What gay marriage advocates supposedly “must” believe, vs. what they actually do believe

Have you noticed that social conservatives’ notions of what gay-marriage advocates supposedly “must” believe are often very wide of what most actually-existing gay-marriage advocates do believe? Here’s social conservative Mona Charen writing at National Review:

Advocates of gay marriage tend to argue that those in opposition are no better than the drunken thugs who beat up homosexuals outside of bars.

Do they? She gives no examples of which gay marriage advocates draw that uncharitable comparison, let alone enough examples to show that this is the general tendency of argument on our side. Certainly it would be hard to fit Jonathan Rauch’s Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America into this category, or Andrew Sullivan’s famous and influential 1989 essay, or the work of John Corvino. Even among advocates less temperate in tone, few are unaware that most current advocates of gay marriage, from President Obama on down, previously took a position against it.

The rest of Charen’s article advances the oft-heard argument that polygamy is next, on the not particularly convincing ground that some magazine (Slate) just ran a piece by some pseudonymous practitioner of polyamory. (Yes, that’s the sure sign of a social movement on the cusp of mainstream acceptance; its spokesmen write pseudonymously). Such pieces have been a staple of reader titillation in the popular culture since well before the 1969 comedy Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, which has at no point signaled that a serious social movement to introduce polygamy was in the offing.

Like her co-thinker Ryan Anderson, Charen imagines that no one can come up with principled reasons to back same-sex marriage that do not also extend to polygamy. The fact is that there are multiple and distinct principled reasons, which is one reason it’s not that easy to find anyone (let alone everyone) who is enthusiastic about both causes at once. Feminists, for example, surely a powerful influence on these discussions, have their own internally logical and consistent reasons to support SSM and oppose polygamy (which notoriously correlates around the world with weakened status for women, very much in contrast with gay marriage). Social-welfare advocates who know that being married is a powerful predictor of health, happiness and prosperity have often seen merit in same-sex marriage because it extends the hope of marriage to more persons, but have reason to look askance at polygamy since in polygamous cultures more males never find lifelong mates. And so forth for other groups.

Meanwhile, the West actually does have two real-world constituencies for legalized polygamy, both extremely small. One is the minuscule group of old-school Muslim and splinter-Mormon practitioners who typically ground the practice in tradition, divine will, and scripture, and who very often are implacably opposed to same-sex marriage. The other is the not much bigger fringe of polyamorists and free-love advocates, many of whom were at best tepid toward SSM, seeing it as herding gays into bourgeois domesticity. It should go without saying that the second group is unlikely to team up with the first into an effective public movement, nor are the numbers of either likely to grow radically, short of mass immigration from certain pre-modern parts of the world.

Our side is winning on gay marriage for a very simple reason, which is that millions of mothers think, “I didn’t choose for my kid to be gay, but since he is, I hope he settles down with the right person.” I have never, ever heard a mother say “I didn’t choose for my kid to want multiple mates, but since he does, I hope he settles down with the right three or four women.” Isn’t it time writers like Charen and Anderson dropped this trope?

80 Comments for “What gay marriage advocates supposedly “must” believe, vs. what they actually do believe”

  1. posted by Doug on

    There is a very simple reason why Charen, Anderson etc. al. continue to vent these fabricated rationale. They are intellectually bankrupt.

    • posted by Tim Hulsey on

      I thought libertarians were against bailouts for bankrupts?!

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        When did people like Charen become libertarians? The conversion would certainly be news to them.

        I suppose leftists now feel free to stretch that word to include absolutely everybody who doesn’t think exactly like them.

        Which of course, for you, leaves only one other option. The sky in your world must be a dull, leaden gray.

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        You seriously expect anyone who actually knows what a libertarian believes to consider Mona Charen a libertarian? What are you smoking?

        That is either pig-ignorant or dishonest. If you really think that everyone who doesn’t think like you can be mindlessly lumped into one broad category (“duh — they’re all alike”), then you have a very simple mind.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          Lori, every person who uses the word Libertarian, including people who claim to be Libertarian, seems to have a different definition of what it means. Considering how hard it is to pin any Libertarian down on any specifics, you can understand our confusion. You seem constantly frustrated that people don’t understand what Libertarianism is, but I don’t see any explanations from you or anyone else that gives me any details on how a Libertarian-run government would actually work.

          • posted by Lori Heine on

            Part of the confusion stems from the very concept of “running a government,” which is concerned with exerting aggression to force others to act against their will.

            Actual libertarianism — the political philosophy — opposes the use of violence as a means of exerting control or exercising authority.

            Mona Charen believes in using violence, as she believes in taking tax money from single people — gay and straight — to pay for tax breaks for married heterosexuals.

            People who believe in liberty for themselves, those they like, and others like them are not libertarians. They may use the word because they don’t understand what it means (or, in the case of many social conservatives, because they are simply dishonest). Those who oppose political nonviolence do certainly have a vested interest in destroying public understanding of the word — and the concept.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            It’s more than a little extreme to refer to taxation as violence. Yes, I sometimes resent paying more in taxes because I’m single. I don’t mind paying for schools as that is an investment in our country’s future. (One of these days I’m going to be old and I need the nursing home staff to be able to read the instructions!) I’m interested in hearing proposals for a flat tax rate, but once most Americans realize that it would mean their own taxes would go up that’s the end of that. Or rather once most VOTERS realize that because single people are far less likely to vote than married people with children and a mortgage. If you would tone down the rhetoric you might find a lot more people sympathetic with you on various issues to get to a majority from both the right and the left point by point. But the moment it goes into this kind of extremist rhetoric you lose most people.

          • posted by Jorge on

            Part of the confusion stems from the very concept of “running a government,” which is concerned with exerting aggression to force others to act against their will.

            Your comment reminds me of this guy I used to know who considers himself an anarchist.

  2. posted by Scotty G on

    Couln’t help but be reminded of this quote. Some facts about humanity are timeless…

    “There is always the danger that those who think alike should gravitate together into ‘coteries’ where they will henceforth encounter opposition only in the emasculated form of rumor that the outsiders say thus and thus. The absent are easily refuted, complacent dogmatism thrives, and differences of opinion are embittered by group hostility. Each group hears not the best, but the worst, that the other groups can say.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

  3. posted by Walter Olson on

    Mona Charen has now published a response: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/362225/polyamory-and-same-sex-marriage-mona-charen

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      From Mona’s response: “My point was that once you concede that marriage is only about adult happiness and fulfillment, you’ve lost the moral ground to object that polygamy or polyamory shouldn’t also be called marriages.

      She defines the problem faced by the anti-equality movement perfectly: Opponents of marriage equality depend on moral approbation, and moral approbation alone at this point, as the grounds for government civil marriage discrimination against gays and lesbians. Cf Lawrence v. Texas, Scalia dissent.

      Over the last decade, the “objective” grounds that the anti-equality movement advanced as the basis for civil marriage discrimination against gays and lesbians (gays and lesbians are child abusers in disproportionate numbers, children who are raised by gays and lesbians do not fare as well as children raised by straight parents, the purpose of marriage is to protect and preserve procreation alone, and so on) have been tested in courts and/or responsible research studies and found wanting, if not entirely fanciful.

      To date, to my best knowledge, the only “objective” argument that has withstood judicial scrutiny is the argument that the government can rationally reserve civil marriage for straights because marriage is not needed by gays and lesbians. That rationale has carried the day in the state high courts of three states — Indiana, New York and Washington.

      The “marriage is not needed by gays and lesbians” argument is, on its face, almost absurd.

      The argument’s first leg is that straights have a weakness for irresponsible procreation and a lousy track record of facing up to the consequences of their procreative behavior. The argument comes down to little more than “Straight men head to Texas at the first whisper of ‘Honey, I’m pregnant …’, and straight women need marriage to make straight men act more responsibly, actually staying around long enough to raise and support their spawn.”

      That may be true more often than not (straight men do not colloquially call marriage “the ball and chain” entirely without reason), but it is the second leg of the objective argument for marriage discrimination that falls flat on its face.

      The argument’s second leg is that gay and lesbian couples do not need marriage because gays and lesbians act responsibly and plan for their children, and do not need the “ball and chain” to ensure that they stay around long enough to make sure that the children are raised and supported.

      That may also be true more often than not, but it ignores the reality that the legal protections of marriage benefit children, and have similar effects on their overall well being, regardless of whether the couple is straight or gay/lesbian. (See the American Academy of Pediatrics on the harm done to the children of gays and lesbians because of marriage discrimination.)

      Notice that the last paragraph of Mona’s response is a masked appeal to this line of argument: “The great problem we face as a culture is not that many gays and lesbians will marry and raise families. It’s that in agreeing that children are okay without their fathers or mothers, we’ve undercut the ideal that society should do everything possible to support — the male/female married couple who raise the children they create. If two mothers are just as good for kids, then why not raise a child without a father? ” In short, she’s arguing that unless our government enforces marriage as a “ball and chain” to force straight men to act responsibly, our society will end up with up with a lot of single-mother families, families which research has demonstrated puts the children at risk for a less favorable outcome than if raised by a couple. Where her argument falls apart, I think, is at the same point where the legal argument falls apart: Denying civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples does not correlate with encouraging straight men to marry rather than run.

      [As an aside, I note, without irony, that two of the three states in which the "marriage is not needed by gays and lesbians" argument has prevailed in court, New York and Washington, now have legislative/referendum based marriage equality, and the third, Indiana, is mired in a politically-driven, seemly endless battle over whether or not the Republican-majority legislature can order up a statewide referendum on an anti-marriage amendment, and amendment which, if put before the people and however it might come out, will almost certainly be the last of its kind in the nation.]

      I don’t think that there has ever been any doubt that moral approbation has been at the heart of the anti-equality movement. The “objective” grounds were plastered onto the moral approbation in an attempt to provide a constitutional rationale

      But the fact remains that the government cannot use moral approbation as the sole grounds for marriage discrimination under our constitution. The government has to have objective grounds, grounds based in fact and reason and related to the common good, to justify marriage discrimination under our constitution, and that is true regardless of the level at which the scrutiny bar is set — rationale basis, heightened scrutiny or strict scrutiny.

      The anti-equality movement has failed to provide plausible objective grounds to back up its moral approbation. The “objective” grounds that have been presented to date have been based on bad facts, bad research, and loose logic. That is where the anti-equality movement has been tested and found wanting. That is why Olson/Boies were able to demolish the anti-equality movement’s case in the Prop 8 litigation. That is why the anti-equality movement has been (with the single exception noted) losing in court and will continue to lose in court.

      Mona’s appeal to moral approbation is irrelevant to the legal battle in which we are engaged. But it is, outside of the “run to Texas” argument, all she has.

    • posted by Josh Rosenbluth on

      It doesn’t appear to me that her reply dealt with the principled arguments against polygamy from feminists and social-welfare advocates that you put forth.

      I would also add an additional argument that you didn’t mention. If there is no principled objection to falling down the slippery slope from same-sex marriage into polygamy, what has been the principled objection that has kept from falling down the slippery slope from infertile/elderly marriages into polygamy?

  4. posted by Houndentenor on

    1. I can’t think of any reason why those for or against same sex marriage should all agree on the reasons for their position. People arrive at positions on social issues in a variety of ways. There is no reason this one would be any different.

    2. Slippery Slope is always a pretty weak argument. The law is mostly about setting boundaries. You can’t buy alcohol when you are 20 years and 364 days old but on your 21st birthday you can. We can set those boundaries wherever we like, and we do. There is therefore no reason why we can’t allow same sex couples to marry while not allowing one person to be married to two separate people.

    3. I have no strong opinions about polygamy (with everyone’s consent and everyone of legal age, etc…the public cases in the west seem to always involve deception and/or underage women forced into these situations). I don’t, however, have any idea how such an arrangement would work legally so there are a great many questions that would have to be sorted out. Who would be next of kin in an emergency situation? What if the two wives could not come to a decision for their incapacitated joint husband’s medical care? And that’s without even thinking about the issue that deeply. I’d need some convincing.

    4. Polygamy is still practiced in many places, and was the practice of the Biblical patriarchs. For that matter, I can think of no prohibition in the Christian Bible on polygamy except for an epistle in which the church is instructed that deacons cannot have multiple wives. It seems that the practice fell out of favor among the Jewish people sometime in the Inter-Biblical period with no explanation. I have always suspected that the Greeks (or one of the other empires) banned it, but it’s also possible that without the constant wars killing off so many men, it no longer made sense as it would leave too many men without wives. I could be wrong. If anyone knows of a good source for this topic, please let me know. It’s odd that it’s never discussed, and in fact just assumed that “marriage has always been one man and one woman” when Abraham, Jacob, Esau, David, Solomon and so many other Biblical patriarchs clearly had multiple wives with no condemnation ever mentioned in the Scriptures.

    • posted by bw1 on

      The shift to monogamy was a rabbinical decision in Inter-Biblical period intended as a 1000 year experiment to see if it was better or worse. When the 1000 years was up, although there were arguments both ways, it was moot, because there wasn’t a rabbinical body with the authority to reverse it*, so it was moot.

      * Each successive rabbinical court is considered to be less authoritative than its predecessors, by virtue of being further removed from both the giving of the Torah at Sinai and from the period when the Temple stood.

  5. posted by Walter Olson on

    Tim C. from Philadelphia informs me that there are more than a few splinter-Mormons out West who advocate polygamy but are generally libertarian in their political views and should not be counted as reflexive opponents of gay marriage. I am happy to stand corrected.

  6. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    She gives no examples of which gay marriage advocates draw that uncharitable comparison, let alone enough examples to show that this is the general tendency of argument on our side.

    Are you surprised? More often than not, what hard-core social conservatives say about gays and lesbians are (a) unsupported by fact, (b) unsupported by logic, and (c) and, typically, fabricated to spread fear and loathing.

    The anti-gay crowd does just fine as long as it is talking to itself, polemicizing. But the minute their blathering is tested (as was the case when David Blankenhorn’s writings were subject to cross examination in a court of law), the whole thing usually falls apart.

    Blankenhorn learned from the experience. Most of them don’t.

  7. posted by Walter Olson on

    On Houndentenor’s slippery-slope point, I find it fascinating that the other side portrays there as being a great big inescapable slippery slope between the two issues, yet it is surprisingly hard to identify any actual persons who have slid down it.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I find it fascinating that the other side portrays there as being a great big inescapable slippery slope between the two issues, yet it is surprisingly hard to identify any actual persons who have slid down it.

      Well, to be fair about it, the percentage of gay men who have slid down the slippery slope to multiple wives is probably too small to be measurable …

      More seriously, though, I think that it is important to remember a point that Martin Marty made about men and women attracted to fundamentalist religion, distinguishing them from men and women who are not: For fundamentalists, religious prohibition is often used as a moral barricade erected to protect themselves from their own worst instincts, an external substitute for internal control and moderation.

      It isn’t hard, in that context, to understand why fundamentalist Christians, fearful/distrustful of sexual greed in themselves, and with little experience of developing and exercising internal control/restraint for its own sake, might fear that any lessening of legal prohibition in the case of same-sex marriage is likely to lead to “a great big inescapable slippery slope” to polygamy or worse.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Most of what I know about polyamory is from listening to Dan Savage’s podcast, but there are men who are multiple-partner arrangements as well as women and mixed-sex arrangements of various kinds. People seem not to want to be “out” about such things because families, friends and co-workers would probably not approve. Perhaps at some point such people will want some legal protections in those relationships. As I said elsewhere, I have no idea how such a thing would work legally, but people who oppose such legal recognition of poly relationships need to start now thinking about arguments against that besides “what about the children!” and “Jesus doesn’t like it.”

  8. posted by Kosh iii on

    IIRC
    Alexander’s conquest of the ANE including Jewish lands led to widespread adoption of Greek culture and practices. For instance, in I Maccabees, it relates how men would alter themselves so that they appeared to be uncircumcised when they were at the baths or gym. Greek names became popular, Bartholmew is bar(son of) Ptolomy. And on and on.
    —————-
    Funny how these types always ignore the fact that Abraham married Sarah–his SISTER. Who knew they were from Kentucky?

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      I did a little more reading, but nothing terribly scholarly (basically what I could find online). It seems that some Jews were still practicing polygamy well into the Christian era. Some early Christians were doing it too. (Otherwise why would Timothy advise that a deacon must be “husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2). Mostly this shows that marriage has most certainly NOT always been one man and one woman.

  9. posted by Strepsi on

    Great article Walter Olson!
    I’d only add that the polygamy slippery slope HAS been tested in a court of law with the Mormon U.S. emigree community of Bountiful, BC, Canada. It was a plygamous town run basically by one patriarch and his sister-wives and their kids. Imagine Craster’s Keep from Game of Thrones but in Canada.

    Reps for the defense raised same-sex marriage, and the judge made a clear disctinction:

    “Bauman concluded “women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm. They face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse.”

    He also pointed out higher mortality rates of children born into polygamous families, the dangers of early sexualization of girls, gender inequality, and the problem of so-called lost boys – young men turfed out of polygamous communities as a result of competition for young brides.

    Bauman acknowledged the infringement of the law on rights guaranteed by the charter, but concludes those limits are reasonable given the prohibition’s objectives. But he suggests a change to the way the law is interpreted as it applies to children between ages 12 and 17 who marry into polygamy.

    He said the law would criminalize children – amounting to a serious impairment of “young persons’ liberty interests.”
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/canada-s-polygamy-laws-upheld-by-b-c-supreme-court-1.856480

    Basically, the RCMP treated it as child-trafficking — whch it essentially was — so a distinction between that and the marriage of two equal, consenting adults of the same-sex is VERY clear.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      I would agree that the kind of polygamy we see practiced in the US, at least the kind we hear about in the news, is child abuse and needs to be prohibited. 12 year old girls are not consenting adults. If you aren’t old enough to sign a legal contract on your own, you should be allowed to marry. Those girls in those “marriages” were neither consenting nor adults.

  10. posted by Don on

    Their arguments are simply the product of fundamentalism: an absolute belief in any particular thing that cannot be altered and is by definition impervious. You start with the hard-core, unwavering belief and then have to back out the logic that got you to the foregone conclusion.

    Because their arguments are [in reality] religiously-based, the conclusion cannot be altered. How one comes to the conclusion can be twisted innumerable ways to allow the believer to continue as before. That’s all this is. And its precisely why many won’t give up. Ever. Their sole job is to fashion a logical argument to uphold church doctrine in the secular world.

    But they also know they cannot cop to the religious reason either. Because that is patently an unconstitutional reason. And none of them want a supreme court opinion essentially saying: religious belief is insufficient grounds for law. Talk about an unwanted precedent!

  11. posted by Dan on

    Aside the from the way the government is using the idea of bigotry as its understanding of the rationale of traditional marriage proponents (see MA and Catholic adoption or Justice Kennedy’s opinion on Prop 8), you also have grandstanders like Rahm Emanuel on Chick Filet. From the government, to politicians, to pundits, to facebook posts, the starting point of the conversation from many same sex marriage supporters is that anything other than their opinion begins in bigotry.

    As for the point about polygamy, etc., the idea is very simply: those who redefine marriage solely on the basis of adult desires must accept the most likely legal expansion of their definition. Or, to put the question to gay marriage proponents, in what way does your definition of marriage not entitle any number or combination of adults from equal protection? Regardless of your own possible bigotries, why will polygamy, incest, etc. not be necessarily legally accepted whether you or the rest of the public wants it?

    • posted by Marco Luxe on

      Q. “Regardless of your own possible bigotries, why will polygamy, incest, etc. not be necessarily legally accepted whether you or the rest of the public wants it? ”

      A. Demonstrable harm.

      Too easy.
      Next.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      As for the point about polygamy, etc., the idea is very simply: those who redefine marriage solely on the basis of adult desires must accept the most likely legal expansion of their definition. Or, to put the question to gay marriage proponents, in what way does your definition of marriage not entitle any number or combination of adults from equal protection? Regardless of your own possible bigotries, why will polygamy, incest, etc. not be necessarily legally accepted whether you or the rest of the public wants it?

      The question is not whether all “adult desires” need be served by our laws.

      In a religiously-neutral society, such as our constitutional republic, the question is a matter of what is best for the common good. The common good might line up with the views of the majority religion, or it might not, but the two are distinct, and are distinct, as well, from the false dicotomy between “adult desires” and, say, “procreation”.

      The serious research to date, as well as common sense (see, Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America (2003) and similar), makes a strong case that marriage equality for gays and lesbians furthers the common good. Similarly, research and common sense (see the Canadian court case referred to in this thread and similar materials) distinguish multiple-partner marriage, and make at least a plausible case that mulitple-partner marriage is not in the common good. We can discuss whether or not polygamy serves the common good, and the discussion can proceed on the basis of fact and reason.

      The religious case against polygamy is much weaker than the religiously-neutral common good argument. Religions based on the God of Abraham, which are the religious tradition of most of us in this country, have differing views on polygamy (Christians and Jews forbid it, Muslims do not), and those views have evolved over time. As others have pointed out, the Hebrew Scriptures are rife with examples of polyamy, and the Christian Scriptures do not contain a blanket prohibition (In fact, the scripture cited (1 Timothy 3:2), suggests that at least some of the early Christians practiced polygamy, else why the prohibition for deacons?). So what is the religious argument against polygamy, even if you ignore the fact that the third leg of the three-legged religious stool of the God of Abraham, with a not inconsiderable number of adherents, allows polygamy.

      My view is that we should let proponents of polygamy and incest (by which I assume you mean sibling marriage and close-cousin marriage rather than child abuse) make their case based on the common good. We’ve not had a serious discussion of either in this country to date, and while I doubt, based on what I know about the societal costs/benefits, that a convincing case can be made for either, my view is that if it can, we should consider it.

    • posted by JohnInCA on

      The idea that SSM proponents have to first explain how marriage equality won’t lead to polygamy or anything else is absurd.

      It’d be like if the Supreme Court, while debating Loving v. Virginia, had asked the lawyers if they could guarantee that the decision would no-way, no-how lead to SSM down the line.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      People are already living (often secretly) in poly arrangements of various kinds. The question is how should the law recognize that and if so, how. That’s not an easy question. Would everyone have to agree or could I just go out and marry a second husband without the knowledge or consent of the first husband? Who is next of kin? Etc. Those are serious questions that would have to be addressed.

      For the purpose of the law there is no difference between me being married to a man or a woman. All the legal rights and responsibilities are the same. I don’t know why that concept is so hard to grasp for some people. Multiple marriages creates a lot of new legal issues that I’m not sure can be resolved. (Perhaps that is just my own prejudice and I’m open to hearing proposals, but I remain skeptical.)

      As for incest, I think there are obvious harms involved, and using that is both insulting to same-sex couples and shows intellectual laziness on the part of the writer.

  12. posted by Marco Luxe on

    What these slippery slope arguers forget is that western society has already had a conversation regarding polygamy over the last 1000 years or so, and has arrived at a consensus. This is not a plea to history [as that would prejudge the gay marriage question without ever having the conversation] but a reminder that the societal debate re: number, occurred and has already been put to bed. The gay marriage conversation arose only recently, we’re having it now, and it will be ready to be put to bed in a generation at the latest.
    Raising polygamy fears are like arguing that electric cars will lead to dangerous steam locomotives that spread embers and start wildfires. I don’t know where electric cars are leading – time will tell – but we’ve already had the conversation about steam locomotives. Even though there may be a few steam powered outliers that exist on the fringes in Utah, it’s disingenuous to bring them up while discussing electric cars and transportation policy.

  13. posted by Lori Heine on

    I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation. Mr. Olson has written a great post, and the comments are excellent.

    Too bad more of these arguments can’t be brought over to Gay Patriot, where slippery-slope hysteria over the “inevitability” of polygamy is unleashed, like a horde of angry wasps, every time the subject of gay marriage is introduced.

    I’ve tried reasoning several of the points mentioned in this post, and on this thread, in the comments on that blog. All that resulted was…more hysteria.

    This website truly is a breath of fresh air.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      You still read the comments at Gaypatriot? Are you going for sainthood or something? ;-) I tried for awhile but it got so ugly around 2008 that I just couldn’t take it any more. The gays were all not conservative (moderate and further left) and the conservatives seemed to all be very anti-gay. It was odd and it was about that time that I realized that the homocons aren’t so much pro-gay as anti-liberal. It’s their raison d’etre. It’s why we’ve yet to hear anything hear from any of the authors about a very interesting speech by Tom Ridge at the LCR dinner. (And what the hell was Darrell Issa doing there?) Why do gay conservatives seem so indifferent when actual conservatives say something in favor of gay rights? Are they just too focused on nit-picking liberals to notice? Seriously, what gives?

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Actually, I stopped even reading the posts at GP most of the time. Sometimes friends will ask my opinion about something on that blog and I’ll go back just to see what gives. The situation keeps getting worse. It’s like “Lord of the Flies.”

        I don’t understand gay social conservatism. It seems a contradiction in terms. I suppose as a libertarian, I ought to understand other Right-of-Center viewpoints, but that one stumps me.

        Isn’t Tom Ridge a former governor? I’d like to see more current Republican officeholders supporting us. I hadn’t heard anything about Darrell Issa, though. Sounds intriguing. I’ll have to check into Log Cabin-land and see what that was about.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          The gay liberal bloggers (towleroad, joemygod, etc.) covered the event, but the conservatives seem to be ignoring it. I agree about wanting current officeholders to support gay rights instead of just the retirees. That was a problem with Democrats too until just last year so give them a little time to catch up. I like Tom Ridge. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he does and says, but he always struck me as a decent person and a competent manager. Issa attended the event but didn’t speak. Some are puzzled but it seems to me that just being int he same room with elected officials who aren’t friendly to gays is a positive step, even if nothing comes from it immediately. Sometimes big change happens in baby steps.

          http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2013/10/tom-ridge-torpedoes-tea-party-era-at-log-cabin-din.html

          • posted by Lori Heine on

            In response to a previous comment of yours, I do not believe it’s extremist to point the way back to certain basic, fundamental principles of moral logic.

            I do not object to taxation on general principle. I’m well aware that revenue must somehow be raised to run government. What I, and most other actual libertarians, object to is the rigging of the tax code to benefit the biggest, loudest or pushiest mob at the expense of everyone else.

            This is, indeed, robbery. When I say someone like Mona Charen supports theft, this is exactly what I mean.

            Straights have used the tax code for decades to benefit themselves at the expense of single people gay and straight. I don’t believe they do it for the children (what about OUR children?). They do it to line their pockets.

            If you think that’s extreme, Mona Charen, Bryan Fischer and the rest of that crowd would certainly agree with you.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            One of the major problems with our politics is the use of buzz-words that turn off people that might otherwise agree with us. I think you make some good points, but you make them in a way that raises red flags for me. A softer sell might be to your advantage. The tax code is a result of people of various kinds being able to leverage their influence on Congress to their own advantage. That’s a problem with our government across the board.

  14. posted by Austin Ruse on

    But why not multiple marriage partners? And for that matter incestuous marriage, between a father and his adult son? Why not those?

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      I couldn’t marry my father for the same reason that I couldn’t marry my mother. (Aside from the ick factor and the whole not wanting to do either thing, obviously). That’s a bizarre and moronic argument.

      It should be noted, however, that in most of the states where gay marriage is still illegal, you could marry your first cousin. That’s often used as an example of something also banned, but in many states it’s not. Also, ewwww. But potentially legal depending on where you live.

      Just another example that people arguing against marriage equality almost never know what they are talking about.

  15. posted by Sifrid on

    Well , since no one wants to be the devil’s advocate here, I guess I will try (yikes, I can’t believe I’m doing this). Full disclosure: I have not read Mona Charen’s opinion piece; my argument is based only on the article and comments here.

    So even in a society where the legal system reflects no strong underpinning based on religious or historical traditions, (which it appears that most people including myself would like to see), the consensus here seems to be that polygamous, polyandrous, poly-whatever relationships still should not be allowed because they are often (always?) unequal and harmful to the participants. To me this sounds awfully similar to the “Yes, it’s unfair, but society has an overwhelming right to discourage these types of harmful relationships” justification.

    Gee, where have I heard that used before?

    I can’t help shake the feeling that our by- in into this logic isn’t in reality a quid pro quo agreement with straight people – “See, if you allow us our (monogamous) same sex relationships, we’ll join with you in condemning everything else.”

    I have friends who are involved in poly (gay) relationships and even though I don’t really understand or want something like that, they tell me they are happy and they seem to be making it work, so who am I to tell them that no, they’re wrong. As a gay man, I am very uncomfortable in judging the validity (and by extension, the legal allowability) of their relationships since that is exactly what the straight world has done to us for centuries.

    I thought the moral (as opposed to the social) justification for allowing same sex marriage is that it concerns two adults who have deep emotional feelings for each other and that it is morally wrong to deny those feelings legal recognition and support. If that is true, and same sex marriage is allowed, I don’t see where I have the right to turn around and then deny recognition to three (or four) other adults who have freely chosen to enter a relationship.

    The question of legalities is a red herring. If we can thrash out the legal details to support gay couple adoptions (e.g., who pays child support in the case of divorce, etc) we can hammer out all the necessary legalities that would flow from a poly relationship.

    I realize this is handing back to our opponents and detractors one of the clubs they have traditionally used against us, and I sincerely regret that because I don’t want to make their quest any easier, but I really don’t see any logically consistent way to say that two adult males should be able to have a legal relationship while three adult males cannot.

    And as far as slippery slopes go, I agree with the prior poster that we can draw a line wherever we choose. Relationships between adults? Yes. Relationships with minors? Nope. Relationships between family members. Nope. And we can use the same justifications against those options that are currently used with laws governing straight marriage. And anyway, the slippery slope argument is never offered by our opponents in any attempt at serious discussion – it doesn’t matter what we say, they will always reply with it.

    • posted by JM on

      To me this sounds awfully similar to the “Yes, it’s unfair, but society has an overwhelming right to discourage these types of harmful relationships” justification.

      Gee, where have I heard that used before?

      This.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      To me this sounds awfully similar to the “Yes, it’s unfair, but society has an overwhelming right to discourage these types of harmful relationships” justification.

      If objective, fact-based evidence demonstrates that the relationships are harmful,and that the harm outweighs the benefit by a sufficient margin to meet whatever scrutiny test (rational basis, heightened, strict) is applicable, then, constitutionally, society does have a right to deny marriage to the relationship. If not, then not.

      Polygamous civil marriage, if and when it becomes an issue in our society, will be judged on the same basis as other forms of marriage. Are polygamous marriages harmful to women and children? Are the effects of dissolving polygamous marriages of immigrants more harmful than letting the marriages stand? We’ll have to look at these and many other questions. But fact and reason will provide a basis for sorting it out, and coming to a conclusion.

      Yes, the buzz words are similar, but the similarity ends at the buzz words.

      We have now had at least a decade of controversy over marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The arguments of both sides have been considered, researched and tested. The arguments of the anti-equality side of the controversy have been found wanting, and the “society has an overwhelming right to discourage these types of harmful relationships ” has been found not to apply, because the responsible evidence is that stable, legally protected, same-sex relationships (i.e. civil marriages) are not harmful to society, but instead beneficial.

      That is not the case with polygamy. The objective, fact-based arguments for and against polygamy have not been considered, researched and tested — and certainly not outside Muslim cultures, cultures which have had long experience with polygamy and a fair opportunity to work out ways to make it work — in the depth that is needed to test whether or not government-based prohibition on polygamous marriages will stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

      The similarities in buzz words ignores that reality.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Hmmm. Is polygamy legal in any countries in which women have anything resembling equal rights under the law? I can’t think of any. Even in the communities in North America in which Mormon sects practiced polygamy, the women seem to have few if any rights in the relationship.

      • posted by Tia Nadiezja on

        And why should people have to wait? Why shouldn’t the people who want to ban poly marriage – the people who want to REMOVE rights, rather than ADD them – have to prove THEIR case instead?

        Why shouldn’t I be able to marry my girlfriend right now? “We fought for our rights for decades; you should have to as well” is a terrible argument. We should try to make the world as good as possible NOW.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          Why shouldn’t I be able to marry my girlfriend right now?

          Assuming that you want to be married in a polyamorous marriage (as suggested in your other comment), you shouldn’t be able to marry your girlfriend right now because such a marriage would require significant changes in marriage, property, spousal and child support, property and other related laws in order to make that possible, and we do not, at present, have a basis for determining whether those changes would serve the common good, or not.

          “We fought for our rights for decades; you should have to as well” is a terrible argument.

          Agreed. But that’s not the argument, Tia, at least not the argument I’m making.

          The argument I’m making is that in a religiously-neutral constitutional republic such as ours, laws (and changes in laws) should be based on the common good. Deciding whether or not this, that or the other furthers the common good requires facts, discussion about what those facts mean, and reasoned discernment.

          That is a very different argument than “We fought for our rights for decades; you should have to as well.”

          We should try to make the world as good as possible NOW.

          Yes, of course, but in order to do so, instead of blundering blindly, we need to have at least some understanding of what we are doing and the likely consequences that will follow.

          At present, I would argue that we have no way of doing either understanding or predicting. We’ve had no serious discussion of polyamorous marriage, there’s been little research into the subject, there’s been no public discussion. On what basis can we determine whether or not changing our laws to permit polyamorous marriage would be “good”?

          Why shouldn’t the people who want to ban poly marriage – the people who want to REMOVE rights, rather than ADD them – have to prove THEIR case instead?

          In normal course, both sides have to enter the discussion, “prove their case” as you put it. Right now, the discussion hasn’t even been started in any way that can be considered serious. So on what basis can we decide, other than whim?

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            Correcting a formatting error in the comment immediately above:

            Why shouldn’t I be able to marry my girlfriend right now?

            Assuming that you want to be married in a polyamorous marriage (as suggested in your other comment), you shouldn’t be able to marry your girlfriend right now because such a marriage would require significant changes in marriage, property, spousal and child support, property and other related laws in order to make that possible, and we do not, at present, have a basis for determining whether those changes would serve the common good, or not.

    • posted by JohnInCA on

      Sorry, but no. The idea that I not only have to explain why gay marriage is good but also be able to explain how polygamy and incest are bad? That’s stupid.

      Not to mention that the “it’s all about LOVE” rendition of the argument for marriage equality is just a strawman anyway, so if you’re using that to “prove” that we should be supporting anything else you’re starting from a false premise.

  16. posted by Jorge on

    Have you noticed that social conservatives’ notions of what gay-marriage advocates supposedly “must” believe are often very wide of what most actually-existing gay-marriage advocates do believe?

    Yes.

    But you didn’t start with a very good example. There is a lot of low-lying fruit for the conservative right to grab at. At the same time the right can also form a rather erudite battle line. These are two slightly separate things. Ms. Charen obviously is more inclined toward the latter. However, her response hints at something an even smaller group of people on are dedicated to responding to: that the intellectualism and intolerant zealotry of the gay rights movement go hand-in-hand.

    When I say hand-in-hand, I do not mean they are indistinguishable or interchangeable, which is where many people make exactly the mistake you are alleging. There are meaningful differences between the varied factions of the gay rights movement.

    Nothing I have said is unique to our side. Because intellectualism and zealotry go hand in hand, it is important to engage intellect with intellect. So actually while I said you didn’t choose a very good example it is in fact necessary to wage such battles that are very challenging to win. But when you do so you need to keep one hand holding a foil behind your back just so to guard against being cheap-shotted with caricatures of Leviticus–uh, I mean examples of gay wedding photographer rage. Wait, which side am I talking about?

    • posted by Jorge on

      That should read “However, her response hints at something an even smaller group of people [on the right] are dedicated to responding to.” I was undecided about whether or not to specify the right.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Are there really intellectual arguments against gay marriage? All I ever hear is “what about the children!” and “Jesus doesn’t like it.” That’s it. I’ve been waiting since this debate started for a logical evidence-based argument against same-sex marriage, but I’ve yet to hear even one.

      • posted by Doug on

        I suspect that if there were any intellectual arguments they would have been brought forward in the Prop 8 case. Nothing was presented in Prop 8 that survived cross examination.

      • posted by Jorge on

        *Whacks Houndentenor on the head.

        You’ve obviously read neither Mona Charen’s article nor her reply. Revise and resubmit. Although I’m not sure how much help that will be, since you cited one of them and didn’t even recognize it.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          Okay, okay. I went and read it. What a waste of time. Not only was it nonsense, but I’m appalled that she gets paid to write such drivel. And then there are the comments. I read some arguments against gay adoption, but I have no idea what that has to do with marriage. That’s the complete lack of intellectual bankruptcy of the right these days. They aren’t even arguing the issue at hand. Seriously, I’m not sure why I bothered reading something so flat out stupid. Does Charen ever have anything to say that isn’t completely moronic, or is this representative?

  17. posted by Gregg on

    One mother, one father

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      One mother, one father

      … and what?

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Okay. Yes, biologically that’s how it works. I even had one of each and only one of each growing up. My (older) half-siblings had very different upbringings. If we want to talk about divorce, custody and other family law issues, that’s a worthy topic, but it’s irrelevant to whether or not two men or two women can be legally married. Unless of course you mean to invalidate those marriages in which there are no children. Seriously, this is the best you can do? What a sorry educational system we have when people think this is a rational argument.

    • posted by JohnInCA on

      What you got against adoption, step-parenting and blended families?

    • posted by Jorge on

      Our Father, who art in heaven, and Mary, mother of God?

      Hmm, sorry, no, I like the trinitarian pantheon better.

  18. posted by A slippery slope to polygamy? - Overlawyered on

    […] everyone who supports same-sex marriage is logically obliged to support polygamy, and say so in this post taking issue with columnist Mona Charen. She responds […]

  19. posted by A slippery slope to polygamy? | Internet Tax Lawyers on

    […] everyone who supports same-sex marriage is logically obliged to support polygamy, and say so in this post taking issue with columnist Mona Charen. She responds […]

  20. posted by Gay Marriage: Good; Polyamory: Bad. | bloggergate on

    […] Olson has a top-notch blog post over at Independent Gay Forum that describes why increased acceptance of same-sex marriage […]

  21. posted by Gay Marriage: Good; Polyamory: Bad. | Safe Schools | Desert Cities on

    […] elehrer@rstreet.org (Eli Lehrer) Walter Olson has a top-notch blog post over at Independent Gay Forum that describes why increased acceptance of same-sex marriage […]

  22. posted by Walter Olson on

    Interesting follow-on piece from Eli Lehrer of R Street Institute: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eli-lehrer/gay-marriage-good-polyamo_b_4165423.html

  23. posted by Tia Nadiezja on

    There is a third group in favor of multiple marriage, a group to which I belong – modern, feminist, often LGBT people who honestly believe that the most healthy way to live – and to love – doesn’t, for everyone, mean being in love with only one person.

    These sorts of people – again, myself included – build relationships with multiple people, all of whom know about their other relationships. I currently live with my fiancee and her wife (all three of us are women – there’s no “one man with a pile of women” in the style of the fundamentalist Mormons!) in a very functional relationship, and am happier than I ever was trying to maintain a single relationship, or trying to meet all the needs of another person.

    Honestly, how monoamorous people function baffles me, just as much as how straight women do. How do you manage to meet all the needs of your partner? How do you have the talents to do so? How does your partner manage to meet all your needs? Or are you living with needs unmet? How do you do that? WHY do you do that?

    That some cultures that do awful things to women engage in group marriage (and their group marriage is ALWAYS one man with multiple women – maybe that’s the key, and not group marriage as a whole?) doesn’t mean that group marriage is bad for women, or for children, or for people. I know quite a lot of very happy poly relationships, and a lot of miserable couples. In fact, I’d say the poly families I know have a higher batting average as far as happiness goes.

    So, frankly? Until you’ve researched modern polyamory, you REALLY need to not write about the issue of multiple marriage.

  24. posted by Jorge on

    There is a third group in favor of multiple marriage, a group to which I belong – modern, feminist, often LGBT people who honestly believe that the most healthy way to live – and to love – doesn’t, for everyone, mean being in love with only one person

    At the risk of being trite, what is best for some people may not be what is best for everyone as a whole. Best to allow the individual good and promote the social good. Let the individual good prove itself. I have no interest in assisting.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      Gee, Jorge, you sound like an…anarchist! :)

      Though I quite agree with this particular remark of yours, I can’t help noting that this is what libertarians are up against. Social conservatives wants government to be juuuuust big enough to give them whatever they want (WHATEVER they want — at whoever’s expense), but not one smidgen bigger than that.

      Because the Left so often operates without any restraint or common sense whatsoever (as indicated, above, by the Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice lobby), we need people like you — who alone, of course, understand the mind of God — to save us.

      No, the behemoth government we have now is not simply the fault of the Left.

      • posted by Don on

        Lori, your comment is precisely why I find the Libertarian perspective so off-putting. There are 1,000 principled reasons for libertarians to never support republicans (or democrats) and yet they do. And it all boils down to money trumps principle every time. You can outlaw my lifestyle choices, just don’t take my money.

        I get the lesser of two evils and the whole “what affects me most” arguments there. But it’s just too hypocritical for me. Maybe I’m framing it less generously in my head, but “okay, I’ll vote for you if you get me a tiny fraction of my money back and you can take away major rights of others and I’ll look the other way.”

        Although I chafe at the world that has created for same sex couples, I am horrified at what it would do to race relations in this country if all the safeguard regulations were ripped from the law books. The rush of voter ID laws since the S.C. opinion has scared me silly. For me, there has to be more government in place than principled libertarians would allow for. Outlawing gambling and prostitution would be more just at first, but the societal consequences won’t be good either.

        [caveat: I don't know know your position on these specific items, so i'm not painting you with the "libertarians believe that . . ." label that you frequently protest. but these are positions that they generally hold]

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          LOL this is totally off topic but since you brought up Voter ID laws, there’s a story from Texas that may not have made the national news. The people having the most problems (in early voting so far) with their ID not matching their registration are married women. It seems that one form ask for the name as First Middle Last and the other First Maiden Last. Married women are having to do provisional ballots which may or may not be counted. The irony? Married women are more likely than single women to vote Republican. I’m enjoying the irony of the voter ID law blowing up in the faces of Texas Republicans.

        • posted by Lori Heine on

          Yes, Don, if hordes of libertarians (bearing magic wands) were suddenly whisked into office all across the land, the results would probably be a train wreck.

          As I know of no democratic nation on earth where the process works like that, I can only imagine what life must be like on planets where this happens.

          The most that could realistically be expected to happen would be that enough libertarians might be elected to bring some different ideas to the table. Some of which would pass muster, and some of which would not. I believe our republic can probably survive that.

          You are confusing money with personal ownership of oneself. Libertarian principle concerns itself with the concept (and it’s frightening that this is now such a radical one) that we own ourselves. As that is also the basis for gay rights, I wouldn’t think that concept would be too scary to you.

          If I own myself, I have first dibs on any money I earn, and just because another group of people (for instance, those who think like Mona Charen) are able to organize to vote themselves my money, the sheer fact of their larger number gives them no automatic claim to it.

          I suppose I wouldn’t find what critics of libertarian find “off-putting” so suspect if not for the fact that the very same people who sell them their soap, toothpaste and deodorant are telling them what libertarians believe.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          The Public Religion Research Institute published an interesting poll this week that supports the view that libertarian minded voters tend to vote heavily Republican on pocketbook issues.

          The report is fascinating reading. One thing that caught my eye is that libertarian-minded voters are significantly less supportive on LGBT issues than the general public, and far apart from Democratic voters. For example, a majority of libertarian-minded voters oppose same-sex marriage, which is less supportive than the public as a whole.

          I keep Lorie’s distinction between left-libertarians and right-libertarians in mind, but it appears that left-libertarians are definitely in the minority of libertarian-minded voters.

          • posted by Lori Heine on

            I would be very interested to know (A) what these “libertarian-minded” voters identified as their criteria for calling themselves libertarian-minded and (B) what their religious bent might be.

            I obviously know an awful lot of libertarian-minded voters, and not a one of them is unsupportive of gay marriage per se. Quite a few say they favor “getting government out of marriage entirely,” which means (however unrealistic I’ve come to think this is) for gays and straights alike. But it would be quite a twist on the truth to characterize that view as anti-GAY-marriage.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            I would be very interested to know (A) what these “libertarian-minded” voters identified as their criteria for calling themselves libertarian-minded and (B) what their religious bent might be.

            I would suggest that you read the report, Lorie. It isn’t long – 48 pages with cover sheet, table of content and appendices.

            In response to your questions:

            (A) As I understand it PRRI categorized “libertarian-minded” (my term, not PRRI’s) voters based on responses to nine questions. The questions and the criteria for classification are described on pages 7-9 of the report, and dealt with more extensively in Appendix 2.

            (B) The “religious bent” of those classified as libertarian was 23% white evangelical, 27% white mainline, 4% other Christian, 11% Catholic, 6% non-Christian religious, 27% unaffiliated, and the balance (about 3%) refused. See page 15 of the report.

            I obviously know an awful lot of libertarian-minded voters, and not a one of them is unsupportive of gay marriage per se. Quite a few say they favor “getting government out of marriage entirely,” which means (however unrealistic I’ve come to think this is) for gays and straights alike. But it would be quite a twist on the truth to characterize that view as anti-GAY-marriage.

            I don’t know how the question was worded. The findings are described on page 22, which has a graph and this text:

            A slim majority (52%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while
            44% are opposed. Americans are strongly divided on this issue along party lines, with twothirds
            (67%) of Democrats favoring same-sex marriage and 67% of Republicans opposing
            it; roughly one-third (31%) of Republicans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

            While a majority of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage, they are significantly less opposed
            than Republicans overall and than other conservative-leaning groups such as Tea Party members
            and white evangelical Protestants. Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) libertarians oppose allowing
            gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 4-in-10 (40%) who favor this policy. Tea Party
            members are 14 percentage points more likely than libertarians to oppose same-sex marriage
            (73% oppose), and white evangelical Protestants are 21 percentage points more likely than
            libertarians to oppose same-sex marriage (80% oppose).

            I think that the simplest thing to do would be to take a look at the report. I linked to it so that anyone who was interested could make their own assessment.

  25. posted by FredAG on

    “the minuscule group of old-school Muslim and splinter-Mormon practitioners ..”

    Haven’t been to Birmingham in the UK or Paris recently have you….

  26. posted by Lori Heine on

    Tom, the simplest thing I can do is tell you what libertarians believe. As the question comes up, issue by issue, I will do that.

    Libertarians believe that ALL citizens should be treated equally under the law. That government, at every level, should treat every citizen the same way it treats every other. If the respondents to that survey believe that gays should be denied the legal marriage rights afforded to straights, then — regardless of what they call themselves — they are NOT libertarians.

    I’ll repeat that libertarians do not merely believe in liberty for ourselves, but for everyone. It has become the fashion, on the Right, for people to call themselves “libertarians” because they believe in their own liberty. Just about everyone who doesn’t like Barack Obama has jumped on that bandwagon.

    In one breath, I have heard people claim they were libertarians — while in the very next, they ranted about “Kenyan birth certificates” and a Mexican border equivalent of China’s Great Wall. They want a big and oppressive government that does their bidding — one over which they hold power. They can call themselves Batman and Catwoman, too, if they want to — and their claim would be as credible, to anyone who knows what a libertarian is, as is the claim that they are libertarians.

    It never ceases to amuse me that though those on the Left regard nothing those Right-of-Center say as credible, on any subject, will absolutely, blindly, mindlessly take their word for it when they say they’re libertarians. The Righties are not assumed to know up from down on any other matter, but if they say they’re libertarians, their word is gold.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Tom, the simplest thing I can do is tell you what libertarians believe. As the question comes up, issue by issue, I will do that.

      Lorie, I can look at the Libertarian Party platform, the official statement of “what libertarians believe”, myself. In fact, I have a copy on my computer. It isn’t rocket science, and it isn’t gnosis.

      I found the PRRI poll/report interesting, and one of the things I found most interesting about it was that PRRI did not categorize based on self-identification. You obviously don’t want to go into the poll’s methodology, and I don’t want to get into an endless discussion with you about what you think libertarians believe or don’t believe.

      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Tom, I have read the report. The respondents were judged “libertarian” because of their replies to questions in a survey. They scored high in all the right areas — meaning that they answered the questions in a way that showed that on paper, in theory, they hold libertarian views.

        Many people, quite similarly, are “Christians” because they can stand up on Sunday mornings and recite the Apostle’s or the Nicene Creed. And because they correctly answered the questions in catechism class. They believe all the right things, therefore they are Christians.

        Then they treat other human beings like crap — and demonstrate that they are not. According to Christ’s own definition, as articulated in the Gospels, those who do not live out His teachings in their day-to-day actions are not truly His disciples.

        If everybody who held libertarian views in theory actually carried out those principles as citizens, we would have a much different — and vastly better — country than we do. I’m not surprised a lot of people answered a survey the way they did.

        They may fudge and hedge around and call themselves “libertarian-minded,” but they are not libertarians. Go to the Libertarian Party website, kindly, and find where it says that we believe different groups of people should be treated differently by government under the law. Take your time. I’ll wait.

        If there’s an “endless discussion” going on here about what libertarians do or do not believe, it is those who repeatedly misrepresent our beliefs who are perpetuating it. I intend to bring as many gay and lesbian libertarians over here as possible, to read this blog and take part in its commentary threads. That will, at least, make the conversation somewhat less lopsided.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          They may fudge and hedge around and call themselves “libertarian-minded,” but they are not libertarians. Go to the Libertarian Party website, kindly, and find where it says that we believe different groups of people should be treated differently by government under the law. Take your time. I’ll wait.

          I have a copy of the Libertarian Party’s 2012 platform on my computer. I have cited it frequently on IGF. I am aware of the Libertarian Party’s positions. You don’t have to wait. The operative language is in Section 1.3: “Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws.

          Now, having said that, let me say this: You are defining away the problem by limiting, in a sense, the definition of who is a “libertarian” (small “L”) by confining that definition to members of the Libertarian Party. That is akin to my defining “Democratic voters” by limiting such voters to card-carrying members of the Democratic Party. It defines away the problem by limiting the sample.

          I am well aware of how frustrating it is for Libertarians (capital “L”) to have every Tom, Dick and Harry in the Republican Party (e.g. Rand Paul and even Ken Cuccinelli, for G-d’s sake) claim to be “libertarian”. I hear that frustration very loudly from my brother-in-law in Texas and my neighbor up the road, both of whom are active members of the Libertarian Party and who have, on occasion, run for state-level office as candidates of the Libertarian Party. I hear it from you, too, very frequently on IGF.

          But, it seems to me, the PRRI poll/report is relevant to the discussion on IGF for this reason: Stephen often alludes to “libertarian” support for marriage equality, and posits that “libertarian” Republicans will somehow turn the party.

          The PRRI poll/report suggests otherwise. It suggests exactly what you frequently say on IGF — that “libertarian-minded” voters are not, in any significant sense, aligned with the core principles of the Libertarian Party on social issues, marriage equality in particular.

          If the PRRI poll/report is accurate, a very high percentage of “libertarian-minded” voters vote Republican, with all that entails, but call themselves “libertarian” on the basis of some degree of alignment with the economic principles of the Libertarian Party, and that basis alone. That does not suggest, at least to me, that Stephen’s hope for a libertarian-driven turnaround of the Republican Party has much foundation.

          It seems to me that the PRRI poll/report is important for another reason: It belies the hope that the Libertarian Party will grow in significant numbers by trying to attract “libertarian-minded” voters, at least until after marriage equality is off the table as an issue.

          Until then, it seems to me, it is going to be very hard to get these voters to move over to the Libertarian Party from the Republican Party, and the Libertarian Party’s candidates will remain stuck in the single-digits in general elections.

          I intend to bring as many gay and lesbian libertarians over here as possible, to read this blog and take part in its commentary threads. That will, at least, make the conversation somewhat less lopsided.

          As long as they are members of the Libertarian Party, or, at a minimum, vote for candidates of the Libertarian Party in general elections, that will be true. If not, then all you are doing is increasingly the number of “libertarian-minded” lesbians, and who knows what that might mean in terms of whether the positions of the Libertarian Party are well represented?

    • posted by Don on

      Thanks, Lori! I really enjoyed that mini-rant. well, it wasn’t really a rant per se. but it was a really funny blowing off of steam. (batman/catwoman)

      I understand the simple ideal of private, personal space and the desire to maximize it. And that you have a realistic view of what is possible under those goals.

      My only point is that libertarians quickly throw social issues under the bus as soon as they can get their money off the table. Akin to gay/lesbian lobbyists snagging some small victory and leaving the trans sitting in the corner all alone. “Sorry, we would have brought you with us, but we gotta get what we can for the most people.”

      Even you must admit this leaves the impression, as Nelly said: “It must be the money” that is driving the movement, not so much the principle of limited government and personhood.

      I have no doubt you personally believe in the whole package. But I would imagine a huge percentage of the movement would evaporate overnight if they got a big enough tax cut.

  27. posted by Lori Heine on

    Tom, I appreciate your argument. Thanks for clarifying.

    I have come, however, to exactly the opposite conclusion. I have decided that the best thing for me to do, as a libertarian, is register Republican and work — and fight — within that party for change.

    As fond as I am of the Libertarian Party, I have come to believe that it bears a lot of the blame for why social conservatives ever got such a stranglehold on the GOP in the first place. Will a reversal in direction be rapid? Almost certainly not, since it took decades for things to get this bad. But I believe patience is necessary. Those in a third party are essentially sitting on the bench, watching the game go by.

    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I have decided that the best thing for me to do, as a libertarian, is register Republican and work — and fight — within that party for change.

      I have long advocated that pro-equality conservatives should get involved in the Republican Party and turn it around, and I’m glad you are doing just that, Lorie. But I hope that you don’t do what a lot of other pro-equality conservatives (Ted Olson comes to mind) and support anti-equality Republican candidates.

  28. posted by Eric Matthaei on

    Walter Olson doesn’t address the issue that Mona Charen raises in her article. It goes to the definition of marriage. What is it? Who is it for?

    If we have this thing called “marriage” in order to promote the happiness and welfare of the adults who are engaged in it, then what is the principled reason for excluding same-sex couples or polygamous relationships from the institution? She isn’t arguing that polygamy is on the verge of widespread acceptance. She isn’t saying that polygamy is on the path to widespread acceptance. She is only asking the question. If the assumed definition of marriage is the correct definition of marriage, why not polygamy?

    Conservatives find it easy (in principle) to exclude both homosexuals and polygamists, because they do not share this definition of marriage. That is the heart and soul of Mona Charen’s article. It is the elephant in Walter Olson’s room, and he chooses to completely ignore it in this reply.

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