April 15, 2007

Circumnavigating Marriage... Again

Justin Katz

I have intended to keep up my end of the same-sex marriage conversation with Matt of Unlikely Words, but various factors have delayed my doing so. For one thing, life keeps trying to trip me up (in ways stated and hinted on Dust in the Light and in ways kept private). Perhaps a more significant, specific reason is that, having argued this subject for so long and from so many angles, it's difficult to muster motivation to repeat arguments that are readily available should one search Anchor Rising or Dust in the Light (or the Internet, for that matter) with a few well-chosen keywords. Rhetorical constructions of the type "I have yet to see an argument" evoke in me an especial weariness; anybody who's looked ought to be better able to restate the actual opinions of those who oppose SSM. Lastly, if I'm to make due admission of pride, I find unnecessary usage of the editorial "sic" — as if to imply that I do not write as carefully as I ought — discouraging. But Matt has offered his position eloquently and with clear intention of fair discourse, so I'll try to do the same, and I do apologize for taking so long.

The place to start is the heart of the matter. Matt is flatly contradicting himself when he writes that "any religious person should be free to decline to... acknowledge any marriage that offends his or her beliefs." Earlier, when differentiating between discrimination against gays, in not being considered eligible to marry each other, and that against Christians, in not being able to conduct their business or charity in keeping with their belief that marriage is fundamentally a male-female relationship, he wrote:

I'll grant that, in a world where same-sex marriage is legal and discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal, the invitation company might not be free to refuse to print invitations to same-sex marriages. Let's also grant that, if they take public funds, the Christian agency might not be free to decline to place children into households where both parents are of the same sex. Their definitions of marriage would suddenly come into conflict with that of the state and, indeed, they would be guilty of legal [sic] discrimination.

It may not make a significant difference, but it's worth noting that the Christian adoption agency faces a more essential repercussion than simply the loss of public funds; at least in Massachusetts (from which state my example derives), organizations offering such services must register with the state, and the Catholic adoption service found that it could no longer perform its function at all. Matt may take the position that the loss of a license is merely the reasonable consequence for refusing acknowledgment of same-sex marriage — which the agency is still free to do, in the abstract — but I imagine that I'm not alone in thinking that the coercive power of threatening a vocation (in both professional and religious senses) is tantamount to a denial of freedom. At the very least, that argument takes the same form as an opposing one, that homosexuals are merely not able to register their "marriages" — into which they are still free to enter on a private basis — with the state.

If Matt's "rubric to decide which [instance of discrimination] is worse" entails "evaluating the harm done to the class or individual discriminated against," I wonder what scale places public recognition of a relationship above the ability to enter into a field of work. Would it be worse to deny homosexuals a right to redefined marriage or to bar them from becoming (say) teachers. Matt may argue that the Christians are still free to provide adoption services, just under a rule that conflicts with their beliefs, but again, that statement takes an identical form to my argument that homosexuals are not barred from marriage — they just prefer to form relationships with those to whom they are sexually attracted (a preference that is certainly understandable).

Why is it a violation of "a simple question of civil rights" to state that marriage's meaning, at least inasmuch the government is justified in dabbling in it, involves something other (and more) than committed sexual intimacy, thereby excluding homosexual relationships by its nature, yet it is not a violation of the Bill of Rights to insist that Christians must be barred from placing children with adoptive parents in accord with their beliefs? In what way is more harm done by disallowing gays from redefining an age-old institution than by disallowing Christians from shaping their society in accord with their beliefs?

People can reasonably accept or refute these various arguments, whether they are of the same or different form, but if we are to work together to determine the best directions in which to develop our society — rather than manipulating the law and plying politics to force our own views to the fore — then we must seek at least the empathy that comes with understanding how the other side has arrived at its conclusions. And if we are to construct our own arguments in a way that is comprehensible to those who begin from different worldviews, then our examples and analogies must compare like to like. On topics related to homosexuality, comparisons with racial discrimination seem usually to shirk this imperative. Writes Matt:

... I don’t consider the imposition of equality to be discrimination. Was the decision in Brown v. Board of Education discrimination against segregationists? Surely not. Of course, the two cases are not entirely parallel. The distinguishing factor seems to be that the objections are motivated by religion rather than some other value system.

Actually, the cases are not entirely parallel because, in Brown, the court was imposing equality, while SSM imposes a definition of "marriage." The parallel would be if, in the name of racial equality, the Supreme Court had redefined "school" in a way that would increase the ease with which underprivileged blacks could acquire diplomas. Similarly, and more germanely, comparisons of SSM with miscegenation elide the fact that people of all races could enter into marriage, as it was understood by all, with the dispute being over whether a male of one race ought to be able to marry a female of another. The point is that the traditionalists in my examples are not discriminating against gays qua gays, but in favor of marriage under their definition, and since marriage is a cultural institution with implications for the society's health, such discrimination is legitimate.

It's worth noting, here, that the discriminatory definition of marriage is not "the traditional religious view," as Matt would have it, but the traditional religious, historical, cultural, and legal view. Moreover, it is not the case that traditionalists are trying "to make it the law" (therefore necessitating "extra-Biblical justification"). It is already the law, and legalistic obfuscation aside, everybody knows that it has always been the law. The burden is on those supporting a redefinition to explain why, now, all of a sudden, we must treat the legal meaning of the word "marriage" differently.

Back in 2004, Andrew Sullivan attempted to address this problem by arguing that coupling is now "the de facto meaning" of marriage for a majority of people who are married. As I pointed out at the time, that's simply not true. It is safe to say that almost all married men and women already or will have children. Matt offers a few "marginal cases" to prove that "defining marriage as a procreative pair cannot be sustained":

Can a heterosexual couple who are (independently or mutually) infertile be said to be truly married under this definition? What about a married couple that abstains from sex? And do we want the state to invalidate marriages that do not produce progeny, or require fertility and genetic testing before validating a marriage certificate? Do we want the state to compel married couples to attempt to conceive?

Addressing infertility (with reference to an older post):

  • Infertility is most commonly seen as a problem within marriage precisely because it makes it more difficult to fulfill a central role of marriage. It therefore cannot be said — as I said of SSM in the quotation to which Matt is responding — that it will "erode the institution's utility." If anything, it affirms the procreative emphasis of marriage.
  • It needn't invalidate a marriage, because infertility is not sterility, and most infertile couples do not ultimately prove to be sterile. (I know I did the research on that, once, but I can't find my resulting writing at this time.)
  • Couples will not generally know that they are infertile, much less be able to give therapies a chance, until they are attempting to have children, and it is precisely the attempt to have children that our society wishes to encourage taking place within the context of marriage.

That last point leads to a more fundamental one, of which it is easy to lose sight in a debate that has as its focus achieving marriage rights for homosexuals: Marriage isn't positioned in our society as a form of reward. (That credit card commercial in which the king declares the dragonslayer eligible to marry his daughter comes to mind as contrast.) Rather, marriage represents an arrangement into which we wish to usher those pairings that are likely to create children. Therefore, raising barriers such as fertility testing and affidavits of procreative intent would generate disincentive.

I'll rephrase for emphasis: The essential idea behind public encouragement of marriage is to draw people whose behavior makes conception likely within its structure. This is what we who oppose same-sex marriage are trying to preserve. We do not, as Matt apparently misconstrues, see marriage as a route toward procreation; indeed, pushing people into lifelong monogamous relationships would seem likely to decrease the rate of childbirth. Incorporating homosexuals into marriage would erode the notion that marriage and potentially procreative relationships ought, in principle, to be synonymous in a way that including sterile and abstinent couples does not for the prima facie reason that the former requires said notion's explicit rejection. If one does not accept the proposition that even abstinent couples — in their conspicuous incongruity — affirm this link, then at least it can be said that the opposite-sex aspect of marriage's definition, which abstinent couples do not threaten, is sufficiently specific for society's purposes. (And besides, abstinence is not an inherently permanent state; some might even call it tenuous.)

Indeed, it is advocacy for same-sex marriage that leads Matt to wonder, "Where, in any of this, should gender matter?" — "this" being "the strengthening of familial and societal ties, the establishment of persistent kin groups and affinities, and the financial stability of combining households, benefits, and assets," which he acknowledges as social benefits of marriage. Well, absent the expansion of those familial ties into future generations via procreation, where in any of that should number matter? Or preexisting relationships, such as exists between siblings?

To accept those subsequent claims to the "civil right" of marriage would be to make marriage essentially meaningless. To reject them would require a form of discrimination substantively no different from that of which traditionalists are accused when it comes to homosexual marriage. Actually, I take that back; it would be different — more capricious, more invidious. Matt's correct that "not all discrimination is equal." Some discrimination is advisable, as between good and bad clams, as between productive and wasteful activities, as between classics and popular fiction, and as between relationships that tend toward childbirth and those that inherently do not.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Thanks for responding, and there's no need to apologize for the delay. The lack of activity at my own site should attest that I understand that real life often gets in the way.

I'll read this in more detail and respond, but I want to cop to the fact that my "[sic]" was uncongenial at best, and I apologize. I'll try to keep my response snark-free.

Posted by: mrh at April 15, 2007 4:56 PM

The only thing proponents of same-sex marriage ask for is recognition by the state. Not by any church, nor any religion.

Making the claim that opposite sex marriage..."traditional" marriage...is somehow better or more desirable than same-sex marriage because babies get made makes no sense. There are plenty of marriages between men and women where babies don't get made. The couple may have no desire to have kids, or for some reason, cannot.
Failure to procreate doesn't make any such heterosexual marriage less valuable.

Homosexual marriages would also not be less valuable.

Religion should not even be allowed into the debate. The debate is about having civil government...secular government, not sectarian theocracy...recognize marriages between two people of the same sex.

Last I knew, civil laws based on religious beliefs are unconstitutional.

The fundamentalist "christians" are always whining that homosexuals are screwing up society. As far as I can tell, straight married couples are perfectly capable of screwing up their own relationships. They do that on their own. They don't need the help of gay people.

So stop blaimg gay people for others' failures. Let them have their relationships.

Posted by: DRettmann at April 20, 2007 2:33 AM


The whole point of this post was to address some of the arguments that you make. If you think my reasoning inadequate, your response should be of the form: "this is incorrect, because..." I will make a couple of quick replies, though.

First, it's not really true that churches will not be required to recpgnize same-sex marriages. As the Catholic adoption agency discovered in MA, any services offered to married couples — at least by organizations receiving money from or partially regulated by the government, if not by any organization that acts as an employer — will have to be offered to same-sex couples, too.

Second, I disagree with your assessment of what the "debate is about." More precisely, it's about whether the opposite-sex nature of marriage is critical to the analysis that makes it reasonable for the government to get involved at all. I've argued — in non-religious terms — that it is. It serves no purpose other than to cheapen our democracy to simply assume that all of my arguments are merely veiled expressions of religious principles and therefore consider it unnecessary to address them.

Regarding this:

Last I knew, civil laws based on religious beliefs are unconstitutional.

Our entire system of government is based on the ultimately religious principle that we are endowed by our Creator — not the government — with certain rights. (Interestingly, the entire "civil rights" argument for same-sex marriage takes the same form.) What is unconstitutional is the creation of laws explicitly in conformity with a particular church's teachings; individual citizens must still be free to shape their government in accordance with their own beliefs, else they are effectively disenfranchised.

Lastly, I'm not blaming homosexuals for anything, and I believe they should be — as they are — to have their relationships. I just don't think we should, much less must, treat those relationships as something that they are not.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 20, 2007 8:05 AM

Regarding the discussion on whether to normalize first, and consequently legalize, homosexual marriage:

Estimate for homosexual male domestic violence: 650,000 gay men are annually battered in the US alone

Is it a surprise that modern American society concentrates its energy in Pride Parades and normalizing homosexual marriage instead of looking at how enormously violent homosexuals are?

The day same-sex marriage activists spend even 10% of the same-sex marriage propaganda energy on disseminating info on how violent homosexuals are, they will show that even the most ignorant, dubious people can rise above the gutter.

(Domestic violence in gay male relationships is the third largest health problem for gay men in America today.)

Domestic violence is also prevalent in the gay and lesbian communities, occurring with the same or even greater frequency than in heterosexual communities (Barnes, 1998; Friess, 1997; Island, 1991; Renzetti, 1992). The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 25% to 33% of all same-sex relationships include domestic violence.

And if they all batter so much, it is clear that homo and bisexuals have very high rates of sexual harassment behavior, including towards heterosexuals. It's all part of the same web of sexual violence towards others.

p.s.: This book came out more than 15 years ago. From which we conclude: a society that is intent on homosexual propaganda has a profound closet, with an enormous quantity of statistics skeletons therein. You call young black female athletes some normalized denigrating hip-hop term and you hit the scandal circuit. You publish data about how criminal and diseased the minds of homosexuals are and the entire media becomes suddenly deaf and dumb, not for a week, but for decades.

I will clarify my point: I am not discussing in this comment why same-sex marriage is unequal to heterosexual marriage. I am pointing out that there is a concerted effort to censor and dismiss discussion about how violent homo and bisexuals are at the same time that there is enormous talk of the subject of homosexual marriage.

In other words, we see that topics about violence make people uncomfortable, since it disrupts their idealized stereotypes and simplistic accounts of social "reality," therefore a continuous dismissal and resistance is found regarding these very topics, which are nevertheless key to understanding society at a more realistic and responsible level.

My post on my blog about this here:

Posted by: alessandra at April 21, 2007 2:21 AM

Alessandra, domestic violence is a serious problem in both heterosexual and homosexual communities.


I know straight folks who have been battering victims, and gay folks who have been.

Why should that prevent anyone who does not assault someone from marrying?

Posted by: DRettmann at April 21, 2007 6:23 AM

Justin, the right for anyone to marry should not be held up to a popular vote.

It is simply nobody else's business if two people, straight or gay, want to marry.

And you personally would not be required to recognize a same-sex marriage as a marriage. Only the stae would.

Posted by: DRettmann at April 21, 2007 6:31 AM

I would rephrase the discussion in terms of popular consensus about what marriage is, but even in your terms, I would ask: why not? Should the public have a say in whether siblings marry, or what about groups of three or more? Or is it only up for a vote when you would vote against it?

It actually is everybody's business when people marry. That's why it's considered public recognition. I agree with you, though, that homosexuals ought to be, as they are, able to form relationships and privately call them marriage, if they so choose.

It's a lie that I "personally" would not have to recognize same-sex marriages. If I start a business that offers employees marriage-based benefits, I would. Or if I undertake to facilitate the adoption of children into married households.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 21, 2007 7:47 AM

Justin, it seems we disagree, and that's fine.

Yes, if same-sex marriage were ever legalized, you as a business owner would have to offer the same benefits to both opposite sex married couples and same sex married couples. And that is how it should be.

Yes, if a religious organization provides adoption services or counseling services or any service to married couples and IF they use taxpayer funds, they should offer the services to same sex married couples too. That is how it should be.

However, religious organizations can be excepted from the requirement, but only if taxpayer funds are not being used.

I oppose taxpayer funds from being provided to any religious organization for any purpose, but the President's Faith Based Initiatives program has provided billions of dollars for programs run by mostly fundamentalist Christian groups, and those groups have been given a pass so they don't have to follow non-discrimination laws. I oppose that.

Regarding whether or not the right to marry be held up to a popular vote, I still say the answer is no. If it was, then interracial marriage would still not be allowed.

You are claiming the "slippery slope" argument that legalizing same sex marriages would lead to legalizing marriage between siblings, and who knows what else. That is a straw man argument.

Again, it is nobody's business if a couple wants to marry. If you want to marry a woman, I should not have any say in whether or not your marriage should be recognized. And if a same-sex couple wants to marry, it is nobody else's business.

Having said all that, I do appreciate very much your saying that you do recognize that same-sex couples can and do form committed relationships.

Posted by: DRettmann at April 21, 2007 6:53 PM


As I stated in the post to which we're commenting, the adoption agency in Massachusetts that stands as my explicit example was forced out of the vocation because adoption agencies have to register with the government. Even without state funds involved, the agency faced losing its license if it continued to place children in accord with its guiding principles. So it had to close up shop (which is too bad for the hundreds of children whom it helped).

As for your opposition regarding taxpayer funds going to any religious organizations, I'd agree, if only we could come up with an adequate definition of "religious." A great many groups cloak their ideology (i.e., religion) in secular terms; as long as we could avoid penalizing people for admitting that their principles are ultimately founded in faith, I'd be amenable to government cutbacks. Unfortunately, our culture currently has an epidemic of deadly-sure confidence that supposedly "non-religious" beliefs are actually irrefutable facts of nature.

I don't know on what grounds you accuse me of making a straw-man argument. You stated:

the right for anyone to marry should not be held up to a popular vote.

That's a statement of principle and, as such, must be applied evenly, barring explicit reasoning for restrictions. I know that those who take your position usually think what I'm arguing is merely an anti-gay stratagem, and I can only assert that it is not. Regardless, if the right to marry should not be a matter of public consensus, why should siblings' desire to marry be up for public rejection? (N.B., Again, I addressed the race comparisons within the body of the post; if you're going to make such comparisons, please address the arguments already on the table.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 21, 2007 7:18 PM

Justin, siblings shouldn't be allowed to marry because if kids are the result, it's inbreeding.

Posted by: DRettmann at April 23, 2007 4:45 AM

But with the introduction of SSM, we've established that childbirth and marriage are not inherently linked. If that's our concern, we can make that illegal. Moreover, all of those pro-SSM arguments now come back to bite you: what about infertile couples? What about same-sex siblings?

And I notice that you didn't address any of my other points.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 23, 2007 7:38 AM

Justin, you are correct. Marriage and childbirth are not necessarily linkied. That was also my point.

Why do my arguments "come back to bite me"? My arguments make perfect sense. To not allow same sex marriage because procreation is not involved makes no sense.

Which of your points have I failed to address?

One question you asked me is why did I say you posed a straw man argument when you said " Regardless, if the right to marry should not be a matter of public consensus, why should siblings' desire to marry be up for public rejection"?

I called that a straw man argument because it is an argument that poses a problem that does not exist. To my knowledge, siblings are not asking for marriage rights.

I also referred to that kind of argument as the "slippery slope" argument, which is to allow same sex marriage could lead to people asking for other relationships to be allowed, such as sibling marriages.

You also said my point about interracial marriages had been addressed in your original post. I disagree. You did not address my point. My point was that the right to marry should not be held hostage to a popular vote, for example, in the form of the numerous referenda that have appeared in many states. I made the point that if the right to marry is held to a popular vote, then today, in 2007, most probably, interracial marriages would still not be allowed.

Back when the laws were changed to remove laws banning interracial marriages, if the removal of those laws had been voted on by the citizens, most would probably have voted to keep those laws in effect.

That was my point.

I am not trying to avoid addressing your questions. I thought that I had done so.

Posted by: DRettmann at April 23, 2007 8:31 PM


I don't know what book you got those numbers from, if from a bigot's, or from some liberal activist who (being a liberal) exagerates problems so as to have something to fix, the kind of liberal who also finds that over half of women get "raped" in their lifetime. The truth is just the opposite of what you say. Gays are typically less violent individuals than straights. Everyone knows that. It is, actually, for their less aggressive natures that more "manly" men hold them in contempt.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 25, 2007 12:45 AM

Alessandra, domestic violence is a serious problem in both heterosexual and homosexual communities.


I know straight folks who have been battering victims, and gay folks who have been.

Why should that prevent anyone who does not assault someone from marrying?

Posted by DRettmann at April 21, 2007 6:23 AM
That's not the question. The question is why so many people lie about how violent homosexuals are or keep silent about it.

Is it because if you don't lie so much about how violent homosexuals are, you won't achieve your homosexual normalization quest?

(Domestic violence in gay male relationships is the third largest health problem for gay men in America today.)

Why are such a huge number of homosexuals so violent?

Why are you not debating how to make homosexuals a less brutal and violent group of people?

I think it is a higher priority for society to have less epidemic levels of violence than any same-sex marriage.

If you had two homo neighboring couples, one couldn't get a marriage license, and in the other, there were constant episodes of brutal violence - which one would you think deserved a priority of attention? Of regulation? Of media spotlight?

Anyone who turns a blind eye to the violent couple and effuses concern about the marriage issue shows how disgusting their system of values is. And voilà 95% of our society!

Posted by: alessandra at April 27, 2007 2:35 PM

oh look, a troll!

I don't know what book you got those numbers from,

[you can click on the link and find out]

if from a bigot's,

[what is your definition of a bigot?]

or from some liberal activist who (being a liberal) exagerates problems so as to have something to fix, the kind of liberal who also finds that over half of women get "raped" in their lifetime. The truth is just the opposite of what you say.

[Arturo on his soapbox is here to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and...]

Gays are typically less violent individuals than straights. Everyone knows that.

[Or so you like to fool yourself. ]

It is, actually, for their less aggressive natures that more "manly" men hold them in contempt.

[So you are saying that being a homosexual and perpetrating domestic violence are two things that are biologically determined? What about bank robberies? White collar crime? Are you saying heterosexual men just can't help battering women because it's in their nature? Did you know 50 years ago people denied heterosexual domestic violence just like you deny homosexual violence? Same sweeping statements as you like to use, "EVERYONE knows that domestic violence is very rare..." Isn't it interesting that people like you don't like to face how violent homosexuals are? What about bisexuals? Are they half as violent as heterosexuals or not?]

Posted by arturo fernandez at April 25, 2007 12:45 AM
As much as you hate reading books, Arturo, you would be better off reading them, instead of relying on gossip for your information on personal violence issues.

Posted by: alessandra at April 27, 2007 2:59 PM

In other words, we see that topics about violence make people uncomfortable, since it disrupts their idealized stereotypes and simplistic accounts of social "reality," therefore a continuous dismissal and resistance is found regarding these very topics, which are nevertheless key to understanding society at a more realistic and responsible level.
Arturo our latest most precise example.

Posted by: alessandra at April 27, 2007 3:03 PM

According to "The Second Closet: Domestic Violence in Lesbian and Gay Relationships: A Western Australian Perspective" which is a peer reviewed article in the Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law (http://www.murdoch.edu.au/elaw/issues/v3n4/vickers.html), particularly noting points 18 to 22, Arturo Fernandez's assertion that, "Gays are typically less violent individuals than straights. Everyone knows that." is at best (positive) stereotyping of gays, and quite likely completely ficitious. Considering what I know of the academic peer review process and being unaware of any institutional bias in the journal in question, I would humbly request the submission of sources supporting Fernandez's assertion and/or evidence of bias in the cited work.

As far as the larger question, I personally would like to see a number of legal changes that would make the entire notion of financial marriage benefits moot. First, any tax benefits should be based on the actual presence of children in the household, whatever its makeup. This would mean that my wife and I pay more taxes, but as we will never have children, (she has ovarian cancer and has had a total hysterectomy) any benefit supposedly designed to create stable, secure families and provide for those children involved is one to which I should not be entitled.

As far as health insurance and other similar benefits are concerned, my employer, the State of Texas, charges higher premiums to married couples, and would be free to adjust those premiums to match the actuarial cost of providing benefits to other types of "families". They then pay the same dollars in employer contributions regrdless of the package chosen. Other types of insurance and similar benefits would also presumably be free to follow suit. I offer no opinion as to whether the appropriate premiums for same-sex couples would be higher or lower, but note that the actuarial industry is well equipped to provide an unbiased determination of risk factors and appropriate premiums.

These and similar reforms would, in my opinon, provide a much more coherent and comprehensible policy that could be tailore to reflect the societal benefit accruing from raising of children, as opposed to the somewhat dubious notion that the simple pairing off of adult couples is societally beneficial, as is reflected in our current system.

I do however believe that there must be some type of legal recognition of both homosexual relationships and of non-marriage heterosexual relationships if for no other reason that to move property and custody disputes resulting from the dissolution of such relationships from the civil courts to the family courts where they properly belong.

I wonder if there would be the same clamor for the "right to marry" if such actions were taken to eliminate the financial benefits of marriage and to provide a legal framework in which all types of domestic relationships, state sanctioned or not, had equivalent legal status for the purposes of property rights, custodial issues and other similar issues.

Posted by: David at April 27, 2007 10:51 PM

David, I got to 10 and gave up. An example of domestic abuse is one partner telling the other he is "not a real homosexual..." What nonsense!

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 27, 2007 11:34 PM

My mistake. Not just abuse, but "violence." Violence! To be told you're not a real homosexual by your boyfriend! Amazing!

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 27, 2007 11:36 PM


I'm terribly sorry that you don't agree with the definition of domestic violence as it is applied to heterosexual relationships being applied to homosexual relationships. Psychological and emotional abuse are considered domestic violence in all other contexts, and as such make up a significant portion of all DV cases. What is qualitatively different about homosexual relationships that we should not consider it DV in those cases as well?

Posted by: David at April 28, 2007 9:49 AM

David, now you're telling us that being told by your boyfriend that you're not a real homosexual is a "significant portion" of domestic violence. That alone brings real cases of violence significantly down.

When alessandra talks about how "brutal and violent homosexuals are" she isn't talking about one telling another that they're not real homosexuals. Do you see how your silly statistics are being used by bigots to denigrate people?

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 28, 2007 10:44 AM

No, I see how, if you would not give up doing research as soon as you read the first thing you didn't like, the statistics show that given the usual legal and sociological defitions of family violence, there appears to be sufficient evidence to show that homosexual relationships are no less violent than heterosexual relationships, and are in fact likely more violent. If you can provide evidence that your narrower definition allows a different conclusion, please do so. If you can find evidence that the paper I quoted is wrong, I would love to see it. I was unable to find statistics using any narrower definition of violence, and so I must use what I have. I am certainly willing to examine any data you provide in support of your case except "everyone knows that".

Statistics are quite easy to abuse in making and refuting arguments. I prefer to check the statistics others use to see if the conclusions they make are warranted. Your apparent desire is to not use them at all, since they might be misused. I would much prefer to refute misused statistics with properly used statistics.

As a side note, I would encourage anyone interested in any aspect of public policy to take some serious statistics courses. This would make it much easier to spot misused statistics as well as to encourage their proper use. (OK, yes, I admit it. I am a graduate student in mathematics with a fair bit of statistical experience, and that was a shameless plug to keep math departments busy.)

Posted by: David at April 28, 2007 9:16 PM

David, give me a break. Being told by your boyfriend you're not a real homosexual is not domestic violence, no way. Any study that claims that should be put in the trash.

Go live a little. You'll discover what everyone knows. Homosexuals are not violent individuals, much less so than heterosexuals.

You should really stop promoting lies that make it easier for bigots to denigrate others.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 28, 2007 11:05 PM

I'll tell you why homosexuals are not by nature violent. Because they can easily get sex without force, without threats, and without intimidation. 99.99% of rapists are heterosexuals, they are rapists of women. In prisons, it is heterosexuals who rape homosexuals, not the other way around.

Rape exists in nature as a heterosexual phenomenon as the last recourse to spreading your genes. Violence is an essential ingredient of rape. Homosexuals, their sexual nature not procreative, and so their rape potential much more reduced, are therefore less violent than heterosexuals.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 28, 2007 11:57 PM

I understand perfectly that you wish to believe that homosexuals are nonviolent. If you wish anyone else to believe it give us something besides "what every knows" and "Rape exists in nature as a heterosexual phenomenon as the last recourse to spreading your genes." (See Science 1 July 1977: Vol. 197. no. 4298, pp. 81 - 83, Homosexual rape and sexual selection in acanthocephalan worms.)

You don't like the original paper, and didn't bother to look at at any of the sources it quoted. Since the statistics tend to support the case against you, but you only want to see statistics that match your preconceived notion of what should be at issue, we are left with anecdotal evidence. I really don't like using it, because it is almost always very subjective, but here goes:

Donald Harvey claimed 37 victims in Kentucky, one of whom was his gay lover, Carl Hoeweler, whom he poisoned out of fear that his mate was cheating on him.

Patrick Kearney plead guilty to three murders and was sentenced to life imprisonment by Superior Court Judge John Hews. Later, Kearney plead guilty to eighteen slayings of men and boys in exchange for a promise from the prosecution that he would not be given the death penalty. Kearney also provided details of the related killings of another eleven gay men, bringing the total to thirty-two victims. The motive for may of these killings was that murder was the only thing that would satisfy his rage when his lover, David Hill, was cheating on him.

Dean Corll was an American serial killer who, together with two younger accomplices named David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, committed the Houston Mass Murders in Houston, Texas. The trio is believed to be responsible for the murders of at least 27 boys. Brooks, who Corll paid for sexual favors and for recruiting victims, later claimed that he once found Corll raping two boys he had tied to a bed.

I could continue this list for a while if I wished to, but here are the facts:

Homosexuals are quite capable of sex-based violence and murder. Note that all of the above quoted cases were men who had homosexual relationships. Rape is essentially a crime of violence, not of sex, and there are also numerous cases of heterosexuals raping those of the same gender that are not germane to this issue.

Homosexuals engage in behaviors classed as domestic violence with equal or greater frequency as heterosexuals when the definition is the one usually used by our legal system.

As a result of these facts it is both logical and reasonable to assume that, in absence of evidence to the contrary, homosexuals engage in the behaviors you claim they are incapable of with approximately equal frequency as heterosexuals.

I did not provide any evidence of lesbian violence, but that is also well documented. I do not believe that all gays are violent and I do not believe that homosexual violence is a reason for legally prohibiting their behaviors. I personally believe the behaviors to be morally wrong, but am quite willing to let the issue be decided by a much higher authority than myself. If He does not exist, or does not object to homosexuality, I will not presume to argue with Him. I do not believe the issue of gay marriage should be an religious issue as much as a question of what behaviors society chooses to promote through promulgation of public policy. I have already stated that I believe that society should neither promote nor discourage either homosexuality or heterosexualtiy, but should rather promote secure stable homes for children.

As for your assertion that I should not present the best data available because it is open to misuse, I recject it out of hand. The correct response to misused information is proper use of refuting information. Please provide some facts, as opposed to unsubstaniated or verifiably false assertions, if you wish to continue this discussion.

Posted by: David at April 29, 2007 9:58 AM

David, I'm not looking for "statistics that match (my) preconceived notions." I'm looking for statistics that make sense in the real world. Telling your boyfriend he's not a real homosexual is not violence, period. I'm very willing to read whatever you suggest, but I'm not going to waste my time with nonsense. I'll look up the study on worm rape (eventually), and you do something for me. Go to gay bars for a while, and than go to straight bars; where do fights break out alot more often?

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 29, 2007 7:59 PM

David, I’m not looking for statistics “that match (my) preconceived notions”. I’m looking for statistics that make sense in the real world. Telling your boyfriend he’s not a real homosexual is not violence, period. I’m very willing to read whatever you suggest, but I’m not going to waste my time with nonsense. I’ll read the article on worm rape (eventually), but you do something for me. Go to gay bars for a while, and go to straight bars for a while. Where do you see fights break out a lot more often?

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 29, 2007 8:06 PM

The essential point that you seem to be missing is that when we compile family violence statistics we count comments like Alec Baldwin calling his daughter a "thoughtless little pig" as emotional abuse, so in order to compare apples-to-apples we must include reports that a partner in a homosexual relationship characterizes as emotionally abusive and coercive as abuse as well. Because we apparently either don't maintain or don't release statistics in an easy to find manner with incidents broken down by category, we can only compare total abuse. The result is that homosexuals appear to be more abusive than heterosexuals in their domestic relationships. I have not looked at statistics concerning either homosexuals or heterosexuals in non-domestic settings like bars, and since I never go to bars of any kind, I am certainly not a good choice for making personal evaluations on relative public violence incidence. I really don't have much interest in pursuing them, but I wouldn't be surprised if your perception of the relative levels of violence in gay and straight bars is right. I also wouldn't be surprised if it is wrong. That is why we try to avoid using anecdotal evidence. The only non-anecdotal evidence that anyone has presented in this discussion on this topic has been the books that Alessandra quoted, and the study I quoted. It is your turn to present something approaching evidence to support your assertion that gay men are less capable of violence than straight men. I suspect that if you start to really search for the evidence, you will find that there is a very good reason that it is not available. It probably doesn't exist.

Over my not particularly sheltered life, I have known lots of people in lots of contexts. I have been a student at six universities over three decades on two continents, a successful businessman, a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, a truck driver, a retail sales person, and a world traveler. Those who I have known to be gay have been, as a whole, not very different from those who were straight. I have known many nice, loving, caring people of both sexual orientations. I have also know a few jerks, bullies, and thugs of both sexual orientatons. I suspect, that when taken in aggreggate that those whom I know are a fairly representative sample of humanity, and that overall you will find that sexual orientaion is a very poor predictor of virtually any other behavior you choose to examine. I again welcome any evidence you are willing to produce to show that homosexuals are, in fact, different in other ways, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

I apologize to any others who may be reading this for belaboring my point and allowing this tangential discussion to stray from the original topic of gay marriage and discrimination.

Posted by: David at April 29, 2007 11:29 PM

I'm not going to spend time looking for statistics because, as I said at the very beginning, I do not trust either side who looks at this issue. Liberal "pro-gay" activists have an interest in minimizing differences between gays and straights (even if it means exagerating problems) so as to make homosexuals appear "normal", "the same", "just like everyone else". It gets so ridiculous, like when they start preteding homosexuals are very much into sports (an aggressive activity). And it gets sad, because they fail to explore the significance of homosexuals being more inclined toward the arts (a non-aggressive contemplative activity). I don't know if you're among these liberals, or if you are happily feeding the bigots.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 30, 2007 12:27 AM

Ok, I think I understand this all now.

Liberals lie about gays to push their agenda.
Conservatives lie about gays because they are anti-gay and to push their agenda.
Academics lie about gays to push their agenda.
Gay activists lie about gays to push their agenda.
Gays have no choice but to accept these lies and must support gay activists despite the lies.
You can characterize gays accurately, but without evidence, so all contradictory characterizations are wrong, despite any evidence they present.
It is unreasonable to expect you to support your case, since everyone else supports theirs with lies.

Doesn't sound to me like there is much point in discussing further, since you won't accept any evidence and I won't accept assertions without evidence. Have a nice life.

Posted by: David at April 30, 2007 9:10 AM

Thank you for the warm wishes. I hope you have a nice life too.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 30, 2007 8:01 PM
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