Feb 082012

Apropos of the 9th Circuit’s ruling on Proposition 8, rather than raise the same arguments again we can just turn to Ampersand’s analysis of why same-sex marriage won’t make incestuous marriage more likely, particularly his brilliant analysis of why there is a rational basis for prohibiting incestuous marriages between adults:

In my case, I’d first say that marriage is a kin-making institution, which by definition transforms two unrelated (or at least not closely related) people into close kin. It makes no more sense for marriage to turn close kin into close kin than it does for an alchemist to transform gold into gold. It’s already gold.

Second, I’d point out that limiting incestuous marriage to adults would not solve the problem of child abuse, and could conceivably make it worse. Legal recognition of incestuous marriage could give sexually abusive fathers (or mothers — but in most cases, sexually abusive parents are fathers) a strong incentive to sexually abuse their daughters, in hopes of crushing her will before she comes of age, so she’ll agree to marriage.

Finally, I’d argue that child health and child abuse are not the only harms of incest. Importantly, legalizing incestuous marriage between the infertile would transform currently existing families, by introducing the possibility of marriage into relationships that have never had that possibility. It fundamentally changes the relationship between father and son, or between sister and brother, if we add the possibility of marital union to those relationships.

Feb 082012

Over here on Earth-Alpha, you may have heard of today’s big appellate court decision. No, not the one on regular Earth about same-sex marriage; we’ve had that on our parallel timeline pretty much forever. No, in our alternate reality, the Ninth Circuit struck down a law forbidding left-handed people from marrying each other. This law was passed through a popular initiative, to get around the meddling of the courts, and let me tell you, we are not happy about the damage this will cause to our traditional view of marriage.

First was the whole nonsense about “discrimination”, as if left-handers had any different treatment than their right-handed counterparts. A lefty could, if he or she wanted, marry a righty, just as a righty can marry a righty. Tell me, how is that discrimination? Nobody said they couldn’t marry at all; they just want special treatment. (Don’t ask about the “ambidextrous.” They don’t exist; that’s just a phase a lot of people go through until they make up their mind as to whether they’re righties or lefties.)

Then they ignored the fact that left-handedness is not only rare, but something we would like to discourage. Of course many left-handed people can’t help the way they are, but they may be more likely to have left-handed children. And those children will struggle to get along in a right-handed world geared towards right-handed people in everything from pens to circular saws. It’s also well-known that being left-handed increases the risk of everything from ADHD to schizophrenia. Don’t we want to protect our children from the negative effects of sinister marriage?

The court’s decision also spit in the face of millennia of tradition favoring right-handedness. The same word for the majority of people’s hand orientation even means “correct” and “proper” in English. Multiple languages recognize the left side, and left-handedness, as being unlucky or evil – “sinister” in English and “gauche” in French, to pick two easy examples. Many cultures also treat the left hand as unclean or disfavored, useful only for unpleasant tasks. Yet the activist judges in the majority saw fit to set aside a hallowed cultural tradition held by human cultures going back to the dawn of time.

Don’t ask me if the opinion makes any legal sense; we don’t like the result, and that’s all we right-minded folk need to know that the court got it wrong.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make a donation to a religious charity that helps train left-handed people to hold a pencil in the correct hand; with time and effort, many can write their names legibly, and accept that they should marry a right-handed person, as all right-thinking people do.

Jun 252011

(First, a note to the media: When you’re writing about a new law, post a link to the text of the new law. It shouldn’t be this hard to find. Kthx.)

What apparently led some of New York’s Republican lawmakers to support the Marriage Equality Act were the religious exemptions, protecting religious groups that object to same-sex marriage. This is one of the most common scare tactics raised by opponents of same-sex marriage, and one of the most dishonest: the Establishment Clause absolutely protects religious groups from having to administer their rites in violation of their faith. Same-sex marriage rites are about civil, not religious, marriage.

The “religious” protections are therefore redundant at best; these protections already exist, and not merely in the area of same-sex marriage. The only useful purpose they serve is cover. Same-sex marriage proponents can assure those who don’t understand the Establishment Clause, and politicians with more conservative constituents can trumpet their protection of the sanctity of marriage. This is particularly true as the law has a poison pill; it states that a court cannot simply overturn part of the law, such as the religious exemptions, but has to decide on the law as an all-or-nothing deal. This uses same-sex marriage as a sort of human shield; try to force a church to rent its gazebo to a gay couple and risk eliminating same-sex marriage entirely.

(Interestingly, groups opposed to same-sex marriage also oppose “religious protection” laws. The ostensible reason is that they don’t want anything that even hints that SSM is okay. The real reason is that it takes away one of their favorite arguments; it’s a lot harder to lie to people and tell them their churches will have to marry gay couples when there’s a law explicitly saying that can’t happen.)

Outside of same-sex marriage,it’s obvious that if you don’t like a religion’s rules, you can shut up and go to a different church, or to City Hall. We would laugh at a couple suing the Catholic Church because a priest refused to perform a marriage ceremony for two Protestants, or for a divorced Catholic seeking to marry a Buddhist. So would the courts. Yet even though there are likely far more interfaith and ‘rulebreaking’ couples who would like to marry than same-sex couples, neither churches nor lawmakers seem particularly concerned about protecting the sanctity of their religious practices.

Yet this seems unfair to religious groups. The Marriage Equality Act spells out quite clearly that it offers protections from civil actions to religious groups that object to same-sex marriage. But most religions have greater limitations on who can marry than “one man and one woman”. Where is the protection for faiths that prohibit interracial marriage? Why is there no protection for a church that refuses to rent “facilities” to interfaith couples? Why does the law exempt a rabbi refusing to marry a woman to a woman, but doesn’t protect a rabbi refusing to marry a Jew to a Gentile?

Obviously these are rhetorical questions; the reason is bigotry. Opponents of same-sex marriage simply don’t feel the same revulsion toward interfaith or interracial couples. And there’s a strong sense, among the less-zealous, that while a church may decline to marry such couples, that actually condemning those marriage is wrongheaded and, perhaps, even bigoted and unfair.

I look forward to the day when the majority recognizes that trying to stop same-sex couples from marrying at all is also bigoted and unfair.

Jun 162011

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog. Thanks Amp!)

Is it really possible for a state to preserve its laws against same-sex marriage, limiting the institution to one man and one woman, in the face of a challenge claiming such laws are discriminatory? As state after state has those laws overturned as unconstitutional, is there no possible way for a state that doesn’t want same-sex marriage to avoid the long arm of the law?

Sure is. All the state has to do is bring back traditional marriage, and the family law that goes with it. To defend opposite-sex-only marriage laws, a state must articulate a valid secular purpose for those laws, and traditional family law is the only way to do it.

Continue reading »

Jun 142011

To nobody’s surprise, the anti-same-sex marriage contingent’s attempt to retroactively recuse Judge Walker was crushed like an ugly, ugly bug today. And in less than 24 hours. You know how hard it is to get a judge to rule that fast? I, for one, am flush with envy.

There wasn’t anything particularly innovative about this tactic; defense firms use it all the time. Find out that the judge has some vague possible reason that could be inflated into bias, but hold it back in case you lose, at which point you pretend you just found out about it and want a do-over.  It almost never works, because judges are presumed impartial and there has to be a very clear, and very direct, showing that the judge got something out of the ruling.

Of course, it did make for some entertaining oral argument, and by “entertaining” I mean “I can’t believe these bozos thought they had an argument.”

Jun 122011

Apparently figuring that “gay man against gays” is a man-bites-dog article no editor can resist, Jonathan Soroff writes a facile article about why there shouldn’t be same-sex marriage. If you’d rather not wade through this tripe, the arguments boil down this:

1) My family won’t stop nagging me to marry my boyfriend!

2) Marriage is a man and a woman. It just is, all right? Plus, babies.

3) Let’s just not use the M-word, and then straights will give us all the exact same rights and everything will be wine and roses. We can even call it something stupid, like “floogle”.  Then we will totally fly under the radar!

4) Did I mention that my family won’t stop nagging me to get married? I hope you’re reading this, Mr. Would-Be-Father-In-Law.

I trust I don’t have to explain why points 1 and 4 are stupid.

Point 2 is a tautology: marriage has always been a man and a woman because marriage has always been a man and a woman. It’s also, until quite recently (less than half a century) been an institution where the wife was largely the husband’s property, in law and in fact, and one where childbearing was central and the lack thereof a reason to forbid or end a marriage. Funnily, Soroff, like his straight counterparts on the anti-same-sex marriage reservation, seem to skip over that part.  (Not that they are all opposed to the traditional model, of course. But it isn’t good PR to suggest that America should return to the good old days where a woman couldn’t hold property in her own name without her husband’s consent.)

Point 3 is one Soroff doesn’t argue much, probably because he has some inkling of how ignorant he is of the fact that marriage is, like, laws and stuff. And in the law, words have meaning. Laws are also very complicated, being a confusing overlay of federal and individual state laws. It is literally impossible for the President to issue a proclamation saying “From now on, every law everywhere that says ‘marriage’ also includes civil unions.”  Individual states might have a little issue with that, and they would be in the right to do so. And anyone could challenge this proclamation by saying that a particular law contemplated, and depends on, the ‘traditional’ view of marriage and can’t possible be extended to anything else.

The easiest, and obvious, way to expand the rights and responsibilities of marriage is to allow same-sex couples to marry, too. But I guess that allowing same-sex couples to have full civil rights is not nearly as important as getting Soroff’s family to stop nagging him about the wedding.

Aug 042010

The above e-mail today from a friend was how I found out about the results of the Proposition 8 ruling (which the District Court apparently slipped under the door into the court’s press room and then ran like hell; it wasn’t read aloud in court).

I am bummed that I am out of the city and so can’t participate in the celebration, but still OMG OMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

And yes, I told my friend she should leave work early in case the court is persuaded to impose a stay. In the meantime, you can read the entire opinion here.

Jun 172008

It just occurred to me that same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in California for over 24 hours now, so I thought I’d better check in with Samwise. To my great relief, the foundations of our opposite-sex marriage have not yet crumbled, and our children remain blissfully unaware of the Homosexual Agenda. Maybe this is process is slower than we’d anticipated.