How gays should live

How gays should live
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When you’re a gay conservative, as I am, there’s always a strong incentive to take an excessively moderate and equivocating position on gay marriage. For one thing, it gives a reason for otherwise skeptical conservatives to like you, but it also helps solidify your mystique as this interesting, edgy contrarian, which is obviously a public persona anyone who goes around self-identifying as a “gay conservative” values quite highly in the first place. As recently as last week, in fact, I found myself hemming and hawing over my stance on the matter when confronted. I could see “both sides,” I said, there were a lot of “legitimate concerns,” I didn’t want to be taking a predetermined, cliched position just because of sexuality, etc.

But seeing Barack Obama endorse gay marriage on Monday moved me more than I thought it would. When the President of the United States, the leader of the greatest, most important country in the world, takes a definitive stance on a matter like this, its hard to escape the feeling that the arc of history is now bending decisively in one direction.

Such lofty sentiment remains true even when — or perhaps especially when — we acknowledge the extraordinarily calculated and cynical nature of the President’s surprise endorsement. I don’t think any reasonable person who knows anything about Obama’s background and temperament honestly believed that same-sex marriage was ever something he genuinely “opposed” in any actual emotional, philosophical sense. (The Chicago Tribune, for its part, has repeatedly reminded everyone that State Legislator Obama was perfectly open about his support for the idea as early as 1996). His supposed “evolution” on the matter is thus much better read as an intelligent man’s increasing unease in being forced to defend a fundamentally irrational position that can only be justified in the hyper-emotionalized, reactionary realm of democratic politics.

And I think it should be fairly clear by now that emotion and reactionary sentiment are truly the only sources of opposition to gay marriage at this point.

Everyone knows, for instance, that homosexuality is an inescapable, permanent fact of life, present in some form or another in every society that has ever existed. We also know that there’s no reliable science suggesting homosexuality can be treated, cured, or extinguished, nor is there any obvious social benefit to be incurred from doing so. We also know that there are many homosexuals who would very much like to be married, and that this benefit can — and has — been successfully granted many times in many different jurisdictions without causing any significant legal or procedural hassles, let alone negative social consequences.

To oppose gay marriage is thus to spitefully deny a group of people a basic privilege of civilization simply because one feels vaguely uneasy with the symbolism of two men or two women getting married. And a blind love of symbols is almost never the root of good things in politics.

A blind love of symbols is what has made several southern states cling to the Confederate Flag, and deny the racist history of the country it was designed for. A blind love of symbols is what inspired Afghan fanatics to slaughter indiscriminately because a few copies of their holy book were accidentally burned. A blind love of symbols is what ensures the survival of pointless, wasteful anachronisms like tax-subsidized royal families in otherwise modern societies.

In all cases, the dominant emotion is one of mindless instinct. Something is right or wrong because of personal feelings, and not any larger, measurable, utilitarian truth or falsehood. And vote-hungry politicians encourage us to revel in this sort of mindlessness simply because it gets us to the polls, and nothing much of importance seems to be at stake — at least from their perspective.

I give Obama kudos for opting-out of this obvious charlatanism, and it’s very unfortunate the GOP will not be following suit. I know we’re supposed to say it’s “not surprising” they remain opposed, but on some level it really is.

I honestly don’t think any of the last three GOP presidential candidates have “opposed” gay marriage with any more honest passion than Obama did in 2008. George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney all have had homosexuals and same-sex couples as close friends or confidants, and their wives have been relatively outspoken outspoken in the defence of gay rights. Indeed, one simply cannot be a successful, well-connected, wealthy, high-ranking politico in the modern era and not know gay people as anything other than perfectly ordinary co-workers, friends, and spouses, if for no other reason than comfortably open homosexuals tend to be over-represented in large urban centers, the halls of academia, big business, the entertainment industry and other cores of domestic power and importance.

An elite Republican who opposes gay marriage is almost certainly engaging in a kind of dishonest, self-loathing theatre in order to pander to a certain kind of sheltered ignorance in the GOP base. More liberals should be willing to call them out on it, rather than indulging in the cornball left-wing fantasy that all Republicans are religious fanatics, or whatever.

The key question that conservatives have to address is how exactly should gay people live, if not in married couples?  If marriage is truly an institution worth venerating, as all anti-gay marriage arguments presume, then there’s really no acceptable or moral alternate arrangement in which to reside with your life partner. Certainly all of the most stereotypically grotesque traits of the homosexual community —the philandering, the promiscuity, the fetishes, the exhibitionism — can be easily attributed to a lack of monogamy and bourgeois values of the sort marriage has proven itself quite good at providing. And indeed, though now largely forgotten, it was actually a rejection of these same values that made hard-left gay activists reject marriage in earlier decades.

Republicans have never provided a good answer to the above question because they simply can’t be bothered. “Defence of traditional marriage” has become a symbol of conservatism more than an actual policy. And a party of symbols will never be a party of true principle.


  1. Kristan Overstreet

    "Everyone knows, for instance, that homosexuality is an inescapable, permanent fact of life, present in some form or another in every society that has ever existed. We also know that there’s no reliable science suggesting homosexuality can be treated, cured, or extinguished, nor is there any obvious social benefit to be incurred from doing so."

    No, not everyone knows. The religious fundamentalists here- or theocrats, to give them their proper name- know by faith if not as fact that homosexuality is a choice; that homosexuality is curable and that there are many programs to cure it; and that homosexuality poses a deadly peril to the moral fiber of the United States. They absolutely will not accept, or even hear, any argument or evidence that contradicts these beliefs.

    And these people currently hold veto power over who can or cannot be nominated by the Republican Party for any office.

  2. David Liao

    There's signs of a break between the resurgent Tea Party that is leaning more ideologically libertarian and the old guard social conservative demagogues. Ron Paul is one example of someone who has been accepted by many precisely because he refuses to render an opinion on gay marriage one way or another.

    Most of the other social conservative issues like abortion and the death penalty have burned themselves out too so besides illegal immigration, I don't see this being a big issue in 2016 within the GOP.

  3. SES

    People who consider themselves members of the tea party movement are much more likely to oppose same-sex marriage (and abortion, and abolition of the death penalty) than the general public. It's a socially conservative movement.

  4. Rebochan

    Ron Paul would hand the reigns of gay rights over to the states and then look the other way on principle when they went even further in oppressing them.

    Libertarianism and civil rights do not mix. There has to be someone enforcing the rights of the minority to live safely.

  5. Jbot

    "Ron Paul would hand the reigns of gay rights over to the states and then look the other way on principle when they went even further in oppressing them. "

    You mean like Obama?

  6. Rebochan

    "Both sides are bad, vote Ron Paul."

    Obama has used the Justice Department to try and stop legally defending DOMA, to the point where the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is now trying to enforce it themselves.

    In other words, he's actually done something in spite of Congress being currently controlled by anti-gay bigots.

    Ron Paul has gone on record supporting it's enforcement, regardless of past statements where he's claimed government should stay out of marriage. So in actuality, he's not even good at being a libertarian.

  7. ThePsudo

    I think you're wrong about abortion burning itself out. It's one issue where scientific evidence (not conclusive, but often persuasive) and religious feeling both call for restrictions, and I think it will remain controversial long into the future.

    If the death penalty is a settled issue, it has settled on both sides — many US states and the US Federal Government still maintain the death penalty, and likely will for generations.

  8. Rebochan

    Nope, just religious feelings.

    Sorry it bothers you that women can have sex and might not have to suffer for it.

  9. Jake_Ackers

    The heart beat law is based on science. The ban on the third trimester is based on science. Countless other laws are based on science that are pro-life.

  10. ThePsudo

    I don't care what women do, except when it is violence to other people. The science of DNA, pain response, and capability of life independent of the womb argues that an unborn fetus is biologically an individual life, especially as the moment of birth approaches. To kill that (ie, late-term or partial birth abortions) is reasonably considered a form of violence. The law does not and should not recognize a freedom to commit violence.

  11. Charles Dillon

    While the scientific evidence does suggest that late term abortions shouldn't be performed, why do you oppose partial birth abortions?

  12. Jake_Ackers

    They are pretty much the same. Hence partial birth. Especially how many of them are done is just inhumane.

  13. Nymphaeaceae

    What you are failing to acknowledge, in deference to the issue of violence, is that an abortion disrupts the natural flow of hormones in a woman's body. There is a natural processes that happen within the body, and nurturing a fetus to full term does not, in any way, break this order. Disrupting that order of events can be rather harmful to the mother, requiring time and effort for recovery, especially when preformed at a late stage. Ideally, abortion would NEVER be a form of ad-hoc birth control in the same vein as a condom or a pill, but should be solely reserved for more "crisis" worthy events and/or when all other precautions have been applied.

  14. David Liao

    Well, I was referring to how much more traction abortion and the death penalty will get. What states are for or against each social issue will like not change nor do I see any groups capturing the national spotlight as a result.

    It's interesting to guess as to what the big issue of 2016 will be; it could be anything from energy independence to Medicare to wondering why there are nuclear missiles going off everywhere.

  15. J.J. McCullough

    I didn't really engage with the religious side of things in this article, because I feel that angle is a bit overdone. Is it a significant motivator for some people? Sure, but I think we tend to overstate the religiosity of the average anti-gay marriage voter. An anti-marriage referendum can't pass the 50% mark in a secular state like Maine or California without amassing a broad coalition of support.

    I also think theocrats don't actually hold much actual influence in the GOP, at least not in the upper levels. Michelle Bachmann could maybe be called one, and Santorum was maybe a soft one. But most of the people who actually get elected to, appointed to, or advise the GOP elite I think are fairly secular in their overall worldview. They pander to religious voters on marriage and abortion and some very vague "war on Christianity" type stuff, but I think it's difficult, overall, to say the GOP is this party of religious fanatics from the top down, as opposed to them merely being part of the bottom.

  16. C. Gibert

    As someone who actually lives in North Carolina I have to say here that 100% of the people that I know that voted for Amendment One did so solely for religious reasons. I agree that a large percentage of the Republican party's leadership is probably only 'opposed' to gay marriage for the purposes of garnering votes I think it is dangerous to think that it is a small portion of the base that is primarily religiously motivated. If you have seen any of the information about the funding for support for Amendment One it came primarily from right-wing religious groups.

  17. Jake

    It's a fear of the exact samething Obama did with birth control and churches. How far is it to assume the samething being done with gay marriage? Hence, removing the word marriage from a legal standpoint goes a long way in stopping that fear.

  18. Jake_Ackers

    Same person as above. Made account.

  19. Stephan

    I don't think it's that the religiosity of the average anti-gay marriage voter. I think part of it might actually be that they see voting against gay marriage as an opportunity to be 'religious' without being churchgoers. They might perhaps see it as an act of… I don't know, justification?
    "I'm not willing to give up cold pizza and beer for breakfast to spend Sunday morning in church, but that's okay because I vote against the group my religious leadership preaches hate toward." Just a thought.

  20. J.J. McCullough

    That's a very good point, actually.

  21. Jake

    Simply put both sides are being reactionary. The left think the right are all a bunch of homophobic individuals and push to one side. The right think the left is trying to get rid of religious freedom and push to one side. If everyone just did what Europe does, stop using the word marriage. It stops being a religious issue and becomes largely (and i mean largely not completely) a civil/contractual one.

    Take sex out of the equation (people have sex regardless) and a civil union is nothing more than a basic business contract. House = office building, family car = company car, kids = employees (to a degree obviously but nevertheless), family bank accounts and budget = company bank account and budget, etc. etc. It's the same thing from a legal standpoint.

    Right now its civil rights and religious freedom, get rid of the word in the eyes of the law and its only civil rights. In which the pro civil union people (which would be most eventually and is near that anyway) would support.

  22. Jake_Ackers

    Same person as above. Signed for Intensedebate.

  23. Chris Germann

    Except there's a problem with that… it really has far less to do with religion, and far more to do with the sex.

    Really, I think that's the very heart and soul of homophobia: it has very little to do with family, the children, or even religion, and has mostly to do with these people having a problem with the sex. It's as though no one ever gave them the talk about the birds and the bees, or the bees and the bees, so they're just grossed out and trying to hop any moral high ground they can grab (the bible being the highest moral ground they can grab… though the verse from Leviticus is their only claim to it) to rationalize their own sexual immaturity. It's been done before, chiefly slavery, using some small bit of verse and liturgy to make a morally dubious position appear the good and just.

  24. Chris Germann

    Additionally, you do have the issue of that there are homosexuals who are Christians and would like to have a traditional church wedding… trust me, I've met them. In the end, it truly is a debate religious freedom, where anyone's interpretation of their faith is just as valid as any other, whether it's secular or theistic. The issue is that it is ultimately unconstitutional, and while i hate to use the word, un-American for the state or any level of government to uphold any one interpretation of faith as more true and therefore law over everyone else's. Playing around with the semantics wouldn't change anything in the minds of citizens because the the real heart of the issue itself will not have changed.

  25. Jake_Ackers

    Actually you are right on the money on the second paragraph. I worked with a non-profit (right wing/Republican) and it had a ton of people who were well "within the party ranks" so to speak. And some very religious people. Most seem to support the person who can get the job done regardless of ideology (ie: moderate v conservative v liberatarian). And on the marriage issue, most of them support civil union, equal civil rights. The only thing is we don't want is the word marriage to be used AT ALL (whether straight or gay). It is literally an argument over a legal word.

    Are there people who are anti-same-sex relationships overall from a legal standpoint? Yes. But it seems to be a lot less within the party structure. And plus considering blacks overwhelming are against same-sex relationships and to a degree hispanics/latinos more than whites. That is huge part of the Democrat voting block that is not with Obama on this issue but look past it.

    In a close election if Romney plays his cards right he could potentially get enough black votes and latinos on this issue alone to swing the election in key states.

  26. Rebochan

    That was incredibly well-written JJ. Bravo.

  27. Nick Wood

    The point I try to make whenever the whole "it's a choice" argument comes along, is that, assuming it is in fact a choice, one's choice is still something which deserves respect in a free, democratic society. People who lead the persecution of homosexuals are pushing an immoral position, and even most Republicans I know are beginning to change their stance on this issue. I doubt we'll even be having this conversation in ten years — any more than we discuss inter-racial marriage.

  28. Jake_Ackers

    Most people agree on the civil rights part. Once the discussion gets pass the actual use of the word marriage and to the civil rights ie stop using the word marriage. Most people will end up agreeing. It's a matter of public discourse getting through the mud and the reactionary elements of both sides and to the true point.

  29. Dan

    This comic better explains my viewpoint than anything I could ever say or write. In my opinion, gay marriage is a very conservative institution, one that the GOP could use to turn the gay community into a family-values voting base and finally shun the free-love-and-hedonism stereotype that stubbornly keeps showing up at gay pride events.

  30. Jill

    I know it's not your intention JJ, but the shorter gentleman in the left panel seems to be shooting Mr. GOP the sexy eyes. Those dark, sultry sexy eyes…

  31. Tom

    Well, the question is whether or not you view marriage as a bourgeois living arrangement or is it a religious sacrament that society is slowly whittling away.

  32. SES

    Well, civil marriage (which is what pretty much everybody means when they talk about same-sex marriage) clearly isn't a religious sacrament in the United States or Canada. Religious sacraments come from religious institutions, not the state, and the two aren't really commingled at all in either country.

  33. OldsVistaCruiser

    Most of the Republican candidates who were running for election in the 2012 U.S. presidential election wanted to further intermingle religion with the state. Several used the excuse that the U.S. is a Christian nation, when the Founding Fathers clearly intended otherwise.

  34. SES

    Did they want to intermingle religion with the state or did they want to intermingle FAITH with the state? I personally think they're both inappropriate, but there's still a difference between basing marriage law on a particular interpretation of Christian values and having the clerk at a courthouse be a church official.

  35. Jake_Ackers

    Yah. The whole point of conservative being against gay marriage is to stop the state from legislating religious doctrine. IE: Marriage. Faith and politics is not church and state.

    Although actually the Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" not a direct separation of church and state. Good point nonetheless SES.

  36. Guest

    But it already does legislate marriage. So if you're arguing government legislating for gay marriage is legislating on doctrine, so is government legislating for straight marriage.

  37. Jake_Ackers

    Agreed. That's the point I've been making. Legislating any marriage is legislating religion. Just stop using the word.

  38. SES

    Civil marriage isn't a religious doctrine.

  39. Guest

    It is only a matter of time – in the UK, Quakers are already trying to get the law changed so they can marry gay people: – and same-sex marriage (as opposed to 'partnership' isn't legal here yet.)

    Although strictly, Quakers wouldn't consider the word 'sacrament' the correct term, I think there are also some Jewish congregations who would be interested in doing the same thing.

  40. Jake_Ackers

    That's the problem though. The state does does give religious sacraments/institutions as the state gives out marriage licenses to what it deems to be "church officials". The "church official" has to be licensed and ordained by a "recognized religious society." Aka the state can decide who is an official or not or even marriage or not. So the state is legislating people's religious beliefs in theory even if that is not intended practice. A new church who is conducting marriages isn't recognized by the state.

  41. archon

    Honestly, I think this is by far the worst column I've ever read by you. Your completely dismissive attitude towards the values and beliefs of people who do not support gay marriage is the pathetic sort of arrogance one would expect from the worst partisan hacks.

  42. guest

    People who actively oppose giving rights to others for ridiculous reasons deserve to have their values and beliefs dismissed.

  43. Padraig

    That's because they have none. The "sanctity of marriage" is a joke with the divorce rates of several Western nations, my own parents suffering a bad divorce, and so far all we've seen from the political base is pandering to an instinctual fear that just because it's not immediately the norm that it's to be shunned. I've read Leviticus until the cows come home and all the other biblical passages twisted to fit the spin. I've also tried debating with the "against gay marriage" folks and all I've gotten is again the comment of it being unnatural. It's a slowly fading excuse.

    Enlighten us, so sage, as to what respectable beliefs they have to begin with. What respectable belief does Michelle Bachmann have without the paltry "states rights" excuse that would be of some merit and doesn't involve her throwing homosexuals to the dogs?

  44. Anonymous

    "I'm a christian and I am morally outraged because these people are doing something I don't like. Stop it! Stop doing something I don't like! Sure it doesn't hurt anyone. Sure it is love between two consenting adults. Sure the only reason I'm condemning it is that this book written several thousand years ago says its icky. Sure its been proven that many many gay people sent to 'straight camps' kill themselves. Which is a good thing, it means there's one less faggot in the world. I think that by god, if they ain't straight, we should kill them so they won't infect us with their gayness! If we let them marry, like other countries who let them marry, it'll be the end of the USA as we know it! Wait…what? Other countries have done it? And…they didn't descend into chaos as men diddled each other in the streets? …..ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME!"

    That's how you sound. Have fun with your bigoted opinion.

  45. ThePsudo

    You say, "the arc of history is now bending decisively in one direction." I think you're right about that; gay marriage is an inevitability over the next decade or two. Shortly thereafter, Presidential candidates will be unelectable if they openly criticize the policy. Social conservatives will cringe, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Some will make wild, delusional claims about the horrible consequences that are already occurring. If any negative consequences ever do result, I doubt we'll even notice them.

  46. Tom

    I'd say the negative consequences of no fault divorce are readily apparent in society at large these days, no one just wants to acknowledge it. Similar effects will happen with gay marriage, but they'll be ignored, not unnoticed. People cite "Oh please, marriage isn't important since 50% end in divorce" completely ignoring this is a historical abnormality.

  47. ThePsudo

    No fault divorce, a 50% divorce rate, and increasing disillusionment with marriage kinda prove my point. If there hypothetically were negative effects from gay marriage, how would we be able to see them buried in that mud?

    That said, the 50% divorce rate is inflated by the serial-marrying minority. This page lists 64 marriages and 63 divorces. That means another 62 couples with 'til-death marriages on the first try are needed to achieve that 50% stat. I understand that marriages that are the first for both people have more like a 70% success rate in the population at large.

  48. SES

    It won't surprise me if the GOP starts claiming credit for same-sex marriage laws eventually.

  49. Jake_Ackers

    Well it was Log Cabin Republicans who fought don't ask don't tell successfully. And the left did the same with civil rights for minorities. It was the right under Lincoln (ending slavery), Eisenhower (first major civil rights law) and the Republican Congress with LBJ who got the last major one passed. But today the left take much of the credit for giving civil rights to minorities.

  50. ThePsudo

    I don't think it's proper to identify Lincoln as right-wing. I love the guy and I'm a right-winger, but the issues debated in his time are too far removed from our modern ones to draw that kind of parallel.

  51. Jake_Ackers

    Correct, its kind of hard to compare but the rest were definitely right wing. Lincoln was at least a Republican and used both the founding documents as well as religion to justify getting rid of slavery. Especially abolitionists back then used the Bible, like John Brown. In today's politics though to use any religious reasoning for any issue makes a person a right-winger even if they are a Democrat.

    Although the issues were different in politics most issues, at least the reasoning, tends to repeat itself.

  52. Nicolasrll

    I think you're still oversimplifying. Barack Obama used religious reasoning to justify his support of marriage equality. Is he a right-winger?

  53. Matthew Naylor

    It's true that Lincoln was a Republican, and arguably a religious man, but to say that he was right wing implies that the wings exist as some static construct over the US party system, which is simply not the case. The Republican Party was, at its inception, the left wing party, standing in opposition to the right wing Democrats and especially Copperheads that existed at the time. There were certainly more right-wing elements in the party, such as the Know-Nothings, but they were only part of what was a broad, anti-slavery, Northern and Western coalition.

    I take umbrage with the characterization of all political thought that is religiously motivated is inherently right wing. It's not. The Progressive movement in the US and Canada was intensely religious. It gave rise to both the suffrage movement and prohibition, which were not, by any stretch of the imagination, right wing issues at the time.

    I'm going to dispute some of your history too. It wasn't Eisenhower who got the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 passed, it was LBJ. I'd suggest reading Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate". Without Johnson basically bullying his compatriots into voting the bill through the Senate, it simply wouldn't have passed. It should also be noted that the Congress through which LBJ passed his later Civil Rights Bill (1968) was controlled by Democratic majorities in both Houses, though that did contain the Dixiecrats.

  54. Nicolasrll

    Are you seriously saying that Republicans should take credit for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell?

  55. Jake_Ackers

    No, my point is that I wouldn't be surprised because of the Log Cabin.

  56. Padraig

    I remember living in MA (still do) when the state passed the gay marriage legislation and the naysayers brought the whole fire and brimstone argument.

    Eight years running and MA is doing better than most of the country.

    These illogical folks will NEVER drop their absurdity. It's just a fact of life no matter how much gay marriage progresses or regresses per state.

  57. Pairodimes

    I am in shock that you call yourself a conservative. I've read this comic for years and I had no idea that you considered yourself ideologically rightwing in any way except possibly in the fiscal sense. Just wow…

  58. ThePsudo

    He is noticeably conservative on foreign policy, opposes special rules for minorities' sake (eg, Canadian Francophones), and opposes legalization of recreational drugs, too. Those are all conservative, non-fiscal positions.

  59. AshburnerX

    You need to remember he's a Canadian Conservative… that still puts him left of center on the American scale.

  60. Jake_Ackers

    It's called libertarian in the US as most Americans actually are when given that choice. He wouldn't be left of center in the US if he supported it on a state law things like gambling, drugs and the sort. Which even the most right wing conservatives do.

  61. Padraig

    You don't read his foreign policy marks then, do you?

    Also Canadian conservatives do have different issues they adhere to.

  62. J.J. McCullough

    Conservatism is more than just a handful of random positions on a certain list of issues drawn up by the media or whoever. It also describes a larger philosophy of life and society. I'm a very temperamentally conservative person by nature, and if I criticize nominally conservative politicians a lot, it's in part because I'm inherently skeptical of government power, isolated elites,and empty sloganeering, as I think all conservatives should be.

  63. beanz

    The irony, of course, is that gay people are being allowed full legal marriage at precisely the same time it's becoming hopelessly passe among heterosexual culture. Wanting to get married is understandable if seen through the equal-rights prism; otherwise, it's a primitive, restrictive, exclusive institution.

    Gays can *have* marriage. Everyone else is through with it. Gussy it up as you will.

  64. J.J. McCullough

    That's not EXACTLY true. Lower class people are moving away from marriage, but elites are not. Which is ironic, since lower class people seem to be the largest demographic opposing gay marriage. So maybe it's not ironic, they're just a very anti-marriage group.

  65. Virgil

    well, wait a minute. Isn't marriage by definition exclusive and restrictive? In Western societies particularly it involves restrictions on sexual availability…..adultery etc. still apply and the debate does not seem to be touching unions of more than 2 people even now. Also, there have been predictions of marriage's demise ever since the late 60's, but as was pointed out by other posters, the rate of success of first marriages is still pretty good. 70% or so.

  66. Pairodimes

    Also, shame on you for falling for the bait and not calling Obama and Co. on trying to use the gay marriage announcement right now as a distraction after the horrible jobs numbers last week and the huge shift in the elections in Europe which will spell the end of the Euro.

    Whatever. This is an echo chamber anyway.

  67. ThePsudo

    Haha, well, nobody is significantly agreeing with anyone else over this article. I guess that "echo chamber" stuff is finished now.

  68. Jake in StL

    “Honestly, I think this is by far the worst column I’ve ever read by you. Your completely dismissive attitude towards the values and beliefs of people who do not support gay marriage is the pathetic sort of arrogance one would expect from the worst partisan hacks.”

    This is clearly a gay strawman. No one can be this big of an hysterical drama queen and not also be a fag.

  69. archon

    Give me a break. This column is nothing but JJ indulging in strawmans. It's easy to write a column when you assume that everybody who opposes gay marriage is either lying or a hick. Just because JJ basically admitted in this column to lying about his viewpoints doesn't mean everybody else does, and just because he claims it's only "reactionary sentiment" opposing gay marriage won't change the reality that millions of people have presented ample reasons to oppose it.

  70. ThePsudo

    Even if everything you claim were true, your argument is still refuted by "Two wrongs don't make a right."

    Also, not everything you claim is true.

  71. guest

    I sure would love to hear these "ample reasons" to oppose gay marriage.

  72. ThePsudo

    You probably already have, but dismissed them as empty rhetoric from a religious motivation.

  73. Charles Dillon

    I haven't heard one argument against gay marriage that wasn't either religious in nature or obviously empty rhetoric from a religious motivation. Please enlighten to me these non-religious reasons to oppose gay marriage that don't fall into this category.

  74. ThePsudo

    What's in it for me? You've already confirmed my prediction.

  75. Charles Dillon

    Both you and the author of the comic make vague allusions to legitimate arguments against gay marriage, yet I've seen none of them stated on this page. If there are indeed legitimate points to be made, then why are you being sly when asked to list them?

  76. Jake_Ackers

    Marriage itself is religious at least in many places. So its hard to completely separate the two. Not using the word marriage period whether straight or gay makes it a lot simpler and helps avoid that religious issue – the word itself, marriage.

    Unless you mean anti-same sex relationships, for which you definitely can use science. Albeit be it wrong science or correct science, science still can be used.

  77. Charles Dillon

    Marriage itself is not necessarily religious anywhere in United States. It can be, but many people opt for completely secular weddings, and as far as I know, no state has outlawed marriages in non-religious settings. Why should the government tiptoe in order to avoid offending religious sensibilities when they trample on the civil rights of others? The concept of marriage has been around since before recorded history, so no religion can claim credit for the idea.

    So it ends up quite simple. Bigoted religious institutes can define marriage as only being between two people of the opposite sex. Nobody is forcing religious institutions to perform these unholy gay unions (which one could argue, should make their tax-exempt status questionable, but I digress…) While those who want to enter into same-sex marriage are free to do so.

    Do you feel that those who would demand that a word other than marriage be used for the wedding of interracial couples also make a valid point? After all, one can find plenty of condemnations of interracial couples in Abrahamic scripture, and "marriage itself is religious in many places" according to you…

  78. Kadin

    "A blind love of symbols is what has made several southern states cling to the Confederate Flag"

    That's an extraordinarily charitable interpretation of the facts. Was it merely "love of symbols" that caused Georgia to change their state flag to include the Confederate battle flag? If so, why was it that they only started loving symbols so much in 1956, when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing?

    "More liberals should be willing to call them out on it, rather than indulging in the cornball left-wing fantasy that all Republicans are religious fanatics, or whatever."

    I don't really agree. If a politician is going to pander to far-right religious fanatics by governing as if they were far-right religious fanatics, I think it's perfectly acceptable to call them far-right religious fanatics. Perhaps they don't believe all that stuff in their heart of hearts, but who really cares? Judge politicians by what they do, not by speculation about what they "really think".

  79. drs

    ‘”Oh please, marriage isn’t important since 50% end in divorce” completely ignoring this is a historical abnormality.’

    Uh, yeah, because people weren’t allowed to get divorced! Or where it was allowed, because women had little economic choice. Divorce is pretty common among egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribes.

    JJ: kudos.

  80. ThePsudo

    On the other hand, divorce was pretty rare even when allowed in yeoman farmer societies. The need for a couple to be a successful husbandman led to the male of a married pair to be called by that occupation's name. Incidentally, this would be the same occupation dominant in revolutionary America. It's not much of a logical stretch to call marriage a traditional American value.

  81. Zulu

    Hell, the Romans commonly engaged in divorce, and women were allowed to ask for one and not just men.

  82. Jake_Ackers

    Back then like today there are benefits to getting married and staying married. So the law can both encourage marry and encourage people to stay together. Although with divorce law it can encourage divorces too just to take money.

  83. Zulu

    Great comic and commentary, JJ. Completely agree.

  84. Jake in StL

    “Give me a break. This column is nothing but JJ indulging in strawmans. It’s easy to write a column when you assume that everybody who opposes gay marriage is either lying or a hick. Just because JJ basically admitted in this column to lying about his viewpoints doesn’t mean everybody else does, and just because he claims it’s only “reactionary sentiment” opposing gay marriage won’t change the reality that millions of people have presented ample reasons to oppose it.”

    Again, classic strawman behavior! You’re purposefully making the anti-gay marriage position look bad by petulantly whining about the other guy’s position and neglecting to support your own with positive assertions. Go back to your Judy Garland albums, the serious people are talking now.

  85. Chris Germann

    What I've always found strange about the Republican party's standpoint on gay marriage and homosexual rights is that, in the end, it' seems to me as being very un-Republican; they're advocating government oversight and interference in the individual choices of American citizens, something that defies the very core principal of the GOP.

    To be honest, it strikes me less of a blind love of symbolism, and more of old dogs who can't learn new tricks. I don't know when exactly the GOP began courting the Evangelical Christian voter base, nor do I truthfully find anything "Christian" about either party, other than getting to pick and choose opposing angles on ethically contentious issues for your own baseball team when it come election time. And while in historical context appealing to a Christian demographic made perfect practical sense a decade ago, even much earlier, the current reality is that the national opinion on these issues, particularly gay rights, has been rapidly swinging in the opposite direction and I don't think anyone leading the party has yet had the common sense to notice and do something about it.

    I understand appealing to a fundamental Christian demographic, they're relatively easy to please, they're passionate about there political beliefs therefore they're most likely to go out and vote, and letting go of that strategy will not be seen as a smart move… but in the long term, the longer they keep making that group happy, the more they're going to piss off and distance themselves from everyone else. If there's any lesson that the party should have learned from the last General Election is that winning that particular group over is absolutely no guarantee that you can win, if anything it's now a great way to lose. I was reading an article in Time magazine a while ago about the rights and voting power in the Hispanic bloc, and it made note of the fact that with the current statistics and reality, if you can't win the Hispanic vote, you can't win. All the while, the article continued, the GOP still beats the war drums of immigration and keeping jobs for "real Americans", completely oblivious to the fact that in the past decade a large enough chunk of those real Americans are the one's they're speaking out against.

    With Republicans opposing Obamacare on the grounds that keeping government out of private business and affairs is an absolute good, it strikes me that supporting the personal choices of individuals against a government mandate would be a good way to redefine and relaunch the party while staying true to it's roots. It's even more advantageous considering that the only lead the the Democratic party has, if you'd like to argue that they do, is that they currently stand as the "lesser of two evils" in light of the fact that Republicans still champion increasingly archaic ethics that are rapidly becoming just plain unethical. In a modern political theater where a rapidly rising majority are backing civil rights for a long disenfranchised minority, who will inevitably win equal rights to our heterosexual compatriots, continuing to pretend that obsolete tactics and gestures still work is nothing short of political suicide, and hypocrisy against every other individual right they claim to stand for.

  86. Kadin

    "they're advocating government oversight and interference in the individual choices of American citizens"

    If you believe that's "un-Republican", you've drunk too much of the party kool-aid.

  87. Chris Germann

    That's kinda my whole point,

    On the one hand, the use the argument of "keep government out of my business" when they want to fight Obamacare, tax hikes, and government spending, been then make hypocrites of themselves by building a platform on "we, the government, are going to be all up in your business because you're gay… cause that's just icky."

  88. Jake

    Why can't the USA be more like Europe on this one issue (and only this issue)? Keep the relationship secular. Call it civil union, whether straight or gay and never have the law us the word marriage for anyone. Leave the marriage as a WORD up to the churchs and everyone use the word civil union in the eyes of the law. It would make this whole problem a lot simplier. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, to Ron Paul all have taken this position to a varying degree wish they would just pinpoint it.

  89. Jake_Ackers

    As per the ThePsudo's suggestion I have signed up as well to intense debate. Same person as above.

  90. Nicolasrll

    I don't think this is Mitt Romney's position at all; he is in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "between a man and a woman" and opposes civil unions if they are "identical to marriage other than by name". I could live with your idea of the state defining "civil unions" for everyone and leaving "marriage" as a religious thing, but that's very far from the Republican party's position.

  91. Jake_Ackers

    True but I think they all have hovered around it to a certain degree. However they phrase things have always been a huge part of politics though.

  92. SES

    Someone posted this once before a few months ago, but it's not actually true that Europe has done that. Most (all?) European countries still have civil marriages, and the word the churches use is generally the same as the word that the state uses.

  93. Jake_Ackers

    Some countries in Europe do it. There are a few but the general trend is Europe is moving toward a gender neutral one civil union. Without all the ceremonies and anything remotely religious. Anything yes it does vary quite a bit. Especially in Eastern Europe, who is more religious.

  94. guest

    It really isn't about telling gay people how they can or can not live their lives.
    I don't think anyone is unsupportive of gay people's rights. Few favour discrimination against gay people in any area outside of family-life – marriage, adoption and access to IVF seem to be the only ones I can think of.
    This means gay people can live any way they want to and the better conservative candidates would support their right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes with other consenting adults free from government involvement.
    That only changes when they seek State endorsement of that lifestyle. This is significant. The State does not have to endorse sexuality in any other area of social interaction. This is not true with marriage and surely this lies at the heart of the campaign.
    It is not really about rights, its about getting the State to confirm that gays are no different than anyone else. Unfortunately I don't think that's so. Gays are no better or worse, but they are not the same as heteros. Just like men and women – not better or worse, just different.
    I am starting to lean towards the concept that the State has no place in solemnising relationships.

  95. Jake_Ackers

    Correct. The law should not use the word "marriage." Just use something else like civil union for everyone straight or gay. Europe does it just fine. Elton John actually talked about it recently saying it would basically remove the religious element in the word and leave only civil rights which most people are for.

  96. SES

    Why should the law be the one to bend? Churches can have religious unions if they want their own extra-special term just for them.

    And BTW, Europe still has marriage.

  97. Jake_Ackers

    Because they word marriage has been used in religious context before the law has been written. And Yes I do know Europe still has marriage but Europe like I said is moving toward what I previously stated

  98. Guest

    That's a pretty bad argument, for two reasons – firstly, living language is not a question of which came first.

    Secondly, it's probably unprovable unless you define it to mean something meaningless. If you mean 'The law in the US', then yes, the concept of marriage predates the US by millenia. Not only that, the concept of marriage predates recorded history. As to whether the word marriage was used first in a religious or secular context, it depends what you count, it is entirely subjective. It's impossible to date it precisely, but if you pick the word as it existed in mediaeval Britain, then perhaps you could make an argument in theory, but the church was local government at that time. It was responsible for recording marriages but marriages were not always recorded that way and the law still considered them binding AFAIK. If you date it back to its Latin roots, you'll find that Roman weddings weren't necessarily religious.

    It was only after religious dissent grew that established Churches started to require marriages to be before the priest.

  99. Jake_Ackers

    Yes but the US law doesn't take into account that. Only that marriage has been religious before the US law was written. Under your theory the Cross is a secular symbol as it was a symbol of justice before it was of Christians, as it was during Roman time. Thus it could be used in prisons, court houses, cemeteries, etc. regardless of faith.

  100. Guest

    Except the a) the cross has long since ceased to be a symbol of justice, and b) my theory is that marriage is used of the concept which need not be religious. It's you who was arguing prior use is important, I was just saying that prior use of the word 'marriage' was never exclusively religious.

  101. guest

    What I don't get is why anyone would think this is a big deal. The president has little to no power in influencing marriage laws in the United States. As it stands, marriage is a state issue. When the National Governors Association decides to endorse gay marriage, then I can see people talking about "paradigm shifts" in the US. Until then, all this gushing about the presidents "evolution" is a waste of time.

  102. J.J. McCullough

    You're mostly right, but one interesting thing I've already noticed is how the President's position changes the language and narratives we use in discussing this issue. Suddenly, the fact that Romney "opposes same-sex marriage" becomes more a more accute and notable, because it's an actual policy distinction from Obama. It turns it into a true national debate and a true polarization within the party system.

  103. Jake_Ackers

    Politics is in our language. Romney just a few weeks ago wasn't conservative enough. Now Romney is so conservative he must be a secret fundamentalist Mormon who supports polygamy. And Obama is so far left he can't possibly be a Muslim.

  104. Virgil

    Couldn't all the arguments about opposition to homosexual marriage equally be said about those in favor of such a change? It seems to me that the matter is largely symbolic on both ends, and about who is right and wrong. I come to this conclusion in that the article states nothing about concrete benefits that would be granted by the change. How precisely is the government preventing homosexual couples from living together in monogamous relationships if they wish? Isn't the government enforcing sexual morality if it makes a preference in saying that monogamy is better than promiscuity? As far as I can tell, the government is only in the marriage business to govern the transfer of property to biological children, real or expected, too weak to fend for their own interests. This does not, absent in vitro fertilization, affect homosexuals in any way. Love has nothing to do with the government concept of marriage. The religious concept is another matter, but that should be pursued within the religious institutions.

  105. @Cristiona

    Well, he got his million dollar fundraiser and a fawning cover story in Newsweek, so I guess it worked out for him.

    His empty statement (as the President doesn't draft law and marriage isn't even a federal issue) has guaranteed that people who already would have voted for him will vote for him and people who wouldn't vote for him won't.

  106. Jake_Ackers

    This has helped Romney more than anyone. The candidate that wins is the one who picks his VP that is the most like him. Since Romney now is viewed as too conservative he will pick a moderate to conservative candidate like him. As opposite to having to pick someone like Santorum or Bachmann who is the true ultra right wingers.

  107. ThePsudo

    Romney too conservative? The Massachusetts governor and designer of health insurance mandates, who is wishy-washy on abortion and lives like an ivory tower elitist, is too conservative for the national electorate?

    The same thing happened with McCain in 2008, and with the whole Birther movement. People construct these worst-case scenarios of what the other side's guy must be like based on the most extreme possible interpretation of their words and construct these imaginary nightmarish extremists. If identical candidates ran for both parties, we would still be claiming there's no center in America based on these ridiculous strawman extremists we fabricate.

    This kind of thing is why most people think politics is bunk.