Tuesday, June 07, 2005


If you haven't checked out the debate over same-sex marriage currently afoot on Craig Westover's blog, you ought to. It began with this post by Westover last Friday analyzing Katherine Kersten's recent Strib column on the issue, and it has carried on in the comments to that post ever since.

Westover is making a conservative case for same-sex marriage. If I can take the liberty to summarize, the lineaments of the argument are as follows:
(1). Gay people exist, they enter into relationships, and they have children. Whether one attaches positive, negative, or neutral moral significance to these facts, they are indeed facts, and they are undeniable.

(2). The institution of marriage, by fostering long-term, stable family relationships, benefits children, and thereby benefits society.

(3). Given (1) and (2), wouldn't allowing same-sex couples to marry increase the social benefits of the institution of marriage?

(4). If your answer to (3) is negative--that is, if you oppose same-sex marriage--then do you also support using government power to remove children from same-sex parents? If you do not, can you explain why removing children from same-sex parents as a matter of social policy does not follow logically from prohibiting same-sex marriage as a matter of social policy? If you do support such use of government power, can you explain why this is a conservative position?

(5). If you are unsure of your answer to (3), or if you think that framing the issue in this manner obscures other relevant considerations, why not take advantage of the federal nature of the American political system by supporting a gradual adoption of same-sex marriage in some jurisdictions as a kind of experiment?
I think Westover's case is a good one, though plenty of his commenters disagree. The most refreshing thing, however, is how civil, rational, and fair-minded the discussion is. Almost without exception, the participants are staying away from personal insults and pointless cant and sticking to the issues. Better by far than most blog comment strings--not to mention certain local columnists.


Sad to say it, but I think Craig's drunk the Kool-aid on this one.

He's sunk to the tactic of using the emotional appeal of the hardest case to justify a fundamental change.

It's akin to arguing that since some women get pregnant from rape and society lacks the will to force them to carry the child to term, therefore the conservative position would be to endorse taxpayer funded partial birth abortion on demand.

But you're right, it's been an unusually civil discussion.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:24 AM  

I think the key point that is being ignored is that the same-sex partners cannot produce their own offspring. They can come into the relationship with children, adopt, use surrogates, etc., but they cannot procreate.

I actually agree with most of the points you summed up in favor of same-sex marriage, but leaving this key issue out is dismissing a very central point in the definition of "marriage" in many religious contexts.

- Frank Hummer

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:20 PM  

So much to say and so little time/space. Two quick points: (1.) One can in fact oppose both (a) promoting gay parenthood by sanctioning same-sex marriage and (b) ripping children from the arms of gay couples. While it might not be possible to prove that a specific child is harmed by being raised by two moms or two dads, it is it least arguable that children in general benefit from having both a mother and a father, and thus equating same-sex and heterosexual marriage is not good social policy. (2.)To say that the fact that gay people "have children" is undeniable does not make its moral significance irrelevant. Since gay couples cannot reproduce "naturally," sanctioning gay marriage approves and invites further use of reproductive technologies and arrangements that many people find deeply troubling. For them, the "gradual adoption of same-sex marriage in some jurisdictions as a kind of experiment" is hardly a satisfactory option.

By Blogger Yo Mama, at 1:35 PM  

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