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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2510

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

to KellyB: I've already made clear that it makes me uncomfortable. I've already stated that I have no objection to gay unions being accorded all the collateral rights accorded heterosexual marriages. I've said several times that I just don't think those unions are the same as or equal to marriages between a man and a woman and thus I don't want them labelled the same, because, by all logic and all reason,
they are not.
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Laura V



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 302
Location: UK

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I just don't think those unions are the same as or equal to marriages between a man and a woman and thus I don't want them labelled the same, because, by all logic and all reason, they are not.


I think some of us have different opinions from yours about the "all logic and all reason" part of that, Dick. It really depends on how one defines marriage.

In my experience, every single marriage will be different, because all couples are different from each other, and each marriage will probably evolve over time. So no one marriage is exactly the same as any other.

If the essential elements of the definition of marriage are thought to be

(a) a legally binding (b) life-long contract (c) between two adults who are presumed to be entering into a sexual relationship and who (d) promise to care for each other in sickness and in health and (e) share their property and (f) remain faithful to each other

then there is no reason to say conclude that a marriage between two men, or between two women is any less of a marriage than that between one man and one woman. The bit about creating children, which you raise frequently and which would limit marriage to couples capable of doing so, is in fact an optional extra, not essential to the modern, secular, definition of marriage. If it weren't, then women past menopause, all individuals who were infertile, and all couples who intended to remain child-free would be barred from marrying. Since such individuals are not barred from marrying, it is clear that the creation of offspring is not an essential part of what constitutes marriage.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Homosexual marriage was only the 4th of 10 definitions in the dictionary I quoted. The point I was making is that people trying to limit the term to one-man-one-woman are CLAIMING existing usage while in fact DENYING existing usage. The broader meanings have been around enough years to be included in a dictionary I bought several years ago.

The concept of marriage is very culture-dependent. Marriage in the USA is a composite mostly based on Judeo-Christian traditions with a lot of legal consequences accreted over the two+ centuries our country has existed. Even within the narrow focus of the USA, other views of marriage have existed. The Mormons practiced polygamous marriage. A Mormon offshoot that still practices polygamy is in the news right now for practices that got their compound in Texas raided on suspicion of child abuse.
If you take a broader view than just US history, marriage has included polyandry, polygyny, polygamy, groups, siblings (ancient Egyptian rulers if memory serves), and many other variations beyond the narrow one man and one woman definition. Unless I’m misremembering, polygamy (multiple simultaneous spouses) is perfectly acceptable in Islamic cultures (a very large subset of the Earth’s population).
As a reader of F&SF for decades, I’ve also encountered many variations on the theme of marriage in my fiction. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress comes to mind—his lunar culture is described as having many forms of marriage, with the narrator a proud member of a line marriage (many spouses of both genders adding younger members as years pass). I also recall stories with protagonists dealing with the position of junior (or senior) wife. In fact, the Honor Harrington series (still unfinished) has Honor becoming a junior wife about a dozen books into the story. In my current reread, the Liad series by Lee & Miller, there are numerous mentions of contract marriages vs. lifemates. The contract marriages are brief and strictly for progeny, with the couples going back to their own clans once they produce the planned children.
I really find attempts to narrow the definition to the usage of any single church a baffling bit of narrow-mindedness (parochial thinking). Should Catholics tell Episcopalians that their marriages aren’t the real thing, or Methodists tell Catholics the same, or [name any religion] tell [name any other religion]? That is what opposition to gay marriage sounds like to me—[un]holy wars.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

to LauraV: I think, though, that, in our culture at least, procreation is one of the things thought about as part and parcel of the institution by most people who use the word. That unions, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will all have different dynamics does not, I think, change the fact that unions of people of the same sex and unions of people of the opposite sex are not equal.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

to Mark: I've tried to avoid ad hominem comments in my posts. I hope others will do the same. That I hold a different view from many posters is obvious. That I hold that different view does not make me either immoral, unholy, or parochial in my thinking. Please remember that, from my point of view and that of many another person, those words--immoral, unholy, parochial--could as readily be applied to those who hold the view opposite to mine.

It's certainly impossible to deny marriage is a culture dependent institution. Most, however, despite the differing cultures, feature unions of males and females, one and one or one and several of either sex.

Certainly, the uproar in CA suggests that the most common use of the word is to refer to male/female marriages. I did not deny that other usages exist; my comment dealt with the most common use, which the dictionary suggests by placement of the uses of the term.
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Laura V



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 302
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I think, though, that, in our culture at least, procreation is one of the things thought about as part and parcel of the institution by most people who use the word.


That's not the impression I get from the statistics quoted in reports like this one, from 2007:
Quote:
In a study that shows how separately marriage and children are viewed, Americans expressed great passion for their sons and daughters but clearly did not see them as the glue of their adult relationships.

On a list of nine contributors to success in marriage, children were trumped by faithfulness, a happy sexual relationship, household chore-sharing, economic factors such as adequate income and good housing, common religious beliefs, and shared tastes and interests, the nonprofit Pew Research Center found. [...]

The 88-page report, bringing together demographic trends and survey results from interviews of 2,020 adults this year, underscores a widening gap between parenthood and marriage, as living together out of wedlock has grown increasingly common and nearly one in four births is to an unmarried woman.

As Sarah Vassiliou, 42, of Washington, D.C. described it: When I think of marriage, I don't think of children at all. I have them. But with marriage, I think of a husband and a wife, and I don't think it's the children that make it work.

Her views are reflected in several statistics. Asked about the purpose of marriage, for example, Americans said by a nearly 3-1 ratio that it's the mutual happiness and fulfillment of adults rather than the bearing and raising of children.

When given the list of nine features to consider as part of a successful marriage, 41 percent of Americans said children were very important, compared with 65 percent in 1990 a 24 percentage-point drop the report calls perhaps the single most striking finding from the survey. The other major difference was in chore-sharing, which went up in importance by 15 percentage points to 62 percent.


It seems that attitudes to marriage, and ideas about what's essential to a good marriage, are changing.

dick wrote:
That unions, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will all have different dynamics does not, I think, change the fact that unions of people of the same sex and unions of people of the opposite sex are not equal.


Well, clearly they're not considered equal under the law in most countries/states at the moment.
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1405

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my computer copy of the Random House Unabridged Dictionary again:
<<
ad ho•mi•nem (d hŽmi nem; Eng. ad hom nm), Latin.
1. appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.
2. attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.
[lit., to the man]
re•duc•ti•o ad ab•sur•dum (ri dukt Ž ad ab srdm, -zr-, -sh Ž), Logic.
a reduction to an absurdity; the refutation of a proposition by demonstrating the inevitably absurd conclusion to which it would logically lead.
[1735–45; < L reductiŽ ad absurdum]
>>
My recent post was partially a reductio ad absurdum, but was not ad hominem. I said the attempts to narrow the definition of marriage are parochial (a word I chose partly because the etymology is so apropos). I did not address anyone’s character. I try to separate behaviors from people because people can change. (The difference between saying “X acts as if uninformed” and saying “X is stupid”. The first admits the possibility of change and the second doesn’t.) If people couldn’t learn and change a huge percentage of romances that feature heroes who act like jerks but learn better would have no basis.
Words and cultures evolve (change over time) even faster than people do. The word “marriage” already includes meanings beyond the joining of one man to one woman, so attempts to restrict it to that single meaning are trying to undo change.
Look at a history of laws relating to consanguinity in marriage for an example of change. Some churches, operating as I understand it on the premise that marriage creates a blood relationship, forbid marriages to in-laws as well as to actual close genetic relatives. I have read that consanguinity laws changed repeatedly in the UK in the 1700s-1900s. During different periods they included some of the religious in-law restrictions, though dead husband’s brother and dead wife’s sister were covered by laws passed years apart. In fact, I’ve heard that those laws were such a perennial issue that they were referred to in a Gilbert & Sullivan song. In the USA, in contrast, we have a fairly common taboo against marriages between first cousins and a patchwork of state laws permitting or forbidding them, all traced back to some questionable understanding of genetics in the 1700s or 1800s that permeated our culture. I have the impression that there is no first-cousin taboo in the UK. In fact, several Heyer books feature first cousins as h/h.
I mentioned holy wars because intolerance with religious roots really does bring to mind some Crusades, the Inquisition, the 30-Years’ War, and the Sunni-Shi‘ite fighting in our daily papers. I added the [un] because I find holy wars to be very unholy behavior.
The cultural examples I mentioned are just casual knowledge items I recalled quickly. I’m sure someone with deep anthropological knowledge could give more varied examples in more detail. Just from the few examples I mentioned, if one accepts Islamic polygamy, the only-one-man-one-woman definition is indefensible as a description of marriage in the contemporary world. If the “one” drops out, then opposition to gay marriage is even more clearly discrimination.
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I have the impression that there is no first-cousin taboo in the UK. In fact, several Heyer books feature first cousins as h/h.


There isn't. Ditto for most European countries. In fact, I never got why marrying your cousin was such a bad thing in the US, since it was perfectly acceptable if not exactly common in Europe.

Regarding the main topic, gay marriage, I have always defined marriage as a "union between two people who love each other". I suspect that goes back to watching a Czech TV show as a child, where a goat and a grandfather clock are married (actually a princess and her beloved transformed by sorcery), "because they love each other". After that, gay marriage isn't such a big deal.
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Yuri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 292

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cora wrote:

Regarding the main topic, gay marriage, I have always defined marriage as a "union between two people who love each other". I suspect that goes back to watching a Czech TV show as a child, where a goat and a grandfather clock are married (actually a princess and her beloved transformed by sorcery), "because they love each other". After that, gay marriage isn't such a big deal.


Love that!

To get back to the main discussion, I think there are two reasons why couples want to be married rather than joined in civil union. The first is that marriage confers greater rights than civil unions. Secondly civil unions are seen as lesser than marriage so those who enter them are seen as lesser, or as having a lesser committment to eachother.

I think the simplist answer for the legal side is to say marriage holds no weight under law in any country where there is no official religion. Only civil unions confer rights under the law, and unions can be of one, two, three or however many more consenting adults of any sex. Religions and cultures can do whatever they want without having any impact under the law. And they can't argue against it without being explicit about the fact they want enforce the rules specific to their religion/culture on everyone else.

Not sure what to do about the latter other than a long process of cultural change.
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Rosario



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: Liverpool, UK

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yuri wrote:
I think the simplist answer for the legal side is to say marriage holds no weight under law in any country where there is no official religion. Only civil unions confer rights under the law, and unions can be of one, two, three or however many more consenting adults of any sex. Religions and cultures can do whatever they want without having any impact under the law. And they can't argue against it without being explicit about the fact they want enforce the rules specific to their religion/culture on everyone else.

Actually, even when there isn't an official religion, there can be a difference between religious marriage, civil marriage and civil unions. At least, that's the case in my own country, Uruguay. A religious marriage ceremony (performed by a priest, a rabbi, whatever), has no legal status whatsoever. If you want to be married under the law and gain the legal rights conferred by the married status, you need to have a civil marriage ceremony. That needs to be done either by a Civil Register official if you're in the capital or by a judge if you're outside it. Couples have either only the civil wedding or both, usually on different days (the civil one first... I don't think any religions will marry you if you haven't done the civil ceremony first). And then there are civil unions, which give you some rights but not all, and are the only ones allowed to same-sex couples so far.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bull hockey, Mark! The last paragraph of the post of yours I objected to clearly implies that anyone who holds the view that marriage is between a man and a woman is both "parochial" and "unholy." Labelling and name-calling, whether implied or outright is ad hominem reasoning.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to Yuri who wrote: "I think the simplist answer for the legal side is to say marriage holds no weight under law in any country where there is no official religion. Only civil unions confer rights under the law..."

Is this a proposal or a statement of fact? If the latter, I think that, if a man and woman can prove that they took vows before an ordained minister, in good faith that they have indeed been married, the marriage is legal whether a license is signed or not.

Several states in the U.S. have "common law" provisions, too, which allow a marriage to be legal if a man and woman have spent every night together for a stated number of years.
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cora wrote:
Regarding the main topic, gay marriage, I have always defined marriage as a "union between two people who love each other". I suspect that goes back to watching a Czech TV show as a child, where a goat and a grandfather clock are married (actually a princess and her beloved transformed by sorcery), "because they love each other". After that, gay marriage isn't such a big deal.

That's funny. I like your definition, though I would add "consenting adults" somewhere in there.

Yuri wrote:
I think the simplist answer for the legal side is to say marriage holds no weight under law in any country where there is no official religion. Only civil unions confer rights under the law, and unions can be of one, two, three or however many more consenting adults of any sex. Religions and cultures can do whatever they want without having any impact under the law. And they can't argue against it without being explicit about the fact they want enforce the rules specific to their religion/culture on everyone else.

Yuri, I'm not sure I follow. Many countries have official religions in principle but allow civil marriages in practice. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a civil marriage option and a religious marriage option - both of which would confer full rights upon the persons marrying, but one obviously more restricted in terms of who can marry?
Dick - I think Yuri was making a proposal, not stating a fact. It's not universally true that only civil unions can confer rights upon the couple.

Rosario wrote:
Actually, even when there isn't an official religion, there can be a difference between religious marriage, civil marriage and civil unions. At least, that's the case in my own country, Uruguay. A religious marriage ceremony (performed by a priest, a rabbi, whatever), has no legal status whatsoever.

We have it exactly the other way. In Israel you can only marry by religious ceremony, and only within your own faith - if your future spouse is of a different religion, one of you will need to convert to marry in-country. I have a friend who's Jewish but whose partner is Muslim and they can't do anything here except sign a legal agreement, which is hardly the same.

Option two here would be to go abroad for a civil wedding (Cyprus is most popular for this) and then register it legally when you go home. From what I know, the courts here have ruled that gay people who marry in a legal (civil) ceremony in another country can register their marriages as well, and be considered legally married in Israel. I've no idea if this has been implemented, though. I wish we could all get married in whatever manner we choose.
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Yuri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yulie wrote:
Yuri wrote:
I think the simplist answer for the legal side is to say marriage holds no weight under law in any country where there is no official religion. Only civil unions confer rights under the law, and unions can be of one, two, three or however many more consenting adults of any sex. Religions and cultures can do whatever they want without having any impact under the law. And they can't argue against it without being explicit about the fact they want enforce the rules specific to their religion/culture on everyone else.


Yuri, I'm not sure I follow. Many countries have official religions in principle but allow civil marriages in practice. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a civil marriage option and a religious marriage option - both of which would confer full rights upon the persons marrying, but one obviously more restricted in terms of who can marry?

Dick - I think Yuri was making a proposal, not stating a fact. It's not universally true that only civil unions can confer rights upon the couple.


And Yulie you are correct, I meant this as a proposal, although obviously there are countries where it is fact, Uruaguay as Rosario informed us, and Vietnam to name two.

Where the state and religion are seperated I think it is probably a bad idea to have a religious ceremony that confers state-given rights. The reason why I proposed that religious marriage should not be a legal institution is to separate the religious from civic rights. I think we would eliminate a lot of these arguments that way.


Last edited by Yuri on Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:09 pm    Post subject: This Just In Reply with quote

Representative Barney Frank came to talk at my company today. He was funny (as he often is) and fairly subdued (which is not often the case). One of his points was that when asked about the radical homosexual agenda in the United States, he said that it has three goals: legalized marriage, ability to serve in the armed forces even if openly gay, and no discrimination on the job. He then noted that this agenda was something that conservatives support, just not for gays.

He also said that in Massachusetts the number of gay people who have applied for marriage licenses are disproportionately female, so it seems as if it's true that women want to be married more than men do. This is something that rom coms and comedians have said for years, but it's not something easily proved if the only people who can get married are heterosexuals. OTOH, since married men live longer and according to most surveys are happier than single men (or married women), it's always struck me as odd that men don't want to marry.
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