Wednesday, May 9, 2007

(I Am) Definitely Inarticulate on this Marriage Thing

Let me state again. I am against the state recognizing 'marriage'. Civil unions should be recognized under the law, marriage should be something between the parties involved and their religion if applicable.

I understand your point but, to me, it borders on semantics. Okay, the State, using the tools and incentives at its disposal, has chosen to promote what it sees as the ideal civil union.

The brief focuses heavily on the aspect of procreation and raising children which it states by definition excludes same sex couples form 'marriage'. But what about those same sex couples who adopt kids? This has to be addressed. If you don't think they should be able to adopt, then come out and say it. Fine.

I am deeply conflicted on this point myself. So far as I can tell, I am not against the adoption of children by gay couples (and I wonder what the laws are here... Is it really an adoption by ONE member of the gay couple--given that in most states gays cannot form a legal "couple?" If so, why not, then, adoption by gay groups? Or heterosexual groups? Or polygamists? etc.); I agree with the idea that adoption by a gay couple likely leads to better outcomes for the adoptee--especially vis-a-vis, e.g., single mothers (I think statistics bears this out).

That said: what other entities can adopt? Can a single parent adopt? Can a cohabitiating but unmarried couple adopt? If so--and I know that to be the case--then it is proven that adopting does not require marriage.

Recall that the ideal expressed by the State is that of a child raised in a stable, low-volatility marriage and by its own biological parents. By definition (under current technology), any gay couple will be missing at least one of the child's biological parents.

So, I am conflicted there, but so far I do not think that the ability of any family unit to adopt requires that that family unit also be required to form a legal marriage.

Finally, I think the most important thing for children is to be in a house with happy and loving parents.


Any Specialist will say this. I did not grow up in the happiest household. I wanted my parents to divorce if it would make them happier. Seeing your parents as happy residents of our planet has the greatest positive effect.

I agree in principle; hower, divorce has been shown to be devastating to children. Indeed, apparently a "cold" marriage (as distinct from an abusive home, by the way) is better than a broken marriage. Another great stat has to do with happiness following divorce--one major study (and forgive me for not providing a link; I am going off memory, but that is why G-d made G--gle, right?) showed something like that among couples planning divorce, five years after the decision, those choosing divorce were not happier (and we all know the stats about women suffering financially and men suffering emotionally and physically...); the SURPRISE finding was that those who decided to stay together (usually "for the sake of the children") were much HAPPIER than at the time of the crisis... Now, of course there may be specific cases and details--e.g., perhaps those choosing to stay together simply had more willpower, I dunno--but more generally it seems that happiness in marriage has more to do with commitment to the MARRIAGE (as opposed to the SPOUSE) than is generally understood. Happiness is a funny thing...

I am for reformation of marriage and divorce laws: marriage should be harder and divorce more difficult... (i.e., take responsibility for your choices), but that is another story.

I'm against affirmative action, flat out.

It is my view that affirmative action has, on balance, done more damage than good. It seems to benefit disproportionately those who did not really need it, while making life more difficult for those who should objectively benefit. There is often a disconnect between philosophy and reality, between concept and execution.

This is easy and it is consistent with my philosophy, but help me understand why I should be for state sanctioned marriage that simultaneously opposes same sex couples.
  • I consider homosexuality to be one of many "natural" modes of human existence. (Hence, Nature has some effect on one's sexuality.)
  • I consider sexuality to exist in a continuum, and not in a binary form. (Hence, Nurture--or choice--has some effect on one's sexuality.)
  • Consenting adults should be largely free to conduct themselves as they see fit in the privacy of their homes (this extends along quite a spectrum of human activity).
  • Opting out of whatever the society in which one operates deems "ideal" (or worthy of promotion or of incentives or tax breaks or what have you) is certainly a right, but with that right comes responsibility and, hence, the consequences are not always fully protected (i.e., do not and should not benefit from the incentives and promotions put in place by society; in other words, because something is NOT ILLEGAL does not make it worthy of REWARD).

Society sets limits around certain activities, e.g., murder (generally bad, although revenge killings were protected at times, and honor killings are still common in some societies), underage drinking (variable over time and place), exploitation of children (variable over time and place), driving (age limits and certain testable, mental, and physical requirements), and marriage (another regulated activity).

We set certain limits on marriage, e.g., marriage to children (variable over time, but generally with some lower limit in the U.S.), blood relations (variable by state but with some lower limit), one spouse at a time (even advocates of so-called gay marriage do not, at this time, seek to overturn the one-per-customer rule; as an aside, it seems absurd to me that we allow all the activities of polygamy--indeed, some "celebrities" brag about it--but refuse legal recognition, but I find it important that we DO exclude polygamy, at least in the U.S., from what is acceptable). So, we have the generally accepted power to limit certain classes of people from "marrying."

What, then, are the classes we allow and why?

My arguments are rather banal, but settle still on the idea that babies will be born regardless of all other considerations, and that to the extent possible, we would do well to promote the vehicle proven optimal for those children and, for other reasons still under debate and attack, for the parties involved and for the nation as a whole, i.e., a stable, low-conflict marriage consisting of that child's biological parents.
  • YES other modes exist--and should be allowed to exist (although society's acceptance of single-parent households is, like affirmative action, ultimately and on balance.
  • YES families disintergrate and re-form (although we should really work on this, for everyone's benefit)
  • YES children adopted by non-traditional families are likely better off than remaining unadopted
    Given that we set limits (do you agree that we should?), how do we define those limits? In other words (and once again) what is marriage for and why do we care?
Currently, I take the stance opposite yours: you posit that ALL units (btw, do you exclude ANY configurations? If so, which and why?) should receive government recognition, leaving it to the non-governmental organizations (e.g., churches) to pick and choose what they will permit or deny.*I* say, get "married" (or whatever verb you want to use) in whatever non-governmental faciltiy you choose (Wiccan, Unitarian, Gaian, Druid, Atheist, Forest of Arden, WHATEVER), but reserve governmental sanction for that which has been proven ideal for children and, hence eventually, society in general.

I remain unconvinced that marriage is irrelevant, unsalvagable, or dead. Instead of furthering its demise, however, I would prefer to bolster it.
Getting long-winded here. Let me summarize your questions and my response:
You asked "what about adoptions by same-sex units"; I say "Fine: lump 'em in with all other non-marriages, gotta be better'n the orphanage..."

You asked "aren't happy parents better than unhappy parents?"; I say "Sure: ideally, a child's biological parents would be in a happy marriage; I am against outlawing other sub-optimal configurations, but denying that they are sub-optimal does not stop them from being so."
You stated that you are against affirmative action; I agree, generally, but ask that you expand your lens of "enhanced individual/civil rights" to examine, e.g., the effect of the weakening of marriage. By "empowering" (some) women, women are more apt to choose out-of-wedlock motherhood, a proven path (at the macro level) to sub-optimal outcomes for ALL involved. BTW, not only does single motherhood hurt women and children, it hurts MEN as well, as they are "free" to remain the boorish children that they would like to be and are stripped of the proven health and financial benefits of marriage and fatherhood. My take is that this is a vicious cycle, and I am concerned about the end-point. But these ideas require much more space to examine and develop...

This is a collective good versus individual rights thing... and the tilt over the last few decades has been decidedly towards the individual, and now the group (the U.S., society, humankind, whatever) is suffering. JUST AS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION has led to unintended and detrimental macro-outcomes, so has the emphasis on "individual rights" generally (to include the weakening of marriage).

The rest of my stance is that A)any group can use the legal (contract) system to protect rights and wealth; no one (of import) is seeking to outlaw homosexuality or the right of individuals to consort with whom they choose and B)if we are going to expand the franchise then, please, let's be honest and either expand it universally (which we are not) or dissolve it (which you, among others, appear to seek).

I, for one, perceive societal value in the institution of marriage, hence I choose not to promote its dissolution; further, I do not perceive that any marginal benefit obtained through expansion of the franchise outweighs any potential long-term damage, either direct (via further weakening of the bonds between men and women or between progenitors and their children) or indirectly (through losing the ability to logically defend "marriage" against further expansion to other interested parties).


Anonymous said...

[Note to self: add to a note about Why am I here NOW? I am here now as a financial engine for the support of my family. I am a tool used by my wife to solve certain financial problems, and I am glad of it. It has taken me years to realize just how happy I am being yoked to a family, how important my contribution is, how I exist, now, mainly to facilitate the optimal upbringing of my offspring. Conversely, I also know that, ceteris parabis, without my wife I would be dead--coupla times over. Also, any success I have enjoyed is demonstrably attributable to demands and support from my wife. I do not think I am talking out of school to report that she is at a loss to understand how most peoply would choose a yob--i.e., being chained to a desk--over the freedom and joy she seems to derive from rearing our children. As a unit, I enjoy those same feelings by proxy--because I consider my wife and I to be a single unit, then I derive happiness from her success, a happiness that somehow would be diluted in reading, say, progress reports from the daycare facility. I finally understand certain aspects of the Puritan and the Mormon and certain other Christian mindsets--earning money is a net good. And, in words attributed to William Faulkner, "In a day, a man can't eat for eight hours; he can't drink for eight hours; he can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work." ]

Anonymous said...

What genius made those points in the red font?

Anonymous Bosh said...

From an online discussion board elsewhere.

26 yr-old male, sharing 1-rm apt with girlfriend, driving gf's car, recently read Ayn Rand, working through implications (hey, I was that way too after reading her stuff... takes a while to recover).

Aardvark said...

Groundhog Day, also one of my favorite movies... and... no to circumcision!

Sorry to hear about your dad.

aardvark said...

Also, Bosh, why don't you post your musings on the new state health hare system when your next feeling better?