marriage as an issue of civil rights, you would employ the government's use of force pragmatically, rather than addressing the validity of using government force to coerce public opinion in the first place. Whereas I reject the use of government force to coerce public opinion, you, et al, attempt to direct it towards political opponents, which only further erodes the legal foundation that individual rights depend on; constitutional restraint. Constitutional activism leads to legal ambiguity, which in turn leads to an ambiguous use of force, which is why "if physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules" (ARL).

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I'm not on a PR crusade. I don't give a good god damn about public opinion. I'm really confused as to why you think this is a matter of pragmatism for me. Please elaborate.

"It is a terrible injustice to be falsely accused." ~ Anne of Green Gables, Script: Part 4

Claiming gay marriage is a civil rights issue (which you have done), presumes a right that doesn't exist. The closest right that can be identified is the right to pursue happiness, but this falls short of a right to be married. You have the right to propose (pursue) marriage, and to be married by any legitimate means available, but again, you don't have the right to be married by means that contradict the language or standards that define marriage.

We agree that there are differences between heterosexual and homosexual couples that warrant accurate legal recognition...

"I don't think we should ignore the differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples." ~ FeatherFall

"I think we should have a standard set of recognized clauses that, together, protect a couple's choice to unify their lives." ~ FeatherFall

... but rather than pursuing a rational goal of maintaining accurate legal definitions and standards that reflect metaphysical truth, you appeal to public opinion...

"On the other hand, we all know how separate treatment creates legal inequities that violate individual rights." ~ FeatherFall

"He's (DonAthos) drawing a comparison between the 'sexual preference' card and the race card. I think its a valid comparison... because it does sound like the last rationalization a bigot could stick to." ~ FeatherFall

OK, so we both agree that all individuals have equal rights, i.e. separate legal identities have equally secured rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property); but how do naming conventions that identify separate legal identities, e.g. marriage, civil union, cohabitation, fraternity, sorority, etc. equate to discrimination by race? Abandoning accurate legal definitions that reflect metaphysical reality because, "we all know how separate treatment creates legal inequities that violate individual rights", is a pragmatic appeal to public opinion in my estimation, because it presumes a nonexistent right (to marriage as a source of individual rights), in order to beg for that which cannot be obtained legitimately. In short, it attempts to change the public perception of homosexual relationships by calling them marriages, just like heterosexual marriages, in spite of obvious differences, and in lieu of pursuing legitimate legal remedies.

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Civil rights, properly conceived, are a completely legitimate subset of individual rights. They help to protect the indispensable values of political equality and individual sovereignty.

"Abandoning accurate legal definitions that reflect metaphysical reality"!?

I'm abandoning nothing of the sort. What I propose is a blanket set of clauses that simplify the process of integrating two lives. I also propose ignoring the clauses that don't apply to each couple on a case by case basis. We already do this - most contracts you sign will have clauses that don't apply to you. This doesn't interrupt the legal process one iota. It certainly doesn't represent an assault on the process of identification. The alternative is prenuptual agreements governing every civil union, with no standardized sets of clauses. The judicial system will never be equipped for that. We need unit-economy in thought and in law.

Civil rights, like property rights, are a subset of individual rights. The relevant aspect of civil rights under assault by your position is equality before the law. You may not intend this, but what you propose completely separates legal precedent where heterosexual civil unions and gay unions are concerned. This will lead to variances in interpreting each type of contract, resulting in legal inequities based on non-essential relationship characteristics. Today, one the many rights-violations created by this unequal legal treatment is deportation (we went over this before). Such problems are inevitable when law is based on non-essential characteristics (like gender or race). The solution to this problem is to unify the legislation/precedent. You do that by issuing one type of civil union contract and applying the clauses based on the couple in question.

The traditional concept of marriage was much more than a simple pre-emptive recognition of paternity. It was a unification of two or more extended families, the creation of a new nuclear family, and all of the economic and social changes that follow. Today, a pre-emptive declaration of paternity amounts to no more than a little grease on the wheels of bureaucracy. It certainly isn't the singular essence of marriage today. I'll grant that it is the only difference between gay marriages and "traditional" marriages. But such a difference doesn't warrant a divergence of legal precedent where estates, immigration, power of attorney and all the rest are concerned. The current concept exists in opposition to equality before the law, and so we must redefine it to fit more objective goals. I think including same-sex couples under the marriage umbrella does the job nicely; the alternative is to jettison marriage entirely from civil society, which does the job equally as well. Which do you think is more likely to happen?

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OK yes, I think I'm beginning to see where you're going with this... shifting regulatory focus (civil rights) to civil unions (non-specific towards gender, parenting, fidelity or duration), while maintaining clauses for marriage (traditional/contemporary), parenting (biological/adoptive), fidelity (monogamous/polygamous), duration (short or long term), etc. It actually sounds workable to me, and would be preferable to jettisoning marriage entirely (for lack of agreement on what it is), or legally defining every relationship married just to guarantee civil rights. Correct me if I'm still misunderstanding you position...

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I don't know what you mean about shifting regulatory focus, but you seem to have described the marriage part well enough.

Just that the legal focus would shift from being the defender of marriage by exclusion, to being the promoter of civil unions by inclusion.

Whereas civil union was legally defined as... civil union: also referred to as a civil or domestic partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage,

the legal definition for civil union becomes... civil union: also referred to as a civil or domestic partnership and historically known as marriage, is a legally recognized partnership between two people,

and the legal definition for marriage becomes... marriage: a ceremonial union once exclusively recognized by law, by which a man and a woman become husband and wife.

The bottom line is, government backs off from regulating consensual personal relationships, and returns to securing individual rights by a more equitable distribution of civil rights...

... are we copacetic yet?

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