Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Same-Sex Marriage Dilemma

For the most part, I have been pretty much a supporter of same-sex marriage, at least from the standpoint of government. I voted no on a defense of marriage proposition that was on the ballot in Arizona a few years ago. First, with respect to marriages in general, the government doesn't require marriages to pass moral tests in order to give marriage licenses. For example, if someone began their relationship with an extramarital affair, has then finalized their divorce or divorces, the state doesn't ask questions, it grants the license. Given this, it seems hypocritical for governments to , for example, give a marriage license to Newt Gingrich but not to George Takei. 

Second, there seem to be cases where SSM seems pretty reasonable. For example, if someone has been in a same-sex relationship for many years, but their family has disowned them for being gay, and then the person goes to the hospital and end-of-life decisions have to be made, the lifetime partner, not the family that disowned the gay person, seems to me the right person to make those decisions. 

But there are other issues that bother me about it, and these have to do with people who conscientiously believe that same sex relationships can't be real marriages. For example, I don't think people in the business of wedding services, such as florists, bakers, and photographers, should be exposed to discrimination lawsuits because they don't want to service same-sex weddings. I don't think Christian adoption agencies should be forced to accept applicants from same-sex couples if it is against their principles. I don't think Christian college philosophy departments should have a "discriminator" tag put on them by the American Philosophical Association because they have codes of conduct that require faculty hires to abide by a code of sexual conduct that requires them to restrict sex to heterosexual marriages. (And please note that a gay person could fulfill those requirements by simply being celibate). I don't think businesses like Chick-Fil-A and executives like Brandon Eich should be punished economically because they don't believe in same-sex marriage. If this is what supporters of same-sex marriage want, if this is where it is going to be pushed, then I am inclined to say "let me off the boat." 

That is why I would prefer to see governments give out civil union licenses and only civil union licenses to everyone who goes downtown for a license. That would, I think, leave individuals and "churches" (and this would include secular groups) to determine by their own lights what is a real marriage and what is not. I don't know if this is workable, but something along these lines is the only acceptable solution. Whatever solution is adopted should be fair to both gay people and critics of homosexuality. 

It's time to stop looking to government to determine what is right and wrong. I wouldn't quite say "You can't legislate morality," but I will say that there are large areas of morality that you can't legislate. 

This essay, Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent, Why We Must Have Both, reflects the position I have been defending here. 

29 comments:

Crude said...

If this is what supporters of same-sex marriage want, if this is where it is going to be pushed, then I am inclined to say "let me off the boat."


Heh. Such calm, such classical liberalness. You really are the real deal! I respect that - always did.

im-skeptical said...

"If this is what supporters of same-sex marriage want, if this is where it is going to be pushed, then I am inclined to say "let me off the boat.""

Right. A public accommodation should be allowed to practice bigotry in refusing to provide their services to certain customers, but it's pushing things too far if consumers decline to buy services from bigots. At least you're consistent.

Hal said...

That is why I would prefer to see governments give out civil union licenses and only civil union licenses to everyone who goes downtown for a license.

Why do you think that is going to resolve anything?
Many of the state laws prohibiting gay marriage also prohibited gay civil unions.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm trying to drive a wedge between government oriented conceptions of marriage, and ones might be approved or disapproved of by religious or non-religious institutions. That is one way to do it, dropping the m-word and talking about civil unions. The other way to do it is to take seriously Lewis's statements about marriage and divorce and apply them to the same sex-issue.

Hal said...

I'm skeptical that an anti-gay baker is going to be anymore willing to bake a cake for a gay civil union rather than for a gay marriage. Or that a Christian adoption agency is going to be any more willing to let a gay couple adopt simply because their union is not called a marriage.

Victor Reppert said...

That's not the issue. I think the bakers and adoption agencies are, I believe, exercising religious freedom. I'm more concerned about the end of life cases and the tax issues, which, I think, should be equalized.

Hal said...

Then perhaps it would be helpful to elaborate on what the dilemma is that you are referring to in your post title.

If your concern is merely end of life cases and tax issues, why the need to change the term "marriage" to "civil union"?

Why the long paragraph enumerating the issues that some religious people have with gay marriage?

Victor Reppert said...

The civil union move is one of the moves you can make to emphasize the distinction between what is defined by government on the one hand, and what a Christian or secular group might accept. Or, you can keep the word "marriage" and just allow different uses of the term, which is what Lewis suggests.

Angra Mainyu said...

Victor,

I would prefer to wait until I'm sure what you mean by "conscientiously believe that same sex relationships can't be real marriages" before I post a more thorough reply (alternatively, I can consider different options depending on what you might have meant, but it would take longer), but with respect to the issue of issuing only civil union licenses, I think that probably would not have an impact on the debates (moral and legal) on who is allowed to reject same-sex couples.

For example, let's say that A, B, C, and D are bakeries and make wedding cakes, but the government only issues civil union licenses.

Then, Joseph and Mary (both Christians) want a cake, and they get it from A. But when Aaron and Lucy want their cake, they're rejected by A on the basis that he's Jewish, and she's Christian.
On the other hand, B accepts Aaron and Lucy, but reject Mike and Sandy because he's Black, and she's White. C accepts Mike and Sandy, but rejects George and Linda because he is divorced and is remarrying.
D accepts George and Linda, but rejects Adam and Steve because they're both men, and rejects Anna and Eve because they're both women.

There is still the legal question of which cases are illegal, and which ones are not, and also, the moral issues of which ones (if any) the government should allow (or each lawmaker should support allowing, which is more precise, but usually it won't be like that), and which ones the government should ban (if any). You would expect the debate on the matter to continue, just with different labels.

So, in particular, changing from the legal label "marriage" to the legal label "civil unions" would not help end this particular dispute.

In Re: cases like Chick-Fil-A and Brandon Eich, I'd like like to ask what you mean by "don't believe in same-sex marriage". Is it that they believe same-sex relationships are always immoral, or something about the meaning of the word "marriage"? Or something else?

In any case, those are actions taken by private citizens, not by the government, and boycotts seem to be a rather common feature of public moral disputes in America, from all sides of the issues. (not that I think all of those boycotts are morally equal).

For instance, boycotts by Christian groups and individuals are common - sometimes, on the issue of same-sex marriage -, and were common long before SSM became part of the mainstream political debate in the US.
The American Family Association (for example) has a history of boycotting companies, movies, TV shows, etc., because they believe [correctly or not] that those companies, etc. support some behaviors they consider immoral, or legislation allowing them, etc.
And Planned Parenthood supporters have been and are boycotted over abortion by many Christian groups and individuals, some of whom post lists of those supporting PP, and so on.

Of course, there are boycotts on many other issues (e. .g., treatment of non-human animals, treatment of employees overseas, etc.), sometimes quite effective, more often not so much.

At any rate, issuing only civil union licenses would not stop boycotts on the same-sex marriage issue, or related ones. There would still be groups on opposite sides of these issues, supporting opposite legislation, and one should expect some boycotts against companies that donate to some of those groups, etc., from some people on each side.

Crude said...

Actually, getting the government out of the marriage business altogether would decisively end the dispute for many. For everyone? Probably not - but so what? I don't think Victor is advocating some kind of pragmatic solution that he thinks would settle the matter for all sides, and for all time, but instead what he sees as a reasonable intellectual solution.

The idea that 'Christians' full stop oppose civil unions too ignores the fact that many saw (rightly, it turns out) civil unions simply as a precursor to civil marriage for the activists. So yes, getting government out of the 'marriage' business altogether would, in fact, help end this particular dispute. 'Help end' doesn't mean 'totally end'. Pretending that the goal here is 'stop all boycotts over this ever, in any way' is a non-seq.

Really, Victor's idea already has this advantage, in that the people who object to 'gay marriage' don't regard the marriages as real anyway, and the people who support it are by their own standards just redefining 'marriage', and they can redefine it ad infinitum if they wish. Let the government stay out of such terms, and at the same time vastly increase what could qualify as a civil union - give them to anyone who wants one and who could legally make a binding contract under typical contract law.

Problem solved, for all but the people who people who can't rest unless the government fully and formally endorses their relationships. But surely we recognize that such terminally emotionally fragile people shouldn't be taken seriously anyway, yes?

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude,

Which of the several disputes do you think would end, at least for many?
The one about the bakeries, and other businesses?
If so (if not, please clarify), I don't think it would have much of an impact, for the reasons I gave. If you think otherwise, why do you think so?
As I see it, it's extremely likely that if bakeries discriminate against Anna and Eve and/or Adam and Steve, I would expect some lawsuits just as they happened in the past (I would also expect some boycotts, and moral arguments pointing out to cases involving interracial or interfaith or remarrying couples).
Regarding the boycotts, given that the motivation is based on moral grounds independent of what the government recognizes, I would not expect them to be more or less common just because of the label the government uses. As for the lawsuits, how common they become would likely depend on the degree of success of previous lawsuits. I don't think the label would have much effect on that, either, as it wouldn't in the other cases I mentioned.

As for whether Christians oppose civil unions, that depends on the Christian. Is that a reply to one of my arguments? If so, please clarify.

On the issue of people who do not consider gay marriages as real (your use of quotation marks suggests you're among them), as I asked Victor, I would ask you what you mean by "real marriages". Is it about the meaning of the word "marriage" in English, or in all languages?
By the way, when a divorced person gets married again, he or she is not married to the new espouse according to, say, the Catholic Church. Would those also not be real marriages, according to people who agree with Catholic doctrine?

That aside, I would not have a moral objection if the US government only granted civil union licenses, or no licenses at all (not for that reason alone, anyway), though I don't think it's politically doable. But I don't think it would resolve or significantly diminish the dispute I mentioned above.

Crude said...

Which of the several disputes do you think would end, at least for many?

I think a statement that the government was out of the marriage business, period, and would at best administer civil unions of quite broad definition would do a good job of helping people get over gay marriage disputes altogether.

Why you're taking this as saying 'If you get government out of the marriage business, you'll solve all of the other problems on any topic that has anything to do with LGBT people' is beyond me. Why use that yardstick? Who suggested it?

As I see it, it's extremely likely that if bakeries discriminate against Anna and Eve and/or Adam and Steve, I would expect some lawsuits just as they happened in the past

Disagreed in more ways than one, but - different topic.

On the issue of people who do not consider gay marriages as real (your use of quotation marks suggests you're among them), as I asked Victor, I would ask you what you mean by "real marriages".

Why? Do we really need to expand this conversation into every single topic that is or is not distantly related? Let's keep focused.

That aside, I would not have a moral objection if the US government only granted civil union licenses, or no licenses at all (not for that reason alone, anyway), though I don't think it's politically doable.

Moral objections matter?

But I don't think it would resolve or significantly diminish the dispute I mentioned above.

Which, putting aside all questions of the accuracy of your evaluation, matters only insofar as the suggestion is made purely as an immediately in a pragmatic sense. Victor seems to pretty clearly be offering his opinion of the matter, regardless of what's likely to happen in the near future. He's stating what he thinks would be best all things considered, even fair, not what he thinks is particularly likely in the near term.

Angra Mainyu said...


Crude,

You say: "I think a statement that the government was out of the marriage business, period, and would at best administer civil unions of quite broad definition would do a good job of helping people get over gay marriage disputes altogether.

Why you're taking this as saying 'If you get government out of the marriage business, you'll solve all of the other problems on any topic that has anything to do with LGBT people' is beyond me. Why use that yardstick? Who suggested it?"

I don't think anyone suggested it, but I did not take it that way at all. In fact, you said "Actually, getting the government out of the marriage business altogether would decisively end the dispute for many".

Since you did not identify which dispute we were talking about, in the context it might be the one about boycotts, or about lawsuits - those seemed more likely -, but it might be something else. So, I considered some cases, and asked for clarification.

You say: "Disagreed in more ways than one, but - different topic."

The issue of the lawsuits does not appear to be a different topic (i.e., it's one of the topics). Still, do you think they would diminish? If so, why? I would not expect any change related to whether the government calls it "marriage" or "civil union". There would likely be effects based on previous success of lack thereof, but that's another matter.

You say: "Why? Do we really need to expand this conversation into every single topic that is or is not distantly related? Let's keep focused."

I asked because you used the expression "real marriages", but the claim is unclear. So, in order not to have to post a much longer reply considering a number of potential interpretations of your words, I asked you what you meant by the ones that were not clear. It's harder to keep focused on your claim that "the people who object to 'gay marriage' don't regard the marriages as real anyway", if I don't know what you mean by that claim. Yes, granted, I can still reply "if you mean A1, then B1; if you mean A2, then B2, if you mean A3, then B3...", aetc., but it would get a lot longer, and I don't see any good reasons for that.

You say: "Moral objections matter?"

Matter to whom, or to what end? Or are you asking whether they matter morally?

Anyway, we (or at least some of us in this thread) are debating a number of issues, including moral issues, like the question of what the government - or lawmakers, etc. - [morally] should do, or what would be better that they did, etc., and sometimes stating our stances on them.

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude, you say: "Which, putting aside all questions of the accuracy of your evaluation, matters only insofar as the suggestion is made purely as an immediately in a pragmatic sense."
That is not the case.
As long as there is a suggestion that the dispute in question would be resolved at least partially, significantly, etc. (which seemed to be the case), an assessment of whether or not that would happen is relevant to one of the matters at hand, and regardless of whether that was the only suggestion.

"Victor seems to pretty clearly be offering his opinion of the matter, regardless of what's likely to happen in the near future. He's stating what he thinks would be best all things considered, even fair, not what he thinks is particularly likely in the near term."
He is surely offering his opinion on a number of issues.

In particular, Victor mentions a number of situations (involving photographers, bakeries, lawsuits, boycotts, etc.) and says "That is why I would prefer to see governments give out civil union licenses and only civil union licenses to everyone who goes downtown for a license. That would, I think, leave individuals and "churches" (and this would include secular groups) to determine by their own lights what is a real marriage and what is not. I don't know if this is workable, but something along these lines is the only acceptable solution. Whatever solution is adopted should be fair to both gay people and critics of homosexuality. "

I would ask Victor to correct me if I'm in error, I reckon he is very clearly suggesting that if government were to give out civil union licenses instead of marriage licenses, that course of action would at least significantly mitigate what he considers to be bad things. So, that would be better. That, again, clearly involves a moral claim or implication (or more than one, to be precise), as well as predictions about the results one should expect.

A discussion about the consequences we should expect on those disputes is clearly on topic.

Hal said...

The civil union move is one of the moves you can make to emphasize the distinction between what is defined by government on the one hand, and what a Christian or secular group might accept. Or, you can keep the word "marriage" and just allow different uses of the term, which is what Lewis suggests.


I would agree with Lewis that we should not replace the word "marriage" with "civil union". I don't see how doing so is going to reduce or change the basic animosity that many people have toward legitimizing gay sex.

In any case, I think any attempt to do so flies in the face of current political reality.

Crude said...

Anyway, we (or at least some of us in this thread) are debating a number of issues, including moral issues,

Not really. I mean, I see you bringing up all kinds of issues that no one else did - who mentioned boycotts, for example? The issues Victor spoke of seem smaller in number.

It's harder to keep focused on your claim that "the people who object to 'gay marriage' don't regard the marriages as real anyway"

Not really. Quite simple, really.

As long as there is a suggestion that the dispute in question would be resolved at least partially, significantly, etc. (which seemed to be the case),

You're mistaking 'how the question should be resolved' with a practical effect. Again, back to Victor's post: He talks in terms of what he thinks should be done, what he thinks is the best balance. He mentioned 'lawsuits' once: namely, he doesn't think people should be exposed to them in a given situation. Where, exactly, did he say 'government getting out of marriage would end all lawsuits about LGBT-related issues for all time'? Heck, on that one, where did he even say they would be reduced?

In particular, Victor mentions a number of situations (involving photographers, bakeries, lawsuits, boycotts, etc.) and says "That is why I would prefer to see

No, he mentions a number of things he thinks shouldn't be the case (but which seem to be advocated by a number of people), and remarks that if that's what supporters of same-sex marriage want, he's vacating their side. He then spells out his alternate approach to the marriage question, with it being emphasized that he's not even sure it's workable, but he thinks it's the only fair solution.

In other words, he's laying out what he thinks is an ideal resolution to one issue, not a pragmatic solution for a suite of issues.

I would ask Victor to correct me if I'm in error, I reckon he is very clearly suggesting that if government were to give out civil union licenses instead of marriage licenses, that course of action would at least significantly mitigate what he considers to be bad things.

I think he can more properly be read as saying 'Here's a bunch of things people are pushing for (Punishing anyone for dissenting against gay marriage, forcing Christians to bake cakes for gay weddings under threat of jail time and forced surrendering of property)'. Wow! They're pretty unreasonable and crazy. Here's what people who seek reasonable and fair legal and social situations would back.'

Crude said...

I would agree with Lewis that we should not replace the word "marriage" with "civil union". I don't see how doing so is going to reduce or change the basic animosity that many people have toward legitimizing gay sex.

For one thing, it's not 'legitimizing gay sex' that is the issue. Really, gay sex is practically as taboo as it ever was, and the last thing gay marriage supporters tend to like to talk about is literal sex.

People will still have animosity towards this or that relationship or sex, but if 'marriage' is seen as defined someplace other than government, it makes the government and the court system's role in these cases, at best, 'enforcers of willfully entered contracts' and remove from it some ceremonial authority.

And who doesn't like taking some authority from the powerful, eh?

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude,

"Not really. I mean, I see you bringing up all kinds of issues that no one else did - who mentioned boycotts, for example? The issues Victor spoke of seem smaller in number."
Actually, Victor brought up boycotts, even if he did not use the word in question, when he mentioned the cases of Chick-Fil-A and Brandon Eich, and said they shouldn't be economically punished. As I said in my reply to Victor in my first post in this thread, those cases are about actions taken by private citizens, not by the government. More precisely, those are cases of boycotts.

Still, if you don't want to discuss boycotts, that's fine with me of course. But I made my comment in reply to Victors post, and then replied to you after you replied to me, etc.

"Not really. Quite simple, really."
I said that it's harder to keep focused on your claim that "the people who object to 'gay marriage' don't regard the marriages as real anyway", if I don't know what you mean by that claim. It's easier if I do know, really.
As I said, I could still reply "if you mean A1, then B1; if you mean A2, then B2, if you mean A3, then B3...", etc., but it would get a lot longer, and I don't see any good reasons for that.

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude,

"You're mistaking 'how the question should be resolved' with a practical effect. Again, back to Victor's post: He talks in terms of what he thinks should be done, what he thinks is the best balance. He mentioned 'lawsuits' once: namely, he doesn't think people should be exposed to them in a given situation. Where, exactly, did he say 'government getting out of marriage would end all lawsuits about LGBT-related issues for all time'? Heck, on that one, where did he even say they would be reduced?"

In his third paragraph, he said that there are issues that bother him, and as examples, he said "I don't think people in the business of wedding services, such as florists, bakers, and photographers, should be exposed to discrimination lawsuits because they don't want to service same-sex weddings."
He also mentioned other examples, some involving government action, some involving the action of private individuals. He ended that paragraph with "If this is what supporters of same-sex marriage want, if this is where it is going to be pushed, then I am inclined to say "let me off the boat."

The next paragraph begins "That is why I would prefer to see governments give out civil union licenses and only civil union licenses to everyone who goes downtown for a license."
Clearly, he is offering a suggestion as to how to resolve what he thinks are bad things. Though he does not know whether it's feasibly to get the government to do that (i.e., to only issue civil unions licenses), he even says that something along those lines is "the only acceptable solution".
So, again, he's not only making moral claims about what should be the case, but also explaining why he supports a certain course of action.

Of course, Victor does not say "government getting out of marriage would end all lawsuits about LGBT-related issues for all time". But I don't say he says that, either. He thinks it's a possible solution, but if it is not feasible, then the only possible solution is something along those lines, so he's talking about solving the problem (assuming it's a problem) of lawsuits like that. That involves ending that sort of lawsuit, but in colloquial speech, solving the problem does not mean ending every single lawsuit that might happen in the future. There is some tolerance. The same goes for my reply. But at any rate, I've clarified my words sufficiently.


"No, he mentions a number of things he thinks shouldn't be the case (but which seem to be advocated by a number of people), and remarks that if that's what supporters of same-sex marriage want, he's vacating their side."

That's one of the things he says. But the "no", is mistaken. His paragraph involves more than the last sentence, clearly.

"In other words, he's laying out what he thinks is an ideal resolution to one issue, not a pragmatic solution for a suite of issues."

I'd say he's offering a solution that would make matter better by resolving those issues, among others. It's not as if he's offering a solution for all times and places.

But I'll ask Victor.
Victor: Could you explain what you meant, please?

Crude said...

Clearly, he is offering a suggestion as to how to resolve what he thinks are bad things.

Nowhere is that said. Let's see what Victor says, but 'civil unions will solve unrelated issues that are only linked because LGBT people are still involved' is a damn stretch.

He thinks it's a possible solution, but if it is not feasible, then the only possible solution is something along those lines, so he's talking about solving the problem (assuming it's a problem) of lawsuits like that.

He nowhere says it's a solution to those problems. The only 'solution' he offers is a hypothetical embrace of a much broader view he's advocating, which hinges on people accepting his view rather than merely being subject to it.

If he says otherwise, so be it. I think there's another reasonable interpretation of his words: get the government and public institutions out of legislating morality. That broad position itself would automatically answer most of the other issues referred to.

Should businesses be forced to service gay weddings? No, because that's yet more government legislation of morality.

Should there be economic punishment for Chik-fil-a and the like because of their gay marriage position? No. (And keep in mind, particularly in the case of Chik-fil-a, there were government responses threatened and enacted there too.)

Should Christian adoption agencies be forced to accept applications from same-sex couples? Again, apparently not.

If there's any 'solution' offered by Victor, it's that - and it's less a solution and more an advocated principle, however vague, to run things by.

Victor, do I have you right here?

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude,

"Nowhere is that said. Let's see what Victor says, but 'civil unions will solve unrelated issues that are only linked because LGBT people are still involved' is a damn stretch."

Sure, that would be a stretch, but I didn't say or suggest any of the sort.
I said he proposed that as a solution to a number of issues he brought up, not "unrelated issues".

"He nowhere says it's a solution to those problems."

I already explained in considerable why the context clearly indicates he's offering a solution. I see no reason for repetition. But if he meant something else, I guess we'll soon find out.

"I think there's another reasonable interpretation of his words: get the government and public institutions out of legislating morality. That broad position itself would automatically answer most of the other issues referred to."

He proposes to get the government out of legislating some moral issues, not all. For example, he has not proposed, say, legalizing discrimination based on race, or religion, in those cases (at least, not in this post), or suggested that principle.

"Should businesses be forced to service gay weddings? No, because that's yet more government legislation of morality."

Right, but one might as well say (i.e., by the same principle): Should businesses be forced to service interracial weddings? No, because that's government legislation of morality. Should businesses be forced to service interfaith weddings? No, because that's government legislation of morality. And so on. But there is nothing in Victor's post suggesting that he supports allowing businesses to discriminate in those areas as well.

"Should there be economic punishment for Chik-fil-a and the like because of their gay marriage position? No. (And keep in mind, particularly in the case of Chik-fil-a, there were government responses threatened and enacted there too.)"
Hmm...Do you have evidence of enacted government punishments?
As far as I know, a couple of government officials wanted to ban the franchise in some areas, but they were criticized and backed off; there was no government punishment, only a private boycott.

At any rate, given the context in which Victor gave the example, (alongside the Brandon Eich case), it does not seem to be the case that he was talking about government punishment.

"Should Christian adoption agencies be forced to accept applications from same-sex couples? Again, apparently not."

One might as well say (i.e., by the same principle): Should Christian adoption agencies be forced to accept applications from couples of people who were earlier married to others, then divorced? Apparently not. Should some other adoption agencies be forced to accept applications from interracial couples? Apparently not.

Yet, I don't see anything (at least, not from this post) suggesting Victor was advocating that principle. I guess we'll see.

Crude said...

I said he proposed that as a solution to a number of issues he brought up, not "unrelated issues".

Why not quote where he said that 'getting the government out of marriage will end disputes about things entirely unrelated to marriage'? His commentary on those issues was "If this is what it means to support X, leave me out of it."

He proposes to get the government out of legislating some moral issues, not all.

Say it's some - that's still a better candidate for a 'solution'. And it's a solution in the sense of 'people should think this way', not 'this will pacify people who disagree'.

Right, but one might as well say (i.e., by the same principle): Should businesses be forced to service interracial weddings?

It's not the same principle. Even if you took it as being the same, it still cashes out as a partial solution in terms of it being applicable to the listed, not unlisted, problems.

Yet, I don't see anything (at least, not from this post) suggesting Victor was advocating that principle.

Since it's a different principle. And I somehow suspect Victor may actually be fine with the divorce stipulation, even if he disagrees with the Catholic Church about divorce. We'll see, perhaps.

Angra Mainyu said...

Crude,

"Why not quote where he said that 'getting the government out of marriage will end disputes about things entirely unrelated to marriage'?"
1. Because that would be a misquote.
2. I never said or suggested that he said that getting the government out of marriage will end disputes about things entirely unrelated to marriage.

Rather, I said he proposed that the government issue civil unions as a solution to a number of issues he brought up and he considers problematic, not "unrelated issues". And it is obvious (well, if one is being reasonable about that) that he proposed that as a solution, as I have explained repeatedly.

"His commentary on those issues was "If this is what it means to support X, leave me out of it.""
No, he did not say that. Rather, he said that if that's what supporters of SSM want, and if that's how it's going to be pushed, then he is inclined to say he's out of it.

"Say it's some - that's still a better candidate for a 'solution'. And it's a solution in the sense of 'people should think this way', not 'this will pacify people who disagree'."
Actually, the specific case in which he proposed that was that the state issue only civil union licenses. He offered an alternative, in which the government keeps offering marriage licenses (see the next thread).

"It's not the same principle. Even if you took it as being the same, it still cashes out as a partial solution in terms of it being applicable to the listed, not unlisted, problems."
Sure it is. It's the principle you proposed, namely "get the government and public institutions out of legislating morality". I don't see what you would base criminal law on, if morality is not at least one of the bases, but whatever.

"Since it's a different principle."

It's the same principle, namely "get the government and public institutions out of legislating morality"
But since you claim it's different, then please defend your claim, and explain how you apply the principle "get the government and public institutions out of legislating morality" in the same-sex case, but not the in the interracial or the interfaith or the divorce case (even if you're okay with the divorce case, you're claiming it's not the same principle).

Victor Reppert said...

I don't know if calling it civil unions will really do what I hope it will. But I think we need a solution to this issue that gives respects a freedom to dissent from the gay marriages, but also fair to gays. "Screw the bigots" is no a solution.

im-skeptical said...

I think it is instructive to look at how we have dealt with racial bigotry. We have passed laws that don't make bigotry illegal, but curtail bigoted practices that deny the civil rights of people. We have used the armed forces as a platform for racial integration. We have raised social awareness of the problem. We have made bigotry socially unacceptable to the extent that most of the remaining bigots no longer publicly proclaim their vile beliefs, but keep them private. Over time, their numbers have dwindled. We expect that trend to continue.

Hal said...

"Screw the bigots" is no a solution.

Agreed. But that is no reason why we should pander to those who act like bigots.
If someone opens a business to the public they are expected to treat all equally. That behavior may not be expected in other countries but doesn't it go to the basic ideals this country was founded on?

Papalinton said...

There is no 'same-sex marriage dilemma'. It is only a dilemma when viewed through the prism of religious bigotry.

It takes such precious little historical research to know and appreciate that marriage in its various cultural and social permutations is pretty much a universal practice among humans, recorded well before the christian god was fashioned into a social construct or before Jesus became the mischievous cheeky twinkle in Mary's eye. Indeed the act of marriage was universally practiced no matter people's religious beliefs or lack there-of. Christians did not create, nor do they own, the concept of marriage. Never have. The exercise of people marrying was commandeered by and subsumed into the Christian fable, just as the ubiquity of all the other 'rites de passages' throughout human social life, such milestones as birth, puberty, coming of age, manhood/womanhood, raising of family, and death, were simply expropriated from much older social and cultural traditions practiced tens of millennia before the advent of christianity.

So to talk of a 'problem' about marriage, be it homosexual or otherwise, vis-a-vis religious/civil, as if it were a disingenuous challenge to christian belief, is an historical nonsense. Equally, to pretend that marriages are somehow creations forged by the actions of some non-human, live [putative] supernatural entity, simply underscores the stretch of the mythos that christians have contorted the reality. Even from earliest times marriages have principally served a socially financial and economic function, providing an element of surety and protecting the distributive ownership of goods between the married couple. Any religious implications about marriage are both optional and incidental to the universally acknowledged social understanding of marriage.

Victor Reppert said...

Hal wrote: But that is no reason why we should pander to those who act like bigots.

If someone opens a business to the public they are expected to treat all equally. That behavior may not be expected in other countries but doesn't it go to the basic ideals this country was founded on?

VR: In the case of wedding photography, I am not sure about this. It seems to me that someone could run a Christian bookstore, and on that basis cater primarily to a Christian audience, and if someone did that, it would hardly be discrimination or bigotry if they refused to stock The God Delusion. I think part of a wedding photographer's job is to help in the celebration the marriage, which might be psychologically impossible for someone who considers the union to be morally deficient.

If a couple known to be united as a result of an adulterous affair were to come to me as a wedding photographer, I think I would at least begin by warning them that I wouldn't be very good at my job, given the degree to which I disapprove of the relationship. I would probably have a much easier time with a committed, monogamous gay relationship myself, but I think some jobs really require a lot of sympathy with the relationship, and some people are going to have trouble with this in the case of same-sex relationships. And I would question the attitude of someone who, if I told them I would have trouble being part of the celebration of their wedding, still insisted that I do it anyway. I would have to ask "There are plenty of photographers, why me?" It would seem to me that they aren't looking for a wedding photographer, they are looking for someone to sue. (Business owners sometimes put a Christian fish on their advertising, so this is what I would suspect was going on). And I think that's wrong.

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