Same-sex Marriage and Change

October 27, 2009 | 97 comments
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Will same-sex marriage change the institution of marriage? Melissa Harris-Lacewell writes in The Nation that maybe, hopefully, it will.

Typically advocates of marriage equality try to reassure the voting public the same-sex marriage will not change the institution itself. “Don’t worry,” we say, “allowing gay men and lesbians to marry will not threaten the established norms; it will simply assimilate new groups into old practices.”

This is a pragmatic, political strategy, but I hope it is not true. I hope same-sex marriage changes marriage itself. I hope it changes marriage the way that no-fault divorce changed it. I hope it changes marriage the way that allowing women to own their own property and seek their own credit changed marriage. I hope it changes marriage the way laws against spousal abuse and child neglect changed marriage. I hope marriage equality results more equal marriages. I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult lives outside of marriage.

It’s a fascinating discussion, and refreshingly different from many of the retread arguments on both sides of the debate. Is change to marital norms always a bad thing? Should we affirmatively defend at least some changes in marriage practice? How can marriage as an institution become better?

97 Responses to Same-sex Marriage and Change

  1. Rob G on October 27, 2009 at 3:17 am

    While I am inspired by the rhetoric in this quote, I struggle to imagine ways in which same-sex marriage might alter the dynamic between married heterosexual partners. One suggestion might be that women would then have the added option of leaving their husband for a wife, but that seems to imply a fluid sexuality that goes in the face of fixed sexuality theories that underly the entire same-sex marriage movement. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to what the author might envision being the mechanism for this change?

  2. Toby O on October 27, 2009 at 5:22 am

    So is this another argument in favor of redefining marriage so that it includes same sex couples? Why do arguments need to reach further than it being an issue of equality and acceptance of homosexuality as a social norm?

  3. chanson on October 27, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I’ve seen people argue this point before, but I think that it’s the inverse instead: It is because marriage has changed (for the better) that same-sex marriage makes sense. I’ve explained my idea here.

  4. John on October 27, 2009 at 7:37 am

    My personal favorite marriage change was going from arranged marriages to ones based on romantic love and our own free will. That was pretty cool.

  5. Peter LLC on October 27, 2009 at 8:12 am

    That was pretty cool.

    But often terribly impractical. Which leads us back to no fault divorce.

  6. Tatiana on October 27, 2009 at 8:49 am

    My grandmother was pretty much my grandfather’s slave. He would order her around, “fix me a bowl of ice cream, old lady.” She had more education than he did and she was quite intelligent, but she only ever grumbled under her breath and out of his hearing.

    My mom did almost everything at home except earn the money. She did the taxes, kept the books, did almost all the parenting, was in charge of house maintenance (though Dad did do handy work around the house), it was ALL her responsibility, and then when Dad had to sign anything he would question everything, refuse to believe things she had researched, roar in disapproval of how high the power bill was in summer, for instance, though he was the one who left the garage door open all the time, and so on. He treated her with disrespect and took her for granted my whole life and after mom had done all the work, she then had to do to the work of explaining it all to him in detail against his anger and distrust, and convincing him it was done right. I would never work for a boss who treated me like that and I would not want to be married under those circumstances. Talking about it years later I asked Mom why she put up with it and she told me if she left him we would all be desperately poor and so she decided he wasn’t so bad after all. At least he didn’t drink and beat her. Those were her criteria. He did beat the kids up occasionally but had never put them in the hospital or anything, just left bruises.

    Anyway, the marriages of my contemporaries are better, though still full of things that shock me. One friend’s husband said, “I’m ironing my pants. In some families the wife irons the pants” when I asked what was up before asking to speak to my friend. I was like “You’re breaking my heart, you have to iron your own pants?” Another friend’s husband spends however much money he wants on toys, stereos, computers, etc. but it counts as her spending money when she buys clothes for the kids, piano lessons, etc. They both work full time, so I can’t think of any reason the money shouldn’t be hers as much as his. Most of the non-Mormon guys my age would speak of “babysitting” their own kids, prided themselves on never changing poopy diapers, etc. They were essentially family deadbeats, not willing to pull their weight. Even with the wife working full time outside the home, she was still responsible for everything done inside the home. Marriage on those terms was certainly not very attractive to females, though many of them accepted it.

    So if same sex marriage helps change marriage culturally to become more of an equal partnership, I think that’s grand. Like Rob G in comment 1, I’m not sure how that will come about, but nevertheless I’m all for it! I think we still have a long way to go before real marriage equality between partners exists.

  7. Vader on October 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Marriage can become better by taking a few steps back. Not just any steps back, of course:

    Marriage without abuse == good.
    Marriage where the wife shares ownership of property rather than being property == good.
    Marriage where spouses are equal partners == good.

    The ideal of romantic marriage? Not so good. It’s easy to become infatuated. I’ve done it many times. When infatuation becomes the basis for marriage, an expectation is created that marriage is as easy as infatuation. When this proves not to be the case, then no-fault divorce seems easy. When that also proves not to be the case, you have a lot of shattered lives and reduced capacity for long-term commitment.

    Marriage focused on the happiness of the spouses rather than the happiness of the next generation? Not so good. The change to no-fault divorce was promoted, in part, via the assertion that it was good to get the children out of the “combat zone.” We have now accumulated substantial sociological evidence otherwise. But at least that belief, however mistaken, gave lip service to the idea that marriage was about raising the next generation.

    Marriage is hard. It is about adults bridling their basic biological drives, at no small inconvenience and sacrifice to themselves, to make things easier for kids. In this respect, it is a model of the Atonement. I’d be happy to affirmatively defend some changes in marriage practice that took us closer to this model rather than farther away.

  8. Bro. Jones on October 27, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I’m with #3. Part of the reason I’m not convinced by the “Protect Traditional Marriage!” argument is that the current “tradition” of marriage as we understand it (at least in America) is just not all that traditional. Certainly not more than a century or two old.

  9. Eric Boysen on October 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

    No fault divorce is one of the biggest fiascos of 20th century domestic law and increasing the opportunity for building a meaningful adult life outside of marriage is dead counter to LDS doctrine regarding the family. Intra-marriage equality? I’m all for it. Change to marital norms may be good or bad, but I do not think these arguments are at all compelling.

  10. AHLDuke on October 27, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I am just guessing here, but I imagine that the mechanism of change will something like this: same-sex married couples will have more equal relationships because they will be stripped of the fiction of different gender roles (work outside the home, housework, cooking, cleaning, etc.). Instead of assigning roles and tasks based on gender, they will assign it based on merit, comparative advantage and norms of equity and shared responsibility.

    As years and decades pass and these relationships proliferate, they will become a new model for heterosexual marriages to follow. Of course, certain heterosexual marriages are already moving in this direction but the legalization of SSM can be expected to accelerate its momentum.

    Note that I am not sure how these dynamics actually function in existing same-sex long-term committed relationships (married or not), but its my guess.

  11. Nate Oman on October 27, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Potentially, I think that there are three aspects of marriage likely to be emphasized by SSM: 1. It’s grounding in personal affection; 2. It’s grounding in personal choice; and, 3. the equality of partners.

    Of these three aspects, I actually think that 3 is the most questionable. The reason for this is that there are good practical and economic reasons for specialization within a relationship. To the extent that couples specialize, the question of equality of burdens, etc. will turn on the comparison on incommensurables. At the very least, I think that the equal distribution of burdens and power within marriage will turn on economic accidents and personality as much as the identity of the marriage as a same-sex couple. The one up side would be that any emergent inequalities would not be tied explicitly to gender.

    I actually think that there is a real danger in over-emphasizing romance and choice with regard to marriage to the exclusion of other ideas such as social and parental duty and the like. Clearly some of the advocacy regarding SSM has invoked these concepts (here my favorite writer is Jonathan Rauch). On the other hand, I think that the strongest political appeal to gay marriage comes from the notion that gay couples love one another and are engaging in a consensual commitment to one another.

    In the end, I think that romance and personal commitment are too thin to justify the institution of marriage, and that over time their emphasis will lead to a decline in marriage as an institution. I think that SSM is actually of extremely marginal importance in this process, and I suspect that its current success is a symptom rather than a cause. That said, I suspect that at the margins is will lead to an increased understanding of marriage in terms of romantic love, personal fulfillment, and the importance of self-imposed obligation. I could be wrong about this, of course. For example, a shift from SSM as a legal right to SSM as a social duty for homosexuals would temper the claims of romance and consent.

    Just my two cents, although I feel guilty about feeding the beast of yet another SSM post…

  12. bbell on October 27, 2009 at 9:34 am

    The premise of the post and the commentators runs flat into a wall composed of Scriptures, GA statements, and the Family Proc.

  13. Nate Oman on October 27, 2009 at 9:36 am

    ALH Duke: One of the problems with your argument is that the there is are fairly sharp limit on the percentage of marriages that will be gay unions. First, the number of homosexuals in the population is limited by biological factors. Most people aren’t gay and the number of homosexuals in the population as a whole seems fairly limited and fairly impervious to social stigma and incentive. Second, we still don’t have a good sense of whether SSM as a social institution will be robust or anemic. It’s entirely possible that gay couples will simply not choose to marry in large numbers. Certainly, there are large swathes of the heterosexual population that are increasingly uninterested in marriage.

    Hence, once the issue of SSM loses political saliency, I am not sure that it will have a huge impact on social practice because as a social institution I’m not convinced it will be all that prominent.

  14. Steve Densley, Jr. on October 27, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I’m with bbell on this. As an example, consider President Kimball’s words from almost 30 years ago: “We have always understood that the foundations of the family, as an eternal unit, were laid even before this earth was created! Society without basic family life is without foundation and will disintegrate into nothingness…. [M]any of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing….There are those who would define the family in such a nontraditional way that they would define it out of existence….We … should not be taken in by the specious arguments that the family unit is somehow tied to a particular phase of development a mortal society is going through. We are free to resist those moves which downplay the significance of the family and which play up the significance of selfish individualism. We know the family to be eternal. We know that when things go wrong in the family, things go wrong in every other institution in society.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Families Can Be Eternal,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 4.)

  15. Phouchg on October 27, 2009 at 9:49 am

    #12 – the works you cite are only relevant for approximately 0.2167% of humanity. For the rest of us, these questions about SSM and the impact on society need to be answered as we continue to evolve and grow.

  16. Mike Parker on October 27, 2009 at 9:55 am

    If Latter-day Saints REALLY want to protect marriage, perhaps they should get behind this new California ballot measure:

    http://www.sos.ca.gov/admin/press-releases/2009/db09-063.pdf

  17. bbell on October 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Phouchg

    For those not LDS it runs flat into a wall composed of the Pope, Billy Graham, and Islam. Hence 30 out of 30 states that run a referendum on this issue ban SSM. Its such a big wall that even Barack Obama can’t seem to get over it or thru it.

  18. Geoff B on October 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Kaimi, I see no new arguments here that have not been examined and re-examined in dozens of other posts. But good on you for trying.

  19. TMD on October 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

    “I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult lives outside of marriage.”

    This itself is something for LDS to oppose, because it suggests that marriage should be a less important part of the individual’s identity. Almost all temple doctrine, in contrast, suggests that this is one of the most important of our identities.

  20. Lorin on October 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I call foul on those here who are paint a picture of gay couple relationships being virtually identical to heterosexual marriage, only warmer and cozier and trouble-free. At the risk of being flamed here and branded as a homophobe, you can’t just use the gay couples who “have it together” as your baseline for how homosexual marriages could change the culture. You have to include the worst that the gay subculture has to offer as well, cuz you’re proposing handing them the keys as well.

    I recall a Scandinavian study (where domestic partnerships and marriage have been legal for years) and the two takeaways from a government study over that stuck in my brain were these:

    – a very low percentage of gay men the nation(s) studied (something below 5%) are married or in domestic partnerships. For whatever reason, the institution doesn’t appeal to the vast majority of gay men over there. (Not that heterosexuals in the same regions are doing so well with the institution either — extremely high out-of-wedlock birthrates are rampant in these same countries.)

    – the gay men who were married or described themselves as involved in a “committed long-term relationship” reported an average of 8 sexual partners during the previous 12 months. Consider that: EIGHT partners that year, and they still considered themselves within the threshold of of a committed long-term relationship. (Clearly, there are a lot of Scandinavian gay men who have a different definition of “committed” than many of us do.)

    Why are we assuming that the more mainstream, committed gay couples who don’t participate in the openly promiscuous subsets of gay culture will be the only ones “changing the culture”? Why are we assuming that the merging of traditional marriage values and gay relationship values will only run in one direction?

    Where are we getting the idea that there will be no unintended consequences 30 years from now from changing the definition to marriage? Who has any control over whether the consequences will all be positive?

  21. Mike Parker on October 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

    “I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult lives outside of marriage.”

    By coincidence, there’s an article in the October ‘Ensign’ on that very subject.

    Link to article and discussion about it here:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/10/23/emotional-infidelity/

  22. jeff hoyt on October 27, 2009 at 11:38 am

    It seems to me a better way to improve marriage (the ultimate question in the OP) is to heed the counsel of our prophets – as opposed to working as hard as we can to discredit such counsel (which seems to more and more be the focus of T&S).

  23. The Only True and Living Nathan on October 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

    #12 – the works you cite are only relevant for approximately 0.2167% of humanity.

    You’re right. How dare a Mormon-focused blog with a clear majority of Mormon commenters actually deal with things from a Mormon perspective! BIGOTS!!

  24. Steve on October 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I can think of one effect that no-fault divorce and SSM are likely to share: I’m willing to bet that, just like no-fault divorce, SSM will increase the nation’s divorce rate. Just a hunch.

  25. AHLDuke on October 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Steve, any willingness to speculate on what might be the mechanism for the increase in the divorce rate if SSM is allowed? I mean, I have no doubt that the raw number of divorces will increase. More marriages —> more divorces. It would be foolish to imagine that SSMs would have a 0% divorce rate.

    But what you said was that the rate of divorce would increase, meaning that divorce (same-sex or heterosexual) would grow out of proportion with the proliferation of same-sex marriages. I don’t think anybody has data on this, one way or the other (too early and too small of a sample). But do you believe that SSMs are more likely to lead to divorce? If so, why? Or would SSM encourage heterosexual people to divorce more often? How?

  26. Mike Parker on October 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Steve,

    In the only data available on that subject, the opposite has been true: In the 5 years since Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, the divorce rate among heterosexual marriages has plummeted.

    http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2009/09/20/after-legalized-same-sex-marriages-massachusetts-divorce-drops/

    As columnist Steve Chapman notes, even conservative opponents of gay marriage who have written on the subject aren’t making any bets on the calamities that may (or may not) appear.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-oped0820chapmanaug20,0,5209849.column

  27. Bro. Jones on October 27, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    #12 and #14 I’ll concede that LDS leaders have at times stressed the “eternal” nature of the husband/wife bond. I can accept that more readily than the frequent claims I’ve heard that marriage as we know it has been practiced for thousands of years.

  28. Sonny on October 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I’m listening to the radio as I am reading this, and “Under My Thumb” by the Stones just came on.

  29. jeff hoyt on October 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    #25 and 26

    I will speculate that as the nature of marriage becomes malleable the sanctity of the institution diminishes. As the sanctity diminishes, the desire to preserve it under difficult circumstances becomes weaker.

    I looked at the “data” linked and found that the supposed decline occurred in 2004, apparently including half a year before SSM was even instituted. Since that time the divorce rate increased. Couple that fact with the fact that the measurement was not eventual divorces per marriage, but divorces per 1000 population and you have no evidence whatsoever to support a contention that SSM will help real marriages.

  30. Frank McIntyre on October 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Mike,

    I would steer clear of any of those MA numbers. They simply aren’t credible estimates of the effects of SSM (despite somebody at T&S linking to them a while back).

    Jeff,

    T&S does not endorse SSM. Some of our commenters do, but we try to avoid kicking people out just because they have opinions we disagree with. You are more than welcome, though, to remind any and all of what the prophets have said on the subject when the subject comes up– as long as you are polite about it of course. Personally, I find that particular quotations are more useful than vague exhortations. This post is more about thinking about the effects that SSM might have on other marriage, rather than the more general question of whether or not SSM is a good idea overall.

  31. The other Bro Jones on October 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I keep hearing the argument that traditional marriage is not doing very well. See comment #6 for some tragic examples. I think this is a bit of a cheap shot and a red herring.

    I think it is true that there are a lot of poor example of heterosexual marriage, and the rates of divorce and infidelity show a problem. But I don’t think it is valid argument to say this is a problem with marriage as an institution, rather it is a problem with the people.

    When I reach the Pearly Gates I don’t expect too many questions about the institution of marriage, but I’m sure to get a few about my own marriage in particular.

  32. Blake on October 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Why would any LDS person look at secular “marriage” as a gauge or standard by which to measure marriage? The divorce rate among temple married LDS is much lower and does not mirror cultural norms. Secular marriage is broken — and the state ought not engage in such religious ceremonies anyway.

    Marriage ought not be the wish-fulfillment of all personal needs that is often discussed in secular marriage — I’m happier, it was my choice, I was in love,I get to own property now, but the minute it doesn’t serve me and my own neediness, screw you and who cares about the children? After all, I have the benefit of that great invention — no fault divorce where the adults get to part and the children don’t get a choice and they didn’t choose the relationship for love and children have been around for more than the last two centuries — unlike secular marriage.

    Secular marriage is largely irrelevant in Scandinavia — whether hetero or gay marriages are involved. That is where secular marriage is headed in the US and possibly elsewhere. In fact, I believe that US government is headed toward the same kind of economic and medical care as that in Scandinavian countries. as well. That is no model that I want to adopt regarding marriage or government in general.

  33. Nate Oman on October 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    “The works you cite are only relevant for approximately 0.2167% of humanity. For the rest of us, these questions about SSM and the impact on society need to be answered as we continue to evolve and grow.”

    Phoung, this is an exceptionally obtuse statement to make on a Mormon blog. Such statements do matter to Mormons. Even Mormons who want to ignore them have to come up with reasons for doing so in a way that non-Mormons may not. In this context, your statement comes off as either dense, condescending, or both.

  34. jeff hoyt on October 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Frank;

    I could certainly post “particular quotations”, but I do not think anyone is unclear about our prophets counsel on this issue. That does not seem to be the point of the OP. My point was that, in general, anything society does contrary to such counsel (LDS or not) will weaken society’s institutions. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that I have to make this point to this audience.

    So it is impolite of me to assert that, in my opinion, the general tone of T&S seems to be supportive of SSM? That does not seem impolite to me, it is just an observation, but you make the rules so maybe I will just follow Adam G and go elsewhere.

  35. Mahonri on October 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Perhaps it is the state being involved in marriage that is the real issue – without state involvement a marriage is neither legal nor illegal, and no one is bound by law to accept the validity of another’s marriage.

    Surely leaving the government to define marriage means the government can define a religious (or at least philosophical) commitment. That is (as far as I’m concerned) beyond the bounds of what the state’s jurisdiction should be.

    One another point – Leaving the issue to individuals voters (in the form of a ballot) seems to be contrary to the provisions and claims of the Constitution, which seeks to enshrine rights – despite the majority if necessary. To define for yourself what marriage is seems to me to be a fundamental right that our pioneer ancestors fought for.

  36. The Only True and Living Nathan on October 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    So it is impolite of me to assert that, in my opinion, the general tone of T&S seems to be supportive of SSM?

    If we bracket out Kaimi, it’s not.

  37. Kaimi on October 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Help! I’m being bracketed!

  38. MoHoHawaii on October 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Re #2, Why do arguments need to reach further than it being an issue of equality and acceptance of homosexuality as a social norm?

    Arguing about “protecting” marriage is a diversion from the actual, underlying issue, which is the question of acceptance of homosexuality as a social norm. The bottom line is this: are gay people to be accepted in civil society or not? Interestingly, most conservatives are afraid to have this conversation because their arguments then contradict most people’s basic sense of fairness. Should gay people be imprisoned or executed as they are in Iran and Saudi Arabia? This seems horrific to most people. Should gay people be kicked out of the military? Most people don’t think so. Should gay people be publicly shunned and fired from their jobs? Should gay couples be forcibly separated by the state (which is currently happening to me and my partner due to unequal treatment under immigration law)? If you have a gay friend or family member and truly listen to their story, this is hard to take.

    The debate over the acceptance of homosexuality is a legitimate one, and all voices should be heard. But, regardless of your view on homosexuality, the nature or meaning of marriage is in no way threatened by extending its benefits to same-sex couples. The Iowa and California supreme courts analyzed this carefully. (The Iowa decision, available online, is particularly worth reading.) To answer the question posed in the original post: the change to marriage for straight people will be virtually none. Believe it or not, it’s not about you.

  39. H. Bob on October 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    My misgivings on SSM stem more from thinking through the ramifications for custody law (and no, it’s not necessarily a “think of the children!” idea). As it stands, with no-fault divorce and paternity rights and such, custody law takes the wisdom of Solomon to even approach “getting right.” It will be exponentially harder if we throw non-biological parents with biological parent rights into the mix.

    What happens when a lesbian decides to divorce her partner and claims she’s straight to get out of paying child support for her non-biological children? What happens when a homosexual man divorces his partner of 25 years to marry his non-biological “son,” who is now of consensual age? What will custody law look like if we throw out the biological basis it largely rests on?
    While I have great faith in the US judicial system to figure things like this out, it still does seem like there are lots of questions we need to be asking rather than just relying on ideological sound bites like “equality” or “defending marriage.”

  40. The Only True and Living Nathan on October 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    But, regardless of your view on homosexuality, the nature or meaning of marriage is in no way threatened by extending its benefits to same-sex couples.

    Oh, okay. Discussion’s over. Thanks for clearing that up for everyone, MoHoHawaii.

  41. ECS on October 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    H. Bob – Given your extreme examples, I don’t see how SSM would be any more or any less horrific than the relationship train wrecks traditional marriage already give us. Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, anyone?

  42. Blake on October 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    MoHo: if the point of legalizing gay marriage is to legitimize homosexual relationships and make them the social norm, then my response is simple: that isn’t an appropriate role for government to engage. If you want to engage in such social engineering of moral values, pleaase leave my taxes and the coercive force of the state out of it.

  43. H. Bob on October 27, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    ECS–so if we’re already on the slippery slope, we should just give up? The Woody Allen/Soon-yi Previn example is just about the same as the son marrying his father–no biological reservations on either of those, though the “ick” factor is pretty high. How many generations of that would it take for society to either require DNA testing of anyone wanting to have children (to preclude the possibility of someone marrying their sister, aunt, or first cousin), or just throw up their collective hands and say “who cares”?

  44. Steve on October 27, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    AHLduke and Mike Parker, (#25 and #26)

    I was being slightly flippant, but my speculation (that’s all it was) is based entirely on my personal observations of gay friends/acquaintances, and the musical chairs game of their “committed” relationships.

    I’m guessing that the divorce rate among gay men will be shown, once we have a reliable body of data, to be significantly higher than average. (I’m less sure about lesbian couples). This particular demographic will, if my hunch is correct, contribute to the overall divorce rate.

  45. Kaimi on October 27, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    It’s true that slippery slope arguments are sometimes right. However, they are also sometimes overwrought. As I’ve noted before, slippery slope arguments were used against interracial marriage as well:

    Extending the rule to the width asked for by the defendant, and we might have in Tennessee the father living with his daughter, the son with the mother, the brother with the sister, in lawful wedlock, because they had formed such relations in a State or country where they were not prohibited. The Turk or Mohammedan, with his numerous wives, may establish his harem at the doors of the capitol, and we are without remedy.

    See http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2004/03/state-v-bell-and-changes-to-marriage/

  46. DavidH on October 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “My point was that, in general, anything society does contrary to such counsel (LDS or not) will weaken society’s institutions. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that I have to make this point to this audience.”

    Perhaps this conclusion is ipso facto true. But unless one reinstates what I thought had been a discredited position–that when the authorities have spoken, the thinking is done–I think it is fair to think through these issues.

    By analogy, our authorities have told us not to drink alcohol. Does that mean it is pointless to study the effects of alcohol (including whether and to what degree drinking a glass of wine a day may reduce heart disease), because, since the authories have said we should not do it, that means it is harmful, and we do not need to know anything else?

  47. Jonathan on October 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Good post Kaimi. That’s why we prefer the term “marriage equality” to “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage”. When the spouses in marriage are the same gender, it’s more difficult for society at large to impose gender roles on the couple. There are no more presumptions that “the man” does the “man’s work” and “the woman” does the “woman’s work”. Two equal partners make those decisions for themselves. This is where marriage equality will influence the greater culture. It will breathe fresh-air into oppressive marriages by demonstrating that there can be intra-spousal equality. This equality, rather than legal equality between same-gender couples and other-gender couples is the truly liberating gift of marriage equality. And it’s also the truly threatening side of marriage equality that gets proponents of ‘male superiority’ or ‘traditional marriage’ all riled up.

  48. alice munro on October 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    92% of the people of Iowa have said that since same sex marriages were instituted, they don’t feel their own marriages have been threatened or changed in any way. And that includes people on both sides of the issue in Iowa which still has about an even split on the popularity of the policy.

  49. jeff hoyt on October 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    DavidH

    Good question. I guess I am at a disadvantage in understanding some of the posters here because I cannot think of issues where I have a problem with Church teaching. I guess I was strongly influenced by Chesterton’s comment about not needing a Church that was right where he was right, but was right where he was wrong. If alcohol were to be “proven” to have health benefits, I still would not partake as, frankly, I have more faith in the word of wisdom than I have in scientists. So, in all honesty, I believe I do not need to know anything else about alcohol beyond it being something to shun.

  50. Nate Oman on October 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    For those invoking slippery slopes pro and con, here is your reading assignment:

    Eugene Volokh, “Mechanism of the Slippery Slope,” 116 Harv. L. Rev. 1026 (2003)

    Here is a link to an abridged version of the article. It is useful in that it tries to provide an actual analytic framework for assessing such arguments rather than simply trading slogans and assertions.

  51. Doug Hudson on October 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Here’s a ‘slippery slope’ for you: why should Mormon religious beliefs dictate the actions of non-Mormons? Is that really a path Mormons want to take, given how few Mormons there are (relatively)?

    On a related note, it has always struck me as odd that so many minority groups are eager to restrict the freedoms of other minority groups–it seem so short sighted. It would seem to me that the best way for Mormons to protect their own unique marriage customs would be to ensure that everyone can practice marriage as they see fit. But come to think of it, the Mormons lost their own fight for marriage rights over a century ago, so maybe that isn’t a consideration.

  52. Jeff on October 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I like Times and Seasons. It seems to be a place for faithful Mormon intellectuals. But the nature of the gay marriage posts (and the comments as well) make me wonder whether this is actually just a place for Mormon intellectuals.

  53. WJ on October 27, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    #47 (Jonathan):

    “That’s why we prefer the term “marriage equality” to “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage”. When the spouses in marriage are the same gender, it’s more difficult for society at large to impose gender roles on the couple. There are no more presumptions that “the man” does the “man’s work” and “the woman” does the “woman’s work”. Two equal partners make those decisions for themselves. This is where marriage equality will influence the greater culture. It will breathe fresh-air into oppressive marriages by demonstrating that there can be intra-spousal equality….”

    And yet its been my personal experience that partners in same sex relationships often exhibit similar complements of masculinity and femininity as heterosexual couples do, despite both partners being the same gender. So if gender roles strike you as “unequal,” my hunch is that same sex relationships will frequently encounter the same forms of inequality (read masculine and feminine roles), and alas, same sex relationships will have availed you (and society) little, if anything.

    But for the record, heterosexual couples can choose traditional gender roles and still be equal. There is no requirement that the two notions be mutually exclusive.

  54. TMD on October 27, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    #52 (Doug) it’s not just about specific policies, its about maintaining discursive and legal space to enact those beliefs. The effects of gay marriage legalization may not reach into the temple itself, but will affect and constrain members, and the institutional church’s, ability to live and preach its beliefs in the public square.

  55. MikeInWeHo on October 28, 2009 at 12:28 am

    re: 17
    “…flat into a wall composed of the Pope, Billy Graham, and Islam.”

    I hope my liberal airbag deploys if I’m smacking into that wall.

  56. Matt D. on October 28, 2009 at 1:06 am

    When the movement for same-sex marriage began, supporters were quite open about their objective. Their goal was to fundamentally alter the institution of marriage and thereby gain greater societal acceptance for homosexual practices. But, since the American people knew how essential the institution of marriage is to society, they didn’t want it fundamentally altered. Same-sex marriage advocates made little headway and it was fairly easy to defeat them.

    So, rather than try to persuade the American people that the institution needed fundamental alteration (which would be the honest approach), they publicly claim that they have no intention of changing it, that they simply want to achieve ‘equal rights’ and that this will be done without any significant change to the institution of marriage. Such dishonesty is compounded when they mock opponents who point out that a redefinition of marriage must, by its very nature, fundamentally alter the institution.

    It would be one thing if same-sex marriage advocates chose to argue that what they see as ‘equal rights’ requires a fundamental change to the institution of marriage. That would be a ‘pragmatic, political approach.’ But to deny they want to change the institution and to ridicule the notion when, in fact, that was their original intent and remains a primary goal is simply lying. That’s why “The Nation” article seems ‘refreshing;’ it’s refreshingly honest. Problem for them is that kind of honesty usually leads to defeat.

  57. Steven B on October 28, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I believe that extending marriage to same-sex couples would have the effect of making same-sex partnerships even more visible in society and viewed in a more conventional light; less “other,” less Pride-Parade-extreme. In this respect it would have less of an effect upon the institution of marriage specifically and more on society in general.

    In the long run, it would tend to lead society into having a greater tolerance for gender variant people — the transgendered and intersexed as well as gay people, who can be gender variant as well. In such an inclusive society, the term “marriage equality” would probably be more appropriate than “same-sex” or “gay marriage” because it would make a place for people who’s biological sex has changed or is indeterminate.

    A more accepting, inclusive society would probably be more inclined to accept polygamy, but for different reasons. What society ultimately decides about same-sex marriage is a reaction to the presence of uncloseted gay people living openly in society. The question is, “how should society treat gay people in civil matters?” As the general consensus in the western world now more and more views homosexuality as a biological variant of human sexuality, rather than a “lifestyle” that can be simply chosen at will, society must ask whether gays should be matriculated into mainstream society or relegated to the margins and shadows of society. So the same-sex marriage debate is ultimately about what to do with gay people in society.

    Polygamy, on the other hand, is not so much a slippery slope from gay marriage, but has to do with multiculturalism and religious freedom in an open society. Just as society must decide how to treat the sexual and gender divergent, it may ultimately face the question of what is appropriate civil policy for emerging Islamic communities, who may seek to live cultural and religious practices like polygamy.

  58. SilverRain on October 28, 2009 at 8:37 am

    What confuses me about this (comment #38) type of argument is that no one seems to see that there is a vast difference between accepting a person’s humanity (via the examples provided regarding imprisonment, execution, military service, job security, choice in cohabitation) and labeling a person’s behavior acceptable.

    The entire structure of societal ethics is based on determining what behaviors are acceptable to society at large, how much damage is done to society by a certain behavior. Some people believe that homosexuality damages society sufficiently to justify non-acceptance, others don’t. There is no real way to “prove” either position to the other. I wish we would all stop demonizing those who disagree with us.

    But we haven’t managed that in the entire history of humanity, so why would we start now?

  59. Frank McIntyre on October 28, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Jeff, it is perfectly polite to point out what you think the views are of other people. As it happens, I think the problem you see is due to the fact that there are not very many people on T&S who really feel like posting on gay marriage, and so you get a skewed view from those who do. And the commenters attracted to SSM posts are also coming disproportionately from a certain edge of the intellectual space.

    Personally I think it is unfortunate when Mormons think they know better than the prophet and the Quorum of the 12. To me tt seems like a dense and prideful thing to do. Or it may simply reflect a lack of faith in revelation as a functional principle in the Church. Either way I find it sad. But please don’t take a subset of our commenters as representative of our views as bloggers. Nor should you take Kaimi’s views (or mine) as representative.

  60. AHLDuke on October 28, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Steve (#44) – I don’t think we ought to try to extrapolate any kind of estimate of gay divorce based on your perceptions about gay male promiscuity (you didn’t use that word, but the scare quotes around the word committed said it for you). It does not seem appropriate to compare the commitment level of married heterosexual couples to unmarried homosexual couples. Marriage itself gives each individual tons of incentive to remain in the relationship (not least of which is the cost and messiness of divorce). But to date, the sample of gay married couples is too small to draw any reliable conclusion. Nevertheless, that alone doesn’t make your insinuations about homosexual promiscuity any more accurate.

  61. patricia k. on October 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Frank’s right in #58. Until someone can demonstrate through statistics and/or analogy to landmark climatological or other eye-catching changes that gay marriage will reverse global warming (or accelerate it–either way works for me), I’m not interested in the discussion.

  62. Frank McIntyre on October 28, 2009 at 10:10 am

    patricia, we’re probably the only two people who know what you’re talking about, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

  63. Steve on October 28, 2009 at 11:35 am

    AHLDuke (#59),

    My quotes around the word “committed” were intended to imply that the DURATION of my gay friends’ relationships tends to be brief, relative to those of my straight unmarried friends. I’m not sure if your definition of “promiscuity” encompasses the tendency to hop from one (relatively) short-lived (but exclusive) sexual relationship to another. I did not mean to imply that gay men within an ostensibly exclusive sexual relationship are more likely to “cheat” on their partners than are heterosexuals, only that they tend (in my limited experience, which anyone else should treat as purely anecdotal) to experience more “breakups.” Should I extrapolate this personal observation to a prediction about national gay divorce rates? Not with any strong degree of confidence. As I said in my initial reply, it’s just a hunch.

  64. patricia k. on October 28, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    we’re probably the only two people who know what you’re talking about …

    Yeah, I get that a lot. Weird.

  65. MikeInWeHo on October 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    re: 55
    “When the movement for same-sex marriage began, supporters were quite open about their objective. Their goal was to fundamentally alter the institution of marriage and thereby gain greater societal acceptance for homosexual practices.”

    Do you have even a shred of documentation to back this up?

  66. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 28, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I don’t think traditional marriage needs “help” from homosexual marriage to realize its highest ideals. I think the Church and the system of enlisting men in the priesthood and teaching them their duty to emulate Christ has made a significant difference in marriage relationships.

    The bad examples of husbands who are self-centered and treat their wives as servants and their children as nuisances are “natural men” who are clearly unacceptable as disciples of Christ. We should not minimize how significant the difference is between the ideal of Melchizedek Priesthood holder that is taught by the Church and the typical American male. The Church works on changing and improving marriage, one family at a time. The jerks who exercise their jerkhood within marriage are not the necessary product of traditional marriage, but the enemies of it. Getting marriage to work the way it should is heavy lifting for everyone involved.

    Now we hear that homosexual marriage will have an impact on traditional heterosexual marriage. Why should we look forward to such an unspecified change? Why does the author think that homosexual marriage is in any way exemplary and positive in its influence on heterosexual married couples?

    Most (certainly not all) people who advocate changing laws to accept homosexual marriage are generally also “liberal” or “progressive” on many other issues, including wanting greater action taken to protect the natural environment. If someone wanted to build a nuclear power plant in their city, they would insist (among other things) that a complete Enviornmental Impact Statement be prepared that fully examines the possible negative affects on human health and animal and plant life of the proposed nuclear reactor and its decades of operation. Even minute amounts of radiation released from the reactor and its auxiliary facilities would be the focus of great concern. Even if the proponents of the plant pointed to the other existiing sources of radiation in the environment, the response of opponents would be “Those are things that are unavoidable, but this is avoidable, and we do not choose to be exposed to any more risk of cancer than is unavoidable.” All possible risks, they would insist, must be fully explored and quantified, including the risk of an intentional attack by terrorists that could release a “dirty bomb” of radioactive materials into the community.

    Yet the same people, who would oppose vehemently even a risk of one new cancer in ten million over 30 years from a nuclear power plant, are totally devil-may-care about the potential impacts on the human social environment from the momentous change of giving legal status to homosexual marriage.

    Heterosexual marriage has evolved over millennia. Even in societies where homosexual conduct was widely practiced (as in the Roman Empire of Paul’s day), marriage among homosexual partners was not adopted. We are just beginning to get data about the effects of homosexual marriage on the direct participants, and virtually none about the effects on traditional marriage, and especially about the long term effects on children. If, hypothetically, we discovered that children raised in homosexual marriages were significantly less inclined to ever adopt an ethic of sexual restraint in any kind of marriage, if the children were significantly less likely to become worshippers of Christ, would we consider that a “significant impact” on marriage and children? If homosexual marriage were to establish legal precedents that completely removed the onus from extramarital affairs, or that opened the way for legally recognized polygamy or even “marriage” among any number of males or females, would that be a “significant effect”?

    People who would not countenance a nuclear power plant being placed in their city without the most extensive prior analysis, and guarantees against the most minor risks to the health of their children, are nonchalantly willing to accept the unforeseen consequences of changing the law to accommodate homosexual marriage. They are throwing the dice, betting the accumulated social capital of thousands of years and hundreds of cultures that invested in marriage.

    Those who think traditional marriage is not worth saving are not the people I would trust to advise me about the negative impacts of such a major change in our social and family relationships and obligations.

  67. Cameron on October 28, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Well put Raymond. Thank you for that.

  68. Steven B on October 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Raymond, you have made a strong, conservative case for proceeding with caution. That is effectively what many states in the U.S. are doing. But do you have thoughts about what effect same-sex marriage will actually have on society or the institution of marriage?

  69. MikeInWeHo on October 28, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, me and my peeps have been compared to radioactive waste. That’s a first.

    You’re making the exact same argument that was used to support miscegenation laws for decades: We can’t risk this extension of legal rights to a minority group because there will be unpredictable negative consequences down the road.

    This argument always fails in the end. Historically, the extension of justice toward maligned minority groups has proven worthwhile again and again.

    “”The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice…” -MLK Jr.

  70. TMD on October 28, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    64: This sounds like Andrew Sullivan’s arguments from the 90′s. Or, like Judith Butler’s whole approach.

  71. Peter on October 28, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t know why we conjecture when we have history. Look at Scandinavia 15 years ago – they were having the same debate about gay marriage. In the aftermath, what happened to marriage?

    It simply went away.

  72. Jeff on October 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    #70. And that is precisely the goal of same-sex marriage adovcates: for government recognition of marriage to end.

    Why do I know this? Because this what they say behind “closed doors.” I heard it with my own ears in a small, closed-door seminar during law school from one of the key leaders in the No on 8 coalition.

    Yes, SSM advocates get what gay marriage legal precedent means for the institution of marriage in the long term. They just don’t say it publically because it is bad PR.

  73. DavidH on October 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    “Look at Scandinavia 15 years ago – they were having the same debate about gay marriage. In the aftermath, what happened to marriage?”

    This claim may or may not come from this article (The End of Marriage in Scandinavia) from the Weekly Standard in 2004. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp

    Interestingly, at the time the Weekly Standard declared marriage dead in Scandinavia, only the Netherlands had recognized same sex marriage. The other Scandinavian countries did not have same sex marriage, but had same sex domestic partnerships quite similar to the ones that the Church said it did not oppose in California. Since then, in 2009, Norway and Sweden have recognized same sex marriage.

    I can remember reading in the National Review in 1979 that marriage was dead in Scandinavia (sorry, I cannot find the article on line at the moment).

    A recent article further analyzes the claim that same sex marriage (or domestic partnerships) destroyed marriage in Scandinavia, and came up with markedly different conclusions, among other things, that “the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are . . . higher than they were in
    the years before the [same sex domestic] partnership laws were passed.”

    http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/pdf/10.1525/srsp.2004.1.3.1?cookieSet=1

  74. Bookslinger on October 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    The focus here seems too narrow. I believe a more important question is not how SSM will affect future marriages throughout society, but how it will affect future generations’ sexuality and sexual preference.

    What if it turns out that sexual preference is not 100% determined prior to birth in 100% of the population?

    Does anyone remember the comment thread here a year or two back about “soft-coding” versus “hard-coding” of sexual preference? If childhood experience, environment and nurture can affect those whose sexual preference is soft-coded, what effect will there be upon future generations of those soft-coded people by a society that has totally removed all taboo against homosexuality?

    The danger of SSM isn’t in what it might do to future heterosexual couples who would want, or who would otherwise want, to marry. The danger is in “what will be the consequences in future generations after a society has removed all taboo against homosexuality?” What views will children have towards homosexuality and heterosexuality, or sexual preference, as they sexually mature? And are we really sure that genetic makeup, and whatever other chemical/biological prenatal conditions apply, are entirely and solely responsible for sexual preference?

    Plenty of psychologists disagree with the belief that homosexuality is always in-born in all cases.

    Remove the societal guidance, remove whatever cultural influences cause an “ick factor” in young people towards homosexuality when those young people are in the process of sexual maturation, and you remove barriers for the soft-coded or marginal ones.

    Remove barriers, and you’ll have not just the soft-coders, but also more of the adventurous/explorer types of teens experimenting with homosexuality. And then keep in mind what psychologists say about early sexual experiences and first-time sexual experiences having the effect of imprinting themselves on a person.

    Remove all the societal barriers, and what’s to prevent a segment, just a part, of future generations of young people telling their parents “Get with the times, people can choose to be homosexual if they want. Homosexual/heterosexual, same thing, one’s as good as the other. Sex is sex, and love is love. Marry a man, marry a woman, it’s all legal, there’s no difference. Freedom to choose. And what’s wrong with checking out all the options, anyway?”

    The trend of society is towards more libertinism, more experimenting. Remove societal barriers, and that experimentation then will not only go faster, but will also have more directions to go.

  75. It's Not Me on October 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    #73 – I agree 100%.

  76. LdChino on October 29, 2009 at 1:29 am

    #71: If you’re going to make such claims, you ought to have the decency to name the person you recall making the comment.

    Fraud and prevarication are servile vices.

  77. Mark D. on October 29, 2009 at 6:19 am

    #72: had same sex domestic partnerships quite similar to the ones that the Church said it did not oppose in California

    That’s not quite true. The Church does oppose same sex domestic partnerships in much the same way it opposes pre-marital sex – i.e. people should not do that. I understand the Church just said they were not looking to change the laws in California that recognized them. Hardly the same thing.

    This question has come up in Utah lately, and the general response seems to be, “No, we are not going to endorse same sex partnership initiatives in additional states, and if the issue comes up we might sign up in opposition.” That is all hearsay based on some local newspaper articles of course.

  78. LdChino on October 29, 2009 at 6:37 am

    #73: What if … We’ve already tried it your way, and there are still oodles of gay Mormons?

    What then? Turn up the voltage?

    Get with the times, we no longer call it “sexual preference.”

    For good reason.

  79. Mark D. on October 29, 2009 at 7:03 am

    What if … there are still oodles of gay Mormons

    If they are content to exercise sexual abstinence (as the Church demands of them), why not?

  80. Steve on October 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Bookslinger (#73),

    You do realize that what you described is some people’s idea of utopia, right?

    LdChino (#77),

    It looks like you’re stuck in the mindset that frames the debate about the causes of homosexuality as “100% genetic, hard-wired essential attribute” VS. “voluntary choice.” That’s a false dichotomy.

  81. Bro. Jones on October 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    #73 In the event that society does move in the direction of removing the “ick” factor from homosexuality (which it already has), and we as LDS want to keep that, then it’s our job to teach our children and members what our standards are. Insisting that the government mandate to our morals is not an inherently terrible idea, but if there’s a disconnect between the two, then it’s our job to fix it within our members’ lives rather than bemoan the state of the world.

    If government recognition of marriage does cease, are we going to stop performing temple marriages? Or will we increase our emphasis on teaching the importance of marriage?

  82. DavidH on October 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Mark D.,

    I agree that the Church does not officially support same-sex domestic partnerships as a legal matter. But it does not officially oppose domestic partnership statutes either–and its official Proposition 8 website made that abundantly clear. http://www.preservingmarriage.org/videos.html (see not a matter of civil rights)

    You are correct, of course, that the Church opposes all homosexual behavior, whether inside or outside of a domestic partnership, just as it opposes all drinking of alcohol inside or outside of a state that permits or forbids alcohol. But that is quite different from officially opposing the existence of same sex domestic partnership statutes (I agree that many of the Brethren likely oppose such laws and possibly some might support them; whether there will be sufficient inspired consensus among the Brethren for the Church to make an official statement one way or the other is another question).

  83. LdChino on October 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    #79: Why should the public be burdened with the task of picking up the pieces after some Mormon family kicks their LGBT child to the curb?

    The only real dichotomy I see here is that some families undertake to care for their LGBT offspring and others don’t.

    You seem to take it for granted that we’re all willing to subsidize your ignorance indefinitely. A friendly heads up: that’s not going to be the case for much longer.

  84. Anon on October 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    AAAAAAAARGHHHHHH!!!!!

  85. Jeff on October 29, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    #75: Kate Kendall, Executive Director of the NCLR. I decline to give the date, time, location, etc. I want to protect my ability to earn a living.

  86. LdChino on October 30, 2009 at 6:34 am

    #85: Thanks, Jeff. I understand better now and would suggest this post by way of admission that you and I might actually be in agreement about some aspects of the purported “leading” gay orgs:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/10/the-strange-logic-of-elizabeth-birch.html

    Of course, I think your fears regarding your own job security are overblown. On some level, I suspect that you (like most of America) form the wrong mental picture when you think about gay families. If you’ve got the time (combined, the two clips are nearly twenty minutes), please consider watching this sit-down interview with a Portland Maine family who now find themselves in the crosshairs of the latest ballot initiative:

    Part 1:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTMo1uVKaLw

    Part 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr6XBD_oLIg

    For all the Sturm und Drang surrounding this issue, the only folks really affected by this are families like the Moritz/Jones.

  87. April on October 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    When Jesus Christ, the Creator, considered that it was not good for man to be alone, he created Eve, not Steve.

    I don’t care how many cultural degradations are out there, you have to admit that we need to think about the ramifications of certain practices. Suppose everybody decided to (1) engage in homosexual marriages and (2) remain faithful to that spouse? Why, the entire population of the earth would be wiped out in one generation.

    Kinda reminds you of what happened on this continent when the people turned to wickedness, doesn’t it?

    By the way, the idea that you have to sin because you were born that way is nonsense. People either choose to obey Jesus or they don’t. Teaching people that they have to stay and sin instead of repenting is just a way to keep them in bondage. Saying that it’s not compassionate to call a sin evil is stupid. Would you tell someone who’s jumping off a cliff that it’s O.K., everybody understands, keep on doing it, or would you warn him to go back to safety?

    Yes, homosexuality is destructive. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t.

    I agree with Joshua’s sentiments on the subject: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

  88. wreddyornot on October 30, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    After April comes May . . . Day.

  89. wreddyornot on October 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    When Jesus Christ, the Creator, considered that it was not good for man to be alone, as the story in Genesis goes, he created Eve for Adam. Adam and Eve, of course, were heterosexual, sexually attracted to each other, and they appear to not have had SSA, although, I presume even that is a possibility. Their offspring, I submit, seems to suggest their attraction for one another. Of course, the years and generations passed by, and the heterosexual majority from such couplings as Adam and Eve’s had showed ugly tendencies and wreaked much terrible havoc in the world, including often killing and harming those with SSAs and even bearing offspring that they quite often neglected and/or abandoned, whether or not the offspring had SSAs.

    Not everyone acted reprehensibly, of course, but enough did so so it was necessary for the Lord to come and try to straighten things out . He gave us (again) a commandment: to love one another. He meant it universally. Did it have much effect? Some maybe, but not enough.

    Don’t ignore the history of heterosexuals over against those with SSA, April. It is a history of power and domination. It is not a history that shows the love and charity of heteros over against those with SSAs that Christ taught and that Paul said if you didn’t have, you had nothing. The love and charity that the modern apostles and prophets teach.

    You are right April, we need most seriously to think about the ramifications of certain practices, like the lie in your hypothetical. It is not in the cards — and you know it is not as well as I do and everyone else does. Everyone would never choose to engage in homosexual marriage and then remain faithful to their homosexual spouse. That would never happen, just as it’s not in the cards for everyone to be right-handed. What will wipe out mankind, though, is that kind of reasoning, born of hatred. Not love, not wanting the stability and sanction of a committed partnership of love and devotion, a marriage. It is nothing at all like what the BoM says happened on this continent when the people turned to wickedness!

    Being born a particular way is never a sin. Most people are born either left or right-handed. Just because the majority is right-handed doesn’t make left-handedness of the rest or the practice of them using their left hand predominately sinful. The sin in sexual conduct is in not living up to the responsibilities of such conduct, which the Lord teaches is true devotion, fidelity, and commitment and caring for your lover and your offspring. As for me, I choose to obey Jesus and love everyone. Teaching that people who have SSAs cannot be chaste in a marriage, just like heterosexuals can, is a sin because it is inimical to love and charity for them. And that is what Christ wants.

  90. Matt D. on October 31, 2009 at 1:07 am

    #64 – Here are a few samples:

    In 1990, Tom Stoddard, an executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York who died in 1997, said: “Enlarging the concept [of marriage] to embrace same-sex couples would necessarily transform it into something new….Extending the right to marry to gay people – that is, abolishing the traditional gender requirements of marriage – can be one of the means, perhaps the principal one, through which the institution divests itself of the sexist trappings of the past.” (Quoted in Roberta Achtenberg, et al, “Approaching 2000: Meeting the Challenges to San Francisco’s Families,” The Final Report of the Mayor’s Task Force on Family Policy, City and County of San Francisco, June 13, 1990, p.1.)

    In 1994, Michelangelo Signorile, a prominent ‘gay rights’ activist who led the early charge for redefining marriage, wrote: “A middle ground might be to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution.” (“Bridal Wave,” OUT magazine, December/January 1994, p. 161.) A few years later he wrote, “It is also a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture. It is the final tool with which to dismantle all sodomy statutes, get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools, and, in short, usher in a sea change in how society views and treats us.” (“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” OUT magazine, May 1996, p. 30.)

    You’ll notice these samples are all taken from the 90s. You can’t find quotes like these from such leaders anymore. This isn’t because that’s no longer their goal; it’s because they’ve come to realize that being honest about their goal is an impediment to achieving it.

  91. LdChino on October 31, 2009 at 1:45 am

    #89: Of course you can’t find quotes like those anymore. With Sirius XM’s new iPhone app, Signorile’s latest marching orders are delivered to my phone automatically and discreetly.

  92. LdChino on October 31, 2009 at 2:04 am

    #90 was a joke. This isn’t:

    Glenn Greenwald was on Democracy Now! this morning, and at the end of the segment there was this:

    AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney, political and legal blogger at Salon.com.

    OK, Glenn, so you’re here in New York, but you’re flying home to Brazil tonight, very relieved to be doing that. And you’ve written about your choice to live in Brazil with your partner. Talk about that choice and what the whole battle over gay rights looks like to you from Brazil.

    GLENN GREENWALD: Right. I mean, actually, it’s not—and people who are in my position—it’s not so much a choice as a forced situation. And the reason is, is because we have a law in this country that was enacted with the virtually unanimous support of the Senate, signed by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, called the Defense of Marriage Act, that not only allows states to refuse to recognize the same-sex marriage, even if it’s legal in other states, but, even worse, it explicitly bars the federal government from according any rights whatsoever to same-sex couples based upon a recognition of their relationship, which means that people who are in my situation, namely American citizens who end up with a partner who is a citizen of another country, are unable to live together in the United States.

    They have two choices: they can either live in the country of their foreign spouse, if they’re able to do that, or they can be in the horrific position where they’re forced to live thousands of miles apart on a different continent, in different countries, from the person with whom they want to spend their entire lives. And so, gay couples in the United States don’t have any immigration rights whatsoever; heterosexual couples who are bi-national can be here. Whereas in Brazil, a country that has the largest Catholic population in the world and was a military dictatorship until 1985, they do recognize same-sex couples, like most of the civilized world, and I’m therefore able to live with my partner there.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Glenn, and bon voyage for your trip tonight back to Brazil.

  93. Jeremiah J. on November 1, 2009 at 1:18 am

    I like this article because it could help form some kind of consensus on both sides that changing the legal definition of marriage can indeed change marriage as a social institution. I.e. it might help end the derisive snickering at those people over there who think gays getting married will affect their sorry marriage. Or does Kaimi think that same-sex marriage cannot possibly have any effect on heterosexual marriage, unless it’s a good effect?

  94. MikeInWeHo on November 2, 2009 at 10:29 am

    “This isn’t because that’s no longer their goal; it’s because they’ve come to realize that being honest about their goal is an impediment to achieving it.”

    That’s just ridiculous. Quoting Signorile from 15 years ago represents the gay community today about as well as quoting McKonkie in the early 70s represents Mormonisms thinking on race today.

    I know this community; I’m part of it. 99.9% of the people fighting to end discrimination in marriage laws are doing so because they’re sick of being subject to the kind of horrible problems in immigration, estate law, pensions, health insurance, etc that gay couples run into. It’s about fairness and equality, period. The notion that gays have any interest whatsoever in altering (or eliminating!) marriage for straight people is almost slanderous.

  95. April on November 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    “Teaching that people who have SSAs cannot be chaste in a marriage, just like heterosexuals can, is a sin because it is inimical to love and charity for them. And that is what Christ wants.”

    I admit it doesn’t sound like kindness or charity to me to encourage people to disobey God. Christ wants homosexuals to marry and our job is to have love and accept this? Am I missing something here, or do some people seem to think Christ’s love means keep on sinning, don’t repent? I think you’d better check with him before you start putting words in his mouth.

  96. SLO Sapo on November 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    April, can you tell us where and when you checked with Christ directly about this? Also, what did he tell you?

  97. Holden Caulfield on November 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    #86–”Yes, homosexuality is destructive. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. I agree with Joshua’s sentiments on the subject: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.””

    April, good luck with that “as for me an my house” thing. As the parent of a gay, LDS son, I’ve learned not all things are under your control.

    When I hear certainty like April’s, I feel happy for her and sad for everyone around her.

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