February 9, 2007

Marriage and Cynical Ballot Initiatives

Justin Katz

There's something disconcerting about the cynical use of the democratic process to make political statements, rather than advance a sincerely supported cause:

An initiative filed by proponents of same-sex marriage would require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.

Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance. That group was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage.

Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

Perhaps what's disconcerting is the treatment of social and civic institutions as stages for performance. Or perhaps what bothers me is that these artistes of the ballot haven't even the depth of understanding to put forward a bit of performance art that more truly captures the position of their opposition. If the "concept" is to present traditionalists' vision of marriage for public scrutiny, then the initiative ought to include a clause stating that any man and woman who parented a child would be instantly married — whether or not they were in a marriage on parole.

Not that traditionalists think that such an approach would be the ideal marriage law, but having given up on gay lobbyists' ability and/or desire to comprehend the subtleties of our position, perhaps the best we can do is insist on a balanced caricature — one that at least raises usable questions.

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.

Methinks that limiting the annulment provisions to heterosexual couples would constitute "discrimination based upon sexual orientation." ;-)

Better that the initiative have forced annulment for any couple that did not have children within three years - adoption not counting - and that the child / children be the offspring of the married couple (not sperm donors).

I can understand the motivations of the homosexual lobby wanting to impose a societal fiction that homosexuality is normal, and so that society should "celebrate" and "endorse" homosexual relations the same way.

But homosexuality is inherently abnormal. This is basic biology. The plumbing doesn't match the "orientation."

This doesn't mean that people afflicted with that condition should be demonized. But neither does it mean that we should close our eyes to the obvious, the elephant in the room, and place society's imprimatur (marriage) upon it.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 9, 2007 11:46 AM

A balanced caricature would require balanced individuals. The knuckleheads promoting this nonsense are anything but balanced.

Posted by: Jim at February 9, 2007 11:52 AM

I don't happen to believe that the only purpose of marriage is pro-creation. And I don't want children. Why should I be forced to have them to stay married?

This is a bratty and annoying proposal.

Posted by: SusanD at February 9, 2007 2:41 PM

As it happens, Susan, I don't believe that the only purpose of marriage is procreation, either. I do, however, think that procreation is a focal purpose, and that no other purposes (e.g., mutual care) ought to be expanded to the point of denying that procreation is central (as would be the case if same-sex marriages were legitimized).

I take it that you are married without children, and I do not doubt marriage's significance to you. But whatever your marriage means to you, it does not subvert the opposite-sex meaning of marriage, and the fundamental uniqueness of opposite-sex couples is that they can create children.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 9, 2007 6:45 PM

Hey, in case some do not realize it, this is a war. We have to be more like ptbulls and not let go or else we lose. I agree that none of us want to demonize anyone over their own life's choices but when those same peole are trying to chnage definitions -well is the sky really blue or is it now green ?? I don't ahve a direct link but search out this article and you will see what I mean. The Atlantic, March 2007, They won't know what hit them by Joshua Green. This will show everyone what is really going on behind the scenes.

Posted by: JRoy at February 10, 2007 6:51 PM

This is a ridiculous piece of legislation and deserves an honored place in the circular file.
The way to resolve a ridiculous situation like gays not being allowed to marry does NOT require restricting the rights of what heteros can do in their marriages. I don't want gays determining whether or not my marriage is valid. I don't have the right, morally or legislatively, to stop gays from marrying, either.

Posted by: Rhody at February 11, 2007 1:58 PM
I don't have the right, morally or legislatively, to stop gays from marrying, either.

I don't know that I've heard of anybody seeking to restrict homosexuals from having marriage ceremonies, even with various forms of solemnization. Of course, that's not what you mean, which makes me wonder: What on Earth makes you think that you "don't have the right, morally or legislatively," to recognize that homosexual relationships have fundamental differences from heterosexual relationships, and that the former have never — socially or legally — been considered within the definition of marriage, and on that basis to continue to request that the law maintain the traditional definition (aka, the definition) of marriage?

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 11, 2007 2:34 PM

The iniative, such as it is, would empower the government to unilaterally revoke marital status.

Annulment is based on establishing that there a marriage had never existed. So they aren't proposing annulment in their iniative.

It would make "trial marriages" of all marriages and that would make consent conditional. Even if a couple go through the motions of "consenting", they cannot form a conjugal relationship provisonally. That is not the nature of marriage.

So these numbskills have proposed the government should require premarital sexual intercourse and premarital childbearing. And unwed cohabitation, too. They do not understand the marriage idea.

They explicitly displayed their ignorance of the essentials of marriage: the combination of 1) integration of the sexes and 2) responsible procreation.

They look through the homocentric filter and thus hampered they have naively mischaracterized this combination as "solely procreation".

And, even thought they referred to the Washington Supreme Court decision on the matter, they clearly have not understood the procreation-related parts of that decision. They might read the concurrence if they have not quite grasped the issue as described in the majority opinion.

These dudes appear to miscomprehend more than their opponent's argument about procreation, because mistake the purpose of annulment. It is not to exempt but to clarify who is and is not married.

While procreation is not a requirement on each and every married couple, the man-woman criterion suffices as the basic requirement that the sexes be integrated and that this be intertwined with the contingency for responsible procreation.

That is extrinsic to all one-sexed arrangements -- homosexual or not -- whether it be a lone individual, a twosome, or a moresome.

While the proposers of this lame iniative stunt had hoped to shed light on those with whom they disagree, the light is harshest on their ignorance of marriage recognition and of the social insitutiton itself. Their straw man makes them look wonderfully incompetent and self-indulgent.

It is sadly a good example of SSM argumentation's profound flaws. They need to begin by stating the purpose of a preferential status for the homosexual relationship.

Afterall, here they have tried to attack the preferential status of the social institution. Marriage, as per its essentials, is preferred over other types of arrangements. But it looks like their iniative is based on the conviction that marriage should be barely tolerated, let alone protected.

It also points out, yet again, that the SSM campaign is about replacement of marriage with something else. It is not about extending marriage; it is about extending, through coercion, state endorsement of the idealized homosexual relationship. When it comes down to it, they are proposing that their ideal is superior to the conjugal relationship of husband and wife.

Posted by: Chairm at February 11, 2007 2:38 PM

At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

Rhody, we are not stopping gays from marrying. They can marry anybody of the opposite sex any time they WANT to. The key is that they don't want to. Instead, the activists want the state to empower their sexual deviancy and give it the gravitas of marriage. That deviancy can never be equal to marriage, whether the state lends it that gravitas or not.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 11, 2007 2:38 PM

Posted by Rhody at February 11, 2007 1:58 PM

"I don't have the right, morally or legislatively, to stop gays from marrying, either."

The choice to form a nonmarital alternative, such as a homosexual relationship, is a liberty exercised and it is not a right denied by the man-woman criterion of marital status.

Society has the right to expect the state authority to recognize marriage as marriage, rather than as a homosexual relationship.

As for recognizing the homosexual relationship with a status on par with marriage, that would need solid justification on a social policy basis. What is that basis? Me-too-ism does not suffice but that is what SSMers have offered thusfar.

In Washington there is no constitutional right that requires society, through state authority, to treat the homosexual relationship as if it was the conjugal relationship.

Posted by: Chairm at February 11, 2007 3:00 PM

Since when is a committed relationship deviancy?
A desperation is seeping into the efforts to stop gay marriage, since even younger conservatives realize how obsessive and ridiculous efforts this whole effort has gotten. It kind of reminds me of the efforts to keep miscegenation laws on the books.

Posted by: Rhody at February 12, 2007 6:27 PM


Do you really intend to suggest that commitment negates deviancy? A fruitful discussion can be had concerning the deviancy point, but reliance on commitment would be a short parry.

Regarding your suggestion of desperation, I wonder why, if that's the case, it is the pro-SSM crowd that has resorted to gimmicks. (I'd also request that you cite some of these "young conservatives," as I still consider myself to be one.)

As for this unoriginal point, which I and others have addressed many times before:

It kind of reminds me of the efforts to keep miscegenation laws on the books.

I can only opine that the reminiscence perhaps results from a lack of critical thinking skills.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 12, 2007 7:10 PM

Even considering "committed relationships", the more common forms, and therefore the more normal forms, are not homosexual. Anything that deviates from the norm is a deviancy.

I also hope you are not suggesting that the NORMAL method for procreation is homosexual sex. The over-arching purpose for sex is to procreate, and homosexual sex contradicts that purpose. It contradicts the norm, which is another method of deviation.

Even us older moderates recognize how obsessive and ridiculous efforts have gotten to establish homosexual sex as a natural and normal act.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 12, 2007 11:00 PM

Those studies go up and down in their findings. I don't have time to look into it, but my recollection that even Pew has had higher results, previously, in support of SSM.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 13, 2007 5:44 AM

The numbers against did spike up in '04 because the GOP made a big issue of opposition to SSM, and so many states had constitutional bans on the ballot. The GOP tried the same gambit nationally last year, but it backfired, or at the very least the law of diminishing returns kicked in.
In the past, the issue probably would've saved Rick Santorum's Senate seat. But he rode that dying horse too long.

Posted by: Rhody at February 13, 2007 3:45 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.